Jul 18, 2014

Moving On to the Next Great Thing

I have been having babies for a while, let's face it. I had a brief respite between marriages--Loli was four when Jaws was born. Jeff and I filled in that gap pretty thoroughly by bringing home two girls meant to be in our family that were born in another country when I couldn't have them myself. Yeah, some would object to my describing it that way, but that's how I feel things happened. Bella and MayMay are most certainly my daughters. The first time I saw their picture, I knew they were my daughters, and the sisters of the girls I had given birth to biologically.

Heavenly Father has a way of blessing you doubly when things have to come about through a veil of pain. These two girls ended up in my family where they belong, but along the way they collected another family who loves them dearly, and a rich, unique culture, which flavors and spices and blesses our family as well.

Since Jaws, though, I really haven't had a break. I've had a child under age two for the last solid eight years. And I haven't started realizing until recently, exactly how difficult it is to have children so young. They take all your attention. All of it. When they're infants, it's because you are holding and feeding them constantly. When they're a little older it's because you are making sure they don't die by rolling off stuff or falling down stairs or choking on things or drowning or being taken by people or gashing themselves with knives (several of my toddlers have had a fascination with knives.)

I'm realizing all this because we're sort of coming to the end of our planned family, Jeff and I. We talked, at the beginning, of having six children together. We're there. Another baby would make six for us since we married in 2005. (Nine total, of course.) And right now, I'm getting to that point of thinking of starting that process again--another kid. Possibly the last kid. Pending prayer and answers to prayer, of course.

In my religion, we believe that there are spirits up in heaven waiting for bodies. That to raise children right, with values, and love and covenants and saving ordinances inherent in our gospel, is the most important job we do. So for me, and others with my theology, the decision to *stop* having children is a very serious one. Perhaps stressful. Some are comfortable stopping when they feel their family is complete--they just feel good about it and don't question that. For others, it's an agonizing decision. And some feel that "stopping" isn't an option... they need to allow as many children to come as Heavenly Father will bring them.

Thus, Mormons and large families. (btw. I'm being honest and vulnerable here... no judgy comments about birth control or population control, please. I will delete them all!)

For me, the decision to be done has a bit more of an edge and urgency. My mother and i share a genetic condition that renders pregnancy dangerous. Because I knew about it before I started having children, I have been able to take preventative action and not suffer from the sorts of things my mother did having her children. But it is still dangerous. And the danger kind of multiplies with age. My mother had her last biological child at age 35, and nearly didn't make it. Her stake president, who was also her obstetrician, told her she needed to think seriously about permanent preventative action, because she needed to be around to raise her family.

I am grateful for my stake president.

I have had a strong feeling, from the time I was thinking of such things, that I also need to be done at thirty five. I turn thirty four this year. Do the math--one more kid. It works out nicely with the feelings Jeff and I have had on the issue.

But it makes my heart break a little, too. I was the two-year-old who would nurse her dolls, who though often about having babies, about motherhood. I couldn't wait to be a mom. And I have enjoyed my babies so much. If anyone is going to suffer from residual baby-hunger, it's me. I tell myself it won't be so long and I'll have grandbabies to enjoy, but it's not quite the same. It's not that symbiotic relationship--just a small, helpless, trusting creature and me. A piece of my heart, smiling whenever I smile at them, whose favorite thing in the world is to be close, to lie for long hours on my chest. Little hands. Little feet.

It came across to me really strongly this last week. I have been feeling, for a while, that I needed to put DavyJones on formula. And he has taken to it well, and it has made important things possible--I have needed some time in the temple, for instance. I have needed to spend a bit longer at my calling than an exclusively-nursing baby would allow.

And I needed to go to girl's camp this year.

It was a good experience, but my milk is now dry. My baby boy is no longer nursing. It breaks. My. Heart.

What if, I think to myself, this is the last baby boy. What if I never nurse another baby boy for the rest of my life. What if this precious experience is now over. There is something about my baby boys--they have the most "mushy" part of my heart, as I was explaining it to Loli the other day. (She responded with, Mom, I'd much rather have the strong part of your heart.) (Anyway.)

What if this is done.

Well, it will be done, soon. I'm into my "lasts," last time trying for a baby. And it will turn into, last time experiencing morning sickness. Last time getting that middle-trimester burst of energy, last time with a growing stomach, last time with those crazy, overwrought emotions that make me cry during cheesy commercials but have actually been welcome because often, I struggle to feel my real feelings. Last time waiting for labor, for a baby to be born. Last time holding a soft, damp, newly-born person close to me, seeing them look up into my face for the first time.

I plan on savoring it--all these "lasts." It's the only way I'll be able to move on; if I savor every single moment.

But there are also other sorts of thoughts I've been having. Like... Gee. It will be nice to be able to work outside for an hour and mow the lawn. It will be nice to go out and pick up the trash that blows across from the high school. To plan a garden, work on it every day, weed it, pay attention to it and have a chance at real vegetables. To take a bike ride when I need one... and to be able to bring all the kids with me. To be able to go on hiking trips and camping trips and to be able to take my kids swimming (projecting a few years into the future here) without having to keep an anxious, uninterrupted watch over at least two of them.

To be able to take time to have talks with my teenagers.

To not be so exhausted in the morning I can't function..... or at least, to be exhausted for different reasons. Staying up to talk with teenagers who come home, rather than being constantly interrupted to nurse.

Instead of being confined to the house with a baby who isn't going to be happy outside for long,to be able to go out and find Jeff, and whatever project he's working on, and work alongside him. And to have our children join us.

I'm leaving behind something very special... but moving on to something else Great, and equally special. This, I think, is the time we figure out who we are as a family. Develop our traditions, our way of relating to each other, the activities we enjoy doing together, getting big projects done together, being silly together... this is really, in a way, where some other things I have always looked forward to, begin.

Loli came into the Young Women's program this year. And as it always is with our family, once started, things happen fast... Bella next year. MayMay the next. Two years later, Jaws. We're moving on.

And it will be great.

Jul 7, 2014

Adoption and emotional integration.

So, I haven't done any adoption posts lately. Mostly that is because, as adjustment continues, the issues are less and less salient, and less noticeably adoption-related. Meaning, everything has filtered down and melded and become "the things my kids and my family work on together," and it is not often something we think about anymore, "this is because of the adoption. These are struggles related to that."

I have been thinking about adoption lately, however. Because of some things in my personal life, and also this clip posted recently on Facebook.

Helen Doss--the story she wrote of her family and their experiences. I read it over and over again as a child. My mother did, as well. I am certain it is a major influence in my decision to adopt--I grew up thinking of adoption as not only normal, but delightful and wonderful. Her family--all happy, so big and colorful and wonderful. I wanted that.

My mother did too. And now, however many years later, I have two Ethiopian daughters and two (soon to be three) Chinese sisters. I wonder how many families have come to be because of Helen Doss.

Adoption is hard. It's interesting, looking back on all the posts I have written over the last five years, remembering various stages, struggles, frustrations and heartaches.

First we went through teaching kids not to hurt each other, health concerns that were difficult and sometimes nasty (Lice, Ringworm, Giardia which I caught from MayMay while pregnant with Hazel, aftereffects of severe malnutrition and other things).

After that, though, it was all emotional. And I'd argue, much harder than the physical. Our adoption was wonderful--we didn't have any of the issues adoptive parents worry so much about, like sexual abuse or attachment disorders. And our girls are good, good girls.

But I am an introvert. New people are hard.

I love kids. A lot. Honestly. And I don't mind babysitting other peoples' kids. Before the adoption, however, watching others' kids was always a very stressful experience. It was painful. It's like, having someone in my house who wasn't my own kid, I was on eggshells all the time. I didn't feel like I could be me, have my time, do the things i'd normally do... I felt like I had to be a "perfect mom" or "perfect babysitter" for the sake of another person's child.

that's sort of how it felt for me for the first.... oh. Two years. Like I was babysitting. It was very stressful. The introvert in me shrunk away from interaction with these girls for quite a while. I forced myself to overcompensate... so they ended up getting even more attention than my biological kids for a while. In the effort to counter my own tendencies, I ended up becoming...

well. A better mom. More attentive. Paying more attention to detail. Not just falling into the ruts of my own past experiences, parenting and being parented. (Not saying I didn't have good parents, I did. I just am glad I have a fresh canvas to paint on, if that makes sense... I can make different kinds of mistakes and have different strengths, and not just feel compelled out of habit to do it a certain way.)

But let's just say. It has taken a really, really long time... that last stage of adjustment, so that everybody feels like they belong. So that I feel nothing but gladness that all my kids are around me and nobody's missing. So that I don't automatically react, emotionally, with more harshness when it's one of my adopted kids being unkind to one of my bio kids.

I think everybody is different. There are people who immediately mesh with new people...who can become best friends right away. There are also people who are natural adopters. You know them--the people who have a satellite of those who call them "mom" or "dad" because they fill that role for a lot of people. There's this lady who was on a billboard in Utah for several years--she fostered 112 children.

I'm not like that. I'm an introvert. My relationships form slowly, solidify slowly, and because of some of my experiences, trust and security is something that comes with agonizing slowness.

I think these last two years have been the final stage for me, for Jeff, emotionally. I was so glad when school got out this year. I feel so much peace when I'm in my living room, sitting on the couch, looking at all of my kids gathered around me. We are a family. Irrevocably. Emotionally, everybody is mine and I am theirs.

I think that, looking back on the process, I am very glad to Have MayMay and Bella in my life. I'm not sure, if I'd been able to look at it from the other side, knowing how hard it would be emotionally, that I would have been brave enough to go forward. Thinking about adopting again, my insides kinda twist up into knots.

But I am so glad I have Bella and MayMay. I am so grateful I have them. The thought of not having them is incomprehensible, and heartbreaking. I love all my children.

I know that adoption is never an issue you leave behind--for the rest of their lives, I will be talking my girls through the reality of their adoption. And reassuring them of my love for them.

And there will always be times I want to run away and go camping for a week. But that's just life, as a mother of lots of small children. It's not because of adoption.

Yesterday I went on a bike ride. Bella asked to come. I thought for a minute--my bike rides are solitary. My time. But I realized, suddenly.... I don't feel threatened at the idea of her coming. My time is her time, too, because she is mine. WE rode out to the canal and sat there for a while, completely silent, throwing stuff in and watching it float. And we rode silently back home. It was just the being together--us. And it was OK. Knowing myself, it amazes me that that was even possible.

Jun 24, 2014

RE Feminism: Sister Oscarson, Kate Kelly, and Small, Tired Me.

I’m sad about this Kate Kelly thing.

It is hard to be a moderate feminist in the church. Some people tell me I shouldn’t label myself. A long time ago I wrote a post about why I call myself a feminist.

I feel like moderate feminists are in a tough spot right now, because of Kate Kelly and Ordain Women and other movements that basically sideline more moderate views. I feel like I have been called a lot of things lately by these more extreme feminist elements in the church—oppressed, ignorant. Uneducated. Unaware of church history, etc. All those things are inaccurate. Up until a couple of years ago, I participated occasionally in a large, well-known forum where women from the church gathered to discuss women's issues. I liked about 30% of what I read there, struggled with 30% and got sick of the drama that was the other 40%. I left that group when someone told me how wrong it was that I had so many children and that I must not know how to use birth control. (I don’t think anybody who says that truly realizes what they’re saying. Which of my children are you saying I should wish I don’t have?)

And so it is hard to find opportunities to discuss these things that are so important to me (how to help women worldwide, help for the spouses of pornography addicts (often women), help for women who are abuse victims, help for women who struggle with eating disorders, how to prevent these sorts of things from happening to the rising generation of young women, who I love with all my heart) among the general population of the church, without being sidelined and labeled as an extremist myself.

I think it’s hard to be a moderate anything these days.

I feel badly for Kate Kelly.I feel badly for all the women who are struggling because of this, feeling small, like they can’t speak up and be heard. That frustrates me. You CAN speak up and be heard. You CAN have opinions. As Kate Kelly’s bishop said (in the private letter provided so willingly to the media) the problem is not how you feel, what you wonder about, what you wish could happen, or your own answers to prayers and personal revelation you feel you’ve had. The problem is when you start telling people that your opinions are the right ones. When you start ridiculing others for disagreeing with you. When you start to accuse people because they aren’t giving you exactly what you want, right now, and you start talking to others about why this is a bad thing and stirring up peoples' doubts, fears, and pain to gain followers for a cause you've adopted in opposition to those who are actually in charge of figuring these things out church-wide. Personal revelation: that's yours. Revelation for the church? It'd be chaos if everybody decided suddenly they could receive revelation for the church.

In the wake of all this, I feel like things have gotten disingenuous. Sorry. I know that I’m judging. But I feel like some of the actions—providing everything to the press, not going to your own disciplinary counsel and instead submitting hundreds of letters from “followers” and a legal brief detailing exactly why church discipline doesn’t stand up to some sort of contract concocted by someone who’s read some version of the church handbook and extrapolated to create “rules” nobody has agreed to—show that a person isn’t much interested in remaining. It shows that you're finding plenty of support and fellowship from followers, and that is what is important to you. I might be wildly wrong, but that is what I feel burdened by, reading all this stuff.

I guess I’m mostly frustrated with a phenomenon, not a particular person. In short: NO I don’t want the priesthood. And I am fine with how the church is structured, I believe it is inspired, and I do my level best to manage my own heartbreak and pain over very real events that have damaged my trust in priesthood holders. And that does not make me ignorant, oppressed, or uninformed. I have had too many experiences with priesthood that are significant and real to not have a testimony of it. I have had answers to prayers that are unequivocal. That is where I’m at.

I’m OK with where you’re at, wherever that is—extreme on either side, moderate, or even ambivalent or not needing an answer. And what I wish: that we could all be ok with where we’re all at, and not judge each other. From any side. When I choose friends, I don’t look for a set of beliefs that match mine. I look for genuine people who are compassionate. I do enjoy certain traits: people who work hard, people who don’t complain, people who are open-minded. But those aren’t requirements for my friendship. I enjoy people, period.

I feel like this whole thing with Kate Kelly had been very hard and painful to watch. And I hope the aftereffects don’t make life harder for people who question. Because we need questioners in our church. Questions are how you get a testimony. If you have nothing to bring to God, you can’t get any answers in return.
I also hope the aftereffects don’t make life harder for people who willingly obey. Because it is no less hard for us—those journeys of testimony. We’ve had struggles, too. We’ve had our moments of wanting to give up. We’re not ignorant or uniformed, and we’re not close-minded.

This video by Sister Oscarson, our General Young Women president,exemplifies to me how we should act toward each other, no matter what our beliefs and circumstances are, no matter what sort of testimony we have. No matter what our standing is with the church (or outside the church. This isn’t just about church members, it’s about EVERYONE.)

Jun 17, 2014

Greenhouse Update & You Aren't What People Say You Are (redux)

I put up a post yesterday that I soon afterward took down. It detailed some struggles I've been having lately. I took it down because I worried that, even with making things vague, it'd end up being spread around and someone would find out and be upset, or others would assume I wrote about them. But I do want to repost one thing from what I posted, and that is, you can only control what you give, not what people take. You can do your absolute best to convey love, kindness, sincerity and someone could still take offense, if they choose to.

I am a kind, generous, creative, fun, nice, intelligent, loyal and good person. Nothing that somebody does, or says about me, will change that. The end.

Ok. Anyway. The greenhouse stuff is starting up again. Now that the ground is thawed, we can work on mortaring our cinderblocks. Jeffrey borrowed a cement drill from a nice ward member and put in rebar, and we're stacking the cinderblocks and mortaring. We're hoping to have the whole south side done, and the east side dug up, by the time our friends Dave and Courtney get here on Fourth of July weekend, and then Dave and Jeff can have some fun guy time putting together the east wall, which is smaller and hopefully will go faster because Jeff will have a routine down.

After that, we'll be doing outside insulation and the plan right now is cement-board siding, though I need to look into that more... I'm not sure if i like it or not. Jeff's really great at building things well, functional. I'm the one who's a bit more picky about appearance. I don't want a utilitarian greenhouse, I want a *beautiful* greenhouse. Suggestions for siding are welcome. Our house is currently light grey and white.

After that, we'll be able to (yay :) :) ) start on the INSIDE. Setting up watering first, I think. Then the floor, which will be landscape fabric covered with flagstone& swept, pressed sand. We have a ton of white flagstones lying around; we're repurposing them for inside the greenhouse (and, eventually, a walkway around the greenhouse and a patio).

After the floor is in, we can get going on square foot beds. And a greens tower (lettuces, kale, spinach, collards and dandelions) (yes, dandelions) and an herb tower. And also starting to grow cool mosses and creeping thymes in between the flagstones.

So that's where we are right now. We generally have about four hours of time on Saturdays that we can use for projects. Lately it's been completely eaten up in getting our ginormous jungle mown. So Jeff may need to take a day off work to finish the greenhouse. We spent the last three Saturdays getting all of the acre we call yard so it's inches-long stubble instead of a frenzy of dandelions and bushy alfalfa, but you know, weeds grow. We'll have to start again next Saturday.

Jun 2, 2014

2000 word update

I am doing ok with my 2000 word goal, except for a couple things: when the kids are sick, it all goes out the window. Also, DavyJones is keeping me up at night and there have been a few mornings where I just couldn't manage it. And... Saturdays have fallen off the table. Now that it's summer. I forget how insanely busy Saturdays are during summer. Especially with the yard, and play practices, and other summer activities... and finishing the greenhouse. Which I will post about soon.

Still, right now I'm at 96,000 words with my LDS contemporary novel, and about 85,000 words of my fantasy. The LDS novel is almost finished. I can feel it winding to a close. The fantasy... maybe we're at the halfway point. I was right--it is an epic fantasy. Hooooow to get an agent to read it, when it's my first book? I guess I have to market to agents who deal in epic fantasy? Are there such things for people other than Robert Jordan?

Anyway. Thoughts. You could send some my direction, too... I'd welcome input.

May 13, 2014

Goals are sometimes very very hard

This blog has become a semi self-documentary on my recovery. I'm not sure why that is. I think I know why, actually. I used to put blogging and journaling aside in times of turmoil, because I have this strange relationship with the concept of honesty--I feel like if I'm writing only about the things in my life/events that are happy and funny and impersonal, I'm not being honest. ANd others who are struggling will come read about my life and feel miserable because they'll be like, why is HER life so perfect? I must be a crappy person to have to go through so much stuff.

I admit a small, immature part of me feels that way in the presence of people who seem to always be living happy little lives full of scrapbooky stuff.

In the past (before this last year or so) I would deal with that sort of dissonance (what do I blog about when I'm going through significant struggles) by leaving the blog alone and not writing at all. But that made me feel bad, too. I love writing on here. And I don't want there to be giant gaps on here in my childrens' development, in my life. So here we go, writing about everything. I guess.

I've gotten some judgy comments on a couple posts. I guess that happens when you open yourself up by writing about personal stuff. There's a facebook meme that goes: don't want to be judged? Then stop putting your personal crap all over facebook.

Well, I feel like putting my personal crap (enough to be real, but not so much that I feel like I'm sharing things that I can't come back from emotionally if people criticize) on the internet actually helps me, because I think of myself ten years ago, and how it would have helped that girl to be reading about someone's recovery. It makes me feel like there might be a purpose to all this.

So in my last couple of personal-crap posts, I talked about how I'm trying to open myself up and trust.

It's really hard. What I *want* to do right now (particularly walking into church meetings) is to sit by myself and glare at people. So instead of doing this

my heart seems sometimes to be pulling me in the direction of this.

some things have happened that really haven't helped. I won't talk about them here.

One thing I've realized lately is, I really, really do not trust easily. It is so hard. It's like weight lifting--I have to actively force myself not to assume things. My mind bends itself into a hundred twisty assumptions whenever something makes me insecure in an interaction with another person. My struggle is, I worry all the time that I'm offending others accidentally. I have to actively work to unbend those thoughts. Sometimes I need to do that without even asking questions or clarifying. A person I'm talking to lately said it like this: take everything at face value. Don't read anything into what people say or do. Yes, sometimes that will come back to bite you. But what sort of life is happier: a life where your'e always assuming you've hurt others all the time and being right a fraction of the time, or assuming you're at peace with everyone, that people are fine with you, and being wrong a fraction of the time?

It's a powerful concept.

One that is sometimes very difficult to apply in real life.

I feel like I'm a person who really has been mostly knotted up tight inside--so tight, I did not even know what I felt for a while. And now, I'm still unknotting. I probably do seem quite spiny to people at times right now. But I am doing my best, and so I need to forgive myself for that. You can only do so much at once.

We've had several weeks of sickness in our house. I love my children, and am grateful I get to be the one to help them. It is also exhausting. To me (I am coming to realize) the most exhausting thing in the world is to feel stuck and unable to do things. Like clean, or finish projects, or continue to plug away at projects. I got a total of 4,000 words in last week--I have to remind myself that I was taking care of a sick baby, so that is OK. My time was legitimately spent. It is OK that I spent hours on end looking into my baby's face and enjoying some down time. Maybe I *need* down time and that is why my family got sick. I don't know. Heavenly Father has a funny way of making important things happen.

Goals are great. We need to forgive ourselves when we can't do it all at once. We need to remember that a destination is important, but the road is where we spend most of our time. And that is OK. And we need to have peace in the journey.

Apr 30, 2014

I'm Not the Only Crazy One

People often ask me how I am a mother of eight children and also a writer.

Last weekend, I got to meet lots of writers. Lots of them women. I sat at a table with four people--the head editor at Covenant Communications, her husband, and two younger women who were (as yet unpublished, but clearly, talented and motivated) writers. I didn't know anybody in the room, at least, not personally (a few I have communicated with online) because I have never been to a writer conference. In my life.

This particular group, LDS Storymakers, is made up of those who write LDS fiction, but also those who are LDS who write general fiction. Brandon Sanderson was there.

I told these girls, who I had never met, that I'd never gone to a writer conference before because I keep having babies. And immediately they nodded, and one kind of rolled her eyes and said, "yeah, a lot of our sessions this conference were interrupted by crying babies." And the other said, "I mostly felt sorry for them, because they paid to go, and they're not getting anything out of it." And the first replied, "Yeah. Babies are more important. They should come first."

It was interesting... here I was, sitting at a table with them, holding my baby at this fancy dinner where I had won an award for my writing. And here they were saying things about how babies should come first and it made me think. Is my baby coming first?

Well, yeah. He was there with me. He was seeing everything I was seeing, enjoying everything I was enjoying (arguably even the food, since he gets that secondhand.) (Haha. Sorry if that grossed you out.)

Does being a writer mean I'm putting my children second?

Quite often, this is the sight I see while I am plugging away in the morning, trying to get 2000 words in.

Do you see the edge of my laptop, there?

My babies learn to nurse while I am also typing. My kids learn to wait about ten seconds after they ask a question for me to set the laptop aside (temporarily) and answer it. They learn to be quiet upstairs during a key two hours of the morning. They can be there, they just have to be quiet. Loud means go outside. Fresh air is good for kids.

I don't just type at the exclusion of my family. I will type, and answer a question, type and help with a math problem, type and take a break to change a baby's diaper. Type and take a moment to lean back, stretch, sigh and ask for a hug.

Then I finish, put the laptop away (unless I'm also writing a quick blog) (like right now) and focus on tasks like cleaning, cuddling with my toddlers, making meals. And driving people places.

At this particular conference, two mothers were honored. One came to the front leaning on a cane, hugely pregnant, clearly exhausted. She talked about how, after she signed a contract with Deseret Book for her second novel, her husband was immediately called as Bishop, and her kids were put in Year-Round school. She talked about how she struggled, and thought about the ramifications of breaking her contract. And how, in the end, she prayed, and asked for help. And Got it. Heavenly Father blessed her endeavor because it was worthy of blessing. Therefore, consecrated. Therefore, acceptable in His sight.

The other was Rachel Ann Nunes. You've heard of her, I'm sure. If you've read any LDS fiction at all you have. She has written dozens of books, and she stated, up at the pulpit, that many of them were written with a child on her lap. I am sure she's been criticized plenty of times in her life for putting her family "Second." In fact, she talked about it. I guess my question for those people (generally other women) who would criticize her would be, have you ever read a book by Julie Ann Nunes? Did you enjoy it? Did it contribute something to your life, or the life of your daughters?

One of the presenters talked about how many people (particularly mothers) might say, "I can do this later. I can do this when...." (the babies are older. The kids are in school. The kids are out of the house). But some just do it. And I think it is a personal choice... one that you pray about. I have often felt worried that I was sacrificing something I shouldn't be... that my books should be helping support our family, at least, if I am going to make this "sacrifice." I recieved some inspiration recently that has made me completely rethink that mindset... writing is a blessing. My writing blesses others, it blesses myself, and also blesses my family. My kids know who I am, and my daughters then form their own aspirations. They see me accomplishing goals and they know that they can do it, too.

And they are all writers. They see it as a normal part of life. My kids will sit down at a computer and spend hours typing stories. It amazes me to see, so directly, how my own example filters down into my kids.

I felt, watching these women speak, very proud to be able to count myself among those who have written novels with babies nursing and toddlers in their laps.

I am not the only crazy one. That picture above is my favorite sight in the world. Both of them.