spitting image

My son is the spitting image of his daddy.They are like little and big versions of the same person.
The only visible difference I can see is my husband has clear blue eyes and my son deep brown.

And it doesn't end with physical traits.
He likes Star Wars,Legos, soccer and even Flogging Molly and the Ramones.
Just like his dad.

But his crazy.
he gets that from me.
And I taught him all my moves!

and now some of you might be seeing why my sweet overenergized 5 year was struggling with kindergarten, sitting still, and following directions. But for the update he is starting to figure out school....even though i still haven't mastered the lunch card or the pick up line. We are celebrating 3 stamps (good days) in a row. With a dance party of course.

squeaky clean

Today I went to the dentist.
Problem, the last time I remember going I was pregnant with Tess.
She is about to turn 2.
I pretty much avoid the dentist because…
a) I am not a regular flosser…..unless twice a year counts as regular.
b) I hate having conversations while someone else’s hands are in my mouth.
c) and I am especially afraid of the part where the actual dentist walks in and tells me that I need another crown…or worse. In other words. Empty out your savings, and there is no payment plan.
And my dentist visit today shaped up to lots of the things I avoid.
Long wait in the waiting room with only crappy magazines to read. Forget Ladies Home Journal. Give me some People. I usually have at least 3 books on me at all times, but somehow I managed to leave them in my gym bag, shaun’s truck and dresser.

My hygienist was a little too perky and asked me the same question 4 times. I wondered if she had been hitting the laughing gas. And if she would share.

The lady took 20 Xrays. And I am not just being dramatic because I am writing about it. I counted. 20 freakin Xrays. I must have high end dental insurance and they decided to milk it for all it’s worth. Also it was the fun sit still while the camera moves around. Instead it was the kind where they put the film in your mouth and ask you to bite down. And surprisingly I have a very tiny mouth. I make up for it in volume though. So every film she shoved in my mouth either made me gag or cut up the bottom of my mouth. After about 14 I told her I was through. She gave me a pep talk and told me to breathe through my mouth. It was at this point that I wanted to slap her.

Then she started the actual “cleaning process”. She gets out the horrible scraping thing and went at it. It has been years, so this took awhile. The noise was worse than fingernails on a chalkboard. I tried not to cry. Tried not to gag. Tried to somehow swallow all that spit pooling inside my mouth. And not to ask her if they taught her in hygienist’s school that this is the most opportune time to make conversation and ask lots of questions. Yes or No questions only should be allowed. Ones that can be answered with one blink or two. Instead she asks about my kids, what I do, how many pets I have, my 3rd grade teacher. I start to wonder if she is trying to figure out my online passwords or something. Until I figure she is just trying to distract me from all the horrible scraping she is doing. And why must they smear all that crap (yes I know it came from my mouth…but still I don’t want to see it). Right there on the bib on my chest. I only like to wear bibs if I am eating a lobster!

After seemingly hours of this she moves on to flossing, which is really more like trying to slice me in two starting with my lower jaw. More blood and I swore to floss at least once a week. Or once a month. Not just the night before my appointment. Eventually she polishes, using mint flavored sand. I will not even mention that suction tube thing. It completely grosses me out.

An hour and a half later ( again, not exaggerating) I see the actual dentist. He chats with me for about twenty minutes about his new iphone. The whole time I am just praying he will give it to me straight. Please don’t say root canal. And finally he just hands me my free toothbrush and sends me to the front.
“That’s it I say?”
“ Yep. Teeth look good. Try not to wait so long next time. And maybe floss a little more often. And check out that app I was telling you about.”

And I sigh a big sigh of relief and head home. Trying to tell myself it could have been worse. That I could have been getting a pelvic exam instead of just having my teeth cleaned. Which is of course exactly the appointment I have scheduled for tomorrow. (don’t worry…I can promise you there will NOT be a detailed blog post about that visit!)

round after round

A few weeks ago, I had coffee with an old friend.
Actually she is an old student.
One of my firsts and my favorites.
And now she is all grown up and about to take off to join the Peace Corps.
(and I am super jealous)
So we caught up over some joe, while we were both in town.

And our quick cup of coffee turned into over a few hours.
We talked about travel and family and books.
And faith, and doubt.
And she is at that age and stage where it is all exciting.
It is all a book waiting to be written.
Where you can’t help but see God’s hand everywhere you look.

And she has been growing and reading and asking a lot of good questions.
Some of the questions I have been asking myself.
And at least three times she led into conversations with,
“how do you resolve….”
grace, but the gospel’s obvious calls to action.
passion for justice, while friends and family sometimes seem to be more passionate about the new TV lineup, or shopping or whatever.
Trusting and waiting, with going and doing.

And the teacher in me wanted to have answers for her.
And for me.
I wanted to give her the solutions.
Or the wisdom that I have gleaned in the last dozen or so years.
How I resolve those things and a handful of others.

But each time.
I just said,
I haven’t resolved much of anything.
Instead, I wrestle.
And I continue to wrestle.
And that maybe that is the answer.
Being willing to wrestle.
And evaluate, and read and pray and listen.
Wash and repeat.

Because anybody can make up an answer.
And a whole lot of people can even back it up.
But not as many people are willing to wrestle.
And the thing about wrestling, is that it is active.
And occasionally exhausting.

But eventually, we both eventually got up from the table.
And went our separate ways.
Her to Peru. Me back to the suburbs.
Ready to go round after round.

a rough start

The first week of school has been rough.
On Owen.
And Shaun.
And me.

There have been lots of tears.
And not the Monday-I-can’t-believe-my-baby-is-growing-up-kind.
But the bad notes home kind.

And I knew my kid was in for a rude awakening when he hit kindergarten.
And that is partly my fault.
I have a pretty high tolerance for crazy.
And he pushes those limits.

And my kid’s school means business.
And is all about rules.
And sitting still.
Following directions.
And listening.
And not being silly.
Which are all pretty tough for a 5 year old boy.
Especially mine.

Who had to sit out at recess on Day2.
And the notes started coming home.
And I thought I was ready.
But not that soon.
And not when that was the first and only thing I was hearing.
I got to hear about how bad my kid was before I ever got a letter telling home telling me how to add money to his lunch account or what to do when he is absent.
Or even that his teacher is looking forward to the year.

Inside me something horrible welled up.
At myself. At my son. And even at his teacher.
I considered moving or sending him to private school
Yes, only on Day2.
Part of me wanted desperately to shoot off an email and defend my kid. But I held my tongue, to her at least.
Tried to be patient.
Tried to teach my kid to listen.
And follow the rules.
And warned him of the consequences if he brought home another bad note.

Which he did. The very next day.
But he was crushed when he got in the car.
Let out a big heavy sigh and told me that he had a long bad day and was tired.
And so now I try to teach my kid to follow the rules,
And at the same time I don’t want to squelch his spirit.
His five your old boy-ness that I love.
The kid that is silly and funny and never stops moving.
And does the robot and the sprinkler and dresses up like a pirate.
Just because.

And more tears. His and mine.
And again, I thought about moving.
About sending Owen to his room for the next 5 years.
Or at least until he can sit still for ten minutes straight.
Or maybe the opposite, like packing a red bull in his lunchbox and seeing what kind of notes I get then.

And finally, today....
A stamp.
A good day.
A smile while getting in the car.
So maybe we will go back next week after all.
And it’s a good thing, because I really didn’t want to move.

the first day

I have had 11 first days as a teacher.
And I usually stress over what to wear and what to say,
just like I did in junior high.

But after 11 years I have the first day routine down pretty pat.

Today was Owen's first first day.
And it changed things.

There were a few tears.....but this blog isn't even gonna go there.
In the last school post I wrote about the million questions I had about how it would be or how he would do.

And it all boiled down to one.
Will his teacher love my kid?

Not, what kind of degree does she have?
Nor, What fabulous lesson plans did she come up with?
Not how fun and warm and inviting her classroom looks.
Or even what she is doing to get him ready for the state standarized tests.

But will she see him? Will she encourage him? Will she love him?

And today as my kids filed in.
I passed out syllabi, I showed funny video clips, I occasionally even light things on fire.
But I thought about my little boy with his lego backpack and darth vadar lunch box.
And decided that my show could take a back seat to what is most important.

Which isn't lesson plans, cool demos, lunch schedules, parking permits, late work policies or even freshly ironed pants.
It is what all their mommas are sitting at home or at work hoping for.
that I will love their kid.
that I will see them and encourage them.
At 6 and 16.
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Meet the teacher

People keep asking me how I am or if I am going to cry.
And few weeks ago, I kept saying no.
I mean, I am used to dropping Owen off everyday at school. Or I’m at least used to Shaun dropping him off.
I am used to school. I do it everyday.
But. The first day is Monday.
His and mine.
And I am not ready. And I don’t just mean that my syllabus isn’t copied and that there are boxes all over my room.
That would be true.
But I am having doubts about my kid entering this world. The kind with lockers and buliten boards and hall passes.
And tests.
A world where from now on, he will be receiving a grade.
Where he will be compared, judged, scolded, and ranked.

We met his teacher the other night. Turns out I taught her son not too many years ago.
Owen was off playing within seconds with a friend from his soccer team. Tearing the room apart.
Ecstatic when he saw a big tub of legos. He will be just fine.
But I wasn't so sure about me.

I was suddenly filled with questions.
The basic ones. Like how do I put money on his lunch ticket. Where am I supposed to buy that notebook they want that I can’t find at Walmart, Target or Staples? What time do they dismiss? Where does he go in the mornings? Do they have any school shirts in anything smaller than a small?
And then.
What if his teacher is mean? What if he never learns to listen and is always in trouble?
What if he never remembers the number fourteen and never learns to count to twenty properly?
Does his teacher know that he is left handed and sometimes needs his inhaler?
What if he can’t put the straw in his Capri sun or zip his zipper by himself?
Will someone tell him where to go afterschool?
What if kids make fun of him for being little?
What if he punches those kids for making fun of him?
What if he learns more bad words?
What if he teaches his classmates the ones he already knows?
Can he reach the water fountain?
Maybe I should have taught him to read instead of watching all those cartoons.
Or at least taught him how to tie his shoes and not given up and bought the velcro ones.
What happens if Shaun forgets the crazy dress code and Owen goes to school with plaid shorts instead of solid ones?
What if he starts singing Brass Monkey in music class?

mostly it boils down to this....
What if his teacher doesn’t love him and think he is the brightest and cutest and funniest little boy she has ever met.
Because I do.

friday playlist: too much icecream, not enough tunes

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captain my captain.

As teachers, every year we sit through convocation.
It is essentially a grown up pep rally.
We all wearing matching shirts and sit with our schools.
Elementary teachers sometimes do “cheers” and get out their clappers.
High school teachers grumble under their breathe, text on their cell phones and some skip out entirely.
Often the speakers ask us say silly things to our neighbor, or worse. Dance. The speakers are usually good. Have written best selling books and tout a lot about building relationships, positive attitudes, raising test scores. Blah.blah.blah.

And this year, we had another well known speaker. I dreaded it, even though I had bought his book not too many years ago. Because I don’t like being packed tightly in a gym when I have so many things to do in my room. I don’t want another person to tell me how positive I need to be. Or that I can make a difference. And I certainly didn’t want to dance.
I came prepared. With my cell phone, sour attitude and matching shirt. I wondered how much my district had spent to bring this guy in. I mean he has been on Oprah, invited to the White House and Matthew Perry even played him in a movie. I am sure he comes with a hefty price tag. And I couldn’t help but think about how maybe they could have spend that money on kids, supplies or possibly another copy machine.
He started talking. And dancing. And jumping around on chairs. And I didn’t look at my watch once. And yes he said some of the standard stuff about making learning exciting. About energy and engaging and giving kids things they will remember.
But this guy was getting a work out up there. He was funny, crazy, had a ridiculous accent and he had me with his first chair jump. He never made me get up and dance or affirm the person sitting next to me. He didn’t promise that if I followed his method that my test scores would go through the roof. He just told funny stories. Used a lot of hand motions and you could tell that he loved what he did. Loved it so much that he couldn't keep it in if he had to.

And he didn’t change my world. I didn’t rush out and buy another book. I won’t be rewriting my whole syllabus. He didn’t say anything I hadn’t heard before. And I am still not a fan of grown up pep rallies.
When it was all said and done. I had 4 texts that I hadn’t gotten because I forgot to check my phone. I think that maybe energy and passion and how you say things is more important that what you say. That when you are excited and overflowing, people listen. Because they just can’t help it. Whether you are talking about photosynthesis, algebra or Jesus.
And maybe a little dancing and standing on chairs helps.

Bigger Picture Moment

This post is part of bigger picture blogs..........and attempt to find the bigger picture in our crazy week and look for faith along the way. Check out some of the other posts at Melissa's


Last night, after a long day of inservice, silly games and speaches about Bloom’s taxonomy, I ended up in my home town.
Where I was headed was just a few blocks from the house I grew up in.
I’m not sure if it was hearing Miranda Lambert’s new song too many times on the way up there, or hearing another friend read a piece about her hometown the night before at writer’s group….
But I turned into the old neighborhood.
Which looked familiar and so different all at the same time.

I once knew these streets like the back of my hand.
I had cruised them on bike and foot and eventually in my first car.
Past the bus stop.
Past old friend's houses.
Until I turned on my street.

My parents haven’t lived here in over a decade.
They moved out soon after I left for college.

I drove by slowly.
And it looked like my old home.
But not.

The same street number blazed on the curb.
It was the same doorstep that I had many good night kisses on.
The same two trees that I used to climb and hang upside down from.

But the flowerbeds I used to have to weed were gone.
There was a giant palm tree growing on the side of the house.
The shutters and front door were painted the wrong color.
And someone else’s trampoline was in the backyard.

I snapped a quick photo with my phone and kept driving.

A few minutes later, I hugged the person I came for.
And we cried hard heavy tears.
And tears of relief.
And tears for friendships that endure past highschool, and college, and marriage and babies and even funerals.
And we walked, arms linked up, to her daddy’s casket.
Because she wanted us to see him.
She said they had got him just right.

And he looked like him.
But not really.

An easy restful smile.
Pain and disease free.
Sporting his favorite Longhorn tie.
Sticking it to the roomful of Aggies one last time.

There was no twinkle in his eye.
No burnt orange cap.
No sitting in his favorite chair.
And he looked a little plastic, and lifeless. Like he was really somewhere else.
Because, I believe in fact, that he was.

And I didn’t stay long. Even though the drive had been lengthy.
And I certainly didn’t say any of the right words.
I showed up empty handed. No flowers or food.
But I hugged who I came for. And I think that was enough.

And as I drove north I had plenty of time to think.
And thought about these buildings and these bodies.
And how temporary it all is.

How we are all home.
But not.
Because our citizenship lies elsewhere.
But there's far more to life for us. We're citizens of high heaven! We're waiting the arrival of the Savior, the Master, Jesus Christ, who will transform our earthy bodies into glorious bodies like his own. He'll make us beautiful and whole with the same powerful skill by which he is putting everything as it should be, under and around him. Philippians 3:20-21 (The Message)

I never

A month or so ago, a friend encouraged me to enter a writing contest with this prompt. I ignored her. Then my writing group picked it as their assignment for the month. I planned on skipping. At the last minute I decided to give it a shot. I wasn't sure what it was about the prompt that bothered me....until I started writing.

I never thought I’d….

That is the prompt.
And I considered skipping the assignment entirely.
Even though I always do my homework.
Because I really didn’t know the answer.

A first I just didn’t think I had anything exciting to add.
I haven’t been or done anything amazing.
I have traveled less than I’d like.
And I’m grateful that tragedy hasn’t touched me too closely.

And I told someone else that I hadn’t written my response because I never really had my life all mapped out to begin with.
Not really.
But I did follow the typical path.
College. Marriage. Career. More college. Baby. Another baby.
And I don’t really know that the next step is.

But the honest truth is that my life has been pretty predictable.
I am boring.
Not willing to take enough risks.
Not quite passionate enough.

Which may sound confusing if you know me. I don’t get accused of boring very often.
I have a few tattoos. And even pierced my nose for a season.
I just spend a week being a counselor with teenagers living in area shelters.
I have a heart for justice. And would much rather feed homeless people than work in the church nursery. Sometimes I shop at Goodwill instead of the mall.
But there is nothing radical about me. And I read a lot of books instead of watching the Real Housewives of whatever county they are in these days.
And sometimes that makes me feel different. In bad-alone kind of ways, and also in prideful-I-need-to-work-on-that kind of ways.
But I am not really that different.

But I am still living an incredibly safe and predictable life.

I am 32. Have 2 kids. In the suburbs. With a dog and a 2 car garage.
I go to work Monday-Friday and church on Sundays.
I go to Target, the gym, soccer practice, Starbucks and lots of birthday parties.

I have dreams that don’t fit into this ideal suburban world.
I want to write instead of teach science.
I want to visit third world countries.
I want to help the people down my own street.
I occasionally toy with the idea of seminary.
Even though I don’t know what comes next.
I want to love recklessly. Where I don’t care if they love me back or what people think or what kind of recognition it will get me.

Instead I make dinner.
I do laundry.
I save for my kids college fund.
I put away more for retirement.
And still less than 10% into the offering plate.

And this boring life is a very good life.
My husband is amazing and supportive and laughs at my jokes.
My kids make me laugh and teach me how to love better everyday.
And I even like my day job.
I have very patient friends.
My cup is full.
I can’t complain, I have it so good.

But maybe there is more.

Maybe God wants me to look around and say
“I never thought I’d……”

Because for the first time.
I didn’t.
And He did.

photo credit

final day and friday playlist

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ok last day of camp.
and I am worn out. completely drained.
out of words....so some pictures and tunes will have to suffice.

and a note about the tunes. urban impact week took me back to my urban roots.
well sort of.
at least me driving around in my country club neighborhood with the windows down blaring this music out of my stereo.
be warned -- i think all of these songs are parental advisory and completely offensive. these are nothing close to the sleepy churcy songs I usually post.
and don't worry, i grew out of it.

Did I leave any "classics" out??

altered part two

Camp day 3. (feel free to catch up here and here)

The kids are comfortable.
A little too comfortable.
We are all hot and tired and kind of getting a little short with each other.
Names are easy to remember.
I know my way around.
I don't feel lost anymore.
There is more than enough food at lunch today and it is good.
There are even brownies.
I try not to notice that some of the kids are wearing the same clothes they wore yesterday.

It is pretty obvious that some of the camp summer work staff (not ours) is less than thrilled to have us here.
I’m sure they are nearing the end of their summer, and let’s face it.
They are used to rich white church camp kids.
Not kids with tattoos and nipple rings and foul mouths.
The staff is a little low on patience and understanding.
The counselor I am working with wins major props with me for telling off a life guard for basically being a jerk to our kids.
Because by now. On day three, they are very much our kids.
Also, maybe bb guns ( loaded bb guns) might not be the best idea for “urban challenge” camp. I worry a little bit about how the shooting range will go….but surprisingly well.
Except for the fact that the guy in charge said the word “cock” about a half dozen times to a crowd of junior high boys. Bad idea.

Every day after lunch we go to chapel.
Mostly we are glad to be in the air conditioning.
The band is good but the kids are easily distracted. They break out ipods and games and talk noisily amongst themselves.
The speaker for the week is a pretty lively ex-football player.
He speaks their language. He is funny and energetic and keeps his message short.
But still, the natives grow restless. I am constantly telling them to turn around or stop giggling while people are praying. To not touch each other and that maybe now wouldn’t be the best time to play your PSP. I think the guy is losing them and better throw some more tshirts into the crowd or wrap it up fast. He promises that he is almost done.
Instead he asks some of the counselors to head up front.
And I get up and line up with many of the others.
Mostly because I am tired of shushing all the kids in my row.
But then I realize what he is about to do and panic inside.
An altar call.
I am not a fan of altar calls.
The speaker has all their heads down, eyes closed. (well they are supposed to be at least, but I don’t see anybody with their eyes closed). I swear he is about to have them raise their hand or even worse – walk forward.
I panic a little. Wondering what the heck I will say if a kid comes up to me.
But then I realize that these kids aren’t praying. Their chatter is a constant buzz. They seem to be more interested in whoever is sitting behind him, than whatever this guy is saying.
Then I start to panic for a different reason. I start to worry about how awkward it is going to be when no one responds.
If no one walks forward.
How dumb we will all look just standing there.

He talks them through the classic sinners prayer and tell them that if they made a decision to follow Jesus to come forward and pray with one of us.

And it was like a mad rush for the front. Kids were not walking down the aisle but running. Lots of them. Maybe even most of them.
One sweet little girl, maybe seven, almost tackled me to be first. Earlier that morning she was trying to show me completely inappropriate videos on youtube on my phone. And she knew every word. Later at lunch, her potty mouth shocked me. Which, by day three was hard to do.
And we prayed, while a line formed in front of every single one of us.
And this little girl didn’t let go of me, while a prayed with another girl.
A favorite from my group, a recent immigrant from Uganda.
And the words game easy. And I was amazed and choked up at the moment.

And I am not na├»ve enough to think that all these kids that rushed to the altar “accepted Christ” or made significant life changes.
For some of them He was already there. Some probably came because everyone else was. But some were genuine. Mostly they just desperately wanted to be touched and loved on and prayed over. And I was more than happy to do my part.

And the first little girl that I prayed with still held fiercely to my arm.
While I tried to nonchalantly wipe away a few tears.
And the speaker attempted to rip a phone book in half.

Bigger Picture Moment

This post is part of bigger picture blogs..........and attempt to find the bigger picture in our crazy week and look for faith along the way. Check out some of the other posts at Sarah's blog.

(and I know these posts would be so much better with pictures, but I feel a little weird lugging around my nikon. I'm gonna take a little camera.....but ask permission before I post anything. These aren't my kids...and my job is to love them, not blog about them....so we will see. But I hope I can. I want to everyone to see their beautiful faces.)

camp day2: not enough

One thing about camp that I was least looking forward to was eating in the cafeteria.
Well we are eating IN the cafeteria, but not going through the line.
I guess to save money.
Yesterday there was a big box of hot dogs, and chips and Capri Suns.
I was still pretty hungry after my one hot dog.
Today I was hoping for pizza.

Instead there were trays of chicken nuggets, another of hashbrowns (odd combo) and another box of clementines. I saw two volunteers frantically making plates as kids filed in and found tables. I went to help. Since I wasn’t wearing gloves they told me to pass out oranges. I reached into the box and felt something a little gooey. Not what I expected with oranges. The first few I pulled out were moldy. Something green and fuzzy was growing on the outside. I almost gagged. I started to let someone know, but figured they already did. So I pulled out most moldy ones and set them aside. I brushed the fuzz off the others and started passing them out.
I started to tell the other counselor in my group to avoid the oranges. But I felt kind of bad about that since I just passed out 21 of them to my kids.

They ran out of hashbrowns. And started filling in with leftover fritos.
Then they ran out of fritos.
Then they ran out of Capri suns.
Then they ran out of nuggets.
I think all of the kids got a plate, but most of adults didn't.

So I did what I could, and reached into the box and grabbed a Clementine.
Slightly fuzzy.
And peeled it quick, trying not to think about it.
And ate it.

Because I don’t think I could make it up to inspiration point and back without a little bit of energy.
Even if it was just a tiny moldy orange.

And I wondered how many times some of these kids had managed on less.
And suddenly I felt full.

camp day 1

I have always been a camp girl.
But it has been almost a decade since I have done anything other than look at old photographs.
This week I am back at camp.
Urban Challenge Week.
Which is really just a nice way of saying kids from area shelters and a children’s home.
I have been looking forward to it all summer.

Until I went to orientation last week.
And after learning more than I ever wanted to know about sexual predators and promised not to give anything but side hugs and to wear a one piece bathing suit.
I started to worry a little bit about the heat.
It has been 106+ for like the last two weeks.
And they said the camp has very little shade. And there will be lots of walking.
And a little bit about the urban part. What will they think of a middle aged white girl?
I am not 21 anymore. These kids aren’t going to think I am cool.
And maybe, like most non-profit organizations, they go a little easy on the organization.

So I showed up ready to go this morning.
Keep in mind I know no one.
I know where nothing is.
Nor do I know protocols or procedures or anything like that.
I didn’t even have a name tag.
Thankfully, I had a helper who I figured would have things covered.
And she totally did. When I could find her.

After a little while the kids started piling off the yellow dogs.
Hundreds of them, some stumbling to my table.
I got them a pop tart and tried desperately to make conversation.
I was horrible at it.
Within the first five minutes I was breaking up a fight and learning bad words in Spanish.
Eventually I ended up with fifteen 12-13 year old girls and boys.
And I could almost smell their hormones.
There was a lot of unstructured time that I desperately tried to fill.
They kept asking me questions that I didn’t know the answers to.
So I kept referring them to a 13 year old who had been here last year.
One that I had stopped from beating up a much smaller boy in the group and nicely suggested she use words besides faggot and ass to describe the others in the group.
And eventually won them over with a game of uno and a conversation about music. My days of listening to rap were paying off.

Eventually we made it to chapel, and lunch, and the zip line.
I might have almost wet my pants on the zip line.
Obviously the college girl pulling my harness ridiculously tight has never birthed children.
The whole time I just kept talking and trying to learn names.
And encourage them that walking up the hill would indeed not kill them.
And that there probably weren’t any bears in the woods. You know. Here in the city.
And the conversations were starting to pay off.
Kids started talking back.
A few of them I couldn’t shut up.
And it was normal 12 -13 year old stuff.
Except when they said things like their mom was in prison.
Or that money was kind of tight. Which is an understatement since they live in a shelter.

And I helped the kids dig through big plastic tubs of donated swimsuits and towels and flip flops to help find one in their size before heading to the pool.
I kind of wanted to sit it out. To watch from the side lines and stay dry.
But it is hard to love from the sidelines so I got in.
And one of the girls from my group got me out on the diving board.
It turns out that I can still do a heck of a cannonball.

At one point I held a girl’s braids while she puked.
And I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe she was pregnant.
And then hate myself a little for thinking that. Even though it might be true.

The day was almost over and I was hot and sweaty and smelled almost as bad as my 12 year old boys.
And I still didn’t know anyone.
Except for most of the kids in my group.
I still don’t know where things are or what happens next.
I still don’t have a roster or a schedule or a nametag.
But I do know that they are just kids.
Even if they say bad words and don’t listen.
And I know that they want desperately to be loved.
And maybe that is all that matters.

friday playlist: so hot you could cook an egg

my favorite scar

When I was ten I fell on a piece of glass and sliced open my left hand.
The scar is thick and a little lumpy because I waited too long to get stitches.
On my other hand is larger white scrappy scar from a bike injury. The involved me trying to beat the boys.
My knees are thick with scars. More bikes, tennis courts and plain old clumsy.

My son has a few already and he gladly shows them off.
They are a testament to his toughness.
The one on his back shows that he did in fact survive jumping (and falling off the bed).
There is one on his chin that the ER doctors glued shut – we no longer practice diving in the bathtub.
And a little one on his hairline that received a few staples.

But I have a favorite scar.
It is about 6 inches across and marks a thin pink raised line across my lower abdomen.

My son’s delivery ended in an emergency c-section.
After all the pushing and blood I really didn’t care how he got here.
Even if it involved slicing across my belly and eventually 19 staples.
Every nurse that came in and checked me commented on the incision.
They kept saying how neat it was and that it would leave a nice scar.
A nice scar.
I kept thinking they were crazy. That this was just their trained way to make people feel better. They kept saying that I could even wear a bikini if I wanted.
I wondered if they had been taking some of my morphine.
But the line was clean and neat and shrunk considerably even by my one month check up.

The second time around it was a little more scheduled.
My doctor encouraged another c-section so that I wouldn’t repeat what had happened the first time.
I didn’t need much encouragement.
Contractions weren’t fun.
So I had another c-section.
This one, was planned but wasn’t so easy.
There was a lot of scar tissue and she had some trouble stopping the bleeding.
This time, no one told me that I had a neat incision or that I would end up with a pretty scar.
Instead they just billed me for extra ER time and gave me plenty of morphine.

But still the staples came out and it shrunk down considerably. This time a little thicker, a little curved at one end and at least an inch longer.
I could still feel pain there for almost a year.
And occasionally it is still a little sensitive.

Occasionally I still trace my finger over this little pink line and amazed that my two children entered the world here.
It isn’t pretty.
It doesn’t say anything about toughness. If anything, my lack of.
I don’t show it off proudly like my son does with his scars.
But I treasure it.

And I believe that Jesus was fully man once.
That he scraped knees and chins like the rest of us.
I’m sure he had his share of scars.
I don’t even want to think about the ones on his back.
And I’m just speculating.
But I imagine, sometimes, Jesus probably looks down at his hands.
Where the nails used to be, touches them tenderly.
And treasures those scars.
And the life that came from them.

Bigger Picture Moment

This post is part of bigger picture blogs..........and attempt to find the bigger picture in our crazy week and look for faith along the way. Check out some of the other posts Hyacynth's blog.

things I don't do.

I just finished reading Shauna Niequist’s new book, Bittersweet. And first off, no, this is not a blog tour. I actually paid full price for this book. And it might be the first book that I have paid full price for in years. But it was worth every penny. Really. I could write lots of things about this book, but mostly I just suggest you read it ( or Cold Tangerines if you haven’t already read that). It will make you happier and hungrier ( she talks about good food a lot). One chapter she mapped out the things she does and equally important, the things she doesn’t do. In other words we all have only a fixed amount of energy. When we choose to do something, we are ultimately choosing not to do other things. So it is kind of important to figure out those other things ahead of time. My “things I do” list would be eerily similar to hers and so instead of plagiarizing I’ll only post my “things I don’t do”. And let me clarify – everything on this list is something I used to do, I should do or I love. They are not things that I look down on or do not value. I simply focus what little time and energy I have on those other things. The ones I am better at or fill me up.

Things I don’t do.

1. Hang laundry. Really almost never. I see it as kind of like making the bed (something I also don’t do). You are just going to take it down and wear it again…what is the point of hanging it up in the first place. Thankfully, my husband often does this. (and yes I realize that actually hanging your clothes prevents you from looking like one big wrinkle when you leave the house.) Oddly enough I actually like doing laundry. Just not the putting away part.
2. Unfortunately I don’t iron either. That with the above makes for a bad combination. Again, thankfully my husband does this when I ask nicely. Even if it means getting out of bed well before his alarm goes off. He is pretty great like that. Otherwise I leave the house looking like one big wrinkle.
3. Match my socks. I’ve been known to sport a St. Patricks Day sock and a sock with chickens on it at the same time. My thought is who sees your socks and who has time to sort through the laundry to find pairs. Occasionally I get caught and am a little embarrassed. I do, however, match my kids socks. Only because I have this fear that un-matching socks is on some child abuse checklist and that their daycare will report me.
4. Twitter. I have an account. But I don’t use it. I figure I waste enough time online as it is. Also I feel too much pressure to be funny and don’t work well with word limits. I also don’t read anyone else’s tweets.
5. I don’t play Mafia or Farmville or any of that other junk. I don’t even play words with friends. And I love word games. I am a kick ass scrabble player but am afraid if I started playing words with friends I wouldn’t be able to stop. I might have to join a 12 step program or something.
6. I hardly ever watch movies. And I like movies, I used to be a movie buff. I loved to go on opening night. I love going to slightly obscure movies that are only shown in very select theatres. I love a tub of popcorn or some junior mints. But this is one thing that has had to go with kids. If I have a free evening – I want to spend it somewhere I can actually have a conversation. I rarely even watch DVDs because I get interrupted so many times that it is just too frustrating. I did however, see Inception this week and it. was. awesome. For the record, I think it totally stops spinning.
7. I don’t write thank you cards. I know, this is incredibly rude. I always mean to. I should. But it doesn’t happen. Ever. So if you have ever bought me or my kids anything. Thank you. We really do appreciate it, even if I don’t have any manners.
8. I don’t dust or scrub anything. I hate to clean. I am a slob. It makes for a bad combination. I don’t mind loading the dishwasher or wiping off counters, but that is about as far as I go. Unlike the hanging of clothes, this is one area where my husband doesn’t really pick up much of the slack. We are both slobs. We are gross. We pay someone every so often (not nearly enough) to scrub and dust for us. I’d rather mow the lawn than vacuum. Which my neighbor can tell you I don’t do enough of either.
9. I don’t wear eyeliner. Pretty much my morning routine after showering and hair drying takes all of about 5 minutes.
10. I don’t craft. I like to craft. I have loads of scrapbooking stuff and I can do some amazing things with modge podge. I even had a stained glass phase. But that time and energy goes other places. Exceptions are made for making occasional gifts or if I am hanging out with friends who are crafting. I guess this only makes me a social crafter.
11. Lately I haven’t watched much TV. I love TV. TiVo changed my life. Psych. Parenthood. Burn Notice. The Food Network. 30 Rock. Old episodes of Gilmore Girls…just for starters. But we canceled our cable back in April. I assumed I’d just watch my favorite shows on the internet. So far I’ve only watched one episode of one show. Occasionally I miss it. But mostly I don’t.
12. I don’t redecorate. Before we bought our home I watched a lot of HGTV. We painted and refinished and laid tile and flooring and I created rooms with themes. I like looking at Hobby Lobby for cute little knick knacks and frames. But these days, I mostly decorate with Legos and clean laundry.
13. I don’t bake. Unless croissants from a Pillsbury tube count. I like to cook. I am good at it. I like trying new recipes. And pretty much anything with feta in it. But baking requires actually following a recipe. Exactly. It requires lots of stirring and sifting and sticking toothpicks in. I am bad at it. I will occasionally break out the bread machine but that is about as far as it goes. I do greatly appreciate it when other people bake. Especially anything with chocolate.
14. I also don’t shred my own cheese. I know it is cheaper and better for you, but you can never have that time back. Or those little pieces of your knuckles.
15. I don’t wash my hair everyday. Every other day is suffice. Unless I worked out. Maybe.
16. I don’t fight my kids over food. If they don’t want to eat it they don’t have to. I offer them something boring to eat (like a peanut butter sand which) or save the leftovers for when they tell me they are hungry again in an hour. I ask them to try things once, but there is really no point in the same fight every time. If he didn’t like it last week, he probably doesn’t like it tonight.
17. I don’t read chain emails. I also don’t send them. Unless they really funny. I’m sure this means I will have 7 years bad luck or missed out on some middle eastern prince who wants me to invest his money, but I just don’t do it.
18. I don’t clip coupons. I’ve tried. I could certainly use the savings. But the newspaper distracts me. I am a cover to cover kind of girl. I also end up buying crap I don’t need just because I have a coupon.
19. I avoid the mall at all costs. Lots of reasons here. I like clothes. I like new things. But the truth is I don’t need them. So I mostly try to avoid the temptation. Target, on the other hand is a different story.
20. I don’t re-read. This goes for most books and especially my own writing. There are very few books I re-read or movies I re-watch. I also don’t re-read my own writing enough. Hence all the typos, misspellings and pasts that occasionally don’t makes sense. Sorry about that.
21. I don’t ever speak without thinking. I don’t ever over commit or double book my time. I don’t ever lose important things like my wallet or cell phone. I don’t waste large chunks of time on facebook and reading blogs. I don’t ever obsess about what I should have or shouldn’t have said. I don’t ever occasionally drink too much wine. I don’t ever stay up too late reading and am super sleepy and grumpy in the morning. Oh wait. Maybe I do all of those things. But I wish I didn't.


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My son is in the why phase.
We’ve been here a while actually.
And most of the time it makes me want to pull my hair out.
I try to give him answers when I can.
Because I think all that asking is part of how he learns.
He is a sponge soaking up every little piece of information that he can.
Even if I think it isn’t important or doesn’t matter.
He wants to know.
The conversations are frustrating because we always get to a point where I don’t know or am exhausted of talking in circles.
And cave in and say just because.
Which oddly enough satisfies him, at least until he thinks of his next question.

If you have never lived with a 4-5 year old something as simple as cooking hamburger meat involves at least a dozen whys.
“Why are you cooking the meat”
So we can eat it?
Because I am hungry and thought you might want dinner?
But Why?
So we can grow and have energy?
Because your cells need energy from food to do work?
…I contemplate talking teaching him about ATP and cellular respiration and the Krebs cycle but decide this conversation can wait a good ten years. Or maybe forever.
So I just say because.
And he says hmmm…and pauses for a second.
I think I am safe and go back to stirring the meat.

And then he pipes back up,
But why do you have to cook it?
So you don’t get sick and it will probably taste better that way.
Because little bacteria live in the meat and when we get it hot enough it kills them.
Well because the heat kills all the salmonella?
What’s sam-vanilla?
I was so thankful not to hear a why question….that I almost taught him everything I know about microbiology right then.
Instead, I suggested he go into the living room and watch cartoons while I finished dinner.
So you survive to be six.
Because. A little too loudly and firmly. And he happily shuffled into the other room for some Dragon Tails.
This happens dozens of times a day and drives me crazy.

Recently someone asked me a question about something a wrote and it boiled down to some fundamental thing that I had been taught. For like ever.
And for the first time since I was probably five. I asked why.
These days I rarely ask why.
If I am a sponge I am full.
But maybe the things I am full of are starting to stink.

So I asked why I felt that way.
Which made me do some research.
Which led to more questions.
A lot of wheres and whats and lots more whys.
And my friends aren’t sure what to do when I call them before 9am and start laying out some heavy theology.
My husband threatened to send me to seminary.
Another referred me to her husband.
Another played devil’s advocate.
Which were all good responses.
But my favorite response was a fresh pot of coffee. A big tall mug.
And the freedom to ask a lot of whys.
And she didn’t pull her hair out once.

And guess what.
We never even answered the initial question.
But I left her house a little more resolved and refreshed and full.
Like a sponge.