Tuesday, August 9, 2016



Remember me? Yeah, I hardly do either. It's been so long. Are blogs still a thing that people read? I know I do. I get sick of the two second sound bites on facebook or instagram that don't really tell me anything of substance of people's lives. I miss hearing about you folks out there. How are you? Has your summer been as hot and interesting and boring and frustrating and joyful as mine? Just another season of all the good and complex in life.

So we are moving. That was sudden, right? Ha! Oh well, if you've known me for any space of time, you're more surprised that we've stayed in one place for this long. Honestly though, I'm sort of sick inside every time someone makes a joke about how much we move. It's not fun, I'm not sure why folks think we like moving. Please, please, I pray this is the last one for at least ten years. Let the schools stay wonderful, let the mother in the family stay sane and quiet, let the father have stability in employment. Amen. That's like the St. Suburbanite Mother's prayer ha.

Anyhow, we were going to renovate the kitchen with a special type of loan, but we ended up not having time to get all the bids and plans done because the folks wanted to close so quickly on our home. So we are moving in and then figuring out if we want to get another loan in six months or if it's doable with a smaller budget. It really depends on if we need to do structural changes. I'm waiting for some kitchen designers and contractors to figure out my life for me in the next few weeks--as we also close on this house and move. And then of course comes school starting. It will be a busy few weeks, and yet I find myself with large pockets of time without much to do because there are boxes everywhere and I can't quite pack everything quite yet. Moving. Sigh. Good problems to have, I know I promise I know.

The honest truth is I'm looking forward towards my future few months with a real sense of curiosity and wonder. New house. New town (still close by, but far enough to use different grocery stores and schools and roads and church). And the biggest new of all, both kids in school. I have been thinking about this day quite a lot for the past year. I've seen it looming up in front of me--dreading and craving it all at once. I'll miss my kids. I'll love the quiet. I'll write, I'll sleep, I'll feel guilty and make myself get a job? I'll have time to make cookies and do laundry without feeling responsible for the learning or entertainment of anyone. I'll accidentally fall asleep and it will be ok!My house might stay clean! Will I get bored? Will I wish I had a baby (yes and no)? I'm so intrigued. I'm pretty sure I'll spend the first two weeks sleeping. It's been a long busy summer. I'll deserve it after the move and everything else. I can't wait. Wish John could join me. He deserves it even more than I do by a lot. I'll be sure to give him lots of breaks over weekends and someday soon we'll manage a little getaway maybe.

Life is starting over fresh. I'm happy, I'm still working through some anxiety that has been plaguing me for the past few years--but with help this time. I'm just a strange mixture of blank and full at the moment. Waiting and changing all at once. Isn't life good and hard and strange and welcome all at once? 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

the post in which i reveal that I am a (jaded) transcendentalist

Here we are, in March. It's been long months since I last wrote. I have given up almost entirely on my blog. But sometimes I feel nostalgic and I'll come back and read what we were up to this time last year, or look at pictures of the kids in their younger years. When I do those things, I feel that I probably shouldn't abandon these efforts completely. I'm grateful that the stories and pictures that I used to share so freely and often were saved.

I think the problem sort of is that I've lost my courage. I'm almost 35 years old now, and it seems with each passing year I should be getting more sure of myself, more stable, more everything except for maybe judgmental. But I find that this past year, I have lost my bravery. As the world races towards everything being on display, and then being ridiculed and paraded, and nothing held sacred, I feel myself pulling back. The internet trolls are becoming less a minority and more expected behavior. If you let yourself be seen, be imperfect, then you deserve that sort of thing though, right?

Where has our empathy gone? Our willingness to find our neighbor innocent long before we jump to any sordid or cruel conclusions? When did we decide that our police men, our mothers, and our teachers must never make mistakes--and if they do, they must be punished endlessly and publicly? I find this new way of being worrisome and tireless and tiresome. The Sound and the Fury, signifying nothing. There is so little soft cushioning in this new world. So very few places to rest your heart and your head. To be broken and cared for.

So all of these new technologies have come. And all of this constant access. We have found ourselves unable to resist the acceptance of new "morals" that allow all things equal standing, irregardless of their potential for long-term detriment of societies and children. Each thing is to be heralded in and made welcome at the table. We all want all of our parts to be accepted, without learning to accept all parts of others. And yet if we are being honest, it's not really all of ourselves. We will only put our best on display, and hide the rest oh so carefully. It is all of the excess and none of the responsibility. It is a free fall without wanting to acknowledge that at some point, there is an end to the falling, and it is never truly free.

I find such an atmosphere impossible to be freely myself. I see people that I admire stifled in their beliefs. I find the tyranny of outliers overcoming the majority of normalcy. We don't admire the smallness of individual lives that are normal. We run around, losing the value of the things that used to be what we as humans have valued for thousands of years. We hold a facebook like in the same esteem that we used to hold a card in the mail. How is that possible? My friends, how is that possible?

I have made my life very small and sad this past year. Retreating inside myself, finding fault with everyone and everything, but most especially myself. Because I don't know how to be in this new world. I used to be free in my own mind--I used to feel unfettered. I found pleasures in painting dressers and sending my children to school, and having over the top book clubs. Now I am much encumbered. I struggle with my church. I struggle with my parents. I struggle with everything except, perhaps strangely, my husband and my children (most of the time). I know retreating and retreating is not healthy, but I also feel strongly that what is left outside of these walls is no longer healthy either. I have lost my trust and faith in the goodness of people. I have become suspect of motives--something I hate with profundity.

I'm a bit stuck, and wanting to go back. And so far all that I can come up with is to dream and plan for a day when we can buy a few acres and be even more apart from the noise and busy-ness of the world. I romanticize that old Thoreau way of living (minus the part without indoor plumbing and a/c), but just of being quiet in a loud world, and doing small, hard work on things that no one would care about except our family. And I hesitate to even hit publish because there is a sort of movement out there now of other folks like me, who have decided that having some breathing room and owning some chickens might help them make better sense of their lives. And it sounds ridiculous and stupid, but I can't help that it also makes ten thousand pounds of sense to me right at this juncture of my life too.

It is probable that this post will seem completely strange and out of no-where and maybe even just plain crazy. And I'm not even sure why I'm going to hit publish. Except sometimes it still feels good to me to write something, send it out, and hope that someone that I know will echo back that they too have felt these pressures, and are searching in their own way. That really helps me to not feel so alone, which is about the only part of this endless access/excess of technology that I find of good report.

“The cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.” 
― Henry David ThoreauWalden

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

good things

For posterity's sake, today was a really good day.

Grant had his first day of preschool and pronounced the day awesome. I had mixed feelings about it at the beginning of the day, but seeing his happiness when I picked him up made me feel much better about everything. He is the cutest.

Maddy also had a great day at her new school. She is been thriving at her new school and it does my heart so much good. I was torn up about switching her AGAIN. I felt like the worst mom in the world. But it has been a seamless transition and she is learning so much. Plus, one of her teachers gave me a glowing report about how loved Maddy is, and what a light of goodness and fairness she is to those around her. How could I not be on cloud 9 after that?

Lastly, I began writing on my little book project again. I didn't do a single thing with it for the entire summer, and to tell you the truth I was really scared I wouldn't want to do it again. I was worried I would come back and read what I had worked so hard on and hate it and be too discouraged to start again. But...I wasn't! It felt good!

On tomorrow's agenda is more preschool, more normal school, more picking up and dropping off, more laundry, and maybe even some canning of apples. And this Thursday, the huge clearance J.Crew sale is back in town. And I've been working on lots of homemade Christmas presents. And not least of all, the weather is starting to not feel so suffocatingly hot. Good things on the horizon, I believe it.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Blessing and a Curse

Here's my beef, folks. I'm over the perfection of the internet and the glossy spin people put on their lives. Listen, NO ONE loves a beautiful photo--composed to within its life--better than me. I based my whole blog name, Pretend Fancy, off the the fact that I love things that look fancy but really aren't. I love to put a positive spin on things. I love to laugh. I love to put a red and white checked towel under my pies and pretend I live in a farmhouse. We all know this to be true.
exhibit A
But I don't love when people condemn me for not being this way all of the time. When I am trying to communicate in a way that feels honest and open about some really hard months of my life. I think folks mean well. I actually do think they usually mean well. But...when we really sit there and think about it, do we mean well 100%, or are we just uncomfortable with reading about messy feelings, sadness, loneliness, anger, boredom, depression. We just want to wipe it up. Tell people to go "see someone" about that messiness. Most of us are fixers (even me, especially me) and loose ends in life, in someone else's life, is just one more thing that we don't have the emotional energy to wrap our heads around. But my friends, I didn't want to be fixed. 

I wanted to be heard.

I thought this little corner of the internet was safe, but that was really naive of course. I just *wanted* it to be a safe place. And if I deleted the comment section, I suppose it could be in a way, but only on the surface. And in doing so, I would miss out on all of the wonderful things that 98% of people say.   I'm trying. I am trying hard. But I've always had thin skin. My brother's teased me and got some spectacular responses. My friends talk to me, and I empathize the heck out of their sorrows. So you see, my thin skin, my nerdiness, my heart on my sleeve, my hurt at perceived betrayals, they are all two sides of the same character trait that I possess in spades--thin skin/open heart.

I can wish it away. Wish not to care about everyone. I often have done those very things. And I go in cycles where I harden myself and try not to care. But it all comes shambling down eventually. Because this is the heart that I have. And I love deep and hard. And it hurts deep and hard. I take things too personally and have done for my whole life. But I love just as fiercely and devotedly. Like that old saying goes," It's a blessing...and a curse."

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Random Thought Thursday--the LONG WINDED and YELLING EDITION

This week has been my (and my friend's) week to host the girls in our church congregation for camp. Last year I did science camp and while it was fun, it was a TON of work. Most science experiments that are safe and fun for kids take about two seconds to actually do. So that required LOTS of experiments and lots of work and although several of the girls told me they loved that camp best, I didn't want to go through that again. So this year I asked my friend if we couldn't just pick a theme and then we could do a variety of activities--food, crafts, games, etc. I suggested Harry Potter, and it has been super fun, the girls have loved it. But......it's still a ton of work ha! Next year can we teach the girls how to take naps? Watch movies? Give their parents massages?

We went to see Inside Out with everyone. Both kids and us. First of all--pricey. But totally worth it because Grant sat through his first movie without running around! He still fidgeted a ton and we had to stop him from kicking the chair in front of him. AND....he burped really loud during the sad, quiet part (haha, I can only laugh in my utter shame and resignation), but hey, that's pretty good for him. :)

Also, who ever thought I would cry over a character in a movie named Bing Bong. Well played Pixar. Well played.

Last thoughts on Harry Potter camp--I'm exhausted and never want to clean my house again for the rest of the summer. Cleaning up after ten kids running around every other day is enough to drive me to the crazy house. Praise the heavens the camp is only every other day.

Remember how I told you last blog entry that I cleaned out my closet and had way less clothes. Three things: 1. Every day I feel like I look better because I only kept clothes that I loved 2. I have to do laundry way more often or else 3. I wear dirty clothes and look/smell worse than I did before I got rid of my ugly clothes. So....I'm calling this whole "clothes that spark joy" thing a DRAW unless you have a million dollars for new clothes.

John mows only the front lawn one week and then alternates to the back lawn the following week. My yard only looks good on one side at a time.

The heat is killing me. And it's not even close to Fall. WHYYYYY???

I hate to be one of those mom's, but is it time for school to come back yet?? Seriously...I hate moms like that. But...I need five minutes to myself to pee and eat a sandwich and think/mope and do house chores and not listen to fighting or silence and wonder what they're up to and how many cookies they are sneaking and it's too hot. If you think that was whiney, imagine you were my mother when I was 16. Yeah, I feel sorta bad for my Mom too.

Three more months until the possibility of John not being a contractor anymore and we had normal insurance for which we don't have to pay a thousand dollars every month. It seems but a distant, sparkly, glittery, fairy world. These past three months of waiting have been really hard on me, and I've tried to be all cool and mature about it, but we all know THOSE ARE NOT MY STRENGTHS. I'm doing a lot of blog yelling in this post. I need five minutes of peace and quiet my friends. And maybe I need to take up this Diet Coke fanaticism that every other mormon mom I know has succumbed to....

I limited my instagram account and deleted most of the people that live around me. I think I offended some people even though I tried to soften the blow by saying it wasn't personal. But apparently it is always personal.  Sigh. I honestly (REALLY) thought some/most people would be happy they didn't have to follow me anymore. I instagram way too much. Here are my thoughts about the subject in as few of words as I can manage:

1. I want to instagram and not worry that I'm being judged that my kid still uses a binky to sleep. I am so self conscious about that. I hate that he still uses one to sleep. But I also know that his therapists recommended it to me, and I also know the hell that was the year that he didn't have it to sleep. He was completely weaned, and it was sort of horrible to give it back to him, until he finally slept a whole night through for the first time in a YEAR. (sorry, once you start blog yelling, it feels sort of good inside). But I still feel horrible about it, because I know some people will never understand. And I know I know I know....I shouldn't care what people think. I'm not that good. So instead, I decided that the people that I don't know well enough to know if they are judging me negatively just gotta go. And you can't just delete one church lady and not the rest of them without offending.  So in order to feel more comfortable in my own skin, I had to throw the baby out with the bathwater. And it ruffled some feathers. But I feel better.

2. Lastly, I think it's better for acquaintances not to know every single thing I've been up to. It sort of jumps the gun on developing true friendships when they already know the minute details of your day-to-day life---then you have nothing to talk about in person hardly. So I'm taking back my everyday from folks that live around me for the most part. Mostly because I want to love them better.

If I never hear another argument for or against gay marriage, it will a great life. I don't like talking about politics, religion, and hurt feelings. I just want to sing kumbaya and pretend like we can all just get along. I going to start a new political party called the I Don't Want to Fight party. Our mascot will be the Ostrich sticking his head in the ground.

Lastly, if you were wondering, my latest trial in life is trying to figure out my next adventure for the coming year. I'm considering the following: buying a different house with more land, getting my master's degree, finishing my book and trying to get it published, becoming a foster parent.  I have been reading a lot of self-help, self-actualizing books, and praying. But I'm still no closer to an answer. When you can't finish the pathway that you started (having at least four kids), it lands you here--in a place you didn't anticipate arriving until you were much older--having all of your kids in school. And I want to be there for my kids, but I need something for me too. I just want to be happy. That's a doozy to leave you on. Tell me how you are.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Good, Bad, Ugly, and a Farmhouse

Thought I'd pop on to say hello. I'm feeling sort of too scattered to write anything well thought out. So I think I'll steal an idea from one of my favorite blogs and do The Good, The Bad, the Ugly.

The Good

1. We had John's parents over for Memorial Day weekend. They spoiled the kids, and the kids are finally at the age where they realize it, which makes it awesome. Grandma bought Maddy and Grant both a toy from Toys'R'Us (elves lego set for M, nerf bow for G--that he promptly lost after shooting me in the eye) hahaha, good thing I wear glasses and they mostly deflected the arrow. Foam is way more dangerous than I originally thought. We also went to a ranch where you ride around in a wagon and feed animals off the side, including giraffes and asian water buffaloes. It was really cool! We watched lots of mystery t.v., ate some great food, and John's mom Jane and I had lots of long talks. It was excellent.

2. I've been proactive with having my preschool fella out of school for the summer. We've been doing Mom school (workbooks I found at the dollar store) and sticking to our chore chart. It adds some necessary structure without costing money or being too strenuous for me. I'm pretty terrible with routines, but my guy really thrives with them (it's a sensory processing thing). So I'm really trying for his sake to be better. I've noticed a great change in his attitude and defiance, so I think my preparation and work is paying off. Too bad I'm exhausted by the end of every day. Waah poor me, I know. :)

3. Swim team is going great. Maddy has gone from barely being able to go a few strokes without panicking and stopping to swimming more than half the length of the pool! I'm so glad we did it! She LOVES it. It's a lot of commitment for the parents, but it really is awesome for kids. I see now why swimming teams are such a big deal in the South (or maybe everywhere? I didn't really notice it much anywhere else I've ever lived?)

4. Just finished watching a season of Next Food Network Star on netflix. I really want to cook with liquid nitrogen now. I also really think that's a bad idea.

5. I went through my closet and got rid of a bunch of clothes that didn't fit/were stained/were maternity clothes. My closet looks really empty now. But it feels good. I am slowly but surely adding pieces back in as I can afford them. It's making me feel a lot better about myself. I know...what a shocker. I'm slow people.

The Bad

1. I'm not 100% thrilled with Maddy's school. I had such high hopes, and maybe that's why I'm less than thrilled? I don't think that's entirely it. I'm struggling to figure out whether I should give the charter school another year or just put her into public school. Our elementary school is great, but the middle school we are zoned for is pretty terrible. I wouldn't put her into that middle school, I would homeschool her if I couldn't get her into a middle school charter school that is excellent nearby. I'm leaning towards giving her current school another yet just because I hate to move her again. But I'm frustrated.

2. I'm missing my writing time that I had while Grant was in preschool. A lot. It was only two half days a week, but I cherished those hours like they were golden. I know I'm just supposed to love every single second that I have my kids because the time goes by so quickly. I know. But, listen folks, I think a lot of moms get their downtime by going to the gym or whatever. I have decided I would rather be chubby and be a writer. But unfortunately they don't have writer gyms where they watch your kids while you break a sweat over your latest plot line. So...that's a little tragic.

3. I'm broke. Pretty perpetually. You?

The Ugly

1. There's a lady I don't like at church, because she was cruel to me right to my face (not sure if that's better or worse than behind your back?). It wasn't just a misunderstanding (just in case you thought I might be jumping to conclusions or haven't talked to her about it). I'm working on overcoming it. But it's hard. Real hard. It's real life you know? I'm not perfect. She's not perfect. It's a work in progress. But it does hurt, doesn't it?

2. Somebody peed on the floor next to the toilet. I'm not naming names.....Grant.

and to end on a good note again, I'm pretty sure I need to start a regular "series" where I show you my latest farmhouse obsession that is on sale around here. Here's this week's lovely, complete with 7 acres and lots of outbuildings (and wallpaper up the wazoo!). Oh boy do I ever swoon over old houses.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

good things

Time for something a little bit lighter on this blog, wouldn't you say?

Man there has been enough bad news lately at our house. I've decided that what is needed is a fresh start. Funny how when you decide on something as arbitrary as a "fresh start" how much is actually helps your mindset. I decided it on Monday, and this week has been much easier for me to handle. Must be that whole idea of what you put out into the world comes back to you? I actually hope that's not true because that means that before now I was putting out the vibes that made our hot water heater and van and air conditioner break amongst other bad occurrences. That's bad juju.

Anyway, how about some things that are going well/that I'm enjoying/wishing for currently.

1. I still really like my phone case. Small and simple things count right?

2. My sister bought her first house! They've had such a long road to this day, and I'm SO happy for them.

view from their new backyard, isn't it beautiful??

3. I have accepted spinach as a necessary and even delicious part of my life. My body thanks me.

4. I am almost finished with the massive re-writing of the beginning of my book. That means that very soon I will be back to writing original content. I just may actually finish someday! (whether or not it's good or sellable is a whole other ball of wax).

5. Taylor Swift. I like her songs...just like everyone else.

6. Just discovered the plus sized clothes on this site. I already want about $759 worth of stuff. Most especially I am wanting a new dress for Maddy's baptism in July. I'm saving up.

7. My sister sent me some earrings from World Market to cheer me up this past week. Made my whole week.

8. This cleaner really works great in bathrooms.

9. I found this house and want to move in tomorrow. But seriously, I'm pretty sure those doors were painted yellow just for me! (and 16 acres!)

10. We've been doing this chore chart and it is working really well! (I had to add a few of my own chore cards that they didn't have, but it was worth it). I even bought the same pocket chart. That thing is amazing.

That's all I've got. What's been going on in your neck of the woods?