How to Fix a Hole in the Wall (… with a bigger hole… also, I need your help again…)

Apr 2 2017

Six years ago, Greg was really angry, so he kicked a hole in the wall because that’s how we handle our anger around here. Through violence to walls.

(Psst… Greg wants me to note he wasn’t angry, nor did he kick a hole in the wall. He tripped over the baby gate which punched a hole in the wall for him. He tells the story his way. I tell it mine. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Whatever.)

Long story short, I fixed it because I am a genius with drywall repair.

All you need is a permanent marker and zero compunction about drawing on the walls in front of your children. One Sharpie decoration later, and voila!, problem solved.

Which is how we’ve had a hole in the wall and a Mouse House in our hallway lo these many years. In other words, I AM SO PINTERESTY, FRIENDS!

Now hold that story in your head while we return to the present.

Greg left me home for the past 10 days while he went to Mexico to build houses, and, because our oldest kid is struggling mightily right now, I was pretty much housebound.

Housebound.

Minus grown-up supervision.

Which usually leads to acquiring farm animals.

But not this time.

This time I decided to do house projects. Even though I wasn’t finished with the last house project. Or the 12 house projects before that. All of those = irrelevant! Because doing house projects means one is productive, and completing said projects is definitely not required in order to check off the productivity box. Did you work on a project? Yes? HOW PRODUCTIVE OF YOU. <– It works like that, friends. The definition of productivity, after all, is the act of producing something. Did you produce an unfinished project? GOOD FOR YOU; YOU ARE SO PRODUCTIVE!

However, because I am both productive and responsible, I decided to check in with you first to be sure I was on the right track.

“Quick question,” I wrote on Facebook, “Ripping up the carpet on the stairs while Greg is away in Mexico building houses for those is need is a) a perfectly reasonable choice which has the added bonus of saving $$$ on renting a carpet cleaner to clean that which is basically unsalvageable anyway, b) a perfectly reasonable choice which will speed along the plan to convert to wood stairs which I say should happen last year and Greg believes is more in the “never” timeframe for house improvements, c) likely to mean walking up/down unfinished particle board for the next 10 years, and/or d) likely to lead to divorce?

“Please answer with whichever letters you believe best apply. You may choose more than one.

“Bonus question: Do I have to actually finish painting my bedroom before buying paint for my entryway, hallways and living room? Greg might say yes, but Greg is away so I can’t ask him. I feel like maybe starting 12 simultaneous projects and actually finishing zero of them isn’t irresponsible; it’s more like being true to myself. Yes? Yes, that’s what I thought.”

And you, because you are People Who Get It, responded with A, B, and a whole lot of C. Not so much worry about D. And only, like, two of you — who are, I assume, like my father the Marine who believes in Doing Things Right the First Time, and Measure Twice, Cut Once, and Do You Want to Know a Better Way to Do That, Beth?? — thought I needed to finish painting my room before destroying carpet. You really are SO my people. The Do Things Right Eventually and/or Possibly Never People. The Measure Never, Cut Till It Looks OK People. The NO I DO NOT WANT TO KNOW A BETTER WAY TO DO THAT People. Hallelujah and AMEN.

So.

I set about finding a box cutter, a mallet, and a tire iron to remove the carpet. I don’t know if that’s what one uses for such a project, but I figured they were the best way to start. I dunno. But on my way to procure said items from the garage, I found a dog who shall remain nameless…

…this dog…

…this sweet, muddy, baby, puppy dog…

…eating the Mouse House.

She figured out how to get juuust enough of her teeth inside the hole to pry off bits of drywall,

… and swallow them.

You know why?

Because she is PRODUCTIVE, and she was producing a mess.

Now, I get that some people might be dismayed by such an event. Baby Puppy Dog’s owner was horrified when I shared the news with her, for example.

I am not some people.

I looked at Baby Puppy Dog, and I looked at the new, improved hole in the wall, and I immediately discarded the stairs project so I could make the hole even bigger.

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED, Baby Puppy Dog.

We can disappoint Greg with the stairs later. Let’s disappoint him with GIANT WALL HOLES first.

I concocted a plan.

I bought paint.

I borrowed a drywall saw from the neighbor.

And BEHOLD, the new and improved mouse house:

Which fits a shadow box exactly:

And, after wall paint and another trip to the neighbor, who’s a set designer, is now a bare-bones outline for our brand new Fairy House:

I have hereby officially decided all future holes in my walls shall become fairy houses. Within 10 years, I anticipate the ENTIRE HOUSE will be a giant fairy haven. A fairy sanctuary. All fairies all the time.

Greg is home from Mexico now, and he’s ecstatic about this plan; ecstasy expressed the usual way, via eye rolling and a slight uptick to the upper lip some may take as disdain but I know to be Greg’s special way of thanking his Heavenly Father for gifting him with such a productive wife.

Thus we have solved one problem but created a new one. As usual. I now have the structure for a fairy house and must decorate it, except we all know I am barred from decorating alone.

This is where you come in, friends.

How do I decorate a fairy house??

Here’s what we’re going for… EASY and cheap, then cute. (This is why I’m barred from decorating alone — this is always my list, in priority order — easy, cheap, cute.)

Like this one from Beneath the Ferns:

Pretty sure I can duplicate those roof shingles.

And I’m pretty sure I can create a hinged front to the house with windows and a door. That way the entire front of the house opens so we can get to the box inside.

From there, though, I’m stuck. How do I decorate the inside? How do I light it with some kind of battery-operated gadget that doesn’t look clunky? Most importantly, how do we create the kind of environment that will lure cleaning fairies to my house??

In conclusion, I’m living into my areas of spiritual giftedness: 1) Starting projects and not finishing them, and 2) Creating problems for other people to solve.

Help me, Obi Wan; you’re my only hope.

Sincerely,

 

 

32 Things: A Day in the Life of, Like, EVERY PARENT I KNOW

Mar 26 2017

Just a quick review of the day, friends, in a list of 32 things. Honest to God, as much as I want to think today was unusual, honesty compels me to admit this is just like every day for, like, EVERY PARENT I KNOW.

  1. OK. I went to church this morning, but I couldn’t find my travel mug for coffee. My 4th grader suggested I use my whiskey flask. I was seriously tempted because whiskey flask + church makes me happy the same way profane embroidery + church makes me happy, BUT, contrary to public opinion, I do occasionally behave in socially appropriate ways, so I did NOT drink my coffee from a flask in church. I was simply late — as always — because I obviously couldn’t go until I found my travel mug.
  2. It was in the car.
  3. There was solidified milk in it.
  4. I didn’t gag when I cleaned it out — and it fell in one heinous, gelatinous, fetid mass into the disposal — because that’s apparently one of my super powers now.
  5. I was leaving the house with my clean, filled travel mug when I discovered the dog chewing on a glass ball she stole from the Christmas tree.
  6. Yes, the Christmas tree is still up and it’s the tail end of March.
  7. Yes, of course the ball was already in shards.
  8. Yes, of course I checked her mouth.
  9. Yes, of course it was full of glass. I pulled it all out. Piece by piece. She’s fine. No cuts. Sad dog, though, that I took away her toy.
  10. Yes, I got glass and dog slobber all over myself.
  11. No, I didn’t change my clothes. I’m not a rookie. If I changed my clothes every time I was encased in things like slobber and glass, I’d never do anything but change my clothes.
  12. I wiped off the slobber as best I could with someone’s sock, discarded for, I imagine, just that helpful purpose next to the door.
  13. I made it to church with coffee and without a trip to the emergency weekend vet, so goal accomplished.
  14. I came home.
  15. I made homemade stock. You know why? BECAUSE I’M A BOSS, and that’s what bosses do. BOOM.
  16. “Mom?” asked my kid, peering into the pot. “Is that a mole you’re making into soup?” 
  17. He didn’t mean mole sauce.
  18. He meant mole, the animal.
  19. It’s not a mole. It’s a piece of smoked pig. But I saw no reason to say so.
  20. “Yes,” I said. “Yes. We’re having mole soup for dinner. I caught a mole, I marinated it, and I threw it in the stock pot. Should be DELICIOUS.”
  21. “Huh,” said the child. “Am I allowed to add cheese?”
  22. “Yes,” I said. “You may add cheese. Cheese is, in fact, the traditional garnish used with any type of rodent soup.”
  23. “K,” he said, and he ran off to watch a video.
  24. I, in other words, have lowered standards SO FAR that my son thought a soup made from dirt-dwelling rodent flesh, albeit smothered in cheese, sounded acceptable.
  25. I have officially won parenting.
  26. I have not won dog-sitting.
  27. In fact, I had to come to terms this very afternoon with my dog, Zoey, leading sweet baby Hazel, a lovely baby Golden Retriever I’m watching this week for my cousin, astray.
  28. Unlike for mere slobber and glass, I DO strip down to wash muddy dogs.
  29. My kid videoed that bit, Internets. You’re welcome. Now you get to watch me sit in the bathtub in my granny bra and lecture the baby dog. “IF ALL THE OTHER DOGS JUMP OFF A CLIFF, HAZEL, YOU DO NOT JUMP, TOO.”
  30. I suspect this lecture will turn out to be as effective for the puppy as it is for my children. Which is to say, I suspect she’ll become a cliff diver any minute.

Sincerely,

 

 

 

P.S. Poor Hazel…

It Was a Cat in Heat. Or a Baby Crying. One or the Other.

Mar 24 2017

I rushed out of the house, wearing just my nightie, at 6:30am a couple days ago and peered over the front porch railing, looking and listening. I waited, silently, looking and listening more before I tiptoed down the front stairs and around the sides of the house to repeat.

No cat, though.

No baby, either.

The sound was totally gone.

I’d been laying in bed, dozing off and on for 30 minutes, listening to what I assumed was a cat in heat, yowling, then silence, then yowling some more when it occurred to me it might not be a cat. It might be a baby. Like, a human baby someone abandoned. And left on our porch. For me to find. Which I was not doing because my bed was very warm and the baby inadvertently sounded like a cat. Listen, we have discussed Lizard Brain and the fact that I have it, and once it occurred to me that it could be a baby — even though it really, really sounded like a cat holding a seance and trying to open a portal to the Netherworld — there was no way Lizard Brain was going to allow me to sleep. We can put this on the list of Things Lizard Brain Cannot Live With — FINDING OUT LATER THAT THE ABANDONED INFANT DIED BECAUSE YOU WERE TOO LAZY TO GET YOUR ASS OUT OF BED, BETH.

So, fine, Lizard Brain.

Got it.

I hauled said ass out of bed, draped inadequately in an obscenely short nightgown which is fine for running around inside the house but less socially appropriate for, say, running around outside the house, and, with the sun poking over the horizon and plenty of daylight for all my neighbors to see me, I went traipsing around our property in my best imitation of Chubby, Barely-Clad Suburban Mommy-Turned-Spy-Ninja. Stealthy. Sexy. Focused on my mission. Not to brag, but it was some of my finest work to date.

I stayed out there for 15 minutes. Twenty, maybe. Barefoot on gravel. Looking under the porch. Sneaking around corners.

No cat, though.

And no baby, either.

The sound was totally gone, and, fortunately, after a quarter hour of frozen performance art for the neighbors, Lizard Brain was gone, too.

I headed inside and made my way back to bed.

Laid my head on my pillow.

AND HEARD IT AGAIN EXACTLY LIKE BEFORE.

Which is when I realized it wasn’t a cat in heat at all. Nor was it an abandoned baby. It was just Greg, breathing. Wheezing on the inhale. Like a cat in heat. Or a crying mini-human.

All of which is to say, Greg and one of the 10-year-olds left for Mexico yesterday to help build houses for people in need. They’ll be away for 10 days. I will miss them terribly. But not, you know, completely. 

#BEDtoMYSELF #SLEEPINGALONE #PRAISEJESUSandALLTHESAINTS

Sincerely,

 

My Kid Experiences Disability. He’s Potentially a Very Rad Human. Right Now, Though, He’s an ASS.

Mar 22 2017

Look. There are certain things that are harder to write than others. Mine tend to get a little flip flopped. Writing about the church? Ugh. HARD. Writing about pooping my closet? Surprisingly easy. So I’m not necessarily like everyone else when it comes to which subjects are agonizing and which are delightful, but, on this one, I suspect I’m like everyone else. Writing about my kid who experiences disability = hard. One of the hardest. Partly because I want to protect as much of his story as possible. And partly because there’s a sort of unspoken Hippocratic Oath among those of us who parent children who experience disability; we want, above all, to do no harm to these kiddos who already have enough challenges without their mommies making it worse by speaking out. You know? And so there’s an almost-covenant; if we DO tell our kids’ stories, we tell OUR PART ONLY. We tell the bits that help other mamas and dads like us know they’re NOT ALONE. We speak of our children in the BEST POSSIBLE LIGHT, always with sympathy, always with understanding. The world is already judging them, after all, more harshly than the world judges me or you, and we’ve made HUGE STRIDES over the last 5 or 10 years in helping the world SEE our kids as HUMANS FIRST and not CHALLENGES FIRST.

Disabilities of all kinds are less maligned than they used to be. We ARE making progress, at least among those of us who are kind and seek a diverse human experience. I see a new campaign every day to break down barriers. To increase understanding. To educate the public on how to treat each other. But, as a society, we still seem to need those who experience disability to be sweet and nice. To be cherubic. To be, if they experience difficulty, TRIUMPHANT about it, damn it. OVERCOMING their difficulties. And we’d like to hear about those difficulties after they’ve been solved, please. Never in the middle of them. Never, EVER. And so we rob those who experience disability of part of their humanity. Their ability to be fully, messily human when we insist they only have MAGIC and never mess. We make them caricatures of people so we can understand them in as few dimensions as possible; we steal their complexity and, in the end, part of their story, after all.

We’ve gotten to the part where we parents can admit raising kids — ANY kind of raising kids — and also raising kids who experience disability is HARD WORK. THANK GOD we’ve arrived there and parents are reaching out to each other to form networks and advocacy programs and person-centered decision making. THANK GOD and all the people who have made this happen.

We have not gotten to the part where we can share the full truth of what we experience.

But, friends.

Friends.

Friends.

I need to tell you a piece of that full truth now, because we Woolseys are in the MUCK and the MIRE right now, and we are NOT seeing the magic in the mess. We might someday. We cling to that as our future and carry that hope for our child who cannot carry it for himself right now. But today is not that day. Today is MESS, following days and days and months and months of more mess.

My kid — my kid with GREAT potential, who is beautiful and sensitive and had a HORRIBLE, HARD START in life and, since then, EVERY medical, psychological, mental and developmental reason for the very real challenges he faces every single day — is also an ASS right now.

Like, my kid is REALLY a jerk.

And it’s not Oppositional Defiant Disorder. There’s not some unearthed diagnosis here. We KNOW what this is — a large part is, in fact, medical — and we know WHY he does it, AND ALSO, he’s currently a big bully and his behavior is not OK. ALL OF THOSE THINGS ARE TRUE at the same time. He has good reasons to be a jerk, AND IT’S NOT OK. Both/And, friends. Both/And.

My kid used to be kind. Truly, deeply kind, and he looked out for others. Lately, 95% of the time, he’s not kind. Not to his family. And, more and more lately, not to his peers, either. Nearly all of the words he uses these days around our house are intended to maximize rudeness, hurt others, or, if he accomplishes all of his goals in one fell swoop, both.

He punched his 10-year-old brother in the stomach a few weeks ago.

He told a kid at school he was going to kill him. “I didn’t mean it, Mom” and rolling his eyes didn’t go over as well as he hoped.

He uses his man-sized body to block people littler than him or stand imposingly over them while refusing to move — nonverbal threats of force.

He’s been banned by XBox Live for inappropriate (read: threatening) chats.

His Gmail count has been deleted — by Google, in an official decision — for the same. We have responded at this point by removing all access to everything online for the foreseeable future. Which, you know, makes him ECSTATIC.

These are not, in other words, cute misbehaviors or understandable one-off scenarios. These are consistent. Disheartening. Discouraging. Sad. And this is a child on the cusp of adulthood — knocking on the door of age 18 — so I often have to pull myself back from the brink of going Full Lizard Brain, all “FREAKING OUT RIGHT NOW IS THE ONLY REASONABLE SOLUTION,” and assuming this is going to all end in a firefight with the police. The facts that he’s only ever at school or at home don’t seem to matter to Mommy Lizard Brain. She exists to call up the worst possible scenario, bless her catastrophizing heart.

Please understand, I am not unsympathetic to his behavior, nor do I blame the man child entirely. There are good reasons for this kid in particular to be a total raging asshole right now. In addition to intellectual disability, he is developmentally somewhere between an immature age 4 and age 6, with all of the impulse control that entails, while trying to navigate a 17-year-old body with hormones; he has expressive and receptive language disorders which keep him locked inside his head without the ability to talk things out the way you and I do, making for quite the pressure cooker of emotions and frustration; he suffers from anxiety and PTSD which he keeps on a tight leash at school and, therefore, unleashes entirely when he gets home; and, he is the perfect storm of social awareness — aware that he is different and desperately wanting to be cool with no real ability to navigate peer relationships in a socially normative way.

It is, in other words, a total cluster. Just an utter mess. This is a kid — a young man — who is trying to find his power and his purpose, and he’s found it very powerful to use his body and his words as weapons. To a person who feels otherwise out of control, having ANY amount of power is extremely seductive; he simply doesn’t have the developmental or intellectual ability to combat that right now. The problem is, we don’t know if he ever will.

I like to think, when Lizard Brain isn’t in control, that this is a phase.

I remind myself that many teenagers — myself at that age absolutely included — go through a raging asshole stage.

I remind myself of all the help we’re getting — from his school, from doctors, from specialist, from eating programs and emotional regulation, from my parents who are working tirelessly on his behalf to get him the additional services he needs.

I remind myself that my child who experiences disability is FULLY HUMAN, and all of this simply proves it.

I remind myself that he is also FULLY DIVINE, made in God’s own image, even if I want to drop kick him over the back fence right now and see if any of that damn divinity will shake loose so I can SEE SOME.

And, because I, too, am fully human, I succeed at those things some days, and I don’t succeed others.

So.

Why am I telling you all of this?

Because my kid, like every person on this planet, is real. He’s complex. He suffers. He makes good choices. He makes terrible ones. He is not cherubic at the moment. He’s being rather awful, in fact. Part of being real, though, means being ALL MESS sometimes. ALL MESS with magic buried deep down inside.

Waving in the dark, friends,

 

 

 

 

 

Because I Needed to Fix ONE Damn Thing

Mar 20 2017

There’s paint on my fingernails. Some of it’s nail polish. Some of it’s wall paint.

Abby came home from college for Spring Break. She left warm, sunny Hawaii where her friends spent the week on the beach in teeny, tiny swimsuits getting perfect tan lines, for cold, rainy Oregon and her mommy and daddy. I told her she’s doing college and Spring Break wrong. But kids these days; they never listen.

“LET’S GO GET OUR NAILS DONE,” she said, Spring Break Day 1.

“OMG! YES. YES, LET’S GO GET OUR NAILS DONE RIGHT NOW,” I said back, which I’ve never previously said to her — never in her whole life — because it costs $25 to get ONE PERSON’S NAILS DONE ONE TIME, whereas an ENTIRE BOTTLE of nail polish is $3.99 at the grocery store, OR, if you insist on being fancy, $8.99 with a $2 off coupon.

But Abby knows exactly when her mommy is a sucker — Spring Break Day 1, man — because even if she’s doing college and Spring Break wrong, I’ve at least taught her the life skill called How to Manipulate Your Mama So She Does Whatever You Want, Always. And so, I sit here typing with manicured nails, but also hands dotted with wall paint because I’m why we can’t have nice things.

“Tracy and I got fake nails today,” I wrote in my 5th grade journal after we snuck to the store and squandered our allowance on press-on nails, “but then we dug up a gopher hole, so they fell off.” My 43-year-old hands are, in other words, exactly like my 10-year-old hands. I tried to look like a grown-up, friends. I tried real hard.

I painted my bedroom this week.

It wasn’t part of the plan, I have 36 other priorities right now, my teenage man-child with special needs is having a rough go of it lately, but, suddenly, nothing felt as important as painting, rearranging and redecorating my bedroom. Not one thing.

Instead of mock myself for it, though, I’ll tell you — and myself — a more gentle truth: I needed to control something in a world that feels out of control. I needed to make something pretty in a world that seems ugly. I needed sanctuary as our church falls apart. I needed a sanctuary to sit in. I needed to find sanctuary in the ethereal sense. And, while there’s a very, very small, logical part of me that understands painting my room ultimately provides no substantial fix, there’s a much larger part that is soothed by fixing something. Anything. One goddamn thing. Even — especially — if that thing is where I lay my head at night.

More soon, friends. I’ve been trying to wrap my fragile, fabulous, fearful, fierce brain around what to say about the world these days and how to navigate it. I’m almost there. Stay tuned.

With love, as always,

 

 

 

P.S. Here’s what I’ve done to the room so far…

I forgot to take “before” photos, so these are mid-way pics… in the middle of cleaning and reorganizing pre-painting and moving furniture.

BEFORE(ish):

BEFORE(ish):

We’ve switched where the bed and desk are located. Thus,

AFTER:

AFTER:

P.P.S. I DID think about making the bed for you — it’s adorable with all the different Bohemian-feel linens which are a combo of stuff we already had, like that weird and fabulous 1960’s quilt from my great aunt, and the throw pillows you can see on the dresser, and the other linens like the blue and white bedspread I scored from Goodwill — but, honest to God, our bed is only made 0.0001% of the time so making it for you felt too much like lying. So we’re going with “it’s the thought that counts.” I thought about making the bed, so it counts, yes? Yes. This is why we’re friends.

P.P.P.S. The Nolen’s Booksellers sign was Greg’s score at the recent sale in Portland of all the prop pieces from the Grimm TV series. Seems fitting to put with Aden’s werewolf self-portrait and our twins’ zombie pic.

P.P.P.P.S. The desk wall isn’t done.

I’m considering doing a word mural on the wall with what has become my theme…

There is MAGIC in the MESS,
and GRACE in the GRIME
and WONDER in the WILD
of this LIFE lived OFF-COURSE
from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.

It seems like the perfect place for such a reminder. I’m just not sure how to execute that idea. Thoughts??

P.P.P.P.P.S. I have a beginner’s writing retreat coming up in May at the Oregon Coast! I’d love to hang out with you there. You can find all the info here: Writing 101. Please do consider coming! And contact me if you have any questions. <3

Where I’m From

Mar 7 2017

When I first had a baby who was soft and snuggly, who smelled good and was dressed the way I liked in Baby Gap dresses I snagged from the consignment store for a steal, I felt sad for the mommies of bigger kids. I watched them, mostly at church, and I thought they were just so… homely. With horror show teeth growing on top of each other, forgetting to let the little ones fall out before the big ones came in. And mismatched clothes with tears in all the wrong places; a pocket attached but barely, a toe sticking out of a sock without a shoe. They were gangly and awkward and socially cringe-worthy. They smelled wonky and had funny hair. And, I suppose, I remembered myself at that age and felt retroactively embarrassed for myself. So I felt sorry for their mamas, and I suspected they longed for their kids to be little again, still sweet and small; still pretty; still perfect and unmarred by time and teeth.

Now I’m the mama of the gangly ones with the funny hair and wicked grins, and I still think they’re homely, only now I find them delightfully so, and I revel in the secret of the mamas of the bigs — the secret that these goofy kids are also pretty and perfect and unmarred. Both/And, friends, and becoming more Both/And every day. Both homely and stunning. Both wonky and wonderful. Both grimy and gorgeous. Both magic and mess. Like all of us, it turns out, made up of a mix and jumble. Human and divine. And I adore that they are mine.

Cai came home from school last week and declared he hates writing the Most of ALL. He’s in 4th grade and he hates writing. He hates drawing. He hates art. And he really, really, extra hates poetry. Poetry is horrible. And then he pulled a poem from his backpack and threw it on the kitchen table, on top of Something Sticky from days ago, and on top of bills and groceries and someone’s sock, and he left the room to play XBox with his brother while I read his poem and laughed because it starts silly… and then wept because there it was, all written out, who my kid is at this wonky, beautiful age, and where he’s really from, in truth.

Where I’m From
by Cai Woolsey

I am from computer.
From Twix candy bars and XBox.

I am from chaos.

I am from madness.
From helpful
And dirty.

I am from the willow that weeps
And the pear that is sweet.

I am from eating snow
And joyfulness from Beth and Greg.

I’m from loudness
And ruff housing.

From peace
And love.

I’m from kindness
And giving.
I’m from my Papa’s Marines
And from cheese and steak.

I’m from the hospital.
I am from my home.

I asked Cai’s teacher about the poetry unit they’ve been doing. The awful, horrible poetry unit he hates which produced this picture of who my kid is, at age 10, and his wisdom and awkward, awesome grace. She shared the template with me, based on Where I’m From by George Ella Lyon, and I decided to write my own, as well.

It made me nervous, to be honest, because, as is common for Third Culture Kids, I never quite know how to answer Where I’m From. Do I say where I was born? Where I was raised? Where I live now? Where my heart, which ebbs and flows like the ocean, from one coast to another, pulled by mysterious forces, is drawn? It’s… complicated… for kids like me. We tend to know Who We Are rather than Where We’re From, but nobody ever asks Who Are You? when you meet for the first time.

Still, I thought. Still, I’d like to try so I might see. You know? And I’m sure you’ll forgive me if I steal some lines from my son.

Where I’m From
by Me

I am from the wilderness.
The jungle.
The highlands.
The home.

I am from chaos.

From magic and mess.
From grace and grime.
From wonder in the wild of a life lived off course
from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.

I am from the water;
the ocean which is dark and light
and full of life and danger.

I am from hot toddies made by fierce and friendly women.
From ancient Irish enemies — Kerr and McDonough —
and their Scottish Murray foes,
turned friends, then lovers, then strangers, then friends again.

I am from dramatic sighs
and doing things a better way
and blowing up
and quieting down
and trying and succeeding
and trying and failing
and trying
to love each other well.

I’m from Stop Baiting Your Brother, Beth
and
Someday You’ll Be Best Friends,
and she was right; we are.

^^^I’m from telling my kids the same thing.^^^
From Brainwashing for a Better Tomorrow.

I am from Love made real who walks among us.
From Love which still turns the whole world upside down.

I’m from the Celts and the Gaels
and the Viking pirates who sailed the sea.
I am from the Wild, Wild West
and an Asian jungle,
and so I’m made of rice and whiskey
and freckles
and things that taste free.

I’m posting the template below, because I’d really love to see yours, too. Feel free to use it loosely, as I did, ’cause you know who needs more rules? NOT ME. 😉 :*

Sending love, wild friends,

 

 

 

Where I’m From Template:

I am from _______ (specific ordinary item), from _______ (product name) and _______.

I am from the _______ (home description… adjective, adjective, sensory detail).

I am from the _______ (plant, flower, natural item), the _______ (plant, flower, natural detail)

I am from _______ (family tradition) and _______ (family trait), from _______ (name of family member) and _______ (another family name) and _______ (family name).

I am from the _______ (description of family tendency) and _______ (another one).

From _______ (something you were told as a child) and _______ (another).

I am from (representation of religion, or lack of it). Further description.

I’m from _______ (place of birth and family ancestry), _______ (two food items representing your family).

From the _______ (specific family story about a specific person and detail), the _______ (another detail, and the _______ (another detail about another family member).

I am from _______ (location of family pictures, mementos, archives and several more lines indicating their worth).

March Book Selection for It’s A Likely Story Book Club

Mar 1 2017

ALikelyStory

My friend, Korie, a librarian here in my little Oregon town, has been reading books for months now with one theme in mind — not a white protagonist. Children’s books. YA. Fiction. Nonfiction. She realized a while back how very white her reading list was and made a commitment to change that, both for her personal reading pleasure and also so she can better recommend books that feature people of color to our library patrons and customers. Korie’s the one who recommended An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir in January, my favorite book club book so far — and she recommended the book we selected for March, below, which I’m VERY excited to read. If you’re interested in following Korie while she curates books with leading characters of color, you can look at the hashtag #notawhiteprotagonist on Facebook which has a few of her selections listed or, even better if you’re looking for her comprehensive Not A White Protagonist list, follow her on Litsy where her handle is BookInMyHands.

A Likely Story Book Club
Announcing: March’s Book Selection!

Akata Witch
by Nnedi Okorafor

Akata Witch weaves together a heart-pounding tale of magic, mystery, and finding one’s place in the world.

Twelve-year-old Sunny lives in Nigeria, but she was born American. Her features are African, but she’s albino. She’s a terrific athlete, but can’t go out into the sun to play soccer. There seems to be no place where she fits in. And then she discovers something amazing—she is a “free agent” with latent magical power. Soon she’s part of a quartet of magic students, studying the visible and invisible, learning to change reality. But will it be enough to help them when they are asked to catch a career criminal who knows magic too?

……….

READ BELOW for our review of last month’s book, Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty.

But FIRST, I wanted to be sure you know we still have spaces available for the March 9-12 retreat at the Oregon Coast!
If you’re in the Pacific Northwest (or willing to come on over next week ;)), I would LOVE to hang out with you there.
AND, if you’re a teacher or minister, be sure to ask about discounts.

……….

And here’s our review of February’s book, Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty:

On a scale of 1-5, 1 being “UGH, I would rather stab myself in the eye than read another book like this,” and 5 being “I am currently buying 57 copies to give to all my friends,” our Facebook group collectively rated Big Little Lies a 3.8

My rating was 3.5. a 3.5. This was my first Liane Moriarty book. I LOVED her author voice and the way she develops characters with small but telling details. I loved the way she makes characters multi-dimensional — Madeline, for example, who cares about SO MANY superficial things, never met a battle she didn’t want to fight, is kind and unkind at turns, AND is a deeply loyal friend with such relateable feelings about her ex, his wife, and her daughter’s desire to move out. I liked the pacing. It kept my interest. I liked the little “reveals” along the way. However, I am not typically a murder-mystery or suspense reader. I produce plenty of anxiety in my regular life not to need any more in my entertainment life. So, while this was clearly a fictional, escapist type of book, it’s not my favorite way to escape. Personal preference is the only reason I’m not giving this one a 4… she’s clearly a gifted author, and it was a great story.

Comments from our Facebook book club:

Sarah B Arsee wrote: “The heaviness of the abuse subplot really changed this from an escapist book to one inducing way too much anxiety. I think I would rate it a 3-4. 3 because I didn’t enjoy reading it like I wanted to, I was hoping for more escape. 4 because it was really well written and she nailed the myriad of characters. So I guess that means 3.5 from me.”

Terry FischerWolfe wrote: I really enjoyed this book as a fun quick read. I would give it a 4. I loved the depth of the characters, the fast pace and the humor. I also don’t normally care for murder mysteries, but this one didn’t feel like one. It really felt like a light beach read to me, even though the subjects were pretty heavy.”

Karrie Johnson wrote: I give it a 4. I enjoy whodunits and it kept me on my edge of my seat wanting me to finish quickly. It also threw in a couple of surprises. Also made me get connected to the character, made me happy to see them happy sad/worried for them when they are distraught. I also think it raised great awareness on abuse.”

Louisa Davidson wrote: “I would give it 4-. I thought the dV plot line was really well done and I kept thinking about it afterwards. But I agree that that does not make for a relaxing or escapist read.”