7 quick takes, flannery, garden

7QT: Summer Rundown Edition

I’m told that the best way to start writing again after not writing and not writing and not writing is just to write. I’m hoping this is true, because it’s what I’m going to do.

There’s no real way to catch up on everything that’s happened since I last posted something (January!), so let’s pretend you’re starting the next book in the series and some events may have transpired in the in-between, ok?

Things always transpire in the in-between.

1. Summer is still happening here, although we’ve started some school up again already because we are traveling in September. I loved our Advent School so much last year that I didn’t want to give it up. To make it all work out and still leave the weeks of Advent basically open for reading and crafting and baking, we are doing some schoolwork now, and it’s going well. Somehow, we’re beginning our sixth year as a homeschooling family, with Sam going into fifth grade and the girls into second. It doesn’t seem true when I type it.

This is my pre-reading stack from a couple of weeks ago. We’ve finally switched to Ambleside Online this year, and I’m loving it. That’s probably another blog post.

2. Sam and Nora swam on the swim team this year- Sam’s second year and Nora’s first. They both really liked it. Starting out our summer with swim team makes the first month feel a little bit crazy, but things have slowed down now and I’m so glad they had the experience.

3. We’ve been gardening better this year than ever before. I had no idea I would become this person- someone who is excited every day to see if there are any new zucchini and who spends a lot of time hunting bugs on her bean plants to keep them from being chewed upon- but I love growing our own food and I love looking at that green bean arch and thinking of how much it’s grown since I put seeds in the ground back in the spring. Plants grow. From seeds. It’s basically miraculous.

4. I’m not sure if it’s just that we live in a weirdly moth-filled spot or if I’ve just gradually become someone who notices these things, but we’ve spotted a lot of really amazing moths in our yard this summer. We currently have a Cecropia Silkmoth caterpillar hanging out in our kitchen. He’s totally amazing, even though every time I look at him I get a tiny “thrill” like Matthew Cuthbert digging up grubs in his potato patch. I learned yesterday that these caterpillars spend the winter in their cocoons and then emerge as their moth-selves in the spring. Apparently you can observe this process by overwintering them in your refrigerator.

Polyphemus Moth on our sycamore

 

Rosy Maple Moth on our arborvitae

 

“He’s kind of yuck but I also like yucky things.”

 

Cecropia Silkworm caterpillar

I think this may exceed my commitment level…but I’m actually considering it, because I really want to see how this guy turns out! They are the largest moths north of Mexico- 5 1/2″ wingspan. That’s bigger even than a Luna moth or the Polyphemus we found.

5. I’m currently in the middle of a Summer of Flannery project- reading or re-reading everything that Flannery O’Connor wrote- with my kindred spirit Katherine. (Read her beautiful blog here.) I’ve always loved Flannery’s writing, but I feel like we are really getting to know her as a person by intentionally reading all her words and discussing them. So far we’ve done just short stories and Wise Blood, one of her two novels, but it’s been a lot of fun (and has occasionally resulted in late night or early morning texts back and forth about the deeper meaning of the shaving cream dripping from a character’s chin or the potential Marian symbolism of being gored by a bull). Such good stuff.

6. We are prepping for a Great Big Roadtrip to Points North- hitting Old Town Quebec for a few days and traveling to Prince Edward Island on a trip I have always wanted to take. I’m taking car entertainment recommendations, song suggestions, and lists of your favorite audiobooks, so send them my way! Our family is currently reading Anne of Green Gables aloud in preparation for the trip, and I underestimated how delightful it would be to share this particular book with my family. George has never read it before, so I’m reading aloud, and everyone is begging for “just one more chapter!”

Dear Northeast US and Canada, especially PEI, I’m sorry I haven’t yet learned what shapes you are.

Bonus: Felix is running around saying, “Fiddlesticks!” all the time. It’s rather disarming.

7. Are any of y’all afraid of geese? Because I think I might be.
This guy looks clever here (on George’s mom’s patio), but when he puts his head down and his neck out and runs really fast at you, it’s less charming. Also, I think I will always have an issue with large groups of birds convening in one place thanks to an ill-timed viewing of Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” at a tender age.

That’s 7. That was fun. Maybe I’ll do it again sometime soon!

 

Linking up with Kelly for 7QT (and feeling so grateful for this linkup, which feels like an on-ramp for writing here again). Go visit!

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books, well read mom, yarn along

New books, new projects {yarn along}

Happy New Year!

The start of a new calendar year makes me eager to start a hundred new projects. My brain is bursting with ideas. But first, I’m finding energy to finish old things…books I’d made my way partly through, knitting and sewing projects I’d started, little jobs around the house that have sat, undone, waiting for attention. I think it’s something about my desire to start a bunch of new things and realizing that my lists already have things on them and feeling like making new lists and pretending the old lists don’t exist is somehow dishonest.

As Felix has been saying lately whenever he doesn’t believe someone, “You are not TRUE.”

In the interest of being TRUE, I’m trying to whittle down my stash a bit and finish some old projects and books before I jump headlong into the new ones I really want to be doing. So, I’m using some yarn I bought a few years ago from this farm to make a quick cowl. Working with this yarn is heaven! I wish now that I had bought so much more of it. I love the weight, the feel of it- it’s spongy and springy and has the perfect amount of twist so it never splits. The little variations in color are so beautiful, too. The pattern is Sweeping Angels Neck Cowl by Ivy Brambles (Ravelry link)…and the worsted weight is working up really quickly.

I’m hoping to finish it this weekend, because my yarn is coming for the Big Life Goal project I’m going to finish this year…and I really want to be able to start on it right away! More on that next week, I hope.

We are reading On Pilgrimage by Dorothy Day for our Well-Read Mom group, and I’m really finding a lot that connects with how my life feels right now. It seems Dorothy Day and I both like to ruminate on a broad range of things while we wash dishes, clean clothes, and care for people’s needs…and her thoughts are elevating mine these days. She’s all about the holy moments in the middle of the everyday ones, which y’all know is a favorite theme of mine.

“All things are His, and all are holy.”

                                 – Dorothy Day, On Pilgrimage

I’m also working my way through The World’s First Love: Mary, Mother of God by Fulton Sheen and finding it jaw-droppingly amazing. I’ve never read any Sheen before (although I’ve always meant to) and he is wonderful. This book is Smart, Occasionally Snarky, the stuff of Light Bulbs Illuminating Inside My Brain every few pages- I really love it, but I can only take a few pages at a time or my head will explode.

In addition to finishing a few books this week, I’ve decided a few other books are not worth finishing right now and have put them aside. I never used to do this, ever, but my friend Katherine has persuaded me that a busy mama’s reading time is precious and that there is no shame in ditching a book if I really don’t like it or it isn’t speaking to me at a particular moment.

I can always go back for them later, right?

What are you reading? I’m still making my To-Read list for this year, and I’m open to suggestions- I like everything!

Linking up with Ginny Sheller’s Yarn Along…I’m so glad to see it back again as a monthly linkup.

Advent

Somehow, I almost missed it {grace in the good enough, Advent version}

There are two sticky notes sticking out of my Advent journal this morning.

That’s what sticky notes are for, to stick out- to remind me of something I’m probably going to forget otherwise. I sometimes think sticky notes are the thing that keeps me together- or, if not together, at least from falling completely apart.

The first bright pink flag in the book marks the place where I first missed a day of the journal this Advent. I meant to go back and pick it up later, but I fell further and further behind. The second note marks the place where I actually am supposed to be right now, today, but I’m not really there, either.

There is a widening gap between those two pieces of paper- the place where I ought to be and the place where I really am.

That’s the story of my Advent, actually.
Maybe it’s the story of my life.

I had such grand plans- again, because I usually do- of all the things I’d do and be and how it would all come together to create a place of spiritual readiness and material readiness and all things READY.

Somehow, I missed- again, because I usually do- that Advent isn’t about my readiness.

It’s about the Incarnation.
It’s about Jesus, who showed up in a world that was not ready to receive Him at all (but desperately needed Him, all the same!) in a place that was anything but prepared for a birth.

And yet, it was enough for Him.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim, worship night and day,
Breastful of milk, and a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels fall before,
The ox and ass and camel which adore.

 
                                          from In the Bleak Midwinter by Christina Rosetti

The reason it was enough has nothing to do with what it actually was, at all. The reason it was enough is because He was enough to make up for all of what it wasn’t.

Somehow, I missed that- again, because I almost always do.
I mistakenly took the gift of time to prepare for the Incarnation and made it about me, about all the things I could do to get ready.

Advent- this one, or any one- isn’t about what I do or about how prepared I manage to be or about how many nights we successfully light our wreath as a family or about how many symbols make it onto our Jesse Tree. It’s not about taking the links off our Advent chain in the right order or about learning enough Latin verses of Adeste Fidelis so that we can sing along at Mass without a song book. It’s not about whether we got cookies made for our neighbors and friends or about whether we mailed our cards out on time or whether we managed to squeeze in every O Antiphon this last week before Christmas.

It’s not about squeezing anything in.

It’s about opening something up- our hearts, which are all He really wanted in the first place.

And in the next few days, there’s still time to do exactly that. There’s time to open my heart, even just a little bit, and make some space for Him. Any space I make in there will just allow Him to fill it with more Love.

Come, Lord Jesus. Fill us with your Love. We won’t be ready to receive you, but we long to receive you anyway, and we need you so much. Take what we have to offer, whatever it is, and make it enough. Help us remember that without You, nothing we have will ever be enough- and with You, whatever we have will more than suffice.

the adventures of margaret and june

"It’s kind of like a Christmas present for you, really."

I might be more excited about my daughters’ Christmas gift than they are.

That is definitely true for now, of course, since they don’t know what it is yet. It falls into the category  of “potentially life-changing things that you don’t even really know about.” So they can’t be very excited about it, not even knowing the potential it has for them both.

This is the year of the 18” doll.

We decided not to go for the American Girl doll, not yet. One daughter is still too likely to draw all over things that are not, strictly speaking, art materials, and one has a penchant for cutting hair. I did some preliminary browsing on eBay for Felicity and considered briefly whether it was the year to hand down my own beloved Samantha.

I decided it was not.

Instead, we are expecting the arrival (any day now! any day!) of Margaret and June, two lovely girls who are not American Girl dolls but are 18” tall and will be in for all kinds of excitement at our house.

Lucy and Nora have NO IDEA.

Margaret and June also have no idea…but I have every reason to hope they are solid, loyal, adventure-loving types who won’t be intimidated by space travel, medieval jousts, fort building, impromptu gymnastics meets in the backyard and long car rides. You know, the kind of girls that would be protagonists in an E. Nesbit novel, or maybe Jessie from the Boxcar Children.

My own American Girl doll story started way back when the company was still Pleasant Company. They sent out a small catalog (there was no internet then). There were only three dolls- Kirsten, Samantha, and Molly- with maybe three outfits each, and I was (by most accounts) too old to play with them.

I saved up all my money from doing odd jobs and babysitting my younger cousins to buy my very own Samantha. It was $74 for the doll and the paperback book, and it seemed like more money than I could imagine. It took me over a year. When I finally had the cash in hand, my mother bought the doll and even sprung for the extra money to upgrade to a hardback book.

That was lovely of her, wasn’t it?

I was old enough to sew, and one of my favorite things to do was to make clothes for Samantha. A few years later, my younger sisters were gifted Molly and Kirsten at Christmas, so we played school with them all together and made them elaborate wardrobes and took them everywhere we went. I can still remember my youngest sister’s voice when we were in a store someplace and she spotted something doll-sized: “That’s just the right size for Molly and them!”

Of course, now, there are no shortage of things that are the right size for Molly and them, since everyone in the world has an 18” doll from someplace. Pinterest is full of all the amazing things that properly motivated, crafty moms and other concerned adults can create for the dolls in their lives. The rational thing to do, especially the week before Christmas, is to say, “Oh, aren’t those cute?” but to privately thank your lucky stars that you have better things to do with your life than to build bunk beds for dolls out of end tables or create ballet barres for them out of pvc pipe (spray painted pink, of course).

This week, since we decided that Margaret and June will be joining our family, I have been falling down the rabbit hole of 18” doll paraphernalia DIY sites and currently have a list of projects to last a lifetime. I may have stayed up too late last night knitting a pink beret and matching mittens for June, prompting my husband to utter the words that titled this post in which I lay all the evidence out for you and wait for you to assure me that this is totally normal.

It’s normal, right?

I’m trying to convince myself my excitement for my girls (I mean my daughters, of course, not Margaret and June!) is just that, excitement for my girls, and that it doesn’t mean I’m projecting my childhood onto my daughters with expectations that they will have the same love for their dolls that I did for mine.

My Gram, who spent her retirement winters against her will in Florida away from her beloved grandchildren, once sewed complete wardrobes for Molly, Samantha and Kirsten while she was away, just because she loved to do such things. My mom tells stories about receiving dolls for Christmas with beautiful hand-sewn wardrobes of clothing, including wedding dresses and lined wool capes with matching skirts and blouses, all because Gram enjoyed making them so much.

I’m telling myself that a love for creating tiny clothes is just something I inherited from her and that I’m not actually obsessed. It’s hard, though, because I want Margaret and June to feel welcome and to be appropriately attired for the weather, and they ought to have pajamas and bedding that matches the girls’, don’t you think?

Maybe that’s going too far.

Maybe I could get by with monogrammed sleeping bags…

7 quick takes, Advent

(Not Quite) 7 (Not So) Quick Takes: The Advent Edition

This isn’t actually going to catch you up, in case you had any hopes for that. Part of the reason I’ve been putting off writing here is that the list of things I haven’t told you just gets longer and longer. So I’m jumping in mid-stream, and I’ll just put in backstory where it’s needed, and if you’re lost you’ll have to holler at me to slow down or back up.

Deal?

Good, now that we have that all figured out, here’s what we’ve been up to lately:

1. Advent School

I decided this year when planning our schedule for school to leave space during Advent and Christmas to do something different. We’re doing a light study of Christmas traditions around the world using Mary Lankford’s Christmas around the World as our main read-aloud and then reading all the Christmas picture books we love from our collection plus a healthy infusion of them from the library. My confession is that I put all those library books on hold in late October/early November and have just been renewing them so that we’d be sure to have them before someone else did. Sorry, y’all with whom I share a library system. I am being good about bringing them back when we have finished, though, so that’s something.

Without the usual schedule of math and history and science and other stuff, I have actually had the self-discipline to bake with my kids and let them do messy crafts without losing it entirely. We’ve hung pinecone bird feeders, made gingerbread play dough, painted wooden ornaments, sewn felt Christmas trees and made lavender sachets with cross-stitched letters on them. Not everyone has done all of these things. Someone hasn’t really done any of them. It’s okay, though- we have had time for extra reading, extra making, extra music, and extra lounging around, and it feels like overall things are working out as I hoped they might.

2. Advent- marking time

These are the things people want to know, right? What do you do? What should we be doing?

I’ll tell you what we are doing if you promise not to think it is what you should be doing.

Our Advent calendar – we open one door a day and there’s a short reading that goes along with it. This is my favorite Advent calendar of all time.

Our Advent wreath– we light the candle for the week on Saturday evening as a vigil for the coming Sunday, and we light it each night during the week before the kids go to bed and sing the first verse of O Come, O Come Emmanuel. We’ve been using this book by Lisa Hendey for several years now, and it’s just about perfect for the age that our family is- short, sweet, and to the point. (There are questions to discuss if you want to be more elaborate. We never do.)

The Sam of Advent Past: he is basically the same now, just bigger

Advent chain– I came up with this project for Sam a few years ago, and then the lovely Nancy of Do Small Things with Love made a wonderful printable version of it. There is a name of Jesus for each day of Advent. You can print Nancy’s pages out, cut them into strips, and make a chain so that you can remove a link each day leading up to Christmas. Scripture references on the chain links make it easy to look up the verses where each name of Jesus originates in the Bible. It’s been fun.

Jesse Tree– I have a pretty terrible track record with the Jesse Tree. We can’t seem to sustain it- things get busy, we get behind, and then I’m totally overwhelmed and we just drop it. I printed out Nancy’s ornament patterns a couple of years ago and we colored them, but we’ve never really gotten very far with the actual reading and doing of the tree.

This year, we are trying to keep up. Since I don’t have a lot of space to put out more things, we wrapped a branch with thread and are hanging the ornaments from it. No picture I can take of this branch is even remotely inspiring. So far, we are only slightly behind, but I’m not too worried about it yet.

We already put up our tree because we have a couple of trips away this month and didn’t want things to feel rushed. We could have waited until Gaudete Sunday, but we didn’t. I think at other times I’ve been more precious about the most correctest possible way to do everything, but this year I am just…not.

3. Hand-me-down hobbies
I thought this article from Brandy at Afterthoughts was so encouraging. I’ve been a little worried about how some of my kids don’t seem to be picking up certain things I wish they would pick up, or how I’m not spending equal time teaching each one of them the same things…but the older they get, the more different they are, and with so many different interests, it’s just not possible to cover everything with everyone in the same degree of detail. So for now, I’m spending more time with Lucy picking out carols on the piano or singing in parts, and Nora’s sitting with me working on her crochet technique (which will be better than mine quickly, since I don’t really crochet), and I’m playing chess with Sam or talking about theology or Hobbits or whatever else he’s read that I’ve always meant to read and haven’t gotten around to reading yet.

Bottom line: it’s going to be okay, because siblings.

4. Siblings

There is so much sibling conflict here right now that I often wonder if siblings are the reason why it is NOT going to be okay, maybe ever again…so I especially welcomed the reminder from Brandy (see #3) that there are practical advantages to having several children in my home, even if they aren’t immediately apparent. The squabbling is killing me, y’all. The boys are always whacking each other with swords, and if we take the swords away, they find other things with which to whack. The girls are constantly making and breaking and reforming alliances and sneaking Halloween candy into their room and arguing over who should have to clean up the dirty clothes that are everywhere. And I’m running around saying, “Everything has a place!” and “Don’t leave underwear in the kitchen!” and “Swords are not for whacking your brother!” (even though swords really are kind of for whacking your brother, aren’t they?)

5. Advent playlist

I have an eclectic Advent playlist. It’s still my go-to, and every now and then I add things to it, but that’s hard to do because I made it way back in the day when George had the only Spotify account in our household. It’s still under his name, but if you need music to accompany your Advent, give it a try. 
https://open.spotify.com/embed/user/1233061482/playlist/1NU3xalSmeK22Cn2iBlbZ0

6. HolyLens

George and I are doing #HolyLens again this Advent, because we would miss it if we didn’t. There is a small but faithful band joining us on Instagram. If taking pictures of your daily life helps you see the moments of grace embedded in your days, come and join us. Just look for the hashtag. I’m dere_abbey and George is grdvee.

That’s it. I guess sometimes quick takes come in sixes instead of sevens. Or maybe I’ll think of something else later.

Would you say a prayer for our parish Blessed is She leadership team and the women who will attend our Advent retreat tomorrow? It’s supposed to snow, probably not a lot, but I’d hate for weather to get in the way of what might be a very needed two hours of peace and reflection for these ladies tomorrow. I love snow, and I refuse to apologize for that, but if we could have snow and safe travels/not-too-slippery parking lots tomorrow, that would be most excellent.

Thanks for reading. I know I have been silent quite a while, and I don’t take it for granted that you stuck around now that I have something to say again. 

Advent, anxiety

Adventing, as you do {Abbey, the unready}

I startled awake this morning, anxious and uncomfortable.

Almost immediately, I realized part of my discomfort was from a pair of three-year-old feet pressed solidly into the small of my back, kneading my kidneys with ten still-chubby toes.

Also (possibly related to the toes), I needed the bathroom urgently.

Also, I’ve fallen into my usual trap of Advent anxiety.

Last night after a long day of meeting and errands and one particularly awful grocery store trip (in which a woman in the checkout line suggested that I should drink the entire bottle of wine I was purchasing), we put our four overtired children to bed. I sat at my desk and scrolled back through old blog posts, trying to find one about our favorite Christmas books (how do I not have a post about our favorite Christmas books after all these years?), and I had to laugh at myself. So many words about Advent. So many sentences about waiting and not rushing and being present in the moment. So many reassurances about how this is a time of preparation and we don’t have to have all the things ready right now.

I guess I was writing to myself all that time as much as anyone else. I needed to reread my own words.

So this morning, in the waning moments of darkness before the sun creeps up and my children burst forth to find their new slippers stuffed with chocolate coins and clementines and candy canes, here is a reminder from me to you (and from me to me):

Advent is for preparation. It’s a whole season in which to prepare for the Incarnation…an event large enough that we need weeks to get ready for it- not just once, but every single year. Even Mary, the mother of the Word made flesh, needed time to prepare for Jesus, leading Him to spend the first nine months of His life as a human being waiting silently in her womb. He was gestating. He was preparing, too, as His body was being woven together in the sanctuary of His mother. I can’t even get my mind to wrap around that truth.

And that’s okay, because it’s Advent, and I have time to wonder over it. It is a mystery worth all the wonder I can muster in the coming days and weeks.

As we prepare our hearts, it is perfectly fine to also be preparing our everyday lives for the celebration that is coming. It’s okay to use Advent to clear our countertops while we ponder what it means to clean our hearts. It’s okay to use Advent to spruce up our front porches while we contemplate what sort of outward expressions of Christian joy we’re sharing with the world. It’s okay to use Advent to choose and wrap gifts for those we love as we consider the great Gift that came to each of us over two thousand years ago.

It’s okay to not be ready yet. It’s okay, because Advent is for getting ready, and getting ready is what what we are supposed to be doing right now.

But Advent is more than that, too. It’s an invitation to take advantage of the time we have to join Mary in pondering all these things in our hearts. The Incarnation is a mystery that never gets smaller. It’s never any less amazing. There is plenty of material there for thinking and praying and meditating on for a lifetime.

So stop worrying about not being ready, and go get ready. Get Adventing. Tell me what you’re doing to get ready. While you bake things (if you do that) and wrap things and arrange things, take a few minutes to ponder why we do this and what it all means. And if you are one of those amazing people who is already ready for Christmas before Advent begins, I salute you and would like you to write a guest post for me next year around October so that you can share your wisdom and best tips with the rest of us, because I could clearly use some help in that department.

Happy Advent.

Uncategorized

To Nora, who has finally become Six

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You’ve been waiting for Six for a long time…the way you wait for everything, equal parts anticipatory excitement and grumpy irritability that the object of your desire has not yet been granted to you. You’ve been musing over this birthday, turning it over and over in your mind as you help me fold socks or unload the dishwasher or water the garden, sharing little tidbits of your thoughts as you tumble them around.

“When I’m six, I’ll read chapter books to myself, completely to myself, like Sam does.”

“When I’m six, I won’t need any help to put my hair in a ponytail.”

“When I’m six, I’ll be able to weave and knit without any assistance.”

“When I’m six, I’m going to make dinner all by myself.”

“When I’m six, could I possibly have my own room?”

Well, as much as I’d love to grant all your birthday wishes and give you the desires of your heart, you can’t have your own room. We’re simply out of bedrooms. Also, for all your blustery rhetoric about not liking to share your things or your space, I’m not sure you’d be entirely happy all alone at night without your sister’s company.

Yes, sharing space is hard, and sharing your things with someone who doesn’t always treat them the same way as you do is a challenge. You like things the way you like them- lined up neatly in rows, carefully arranged to meet your artistic preferences, color-coded and grouped by size and shape. I watch you carefully choose shells to outline a path over the wall around your sandcastle, and I know each one has meaning to you- nothing you do is accidental. You have plans, and they all fit into a bigger plan, and other people’s unwitting blunders sometimes completely ruin your plans and therefore ruin your life.

As you said at the end of the day on your birthday, “Nothing at all went the way I had hoped it would on this birthday, and it’s the most horrible birthday I’ve ever had!”

We never need to ask you how you feel, my girl. You are always quick to tell us.

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And I’m so grateful that you can tell us- that you don’t stuff your feelings down inside and pretend that things are okay when they simply aren’t. Your feelings are enormous, after all! They explode out of you with giggles and whoops and leaps and sometimes sobs and gulps and tears and sometimes even eye rolls and door slams. What would happen to a girl like you if she stuffed her feelings inside and didn’t let them out? She’d be a walking volcano, waiting to blow at any second.

I know it can be scary to be such a feeler. You never quite know when something might leap out of nowhere and make you weep- a story read aloud at the library, a butterfly on the ground with a wing missing, a crushed seashell, a broken crayon. When your tooth came out yesterday, you brought it to me with tears welling up in your eyes. I thought you were hurt, but as you wept in my lap, you told me you were just sad…”and I have no idea why!”

Sometimes, we just don’t know why, do we?

I have never been very good at pretending things are okay when they aren’t, so maybe you got your big feelings from me. Regardless of where they came from, they are here, and they are part and parcel of who you are, and I would not change them even on the days when they are not easy to manage. You have the rest of your life to figure out how to keep your feelings from exploding onto other people. I am still trying to figure that out, myself, but I’ll help you in any way I can. For now, you are safe. I love you, just as you are, large feelings and all. And no matter how many times you slam the door in frustration, I will always be waiting on the other side of it when you’re ready to talk.

Happy birthday, dear one. You will always have my heart.

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