gracie says, vol. 6

While eating sloppy joes:
"Mommy, I love these floffy jokes."

G: "Where is the red moon?"
Me: "It's not red, it's white."
G: "No, it's red. I painted it yesterday. I took my ladder on a rocket ship up to the moon and painted it red."

While wearing a pink gingham shirt:
"I think Santa really likes my shirt today."

While making dinner, she stirs the soup and looks at me:
"So, Bob, what do you think? Does it look good?"

Me: "Thank you for obeying."
G: "I wasn't obeying you, I was obeying my kitties."

Gracie heard the song Mamma Mia and became obsessed with it. She asked to watch Mamma Mia, and I had no idea how she knew it was also a movie. I turned the scene on where they sing Mamma Mia and she was very confused.
G: "Where are the llamas??"
Me: "It's called Mamma Mia, not Llama Mia."
G in a panic: "So there's no llamas?!"
(She's never asked to listen to it again!)

Me: "Are you ready for Bible study this morning?"
G: "Well, there was a ghost outside my window last night and then a bird ate some acorns, so no. I need to stay home."

Me: "Hey, Gracie."
G: "Don't call me Gracie, call me Tickle Cheese."


recent reads

How to Be a Perfect Christian by The Babylon Bee--5 stars: Well, this was one of the funniest books ever. As someone who grew up in church and has been a part of several denominations, there wasn't really anything I DIDN'T relate to. It was basically a satirical how-to guide on being a Christian with the worst possible advice. If you are not a church person, this probably will not be very funny to you. If you are, I highly recommend it. So many well-placed jabs intended to entertain and offend when necessary. I wish I had written this review right after reading it, because there were so many hilarious things I wanted to mention that I've now completely forgotten. My personal favorite was the comment about churches who use fog machines and lasers to make a runway so "the Holy Spirit knows where to land." James and I were in a worship band together in college for a campus ministry who more or less believed that way. I read the whole section to him and we were cracking up.

For fans of: The Onion, snark, satire, church, God and coffee puns (i.e. He-Brews Coffee Shop--classic)

The Emily Trilogy by L.M. Montgomery--4.5 stars: Instead of reviewing the three separate books, I figured I would just do it as a whole. I started Emily of New Moon intrigued but not in love with it. By the end of the book, I liked it. By the end of the series, I was nearly in tears that it was over. I LOVED it. Emily completely won me over. She's an only child orphan sent to live with her elderly aunts, one of them being quite harsh. She spends her free time with her friends and writing, which everyone thinks is a terrible hobby. She gets herself into plenty of awkward moments and gets her jollies from snow storms and beautiful scenery. Basically, I saw myself in her. She eventually grows up, goes to school, tries to make it as a writer and dates a lot of hilariously bad guys. I think I can almost declare L.M. Montgomery as my favorite writer. She is an incredible storyteller, and she's witty and sarcastic in just the right amounts. I can't get enough. Anne will forever by my number one since I grew up with her, but Emily is a very close second.

For fans of: Anne of Green Gables, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little Women, lots of nature descriptions

84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff--5 stars: Two pages into this book, I knew it was going to be a favorite. It was absolutely delightful. It was not at all what I expected. It's a collection of real letters written from the 1940s-1960s by Helene and a used book dealer in London. She wrote him asking for a specific book as she couldn't find what she wanted in NYC, and they struck up a 20 year friendship through letters. Her writing is hysterical and witty, and the responses from the employees of the book shop are so sweet. I was almost in tears by the end. I just can't tell you how sweet it is, and while I don't know if this is the case, it HAS to be what the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society was based on. Now I want to write letters to strangers all over the world and see what kind of friendships I can drum up. The book is fairly short, and I read it through on Saturday.

For fans of: friendship, pen pals, TGLPPS, wit, books about books

These Is My Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901 by Nancy E. Turner--3.5 stars: This novel was one giant epic saga of exhaustion and tragedy. This book has a lot of good reviews, but I didn't quite share the love. It starts off with teenage Sarah writing in her diary about their covered wagon journey to Arizona. There are a lot of graphic scenes of rape, murder, assault, death, illness, just about everything ugly. Granted, that was the time period and the book is very true to this, like the adult version of Little House on the Prairie. The book is comprised of journal entries as Sarah grows up, gets married, becomes a mother, has happy times and times of intense tragedy. I grew to admire Sarah as the book went along, but it was not a happy read. I enjoyed reading about the time period and the historical aspects of homesteading in Indian Territory. I enjoyed some of the story lines and the way Sarah consistently makes the best out of difficult situations. I was just exhausted by the story in general. It's great if you love historical fiction, which I do, as long as you're ok with the realism. 

For fans of: playing Cowboys v. Indians as a kid, Little House on the Prairie but rated R, strong independent women who don't need no man, the Oregon Trail

The Great Alone by Kristen Hannah--4 stars: This was in a similar vein as These is My Words. I was gripped by the story but also exhausted by it. It's the 1970s, and Leni is a young teen when her parents decide to abandon their lives and move to rural Alaska. They're in for a harsh reality check when they realize they were in no way prepared for their first Alaskan winter. It's all they can do to survive, and Leni's father drinks heavily and becomes violent toward her mother. Her dad does everything he can to cut them off from the outside world, convinced society is on the verge of collapse. Leni's world spins into total chaos as she tries to help her family survive and protect her mother. I could NOT put this book down. It was heavy and the subject matter was difficult to read at times, but it was gripping. It was similar to The Nightingale in that it deals with difficult subjects and the suspense is palpable, but I did not enjoy this one quite as much. The last 1/3rd or so of the book felt a bit like a soap opera and a little too sensational to be believable. Overall, I enjoyed it even though it was borderline traumatic. I have to give props to a book that I absolutely cannot put down.

For fans of: The Glass Castle, Educated, living off the grid, lots of snow, Grey's Anatomy

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan--3 stars: Well, this book was wild. It's not the kind of book I'd typically go for, but I've been hearing about it for years so I finally gave in. It wasn't until I was reading it that I realized it's a movie now. If you haven't read it or seen the movie, it's about a boy in NYC who takes his American girlfriend home to Singapore to meet his family. She has no idea that his family is wealthy on a level no one even knew could exist. This family very much determines everything by social class and family origin. They hate her and do everything in their power to basically destroy her will to live, because GOD FORBID she is not from the right family. Her boyfriend is oblivious to the family drama because he is a man. This book was incredibly entertaining. It's funny, it's shocking, and is this really how things are in Singapore? Because wow. It's an entirely different world. The constant descriptions of wealth were both dazzling and exhausting. There's a lot of foul language and some very crude scenes. The author uses gratuitous footnotes to translate Mandarin and Cantonese (if I remember correctly), and I often forgot the meaning and then couldn't remember what those words meant the next time I saw them. Overall, a good book for a vacation, but be aware of language and some highly crude moments.

For fans of: Downton Abbey but asian, extravagance, asian food descriptions, parties, The Real Housewives of Singapore

This is a Book by Demetri Martin--2.75 stars: I have loved Demetri Martin for years, starting in college when I watched a youtube video of his standup routine, and he told the joke "I got these new pajamas with pockets in them, which is great because I used to have to hold things when I slept." Something about this joke got me deep, and 10 years later I'm still laughing. No one has ever found it as funny as I do. This book was....ok. Demetri Martin is brilliant and hysterical, but he does not translate as well to writing. As he says in his most recent (I think?) stand-up special on Netflix, one-liners are his speciality. You can't exactly make a book out of those. He writes a lot of bizarre short stories, some of them so weird I skimmed or skipped them entirely, and some that are incredibly strange but hilarious. My favorite story was about a man who dated a ghost named Sheila, and all the implications of dating a ghost. It was wacky and weirdly genius. He also has a chapter of his signature charts and drawings which are always delightful. Nothing about this book was bad, but it just caters to a very specific type of humor. Some of it was spot-on to my tastes, and some was not.

For fans of: very dry humor, really weird stories, offbeat humor 

I also read two more books in the Shopaholic series and the last of the Little Beach Street series. Both were annoying to the point that I can't even bring myself to review them. Have you read any of these? What are you reading lately? Now that fall is in there, I'm feeling myself drift back toward the classics. Something about this change in seasons makes me crave victorian literature.


currently, september edition

reading: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. This book has been on my list to read forever, and then it magically appeared in the mail recently from one of my favorite friends.

watching: the Ohio State football game at the moment. The sports balls are looking very sporty tonight.

preparing for: another road trip with G. Doesn't matter how many times I do it, I still get sickly nervous every time.

freaking out about: turning 30. Don't get mad. Most of my blog readers are a little older than I am and therefore probably want to punch me in the face right now. Honestly, I really haven't given that much thought to turning 30 even though I know it's coming. Most of my friends are in their 30s. It's just a stupid number. But today is my half birthday (I'm writing this on the 15th, mark your calendars accordingly) and suddenly I felt a rising panic this morning. I have not loved my 20s, but I kind o hate to leave them, too. By the time I post this, the feeling will probably have passed, but right now I feel downright WEIRD.

loving: my hair. I chopped it all off. I was tired of the purple hair and the maintenance, so I just got rid of it. I don't think I ever would've gone this short otherwise, but I'm loving it for a nice change. I'm realizing that I need to do something drastic (this is drastic for me) every few months just so spice it up a bit. I have to dye my hair, cut it, paint something, go somewhere, just push myself out of my comfort zone a bit.

Also, I got bangs again. I did it and I have no regrets. Yet.

enjoying: playing the piano again. I was at a baby shower a few weeks ago. My friend's sister hosted it, and she happens to be a piano teacher. I commented on how much I loved her baby grand, and before I knew it, she whipped out some music and forced me to sit and play. She grabbed Gershwin and Beethoven on a whim, having no clue that I used to play these pieces. I didn't even care that a million people were around and I'm rustier than an old nail; I sat and played my heart out and nearly wept with joy. Piano was my entire life from 2nd grade through college. My parents have had my piano ever since, and long story short, it's in their garage in Iowa and I'm trying to figure out a way to get it to my house. I pulled my keyboard out in the meantime. I just hate, HAAAATE playing on a keyboard. The keys don't feel right, it doesn't sound the same, it's just not the same experience. It's better than nothing, and I've been trying to get myself back to where I once was.

hating: hot and humid temperatures pushing 90. I AM DONE. Unfortunately, the weather forecast is not, nor does it care that I'm tired of sweating. I'm telling you, this hot weather gives me seasonal depression just like weeks of subzero temperatures.

laughing about: Gracie went to Children's Church for the first time Sunday. They learned about Adam & Eve and how they ate from the forbidden tree. We've been talking about going apple picking in the next few weeks, and on the way home Gracie said "But now we can't go apple picking, because God said we can't eat the fruit of the tree!" I explained that it's fine to eat from apple trees, but she is NOT convinced. I haven't been able to get an apple in her since!


once again, life is a comedy of errors

So, this has been a stressful week.

Here's a small example of how our weekend went: James decided it was finally time to install a ceiling fan in Gracie's room. It gets so warm in there, and she loves to bundle up with blankets at night and wakes up drenched in sweat. I agreed. He bought one, brought it home, and turned the breaker off to her room so he could install it. I thought this would be a good time to catch up on the massive pile of laundry. I filled the washer, went to turn it on and....nothing. I thought maybe he turned off the breaker to the laundry room too, but the light and dryer both worked. Our washer is only 9 months old, so it shouldn't be failing me.

I went to the fuse box to see if I could find an answer. Turns out, "Bedroom 2" and "Washer Water Pump" are on the same fuse/breaker/I don't know I don't speak electricity. IN WHAT UNIVERSE does that makes sense? So that explained why my clothes were sitting in the washer dry and covered in detergent.

A bit later when I knew James was installing the light cover on the fan, I heard the sound of glass shattering all over the floor. Oh yes. Brand new ceiling fan light, shattered. We both had great attitudes about it.

That's a perfect snapshot of how our weekend went. And I still haven't caught up on laundry.

After a fitful night's sleep, I woke to the news that my dad had been hospitalized. He's ok and back home after two days, but he had a scary procedure done and I was on the verge of vomiting all day and went to bed with stress hives.

And then it was September 11th, which is always an unsettling day. I took Gracie to the park to try to shake off this string of bad days and discovered 6!!!!! roads closed due to paving. Once we finally arrived, I reached up to scratch my arm, and my hand was covered in a thick, black, tarry grease substance that has yet to be identified. The sleeve of my shirt was covered in it. Where it came from, I still can't figure out. I took Gracie back to the car to grab some baby wipes to clean it off, and just when I got back to the car I remembered I had taken them out two days before. I dropped my phone and car keys, and the car key left a scratch on my phone screen. Once we got home, I immediately changed my shirt covered in grease, and then promptly spilled my lunch all over my clean shirt.

And, you know, not to mention Hurricane Florence which basically has a bulls eye right on my in-laws. It's the craziest thing--the path of the hurricane is basically a tour of my old life. It's hitting the beach where we got engaged, the city I lived in, and then it's where my in-laws live. So that's great. James lived through a massive hurricane as a kid that left them underwater to the point that they rowed boats to get places and caskets buried on their family property came unearthed.

Add that to the list of reasons I'm thankful I no longer live there.

We had two hurricanes hit when I was in college, and we didn't get out of class once. Now, ECU is closed for the entire week! Granted, they were smaller hurricanes and one fizzled to a tropical storm by the time it hit, but today I choose to be bitter. Humph!

As much as I worry for my North Carolina friends and family, I am LIVING for tracking this hurricane. Nothing hypes me up quite like a weather system to track, but I do want everyone to stay safe. I'm also a little mad I no longer live there so I can't experience a hurricane of this magnitude. The remnants of Tropical Storm Gordon passed over last weekend, and we got 3 or 4 inches of rain. I will content myself with that.

So I guess every cloud has a silver lining, even a category 4 hurricane.


Anyway. I haven't had a decent night's sleep in about two weeks (#staywoke...am I doing it right?) and therefore I am not coping with just about anything. Gracie has more or less dropped her nap despite being exhausted. She still goes down for quiet time, but 12 hours of chitter chatter can really start to make a mom go crazy, especially when she is unslept. I tried to hide in the guest room to lay down, but three minutes a later a certain someone waltzed in and crammed herself in the nightstand with a bag of pistachios. The only time she has left my side is to change into one of her 15 outfits of the day.

I've had a lot of teenage angst lately, which I attribute to watching To All the Boys I've Loved Before on Netflix. I was totally sucked in and entertained by it, as stupid as it was. It was like a modern day John Hughes film. The only downside was the alarming flashbacks of my own adolescence, like the time I wrote a boy a note in 7th grade, only to have my math teacher intercept it and read it to the whole cafeteria. I still get nauseous when I think about it. So in a small way, I identified with the movie on a deep, traumatic level. AND THEN I DREAMED ABOUT IT FOR THREE NIGHTS. Three nights in a row, the limited sleep I managed to get was full of dreams about my embarrassing teenage years.



Due to my aforementioned issues, James brought me home flowers. I was very touched, until I looked at the orange jar they came in and saw the three beautiful words that strung together make the world's most offensive statement: "Live Laugh Love"

I mean, clearly he doesn't love me at all to give me flowers in a jar like that.


I remember girls scribbling that phrase on their folders and whatnot in middle and high school, and even then, Live Laugh Love made me want to Die Cry Hate. Before we bought our house, there was a vinyl decal on the living room wall that said "Live Laugh Love" in some horrendous frilly script. As soon as we walked in after closing, I ripped it off the wall, ripped it to shreds, and put it in it's rightful place: the trash.

I have neither the patience nor ability to tolerate cheesy inspirational sayings. My last post probably gave you that idea.

It's very sweet that he gave me flowers, but it's a shame I'll have to get rid of them.

Or maybe the jar will go the way of the ceiling fan light and accidentally shatter on the floor.


on following your dreams

Maybe it's because it's been a cold, rainy weekend or the fact that I just finished the fabulous and thought-provoking Emily trilogy by L.M. Montgomery, but I've been feeling somber and introspective lately. And I've just been thinking some thoughts about dreams and ambitions.

There are so many self-help books out there all about following your dreams, making yourself happy, shattering the glass ceiling, starting your own business, and #girlboss vibes and all that jazz. And every time I see it, I think....yawn.

It's not that I'm not ambitious. Well, according to the world's standards, I'm not. I was an ambitious student. I had high expectations of myself at work. But I left that stuff behind when I became a mom. And honestly, I have no desire to go back to either.

I have never wanted to climb the corporate ladder. I had thoughts about maybe going to law school or finishing my nursing degree or other things like that, and I started my Master's Degree, but my heart was never fully in it. I really only ever wanted to be a mom. And now I am one. Sometimes I find myself wishing I had another outlet, but then I go for a walk, talk to a friend, read a book, or something like that, and I'm fine. I just don't feel that desire to make a life for myself outside my family.

Most of my friends have side jobs or businesses they've started or incredible talents they cultivate in their free time. I love it. I cheer them on and I'm so impressed. I think it's amazing. And then I think...maybe I'll go read a book now? Ha! I mean, if I'm being honest, I would love to write a book someday. But I know this isn't the season of life for it, plus I can't shake the feeling that everything that needs to be said has been said already and far better than I could. And yet I continue to write in this here blog, so whatever. I don't have heaps of unrealized dreams. I have ideas of things I think that would be fun to do, like a start a book club, go back to Europe, and finally learn the 3rd movement of Moonlight Sonata on the piano. But I don't have these burning goals and dreams and huge aspirations keeping me up at night. I'm mostly content in this quiet life. I'm not a mover and a shaker. I'm not trying to make my blog popular, I don't want to be a social media influencer, I'm not creative in a way that makes money. I'm ok with that. Ok, usually I'm ok with that, but I frequently feel like the only woman who feels this way. In the 1950s I would've had my priorities straight, but in 2018...not so much.

I've seen heaps of posts lately telling women to follow their dreams and ambitions, go be successful, make your own happiness, Lean In, yadda yadda yadda. That has a place, and I'm all for following your talents and seeing what you can do with them. Lately, I've been wondering if something was wrong with me for not having these huge dreams to follow, business plans to roll into action, degrees to earn etc. But no, I don't think so. Maybe when Gracie's grown. It seems to be a given these days that we all are pursuing some huge ambitious undertaking, but I say it's ok to stay out of the rat race. It's ok if raising kids and doing the dishes is ambitious enough for this season of life. It doesn't mean I'm lazy, it just means my life and desires and priorities look a little different.

And that, ladies and probably no gentlemen reading, concludes this edition of Michelle Writes Her Feelings.