A Brief Hello

August 17, 2017 in Beth, But Seriously by Beth Woolsey

I’m coming back now.

Back to myself.

Back to my family.

Back to waking up before noon on my own, and back to not thinking, first thing, “When do I get to go back to bed?” I’d forgotten that part of life; the absence of longing for the constant escape of sleep.

I had a few hours not many days ago when I remembered myself. Who I am when I have clarity. Who I am minus the Muddled Mind. It was like swimming above clear water instead of sinking, mired in mud. It was ah ha and oh yeah and one deep, complete breath of invisible air; oxygen delivered in full.

I became muddled again, but not as muddled as before, as though there are steps out of the sludge at the bottom, and I’ve managed to crawl up a few. Enough that I can see more steps and the Way Out. Enough that I remember there’s air above me.

I visited my college kid last week. We laughed, and sat in the sun, and ate udon, and set up her room, and watched Family Feud and that horrible Stephen King movie about the clown. We hung out with her roommates, and they told me beautiful lies about how they want me to live with them forever. We slept in the same bed, and she hogged all the covers like she always has. I watched her confidence and her poise, this child-turned-adult who I’d like to be like when I grow up. We took ridiculous photos, too, because I wanted to and because she’s magically not embarrassed of her mama. I’ll share them with you soon. There’s underboob involved — mine, because I may have been recreating my favorite pics from her adorable Instagram feed, except with my body in them instead of perfect her.

I’ve been writing again, too. The words are back, at least in part, and so is the drive to use them. I’ve written again and again about racial inequality, and heartbreak in Charlottesville, and my confessions about my own embedded racism and benefitting from an entrenched system that continues to oppress others. You can read those, if you like, here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here. Of course, every time I share things like that — political things, and things that call on white people like me to confess the ways we contribute to the ongoing oppression of minority populations — things that beg us to educate ourselves so we can learn to do better — there are waves of “unlikes.” I high-fived my daughter for a few of those waves while I was with her. She said I’m doing the internet wrong again. She said I’m supposed to want likes and not ask for congrats for being unliked. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Whoops!

So I’ve written, but not here in this space. I’ve been hoarding my spoons for waking up, and getting out of bed, and feeding myself, and finding Me again because I was very, very lost. Now I’m still lost, but I’m also found, which Anne Lamott calls grace, and I’m coming back here again.

I don’t know how many words I’ll write on any given day, but for at least the next 7, I’m going to write something. I have spoons in my back pocket for that long, and maybe longer, and I need to spill my words out again, because words are another step away from the murky bottom. The things I write may be political, or religious, or utterly ridiculous like pics of underboob because God knows there aren’t enough of those on the interwebs. Your guess is as good as mine. No matter what, though, thank you for hanging in there with me. Thank you for your kindness. Thank you for waiting for me to make my way back. Thank you for being my friends.

With love,

 

We’re Back On! (A Group Remodeling Project: Part 7)

September 11, 2016 in Beth by Beth Woolsey

Alrighty, folks; it’s been a little while since we’ve discussed this, so for those of you who’d like a refresher, feel free to check out the first 6 installments our Group Remodeling Project:

In short, we were TOTALLY UNDERWAY for our kitchen remodel in April/May before we fell rather dramatically apart and basically are just now, 4 months later, getting our crap together enough to dive back in.

We ARE, however, diving ALL the way back in, as we’re wont to do, and so we’ll commence torturing Greg together again STAT.

To date, we’ve agreed the old, crappy stove we start with the ice pick has to go, along with the orange counters. We’ve agreed I cannot be trusted to make ANY kitchen decisions without you (reference: orange counters). We’ve decided we’ll put subway tile up the walls in the kitchen area. We’ve met Betty, our new old stove and the Hero of this Tale, and we’ve decided to put her against the wall between the fridge and the sink where she’ll shine without blocking the window.

IMG_9466mostrecent

We left you hanging when it came to the range hood, but we’d previously agreed either a stainless hood against a tiled wall…

RangeHood1

…or a hood mounted under a cabinet…

RangeHood4

…would be fine, so Greg and I left the decision up to the expense.

The contractors tell us the former option (stainless steel hood against tiled wall) is cheapest, so SOLD.

NOW, ANNOUNCEMENT TIME!

Are you ready??

CONSTRUCTION HAS BEGUN, and Betty’s new home is being prepared.

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Please note, for those of you not yet convinced of my inability to decorate in any way that resembles a grown-up with, say, taste, that mint green wall you see with the cabinets removed is, in fact, the original wall color I picked on purpose… wait for it… to go with the orange counters. DO YOU SEE WHY I NEED YOU?

Yes. Yes, I need you to the moon.

Which brings me to the latest.

We, um, have started construction without all our decisions made. Like counters. NO IDEA WHAT TO DO ABOUT COUNTERS. And Not Knowing will hold up construction since they can’t tile ’til the counters are in place. But the construction guys were ready to roll, and I’ve been procrastinating the heck out of this project, so I told them to go ahead and start, and I’d try to catch up.

That’s what I said.

Go ahead and start, and I’ll try to catch up. After all, if we don’t start by doing something, we might end up doing nothing, and I CAN’T START MY STOVE WITH AN ICE PICK FOREVER.

Guys, this is totally like life. Because Oh My WORD, friends; oh my word. Sometimes we just have to START ANYWAY, you know? Even without knowing the end goal. And even if we’re fully aware others will outpace us. Sometimes we have to just GO AHEAD and say all the Hail Marys and hope we can catch up. Amen? AMEN.

Which is why today’s subject is Belated Counters. Specifically, what type of material to use and what color.

Here are the factors for type of countertop material:

  1. We can’t take care of stuff. <– We can’t. We’re terrible at maintaining things and treating them gently, so if there’s a type of counter top has to be handled carefully or must be babied, polished, sealed, oiled or sanded, it’s out, friends. It will die a horrible, terrible death at my house, and no one wants that.
  2. Due to #1, we’ve ruled out granite, soapstone, wood and tile.
  3. Confession: I’ve loved our orange countertops. All except the color. They’re laminate countertops, and they are so easy to clean and maintain! They don’t stain. You can’t break them by sitting on them. They’re easy to wash with soap and water. And we never have to polish, seal or oil them.
  4. So we’re considering laminate again… I hear laminate’s gotten better. Prettier? Less plasticky? With lovely edges now? So I want to seriously consider laminate unless you all are, like, NO WAY, BETH; WE ARE HERE TO SAVE YOU FROM YOURSELF. Check out these pics at Decor Chick, though, before you yell at me, K? I think you’ll see what I mean.
  5. …or maybe stainless steel? Now, I’m not actually sure we can afford these, but I like the idea in theory — countertops that can take what a lab dishes out can surely take what my kids dish, right? Plus they don’t stain. I have heard I won’t like all the fingerprints on them before the years it takes to develop a nice patina, and my friend, Emily, who’s weighed in, says they’re too cold for the space. Emily is good people with a pretty house, so I tend to believe her. Added to the possible high cost (we did rule out whether the steel shop in town was willing to make them — they’re not 🙁 ), and I’m not certain this is high enough on the list but wanted to throw it out there.

So, Question #1 is countertop type. Can I go ahead with laminate? Or must I consider other options?

Next, we have to discuss color. I do like high contrast looks like our dark wood floor with our white cabinets, but I’m wondering if the counter should also be a contrast to the cabinets (dark brown? dark grey?) or if it should blend in with the cabinets (lighter gray, maybe?). I DON’T KNOW ANYTHING, FRIENDS. HELP ME.

On the one hand, I’m a short, round woman, and I’ve always been told not to break things up too much — do not wear a skirt of one color and a top of a totally different color, Beth; it chops you up! — but on the other hand, I’ve never actually heeded that advice, BECAUSE IT’S CRAP, and I’ll defend to the death my kitchen’s right to wear whatever she darn well pleases.

Glad we had this chat.

Nevertheless, my kitchen can’t change her counters as frequently as I change my skirt, so I want to do well by her.

Like, take a look at this photo is from HGTV’s Fixer Upper

hicontrastfarmhouseindustrialkitchen

The color scheme and farmhouse industrial feel above closely match the vibe in our kitchen, from the darker wood floors and the reclaimed wood table top to the subway tile walls and white cabinets. Their counters have that light/medium gray thing going on, which makes me think we’d be on the right track with something similar. Yay or nay??

So Question #2 is countertop color. Light grey? Dark grey? Something else entirely??

In conclusion, help a girl out. You’re my only hope.

Sincerely,

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P.S. In other news, I do not have to murder Greg, after all! Which is, frankly, hours of planning and premeditation wasted. However, because it DID turn out to be a handsaw he let the 9-year-old use and NOT the power saw AND because he didn’t let that child purchase or build a forge for melting metal and also inevitably his own flesh, now Greg thinks I owe him cake.

My Husband Is A Better Encourager Than Your Husband

June 22, 2016 in Beth, Family, Funny by Beth Woolsey

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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Alrighty Then

April 23, 2016 in Beth, But Seriously by Beth Woolsey

Back!

I’m back.

I mean, I’ve been back, but now I’m back in this space, too, and I’ve missed you.

Greg and I are back from our lengthy vacation, and I meant to write to you days and days ago, immediately on my return, except life got extra lifey so instead of writing you I’ve had a migraine for days, and my kid needs Ear Surgery #4, and there are bills and bills to open and presumably pay, and the Magical Cleaning Fairies still haven’t cleaned the kitchen or the bathrooms or finished mining the myriad mountains of laundry because those damn fairies never ever show up even though I ask and ask, and I think we should talk to the Better Business Bureau about them because I hear I’m not the ONLY one with this problem and, frankly, I’m tired of their slacker ways.

In other words, it’s general Upheaval and Chaos and Mayhem around here, like usual, so I don’t have a particularly good excuse for not writing, but you, my friends, are typically unreasonably kind so you have only yourselves to blame for me feeling as though you’ll forgive me and welcome me back anyway. It’s what we do here, after all; welcome each other even, or especially, when we’re lagging, and behind, and slower than we intended, and limping kind of dramatically along life’s trail, or just quitting for a while altogether. We welcome each other anyway to the muck and the madness and the grime where we look for magic and grace and sometimes find it.

Vacation was wonderful — sea, sun, sleep, sex — and would have been perfect if I didn’t have to bring myself everywhere I go, but, alas, I’m stuck with me and with my brain, and so most of most days were good, except some of some days when my heart beat too fast, and I couldn’t quite catch my breath, and I had to skip going with Greg to a beach I’d Very Much wanted to go to when I was planning the trip with my Calm, Anticipatory Brain instead of navigating the trip with my Wonky, Panicky Brain. All in all, though, we accomplished the goal of vacation which is to vacate, so Good Job, Us!

Also, I did NOT Completely Freak Out and Scream and Cry and Lose My Ever-Loving Shit because I was Certain My Children Would Perish in My Absence, which is far, FAR better than some of the trips we took when my mental health was, well, less well managed than it is now. And so, HOORAY!

Also-also I finished the Book Proposal in its first full draft which is now with the literary agent who shall send it back with Recommendations for Revision so I can hack away at Round Two. WOOHOO!

Also-also-also, I really like the book proposal — like, really like it ( <– brilliant phrases like this are why I’m a writer, man) — and can’t wait to get moving on it so we can experience it together because I’ve never been good at waiting to share Good Things. I want us to have them all RIGHT NOW. Still, HOORAY!

All of which is to say, it was good and right to go away, and great to be back in the mess. More soon, friends.

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Mexico1P.S. There are still a few spots left at TWO upcoming retreats in June. I would LOVE to hang out with you there. If you’ve been thinking about it, or if you have any questions, or if you want me to talk you into coming, email me at fivekidsisalotofkids@gmail.com. These retreats are my Favorite Things EVER because they breathe life into my weary, waiting soul, and I want to share that with you.

1. THE MAGIC IN THE MESS WRITING RETREATJUNE 12-15, 2016

The Magic in the Mess Writing Retreat makes space for writers to explore their creative voices, discover a supportive writing community, and give shape to the messy but beautiful stories we each carry with us.

AND/OR…

2. THE GRACE IN THE GRIME SPIRITUAL FORMATION RETREATJUNE 16-19, 2016

The Grace and the Grime Spiritual Formation Retreat exists to create space to deepen our experience with God in an authentic, encouraging environment. In addition to the grounded and the graceful, we welcome those who are weary, wary or unsure, and we believe we’re all wildly worthy of love and grace.

P.S. Texting Works, Too

March 2, 2016 in Beth, But Seriously by Beth Woolsey

This is continued from yesterday’s post.

Just wanted those of you who are phone-shy to know texting works, too.

(662) 4MY-MESS

Leave your mess at the tone. Or text me your mess.

Or both.

Love you, friends.

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P.S. I’m wearing pants today and I have mascara on TWO of my eyes.

P.P.S. #Winning

Your Help Needed. Important Question Ahead.

February 11, 2016 in Beth, Family, Funny by Beth Woolsey

Your help needed. Important question ahead. 

Is there something wrong with me? Or with the rest of the world?
Please pick one.

 

It’s just that I keep seeing this meme on The Book of Faces lately…

CrochetShorts

…which says “just because you CAN crochet something doesn’t mean you should.”

Except I’m pretty sure that if you CAN crochet something, you DEFINITELY should.

Tan, yellow and goldenrod short-shorts? Um, yes. Yes, you should. You absolutely should.

You know why? BECAUSE THE BIBLE SAYS SO. Whatever you do, do it to the best of your ability, friends.

 

Owl tube top?

How-to-DIY-Crochet-Owl-Basket

YES, YOU SHOULD.

Uterus?

uterus

Crochet. It.

Gall bladder with removable gall stones?

removablegallstones

YeeessssSSSSSS!

Chicken hat and chicken vest??

crochetchickenhat

chicken vest

HOW DOES THIS NOT MAKE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE?

Seriously.

crochetsuits

Seriously, friends.

In a world full of fear and sadness, let us agree that crocheting the crap out of stuff is the work of God. WWJD?? J would CROCHET, guys. Like crazy. J would buy some yarn and a hook and just go NUTS.

In conclusion, I need to know. Is there something wrong with me? Or with the rest of the world? Please pick one.

With love and yarn,

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PS — To see more crocheted short shorts, go here. You’re welcome.

PPS — I know a fine, Christian lady who once made one of these for her husband.

williewarmers

PPPS — That fine, Christian lady is my mother.

PPPPS — If you want to freak your mom out, put the crocheted willie warmer she made your dad on top of her Christmas tree one year. 🙂 I promise, it’s worth waiting for her to notice. For weeks. While her friends visit for Bible studies. Again, friends… WWJD?? J would put your mom’s willie warmer on the tree. J is good times, folks. That guy gets a bad rap, but he’s good times.

This Is Not A Real Post

February 10, 2016 in Beth, But Seriously by Beth Woolsey

Guys. Guys. Guys. Guys. Guys.

I am so tired.

The End

P.S. Sorry for calling you all “guys.” I mean guys and ladies. But I’m using the patriarchal “guys” as a stand-in for both genders. It’s poor form, I know. I’m just too tired to change it, man.