Getting Personal

On Bad Movies by Kate Brightbill

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The other day, my parents watched our kids overnight while we attended a benefit for UCSF children's hospital. Sounds very fancy, right? So grown-up and 35 of us. And it was all that, but we're not all that... but I love UCSF hospitals, and I love that we got to be a part of benefitting them, so there IS that. Also, this post is mostly about bad movies, but I put a good picture up because we watched a bad movie on the same day that I wore my new favorite skirt on earth, and I'd rather have that in my memory bank than said bad movie. Makes sense, I know.

{spoiler alert for The Avengers movie coming. don't read any more if you want to watch it.}

Anyway, the benefit ended at 5 and we ate right after, and we had all this time on our hands, so we went to see the new Avengers. Listen, I'm up for a good superhero movie anytime! Mostly I go for the popcorn, but I also go because I can feel awesome at the end. Like I'm the superhero and we're all winning. We got there early, got good seats, said no to popcorn because this horrid detox I'm doing doesn't say "yes" to fun, even when all the circumstances do...* sidenote: I had a piece of cheese and nuts at the benefit. Literally. It was so sad. Then on Cinco de Mayo dinner, I had tortilla soup without tortilla chips. It's enough to shake your head at me in disgust, and I just want to let you know, I get it. I'm shaking my head in disgust too. But I'm also super healthy right now, and in two weeks, I will most certainly be eating tacos again.*

So this movie is absolutely the opposite of anything awesome. I'm sorry to all you Marvel people. I'm no comic book guru, and I only go to movies when we have an overnight sitter situation (rare!) and if there happens to be one out in theaters during that window of opportunity. I know I'm probably offending the die-hard, but oh man, avoid this movie at all cost.

The bad guy KEEPS WINNING. Til the end! He wins the universe!

And then - as if the loss of power to the bad guy itself isn't sufficient- half the good guys turn into dust. Yes, dust. I'm sure there's some great meaning behind all this and theories about what the next movie will bring (all the superheroes back to life, SURELY and some kind of victory), but while all the true fans were on their phones googling the obscure Avengers meaning to this miserable flick, I was googling "is the new Avengers movie the stupidest movie ever made?" I meant it quite literally and expected google to return with commiserated opinion by the hundreds, but it didn't.

SO. All these movies say you have to watch through the credits for the bonus scenes! Ahh, that must be why there isn't consensus on how awful this was! The bonus scene will surely reveal victory. 

Yes, there's a bonus scene.... no it did not feel like a bonus. There are two more superheroes who weren't in this particular edition, so the bonus scene obliterated THEM to dust too. Because our collective hearts weren't quite crushed enough.

Thanks Marvel. 

Are there even movies made for the "me's" of this world anymore? I'm so over You've Got Mail and The Holiday, and even Notting Hill! The me's of this world have loved those movies a bit too long and we're completely over solo night at home including repeats that we've essentially memorized. I miss the "chick-flick" genre- the kind where the girl ends up with the one she loves and adores and charms all through the movie, and there's nothing truly realistic about any of it. These movies are no longer created! I'm thinking I might need to calm my hype over Oceans 8 coming this summer because given the obnoxious realistic movie trends, this particular Oceans might result in all the characters being shipped to isolation in prison, never to be seen again... in the name of realistic fiction. 

Anyway, clearly it's not the me's that make the box office get to a billion in record time (insert the completely ill emoji here- because this atrocious movie set that record), so the trends might continue...

It's time for me to face facts. Fact is, I'm 35! I'm officially not the target demographic anymore (answering surveys in the 35-50 makes me kind of not want to answer surveys anymore. There's no space to write that I'm actually that very bottom 35 number of the demographic, just barely out of the target market, and SUPER young in real life). 

I don't really have anywhere to go with this blog post. I just felt like I needed to put my feelings about the Avengers into the universe on my obscure blog on the internet, and now I feel better. Closing a blog post when I'm this rusty on the writing is virtually impossible, plus, I only have about 30 minutes till pickup for the kids, and about 55 minutes worth of work to get done around here. Byeeeee. See you next time.

xx.

Perspective by Kate Brightbill

 photo via Disney

photo via Disney

Last night we let the girls watch The Queen of Katwe. Have you seen it? It's a beautiful story about a girl in Uganda who lives a life of poverty in a slum, but is given hope in her future through her masterful ability to play the game of chess. 

We are living an average middle class American life in one of the most affluent cities in the world. Our children use phrases like "should we Uber or Lyft?" (probably Lyft, given Uber's current PR snafu), and "daddy, make sure you get the brown eggs that are 'organic farm fresh'" (anyone else see the specials on standard eggs and make the same switch??), and "Mommy, I have a tummy ache, can we get some chia seed juice?" Bottom line: we live in a bubble of beautiful views, weird tech lingo and attempts at nutritious lifestyle, while also shamefully paying $5 for a scoop of (incredible) insta-hyped ice cream in a cone. Welcome to San Francisco, friends. 

We are raising children who live in this bubble, children who have not yet seen the world, and it's something I wish I could show them firsthand, but it's not yet the right time.

Before having children, I felt in my heart that someday I would be bringing my five-year-old to African villages and teaching them about life and struggle and hope through people who lived it and are living it. I would definitely be cultivating a desire and passion in my future children by physically taking them on trips to do what we can help all people. Twelve years later, I have not even returned to Africa or Haiti on my own, let alone with our entire family.

Good intentions only go so far, so we show them the Queen of Katwe to give a glimpse into a child's life that is so different from their own.

The struggle for Brian and me, as I'm certain can be relatable for many middle-class-American families is: how do we create a childhood for our children that is full of beautiful moments and memories, giving them everything we can to become set for success and smiles... while simultaneously teaching them to CARE for the world as much as they care for themselves. To care for people, care about stories of others- whether good or bad- to care that there are motherless children and with a monthly allowance, we actually have the privilege of helping those children? To teach them that the world does not actually revolve around them-- and that them complaining of wanting Indian takeout rather than the Thai takeout is the epitome of ungratefulness?

Well. 

After watching the Queen of Katwe with our children to teach them perspective, it is me who learned the lesson... AGAIN. The lessons I so badly want to teach my children begin with me. I wake more mornings than I'd like to admit, groaning about peeling my sleepy self out of my soft covers when my beautiful healthy toddler yells "mama up?, daddy up? mama? mama?" Bleary eyed, I walk to his room and pick him up. My dear son has all his needs filled and his health intact. He knows his next meal will come at the right time and that he has clean water or milk at his disposal. If I think beyond my sleepiness, I am beyond grateful to God for all of these things we have been given. 

Should this not be sufficient in giving me a heart full of overflowing thankfulness and wanting to give back to others? How then do I find myself becoming a bear when I realize that I have run out of coffee filters and need to walk three blocks with three children to the coffee shop to purchase a cup without blinking at the price until I can replace said filters? 

There you have it. An attitude of ungratefulness in me is something that is passed down without ever noticing. A chat about how thankful I am for coffee at all is the better option, and it was my reality today, after my dose of perspective last night.

Tomorrow I will undoubtedly forget again... and the tomorrows after that, I will forget again. My children will notice and do the same.

But some days I will remember to cultivate hearts of thankfulness and teach our children to care for others right in front of us, and around the world. And some days I will teach the right things at the right times. 

And I pray that's what sticks.

xx

Maybe they won't need therapy? by Kate Brightbill

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Last week, Brian found an old blog post that I wrote on a family blog when I used to do that sort of thing. He told the girls to listen as he read something he found that day... and when he had finished, we had two little girls beaming in pride. 

"Who wrote that???" they said, "Is that about us?"

He told them it was their mommy that wrote it, and they looked at me with wide eyes and smiles, then Sophie said "Ohh Jack, when you're a big boy, I think mommy will probably write something like that about YOU too!" Both girls hugged me tightly and kissed me and told me they loved it.

The writing was nothing phenomenal or special, and I had no idea that their hearts would be so full from something so simple. I've been writing during their naps and bedtimes since they were born-- some years more than others-- and I realize that they have had no idea, really. They have seen me with a computer occasionally typing, but I just say "girls, I have a little work to do while you play," and they don't really ask questions about it. 

I have often wondered if children of bloggers will need some special kind of therapy when they are grown. We are the first generation of parents inclined to create sites to remember the small details of our children's lives. Kids have SO much time in front of cameras, and parents like me share musings about their childhood on websites... It has made me cautious about how much I share (frankly, not much), and how many pictures I take (frankly, way too many).

I've had moments of mom-guilt while typing (and subsequently deleting) blog posts reflecting on the small and big details of days I thought were special. "These moments don't need to be typed. They were just enjoyed and let that be enough," I tell myself. Less is more, right? People must think I'm the chronic over-sharer. Ugh, I should stop writing. I should simply step away and be vague and skip the sharing-the-heart posting. Maybe "they" are right. 

But there is something inside of me that wants to keep writing. Something that tells me that maybe- just maybe- my children will be... dare I say... thankful  rather than resentful? Thankful for the reflections, thankful for the words? Maybe they will actually appreciate that I share the memories, and their mama's perspective while living those moments. Maybe when they are living similar moments in their future, they will find my words a comfort. Maybe they will understand how deeply I love them through the words typed on a screen.

So I will write. I will write for me, and I will write for them. Here or there, in the quieter spaces where no one else reads, I can write my heart.

xo

On School and Change by Kate Brightbill

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WHAT. 

School is about to start. In three days. My four-soon-to-be-five-year-old is going to kindergarten.

I cried on-and-off all evening yesterday.

My mama heart is feeling a deep desire to keep my baby Maggie tiny. To reverse to the days that school was nowhere in sight and our daily walks were aimless, but so full & meaningful.

Maggie has been by my side for the past five years. She's been my yellow-haired sunshine girl who radiates joy and squeals in laughter the way I've only read about in stories. She has been a delight to my heart during hard moments with her unabashed smile. We have sat beside each other, morning after morning, becoming builders, artists, creators, and princesses with crowns.

She is growing upward and onward, and she is excited about kindergarten. I am excited FOR her, if I'm honest... but I'm still apprehensive about change. I felt this same ache in my heart when I sent Sophie to school for her first day. 

I'm well aware that new challenges- and even adversity- are recipes for growth and character, but it doesn't mean that my mama bear heart doesn't feel every bit of it deeply. I know first hand that little girls are not always kind. I know what it's like when a child is told she isn't wanted as a friend anymore, or that she is not good enough. I want to be there to give her a hug in the moment that she needs it most... when her feelings are hurt or when she falls down. I want to be there to boost her confidence when she is feeling incapable. 

BUT.

My older daughter has shown me that those challenges and painful moments can be met with endless grace. Grace toward peers being unkind, grace to give second-third-fourth and fifth chances, boosted confidence and assertiveness to say something in the moments that they are needed, the ability to brush off a scrape and recover from hurt. The more challenges, the more opportunity to rise to the challenges and learn from them.

I've also learned that even a delayed hug after school can be sufficient. A stop for a milkshake date and a heart-to-heart can boost sad days. Children are resilient-- they are stronger than I realize and far more capable.

My selfish heart is so sad that my girl is growing up. There's no mincing the truth. I'm already nostalgic for tulle princess dresses and bed-head and tea parties and lego building moments that have not yet passed. Historically speaking, there's a good chance I will cry many more times before Monday, and then again most days next week. The ache is real. 

This summer was full. The year before that and the one before that also full. Full of activity, of life, of beauty, of learning. 

We are grasping our moments, all the good and the bad with it. Though I've had more than a few days of rushing my children toward bedtime, I know through and through that I have savored the moments. And that's a good thing.

So now, onward. Through my tears of nostalgia, I also have pride and confidence. My second-born was created to beam her little sunshine everywhere. 

Here we go. 

xoxo

Less is More by Kate Brightbill

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These dark mornings are brutal!! Remember just a couple short months ago when school had just started, and it was light and bright in the morning, and wakeup for school was seamless and efficient? Those memories are hazy around our home, because our mornings have become dark and cozy and no one wants to get themselves out of bed, let alone get themselves moving toward school, work, or classes. We are counting down the days until we "fall back" around our house {4!}. I think families with kids are generally adverse to changing the fall clocks, but now that I no longer have tiny babies, and my kids lovvve their sleep, we're thrilled about this weekend's clock adjustments. 

I love my sleep too. My health hasn't been great this month, so my body seems to be needing extra time to cuddle in the blankets and extra cups of coffee-- {or is that water my body wants? the lines are blurring}. Sometimes doing my best to over-achieve and get things done backfires to the point where I need to stop "doing" altogether, and take time to really and truly rest. This is where I've been... resting. My emails went untouched for a bit, and it felt totally right. My blog took the same route. The holidays are coming, and I want to be well-rested and unhurried enough to truly enjoy them. I will admit that I've already done half of my Christmas shopping, 100% online, and it's not even November yet. It's a sign of me being serious about wanting to keep the next couple months clear from distractions, and fully being present. It's far more fun to prep for the holidays without a looming deadline.

If "every day I'm hustling..." as our culture requires as the path to success, the day-to-day may lose its luster. Do I want to work hard? Do I have goals and dreams? Yes, and absolutely... but I don't want to forsake that which is beautiful and that which is directly in front of me in an attempt to push toward a bigger and brighter future. If I'm weary, I should rest... seems such an elementary concept, but much harder to implement, yes? There is a nagging fear that if I rest, I will miss out. I will not accomplish this or that, or be here or there with and for everyone.  

I'm seeking meaningful moments and thoughtful conversations with my girls and with my husband. I'm seeking true quiet time for myself during moments I would normally use to accomplish.

I'm seeking more by doing less. 

xx

The Girl with Yellow Hair by Kate Brightbill

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This girl. 

How does one write how they feel about little girls who hold their heart so deeply? These girls run, laugh, and LIVE with bits of my heart, and I am trying to put into words the way that I love them... it doesn't fully translate. It's okay, it doesn't need to translate. I will fumble to describe the joy that my Maggie brings to me on this day, her third birthday. 

Maggie is laughter. Maggie smiles with her whole tiny self, as if laughter is bubbling behind her smile always. She begins her days with a bright voice, she harasses big sis when she isn't awake. The phrase "may I please" precedes nearly everything she requests, and I have no idea how it has stuck so thoroughly in her vocabulary, but it is a proud tidbit for me. She has mastered the art of charming her way out of trouble-- she looks up with big eyes and a sweet voice to keep us from scolding her. She goes directly to sleep at nap time and more often than not needs to be awakened from that nap, but she never ever wants to sleep at night. Go figure! 

Her lovey is a giant pink stuffed octopus, called affectionately "Monster." She has the loudest pretend lion roar you've ever heard, and she is one of the only people I've ever known who actually squeals in delight when she's laughing. She runs fast and climbs high. She loves to pretend to be a kitty who is afraid of doggies, and she pretends to be a princess ballerina. She has heart. 

She is youngest around here, but she is not without opinions. She's the unwavering type when she really sets her mind to something. She makes most fashion choices for herself. She has a bit of OCD, which I can totally appreciate... she wants colors in their rightful spots, she wants her shoes perfectly in line.

She is our sunshine and I am honored to be her mama. Happy birthday Maggie girl!

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