Monday, December 2, 2013

Still Thankful, Just Late

I'm a Kerr. Sure you have to go three generations back to get there, but I am still a Kerr. The family motto: Sero sed serio. Translation: late but in earnest. No really. It's right on the family crest.

So like my Kerr ancestors before me, I am late, but in earnest. Without further ado I give you the rest of my November thankfuls.

19. My husband. His order in this list in no way indicates his importance in my life. I am thankful that he heads off to a dull job every day to support our family. He's the most faithful man on the planet and he loves me, grumpy, frumpy me. I had planned to write a whole post on my gratitude for my husband, but procrastination killed that idea, for the moment anyhow.

20. I'm thankful for my cats. I love them. I love how they are not pushovers and I can't just waltz into their lives after ignoring them for ages and have a relationship with them. They are like real people. You nurture the relationship and it's healthy; neglect it and it's not. Plus they are cute and furry, and they purr.

21. Running water, flush toilets and a water heater. I try to camp at least once every year so that I remain grateful for this most basic and awesome gift of modern life.

22. Books. Oh my heavens! My sanity. Right between two covers. Or on my kindle. Or on my computer screen. I love the knowledge, the characters, the worlds. And they are mine all mine. I love books. More than most people, to be frank. I could also write a whole blog post on the joys of reading. Alas, gratefuls twenty-three through thirty await.

23. Amazon Prime. (Kinda-sorta related to books.) All my stuff comes to me with free two-day shipping. When I keep forgetting to pick something up at the store, I buy it at amazon and it just shows up. I love the unlimited movie streaming. I love the whole darn thing. I don't even care that they know every iota of my life; I'm just so grateful for the incredible convenience and value of the membership.

24. My pomegranate tree. It gives me pomegranates. Need I say more?

25. Friends. Old friends. New friends. They've made me laugh, made me cry, made me dance. I like to think that in the eternities all friendships are renewed and receive their paradisiacal glory. 

26. Gardens. I'd like them even better if they watered and weeded themselves. Even as they are they give me a lovely connection to the earth and teach me lots of object lessons.

27.  I'm thankful for my mom, for the emphasis she placed on education, for her example of perseverance. I'm thankful for the opportunity I had to care for her at the end of her life.

28. I'm thankful for the internet, for the wealth of information it contains, for the friends I've met online, for the massive recipe index that it is, for the genealogical tools it houses, for being able to shop without having to leave the house, for movies on demand, for educational games. OK, I'll stop now. I think you get the picture. 

29.  Comfy shoes. Since I have cruddy rheumatoid arthritis feet, comfy shoes pretty much make the difference between being able to walk and not being able to walk. I wear pretty much the same shoes all the time and they aren't cute, but they are comfy. Yay!

30. Christmas. I love Christmas, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to come and adore the Savior. I love the music, the food, the decorations, the kindness the season can bring out in people.

Being thankful has been a habit for November even if I did flop over into December a bit. Perhaps I can carry the habit a bit more consistently all year long. I think that might be a very good thing.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Giving Thanks--18

C-baby is a big girl these days, seven years old. She still encourages us to dress her and help her with everything; being the baby sister has its privileges. She is warm and snuggley. She still adores me with all of her cute little self. She still thinks I can fix it all, and because we are blessed to have healthy happy lives, I mostly can fix all the things that torment her little world.

She is a blessing I didn't ask for, and in many ways, didn't deserve. She was my one unexpected pregnancy and I have my very own little miracle story regarding her conception and birth. Even so, I was very, very angry about being unexpectedly pregnant. (I knew, in theory, what the .8% stood for in birth control, but those were other people. Not me.) Sometimes God blesses us with people in our lives we didn't know we needed. C is one of those people in my life. I adore her. She brightens my world. 

Giving Thanks--17

V, ah my lovely, V girl! How I love her. At one point I was fairly certain that if I died they would have to send me to a taxidermist and turn me into a stuffy or she'd never sleep again, but now that she is almost twelve, she's doing the separation thing quite well. She still wants to be with people constantly, but she's branching out. This child is the world's boldest missionary. She wants nothing more than more friends with her at church. She loves people so very much. I am grateful for the example she's setting for me of never assuming people will say no and loving people just the same whether they say yes or no.

Giving Thanks--16

Taking a break from cooking Thanksgiving stuff. I'm zonked and I have half a month of thankfuls to catch up on, so I'm guessing this is going to be rather stream-of-conscience-y. It happens.

OK, so next up on my thankful list is my second son, L. He is currently fourteen and on the verge of the attack of the hormones. I believe it was Sammy Keyes who said, "It's like having a mad scientist in my head. 'I wonder what will happen if I mix these together?'"* Honestly, I'm pretty sure he's out to kill me or check me into a madhouse. So a thankful about my beloved L? A little hard to come by this month.

I can honestly say I adore him. His horns have always held up his halo. He has a devilish sense of humor and I'm just the kind of person who appreciates a devilish sense of humor. I am grateful beyond belief that he didn't die when his appendix went out, or the time he took his life jacket off while rafting as a non-swimmer with his great uncle and fell in, or any of the other times he's done wild, crazy, dangerous stuff he never tells me about. I'm grateful that he has time to make it through the mad-scientist-hormone-hell and become the great man I know he will.

*Yeah, I looked online and couldn't find the exact quote and I don't own the book and the library's closed so this as good as it gets today.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Giving Thanks--14 & 15

14. I'm very grateful to have working cars. One for me and the kids to do our thing and one for my husband. Until you've lived with an unreliable car or without one entirely, it's impossible to realize just how much having one means. It means being able to get people to activities. It means being able to get to work, to the grocery store. It means being able to help people with rides, not having to beg for rides of my own. I am truly deeply thankful for our cars.

15. I am grateful for my Vitamix. I know it's shallow, but I love that thing. We use it several times a day and my green smoothies are smooth, so I can eat all those veggies without having to chew them all (so much WORK). I am grateful for the book Eat to Live by Joel Fhurman which has been helping me become healthier and healthier and has been helping give my Vitamix a workout.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Giving Thanks--13

I'm thankful that I constantly have people to talk to and riddles to listen to and singers to listen to. Yeah, all of those reasons are why I can't write right now. "Talkity-talk-talk. Mom-mom-MOM-MOM." But hey, I'm never lonely.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Giving Thanks--12

I am thankful for N, my 16-year-old daughter. I've had some difficulty writing about her, because there are some sacred events surrounding our decision to have a third child and my pregnancy and also because you are going to think I'm exaggerating when I tell you about her. The gist of the matter is that N is a gift from God to our family. She's beautiful, inside and out. She's not perfect, but she is a joy to parent, a joy to have as a friend. She's not like me much at all. She's happier and kinder and much blonder. She loves clothes. She loves people. If she could be surrounded by friends every minute of every day, she would still crave more people to love. It's like the kid has been filled to the brim with love and she just has to give it to as many people as possible. She's strong and graceful and smart and creative. Dang, this chick is creative. If there are two ways to look at something, she comes up with a third, fourth and fifth, and the fourth and fifth will have you doubled over laughing. She is a defender of the defenseless. Just when you think you've got a cute little funny kitten that you can ignore, she will turn to a roaring tiger, ready to tear you apart, because she thinks you are picking on someone. She will take you down and then turn right back into the fuzzy ball of love, ready to make amends, provided you don't try that bullying thing again. Anyhow, she's an awesome person and I'm lucky to have her in my life.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Giving Thanks--11

Vetrans. I'm thankful for them.

My grandfather, my brother, my sister, my cousin, my father-in-law, brother-in-law, they each did different things, served in different branches, but they all signed up and showed up. Some of them served in wars, some didn't, but they all dedicated a portion of their lives to being in the USA military to protect our country. I'm thankful for the families that send their sons and daughters, husbands and wives out into the world to be bored, to be uncomfortable, to be shot at, while the families try to make ends meet, try to maintain their relationships, try to do the work of two parents by themselves. It's a hard thing we ask of the military and their families and I'm very grateful they give it, to protect and serve us all.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Giving Thanks--8, 9 & 10

8. So grateful for music.

9. And theatre.

10. And Doctor Who.

All brighten and bring happiness to my life.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Giving Thanks--7

I'm thankful for living in a beautiful state where fresh produce is available year round at a reasonable price. It is a luxury much of the world is denied.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Giving Thanks--6

I started this on the 6th, but I had a nasty headache all day. Everything came out "Bad noun passive verb typo typo no ending punctuation," and I decided I'd be better off writing later. So ANYHOW, on with the thanking.

I am thankful for medicine. I am thankful for migraine medicine and antibiotics and cold medicines, but most of all I am thankful for psychiatric medications. SSRIs and all of their cousins have saved the lives of countless people. They have kept people off of drugs and out of drunk tanks. For generations, my family has dealt with broken relationships, broken spirits, and addiction issues. One of my direct line ancestors died of "wood alcohol poisoning and exposure." Seriously.

My chemical imbalance began when I was very young. When I was ten I wanted to die with every part of myself. I tried to kill myself by sitting with a wet towel on my chest in front of an open window in winter. A character in a book I'd read had been successful in contracting pneumonia and dying through this method. I failed to grasp the futility of attempting it in a Northern Californian winter. My family laughed at me and called me Sarah Bernhardt, queen of melodrama. Except I was serious. Deadly serious.

The darkness lightened eventually, but it came back, again and again. At thirteen, at seventeen, at nineteen, at twenty-four, and at twenty-seven. Between ten and thirteen I gained an irrefutable testimony of the existence of God (see Giving Thanks--1), a God who did not want me to kill myself, and a firm belief that I would continue to exist past death. So I never tried to kill myself again. But I wanted to. Oh, how I wanted to stop. Just stop existing. Never to feel the pain and hopelessness and sorrow again. At those moments a sure knowledge of God's love was less than joyous.

One day, in the middle of my major depressive disorder, something changed. I realized that my misery wasn't just affecting me. My beautiful two year old son had lost his "expensive" belt (twenty bucks) that I'd purchased for church. I found myself ranting some crazy thing about the belt and my son was crying and my daughter was searching frantically for the belt and I saw clearly. I saw how my mother and father had destroyed portions of me with their craziness and how their parents had destroyed portions of them and how I would destroy my children if I kept it up. I saw how my hours of silent crying and envy of people who contracted deadly diseases and died in car crashes, all of that crazy was bending my children toward the dark that enveloped me. I realized that my children would only get the one childhood.

And I saw a doctor. I'd seen a psychologist when I was ten and then again when I was seventeen and again when I was twenty-two and I'd learned a lot of useful skills. Skills which frankly were keeping me alive. I'd learned how to write through my feelings and recognize cognitive distortions. I'd learned how to talk back to the crazy. Useful. But still the darkness remained and that longing for death.

The doctor prescribed an SSRI. And I was healed. It wasn't simple. I had to try different kinds of SSRI and I had to work through the side effects. But it went away and stayed away. I quit taking them twice to have two more babies, during the non-medicated second pregnancy a combination of hormones and situational issues plummeted me to a level I'd never been before. I got to the point where I was sure everyone would be better off without me and a deadly suicide plan formed in spite of my best cognitive efforts. I began taking an SSRI again, because regardless of the risk to my baby, she would be 100% dead if I killed myself. Again it was like magic. I took my pill every day and the thoughts stopped. I could write. I could think. I could laugh, play games. Feel the Spirit. Love God. Love my family.

So, yes, as odd as it sounds, I am thankful for meds. I'm thankful that my now 20-year-old daughter and my 19-year-old son love me and don't fear me. If I was diabetic and took insulin because my pancreas couldn't meet my needs, I would take it and feel perfectly reasonable mentioning it in any setting, but because it's my brain, I feel a little cautious in mentioning it. Will telling come back to bite me in the butt? Given the stigma of mental illness, it might. Yeah, my brain has some sort of genetic brain chemical imbalance, but if I take my medicine, I am fine. It's really a modern miracle. I imagine how differently my family history would read if my mother and father and their mothers and fathers had taken an SSRI. The past doesn't get to be rewritten, but I sure as heck can write the future. I can tell my children and my children's children that it isn't necessary to drink away or smoke away or scream away the dark.

If you currently are experiencing depression and suicidal feelings, I encourage you to seek help. Medications and counseling can save your life, can save the quality of your life and the life of those you love. Please reach out. 

 Here is a link that can start you on a path to healing:

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Giving Thanks--5

I am thankful for my yvil sister. I'm thankful for her sense of humor and her intelligence. I'm proud of her academic accomplishments. My kids adore her. I adore her. I'm thankful that she has worked hard to stay on earth with us.

If you want to read more about the yvil one: I wrote about her years ago.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Giving Thanks--4

Sleep. I am so thankful for sleep, the ultimate reset button.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Giving Thanks--3

Conveniently it is J's birthday, so it's an easy pick.

I am grateful for my oldest son, J.

J is easily the most handy of all my kids to date. He can fix the computer or a bike or the leaky faucet. He built me a big fence around my yard this summer. (His summer construction job was a bit of a flop, not nearly enough hours, so I hired him. I have yet to pay him, because I have no gates yet and I learned my lesson about paying contractors before the work is completely done. That's a story for a different day though.) He's an easy kid to brag about (just click "J" at the bottom of the post and it will take you to many a brag-fest). He's self-motivated and smart. He inherited his dad's natural musical ability. He left the nest in September and I miss him horribly, but he only went to UCDavis, so I can retrieve him when I begin missing him too badly.

I've got too much to do today to write an essay about his strengths and weaknesses, but trust me, he's a kid to be grateful for.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Giving Thanks--2

I wonder if it would be cheating to list my family one by one. Maybe, but what are they going to do, revoke my thanking privileges? Where to start, oldest, youngest, the one making the most noise right now? I think I'll start with my oldest daughter, E. 

I am thankful for E.

I remember when E was about five months old a friend asked me how being a mother was. I answered that it was so much better than anything I'd imagined, so much easier than I was expecting. She was beautiful, brilliant and a delight to be around. I think I raved for a good ten minutes which in retrospect was certainly bad form, but I'd fallen in love, so deeply in love that all manners had been thrown to the wind. And of course I hadn't hit potty training or learning how to do fractions or hormones or learning to drive or teenage rebellion or her completely backwards sleep schedule yet, all of which confirmed that parenting was not easy-peasy.

Nevertheless, my relationship with E continues to be one of the biggest blessings of my life. She's brilliant and resourceful. We geek out on Doctor Who together. We laugh at the same things. We enjoy similar books. She helped me raise and slaughter the meat chickens (and promptly became vegan). In consequence, she's voted most likely to help me through a horrible project without whining. If I had to be stuck on a desert island with someone, she would be in my top five picks.

She ran off to UCBerkeley this summer. Letting her be her own grownup person has been so much harder than I was expecting, but so much more rewarding. Last night I went out to dinner with her and just stared at her beauty and absorbed her light, and I realized that as deeply as I loved her as a baby, I love her more now, so much so that sometimes I throw manners to wind and write a whole blog post about her.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Giving Thanks--1

November is my thankful month, not that I don't give it a solid shot at being thankful other months, but November is the month I consciously decide to count my blessings one by one. It helps me in so many ways, lifts my mind toward God, and opens my eyes to things I take for granted.

Today's Thankful: I am thankful for God's love. I am grateful for my mother and grandparents teaching me of his love when I was very young and for all of the teachers and missionaries who also testified of that love throughout my life, but most of all I am grateful to God for revealing that love to me as I've prayed.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Ice Queen

"Sarah Byrd, Riverside, California," said the card BYU had sent. Sarah, nice name. Riverside, nice town. Oh God, plesae let her be a nice girl. In three weeks she would be my roommate. I was nervously curious. Luckily, Sarah's phone number was included on the information sheet. I called immediately.

Mrs. Byrd answered the phone. I quickly told her who I was and asked to speak to Sarah. Mrs. Byrd enthusiastically introduced herself and began to detail Sarah's lineage. The Byrds, it would seem, were an important family in Southern California, very successful, spiritual, wealthy, and very well-known. For a half an hour, she recited the family résumé. Eventually, she sidetracked to the decor of our dorm room. Matching bedspreads, she thought, would be charming. Purple, that was Sarah's favorite color. On and on she babbled. I listened, amazed that anyone could talk so long. My brain calculated the cost of a daytime rate call. My mother would kill me. Our budget simply wouldn't cover the unexpected expense. 

After what seemed to be hundreds of costly minutes, Sarah got on the line. She sounded normal, a great relief. We chatted amiably, shallowly, for a few minutes. Then, out of necessity, I mentioned my budget situation to explain both the impossibility of buying matching bedspreads and the necessity of ending the conversation. She understood completely. She was thrilled I was from California. I was thrilled that she was thrilled. Our conversation lasted for about five minutes. I hung up delighted (despite the phone bill) to have met the girl who would soon become my friend, roommate, and confidante. 

The next time we spoke to each other was at BYU. I arrived after Sarah. Her belongs lay in neat piles on her bed. A dozen red roses sat on her desk. I dumped my things on the bed, the floor, and my desk and headed for freshman orientation. That evening I returned to find my room half immaculate. My side of the room sharply contrasted with Sarah's neat, organized side. Scenes from The Odd Couple flitted through my mind. I made a mental note to straighten things up as soon as I could.

Sarah matched her side of the room, very neat.  She looked like a Sourthern Californian. Her body was a curveless size five, her clothes neat, pressed, flattering, and very expensive. Her face was neither gorgeous nor plain, merely passably pretty. Her hair feathered back from her face in perfectly uniform sheets of layered, over-processed hair. 

We said our hellos, tacitly decided each other trustworthy, and began to share details of our high school love lives and tidbits of our family lives. The next day we ate all our meals together and went shopping. We could tell we were going to be the best of friends.

School started and our differences became apparent. She was a business major. I was a theatre major. Our schedules differed greatly. Rehearsals often kept me out past eleven while Sarah went to sleep at nine-thirty. Unfortunately she was a light sleeper; I always woke her up when I came in late. No matter how quiet I was, no matter how dark the room was, I was always greeted with a snip of a rude, sleepy remark. And since I interrupted her sleep every night, she mutilated mine every morning in retaliation.

At six every morning, she awoke, showered , and came back into the room to blow-dry her hair. The hair ritual lasted forty-five miutes. Then for twenty minutes she would stare into a lighted mirror applying layers of expensive cosmetics to transform herself into a moderately pretty girl. Overall, we shared more than an hour of loud, bright would-have-been sleep together every morning. 

During the days she made her displeasure clear chiefly through the skillful use of silence. She had perfected the art of icy stares in response to greetings, comments, or questions. The room began to develp a noticeable chill. My friends and I dubbed Sarah "The Ice Queen," and I began to spend the night elsewhere whenever possible. I would come home, change clothes, and leave as quickly as I could. 

One of the more noticeable results of this tendency to leave was the development of an enormous pile of dirty clothes on my bed and floor. Sarah broke the icy silence to complain about "the stench," with a meaningful look at the conspiciously piled clothes. I was offended. The stench, in fact, came not from my mess, but from the vase of rotting slime-water and the remains of her once-lovely roses sitting on her immaculate shelves. An arched brow and a silent removal of the offending flora was her only response to this discovery.

Shortly after the rose incident, a series of misunderstandings, which neither of us could have coherently related a week later, occurred. The situation exploded. Our silence was broken by a torrent of accusations. Through tears of anger and of frustration, Sarah told me of her dream roommate. She had wanted a Californian, a  real Californian. She wanted a friend who would shop with her, double-date with her, share expensive, size five clothes with her. Visions of summers of dashing back and forth between Sourthern Californian hometowns, hitting the beaches, and breaking hearts, clashed with the reality of a slovenly Northern Californian roommate. She wanted another roommate, another chance for fun that coming summer.

She demanded that I move. The phone was in her name: I was to move. My stubborn streak flared; I refused to move. Sarah's carefully lined eyes narrowed and she softly growled, "If you think I've been a bitch so far, just wait . . . I'm going to make your life a living hell." I did not care to take her up on the offer. She was more stubborn than I; I had no doubts of her abilities to carry out the threat. I was gone by that night.

Periodically, I saw her during the next few weeks. We passed by each other as if we had never met. She left in the middle of the semester. I did not miss her. Still, I think about her every now and then, and about how childish we were. And sometimes when someone is from Riverside, I'll even ask if she is familiar with the notorious Byrds. Amazingly enough, sometimes someone is.


{My oldest daughter has just gone off to Berkeley and I told her I'd post this twenty year old essay in honor of her own, much more pleasant, roommate experience. If I had been tempted to use Sarah's real name, the temptation was squashed by a Google search that revealed that she is unmarried, still living in Riverside, and a lawyer—part of a family with an infamous estate feud. Yeah, I think I'll pass on naming her. Twenty-eight years later, I still wouldn't want to cross her.}

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Rules To Live By

Once upon a time, I read a little book of advice from a father to his son. It got me thinking about thinking about things I want to pass on to my kids. As my forty-sixth birthday is coming up, I thought I'd cough up forty-six pearls of wisdom for my posterity. Some clearly apply to my daughters more than my sons. Use your best judgement in applying these babies in your own life.

1. If you are already in the shower, shave and shampoo. You'll never be sorry you did.
2. Don't pull on loose strings.
3. Floss.
4. Do one generous and one ridiculous thing when you get a windfall.
5. Remember birth control doesn't work sometimes. Don't have sex with anyone you are unwilling to have a child with.
6. Date someone for at least a year before getting married.
7. Live in the worst house in a nice neighborhood. Make it better.
8. Never buy a refrigerator without shelves.
9. Always try to go to the funeral of someone you love.
10. Children are not grownups, but they are people, full-grown souls in little bodies. Be respectful.
11. Do not induce labor if you can help it.
12. Treat people as you would like to be treated.
13. If you think something nice about someone, say it to them.
14. Tell people you love them if you do.
15. Don't tell people you love them if you don't.
16. Bills don't go away if you ignore them.
17. If you need to throw up, just do it. Stressing about it and trying to stop it just results in constant nausea and puke coming out your nose.
18. Parents get grouchy and tired. Offer them some time off sometime if they seem to be losing it.
19. If you swear around little tiny people, you can expect them to parrot it back in their cute little lispy voice. Chances are this will not make you feel warm and fuzzy.
20. If you plant something, water it, or it will die.
21. If you plant something, don't water it too much, or it will die.
22. Don't name chickens you are planning on eating.
23. Anything is easier to wash right away. It gets harder the longer it sits. (Except oatmeal. Don't know what's up with that.)
24. Buy the best knives you can afford.
25. Don't cheat. It makes you feel bad and it gets you in trouble.
26. Don't hit people. Even when--especially when--it seems like a good idea.
27. If you are going to have more than one kid buy good quality clothes second-hand. For you and for them.
28. Nursing costs a heck of a lot less money than formula. Spend some of that saved money on yourself.
29. Read widely. Read about ideas, people that appall you as well as those that uplift you.
30. Most friends will grow distant eventually, even ones you think will always be there. In the end, your family is still there. Invest the most in those relationships.
31. Visit lonely people.
32. Never take sides in a divorce.
33. Do not argue with the police. Use your nice words.
35. Treat your mail carrier well.
36. Wash your can opener.
37. Never say "uh-huh" absentmindedly to a child. They will remember that "promise" forever.
38. If you get an epidural and then you get a horrid headache afterwards, they will suggest you wait two weeks for it to heal on its own. It will not. Just get the "blood patch" that they will offer you in two weeks right away. It's really low risk and it works instantly.
39. When someone talks about suicide take them seriously. So what if she is just seeking attention? Give it to her.
40. Do not love other people's children as if they were your own. Your heart will break if they leave.
41. Pray. No one loves you more than God. No one deserves your love more than God.
42. Lay down for a full week after you have a baby. Your body will make you pay if you try too much too soon.
43. Be careful with bleach. A little goes a long way.
44. Play the Glad Game.
45. Give people the benefit of the doubt.
46. If you lend money, consider it a gift. Do not borrow money from friends or family.

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Hard Part

Wise words from the Parents’ Tao Te Ching:

When your children behave,
give them respect and kindness.
When your children misbehave,
give them respect and kindness.

When they are hateful,
love them.
When they betray your trust,
trust them.

Believe this difficult truth:
Showing respect in the face of disrespect,
love in the face of hate,
trust is the face of betrayal,
and serenity in the face of turmoil,
will teach your children more
than all the moral lectures
by all the preachers
since the dawn of time.

Source: "On Soft Discipline":

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Neighborhood Blessings

As I think I may have mentioned, my kids lost both their grandmothers in 2011. It's been a bit rough on them. We prayed for the blow to be softened, and the Lord answered our prayers. About two years ago a very friendly person moved in down the street, a grandma who had no grandbabies to love. My kids adopted her. She adopted them.

Not that long ago, V wanted to go down to June's* house. I reminded her that it was a school day and V begged to be able to go read out loud to June, a thing she detests doing for me. "It makes her happy, Mom!" So I gave permission and V ran down. A couple of hours later I got a call from June telling me how she had gotten up that morning and wondered why she even bothered getting up every day. And then V came down and read to her. And it gave June such joy.

My kids still are a bit death obsessed. C told June that she loved her so much she would go to her funeral. June laughed, hugged her, and told her that she loved her too. V has told her how much she's going to miss her when she dies. L (my money-obsessed rude monkey) suggested that he'd be happy to have some of her money when she goes. (They have a long-standing joke where he teases "Give me all your money," and she laughs and swats him.) June lost her husband a few years ago and just lost her mom last month. She understands. She responds with love.

June comes by for holidays and birthdays. She made all of her kid friends in the neighborhood a fleece blanket for Christmas. She took the kids shopping to pick out the fabric and then had them help her. (They all wore them as capes on Christmas day as they visited around the neighborhood, even the big tough kids.) She gives them a piece of candy from her candy bowl each time they visit. (One piece, don't even try to take an extra!) She has them weed for her. She chews them out if they sass her, use bad language, or treat each other poorly. She takes them to the ballet, takes them grocery shopping with her, and just spices up their lives in general. Like a grandma.

We needed a grandma and the Lord gave us June who as it turns out needed us too, and strangers turned into family. It's a tender mercy that boarders on miraculous to me that the Lord chose to bless all of us in the same move.

*Name has been changed to protect her privacy.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Moffat's More Death Obsessed than I Am.

If I haven't outed myself as a nerd yet, allow me to do so. I am a Doctor Who fan. A big one. I have no TARDIS mugs or sonic screwdiver pens. No posters all over my rooms. Nevertheless.

Anyhow, I'll post a huge picture for those of you who need protection from Season 5, 6, and 7 spoilers. Here you go. Now go away or your life will be spoiled. (Also—move it along, time to catch up on your Who.)

Steven Moffet is just messing with us all. As I'm sure most people who've watched New Who can tell you, Moffet is mean and more than a teensy bit morbid. People die and then live. Then die again. (Lather-rinse-repeat.) Rory-and-Amy's deaths have became a running joke. Apparently Clara is going to follow suit. So here is a post that is really just for me to keep score. I'll be adding to it. [Don't flip out if it takes me a bit. "Just for me" means I am not trying to write the authoritative death lists for Whovians. Also I am not touching the Jack Harkness deaths, too many, too grotesque.]

Rory's Deaths:
1. Amy's Choice—Mrs. Pogett
2. Amy's Choice—Blown up when the doctor blew up the TARDIS.
3. Cold Blood—Shot by the Silerian Restac (intended for the Doctor) and body absorbed by the light, erased from time.
4, The Curse of the Black Spot—A toss up between drowning, and being vaporized by the touch of a stroppy homicidal mermaid, one of the two got him.
5. The Curse of the Black Spot—Appears to drown when taken off life support.
6. The Doctor's Wife—Died of old age in the TARDIS, driven to insanity by House.
7. The Angels Take Manhattan—Died from old age at Winter Quay.
8. The Angels Take Manhattan—Jumped from roof of Winter Quay.
9. The Angels Take Manhattan—Lived to death in the past, died for real at age 82. (This time they really mean it. Ten points if you can guess the show that's from.)

Amy's Deaths:
1. Amy's Choice—Drove van into wall.
2. Amy's Choice—Doctor blew up the TARDIS.
3. Hungry Earth—Amy appears to die when she gets swallowed up by the earth.
4. Girl Who Waited—Older Amy killed by the kindness of hand-bots and simultaneously wiped from existence. 
5. The Angels Take Manhattan—Jumped from roof at Winter Quay.
6. The Angels Take Manhattan—Lived to death in the past, died for real at age 87.

Clara's Deaths:
1. Asylum of the Daleks—Blown up.
2. The Snowmen—Fell to death.
3. The Bells of St. John—Soul sucked out by a little girl spoon-head at the base of the stairs.
4. The Bells of St. John—Soul sucked out by a doctor spoon-head at the café.
5. Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS—Melted into a lava monster thingy. (I believe they are known in certain circles as "ossified creatures.")
6. The Name of the Doctor—OK, Clara officially wins most deaths of anyone in Who, old or new. How can you even count after that? 

If, by chance, you are not a Doctor Who fan, I suggest that you try it out. Get ready for cheesy special effects, some over-the-top moralizing, some melodrama, and some good clean fun. In theory, it's a children's show, but it's too scary for my littlest who is six.

As an aside, I must admit that I had a very good time double checking my list.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

For My Daughter

By Sarah McMane
“Never grow a wishbone, daughter, where your backbone ought to be.” – Clementine Paddleford

Never play the princess when you can
be the queen:
rule the kingdom, swing a scepter,
wear a crown of gold.
Don’t dance in glass slippers,
crystal carving up your toes --
be a barefoot Amazon instead,
for those shoes will surely shatter on your feet.

Never wear only pink
when you can strut in crimson red,
sweat in heather grey, and
shimmer in sky blue,
claim the golden sun upon your hair.
Colors are for everyone,
boys and girls, men and women --
be a verdant garden, the landscape of Versailles,
not a pale primrose blindly pushed aside.

Chase green dragons and one-eyed zombies,
fierce and fiery toothy monsters,
not merely lazy butterflies,
sweet and slow on summer days.
For you can tame the most brutish beasts
with your wily wits and charm,
and lizard scales feel just as smooth
as gossamer insect wings.

Tramp muddy through the house in
a purple tutu and cowboy boots.
Have a tea party in your overalls.
Build a fort of birch branches,
a zoo of Legos, a rocketship of
Queen Anne chairs and coverlets,
first stop on the moon.

Dream of dinosaurs and baby dolls,
bold brontosaurus and bookish Belle,
not Barbie on the runway or
Disney damsels in distress --
you are much too strong to play
the simpering waif.

Don a baseball cap, dance with Daddy,
paint your toenails, climb a cottonwood.
Learn to speak with both your mind and heart.
For the ground beneath will hold you, dear --
know that you are free.
And never grow a wishbone, daughter,
where your backbone ought to be.

[Thanks to A Mighty Girl for sharing this with me.]