When Moms Get Sick on Women's Day

Loveys, I have been knocked down by a cold recently. It's basically the flu, but thankfully I had the flu shot so that seemed to curb the worst of it. (I escaped the fever and aches but my head has been a fuzzy cloud and the congestion is killer.) I'm on day four of five of Tamiflu and there is light at the end of this sad tunnel. I feel like this came out of nowhere! I had a teeny sniffly nose (like allergies, which I have constantly) and then I'm sitting on my sofa talking to Nancy, and she's watching while death comes up and hits me, and suddenly I am racked with sneezing and coughing and tears are pouring out of my eyes. And Nancy's washing my dishes afterward, and I'm like, Oh, that's okay, and she's giving me a Look and saying, Um, you're very sick. And she's right. (Thank you, dear friend. And thank you, June, for bringing dinner. For real, my family would have eaten Fruity Pebbles. And thank you sweet friends and family for praying for me while I have been like this.)

Jeff has moved down to the basement while I convalesce (meaning I need sole power of the TV remote in my room). It's been a rough few days at our house. Lily came down with an ear infection and needed antibiotics. But it's finally Friday, everybody can take it easy this weekend. I'm hoping to be much better by Sunday so I can air out the house and wash all the sheets and disinfect everything. I'm so thankful for medicine. And husbands and friends and Campbell's chicken soup. As I was sneezing and wheezing the other night, I prayed for the single moms out there who don't have help when they're sick and still have to juggle. You are awesome women! And I prayed for the kids who are sick and need medicine and love and care. I remember growing up--childhood and beyond--my mom was a great nurse whenever we were sick. It's not like that for every child or teenager. We need each other, lovey. I always seem to remember this whenever I'm stopped in my tracks by something like the flu. On International Women's Day, I was seeing my doctor (a woman, who also treated Lily), greeted by the admin (another woman), helped by the nurse (a man), brought dinner by June (a busy working mama) and cared for by my husband. I was so thankful for every person that day who showed up to help. I needed every one.

We need each other, lovey. Truly. It takes all of us.

Women's Day has passed, and this woman was barely functioning that day, but it was still on my mind. I think I've been lucky with all the strong, female role models I've had in my life. My mother was a working mom and she's the most capable woman I know. My grandmothers (one here and one in heaven) have both been incredible examples of strength and wisdom and endurance and self-reliance. My aunts are all strong, capable women. Many of my college professors who I respected the most and who had so much influence on my life have been women. The first managing editor to hire me was a woman. My book editors have all been women and I've worked with so many female authors and typesetters and copyeditors and designers. All of my babies were delivered by OBGYNs who are women. Even while growing up in a very conservative, small church environment--the women ruled the school (pun intended). Our principal was a woman, many of the teachers were women/moms. Women were running events and organizing the school programs and working together to do so much.

When I was a book editor at a nonprofit organization, the truth is that there weren't that many female VPs. There were a lot of male voices (I'm not saying this was on purpose or terrible, it just was). But I clearly remember sitting in these meetings--long tables, men everywhere. And there at the table, Kelly Rosati. It didn't matter if she was the lone woman (well, I was there, too, sometimes), Kelly's presence made all the difference. Her perspective was vital. And she was (and is) fearless. I was always in awe of her. I have these clear memories of meetings with lots of people, and I mainly remember Kelly. That's why I know and understand that it's important for girls to see women doing things, so they know they can.

This has been happening for me forever. I have artwork hanging in my home that was created by my great grandmother. She was a gifted artist and taught drawing and painting to so many students. I think of watching my grandmother walk through the restaurant that she owned, shaking back her beautiful hair and stopping to talk to customers who call her Mrs. Vela. Seeing my mom stand in front of a classroom of third graders. Shopping and cooking and staying up late with my Mimi, a woman who loved her independence. Learning under female teachers from kindergarten all the way up (the majority were definitely women). The first authors I ever met (as a teenager!) were Terri Blackstock and Angela Hunt. Successful, creative women who write! Gosh, that made an impression on me.

Women can do amazing things. Whether you're a stay-at-home mom taking care of a baby with an ear infection, or the vice president of a major company. Our lives go through so many seasons. And maybe there are moments when we can't do so much, I love how women stand in the gap for each other and help each other when we need it.

And we need the guys too. Jeff is everything to me. My dad was the first person to believe in me and support my love of writing. God uses men in so many great ways too.

But this week was about the girls. I'm so thankful for the women who have influenced me. I'm thankful for the smart, kind, lovely friends in my life right now.

We're gifted in different ways, we bring different things to the table. Womanhood is a beautiful thing. We need each other.



The Drama of Life (A Venting Post about News Stuff)

Lovey, how are you? It's Friday and we love Fridays over here. I've always loved Fridays. Who doesn't? So there's chicken teriyaki in the slow cooker right now; I need to make some rice in a little while. We've got cotton candy and popcorn for movies tonight. I really want to see that movie Allied, has anyone seen it? Thoughts? It looks good but we'll see. I went through a phase when I was in high school where I was fascinated by all things WWII. (I think this was sparked by seeing Christian Bale in Swing Kids.)  But there were great WWII inspired movies during that time period. Schindler's List! (And I was an ugly crier before that was a thing. Believe me.) I loved the movie Shining Through. So, Allied reminds me of that sort of movie. Here's hoping Lily decides to sleep tonight, if not, the only thing I'll be watching is Peppa Pig. Lily's been sick this week and when she's sick, she does NOT want to sleep in her bed alone. Misery loves company. So chicken little has been crashing our room every night. We've tried to let her stay up a little later and watch a few cartoons before sleep time, but even then, she's distraught and wants back up.

When kids are sick (or parents), it seems to get worse at night and last forever, don't you think? It's part of life, I know.

Fingers crossed that Lily cooperates so everyone can get a little rest over here.

So I've been feeling like everything is drama (not in my life). Do you feel that way? You get online and there's drama--everything from LeFou turning gay, to the world supposedly ending from Trump being in office. And everyone's telling everyone how to think. People saying "calm down" about one thing and "panic" about another. If you're a cool Christian, respond this way. If you're a bad Christian, respond this way.

And what if you don't fit in either group? (I'm telling you, the church is more divided and diverse than American politics) And what if you don't want to? (Asking for a friend.)

Here's the truth, I watched the president's address to congress this week. And it made me feel relieved and more at ease and thinking, This is going to be fine really. (Gasp.) Then the next day, I checked online and saw a million headlines basically saying, No, really, everything is horrible and the Russians are coming.

(.P.S.This is not about the Russians or the president or politics or the culture. I don't want to argue about any of it. Being a grown-up means eating dessert first if you want, and voting for whoever you want. I respect everyone's right to their own opinion.)

And I clicked off the news and after I shook off the intense negativity that is everywhere (this took a while), I thought, Wait, I love my life.

And as I've said before, my heart goes out to those who are suffering and I believe in praying and offering support and help where we can and being good people. I really believe in living that out in our neighborhoods and communities and beyond.

But truly, I love Jeff and these kids and our home and Friday nights and movies and popcorn and wine. Happiness is a good thing. I read all this stuff online, and my blood pressure rises, then I click off of it and have to do laundry or put dinner in the crockpot, and my blood pressure goes back to normal, and I remember, we decide what's best for our family and we move in that direction. Sometimes those choices are uncool. But, honestly, I've never been the coolest. And honestly, sometimes I wish the Christian church overall had a more united front. I wish we followed the same code so that when people outside of the church viewed us, they'd see a group of Jesus-followers always working together, rather than always looking like a very chaotic, dysfunctional family, with bossy members, self-righteous members, meany-head members, rebellious members, and some people who don't even really want to be there.

But since it's made up of humans, I think it is what it is. And the fact is that good people have different views on what it looks like to be a Christian. I'm not always a good representation of the Christian church. I'm human. I spent A LOT of time in the church while I was growing up (words like lukewarm Christian and being spewed out of God's mouth still scare me). Jeff and I take a more laid-back approach at our house. But it's still there and it's important, this undercurrent of who we are and whose we are and who we represent. We know a lot of Christian families and it's amazing how different we all are. How we parent. What's important to us. That's just real life. We're allowed to be different.

(We're even allowed to feel happy or outraged or relieved or passionate. Here's an example of something newsworthy (NOT REALLY): I was frustrated by adorable Emma Watson's photo shoot with Vanity Fair this week. I just was. I respect her voice on issues for women, and I was disappointed because I didn't feel her photo shoot went well with things she's said in the past. That's how I feel. Then there's a deluge of articles telling me why it's wrong to feel that way and anyone who feels that way better stop. NO. I get to come to my own conclusion. So do you, lovey.)

I remember in high school and college, feeling like I couldn't wait to have the freedom to make my own choices. To go to church if I wanted to that Sunday, or not. To stay up late or not. To watch whatever I wanted on TV. To spend a whole day reading a book. To wear what I wanted. To eat where I wanted to. Then you grow up and other things impact your decisions, but overall, what you do is your choice. And I value that freedom. So ... mommy blogs and articles online might rile me up, but then I take a breath. Oh. I still get to make my choice. To spend my money where I choose. To be happy, not angry. To read what I want.

I'm knee-deep in motherhood, complete with a baby who's sniffling and coughing. At this very moment, I'm tired, I'm wearing yoga pants and my hair is in a bun. I need to take clothes out of the dryer. I spent last night proofing my compilation book that will be available later this month. I've been on a strange kick lately of watching sad movies that make me emotional. I'm delighted that Cadbury eggs are out and I've already had like four. The kids are happy that there's a Star Wars thing happening in town tomorrow. I love that it's Friday and the weather is gorgeous and nights with my family are the best. Also, I can't wait to hold hands and watch a movie with Jeff (again, if we're not watching Peppa Pig later, which is a high probability).

It's okay to feel strongly about things. Of course it is. I also think it's okay to be counter-cultural.

Some people thrive on drama. For me, if drama results in negativity or lecturing or anger, and this is just me, that pushes against what I'm after--peace, love, joy, rest. (Definitely rest.) I want more positive. To be honest, I'm still trying to balance social media and being a stay-at-home mom of a toddler who can only do so much. Social media can be great because you don't feel alone, but it can be so negative and frustrating. I'm trying to find the happy medium. (I'm wondering if it exists.)

It's Friday, loveys. This is a good thing. I wish you a happy Friday. It's okay to be happy. To choose to be positive. To look for the positive around us. To give people a chance. To have dessert first if we want.

(Just call me Pollyanna over here.)

Surprise Visits!


Loveys, my mom came to visit recently. It was a surprise visit, even to her! She was about to head to Houston but the flight was full, so she rerouted to Denver, stayed two nights with me and Sara, then went on to Texas. I made a quiche for us the morning she was at the Bruce house, and we sat together and had coffee and second helpings.

When you live states away from your family, these types of moments are held even closer. Because you're not quite sure when you'll be together again. I didn't even tell the kids she was coming, just in case it fell through. I didn't want them to be heartbroken. So Lincoln was basically dumbfounded when Grammy walked through the door, and Ashtyn was completely stunned. Such a totally fun, unexpected gift! I was so thankful for the chance to just have coffee and quiche with my mom, something I only get to do a few times a year. I do wish we got to live life together in a more tangible way, though I believe my family manages to stay very close, despite the miles. My parents are great about coming to visit, making that effort and intentionally being part of our lives. It makes us feel loved.

You know my best friend just recently came out to visit. Last summer we went to Texas and stayed a few days out at their farm. Travel isn't easy and can be expensive. But we intentionally make the effort to see each other. It goes both ways, as it needs to. Because we all make time to do the things that are truly important to us, and for us, time together matters. I love her and she loves me. I felt the same way a couple of weeks ago, the night before Michelle left. We were sitting at the table, drinking pear wine together. Sitting together like we've done a million times over the course of our lives. Last summer we did the same thing on a porch in Texas.

So my mom and I recently sat together and had coffee. As we did in Virginia over Christmas. And in Harlingen last summer. And a million times over.

I think about how fast it goes, and how I have my kids here at home with me now, but before long, they'll grow up and maybe live away from us (Jeff says we're following them wherever they go and I'm on board with that). I know I'll fly to be with Ashtyn wherever she is, to sit and talk with her and go shopping for her house and have coffee and quiche. Because she (and Linc and Lily) matter so much to me. It would be hard to be separated. Whenever I hug my dad goodbye, we're always holding back tears, because miles will be between us and it will be awhile before we see each other again.

But, that's what love looks like. And I think we're lucky even to have so much of it.

The morning my mom was here, I crept downstairs to the basement to see if she was up. Then I heard giggling and I opened the bedroom door, and she's laying there, with Lincoln and Ashtyn snuggled up on either side of her.

That's a beautiful memory.

I'm a bit tired today, loveys. Lily came down with a cold yesterday evening and it was a rough night with coughing. I think I got about three hours of sleep (not good for this girl). She's got a runny nose--no fever at the moment thankfully. I'm hoping she gets better fast and doesn't pass it on to anyone else at the Bruce house. Cold weather is headed back our way, with snow coming tonight. I'm desperate for all these kiddos to go to bed early so I can too. Here we are at the last day in February.  Can you believe we're already hitting the third month of this year? Spring break will be here before you know it. And Miss Lily will be turning two on St. Patrick's Day.

It doesn't slow down. So as Sherlock Holmes would say, "Make it count." (At least, Robert Downey Jr.'s version, which is my favorite.)

Goodbye February, hello March!