cowtown playlist
This morning my alarm clock went off at the usual time. 5:37 am.
Forced down a powerbar and a bottle of water.
The unusual part. It is a weekend.
Saturday mornings don’t usually start until after 8 and they almost always involve donuts.

I laced up my sneakers. Downloaded a few tunes and turned on the porch light.
Because the sun still wasn’t up.
And shortly after 6 am I got a text from my friend.
“I am heterosexual”
She meant to say “I am here”
And I have never loved autocorrect more.

And we drove downtown and our exit looked like a weekday at rush hour instead of a Saturday morning at 6:20.
I had seriously underestimated the number of people running the 10K.
We parked.
We pinned on our bibs.
We peed in smelly portapotties.
And we waited with hoards of runners for the start.

And I run on a regular enough basis.
At the gym. And I hate the treadmill. With a passion. And never make it very far before my knee starts hurting or I want to switch machines or go downstairs and get a smoothie.
With friends and I use so much oxygen telling stories and laughing that I usually have to stop after 20 minutes.
And alone. Where sometimes I can go 4 or 5 miles. And sometimes I head back home after just 2.

But in the mass of people running it seemed almost easy.
I had my headphones in and just kept plowing through the middle of downtown.
If you consider a 10.8 minute mile plowing. Which is slow motion to most people, but I usually run closer to a 12 minute mile so I was cruising.
And all I saw were runners ahead of and behind me.
Serious skinny girls in their spandex and water belts.
People my mom’s age.
A few people puked on the side of the road.
Men who had their legs taped and looked pretty hard core.

And every mile or so volunteers handed out water. And every once in a while you’d see people in their yards cheering you on or families on the sidelines with signs for their mom or dad. Even the police directing traffic were encouraging. And I haven’t run 6.2 miles in over 3 months. But I never thought about stopping. (well, not seriously at least).
Just getting there.
At my slow and steady pace.
And I couldn’t help but notice how different it felt to run in a race than it does to run by myself.

I have run harder races. And further races. And faster races.
So I didn’t especially have anything to prove.
But I wasn’t sure that I could do it without stopping. It had been a while and I hadn’t trained particularly hard. But the mass of people all heading where I was heading seemed to push me.
Everyone was pursuing the same finish line.
Fast or slow. Young or old. Spandex or old sweats. It didn’t seem to matter.
We were all pushing ourselves that morning in the cold to get there.

And I crossed the finish line. Sweaty. Thirsty. And my right knee was killing me. And someone shoved medal in my hands.
Medals aren’t the norm. I thought they were reserved for only halfs and full marathons.
But I held on tight and looked for my friend and some water.

And when I got home I gave my medal to my son.
Who asked, “mom did you win”
“No, kid. But I finished.”
“Then why did they give you medal”
“Well, because it was long and hard and I finished. Not everyone does. Not everyone even tries. So they gave me a medal.”
“But is finishing the same as winning?”
“Sometimes it is kid. Today it was. And it was a lot easier to do with a thousand other people than trying to do it by myself.”

And I want to give some special thanks to Lady Gaga…because let’s be honest I couldn’t have done it without her….and here is the rest of my running playlist


a baby changes everything.

Tess 4 months

When I had kids my world changed. Everything changed.

I mean I don’t go to nearly as many movies. I can’t just take off for a run whenever I want. I buy a lot more fruit snacks and Capri suns. I try to be a little more responsible with my money. I go through a lot more drive thrus. I watch more cartoons. I have to watch my step in the middle of the night not to step on legos and hot wheels.

I often feel guilty for it not changing enough.
I still have coffee with friends. I still go on dates with my husband. I still run races. I still read lots of books. I still don’t make my bed. I still go on the occasional road trip. Without my kids. I have missed a few soccer games. I don’t play kids music in the car (although there are a few songs that I have to skip).

And 90% of the time I feel ok about that.
That I am teaching my kids that they are important.
But maybe they aren’t the center of the universe.
That I am showing them how to cultivate their own relationships and interests.
That I am showing them what it means to be a wife, and a friend and a pursuer of Christ and not just a mom. But really they are just 5 and 2. And maybe it is less about that and more about me not being able to handle one more episode of Dora. So that other 10% I feel guilt.

And sometimes I sit in groups of women my age. And I struggle because I don’t want to talk about breast feeding. Or preschool. Or the latest PTA meeting that I didn’t go to.And trust me. My kids are cute. And funny. And I can babble on and on about them. And occasionally I do.
But sometimes I don’t want to.
Sometimes I want to talk about music. Or books. Or movies I want to see but probably won’t get to. Sometimes I want to go out to eat without my kids in tow.
And we dance in the living room. And we play Uno. And we go to the zoo.
All four of us.
But sometimes it is nice to just be two. Or even just one.

And so tonight I googled it.
I typed in “what does the bible say about parenting”
And was surprised at the lack of verses.
And how most of them were about disciplining and teaching your children.
Not so much about if I should feel bad about a girls night.
Or a trip to visit a friend.
Or not volunteering at the PTA carnival.

And so maybe a baby doesn’t have to change absolutely everything.
Except the size of my heart.
That has grown infinitely larger.

owen 3 months

my first dance

My wedding day is a little bit of a blur. And it was a great day. But so many people and so much going on and so many moments that it is hard to remember them all clearly without the help of photographs.

But I totally remember my first dance as a bride.
And it wasn’t with my husband.
Or even my father, or brother.

I had quickly kicked off my heels and hid them underneath a table. Said my hellos and hugs and smiled until my face hurt. Someone ushered us through the buffet line and I piled my plate with hors d'oeuvres and headed to a table. But before I could pop a single shrimp in my mouth someone grabbed me firmly by the arm and pulled me onto the dance floor and into a jitterbug before I could protest.
It was my husband’s granddaddy.
A man I had only met about a few times and heard say about as many words. So I was a little surprised when he spun me around the dance floor.
Eventually that night I danced with my husband. And my dad. And probably even my brother.
But my first dance belonged to him.
And he spent the night dancing with anyone that would let him.

And after 91 years, we knew that he was fading. And on Wednesday, my husband got the call that he had finally breathed his last.
And so we ordered flowers and bought jackets and fedoras (because he rarely left the house without one) and packed our bags and went to say our goodbyes.

And we weren’t the only ones. Cars lined up and down the street and the little living room was packed. I know that his wife of over 65 years was full of grief, but she sure seemed to glow as her house filled up with her children and grandchildren and great grandchildren. And when I walked in my husband was looking at his military medals, and other grandkids tried on his hats and the picture albums came out of the bottom drawers. And I couldn’t help but think about how rare it is to get everyone in the same room.Weddings and funerals. Beginings and ends. Celebrations and rememberings.
And there was lots of remembering.

And the funeral was the next day with full military honors. Stories and hymns and flags folded. Tears shed and flowers scattered. With taps gently playing in the background. And it was sad and somber. But also a celebration. Of a life well lived. In surviving. From farmer to prisoner of war to great grandfather. His legacy filled the church and eventually back to his living room.

And children don’t understand sad or the somberness of the day. As soon as they shed their dress shoes, they were ready to play. They wrestled on the living room floor. They played London Bridges. They stole candy off the table. They played in the potting soil from the flowers. They chased dogs around the living room. And his bride, who had just hours earlier bravely hugged his flag to her chest, held little people’s hands and sang “Ring around the Rosie” each time Tess cried “again”. And that night, the same night he was buried, four of his great grandchildren sang silly songs and danced in his living room. And I’m sure that is exactly how he would have wanted it.

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
  a time to be born and a time to die,
  a time to plant and a time to uproot,  
  a time to weep and a time to laugh,
  a time to kill and a time to heal,
  a time to tear down and a time to build,
 a time to mourn and a time to dance,"   Ecclesiastes 3:1-4

awkward family photos

This year I’ve earned a bit of a reputation as a prankster. I won’t incriminate myself too badly here…but one of my milder but still fantastic pranks involves going to Finding the most awful pictures that I can, slipping them into frames and placing them strategically around people’s office or classroom. It is a good joke every time. The more ridiculous the picture the better.

I’ve mentioned this before.
That I know that I love my kids well,
But I often doubt that I parent well.

We watch more cartoons that we should. I go through the drive thru. I occasionally use language I shouldn’t. I’m late to soccer practice. I don’t know what to do when he keeps getting in trouble at school. I let them stay up too late. My car is a disaster zone of coffee cups, juice boxes, extra clothes and fruit snacks embedded into the seat. My kids sing along to the Beastie Boys. Sometimes we eat around the table, but sometimes we eat in the car. And sometimes we say our prayers and read a story at night and sometimes we fall asleep watching TV. And I'm not always hard on myself. I do plenty right.
It usually seems like all those other moms have it way more together than me.
They know how to work the pick up line at school. Their kid’s outfits always match. They serve a vegetable with every meal. And their kids don’t even know what a twinkie is.

I know better. I do. I know that things are rarely what they appear. But I still sometimes imagine them following a routine perfectly, doing family devotionals in their clean houses and cars. But still, more often than not, I imagine most other people doing it better than me.
My church was offering a parenting class. And I wanted to go. But I didn’t. I’ve read plenty of books. I’ve sought of advice from friends. But I still don’t always know what to do.With the little stuff. Like homework and allowance. And talking to my kids about God. Sometimes I feel like I am not making any sense. I mean, really, try explaining Easter or prayer or communion to a 5 year old. It is some pretty weird stuff.
I wanted to go. I know that this is an important gig. One, I don’t want to screw up.
But I didn’t want to go sit in a roomful of people pretending to do it right. Who are most likely doing it better than me. And listening to someone tell me about all the stuff I am supposed to be doing. And just feel worse.

But. Instead. She put up a family picture. A really cute one of her, her husband and her kids. Let everyone ooh and ahh for a bit. Then said,
Let me tell you what was really going on in this picture.
Let me tell you what kind of mess I really am.

And she didn’t stop there. She put up picture after family pictures of well known people in our church. People who are on staff. Ministers. Volunteers. Teachers. And one by one told us about their mess.

And again. I know this. I know that people aren’t usually what they appear. Life isn’t always as peachy as the Christmas card. But it was so refreshing. In this place where people usually spend their most effort pretending, putting on their Sunday best. To see picture after picture of messes like me.

And then she started in with a few more familiar families.
David’s. Noah’s. Abraham’s. Joseph’s.
All messes.

There isn’t a single picture perfect Christmas card family in the bunch. Mainly a bunch of awkward family photos. Because maybe God isn’t into pretending or impressing and the people who uses never get it all right. They are mess after mess, being used to tell His story. Not a story of how to do it right or at least look like you do. But a story of love and forgiveness and redemption.

a little bit of love and some songs.

It is tired and I'm late. Or something like that.

So just a little bit of Valentines love and a tune.

Loved hanging out with my husband and laughing last night.
Loved our dates tonight. Shaun got Tess and McDonalds, princess dresses and my little pony.  Owen requested shrimp tacos and Gnomio and Juliet. I totally got the better end of that deal and hopefully we started a new tradition of taking our kids out on fun dates for Valentines.

I skipped the playlist this week...but made a valentines one last year, and it would pretty much be the same.  Although I would probably add this one:

And I am sure this is sacreligous or something but I didn't read 1 Corinthians 13 at my wedding. And I promise I got married in a church. Instead a friend read these verses and they are still some of my favorites on love:

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.  1 John 4:7-12

And I don't have any cute pictures to add of my kids coloring valentines or making cookies. We did both. But mostly they colored on the table and put the stickers on my face. And the cookies were not exactly photo worthy and were eaten long before I ever thought to get out a camera. So instead...I'm going with Tess's cheesiest smile. Even though she kind of looks angry and is having a slight wardrobe malfunction. The real drama is going to be getting this princess dress off of her!


(this is totally me cheating. a repost from several years ago. but our discussion at church this morning made me think of it. In short we were talking about what we offer to God, and how he often ends up with the leftovers...and how maybe we are missing out by holding so much back).

I was walking down the street in Chicago, a late 20 something man and woman walked out of an office building. Obviously just off work. She had on a boring tan business suit and then you look down and see these very cool slip on tennis shoes with a fun print. I am in awe. Just by a quick glance at her feet, I think she is cool. I would want to be her friend….well you know if she wasn't just some random girl on the street. And then I had dinner and forgot about her.

The next morning I was strolling down Michigan avenue and see those same amazing shoes in the window at Payless. Yes, Payless. The magnificent mile in Chicago is known for its exclusive shopping with places like Hermes, Cartier and Tiffany – and I want something form Payless. I quickly go in, find them in my size and slip them on and walk out of the store wearing them. Suddenly I have this moment where I think my new 17$ shoes are my destiny. That they will make me as cool as the girl in the beige suit and they will give me purpose. The purpose is about the dozen bums that I passed on my way here. All with Starbucks cups out jingling wanting my change. Sometimes I gave it to them, but mostly I walked past. Chicago is cold, even in May I held my jackets tight. If I was going to be homeless I would choose a place like San Francisco – not cold windy Chicago. So I decide to give away my slightly used, but still very cute Nikes. I tie the laces together and sling them over my shoulder and tell my companions be on the lookout for a homeless women in about a size 9. I feel very benevlolent. Good and warm inside because I am going to give away my old used sneakers.

We have a boat tour booked and I was slightly disappointed that there was no woman talking to herself on the stairwell down to the river that I had seen earlier. She would have made a perfect recipient of my shoes. The grey would have matched her holey sweatshirt. On the boat I did slip them inside my backpack instead of carrying them on shoulder, but was still confident that I would find someone to give them to on the way back to the hotel. I counted 4 men with very large feet and jingling starbucks cups on the way back. The tennis shoes were getting heavy to lug around and I was anxious to give them away already. The warm fuzzy feeling was starting to fade and my back was starting to ache.

The next day, I left the cool shoes at the motel and wore my old ones. This did complicate my plan to give them away….but I was thankful to wear shoes with arch support after biking 10 miles and walking at least half that many. But I was not going to leave this city without giving away my shoes. Someone needed them.  I was suppsed to give them away I just knew it. Plus, I wasn't sure I could fit them in my suitcase. Monday morning before my flight I was out walking near the hotel and was ready to hand them off, even go barefoot for a block or two if the opportunity arised. That might even be better. It would look really generous to take the shoes off my feet, rather than pull a used pair out of my backpack. Keep in mind when I say it would "look" more or generous I am not talking about a crowd or anyone to impress. I was thinking about God I suppose. I even distinctly remember asking God to put someone in my path. Someone who wore a size 9. I prayed all the way to the train to O'Hare.

Needless to say I didn't run into any more women in need of shoes. Plenty of people needed cash, a cup of coffee, a hot dog or maybe even a beer – but I wasn't willing to part with more than a few quarters here and there. I wanted to give away my shoes because it was convenient. It was easy. There was something in it for me. I had another pair waiting at the hotel and a whole closetfull at home. I never considered giving away my jacket or anything else I would miss. Just those stupid shoes. I was trying to lighten my own load and get a cheap warm fuzzy look how great I am moment out of it.
Apparently, God figured I needed humility a lot more than a homeless woman needed some Nikes.

talking to myself about nothing.

Today has been a day.And it is still before 10 am.
And mostly I don’t have any great excuse to tell you why it has been so awful. I didn’t spill my coffee. I didn’t fight with my husband. My car started. I didn’t get a ticket on the way to school.

It has a been a perfectly normal Thursday morning. I overslept a little. Had my copies ready to go and didn’t even have to scrape ice off my windshield. But last night I was up with something on my mind . Not all night. Just when I woke up to let the dog out or back in, or soothe a nightmare, or get a drink, or pull a sweet little girl and her blankie and her dolly who padded into my room into my bed and under my covers. 

Instead of going right back to sleep this little something  was the first thing I thought of.  And this something was mostly a nothing. But it was like a train. That I knew I shouldn’t get on but did. This one negative iffy thought turned into a hundred others. And pulled me down roads I didn’t want to go at racing speeds. 
This one thought spiraled at least a dozen potential awkward conversations in my head. And translated to things in the past and the future and places it didn’t really belong at all.  I connected dots that weren’t there. I made up motivations and scenarios and endings that will never play out in real life. And usually after a few minutes I managed to talk some sense into myself. And convince myself that it was really in fact nothing. And would go back to sleep.

But somehow I kept insisting on making it something. Giving this lie relevance and truth and a place to land that it didn’t deserve. I rolled out the red carpet for it. I welcomed it in and let it bring all its friends.
And when I woke up it was still there and had grown considerably overnight. And on my way to school I turned up the music. Made coffee and kept telling myself it was nothing. 

But by then nothing had turned into something. I had apparently given it permission and cleaned out a drawer for it. I prayed really whiny prayers.  Mostly decided that avoidance was my best tactic to kicking out my nothing-now-something.  And I certainly wasn’t going to honor it by writing about it or having any conversations about it.  It was getting enough air time as it was.

And it was almost working.

And then I hit a glitch in my day.  And then another bigger glitch. That on a normal day would be enough to throw me off for a bit. Nothing another cup of  coffee or funny email couldn’t fix. But this was no normal day. I had unwelcome company. And even though my nothing and this glitch were completely and totally unrelated. They became fast friends. 

And the train kept moving south.

And so I am here. Attempting to type it out. Listening to the same song over and over. Trying to convince myself that the day is not ruined.  That this negative ride I have taken isn’t really my destination.

That nothing is in fact nothing.

And I’ll be honest. So far it has only worked a little bit.
Nothing can become something in seconds if you let it.  But the reverse process takes a bit longer.  And I wonder if other people do this. Surely they do. And how do most people get off this train?
For me….Good music. Whiny prayers. Funny emails. Pointless conversations with people I like the best. Laughing even when I don’t feel like it. Cheese. More coffee. Writing it down. Funny teenagers. And/Or  a good long run usually do the trick. And when that doesn’t work.  Just the assurance that the next day will be better. Even if I have to make it.

(and because I can assure you I wasn't about to post this whiny rant yesterday...or at all...but then figured other people probably talk to themselves too....why not let the rest of the world (or all 12 of you) into my head.......I can tell you that today is already 100% better.....and I'm still listening to that same song.)

snow bored?

What to do on a snow day?

I just googled that and landed on a great mommy blog full of 21 great snow day ideas. Like blog, bake, clean, read your bible, do your homework, play a boardgame, catch up with your friends on facebook, make cards for the elderly, etc.
And those aren’t bad ideas. If you are Jane Brady. And this isn’t your 5th snow day in the last 10 days and you have already exhausted almost everything. Watched every movie, played every game and gained a good 5 pounds. And sleet is not nearly as fun to play in as snow….

Instead let me offer my list of 21 things.

1. Get out all your old highschool junior high pictures and scan them and upload into facebook. Your friends will love that. Especially if they had braces and ever rocked a side ponytail.
2. Switch out all your husband’s games and movies and put them in new cases. It will be like a scavenger hunt for him. And again. Pretty sure he will appreciate the thoughtfulness.
3. Play the dress like your toddler who dressed herself game. (See picture). It is really fun I promise.
4. Prank call all your friends. Caller ID may have complicated that one a little. But it is still fun. Even if they know it is you keep playing dumb.
5. If you must bake – use salt instead of sugar. You won’t gain anymore weight and it will be so fantastic to watch your kids or husband bite into a cookie and spit it out. And act offended at their disgust and insist that you followed the recipe precisely and that it tastes fine to you.
6. Strictly enforce that everyone must speak in a foreign accent. And don't go easy on them like French. Pick a country you have never heard of.
7. Just for fun try and write out the words to classics like Baby Got Back and Ice Ice Baby from memory. You will be so impressed with how much you know. Forget foreign policy. This is vital stuff taking up space in my brain.
8. Teach your kids to play Hide and Hide. Forget Seek. I never get to watch daytime TV.
9. Short sheet your kids bed. I don’t actually know what short sheeting entails, but while you have the day off you might as well learn something.
10. See how long you can go without showering or brushing your hair. I made it a good 3 days last week. How can beat my record?
11. Turn your living room into a roller skating rink. And dust off those rollerblades. Play some Bryan Adams and couples skate your little heart out. No skates. No problem. Just slip around on the ice in your driveway.
12. Play charades. They only topics allowed are scenes from funny you-tube videos.
13. Do some science. Experiment and see how many licks it really takes to get to the center of a tootsie pop.
14. Find your husband’s ipod. Lose the boy music and fill it with songs from Glee and Kesha. Again, he will totally thank you for this.
15. Start campaigning for president.
16. Have an Easter egg hunt. No easter eggs. Use real eggs. Preferably raw. Shoes are great hiding places. And even better when you forget about one.
17. Go on a snipe hunt.
18. Text your friends while wearing gloves.
19. Have everyone clean and polish their belly buttons.
20. Have your kids gather twigs in the back yard and go door to door selling fire wood.
21. If you are really bored and desperate for some grown up interaction, it might be a good time to teach your kids what to do in an emergency. Teach them how to dial 911 and let them practice. Extra bonus. They might even turn the lights on for you.

(and no, I am not totally original. I did my research and stole about half of those from the internet...and 21 may not be enough if we don't get to go to school tomorrow either...feel free to leave me some new ideas!)

forgetting defines me

I am really good at forgetting.

I forget where I put my keys. And my copies. And any official form I was supposed to fill out and return.
I forget to pay the water bill.
I forget my passwords.
I forget friend’s birthdays.
I forget meetings.
I forget that I was supposed to bring the snack to my son’s soccer game.
I forget to take the clothes out of the washing machine and put them in the dryer. For like a week. And then they have that horrible mildewy smell that is almost impossible to get rid of.
I forget to think before I speak.
I forget to charge my phone.
And I occasionally forget my way.
Both literally and figuratively.

And mostly I feel that these are due to my lack of organizational skills.
That maybe if I put everything in my calendar, like my husband keeps begging me to do, that I would be better about remembering.

And let’s be honest.
I am selectively forgetful.
Meaning I almost never forget a coffee date.
When my favorite show comes on.
The lines to my favorite songs.
Or what chapter I am in the middle of even if I didn’t mark the page.
I would never forget a massage or hair appointment even though I never seem to remember to go get my allergy shots.

And that ugly comment that my husband let slip. I totally forgot and forgave him.
Until a month later when I am mad at him again. And then I remember. That comment that I forgot and a dozen others.
And an unhealthy friendship that was extra rocky. And I keep seeming to forget the rocky and pursue the parts that were good. And we hit another rock. And then I remember every little bump.
And I go out and do and say things and I totally know better. But I forget how much I am going to regret it the next day. Or after the text has been sent or the words that slipped. Or I have another pounding headache. And then I remember. And am sorry. And am really hoping that someone else will be willing to forget. Again.

And I am pretty sure that I treat my God like He forgets too.
I ask the same things over and over. Like He somehow forgot about me.
I keep saying I am sorry for the same stuff. Hoping He forgot that we have already had this exact same conversation. Just yesterday.
I doubt and question and wonder or worry, and think that maybe just this once, that He maybe fell asleep on the job.
And I forget about the ridiculousness of his love and grace and all the time I am trying to be enough. By myself. And that I can’t and never will be. But He always is.

And I know he is omnicient and all, but maybe God is a little bit selectively forgetful too.
That He never forgets me and never lets me go.
But that he gladly removes my sins. As far as the East is to the West.
And I’ve never really been good with directions.
But I’m pretty sure that is a distance that I’ll never span.
(Psalm 103:12)

What does he sound like?

It was late. And I’d already tucked in my son.

And re-tucked him in after he got up the first time.
And I should have already been in bed myself.
But school was canceled again so I was sitting on the couch checking facebook, watching late night TV, reading blogs and wasting time.

And he called for me.
And so I shut down the computer and crawled into his bed.
I let his buzzed hair tickle my chin while I kissed the top of his head and asked what was wrong.
And he said that he was scared.
And that he didn’t have anyone.
And that I got to sleep with dad every night and couldn’t I just sleep with him for a little while. And I told him that Tess was right next door and that we were just down the hall and that maybe the dog could sleep with him.

And of course that he was never really alone.
And that when he gets scared he could pray.
And since he is only five and prayer has always been a bit elusive to me.
I asked him if he knew what that meant to pray.
I mean we do it sometimes at night and usually before dinner and at church.
But I wasn’t sure he really knew what it means. to pray.
Sometimes I am not even sure I do.

And he was quiet.
I thought maybe he was already asleep but I kept talking anyways.
I told him that it was just talking to God.
And that he could do it whenever he wanted and say whatever he wanted.
That there weren’t any special rules or topics or things to memorize.
Just talking. Like to a friend.
When he is scared or sad or thankful.
And I felt like my description was a little flat but gave myself credit for trying.
And I kissed his head again and got ready to sneak out of his room. Because he was still silent and breathing deeper and I thought surely he was asleep.
When ever so quietly he asked the question that plenty of grown ups are too chicken to ask.

“But he never talks to me” he whispered.

Yes he does. He just rarely uses words.

“But what does he sound like?”

Oh sweet boy. It is sometimes so hard to tell. But mostly we just have to listen. And less with our ears and more with our hearts.
Because He talks all the time.

He whispers in the wind.
A nagging feeling that won't go away.
He Fills in the quiet if we leave any for him.
In laughter.
With extra scoops of ice cream.
In books.
In other people.
In hugs.

And just then he wrapped his two little sleepy arms around me and squeezed tight.
And I said.
See. Just then.
I heard him loud and clear.

i was made for sunny days: snowday playlist

Snow Day #4.
And we all have serious cabin fever. Don't get me wrong I love a good snow day as much as anyone else. But mostly these have just been ice days. (until this morning). And so far we have played uno, skipbo, crazy8s, sung and danced in the living room, made a fort, colored (mostly on each other), made things out of playdo, decorated cookies, made chilli and soup and waffles, and eaten it all and then some, watched every movie we own, stayed up late, slept in and when I couldn't take it anymore slid on the ice to get coffee and more colors and more movies and more food to cook and eat.
When I got the text yesterday that it was looking like no school again, I personally offered to get out my hair dryer and get to work on the parking lots. Who knew I would want to go to work so bad. And my son is begging to go back to school. I havnen't seen him want something so bad since those damn pillow pets commercials started playing on the TV every five minutes.
And this morning instead of ice, I looked out my window to see snow falling. I climbed in the attic and got out all of our ski clothes and we attempted to ski down the driveway and sled and make snowballs and snow angels. But my kids didn't last that long in the cold and we are all aching for some sunshine.
And so a summer playlist to warm me up a little. And then maybe I'll find a decent hill to sled down.

who i am not.

The older I get the more I realize I can’t do.

I’m too old to try out for American Idol (that and I can’t carry a tune to save my life).
I’ll never be Homecoming Queen.
Or win a spelling bee.
I’ll never go to med school. Or be an astronaut. Or be a secret agent.
Or score a winning goal in the state playoffs.

And I’m not really a girl to pay attention to limits or rules or age restrictions.
I still order kids meals and play on the playground (sometimes even when my kids aren’t there). Lack of athletic ability didn’t stop me from completing a sprint triathalon or playing soccer. I’ve sung karaoke (we’ve already mentioned that these are skills I don’t have), I’ve danced in public (and I’m so bad), I’ve jumped off a cliff (even though I am petrified of heights). I’ve gotten tattoos and pierced my nose even though I’m pretty sure over 30 is past the window for that kind of crazy. And all kinds of ridiculous other things. But let’s face. The door is closing or has already closed on some things.

And that whole you can be anything you want to be.
It’s kind of wearing off.
And maybe it is only true when you are under 4 feet.
Or maybe it isn’t really true at all.
And I’ve spent years trying to figure out who I am.
And I finally think I have a decent idea.
But maybe just as important is figuring out who I am not.

I am not good with any kind of administration or organizational task.
I am not ever going to have a spotless house.
I am not a formal kind of girl. I don’t like crystal or place settings with more than one fork.
I am not really a rule follower.
I am not the most productive girl with my time.
I am not a size 6. Nor was I ever. Nor will I ever be.
I am not a good authoritarian. I don’t run my class that way. I don’t parent that way. And just because some people do. Doesn’t mean I have to.
I am not a good listener. This is something that I can and should change.
I am not the kind of girl that can survive for very long on less than 8 hours of sleep.
I am not good at sitting still or being quiet. And sometimes I need to be.
I am not a good stay at home mom. And there is nothing like being iced in for 4 straight days to reinforce that. But that doesn’t mean I love my kids any less.
I am not subtle.
I am not Martha Stewart.
I am not good with money.
I am not 17anymore. (or 21 or even 31).
I am not good at keeping secrets or telling lies or hiding things.
I am not type A. I’m not even sure I use the same alphabet.
I am not my mom.
I am not my husband’s mom.
I am not you.
I am not good at focusing on one thing.
I am not the best driver.
I am not good at looking for things I lost or can’t remember where I put them.
I am not always the most sensitive girl.
I am not as secure as I’d like to be.
I am not afraid of awkward situations.
I am not a golfer.
I am not an Oprah fan.
I am not the right body shape for slim jeans.
I am not a good speller.
I am not much of an editor.
I am not really into details.
I am not any less than anyone else.

And this list isn’t entirely original. First of all I’m pretty sure I read a similar post sometime in the last few months but can’t remember where to give it proper credit. And I’ve posted my share of lists here. I’ve written about what I am. Things I don’t do. And some of my disclaimers. And so maybe this one is overkill. Apparently I am not all that original either.

And I teach my kids that they have all kinds of options and hopes and possibilities.
And I still do. At 32 and even at 80, I hope to do more things, see more places, climb more mountains, learn new things, run more races, and be a little more of the me that I wish I was. But knowing who I am is also knowing who I am not. And not wasting anytime trying to be anyone else.

(and p.s. if you ever want to know who you aren’t ….and you ask your husband for some help….be warned that you might not want to hear his answers!)

stamp sheets

Lately my son has been getting in trouble at school.

And it isn’t big stuff.
Little silly boy things.
Like not staying in his seat at lunch. Being silly. Talking. Not getting his work done.
You know. Pretty much a typical day for me.

And every once in awhile I don’t mind and I know how to handle it.
No video games. No playing outside with the neighbors.
A stern talk about listening and respect.
And of course the assurance that I love him no matter what. No matter how many stamps or bad notes he gets.

But we are on day 4 of no stamps.
And he gets in the car and his little chin quivers.
And my tears fall before his do.
And we get home and he goes straight to his room and climbs into bed.
At 4:30 in the afternoon.
And I coax him out.
Assure him that we all have bad days. And that he can try again tomorrow.

But tomorrow it is the same thing.
And I wonder if I need to get sterner. Amp up the punishment.
Or pour on the love and reassurance that he is good even if he can’t sit still and keep his hands to himself.
Or both.

And I make a bigger deal out of it than it really is. My kid is just 5.
He still likes school. Is learning a ton. Has friends. Likes his teacher so much that he decided that he no longer wants to be a spy when he grows up but a kindergarten teacher.
He is silly and active and social.
And at the end of the day that doesn’t always get you a stamp.

But bigger questions arise. That have very little to do with him and lots to do with me.
Am I doing it wrong?
Does he have ADHD? And if so should I do really have to put him on meds?
Do I need to meet with his teacher?
Am I not punishing him enough?
Am I not rewarding him enough?
Should I be making him make his bed everyday?
Should I be making my own bed everyday?
Do I let him watch too many cartoons?
Is he just bored?
Am I too easy on him?
And my brain could go on....and at 2am sometimes it does.

And I know that I love my kid well. That part is easy. And frankly I don’t see how any one can’t. His big brown eyes. Silly grin. Infectious laugh. And mad dancing skills could win even the coldest heart over.

But loving well and parenting well aren’t the same thing. And that maybe I somehow missed the manual that all the other parents seemed to have gotten. (and yes, I have read more than my share of parenting books and they all contradict each other. Spank. Don’t spank. Be firm. Be gentle. Give them choice. Show them whose boss.). And so each additional day that my kid comes home in trouble I feel like I am failing him.

And I ask friend after friend what I should be doing.
And me and his dad talk about punishments and rewards and try and choose our battles and come up with a game plan to keep him out of trouble.
And I ask if I am doing it wrong. Or if I am making a big deal out of nothing.
And just like all those books, I seem to get a different answer with each person I talk to.

And so after about a half dozen conversations with a half dozen different answers. Some un-reassuring internet searches. And a few kind words.
Where I’ve landed is this:
I hope my kid grows up to be a lot of things. Kind. Smart. Honest. Generous. Brave. And most of all to love others well.
But, quiet, sits still, keeps his hands to his self, not so silly, walks appropriately in line…
I mean, I see the need for that in some settings, but they aren’t exactly high on things I hope my kid grows up to be list.
And I’ll keep working on the top list. And let his teacher worry about the bottom one.

(and unrelated....and should have posted this yesterday....but my friend Tina graciously used one of my posts over at the Laity Lodge family camp blog)