Hey, friends!

How is the fall treating you??

It’s time for a quick Friday Thoughts check-in. We’ve got everything from memes to mental health today.

I love these posts because of everything you share in the comments. They’re my favorite. YOU are my favorite(s).

1. Two memes to sum up my existence right now.

meme of tired pigeon

That koala bear meme. Please tell me I’m not the only parent that can relate with that one.

And also, the reason I feel like a permanently exhausted pigeon is almost certainly because of the second item in today’s Friday Thoughts lineup.

2. Piglets, piglets, piglets.

If you follow my faux farm account on Instagram, you’ll know that our kunekune pig momma, Olivia, had a litter of piglets 2 1/2 weeks ago. And oh my gosh, they are the cutest things ever. But they are also so much work!

three piglets laying in straw

The original plan was to time the litter birth for when the kids were home from school in the summer, but the best laid plans didn’t account for the pigs taking forever to “get the job done” if you know what I mean.

So. I’ve been largely responsible for the piglets while the kids are at school. And to say these little zoomie rascals are more than I bargained for is an understatement.

We lost one in the first few days to a birth defect, another one has struggled to thrive so I’m constantly trying to keep her eating and growing, and they’re so adorable, that, yes, I spend a lot of time sitting out in the pig hut watching them play, because I can’t tear myself away. #pigsoverpeople

Three of the kids invested their savings in the adult kunekune pigs in the hopes of making their investment back by selling piglets. So, here we are. It’s been an adventure!

If you go to the PIGLETS highlights on Instagram, you’ll see all the antics from the last few weeks. Warning: turns out, piglet content is highly addictive.

Mel's Instagram faux farm page

3. My Friend Maria

I want to tell you about someone really amazing. My friend, Maria.

Earlier this year, Brian came home from work and asked if I still had the reading book I used when our kids were learning how to read. When I asked him why, he said a sweet lady he works with (Maria) had come to his office asking if he had any resources or places that could help her because she didn’t know how to read.

He explained that Maria is one of the most hard working employees at the plant, that she raised five kids as a single mom, and that she is also smart, kind, quiet, and a caretaker of others. Her life has been challenging in ways he and I will never be able to fully understand.

I pulled out my old reading lesson book for Brian to take to work…and immediately felt this strong desire to help Maria learn to read, even though she and I didn’t know each other yet.

After Brian helped arrange things at work, Maria and I started getting together every morning (4X a week) back in May to do reading lessons together. I doubted I’d be a very good teacher, but it turns out, this rather old-fashioned book is just as effective teaching adults to read as it is teaching kids to read!

two women standing in office lobby with masks on

Of course, the main reason for success is because of Maria’s heart. Her determination. Her unfailing willingness to keep trying. She persevered even after years of being told by many, many people that she was stupid because she couldn’t read and that she’d never be able to learn.

Over the last five months, Maria and I started out each lesson together talking about life and family and stresses and food and teenagers and everything in between…and…eventually we got to the reading part. 🙂

I legitimately have tears in my eyes as I’m typing this, because Maria has become such a dear friend and inspiration to me.

She’s taught me that it’s never too late to learn something new or try something hard (especially learning to read in English when your first language is Spanish). She’s taught me it’s ok to cry (she has the kindest heart in the entire world).

She’s taught me that in an era of fiery personalities, divisive opinions, and front and center merit for being “the best,” there’s a quiet, steady power in working hard every day to make your way in a world that most likely won’t ever notice, or reward, you.

And she’s definitely taught me to be more grateful for the opportunities I’ve had in life that too often I take for granted.

The first day that Maria read her first “real” word (it was ‘mat’), she stopped, shook her head, and with absolute awe in her voice kept repeating: wow, wow, wow. She couldn’t believe she was reading. (I was biting my lip HARD under my mask to keep myself from bawling that day.) Now, she’s reading full stories with dialogue and plots and characters. She told me that she feels like a whole new world has been opened to her now that she can read.

She just finished this book about brave Clara Barton. But to me, Maria is the bravest of all. She has defied circumstances stacked against her that would spell devastation for most of us, and she has done so with integrity, kindness, and endless, endless hard work. I’m so grateful to know her.

4. Halloween (cough, hater)

Are you a Halloween lover or hater?

I’m in the hater camp. I’m sorry if that causes some of you shock, dismay, disappointment, and horror. I just don’t find many redeemable qualities in this holiday. I’m a Verified Halloween Scrooge.

Except for, sometimes, the food. Like, the cutesy monster cookie type food.

Some years, we’ll decorate these fun little spooky houses (or a kit from Trader Joe’s or Costco). And if I’m really on my A-game, on Halloween night we’ll do dinner in a pumpkin or these mummy dogs.

Do you have any fun Halloween food traditions?

{P.S. Before anyone gets really worried, yes, my kids go trick-or-treating, but the process of finding a costume around here is…very much a create-your-own type situation.}

halloween monster cookies

5. I’ve Gotta Know

Someone told me recently you can tell a lot about a person whether they wear crocs in public or not.

So. I have to know. Do you??

I do. Unashamedly. My kids have had crocs for years. I’ve had no real strong opinion about them. Earlier this year, they got me a pair for Mother’s Day.

And.

I wear them constantly. I hope we can still be friends.

Tell me your deep, dark thoughts about crocs. This is a judgment free zone.

crocs meme

6. Believe it or Not

This second son of mine is turning 16 a week from today. Many of you have been around since he was just four years old. (INSANE IN THE MEMBRANE.)

He’s evolved into a hilarious, witty, smart, hard-working young man who loves to take selfies on my phone during church while I’m painfully playing my way through the hymns on the organ.

I have a few ideas up my sleeve for his birthday but I can’t type them out here, because I know from regular comments left on my blog that he and his friends often read here during math class (ahem, BOYS, get back to work!).

Please share any of your sweet sixteen birthday ideas below!

7. Catch Up and Struggles

Catching up from the last Friday Thought’s post:

  • Thank you for all the planner recommendations! I seriously spent hours researching different planners for next year. I’m not sure what I’ll settle on yet, but you definitely gave me some great ideas. You’re the best. (Some of the most common recommendations were Passion Planners, Emily Ley planners, Golden Coil, Planner Pads, Erin Condren, In the Leafy Treetops, bullet journals/planners, Plum Paper, Jordan Page productivity planners and a few others!)
  • Also, we started watching Crash Landing on You on Netflix like hundreds of you suggested. 🙂 My boys didn’t stick around long, but Brian and I have liked it a lot. It’s quirky and funny and unique. Highly recommend!

I don’t talk about my personal struggles much on here, but for me, 2021 has been a hard year. I know I’m not alone. It’s been a difficult couple of years for the entire world! For me, 2021 has been filled with difficulties and stresses and challenges and heartache that have kind of rocked my foundation on a lot of levels.

I deleted these paragraphs a million times because I don’t want this to be a call for attention or a sympathy plea. Mostly, I just want to acknowledge that sometimes online and social media posts do a really good job of masking real life and real challenges. But I feel like it is important to acknowledge that life (and mental health) rarely fit into a neat, pretty little box.

If you’ve had a hard year (or years), just know that you aren’t alone. I’m slowly and stubbornly learning that it’s ok to admit I’m not ok. That’s a monumental step for me. And after getting awkwardly ghosted by a therapist earlier this year, I’m finally brave enough (I think!) to try again so I can get some help sorting through the chaos in my brain and bolster some puny coping skills.

Thanks for being here. I say that a lot, but I really, really mean it.

I am certainly grateful for all of you that allow me to be very, very human even when society seems to prize and reward unsustainable and misleading perfection. I’m so grateful YOU are real and beautifully imperfect, too.

Love your guts.

family standing at edge of mountain