That Which is Broken

I don’t often post about my life on this page, but if this is my website I want it to be an honest place. And I need to write this. So a few things first:

  1. Gift giving/receiving is a huge part of my love language. There are few things that give me greater now than seeing that expression on someone’s face when I’ve given them just the right gift. And those that go out of their way to express thanks for my efforts become my favorite people. Moreover, when I get a present that someone really thought about, that speaks to who I am to them, I develop an irrational level of affection for that person. I’m all for the grand gesture, but it is the small things that say, “This made me think of you, and I’m pretty sure you will love it,” that touch me. As a result I also assign deep significance to objects that carry memory. I have all kinds of cards, knickknacks, and keepsakes that speak to me of people in my life and memories made. I use them to buoy me up in hard times and comfort me when sorrow strikes.
  2. Kintsukuroi or kintsugi is the Japanese art of taking broken pottery and repairing it using lacquer mixed with gold dust to create a new object that is not seen as broken, but a beautiful new creation. 20140214kintsugitop
  3. I am a nerd. I have read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass multiple times. The nonsense in my head always felt at home in Carroll’s wonderland of painted roses and mad tea parties. For my sister’s birthday one year I devised a mad tea party of our own with inside out burgers, twinkle-twinkle drinks, and few dozen other details long lost to memory-eating pregnancies.
  4. I struggle at being a mom. Not in the normal “mommy-guilt, I can’t keep up with Pinterest, I’m sure I’m screwing up my kid’s lives” way. But like I really despise my children. I love them, I promise, but I also can’t stand them. I fantasize about dropping them with grandparents or aunts/uncles and never coming back. I roll my eyes at their questions, see their childhood antics with disdain on my face, and get angry when their innocent accidents interrupt my plans and needs. I’m not nice about it, either. Other moms get the, “You’re a mean mommy!” line for making their kids clean rooms and finish homework. I get it for responding to their spills and tumbles with, “Well, that was dumb. How many more times you gonna trip over that before you pick it up?” I rule with sarcasm and ridicule. To say that Jesus has issues with my parenting and that I will be Remedial Niceness 080 as a precursor to any post-portem enlightenment, is gross understatement. And the saddest bit, is I really am working on it. Have been working on it for years. I go through periods of being able to be kind and supportive (while still firm in my expectations), but they always come to an end, usually with a cruel word at the moment when it will hurt most.
  5. Parenting kids with traumatized pasts is hard. It’s not normal. Disordered living, neglected living during the intensely formative years of life, birth-5 years, creates huge, systemic behavioral and psychological needs. It’s not a phase. They will not “grow out of it.” It is has to be treated and tended to daily. One’s parenting must become the therapy if these kids are to go on to having productive, happy lives that don’t simply carry on the cycles of violence, abuse, and neglect they saw early on. And it’s not simple. What worked one day will not work the next. Kiddos will respond with irrational anger, defiance, disgusting behaviors like deficating and spitting in response to affection and praise. It is the parenting of actual crazy persons. Everything is its opposite.

I tell you all this so that when I say this happened:IMG_0401

You understand a little of what it means.

The set of tea cups to which this belonged was a gift from my husband the year we took our oldest, then four, to Disneyland with his family. He saw me eyeing the set while telling myself it was silly and that we really couldn’t spend much on souvenirs and how would we get it home, etc, etc. He managed to keep it a secret until we got home- a feat in itself. When he gave them to me a new point of light in my heart winked into existence for this man who knew and loved me enough to bring home this simple surprise. Both the cups and saucers are precious pieces of that love and reminders of a time when it was just us three taking on the world, laughing and squealing through Pirates of the Caribbean, and seeing anew how grateful we were to have each other.

Lately, using one of mommy’s Alice cups has become a coveted honor at breakfast time. The perfect child sized portioning of the cups also makes it easy to let them feel like they are being fancy and grown up while dosing out just enough hot chocolate to start the day. And my kids, for the most part, have been careful. They know that mommy loves these cups and that Daddy gave them to her. They know mommy has a special place in her heart for Alice and the Hatter and let’s face it they practically live with the Queen of Hearts.

So this morning I went about our nutso lives like I always do, with the screaming and goading and the “just get ready for school already” attitude. And I denied one child access to the fancy cups. And I knew she was off. I knew she was having one of those days. I should have been better attuned and said no nice cups today. I should have said just cereal for everyone instead of letting some have cereal and some have hot chocolate. I should, I should, I should…. And I also shouldn’t have done several other things in response.

I told her I hate her. I told her to just get out of my house and go to school so I didn’t have to look at her. The walk to school felt like an eternity. I felt sick by the time we got there, mostly over my own behavior, but with loss, too. I sat down on a bench in front of the school and started out my apology with, “Sweetie, it was just a cup.” I explained that I shouldn’t have said such hurtful things, that I should have kept my mouth shut when I was so sad and angry and hurt. I wrapped her in a tight hug and told her to have a good day. She said she was sorry too, and I know she meant it. Moms can tell when you mean it.

Most of you are thinking, “It’s just a cup. What is wrong with you?”

And yeah, you’re right. I could hop onto eBay and probably find the exact same set, in mint condition, for less than the cost of the leggings I’m wearing as mourning sackcloth right now. But it’s not about the cup. It’s about the last 6 years of endless hurt and pain and struggle. It’s about the never-ending battle I fight to give my kids an appreciation for the moments that fill us up, only to have them respond by tearing those memories apart in a pathological cruelty. This is a poignant, proverbial straw breaking my emotional back. And I think I’m writing all of this because I need to have words to wrap around this experience or all I will be left with is the pain: the sorrowing ache of my broken memory, my shattered love object, my failures as a mother, the tears I have shed this morning, and the fact that I have no idea how to piece myself back together.

I know that there are ways to make broken things new. But I have no kitsugi skills; not for my cup, not for my heart. Hope in Christ and time are the two greatest healers. And I know that. I spend considerable energy applying that knowledge. But here, in this moment, I’m just holding the shards of my wholeness wondering if it can ever be right again. What do I make out of this other than a memory of brokenness?

I’m left to sweep away the pieces. Clearly, the floor needed sweeping anyway.


Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Hey, not only did Anika Go to the Movies, but I’m blogging about it. Cool.



Stars: 3.8/5

Quick review: Definitely PG-13. I would feel a bit uncomfortable with my kiddos sitting next to me regardless of age- Rhiana’s scene featured in the trailer in particular. But gorgeous!! And if you are one of those people who will be miserable because the science in this sci-fi is all wrong, maybe it’s not for you. Things blow up yet remain space worthy, that kind of thing. But if you can just romp along for the ride, if you liked Fifth Element and you’ve kinda been waiting for something as tongue-in-cheek, but still deliciously sic-fi, this is right in your wheelhouse. Go see it-nnooowww!

And now for some spoiler-y things.

Look away if you’re squeamish.

They gone? Good.

So many shiny things. So. Many. The visuals on this piece are worth the price of a matinee ticket alone. Add in some of the trademark Beeson bits: Plot line you have all the questions for and few of the answers, all the fun covert agent stuff-contacts, drop points, holding folk at gun point, big shoot outs, and that lingering sense of bad is coming and there’s nothing you can do about it but wait. That pushes it to date night heights. Also I want a Mul converter. I want one. Not for it’s duplicating properties, but for it squee- delightfulness. It’s like having a baby dragon that never starts breathing fire or eating meats. Duplicating what it eats is just a bonus. Here little converter, have some silver, then to finish, we’ll snuggle.

Draw backs: I don’t buy the love story. Not even a little bit. i mean i get that the actors are 30 and 25 respectively, but for most actors that means they are still playing teenagers. Well, they look the part. If you were to tell me that Dane Deehan (Valerian) was actually 15, I would believe you. Conversely, if you’ were to say that Cara Delevingne was 30 I would buy that. And the chemistry just, isn’t. Granted this is Dane’s first time as a romantic lead (that I know of). But do i believe for one second that he has any feelings for her? Nope. Do I believe she has feelings for him. Yeah, kinda, cause she’s a good actress. But why the character would be into a pasty, short (5’8″), arrogant, dingbat who totally falls through in most instances… still no clue. Laureline, you can do better, honey.

Rhianna though. Wow, just wow. i mean I like her voice, especially when she is singing things I can listen to in the car with my kids (*cough* almostnever*cough*), but I am finding I enjoy her more and more on stage. Her voicing of Tip from Home was so much fun, and here she just slays it. Perfectly vulnerable, yet complicated. About halfway through her risqué performance I started thinking, Valerian is the worst boyfriend ever. His girl is gonna get eaten and he’s about to get a lap dance. One more reason for L to dump it to Krumpit. Seriously who does that? i mean, yeah you need the shape-shifter’s help, but interrupt the preening to get on with the rescue please. Her the-artist-dies moment, another Beeson hallmark, was great– if a little rushed. But she’s still a highlight.

And the plot was a hot mess. All kinds of random diversions, but in the end it came together and Clive Owen got punched in the face. Let’s face it we all kinda want to punch Clive Owen. So it was cathartic.

The themes in the end: innocent people who are truly one with the land are so much more virtuous than their evil, war fighting human enemies- look they even forgave them completely. Yeah, more than a little heavy handed. Humans are hate mongers, except the few that pass the peace pipe and give back what they took- we get it guys.  And you can walk away from the movie with whatever lesson you like, really, but to me it’s just an illustration of how bad an idea consolidated power is, no matter who holds it. It could have been more nuanced, but then the movie would have been four hours long and I could never have found a babysitter.

And even though you don’t want to care about the love story, ’cause meh, the fact that they get together in the end is really satisfying.

If you were one of those wacky folks that “got” the Fifth Element, this will be good times. If not, then you probably should carry on with whatever currently occupies your time. For me, it was just what I wanted it to be, a far flung romp through the universe that didn’t take itself too seriously.

If you go see it, comment below and tell me what you thought! Giant pearl ring FTW, am I right?


Two years?

Wow, I had no idea my neglect of this online space was so profound. Not sure how or if that will change, but it’s on my radar. I’m thinking about sneaking off to see Valerian and the City of a Thousand Worlds tonight, so maybe a movie review, just to shake things up. I have something resembling a draft of the Ideal Apprentice (Accidental’s sequel) done, but it’s problematic/awkward/jumbled- in other words it’s a teenager. Needs a little time and work to mature, but it’s getting there.

I have a bunch of other exciting projects that I hope to give you all tastes of soon. Gotta get back to life, now.

2014 Reflections and 2015 Prognostications



I don’t know about most of you, but for me 2014 was a real mixed bag. There were some amazing things: pulling off the ANWA Conference in February, the birth of my sixth (and last) child in August, the baptism of my oldest son, and the publication of my first novel in October. I also discovered Mexican hot chocolate, The Pioneer Woman (and thus the concept of adding cream to nearly everything), and Pinterest.

There were hard things, too. Some of it very personal, some ephemeral in nature, and some that is just par for the course when you have a romp (a large group of otters)of children under the age 8. I’ve developed severe reactions to certain social situations. I have panic attacks (less so now that medications and essential oils are on board). I feel like the Lord has spent 2014 trying to teach me about humility and compassion for individual people. I’m not sure how effective it’s been, but I do feel changed.

I’m just not sure it’s for the better. My New Year’s tweets from last year were all about making it through by the skin of my teeth and being ready for something lighter in 2014. I really hope God got a good laugh out of those because this year has just been hard. Even the good stuff was taxing. And now that I am looking into 2015, I feel like I am peeking around the cracked open door, more than a little trepidatious of what lies in store. If what lies ahead isn’t healing and warm and fuzzy in nature, I’m not sure I’m ready. I need a year of comfort, a year that convinces me I am in the right place and safe, again.

I am choosing to take the rain (it’s raining here in AZ) as an omen. See, in the desert rain is hope. Rain is the promise that tomorrow we won’t wither away, and that the place we have put our roots will nourish us a little longer. Rain is life here. I have also had more than one encounter this year with hummingbirds. Most of you will shrug and say, “So?” For me and my family hummingbirds are also a sign of hope. They are a sign that we are watched over and loved from above. They signify that we are not alone in our journeyings and that heaven is aware of us. Moving to a home with a hummingbird feeder and the flowering plants that attract them in AZ was not coincidental. It was part of a decision to draw closer to the Spirit. And I know this year will see me filling my cup with that which is, “lovely, of good report, or praiseworthy.” –LDS Articles of Faith 1:13.

So as far as 2015 goes, I think in some respects it’s going to get harder. I will be out and about in the world (at least a few times) selling my book and me as an author. I will be diving into the task of writing the next book in the series, The Ideal Apprentice, as well as a middle grade piece I am working on. I still have kids to raise and a house to clean. I have a husband who has taken just as large a hit over this year as I did, and could use a little T.L.C. But I am confident that somethings will get easier, and that I will find ways to sustain myself so that this coming year leaves me feeling full and ready for 2016.

I hope your goals leave you feeling optimistic, as well. Happy New Year, everyone!!