For America With Love: A Burrito Baby Photo Shoot

Nov 14 2016

 

I’m not pregnant.img_2364

Not even a little. No babies in my belly these days.

Nor do I have a belly tumor, so fear not, dear ones.

What I do have are three things:

  1. A love of burritos (where “burrito” = all the food)
  2. A special talent for pushing my belly wall to the max
  3. The knowledge that all of us — even me — are worthy of Deep, Abiding Love, exactly as we already are. Beloved. Valued. And Beautiful. ← This is a true a truth as I know.

That why I’m making the announcement today that I am having a burrito, friends. And, as we women do for all the momentous events in our lives, I had a very special maternity photo shoot to commemorate the occasion — a photo shoot we’re calling:

Not a Baby
(Just a Burrito)

I’m giving these pics to you, America and the world, because I’m pretty sure burrito babies can help make our world a better place, and Dear God in Heaven, we need the world to be a better place right about now. 

img_2359The truth is, a few months ago, things were hard at our house. They’ve been hard before — we don’t live an uncomplicated life, after all, what with the five children and myriad special needs and we parents who are stunningly imperfect — and they’ll undoubtedly be hard again. But this time, my kid was falling wildly apart, psychiatrically speaking, which is, so far, my Very Least Favorite kind of falling-apart when it comes to our children. Mental illness is a deep, deep darkness — I would know — and it’s hard sometimes to remember to wave in the dark to the others who are waiting for dawn, as well, so we can recall we never wait alone.

It’s been a tough season, and it’s not over, but we’re on an upswing lately, and we’ve triumphed the way triumph happens in real life; by taking the next right step amidst many missteps, by breaking all the way down and cobbling ourselves partly back together, by circling back to our humans, by practicing radical self care in tiny ways, by trying to get good sleep, by reading escapist novels and a few trashy ones, and by being kind and cruel and then kind again to ourselves and our people. And, of course, by eating all the french fries, which, though completely unsustainable in the long run, is one of the best damn short-term strategies I know.image-1img_2378Listen, though: Let’s acknowledge that we do not come out of tragedy or loss or grief or even a shift of expectations unchanged. We do not come out of eating all the burritos unchanged, either. Right now, I’m wearing the past season of life in my skin.

In my skin.

In my body.

I grieved. I worked hard for my kid. I ate All the Things.

And also, I am lovely.

AND ALSO, we are lovely.

Not “but we are lovely” or “nevertheless we are lovely” or “somedayif we’re very lucky and never, ever touch a burrito again we’ll be lovely.” No. Not those things at all. We come out of tragedy and grief transformed — sometimes utterly — AND ALSO we are lovely. Little and big bellies and all; we are stunning. And we are, every single one of us, worthy of deep love and celebration. From others. From ourselves.

When we know that’s true, we can learn to laugh and love a lot, and enjoy the hell out of our lovely, stunning selves.

Including during the burrito seasons.

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In conclusion, I don’t know how long the burrito belly will last. It waxes and wanes like the moon. But I’m sure going to celebrate it while it’s here.

With abiding love,

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P.S. Thanks to the crew, aka the Lovelies who attended the Grace and the Grime Spiritual Formation Retreat and got roped into helping with a Burrito Baby photo shoot. Y’all are good sports.

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Photo Direction:
Kim McDonough

 

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Photography:
Emily Chlumak

 

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Make-up:
Crystal Kuttner Wolf

 

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Bra and Burrito Holders:
Carrie Zelnar Hutchinson
Angelina Littrell

 

This Is My Brain on Parenting

Sep 4 2016

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

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

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

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

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

This is NOT RIGHT.

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

DEAR SWEET JESUS ON A POGO STICK, friends.

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

IMPORTANT DISCOVERY: YOU *ARE* PREPARED! FOR ALL THE THINGS! Unless you’re actually ready for them, in which case you’re not prepared at all.

Aug 30 2016

School starts in 7 days.

We have nothing ready.

Nothing.

NO things, to be exact, unless you count the grubby, holey clothes my children already own, in which I fully intend to send them to school.

This is OK with me.

This is fine.

I’m over new school clothes and over new school shoes. Statistically, only 1 out of every 5 Woolsey children gives a poop about wearing clean, new clothes to school, and that one is already away at college and therefore theoretically capable of worrying about her own damn clothes this year. The rest of the minions? All of my efforts are lost on them. ALL OF THEM. EVERY EFFORT = LOST. They do not care, friends. And so, because I have neither the time nor the funds to artificially care on their behalf in order to meet a social standard for dressing and shodding children in overpriced gear so I can hold my head up in the mommy circles, I also do not care.

But people seem to want me to care. And to be prepared.

Are You Prepared for Back-to-School? <— I keep seeing articles with titles like this. And every time I think, “Hahahaha! NO. No, I’m not prepared. I didn’t have time to wash myself today; OF COURSE I’M NOT PREPARED FOR NEXT WEEK. What kind of a dumbass question is ARE YOU PREPARED?”

But then I started to wonder what prepared means, exactly.

Prepared.

Prepared.

Pared before.

What’s pared and why to I want to be before that?

And so, because I love words, I looked up the etymology of prepare. The history. The original meaning. And you know what I learned, guys? THIS IS SO GREAT. For reals. SO, SO great…

Ready?…

IMG_1430Prepared is derived from two Latin words: prae which means before and parare which means make ready.

Literally, the word prepare means before making ready.

Guys! Guys. Guys. To be prepared does not mean we are making ready. It means we are before making ready.

If we are prepared — if we are preparing — we are prior to making ready. We not yet making ready. We are not arrived at making ready.

Which means I AM SO PREPARED, y’all.

Next time people ask me, “Are you prepared for school to start?” I can say, “YES! I TOTALLY AM!” I am COMPLETELY before making ready. No school supplies in sight. No schedules or lists. No carpool arrangements. No clothes. No shoes. NOTHING. Nada. Zilch. Zippo. I AM COMPLETELY PREPARED.

THIS IS WHY LANGUAGE IS IMPORTANT, FRIENDS; it helps you EXPLAIN THINGS.

So, in case you’re in the same boat as me with school about to start or already started and you have not made ready, then YOU ARE PREPARED. Unless you’ve made ready, in which care you’re not prepared at all, and we feel sad for you.

With love and GREAT PREPAREDNESS,

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Mother/Daughter Look-a-Likes: Can’t Tell Them Apart!

Jun 28 2016

Everywhere my daughter and I go, people can’t tell us apart. That’s why we have a history of taking twinsy pics; to blow people’s minds that we’re actually mother/daughter.

We took some yesterday, in fact, just for you. See if you can figure out who’s who!

Good luck, friends.

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You’re never going to believe this, but we’re 25 years apart in age. FOR REALS.

I know, right??

Minds. Blown.

You’re welcome, The Internets! It’s like the blue dress all over again.

With love,

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P.S. If you’re not done being shocked and amazed, here are some of our other Twinsie Pics…

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P.P.S. In unrelated news, MY KID IS THE BEST SPORT EVER. The End.

My Husband Is A Better Encourager Than Your Husband

Jun 22 2016

Greg is an encourager, which isn’t at all what I was going to write today. I was writing, instead, an apology for my Christian faith, but I’ve only gotten to the part where I used to buy books on demon possession and stuff them in my heathen friends’ couches so they’d discover them later and be coerced by abject terror to follow Jesus. “Planting seeds,” I called it, and I ROCKED it, man.

But that story’s not finished, and I can’t write something called An Apology for My Christian Faith, or a Declaration of a Faith That’s Wild and Free, or GODAMMIT; I’M GONNA FOLLOW JESUS unless I get the words right in my own head and heart first, so that’s going to have to wait a bit.

So I’m going to tell you about what an encouragement Greg is to me, but first I have to tell you I have a new bike.

A new bike!

Which isn’t new ’cause I don’t really do new, but is new to me, so, like “Beth Woolsey New” which is as good it gets around here.

My new bike looks like this if we paint it in watercolor, which we’re totally doing because I’ve been playing with my Waterlogue app to avoid writing my apology:

Preset Style = Travelogue Format = 10" (Giant) Format Margin = None Format Border = Straight Drawing = #2 Pencil Drawing Weight = Heavy Drawing Detail = Medium Paint = Natural Paint Lightness = Auto Paint Intensity = More Water = Orange Juice Water Edges = Medium Water Bleed = Average Brush = Fine Detail Brush Focus = Everything Brush Spacing = Medium Paper = Buff Paper Texture = Medium Paper Shading = Medium Options Faces = Enhance Faces

 

Also, it looks like this:

Painted in Waterlogue

And like this:

Painted in Waterlogue

And like this:

Painted in Waterlogue

(Psst… this isn’t a Waterlogue sponsored post, ’cause I don’t do sponsored posts, FYI.)

Back to Greg being an encourager!

I bought a bike! And I love it! It has an electrical assist I can engage when I ride up the giant hill to my house and also whenever I want to pretend I’m 87 and too old to peddle. And it’s enormous and bulky enough to haul a kid AND groceries on the back both of which I now do regularly because COOL BIKE.

In fact, I love my new bike so much I’ve decided to take it on our annual central Oregon vacation this week. And, while some husbands might discourage their wives from packing a huge, unwieldy, motorized bike on vacation — what with the 5 children and the service dog and the piles of luggage and mountains of groceries that attend our holidays with us — Greg said, and I quote, “There’s no way — NO WAY — that enormous thing is going to fit in our car.”

Isn’t that cute??

“No worries,” I said. “We can get a bike rack!”

“Too huge for a bike rack, Beth,” he replied. “There’s no way.”

Aw. He’s the adorablest! I heart him to the moon, friends!

“Car top carrier, it is!” said I.

“Read. My. Lips,” said he. “NO. Way. On God’s green earth, there is NO WAY are we taking that thing.”

I was beginning to sense some reluctance, however small, so I called my dad, and HE WAS SUPPORTIVE, TOO! “Greg’s right, Beth; that’s ridiculous. There’s no way to bring that thing on a 4-hour road trip.”

The men in my life, friends! They get me! I say I want something and then they get all tense and RIDICULE MY ABILITY TO MAKE IT HAPPEN… which lets me know they must WANT me to bring my bike VERY MUCH since expressing contempt and derision for my ideas is the fastest, most efficient way to get me to do anything. They’re SUPER SUPPORTIVE, in other words, and ensuring all my dreams come true.

The internet is all about telling other people how much better our lives are than theirs, so I figure it’s OK that I put down my Christian faith essay tonight to write, instead, about how much more encouraging my husband is than yours.

In conclusion, #FinallyDoingTheInternetRight!

With lots of love,

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The Day I Peed My Shoe. Yesterday, Actually. Yesterday, I Peed My Shoe.

Jun 20 2016

Once upon a time, I wet my shoe.

Not the pretty kind of “wetting my shoe” that’s an adorable misleading statement where I say, “I wet my shoe,” but then I’m all, “J/K! I got my shoe wet with the garden hose while watering the garden. Gotcha!” You know what I mean? Like when you drop a pea on the floor and say, “I peed the floor,” and your nine-year-olds think you’re HILARIOUS and your teenage daughter rolls All the Eyes in All the World and goes, “Stop, Mom. Just stop.”

Nope, this is not that; in this situation, I wet my shoe with my very own urine because — and here’s where I offer as true an explanation as I know — at my core, I am a gigantic dork. A gigantic, shoe-wetting dork.
Now, to be fair to my sweet self, this incident wasn’t actually as bad as the time last fall when I wet my office, about which I haven’t written because I’m loathe to be the girl who pooped my closet AND the girl who peed my office. I mean, how much believable pottying-on-oneself can one actually do? At some point, people will necessarily question my credibility, right? In our current shame-based culture where we can’t even share our lovely lunch pictures on the Facebook (while being simultaneously chided to treasure the little things) without being accused of the overshare, I was afraid I Couldn’t Take It. Losing even more credibility AND being re-accused of over-sharing? HOW WILL I ENDURE THE SHAME?

So I didn’t.

I left the office-peeing story untold.

And it shall remain untold for now, because I have a more pressing matter to address, which is the wetting of my shoe, about which I felt a similar measure of shame to the wetting of my office, until I remembered this afternoon that I HAVE no shame. I lost it long ago, as well as my dignity. I also realized that being absent the credible makes one incredible, and I was all, “INCREDIBLE ME can SO TELL THIS STORY.”

Which is why I’m here to let you know that once upon a time, I wet my shoe.

Yesterday.

Once upon a time yesterday, I wet my shoe.

While on my way home from the Grace in the Grime Spiritual Formation Retreat, I wet my shoe.

In a port-a-potty, I wet my shoe.

After bragging at the retreat how good I am at the “hover, aim and pee splash-free” maneuver — because this is the kind of thing one always discusses at a spiritual formation retreat, yes? — I wet my shoe.

I hovered, indeed, but then I missed, and it cascaded off the seat, creating a waterfall effect off the rim, which is how I wet my shoe. Which I failed to feel at first, so I REALLY wet my shoe.

The night after I told lovely retreat ladies in the hot tub overlooking the Pacific Ocean at sunset about Peeing My Office and about the shame which kept me from telling all of you, I wet my shoe.

Probably because Jesus was giving me more opportunities to be Authentically Me, I wet my shoe. We must, after all, credit Jesus with All the Gifts and Give Thanks in All Things, and I clearly have the spiritual gift of Soiling Myself, so Thank You, Jesus!

I wrote the ladies just now, in fact, and I shall share with you, too, for the sake of expedience and friendship and OBEDIENCE TO GOD, as you will see…

Ladies. Ladies. Ladies.

I need to tell you something.

I WET MY SHOE ON THE WAY HOME FROM THE BEACH YESTERDAY.

I WET it. With PEE. I am writing about it currently, but I feel that Jesus, who is mean and vindictive (not really) (I think) FORCED ME TO PEE MY SHOE because I neglected to tell the story in the fall about peeing my office. Do we think it’s a COINCIDENCE that I confessed that story to you in the hot tub on SATURDAY and then on SUNDAY I peed my shoe? THAT IS NOT COINCIDENCE, friends; it’s obviously my spiritual gift to pee and poop All the Things — I mean, HOW MANY TIMES DOES JESUS NEED TO SHOW ME THIS BEFORE I ACCEPT IT AS TRUTH?? — and then write about those things. I REJECTED my spiritual gift last fall after the incident that combined tights with that lady-pee-device and my consistently poor judgement, and then I hid my light under a bushel AND TOLD NO ONE WHAT I HAD DONE. Except a few friends at work. And also some people on my back patio when we drank whiskey one night. And also the people at the writing retreat. And also all of you ladies in the hot tub. But, other than, like, a few dozen people, I TOLD NO ONE, so Jesus made me wet my shoe to get my attention. Because Jesus is WILY and PERSISTENTLY IN PURSUIT OF HELPING US FIND AND ACCEPT OURSELVES AND OUR SPIRITUAL GIFTS. (Psst… one part of that may actually be true.)

Anyway — I’ll write more on the blog, but just wanted to let you know — NOT GONNA HIDE WHO GOD AUTHENTICALLY CALLED ME TO BE! HEART INTELLIGENCE! WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT!

Also, friendly word of advice… maybe aim REALLY GOOD in port-a-potties so your pee doesn’t cascade off the rim of the toilet, over which you’re hovering, and create a waterfall that gushes into your Dansko clog, which is uniquely shaped to capture every bit of the ever-flowing stream. I mean… up to you to accept or reject my advice, of course… you do you… but I thought I’d mention it in case it helps.

In conclusion, I once peed my shoe. Yesterday, actually. Thanks be to God.

Sincerely,

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P.S. I stole the Danskos pic from the Danksos site and am using it without permission. FREE ADVERTISING FOR DANSKO! I figure they won’t mind. I mean, who DOESN’T want to know Dansko clogs are easy to pee into? <<<SELLING POINT.

P.P.S. I’m finishing this (rudely) while at dinner with Greg and our friends, John and BJ, and I told them I can’t talk yet because I’m writing about peeing my shoe. Greg said, “Again?” And John said, “I peed both of mine today.” In extra conclusion, I like John better than Greg. The End.

How to Get Kids to Pick Up Quickly and Enthusiastically

May 19 2016

I asked my boys to tidy their room, which was a disaster, and, because they’re smart, capable, 9-year-old children who don’t need to have everything explained to them anymore in excruciating detail, I gave them two basic directions, as follows:

  1. When you are finished picking up your room, gentlemen, I should be able to both see and walk upon the floor.
  2. Your things should be organized in such a manner that you can easily find everything. I’m sure I don’t need to mention that you can certainly not find everything — including the shoes, jackets, books, homework folders, etc. that you cannot find ANY of the school mornings — if you shove it all underneath your bed or in the closet. Correct? I do not need to point this out? That there needs to be a better system? No? You get it? OK. OK, then, boys. Full speed ahead.

They finished in 10 minutes.

They have NEVER finished cleaning ANYTHING in 10 minutes, but there they were, tumbling down the stairs in holey socks with giant smiles, proclaiming completion.

I clarified.

Me: I can see AND walk on the floor?

Them: Yep!

Me: And not just a teeny, tiny sliver of the floor?

Them: Nope!

Me: And you have organized your belongings?

Them: Yep!

Me: ALL of your belongings or SOME of your belongings?

Them: ALL!

Me: And I will find how many items shoved under your bed?

Them: None!

Me: And you have completed this entire task in 10 minutes?

Them: Yep!

Me: And it’s SO complete that you feel good about me inspecting it?

Them: Yes!

Me: Now?

Them: Let’s go!

We trooped up the stairs for inspection, and I patted myself on the back on the way because friends — friends — if you give your children FREEDOM to complete tasks THEIR WAY, and you DO NOT INSIST ON YOUR OWN, they finish jobs QUICKLY and ENTHUSIASTICALLY, and it’s a MIRACLE. I should write a Parenting Book! I have finally figured it out!

Also, here is their system:

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As they say, “A clear path for walking and all of our belongings at our fingertips!” There is nothing under the bed anymore, and, in fact, nothing left in the closet, either, because they pulled everything out of it. Everything. To create their New System of Organization.

I asked where they got such a terrible, terrible idea, and they said — I kid you not — “We learned it from watching you.”

In conclusion, bless their hearts. Bless their punky, butt-nuggetty hearts.

Keepin’ it real,

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P.S. Their room still looks like that because they pointed out there’s WAY less vacuuming this way, and “it’s likely to smother all the bugs.” I’m having trouble arguing with their logic. Well played, boys; well played.