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the REAL Christmas letter....

And the tradition continues.One year me and my friend were talking about annual “Christmas card letter”, which is a dying tradition I might add. I’ve only gotten a couple this year. And for the most part it is a tradition that I’m happy to see die. Although I still like getting real mail for a change, rather than just bills and junk mail.  (here is the firstone).

I digress, well, my friend had been having a particularly rough year and we laughed about how people would react if we were to send out REAL letters. Not just the highlights but the lows too.
Today I finally mailed some of my Christmas cards. I say some, because I am positive that I forgot no less than 20 people. I don’t have an address book because I am pretty sure that is what google is for.
And I didn’t include a letter, because lets be honest, a girl who can’t get it together enough to mail her Christmas cards before Christmas certainly can’t be boethered by things like having having printer ink cartridges in her house.

that's what it's all about

“I know what Christmas is REALLY all about.” my firstborn touts proudly while we are piled on the bed waiting for the pediatrician to call back.
“You do? What?”
(and I really think he does)
“Everyone being together he says with a proud grin.”

And I know exactly where he got the answer. In the corny Barbie Christmas special movie preview that we had just watched before the movie started.

“No Owen. It isn’t”
And his face falls and he looks so confused.
Because being together sounded like a really good answer.

“Giving!", he tries again.
And on Sunday when I picked him up from our version of kids church, he was one of the last kids there….b/c maybe I was chatting and lost track of time (surprise). And one of the volunteers ask if I am “Owen’s mom”. I say yes, and another woman rushes over. They both gush and tell me that they have to tell me what my kid did that day. One of them says he made her cry. I’m a little afraid of where this conversation might go. She says she made him get…

the dance

The music blared. Like usual. Today it was Christmas music.
An older black man danced near the speaker.
Freely. Like no one was watching. Even though dozens were staring at him like he was crazy.
Most likely because he was actually crazy.
But he just kept smiling and dancing like he was at some party instead of in a park.
A homeless park.
In the cold.

A slower song came on and he acted like he was dancing with a partner. Even though it was still just him. I watched from the side. Along with the rest of the others.
My friend, said, “if I was braver, I’d go dance with him.”
I’d already had a similar thought I just hadn’t voiced it.
A few seconds later, another volunteer walked up and said the same thing.

We come here. Once a month or so. To pass out food and more importantly conversation.
But on Saturday, I did more than hand out food.
I broke bread.
I passed out communion.
I wiped a sweet toddlers runny nose.
I picked up some trash.
I ate with a man named Allan. From Alabama. And I liste…

i'm for sale. (black friday special)

I have a friend that I like a lot. She doesn’t live close and I see her almost never. But she knows I run lots of little races and asked me about a month ago if I wanted to run a half marathon with her. I said yes with little hesitation.
Partly because there isn’t so much she could ask me to do that I wouldn’t say yes to. And partly because it meant hanging out with her and possibly fitting back into my skinny jeans.
I am not much of a detail girl so the fact that it is a good 10 miles longer than the majority of races I run didn’t really stress me at the time.
One little detail did make me panic.
I had to be part of a team. A team that I agreed to try and raise money for. And even though it was for a ridiculously good cause. This little detail rather than the 13.1 miles with hills (lots of hills!) made me break into a little mini panic attack. Kind of like when someone asks me to go swimming with them. But worse. In other words, I think I’d rather wear my swimsuit in public than ask …

peace and quiet and turkey

My parents cook all night and all morning for a ridiculous feast. Usually for atleast 20. And more often than not there is someone around the table (tables to be more accurate) that I have never seen before in my life. Ever.
They may or may not be related to me.
And that hardly matters as long as they are willing to flatter the cook(s) and pour my dad another glass or wine. or bourbon. or slice of pecan pie.
Holidays at my house are a little crazy.
There will be yelling. There will be enough food to feed 40. My dad will tablescape and cook something I can’t pronounce and it will be delicious. Plates are paper and people often fight over leftovers. Prayers are long winded minisermons. There are 8 grandkids all competing for who can be the noisiest. And there is often football in the front lawn or atleast nerf balls being thrown off the balcony. There will be bad words. And at least one person will pass out. From too much turkey. Or wine. Or both.

I have spent the last few days with …

The Walk of the Unashamed

The other day I had to have a difficult conversation with someone about a difficult situation. It was the kind of conversation that it is best to prep for. To think about and maybe even write down what you want to say. And a conversation that I had been putting off for months….and people kept telling me over and over I needed to have. And I’m not even really sure what it was that was keeping me from it. Until I started talking. The conversation happened when I was least ready for it with absolutely zero prep time. And I caught myself saying the same phrase over and over...  "i was afraid that..._________(fill in the blank with one of a half dozen things)."

Somehow, over the last few months I have let fear get the best of me in lots of situations. Personal and professional. And I have tried really hard to raise my kids so they never let fear win. However, sometimes fear is a good thing.For example, I am afraid of snakes and bears and black ski slopes. And steering clear of the…

dancing with myself

I was hesitant to put my daughter in dance. Partly because I think she is too young, and partly because the whole idea of dance (and dance moms) scare me. That and Tess’s hair is still too short for a bun.
But people kept telling me that I needed to. And she loves to dance. So I signed her up.
Every Wednesday is crazy. I rush out of school earlier than usual, pray that I remembered her dance bag, pick up Tess, squeeze her into tights and a leotard and get her to dance abd then I’m usually right back out the door to pick up her brother, find his soccer gear and then back to dance. Usually just in time to watch the last 20 or so minutes through a one-way window. On my tip toes.
Her class started with 5 littles. One girl with a matching, leotard, dance bag and bow. All with rhinestones. Mom took several pictures of the whole ensemble before walking in the door. Two sisters, possibly twins, who were adorable but would much rather play with each other than actually dance. A little boy who was …

Guns, Boobs, and Racist Comments

...all from my kids.

My son was talking about someone named Maddy. We have a good friend named Maddy, but we haven’t seen her lately and I know that it is a common name so I was trying to decipher who exactly he was talking about. Our conversation went as follows:
Me:“Owen, is there a Maddy in your classs?”
O:” Yes, but that one is a different color than us.”
Me. (trying not to freak out or make it too big a deal, but slightly concerned and wondering where this conversation was going to go…because I have never heard him mention race or color before)…”hmmm, what does that mean Owen? What color are you?”
O: “Mom!!! (like I am asking the most dumb and obvious question ever). “I’m blonde”


In the car on the way home from dinner, Owen and Tess were entertaining themselves in the backseat. Mostly by Owen pretending that his hand was a gun and was shooting his sister with his fingers. Tess, might be the girliest girl I know….but she can wrestle and play legos and hang with all the boys on our…

I may run like a tortiose, but this isn't a fable.

With the gift of an extra hour ( I love falling back…just don’t talk to me in March when I have to “spring forward”), I decided to sneak in a short run before church. There aren’t many things out there that clear my head, but running is one of them. And it usually takes at least a few miles until my legs hurt enough or the oxygen is all in my muscles rather than my brain before things start to clear out.

This morning however. That was not the case. The longer I ran. The more muddled my brain became.

And it started to sound a lot like my three year old, asking lots of why questions. Things that haven’t bothered me in a while were sneaking their way back in. And I tried turning up my ipod and running faster. But. neither worked.
So, I decided I need to shut this down fast.
(and please don’t act like you don’t have conversations with yourself. We all do it. It is called self talk. And it can destroy or save you. And frankly, I’m tired of losing. So, I decided this morning that I was go…

daughter. mine. and a band.

There are two kinds of people.

Ones who will drive around the block again to finish a good song. And those who would never even consider it. Let’s just say I’ve made the block many times over.
Don’t have much to say tonight. Even though it was a really good night. But this song, that someone recommended to me today, is worth another loop around.




(and this might not have earned another trip around the block, but it did get her two hand stamps....which is the 3 year old equivalent of a 4 star review.

sleep to dream

My bed growing up used to scare me. I don’t mean going to bed. Or nightmares. Or things hiding under my bed. I mean my actual bed.


The headboard reaches the ceiling. It is 2-3X the height of a normal bed and the intricate carvings and designs I thought looked like a gargoyle face. At least they do when you are 6. Which is about how old I was when I inherited my grandparents antique bed. I practically needed a ladder to climb into it and rolling off in the middle of the night would cause me to check for broken bones. It creaked and cracked and occasionally the floor boards would fall out. This made sneaking out of bed tough growing up. And maybe my parents planned it that way.

I knew it wasn’t normal.
My friends had cute little trundle beds that you could pull out for sleepovers.
Or one friend even had a fancy four poster bed with tulle hanging over the top.
And to kids, tweens and teens my bed was just weird.
No amount of Tom Cruise posters or glow in the dark stars on the ceiling co…

the traditional halloween repost

Tonight is finally Halloween, but I feel like we are always dressed up around here. Owen is usually something from starwars, and Tess is a princess or a fairy or barbie or even occasionally all three. And I will put on pretty much anything to make meykids (or anyone else) laugh.... So far this week Owen has been Jango Fett and Waldo, and Tess Rainbow Brite, Super Woman and Tinkerbell (and if you were wondering, despite my facebook post I did not send her to school on "book character" day as Hester Prynne....although I still think it would have been funny!)

So here is to costumes and my annual Halloween repost from when he was 3 and spiderman:

Owen just scooted out the door for the day dressed as spiderman. His school is having a halloween party......but I am not sure he was supposed to show up ALL day in costume. I also considered the fact that they are serving lasagna for lunch, and the outfit is a one-piecer making "potty time" a nightmare. I thought maybe just ta…

pineapples

This is my 12th year teaching. I have about 150 kids a year. Give or take a dozen.

And 150 X 12 is a lot.
And as much as I mean to. I don’t remember them all. I’ve been in four different schools and some of my students have multiple kids, multiple degrees and multiple marriages by now. Many of their faces and names sound familiar, but all too often they blur together.

But.
I remember Virginia who shaved off her eyebrows and drew them in and intimidated me a little. Rumor is she came form Juvy. But she laughed really big and I did everything I could to make her laugh. And it paid off.

I remember Crystal, who, when I was young and new I went around the room and asked what their future goals were, told me she wanted to be a stripper. I quickly picked my jaw up off the floor and told her she better stay in school and learn how to manage all that money first. She didn’t let anyone mess with me. I took her out to eat once and think it was the only time she had been in a restaurant with men…

stuck in the middle

A few nights ago was Game 2 of the World Series I went to bed while St. Louis had the lead. It didn’t look good for the Rangers and call me a 2%er all you want. I leave my house while most of you are still snug in your beds and it was a work day. The next morning, while getting coffee I was shocked to see that Rangers win taking up a full page spread on a newspaper another customer discarded on the table. I went to sleep. And missed it. (and I wish I had slept through Game 3 but that is a different post)


Last night, my average college team took down the #3 team in the nation. And I went to bed at half time. Again I was worn out and exhausted. Even though we were up by several touchdowns I kind of expected them to lose it anyways. And I am totally into my college football (well at least my team, not like my husband who can somehow be into every team). But a rain delay and two trunk or treats with a Jawa and Rainbow Brite on too much candy had done me in. And when my husband came to be…

The three year old test

I’ve learned, the hard way that when I take my kids in for well child check ups that there will be questions. I like to call it the whatever-age-they-are-test. Mostly for the moms.

First come the questions about my kids that I should know, but might not. Like do they alternate their feet when climbing upstairs? I don’t know. She gets up the stairs. Is that all that matters. And I don’t exactly have stairs in my house. So this whole stair observation thing is pretty limited. Besides, she’d much rather take the alligator anyways. Which I clearly know means elevator, but took my husband a while to catch on.

Next are the questions that I know I should lie when asked, but unfortunately sometimes accidentally answer with the truth.
Like when she asks if she eats a balanced diet I respond with do chicken nuggets, fruit snacks, yogurt and cookies count as balanced?
Does she do chores? Uhm. She is 3. Is that too early to use the vacuum and iron. Because if not I am about to be one happy lady.

18 inches

The other day I got an email from a friend. She was in a bible study and they had to survey a few people with a question about how we view God. I don’t remember the question exactly, but something along the lines of “What do we think we have to do to get God to like us?”
And of course the right answer is “nothing”.
And I mean it. I know that the answer to that is nothing.
Nothing I can say or do makes God love me any less.
I’ve read it. I’ve heard it. I’ve even told other people that.

But really wrapping my heart around that. And living that way. And treating other people like it is true for them. Well. That is harder to do.

So I wrote her two answers.
The true one.
And also with the one that I know isn’t true, but sometimes think anyways.
And I could answer lots and lots of questions like that. With two answers.
The one my head knows is true, but that I struggle to really believe in my heart.


I’ve always read a lot. And so more often than not, I know the right answers to questions.…

swimming

Lately I have felt like I am drowning. And I’m not usually this girl…but I have written about a similar feeling before here. That I am just trying to get through. And as soon as I find my feet. Something else seems to land in my way and push me under again. And I feel ridiculous because theses things aren’t so rough. And I'm mostly fine. It is just that things seem to keep coming. And as soon as I recover from one thing. I get hit by another. I wrote something new about it about a week ago, but didn’t really know how to wrap it up or where to go with it. Or even if I wanted to put it out there. Because I don’t like to be a complainer or have people email me and ask if I’m ok or hint that maybe I should take some meds.

But then this morning I picked up a book that I've already read, and read this. Again.
http://www.shaunaniequist.com/storage/media/learningtoswim_chapter.pdf
It is first chapter in Shauna Niequist’s book Bittersweet. And I heart Shauna. But I almost never read b…

clean sheets and the nursery

When I’m dropping my kids off in the nursery at church, a nice sweet mom used to corner me to ask me where I’d like to serve in the children’s ministry.

And. Just because I have children does not mean you should put me in charge of other people’s.
Little people scare me. Sometimes even my own.

I’m so grateful that there are people with perfect hair and ironed skirts who want to sing songs and change diapers and dole out goldfish. But I’m not really that girl.
Don’t get me wrong, I am more than willing to do my share. As long as it doesn’t involve hand motions.

The last time she asked I said, “I’d really rather feed homeless people than teach Sunday School”. And she laughed like I’d just told her a funny joke.
“No, really, I insisted I mean that. I really like homeless people. And the thought of being left alone with a dozen three year olds makes me want to breathe into a paper bag. But, I’m happy to sub or fill in or whatever you need. Occasionally. Just let me know”.
“Oh.” She said.…

five minutes

The opposite of talking.
You would think is listening.
Or at least not talking.
But turns out for most of us. Or at least for me. Most of the time. Those aren’t the right answers.
The opposite of talking. Is waiting to talk.

And when I read that, in a coffee shop in Seattle, I cringed inside because I know it is more true than I want it to be.

My husband used to have a symbol to help me out in groups. He would tug on his ear when I needed to turn down the volume or worse when I kept interrupting. And I’d fill everyone else in on the joke. And usually keep going. Because awareness doesn’t always equal change.

And friends who have known me a while have their own way of dealing with my mouth.
One I work with just tries to tell people they just have to talk through me. And my oldest friends know to just ignore and eventually I tone it down and stop.  And might even tell you this if we are out together. And they will be right.

Sometimes this bad habit of mine comes in handy. When people do…