Ariel is Deserves a Defense

Right now, as I type this I hear The Little Mermaid opening credits playing in the girls’ room. It’s one of those movies they have on repeat as they play with their dolls and “ahh ahh ahh” along.  I know I am not the only one who is excited for the new version of The Little Mermaid. I also know I am not the only one who has been criticized for loving Ariel and the original movie.   

I remember having a discussion in one of my undergrad classes about Disney princesses. The discussion was about the cookie cutter princess, and we were trying to decide when they started to become more strong female figures rather than damsels in distress. I immediately offered Ariel as the first feminist princess. I was then immediately shot down. Collective groans, eye rolls, and even a gasp or two came when I said I thought she was the first step towards feminist princesses. How could I think the girl who literally gives up her voice for a man is a strong princess?

I was probably 20ish years old at the time, and I had not sat and watched the movie for years. I remember floundering a bit to explain. All I could think was that one: her muteness is part of the original story and two: in the first scene where we meet her, she beats up a shark. That wasn’t enough, though. In the moment when I hadn’t seen the movie in so long and everyone was telling me I was wrong, I couldn’t articulate why I felt like she was such a strong lead. I just knew that when I first saw The Little Mermaid at 4 years old, I wanted to be like Ariel. And my idea of being like Ariel was being spunky, strong, and independent. After class, another girl came up to me to say that she agreed with me. She told me she felt the same way, but she also couldn’t articulate why.

This 5, maybe 10 minute discussion that took place 15 years ago never left me. How could I, a woman who prides herself in her feminist ideals, have such affection for the girl who “gives up her voice?” How could anyone allow their daughters to love a princess who would give up her voice and family for a man? Every now and again I would remember and think to myself that Ariel deserved more. I knew she was a strong princess, and at some point I’d be able to explain why. 

I could not defend Ariel then, but thanks to my daughters’ obsessions with the movie, I am no longer so far removed from the film. I know now that I was not wrong about her being one of the first strong, independent princesses, so I will defend her now.  It is a gross generalization to say that Ariel gives up so much for a man. In actuality Ariel gives up very little. She risks her life for a chance to live the way she dreams for herself, yes. But give up her voice? No. She is bold enough to trade her speaking voice for a chance to pursue her own happiness. She uses actions to convey her messages, and a man just happens to be along for the ride.

We immediately know Ariel is not your “ordinary” princess because even before we meet her, we learn that she is defiant. She doesn’t care about the pomp and circumstance of presenting herself to a kingdom. Rather than being put on display in a giant clamshell throne, forced to sing and entertain, she skips out on her performance to explore a dangerous shipwreck.

We know it is dangerous because, as I mentioned in my English class eons ago, she gathers her treasures even while outwitting a hungry hunting shark. Rather than retreating home after narrowly escaping the danger of being eaten alive, she swims to the forbidden surface to try and discover more about her treasures. Then she rushes home to apologize to her father, but when he learns what she was doing her father reprimands her for going to the surface (again). What I find interesting is that the mention of the shark attack gets little to no reaction, but the danger of the surface sets the King off on a tirade. “As long as you live under my ocean you obey my rules.” Those rules include being ignorant of anything outside of “his ocean,” his world.

“If you would just listen,” she begs.

“Not another word!”

So far, in (less than) the first fifteen minutes of the film, we know that Ariel is daring, defiant, and courageous, but with a voice that is not heard. Try as she might, she cannot get a word in. I can understand how this can be seen as just an insolent teenager being shut down by her parent’s “because I said so” argument, but she isn’t disobeying her father just for the sake of disobedience. She is trying to learn about new things. She also tries to justify her actions but is not allowed to express herself. (How many of us have the same problem?)

Then comes the song. The beautiful, iconic “Part of Your World.” Interesting side note – the song is called “Part of Your World,” but the lyrics are actually “part of that world.” I think the misheard lyric attributes to the idea of Ariel giving everything up to be a part of someone else’s world rather than just that other world. Anyway, the song starts off sweetly enough, about her gadgets and gizmos, but then she desperately sings “I want more,” and she doesn’t mean material things.

Bet’cha on land they understand

Bet they don’t reprimand their daughters

Bright young women sick of swimmin’

Ready to stand

And ready to know what the people know

Ask ’em my questions and get some answers

Beyond just trinkets and objects, she wants to be taken seriously. She wants to “wander free” to explore the things she has not seen before. She wants to learn and “know what the people know.” And even more importantly she wants to “Ask ’em my questions and get some answers.” She wants to be able to ask and be answered! Not just shoo’d away, told not to think about it, just do what she’s told, and shut up. She believes that in this new world “they understand,” are less constrictive, and more open to “bright young women” who aren’t reprimanded for curiosity but encouraged. More than just dancing and sunbathing, she wants her turn to do and learn and love as she pleases.

It is important to note this all happens before she ever even lays her eyes on Prince Eric. We know right from the start of the movie that Ariel wants to be a part of a world different from hers. She lives in a world that is not her own but her father’s, where her personal voice is not a treasure. It is only there for performance purposes.

When she does see Eric, I cannot say I blame her immediate infatuation. She peers from the side of his ship – she must again be quiet as to not draw attention to herself – this is forbidden and dangerous. Ariel learns that this human is very much like her. He is humble and does not like to be put on display (in his case in statue form). We learn he does not want to be married off to just anyone for political purposes, but to “the right” person of his choosing. Also like Ariel, when faced with danger, he doesn’t cower and hide. He helps his crew gain control of the ship until it is impossible, he saves drowning passengers, and he risks his own life to save his beloved dog. He is not just a stock cut out of a prince, but a character with personality, so of course she is smitten.

If this movie was just about a girl who was willing to give up her voice for a guy, Ariel would have made her bargain with the Sea Witch right then and there. But she doesn’t. She does what most teenagers do and fantasizes about what could be, but she never considers making a bargain with Ursula until her father finds out about her crushing on a human.

From the aforementioned shark scene, we know Ariel has risked her life for at least some of the pieces in her human artifacts collection. Her last haul was only a few items, but her cavern is filled from sand to ceiling. Who can guess how long she has been collecting? But because she disobeyed her father, her collection of artifacts, her life’s work, are turned to dust and all she can do is watch. It doesn’t matter if she begs, pleads, and cries. A disobedient teenage girl must suffer and be silenced.

It is only after the work of her life is destroyed that she considers talking to the Sea Witch. Ursula insists “on land it’s much preferred for ladies not to say a word.” So far, we can see why Ariel does not value her speaking voice. Any time she attempts to use it, she is silenced, must be quiet for her own safety, or told it is not needed. In this world, Ariel already doesn’t have a voice. What difference does it make if she gives up what she doesn’t actually have?  At least now she has a chance at having her “turn” to “explore that shore up above out of the sea” and be “part of that world.”

Throughout the rest of the movie, we See Ariel and Eric reunite, and I appreciate the fact that Eric is not so easily won. We see that he does begin to fall for Ariel’s charming personality as she combs her hair with a fork, her adventurous spirit as she leaps her carriage over a cliff, and her unapologetic excitement as she blows pipe smoke in Grimsby’s face. But he is ever respectful, and even “Kiss the Girl” doesn’t really work until Eric is sure Ariel wants to be kissed (I am curious about the lyric change in the new film, and I applaud the writers for making necessary changes).

Certainly Eric’s chivalry and honor are beside the point here. Having two interesting and lovable characters fall in love with each other is really just a bonus happy ending to Ariel finally getting what she wants. As Sebastian points out, Ariel “traded her voice to the Sea Witch and got legs” (NOT Eric – legs). Because of that trade she is able to experience everything she sings about in “Part of Your World.” During the scene where she and Eric tour the kingdom she jumps, dances, strolls down the street, and more. Furthermore, her speechless communications with Eric were effective. He understands what she wants to see and do and assists her in all those things. He doesn’t tell her she can’t take the reins but hands them over and lets her guide their carriage. She doesn’t spend her time touring the kingdom trying to make Eric fall in love with her. Instead she uses the time to engross herself in and truly becomes “part of that world,” to which his falling for her just comes naturally.

And it is, in fact, Ariel’s voice that Eric loves. He wants his bride to have her own voice and not just be a thing on his arm. It is her voice that enchants him. He wants his future wife to be heard. This is what makes Ursula so clever. She knows that a good man (a feminist – yes they can be men too!)wants the woman he loves to have a voice. Ursula convinces Ariel that men do NOT want a talking woman because she knows that is only true of oppressive men – the exact type of men Ariel could never fall in love with anyway. (I am especially interested to see the lyric change in the new version. To me this manipulation is key, and I wonder how it is changed without taking away the fact that Ursula is clearly lying.)

Of course this is why the real drama occurs. Eric is cursed by Ursula and Ariel must save him yet again. She saves him from remaining possessed and marrying a squid, then she saves him once more from the Sea Witch’s magical blows. If not for Ariel, Eric would have been dead a few times.  Unlike many other past princesses, she is the one who does the saving.

I think we could take away the whole romantic element of the movie we would still have the same outcome. Upon his destroying her possessions and ignoring her voice, Ursula could have used almost anything to get Ariel to agree to her contract. But this is not an original fairy tale. It is a retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s story, which is a romance. That is why it is so important that both Ariel and her romantic interest are strong, feminist characters. While Ariel might be a bit naïve (or just flat out wrong) about the human world’s treatment of their daughters as a whole, the person she is willing to be with does in fact hold her beliefs that women are “bright” and worthy to “get some answers.”

I also think as adults we forget what it is like to be young and ambitious. That’s why it is so easy to dismiss Ariel as a silly teenager who is willing to give up her life for some boy. It’s easy to mistake her bravery for foolishness or her determination to be heard for insubordination. It’s easy because a part of us want her to be a silly, foolish, insubordinate teenager because gross generalizations are easy to understand. And why would a children’s cartoon have depth anyway?

The Little Mermaid is not a perfect movie. I am hoping that the writers of the live action film have taken advantage of the nearly 35 years between releases to help clarify Ariel’s strengths. Maybe they will clarify why she can’t just write a note to Eric, or at least have her marry as an adult. I hope the movie makes clear that Ariel did not give up her voice for a man. She traded her voice for a chance to live exactly how she wanted to live. That’s the amazing thing about Ariel. Even though her story is about a girl who is mute, she is not the silent, placid, cookie cutter princess. She finds ways to express herself and follow her dreams without a voice, the same way so many women in the real world are forced to – through expression and actions because we are often silenced by the world around us.

Ariel is a badass, and I am glad my daughters love Ariel as I did. We have the release marked on our calendars and can’t wait to see it!

Sharing Hobbies as a Parent

With the exception of a few puzzle games on my phone, I have not played a video game in years. Probably around 8 years. This doesn’t mean anything to a lot of people. Some might even wonder why a grown woman would have been playing even 8 years ago. But I did. I enjoyed it. It was my indulgence. My favorites were Zelda. I like them because I enjoyed the layers of stories, the quests, the puzzle-solving, the complicated exploring adventures of getting from point A to B to C. When I was in college I kept the smallest DS I could find in my purse and would sneak off and play between classes. When I was first married, Matt tried to play the Diablo on PlayStation with me, but he was too frustrated with how slow and deliberate I take storylines, so he’d go onto his computer while I stayed with my console.

I bought myself a Switch just so I could play the newest game in the Zelda world. But then babies happened, and without really thinking about it I just stopped playing.

Before kids, I‘d have been really sad to think about a hobby I love so much almost completely disappearing, but it happened in a way that made it hard to even notice it was happening. It makes sense that this would be the hobby that goes away. It takes a lot of time, and all at once. Zelda is not a game where I can play for just a few minutes here and there. If I tried that I would forget what I was supposed to be doing. Plus it is so easy to lose track of time while playing. Hours could go in what feels like minutes.

But as it turns out Zelda didn’t go away altogether. Now Giacomo is old enough to play. He started at about 6 years old, sitting in my craft room playing my old Wii while I painted and designed orders for people. He likes to play TP and will either play one of my old games (so he can be a wolf right away) or he just wanders around Ordon Village. He is starting to really progress, especially as his reading gets better (the reading and story telling in the game is a whole other topic I could go on about). He is charging an old DS he found with OoT already inside, and he is the one who is playing BoW on my (now his) Switch.  Santa brought him Skyward Sword for Christmas and he loves it. Sometimes he asks me to play with him or to watch him.

It’s pretty cool to watch someone discover something you love. Sometimes I worry that I won’t have much in common with my kids. We might not like the same music, or hobbies, or interests. So when Giacomo decided he really loves to play Zelda, I was so, so excited. I don’t think Daisy will be so into video games, but she does seem to really like tiny trinkets and creating “potions,” like I always did. And Daphne loves to dance like used to do. All my kids like dark-yet-whimsical stories and movies, Like Tim Burton films, Willow,  and Coroline. So I try not to worry that I won’t have anything in common with these kids and instead remember that, yes, these kids are mine and yes, part of my likes will rub off on them.  If all else, their love for each other will be the biggest thing we have in common and keep us together in our hearts, always.

But still I am excited that there are some things we can actively do together. Maybe one day we’ll strategize a plan in a video game and play together, create a new recipe, or make up some new dances. Maybe we’ll all write a story together. That would be amazing.

Or maybe they will teach me about something. Maybe I will find my next hobby through helping the kids with theirs. So far that has not happened. I tried to learn Pokémon because Giacomo wanted someone to play with at home, but fun fact about me, I cannot retain card games no matter how hard or how often I try to learn them. So Pokémon is not my next game. But I still am interested in learning about the little creatures because they interest Jack. Maybe it will grow on me? Or maybe I shouldn’t force myself to be “all in” just because the kids are, just like I won’t force them to write for fun, make resin art, or refurbish furniture.

But when something organically happens and they introduce me to something I already love, as if they’re the ones who discovered that Zelda is a Sheikah, Beetlejuice is an awesome movie, or Motown is fun to dance to, my heart is overwhelmingly full.

DIY Dress Up Wardrobe

I haven’t blogged in way too long, so I decided to catch up with some of my favorite projects. The first being a wardrobe for all their dress up clothes.

My kids love playing dress up. Truthfully, love dressing the up too. Dress up clothes are so much better now than they were when I was a kid. I remember itchy, stiff outfits. But now the costumes are comfy and wearable anywhere. They had so many and keeping them in a toybox was not working out. I saw some dress up wardrobes, but I have to make everything more complicated than it needs to be by “making it my own.”  I also have the habit of thinking “that is too much money when I can just do it myself.” Normally I am wrong and I should have just spent the money, but with this project I definitely saved a lot. All in all, I only paid between $30 and $40 for exactly what I wanted. It is a lot less expensive than the wardrobes I spotted online and holds a lot more costumes.

I am a big fan of refurbishing furniture, so I almost always try to get non-fabric furniture from the Navy-Marine Coprs Relief Thrift Store or the Habitat for Humanity Re-store. The dress up wardrobe was actually a TV entertainment center I scored for $5! I painted it with paint I already had from other projects.

I used a shower tension rod for the clothes hanger. I attached a plastic door mirror to the other one side of the wardrobe, but that area would often get crowded with other toys so I moved it to across the wardrobe. (Those mirrors are cheap, not breakable, and are great or kids room – from the dorm sales at Target).

I moved the VCR shelf to the bottom compartment and although they were very thick and probably not a breaking hazard, I still removed the glass on the bottom doors. I put the foldable storage boxes the costumes were stored in at the bottom compartment to house accessories, and some command hooks on the side of the wardrobe to hang any other accessories. One thing I would not have done again is pay so much attention to the back. I used a pretty damask paper as a backdrop to the inside of the wardrobe, but you can never see it because it is so filled with costumes. Oh well. Maybe the kids will enjoy looking at the pattern when they play “hide and seek” and somehow fall into Narnia at the back of the wardrobe.

A Vatican of Cardinals

A few weeks ago I was sitting alone in our back room, in front of my Christmas tree, just grieving. I was very sad thinking of all the people I love so much who aren’t with me anymore. I was missing my grandparents, my uncles, my cousins, and my friends who have all passed on. I just miss them all so much.  I remembered a Christmas years ago, I was a little girl and crying with my mom while we missed my uncles, wishing they were with us.  This felt very much like it did that year – I felt like a little kid again with this gigantic grief that I couldn’t handle or put into words.

I don’t know why but suddenly I stood up and looked out the window. In my rock pit and in the trees behind my house were several cardinals. I had never seen more than a pair together before, but here spread across my yard and trees were at least 5 male and 5 female cardinals, maybe more. They were hopping and flying from the ground to several different branches, so I couldn’t get a definite number, but there were definitely at least 10. I was suddenly so happy.  The logical part of my brain said it is winter, cardinals are not at all rare, this is a coincidence. The other part of my brain said yes, that may be true, but I had never seen so many at once. And some part of me had me stand up to look out the window right then, when my heart was missing everyone so deeply, to see all those birds who are said to represent lost loves ones. Who are supposed to remind us to keep their spirits alive in our hearts.  Who may as well have been saying “we are here, we love you.”

I tried to take a few photos, but the window screen and the width of space the birds took up made my photos a little blurry and without all the birds in the same frame. I love the photos I did manage to get though, and I quickly sent them to my husband, mom, and sisters. It was the little sign from heaven we all needed.

I found out that there are many names for a group of cardinals, and one is called a Vatican. I thought my Mama would like that, so I decided I will only be calling multiple cardinals a Vatican. Part of my resolution this year is to write more, so I figure that on the anniversary of the day my Mama left us, I will write here about the day I feel she and some other loved ones sent some birds to my yard to help lift my spirits. I hope I can keep up, write more, and be happy more. Until next time, enjoy this pair cardinal from that day.

Back to School Blues

I have a cloth hammock that envelopes your entire body and can hide you from the outside world. Usually the second I even think of going on it the kids crawl in on top of me (they don’t ever do that to Matt, btw). I told them they couldn’t bother me because they’re all wet from playing on their waterslide. Summer vacation will be officially over and I just want to lay here and listen to their giggles and chatter while they run from the water to the tent set up from last night’s failed “camping” attempt. Really though, I don’t want them to lay with me because I don’t want them to see me cry. It feels like have been crying for days.

Alone time generally ends like this, but I’m ok with that right now.

Another school year is starting. Everything moves so much faster when you have little humans changing quickly right before your eyes.  You realize how fleeting time is, how they’ll never be this small ever again. How you are their favorite person but soon enough you will be an afterthought. The start of Kindergarten especially reminds moms that their baby is growing up.

 I said to Daisy “I can’t believe you are getting so big so fast! Kindergarten means you’re officially a big kid!”

 “Yeah,” she replied. “I’m going to miss being a baby.”

I am going to miss it too, princess. It’s hard to let go.

But I am not just letting go of one baby. Giacomo is going into 1st grade, and while he was in Kindergarten last year, because of COVID he learned virtually from home. I was there to help him navigate his lessons, learn new skills, apply himself in his schoolwork. So even though Jack is a “big kid” going into 1st grade, for me it feels like I am letting two of my babies go for the first time.

Moms have been sending their kids off to school forever. We all have the same worries. Will they make friends? Will they do well academically? Will they miss home? Will they get lost? Will they like it?  Did I send them in with enough to eat? Did I give them a big enough water bottle? Did I prepare them for bullies or awkward situations? Did I instill enough values that will make them be the kind, helpful kid? Did I make sure they know how much I love them?

These are anxious thoughts I knew I would have since the first time I left my kids to go to work. I was prepared for these thoughts. I saw them coming. However, I have NOT been prepared to let 2 children go at once. Even worse, I have not been prepared for the other massive fear I and so many other moms have. The fear of stupid COVID.

I know. I’ve heard the arguments before. “Kids only get mild symptoms.” “It has a 99% survival rate.” “Death in kids is rare unless there are underlying conditions.” Underlying conditions. Conditions like my youngest daughter’s, one that is normally manageable and changes her life in no real, dangerous way except for some medication, breathing treatments a few times a day, and a trip to the pulmonologist twice a year. She still is just as smart, as playful, as sweet, as curious, as silly, as innocent as any other child. Except now if she does get sick, her illness will be brushed aside with a handwave and “not really count” in the eyes of people who are uncomfortable with confronting something dangerous. 

Now, on top of my regular mom worries, I worry about the safety of my children. It is overwhelming. We seriously considered home schooling, but it isn’t feasible or fair. Jack and Daisy want to go to school, to make friends, to learn in a new environment from someone other than mom.  They are so excited, and I am excited for them. But when I think about handing them over and entrusting their safety and wellbeing to someone else, it is physically painful.

But I am trying. I am hopeful. I know that my children deserve to get back to normal, even if normal now looks a little different than it used to. And they are ready. They are aware and responsible. They are brave and eager. This year they will learn new skills, absorb new information, make new friends, and I will learn to let go a little more. I will miss them being babies, but I am so excited to see them showcase all the things they learn. And I hope one day, when they are sad to see their own babies grow and go to school, they will appreciate how much weight their mom had in her head when her babies skipped off to school for the first time, carefree and ready to take on the world.

Here in My Heart

It has been 6 months since I lost my Mama. I have been trying to write something about her, about her life, her strength, her light, her influence on so many people, but it has been impossible. I’ve written before about the difficulties we face in adequately expressing love with words. I’ve never felt more right about my own thoughts. I am pretty good at writing physical descriptions of settings and people. I can fabricate a fairy tale plot to entertain my kids. I but now when I try to really memorialize the most influential person in my life, the woman who taught me everything truly important, the person I most want to emulate, I come up blank. I sat here for God knows how long just looking at the phrase “it has been 6 months since I lost my Mama.” The words did not fly from my fingertips. It has been just me staring here. Blank. “Lost.”

As I finally start writing this I realize how lost it really feels without Mama here. She was the rational one. The one who always loved. The one with a guiding voice. The one who always saw the best in people. The one who could teach herself to crochet the most intricate patterns just by looking at an example. The one who could easily grow an over abundance of vegetables just to give away whatever she could to anyone who smiled as she walked through the neighborhood. The one who could bring back to life the most wilted flower, propagate it, then replant it in it’s new home. The one who could cook anything. The only one whose sauce the finicky five year old me would eat. The one who loved to laugh because her thick accent hid her sarcasm enough to confuse its recipient. The one who could sing any infant to sleep. The one who stood strong in her faith, even when everything around her was crumbling. The one with folksy remedies. The one with ancient fairy tales. The one who our whole world centered around. Who we orbited for every occasion, event, and holiday. The only one whose judgment really mattered. The rational one. The one who always loved.

I know I am not the only one who feels so lost without my Mama. But we all have to try to find our way in our own way. I have been trying my best to be more and more like her every day. I am trying to be patient.  Am trying to think the best in people. I dug out my old knitting needles and crochet hooks, and while I can’t copy patterns by sight, I am almost finished with a whole blanket.

I planted some herbs, fruits, and vegetables outside. The birds keep eating my strawberries and the rabbits are eating the parsley and squash blossoms, but the basil and sage are abundant, there are several green tomatoes budding, and one green pepper! I started walking through my own neighborhood, and maybe one day I’ll also grow enough tomatoes to give out.

I planted some flowers and shrubs and potted a few succulents. Some of my shrubs were not supposed to be in full sun, but the others are thriving and my roses are blooming. I overwatered about half of my succulents, but am attempting to propagate from some leaves.

I am trying to cook, and pray, and laugh as she would. I found a book about Italian folklore and another about Italian folk magic and am trying to remember where old stories are crossing into our family traditions.

I’m trying. I’m hoping. I’m sad. But every time I feel a connection when learn a new stitch, or grow a new plant, read one of the old stories, or hear some old Italian music, I feel one step closer to being just a little more like the woman who has always been our “Queen Bee.” I hope my baby steps are making her proud.

Moana always reminded me of my relationship with my Grandmother. Having someone with such kindness, love, encouragement and faith in you (while cracking a few jokes) was the best thing my and Moana’s grandmother could give. I felt the pain Moana felt when saying goodbye, and took comfort in knowing there is nowhere I could be where she will not. My sweet friend Bridget knew how I felt about the movie and my Mama, and she gave me this beautiful print of Moana and her Gramma Tala. I keep it here next to one of my favorite pictures of her with me and my sisters, where it reminds me to carry her “here in my heart.”

Happy Birthday to Me

Happy birthday to me! I guess? I was never big on my own birthday. There might have been a year or two somewhere when I completely forgot it was coming. This isn’t really a milestone birthday or anything, but it is the first one to make me sad. Because I’m in that official “middle age” bracket.” Because it is the first without my Mama. Because I might be the least accomplished person I know. Because I was supposed to do XY and Z by now, but have not.

Because when I was young, I made the mistake of listening to people tell me I was young and unaware. That I needed life experiences to have insight, that I needed to know more. Beause now I am in that middle space where I am supposed to be invisible and content. I am not yet wise but I know too much to be innocent.

Because I have spent so much time holding back, trying to plan and know more. Because very often I planned planned planned only to let the plan fall through or the moment pass.  

So I’d like to resolve to make my sadness motivation. To just dive in. To not plan so much. To try. To trust that I don’t need to experience it all to have experience. To be willing to learn and grow and stay curious. To remember all flowers grow at their own pace, and so will people. To honor my Mama with every passing day. To continue to forget my age. 

I’ll start by appreciating the beauty of fallen pink petals while we can (in spite of the eye-stinging pollen they emit), because they’ll be green leaves tomorrow.

I am happy young people are not listening to older people who tell them they are too young to know. We are all too young to know. Sometimes I worry that my spark is gone. I hope if it has been snuffed out, my wick isn’t so burnt out that it can’t be lit again. Although I guess if my wick is burnt out I can always be put on a candle warmer. I’m sure the wax still smells good.

Find Joy in Spring

Tulips lucky enough to avoid the jaws of squirrels

When I started this blog, it was a space for me to pull happiness into the world. In real life, I am not nearly as upbeat and positive as I wish I was. I am actually very cynical, suspicious, and I expect the worst in most situations, but I am trying my best to be more positive. That is why it was so important to me that My Asterisk Life stayed a positive space. Even if no one ever reads a single post, I know whatever I have floating around is happy and safe. Life is really hard. There are terrible and tragic things happening every day, and I want a place to escape.

But over the last year I worried, is it even appropriate to have a happy space? The world seemed to be saying no. Even if I did want to use my blog as a space to reflect on the sadness of the last year, I couldn’t. Some people have the natural ability to articulate their feelings. They can beautifully put into words the pain they feel, and when we read their works we feel a connection. We relate to their pain, we understand where they are coming from, we may feel satisfied knowing we are not alone. I am not one of those people. When I am sad, I am at a loss for words. Nothing comes out and everything is blank. Or, even worse, if something does come out I say the wrong thing. I say the first idea that has come into my head without articulating the nuance of my sadness. Then I am overanalyzing and over thinking my descriptions, worried I have made someone else upset or have come off as stupid. So no, I won’t write sad things, or at least if I do I will try my best to find he light in the sadness (“If there’s a shadow in your life then there’s sunshine”).

My birthday is tomorrow. I’ll be entering the new bracket when I fill out my age in surveys. The actual “middle age.” My life is different than what I thought it would be by now, but I like it. I am blessed. I am learning new things about myself. I am finding out how complicated it is to be human. To be happy and sad and fulfilled and yearning and anxious and worried and content and curious and excited all at once. It’s a complicated beautiful thing this life we have.

I’d like to continue to share with you some things I find beautiful. Like my sweet Mama’s recipes, adventures with my family, crafting trial and errors, and some other musings I have. I’ll start with my flowers who have bloomed this spring in spite of the bunnies and squirrels digging up and eating the bulbs of their neighbors. The hyacinths are my favorites because they smell so amazing. I with they’d last a little longer before toppling over. Thank you for reading so far! I hope the rest of your day is filled with joy.

The sweet smells of spring

Write Down those Baby Sayings!

Time with babies flies like crazy. I’ve blogged less and less, but that’s mostly because I have less time to edit and proofread rather than less time to want to write. I do keep a few journals with an app on my phone: one for general journaling, one for my daily grateful thoughts, and one for quotes that I hear throughout the day and I don’t want to forget. I got the idea to write down quotes from one of my dearest friends, and I’m so glad I picked up on her habit. I write anything ridiculous I hear from adults, and I also keep note of the funny things the kids say. Now that the kids are getting bigger, I love seeing how their language skills are improving and laughing at what they once were. I have an ongoing list of Giacomo and Daisy “isms,” and soon I’ll be adding a Daphne-isms list.

Here’s some Giacomo and Daisy isms to brighten your day:

Mail Pizza = Delivered pizza
Red store = Target
Blue store = Lowes
Man store= Home Depot
The Man Show = Fraiser
Bird store – Wawa
Squeeze = water enhancers (like MiO)
Dinosaur Movie = Land Before Time movies
Real Dinosaur Movie = Jurassic Park
Good T-Rex and Bad T-Rex = Jurassic World
Blah Blah Blah = Hotel Transylvania

Aside from working and babies I’m also happily busy expanding Asterisk Gifts LLC. I’ve decided to make it possible to order and make payments from to make it a bit easier, but you can also follow my Instagram and/or Facebook account to see some things I’ve been working on or to place an order. Happy summer everyone!

A Year Ago

This time last year I was worried about your siblings and how their worlds would change forever. I was excited for them to meet you. I wondered your gender. What you’d look like. How you’d act. If I’d miss being pregnant. If you’d enjoy being born.

I can’t believe it’s been a year. Your siblings adore you (so does everyone who meets you). You look like a combination of both your siblings with an adorable look of your own.

You’re clingy, and sweet, and give silly kisses. You love to laugh. You try to have full conversations with anyone who will listen. You don’t crawl. You hop like a frog.

A year ago you were a sweet mystery. Today you are my sweetheart. I am still worried and wonder what you will be like as time.goes on. Next year I’ll be reflecting on how much you’ve grown, physically and mentally. I’ll be excited about your achievements, worried about the world around you, and as impossible as it seems, even more in love with you than ever.

I love you my Daphler Doodle. I can’t believe you’re 1 tomorrow.

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