Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Ignorance was Bliss

I have started this post a dozen times, erased what I've written, and then started again.  Maybe if I knew three of three, instead of one out of three, boys were asleep in the room down the hall, my commitment level would be dialed up enough to share a reason I've pulled up Blogger and am now finishing what appears to be an awful start to a predictably messy blog post.
Mom, don't run off this time.
Last week I thought I would throw some paint on a few walls and share with you my progress. Then I would throw some paint on the same walls again, and, seeing a glorious completion, pat myself on the back which, in Ashleyspeak, looks a lot like making cookies, turning up dance music real loud, and smile shouting to babies and a 3 year old, "Can you believe how awesome your mommy is for painting the bathroom and laundry room?" to which they would have stared through me because not a care, Mom

This is not how it has gone.

I screwed in new bronze brushed cabinet door handles last week and just moments after doing so and backing up to admire, insert jaw dropping, realized the laundry room cabinets weren't actually white.  The other cabinets and drawers are white.  These aren't even in the white category or family or spread or whatever people who actually know how to paint would say. This is more of a beige. A yellow-y beige. We'll call it yeige. A really loud, terrible, yeige. 

This glaring oversight is just the wee tip top of the project iceberg.

All in all, I've got peeling paint on paint on paint on a floor vent, grout near the toilet that needed attention twenty some-odd years ago, miles of tile-meets-paint and cabinet-meets-wall and crazy-meets-crazy that needs new caulk (....and I've already painted there because I'm really awesome impulsive), a light fixture older than the house which should be chucked into the garbage can quick like, a shower door a frightening gold I have not the slightest clue how to fix but impossible I must, and cabinet doors that are yeige. 

It has quickly come to my attention that house projects are not my strong suit. Okay, that's wrong.  I've got some "underdeveloped talents" making themselves known. 

I should be thinking the following things:

Look at how awesome this brown looks when the sun's shining through the new curtain!

Man, I'm so happy to be making all these mini-upgrades to our home!

How cool that I'm learning how to paint and plan projects and caulk!

I'm my own teacher! 

Here are the actual things I'm thinking:

Crap. The ceiling is a mess.

I wonder if there's a different white paint for the ceiling vs. the drawers?

Why are the babies crying again?

Like there's any way to confess to anyone I've never actually used a roller.

I'm going to be working on this bathroom for all of this year.

I'm not going to get anything other than this bathroom done this year.

Did I make two pots of coffee already this morning?

I need to get a job to pay for all this stuff.

How is it I don't know how to paint? Or caulk? Or spackle? Or plan a project?

Is spackling a word?

Does Paul have a way to see how much Netflix streams in a day?

I'm so embarrassed.

I'm so horrified.

Crap. I missed a spot there.  Oh, and there.

I can't be doing this. I need to work on Thomas's birthday party.

I need to get this done. People are gonna be here for Thomas's birthday party.

Gah. There's so much to do.

And I have laundry. So much laundry. Always laundry. Laundry to the death.

How can 20 cubic feet of space have one hundred neglected things?

This really is the tiniest bathroom.

I did read to Thomas today, so it's not like I'm the worst mom ever. Just kind of the worst. 

Crap. "New bathroom ventilation" needs to go on the list too.

This room is gorgeous when the sunlight shines through the new white curtain!

Monday, January 27, 2014

All Those Dumb Questions We Keep Asking

I've had two c-sections. I'm mom to three boys.  And two of my boys are twins.  

Forces at will in my story mandate that, when the history of my mommyness broaches, dumb questions will be had. 

I wanted to write this post a few days ago when I saw three pieces on the same day on Facebook brewing attitude for anyone stupid enough to ask women about having a c-seciton or all boys or, Heaven forbid, twins!  Just today though, before I could even get this sucker typed out, I momentarily connected with a mom in the corner of the library just after Story Hour. In between me reading to her daughter and Thomas huddled thisclosetogether and her playing peek-a-boo with Alistair, she had the usual questions to ask me...


"So, all boys?"
"Yeah, all boys." [smiles]

And then later, after my second attempt to explain that the twins really don't have anything to do with my family's genetics:

"So, you don't have any twins in your family?"
"Oh, I do, it's just that... they have nothing to do with that. I mean, they do, it's just, see, they are a different type of twins. Anyone can have them..."
[confused silence]

I became familiar with dumb questions when I was sixteen, the year my brother, Mark, was born.  Mark has Down syndrome, and as a teenager with little more to care about than cross country practice and studying for the ACT test, I had no idea what Down syndrome would mean for us or him when he was born.  It was a different kind of fear, a numbing fear that mulled uncertainty over in my mind while I held a sweet little baby in my arms.  There wasn't an assurance all would be okay. It feels, in my treasure chest of memories, as if we were all huddling around him hoping he would tell us what it all meant.  And he has, all these years later just like any other kid who brings with him or her their very own owner's manual, shown us that it would be okay.  

But to not know that? It was a tiny, tight ache I wanted to rub away. And instead, it was that people had dumb things, born from curiosity, to add to the quiet heartache.  In front of the grocery store.  At school as I was trying to finish a lab report. Within our home. 

When I returned to school in the fall after he was born, I sat in the front row of my psychology class and like the gentleness of a summer's night with the flickering of lightning bugs, I heard a flickering of demeaning things said among a group of upperclassmen behind me I hadn't noticed before, "you're retarded", "how gay!", but had really always been there.  Now I had a frame of reference to notice such things and how loud and base and rude they now occurred to me! Just like, I guess, the happiness of a mother can pierce a woman unable to conceive or the spoken joy of a marriage burns the widowed or heartbroken just one place setting away.

Our words can cause so much hurt. Sometimes we see the pain flash across the face of the one we're speaking to and a realization sinks that there was a power we held and now unleashed to poison and cut a heart which didn't need another burden. Other times, we ask a cute mom at the library if she really doesn't have any girls like at all?? and don't see that it stings just a touch.  But oh we are capable of saying such dumb things, aren't we?  Asking the woman when she's due and she's not.  Finding out our hurtful things came round to the one on trial without their presence. Saying things quickly and wishing we could pick them back up and start again but no such luck. And then the tone too:  Being rash. Anxious. Sarcastic. Snarky. Thankless.  Maybe we should all just keep our mouths shut!

But no.

That's just not how it works.  

I'll speak for myself and me alone, but please don't stop talking and asking dumb questions.  Despite the hundred articles you have or haven't clicked on in the past year that warn you within an inch of your life to think twice before you ASK THESE AWFUL QUESTIONS OF A MOM TO ALL BOYS?? HAVE YOU LOST YOUR MIND??, I want you to talk, to wonder, to peer into others' souls and homes and hearts and even if you think you might strike hurt but don't mean any harm. 

There's something far worse than dumb questions.  There's silence. There's an absence of the ones we had kind've hoped to show up and just be there. There's burdens with no one in sight to relieve you.  

Dumb questions are not the enemy.  Here's what is:

Talking at people rather than talking to them.

Making assumptions (good or bad) about your friend or daughter or mother-in-law: She's good! How awful!, etc. etc.  Ask (if you think it's appropriate) in the best way you know how to... things like: Does it still hurt? How can I help? What do you need? or let's just get straight to it--I want to hear about ______________. 

Being intentionally insensitive. (Um, this is pretty rare.  Really rare.) Our litmus test is easy: Is it true? Is it good? Is it helpful? 

So if your "stupid question" doesn't fall into one of these three categories, they're fine by me. 

Our job is not to avoid pain at all costs. While it's helpful to know that there are some hot button questions for those around us, it's far better to focus on encouraging one another, being accessible and mindful and available, and then, most importantly, listening to answers or, where one is under construction, a flood or fumbling of thoughts unleashed with relief. 

No one story is a story of all pain or of all good.  We each carry with us little broken pieces or numb pieces or pieces we're trying to sort out and if you bring it up, well, maybe we might flush red or shed a tear (or laugh even though we don't feel so good inside about it just yet).

Or maybe I'm wrong, and I'm just a big believer that this facade of polished digital lives is doing us some harm in taking us off the hook to be fully real with others. Maybe I'm wrong that strangers' questions deserve a bit of grace and a smile.  Maybe I'm wrong that the majority of people just really aren't aware of our underlying pain or when and how to ask, but it's also that they really want the best--if they could just deliver it to our doorstep for us, they would.

 Well, if I am wrong, I advise you to stay far away.  I ask a lot of questions, and there's a 100% chance, since my story is different than yours, most of them are going to be dumb.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

If You Give a Girl a Paintbrush

90% of my posts this upcoming year could easily start with "so, you know that I have __________ on my 30 before 30 list? yeah, well..."

See, making that list meant so much more than that list.  With my personality, there is no such thing as anything simple. I'm all "woah" and "wait" and "hold up a sec", and even after I've started something as simple as painting a room I'm all "guys, this is so reflective of my marriage because blah blah blah long story get on with it, Ashley, and get it done".  Anybody still following? Super.

I was saying that the list, now that it's done and made and my friends and family and YOU are cheering me on to be more than a milk machine for the twins, is expanding into this much larger thing than I thought it could or would be.

Case in point, #25 is "redecorate our master bedroom" [and yes, there is a whole long, huge, melodramatic reason it made the cut for the list, so those curious or itching for torture will get that later], but I knew I couldn't start that until I fixed the really, really crappy paint job Paul and I collectively threw up on the walls of our guest bathroom some odd  months years ago and have been ignoring ever since.  It was some light blue nonsense that was reminiscent of an old person's something or other. It was just awful.

We bought paint a while ago for a bathroom plus connected laundry room do over, and it's been waiting patiently and I was procrastinating just as well as I always do.  That was until a few days ago.

After taping and painting and painting and patinting... my friend Natahle brought me over a brush to use (and I imagine it has a name and I have not the first clue what to call it) to "cut in" the paint with rather than using the painter's tape.  That whole learning curve thing. Yeah, I'm all over that with the painting. Cue the horror---ree ree ree ree Psycho shower scene---music.  I actually almost cried this morning because so. much. work. I have a bit of a lazy streak when it comes to doing something new or old or required or really anything.

But no amount of laziness can succeed in ignoring a NAUTICAL THEME IN A LAUNDRY ROOM. I know. I know. Anytime I do laundry I think, you know what this reminds me of?... fish. and sailing. and lots more fish. I bet you all do. Laundry = billowing sails. Laundry = water = ocean = fish. It all makes so much sense to me that it makes no sense at all. Just in case the photos don't seem real to you, yes that's a yellow brighter than the sun and yes, those are fish drawer handles. What more could a girl want?! When we were buying the house and biting our nails, we all but declared, "But it's got a nautical themed laundry room. We've just GOTTA have it!!"

Alas, after the third infraction of shenanigans by the hand of my neglected-while-mommy-paints-the-laundry room 3 year old, I decided painting wasn't safe during the hours of 6 am to 8 pm which explains why it hasn't happened until now.  I thought, caffeinated as I am, I would clean the windows behind the couch in the sun room. Moving the couch in the sun room meant vacuuming there too. And since the furniture was already moved and the windows so beautiful, I thought I would just rearrange all of it. Once I rearranged all of it, I was annoyed with all the kids' books pouring out all over the place in a million different places and decided to ship them back to other areas of the house per help of the 3 year old who was now occupied not with shenanigans but "neaking around like a minja to spy on the babies." Then I saw dirty book shelves, so I started wiping them down which made me realize how messy and cluttered they had become and so I started tidying that area. I saw our "look book" binder and realized I probably needed to transfer that stuff digitally or maybe no but oh my gosh, our wedding album!!!

Babies started crying and I came back to reality.  If there weren't any kids here, I swear I would have this place perfect.

Babies roasting by an open fire whilst mommy paints a square foot or two.
I've had a lot of coffee today, people.

Friday, January 17, 2014

My Battle Cry for Order in This House (5 rules for people like me)

I just found this on my phone. Looks like the 5 second camera tutorial paid off.

I had a morning so awful this week it brought up vivid memories of last summer when I was acclimating to stay at home motherhood for the first time, balancing the needs of a talkative three year old and thirsty bebes, and myself starving for any inkling of sleep to just not die.  Seven months post-new babies and most days here are fairly calm. We have our moments (or string of moments) of "peak stress", wherein I take another gulp of coffee and do a lot of embarrassing self-talk to get through it, but overall things are pleasant. Having a morning where I felt like I was once again on a bus tour of the 1st circle of hell (where there just happens to be kids riding on my lap who are so cute, cute, cute that I love, love, love and kiss, kiss, kiss), was a great reminder that there are seasons of life and we get through things that are hard and are sometimes amazed by ourselves once it's over.  Moral of story: gratitude.  But also... how did we get back here, people??

After several failed attempts at regrouping, I battle-cried to the kids, "New Game Plan!!" and then unceremoniously grabbed some of Thomas's sketch paper nearby and inked out the most important tools I had learned since starting my stay here full time. 

Is it only me that happily tailspins into chaos and then remembers again and again and a hundred times that doing whatever feels good does not qualify as a healthy work ethic? Or no? Speak now or forever hold your superiority over my head. 

I resisted the urge to tattoo my must-haves across my arm (with, you know, that beginner's tattoo kit I bought that one time), so posting them here is the next  best  worst thing.  Assume that as of January 2014 I average getting one of these right on any given day, but I give you my certified promise, or your money back, that if practiced, these five rules can reign in even the craziest mix of peoples stuck inside a house together. 

1. Wake up before kids.  
It is some kind of magic that will never be fully revealed to me but this "rule" is by far the most bang for my buck. Even ten minutes before the 1st whimper or request for breakfast is enough of a head start to keep my head above water.  Jen has said it before, about staying ahead of the curve, so I'll just let you go there and reap all her wisdom.  Wake or be woken is akin to eat or be eaten here. 

2. Keep it clean.
I made excuses before staying home about keeping the house clean, and *surprise* I still make them, but really it's not an option with kids.  Time can't be wasted looking for socks, wiping down counters amid cries for food, or quick-snatching the choking hazard off the floor.  Most of all, my brain in a cluttered house is something completely foreign to me. Cognitive functions shut down. My ability to discipline reduces to groaning and yelling "don't touch THAT!". My joy takes a sharp 90% decrease.  I get that with kids there should be spaces for messy, creative play, but last time I checked, my boys were not reenacting Sharknado in my laundry room.

No, stand to the side. No. Stand to the side. Okay. Good enough.

3. Follow the routine.
Schedules at home are unrealistic what with kids and their wild unpredictability, but routines are such a very, very good thing.  We tweak ours a little bit each week and have quite a bit of work to do, but with nursing twins blah blah blah excuses excuses blah blah whine. There are anchors Thomas can count on to feel secure: "school time" during the twins' 2nd nap, no screen time until after his nap, and reading books before going to bed. My sister-in-law suggested I post a pictorial routine for him and I think that's brilliant, so I'll be drawing that up and plan on putting the most artistic effort into the time mid-day when the babies and Thomas sleep at the same time which will be represented by me lounging on a beach modeling my cute bikini and charming figure while holding a daiquiri and soaking in the sun when in reality I typically sit on the couch and stare into nothing stunned numb with exhaustion for surviving the 1st half of the day.

4. Say it and mean it.
Discipline... Gah. Let me scrub toilets instead. Moving on. The worth of words probably is the best kept secret of happy parents and happy kids world wide. Well, if so, I just let it out the bag. But words mean more than just ushering consequences for hug-squeezing-attempted murdering little baby brothers. It means me putting the cell phone away and really listening.  It means quality one-on-one time, making promises and following through (both on things good and bad), and having conversations with little ones. Good stuff--being fully present with Thomas! It usually means I hear nuggets of questions like "Why did you say "shit" the other day?"  or statements like "Pah. Pah. Pah. Penis. Penis starts with "p" too!"

5. See people. 
Oh man, I really am horrible at all of these. I'm still not sure which is more difficult for me: clothing these little guys and making us look presentable and out the door with our chariot of stuff to go see people OR welcoming people into my frantically cleaned home so I can stress out in between being thrilled to talk to adults and a nut case about remembering I've still got kids to take care of so not so fast on the sipping carefree, Ashley! However, seeing people, and I mean that in loose terms (going to a store counts as defense against my mommy brain turning to mush after the hundredth rendition of "twinkle, twinkle, little star" because I can't for the life of me remember more than seven kid songs I actually know the lyrics to) always puts more pep in my step and I can use all the pep available.  

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   * 

So there you go... my 5 rules for happy mommy, happy home orrrrrrrrrrrrrr.....chaos, death, and destruction. 

There's also coffee, chocolate, dancing with the kiddos, and a whispered Hail Mary. Those do a lot of good and are visited much, much more often than all the necessaries I just listed.

What's on your list? I'll add it to the five things I'm already not doing. Oh yeah!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Simply Being You and What it Can Do

All the snow outside right now and the sidewalk totally mushed up with ashy remains of frozen white, I'd give anything to travel on the very much covered sidewalk.  I've seen the horrors a mix of double stroller + momma + toddler + mounds of snow is capable of so I'll pass today, but the wishful thinking does prick at a happy memory from just a few months ago.

One Sunday afternoon at the tail end of this past fall, I made my way to the front door for a walk around the neighborhood when the first layer of a foul mood began stretching itself into my bones.  It was just one of those days with funk written all over it.  Somebody switched mass times at a church across town and I was not so thrilled by it. Paul and I were doing our usual routine of weekend arguing over projects, much planning and not enough doing. Kids everywhere I stepped...and what was that all about??!  I was exhausted by frowning at everybody (It's so much work to be unhappy!), so I grounded myself by un-grounding myself and with the babies strapped in and ready to ride down the sunset, I went strutting my bad self to the lake and back.

Turns out this was smart because when I returned I was all smiley again.  Mid-way through my walk a figure in the distance flagged me down and I about died of happiness when I found it was my friend Donna (and her boyfriend whom I had not yet met) also taking a walk in my neighborhood (even though she doesn't live here or even in this town). I don't know how she felt when I interrupted her (romantic?) stroll, but I was elated for something, no, someone to get my mind off ME!

Donna is full of life. Energetic. Enthusiastic. Funny. Without even trying, she lifted my stinky attitude just by simply being herself! We had maybe twenty minutes together to ask and answer the usual questions in catching up, to gab about our kids, to laugh at each other, to talk about losing weight and eating ice cream all in the same breath.  It was completely ordinary and yet darn near miraculous the difference it made in me. When I parted ways with her and walked back inside my home, I felt warm with flames flickering in the fireplace and jazzy music playing overhead, happy to see Paul look up at me from the couch (and know he would probably love me still despite my stressed out, always so serious self), and this too--jubilant to be tripping over kids everywhere I stepped.

Donna and I taught together for five years. We've danced together, gushed together, and even though I can't remember it, probably argued over stuff too.  Short of crying on each other's shoulders, Donna and I have shared a lot of yucky stuff with each other. She's heard my secrets, and I've known, despite how tough & independent she is, when her heart has hurt.

Donna and I aren't friends because we're just like each other.  Far from it. She's the 'go' for my 'stop', the 'seize life' for my 'wait, wait, wait'. We aren't drawn to each other due to similarities, even though that's where we might have started.  Our histories. Our marriages. Our religious beliefs. Our music preferences. The differences there have seemed to serve as bridges for us to travel together, across and back, rather than oceans to wave across from our shores.

If friends came with warnings stickers, Donna's might say:

I'm here to stay,
so hate me or love me..
--heads up--
You're getting all of me!

This "all in" kind of authenticity is what I love most about Donna.  She is teased about her taking life by storm personality, but where others see a chance for a wisecrack, I've always seen a loud vulnerability, a willing heart, a leap of faith to live large no matter what.  

In the age of filtered photos and Facebook statuses wiped clean of ugliness (because who needs a permanent record of that?), it's refreshing to just simply be with friends.  I think back on so many times a friend's authenticity, their willingness to be real and get real meant more to me than maybe they realized...

Natahle who after seeing me embarrassed for my sink full of dishes during her visit, thought to send me a photo of her remodel mess atop her table and I smiled at the photo as it popped up on my phone...

To my sister-in-law, Jessica, who sends me encouraging texts about the real stuff that goes down in her home--maybe cracked eggs or crying babies but always, always, a relieved-to-know me on the other side...

To my sister, Andrea, and that one time she cried in my car and we paused our usual go around of fun and silly and I remembered that we all carry with us little parts of broken in our hearts...

To Katie and Allison for welcoming me in for a girls' night recently so we could argue the what's what on spanking kids but see face-to-face that we're all wanting to be with our whole, whole selves to be good, kind, conscientious mothers and that it means reaching out to each other and laughing over our efforts too... 

To three mothers this year who spoke with pure vulnerability and candid openness to me, a story all their own to hide or lay bare, about how rough bringing in a new baby really was...

Oh my gosh....and a hundred other moments of friends (and sisters because I'm big blessed there!) simply being themselves and without knowing it--blessing me immensely.  I was a little less frightened by my own heartache, less embarrassed by my own shortcomings, less disheartened about my own parenting woes, less mindful of all the things I would love to do and all the things I would love to be if I could be perfect --cause I'm not and we're not and that's okay.

So to you, whoever you are, stay open. Find safe places to share your heart--and keep doing it.  Take a note from Donna's book and forge loud in love!

You, just simply being you, is more a gift than you know!

Somewhere is someone returning to her home and a smile on her face (or a smidegon less sadness to carry)-- because you are simply you!

(Or 'his'...I don't want to exclude the 1% male population who visit here. ;) 

Friday, January 3, 2014

A New Year and More Joy Up Ahead!

One year ago, give or take a few days, I sat back into the pew, empty hands on lap and a searching face toward the crucifix.

I had confessed all those ugly things. As a mother. As a wife. As a woman searching and broken and spilling over her hurts. I had spoken through tears and a stammering of my sins of my distrust of God--ramming my will, carving its strength wherever I could force it.

Only a handful of others did their quiet listening and talking to Him nearby. The church's empty grandeur swallowed me. The normalcy pounded too.  Parishioners tidied hymn books, vacuumed, rehearsed in a mess of rooms behind us. Outside this swath of sanctity, cars drove by, mist hung in the Saturday afternoon, and a home waited for me to serve dinner and help a little boy pick up his toys--with kindness.

New life was forming inside me but I wasn't ready yet.  My marriage? My motherhood? Balancing work and home life? I was already such a mess. I couldn't be ready in seven months to welcome another child into our family.

I didn't want to be broken. I wanted to be beautiful and together and perfect and doing all the right things when he or she arrived.

But I knew that isn't how it is.

So, I turned my face to the humanity and the humility on the cross, the hurts spilling over, and I said to God:

I'm giving it to you. All of it. I'm trying to do this. I'm so trying to do this. And I just can't. I'm so exhausted by trying to figure it all out. I'm so exhausted by me, by trying so hard, by failing so much, by thinking I know...So I'm handing all of me over. Your turn.

As if some brat and yet sincere, I smiled large on the way to my dirty car.  Of course He can make more sense of what I need to do, who I need to be. Oh sure, there won't be any miracles or signs or overnight conversions to peace, but for once that whole laying it down at the foot of Jesus bit made absolute sense to me because I had finally done it. My crumpled pieces of paper, hundreds of them, inked like my heart on a page, of my story--me trying over and over and falling short--I unloaded them there at the foot of the cross and walked away.

One month later, I cried at the vision of two babies on the sonogram. Alone again. And instead of the piercing bright of the church, the piercing dark of a tiny room to lay on a bed and stare at a screen and cry tears of joy and laughter for two babies who should have been one, two babies to illuminate further my brokenness and imperfections, two babies to cluelessly raise, to gaze at like they brought with them Heaven and yell at them three years later when I've happened upon a smear of poop on all surface options of our bathroom and them moved on to their own giggling disregard in a room of toys on the other side of the wall.

Even God doesn't hand over perfection when we ask for it. I've been asking for 28 years. I know. According to the book of Ashley, he gives you twins to totally free you of it instead.

I thought I was broken and empty in that pew with little left to give.  Then babies. And little sleep. And a toddler on a warpath because of a mommy shooing him away from her throne of nursing a revolving door of babies for months. And me pouring water over Thomas while, without warning, yelling at Paul, "NOBODY... I MEAN, NOBODY!!...NOBODY KNOWS HOW ABSOLUTELY, ABSOLUTELY TIRED I AM!". And a doctor's visit with all three boys so awful and embarrassing I came home and asked Paul to hug me and never let go. And a dozen other broken moments that had me putting even more crumpled hopes at the foot of the cross.

And all the normalcy in between that had nothing to do with becoming a SAHM or balancing the needs of three kids. Watching too much t.v. and regretting it. Drinking too much at the first sight of freedom with Paul and I out on the town. Saying the wrong things. Saying more wrong things. Thinking even worse things. Eating enough cookies and other sugar-laden stuffs to warrant an intervention.

But 2013 was so much more than all my failures. Scroll through Instagram and Facebook for my excessive displays of joy, all true and even a mere fraction of how I've felt.  Being a mom and wife, and having a chance to do so right now without a job, has brought me crazy, stupid joy.  Maybe it's because I've got an almost four year old to talk to and learn with every day. Maybe it's because the kids are cute and smile at me any time I ask. Maybe it's because the Church really is right, and our little sacrifices really are our journey to happiness.

But 2013 was really, really wonderful even though there were times when I was so very broken, maybe even because I was so very broken.

I can't help but think if I turn to God and let Him steer some more (goodness knows I really haven't given it all over to Him), He may have more difficulties for me in store, but after this year of feeling like all the hard brought me to this immense, persistent joy, I'm looking up to Him with a smile and a laugh and a chorus of boys at my feet.

Bring it. 

Happy New Year! Here's to another one full, full, full...and happy, happy, happy!!