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Thank God For Books

I got lost a lot growing up. I remember getting lost with my younger brother, Greg, while shopping in department stores like Strawbridge & Clothier. We’d hide from each other in those rings of clothing, behind the sales counters, and in fitting rooms. But eventually, some responsible grown up who hates fun would give us the stink eye, and drag us to the closest salesperson to find our mom. Once, we were so bored, I made up a game where whoever licked (yes, licked, like a dog) the most sparkly, sequined clothing was the winner. And my, what pride from that win. I’m still teased by my family about this game.  
As I got older, I learned to handle boredom with books. I found I loved getting lost while reading. My imagination drank from the rusted tin cup with the orphaned kids in The Boxcar Children. I made things move with my mind like Matilda, and ate chocolate with Charlie in Roald Dahl’s books. I was unsubdued and spunky with Ramona. I solved neighborhood mysteries with Encyclopedia Brown and hung out with an emotional pig and intelligent spider in Charlotte’s Web. I’d steal my older sister Leah’s The Babysitter Club books. I wanted to be Claudia, and date Logan, and really, just be in the club! In the “Bible” of little girls books, I became a woman (in a garter belt?) and crushed on boys with Margaret. I shared an active imagination and literary ambitions with Anne of Green Gables

The book I connected with most was Harriet the Spy. Harriet is an 11 year old who loves writing and wants to become a writer. She has no problem eating the same food everyday – tomato sandwiches – because she loves them. She doesn’t care what people think of her outward appearance. Harriet is observant, perceptive, and brutally honest, which initially causes her to lose her friends, but in the end, all becomes well and she is made editor of the school newspaper. 
And then, Harry Potter came out in my early teens, and year after year I disapparated out of the muggle world and into the magical wizard world. 
Each time I had a baby (which is twice now), I felt the overwhelming feeling of being trapped. I felt I no longer possessed the ability to be the spontaneous me, who could jump when I wanted to jump. I could no longer walk outside my front door with out running through the long diaper bag list that was my mind. I had to think long and hard before RSVP’ing to events, and even when meeting a friend for lunch. While I expected all that would happen when I became a parent, nothing could’ve prepared me for it. Thankfully, I had something that helped me through it: books. 
While getting lost with my little brother in department stores isn’t much of an option anymore, getting lost in books is just as fantastic. I have a great and deep appreciation for my Kindle app. Seriously guys, the ability to buy books online when I can’t just run out the door and buy the sequel at midnight has opened my world. Books helped me through the 2am feedings, through the long, wide-eyed infant nights, and relentless illnesses. Even now, when I don’t know what to do all day with my toddlers, I read books to them. Books help distract me when I’m stuck in long lines, waiting in a doctor’s office, or when I’m anxious and just need to quiet my mind. They transport me to another world for a brief bit of time, and I love them for it. 
Let’s have a moment of silence for books. 
P.S. I love talking books. Feel free to ask me at anytime what I’m reading, or tell me about your favorite book(s) or what you’ve read recently, and please, recommend some to me. Or just follow me on Goodreads.

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I’m way stronger than her. Why should she get to eat pizza?

I promised friends that this wouldn’t be a mommy blog (seriously though, it might ’cause mommy blogs are hot right now and make BANK)… but this thought I had yesterday really made me scrunch into the “ehew, someone has a dirty diaper” face, Jimmy Fallon style. I thought this while at the zoo, watching my 2 year old spit out the piece of pizza I shoveled into her mouth. It was just the night before that I romantically sighed to my husband that all I wanted was… a hot, greasy, disgusting, super-cheesy pizza. I want the kind of pizza where you where you slyly unbutton the top of your pants just looking at it, and then you start to wonder if your jaw will cramp up due to all of its inedible mozzarella, or if your face is going to break out afterwards like an adolescent teenager.

I can’t remember the last time I had a pizza like that, because I’ve been suffering with something called Gastritis. And no, little brothers, it’s not some sort of fancy way of saying “fart-itis.” It’s simply inflammation of the stomach. It causes indigestion, and mostly, a whole lotta burnin’ pain and heartburn. Thus, I am relegated to mushy, already-been-chewed type of nursing home food. Definitely not pizza.

Why am I experiencing this, you ask? It’s hard to say. I don’t really know. And every time I ask my doctors that question, the first thing they ask me is: “are you stressed?” To which I reply: “No. With the exception of the demands from tiny little dictators who won’t let me sit for more than 2 minutes at a time.” But even that’s pretty manageable for me: I have a lot of help – thanks family! *waves*

My Gastrointestinal Internist (GI doctor) tells me to “relax” at every visit. I don’t know what his wife is like, but I feel like the word “relax” is in a rule book some where, under “Things to Never Ever, Under Any Circumstances, Say to a Woman.” I want to send him and his wife that book, after I jump up and throat chop him and his wire-y combover.

Gah. He didn’t deserve that… he means well. And his prodding, personally and endoscopically, helped me figure out that no, I’m not stressed, exactly… I’m anxious.

I’m anxious about my health. I’m anxious every time my stomach twinges that I’m going to get the stomach flu (I got it way more than the average bear last year). I’m anxious about my life and my kids life. I am anxious that I’m not enough as a person, wife, mother, daughter, woman, citizen, etc. I am anxious every time we fly, that we are going to crash and die some horribly painful death and leave our kids without parents.

I realize I’m stronger than those thoughts. They are just thoughts. They are nothing. Being anxious about them doesn’t help them. It certainly doesn’t make them any better. In fact, it makes them worse. Worry doesn’t add a day to your life… it doesn’t add A. Damn. Thing. It just keeps you from eating pizza.

I taped a verse to my car dash before heading to the zoo. It said:

 “I have made you, and I will carry you. I will sustain you, and I will rescue you.” (Isaiah 46:4)

And I thought, I literally do all of that for my kids. I made them, I carry them. I sustain them. If I dropped them off in the wilderness without me, they’d barely make it a day. (That said, if I was with them, we might make it like, maaaybe two days). And, I rescue them All. The. Time.

Last week, I rescued Charlotte (the pizza-spitting two year old mentioned above) from a head first dive into a wicker hamper. I rescued Sidda’s finger from being slammed between a cedar trunk and its lid. I rescued Charlotte from choking on a whole thing of String Cheese she somehow fit into her tiny baby mouth. I even rescue their dumb dolls from behind the bunkbeds. We’ve all seen that video going around Facebook about the Dads saving the day, right? You get the idea.

Kids don’t worry about what will happen when they dive into a hamper after God-knows-what. They just dive. They don’t worry about heavy objects falling on them or about losing things that are precious to them maybe forever. They just act. Things just happen. And then they deal… usually with crying and hysterics, but sometimes with asking for help. Sometimes with trying to figure it out themselves. Remembering this helps me feel better about my anxieties.

And, so I thought (as I watched Charlotte reach for Doritos instead) that if I do All. That. Stuff. for my kids…  I definitely deserve some pizza. 

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My Super Human Power

   If I were super human, my super powers would be to shake. And no, not a sexy, “shake it, girl!” kind of shake that brings all the boys to the yard. Oh no. My shaking would look like I just walked into the frozen tundra in a bikini. My shaking power would aggravate the tectonic plates, and cause earthquakes that would split the Earth. It would create chasms in the roadways to stop bad guys in their get away cars. I’d convulse so quickly that my energy particles would form storm clouds in the sky, and I’d send lightening bolts down that would literally shock the bejesus out of evil villains and kids who didn’t do their homework. And when I wasn’t saving the planet, I’d most assuredly use my powers for my own benefit. I would never have to wear a jacket, because all my shivering would keep me warm. I wouldn’t need a bath towel or blow dryer, I could just shimmy dry like a wet dog. I’d always be able to get the last bit of ketchup out of the bottle, rescue the stuck Poptart out of vending machines, and make a killer James-Bond-style martini. 
    Publicly sharing what I write makes me shake in my boots – specifically, my red Hunter rain boots that make me feel like Santa Claus in the spring. Unfortunately for me, every time in my life I’ve attempted any sort of vulnerability, I shake. I’ve painfully trembled every time I’ve sung on stage, spoke to a crowd, class or congregation, shared my feeeeeelings with someone, encountered confrontations, or been in an uncomfortable situation… I even shook uncontrollably while in labor with my first kid!
     Fun times. Now, if only I could actually use that shakin’ superpower to save the world, or develop some sweet new dance moves and win money and fame on So You Think You Can Dance, or maybe even convince Outkast to sing about me instead of Polaroids… I’d be set. 
Vulnerability requires being seen. To put oneself out there. To show up.

I’ve made a commitment to become vulnerable, excruciatingly vulnerable. And apparently, according to Brene Brown in her Ted Talks, that takes courage, compassion, and connection. Starting this, a public blog, is taking a warehouse of my courage stores. I hope I’ll be able to be compassionate to myself and others through it, and make meaningful connections. And not shake every time I hit the publish button.