The Girl Who Burns Down Shadows has Left the Building

Every parent knows that time is relative. The toddler years last about 100 years, while the elementary years last Ariel and mearound three. The teen years are gone in six months. And the three months from when my daughter announced her engagement until the wedding day arrived took place in the span of a deep breath.

The past month has been a whirlwind that culminated in moving all her stuff from our house to her house. The room is now empty. I didn’t find myself tearing up at the wedding, but at the boxes full of her things, at loading them into the van, at seeing the room without her. She’d painted, “You’re the girl who burns down shadows,” on her wall a couple years ago. That girl no longer lives here.Ariel's room

The reality is, she’s not coming back home. This adventure that started with a little pink line on a pregnancy test has come to an end. Now, I know that I’m still her mom, but it’s different now. It will never be like it was and that is a bittersweet realization. 

So, I wanted to share my wedding speech with you. 

A baby is a terrifying prospect. Terrifying and wonderful and overwhelming and beautiful. I was twenty years old and this perplexing baby girl was placed in my unprepared arms. Ariel Ann Friesen has been a great adventure. A small thing I was given for too small of an amount of time.

Ariel is a feisty, energetic story.

Ariel was always getting into mischief. I had to make sure she was well occupied before I stepped out of the room or hell would be unleashed. When she was five, our laundry room was in the basement. I needed to change loads over, so I decided to give her a bag of raisins to share with her one-and-a-half year old brother. I thought, surely that would keep her busy for the five minutes it would take me to attend to the laundry. I hurried through my chore and returned to the living room to find raisins scattered over every square inch of the room and her skipping around, tossing the remainder over her head. I stood in the doorway and asked, “What are you doing?” She froze and stared at me. “Ariel, you have to clean this up.”Ariel and Corban

Her mouth fell open and she exclaimed, “Why do I have to clean it up?”

Her tenacity, at times difficult to deal with, would prove invaluable. I’ve many stories about the mischief she got into, but what you may not know is that she is a hero, a lifesaver. She saved her younger brother, Corban’s life. He was just over a year old when he fell into the baptismal tank at church. She was the only one who saw. She screamed and yelled until she had our attention. We bought her a happy meal for her good deed. I can say with absolute certainty that Corban would have drowned that day without Ariel.

When she was too young to remember, I lost our second child through a traumatic miscarriage. I was heartbroken. I came home from the hospital and held my precious baby girl in my arms and marveled at what a miracle she was. And she was with me, a comfort and a reason to get up in the morning, through losing two more babies. She probably doesn’t know that she saved my life too.

James, if you give her the freedom to be who God created her to be, she will enrich your life in ways you can’t imagine. I wish you both decades of blessings.


Ariel and James

It’s been an honor to be a part of her story.


One of My Most Horrific Parenting Moments

All my posts lately have been bookish, so I’ve decided to throw a little personal one in here. Let’s go with a story–a story about my kids. Ooh, my favourite subject. But, not just any story, one with drama and gore, one that you may or may not believe, but one I guarantee is absolutely and 101%true. levi1

It all started in a dirty little pediatric walk-in clinic. There were sick kids everywhere. Snot flowed like like water over Niagara Falls. My three kids happened to be behaving themselves mainly because I had developed no-fail walk-in clinic survival kit that would keep them from exploding–snacks, books, toys. In those days there were no smart phones full of games–we had to entertain our kids ourselves–with books and toys and snacks. Gasp! Oh the horror!

The kids had some sort of sinus/throat issue that required antibiotics. Of course, I had to wait three hours for the doctor to tell me what I already knew. By the time, I was buckling everyone into car seats, we were past nap time, the snacks had run out and, let’s face it, they were sick and unhappy. Let the meltdown begin!

My two year old began to wail. He had an interesting wail too. He’d kind of hold his breath and then push out this gutteral cry like he was giving birth. While I felt moderately stressed from the morning, I could see a light at the end of the tunnel. We were on our way home. I only needed to maintain my sanity for twenty more minutes. As I cruised down the highway, I said, “It’s okay, buddy. We’re almost home.”

He howled louder. I looked up into the review mirror at the boy. That’s when I saw it. My child was CRYING BLOOD.levi2 I’m not exaggerating. His eyes were red and drops of blood were sliding down his cheeks like tears. I hit the brakes and began to swerve in the middle of the highway. I came to a screeching halt on the shoulder, tore off my seat belt and jumped into the back seat. Grabbing tissues, I started mopping up blood. Then his nose started bleeding too. God help me his brain was exploding or something. 

He continued crying and bleeding and I tried to figure out if I should try to drive to the hospital or get out of the car and wave someone down. Please stop! My child is CRYING BLOOD. As I rocked him, he began to calm. The calmer he got, the clearer the tears became. I held him until his nose stopped bleeding. 

It took me a few minutes to realize what actually happened. To make a long story short, he strained so hard that he caused a nose bleed and then that straining pushed the blood up through the nasolacrimal ducts that are supposed to carry fluid from the eyes to the nose, not the other way around. 

We all went home and had a nap.

And yes, the title did say, One of my Most Horrific…” There is another that rivals this one. We will save the teeter-totter story for another day. 



My Nuclear Freak-out

Blogging has been tough lately. I usually blog about what’s on my mind, but lately what’s on my mind has been a series of secrets. Yep, stuff I can’t share. So, with those things so consuming my thoughts, my mind’s drawn a big fat zilch when it comes to blog ideas.

But, last night on Facebook secret #1 went public.

There are many questions that plague mankind—whether the chicken or the egg came first, whether Adam and Eve had belly buttons, how the fourth season of Arrested Development could suck that bad.

Over the past couple weeks I’ve had an answer to one profound question: How would I react, if say, my daughter got engaged a couple weeks before her high school graduation?

Now I know.

I totally freak out. Not on the outside, on the inside. On the outside I’m calm. On the inside I’m Ivy Mike (the codename given to the first full-scale test of a fusion nuclear bomb). Ivy Mike vaporized an island. Wiped it off the face of the Earth. Not literally because it probably ended up in the upper atmosphere and fell as rain all over the world. Kind of poetic in a sick, destructive kind of way.

The end.

I know that’s no way to end a blog post. There’s no closure, but that’s how it is. I don’t have grand advice. No epiphanies. I’m still kind of freaking out, but I’m trying to do it in a supportive and encouraging fashion.

Maybe by the time I post next, secret #2 will have gone public too.

A Milestone in a Mother’s Life

Today was one of those milestones in the life of a mother—grad dress shopping with my only daughter. I kept thinking, how did I get here? She spent roughly 80 years as a toddler, but the high school years have only lasted a few months.

I was twenty years old when I had my baby girl. She was the tiniest little thing, weighing in at only six pounds, two ounces. Her pinky toenail was a marvel. How could toenails come so small?babyA

She was a difficult toddler. Busy, busy, busy. She gave up naps when she was 18 months old. She ran me off my feet. She was a temper tantrum thrower and a mischief maker. But, she got me through some hard times. We had to say goodbye to three babies after her and holding her in my arms was a salve for my soul.


She’s been a great big sister. She’s kept her brother is line. She even changed diapers.BabyA3

We made it through some tough teenage moments. I’ve been so angry at her that I couldn’t look her in the eye for days and I’ve been so proud of her that I’ve wanted to cry. Joyful and anxious. Elated and heartbreaking. Laughing and weeping. Raising a daughter is always both.

Writing With Kids in Tow

 My kids are my priority and my writing needs to fit around them. The writing has to be Photo_080410_006flexible, not the kids. But there’s more than a few times where there’s tension between the two.

In my house there’s a never-ending demand for food, probably because I have boys. One day stands out in my mind. I had made everyone breakfast, cleaned up from breakfast, and put a load of clothes into wash. I promised myself once this work was complete and the children otherwise occupied, I would spend some time writing.

After five minutes of writing my youngest finds me. “Mom, I’m hungry.”

“We just had breakfast.” I check the clock. It’d been almost two hours. “Why don’t you go and have a banana.”

He disappears up the stairs. I sank into a scene in my book and I was just gaining speed when Mom & Jasonhe appeared at my side again.

“I’m still hungry.”

“How hungry?”

“Really hungry.”

Heavy sigh. Shoulders slump. “Okay.” I close up shop and go upstairs to make lunch. 

Here’s a few strategies that have kept kids and Mom happy.

Contract a time. If they’re home, especially over school breaks, I contract an amount of time with them. “Mom’s going to go write for one hour.” I set a timer. “I don’t want to be interrupted unless it’s an emergency.” They’re usually pretty respectful, but if they forget I point to the timer. It’s also been helpful to frame this in terms they understand. “How do you feel when you’re in the middle of building Lego and I tell you you have to go to bed?” Then they can understand how the interruptions feel to me.IMG-20130826-01206

Involve them. When I need a teenage word, I ask them. One day I was searching for a name for a villain. I asked them over dinner and we had a lively and hilarious discussion. They came up with some great villain names. Another time I told them a story and asked them how they would finish it. They’re amazingly creative and came up with endings I never would have thought of.

Keep them informed. I had been furiously editing one of my manuscripts when my son asked what my book was about. It struck me that I had never told them what this particular book was about. So I pitched it to my son. As I went on the edge of his lips started to curl and his eyes got wider. Was he holding back a smile? When I finished he let the smile go. “She’s a superhero,” he said. I cocked my head to the side. I hadn’t thought of her that way, but I could see his point. Not only did he help me to see my protagonist in a new light, but I now had him rooting for this book too.