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“I Give Up”× 3000

If you read the blog title and automatically thought of the Marvel reference, welcome, my people!

At what point does saying “I give up” lose it’s credibility. I know I am not the only mother who feels like she has said this phrase way too many times, in my head and out loud. What if we shared every single “I give up” on social media? I can just imagine the comments:

“There there…don’t let a bad 10 minutes label it a bad day.”

“Yes…you give up…we KNOW!!!!🙄”

“Did someone hack your account? Your status updates are all the same.”

“You give up, huh? Obviously not praying hard enough.”

These comments might not surface during our world’s current situation, because there is more solidarity with the “I give ups” among people trying to cope with all of the changes.

As I said in my blog last week, the Covid-19 pandemic is capable of heightening anxiety in parents everywhere. I have heard stories of parents stressing to re-create a full school day for their kids. Some parents are adjusting to working from home, some parents are stressing over daycare and babysitting, because they canNOT work from home. Some parents are waiters and waitresses who are not able to work. With the stress of hanging onto the last few rolls of toilet paper, and any of the above scenarios, I know there is potential for a wave of guilt to sweep our world.

I truly admire the way the school in our city came together and provided resources the best they knew how. Our schools even came together and provided meals for families. THAT is the America that makes me happy and proud. NOT the greed that drove people to empty grocery store shelves. I wonder, however, how administration letters were worded when contacting parents about said, resources. In this world where we communicate by text messages, the tone can be misconstrued many times. I wonder if the letters made parents think that they were responsible for sticking to ALL school resources and educating their kids 24/7, so that they won’t fall behind academically. I don’t think administrators intended on adding to our stress, but sometimes the wrong message can be sent, because we are human, and we sometimes interpret things differently. Whether they are printable worksheets or working online, I wonder if there are some parents out there thinking “They told me to make sure he was practicing his sight words. They said to make sure he practiced typing for 20 minutes. Oh no! He didn’t wake up until 10, and he played outside all day! I screwed up!” Breathe. No, you did not screw up.

Trying to shift gears to be employee, parent, and educator has the potential to be overwhelming. Yes, it is important to make sure your kids keep learning, but please know, that there can be small nuggets of learning in things that are not solely academic. The first day of my kids being home. I started with 2 hours of playtime. Don’t think that playtime isn’t important. It is! My kids were planning, thinking about solutions, and sharing their desires and dreams with me through their play. That is valuable!

Don’t be guilty if homeschooling is getting weird and complicated and you decided to take a break and binge watch all day. Don’t be guilty if you have a friend who is posting positive outcomes from their homeschooling experiences. “OH! You’re crushing the homeschooling, huh Mary, well my kids can quote a whole episode of Phineas and Ferb, over and OVER again. So there.” Try not to slack on your self-care either. If you need to spend some time alone in your room reading or napping, there is nothing wrong with that. Don’t even feel guilty if you have a week long staycation, especially if one of these quarantined weeks was going to be spring break anyways.

As for me, I am currently taking this one day at a time. I plan to use some of the materials the school sent over, but I am not going to stress about my kids falling behind, because I know that there are learning opportunities in many things. A good friend of mine said that she doesn’t want her kids to get into bad habits, like, sleeping late, watching tv, and going through the next week without any reading or writing. She says that teachers do not deserve us sending kids back to school and having to start all over. I agree. Don’t feel like you need to school them all day long, but don’t give up on the importance of reading and writing either. It can be as simple as writing a letter to a family member or writing down a monologue they have memorized from their favorite movie. Snail mail is becoming a lost art, so teaching how to address an envelope is a great learning opportunity as well. It is the first day of spring, so preparing a garden or talking about the changes of the season can be beneficial from pre-schoolers to high schoolers. Having your kids help with the chores is educational, and not child labor, no matter how many times your teens may roll their eyes. Put on some music and have a dance party while you wash dishes and sweep the floors.

There are many great resources out there. I have shared a few below. I also listed some books I have read over the past few months that have helped encourage me. I love that there is a movement of women writing books to encourage moms. Do not let the guilt push you down. If you feel like you are surrounded by grief and panic, don’t be afraid to reach out to your friends. No doubt, they may have similar struggles, and there is worth in working together to benefit you and your kids.

This past week, my city has had a record rainfall for this time of year. Yesterday, I stared at my backyard, gazing at the drenched grass and my tulips that are about to burst open. It was a gray day, with very little color. There was a veil of fog draped over the mountains. “That is beauty.” I said to myself. I automatically thought it was so strange that I said that. After all, gray is a gloomy color, and I had an English professor who labeled days like these as “vampire weather,” a symbol of darkness, isolation, and despair. Rain for our part of the country is always a blessing. The more rain we have, the less dust storms we will have. I saw the gray day that the rain brought, but I saw beauty before the color appeared. About 30 minutes later, a rainbow brightened the sky. Not a faint half rainbow, but a full, vibrant rainbow. There was more purple illuminated than I have ever seen in a rainbow before. My husband and I walked outside, gazed at it and embraced. “You have to think that is for us,” he said. And I truly believe it is. The Bible says that God will “heal our land”. Use this time of isolation and uncertainty to connect with God and to put your trust in Him. You may give up more than 3,000 times, but He will never give up on you.

He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass: as showers that water the earth.
Psalms 72:6 KJV

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
2 Chronicles 7:14 KJV

I set My rainbow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth. It shall come about, when I bring clouds over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the clouds, When the rainbow is in the clouds and I look at it, I will [solemnly] remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.”
Genesis 9:13‭-‬14‭, ‬16 AMP

And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.
Revelation 4:3 KJV

Recommended Self-Help Books:

1) The Proverbs 32 Woman, by Kerri Pomarolli

2) Fierce Faith, by Alli Worthington

3) Girl, Wash Your Face, by Rachel Hollis

Educational Resources:

First of all, there is no harm in experimenting with challenging your kids. Read aloud from a chapter book just above their reading level, or see if they are ready for times tables. See if it interests them. If it doesn’t. No worries, but it may make them feel proud to sound out big words or learn something that won’t be covered until next year. Give them a block of time to read on their own, because they do this frequently in the schools.

ABCmouse.com

Funbrain.com

Also, many museums and zoos have live streams and educational resources at their websites.

I have this on VHS. I loved it when I was a kid. https://youtu.be/CyTWTrUU8IQ

Does Your Anxiety Have Anxiety?

I am so thankful that two weeks ago, while, I normally just buy a 8-count roll of toilet paper, a little voice said, just get the big one this time. Jealous? Okay. We obviously have a sickness that is endangering many people. We are called to be cautious. I can understand people sharing articles that pass on vital information. I can understand that people need to be informed of who is at risk. What I do not understand is why people are sharing the articles that promote fear and anxiety over the Corona virus. It is not helpful to anyone to elevate news mediums that continue making their money off of exploiting our emotions and inducing panic. And everything nowadays has to be political. This stupid virus still hasn’t kept political sides from spreading nastiness and hatred. Ugh! Anyone who knows me, knows I can’t stand politics, so that is all I will say about that.

Someone posted that we should not go out with our kids, otherwise there is no point in closing schools. Hmm…alright. So we need to shut our doors, stay inside, and live in fear until the virus dies down? What exactly is this teaching our kids? We may as well board up our windows, right? We should take vitamin D supplements, for lack of sunshine, (that is until the grocery store runs out of those too). But, wait, doesn’t the Bible say “A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.” (Proverbs 27:12) Yes, it does, but it also says, “The Lord has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7). So, yes, take precaution, but you don’t need to withdraw your life savings and spend it on toilet paper over a respiratory infection that might infect you.

Based on the level of hysteria that is going on, it is adding a lot more anxiety to many people. I know I am not the only one that feels this craziness is giving my anxiety, anxiety. What are YOU sharing on social media? Messages of hope, or messages of negativity and outrage? Granted, I have laughed uproariously at some of the memes highlighting the ridiculousness of the situation. Some may say it is bad taste, because of the people suffering. Whether it is single digits or hundreds of infections, yes, those lives matter. But at least laughter is better than dwelling on fear of the future. I am not denying the seriousness of the virus. I don’t even expect everyone to agree with me, but my faith instructs me NOT to live in fear, and my belief is that if we don’t give into fear, the panic will dwindle and peace will overcome.

I know my fellow mamas out there have anxiety, and now that a threat of sickness is looming, it is not making our job any easier. Now, in addition to the anxiety of raising our kids and keeping house, and keeping up with jobs, we need to make sure our kids are washing their hands correctly. Maybe if you are extra anxious, you have created a hand-washing schedule. Absolutely nothing wrong with that. I wish I could be that committed. Our heads pop off the pillow in the middle of the night if we hear a sniffle or cough, because, what if? We are hanging onto our Clorox wipes like they are precious gold bars. When our kids ask questions about what is going on, we need to put them at ease. Maybe some of their friends are spreading more panic into their little minds, or maybe they are scared by the crowds fighting over soap and toilet paper. Some of us might not feel prepared for this. It’s way too much, and now the pressure to self-quarantine you and your kids without symptoms is a pressure that is circulating on social media. I am not planning on keeping my kids cooped up. I will not let this fear overcome them. If they get sick, of course I will keep them home, but I am not going to teach them not to live life. If your kids are home from school for the next few weeks, and you do choose to stay home, please try not to let the screens take over as the only entertainment. Turn off the news and don’t allow the worry to spread any further. Read a fun fiction book that requires little brain focus. Walk around the block. Teach them how to bake something. Play games. Talk. Use this time to be a family and to grow closer.

I was in a play when I was in 6th grade, that was promoting awareness of many serious issues. My character had a monologue about a brother who was in a gang and how I was afraid to go to my own mailbox. This is the world we live in. Threats are always there. Anxiety is always there, but we need to stop using our technology to heighten it. My pastor shared statistics about what average people worry about. 70% is worry about things that might happen, but never will. 22% is worrying about the past. So, 92% of what we worry about are things we have no control over. Yes, by avoiding large crowds, we have the power to defeat the virus, but we also have the power to choose not to be afraid.

I am praying for our world. I am praying for those affected by the virus, whether they are infected, recovering, or are family members of those affected. Skeptics will say that it won’t do any good. Some may criticize me for not protecting my kids the way that the world is saying I should. God is still in the healing business. God is still in the miracle business and God is NEVER responsible for spreading fear.

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet, a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.”
John 14:19 (ESV)

In My Van

A floor covered in cookie crumbs, School papers stuck in bubble gum,

Legos covered in Cheeto dust, exploded pens and pizza crust

Glittery slime trapping coins in the cupholder

Apple juice stain on an important work folder

Electric bills and paper clips

Sweaty hats and moldy Fun Dips

Ten fast food bags still wet with grease

A toy left behind by my niece

Collections of rocks, and a bottle of glue.

Soda cans and play-doh too.

Winter sweatshirts AND summer goggles, the mess making my mind boggle.

Candy wrappers and scrunchii hair ties.

Surprised my van doesn’t have flies

Alright childern, time to clean out the car

They roll their eyes and say it’s too far.

We have our backpacks, they are heavy enough!

Our day at school, it was way too tough.

The groceries in my arms are pulled up high.

All the kids can do is sigh.

I’d rather do it once on my own.

Then take a second trip into the van zone.

The January Effect

What? You mean it’s only the 19th of January? We still have two weeks left of a month that is famously long, drawn-out and dull? Two more weeks of dry, cracked, bleeding skin that has put holes in all the heels of your socks. Two more weeks of bundling up the kids in scarves and poofy winter coats for the below freezing morning, only to have them sweating in 60 degree weather when it is time to pick them up from school. Two more weeks of coughing, sniffling, and praying to God that we won’t get the flu. After a holiday season full of excitement and joy, we go back to our daily lives. Kids all over the country are back at school instead of looking for the elf on the shelf. Parents are sifting through the Christmas bills, dreading tax season. The radio is blasting Monday, Monday instead of Jingle Bell Rock. I have seen the January blues everywhere. I experienced it when I took down my Christmas tree. The end of a fun and happy season made my heart heavy every time I carefully wrapped an ornament and placed it back in it’s box. All of the excitement and happiness drained from my body and spirit with every sweep of pine needles into the dust pan. The cold, gray January skies matched my inner thoughts. Anyone else experience this?

Thinking about the effect this month has, I wondered about the Last Supper. This was a celebration followed by a very sad day. Did the smell of the Passover feast still hang in the air as Jesus’ followers mourned him. The Bible says the sky grew dark as Jesus was crucified. Did it stay that way? Did it reflect how others were feeling? Was there a horrible shadow replacing their custom that celebrated deliverance and hope? The disciples were in denial about Jesus’ betrayal and shocked over his washing their feet, so I wonder if they inwardly criticized him and felt he was “putting a downer on the party.”Is this why the disciples still couldn’t grasp what Jesus was about to do for all humanity?

Jesus said: You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe.
John 14:28‭-‬29 ESV.

Jesus warned the disciples ahead of time and told them they should be rejoicing even in the wake of his death. But they were in the world, much like we are. They let their fears drive them into hiding. When sorrow is abundant, we yearn for a breath of fresh air and look for happiness in all of the wrong places. Of course the weeping and dark days did not last very long. Three days later, Jesus rose from the grave, and there was a new reason to rejoice and celebrate.

There are two houses on either side of my street, still clinging to Christmas cheer by refusing to turn off their lights. It makes me smile. I believe in hanging onto the magic. I believe in keeping the Spirit of Christmas all year round, but this world does not make it easy. It can be difficult to get back into the routine. It is easy to put all of our energy into a big celebration and crash immediately afterward. Especially when we fail to see the good in every-day life. I don’t know everyone’s story. Perhaps you didn’t even put much energy into the past few months because you had a difficult year. Perhaps the gloom of January only emphasizes your hurting heart. God never promised that life wouldn’t be hard, but he did promise that those who call on Him are never alone.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
John 14:27 ESV

You heard my plea, ‘Do not close your ear to my cry for help!’ You came near when I called on you; you said, ‘Do not fear!’
Lamentations 3:55-57 ESV

Jesus speaks to us even now, to tell us that we should rejoice. His word is filled with messages to not give into the doom and gloom. January may be long, but if God is forever and God is love and joy, then gladness and peace can be for us all.

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Psalms 73:26 ESV

Rejoice in the Lord always [delight, take pleasure in Him]; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit [your graciousness, unselfishness, mercy, tolerance, and patience] be known to all people. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything [every circumstance and situation] by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your [specific] requests known to God. And the peace of God [that peace which reassures the heart, that peace] which transcends all understanding, [that peace which] stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus [is yours].
Philippians 4:4‭-‬7 AMP

The Disney Remake and A Little Girl’s Dreams

Forgive me for stepping out of what is my usual writing style. I have hit a brick wall with my writing for so long, that I just had to publish something. Every writer knows, if you hold things in and don’t write down what is on your mind, the brick wall will transform into concrete and you will stay stuck in the prison of writer’s block. Opinion pieces are not really my cup of tea. I usually view opinion pieces as an excuse for someone to just hear themselves talk. And, yes, for this blog about Disney re-makes, I admit I may come off as silly and/or mindless. My goal is not to enforce my opinion on anyone or start some kind of Disney Golden Age vs. Disney Millennial Rumble. So here we go, time for some babble from a stay-at-home mom, desperate to keep on writing.

Let me start by saying, I am smart enough to know that Disney is a corporation quickly running out of ideas and capitalizing on as much money-making strategies as they can. I can recognize that, but I am a Disney fanatic. Ask anyone that knows me. I will sing all the songs at the top of my lungs, in character, and with sincere emotion. Any Disney trivia game, oh, you want me on your team! If I could be at Disney World every year, I would do it. When I first heard that Disney was re-making all of their movies, I was excited. I didn’t view it as a money grab or a manipulation of our childhood nostalgia. I thought it was super cool. After all, when they cast Glenn Close as Cruella De Vil years ago, I enjoyed the remake concept. The 102 Dalmations sequel though, eh, not so much. Then came The Jungle Book. The computer animation was so realistic and it shot me in the heart way more than the animated version ever did. My snake phobia stepped into high gear with what they did with the villain, Kaa. I was terrified, but impressed. After seeing it, I thought, “Okay, the remake makes sense. It shows how far we have come with technology, and I certainly enjoyed it more than the live-action version from the year 1994, that made no sense to 13-year-old me. Even though Cary Elwes was in it. The Princess Bride is my all-time favorite movie and Cary Elwes was my first crush. I just recently learned that he has a part in Stranger Things. I really had no interest until now.

Anyways, after The Jungle Book, the announcement of Beauty and the Beast hit the internet. “This is going to be SO good,” I thought. Ever since that first cast photo made it’s debut on Twitter, I was elated. I never thought the animated prince from Beauty and the Beast was particularly handsome. I remember being a child in the theater and the hanging anticipation when the fireworks clear and the beast is finally transformed. I have a vivid memory of cringing and an exclamation from the woman behind me, “Ewugh!” I definitely approved of the casting before the movie ever came out. Matthew from Downton Abbey, a superb, swoon-worthy choice. (Side note to my husband: “I still love you, babe.”) I counted down the months. I counted down the days. Then…my soul was crushed. The movie did not meet my expectations. The movie was filled with obvious auto-tuning, Be Our Guest was anything but spectacular, and I didn’t beleve the love story at all. For example, my biggest problem was the library scene. In the original, it was a huge romantic gesture, and a change in the character arc for the beast that proved his true feelings for Belle. All the scene became was, “Oh…you like to read, I guess you can have my books.” Ugh, the 9-year old Emily “fell into despair and lost all hope”. She was angry. What was with the magic time-traveling book scene? It served no purpose and didn’t really move the story forward. They would have been better off taking the stage musical and turning into a movie. At least it would have fit in with the popular Broadway to movie trend that Hollywood is currently attempting. I will admit that Evermore is a hauntingly beautiful song. My feelings for the film did not keep it off my Disney playlist. It is lackluster though because of the boring, devoid-of-chemistry storytelling. If they had used the song If I Loved Her, and included some of the Belle and Beast interactions from the musical, their feelings for each other may have been more believable. I don’t even want to show it to my kids, because I feel it is a crime to taint the classic, iconic, animated, Best Picture Academy Award Nominee any further.

Then came, Aladdin. The animated Aladdin has always been my favorite Disney movie. Jasmine is my favorite princess. I have a mini-shrine of her in one of my bookcase shelves. *see picture below* Robin William’s will always always ALWAYS be the genie to me. I went into the theater ready to hate it. To my surprise, I ended up having the most fun I’ve had at the movies in a long time. The casting of Aladdin and Jasmine were perfect, the songs were great, I laughed so hard, so many times, and Will Smith really impressed me.

Since I am such a fan, I still couldn’t escape from being a little nit-picky. Jafar came off as more weaselly than the smoothly charming villain we know and love. They made Jasmine a stronger character, which I was all about, but she was scared to pole vault over the building, and that is one of the coolest scenes in the animated version. Today, on my third viewing of the remake, I was in tears more than the previous times. The first notes of Whole New World…tears. Jasmine’s emotional solo Speechless…tears. The genie hugging Aladdin after being set free…tears. I thought it was just a confirmation of how well the movie was done, then suddenly a memory hit me. I was watching the 1992 Academy Awards and Brad Kane and Lea Salonga were really flying in full costume, high above the stage on a magic carpet, singing, A Whole New World. It was so magical to 11-year-old me to see a beautiful, animated story come to life. I realized why I loved the remake so much. It was something that the little girl inside me always wanted. I found the Academy Awards broadcast on YouTube and watched it…tears. It was a strangely comforting and soothing realization.

So, with this blog not necessarily being an inspiring or motherly encouragement piece, I suppose all I can say is that Disney has always been in the “dreams come true” business, and who knew they would still succeed by re-hashing old ideas. Call them an evil corporation if you want, but the formula of whimsical characters and stories that spark joy and tug at the heart strings, will turn me into a sucker every time. They are good at what they do. They will keep cranking out the remakes, and I will most likely keep watching them. I am not really one to hold a grudge, and even though I can be critical, I still have faith that Disney will eventually have a staff of original storytellers to create some amazing stories.

Bonus Disney Fun:

Some friends and I created some nuggets of wisdom and silliness by fusing Disney songs together, just because it is amusing.

With a smile and a song, let it go

I can go the distance, that’s what friends are for.

Poor unfortunate souls never had a friend like me.

Noooooooooooo ooooooone fights like Gaston, he’s a tramp.

So this is the miracle, that I’ve been dreaming of, love goes on and on.

Let it go, let it go, it’s home from work we go.

I have often dreamed, mister I’ll make a man out of you.