I was waiting on a short flight to Lubbock,
And there were some kind of maintenance problems and the flight was delayed.

These flights to a place where the flight attendants usually don’t even pronounce properly Are small. Tiny. Puddle Jumper flights where there is hardly even time for drink service.
Loud prop planes that make me a little bit nervous.
So the crowd waiting it out, in the sub-terminal wasn’t that big either.
Many of them started to chat and complain because it was before the time of iphones.

I was sitting away from the group. Mostly immersed in a book and partly people watching.
And I heard one of the women from the group awkwardly say she needed to get back today.
Her father had passed away and she was anxious to be with her family.
The group awkwardly tried to comfort this stranger, but mostly she sat in silence.

After a long delay, the finally let us board the plane.
again it was tiny, with 2 on one side of the aisle and a single on the other.
I was hoping for a single or at least and aisle seat but got neither and settled in by the window and wondered who my seat mate would be.
I hoped they would be quiet and small and leave me to my book.

And then she sat down.
The one on her way to plan her father’s funeral.
I had especially hoped not to sit next to her.

And I felt bad and awkward and didn’t know what to say.
She didn’t know that I had overheard the reason for her trip.
So I didn’t say much.
I smiled politely, said hello and started back in on my book as the engines began to roar.

Sometime shortly after the captain told us we could briefly move about the cabin.
She took out a small photo of a man and began to look at it.
She didn’t say anything and she didn’t cry she just stared at this small piece of a man who was no longer there.
And I quietly closed the book.
And I still didn’t know what to say.
But I asked, ever so quietly, if this was her father.

She nodded her head.
And my tears began to fall.
And then hers did too.
And she started talking and remembering.
But mostly we just cried.
Together. Strangers.
For her father.

And an hour or so later the plane touched down.
And my heart was heavy and my eyes were red and puffy.
All for a woman whose name I didn’t even know.

As we waited for baggage.
We hugged awkwardly. I struggled to find comforting words.
But I don’t think my words mattered.
But I feel certain that my tears did.

And I learned a few things on that short flight.
Mostly that it doesn’t take much to help.
That you don’t need to know names or say the right words.
That you just need to be willing to put down your book and try.
To carry someone’s burden for a little while,
Or even for just a short bumpy flight.

dance party part deaux

So we still don't have cable ....and this time I took a stab at making our own TV.

The Friday playlist: Summer Reading

So, this isn't really about music at all. Feel free to skip to the end if you are only here for some good tunes.
Soon I’ll be heading to the mountains for a few weeks. Summer and vacation means one thing: books.
Lots of books.
I average about 5 a week on vacation. And 3-4 for a usual summer week.
My books need their own suitcase.
I know I should breakdown and get a Kindle to save packing space….but. I like turning pages and getting a little carsick on those winding roads.
So in preparation for my trip – I haven’t packed. I haven’t thought about how to entertain my kids on that horrid 12 hourish drive. I haven’t thought about hiking boots and fishing poles and wool socks.
But, I have spent my mother’s day $ (thanks mom and dad) on amazon.com.
And everyday I come home to a joyful little brown package in the mail. With a book inside that I will sneak into someone's diaper bag or tackle box so I can take them all.

School is almost out. (well for some of you it is, but I have 6 more days, not that I’m counting down or anything)….so I thought we could all use a little summer reading list.

I know that most of the books are kind of the same genre….but the rest of my family will bring plenty of good fiction for me to tear into.

Books I’ve read recently that I think you should to:
1. Sin Boldly – Cathleen Falsani. The title alone should sell you. This book is pretty and raw and will stick with you.
2.The Naked Gospel– Andrew Farley. This book will leave you with a fat lot of questions. But good questions. And it will probably piss some of you off – so be warned.
3. Looking for God: An unexpected journey through tofu, tattoos, and pronouns –Nancy Ortberg. She had me with the first chapter.
4. Little Bee – Chris Cleave. Not in the above genre. Pure fiction. And it is better if you know less about it and just discover the story and characters yourself. Compelling.
5. And some books that I've recently done reviews for that are worth reccomending again:Found Art, Love Mercy and O Me of Little Faith.

Books that just came in the mail (or are on their way):
6. Divine Nobodies – Jim Palmer. I cheated and started this one already and it.is.so.good. And I only read the first 2 introductions ( yes, I said 2 introductions).
7. Jesus in the Margins: Finding God in the Places we Ignore – Rick McKinley. Read This Beautiful Mess and it was greatness. This book looks even better.
8. Eat This Book: A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading – Eugene Peterson. As in Eugene Peterson who wrote the Message.
9. Will Jesus Buy Me a Double Wide – Karen Spears Zacharius. This last sentence of the review sold me: "Stop imagining all the ways in which the universe can serve you and start figuring out how you can serve others."
10. Justice in the Burbs – Ty and Lisa Samson. I’m kind of on a justice kick. I’m a little afraid to read this book. I’ve already given up buying new clothes for a while….and am pretty sure this book will call for some kind of action.

Non-Jesus-y books I want to read if those aren't your cup of tea:
11. Half Broke Horses – Jeannette Walls ( she wrote Glass Castle, need I say more)
12. Shit My Dad Says – Justen Halpern. Looks funny and touching.
13. Every Last One - Anna Quindlen. Because I love her. Especially Truth and Beauty.
14. Imperfect Birds – Anne Lammott. Her first fiction book in a while.
15. Lit – Mary Karr. Another great memoirist. I loved The Liars Club and Cherry.
16. Girl With the Dragon Tattoo – Steig Larrson. Because anyone with the name Steig has to write good stuff.

Coming Soon: Books that Aren’t out yet but I wish they were:
17. Evolving in MonkeyTown: a girl who had all the answers learned to ask the questions– Rachel Held Evans ( comes out end of June). And no it isn’t about evolution or monkeys.
18. Permission to Speak Freely- Anne Jackson. Love this girl's blog.
19. Bittersweet: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life- Shauna Niequist (she wrote Cold Tangerines, and if you haven’t read that you totally should).
20. The Short Life of Bree Tanner – Stephanie Meyer. And yes, I did just throw out a Twilight book. I mean it.`

And I know that's a lot of books.....but I assure you I'm a fast reader...and could always use more suggestions. What is on your reading list this summer?
And...b/c this is a playlist...here is at least one tune for you.

her bite is meaner than her bark

I know it might be hard to believe but.
This sweet little thing
Is a biter.
Like leaving marks on other kids in her class multiple days this week.

They haven’t threatened to kick us out yet.
But I’m afraid it is coming.

And I’m not really sure what to do.
She bites.
We say no.
We put her in time out.
She screams.
She hits.
She bites again.

I have one of the mean girls.

So tonight I searched parenting websites for advice on how to stop biting.
And they all pretty much stunk.


and don't worry, that's spaghetti sauce on her face, not blood.

imaginary friends

Recently I had a friend disappoint me.
I didn’t tell them.
And I didn’t write about it when it happened.
Instead I seethed a little and got angrier and slightly resentful and finally dumped it on my husband.
(who had some great advice that will come later)

And. I have hesitated to write this piece because a lot of my real life friends read this.
Maybe even the one I’m writing about. Maybe not. Actually I’m not really sure.
And to be honest the best pace to work this out would be with them.
Just them.
And not on line.
It’s not really about them. It’s more about me. And I don’t think there is so much to work out anyways.
So, if you are my real life friend and are reading this and wondering, hesitantly or fearfully if this is about you.
It might be.
But it probably isn’t.
And again. Even if it is. It’s not REALLY about you.
And if it isn’t. It could be. If we have been friends for more than five minutes, we have probably had a moment like this.

So, back to me venting to my husband.
I forced him to listen to my girl woes and what I thought were very valid complaints.
To which he said,
“So. Why are you mad? That is what I'd expect. Some of it is what I would do. Why are you expecting something else.”
And I got a little frustrated because really I was just hoping he would agree. Be on my team and tell me how right I was rather than speaking some truth.

And he was right.
And I had a hard time swallowing it.

And sure, I have friends that I love even though they are always late or have a short temper or are high strung, or are more conservative, or are more liberal or occasionally flighty. And it doesn’t bother me. It is just part of who they are and who I love.
And they manage to love me despite of
My insensitive. my constant interruptions. my obnoxious. my rantings. my strong opinions. my lack of strong opinions. my habit of eating off their plate, my loose lips…..and probably a hundred other more things. Really, I totally get the good end of the deal.

And I’m sure I’ve hurt feelings or said dumb things or dominated conversations that I shouldn’t have. And occasionally I have even apologized for it.
But mostly I haven’t. And they are my friend anyways.

And so my friend didn’t really disappoint me.
Or hurt my feelings.
Instead. Some girl I made up did.

My friend was still there. Doing all the things that I love about her.
And I decided that maybe my expectations. The false ones I made up.
Should go.
While the rest of us went out for coffee.

second best

Early in our marriage, I made the mistake of trying to let my husband teach me a few things.
Like skiing and golf.
I thought these would be fun things that we could do together.
Only I forgot that I am a horrible student.
That I don’t really like being told what to do.
I hate the frustration of trying so desperately to hold my arm straight or not swing to the left or keeping my skis in line. Without success.
I get more frustrated.
He tells me again.
And he tells me about a dozen things I need to fix or change or do and I don’t even know where to begin.
And we end up yelling or cussing (usually both) and not having any fun at all.

Eventually he has learned, to only offer advice when I ask for it.
Or to limit it to one thing every five minutes.
And also we learned that when we learn something we have two entirely different goals.
My husband wants to do it properly.
To have good form. Skill. And to do well. Maybe even win.
I just don’t want to suck.
I just want to be able to play.
And have a good time.
And make it down the mountain in one piece.
I could give a rip about my form or my technique.

Don’t get me wrong.
I am competitive. I like that I can usually run further than him (even if he can run faster) and can cream him at tennis.
We argue about who is smarter.
I am by far the better cook (except for pancakes).
He is the better everything else.
It is nice to win something. To be recognized or to do well.
But still. Most days I am content with not sucking.

I have an odd confession.
I don’t have any strong desires to be the best.
And I don’t think it is just lazy. I am ok with working hard.
With training and trying and even failing.

And I have friends who seem to excel at everything they do.
And I see what it takes.
The hours. The lack of sleep. The constant work.
The things they have to say no to, to be really good at the other.
And sometimes I am jealous. Of their success and recognition.
And even though I’d really like to be good at it.
To have similar successes and awards and prestige.
I can’t seem to push myself to be the best at anything.
Because I’m pretty happy where I’m at.

I don’t use cloth diapers or make super crafts out of popsicle sticks and dryer lint.
I don’t make my husband a home made meal every night.
I am not teacher of the year.
I almost never score the winning goal. Heck, I almost never score a goal period.
When I run races, I don’t really care that much about my time.
I just want to finish. Preferably without walking.
I am better at some things than others.
I am even better at some things than most.
But I can not name one thing that I am the best at.
I am not the skinniest. Or the prettiest. Or the smartest. Or the nicest. Or the richest. Or the funniest.
I am.
Just like most of you, pretty ordinary.
And I am ok with that.

And sometimes I worry that this ordinariness is why nothing will ever come of my writing.
Or that settling for ordinary just means that I have low self esteem. ( most days, not the case)
Or that I am just not competitive. (again, I am. Sometimes.)
And. I hope it isn’t true about my writing. (there are lots of things holding me in my place here. Like timing and money and fear and lack of sleep and the fact that I still like my day job. And I promise to start chipping away at those eventually….but I am not in any hurry).
Or that I am doing something wrong. That I am cheating myself. That I am not committed enough. Or working hard enough. That I don’t have enough ambition. And maybe I don’t. Because frankly. I don’t want to be a best seller. I just hope that people will read my words and that they will matter. And maybe one day I can even get paid for it.

We are told that God wants our best (2 Timothy 2:14).
But no where does it ever say we have to be the best compared to anyone else. And I think that is a pretty huge distinction.

Until then. I am encouraged by the fact that God never picked the best.
He rarely used biblical superstars or bestsellers to tell his story.
Instead there is a lot more written about teenage girls, and shepherd boys, and fishermen and even a Jewish carpenter.
That he always used ordinary people to do the most tremendous things.
And maybe being ordinary and available is more important than being the best.

The Friday Playlist: The Saturday Edition

I have never felt confined by rules. Silly things like speed limits or posting Friday playlists on Friday.

Recnently a friend gave me an itunes giftcard. Because she knows that I needed some happy. And she knows that I really didn’t want to grade any papers during my conference but instead wanted to peruse the itunes store and drain my giftcard in one sitting. Because nothing makes me happy like good music and procrastinating. And doing both at the same time makes me extra happy.

Here are a few things I bought (b/c I’m really too tired to put together any other kind of list).

Small – JJ Heller. I love her and pretty much every song she puts out.

Your Love is My Drug -Ke$ha. Yes you read that properly. I mean it. I do have living room dance parties to host….and it is great to run to. And I do plan on finding my running shoes again this week.

Silver Lining- Rilo Kiley. Because I am in search of one.

Jon Foreman – Instead of a Show. He is the front man for Switchfoot….but I love all his solo stuff. This song in particular is amazing and will probably offend a few people. It's posted below, so give it a listen.

Sandra McKracken – Justice Will Roll Down. Ok I know I mentioned this one last week. But I finally purchased it. And she is worth mentioning twice.

Better - Regina Spektor. Already had the original version. But I just bought the piano version off of songs for Tibet

Gimme Sympathy – Metric. At the recommendation of my AP biology class who needed a little dissecting music.

Wishing Well – The Airborne Toxic Event. Never heard of them before a friend put them on a playlist for me . And am now their newest fan. This one is a little angry and perfect for turning up loud on the radio. Rolling the windows and driving a little bit too fast.

Loud-Matt Nathanson and Ingrid Michelson. Two artists I love singing together with great lyrics. I would have paid double for this one.

Where the Road Meets the Sun – Matthew Perryman Jones and Katie Herzig. Another killer duo.

....what was the last song you purchased?

me too

I used to never question God.
It was just part of the way things were.
Just like I believed in Santa and the tooth fairy and the Easter bunny.

And eventually I grew up and started to wonder.
I always believed,
But occasionally I started to wonder if he was always good.
If he really loved me.
Singular me rather than an all inclusive version.
That he was paying attention.
That my prayers mattered.`

And I didn’t know that I should play by the rules.
That questioning these outloud things in a Bible study or Sunday School class
Will get you bumped to the top of the prayer list.
Because I know.
But sometimes I wonder.
And I didn’t need their scripture memory verses or their books or their prayers.
(but I guess prayers never hurt)
And I was just hoping for someone else to say
“me too”.

And, Jason Boyett’s book, O Me of Little Faith
Is one great big “me too”
And like most books I like he asks a whole lot more questions than he answers.
Hard ones.
Ones without real answers.
Ones that make me want to ask even more questions.
And he is funny, has an entire chapter on Dr. Sues and talks about West Texas a lot…which are all added bonuses in my world.

I will warn you.
This has been a particularly trying week for me.
And maybe reading a book on doubt didn’t help.
Maybe I should have been carrying around a copy of “chicken soup for the
________________ “ (you fill in the blank, because there is a chicken soup for everything these days).
But I think I’d rather do a little “wrestling” than waste my time with fluff.
Even if it is hard.
Even if I don’t ever get around to finding the answers.

Want my copy (which was so kindly provided by the publisher in return for my review)?
Leave a comment and I’ll have my random generator ( uhm, asking the hubs across the couch to pick a # between 1-?) on Wednesday. He might read it first….so you’ll have to wait a week or two for me to get in the mail.

And feel to check out these links:
buy your own copy on Amazon
check out Jason's website
and the other bloggers on the tour.

And you should also know that I desperately wanted to take a picture of Owen just like the cover of the book. I chased him around the front lawn with the Nikon and a box of bandaids asking him to take off his shirt and show me his muscles. I think the neighbors might have called CPS. And no, he never posed.

what hope sounds like

Lately I’ve had some hard days.
I’ve written about some of it (see last post), other things I’ve left out.
Some of my friends keep asking if I’m ok.
And I’m really not.
But I don’t quite have time to let myself not be.

And I hesitate to say that I’m not.
Because none of it is really my grief.
It is all secondhand.
Losing a student is tough. But it is not like losing a son or a brother or a best friend.
Another friend is in the hospital.
She lost a son in August and is pregnant again with some serious complications.
20 weeks along with a little girl named Piper.

And yesterday, after my day job.
I had a play date and got to see a friend of my own that I have missed.
I made dinner for a neighbor who had surgery.
I stopped by the funeral home to give a girl a hug who just lost her twin.
A girl who happened to be Owen’s first baby sitter.
Who called from her cell phone in the middle of MY class to find out if my baby was a boy or a girl while I was getting a sonogram. And I’m not even sure how she got my number….but I guess when your dad is the assistant principal you have connections like that.
A girl whose grief and loss breaks my heart in so many ways.
And I didn’t go inside or say anything.
I just hugged her on the front steps and wiped away my tears.
And packed up my kids and was off to swim lessons.
And from there I went to see my Beth in the hospital.

And my Beth is easy. Even in a very difficult situation.
Our girls filled her hospital room with their squeals and giggles.
And we talked easily about movies and friends and her cervix.
And afterwards I ate good food with an old friend.
And went home and packed a sack lunch with a note tucked inside and put a baby to bed.

And as I laid down, I was again consumed by all this grief.
And that I am choosing it.
Because really, let’s be honest.
It would be easier to just send a card. Or even flowers.
But giving grief a hug or driving a long way just to sit in a hospital room and eat craisons is awfully hard on my heart.
And my heart is tired. And I’m not so sure how much more it can take.
But there are still lunches to pack, and papers to grade and banquets and showers and birthday parties and soccer games to get to.

And last night, just before I left the hospital.
My friend’s nurse came in to take her temperature and blood pressure and those kinds of things. And I’m not sure why I asked, but I did anyways.
If she could let us listen to the heartbeat.
And she came back in with her Doppler and jelly.
And we heard the swish of the baby moving. And the quick lub-dub of her heart beating strong despite all the things going against her.
And for the first time in days…
I heard what hope sounds like.

Of course I did.

Today I am supposed to be doing my last installment in five for ten and write about "yes". And this is not at all the post I intended. But life sometimes doesn't take the turns we want it to. And yesterday a teacher friend of mine called and told me about a memorial service for one of my former studetns and asked if maybe I would consider saying something. And keep in mind, that as a teacher, I pretty much speak to groups of people all day for a living. But. If I have to say something serious and heartfealt, even to an audience of one, I usually get all mumbly and stare at my shoes and forget what I was going to say. Even though I love this kid....and will miss him terribly I have a hard time imaging myslef on stage talking to an auditorium filled with grief stricken friends and family. I texted another friend about my reservations. And she knows all too well my mumbly shoe staring state.

And she replied, "Did you say yes?"

Did which I typed back. "of course I did"
And so tonight, if I make it up on the stage and stare out my feet...hopefully this is what will come out.

When Mrs. Brooke called to tell me about the memorial service.
She encouraged me to get up and speak.
To tell a funny story about Hunter and Mickey and friends cutting up.
She hoped I could say something funny and warm and make us all feel a little bit more comfortable.
And I have plenty of those stories. Like maybe the time they “borrowed” a bunch of NHS shirts and boldly wore them to school the next day. I secretly thought it was funny – even if I did have to write them up for it.
But to be honest. I’m not really feeling funny or warm or comfortable.

Sometimes you get a voice message.
And you know.
That whatever they didn’t tell you is going to be bad.
That after you call them back it will be part of the after.

The after.
The now that you know.

And I called back.
Most of you got the same phone call on Sunday.
And this is the after.

And I have been here before.
I have lost students before.
But this time it feels worse.
This loss I feel the most.
I liked Hunter the best.
His intensity and the way easy way he loved and stuck up for his sister.

And I hate days like this.
Where I want to puke.
And drain a bottle of wine.
And be angry and cuss.
Which maybe aren’t things I should say in front of a roomful of my old students.
But these aren’t the times to pretend or follow protocol.
And I suddenly wish that I worked at Starbucks or in an office or a old folks home.
Anywhere where my students don’t die.

It is an ugly feeling to sit at the memorial service of a kid.
One of mine. That sat in my desks in my room.
A kid who was tardy and smart and made me laugh.
Who managed to find a way to skip class even when his dad was the principal.

I've been a teacher for 10 years and I’ve been to a lot of funerals, and memorial services and visitations.
I think it is part of the job description.
And it never gets easier.
And I doubt God every time I sit on those hard pews.
That he is good.
That he is even paying attention.

And so this wasn’t funny. Or warm. Or inviting.
Because I feel just like you do.
Sad and empty and angry.
And full of doubt.
But all I know to do is pray, anyways
That it will get easier.
Especially for his family.
The one that he was born into and the ones he chose. His closest friends.

And I am grateful that the God we serve is big enough for our anger and doubt and even our greif that feels like a tight ball in the pit our my stomach.
And He knows what it is like to lose a son. Which is a grief so big and huge that I can not fathom it.
And so I ask that you pray. Even if you are doubting. Especially if you are doubting.
Like me.
That He will make something mysteriously beautiful out of this miserable time.
And the he will allow you to carry, some of this grief , as much as you can, for his family.
So that maybe their burden will be just a little bit lighter.
And certainly not one they carry alone.

lust. and other things i don't post about....

The fourth topic in 5 for 10 over at momalom’s page is lust.
And I have been dreading this post since the list went up.
I have started it and stopped it and taken it in so many different directions that I'm a little dizzy.
A funny little piece about my dad shredding my sister’s david lee roth poster.
A slightly too candid piece about the fact that I still get crushes.
Losing lust. Love being better than lust. Keeping lust.
A funny picture of my husband laying tile this afternoon. complete with kneebads and grout on his face, which is enough to make any girl feel a little lusty.
My intense preteen crush on Fred Savage.
Embarassing junior high first kiss stories.
making out in cars.
getting caught making out in cars.
Stretching it a bit and not applying lust to sex at all.
But really, let’s be honest….that is immediately what we all think of.
And finally, I thought I had settled on a post about wanderlust – an ache for the distance.
I could write pages on my ache for distance.

But instead I’m going to avoid the topic all together.

Because, lets be honest.
This blog isn’t my journal.

And truth is, I really don’t even keep a journal any more.
And this is as close as I get. But some things need to be protected.
Just mine.
Or mine and my husband’s.
Or mine and a friend’s.

And I feel bad about this.
Not skirting the topic so much,
But not being as open and honest and forthright as I appear.

Most of us like transparent and authenticity in the blogosphere.
And it is something I really try to put out there.
Here in this space. And in real life.
But there is a point where maybe we shouldn’t go.
Not because we are pretending to be someone else,
but because we are protecting who we are.
And the ones we love the most.

And so to the dozen or so of you that read my blog. I apologize. I won’t be talking about my sex life or my penchant for drinking too much wine, IBS or my friends or family in any way that I think might hurt them. I’ll keep their secrets. I’ll try not to complain too much. Most of the time I steer clear of hot button issues, even though I hear they will do wonders for my stats.

Because everything in my life doesn't need to be a blog post.

Once I even fasted for 6 weeks ( just once a week, not six weeks straight) partly with the intentions to blog about it. And then I read the part in the bible that says not to make it obvious. (Matthew 6:16). And realized that I can’t just do things so I can write about them. I can’t post every good thing I do on here, unless I’m going to post every bad. And well, trust me, we don’t have enough time for that.

Lately I’ve been hanging out with a friend who is going through some rough stuff. I’ve blogged about it plenty. But have backed way off because I don’t want my time with her to be about getting “new material”. And trust me there is plenty of
material there. Instead, I’ve just been enjoying my time on the couch with her rather than writing blog posts every time I visit.

But don’t worry, I won’t be keeping too much back. I’ll share my hopes and my insecurities and my fears. I’ll tell funny stories and list my favorite new songs and remember as much as I can. And it will all be real. And posting them online will make me feel naked and a little insecure. Like someone just read my journal.

But that is the only kind of naked I’ll be writing about.

The Friday Playlist: Silver and Gold

Here is a mish mash of new songs ( at least to me ) and a few old ones that I just wanted to hear this week.

Photographs and Memories – Jason Reeves (all this memory talk on momalom has me digging this song)
Sugar Tongue – Indigo Girls (they just keep making good music. I especially like the acoustic version)
Trying to Put your Heart Back Together – Slow Runner (my only request is that this song was longer…it is so short and I want it to keep going)
Times – 10th Avenue North (could listen over and over and not get tired. And sometimes I do)
Justice – Sandra McCracken (my favorite on the list…the acoustic version is the best…but I can’t seem to find it for purchase so you’ll have to make do with the itunes version)
Fallen - Jennifer Knapp (she’s back in the game. And yes I did read the Christianity Today article, to which I reply, “So and turn it up”)

Resplendant – Bill Malonee &the Vigillantes of Love (there is a line “please excuse my crutch” that does it to me everytime.)
Edie Brickell –What I am (just wanted to hear this today)
What’s Up -4NoneBlondes (came on the radio twice this week and I cranked it up and sang so loudly)
Daughter –London Wainwright III (maybe not that old…but it’s been a while since I thought about this song. I played it over and over when I was pregnant with Tess.)
You are Everything – REM (beautiful tune)
Banditos – Refreshments (random and happy and perks me up every time I hear it)

So what are you listening to?

what we mostly forget

Think back.
Long and hard. Ten Years.
At least twenty. Twenty five. Thirty. If you are old like me.
And what do you remember?

If you are like me a lot is fuzzy.
Things that stand out aren’t exactly the kinds of things you find in photo albums.

My earliest memory is being hit in the head with a pick axe by my cousin.
I swear I heard my skull crack.
But it couldn’t have been that bad in real life because I don’t even think we went to the hospital.
Fast forward a bit. I remember my first grade teacher making me cry because I got my greater than and less than signs backwards.
I remember being punched on the playground in second grade. If I sit here long enough and try more memories will trickle in. And some of them are good and happy and wonderful. But most of them aren't.

I’m sure I played lots of games of chase and at popsicles and go plenty of smiley faces on my papers. I’m sure I made new friends and wowed them with my wit and strawberry shortcake dolls, but mostly I remember when one of them didn’t want to be my friend any more. The ugly and the mean and the hurt and the rejected has a way of sticking in our brains so much stronger than the good and the easy and the everyday.

Sometimes I look at my kids and this life we have had together. And hate that they won’t remember any of it so far. That the dance parties and frogs and snow cones and forts in the living room and water balloon fights and snuggles and stolen kisses will slide right out of their little brains and be replaced by sharp words and wounds and a few traumatic moments instead of the hundreds of good normal everyday joyful ones.

And sometimes I want to force a memory. To have great moments and big birthday parties and vacations and ridiculously happy kids. And to take a billion pictures so that there will be proof. Proof that we were happy. Proof that most of it was good. But I don’t get to choose their memories. They might remember the time I let them cover me from head to toe in stickers. Or they might not. They might remember the time I lost them at Old Navy instead or yelled because I had a long day. I make a lot more dinners and beds than I make memories. I am making the everyday. And these moments still mean something even if the won’t be called up so clearly in twenty or twenty five or even fifty years.

These moments. These everyday little ones. Are shaping my kids. This is who they will be and how they will live. This will be their default. The natural rhythms and attitues and patterns that will make up their core. And surely some of these moments will sink in and stand out and fill in all the spaces between the wounds.
(and this was part 3 of momalom's five for ten. today's topic: memory. click on over for tons of other good reads)

kindergarden roundup

Today I registered this little guy for kindergarden.
Ok. So maybe that picture is a little bit old.
But so stinkin cute.
(and yes my boy used to wear a helmet and he made it look good!)
So this is a slightly more recent picture.
But I'm not really sure how we suddenly got from there to here.

And I did feel a bit...
oh-my-gosh-I-can't-believe-I-am-registering-my-baby-for-kindergarden even though I'm not usually that kind of mom.
Is he ready? Am I ready? Will he do ok? Will he make friends? Will he be smart enough? Will his teacher like him? Is he too little? Will he know where to go? Will he be able to put the straw in his capri sun all by himself?
But within minutes my kid had single handedly organized the rowdiest game of hide and go seek with about a half dozen kids that he had never met while I filled out a ridiculous amount of forms and waited in as many different lines. After they had tired and squealing and running and going over and under the cafeteria tables him and his new bestie (Garrett with 2 Ts and plays T ball...yes they really bonded) tried every angle they could to break into the ice cream case and score a dreamsicle. And then I realized that really the only person I should really be worried about is his teacher.

(and if you are still confused about the helmet, it seems like a lifetime ago, but I did write about it once here)

pursue something else.

Americans like the idea of happy.
of pursuing happiness.
It is even one of our inalienable rights at least according to the Declaration of Independance.

But I think maybe we should pursue something else.
like love or joy or peace or contentment.

and leave happy alone.

Don't read me wrong. I am neither bitter nor cynical. Even my problems are good problems. I am positive. Half full. And most days I laugh a whole lot more than I cry.

And simple things like a dance party in the living room, an hour alone in Barnes and Noble, the yellow pajama pants my son picked out for me for mother's day, potstickers, clean sheets, someone surprising me with coffee, jeans fresh from the dryer, a good song on the radio, or squeals of delight when I walk in the door all make my heart sing.

They make me happy.
For a minute.

But when the squealing turns to screaming, my new pants are dirty, the sheets are in a jumble on the floor or the coffee runs out....where does that leave me?

And happy isn't always good.

I remember talking to a favorite old friend right before Owen was born.
She told me that she was leaving her husband. That she wasn't sure she loved him anymore. That she just wasn't happy. So she was leaving.
There was another guy who made her happy and she was going to give that a try for a while.
She was pursuing happy and threw away of lot of good things in the process.
I wanted to hop in my car and drive the three hours to see her. To love her. And then shake some sense into her.
I think maybe we are all so often unhappy because we are pursuing somthing that won't last or an ideal that doesn't really exist. The fake picture we saw on the Cosby show or read about in greeting cards.

Happy is short lived. Experiential. And we keep desperately looking for it. Hoping for it to show up on our doorstep, in shopping bags, bottles, other people and pills. And it often makes it's brief appearance and then moves on to someone else.
I want to seek something a little more permanant.

A joy forever etched in my soul. That is still there even on days where I struggle to smile. In being content. Like Paul. Paul wrote the "happiest" book of the bible, Philipians, while rotting in a jail cell. Because his joy didn't come from his circumstances or his new favorite pair of pajama pants. But from Christ.

And He is surely worth pursuing.
(this post is part 2 of some fun stuff going on over at momalon's five for ten. click on over and check it out.)


ok. i love homework....(i'm a teacher what can i say). so when I read about momalon's five for ten project I was in. In short, I have to post about set topics (courage, happiness, memory, lust and yes)...and a bunch of other bloggers out there will be doing the same. So here is my first installment. On courage.

I’ve had a lot of first days in the classroom.
Almost as many as a teacher as a student.

I wish I could tell you that I remember all of my students.
But with 150 or so almost adults a year.
Most of them start to blend together.
I forget names and even faces.

But my first year, those kids I remember the most.
And one in particular.

She was just a freshman and should have been as fearful of her first day in highschool as I was to be her teacher.

It was a science class and I don’t remember the lesson exactly.
We talked briefly about the difference between science and faith.
And how they weren’t necessarily mutually exclusive.
But that science was something that we could prove.
That we could hypothesize and test and collect data.
But that faith and beliefs, no less valid, could not be proven in this same way.

And this girl raised her wiry hand.
And said that she could.

I stared a little blankly at her.
Thinking maybe she had misheard me.
And I was too new at this to know any better so I gave her the floor.

And she stood.
And on her first day of high school were most of her students were worried about finding their classrooms, opening their lockers or if they were wearing the right brand of jeans.
She boldly shared her heart.
And went on about how her Jesus could be proven.
She talked some nonsense about the loch ness monster and ancient texts.
And I think I saw her knees shaking a little.
But her voice didn’t waver.
And her classmates listened.
No one snickered or laughed at her like I was afraid maybe they would.
And after a few minutes she sat back down.

I’m not sure what I said or did afterwards.
But the lesson continued.
And the year quickly drifted by.
And so did the last 10.

But this girl I remember.
Because it is not every day that a 14 year old stands up and gives the teacher a lesson on courage and faith that she will never forget.
(and the picture, that's her all grown up. a girl with that kind of courage. i never doubted her. not for a second.)

out front

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Lately the weather has been amazing.
Which means I usually curse when I pull into the drive.
Because after a long day I want nothing more than to go inside. Shed my grown up clothes. Put away the mail. Eat something. Check real email and facebook and google reader and turn on the tv and decompress before starting dinner and baths and stories and games of CandyLand.
But, I have hardly seen my couch in the last few weeks.
I’m sure it misses me because I miss it.

Instead before I even have my seatbelt unbuckled my son is out of the car, has his shoes and socks off (and sometimes even his shirt and pants) and is halfway down the street on his wiggle car. Or in the neighbors bounce house or is spraying his sister down with the water hose.

For my son’s 2nd birthday we bought him this great swingset-slide-fort for the back yard. My husband and his dad (Grumps) spend hours and hours putting it together for my little ones sliding pleasure. My backyard is amazing. Quarter of an acre easy with lots of big open space to play. We have a hammock and a big deck and roses that always seem to be in bloom, nice big shade trees, a mini soccer goal and a sand box.
But we almost never play there.

Instead my kids play in the street.
Because that’s where everyone else is.

They run through yards and in and out of garages and trample on other peoples flowers.
Toys and bikes and scooters and trampolines and pop-ices are all kind of communal on our street. Some days there are 2 kids out. Some days there are a dozen.
But from about April to October I spend a lot of quality time sitting on the curb, chatting with the neighbors, applying sun screen and kissing skinned knees.

In the front yard. There is no couch. No TV and it is even pretty hard to see the computer screen.
Instead I am present. I am catching frogs and foul balls and playing duck duck goose.
The days are longer. We eat later. And we take drinks from the hose. And I get very little done.

Sometimes I jog around the neighborhood and wonder where everyone else is. Why it is so quiet. Why most other streets don’t look like mine. Covered in sidewalk chalk and discarded scooters.

I guess they are all in the backyard.
And it is their loss.

prone to wander.

The other day I was talking with someone about Kelli Corigan’s new book. Particuarly the end of the book. Where her friend, who just turned 40, decided that she was going to try and get pregnant from a sperm bank. Because even though she did not have a husband she wanted nothing more than to be a mom.

My friend talked about how she might have done the same thing had she been in her shoes. Or would at least consider it. Because she so desperately wanted to be a mother. And thankfully she is to a couple of beautiful girls. And I stared back at her a little blankly because I have never wondered down this path.
And I felt so unsettled because I don’t think that seed is planted in me so strongly.
The mothering seed.

Don’t get me wrong.
I wanted my babies.
We tried for them.
I talked my husband into them.
I might even want another.
And I love them fiercely.
I would walk through fire for them.
I’d give them both my kidneys. Without a second thought.

But sometimes I wonder what it would be like if I had certain freedoms back.
Like the freedom to go to a movie whenever I want.
Or the freedom to go to the bathroom by myself.
Or sleep all night with out someone waking me up.
And especially the freedom to wander.

And so when someone asks me …what maybe I would do if I were my age and single.
My brain doesn’t jump to being a mother and how I’d make that happen or miss it or so desperately want it.
Instead I think of all the places I could go and things I could do.
I think of the things that for now have to wait.
My single friends who have been to Africa and Austrailia and Italy. While I make lots of trips to the land of Target.
Not a day passes where I don’t think I want to go to ________ ( Haiti or New York or Africa or Austin or Maine). I don’t want to run away from my life. At least not for very long. And I’m not saying I can’t still go to some of these places. I can. But there are more pressing needs(like diapers and dinner). I'd also take more risks.
Because taking risks is tricky when you have little ones depending on you.
My decisions need to be about my family. Not just me.

And most of the time I'm so glad it's not just me.
And these two are well worth the wait.
If I had to pick. I’d still pick my life all over again.
The one with drive-thrus and soccer games and bounce house parties instead of passport stamps and fancy restaurants and professional prestige.

And maybe sometimes it is still ok to let my mind wander…even if I don’t.

being right

Today we were working on some problems in my physics class. They weren’t all that tough but I was still barraged with questions.
Some of my kids just wanted me to give them the answers.
Some of the others had the answer and just wanted me to tell them that they were right.
And lets be honest, half the kids were just copying each others.
But, I really didn’t care if they were right.
All I wanted was them to learn how to work the problem on their own.
Meaning I am more concerned with them learning a concept and skill than I am about them actually getting the right answer every time.
And giving it to them doesn’t really teach them anything. And copying may get them the right answer once....but they won't be able to use it in the long run.
And yes, this means that sometimes they get it wrong, but that is the risk I take when I really want them to learn something.

Tonight I was at a book club, which is often more like a bible study and we started to have some pretty differing opinions.
The voice levels started to go up a notch and I was afraid it was going to get ugly. It didn’t.
We found some common ground and heard each other out.
Essentially it was about being right.
Clear cut answers and rules and yeses and nos.

Recently I read that Jesus was asked 25 questions throughout the gospels by both his friends and enemies. “Yet only once during his three-year public ministry, prior to his arrest and trial, did Jesus answer a closed-ended question with a closed-ended answer (Mt 21:16).”
I’m not 100% sure how accurate that statement is but I did a little research myself and almost never found Jesus answering flat out.
When Jesus was asked why his disciples weren’t fasting, he started talking about a wedding (Matt 9:14)
When asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus answer wasn’t even part of the 10 commandments at all. (Matt 22:36)
When asked about paying taxes, Jesus asked whose picture was on the coin. (Matt 22:17)
When asked about healing on the Sabbath, Jesus started talking about sheep ( Matt 12:10)
And if you want a confusing answer, try reading the one where his disciples asked why he spoke in parables. (Matt 13:10)
(and here is a list of some more)

Jesus rarely seemed to give easy clear cut answers.
He answered with impossible things, or stories, or examples and was especially fond of answering questions with questions.
Turns out he asks a lot more questions that he answers.

At least not with a yes or a no or a simple one or two word answer.
I mean he could have used his 3 year ministry just writing a little how to book and most of us would try and follow it. Exactly.
Instead he told stories, and loved people and went to weddings and dinners and broke rules and fed people and healed people and prayed and asked a lot of questions and answered a few.
He never even mentions some of right wing fundamentalists favorite topics.
And not being specific is a little risky. Because it means we will occasionally get it wrong or disagree.
And sometimes people worry that if we don’t have answers that we will somehow lose truth.
But Jesus has an answer for that. Not a direct one of course. Something bigger and broader and even better than the answer to the original question.

Thomas said to him, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?" John 14:5
Essentially, his disciples were asking the way. They wanted to make sure they wouldn’t get lost.
And he didn’t answer with directions or a map.
Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6

The truth we are looking so earnestly for and trying to nail down isn’t our stance on a particular issue.
Jesus is truth. And the way. And the life.

And I think Jesus has something more in mind for us than just being right.
Than telling us yes or no.
Like love. And truth. And justice. And him. Mostly just him.
And that we will learn so much more from our own pursuit of answers.
Rather than just copying someone elses.

(and no, the picture has nothing to do with the post. i just thought my kid was awfully cute)

the L word

This morning I had to write a nice letter for an awards ceremony.
Actually it was due last week, but I’ve kind of been putting it off.
Me, who likes to write and especially likes homework, was totally dreading this assignment.
Because nice words are hard for me.
They always sound a little forced or corny.
Like maybe they belong in a greeting card.
I get all stressed out when someone makes me sign a yearbook or a group card.
I want my words to be clever and touching and not to say the same old lame stuff.
And in this blog I tend to write things that are honest or hard or funny.
But nice. Not so much.

And I am a nice person.
I’ll buy your coffee.
I’ll run your copies.
Give you all my books.
Or watch your kid if you ask.

But I am not so good at telling
(My favorite people especially)
How great they are.
How much I like them.
I completely avoid the L word.
Or try to throw it in all casually rather than with the intensity it deserves.

Recently I tried to tell a friend some nice things.
And it took everything in me to get out about half of it.
And even then I’m sure I mumbled and looked down and that she couldn’t understand a word I was saying.
Which kind of defeats the point.

In high school and college and summer camp we would write these ridiculously long corny letters to each other. About how much we were glad we were friends.
And they were filled with inside jokes that I don’t even remember anymore.
And I saved these letters. Most of them are in the attic in a black footlocker.
From friends that I have kept and others that have slipped away.
And I re-read them from time to time. And they are young and silly.
But their words still speak something warm and good into my soul.
Even if they sounded a bit like a Micheal W Smith song.
And maybe corny isn’t so bad.

I used to have a friend who wouldn’t let me off the phone unless I said I love you back.
Which was good practice for me.
Maybe I should call her up.
It used to be easier. I used to say it more.
And yes I tell my husband and kids that multiple times a day.
But friends and relatives.
Not so much. Almost never.

And I’m not really sure why.
And I assume that they know.
But it is still hard. And the words catch in my throat and I feel naked and embarrassed.
Which only frustrates me.
But sometimes I should tell them.
Outloud or on paper.

And I’ll start now. With people I never talk about in my blog…
Because maybe they are a little too close.

Shaun. I know that I am the luckiest. That you pull more than your share of the weight and love me and our children with a strong and steady force. (and no that wasn’t a star wars reference). That you are constant when I am a mess. That you have always been my home. (even if it is a messy one).

Rhonda, Wendy and Tina. Thanks for being my friend. For the coffee, and the pictures, and the books, the road trips, for flea bombing my house while I was out of town, for listening to the rants, for hospital visits, for food, for driving, for forgiving me when I am an insensitive jerk and lots of laughing. But mostly just for being there.

And I know I left a few of you out. Maybe I’ll tell you in person. As long as you don’t mind me mumbling incoherently and staring at my shoes.

dance party part deaux

Have I mentioned that I broke up with dish network last week. Dave Ramsey is to blame. Besides my middle school boyfriend dumping me for a girl who actually needed to wear a bra...this might be the hardest break up of them all. I'd soothe myself with copious amounts of ice cream on the couch while watching made for TV movies on lifetime. Excpet we no longer get Lifetime, or the Food Network or TNT. And Dora the Explorer isn't exactly bringing me any comfort. However my Spanish is improving. Surviving without Paula Dean and the ability to watch an episode of Law and Order episode whenever I want is going to be tough. I won't even go into how I will miss House and Parenthood and Psych and even American Idol. Don't even get me started about TiVo. It changed my life. And now it is all gone.

Even though we didn't have any premium channels the bill was hitting 70$ a month. And well despite my 5 on the AP Calculus exam back in high school, simple addition and subtraction is too much for me. At least when you add up what you make and subtract what you spend. I'm pretty sure the answer isn't supposed to be negative. So goodbye Dish Network.
Goodbye gym membership.
Goodbybe pedicures and nonfat lattes.
Goodbye house phone ( and good riddence I never liked you and all your telemarketing friends anyways).

And yes, I know I am being pretty trivial. It is all meant to be in good fun. Satellite TV really isn't that big a deal when some people don't have running water or food to eat. And maybe after we start making some better spending decisions we can start giving more. And we are working on that.

And unitl the day that we wake up and realize that I'm better off without satellite and TiVo we have been busy making our own TV. Yes. More dancing. And it is funny every time. Maybe not as funny as the episode of Saturday Night Live with Betty White that I will miss tonight... but still funny. And there's always Hulu.