Let That Pony Run

I’ve been fighting my own personal Mommy Wars in these recent years. I war with myself. I war with the mommy I used to be, the mommy I always wanted to be and the mommy that I am. I don’t need anybody else to enter this war because it is ferocious enough with just the three of us. And I know full well that there can never be a winner so I’d like to call a truce. I really, really would. I don’t even want to talk about it. I just want it to be over. I work outside the home even though it wasn’t something I ever saw myself doing. Lots of mommies work outside the home, some of them wanting to and some not. I am blessed beyond measure with a husband who loves me, children that I adore, a pleasant work environment, a church where we can worship and food on our table. It’s hard work raising a family and I am working hard. Kaboom.

I’m reading one of those books right now that I can only digest in little bits because of its awesomeness. It’s one of those life-changing, infuriating kinds of books. It’s called “Food and Faith: A Theology of Eating” by Norman Wirzba. It is everything I know to be true. The only problem I am having now is that I don’t know what to DO with the life-changing information I am inhaling. So I would like some of my friends to read it please, and discuss it with me. Please and thank you.

The other day, I drove by a cute little family of five, walking home from the grocery store. The dad was leading the way, laden down with multiple, heavy bags of groceries. It was obvious that he was rushing because he wanted to be rid of his burden as fast as he possibly could. The mom followed behind him, pushing the baby in the little umbrella stroller as fast as she could manage while trying to keep it from tipping backwards due to all the grocery bags hanging from the handles and causing an uneven distribution of weight. The ten year old (or so) girl followed behind her, sucking on a sucker, not nearly as concerned with hurrying with her two bags, but also not wanting to be left behind. The six year old (or so) girl brought up the rear, always running but never getting anywhere while she carried her one bag and sucked on her sucker. She never got anywhere because she didn’t run in a straight line. More concerned with activity than direction, she skipped in circles or ran up to her sister to laugh about something with her, then ran back to pick a flower, then ran up on a ledge so that she could jump off of it. The last thing I saw as I turned the corner after my light turned green was her running straight up the steep incline underneath the underpass, then running down and tumbling hard on the sidewalk while her one bag that she was carrying tumbled hard with her. No one in her family saw her fall and she didn’t cry out or bring attention to herself in any way. She just picked herself up, and picked up the bag and kept walking. The bag was slightly see-through and I could see two cartons of eggs in there.

My car breeds fruit flies. I have had my children clean out every crevice that can possibly be cleaned out and we still have fruit flies. Yes, it’s true that multiple banana peels, orange peels and apple chunks were found in the cleaning, some of them in motion due to the maggots crawling around in them. Yes. I do mean that blackened, hardened banana peels were MOVING. That was fun. But as far as I know, we found all fruit and the car has been fruit-free for days now. And yet, I still swat gnats away from my face on my drive to work each day. How do all those other mommies out there (the ones that I’m NOT at war with) get their children to take all of their stuff out of the car every time they get out? How do other mommies’ cars not have fruit flies in them? Come on, mommies. I’m on your side. I war with myself and no other so spill it.

I have a dear friend who has always appreciated the simple (and profound) wisdom in country music. She appreciated it way before I was mature enough to get it. One of her favorites has been running through my head lately. In the words of the wise Pam Tillis:

You do what you gotta do

And you know what you know

You hang on until you can’t hang on

And then you learn to let go

It sure is a beautiful Eastertide. The honeysuckle in my back yard smells amazing tonight.

The Saturday Before Hawaii

I got up and made chocolate chip coffee cake this morning. It had cream cheese in it and a crunchy, cinnamon-sugary topping. I ate two big pieces of it for breakfast, along with two cups of coffee. The entire house was filled with the smell of warm, home-baked goodness wafting throughout. As the kids sauntered out of bed, one by one, somewhere around ten, they all sort of looked at it on the counter, bent over it with confused, sleepy looks on their faces, then smiled sweetly and nodded slowly at Chris as he said, “Isn’t it nice having Mom home on Saturdays?” Then they proceeded to open the freezer and make themselves frozen Eggo waffles for breakfast. Every last one of them.

I was really thirsty just a little bit ago. Sometimes I just really don’t want to drink water when I’m thirsty. It’s my way of sticking it to the man. I think the man is off his rocker with how much water he tells us we should drink every day. The human race has survived a long, long time with most people in most times not drinking 64oz of clean drinking water every day of their life. Silliness. We don’t even let ourselves get thirsty these days. We just flood our already oversaturated bodies with bland-tasting fluid they don’t need, making our bladders work overtime. That’s my humble opinion for the day, free of charge. So anyway, when I was really thirsty just a little bit ago, I went into the kitchen and cut open the watermelon that was sitting on the counter and sucked down a couple pieces of it. Watermelon never tasted so good. Ah. Satisfaction.

Then I got in my one hundred and fifty degree car to take my sixteen year old daughter to her babysitting job. She’s almost ready to get her license and I am not afraid, I am not afraid. Maybe if I say it one hundred and fifty more times, I’ll believe it. I’ve done a lot of scary things in my life, but I’ve never known fear like riding in the passenger seat, talking her through all the million things that I forgot you need to think about when driving. Somehow other families just seem to be able to get their teenagers driving. I don’t know how they do it with what appears to be such a minimal amount of effort. I think most things are harder for me than they are for most other people. But that daughter of mine sure brings joy to my life sometimes. She’s hooked on the band Mumford & Sons these days, which is fitting for her, I think. There’s something light and happy about them, with an underlying driving, purposeful beat.

On the way to that babysitting job, we passed a church sign that said, “Youth is not a time of life, but a state of mind.” Now, I know that I may not be the brightest bulb in the flower patch, but can somebody please explain to me what that has to do with the Church? Or Christianity? Or Christ? Or anything at all? Even if that sign wasn’t representing a church, I can’t see how it’s helpful. If I saw it scrawled on a wall in a subway tunnel, it still wouldn’t be helpful. It’s a stupid thing to say and that’s all there is to it. Obviously, I have anger issues. But as long as I’m admitting that I have issues, I’ll take it a step farther and admit that I’d really like to take my chainsaw out there and cut that sign down and cut through every single letter of every single word of that stupid, unhelpful saying. And then I’d like to take what’s left of the remnants of each letter and stuff them inside a cannon filled with fireworks to shoot into the sky a couple nights from now.

But alas, I don’t own a chainsaw.

When I got home, I was still thirsty so I ate three more pieces of watermelon since it was still sitting on the counter.

Speaking of the 4th of July, my lens that I rented for my camera for Hawaii came early! Just in time for me to get plenty of fun fireworks pictures. I rented it from lensrentals.com. I tried to take a picture of it, but it’s kind of impossible to take a picture of your own lens unless facing straight on into your bathroom mirror, so you can’t really see the side of it:


But you can still see the big, ole, honking front of it, right? I’ve never had such a big lens. I have to say, I am really excited about it. And I can’t believe how easy it was to rent. I reserved it a couple months ago, and they shipped it not only on time, but early! So I have time to play with it before my vacation.

Here’s somebody else’s picture of the side of it:


Oh, the fun I am going to have. I think I might take a lot of pictures in Hawaii. I also think I might never come home.

I’m going to go get a drink of water now, because I’m still thirsty. Don’t tell the man.

Furtive Like a Fugitive

I came home from work sick today. Woke up with a swollen throat, took kids to school, went to work and made beautiful spreadsheets and stuff. But the pain in my throat kept getting worse, my body kept getting achier and when I realized that I couldn’t really focus on people who were speaking to me, I came home. I fell into my bed and immediately fell into a deep (but not peaceful) sleep. I dreamed about work. I dreamed that I was still there and was not feeling good and was getting ready to go home. One of my coworkers came up to my desk and started speaking to me very animatedly, with huge facial expressions and arms waving everywhere, about how some lady had just called who had a son named Mack (yes, it was with a K, unlike my nephew) and that lady had bought her son (Mack) a lizard but it turned out that Mack was allergic to lizards and now she wanted us to sue on their behalf. I just looked at my coworker, with my head spinning and my throat burning and told him I was having trouble processing what he just said and could he please send it to me in an email?

Then I walked down to the parking garage to leave and I had all three of my daughters with me. We were having a lovely, normal conversation. When we got in the parking garage, my fourteen-year old suddenly wasn’t walking with us anymore. When I turned around to look for her, she was opening the door to a pick-up truck that had the words “Professional Descent” embroidered (yes, embroidered) on the door. The words were outlined in a gilded, frilly pattern that suggested some sort of advertisement for someone who sells scented candles and the like. As Sadie got in the driver’s seat, she looked at me with a mixture of shame and contempt, put the keys in the ignition and with one last, furtive glance in my direction, she drove off.

Then I woke up and my fingers were so swollen, it took quite a bit of effort to take off my wedding ring.

And did I mention my throat hurts?

Looks like this weekend will be spent in jammies. Sigh.

But LAST weekend was amazingly full and fun! It started off with a sock hop at the girls’ school, followed by a visit from our friend, Caity of Seattle, and ended with an English Country Dance at our church that went waaaayyyy too late for a Sunday night. If all that’s why I’m sick, it was worth it.

Here are the girls at the sock hop which, coincidentally, is exactly what Sadie looked like in my dream as she drove off in the “Professional Descent” pickup truck.


She’s the one on the left. She said she decided the 50’s look wasn’t really for her, so she decided to go with the 80’s instead.

And then the visit from Caity, which always involves great conversation…


Making lots of yummy sugar cookies…



And playing lots and lots of Agricola with Plunky. We won’t talk about the two games where Caity cleaned our clocks like always. We’ll just talk about the last one. The one where Caity threw a temper tantrum…


When she blocked herself in like this…


And I won!


By a lot!!!

And then the dance. The lovely dance. It was super fun. My brother and sister-in-law and parents and old friends and new friends all came.













Whee! I get out of breath and my feet start hurting all over again, just thinking about it.

And my throat hurts, thinking about it too. Oh, wait. Maybe I’m just sick.

Still Here in the New Year

I’ve been thinking that it’s a shame to just let four and a half year’s worth of the careful recording of my life come to an end just because I got a job. I mean, it’s not like my life is over. Nope. It’s very alive and kicking.

So here I am. I don’t know if you’re still here, but I’m still here.

Some things that have happened since I started working full time:

• An overflowing toilet flooded our house when it ran all night long while we slept. It damaged every room in the house. Three months and 20 thousand dollars later, the construction to repair it all is finished. We finally have floors and painted walls with no holes in them. Now if we could just get the insurance company to cough up the last 10K…

• Callie got her driver’s permit. That license is just around the corner. I’m looking forward to that! I’m dreading that! That’s all I have to say about that!

• I worked out once. Remember that one time? My company reimburses us $100 a month if we work out in a vigorous manner at least five hours a week on at least four different days of the week. I’m determined to work my way up to that. $100 is a lot of moola. But so far I’ve only done it once in five months. I’m on my way, guys. I’ll take you all out to dinner when I do it.

• I’ve been discovering that I’m not a very patient person. More on that later.

• My computer went kaput and I deleted my photography business. Which is a good thing, considering I now have had no way to edit pictures.

• I’ve also decided to start deleting people who try to suck my joy away. I call them Joy-Suckers. You know the type. They can’t let you enjoy anything without saying something negative. Like when you are happy that it’s snowing and the Joy-Suckers proceed to make fun of Texans and what they think snow is and how they behave in the snow and how no snow is as good as the snobbity Joy-Sucking snow in other places. The thing is, I am a really nice person. I really am. And I like most everybody in this world. But I have decided that I have no more patience for Joy-Suckers. From now on, when they try to suck my joy, I’m going to point my finger in their face and say, “YOU are a Joy-Sucker.” Then I’m going to fan all five fingers out while making a circular motion in the air while saying, “Therefore, I delete you.” And that shall be that.

• I realized that beef stroganoff and refrigerated orange biscuits make kids just as happy as the snobbity meals I used to make. Maybe happier. Because a ten year old can help open cans of refrigerated orange biscuits. And ten year olds want nothing more than to help. And when you’re someone who’s lacking in the patience fruit, you don’t really foster an environment of letting ten year olds help when you’re making snobbity meals. And when your heart breaks sometimes because you worry that going back to work may make your ten year old baby feel abandoned by you, it’s these little moments of pure joy that make you realize everything will be okay. Working side by side in the kitchen after work, opening cans and stirring the beef stroganoff. No patience required. And it will mean the world to her. And I can still make the snobbity meals on Saturdays. I think I’ll even welcome the help more than I used to. I have come to understand the value of teaching in a new way. It sure has made me thankful for my very patient husband who has undertaken the girls’ education in a way that puts me to shame. I admire him greatly and am thankful once again for the unforeseen goodness that yet another difficult change brought.

I guess that’s enough for my comeback post.

No, wait. I’ll end with my two cents of parenting advice for parents of teenagers:

When you get home from some place and you say the thing you’ve always said to the carload of children (teenage and otherwise) the second that you take the keys out of the ignition: EVERYBODY GO TO BED; your teenage daughter might not take it as the joke that it was intended to be. She might glare at you and roll her eyes. And when you ask her why she’s rolling her eyes at you, she might say, “Because you never ask anything nicely. You could at least say please.” That’s when you should tell her that you never say please when you’re joking. That will probably not go over well and your husband might start singing 80’s praise songs to you like “Humble Thyself in the Sight of the Lord,” and your daughter might start going down the list of all the times you didn’t say please. In this situation, here’s what I advise: Spend the rest of the evening chasing her around and hugging her while saying “I love you please.” Throw in a couple high kicks that connect with her rear end while saying, “Can I kick your butt, please?” And back her into corners while kissing her cheeks and saying, “You’re the best daughter in the world, please. I’m so glad you’re mine, please.” She’ll end up whimpering with both arms over her face, “Dad! She’s scaring me!”

It will make for great fun to be had by all.

That’s it. That’s all I got. If I can come up with at least one more post in 2011, I promise I’ll update my “About” page.

Vague Like a Vagabond

You know how people say that you’re waffling when you can’t decide which way to go and you switch sides easily and you don’t really know what to say so you babble? Well, that’s what my mind is doing these days. Only I’ve been thinking about it and I’ve decided that waffle is not really the best word to use. I’m more like a pancake. Pancakes are much more flimsy than waffles. Waffles at least have a crisp exterior and when made the way I like them, they could probably even stand on their own for a second. And when I make waffles, I don’t flip them. I put them in the waffle iron, close the lid and let the magic work, while both sides are cooked evenly at the same time. Pancakes get poured into a pan and then you flip them, flip them and sometimes flip them again.

That’s me. I feel like I’m being poured out as a nondescript liquidy goo, and then I’m being heated and then I flip, flop, flip. And when I try to stand, I simply fold over. It’s really not very attractive. Sometimes people even fling me in the air to watch how high I’ll go and I pray to God that the skillet will catch me on the way down. But to tell you the truth, it really is not going to feel any different hitting that skillet or hitting the floor. Because I’m a pancake and I flop and I squish and I rip.

This morning, while I was driving the kids to school in a rainstorm, I was watching the trees getting whipped by the wind. And I was jealous of those trees. I’d much rather be a tree than a pancake. Specifically, I’d like to be the very top of the tree. That’s where the wind hits the hardest. And the treetops just sway with the wind. They don’t know where the wind is coming from or where it will take them, but they’re flexible enough to let it take them where it will, while still staying firmly attached to the trunk. And they look beautiful doing it. Whether swaying gently or thrashing violently, the beauty can take my breath away.

I had bad dreams last night and they won’t go away from my mind.

My prayer for today is to be a treetop instead of a pancake. I’m dreaming big.

Ouch Ouch Ouch

I just bit a chunk off the end of my tongue. I think I might need to give up gum-chewing for good. My mother gave it up years ago. I guess I have her genes, when it comes to the way I chew gum. It’s just that I like gum so much. It makes me happy. And when I’m happy, I chew pretty vehemently. No, I take that back. I guess I do most things pretty vehemently, whether I’m happy or not. If I shut a cabinet, I want to hear it shut and watch the other cabinet doors bounce on their hinges as if to say, “Welcome back, fellow cabinet. We’re glad you’ve come home.” If I put something down on the counter, I want to hear it hit the counter and watch it bounce into whatever might be so unfortunate to be in its way (or fortunate, depending on your point of view). When I type on this little keyboard that I’m typing on right now, I want to make each and every keystroke resonate with purposefulness as though it matters for eternity. I am an on-purpose sort of gal, if you will. Anything worth doing is worth doing vehemently, I always say. (Not really, but as an interesting side note…when I was little, I always read that word with the accent on the third syllable so it always sounded like “vee-hu-MENT-lee” in my mind. I also said the word “determined” like “detter-mind,” in case you were wondering.)

Anyway, now I’m sitting here with my mouth filling up with a mixture of blood and saliva because I am unwilling to swallow it. It’s nothing new. I do it at least once a week, either on the inside of my cheek or the tip of my tongue. The tip of my tongue hurts worse. And now it’s getting all swollen and feeling kind of numb. I don’t know if I’ll be able to eat anything.

And I was really looking forward to the taco salad that I’m making for dinner tonight.