The Unravelling

So recently I noticed an adult writing contest at our local library. I used to love to write, but somewhere along the way I decided no one was interested in reading what I had to say, so I stopped. This blog has been such a nice outlet for me, but when I saw this writing contest I just felt compelled to share a story. It asked the writer to talk about a time in their life, so in an hour I sat down and poured out my heart.

After I wrote it I shared it with the people it involved and I submitted it. I didn’t have the courage to go back and reread it. I am sad to report that it was not picked as a winning story, though the librarian who emailed me did have a nice comment for me. I wasn’t sure I was going to share it anywhere else, because it really is so personal. However my friend Arielle said she missed my blog posts (Thank you for being so amazingly supportive Arielle) and I decided it might make sense to share it here. Note that I did finally go back and make an edit or two.

When you are reading this please realize that this was a hard story to tell, so if you comment…be gentle.

The Unravelling

By: Christine Lawrence 

As a young high school student you are forced to read literary works, not knowing that maybe someday you will look back and see parts of who you are in them. Maybe these light bulb moments of reflection come later because we have now experienced so much more in life than we had when we were first exposed to it. All I know is that when I read the Scarlet Letter, I never knew I would relate to Hester Prynne so much. 

I guess I need to explain a bit of the backstory. At the age of 18 I was overweight, insecure, and boy crazy. Well truthfully I wanted to be boy crazy, I just hadn’t gotten to that point yet. I had just ended an on/off again relationship of 4 years with someone who was always finding someone better and then coming back. So when my supervisor, 6 years my senior, expressed his boundless love for me, I jumped all in. I was so overjoyed that someone loved me, I never stopped to think that maybe the love I gave should be nearly as strong. 

Now that someone wanted me, I wanted the American dream. I am sure you know the one, house, picket fence, and kids. Maybe the man I chose wasn’t Mr. Darcy, but we could work on that. The romance was put on fast forward and we were engaged after 5 months and married 9 months later. There were whispers that it was a “shot-gun wedding”, but truthfully I just was eager to be adored. We started trying for a baby immediately and after a devastating loss, I found myself a mother at the age of 21. Looking back I seem so young holding my red headed little newborn. 

As with all things, there was a honeymoon period. After the wedding I was so focused on becoming a mom that I never stopped to think that I would regret my impulsive decisions someday and that one sided adoration does not sustain a marriage. Once I welcomed my plump little girl she became my world. My life was all things mom and she was such a blessing that we quickly decided to have another. Fourteen months later we welcomed a beautiful bald baby boy. It is amazing how quickly things can fall apart. My beautiful baby boy cried all the time and I found myself losing my mind. Apparently the honeymoon period had ended. 

My husband worked all the time and I was alone all day with 2 children under 2. It turns out that having such sweet blessings in your life may distract you from those deep insecurities for a time, but they come creeping back when you least expect. I found myself deep in my depression, anxiety, and insecurities. I cried often when no one was looking and I compared myself to others all of the time. It became so difficult to leave the home, because of the spiraling emotions I would feel when I went into public.  

I needed to feel joy again and I sought that in a place I shouldn’t have, another child. My sweet little Scarlett. This time the honeymoon period was shorter. The arguments only worsened and I found myself even deeper in depression. As it turned out, 3 children 3 and under at the age of 24 was hard. At this point it never occurred to me that I was now a mess  and no one would ever look at me the way that The Professor looks at Josephine March. Until one day a little bird whispered in my ear that maybe I wasn’t as undesirable as I believed. All of a sudden I was Pandora opening the box that I certainly shouldn’t be. In the years to come many would suffer from my decisions, including myself. 

Six months after my curiosity had caused me to imagine a different life, my husband was informed that maybe his young wife wasn’t as content as he thought. I had made every effort to keep up appearances and though there were many things that could have clued him into my unhappiness in our marriage, he did not see it until that moment. It was then I faced him, with tears in his eyes, and told him that I wanted a divorce. The truth had been clear, I didn’t love him, at least not in the way he wanted me to and his love was not enough to carry us through. 

The wheels were turning in his head and he was desperate not to lose me. In his mind he was older and had experienced far more of the world. He suggested an open marriage so that I could “sow my wild oats.” I was a stay at home mom with nothing more than a high school diploma and no clue how to support my 3 children. We would never be able to afford living apart and so I gave in to his suggestion. This would be the start of the unravelling or maybe I had been unravelling little by little already…

For a time we lived in peace, I had hope of a new future and he still had me. Six months later I met a man. He was four years my junior, eager to fall in love, and full of so much life. I fell hard and fast. I felt like I was on a sinking ship and this man was my life boat. In a short time period I approached my husband again to ask for a divorce. He had met this man and accepted what was supposed to be a passing romance. His heartbreak would haunt me for many years. This was truly all my fault. 

As others found out about what they perceived to be my indiscretions, we were ostracized. I lost friends and family. Those who remained through all of this were endlessly disappointed with me. My father labelled me a whore. I was an adulterer and I roamed the world with an “A” burned into my heart. The years that followed were the darkest of my life. At the lowest point I begged my psychiatrist to turn me into one of Levin’s Stepford Wives so that I could be who they all wanted.

Suddenly I found myself in a prescription drug induced haze. My children were too little to truly understand what was going on and they loved my boyfriend. Yet they still suffered. I held my 4 year old son as he sobbed because no one came to his birthday party and it was all my fault. He didn’t understand then that I was a pariah and that my heart had been carved with that scarlet letter.  The memory still brings fresh tears to my eyes. 

I unravelled a little more every day and sometimes I wanted to die. My soon to be ex-husband was probably one of the kindest people to me at this time, as we continued to maintain a home together for our children. Unfortunately, this only killed me a little more everyday. I never deserved the love he gave. As the months passed I fell further into a dark pit of self loathing. My sweet boyfriends family hated me and how could I blame them, I hated me too. 

We all moved 1400 miles away and started again. My ex-husband, my new husband, my father, and myself lived together in an odd new family unit. As it turns out, you cannot run from your demons. One day I tried to end it all and my unravelling would truly be complete. My husband stopped me and urged me to get the help I needed. I did and we began to redefine what family is. 

In the last six years the wheel has unravelled and woven us into a different pattern and though we have experienced so much darkness, the pattern and our future is made up of so much light.

Soaking in the Sunshine

So a month or two ago I uploaded all of these pictures to a blog and then never filled in any of the writing. When I started seeing this local trend of visiting a sunflower farm, I was intrigued, but it took a couple weeks to get up the courage to drag the whole family out there.

It was worth it, quite beautiful, and honestly makes me want to plant some sunflowers next year. The family needed to get out of the house, because social distancing/quarantining has kept us pretty isolated. We needed to get out there and do something, see something that wasn’t our house, our land…etc. I would say that this little trip made me realize that we need to take this time to get out and explore nature right now.

Some of the sunflowers were reaching to the skies.
My flower child.

I used to call Aurora my “Hippie flower child.” As a small child she was always so easy going. She is for sure the reason that her dad and I had another baby so quickly, because she was just so easy. Its kind of that meme you see float around the internet…where the parents are fooled into having another and that child turns out to be a very different, difficult baby. That was so us and sooo my second child, Johnny. Aurora has lost a bit of her flower child ways as she has become a preteen (soon to be teen), but she is still one of my most mellow kids.

William wandering with uncle.
The cranky flower baby.

Speaking of easy and difficult children…Our 5th, my Mr. Henry, has been the most needy baby yet. Honestly if he had been my first child, I might not have had any more lol. From the first 24 hours he came into this world until now, he has been quite the handful. He was born with a blood incompatibility that landed him under UV lights. This made it so that he didn’t want to nurse. We spent the next 3 months pouring hundreds of dollars, endless hours, and emotions into fighting our way back to a nursing relationship. It was by far one of the darkest times I have had in years.

The postpartum depression was so strong. I ended up back on medication after having been able to manage my depression and anxiety with weekly therapy for years. All of the crying, money, and time was worth it. It would have been worth it if we had never gotten him back to the breast, but I am so happy to report that we did. After 3 months we got the hang of it and now he is 13 months old and obsessed. I am starting to wonder if he will ever wean. I can tell right now though that life with Mr. Henry is going to be an interesting ride.

There were so many bees, but they were super chill.

There were so many bees! They were beautiful and honestly kind of scary in the moment. However we left them alone and they left us alone. I am so glad my kids did not freak out, because we have had those moments with them in the past. Maybe they didn’t even notice? The bees were pretty obsessed with these gorgeous sunflowers (I mean…weren’t we all…).

Even the sunflowers think its too hot out.
My girly girl and I. Also my anti-pictures son in the background.

At this time in my life I haven’t been much into taking pictures of myself. I have to remind myself that I want my kids to look back and see me in pictures, not just find me in the background. So I forced myself to take one. Scarlett came up and we took a shot together. Scarlett is my middle child, but was the baby for 5 years. Right now we are going through some growing pains and I have to work to remind this girl that we are just as over the moon with her as we are with the rest of my crazy bunch.

Johnny was his usual anti-picture self. I pick and choose my battles there. Johnny has started to mellow out a bit more with age, I am not sure he will ever be super chill, but we are working on handling our anxieties with more grace. I am so proud of the relationship we have right now and how he always wants to talk to me about how he feels, dreams, ideas, etc. I hope we can keep this going forever.

Currently listening to: “Mama’s Broken Heart” by Miranda Lambert

Currently Reading: Three Dark Crowns by  Kendare Blake

Hello 34

The older I get, the less I seem to care about my birthday. When asked what I wanted to do for the day, I said hang out in my room all day.

What do I want? Ehh… I don’t really need anything. I had just ordered my wine cooler and a new camera. Let’s call that my birthday gift…done. Of course the adults were good with that, but apparently my kids weren’t.

Today they came up and asked me to come downstairs. I knew they had been decorating, but I really didn’t want to go downstairs. I’m a mom though and they worked hard, so I’ll go. Man am I glad I did.

I exit the room and lining the walls of the stairs are signs saying how much they love me. If you want to see the signs, I shared a video on my Instagram story: the.curious.alchemist. This was apparently my daughter, Scarlett’s, idea and she got the other 3 older kids in on it.

When I reached the bottom of the stairs, the kids presented me with a sign that they had repurposed from my baby shower with Mr. Henry. They snapped a photo before they would allow me to see it. It had once said “Have you seen this wizard?” Which they changed to “Have you seen this awesome mom.”

Then I came around the corner and there was a homemade banner.

Johnny plopped a sorting hat on my head that we have as decor in the living room. He asked me to close my eyes, then he played a voice recording he made sorting me into the awesome mom category.

Then I sat on the couch, Richard ordered me food from a restaurant I had wanted to eat at, but Corona. Once everyone was assembled in the living room…the kids presented me with a cake that they made. (Looked far better than anything I can do 😂)

Finally they added sparkler candles, but had decided to take some off because they were concerned there were too many 😂😂😂

A friend dropped a wonderful gift off at my door, another sent me a virtual giftcard, and Scarlett gave me a headband she likes plus 5 dollars.

I am so glad I came downstairs. I’m so blessed with these kids. I didn’t ask anyone to do anything special and I am just so amazed with how they came together to make it so unique.

This was by far the best birthday I’ve ever had. I worry about how I am doing as a mom all the time. Today I felt like I must be doing something right. ❤

Currently listening to: “Somebody’s Hero” by Jamie O’Neal

Currently Reading: The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger

Slowing Down

We have been socially distancing for 30 days today.

As the first week came and went I spent days in a panic, worried I was forgetting something. Maybe it was an activity, appointment, school assignment, etc. It has made me realize that there is just so much on my plate that I am dependent on a schedule. I have too much going on and I feel flustered so much of the time. Just this school year I have had school activities at 3 different schools conflict at one point. There’s PTO, girl scouts, dance classes, nutcracker practices, hockey practices, play dates, birthday parties, doctors appointments, dentist appointments, therapy appointments, school projects, orchestra performances, writing clubs, confirmation, student council, etc… On top of all of that is maintaining a household…grocery shopping, finances, cleaning, so on and so forth.

A new panic set in.

I enjoyed the freedom I had gained and the excuse not to socialize. This came with a lot of varied emotions. First it was all surreal, it felt like the whole world was closing down. I feel like I have spent the last 12 years of my life rushing to school, to work, to deal with kid activities, etc. If I made my life easier in some way, then I filled the gap instead of just letting the pressure fall off. Now that I had to slow down, I loved it and now I am terrified to lose it. For the last two weeks I have been wracking my brain to figure out a compromise, some way to keep a semblance of this life. I also felt guilt for enjoying this, for secretly wishing to stay at home just a little longer. I inwardly rejoiced when the dates kept extending.

I know that this has been completely devastating for many. Some have lost jobs or loved ones. There are people, even people I know, who are struggling to carry on in a new way instead of letting this bankrupt them. Here I sit with stability, enjoying my freedom, thankful we found our way back to Dave Ramsey and Financial Peace University a little over a year ago. We aren’t done yet, but we were more prepared for this. I feel bad about the struggles I see others going through and I also know that life can change for us so quickly. COVID-19 could devastate my father, my ex-husband, and myself. So of course there is a level of fear there. We started socially distancing as soon as we started reading about flattening the curve.

Also our experience has not been without its own small difficulties. At one point the restrictions at HEB curbside became so restrictive that I was having to order groceries 2-3 times per week. They limited the number of items you could get in an order as well as individual items like milk, frozen vegetables, cheese, lunch meat. For the average family I doubt this mattered much, but we have 10 people in our home. All of whom are home and eating 3 meals at home everyday. For a week or two I lived in fear that we would not be able to acquire the food to eat without going into the store. Thankfully these seem to be relaxing a bit.

As some know, Mr. Henry and I also got sick. I spent about a week and a half worrying about what to do. I seemed to have a cold/flu that clearly turned into strep for me, but at this point the doctors hadn’t implemented phone visits. We were distancing as much as we could and I was worried to go in. In an effort to avoid a visit I took antibiotics I had at home, but I didn’t have a full course. At first I started to feel better, even for a good or five days all I had left was lost hearing in one ear. Finally the hearing caused me to seek out nurse call. She pushed for a doctor visit and after 2 or 3 days I relented and scheduled a video call with my doctor 4 days later. She agreed that it was a virus turned bacterial infection and has prescribed me antibiotics and steroids. Finally after 3.5 days into the antibiotics and day 1 of steroids, I am feeling better.

A mask for sick me to wear.

Even with feeling awful, I was so happy to be at home. The kids and I have been watching the transformation of larvae into butterflies, movie nights, and board games. We have started planning and working on a home garden. We have de-cluttered part of the kitchen and created a homeschooling area. We had a drive by parade of our girl scout friends. We finished reading little women. They have had movie nights. They have created their own little world in the woods.

Finally when my therapist started making phone visits I told her of my predicament. I am still trying to find a way to make it all work. Individually I love all of the commitments in my life. I love being a part of each and every one of them. Yet, together they make me a crazy ball of stress. I used to come home some days and just sit in my room alone so that I could wind down. Socializing will always be taxing to me in an emotional way to me, but one that I do enjoy experiencing sometimes.

I still don’t know what the answer is, but I do believe that after this…my life will be different and I am different because of this experience.

Currently listening to: “Best of You” -Foo Fighters

Currently reading: Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding

Realizing a Dream I NEVER Asked for…

As I sit here in my home during my self imposed exile from my kingdom…I mean while I practice social distancing, I am just in shock. I think about how crazy this whole thing is and I am at a loss for words. I have to keep on trucking though, because if I don’t we will all lose our minds.

I never wished to be a teacher or even to homeschool. Actually quite the opposite, as I said I never wished to do either. I would laugh and say I just don’t have patience to homeschool OR I would joke that I would be fired as a teacher, because of my well educated sailors vocabulary.

Yet, here we are.

For those who don’t already know, my besties family and I live on the same plot of land together. I jokingly refer to it as our commune. We knew that socially distancing as a “commune” would be easier on our little community, so that’s what we set out to do. Rachel, bestie, and I shopped for supplies. After that we sat down to plan out our homeschooling schedule which we adapted from some Facebook posts that were floating around.

A snippet of the schedule.

The kids go back and forth between the two houses for their activities. Rachel covers english and history while I cover math and science. We share the creative time and my husband teaches the music class. We broke the kids down into 2 groups, the bigs (grades 5 thru 7) and the middles (grades 1 and 2) with the littles (pre-k). We also chose to have “school” on Mon, Tues, Thurs, and Friday. That gave us a nice midweek break.

On day one, I gave the kiddos a math assessment and discussed science topics we could do. During creative time, which the two groups alternate on, the middles/youngers made yummy banana bread.

Amazed at how hard they are willing to work.
Yummy!

Here we are at the end of day 2 and everyone seems to really be enjoying things. Today we worked on plotting the line of a graph and solving inequalities with the bigs. The middles worked on computing area and perimeters, while the littles worked on writing /recognizing numerals.

For science the bigs started to explore astronomy and even left with some homework. The middles are doing a report on the anatomy of an insect. They have chosen a Luna moth and a monarch butterfly. Finally the littles are learning about the plant life cycle.

Hard at work on their insect reports.

Today during creative time we started to clear a space to build a clubhouse! At the end of which, Johnny was working to climb a tree. I realized how many cool things they could learn with hands on experience and now I have so many ideas!

Working on the clubhouse foundation.
Scaling the tree.

I feel like with as scary as some things are right now, my kids are doing great. They will forever remember this and so far it’s been a great experience for them. This virus seems to spread like wildfire and its path of destruction is vast no matter what we do. It runs the risk of killing and/or bankrupting so many people. We are trying to do our part in flattening the curve. There is so much panic and negativity out there, yet we are working our best to stay positive. Hoping everyone stays healthy out there.

Currently listening to: The sound of my ceiling fan

Currently reading: Eldest by Christopher Paolini

Building a Strong Foundation

I mean quite literally…we watched them build us a foundation. It was pretty cool to watch it go from dirt to huge concrete slab. As harrowing as some of the design choices seem, I feel so blessed that our kids get to experience this.

At the construction site with one of my baby boys.

When I ended the last post I talked about the foundation waffle they created. After the waffle was finished, the guys came out and put down a moisture barrier on all the mounds and down into the trenches. I believe (or guess) the purpose of this is to keep moisture from seeping up into the foundation.

The waffle with rebar and moisture barrier.

Once everything was covered, they went ahead with putting in all this reinforcing bar (rebar). The rebar went down into the trenches and then created a grid atop the whole thing. We let the kids stand down in one part by slowly lowering them down and back up. They thought it was pretty cool.

William in the waffle.

The day before the pour, the electrician showed up to rough in the plumbing for our kitchen islands and some in-floor plugs in the family room and study. I liked seeing all of that in there, it really helped me start getting a picture of where each room began and ended.

On the day of the pour we kept the kids home to watch. We got up at the usual 6:10 am and you could already hear the guys setting up for the foundation. We walked on over and saw them setting up the pumper truck and doing any last minute rebar work. They also used these yellow pieces to float the rebar above the waffle.

Kids on the day of the pour.

Concrete started to pour a little after 7 am. The large pipe of the pumper truck could be seen in the sky above the forest from the neighborhood behind us (where we currently reside). They continued to pour until right after 1 pm. We lost track of the number of concrete trucks after about 7.

The pumper truck was awesome.

As per usual my anxiety kicked up at the end. We wanted to put the kids hand prints in the foundation. The guys knew we wanted to and said they would let us know the perfect time. I was worried we would miss our window and some other comments by dad weren’t helping (like…its already too dry). Richard kept the faith and the guys called us over as they promised they would. Rachel helped with Mr. Henry while I took some pics and the prints turned out wonderful. Even William’s crazy print..which is so him right now, that boy is full of energy.

The hands of my little loves. ❤

Video to come later

Currently listening to: “Pain” -Three Days Grace

Currently reading: The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephenie Meyer

A Year and Half of Waiting

That time seemed to go by so slowly and I was starting to feel like the build was never going to happen. There was delay after delay with each step leading up to actually breaking ground and no matter what I did to try to make it go as smoothly as possible, the other parties just ended up causing more delays. However now that we have broken ground and I see the dream becoming reality…it feels like time is just flying by.

Piles of dirt ready to be spread out. They climbed all over these things.
Spreading it out to make the foundation pad.

In the last few weeks they have come out to outline the perimeter of the house. I have to be honest, I am having a hard time seeing the dimensions. The home is going to be roughly 3900 sq feet, but it feels small standing in the interior of the wooden outline. I thought I was losing my mind so I had Richard measure all the exterior lines and it all adds up. I can’t wait to see it when its framed.

Outlining the foundation under a gorgeous Texas sky.

They have roughed in the plumbing so now I can see where all the bathrooms, sinks, and washing machines are. We have opted to have a laundry room that will accommodate 2 sets of washing machines. Our builder has kept in mind our future plans for a small barndominum and second story bathroom and has plumbed with that in mind as well.

We have pipes!

Next up the foundation guys came out and started building the “waffle” as my builder called it. The internet says that this is a reinforced concrete footing with a perimeter footing and internal beams. I asked him if we are building so that it could support a full second story someday (not that we will ever need that) and he said that it could easily support 3 stories (that will never happen).

The start of the foundation waffle.

They dropped off all the metal for the foundations grid and have just been plugging away. The kids have had a fun time going through the maze of trenches that have been dug in preparation for plumbing and foundation.

Some of these trenches were sooo deep. The kids loved it! (They were monitored of course…)

Being a part of each process has been so much fun and sometimes a little harrowing at times. I am so concerned that I will make a bad design decision, the options seem endless sometimes. Going through showrooms of windows and doors, stone and brink, flooring, lights, etc. Its an adventure and I have to remind myself that it is so awesome we are able to pick each little thing.

Currently listening to: Doc McStuffins

Currently reading: Messenger by Lois Lowry

Throwback Thursday: Love is Love, the More the Merrier

Ok so background…this blog was posted on another platform June 13th 2014. At the we were living in Lake Elsinore, California. This is one post that I don’t intend to add much into the meat of it , but expand upon it….it has withstood the test of time.

A post I read on the internet today got me thinking. (I wish I had mentioned what the post was) In the end I came to the conclusion that I am very proud of my maternal extended family. (I am also very proud of my paternal family as well, for many reasons, but this one applies as well) As a child I never quite understood just how amazing they were at unconditional love, but as an adult their love astounds me. 

You see our family is truly a mixed bag. We have different professions, politics, interests, etc. However it goes deeper than that. We are also made up of a vast mix of DNA sequences. Meaning that we are not all “Blood” relatives. You might be thinking that this is true of many families. Of course the people who marry are not blood relatives (well hopefully not). I mean to say that some of the children that entered this family were not “blood”, but my family taught me that blood doesn’t matter. Love does. 

I have seen many people discuss how families coming together in this way can be a disaster. Unfortunately I think most of the time this is true. We fail to see past the blood lines and forget that a human being is there. My family never made significant differences between the genetically linked relatives and the non genetically linked ones. This led to what I believe to be a beautifully cohesive and loving family. Oh of course we have our disputes and our problems, but at the end of the day we love and care for one another deeply. 

A family is not just made by the combining of DNA sequences, but also by the acceptance and love towards one another. 

We are not perfect, but I am so proud to call these people my family. I wish that I had understood as a child and teenager just how magical their love is. 

This is so true and I want to elaborate on it. My mothers biological father was tragically taken in a car accident when my grandmother was pregnant. The man who took his place, who raised 2 bonus daughters as if they were his own blood, is an amazing father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. As an adult I have so much respect for the fact that he has never once made any of us feel lesser. Even after he and my grandmother divorced, there was never any thought of us being less of a family. His new wife has joined the family with just as much patience and love with our crazy crew.

After this divorce, my grandmother married a man who has also been one of the best grandfathers a girl could ask for. I have so many fond memories of jogging with him, golfing, and working around the family motel. I used to tell people I was so lucky…I had six amazing grandparents and while some are no longer with me, I appreciate every second I have had with them.

I also had various “uncles” who were great men that came into our life in various ways. I still remember my Uncle Manuel teaching me about photography. He would bring books to me and helped inspire a lifelong hobby in me. My Uncle Curt…he was like a big brother to me. As we have aged we haven’t exactly seen eye to eye, but who was a large positive part of my youth…from birth until my 20’s.

These people, and many others, helped shape how I think of families. While I love my blood family, I also love those people that I have invited into my life despite any biological connection. The childhood experiences have taught me that being blood does not give one a free for all excuse card to be toxic. I will invite people into my inner sanctum who I trust and have earned their way there showing their mutual love and devotion for myself and my family. A devotion that I gladly return.

I enjoy my village…the amazing blood relatives and all the bonus ones that I have been blessed with. If I do not say it enough…I love and appreciate you.

Currently listening to: “Africa”- Weezer cover

Currently Reading (for the second time): Eragon by Christopher Paolini

Book Review: Ban This Book

So a friend added me to an online book club this year. Each month has a new theme for the book to be chosen. The club came up in discussion with my son recently. I told Johnny (age 11) that February’s book club book for me was a banned book. He didn’t know what that meant…because in our house we don’t ban books.

Sometimes I read a book before them or with them so we can have discussions, but I don’t believe in banning them. In the past I have had others question choices I have made for my children. Like the fact that John read all of the Harry Potter books when he was in second grade as the latter ones can be a bit on the dark side. However when you have kids with a reading level that is much higher than their grade level, it can be a challenge to find something that suits their reading and maturity level.


A week or so after this discussion, he came to me with the book “Ban this Book” by Alan Gratz. He said that the inner monologue of the character in the book was a lot like his own. That much of it was the way he though, but not exactly the way he acted (the kiddo in the book doesn’t often say whats on their mind). He asked me to read the book and it was clear that it was important to him.


So I did.


It was wonderful. It was so witty and wonderfully written. I appreciate Mr. Gratz for helping me understand my son in a deeper way, while simultaneously helping me teach them about censorship. As an adult I found it a quick, easy, and delightful read. I would happily allow my kids to read this book, aged 9, 11, or 12. It is a bit beneath my 4 year, but I could read it aloud to him. I still think it wouldn’t be all that interesting to him. I think aged maybe 8+ is a good starting point for this book.

I appreciated that the book brought together kids of all different hobbies, backgrounds, social cliques together for a cause. It also showed how we can misjudge others or their intentions. Overall, there were some great lessons in the book. I would say that if a parent is a bit more on the conservative side, they might not like some of the words mentioned in this book. Sex and books that mention sex are mentioned in this book, so keep that in mind as it could bring up some questions.


After my son returns this copy to the library we will be buying one for our own family library. I highly recommend this book to all my mom friends and their kiddos.

The next book I am working on is The Giver, which I have found on banned lists. I have read it in the past and I just don’t get how it can be challenged, though the ban book clearly points out that the challenge is subjective to ones owns opinions.

Happy reading all.

Crafty isn’t Always a Bad Trait

Crafty is such a curious word. The actual definition meaning “clever at achieving one’s aims by indirect or deceitful methods.” Yet informally used today to mean “of, involving, or relating to the making of decorative objects and other things by hand.” I must say that I may very well be a specimen of both definitions. Alas I only wish to discuss the latter today. Sorry to disappoint.

Bachelorette Party gift I made for the bride.

I would say that over the last year I have grown a love for crafting gifts or items for others. Whether I sew them, crochet, or circuit them. I used the latter to create a personalized tote and make-up bag for a friends bachelorette gift. I also made a personalized stocking for my mom who flew out from California to be with us during Christmas.

Stocking for my mother

This last Halloween is when it really took off. I decided to hand make my eldest a costume. She decided to be Queen Elizabeth I and though not historically accurate (I have some sleeves and pieces to add), I was quite proud of what I made. I also drafted all the pattern pieces myself. I made the corset (what I’m most proud of), bum roll, and farthingale myself as well. She loved it and even won her orchestra Halloween costume contest.

The contest picture they took. The costume was still unfinished.

I listened to my children in the months leading up to Christmas so that I could pick up ideas for a handmade gift. I have decided that I will be turning this into a tradition. Each year I will make my children a gift. This year Aurora received a Wings of Fire hoodie. I think hers was the easiest this year.

The Wings of Fire themed hoodie for my daughter.

Johnny had said he wanted a green crocheted blanket. I would say this was my most labor intensive gift and it took me months. Anyone who knows this kiddo, knows how obsessed he is with minecraft creepers. The colors in the blanket reminded me of his various shades of creepers. I am so thankful that he loves it and takes it all around the house to lounge with. I also made his creeper a matching blanket.

Johnny and his new blanket.

This is the second crochet project of mine in the last 10+ years. It is far from perfect, but it is loved. I feel far more comfortable sewing than I do with crocheting. I have sewed many many times in the last 10 years and normally do 1 large project each year.

Scarlett wanted a poodle skirt. This was another simple sewing job. I actually completed it in a couple of hours. I love the way it turned out, but did need to let out the waist a tad. That is one struggle of surprise gifts, can’t just go measure the kiddos lol. As I was rushing to make this the day before Christmas, I really did not take any full pictures of it.

Pretty pink poodle skirt

I sewed William a blanket from some cool robot fabric I found. Finally I crocheted Mr. Henry a textile blanket with different types of yarn. I don’t have any pictures of these just yet, but maybe I will sneak some in.

I have so many ideas for other projects, I can’t wait to have a craft room where I can spread out and spend more time crafty all kinds of fun stuff.

Currently listening to: “Anyone” -Demi Lovato

Currently reading: The Giver by Lois Lowry