A (Possibly Permanent) Break

I thought I could keep it up – the kids, the two jobs, the family, the friends, the personal blog. But there aren’t enough hours in the day and the personal blog, though I loved having it, has to be set aside for a while. Maybe forever. I’d imagined I would write about the things I’ve figured out as a parent (which turns out to be not much) and photograph the new recipes I make (which is not as often as I’d like) and the household projects I’d complete (which won’t happen now that I no longer live in that house).

I won’t abandon it entirely just yet, but for now this is a little goodbye. Thanks to those I’ve met through this blog. I’m sorry I haven’t been keeping up with your writing as much lately, either. I hope now that the self-imposed pressure is off me to write and create here, I will have more time to leisurely read and comment again.

Happy almost-summer!


I’m Still Here – Kinda, Sorta

Well, hello there, blog readers. I did not fall off the face of the internet entirely. I’ve started typing a few new posts, thought about even more in my head and have been reading along with some of you even though I’m not commenting like normal.

Last month the kids and I moved into a new townhouse about 25 miles away from the house I shared with Zachary. They still split their time 50/50 between the two of us, and I’m driving them to and from school in the “old” town each day they are with me.

The new place is quite a bit smaller than the house the kids still share with Zachary. No basement, either. As I think about the boxes still left at Zachary’s (how weird to call it his house instead of our house) that I need to bring here I freak out a bit wondering where those holiday decorations and old family memorabilia will go. I look forward to summer but question how the kids will fare without a huge yard to run in when they are with me.

The thing about a divorce is that nothing else in life slows down so that you can deal with it. It just runs right alongside you, laughing the whole time, “You thought you were busy before? Let’s throw some legal hassles at ya now and see how ya do!” I may need to pack and move and unpack and research new insurance policies and help my lawyer draft responses and figure out how to get the kids enrolled in a new school district and and and and and… but my kids still need their mother, my business still needs to run, I have the part time job I still work. I’m also interviewing for a new part time job at another restaurant since I don’t get enough hours at the first one.

Here are a few random facts I’ve learned this past month:

1. I have a ton of books. Like, a billion. Or maybe just hundreds. But it’s a lot and about half of them were in boxes in my basement I hadn’t touched in more than six years. College textbooks on literary theory, short story anthologies, poetry books written by my professors. And I can’t bear to part with any of them. Except The Help, Under the Dome and the Sookie Stackhouse series, among a few others. Those are definitely going.

2. I love 30 Rock. How have I lived my life without seeing this show? I’ve been watching it while I exercise or when I work at home and it’s awesome. In fact, after I hit publish on this I think I’ll help myself to a glass of wine and watch another episode. Long live Netflix!

3. I am still not good at dancing or Zumba. Still putting in the effort, though! You’d think after all this time tagging along with friends to the gym or to go out salsa dancing I’d have the moves down, but I may have to accept that I have no grace or rhythm. At all.

4. Budgeting when you don’t know what your expenses will be is hard. I don’t know how much to budget for gas because my driving patterns have totally changed. I don’t know how much to budget for groceries because I’ve never had my kids just 50% of the time before. I don’t know how much my utilities will be each month. I’m going to make sure I don’t gain a single pound because I don’t want to have to buy any new clothes unless necessary. I went thrifting and bought a bag full of (necessary) clothes for me and the kids for less than, I admit, I have spent on just one new shirt at the mall.  It’s going to take a few months in this new place with the new job to figure out my financial groove.

5. This winter is endless and that makes even die-hard winter fans grouchy. I do not love snow or cold, so you can imagine how absolutely blah this dreary weather makes me feel. Seriously, we just had record snowfall last Friday that canceled my kids’ field trips. It’s madness, and it needs to stop because I’m in need of some sunshine and the option to wear footwear that does not require socks.

6. Cooking for one is kind of a waste of time. When I don’t have the kids I usually eat oatmeal, eggs or a sandwich for dinner. Actually, I eat one of those for almost every meal when I’m alone. Anything that takes more than five minutes to prepare seems like overkill.

7. I have an odd compulsion to sign up for 5Ks. I think I’m up to four or five for this year. Never mind that I’ve never participated in an actual 5K before. As far as mid-life crises go, jogging slowly with throngs of others seems pretty tame.

So, there you have it.

It Takes a Village to Survive Divorce

The kids and I moved last weekend. Halfway, anyway. Our mattresses are here, the couch, the dining table, 99% of the kitchen items. The bunk bed in Miles and Grant’s bedroom has not been put together and won’t be assembled until I can sweet talk a girlfriend or brother into coming over to help me. Isla’s bed frame turned out to be broken (bed jumping injury from the old house) so I’m going to have to beg a brother to come over and fix it for me.

There’s nothing pleasant about a divorce, but in my case I’m putting up with the trauma, delays, financial pitfalls and hassles knowing that having it finalized will mean much less stress and anxiety and negativity in my life than during my marriage. But without my friends and family, I’m not sure I’d be doing as well as I (think I) am.

My friends, my sister, my aunt, my uncle and his wife – they’ve all listened to me as I struggled with the decision, made the decision and moved on with the decision to file for divorce from my husband of 10 years. When Zachary called the police on me because he believed I was in violation of our custody agreement by moving back into our house temporarily after I realized the roommate I was renting space from was crazy (I was not arrested; I had a letter from my lawyer ready to show the police officer stating I had a legal right to be in the house), a friend and her husband offered their home to me so I could have a safe place to stay when I was not with the kids. Even though they have two children of their own and busy lives, they were generous enough to let me have a room to myself for six weeks (two more than we’d initially agreed upon) and didn’t charge me a cent in rent. Another friend with an unfinished basement let me store some of the belongings I’d had in my car the night of the police debacle in her home. In addition to the sympathetic ears of married or single friends or family members, I have friends who’ve gone through divorces of their own who give me advice and show me that life will go on after this is all over.

There have been too many acts of kindness to list here, and if I try I will forget someone and feel bad. Like Hilary Swank or Sandra Bullock at the Oscars.

My dad and brothers helped me move heavy furniture up two flights of stairs into the new townhouse I rented. I should add that my dad, who is about to be 64, has moved me about 1,342 times in my life. To college 300 miles away and back home, to apartments, to and from another state, and now this. As he finished putting the dining table together in my new place, the dining table that once belonged to him and my mom, I thanked him for helping me and said that if I ever had to move again I’d hire movers. “Yeah,” he said, his eyebrows raised. But even though he was exasperated, he still helped me. That’s a good dad.

There’s nothing pleasant about a divorce, but the support I’ve received has made it more bearable. My new home is much, much smaller than the old one and we have no yard. I’m worried about how I will afford everything I need to afford. I don’t know for sure when the rest of my furniture and boxes will make it here. I don’t know who I’ll get to help me assemble and fix the beds because even though I know my friends will help me I’m afraid to keep asking, to keep needing their assistance and so I hesitate when a need arises and first try to figure out if I can do it on my own. Maybe Miles is big enough to hold the pieces of the bunk bed. If I buy a drill, maybe I can figure out how to fix Isla’s bed.

I don’t wish a divorce on anyone, so I can’t say that I hope I can return the favor one day. But I can find ways to pay the kindness forward until the days my friends may need me for something. I offer profuse thanks and am trying to be more gracious in accepting help. Like compliments, I’m sometimes too quick to brush off offers because my independent streak wishes I didn’t need help.

Thank you, dear friends and dear family – the listeners and the entertainers and the supporters and the reality-checkers and all.

New Olympic Sport Suggestions

The news that wrestling will be cut from the summer 2020 Olympics has people reeling across the globe. I’m not one of those people, as I know nothing about wrestling (except that wrestlers wear outfits that look like they were vaguely modeled after old fashioned male bathing suits), but I imagine that for those who’ve made wrestling at the Olympics a life-long goal, this can be upsetting.

With this gaping hole left in the Olympic line-up, I’d like to add some options for the Olympic committee to consider when thinking about which new sport should be represented.

1. Cart Pushing. This would be more dramatic in the winter games, because if pushing a cart full of warehouse store goodies with four kids in tow is a workout, doing the same thing through six inches of salty slush surely requires near-Herculean strength and stamina. I envision this event will be as suspenseful as my old favorite TV show, Supermarket Sweep.

2. Seat Belt Buckling, Toddler Style. Have you ever had to buckle a 30 pound, screaming, bucking child into a convertible booster? It requires agility and poise, and being heavier than the child only gives a slight advantage to the buckler. Competition will be more authentic if held in a public place, like a Target parking lot, so passerby can cast judgmental glances at the athletes.

3. All Day Laundry Marathons. Anyone can run 26 miles with empty arms. Come on. But try going up and down the stairs with baskets full of smelly clothes, dodging Legos that might cripple you, 1,567 times in one day as you locate, sort, wash, fold, and put away clothes and linens for a house full of people.

4. Seal Liner Removal. You know those discs of thick paper that cover, say, a jar of peanut butter or a new bottle of ketchup? They have either microscopic tabs along the edges or a pull-up half-circle that lead a person to believe access to the food within will be simple. I’d like this sport to be added just so I can see if other people really can remove those seals without harming themselves or without the seals ending up in 203 small pieces. Because I can’t.

What would you like to see at the 2020 Summer Olympics?

What’s In a Name? Changing Your Name Back (or Not) After a Divorce

When I filed for divorce in 2011, I had to answer a question about whether I’d want to change my name after the divorce. I hesitated but wrote, “Yes,” and then didn’t think about it again for months. Zachary and I reconciled, living together and going to counseling but the efforts couldn’t surmount the challenges and almost a year after I first told Zachary I wanted a divorce, I told him again that I didn’t want to be married.

The original divorce proceedings had never been canceled, merely put on hold. So I did not have to reply about my name change again, but this time I leaned toward keeping Zachary’s last name. I’d have the same last name as the kids, I wouldn’t have to go to the hassle of changing my name on every single document that exists with my identity. Bank accounts, social security card, driver’s license, emails, business forms, emergency contact information for the kids, credit cards. Admittedly, I like the way his last name sounds with my first better than the pairing with my maiden name. I’d envision going back to my maiden name and it made me feel childish, young in a not-so-positive way. Like I’d be erasing the last ten years of my life. I went back and forth. Some days I was sure I’d keep his name, others I was ready to change.

After the decision had been made to move forward with the divorce, the therapist Zachary and I had been going to for couples counseling recommended a book called The Good Divorce by Constance Ahrons, Ph.D. Her book is based on twenty years of research on divorced couples and is full of facts and data, interspersed between vignettes about the couples she profiles. I highly recommend it for any parent facing a divorce. One fact really struck me – she said that 50% of divorced men are remarried within one year of the legal divorce. Not just dating or engaged, but actually married again. Within one year.

And I knew that I did not want to be the old Mrs. Marceaux if and when Zachary remarries. That is what tipped the scale. His family has stopped speaking to me so I don’t feel a connection to “their” last name. I won’t feel like any less of a mother to my children if our names don’t match. I have friends who are married but kept their maiden names – they are fantastic mothers and the name issue has nothing to do with that.

I did worry about how the kids would take it, but I recalled a conversation we had last summer, before the divorce decision was renewed. My daughter asked me why Grandpa, my dad, haa a different last name than us. Because their other grandparents, Zachary’s parents, had the same last name. I explained how often women change their names when they get married.

So when it came time to tell the kids that I’d be changing my name back to Pearson, I stuck to that reasoning. There was no need to get into my emotions behind it or sound sad about it – I didn’t want the kids to think this was a bad thing. Just a fact.

One night as we sat down for dinner I said to the kids, “Do you remember when we were talking about last names, and how women will sometimes change their last names when they get married?” The kids’ heads bobbed yes as they ate.

“Well, since Daddy and I won’t be married anymore, my name is going to change again. It will be the same last name as when I was born, the same last name Grandpa has.”

“So you won’t have the same last name as us?” Miles asked. He wasn’t upset, just quizzical.

“That’s right. But of course I will always be your mommy.”

“Okay,” the kids said. They had all the answers they needed. I sighed with relief and started to eat.

Then Grant looked at me. “So… you and Daddy won’t be married again?”

“Yes, honey, that’s right. Daddy I will never be married to each other,” I explained. I looked closely at Grant to see if this troubled him but his face was clear.

“That means you’re going to be a señorita!” he said, a big grin on his face, proud he could use a little bit of the Spanish he’s been learning at school.

Kids – they really do know sometimes what’s important and what’s not. My name is just a name, and whatever the reasons for dropping my married name, my kids know my love for them will never change based on the letters that follow “Heather” in my signature. To them I’ll always be Mom.

A Gift from One Late Person to Another

I hate being late. HATE it. I don’t mind when others are late but I enter a mild rage when the minutes are ticking away and I know I’m not going to get somewhere I need to be on time. This is a problem with four kids, because if there’s anything I can count on, it’s that we will be at least five minutes late anywhere we need to go. This is due in part to a preschooler who’s newest favorite game is to remove his coat and socks and boots after I’ve wrangled him into them because he believes winter is only at night. “I don’t need boots! It’s not winter! It’s daytime!” We live in Minnesota. It’s January. It’s winter 24 hours a day, dude.

Yesterday I was late meeting someone because, as I powered down my laptop off, it started to install 15 updates and warned me not to shut off or unplug my machine. Of course. So I loaded the car, made sure I had the papers I needed, grabbed a necklace just to kill some time. The clock went on until it was five minutes past when I should have left. Still on 13 of 15 updates. My pulse quickened with anger at my laptop and I decided, no, Computer, you won’t make me any later than I already am. So I put it in my car, open, and let it do it’s thing and prayed I wouldn’t have to brake hard. Because a smashed laptop probably would have made me a little more upset. I arrived with five minutes to spare, only because I hit every stop light as it turned green, as if by some miracle.

This morning, my lovely laptop blessed me again, now configuring or installing or whatevering those damn 15 updates, so it took about an hour to load up. Okay, not quite an hour, but longer than needed, just as I was gearing up to print something I needed to run out the door for yet another meeting. In case you were wondering, yelling at your laptop does absolutely nothing to get it to move faster. I think it actually senses the shouting and moves slower to be a jerk.

As I was shaking my fist at the computer, the phone rang. Oh, wonderful, it was the person I was meeting. I double checked my clock – what I already late? Panicked.

“Hi, Heather, just checking to see if we are still on for this morning?” he asked.

“Yes, yes, definitely, still on,” I said, casting an evil eye at the laptop.

“Great. Say, I was just wondering – I got caught up in a client call and it’s going to be really tight for me to make it there on time. Can we push it back half an hour?”

“Not a problem at all, that sounds great.”

Thank you, other late person, for being later than me.

Goodbye, 2012 – Hello, 2013

Blog image for use on the www.everyday-commotion.com blog.

I don’t know that I’ve earned an end-of-the-year/let’s-toast-the-new-year post with this blog, as I’ve fallen quite behind. But the new year is always a good time for reflections and plans and I’ve been re-reading my posts from 2012 to try to piece together my memories of the last 365 days.

My first post last January was called “The New Year,” and I briefly shared that Zachary and I had been separated for several months in 2011. A hard post to write, even if it didn’t delve into personal feelings or details, and yet I was cautiously hopeful. As the year wore on, however, my positivity for our future together waned and hard decisions had to be made. When you are young and life as an adult is beginning it’s so easy to share news. “I got a new job!” and “We’re engaged!” and “I’m pregnant!” are joyous and the good words flow and the congratulations are intoxicating. Then there are situations which are more difficult to announce, and you wonder how – and even if – to do it. My brother and his wife lost their baby girl. Zachary and I are divorcing. These were the tough spots.

The decision to end our marriage will affect me, Zachary, the kids and our families for the rest of our lives. The decision, made in 2012, colors the direction of all my years from here until the end, but my 2013 may have the most upheaval in a short amount of time. This year I will need to figure out how to earn a living that will support me 100% of the time and the children 50% of the time. I will look for a home to house me and the kids. I might go back to using my maiden name (I change my mind almost daily on that issue).

Despite the heart-wrenching moments scattered throughout, 2012 brought joy, as well. My babies turned 9, 8, 6 and 3 and showed me every day what amazing little people they are growing to become. Jonah potty trained and now I’m free of diapers forever. Grant transformed from a wild-child kindergartener to a boisterous (but calmer) first grader who is proud of how far his reading skills have come along. Isla grew more confident in her gymnastics. Miles finally learned how to ride a bike. I made Lego Star Wars cake pops for Grant’s birthday party and they took forever and make me want to pull my hair out but resulted in one of my most popular blog posts ever.

I traveled to California for a friend’s wedding and got to experience gorgeous weather mid-winter. I visited family and friends in Texas. I made new friends and spent more time with old ones. My business doubled in sales. My sister had her first baby with her new husband, and my brother and his wife found out they are expecting a baby girl a year after they lost their daughter to stillbirth. I reached my lowest weight since getting married 10 years ago (let’s not talk about how the scale has inched up again, though, okay?). The kids and I spent time together having fun (and visiting urgent cares) at Disney World. I tried Zumba for the first time and loved it. My friends convinced me to go salsa dancing and I had fun even though I couldn’t keep up. I made bread for the first time and it was edible, even if it didn’t turn out as expected.

Did you make resolutions for 2013? I haven’t. I’m not a resolution girl. In November I joined a new gym and have been going when I am not with the kids. I’ll meal plan more now that the holidays and get-togethers are over for a while. I’m going to volunteer more not because it’s a new year but because I love it and I’ve found friends who love it just as much and, like exercise, it’s easier to get yourself out with others who are happy doing the same thing.

2013 will bring challenges and changes, less fun and more numerous than those I experienced in the 12-month period that saw me follow Zachary to two different states, get engaged and hold four different jobs.

I have absolutely no idea what my “Happy 2014!” post will include. My life is a notebook with a lot of blank lines ahead. There will be tears, there will be smiles, there will be mistakes and successes. I’ll probably lose and gain the same ten pounds a few times and I imagine I’ll say, on at least one occasion, that I need a desperately need vacation but I’ll be unable to take one and the next day I’ll be better, anyway. I’ll breathe in, I’ll breathe out.

Happy 2013 to you all – whatever it brings you!

The Monday After Friday

We wake up late. My human alarm clock has, for the first time in recent memory, slept in his own bed all night.

“Mom,” Isla says from next to my bed. I rub my eyes and focus on her. “It’s 7:00!”

Miles doesn’t want to get up and Jonah refuses to get dressed. We hurry over bowls of cereal and the kids dawdle and I make all of their lunches even though the boys should have made their own.

“Bye, Mom!” they call as they open the front door. They are clad in black snowpants and multicolored hats and scarves. I’m in the kitchen when I hear their farewells and I panic. I haven’t hugged them yet. I don’t always. Today, I need to.

I wrap them up in my arms, the three of them together. I kiss the top of Miles’ head, so close to my own face now – he’ll be taller than me before I know it.

“I love you guys! Have a great day,” I say. I don’t want to let go. I do let go. They go.

They have no idea.

* * *

Last Friday, December 14, the kids were at school or daycare. I’d worked on real work for a while and then, remembering my neglected but personally valuable blog, I sat down to write a post about pull-apart rolls, the ones I make every year around Christmas-time. I’d made them for a holiday brunch at my sister’s and had only a semi-decent photo of the finished product but it was so close to December 25 I figured it was the day to share.

I checked Facebook while Photoshop opened. I scrolled through photos of kids on Santa’s lap and an Instagram snap of a Starbucks cup.

And then, from a friend in Connecticut, an update just before 10am about a shooting at her kids’ school. Panic welled up in me but she also stated that her kids were safe. My fingers raced to type in cnn.com and I scanned the article and calmed a little as I only read that a gunman was dead.

“Just the gunman,” I thought. “That’s not so bad.” A testament to the world we live in, perhaps, that I am relieved and not crazed over the news that one person is dead inside an elementary school.

But as the morning wore on the news got worse and worse. I caught glimpses of my friend and her two children on photos and on national video shared by other friends that they’d found online. We are not close friends, I’m not trying to co-opt her experience or make people feel bad for me by claiming I have intimate ties to this woman halfway across the country. I don’t. But I know her, and just last month I included photos of her daughter meeting my daughter at Disney World two years ago in a memory book, so for me the shooting was made all more real not by being physically near Newtown but because I know a woman who lives there. Her kids go to the school.

When Columbine happened I was in college, and enough time had passed since high school that I didn’t feel a visceral, personal reaction. I didn’t know anyone in Colorado. It was surely as devastating but I can’t remember where I was when I heard the news. When 9/11 happened I was 1700 miles away and didn’t work in an office building and had never been to New York. I remember where I was, though, and I felt dread and vulnerability like nothing I’d felt before. Shock at the number of dead.

But this. These children, in the town with the zip code where my Christmas cards have been delivered. First graders, like my little Grant.

I spent almost the whole day alone. I had no spouse to turn to to be comforted, to try to sort out my feelings. It didn’t feel right to call a friend about what was happening. A secret Santa dinner in the evening had me torn between wanting to sit at home and focus my prayers on the dead and the survivors and wanting to be around other living people and talk about something other than what had been lost in Connecticut and from our hearts.

We did not tell the kids. We don’t have access to TV channels at home so we knew they would not hear about it accidentally at home over the weekend, and I hoped that Saturday and Sunday would dull the news a little for any other student who might learn of it and want to spread information in hushed tones on Monday. The kids walked in the door yesterday and I braced myself for questions that never came.

Now I’m left reeling, with the rest of the country, wondering when it’s okay to stop thinking about those poor, innocent souls. Thinking about their fear as they faced a monster in their school is almost more than I can bear. I’ve had three six-year olds so far. They are small and sweet and pure. As the link that was shared en masse around Facebook and Twitter stated, “I know what six looks like.”

We are left now trying to figure out what happened and why and we may never know. The randomness and brutality of the act frighten me to the point that I have to stop myself from thinking about what happened inside of that school because while I want to honor these kids’ memories, the thoughts about what they experienced make my heart seize.

I can’t stop thinking about my friend, her community, the parents who will never hug their children again. Did they hug them that morning before school? If they didn’t, are they trying to remember the last time they held their child in their arms?

The nation is crying out, “More gun control!” or “Guns aren’t the problem,” depending on which part of the nation is speaking at a given moment. “More access to mental health care!” I hear repeated.

And I sit alone in my office, my children out of my sight and out of my reach, entrusted to teachers and day care providers, and I am fearful that nothing will ever be enough. That we can’t stop evil where it lurks and we can’t catch every deranged criminal and we can’t make every gun and bomb and knife disappear, no matter the amount of gun legislation or mental health care providers or locks and buzzers on doors. My mind starts to think that perhaps some people are just bad people and no amount of laws or access to psychologists or drugs will stop them. I worry we are a society that is going to increasingly create people who are detached from death and consequences because of violence in video games and on TV, and because parents let their children grow up believing they should not have to be accountable for anything.

But I can’t bow to fear. None of us should. I have to believe more light exists in the world than dark.

* * *

I’ve been trying to write an ending paragraph full of joy and blessings and optimistic sayings like, “Look at how good life is despite it all!” but I can’t yet because I still somehow feel that to count my own blessings is to dishonor the families who are grieving. I hugged my children this morning and thought about Sandy Hook. Went to coffee with friends and we talked about Sandy Hook. Read the newspaper and page after page was Sandy Hook and I teared up and the pain was real even if it’s not pain I feel for myself.

We are thinking of you, Newtown. We are thinking of you, all the other parents who’ve lost children to senseless violence on an all-too-often basis, even if not by mass-murderer and not to such international attention. We will move on more quickly than you will, those of us who haven’t lost what you lost, those of us who didn’t see what you saw. But you’ll always be in our hearts. We will never forget. We will pray the world cam change.

In Limbo

I am not a fan of ambiguity. I like decisions and plans and paths and so to have things in some undefined, neither here nor there space makes me unsettled. “I don’t know,” may be my least favorite phrase in the world.

My life is currently undefined. I’m neither divorced nor married, just waiting in a place between the two. I have no static home because I go back and forth between the house where the kids are and the room I rent 30 miles away, closer to my work. I have a job working for myself but the income is not consistent so instead of feeling fully employed I feel half employed. Under employed. Applications and resumes submitted go unanswered.

Beginning next summer, when the school year ends, the kids will have to go between two houses and I’m starting to understand how trying this will be for them. When I leave the house to go to my townhouse for my days away, I have to carry all the things I need for work and all the clothes I think I’ll wear and all the documents I might need to access and chargers and laptops and makeup and shoes and two coats and I feel more like I live in my car than anywhere else. How will this be for the kids, then, when they have to go from Zachary’s home to my home and they forget something at one place but need it at the other? How will we keep track of homework and permission slips? What if they want to play with a friend from one neighborhood when they’re spending the night at the other? Will they wake up wanting to wear a certain shirt and realize it’s at Dad’s house?

Soon my life will take more definition. The divorce will be final and I will have a new, loaded label. I will find a job. I will have my own space where the kids and I can shape a new home. But right now I feel like I’m floating in space and flailing my arms and there’s nothing to ground me so I just bounce around with no ability to control my direction. I need some direction. Direct me.
Written to participate in Just Write.

Brave Review and Giveaway Winner

As I wrote about earlier, I received a copy of Disney•Pixar’s Brave to review and also a copy to give away to one lucky commenter!

I’d let the kids know the movie was coming, so when the kids got off the bus Friday afternoon the first thing Isla asked was, “Are we watching Brave tonight?” Why, yes, we were! She and Miles are curious children and had plenty of questions for me. What was the movie about? Where did it take place? And, most importantly, what were we going to eat while we watched the movie?

“What are people who live in Scotland called?” Isla asked.

“Scots,” I replied.

“What do Scots eat?” she asked again.

“Hmmm,” I answered. “Good question.”

Google to the rescue, I looked up some Scottish recipes. Landed on one with only three ingredients and – even though it involved BAKING – thought I probably could manage three ingredients. Here is the recipe I followed for Scottish shortbread. Hello, four sticks of butter. Mine were not so gorgeous, I may have let the butter soften a bit too long because they spread a little, but when cropped closely they don’t look so bad!

Definitely give it a try – they are flaky and delicious! And if I can make them, anyone can. Seriously.

I also made a recipe called Scotch Collops. Only not really. Because I didn’t even bother to try to find veal, I didn’t have seasoned flour (though I made a half-hearted attempt to make some) and I didn’t use nearly as much butter as called for since the shortbread was already going to give our tickers a workout. So not really the same at all, but don’t tell the kids. Grant asked me to make it again tonight, but without the sauce, which meant he wanted breaded chicken.

On to the movie – hooray, exciting! We’ve been watching a lot of movies over and over (and over) again, so a new film was much appreciated.

First, I will say that the animation is stunning. I could not get over Merida’s hair. I marveled, I oohed, I ahhed. Isla was amazed by a scene in a river. Brave is a seriously beautiful movie.

Second, the kids found some parts exceptionally funny. There is a fight scene near the beginning that had my boys rolling, literally. Merida also has three younger brothers who provide much comic relief.

Third, as we got into the movie, I realized I’d been completely unaware of the movie’s general storyline. I won’t give anything away but will say the shape the story took to show Merida’s bravery was unexpected on my part.

I’m going to stop using numbers now. I think the kids most appreciated the action and laughs, whereas I appreciated the “follow your own desires, not anyone else’s” storyline, as well as the lessons on compromise and understanding. The kids have already requested we watch it again!

The funniest comment from one of the kids during the viewing? “That bear has a big butt!” Jonah exclaimed. He got such a strong reaction from his brothers that now he keeps repeating the phrase.

On to the winner – congratulations to Cheryl, who was the 18th commenter. Her number was selected at random using http://www.random.org. Cheryl has been contacted, and in the event she cannot be reached, a new winner will be selected.

Brave will be released on Blu-ray and DVD on November 13!

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this film from Walt Disney Studios to review, but all opinions are my own.


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