Pipsqueak and I are starting our fourth week of reading Frances Hodgson Burnett's 99 year old The Secret Garden. I had picked it up on a whim, thinking if I were ever going to write my own childrens' book I'd better brush up on some real classics.

Four pages in, I knew my six year old would love the slow, languid writing. I knew she'd giggle at the silly Yorkshire speak which we've taken to imitating ourselves, a la Dickon or Margaret: "Ehhhh, Pipsqueak! Thou look mighty graedly in that there night cap!", I've been known to say as my dripping wet bean pole pads her way down stairs with a towel over her head sans bath.

I was correct in assuming Pip would wait with baited breath over where the robin hid the key, who that crying belonged to down the dark hallway, and exactly what would that blessed garden look like when Mary finally entered the door under the ivy.

What I did not expect is just how much this book would touch me.

My heart seemed to have lifted right along the bulbs bursting from the ground. Like that gray moor and the windy, confusing cold, I felt a bit directionless with my writing and my purpose. But then, as the sun shined through those England clouds I, too, felt momentum turning in me. Mary and Colin went from sourpuss to exhuberant children. I, too, am experiencing that transformation. Similar to a garden, it's been slow and taken quite a bit of tending. I have my off days of screaming at weeds, but other moments, I look over my shoulder and marvel at the canopy of life that is bursting beneath my feet. Occcasionally, like Colin on his first walk, I'll feel so joyful I forget winter had ever been here at all.

Perhaps you, too, can relate to once lame Colin. I can only promise that you'll again experience the magic.

Magic is always pushing and drawing and making things out of nothing. Everything is made out of Magic, leaves and trees, flowers and birds, badgers and foxes and squirrels and people...I am going to make the scientific experiment of trying to get some and put it in myself and make it push and draw me and make me strong.  I don't know how to do it, but I think that if you keep thinking about it and calling it perhaps it will come. Perhaps that is the first baby way to get it.

Colin calls this magic, others call it positive thinking. I call it faith. Faith leads to hope and hope leads to joy. And honestly, that's something I'll take in my garden rain or shine.

Here's hoping today you till a little bit of magic for yourself. Keep on digging til you find it. Ehhhh! You'll be glad you did, lassies!

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My children - the same ones who refuse to move into their own bedrooms because they love each other so much... the same ones that go for days on end during the summer and not bicker, cajole or tease each other... have finally morphed into real brothers and sisters this week.

I knew the psychotic love juice I'd been poisoning them with in their oatmeal was bound to hit the immunity stage at some point.

Just a few things I've heard  are:

Pip: "Stink, stop talking! You're erupting my reading!"

Stink: "MOOOOOOOOMY... Pipsqueak accidentally touched my elbow!"

Pip: "MoooooOOOOOMY... the sound of Stink doing that is really bothering me!" 

Me: "What's he doing?"

Pip: "He's breathing!"

To steal my status from Facebook, because my demon children have worn me down like a cheatin' Schwarzeneggar (his poor wife... how do you solve a problem for Maria? anyone catch that very bad reference) it can be best said that my kids have decided to take permanent residency up my "donkey" this week. I have served them eviction papers but they are determined to remain squatters."

What is one to do with six and eight year old attitude? Lucky for me, divine inspiration hit the Frazer household this eve.

On his own, Stink suggested that instead of reading Harry Potter tonight he'd rather read his First Communion Bible.

I'm quite certain that Moses seemed less shocked when the Red Sea parted, but I picked my jaw off the floor and agreed.

Because we're Catholic, it is not surprising that before Genesis was pages upon pages of prayers to memorize. What do we start with? As Stink would say, "The Bee A Tudes!"

He was of course referring to The Beatitudes, but for a kid who has stung me with more back talk and attitude, this couldn't have been more fitting.

I certainly am not going to suggest to my non-Christian readers that the Bible is the answer to all of our backtalk, but for me tonight, it was indeed a miracle.

If only that Bible had a prayer for ejecting insane siblings out of my arse. Who has more occupancy for whiners than I do?

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I live outside Los Angeles in an average little suburb, but the celebrity sightings and stories I often hear are less than average.

Like walking my kids down the street and seeing Ty Pennington shooting a Sears commercial on the neighbor's porch.

Or hearing stories from a dear friend about her Saturday night Pirates of the Carribean premiere experience at Disneyland. Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruise, the Disney cast... just another day in a mom's life, right?

I can't say that I've had the chance to visit the latest Spiderman set (like some mamas I know... ahem) but I did have something cool happen to me a few weeks back.

"Andrea! Andrea! I have something for you!" I turned around to see the husband of a school mom hand me a grapefruit the size of Pipsqueak's pink soccer ball. "Jan said you like Huell Howswer. Huell brought a whole bunch of these suckers onto the set today from his home in Palm Springs. I thought you might appreciate one."

Did I ever. To me, that single pink puffy fruit signified more than one degree of seperation from my favorite television chatterbox. It showed thoughtfulness on the part of a person at school who took the time to make me smile.

It also reminded me that my own gift of gab, though not as money making as Huell's, is not one to be wasted. Perhaps that piece of fruit was more than a surprise for me. Perhaps it was a sign that I was not to waste my own talents feeling sorry for myself.

Later that day at Costco, with twenty mintues to spare before picking up the kids, I splurged on a $1.72 hotdog and Diet Coke. (I know...I live large.)

As I scanned the crowded snack area, I saw one space open at a table occupied by a man not much older than Huell. He had on a baseball cap and was slowly slurping a smoothie.

"Care if I join you?" I smiled.

"Not a problem at all!" he beamed back.
Before long, I heard about his small stint as a medic in World War Two, his move to Chicago, his first wife, his second wife and why Kirkland products are really the only way to go in buying non-name brand toiletries.

I'm not going to get a television show from chatting up an ex-military grandpa over a kosher sausage at a super mall, but it sure did my heart some good.

As I went to leave, I reached into my purse and handed him my grapefruit. After all, doesn't one good turn deserve another?

Hope you had a day where your gifts were used also.

PS: Oh, plllleeeease, people, I did not give away that grapefruit! I kept that sucker until, like my past blogging career, it withered and died into a tiny ball of nothingness. I'm not that saintly.

A friend of mine is going through a hard time right now. Turns out after a few decades of marriage her husband decided he'd rather move in with his girlfriend. Oh, well. He gave it the marriage a good twenty year shot. That was something, right?

It's only been a month, and her emotions are still raw. No amount of pills, rational, friends, therapy or booze is making this easier. She's panicked, angry, lonely, hysterical and just plain freaking out - often all at once. If you have a few seconds, go on over and
give her a little love. Tell her Andrea says hello and that she's going to be okay, even if she doesn't believe it herself.

I'm not going through a divorce in the traditional sense of the word, but lately I find myself separated from who I thought I once was. It's as if my youth has slapped me across the face with divorce papers. "Here, sign this you old bitch. I'm through with you."

It's true. Any stranger in the street could look into my face and attest to the fact that I am not in my twenties anymore. A smart, intuitive stranger would see past the smile and feel the tired sigh emanating from within. "She's not the same young whipper snapper she once was, is she?" The stranger might say. "A few kids, a few too many budgets, a few too many illnesses... life isn't the Ikea catalogue of her youth, is it?"

They'd be right. I'm now in my forties (I'm only 41, but I'm neurotic, which means I've totally taken up long term real estate in this decade.) I'm not as optimistic as I once was. The past month, despite going back on Zoloft, I often wake up in sheer terror.

Why? What do I do that is so frightening?

I wake up the kids.
I cook them a healthy breakfast.
I pack their lunches.
I walk them to school.
I come home and clean the house.
Some days I grocery shop.
Some days I pick up dry cleaning.

Is this all there is? Is this what I have become? It can't be. There must be some mistake. I'm the one with the book or the television show. I'm the one whose column got her a gig podcasting for radio. I'm the girl who inspires people to be both mothers and career women. I'd never have messy hair or wonder if it's too decadent to spend money on a Starbuck's cappucinno.

No, not me! I'm way better than all that.

Which is why, as God is my witness, I'm asking for a divorce. I'm tired of my old cranky self. I've had enough of her budgeting, self-pitying ways. I'm ready to move in with my new girlfriend.

Her name is Andrea.

She has a job.

She gets her hair cut.

She has a maid.

And she loves the hell out of her two kids and proves it by getting the Beeep! out of the house and living the life she was intended to live.

(As soon as I figure out exactly how that's going to happen, you'll be the first to know.)
Who else is going through this? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

* Photo taken in the snow last month. When I have my next job you'll find us in matching ski suits. (Okay, who am I kidding. I'll be thrifting until I'm dead. If you find a 1970's rainbow puffy snuggler in XL, email me pronto.)
...when you're feeling sad... you simply need to remember your favorite things, and then you won't feeeeeeeel soooooo bad."

Sounds good in theory, huh? In reality, it's about as easy as getting kicked out of an abbey, sent to live with a handsome man who has seven kids, turn them all onto music, steal the hot hubby away from his blond shew of a girlfriend, get married and flee nazis.

But it's what needs to happen.

I have been having a good ole pity party for myself ever since Good Housekeeping ended. The dishes have piled up, the trash has overflowed (both my literal and internal garbage) and I've lost sight of the things that used to make me sing for joy and forget the bee stings. One of those things is this here blog.

I've missed you guys! I miss writing! The devil on my shoulder says, "Why bother. You're not going to cure TS by writing. You're not going to make money by blogging for yourself. You're not going to get any closer to writing that book which, if you really think about, who cares about that thing anyway!" But the good angel on the other side of my shoulder screams right back, "Andrea needs her passion back! Andrea needs to use her voice for more than whining. Andrea needs to get off her sorry butt, pull the stinger out, and move on with life."

And so, here I am. A bit broken and shell shocked. A bit unsure of my direction. But I am putting it down on paper, even if it's virtual paper, that I need to write every day again. I need to stop isolating. I need to connect. I need to laugh. And maybe, just maybe, I'll help some of you along the way. Why else are we on this planet? From the past few months, I can promise you that it isn't to wash floors, obsess over old kitchens or freak out over tics, old people or the nasty cockroaches that have invaded my house like the bad case of the blues I've been experiencing.

Look out, world, it's time to be brilliant. Who's with me?

* Photo taken after Stink's First Communion yesterday. With all those people around, he made a bee line for his sister. And that ain't no buzz. I might suck at times... my mood might be more up and down than the stock market these days, but those two are thick as thieves, and it makes a mama proud.