February 2014 (Facebook Compilation)

February 5

What being homeschooled is actually like.” (Buzzfeed)

Kimberly Kingston Eames Great stuff! I was on correspondence (what home-schooling was called then) part of Kindergarten, all of 1st and 2nd grade, and part of third. I was then placed in advanced math and English for the rest of schooling. I think my at-home learning made a huge difference.

Becky Castle Miller Josh Hutcherson FTW.

Amy Jane Helmericks Becky— I don’t know what that means. Other than FTW. I suppose it would mean more if I knew who Hutcherson is.

Becky Castle Miller Oh, the gif set of the boy on the late night show saying he didn’t like regular school because of the early morning wake up. That was my favorite part of this list. He’s Peeta in the Hunger Games movies.

I really should be allowed to laugh during speech evaluations when the evaluator says “nice body.”

It’s worse/harder when the lectern has been mentioned recently, either blocking or not-blocking my physical body– this always seems to get mentioned no matter what I do.

For context: I gave the speech for my old TM club’s evaluation contest at their meeting today. Three contestants evaluated a speech I gave, and I prepped really well.

I recorded everything, and think it’ll be really nice for my “self-esteem file.”

*happy sigh* It’s neat to be noticed when you work hard on something.

February 8

February 10

4,000 words since yesterday, and only 4 scenes left to write on my rough draft. [Written when I was working on Sherlockian Daze. Didn’t stop at the end of November.]

Kati Armbruster WHOO HOO!!! Way to go! Keep up the momentum, lady, you’re almost there!

February 13

Natasha said how she was feeling bad and asked each of her sibs to tell her “five good things about the world.”

She was slouchy and shoulder-slumped-dejected as she said she could only come up with two, Elisha four, and Melody one.

“Can you tell me five good things?”

“Baby goats, kittens, horses, snowmen, and fresh rain for dancing in.”

I was having a internally-crummy day, too, so it felt good to smile together.

Halfway through February. It’s all better from here.

Amy Jane Helmericks Can I just say how proud I am as a parent that she thought of that “five-good-things” exercise on her own?!

Laura Frame Tormey Thanks!! This made me feel better too. Coffee, snowflakes, friendship, fire, and the ocean.

Becky Castle Miller Cobblestones, fabric, lanterns, lap cats, and cheesecake.

Kati Armbruster yummy books, fresh baked goodies, lilacs in bloom, favorite songs, and puppy kisses.

February 14

Elisha is so his mother’s son.

Last week he was reading the movie picture book of Frozen and explained to me that “Movies are just so *daMAtic* and scary and sad and [coming at you fast] that it’s useful to read the whole story ahead of time. Then you’re ready for the movie.”

Today I finally sat down and read all of Sherlock season 3/ep 3 (the transcript), and I’m like Elisha here: now that I’ve read the whole thing, I’m ready to sit through the actual show.

NB: when I actually TRUST a show/its writers I don’t have to do this.

I’ve decided this is why I do spoilers: I want to decide how I feel at my pace, not try to sort out the feels while taking in the story, too: those are separate processes for me.

Amy Jane Helmericks This morning, for group reading we did chapter five of The Secret Garden.

When we got to the bit about Mary confirming her friendship with the little bird, Elisha jumped off my lap, “Pause the story!” He shouted. Then he just stood there for a moment, shaking his hands. “It’s just just! so!” and he trilled his tongue.

Then he climbed up in my lap again and was ready to listen again.

February 15

So *SO* happy he see a mainline Christian writer addressing this: God Hates Domestic Violence

Yes “God hates divorce,” but he hates Abuse just as much.

From the article:

“Sometimes, it seems like we are more concerned with keeping the marriage going than ending the violence, when in reality, violent men need to understand that in order to keep the marriage going the violence must stop, now. Notice how we put the onus on the woman instead of the man: “Wife, stay in the marriage,” rather than, “Husband, we cannot support your wife staying with you as long as you harm her.”

We won’t counsel like this until we hate domestic violence as much as God hates it.”

photo: alexandria lomanno, Creative Commons

Becky Castle Miller Yes! I read this when Sallie posted it earlier and loved it. The comments are great too. Several people asked him to expand violence to include verbal and emotional abuse, which I think would be helpful.

Amy Jane Helmericks Including other types of abuse w/ violence would be a huge step for someone in Thomas’s position: he has the fresh ache (strongly implied in the comments) of an avoidable (or warning-signs ignored) murder, and that seems to be what prompted this post.

Physical violence is quantifiable in a way that few other kinds of abuse are, and the b&w thinkers that these reform types tend to be– they seem to need empirical evidence, which makes it hard for them to know what to do with emotional and mental stuff.

Including mental health– as we’ve spoken of, before.

February 16

The Faces of Figure Skating.”


Beth Zapf Hahaha. I just feel bad for them that these pictures exist, though. As one commenter said, “You try rotating faster than a helicopter blade and see what your face looks like.” But funny!

February 17

Sherlockian Daze process/breadcrumbs [Here there be *spoilers.*]:

Marybeth/Kassi: “I learned from the newspapers. I— I wasn’t even listed as next-of-kin to inform, and found from a NEWSPAPER that my entire family had been killed! [in the Indian Railway terrorist attacks the year before].”

The happy-brilliant moment when I realized *this* (already planted) line is why she never knew her mother was miss-identified as one of the deceased and correspondingly was never informed when her mother was found alive. Lovely twist that complicates things as much as it comforts.

Got another [much later] scene written this weekend. Chipping away; making progress. Still excited. Still Christmas.

That moment when you’re trying to find the stroganoff recipe from your childhood, and you realize you never really liked it, anyway.

Kati Armbruster hahahaha…. When I went to Germany a couple years back to visit my Mom, she asked me to make Shepherd’s Pie for her for supper one night. I told her that I don’t have any shepherd’s pie recipes because I never liked it. She didn’t understand how I couldn’t love what was her favorite meal, and surely, given how much cooking I do, I MUST have a recipe of it on hand, even if I’ve never made it. Was really quite funny, if a bit frustrating.

February 19

[From Jen Sparks]

Lorde of the Rings, people!

February 20

I don’t trust medical professionals anymore.

Or, put more politely, my automatic stance is suspicion and prove-it-to-me.

I don’t remember who posted it on Facebook, but the article was written by an affronted pediatrician who said that parents who don’t trust vaccinations are parent she can’t work with.

“Because if they don’t trust me when I assure them that x, y, & z vaccinations are perfectly, without qualification safe,” (not a direct quote– I don’t have the article in front of me), “Then how are they going to trust my judgement on anything else?”

And I (who am not energetic enough to be *anti* vax, but do question the necessity of the timing of some vax) felt a light go on: this is absolutely the case.

So much of the medical experience I have had (with the notable exceptions of pneumonia, a referral for physical therapy, and discovering a migraine medicine that works most of the time) has been useless at best, and belittling/insulting at worst.

(In this I will quickly acknowledge I’ve had it better than many, whose “worst” slides deeper than mine.)

The point being, I’ve been asking why I put up with feeling sick and weak, or why I don’t seek a formal diagnosis for the kids, or whatever, and it comes down to intense frustration: they don’t have anything better to offer me than I am already doing, and they’ll happily charge me $$ to say so.

Stomach aches, fatigue, depressed mood, all these are “more tests” and head-patting entryways to a system that invites you to be a guinea pig, then tells you what you already know: sleep more, reduce your stress, eat better.

Only their idea of “eat better” is painfully wrong for my body-system, reinforcing my own awareness over their recommendations.

And I’m not even depressed/whatever right now, just looking straight at the issue, thinking how tired I am and wishing I really could trust anyone enough to just delegate health care decisions to, but I can’t. Not yet.

Because I didn’t start out anti-established medicine. I started out 100% standard care, and after repeated, painful “Oops, my bad”s, one starts to agree, “Yeah, you are bad. Tell me again why I should trust you?”

And once more I’m faced with the question of *How much can I really do on my own?*

The answer: Not as much as I want to.

Ashley Peck Borrego Wow I really resonate with this. Aside from pregnancy, I see doctors for myself very infrequently. This summer I tried to find the cause of a mysterious pain, and with everyone I saw I felt stupid and belittled. Even the hematologist I saw about a clotting disorder that I *have* made me feel stupid. Yes, yes.

Amy Jane Helmericks I end up wondering how much gets/goes unchanged or unchallenged because the medical professionals shame so effectively.

It makes me think of “those parents” who shame children for being childish, or having needs they (the children) don’t know how to meet (yet).

I’ve had an argument/lecture with parents about how babies crying is not evidence of their “sin nature” and that it is not “sin” for children to inconvenience their parents, it’s their existence.

This makes me think so much about other parts of our culture, too, how assault victims are assumed to be liars, that mental illness isn’t acknowledged, or is shameful. How “spiritual” experiences are always suspect to somebody…

We are a process-based, experiential, empirical society, and that which cannot be observed, explained, or repeatable (all means of “proving”) are either questioned, undermined or ignored.

We are so afraid of being “taken in” that we cannot take anyone in to the shelter of our trust and support.

And the super-sad thing about all this is how significantly therapeutic all that trust and support is being proven to be BY those empirical, observable tests.

Jen Sparks I think the internets don’t help society with the whole mistrust issue, either; way with all the scams and hoaxes.

Amy Jane Helmericks I haven’t been burned by a hoax yet, Jen. It’s all been the humans-being-human.

February 22

[Ernie laugh]
I was just *waiting* for someone to make this.

Everything Nerdy and Anything in Between's photo.
February 28

January 2014 (Facebook Compilation)

January 2

Just watched my wedding video from over 13 years ago– for the first time. Ever.

All the highlights were there:
– Nose-blowing on-stage.
– Jay taking the handkerchief back after I used it.
– The “first kiss” that started with Jay kissing each of my hands (and the pastor saying “Not getting away with that!”) before Jay pulled me into a kiss that lasted long enough my mom was hissing from the front row to be done. Or so she says. We never heard her.
– The cake-bites that sealed my trust in him (tiny and neat/polite. No smashing or mess).
– The 4-count swing “first dance” (to *We rejoice in the Grace of God*).

*Man* I miss dancing. Jay said he’ll have to study the video to relearn all the stuff he used to know.

I’m sure someone could niggle us about using a 10-year-old (at the time) praise song, but I think it was very indicative of us, then and now. Lots of good words.

The vid shows us singing while we dance. I love that.

Talia Ahlquist I remember it all! (except for your mother hissing from the front row, that is)

Amy Jane Helmericks And we saw you in the vid, too 🙂

January 4

Okay Tiana, and Becky, I watched it.

I get John being mad he wasn’t informed, but I don’t see why no one used the (obvious) not-telling reason that Anybody wondering if Sherlock was really dead would be watching “honest John” and knowing the truth.

I was eye-rolling on that one.

But it was good, overall. The whole thing was fan service– a very nice visit, to be sure, but not as much story as I’d hoped for.

January 8

I been thinking.

a) If there was a perfect formula for parenting, wouldn’t our perfect God have given it to us, straight-up? (I mean, he answered relatively straight-forward when asked how to pray.)

b) If there was a perfect formula for consistently churning out kids that don’t embarrass you, and are always wonderful, productive members of society … Don’t you think He would have used it?

January 10

January 14

E: No! No! I want something *dammatic* to happen!

I look up from my Kindle. He and Melody are eating pretzels together.

M: Something dramatic has *already* happened!

She holds up a half-eaten pretzel as she explains what just [didn’t] happen(ed).

[I love my storytelling family!]

January 16

Charla was just talking about needing to be disciplined and finish a project before starting something new.

My comment:
Me too!

I have two (no, THREE!) novels at or past the 90K-words mark, and now a non-fiction curriculum calling my name. One that is really-really needed.

This is where we beg God to make *calling* clear, because the “sensible” I hear says that non-fiction is so much more REAL and IMPORTANT, and the popular fantasy says, “Ah, but fiction sell more!”

Neither of which I have any way to objectively prove one way or the other. I can only feel breathless watching my beauties (manuscripts) in their awkward “teenager” stages, where they think they’re so grown up, but I know better.

January 17

Elisha [earlier today, out of nowhere]: You’re a *great* storyteller, Mama.

Tonight Natasha saw me starting in on cleaning the kitchen while she was on her way to bed.
N: Why start cleaning *now*?
Me: I just finished [reading] a novel. I have energy now.
N: Oh. That makes sense.

Another time recently, I asked Melody what story she wanted to listen to. She said, “Tell us more of your novel!”

Being understood by my children is a beautiful thing. They are proud of me, my writing, and I can only begin to articulate how much of a gift this is to me: enormous.

[Background: people used to frame my writing in competition with my children, questioning the adequacy of my devotion to my children. This made my automatic language about each piece (“A fourth child”) feel even more scandalous– though no less true.

We had a physical 4th child in our home for 44 days, with no jealousy or angst. And I realized that’s how they take my writing, too. The fourth child. It’s not a competition, it just *is.*

And these moments when they connect– when they play at it themselves– it’s like a toddler picking up a baby doll after mama has a newborn, and surprising me with their tenderness and skill.]

I am so thankful to be a WriterMama.

January 20

Signs That You May Have Gluten Sensitivity and Not Know It #glutenfree - DontMesswithMama.com

January 28

I have officially inured my children. [Nope. Not anymore.]

I was able to hoot/laugh/clap my hands in delight and nobody shrieked, *What?*WHAT?!*

Dinner-making time has provided several breakthroughs on my novel tonight.

I suppose they eventually figured out that dinner wasn’t that exciting.

 Beth Zapf Yeah, I read that a couple times trying to figure out how you injured your children… And it wasn’t even spelled wrong. Crazy brain.

Jen Sparks I totally read injured.

January 29

If you plan to read my *Sherlockian Daze* novel, and spoilers bug you, don’t read the pictures. (Not that I *really* expect you to know the story from this list, it’s such shorthand).

This is my “beat sheet” of the main novel action (sans Sherlock episode).

The point is me celebrating:

– check-marks are all the scenes already written. (!)
– stars are specific revision to-dos (mostly POV shift; important, but not time-consuming)
– circles are specific scenes still to be written

Translation: I have a whole story here, free and clear (holes closed up). It’s taken till my 5th novel, but I’m looking at exactly what I know needs to happen, and it’s being done.

I can’t tell you how exciting this is for me.

December 2013 (Facebook Compilation)

December 3

Elisha: I can’t sleep. Too many scary thoughts.
Me: Choose nice thoughts.
Elisha: [more rambling excuses]
me [going back to Hulu and the Castle episode with the baby that is totally cracking me up]: Fine. Diaper’s clean. Snap up the baby’s onesie.
[He does. Tries to come over and watch with me.]
Me: Nope. Now snap closed his jammies. You’re not doing anything anyway. “Can’t sleep,” remember?
E: I don’t want to snap his jammies closed.
Me: You can do that or go to bed…
E: I’ll go to bed. [Walks off.]


December 5

Jay and I are still trying to see if we can get away without putting up a tree this year.

I held the kids off with “wait till Daddy gets home [from Antarctica],” and so far the delight (and work– we restarted schooling) of his return has kept it out of mind.

We parents would be fully content with no seasonal rearranging.


December 10

Good list.

It has been said that the Church is not a museum of saints, but a hospital for sinners. Yet, most of us would much rather pretend to be a saint on display than call…
Joanna Holman: Yes x5 (especially for discussions on loneliness that are more than just join MORE things!)
December 12
Becky Heishman's photo.

Since taking in a baby at the beginning of November, I’ve had a few people ask how they could help me out.

The consistent answer I’ve settled on is giving me time to write.

That is, if I trust you enough to watch my kids (and I am pretty particular on this), and the “you” is also willing to watch a baby, I will have you here, or drive to your place, then tuck into a corner somewhere and write for an hour or two.

The funny thing to me is how people respond.

I had two different ppl volunteer for this, and others who shrug and roll with it, but a couple people hesitated, or offered and alternative before I insisted there was nothing I needed more.

My guess was the fourth kid (and being a baby) was a sticking point. But I saw another commonality between hesitaters.

Best I can read them, they’re all extroverts. Asking for help to be alone has got to seem like raking snow: “What’s the point?!”

~ ~ ~

Grammarly's photo.
Grammarly's photo.
December 13

One of the things that went wrong while Jay was gone (other than crazy weather– slick roads, -30, and two huge dumps of snow that I had to personally shovel while the surprise baby slept– and the water pump dying and needing to be replaced) was that my dishwasher also died.

So for the past month my inefficient self (and my wonderful mother, weekly while Jay was gone) has been hand-washing all our dishes.

Replacing said dishwasher is tricky, b/c it’s the portable type you roll from its waterless resting place to the sink where you hook it up for the wash cycle.

New is over $600, so I’ve been watching Craigslist for a month praying for an adequate replacement.

And that prayer was answered this week. Another family replaced their old portable DW, and put this one up as free. Jay said he wouldn’t have paid money, looking at it, but it WORKS!

I just loaded my third batch of dishes, and I’m finally guessing my source of unexpected margin.

I’m trying to decide if this is the first time this year I have both a settled baby and dishwasher that works.


December 15

Know what’s interesting? Running into grown-ups with kids your age who knew you when you were little.

They remember things you don’t.

And what they remember is interesting, because it was writ large enough to stick in their brain all these years.

Today I spoke with a woman who remembers me as a very detail-oriented child who liked things *just so*, very orderly.

And that sparked some long-buried memories about my child self that still has echoes today: I was never orderly in the clean-room sense of the word, but even now I have categories for everything, and (for example) out of hundreds of books in my home I can put my hand on exactly what I’m looking for in less than a minute.

I don’t like detail-management (which makes life tough for a homeschooling mama of three) but I relish precision.

And somehow these truths have coexisted for over 30 years.

Jen Sparks: I ran into the father of a primary school friend yesterday. Apparently, he thought I’d never have kids, as I was “too much of a free spirit”. Wasn’t quite sure how to process that one. I never thought of myself as a free spirit.

Me: Jen, I see your spirit “free” in its resistance to being put down. I see your spirit unwilling to accept the you-diminishing roles other people have tried to write for you– whether in church, relationships or even body image.

You are a formidable woman, and six kids only underscores your great strength.

Jen: I’ll be over here trying not to cry…

~ ~ ~

Equal opportunity snuggler.

Amy Jane Helmericks's photo.

New blog post at Untangling Tales.

By writing about what we fear, we invite others to see us, and to be known, even if the reader is someone we will never meet, because there will be that person whose fear matches mine.
December 19

Deep breath.
Walk on.

Kitchen Stewardship

“In any dark time, there is a tendency to veer toward fainting over how much is wrong or unmended in the world. Do not focus on that. There is a tendency, too, to fall into being weakened by dwelling on what is outside your reach, by what cannot yet be. Do not focus there. That is spending the wind without raising the sails.”

For all the times you say, “This world is starting to scare me,” and “It seems like things are just getting worse and worse,” remember that We Were Made for These Times – cling to the Cross and stand strong!

(The rest of the article from The Unbounded Spirit –> http://bit.ly/1dRMrIi)

“A depressive person sleeps less, and the nighttime becomes a dreaded chore that one can never achieve properly.”

(from, A First Rate Madness, by Ghaemi)

So well-said! I laughed out-loud in the bookstore.


December 23

Appointment-making has never been so soft and cuddly.

Amy Jane Helmericks's photo.

Just passed 70K on the Novel I started last month. My goal: finish the first draft– the whole of the first draft– by the end of Christmas break.

Huge thanks and kudos to Jay for making this possible.

December 24
Not ready for Christmas? You’re not alone, and it’s okay. Here’s why.
December 27

Fresh Sherlock (fanfic) news, Tiana and Becky.

The legendary detective and his sidekick, Dr. Watson, are now in the public domain, a judge has ruled.
December 28

So much beauty and truth here:

“I’m a lesbian. You’re talking about all of this love and mercy. What does this mean for me?”
I answered, “It means the same for you as anybody else.”

For all I don’t know, I am confident that nobody gets a separate gospel.

~ ~ ~


Becky Miller: That made me burst out laughing.

Me: YES! Me too!

~ ~ ~

You need to read this.

Yes, you.

You train those around you how to treat you. Never say no? Here are four types…
December 30

So happy:

The Good Samaritan with the plow truck was working across the street again today.
I grabbed the braided loaf out of the freezer and ran it across the street to him.

Poor guy seemed to think I was asking him to do it again, but I said my husband was home and we have a snowblower now, this was just a thank-you.

Backstory for you new folks– we had a 10″ snow dump less than a week after Jay left for a month in Antarctica. I was shoveling like Crazy– 3 HOURS!– when this old guy drove across the street and took over. 5 minutes and things were clear.

Absolute Godsend.


December 31


Thomas Crandall

My New Year’s resolution is to write ‘2014’ instead of ‘2013’

My year-end letter is up at Untangling Tales.

Here’s my annual letter, the one I decided not to mail because I prefer readers who volunteer to read the info (blog visitors) rather than “forcing” it on folks. 😉 I would describe 2013 as the mos…