Remind me to never get Botox. I mean, YOU can, but my face isn’t responsible enough.

Oct 16 2014

I made a video for you yesterday while my tongue, lips and facial muscles were still frozen after dental work. The dentist worked on the top teeth – both sides – and bottom left. So, like, my whole mouth minus the teeth on the bottom right which he fixed last month.

The dentist said I need to knock it off with the soda. I said, self-righteously, I don’t drink soda. He said I probably ought to knock off the coffee, then. I said I’ll go ahead and hand over all my teeth right now as long as I can keep my coffee. I said keeping the coffee is tantamount to keeping my children, since I’m doubtful I can parent without it. I said coffee is a spiritual practice and he probably shouldn’t go around maligning people’s religions like that. I said none of those things because his hands were in my mouth, but I think my whimpering gave him the gist. 

After the dentist, I went to volunteer at my kids’ school.

I practiced smiling first, because, you know – frozen face.

USUALLY, my smile looks like this.

photo 2 (75)

But this time, it looked like this.

Face1

And like this.

Face2

And, when I used my fingers to help, it looked like this:

Face3

So I decided to volunteer at the elementary school without smiling. On the down side, I’m pretty sure there are some kids who are now frightened of me since I kept forgetting not to smile and ended up grimacing at them instead. On the bright side, I sat with a bunch of 2nd grade boys for lunchtime, and I couldn’t drink from the tiny carton of milk without dribbling it down my front, so there are some kids who think I’m funnier than God.

That’s when I made you this video, which is mostly just self-serving because I realized I may need you to remind me in the future to never, ever, ever get Botox. 

Never.

Ever.

I mean, I’m not opposed to those of you who use Botox. Knock yourselves out. You inject poison into your face, I eat off-brand mac and cheese with its fake orange dye and delicious, dehydrated cheese product and simple carbohydrates; who am I to judge? And I don’t ever expect to have the extra funds available for Botox, but just in case I accidentally invent the next Microsoft or Google or a whole new internal organ that neutralizes cheese product ( <– someone invent this! ), I wanted to make sure to record this so I remember why some of us need facial expressions more than others. 

……….

P.S. I couldn’t remember what those teeth that aren’t molars are called. Now I remember they’re just called teeth. That’s why I’m a writer; because I’m so good at words.

 

For the Love of Books (And 5 Books I Hope My Kids Will Read)

Oct 15 2014

Throughout October, we’re going to periodically talk about books because
a) books are rad and b) we’re raising funds for a 5 Kids ComeUnity project, A Girl With A Book,
which will put books in the hands of Kindergarten through
Second Grader boys and girls at Title 1 (high poverty rate) elementary schools.
To learn more and to join our effort, please see A Girl With A Book.

My aunt and uncle kept The Joy of Sex low on a bookshelf in their old Portland home. I found it when I was 11. My cousin, who was 12, and I surreptitiously slipped it off the shelf, stuffed it in my shirt, and tore up the long, wooden staircase — clomp, clomp, clomp, clomp – to her bedroom to pour over the detailed drawings with our eyes wide and our hands over our giggling mouths. We were very sneaky, and no doubt our parents didn’t suspect a thing. 

I’m not sure our giddy, shocked delight was the kind of joy the author had in mind when he wrote the book, but, truly, the title delivered. At any rate, The Joy of Sex was, in my preadolescent mind, a much better book than Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Too Afraid to Ask, which my parents kept low on a bookshelf at our house, because Everything You Always Wanted to Know didn’t include any pictures at all and, therefore, was definitely not everything I always wanted to know.

I found Clan of the Cave Bears on my grandmother’s bookshelf when I was in high school. I took it home for safekeeping because my sweet grandmother shouldn’t have access to that kind of trash. That kind of awesome, awesome trash. Eventually, I had to steal the entire series of books from her. For her safety. 

I’m a giver.

Or a taker.

Same same.

Regardless, books opened whole worlds to me, and not just the mildly naughty or nefarious worlds. No; books were my friends. My educators. My confidants. My escape. My solace. My sighs of relief. My open doors. My welcoming arms. My constant companions. 

Ah, books. How I love you.

Books taught me I’m not alone, that stories can set us free, and to look for the wild, weird places inside us because those are paths that teach us grace and lead us to each other and help us find our way home together. 

Books taught me to look for the magic in the hidden places. And to long for the Village. And to believe my people are out there, too. 

So, to honor the books, and to promote books for others, and to steal book ideas from you for my kids, and to pay penance for stealing my grandma’s Clan of the Cave Bears series (which I eventually returned) (a little more dog-earred in certain sections, but whatever), I’d like to share with you my 5 favorite books as a kid.

 

5 Favorite Books From My Childhood
I Hope My Kids Will Read

 

ALittlePrincess1. A Little Princess by Frances Hodgsen Burnett

“Whatever comes,” she said, “cannot alter one thing. If I am a princess in rags and tatters, I can be a princess inside. It would be easy to be a princess if I were dressed in cloth of gold, but it is a great deal more of a triumph to be one all the time when no one knows it.”

“Perhaps to be able to learn things quickly isn’t everything. To be kind is worth a great deal to other people…Lots of clever people have done harm and have been wicked.” 

 

endersgame2. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

“Perhaps it’s impossible to wear an identity without becoming what you pretend to be.” 

“I think that most of us, anyway, read these stories that we know are not “true” because we’re hungry for another kind of truth: the mythic truth about human nature in general, the particular truth about those life-communities that define our own identity, and the most specific truth of all: our own self-story. Fiction, because it is not about someone who lived in the real world, always has the possibility of being about oneself.” From the Introduction 

 

narnia3. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

“All shall be done, but it may be harder than you think.” 

“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.” “Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”…”Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” 

“I wrote this story for you, but when I began it I had not realized that girls grow quicker than books. As a result you are already too old for fairy tales, and by the time it is printed and bound you will be older still. But some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again. You can then take it down from some upper shelf, dust it, and tell me what you think of it. I shall probably be too deaf to hear, and too old to understand a word you say, but I shall still be your affectionate Godfather, C. S. Lewis.” 

 

4. PrincessGoblinThe Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald

“Seeing is not believing – it is only seeing.” 

“People must believe what they can, and those who believe more must not be hard upon those who believe less. I doubt if you would have believed it all yourself if you hadn’t seen some of it.” 

“It was foolish indeed – thus to run farther and farther from all who could help her, as if she had been seeking a fit spot for the goblin creature to eat her in at his leisure; but that is the way fear serves us: it always sides with the thing we are afraid of.” 

 

5. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

WrinkleinTime“Wild nights are my glory!” 

“We do not know what things look like, as you say,” the beast said. “We know what things are like. It must be a very limiting thing, this seeing.”

“But a planet can also become dark because of “too strong a desire for security … the greatest evil there is.” Meg resists her father’s analysis. What’s wrong with wanting to be safe? Mr. Murry insists that “lust for security” forces false choices and a panicked search for safety and conformity. This reminded me that my grandmother would get very annoyed when anyone would talk about “the power of love.” Love, she insisted, is not power, which she considered always coercive. To love is to be vulnerable; and it is only in vulnerability and risk—not safety and security—that we overcome darkness.” – Madeleine L’Engle on A Wrinkle in Time

 

Your turn! I’m assembling a list of books for my 8-to-12 year old kids to read.
What’s one of your favorite childhood books… and why do you love it?
Also, because it makes me giggle, what books did you sneak off a bookshelf? ;)

 ……….

AGirlWithABook

P.S. THANK YOU so very much to those of you who’ve already donated to A Girl With A Book! 

So far, we’ve raised $998, enough to benefit one Title 1 school! I’m so proud of us! ESPECIALLY because we’re seeking many, small donations of $5, $10 or $15, which is both harder and awesomer because it requires greater involvement from our whole, amazing community. Please consider joining our effort by 1) making a donation of any size and 2) sharing the campaign with others. Together, we can make a difference in the life of a kid. Because a kid with a book is a powerful thing.

P.P.S. Thank you, too, to Chapters Books and Coffee, the independent, family-owned book store partnering with our 5 Kids ComeUnity on the Girl With A Book project. 

I have almost everything I could want in life: 5 rad kids I want to keep almost all the time, a husband with emergency zombie apocalypse preparedness plans, a nose made out of my ear, and almost 2,000 likes on a Facebook picture of my ass. Only one thing’s missing.

Oct 12 2014

This is a Weekly Wrap-Up Post
… and A Birthday Request … 

Ready?

Here we go:

 

1. IMG_0635I returned this week from an amazing trip, paddling the Stillwater section of the Green River with my dad and friends. John of the Just Finding Our Way blog is writing a description of each day’s events. He’s on Day 6 now, the day my dad and I joined the trip with a box of doughnuts and a box for poop, both to share. Do we know what to bring to a party or what?

You can see all the pictures (none of which John offered to let me vet for angles that make me look skinnier… pffttt… ) and follow our daily events here at John’s blog.

P.S. The first picture John shares of my dad and me on the river is one in which I’m gazing adoringly at the box of doughnuts which just proves some people have an intuitive sense for how to capture the essence of a person on film.

 

2. ForTheLoveofFootballI asked my middle school daughter to attend her brother’s football game. Once. This entire season. And by “asked” I mean “cajoled” and “bribed” and “pleaded” and “tried to make her feel guilty” and then, when none of those worked even a smidge, I told her to get her adorable self in the van because “we are a family that supports each other, so you will go to that game and you will like it” because it’s really important to choose your battles and, when you tell your kid what she will do, that you have the follow-through and ability to make sure she does it. 

I knew if we could just get her out of the house and away from screens, she’d feel the excitement in the stands and breathe the fresh air and learn about the snack bar and be grateful we made her go.

And I was totally right! She was HUGE fan. OBVIOUSLY. I took this picture of her in her most enthusiastic moment. Literally. Her most enthusiastic moment.

Chalk this one up as a Parenting Win.

 

3. I shared this picture on the 5 Kids Facebook page because it’s important to me to be an example to my teenagers that we never, ever, ever take pictures of ourselves in our undies because they might end up on the internet and then TERRIBLE things happen. 

TERRIBLE THINGS. 

For example, one guy totally accused me of using run-on sentences. The jerk. I use fragments. Not run-ons. Geez.

MyAssDear The Internets,

I went to my son’s football game today. It was at the big high school stadium with other parents and football players and high schoolers and concession stand workers and cheerleaders and at least one candidate for city council. 

Then I ran errands. LOTS of errands to little shops with other shoppers and the ice cream parlor just FULL of Saturday afternoon ice cream eaters and the grocery store with kids and grown-ups and check-out people and managers and baggers.

Then I went to a friend’s house to drop my kids off for a party which is where I met up with my husband who, as my husband is wont to do, checked out my ass. My partially bare ass, as it turns out, because, unbeknownst to me and at a time that shall apparently remain a mystery, my jeans had ripped from stem to stern, right across my ample bum and purple granny panties. Wheeeee!

In conclusion, I remain, as always, fully committed to my ongoing mission to make you feel comparatively AWESOME about yourselves. If, in other words, you didn’t go out in public today with your ass is the wind, you are doing better than you know. Better than you know! Give yourself a pat on the back. 

And you’re welcome, friends. I do it because I love you. 

Yours Truly,
Beth Woolsey

 

4. AGirlWithABookGreg woke me up Friday morning with the news that 17-year-old Malala Yousafzai won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Two years ago almost exactly, on October 9, 2012, a Taliban gunman shot Malala in the face, an assassination attempt due to her persistent and outspoken commitment to promote education for girls in the Swat Valley of Pakistan.

Today, Malala is a Nobel laureate – the youngest ever – and, more importantly, she continues to strive for all children and their right to equal access to education. 

“Extremists have shown what frightens them the most: a girl with a book.” ~Malala Yousafzai

 

5. Tomorrow’s my birthday. You’d think I already have everything I could want in life: 5 rad kids I want to keep almost all the time, a husband with emergency zombie apocalypse preparedness plans, a nose made out of my ear, and almost 2,000 likes on a Facebook picture of my ass. I mean, there’s not a lot more a woman of 41 can want, you know? But I’m going to ask you for something anyway, and it’s this:

Will you join me in giving $5, $10 or $15 toward A Girl With A Book? 100% of the funds we receive from this GoFundMe campaign will go to purchase books for Kindergarten through 2nd Grade boys and girls from Title 1 (high poverty rate) elementary schools. 

Books have always been some of my best friends, and I can’t think of anything I’d like more for my birthday than to put cherished words into the hands of kids who might otherwise not be able to keep them.

It’s a way to honor Malala’s work. And it’s a way to give back. I hope, if this space has brought you joy and mamaraderie over the years, you’ll join me with a small donation and by sharing the campaign with your friends. 

You can read about all the details at A Girl With A Book here: http://www.gofundme.com/agirlandabook

 

And P.S. You people really are the best. xoxo

I Know We’re Not Supposed to Compare Ourselves to Others or to Try to Figure Out Who’s Sucking Worse Than Us But Sometimes We Need to Know We’re Doing a LITTLE Better Than Someone Else And That’s Why I Tripped Over My Own Pants This Morning. For YOU.

Oct 9 2014

I tripped over my own pants this morning. Not because they were on the floor and I didn’t see them. Not because someone maliciously tossed them in my path while I was walking by. Not for any of the usual, discarded-them-in-the-middle-of-my-bedroom-last-night-because-I-was-really-tired-and-DONE-WITH-PANTS-so-let’s-keep-the-housekeeping-recriminations-to-yourselves reasons.

PantsNo; I tripped over my own pants this morning because, as they were halfway up my legs, I suddenly thought of 4 other things I needed to be doing — I have to go potty! I have to take my meds! I have to remind my boys to put their homework in their backpacks! I have to find a shirt because Topless School Drop-Off continues to be “frowned upon.” – and I marched off to do those things without completing the pants pull-up maneuver.

Literally, my hands were still at my knees, mid-hoist, and I just walked off as though, having thought about pulling up my pants, I was done.

It was a fantastic trip, just so you know.

More of a jump, really, like in ballet. 

I know! It was a jeté! A jeté which, according to WikipediatheSourceofAllKnowledge, is a large leap in which one leg appears to be thrown in the direction of the movement. 

That’s totally what I did.

grand jeté except not quite so grand since the leg I threw was already securely lassoed by my pants.

Perhaps a pathétique jeté is a more accurate term, as it ended in me lying on my bathroom floor, trussed up like a turkey.

Or like a calf at a rodeo steer-wrestling event.

OK, fine; calf roping may be the tiniest bit more precise than ballet.

Like calf roping almost exactly, except I roped two calves and, no offense to all the accomplished calf ropers out there, but I’m pretty sure I beat your time hands down, because the whole event, from putting my feet in my pants to finding myself face-down in the ample dirty laundry pile on the bathroom floor was only, like, 5 seconds. 

Frankly, I think Getting Dressed should be a recognized as a sport, and I should have this move named after me. The double-footed leap-and-trip, known from now on as a Woolsey. As a Gainer is to diving, so a Woolsey is to Getting Dressed. The half-Woolsey, of course, would apply to the single-footed leap-and-trip, which I’ve also performed at least twice. 

In conclusion, I think we forget to thank Jesus for the little things, so I’d like to take this moment to say, 

Dear Jesus,

Thank you that there are no video cameras in my bathroom.

Amen

………

Blue Jean image credit Suat Eman via freedigitalimages.net

I Went to the Wilderness, I Squat-Pottied in Idyllic Locations, I Didn’t Check the Internets for a Week, and Whovians Hijacked This Blog

Oct 7 2014

IMG_0641APPARENTLY — *ahem* — there was a teeny, tiny, little hijacking of this blog whilst I was away, kayaking down the idyllic Green River for days and days, taking in stunning vistas, squat-pottying in a delightful, shared metal poop box called a groover which is not unlike a desert-powered slow cooker for collected feces, and blissfully not monitoring the nefarious blog coup underway. 

I hold Greg responsible. 

And you Whovians for encouraging him.

Yes. Greg and you myriad Whovians are clearly at fault for the blog coup.

I could not stop laughing this morning from my hotel room in Salt Lake City as I read through your dismay and disgust at my lack of Whovian follow-through.

Also, you’re all very awesome and I love you very much, even though you willfully aired my dirty Whovian laundry and, in my absence, signed me up for remedial Whovian indoctrination. Remedial InDoctorination, as the case may be. 

I admit, I’m a Doctor Who tease, leading Greg on by watching a couple of episodes and then ditching him to read much more urgent, but definitely quality vampire / werewolf literature in the evenings, ensconced in bed, head on pillow, comforter pulled to my chin, actively shunning his desperate and occasionally pathetic Whovian pleading.

As for Greg’s comparison between Outlander and Doctor Who, while admittedly brilliant, I have just one thing to say:

JAMIE.

It’s just… Outlander has Jamie, and Doctor Who doesn’t, and if you’ve read more than 30% of Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, I know you know what I know. YOU KNOW WHAT I KNOW, you know? I mean, I haven’t watched Outlander episodes 7 or 8 yet… the episodes for which I’ve been waiting with breathless anticipation… but I remain confident I have placed my faith in the correct, hot, fictional character.  

Unfortunately, what I hear you saying about the Doctor is that you know what I don’t know, and that I should know what you know, and that, if I wasn’t quite so stubborn, I’d already know what you know, and that, for the sake of my marriage and all that is right and good in the universe, I ought to trust what you know ’til I know it, too.

In conclusion, I hate to admit when I’ve lost, but I’ve lost.

I’ll give the Doctor another try.

Wish Greg luck.

………

P.S. Greg was right to talk to you. He knows I will do things for you that I won’t do for him. Although I will also do certain things for Greg that I won’t do for you, so I feel like that’s fair. 

P.P.S. I’ll tell you more about the Green River in the future, but if you’re curious in the meantime about the details of what we did, you can follow my friend and trip leader John’s blog, Just Finding Our Way. So far, he’s posted about Packing and Day Zero. He’ll post Days 1-12 soon. My dad and I join the trip on Day 6 at Mineral Bottom.

P.P.P.S. My tent last week was Tardis blue.

Profile photo of Greg by Greg

My Wife Won’t Watch Doctor Who: PLEASE HELP

Sep 30 2014

Greg here, while Beth is away this week.  I don’t think I’ll make the same mistake a made a few years ago.

I hadn’t planned to hijack Beth’s blog, no matter what she said at the end of her previous post, but, thanks to your comments, I’ve realized I need your help.

Beth writes about our family, openly, honestly, and transparently, and she writes about the importance of community and finding the Elusive Village. Now it’s my turn to tell the truth about what happens in our house and to ask for help from you, Beth’s Village. I think you can see that hijacking Beth’s blog is the only conscionable course of action.

Beth almost shared one of the darker secrets of our marriage in her last post when she alluded to her lack of interest in The Doctor. She didn’t come right out and say it, though, so I will.

Beth doesn’t watch Doctor Who.

Doctor_Who_logo_2012_background

This from the woman I love, who eagerly binge watched Battlestar Glactica with me and loves anything Joss Whedon touches. But when she tried two episodes of the most recent series with me, it just didn’t resonate. Even starting with Mat Smith as the Doctor meeting Amelia Pond! She didn’t connect. They had me at fish custard, but not her.

I’m at a loss to convey to her the depth of the pathos, triumph, and tragedy in each new story arc. The whole of space and time, with love lost, found, and lost again, across four dimensions. Death, rebirth, the end of everything, and the rediscovery of hope.

I mean really.  We’re 6 episodes in to the first season of Outlander.

outlander_poster

I’ve helped with the DVR, alerted her to new episodes, and held her hand through the drama, without once suggesting we switch over to football (of any variety, round or oblong).

Perhaps it would help to relate it to something closer to her experience.

Story Element Outlander Doctor Who
time travel X X
political intrigue X X
dangerous secrets X X
imminent death X X
lost love X X
new love tinged with guilt/grief over lost love X X
moral dilemas over changing history X X
mysterious use of futuristic science X X
Scottish accents X 12th Doctor
swordplay X X
nightmares in the shadows   X
terrifying statues of angels   X
bigger on the inside (no, cheesy references to Jamie’s heart don’t count) X

 

I think Beth needs to give the Doctor another chance. We could have something really special together.

PLEASE HELP me compile a list of reasons for Beth’s return.
Why should Beth learn to love Doctor Who?

Thanks, Mom

Sep 29 2014

We parents are a melancholy bunch from time to time. No, no; it’s OK, don’t worry. This isn’t criticism. It’s just an observation. We parents are a melancholy bunch from time to time. A little woe-is-me. A tiny bit pessimistic. A wee bit Eeyore-esque. Ho hum, we say to ourselves, we work and we work and we toil away, and who thanks us? No one. No one thanks us.

And it’s true. 

Almost always.

No one thanks us.

Except occasionally when they do, but mostly no one thanks us, and no one will thank us for the menial tasks we do every day.

No one thanks us, and no one will thank us for the many life skills we teach our children, and we’re probably right about that Not Gonna Be Thanked thing… but we might be wrong, and therein lies our hope.

My dad and I left on a trip today. It’s an annual, week-long canoe trip for my dad, one he’s invited me to attend year after year. Year after year, I’ve said the same thing, which is, “What part of FIVE KIDS do you not understand, man?” But this year my kids are a little older. And this year my kids can almost always wipe themselves. And this year my anxiety medication mostly works. And this year, Greg said, “Go.” So this year, I’m going.

RoadTrip

Oregon

UtahAs we raced down the highways yesterday, winding our way through Oregon and then Idaho and Utah, watching wide open spaces blow by and stopping at public restroom after gas station after rest area, I thought two things:

  1. My bladder just isn’t what it once was. Then, a reservoir as vast as the vistas stretching endlessly before us. Now, a shriveled ghost of its former glory.
  2. I really should thank my mama for teaching me to squat-pee.

So, to bring hope to the next generation and prove that we may, after all, someday be thanked, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank my mom for teaching me to squat-pee so I never have to touch a public potty with my bare ass. 

While I’m at it, I’d also like to thank her for teaching me to wipe good and that picking my nose and eating it will give me pin worms and for trapping me in the bathroom with a box of Tampax and the little instruction sheet until I learned to use a tampon so I could go on that one river raft trip in middle school. Because you know what? I’m about to spend a week on a river, and I’m going to squat-pee and wipe good and not eat my boogers and I’m not even a little bit worried about whether or not I’ll need to use tampons. MOM FOR THE WIN!

Someday your kid might thank you for teaching her to squat-pee in public restrooms, too. Because LIFE SKILL. There is HOPE, is what I’m saying. Hope for the future, parents. Keep up the good work. (And thank your mommy.)

………

P.S. I’ll be away from the blog from September 30-October 7 since the Green River in Canyonlands National Park has no internet. This means several things:

  1. In my absence, Greg is taking over. I THINK this means he’ll pin a different post from the archives to the top of the blog every day so that, if you check back here, you’ll have new daily reading material. HOWEVER, it may mean he hijacks the blog to discuss Doctor Who. I can’t be held responsible for Greg’s need to discuss the Doctor, is my point.
  2. Greg needs your help picking posts from the archives. I’d really love for these to be reader favorites, so, if you have a favorite 5Kids blog post, please share it (a description or a link is fine) with an explanation why. Greg will share your explanation when he shares the link on Facebook.
  3. Speaking of Facebook, if I AM able to communicate at all, it’ll be (probably useless tidbits like this entire post) via Facebook. You can join our Facebook community here.

P.P.S. If you signed up for a ComeUnity group (see: Are You Looking for the Elusive Village?) and you haven’t heard back from me, don’t worry! YOU WILL. I may take me a week, what with the river and all, but YOU ARE NOT FORGOTTEN.