A Post That Is Not About Writing

It’s about grief. So really, you can stop there if you like. I won’t side-eye you at all if you back away slowly.

But today is September 18th. This date has absolutely no importance to me or my family. No birthdays, anniversaries, deaths… there is nothing I can think of to attribute to this particular day that should matter to me. Family

And yet here we are, two years and three months out from my father’s death (Passing? Demise? Shuffle from this mortal coil? None of them sound right.) and the grief from it is pricking at me like a fresh, raw thing.

When I was a kid, there were no major deaths that rocked our family. I was lucky not to lose any immediate family members at a young age, so I imagined that grief would start out harsh and painful, loads of wailing and the whole sackcloth and ashes bit, but then it would slowly taper off, the sharpness would dull, eroded away to a pebble of sadness that would make me feel occasionally misty or sentimental when something would trigger a memory to bubble back up to the surface. That would be it. A steady progression, and nothing more.

But lo and behold, two years out from dealing with the death of my dad and a miscarriage, and the rough edges haven’t worn down. Last night, my youngest daughter wanted me to read a book about owls to her, and I sat there and bawled and blubbered through the entire story, because there was a Grandpa Owl and he took his little owl grandkids fishing and I’M OUT I’M OUT I’M DONE MY FACE FEELS THICK AND BURNY AND I DON’T LIKE THIS ANYMORE.

It was like stepping onto what I thought would be a safe, quiet, one-lane dirt road and getting run down by an out-of-state U-Haul towing a pick-up truck behind it. And I’m still feeling the repercussions of it today, like the slightest thing might set it off again, and all for seemingly no reason. 12931044_10156633333710462_5131290375944612566_n

But I guess since life is like that, smacking you in the face with things you’re not ready for and not expecting, it follows that grief (a fallout from life, really) would share the same characteristics. It doesn’t slowly fade away, all graceful-like. Instead it likes to wallop you from behind, steal your pocket change, and kick dirt on you one more time before it runs off to hide again.

So what is the point of this post? Grief sucks. There’s no way around that. And it doesn’t always get easier. It might change shape, take on new and different qualities, but it never really goes away. It becomes a part of us, like a scar, a wrinkle, that weird spot on your shoulder that you probably should get checked out… It’s there, an echo of loss that ripples out and affects those still living in its wake.

*sigh*

I miss you, Dad. And the kids miss you, too.

[Snappy Title Goes Here]

It’s Friday and I’m sitting here, trying to wake up a bit. (It’s not working out too well, seeing as how I misspelled about four of the words in that sentence. And then I forgot the second “s” in “misspell.”) One child is watching Moana while another seems to be staring into some great, dark void and a third is probably eating something he shouldn’t and the fourth is still upstairs sleeping. (Lucky child. She’ll be doing chores later to pay for her gift of sleeping in.) And here I am, already misplacing the point of this paragraph.

It’s been that kind of week.

Basically, I hit a wall. Not a writer’s block kind of wall or anything like that, just a moment where everything I was doing became too much and my brain began to squelch in my head like so much useless squelchy stuff and things like clipping coupons became rather taxing.

I had Reasons, you know. The Firstborn came out in May. The Bride Price came out on Tuesday. I’m polishing up another book set to come out in October. There are two anthologies set for this fall that I’m slated to be a part of. And then there are children in this house, spilling out of every crevice (crevasse?), constantly needing more food and clean underpants and wanting to go places like swimming pools and the library and dance lessons. And then my husband picked up some bug/illness/plague which involved him having a terrible fever off and on for a week and a cough that sounded like his lungs wanted to break free from the paltry confines of his ribcage and then my brain went NOPE and here we are.

It’s Friday, and I’m still trying to wake up.

I gave myself a couple of weeks to breathe. I mean, The Bride Price still had to have its debut. But I didn’t write anything new, not really. All the other characters, sitting in their lovely little worlds (okay, some of them have not-so-lovely worlds where people kill one another with hammers and then they miss afternoon tea) had to be pushed back for a bit, while I tried to remember basic things like daily ablutions and consuming food that wasn’t a cookie or cake or… I don’t know. The names of other types of food are escaping me right now.

But the moral of this story (Yes, there’s a moral, watch me meander my way towards it) is that you need to find a way to give your brain a break from time to time. Even if it’s only a five-minute mini-break while you hunker in the bathroom and cry over the Oreos you hid from the kids (… what?), your brain needs a moment to step back and regroup.

Over the next three-ish months, I’m starting my oldest in third grade work, my second daughter in first grade work, my oldest boy in pre-k, and all while trying to keep my toddler from sledding down the stairs or eating the drywall. I’ll have two – possibly three – writing-related releases. The girls will start up their dance lessons for the fall and there will be library things and homeschool things and LAUNDRY DEAR LORD WHY DO YOU KEEP WEARING CLOTHES AND THEN CHANGING INTO OTHER CLOTHES AND WHY DO I HAVE MORE UNMATCHED SOCKS IN THIS HOUSE THAN MATCHED???

*deep breath* Moral, Quenby. Don’t forget the moral.

So. To sum up!

The Bride Price is out now and it has a shiny new cover! cover_sub1_800

See? So shiny…

I managed to somehow (hides sacrificial goat remains) make it the shortlist of a flash fiction contest headed up by fantasy author Mark Lawrence.

One of the little dudes inhabiting this household turned four AND got a haircut.

DSCN3665

And that’s my week! Now… back to work.

After Oreos, of course.

 

The Crimson Gown – Chapter One

Today, it is my birthday. On Thursday is Thanksgiving here in the US, and then we’re about a month away from Christmas. The family and I are finally shaking off the last of a nagging, lingering cough/cold that decided it would be great for me to sound like a squeaky-voiced teenager for about two weeks. I’m a bit behind on schoolwork with the kids since I couldn’t go over their lessons with them without descending into a horrible coughing fit, and on Saturday, the temperature here in Central Pennsylvania decided to drop from a lovely 72 degrees to OH LAWD NO IT’S SLEET AND SNOW WINTER HAS COME in the span of about two hours.

And tomorrow, The Crimson Gown releases.

So you can imagine how much marketing and trumpet-blasting I’ve done so far to acknowledge the arrival of my third book.

Yeah, that much.

But as we rush at a terrifying pace towards the end-of-year holidays, I figure I need to be a bit better at announcing this story’s debut. Today, I bring you a treat! And for the next several days, as well! Today, I give you the first full chapter of The Crimson Gown. Tomorrow and the next day, I’ll treat you to chapters two and three, as well, so stay tuned!

Chapter One crimsonebookcover

The air pushed through the interstices of the old house, seeming even colder than when Lydia had still been beneath the burnished blue of the winter sky. She clutched her shawl around her shoulders and ducked through the low doorway, the strike of her heels on the bare floor sounding too loud to her own ears.

Before her, only a few paces ahead, the housekeeper—an older woman who introduced herself as a Mrs. Latimer—drifted on silent feet, only the swish of skirts and the rattle of keys at her waist marking her progress from one room to the next.

“The rugs will all need a good beating,” the woman said, her voice hard, as if she were a mouthpiece for the very bricks and beams that made up the walls surrounding them. “And the draperies need to be washed, some of them mended…” Her words trailed away as they passed into yet another room, all dark wood and darker furnishings, the walls bearing streaks of soot from untended candles and lamps left to burn with wicks untrimmed.

Lydia’s eyes drifted towards the artwork that decorated the walls, the frames thick with dust, some bearing the remains of tattered cobwebs that drifted softly, their ragged tendrils caught by an unseen draft. The canvases were nearly as dark as the panelling behind them, but what could be seen of the images portrayed in the muted shades of paints and charcoals was nothing that could be described as entertaining to the eye.

Grotesque beings gazed out at her, yellowed eyes gleaming, teeth bared, malformed bodies writhing. They were scenes she remembered from her childhood, evenings spent learning her letters over the family Bible. Too well she recalled that good book, filled with etchings meant to remind her of the sin that she nurtured inside her heart, of monsters and demons waiting to tear the flesh from her still quaking limbs should she stray too far from the righteous path.

Continue reading “The Crimson Gown – Chapter One”

Watch Me Ruin Everything

DSCN1890Today is Monday.

Tomorrow is Tuesday.

Constantly – CONSTANTLY – there is a list of things I need to do, have done, should be doing, running on a loop inside my head. I did history lessons with the kids, time to do reading with Ola, now I have to change the baby, and then I have to unload the dishwasher, and I have to wipe down the table from breakfast so I can get ready for lunch – BUT WAIT! – I have to nurse the baby who doesn’t want to nurse but does want to nurse and screams at my chest while Will refuses to use the potty and Romulus (the cat, not a kid) just barfed on the floor and where on Earth did I put that math folder????!?!?

I can get three or four chores done each day, tops. I could do more, but that means leaving the baby to cry for an extra ten minutes while I scrub the toilet, and I’d rather not have that for my poop-scouring soundtrack. And then I took the kids to the park this afternoon because I simply didn’t want to fold laundry or read through a social studies lesson or scrub the kitchen floor.

Today is Monday.

Tomorrow is Tuesday.

I seriously have to remind myself of this because I can and will lose track of days. And so I add that to the plethora of thoughts running through my head.

I chose to be a wife and mother. I chose to homeschool. I chose to work part-time. I chose to write and be a published author. I chose to do all of these things, and so when I’m clinging to the edge of everything, when I’m Jack, struggling and freezing and slowly dying in the ocean I can’t help but wonder why Rose won’t just shove over and give me some room on that massive door before she has to pry my cold, dead fingers off the wood.

Most of the time, I think I am ruining everything. I am ruining my kids’ education, I am not keeping up with anything in the house, I am throwing words at a page and wondering why none of them sound good, I am going to be swallowed up by laundry and dishes and panic that I have done everything wrong and there is no reset button because these are LIVES, tiny little lives that I am in charge of.

Not to mention my own life. That, too.

And there is this constant humming in the background, so many different voices that tell you how you CAN DO THE THING, and YOU CAN PICK YOURSELF UP and ORGANIZE and SAVE THE WORLD and STUFF SO MUCH STUFF.

But, no. No, I can’t.

I have this little world I’m overseeing. I have my kids, who love me, who want to help me and cuddle and watch movies and read library books to them. And then they fight and I want to tear out my hair and I go into the bedroom to eat chocolate they can’t see. But they love me. Even when I screw up. Even when I snap at them, when I’m impatient, when I’m a mess because I’ve lost a baby or a parent. They walk over and they want to hold me. Tiny things that they are, and yet they have something I don’t. Or perhaps it’s something I had once but it’s been drowned out by the lists and the chores and the stress and the budgets and the news and the world.

It’s that ability to see what is right in front of them, to focus on that, to put everything away for a moment and simply live in the present, and not lose themselves in all the stuff in their head. My daughter finds out that there are people who are hungry, who have less than she does, so she wants to help them. Not in a grand way, but just to give them food. Right now, when they need it. Not to begin a project that will eat up time and waste resources and fail to help anyone, but just to give what we have at that moment, whatever we may have. My brain doesn’t work like that. I go, “Isn’t that a shame?” and move on. Because there are too many other things I have to worry about.

Today is Monday.

Tomorrow is Tuesday.

We now have a cardboard box that I am slowly filling up with food to take to the local food bank at the end of the month. It seems like nothing, and then so goes the hum of voices, that this isn’t enough, that I should do something that will go viral and then lots of people will be helped and once I get those socks sorted and the errands run I’ll get on top of that and do something that will really make a difference.

But, no. That box, that will change things. It’s nothing epic. It will not cure the world of all its ills. But it is something. Because somehow, my kids understand that everything you do is something. All of the little tasks and chores that I want to hate and mutter about are something, that I am caring for them, that each small job is my way of doing what I can for them. Like every can and packet of food in that box, each thing counts.

I may feel like I’m screwing things up on some massive scale because I’m not accomplishing things on an equally massive scale. But life is not made up of leaps and bounds. Just like God isn’t in the wind or the earthquake or the fire. It’s the still, small voice. The box of food. The change in your pocket. The sighs and the hugs of my children.

Today is Monday.

Tomorrow is Tuesday.

And thank God for that.

 

 

 

Real Women Have… Shapes. All Kinds of Shapes.

**This was originally written on July 10th, 2014**

I was probably doomed from the start.

My parents were both slender. My father was 6′ 3″ and almost too skinny to join the Navy. My mom was 5′ 6″ and not even 100 pounds. So once the baby fat wore off, I was a bit of a twig.

Skinny1

But honestly, I didn’t even realize it. I was homeschooled, so I didn’t have to endure any taunting about my gangly limbs from that quarter, and the kids at church had known me since I was a baby, so there really wasn’t anything to comment on.

And then I started taking dance lessons when I was nine years old. Dance lessons meant being in a leotard and tights for every class. Leotard and tights that were actually baggy on me. Every costume had to be taken in. EVERY SINGLE COSTUME. And all through this, I kept growing taller and taller, my arms and legs and back getting longer, so I was obviously gaining weight, but the weight kept going straight into more and more height and it was just a whole lot of awkwardness all around.

Skinny2

And then… I became a teenager.

Until then, no one had really pointed out my resemblance to a toothpick in a negative light. But, of course, when you’re a teenager, and you’re surrounded by other teenagers, then suddenly everyone becomes SO WONDERFUL about pointing out your flaws and just being generally catty and awful to one another. As hormonally-charged, insecurity-ridden teenagers often do. All of a sudden, I couldn’t be skinny just because I was a naturally skinny person. No, I must be anorexic. I must be bulimic. I needed to eat more. And more. And more. And more. And while surrounded by other girls who were constantly stressing about wanting to LOSE weight, I wondered why I was different, and what on earth was wrong with me.

And so I started to notice my body. I saw the bones of my rib cage sticking out. I saw my spine, my shoulder blades, my twiggy little thighs and the bony arms and wrists that people just loved to come up and wrap their fingers around in order to better illustrate how small and abnormal I was.

Skinny3

I stopped wearing shorts, first. And then skirts and dresses that showed off anything above the knee. (Funny enough, my mother is probably one of the few mothers who encouraged her teenage daughter to wear short skirts and cute dresses while stressing that I had “great legs”. I, being fifteen years old and wallowing in low self-esteem, did not believe her.) I layered my clothes. I wore bulky, heavy outfits – even in warm weather – to hide my body.

I also started to keep track of everything I ate. I became obsessed with counting calories. NOT to keep myself from eating too many, but because I had to make sure that I was consuming enough. I filled notebooks with daily lists of everything I’d eaten and how many calories were in each serving (I also made sure to round the numbers down in order to keep the totals low and thereby make myself eat more). If I hit my daily goal (usually around 3000 calories) I put a little foil star sticker next to the total. If I didn’t hit the goal? It went into a deficit account that I had to make up by the end of the week.

Into my early twenties I continued to keep the notebooks and the lists and the numbers. (Seriously, you know you have a problem when you voluntarily introduce MATH into your daily life.) I kept layering clothes, putting on leggings under jeans and tank tops under shirts to make me look “thicker”. I would hear the saying “Real Women Have Curves”, and I would get angry at my hip bones, at the sharp angles that made up my body.

Then, when I was twenty-eight, I met my husband. (CORRECTION: I started dating my husband a second time. But this is the time that stuck so it’s the one that goes in the books.) I still – STILL – felt bad about my body. I didn’t want him to see me. I wanted him to think I was curvy, that I had a bosom, that I looked like the other women that he most definitely-obviously-no-doubt thought were better looking than me. But he always made me feel beautiful. He always made me feel like I had the most perfect figure imaginable. He made me feel confident and gorgeous.

I stopped stressing about my weight… a little bit. Gone were the notebooks, the constantly checking out the Nutritional Information on every package to see if it something was fatty enough to even be worth my time to eat. And then, I found out I was pregnant.

Morning sickness was evil. I hardly ate anything for about six weeks, and having started out at 125 pounds, losing ten pounds was a bit scary. But I knew my body, and I knew I would bounce back as the constant illness began to wane. I remember going in for my first prenatal appointment. I remember the ultrasound and hearing my baby’s heartbeat for the first time. And then, the doctor sat down to ask me a few questions.

The first question? Did I have a problem with gaining weight?

My first thought was that she meant did I have difficulty gaining weight? Which I do. I’ve always been skinny. And I started to point this out to her, and then something in my head… clicked. She didn’t mean would it be physically difficult for me to gain weight, but would it be mentally difficult for me to gain weight. And at that moment, as tears pricked my eyes, I felt all of my teenage insecurities rush back at me, hitting me with the force of a flash flood.

So there I sat, pregnant for the first time, knowing that my life was about to change in so many wonderful and amazing and frightening ways, and I had to defend myself. No, I was not anorexic. No, I had never had an eating disorder. Yes, I was just naturally skinny. No, I didn’t need to speak to a counselor. Yes, I was sure my baby would be fine without any sort of an intervention. I don’t know if she believed me. Frankly, I didn’t care. But I wanted to be out of there so much, because just a little bit of my pregnancy happiness was suddenly sucked away from me.

Over the next six months, I gained forty pounds. I loved those forty pounds. I gloried in them. My arms, my legs, my belly, my CURVES were gorgeous and spectacular and I wanted to bottle them up and keep them on a shelf so I could bring them out again whenever I was feeling down. I had the pregnancy glow in spades, and I didn’t even mind when someone got a glance at my legs or my upper arms.

Skinny4

And so here I am, nearly five years after the birth of my first child (and with two more children tagging along behind her), and I have to ask myself: Why am I writing this?

Well, I have daughters. Two daughters. Two daughters born to tall, skinny parents (I’m 5′ 11″ and holding steady at about 130 pounds, while my husband is 6′ 2″ and averaging around 170 pounds) so I won’t be surprised if they end up tall and slender, too. But my hope – my fervent, fervent hope – is that after going through what I went through, after hating my body for so many years, after feeling myself pull further and further inward every time someone would tell me I needed to eat something, or would ask if I was TRYING to lose weight (in that oh-so-concerned tone that still sets my teeth on edge), that I will be able to tell them that they’re not alone. They’re not abnormal. They’re not ugly.

Will their ribs be visible during the worst of their growing years? Probably. Will they have the “coveted” thigh gap (that I loathed with every fiber of my being)? More than likely. But I want them to know that they are beautiful, that they don’t have to worry about how others look at them, what others say about them, what others accuse them of when it comes to health and nutrition, AND that they absolutely, positively do not need to eat a sandwich just because their upper arm is not as wide as their elbow.

Oh, and shorts. I definitely hope they wear lots and lots of shorts.

May I Throat-Punch You Now?*

DSCN1323

I have four kids. I’m saying that now to get it out of the way, because it will come up throughout this post. I have four kids, ages 6 (almost 7), 5, 3, and 3 months.

Of course, when you have children, that means that anyone and everyone can come up to you and deliver all manner of unsolicited parenting advice. That’s right, because once you stumble upon the sight of someone else herding their children about, you have now earned the badge of Designated Parental Advice Giver, whether or not you even have children of your own.

Also, if you are planning on having children, or adopting children, or standing somewhere in the vicinity of children, know that things like “conversational etiquette” no longer exist. No question is too personal! “Are you going to have more children?” “Did you breastfeed?” “What color are your child’s stools?” “Do you and your husband ever get any alone time anymore?” Because what happens in my home, my bedroom, and/or my child’s diaper is TOTALLY your business. We could go ahead and blame social media for this disintegration of private barriers, because we all know that nosy people didn’t exist until Al Gore invented the Internet, right? Thanks, Al Gore.

But the comments I hear the most when I’m out with my kids always tend to prick on the matter of how many children I have. The first one is, “Are you done having kids?” My response to this is to go into a lengthy discourse about the current state of my reproductive organs, my family’s monetary budget, the size of our house, our vehicles, and other things that I don’t need to discuss first with my husband and family, because this helpful stranger or borderline acquaintance is much more suited to help me come to a decision about whether or not I should thrust more life upon the world!

The other comment is not a question, but a statement. And hearing it makes me immediately ragey and eager to kick someone or something in its approximate hoo-ha or ding-dong area.

“Boy, you must have your hands full!”

I have four kids. OF COURSE I have my hands full. But thank YOU, kind sir or madam, for stating the obvious. I shall now go over to this person who owns multiple motor vehicles and state, “Boy, you must drive places!”

It also is often a comment I receive when I’m busy making certain that none of my children are climbing the walls or about to somersault down the frozen food aisle of the grocery store. “Boy, you must have your hands full!” then becomes code for, “Boy, what a bunch of ill-behaved children! You horrible, horrible parent, you.” Now, this might not be what it translates to, really. But when I am exhausted (which is always) or hungry (I’m nursing a baby, so again… always) it is what my protein-deprived mind IMMEDIATELY hears it as.

I understand that there will never not be a time when people no longer go up to other people and tell them things those other people will find annoying. I am not going to tell you not to speak to me when you see me in case my fist accidentally** flies out and makes contact with your proboscis. I have probably said many (MANY) things to other people that they have found irritating. I am socially awkward like that. It is my gift to mankind.

But I also know families that have twice as many children as I have. Even three times as many. And I hope that I will never walk up to them and say, “Well, are you done now?” or, “Man, when was the last time you made it through the day without finding peanut butter on yourself?” (For the record, I did not have to produce children in order to always reply to that last question with a resounding “NEVER.”)

So what is the point of this post? I’m not sure it’s a post as much as just brain diarrhea trickling out of my fingers and into your eyes. (I’m sorry for that analogy. I didn’t realize how gross it sounded until I typed it.) But maybe the next time you see a large family somewhere, or a frazzled mom trying to corral multiple children (or even just one child having a bad day) maybe just smile, tell yourself they’re doing their best, and just walk away.***

*No, I will not throat-punch anyone, nor have I ever. I imagine my ability to inflict pain with my fists is about as great as my ability to come off as the successful, cool one at some sort of reunion or get-together with my peers.

**ACCIDENTALLY. I am repeating this here for lawyerly-type reasons, despite the fact that we have already established I have the upper-body strength of a lazy T-Rex.

*** Maurice Moss says it best.  JUST WALK AWAY.

 

 

 

Practicing Patience… Patiently.

DSCN1794

In Sunday School, my kids have been learning about the Fruits of the Spirit.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23 (KJV)

There’s even a mighty ear worm of a song to go with it, but I won’t get into that or else risk having it stuck in my head at two o’clock in the morning. Again.

But “longsuffering” is the key word up there. Also listed in some translations as “patience.”

Of which I have very little, I’ve learned over the last few weeks.

Especially this week, to tell the truth. Because everyone has had this pesky little stomach bug, one of those that only lasts for a day or two and brings on a mild fever, upset tummy, and that general malaise and whining that only the more mild bugs and illnesses can bring to life. And, of course, it went through all four kids (and my husband) one at a time, so that quick, one-day bug managed to transform itself into a week-long event.

So I had reached the end of my maternal tether. “Just…” became a very popular way for me to begin a sentence to my children. “Just eat your food.” “Just go and use the potty.” “Just put your shoes on.” But always spoken in that tone of voice, the one that translates to: “JUST do this one thing before I hide in the bathroom to scream between snarfing down Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups you didn’t know we had.”

And all the while, I kept trying to push that lesson of “patience” towards them, of being longsuffering, of being able to take a deep breath and wait. And there I was, trying to teach that lesson and wonder why they were taking so long to learn how to be patient. I was the one losing my temper, biting my tongue to keep from yelling at them, to keep from doling out punishments like someone throwing out bread crusts to ducks in a pond.

“WHY CAN’T THEY UNDERSTAND THIS WHOLE PATIENCE DEAL?” I would internally scream, impatiently.

Because I’m supposed to lead by example. Which is one of those things they don’t tell you when you start having kids, or to go even further back, when you start adulting all over the place.

And it applies to everything. Not only parenting. It’s easy to find myself looking at my writing career, wondering why I’m not J.K Rowling yet with my own Scottish castle. Probably because I’m too often inundated by all of those blog posts and podcasts and lectures and so on that blast the message of HOW YOU CAN SELL 47 BAJILLION COPIES OF YOUR BOOK JUST CLICK THIS LINK AND BUY MY BOOK AND… oh, I see what they did there.

So… patience. Which is all just a waiting game, when you think about it. Well, a doing and waiting game. Demonstrate to my children how to be patient, not to turn everything up to eleven at the first encounter with difficulty. Take my time to write books and stories I can be proud of, and not berate myself with thoughts of inadequacy because they’re not selling now, now, NOW!

What’s the saying? Good things come to those who wait? If I wait, if I am patient, if I am longsuffering, and put such behavior into practice, hopefully my children will learn from example. And if I am careful, if I take my time to work on my craft, to produce good work, the readers and the sales will come. There is no literary bandwagon I should be jumping on, or lamenting should I think I’ve missed it.

Just do, create, practice patience, and the rest is all so much noise.

 

And Then It Snowed

It’s funny. A few days ago, I referred to the coming weekend snowstorm with a bit of a tongue-in-cheek attitude when I called it the “Storm of Doom.” And here we are, those few days later, with over 30″ of white stuff on the ground and the schools are closed and bridges are closed and… oh, we weren’t really expecting more than the forecast 8-12″ we’d been told all week.

And I’m sure there are so many blog posts going up all over the Northeast filled with tales of the storm, to which I probably don’t have much to add. It snowed. We played in it. My husband shoveled it. We drank hot chocolate. We played in it again. We took hot baths to relax the aching muscles obtained from trudging through thigh-high snow.

Today, things are starting to get back to normal. The kids are doing school work. The girls have dance classes tonight (though story time at the library is cancelled this afternoon). The dish washer is running. More baths will be had. It’s just another Monday, but with mountains of snow covering our patio and… well, everything.

And I mean “everything.”

 

 

 

Things I Did This Week (So You Don’t Have To)

I want to say it was a busy week. That’s always the default response when someone asks about my day/week/month/life/etc., but it really wasn’t. The kids missed dance lessons on Monday because of the Nagging Cold From Hell, but they were still well enough to do school work and just… be kids.

Because of the impending snow storm barreling down on us, and all of the panic-inducing news reports to flash across the television screen (DID YOU BUY YOUR MILK AND BREAD AND EGGS YET???? DON’T YOU KNOW A BLIZZARD WILL KILL YOU UNLESS YOU CAN DEFEAT IT WITH FRENCH TOAST?????) they created their own newscast.

DSCN1119DSCN1120

Probably more accurate than the paid weather forecasters.

I was also interviewed on Carolyn Astfalk’s blog. She asked some great questions, and I was reminded (by myself) that I probably need a new author photo.

I wrote, some, but not a lot. A couple handwritten pages here and there, and not much more than that. I hope to finish the first draft of this chapter over the weekend, while my husband fixes the dryer and my kids recover from playing outside with some cups of Swiss Miss and those tiny little marshmallows.

Dinners were nothing amazing. Lots of potatoes and carrots were involved, so it was potato pancakes, potato waffles, steamed carrots, mashed carrots, and so on. Which is what happens when I go to the store and all the huge bags of root vegetables are buy one get one free.

I did make a new brownie recipe, these “Sweet Heat” Mexican Hot Chocolate Brownies from The Cozy Apron. With cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and instant coffee, they are absolutely delicious, and I love their texture.

And then, because of the snow and the inability or desire to go anywhere (beyond the confines of our patio and yard), there will be reading this weekend. Oh, so much reading.

DSCN1125

Another Week Slips Away

 

DSCN1115

My kids are upstairs, running around between batches of schoolwork. My son is sitting on the potty, playing Angry Birds on my banged up, scratched up tablet, because it’s one of the few things that will get him to sit long enough on the potty for anything to “happen.”

It’s been one of those weeks. Nothing terrible occurring, but just a week that seemed to only move forward because something was nipping at my heels. Exhaustion, stress, that lingering bit of a cold and sinus headache that has not broken since New Years. The kids wake up every morning with a cough and runny nose, though by the time breakfast has been cleared away and the cartoons turned off so schoolwork-type things can commence, they’re fine and back to their crazy, rambunctious selves. Just with a few extra coughs thrown in.

But the house is a mess. I’m slowly catching up on a few things, but… no, it’s a mess. And three kids later I think I’m only just now beginning to understand that this is how it’s going to be. I homeschool. The kids don’t go to daycare. They’re always here with me. We will soon be a family of six in a house that measures round and about 900 square feet. There will always be a mess. So I can’t look at pictures of other people’s houses on Facebook, with their toys all picked up and in bins, and their windows free of fingerprints, and everything so neat and tidy when I know their life is not my life.

I mean, I could spend all day chasing my kids around with a vacuum cleaner. I could be in the kitchen right now, washing dishes or scrubbing the stove top or scraping Tinkerbell stickers off the linoleum floor. Or I could write this and empty my brain, or do some puzzles with the kids, or bake something and add more mess to the grime already accumulating on my kitchen counters.

Because I’ve learned that I can’t do both. I can’t have the immaculate house that I want with everything scrubbed and de-cluttered and folded AND sit and watch a movie with my kids or let them help me make pancakes or spend hours cutting out paper snowflakes to tape all over the walls. And I’m sure there are magical women out there who can do all of these things and also not walk around their house wondering what that smell is. But I’m not that woman. I don’t have the multi-tasking skills to pull it off. And when faced with the choice between going outside to play or attacking my bathroom sink with a toothbrush, I will choose going outside Every. Single. Time.

In other news (that is not the unplanned, several-hundred-word posting from above), other things are moving forward. I’m 24 weeks pregnant, and Torsten is constantly moving around in there, but it’s still at the pleasant baby kick stage, not the oh-I-think-you-took-out-a-rib baby kick stage. I’m writing, steadily, and should have another excerpt to share in the next few days. And good reviews for The Half Killed and Knotted are continuing to trickle in, which is always wonderful.

And now I think I’ll head into the kitchen (my messy, cluttered, grimy, Tinkerbell-stickered kitchen) and make some hot chocolate. And then maybe I’ll watch a movie with the kids once Freja has finished her handwriting practice for the day. We’ll see.