Year Of Fiction 

Most of my reading from 2012 to 2016 was non-fiction. How to be a better mom, blogger, baker, editor, believer, survivor, wife, organizer, teacher, cook, budgeter, dresser, copywriter, DIYer, friend, and the list goes on. 

So I declared 2017 as my Year Of Fiction. 

For 365 days, all my book choices would be fiction. 

Last night, I read 35 pages of a dear friend’s sci-fi manuscript. It was love at first page. 

I’m also currently reading a few mysteries, several classics, a novel about post-Civil War California, and rereading some short story collections and poetry anthologies. 

I’m obviously still reading my fair share of non-fiction with Graham, but all my silent reading time has been a lovely escape. 

What’s on your reading list this year? Might I suggest Sense and Sensibility? No Year is complete without a dose of Austen. 

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Jokes | Elizabethan Quips

Bess followed in Graham’s footsteps, and started a comedy tour. Where I’m the only audience member. All my waking moments. 

“Mommy, what did the ice pop say to the other ice pop?”

“I don’t know. What did he say?”

“He’s not a he. He’s a her. She’s a girl ice pop asking the question. And she said to the boy ice pop, I think he’s probably 4 years old, we’re too cold and we’re gonna freeze to death in this freezer! We need a fire!”

“Mommy, what did the basketball say to the other basketball?”

“I don’t know! What did it say?”

“We are both basketballs.”

“Mommy, what do you call a tv that’s on UmiZoomis?”

“Not sure, sweetie.”

“UmiZoomi tv shows on our tv.”

“Mommy, what do you do when you have poop in your diaper?”

“Put it in the toilet and flush it away!”

“Not if you’re an ogre! I squished it all in my diaper and need lots of wipes. This wasn’t a joke. I really did it!”

“Mommy, what did the flowers say to the bees?”

“I don’t know. What did they say?”

“Nothing. Flowers don’t talk. I’m surprised you don’t know this. You’re sposed to be a teacher.”

“Mommy, what do I want to be when I grow up?”

“A comedienne?”

“NO! I wanna be Bowser Jr! I want to be his dad, but I’m too little.”

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Thanks, but… | unedited thoughts on body image 

“Dave, a guy at Walmart hit on me today. Who on Earth would find this attractive? A stupid person, I guess.”

“Lyndse, you just called me stupid. I obviously find you attractive. I chose to spend every day of my life with you. I chose you over becoming a scholar with a gigantic library and a fireplace. I chose you over traveling the world. I chose you knowing you’d gain weight when we had babies. Every time you insult yourself, you insult me. Because I chose you.”

It was a turning point in our marriage. I’ll never forget the look in his eyes. He couldn’t understand why I couldn’t grasp how beautiful he saw me. 

Later on, when the repressed memories of my abuse resurfaced, it started to make sense. It was textbook stuff at that point. After decades of abuse, any positive self-image had been altered. Destroyed. 

As I progressed on my journey of healing, I was able to start seeing what Dave saw. What he had chosen. When he would compliment me, I would thank him. 

In the early years of our marriage, I would pair a thank you with a but. 

“Lyndse, you look gorgeous today.” 

“Thanks, but I’ve gained so much weight.” 

“Sweetie, your hair is beautiful today!” 

“Thanks, but I look so tired. My face looks horrible.”

“Lyndse, your outfit looks so great on you.”

“Thanks, but these pants are a size bigger than I was wearing last month.”

The irony: my love language is words of affirmation. I craved those compliments from Dave, even when I couldn’t receive them. It was frustrating for both of us. 

In the last three years, so many things have changed for us. When he tells me I’m gorgeous, I say thanks and kiss him. When he tousles my hair and calls it cute, I thank him and smack his butt. When he comments on my outfit, I pair a “Thank you!” with a little spin. 

I don’t look much different, honestly. My weight has fluctuated about 75 pounds in our 10 years of marriage. Up and down. I’ve had seasons of amazing haircuts and seasons of us not being able to afford haircuts. My wardrobe has definitely improved, but I’ve always had stuff in my closet that worked. I just went from a few things to having an entire wardrobe that works for me. 

What’s changed is my heart.

I’m still changing. My heart is healing. I’m still learning to capture all the negative thoughts about myself and replace them with truth. But it’s happening more and more each day. 

I’m blessed that I’m married to a man who didn’t give up. On our wedding day, he told me, “You are so unbelievably sexy.” And I answered, “Thanks, but I gained 10 pounds last month.” But Dave never gave up. He never stopped trying to tell me the truth, when I couldn’t tell myself. 

After 13 1/2 years together, I see the same look in his eyes that he had when I was a size 0, well-rested, with zero stretchmarks, and perfect hair/nails/clothes. Scratch that. The look is different. It’s more. His eyes then were filled with wonder and new love and curiosity. Young and waiting for a wedding night. 

Now, he looks at me like a man who has climbed peaks and gone through valleys. A man who gave up dreams for new ones. A man who finds me irresistible, with stretchmarks and jiggle and dark circles under my eyes. Thousands of nights together. 

We’ve lived life. A life that’s unique to us. We’re the only two people on this planet who know what it was like to see Graham for the first time. The only ones who know what it’s like to parent Adelaide. The only ones who know the exact pitch of Bess’ voice. The only ones who know the specific hurt of burying Laurence and Flannery. And the specific joy of seeing Lewis inside my uterus, when we all feared he wasn’t. 

I still have such a long way to go, but each sunrise gets me closer to my goal of seeing myself the way my husband sees me. The way I see him. When I tell Dave, “You look hot today!” He smiles and thanks me. And gives me a kiss. And that’s the way it should be. Two healthy people loving one another. Growing older and wiser and getting wrinkles and buying jeans that fit without caring about the size on the tag. 

 

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Drive You Crazy | A Boudoir Session

I have this idea to do a boudoir session for Dave. My friend makes custom aprons, so I figure it could be sexy kitchen stuff. 


But then I remember I’m not really a sexy kitchen person. Or even a kitchen person. 

I’ve come up with the idea of a “Drive You Crazy” boudoir session. Where I would be in the sexy apron, with the sexy poses, but doing things that actually drive Dave crazy. 

All his kitchen pet peeves. 

Sexy photos of me using steak knives for everything. Cutting all foods, opening packages of food, opening packages from Amazon. Prying open things. Killing a spider. Steak knives are super versatile, and we have 8 of them! Or 10? Not sure, but I use most of them throughout the day. 

More shots of me cutting things on plates, because we have a plethora of plates and only one cutting board. I don’t have time to wash the cutting board all day long. 

A couple of me leaving food in Adelaide’s highchair and forgetting to clean off her tray. 

An entire series of shots involving me kicking food out of the way, to the edge of the kitchen, to avoid cleaning it up. 

Don’t forget when I put an unrinsed dish in the soapy water. Letting the food contaminate the clean water, and possibly clogging our drains. 

I need some sultry shots of me not completely drying off the dishes from the dishwasher. And it will be even better if I’m using a new towel from the drawer, when there was a perfectly good towel right there. 

I can’t forget the homeschool materials out hours past our school day. Those unifix blocks scattered everywhere and markers rolling to the floor. Falling into the crumb piles. 

The piece de resistance would be me putting leftovers into containers much too large for the food going inside them. I have no spatial reasoning skills, and I refuse to put those beans into a smaller container once I realize I grossly miscalculated the size of Rubbermaid needed for the job. 

Just an idea I’m tossing around. 

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That Time I Prayed For The Earth To Swallow Me Whole

“Hey, Lyndse, are you free this weekend?” 

“Um, yes, I am.”

“Great! Wanna come to the concert? I need to be there early, but you can come find me when you get in.”

“Sure!”

A guy I had been crushing on (is that a phrase? I’m not good with youth speak…) walked into my workplace and asked me out. I was shocked. And I really didn’t date much, but he was gorgeous and I was surprised he knew my name. 

That weekend, I did my hair and makeup and wore the cutest shirt I owned. I stood in line, bought my ticket, and tried to find my date. 

I spotted him. As always, the cutest guy in the room. I walked over, smiled, and managed a nervous “So good to see you! Thanks for the invite!” And then a drop dead gorgeous blonde woman, who I suspected wasn’t from Earth, smiled a perfect smile and chimed in, “Didn’t he do a great job promoting this event? I think he invited more people than any of the bands did!” 

Then she kissed him. 

Like a Nicolas Sparks’ movie kiss. 

And it dawned on me that she was his girlfriend. 

I had not been asked on a date. I had been asked to attend a multi-artist concert and help sales by buying an overpriced ticket. 

“Yes, he did a great job! It was such a good plan to canvass the mall. That’s where he told me about it.”

I walked away, while they kissed some more, and debated leaving. I didn’t like any of the bands. I was alone. But I had spent my only fun money for the month on that ticket, so I sucked it up and supported my local “musicians” and their dreams. 

A guy I didn’t know walked up and asked if I wanted something to drink. I retorted, “Nope. I already spent all my money getting in. But your concession stand looks great.” Then he said, “I don’t work here, I was kinda asking you out. But I changed my mind.” A few minutes later, he was sipping an outrageously expensive coffee with a supermodel. 

That was the first of many moments when I realized I’m a Tina Fey in a world of Blake Livelys. 

I hadn’t thought of that night in almost a decade. At the time, it was horrific. Now, I’m just glad I didn’t contract mono. Obviously not from kissing, but because I was forced to use the drinking fountain in a place charging $3 for bottled water. 

My 2017 Writing Resolutions

1. Write zero blogposts about something horrible a stranger said or did.

Last year was full of people I’d never even met saying I should’ve aborted Adelaide. Strangers telling me “miscarriage stuff” is too uncomfortable for blogs. Messages saying molestation and abuse are private issues that shouldn’t be discussed online. Someone at Walmart pulling her child away from Adelaide, while hissing, “We don’t talk to people like that.” The woman at an amusement park who whispered, all too loudly, to her husband, “I could never do what she does. All that work with no pay-off. What a waste. And why so many kids?”

I used to become infuriated or dejected from these things. I thought writing about it would help me process. Assist me in being a voice for the voiceless. Or at least give me a chance to stand up for myself, because I was never brave enough to do it in the moment. 

Recently, I realized penning my thoughts and feelings about it was stealing my time. And energy. Both are running fairly low right now, so it seems unwise to continue down that path. 

So you won’t see any posts that start with “Some person I have absolutely no relationship with was a complete jackass today. Here’s what happened…”

2. Write zero blogposts about my shrinking community.

WordPress and Facebook like to notify me when things are at an all-time low. I already shared my thoughts about it, but I wanted to make it official. 

You won’t see any posts where I lament that I have fewer reads than any other time in my 4+ years of blogging. That my engagement shrinks everyday. Because I’ve moved past it. 

I’m glad you’re here. And I wish we could just meet for coffee and over-priced cookies and chat over one another non-stop. I actually like our tiny group. Maybe I will do a real life meet-up someday, where we can get together and be odd. 

3. Write zero blogposts about poop. 

Just kidding. I’m a Special Needs Mom. My life revolves around poop. 

When I was a little girl, I never imagined that I would be out to dinner with my husband for one of our two dates in 2016, and he would ask, “Did Adelaide have a good poop today?” And I would answer, “Yes! But I hope she poops again for my mom.” And Dave would tease, “Sorry, Della, but you offered to babysit. Enjoy the diaper!” And we would both laugh. In a restaurant. 

Here’s to 2017! A year where I give zero spotlight to haters and statisticians, but more time to bowel movements! 

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So long, 2016

I’ve decided not to do a recap blog post this year. All my most-read posts were about losing Laurence and Flannery. All other posts had fewer than 60 reads, so they didn’t seem worth sharing again. I tend to be a free market person. I don’t often write about things that people want to read, which is fine, but I’m not going to throw them back out there a second time. 

I’ve also decided not to do a looking forward post. I don’t have a word or verse or song for 2017.

I’m not making any goals for the new year. Scratch that. My goal is to carry Lewis full-term, but that’s out of my control. So no use listing it. 

I don’t have any expectations for my writing next year. I’ll just keep writing when I feel like it. And posting photos to Instagram. And sharing daily stuff on Facebook. 

Sorry, it’s a pretty anticlimactic way to end 2016. 

Thanks for traveling this road with us. We’ll see you sometime in 2017. XX

Grahamism | Bad Things

“Mama, I know da Bible says God will use all da bad fings in our lives to turn em to good. Like in Joseph’s life. How his brovvers meant harm, but it ended up good. And how Moses was gonna get killed when he was a baby, but he got picked up by Pharoah’s daughter and saved God’s people. But I don’t fink it counts so much when you are just doing stupid fings. Cuz Samson was always just doing stupid fings he wasn’t supposed to do, like loving women he wasn’t supposed to love, and breaking all da fings God said not to do. Even dough Samson used his last strengf to destroy wicked Philistines, he kinda spent his whole life backwards. He made lots of bad choices for himself. So I fink da working good fings from bad fings doesn’t count if you keep marrying bad ladies who you know are bad. Dat should be in da Bible or somefing. ‘Do not expect God to make good fings come from marrying bad ladies.’ Dis is just da fings I fink about when I’m not trying to figure out how to be a real life Mario or how Black Holes work or how I’m gonna make mine own turkey dinner when I can’t use da oven yet.” 

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I Think I Checked The Wrong Box | Raw Thoughts About Intellectual Disability 

“Do you want to teach kids with Learning Disabilities or Mental Retardation?” I was an 18-year-old at Freshman Orientation. I had just added a Special Education emphasis to my Elementary Education coursework. It would add close to 25 extra hours, but I knew I wanted to become a Special Education teacher. I just had no idea which kind. I hadn’t thought that much about it. I had lots of experience with learning disabilities. But I had some experience with complex medical needs and mental retardation. I looked at the boxes and just checked one. It took 15 seconds. 

At Adelaide’s IEP meeting in the Fall, I asked for additional testing. Dave and I wanted to ensure that Adelaide ended up in the right placement for kindergarten in 2017. I’ve had lots of experience with IEP meetings, evaluations, and progress reports. It’s different when it’s your own child. Everything feels slightly fuzzy. I wanted some hard numbers on Adelaide, not just how I feel things go at home. It’s difficult to assess a nonverbal child, but I signed off on the district doing what it could. 

I filled out some different assessments at home. Ones I had only done as a teacher. Checking the parent box this time around. I cried. Even without knowing the percentiles, I knew the raw scores were already low. 

I sat at the meeting and got my first glimpse of Adelaide’s results. I knew what each subscore meant. I knew what the language meant. I knew that I had been right. Adelaide needed a completely self-contained kindergarten class. It wasn’t just a hunch. It was fact. I saw Intellectually Disabled and knew it was basically the new term for Mental Retardation. The box I didn’t check in college. 

Back before 9/11 or meeting her husband or being old enough to drink, a childless teenager checked the Learning Disabilities box. Altering my 4 1/2 years of college. And I don’t know if I checked the right box. 

I’m the mother of a child who scored lower than any student I ever worked with. I’m inexperienced in all of this. Everything I did with Intellectually Disabled children was volunteer work as an assistant. 

The person delivering the new testing information almost whispered the words Intellectually Disabled. I think we all hoped there was a mistake somewhere. But the truth was there. Adelaide uses very few words and signs meaningfully. She drinks from a bottle. She loves BabyFirst TV and other toddler shows. She doesn’t play with toys, but chews on them. She doesn’t enjoy big kid books. 

I was sitting there, feeding her Cheerios, realizing that this could be it. The neuro team mentioned plateauing. “One day, Adelaide will start to level out.” She has already done so much more than her MRIs would suggest she’s capable of, but maybe we’re starting to see Adelaide doing her best. 

Or she could surprise everyone and use a communication device to tell us paragraphs. She could learn to read. We have no idea.

But, at least for now, we’re working on adaptive skills. Learning to use a cup or straw. Possibly potty-training on a schedule. Completing two piece puzzles. Stacking blocks. Identifying colors and objects. 

I loved teaching the classes I did for those five years before birthing Graham, but I sometimes lie awake at night thinking about that one box. How I could help Adelaide now if I had a background in her disability. Why didn’t I choose Mental Retardation? Or why didn’t I add the 12 hours of night school to get my Speech training? My advisor practically begged me to do it, but my scholarships wouldn’t cover it and I was working 40 hours a week. How would I keep my job? I should’ve made it work.

I use what I learned in my elementary education classes to teach Graham, but maybe I should’ve studied something else. Physical therapy or occupational therapy or a hundred other things that would help me help my own daughter. Or maybe even something that I could do now from home to make money. Accounting, editing, copywriting, and on and on and on. Being a single income family has its difficulties. I literally bring no money to our family finances. Because I have no marketable skills. 

I obviously can’t change anything about my Bachelor’s degree. And I can’t change Adelaide’s brain. The scores don’t change Adelaide’s worth at all. They are just numbers. And I have a transcript full of classes I never use. May never use again. We’ve always known it was unlikely Adelaide would live on her own. She’s our lifelong roommate. We’re slowly preparing for that reality.

Dave says I ramble. I think it helps me process everything. These thoughts and tears are just mine to deal with…not even sure why I’m typing them here. They are part of my special needs mom journey. I just wish I would’ve prepared better for all of this. Since I can’t, I eat some ice cream and binge watch Megan Follows and Jonathan Crombie as Anne and Gil and then cry in the shower. 

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