Monday, May 8, 2017

The Skunk

While basking in the beautiful Arizona sunshine, watching my girls blow bubbles and fight over bikes, my neighbor waved me over and told me that earlier he saw a skunk mosey across my lawn.

"Do you know where it went?" I asked.

He shrugged and pointed. "Over there. Maybe it went into your garage?"

Mr. Brown Eyes had left the garage door open. I could just picture a skunk lurking in the corners of that organized chaos, tail raised in anticipation of whoever was unfortunate enough to step inside first.

As a precaution, I told Blue-Eyed Girl to be sure and stay away from the garage because there could be a skunk inside.

She listened raptly, blue eyes wide. "What do skunks do?"

"They spray you with stink if you scare them. That's how they protect themselves."

"Are they mean?"

"No. They're scared of people. But they will spray you if you scare them and you will stink for a long time."

Blue-Eyed Girl shuddered. "I don't want to play outside anymore. Let's go inside."

We went in the house and I forgot about the mystery skunk until Blue-Eyed Girl slipped into the kitchen and asked, "Can skunks open doors?"

I laughed. "No, they don't have hands."

She visibly relaxed. "Oh good."

The skunk didn't come up again until Mr. Brown Eyes went out to mow the lawn and I warned him to be careful in the garage. And then Blue-Eyed Girl was glued to the living room window, watching Mr. Brown Eyes circle the house on the lawn mower, worrying aloud that she hoped the skunk wouldn't get Daddy. I only half-listened to her, sure she understood that the skunk wasn't going to chase down a moving lawn mower.

But as night fell and we snuggled on the couch, reading books before bedtime, Blue-Eyed Girl wouldn't stop talking about the skunk.

Finally I looked at her and asked, "Are you scared of the skunk, sweetheart?"

She nodded and my heart hurt that I had brushed her off all day, allowing her imagination to conjure up a terrifying creature with dripping fangs and a horrible stench. "They're not scary. They're like kitties, with fluffy tails and a long white stripe."

She still wasn't convinced so I asked, "Do you want to look at some pictures of skunks?"

I pulled out my phone and typed in "skunks as pets" and, thank goodness, the first picture that came up was a basket full of adorable baby skunks with tiny noses and big black eyes.

Blue-Eyed Girl grabbed my phone and exclaimed, "Daddy, look! Baby skunks!"

And just like that, her fears vanished.

No skunk so far,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Friday, March 3, 2017

A Hard Swallow

Sometimes in life you just have to swallow your pride.

For me, it's a hard swallow. That much pride doesn't go down easily.

It's a struggle I've had my whole life.

When I worked at Ensign Ranch, I made everything a competition between me and Na, the only other girl working there. We were friends. But I didn't want her to be a better rider or know more about horses than me. I pushed away her advice and her help many times when I would have been better off if I had just listened.

One day the ranch manager asked me to help him shoe Levi, one of the ranch horses. Levi was skittish and especially hated being shod, so he needed a firm, gentle hand holding his halter and giving him assurances throughout the whole process. Na was very good at keeping Levi calm by stroking his neck and singing in his ear. I thought I could be just as good using my own methods.

I was wrong.

With one frightened toss of his head Levi tore the halter out of my hands and bolted. For the next twenty minutes we chased him around the barnyard, praying he didn't try to crash through the fence onto the nearby highway. When we finally caught him, I swallowed hard and handed the lead rope to Na.

I was reminded of that experience this week as I worked on the sub-edits for my novel. I guess getting published had over-inflated my ego, because when I opened up that Word document and saw all the revisions I had to make, my pride took a swift, heavy blow.

Being humbled is so painful.

But, as distasteful as it is, swallowing my pride is much better than being ruled by it.

I'm learning that one lesson at a time.

The Brown-Eyed Girl

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Looking In

Leaving work late on a fall afternoon, this is what I saw:

It reminded me of the story of a girl who, every evening, looked out her window at the house on the other side of the valley. It was a beautiful house with golden windows and she yearned to live there. Her own home was drab and ordinary.

One day she was able to walk across the valley to look at the beautiful house. To her dismay, when she got there, she discovered the house was run-down and abandoned. The windows were not golden after all, but cracked and dirty.

When she turned to walk home, she gasped with astonishment. The sunset reflected in the windows of her own home, golden and beautiful. It was just the place she'd always dreamed of living.

This girl could be me. It seems I've always lived my life this way, being envious of what other people have, feeling like what I have is never enough. Envying other people's golden windows while being oblivious to my own.

When I catch myself feeling this way, I try to imagine myself an outsider looking into my life, a stranger peering through the windows (in a non-creepy way). Would I wish to be a part of the life I saw?

The answer is always yes.

Because while that outsider looking in might see my dirty house, our unpatched ceiling, my mismatched furniture, my children throwing fits about how "mean" I am, they would also see the things I too often overlook, perhaps because they're so everyday: a long, slow kiss, plates of food spread across our dinner table, laughter, bedtime stories.

Sometimes to see our blessings we have to step outside and look in.

Perspective changes everything,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Friday, February 3, 2017

Happy 2017!

I just realized I have not published a single post on my blog this year. I am such a slacker.

I promise I will have more in the weeks to come as I traverse this unfamiliar territory of getting a book published. Until then, feel free to click link to the right ------>> and visit my author page. I like it. Do you like it?

Happy February! It's the month of Love and My Birthday! (Capitalization errors intended.)

The Brown-Eyed Girl

Thursday, December 22, 2016

When Christmas Would "Never" Come

I remember as a kid curling up by the Christmas tree, gazing at the twinkling lights and daydreaming about what might be inside my presents. It was one of my favorite things to do. In fact, refusing to leave the tree and come eat dinner resulted in my only memory of ever being spanked as a child.
I really loved that Christmas tree.
Back then, it felt like Christmas would never come. A month, two weeks, even a day felt like an eternity to wait. Christmas Day, bursting with excitement and laughter, leaving its trail of torn and wadded-up wrapping paper strewn all over our living room, giddy with the taste of candy and frosted sugar cookies, could never come fast enough.
Now that I am (mostly) an adult, I no longer experience that delicious Christmas anticipation. It comes all too soon. Like one day we're decked out in costumes trick-or-treating, and the next we're tip-toeing past the bedroom doors of our sleeping, sugar-crashed children, hanging up stockings and wrapping last-minute presents.
I still love Christmas. But instead of sitting and dreaming by the Christmas tree, I now express that love by creating magical memories for my children.
The joy of Christmas is doubled when you have children. I try to let them do as much as they want, remembering how much I loved every tradition. They decorate the tree a little lopsided, they dump mountains of sprinkles on the sugar cookies, they haphazardly wrap presents, they move around the figurines in the nativity scene every time my back is turned, and they insist on the same Christmas CD over and over and over.
And I love every second of it.
I love seeing their eyes light up, sharing the hope and joy of our Savior, hearing their laughter and their sweet voices singing "All I Want For Christmas is My Two Front Teeth" with Theodore the Chipmunk.
It. is. amazing.
The other day Brown-Eyed Boy complained that Christmas was never going to come. It made me smile, remembering.
I hope my children have many more years of Christmases that will "never" come.

As for my feelings on Santa Clause, well, that's a post for another day.
Merry Christmas!
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Friday, December 16, 2016

Baby Brown Eyes

Baby Brown Eyes was born shrieking at the top of her lungs.

I think it was an omen of things to come.

My other two children didn't make a peep when they were born. Even Blue Eyed Girl, who was born breech, didn't cry until they gave her a bath. When Brown Eyed Boy was born, we were encouraged to make him cry so he could clear his lungs out.

Like that was going to happen.

But Baby Brown Eyes was not happy about her entrance into the bright, cold world and she wanted everyone to know about it. She screamed and cried until the nurses finally returned her to my arms and she was able to nurse.

Even now, over a year later, she is still a screamer. She screams when her siblings take her toys. She screams when we change her diaper. She screams when we tell her no and sometimes just when we put her down.

She is even known to scream randomly, out of the blue, while sitting quietly in her high chair.

She is having no problems asserting herself as the third child.

Do you remember me posting about how easy having two kids was?

Well having three is not easy.

To be fair, I was warned. People told me how hard things get when the kids outnumber the parents. But man, were they right.

The first year of Baby Brown Eyes' life I was a frazzled mess. Meeting her baby needs (and silencing her screams) was exhausting when coupled with helping Brown Eyed Boy with his copious amounts of kindergarten homework (he has less now that he's in first grade--how does that make sense?), cleaning up Blue Eyed Girls' potty-training mishaps, and doing basic things like making meals. I constantly felt wrapped in guilt for all the times I lost my patience or had to put off play time with the older kids to take care of the baby.

Thank goodness for prayer. And my husband. And countless tender mercies and moments of joy each day that made the hard times bearable.

Things are a little easier now. Although now Brown Eyed Baby steals her siblings toys and runs away from me in public places, so every age brings new challenges.

But when I think about how empty our lives would be without her--and how quiet--I wouldn't have it any other way.

Motherhood is awesome,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Running the Red Light

I am so good at pointing out other people's flaws.

Especially when I'm driving.

Because of course all the other drivers are the ones making the mistakes--cutting me off, driving too slow, taking my turn at the stop sign.

I don't make mistakes driving.

^^I bet Mr. Brown Eyes would get a good laugh out of that.^^

My perspective changes when I'm on the other end of things, when I'm the driver being yelled at instead of the one doing the yelling.

For instance:

There is a traffic light near my parents' house that is right in front of an freeway overpass. Just beyond the overpass is another light. For some reason, when I'm at the front of the line waiting at the red light, I sometimes look at the light beyond the overpass instead of the one right in front of me.

So when that light turns green, I think I am good to go.

Which is exactly what I did the other day. Go. I mean, went. And the cars coming off the freeway honked at me. And I felt stupid. And I had to admit, to my perfect driver self, that even I make mistakes.

Just like everyone else.

Owning that fact makes it easier to be just a little more patient the next time someone cuts me off.

But it's a truth that applies in all facets of life, not just driving. None of us are perfect. So let's be as gentle with other people's flaws as we would like them to be with ours.

I'll go first.

I mean, when the light turns green.

Still learning,
The Brown-Eyed Girl