This is why we can't have anything nice.

To Whom it May Concern:

The holiday season is not my favorite time of year. Mostly, I try to maintain a cheerful facade throughout November and December, never indicating to my loved ones that I'd rather string myself up from the mistletoe and take that long dirt nap I've been yearning for since I was eleven or twelve years old than live through one more round of ThanksmasEve.

No, that isn't true. Actually, I bitch about the holiday season in a very vocal manner, pretty much daily from October onward. I mostly look like this:

After Thanksgiving this year, however, I dutifully ordered James to bring the boxes of Christmas decorations up from the basement so that we could start the obligatory pretending to share the goodwill towards our fellow (wo)man that is required of us so that we don't psychologically damage the child too much.

In other words, we were going to put up the Christmas tree, no matter how much it pained me us. Upon opening the box that contains the tree, and hauling its three sections out, putting the middle one incorrectly in the stand, then swearing and lugging it back out and replacing it with the bottom section...I began to notice strange bits of fuzz falling from the branches. Fuzzy pink and yellow globs of...? And, wait...this strand of lights is all frayed and separated, like... Slowly, the pieces of the picture came together and I realized that during all those months I'd been happily not celebrating Christmas, mice had infiltrated the cardboard Christmas tree box, had constructed a nest made of bits of insulation in the fake branches of the tree, and had proceeded to nibble their way through various sections of the wiring on the lights. Lovely.
I was ready to cancel Christmas right then and there, but James, sweet James, with his scrappy, make-do disposition, his creative diy ethos, was sure that the tree could be salvaged. All we needed to do was remove the chewed up strands of lights and string new lights on the tree, clean up the wadded insulation, and voila!, we'd once again have a perfectly serviceable Christmas tree. My corporeal body suffused and glowing with the true spirit of Christmas, I said, "Fine. You do it."

After days went by with James snipping and pulling away at strands of lights and Eliot wandering around the house lamenting, "We're NEVER going to finish our tree. Why did the mice have to eat our tree? We're never going to have a tree!" James finally broke down and requested my assistance with the tree. Satisfied that he had been duly punished for his wayward optimism, I grabbed a pair of scissors and went to work snipping apart the strands of lights that were ziptied to the branches AND twisted around them AND held on with small plastic clips. Let me just warn you right now: Do Not attempt to detach the strands of lights from an artificial, pre-lit Christmas tree. Do not. It is NOT worth it. I am here to tell you. Not. Worth. It.

Just set that fucker by the side of the road next to the trash bin and explain to your family the cold, hard truth: Baby Jesus didn't want us to have a Christmas tree this year because it has come to his attention that we are a bunch of godless pagans.

By the time we finished stripping the tree of its lights, my fingers were sore, I was having sneezing attacks from the dust/insulation/mouse debris, and there were at least three pounds worth of artificial pine needles heaped upon the carpet under our now Charlie Brown-ass looking tree.

Tomorrow, we'll put new strings of lights on the sad thing, festoon it with ornaments like my beloved gold, spray-painted macaroni mitten, the empty toilet paper tube with glitter on it that I made when I was six, and the Christmas tree made exclusively from lined notebook paper and Scotch tape, and we'll call it good. We are going to leave this goddamn tree up until after New Year's and we are going to enjoy the motherloving hell out of it. Like a FAMILY.

Merry effing Christmas, everyone.



First grade is a hot mess.

I've been volunteering in Eliot's school this year. I started with two hours a week in the library, which has been great. My favorite task is choosing books to pull from the shelves and display, and when kids check out the books I've pulled, my heart is happy. I like filling requests for books about horses, or snowmen, or bats and spiders, or whatever particular subject is making them curious that day; I like telling them, "Yes, there's a book about that!," and then leading them to its home on the shelf. I like sending them away with my own favorites, storybook gems they might not otherwise discover, like The House in the Night or It Looked Like Spilt Milk. I like reshelving books or clipping and sorting Boxtops for Education while listening to the librarian read to the whole class, her story inevitably punctuated by raised hands and excited, total non sequitur exclamations like, "My grandpa took me fishing once!" in response to a story about the Gingerbread Man.

I like that every time I walk through the halls of the elementary school, I'm an immediate celebrity. First-graders nudge and whisper to one another behind their hands, "Psst...That's Eliot's mom!" or call out to me, "Hi, Eliot's mom!" with gleaming faces as I pass by.

On Tuesday mornings, I spend an hour in Eliot's classroom, helping kids one-on-one with their reading or math. His teacher (we'll call her Mrs. Teacher), has specific tasks ready for me to help with, a list of sight words to help children practice at a desk in the hallway, sets of flashcards to go through with certain students. This week, I walked into the classroom at my appointed time, and Mrs. Teacher wasn't there. A substitute explained that Mrs. Teacher was in a meeting and hadn't left any instructions for me.

I probably could have just turned and walked away at that point. All my spidey-senses were telling me to run, but alas, I saw Eliot sitting at his table, grinning widely at me, delighted as ever to have me there in his classroom, if only for an hour. I stayed. Substitute was working with a group of about eight kids on a reading project of some sort, and the other students, around 14 or 15 of them, were split into groups, busy working at "stations." A timer went off at intervals, signaling to the children to go to the next learning station in their rotation. For about five minutes after I entered the room, everything was peaceful. Groups of kids were reading to themselves, reading in small groups, drawing, writing sentences, etc. There didn't seem to be anything in particular for me to do, so I walked around, casually observing. I sat down at a table next to a little boy drawing a picture on a worksheet, and said, "Hey, there. Whatchya drawin?" Mistake.

Within seconds, the delicate balance tipped, and the class descended into chaos. Apparently, giving a first-grader unsolicited attention of any kind immediately signals to all the other children in the vicinity that attention is being given. SHE IS GIVING AWAY FREE ATTENTION! I WOULD LIKE SOME FREE ATTENTION AS WELL! This is what happened in the brain of each little girl and boy within minutes of me striking up a conversation with that one kid, whom we'll call Tom. We'll call all the boys Tom and all the girls Susan, for the sake of expediency and protecting the privacy of the not-so-innocent.

So, as Tom is explaining to me his lovely drawing, which features him playing his favorite video game, I look up to see Tom holding a book high over his head, trying to keep it away from Tom, who is jumping and grasping at the air trying to get it while a third Tom tackles the knees of the first Tom, and soon they are all three wrestling on the floor, in a death match to determine who will get the book. Susan has appeared from nowhere and is tugging on my hand, pleading, "Will you READ to ME? I need you to sit by me at my desk!"

Mere feet away, Tom has thrown all the red laminated flashcards on the ground and is stomping on them, while two Susans yell at him to stop. Susan taps the glass aquarium of the class tarantula and yells to me from across the room, "Mrs....*breathy exhalation of air that moves her bangs out of her face* Mrs. Eliot's Mom, did you know that A SPIDER IS NOT AN INSECT IT IS AN ARACHNID?!"

I'm casting my eyes wildly about, trying to assess which situation needs my attention first (I'm thinking it's the three wrestling Toms), and Substitute remains blissfully unaware of the growing noise level as she works in the corner with her reading group. Eliot looks up from the book he's reading silently to himself and catches my eye. He smiles and waves and goes back to reading, an oasis of calm in the eye of a first-grade hurricane as Tom, and Tom, and Tom, and Tom, and Susans meltdown all over the damn place around him.

Tom tugs on my sleeve and complains, "Tom called me a bully!"
"No I didn't! You said it to me first!"
"He said the word 'kill'!"
"YOU said 'kill'!"
"Tom is sticking his tongue out at me!"

I take a deep breath and exhale a series of admonitions as I lunge across the room towards the wrestling Toms: "No name calling don't look at Tom we don't say words that make our friends uncomfortable and that IS NOT THE WAY WE TREAT BOOKS!" I blurt, shaking off Susans and pulling apart Toms.

The timer goes off and the kids all drop what they are doing and switch places, except for Susan at the aquarium, gazing at the tarantula. I sidle up to her and ask, "Susan, which station are you supposed to be at?" She ignores my question and whispers, pointing, "This corner is where she keeps the dead bodies." I look, and sure enough, in the back corner of the aquarium is a pile of empty insect husks. I grimace and say, "Ugh. That's pretty gross."

"It's not gross," Susan tells me solemnly, "It's just what spiders do."

I look over at Eliot, now drawing a picture of his favorite activity on his worksheet, and he smiles at me and shrugs.

I have a feeling I'm going to hear that timer dinging in my nightmares.


Just now.

I am reading Haruki Murakami's 1Q84.
Eliot is reading Magic Tree House #23 and Fly Guy #4

My favorite song at the moment is "Burn It Down" (Flame Princess Dubstep).
Eliot's favorite song at the moment is "Radioactive" by Imagine Dragons.

I've been watching Dexter.
Eliot has been watching Minecraft videos on YouTube, especially music video parodies of popular songs.

I've been sewing things like pillowcases and pencil cases and working on Adventure Time character embroideries.
Eliot has been experimenting with construction paper shapes in his school art class and begging me to enroll him in karate lessons.

I've been playing Candy Crush.
Eliot has been playing Minecraft and games on Lego.com.

I've been bringing home essays to grade.
Eliot has been bringing home green banana behavior reports and math homework.

I've been scanning the internetwebs for a white terrycloth robe that doesn't cost too much money. (Why on earth are robes so expensive?)
Eliot has been scanning eBay searching for the missing pieces to complete his McDonald's Power Ranger Megazord toy.

I've been sleeping under the blue and white quilt my Grammy made.
Eliot has been sleeping with a camouflage Build-A-Bear that his Ma-Ma bought him. Its name was originally "Army," but this evening Eliot rechristened him "Mr. Cuddles."


Yes, we have no green bananas.

When I picked Eliot up from school this afternoon he was scowling as he got in the car.
"What's wrong, buddy?" I asked, glancing at him in the rear view mirror.
"My banana is in red," he muttered.

His banana was in red. In Mrs. D_'s classroom is a chart with monkeys and a banana tree. Each student has a banana with his or her name on it and at the beginning of each school day, their banana starts out hanging at the top of the tree, in the green zone. If they're having behavioral issues, not listening, getting too chatty, disrupting the class, whatever, their banana moves down to the yellow zone. They then have chances to move back up, depending on their behavior for the rest of the day. If things don't improve, their banana drops to the ground, which means the banana is in red.

"What happened?" I asked.

"I can't remember," he mumbled.

I adjusted the rear view mirror so that I could see his face more clearly and asked again, "How did your banana get in red?"

He whined, "I said I don't remember! Mrs. D__ didn't say."

He clammed up and wouldn't look at me. I gave him a minute, and when he still wouldn't tell me, I said I guessed I'd have to call Mrs. D__ and find out, since he couldn't remember.

After a few moments of silence, he whispered, "I do know."

I said, "What happened?"

"I was quacking," he said.



"You were...quacking?" I asked.

"Yes. You know, like I was making duck sounds."

"Why were you making duck sounds during class?"

"I don't know."

"Eliot! You know better than that. What is wrong with you?! Why would you make duck sounds?"

"I told you! I don't know! I just wanted to!"

"Well, why didn't your banana go back up? Did Mrs. D__tell you to stop and you kept doing it? Was it in the afternoon or in the morning?"

"It was kinda like...pretty much all day."

"You were quacking all day at school?!"


And then I couldn't help it. I busted up laughing because my kid is such a freaking weirdo and I love him so much. He looked up at me with a cautious smile.

"Are you laughing at me, Mommy?"

"Dude. I'm sorry. I can't help it. You were seriously quacking?"

Eliot, forlornly, hanging his head, "Yeah."

Me, catching his eyes, "It's kind of funny. It's a little bit funny."

He started to smile.

Then we had to have a serious talk about why quacking isn't allowed in school, even though it's funny. He has the weekend to get all the duck out of his system, and then hopefully we'll be back to green bananas on Monday.


That's quacktastic!


Tomorrow is another day.

I've been listening to Macklemore this morning and I keep replaying "Starting Over." It's funny that I found it this morning. I'd never heard the song before. It's funny that I found it this morning because this morning I'm starting over. Again.

I'm not an alcoholic or a drug addict. But I have bad days.

Yesterday was a bad day. I call it a "bad day," but that doesn't mean it rained and my checking account was overdrawn and I was tired and cranky and I didn't get any mail. A "bad day" is when the voice in my head says "I can't do this anymore. This breathing in and out is too hard, and it hurts. I want to be done. I AM done." A "bad day" is when everything is too much, much too much, and I'm ready for it to be over. I sit and cry until the cries turn into shaking sobs and my face turns inside out. Or I crawl into bed and try to sleep, hoping like hell with everything I am that I won't wake up. I wish for a brain aneurysm. I sit at the bottom of the shower, close my eyes, wrap my arms around my legs and breathe in water until I choke.

[I don't mean to scare any of my loved ones with this confession. Generally speaking, I'm okay. None of this is new. It's old, old, old. I've been having days like this, sometimes days and days that stack up in a dark row, since I was fourteen. I have a therapist whom I see regularly. I'm on medication. My medical doctor works in tandem with my therapist, yadda, yadda, yadda. Please do not be alarmed.]

I wouldn't even write this and post it for public consumption except that I feel like I understand something right now that I can only fully articulate by writing about it, and I feel compelled to share it in the interest of honesty and transparency. 

I know, today, I know that my depressive episodes are not brought on by outside circumstances; therefore, they cannot be cured by outside circumstances. In other words, no matter how nice my living situation is, no matter how much money is in my bank account, no matter how many people shower me with adoration, no matter how many beautiful works of embroidery I create, no matter what words I manage to put in what lyrical, skipping order, I am still going to experience days when I can't physically pick myself up off the ground because I'm in too much emotional pain. Even if I write a book that Oprah thinks is fabulous, that shoots to the top of the New York Times bestseller list, that gets made into a Hollywood blockbuster film whose midnight premiere draws millions to theaters across the country, I will still experience days when I have to concentrate on the words tattooed on my wrist and encourage myself to just breathe in and out again and again until I can do it without encouragement.

Glennon Melton blogged recently about her continued battle with depression, and it struck me so hard, because that woman's book and blog has been read and loved by soooo many people. She's been up on the Huffington Post numerous times, she's done publicity tours and readings and signings for the book. Her writing has touched so many people, and it doesn't make her impervious to "bad days." She still has them.

James shared this graphic on his Facebook wall recently:

This quote, along with Melton's post and the Macklemore song, has been floating through my brain this morning, and it just reminds me that for better or worse, I'm pretty well stuck with this depression thing. That's both saddening and encouraging. It's saddening because every time it comes around again I think, "Shit, really?! I thought I was DONE with this. I thought I was cured. I've been doing so well, and I'm so happy in my life. I can't deal with this again. Not again! Why?!" And sometimes I think, well if I just had X, I'd be so happy that I wouldn't have these episodes. This couldn't possibly happen to me if I had more money, or a skinnier body, or a blah blah blah nonsense whatever. I have to remind myself that that just isn't true. 

So it's also encouraging to think of "bad days" as inevitable because if I can just hold on through the storm, I know that it will pass. It comes and goes, and the important thing to remember is that it GOES. It does go. No matter how much in the midst of it, it feels like it is forever, it's not. That's just a dirty lie depression tells me. Also, these episodes don't mean that I'm necessarily doing anything wrong. When depression shows up, it isn't because I don't have enough money, or a skinny enough body, or enough blah blah blah insert stupid material things that, if I thought about it, I actually don't value much at all. It just comes because it comes. It comes because of some funky brain chemistry that I can't change. 

Yesterday James climbed into bed with me and held me while I sobbed against his chest. Just tears and snot everywhere. Today, he didn't have to because I was up and going and doing life again.

I'm actually pretty lucky. I have an amazing partner who understands, loves, and supports me. I have a great big crazy extended family whom I love. I have the best son possible. I love my job. I have numerous creative outlets that I enjoy. I have enough space and time and love. More than enough.

So on good days, I know I'm not done yet. Even on days when it rains and my checking account balance is low and I don't get any mail, I know I'm not done yet. And on the "bad days," I have Glennon Melton, Macklemore, Jim Carrey, and James Pritts to remind me that tomorrow will be better.


34 lessons I've learned in my 34 trips around the sun.

1. Eat dessert first.
2. Be kind (or at least try).
3. Never trust a fart to be just a fart.
4. Tell people what you're thinking (but not too often).
5. Chocolate makes everything better.
6. When you truly love someone, there's nothing you can't forgive.
7. When the heart breaks, it grows bigger.
8. You are doing it right.
9. On your 34th birthday, one of the best gifts is your 6 yr-old son sleeping in until 8:00 a.m. and then crawling in bed with you and whispering "Happy Birthday, Mom," in your ear. (Especially cute when he has lines on his face from sleeping on top of the blanket rather than under it.)
10. Fill up your gas tank BEFORE you hit "empty." (literally and metaphorically)
11. Remain a student, always.
12. Wear clean underwear.
13. Give away more than you take.
14. Play cards.
15. Don't play the lottery.
16. Going to the movies by yourself every once in awhile is a good thing.
17. A good vibrator is well worth the money.
18. Always tell people they did a great job at karaoke, even if they sounded like a cat being beaten with a stick. People who sing karaoke are either brave or drunk (or both), and either way, they deserve congratulations.
19. Embrace your scars, as they are stories of survival.
20. Don't make people earn your compassion; give it away for free.
21. Make people earn your respect; don't give it away for free.
22. Don't pick your scabs.
23. Go ahead and pick your nose. Everyone does it anyway. Just wash your hands afterwards.
24. Don't roll your eyes at your mother.
25. Tip generously.
26. Try new foods.
27. Just because it's on sale, doesn't mean you should buy it.
28. Gatorade is good for hangovers.
29. Do things that scare you every once in awhile, on purpose.
30. In the event of a sudden drop in cabin pressure, put your own oxygen mask on first.
31. Manual transmissions are better than automatic ones.
32. Jumping on a trampoline is very likely to make you pee your pants.
33. Always carry reading material with you. You never know.
34. It's a good idea to keep AA batteries on hand, so that you don't have to borrow them from any other small appliances when the Wii remote dies. (See # 17.)

Happy Birthday to me! I look forward to whatever the universe will reveal to me in the coming year. Bring it on! :)


Goodnight, sweetheart.

My nieces Zayda and Maggie came for an overnight visit. "I'm so excited!" Maggie proclaimed more than once on the drive up. When we got to the house and I excused myself to go the bathroom, I heard Maggie pacing outside the door, and she whispered to her sister, "Rachel's house is SO COOL."

They fed crickets to our bearded dragon, played Lego Undercover on the Wii U, and danced around the living room in their pajamas like little rockstars.

I ended up rocking all three kids to sleep, one after another. First Maggie, whose eyes welled with tears when she started to fall asleep without her momma. She murmured, "I miss my mommy. I should notta come to yo house. I should notta come. Just drwive me back to the coffee shop. Drwive me back to the coffee shop, okay?" (Elecia and I had met at a Starbucks halfway between our houses.) I stroked her hair along her sweaty hairline over and over as we rocked back and forth in a pale yellow glider that hasn't gotten much use since Eliot was a baby. I stroked her hair and kissed her forehead until she fell asleep in my arms.

No sooner had I laid Maggie down and tucked her sleeping form into Eliot's bed then Eliot appeared at my side in the dark, sneaking in from the couch where he was supposed to be sleeping with Zayda. He whispered, "Mom?" I ushered him back down the hallway to the living room and sat with him on the couch. "I miss my dad," he said, his chin dropped low, his face trying to approximate a pout.

"Do you miss your dad? Or do you really just want me to rock you, too?" I asked, smiling.

He looked up at me and nodded up and down, breaking into a mischievous grin. We walked hand-in-hand to the front room, I sat down in the glider, and he scrambled onto my lap, all elbows and knees and skinny limbs, naked except for his red and white striped underwear. I patted his back and started to sing a quiet lullaby. I looked up and there was Zayda, as if on cue.

"I suppose you wanna be next?" I laughed. She laughed and grinned and shook her head yes.

I said, "Okay, okay. Fair enough."

After I'd gone through a few songs with Eliot--songs I used to sing to him over and over, a hundred times a night until the sun peaked up over the horizon at dawn and we were still there in that yellow glider, him dozing fitfully in my arms, me thanking the universe that I'd survived another night--I deposited him in my bed and pulled the covers up to his chin.

Back down the hallway, back out to the front room, I found Zayda ready for her turn. I sat and pulled her onto my lap, her long legs dangling nearly to the floor. We laughed together in whispered conversation. She told me how she never gets much sleep at sleepovers, and I told her the story of the first time I babysat her when she was an infant, and her mother gave me a three page, detailed letter of instructions to follow, specifying even which lullaby to sing when Zayda got drowsy. (It was "One, two, three, four, five, once I caught a fish alive...") I told her how I used to rock Aunt Libby to sleep when SHE was a baby because I was a teenager when Libby was born. "How many years older are you than Libby?" she asked, and when I said, "15," she replied with, "WOW, how old ARE you, Rachel?!"

I said, "33, and my birthday is this month, and then I'll be 34."

She looked up at me with her mile long eyelashes and dark brown eyes and said, earnestly, "Well. That's okay. At least you aren't as old as Ma Ma."

I stifled my laughter, hauled her back into the living room and tossed her on the couch. "Try to sleep, kid," I said.

I went back to the yellow glider and sat there, rocking back and forth, silently.


My superhero is six.

Eliot turned six years old this month. Six. YEARS. It's hard to believe I've been a mom for six years now. I've been terrified, awe-inspired, bored, saddened, delighted, and pushed to my absolute emotional and physical limits by these six years of parenthood.

I don't have words of wisdom for anyone.

Just cute pictures of my kid.

And his fearless cousin, SuperZ!

And Miss Maggie K, balance beam walker.

I'm proud of them, and excited for the people they are and the people they are going to be. Their becoming has been a gift to witness. It goes by so quickly, and so slowly.

Sometimes I'm afraid to blink.


Color me in.

I love Design Seeds and I could peruse that website all day long, just drooling over color palettes. I've been thinking about color and value lately, as I feel like it's time to start designing a quilt for myself. I've completed a few small quilting projects over the last couple of years: there were two simple baby quilts, and I did put together the first blocks I ever embroidered into a full sized quilt, but ended up begging Mom to finish piecing it for me. I was not ready to take that on at the time!

Since I joined Threadbias and got in on some Newbee Quilters group action, I've been learning how to piece a new block each month, and the creative mojo is flowing. Also, I don't have nearly enough unfinished projects lying around the house, so it's definitely a good time to start a quilt. {insert sarcasm font}

My turn to be "Queen Bee" in my hive of the NewBee Quilters is in June, which is flying quickly towards us, so I've got to choose a block and some colors. I've changed my mind about thirty times so far. A bright, summery palette seems like fun for June:

Or maybe something with a little more of a retro feel, to match my personality?

But then, this morning I saw this:

Oh, what a beautiful breath of fresh air! So now I'm thinking greens, with a hint of pale blue. And maybe a courthouse steps block?

What do ya think?


Organized chaos. Or maybe just chaos.

I've never been known for my organizational skills. In my crafting/sewing room, I usually have a general idea where any given tool or material is, but my ability to find anything in particular hinges on the mental image I have of the last time I saw said item. I use my embroidery and cross stitching supplies often enough, however, that they're generally to be found towards the top of any given pile of accouterments.  

I almost always use wooden hoops, though I do have a Q snap frame that is growing on me. I do most of my stitching on thrifted fabric, often using vintage sheets or pillowcases that I find at Catholic Charities. I started out using plastic bags strung on giant sized jump rings to organize my floss (DMC), but as you can see, it has started to pile up in a heap in a plastic tray instead.

I always like to have a portable project ready to tote along with me in my purse, so for that I use this great linen zipper pouch that my mom got at a quilt shop hop at some point and didn't want. (I know, right?!) I love this little pouch--it's Moda fabric and features a print of a pair of shears. It's just big enough to hold whatever small cross stitch or embroidery project I'm working on, embroidery scissors, a good sharp, irreverent pencil, a fine tip Sharpie marker, a seam ripper, and plenty of skeins of floss.

The tracing paper I use a lot for transferring patterns. I like to use pictures from vintage children's books or coloring books, or even images on the web. Once Eliot found a great old picture book about superheroes from our local library, and I couldn't resist this Wonder Woman. She was begging to be stitched.

So pulled out the tracing paper, traced the image lightly with a pencil, then flipped the tracing paper over and traced the reverse side with an iron on transfer pen.

Then I just ironed her onto some white fabric and started stitching away. I'm planning on cutting away all but a thin white outline and then maybe adding a yellow star to her left. Not sure yet.

I love the metallic gold thread for her lasso, but it is such a pain to work with. I think I need to get my hands on some Thread Heaven, as I hear that makes working with metallics a bit easier.

See/read about other embroiderers' tool kits (and other stitchy goodness) via &Stitches.
&Stitches tool kit competition


However you're doing it, you're doing it right.

I got my copy of Carry On, Warrior in the mail a couple of days ago and I've been devouring it. I've been a Monkee ever since a friend introduced me to Momastery via the Don't Carpe Diem article on the Huffington Post last year. If you're a parent and you haven't read that article, go read it now. Right. Now. Seriously. That article made me cry thankful tears because finally, FINALLY, someone spoke my guilty thoughts. Out loud.

See? This is how excited I was to get my hands on the book.

I often suffer from feeling that I'm not doing it right. Life, that is. Sometimes I feel like everyone on the planet has a secret, one that I'm not in on, and when I try to go about my day pretending like I know it too, and trying so desperately to conduct myself accordingly, everyone just smiles over my head and nods knowingly at one another. Like, "Oh, look, isn't it cute that she's trying so hard?" mwahahahahaha. I realize that this is a paranoid, delusional fantasy...OR IS IT? No, it is. I think. I'm pretty sure.

Anyway, this is part of why I love Glennon Melton's writing so much. She makes me feel reassured, like there really is no right way to do it at all: love, parenting, relationships, family, work, happiness. Reading her words, I feel like I'm doing my life the only way I can do it, and that the way I do it...is okay. Is better than okay, actually, is a gift to the world that only I can give. And maybe that reassurance is a simple thing, but it's also the most important thing. 

From Glennon Melton's Carry On, Warrior:

We're not often permitted to tell the truth in everyday life. There is a small set of words and reactions and pleasantries we are allowed to say, like, "I'm fine, and you?" But we are not supposed to say much of anything else, especially how we are really doing. We find out early that telling the whole truth makes people uncomfortable and is certainly not ladylike or likely to make us popular, so we learn to lie sweetly so that we can be loved. And when we figure out this system, we are split in two: the public self, who says the right things in order to belong, and the secret self, who thinks other things.

AMEN, sister. Seriously. Melton's paragraph sums up much of the struggle of my adolescent and adult life. Right there.

I've always had a really hard time creating and maintaining a suitable public self. When I was younger, I refused to have a public self at all. I tried to crawl into corners and cracks, shrink into the side of my mother's clothing or her purse. The world seemed like too much. Too much loud, too much complicated, and way too much required of me to navigate it. As an adult, I ping pong back and forth between silent retreat and copious oversharing. When a colleague passes me in the hallway, and says "Hi, how are you?" I either point my face toward the floor and mumble a meek "hello," or I stop in my tracks and say something stupid and wildly inappropriate like, "Actually, I was just wondering how long I'm going to unintentionally punish my current partner for my ex-husband's mistakes," or, "If you want to know the truth, I'm terrified that I seem incapable of being alone."

Telling the whole truth, does, indeed make people uncomfortable. I have noticed that. But I've never learned to lie sweetly. Well, that's a lie. I CAN lie sweetly. I just don't like doing it. I'm not good at it. It hurts. It causes a psychic crack in me that aches. There's a fault line across my Self and when I smile sweetly and nod and say to another kindergarten mom a meaningless, pre-approved, innocuous line like "Oh, yes, WE are REALLY enjoying PHONICS," the honest soul deep inside me rumbles and rolls over and the shaking rises to the surface and bits of the fault line crumble and break off and fall back down into the crevice.

What I really want to say, so badly, is more like, "My son told me this morning multiple times that he hates me, and I forgot to make him brush his teeth, and I'm afraid he's going to grow up to be just like his father, only with gum disease, and I wish just once, ONCE, I could manage to feed him breakfast AND get him to school on fucking time. Do you ever feel that way?"

I think this impulse is just a yearning for approval, acceptance, and love. It's a need for connection, a reaching out. It's a need for someone, somewhere to acknowledge that parenting is HARD and that I am doing that hard job as well as anyone can be expected to do it. That LIFE is fucking HARD, and I'm doing it just fine. That I'm not the only one who sometimes feels like she's doing it all wrong. That as long as I keep breathing in and out, and putting one foot in front of the other, and getting out of bed in the morning, I'm doing it right.

I want someone to let me in on the secret. I want to find out that the secret, all along, has been that it is hard for everyone.

Because in keeping that secret, we only make it harder for each other.

And that's why, when I cracked the cover of Carry On, Warrior and saw this epigraph:

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." --Rev. John Watson
                        "Including you." --Glennon

I knew this book was written for me.


Socially awkward.

I went to a local craft store this morning to grab some embroidery floss, a few shades to finish my Grumpy Cat cross stitch and some gold for Wonder Woman's lasso! When I took my handful of skeins up to the counter, the sales clerk said their computer was down, and she was sorry, but she'd have to take the time to write down all my floss numbers and ring them up by hand.

So as she's getting to the end of the pile of floss, she lets out this heavy sigh and laments, "This is NOT a good way to start the morning off." Wanting to commiserate, I promptly returned with, "Oh, I know exactly what you mean. I hit a squirrel this morning."

She looked up from her calculator with a frown.

"With my car," I said.

*awkward silence*

Me: "You know, and it made me really sad."

*more silence*

Me: "Because I killed it. I killed a squirrel."

Cashier is looking at me like she's trying to determine what sort of disorder afflicts me.

Me: "That's not really the same thing at all, is it?"

Cashier: "I guess...they're both...not good?" as she hands me my change.

Me: "I'm going to leave now."

Cashier: "Okay."

Is it any wonder that I avoid going out in public?



I have this recurring dream, and I had a variation of it again last night, that Molly didn't really die. The details are a little different each time, but always I discover her, alive and well, living in some unfamiliar apartment made familiar by all of her things. I fall into her arms and hold onto her, not wanting to ever let go again. Sometimes I am mad at her for letting me think she was gone all these years, but madder at myself for not seeking her out sooner. It's always so real to me.

Often I think to myself, inside the dream, how I've dreamed her alive a hundred times and I'm so happy that this time, this time, this time it's real. When I wake up, when I woke up this morning, I have to take a minute to think about which is real: Is she still alive, or did she die? Which is the dream and which is reality? It makes me sad and happy at the same time, because the realization, the remembering that she is gone never gets easier, but I'm glad to have gotten to see her, smell her, touch her again. I always wake up thinking about her hair.

She has the softest hair.


Momma said there'd be days like these.

It's difficult to write, and there's so much I need to get out. I've been not writing for weeks as I think about writing, dream about writing, flex my fingers and wrists, sit down to the keyboard, and...nothing.

It will come, with quiet coaxing.

I will be patient.

Until then:

drinking coffee from my granddaddy's mug, on my granddaddy's kitchen table, remembering him and my grammy.

drawing stuff to stitch, maybe.

sewing on my mom's vintage 1930's singer.

quilt block #2 for an online bee

quilt block #1 for an online bee

Z raps, Mags is a blur, and Eliot observes from the bean bag.


I made that.

I went back through my photos to try to see how much I've stitched and crafted in the past year. Here's a look at what I made in 2012:

I'm most proud of the two small quilts I made, and the He-Man embroidery was my favorite project by far. It also makes me happy to realize that I gave away almost everything I made. Each piece was a gift, with the exception of the airplane embroidery and the Christmas stockings (and the stockings, of course, were for the whole family). I really enjoyed making all of these pieces, and I have big plans for more crafting, stitching, and quilting in 2013. :)


Happy 2013!

James, Chelsey, and their cousin C___ and I went to a club for New Year's Eve. By the time James got off work and was ready to go, it was past 10:00, it was an hour's drive to the club, and I did NOT feel like going anywhere. But I got in the car anyway, and we headed up there. I was glad we did.

We danced like mad in the throng of sweaty, happy bodies, balloons and confetti everywhere. We made it back home at 3:00 a.m., exhausted, with the DJ's beats still ringing in our ears. 

Today we've played Jenga, Apples to Apples, and Risk, James made a delicious late afternoon lunch (the best burgers and coleslaw ever), and we're sitting around watching TV, waiting for Eliot to come home. 

I'm admiring the lights of the Christmas tree for just a wee bit longer--promised James it could come down today! :)

Or you know...maybe tomorrow?