F is for Food. Stop Freaking Out.

Here’s a Throwback Thursday for you. Written some FOUR years ago… and you know what, friends?

NOTHING MUCH HAS CHANGED.

My life is on circular rotation, because Parenting. I still make the Pan-O-Love, by the way. It is well received. Not much else is.

So, here goes:

 

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The other day a friend of mine was perusing my blog, and she stopped for a minute.  I know she stopped because I was obsessively watching her eyes actually move across the page and hoping that she would, you know, chortle a bit (she was eerily silent).  There was not one smidgeon of chortling, but she’s, well, she’s just that way.

Anyhow, I digress.

At one point she stopped and, kind of muttered, “No…”

I tried to be all casual: “Whatttt??  WHAT is it? DID YOU LIKE IT? SOMETHING FUNNY?  Or wait, bad?? Something bad?  PLEASSSE JUST TELL MEEEE.”

Yep.  Cool as a mint julip, my friends.

She simply nodded at the screen and said, “It’s wrong.  You said you’re a lousy cook.  That’s wrong.  You are a great cook.  You need to go back and change that.”

My friend is simply divine.  She is, well, she’s the butter on my bread.

My homemade bread, ya’ll.  I KNOW.  I make bread, bout twice a week.   Hot and crusty with just a hint of sweet, real butter all oozy and sliding around…  I would go on but this is not Showtime and I don’t want to upset my pastor’s wife, who reads this once in a while.

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Here are some of my greatest hits in the kitchen (cue Slow Jam music):

1.  Chicken and dumplings.  Oh yeeaah.  Whole chicken is a must.   (I scoff at you, you skinless chicken breasts! We have no place for naked breasts at our home!)

(Wow. That was kinda pushing it.)

2.  Pulled pork and gravy with mashed potatoes.  A subtle hint of cayenne is the secret.  It does, however,  resemble Alpo.  Close your eyes and hoover it.

3.  Double chocolate brownie/sheet cake thing.  Haven’t made this in ages but really, it’s a pan ‘o love, I tell you.  Snuggle up with it and a good book at night and, well, it completes you.

4.  Shepherd’s Pie.  You know, Jesus was called the Good Shepherd.  This meal would be right up his alley, I believe.

5.  Biscuits and gravy with LARD ya’ll.  BOOM. I AIN’T PLAYIN’.

6.  Stromboli.  It’s the yummoli.

7.  Sour cream and raisin pie.  Frozen pie crust, you ask?  Pfft.  As if.  This recipe is as old school as an episode of Andy Griffith, and my dad loves it.  He’s waaaaay old school.  In fact, there was no school for him; they hadn’t invented it yet.

8.  Some weird version of chicken soup with lemon and ginger and hot peppers and cilantro.  I feed it to the hubs whenever he starts sniffling, and I swear some times he fakes the snot so he can get some.

9.  The best BLT this side of anywhere they sell bacon.  I MEAN lo, it is just a BLT but mine stands for Baby, Leave me Ta heck alone while I eat it…

10.  I need a round number so, I’ll just say it.  My peanut butter balls, ya’ll.  They might not be pretty, but they are chocolatey balls of goodness.  I make ’em for the hubs birthdays and anniversaries and any other sort of celebration.  Because, you know.  You can never have too many balls.

Ok.  I am a good cook.

And now, see exhibit BLONDE here on the left? IMG_0004 See this sweet little cherub of goodness right der?  Well, he is a dirty little rat that turns up his twitchy little rat nose at everything I present to him.  (I KNOW…  rats aren’t really known for being picky, but you get what I mean.)

Oh, the Redhead eats everything not nailed down.  It’s wonderful.  However, he better get a trade fast because he is creating a budget deficit in our house  that is rather epic.  (See previous post on Economics.)

This is how the darling Blonde responds to:

1.  Homemade chicken and noodles:

Blonde one covers his mouth as if I have just placed a bowl of buzzard guts in front of him.  Even just a whiff of the chickeney goodness, I guess, sends him gagging.  He then proceeds to lay his forehead on the table in abject despair.  All is lost.  Chicken. And. Noodles.  MY GOD WOMAN!  HOW COULD YOU?   CHICKEN AND NOODLES?  I CAN’T GO ON.  REALLY.  DIS IS DA END.

2.  Stromboli:

“I don’t care for dis.  It tastes… dusty.”

I’ll show you dusty, my little blonde friend.  The hubs had to intervene on that one because blonde one was about to get an education on dust (da FLOOR.)

3.  Shepherd’s Pie

Blonde one:  “It tastes like… butter.”  His mouth is screwed on because evidently butter is the devil’s condiment.  Blonde one and Jesus are good friends, I promise you, but we have a ways to go.

4.  The balls.  No problem.  Gone.  When he’s done he looks like he has a chocolate goatee.  It’s whimsical.

What he will eat, with abandon:  hot dogs.  Of course.

So… if he had his way he would eat just hot dogs and my peanut butter balls forever, and life would be dandy.  And you can just go right ahead and insert your OWN joke here because I AM NOT GOING THERE.  I am far too mature for that kinda cheekiness, my friends.

<< chortle >>

*  My lawyers tell me I need to insert a disclaimer here, so read this really really fast:

It’s just a teensy weensy bit possible an itsy bitsy bit of creative license was taken here.  I’m not sure, but maybe.

Has anybody out there had a picky eater???  And what DOES “dusty” food taste like?

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Done, Part One.

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Setting: A college classroom. Various students are slouched in chairs, tired, and they are all wearing weirdly tapered Nike pants, which were so in style when I was a kid, but I still cannot fathom that young men are wearing these things today.

They kind of look like M.C. Hammer. But, you know.

I teach this class. The tapered pants are a distraction, but for the most part, we get through.

Last class we were discussing what a writer does for a living. And I was all:

“Hey, looket! I wrote a book. Like, for real. Here, let me show you!” And I showed them. But not, for real, because I have NO COPIES OF MY OWN BOOK for some reason. This is a weird glitch – but then, I figured. If you were Mark Hamill, would you have a bunch of copies of Star Wars at your house? That would be odd, right?

Actually, I so would. I would have a ton of Star Wars movies at my house.

And, too, I am not comparing Bottled to Star Wars. That’s just crazy.

Maybe Battlestar Galactica, though.

But I digress.

Then the whole class shouted, “NO WAY. Like, for REAL? Will you sign my notebook? Oh, wait, I forgot to bring paper. Or a pencil. So, here, sign my pants!”

That’s not how they responded. No. There were crickets. Crickets were chirping. I think one cricket felt sorry and said, “Nice job, dude,” but I am not sure because I don’t speak cricket.

Such is the glamorous life of a writer. You work on something for nine months and then you find yourself hoping that weirdly panted college kids will think you’re cool.

Ok, now, truth be told, I don’t really need the approval of these wee lads. But, at times, the writing life can be like this. You find yourself with all these pages of your life and you kind of carry it around, toting it from one reading to the next, and saying, “Please. Read me,”  hoping for a signing that has more then three people at it, one of which showed up because he was looking for the bathroom.

We writers. We are ego, coated in insecurity, propped up by a thesaurus.

So, a few weeks ago, I left my husband and babies (see below):

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These are not my actual present-day babies. I mean, they ARE my babies, but this is a much older picture. It was on my desktop. How could it not be? I mean, look at them. The adorable is strong with these two. Blond is all… Blondo Suave. And Red? Full on nutball.

Nothing much has changed really.

But, anyhow, I left ’em. And I drove here:

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To work on this:

 

IMG_7005.jpgAnd I was greeted by this guy:

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Look deeply into my eyes. I am here for you, dude. Write. WRITE LIKE THE WIND.

Yes. It’s a church. As I am a deeply spiritual person, and am always kinda Floaty with Jesus, it only made sense that my writing retreat would be at a church.

Ok, but seriously, my friend Sonya loaned me her house while they traveled. She has the added benefit of being a pastor’s wife.

But, I am deeply spiritual. Just not Floaty. One cannot be floaty with two small children.  That’s just asking for trouble.

So, I was working on the second book. The publisher that worked with me on Bottled actually decided to let me stick around, and so, Perfect* was born.

Actually. Not yet. It’s done… but it’s not DONE done. Because there is editing and fixing and moving and cutting and OH GREAT FLOATY FATHER there is still so much more work to do.

And I love it all.

Oh, and also, at the writing retreat? There was this:

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Cat, accessorized by a clip.

And:

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I’m in charge.

And:

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And IIIIIIIIIIIII EEEIIIIIIIII WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOUUUUUUUUEEEOOOUUUU.

IT WAS ALL CATS, ALL THE TIME.

Cats + writing + fifty thousand Blow Pops + too much coffee = and almost done book. It’s possible I’m dedicating it to those cats.

 

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*This is a working title. Other possibilities:

The Perfect Book

Second Books Are Hard

This is a Book and I Wroted It

Prefection

 

 

 

 

And so on.

Total Eclipse of the Heart

This is the story of a woman who had no interest in science.

She has a sciencey husband. He was all:

“Hey! The eclipse! Once in a lifetime! Let’s drive to Nebraska!”

She was all:

“I don’t want to. Because: packing, leaving, planning, lists, snacks, endless endless snacks. Just the snacks. Oh Lord, all the SNACKS.”

We drove to Nebraska. Husband accidentally booked us a hotel room in a smoking room. YES THEY STILL SMOKE IN HOTEL ROOMS IN NEBRASKA. You should be ashamed of yourself, Nebraska. I opened all the windows (possibly broke one, I don’t care Nebraska) and there was A LOT OF COMPLAINING.

Then: Ate chicken cacciatore that was… really good. Less complaining. Too busy eating bread slathered in garlic oil and herbs.

Then: Drove to a place called The Crane Nature Center. Who knew? Cranes! In Nebraska! The complaining has now cycled down to about one or two per hour. Sunshine. Hiking paths. Pretty nature stuff. IMG_6942.jpgIMG_6943.jpg

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If you look closely: SNACKS. Of course.

Then: made friends with the all the people. All of them. Everyone was all, “This is so cool! It’s nature! And barbecue! And we’re all in this together! Look at us being all together in this sciencey, once-in-a-lifetime moment!”

Complaining: 1/2 per hour

Then: WHAMMO

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And yes, my pictures don’t do it justice. BECAUSE IT WAS AMAZING. TOTALLY.

I was wrecked. We all applauded and I cried and people hugged and the whole thing just made me realize two things:

  1. Once in a lifetime things are so cool. I wish they happened more often. But, that would change the verbage.
  2. Nebraska is awesome.

Husband and I held hands and I wiped tears. Then, Blonde came up to me and said, “Thank you. Thank you so much for bringing us.” Then Red said, “THIS IS AMAZABALLS.”

And then, a bit later, Blonde came over to me and flopped down in a chair. I said, “You ok?”

He responded, “I’m recovering.”

And Red asked, “Where are the snacks?”

Of course.

Complaining: ZERO

And THEN: We all packed up and walked past the river and the pretty butterfly field and all the people were smiling and saying hi and it was like a Happy Village of Everyone Getting Along Despite 2017, and I was kinda blissing out.

And then we ate at Tommy’s Diner in Grand Island, NE and I had the BEST BUTTERSCOTCH MALT EVER IN THE HISTORY OF EVER.

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ACTION FOOTAGE OF OUR HIPSTER WAITER WITH MAN BUN. I love him. He brought me my malt.

It was, quite simply, a once in a lifetime experience.

Complaining: NEGATORY. NEVER AGAIN. I AM SHOOK.

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Also, there is the hot fudge sundae experience.

I call this photo essay “THIS IS THE SNACK OF DREAMS”

 

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You might say I had a change of heart. A “total eclipse” if you will.

And then: on the drive home, we listened to The Last Battle and I kissed hubs on the cheeck. “Thank you,” I said. “And I’m sorry I complained so much.”

And hubs said, “You complained? Nah. I don’t remember that.”

The world is a wonderful place.

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The end.

A Blind Guy, a Robot, and Darth Vader Walk Into a Movie…

Guys, Netflix has SO much awesome stuff right now. I have already talked to you about my love for Moana (well, the boys love it too, but mine is a deeper kind of love. I’m in a serious relationship with the song “You’re Welcome.” It especially makes me happy when the occasion merits an actual “You’re welcome” and I get to break into song. My children so love this. It’s like when they fight and I start with the “Let it Go” business. Big showstopper, that one.)

And then, there’s Sing, and I’m humming, “I’m Still Standing” on the daily as well. It’s a good Mom song. By about five pm, we moms all feel a bit triumphant that we’re still vertical.

There’s so much singing going on over here. I’m a regular Julie Andrews, I tell you. But, shouting “I’m SHINY!!” tends not bring my children in concert with me, with matching outfits and Austrian accents. In fact, most times when I start crooning they sort of sidle away with a pained expression, muttering, “Always with the singing.”  But, you know, one day they might join me and we will enter a contest and climb some mountains to flee the Nazis. Don’t even get me started on this possibility.

Anyhow. This month, I am going to give you a non-singing option to dial up for  movie night because OH MY GOODNESS IT IS REALLY GOOD.

I am a total Star Wars snob, ok? The first rule of Star Wars is that we don’t talk about the Star Wars prequels. When Jar Jar speaks we turn away.

And, we actually straight up sobbed in the theater when Han died. (By “we” I do mean me – but third person sounds cooler.) My husband actually had to put his arm around me. And then, I couldn’t speak of it for two days afterwards.

Trust me, the Star Wars is strong with this one.

So, when Rogue One came out, as a “Star Wars story,” I was skeptical. Would it just be another weak CGI’d mess with whiny characters and costumes that are more interesting than the actors? (Yes, Princess Ami-blah blah. Your hair was better than your acting).

Rogue One is so good. It’s sooooo good. It has STUFF in it that just… is SO GOOD.

Is that not a really good review? “It is so good!” They should have used this in their press release:

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The hubs and I had a movie night. There was popcorn. A blind guy took down nearly twenty storm troopers because he can.

A robot stole all the best lines.

And then, there is Vader.

Chills. People. He’s in there. I might have squealed a little.

The movie has lots of neato Easter egg for the nerds who are always on the prowl about this sort of thing. Not me, of course.

But… doesn’t this look familiar?? I mean, HOW COOL IS THAT! (tiny nerd squeak)

 

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I’m gonna tell it to you true – the good guys get hit hard in this movie. Rogue One has really intense battle scenes and some hard moments when the good guys sacrifice their lives. It’s a hard message. Love, bravery, sacrifice, family, courage. Truth. War. Faith. It’s all in there.

But, the good guys keep trying. They keep fighting the darkness, even when the odds are very high that they won’t make it. Very high.

As a mother of two boys in 2017? I need this message. I really, really do.

Save the rebellion.

Save the dream.

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As a StreamTeam blogger, I get to watch Netflix and chat about it. It’s a great gig.

Throw Back Thursday Post, Because I’m Tired and My Old Writing is Still Funny. So, here.

Written last summer, August 2016.

Oh, those were some good times. 🙂

There is no “Oh no we’re not” in ‘Team’

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Linking up with my happy place: Five Minute Friday.

Today’s theme:

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Well… of course it is.

Ok, here’s the story:

I still haven’t posted my kids’ back to school pictures yet. This is kind of against nature and I am very sorry. Every mom knows that is it the LAW that those pictures get posted on the facebooks, pronto, and here I am, still just trying to make sure they’re fed and in clean underwear before they head out the door.

So, last night was Walking Night. It’s this Thing that the labrador-retriever husband came up with to help us Stay in Shape and Be a Family, all at the same time. We are a Team, after all. We go out and walk together. Or, rather, the boys shoot off on their bikes, like little nutball savages, while the husband and I, who mainly operate like ships in the night, walk and talk.

It’s better to be ships in the day, I guess.

Sometimes we even hold hands. Like ships in love.

Anyhow. LAST night I also wanted to Take it Up a Notch, by adding devotionals to the whole thing. I like to Take it Up a Notch whenever possible because my life is not chaotic or jam-packed enough and this whole Notch business seems to fulfill some basic need in me to be basically Perfect.

Ok, I’m just gonna stop with the capitals thing now. It’s Annoying, isn’t it?

So. I had my devotional all ready. And it went like this:

Both boys were instructed to take a tube of toothpaste and squeeze it out, which they did with some glee. The Blonde informed me right away, however, that this was a terrible waste of money. I just love him. He is so like his momma.

Then, I said, in my church lady voice:

“So, boys, now I want you to put the toothpaste back IN the tube.”

I then made the very overused, this whole toothpaste gag has been so done before thing, analogy that once your words are out there you can’t put them back. It’s not actually a BAD analogy by any means. I had figured that since we were starting up school again and that they might, well, hear stuff and say stuff because school is basically the Child Thunderdome where they learn interesting concepts like “fart train” and such, that this whole toothpaste thing would be memorable and important.

Oh, and it was. It was really, really memorable, y’all.

It started when Red, who was playing with his toothpaste like it was fingerpaint, decided to paint his brother’s face with the gooey stuff. I laughed. Brother laughed. It was all good clean minty fun, right? Learning moment. It was a learning moment! And then Blonde followed suit with some of his gooey stuff, and that’s when the screaming started.

You see, gentle reader, toothpaste is MINTY.

Minty + eyeballs = screaming.

Let me provide you with a short re-enactment:

Red: OH NOOO MY EYES MY EYESSSSS THE PAIN THE PAINNNN!!

Blonde: NOOOO MAKE IT STOP MAKE IT STOP MY EYEBALLS ARE ON FIRRREEEEEEEE!

Red: I AM DYING! AS WE SPEAK RIGHT HERE  JUST GONNA DIE. FROM DEVOTIONALS!

Blonde: MOTHER I WILL NEVER DO DEVOTIONALS AGAIN! BAD! BAD!

Both: AS GOD IS MY WITNESS, I WILL NEVER DO DEVOTIONALS AGAIN!

 

And that was my first try at family devotionals.

Toothpaste: 1

Devotionals: 0

 

We will try again. We will fight the good fight. We’re like the military. We never leave anyone behind.

Also, we flipping MINTY FRESH.

We are minty team, and as I have explained, numerous times to both boys: We are all stuck with each other, I’m sorry, but you can’t just go live with another family.

But next time devotionals will involve four pounds of M and M’s, soft music, and maybe the Care Bears.

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When Life Hands You Lemons, Make Sure to Buy a Yacht and Have Some Babies.

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Nobody looks this happy when they just had twins and an appendectomy in two rolls.

 

“Mom? Do you want to get married, like RIGHT away, or later?”

“Mom? How many babies should I have?”

“Mom? Would you get a baby OR a promotion? Which?”

I don’t know kid. I’ve asked these questions so many times…

Also: “Mom, would you get a sports car, or twins?”

I’ve asked that one too. Along with:

“When the babies come, do we need to make more money?”

“I have a baby girl! Should I have more?”

And this zinger:

“I just got a mansion and a wife, so do I buy a yacht or a sports car too?”

 

My kids are obsessed with Life. The game, not the actual breathing thing. They play it for HOURS on our living room floor, and I do my walking-over-them Mom thing with my usual laundry baskets and cleaning supplies. I have even vacuumed around their game and usually the vacuum makes them all nervous and they bark at it, but no one twitched.

Ok, wait. No barking, but you know what I mean. They hate our vacuum. It’s like the one in Mr. Mom only it hasn’t eaten anybody’s Wubbee. Yet.

I guess my point here is that this game is going to save us all before school starts. Even though it generates some really weirdo questions from a seven-year-old.

“Mom, do I get a wife NOW or try sky-diving? Which one is better?”

It’s moments like these that the Snark just quivers and practically begs to be released – free to run at full tilt at my children and take them out at the knees. But no, I quelled the beast, and answered,

“Marriage is better. But only if you really love her. And I would wait until you are good and ready. So, you know, like, your late thirties. Early forties. And, make sure you find her at church and go to like fifty or sixty bible studies together first. Also, YOU CAN ONLY HOLD HANDS THAT’S IT UNTIL YOU’RE MARRIED OK?”

The ask-ee was just staring at me, blinking a lot, when I took a breath. I was fully prepared to go onto my discussion of the pros and cons of an arranged marriage with our friends’ kids, easy-peasy, when he asked,

“Um, didn’t daddy go sky-diving? Back in college? Like, 18 times?”

I took a breath. The arranged marriage discussion would have to wait.

“Yes, kid. Go ahead. Knock yourself out.”

Later, I was explaining all of this to the husband, because all we talk about are The Children.

“I don’t really think the game of Life is actually teaching our kids anything about life, you know, in reality.” I said. You see, I’m very into making sure our children are always playing Educational Games that help Prepare them for the Real World so they can become Positive Contributors to Society.

And then the husband snorted. He knew the previous paragraph was hooey. “Yea right. Like Uno is helping them become better at flip flopping. And so, politics.”

“Or Monopoly teaches them about weird real estate options. And jail.”

“Or Battleship trains them for the military. Or drowning.”

I eyed him. His snark was so weak in comparison to mine. But he was trying. It was kind of cute. Except for the last one. That’s depressing.

Bless his heart.

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The kids go back to school in a week and three days. Not that I’m counting.

I am really good at counting though. Played a lot of Yahtzee as a kid.

 

This post was brought to you by:

Not enough caffeine, a ridiculous lack of focus, and a strong love for my children but Lord have mercy if you don’t hear from me again you’ll know they’ve gone feral.

 

 

If at first you don’t succeed… blah blah blah.

Linking up with my people today at Five Minute Friday.

But, I don’t want to.

My fingers are tired. So is my head. Yesterday I had a meltdown so epic with my kids that even the dog left my side for a whole ten minutes. Which would have been kinda nice because honestly being followed constantly by Mr. clicky toenails guy is a bit annoying, but not in this case. In this case, I felt major dog-mom guilt. And basic mom guilt. Just, guilt. Loads and loads.

The theme for today, you ask?

 

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Good one FMF. I see what you’re doing there.

Ok, so pretty much every single free minute of my existence has been spent writing The Big Fat Second Book.

Here are some facts:

  1. That which won’t kill you will make you stronger. Maybe.
  2. It’s always darkest before the dawn. Or all day. Take your pick.
  3. If at first you don’t succeed, oh just put a sock in it.

Brace yourself. Whining is coming.

WRITING ABOUT HARD THINGS IS HARD. The past three chapters have been about hard things (good news! it’s still funny! don’t forget to pre-order!!! it will still be funny!). The hard things are there because Newsflash: LIFE IS HARD.

That’s kinda the premise of the whole book, actually. Dana finally figures out how HARD life is and she writes about it. I know, right? Should be a bestseller. I can just see the droves of people at the Barnes and Nobles:

“I can’t WAIT to read this book! It’s all about how life sucks the life out of you and is so very hard!”
“My gosh, that’s totally new information to me! I must read about it! It sounds wonderful!”

Perhaps I’m being a bit hard on myself here, but words are all stuck up in my craw and it’s making me… what’s that word for when you are upset and want to hit things?

Anyhow. The other day I broke our coffee grinder because I dropped it. It was a really nice coffee grinder and I hate hate HATE it when I break things. I also hate it when people say, “Oh well. I’ll just go buy another one,” because that just seems wasteful and the poor kids in India who made the coffee grinder probably could use a break. But, I really do LIKE ground coffee. It makes my heart sing a little. So – I was all smart and good for the environment and I bought a cheap little hand grind grinder thingie on the Amazons. Boom! I can work out my arms and save money AND electricity! I AM SAVING THE EARTH AND ALL THE THINGS!

Guys. To grind about one cup’s worth of beans takes forty five minutes.

Well, maybe not quite that many but it feels like it. I ground and ground and ground and… ground and ground… and ground… and checked and ground and ground…

I WANT MY ELECTRIC GRINDER BACK.

All of this is to say: keep trying. Don’t give up. Don’t give up on yourself as a momma, and also as a really bad hand-crank coffee bean grinder person. Because, you know, I am KEEPING that #@@%$ grinder and I’m gonna crank the ##$$ out of it. JUST KEEP GRINDING THE BEANS.

And, you, my sweet children, I will keep trying. I will come up to you and say “I’m sorry. Please forgive me?” and you will reach your little arms around my neck and we will all keep trying. We have to. We’re stuck with each other.

And YOU, book. Yea, I’m talking about you. I will keep trying. I will. I will write about the hard things and the funny things and dance around the parts that I think sound like the world’s worst writing since the history of writing, and I will not give up.

Or, as my son put it: “I forgotted yesterday anyhow, Momma.”

Press on.

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