keeping in touch


I used to be really good at keeping in touch. I know the value of you snail mail. I can bang out emails in record time and I’m not sure that the ignition in my car actually turns unless I’m talking on my phone. I remembered birthdays and bought funny cards and occasionally made mix cds.
But. These days. Not so much. 
Maybe it all went out the window when I had kids, but I’m thinking this probably happened before that. I am really good at maintaining with people that live in my area code, but for the ones that don’t I struggle to keep up. I forget birthdays. Even in the age of facebook where it reminds you days in advance. I rarely call old friends and emails are few and far between. And facebook  is supposed to make all this easier. But mainly it is just easier to feel like I am keeping in touch. Maintaining. When I’m really not. Because I can creep their page and look at their pictures and I think I know what is going on. And if they want to know about me. They can just read my blog.

But my in-person everyday friends know that there is a lot more to it than that. A lot of what I write gets edited down. Not for grammar so much (obviously) but because I am not quite as out there as I seem.  And I still spend ridiculous amounts of time on the phone. And writing silly emails.  But when I want to call someone and tell them the crazy ridiculous thing that just happened to me at Starbucks, I’m more likely to call someone I see all the time.  If I just saw them ten minutes ago it is somehow easier to jump right into that conversation than if it has been a month. Or a year. Or even 10. 

I have a few friends that I can slip easily back into conversations now matter how long it has been. And I love that. But that is rare. Usually old friends require some catching up first. And that can be exhausting.  And boring. And this girl who never stops talking or typing, never knows what to say for the fill in.

Over the weekend I recieved an email from one of my favorite friends from high school. And she refuses to facebook or read blogs or any of those things. Even though she ALWAYS remembers birthdays and holidays and is pretty much better at it than I am. It was a rare treat to see her name in my inbox. And she invited me to fill her in. To catch up. And I wasn’t sure what to say.  Which is ridiculous. Because all kinds of things have happened since the last time we talked via email. Last September.  But not really in big stuff.  I mean, I live in the same place, work at the same place, married to the same guy, have the same kids and big picture things are mostly the same. Thankfully.
And I kept thinking about this post: http://mwfseekingbff.com/2011/03/22/does-a-bff-really-need-to-be-local/ and especially the linked essay by ann patchett. I’ve read it a dozen times even though I was never a huge Sex and the City fan. And this paragraph might be my favorite.

Of course, I still see my friends, but now we have an agenda. There's always a lot to catch up on, so we need to get down to business. The hallmark of the friendships of youth, like the ones that Carrie and her friends share, was that we had no business at all. Rare was the phone call that came with any reason attached to it. And that's my idea of real intimacy: it's not the person who calls to say, ''I'm having an affair''; it's the friend who calls to say, ''Why do I have four jars of pickles in my refrigerator?'' It is the minutia, the willingness to offer up every detail, that marks the bond between women, whereas men seem to prefer to bond over something rather than nothing, to have an activity when they get together. Do men ever have a three-hour lunch and then walk around looking in store windows as an excuse to just keep talking?

And I miss my friend Shannon because I haven’t seen her in years. We cheated our way through PreCal (both with As by the way) and tried to outdo each other in AP Biology and on the tennis courts. We spent hours listening to music, driving around, wrapping houses, crushing on boys and drinking cheap strawberry wine. We had a crappy part time job together and would say ridiculous things over the intercom (bad enough things that I can’t type them here!). We went to prom and homecoming and sadie hawkins together (well not together, we always had male dates but in big fun groups). And during college, she came to visit me in Lubbock and I went to visit her in Austin. We were in each other’s weddings. But these days the emails are pretty sporadic. The last time I saw her she was recently divorced,  she had just defended her thesis and earned a few more letters after her old last name and was about to take a new job out of state. And we drank margaritas and ate chips and salsa and laughed and I wondered how much of this friendship we would get to hold on to. At the time , I only had one kid. Only college kids were on facebook. And I didn’t have a clue how to take a picture on my phone.  And I knew that we would mostly be catching up from now on rather than actually being friends. And something about that made the night bittersweet for me.

So even though it made my day to see her name in my inbox, I put off my email response for a few days. Finally, last night I sat down and hammered something a long these lines out. And maybe it isn’t the kind of letter you’d put in a Christmas card. And parts of it are more like the conversation I’d have with a friend I’d talked to at least 3 times that day rather than one I hadn’t seen in years. Which is how I wanted  my friend to be for  the night. (and it is email, not a blog post, or an English essay so forgive the extra rambly and my over use of elipses....)

Things are still mostly the same. Teaching highschool in the same place. Live in the same house with the dishes piled high in the sink. Owen is 5 and in kindergarten and Tess is 2 and a total mess. But, things are really good. I finally have made some good friends at school….even though this is my 4th freaking year and it is long overdue…..so I have not been getting a lot of actual work done but I do a lot of laughing and we play a lot of ridiculous jokes and I like my students even more than ever. Like today involved the attached picture and escaping to Starbucks (and a few things that I'll keep to myself because I really like and want to keep my job!). And I totally pay for these antics by grading all weekend. But it is worth it to laugh all day. Tomorrow is sweaty yoga and sushi, and there is some roller derby in my future. Just a spectator, but think I might need to throw my blades in the car just in case. Next week Owen sings Baby Beluga at the PTA meeting. I’m thinking Baby Beluga is a whale or something, and other than seeing him in the cute fancy outfit I bought for the occasion, I’m not looking forward to finding out. Neither me, nor Owen, are fans of kindergarten mostly because he gets in trouble from time to time. I’m guessing he is just as ADD as me. But smart and funny and cute. And wants to grow his hair out like Justin Beiber.  He can also write his name with his butt. I’m so proud. And Tess likes to take her clothes off in public and dance in the living room.  And wet her pants or bleed out the nose to get her way. Turns out they are both pretty effective methods. I am running a lot but somehow fatter than ever. Maybe it has something to do with a new frozen yogurt stand popping up on every corner.

Shaun is also doing the same thing in the same place. This summer is our 10th anniversary and we are supposed to go climb a mountain in Seattle to celebrate.  I’m personally looking more forward to sleeping in a hotel, lots of coffee and throwing some fish.  And speaking of anniversaries…..which is pretty much the same thing as a reunion. We are approaching (or maybe just passed…I really don’t want to do the math) our 15th. Pretty sure bhs doesn’t celebrate the 5s. And you (and most of our other friends) didn’t go to the 10th one anyways….so thinking we should have our own. The lake house is always open. The fridge is always stocked. And my dad is always happy to entertain (aka cook and make a fool of himself) or leave us alone. It could be just like prom without the bad hair and strapless bras. I bet we could even get the police to show up again!

And that’s all I got because I need to write a test review and Tess just dumped an entire cup of marbles all over the living room floor and instead of picking it up she is twirling in a princess dress right in the middle of them. Did I mention she is crazy girly and prissy. She sleeps with shoes instead of stuffed animals. I’m not sure where she got it from and am trying to teach Shaun how to braid or at least make a ponytail, since he takes them to school in the a.m. But thankfully her hair is still too short for serious effort (like I’m pretty sure he doesn’t even bother running a brush through it)….but her teachers are happy enough to help him out. Yesterday she came home with 3 ponytails in her hair (see attached picture). At any rate, I better pick up the marbles before Shaun walks in and busts his ass. That, and Tess is now trying to cut her hair with a pair of fingernail clippers.

Bye friend, I miss you. Come back to TX. At least for a little bit. We are fun. And the weather is better. And we have microorganisms here too! And I'm pretty sure your mom still owes me a pie. Please tell her I haven't forgotten. And just in case you were wondering, I only have 2 jars of pickles in my fridge.

mh


car wreck

(just in case you can't tell what this is...it is a bad iphone picture of me going through a car wash)

Lately I have been a bigger mess than normal.
My house is a wreck. My flowerbeds are scary.
My shower has things growing in it.
I’m forever behind at work.
I’m not doing the things that I usually do well.
I am in the middle of about 6 books but am not close to finishing any of them.
I didn’t give up anything for Lent.
I am not following through on some of my relationships.
I’m posting less. And reading less.  And running less. And praying less. And sleeping less. And wasting more time than ever.
So I took Friday off to stay home and grade papers and clean my house and try and get on top of a few things in my life so that I could feel a little less overwhelmed.

And I had a great day. I slept in a little. I got coffee. I took coffee to some friends that I hadn’t talked to in a while. I picked up for a little while. I graded for a little while. I took a short run. I shaved my legs. I attempted a nap. I wrote a blog post. I did lots of little bits of things but somehow still managed to accomplish mainly nothing. And still felt overwhelmed. Even though everything in my life is pretty good and relatively stress free.

I’ve mentioned before that I have shame issues about my car.  Big shame issues. I’ve even posted pictures before. And my car is only worse now than it was then.
And I meant to tackle it on Friday. And then again for the rest of the weekend. But somehow never made it past the cupholders.

So last night I got a trash bag, a new canister or cleaning wipes and went to town. My husband asked if I was alright and even checked my forehead for a fever.  And a few minutes into the front seat, after finding a book I thought I’d lost, I was ready to quit. This was going to take forever and I’d at least cleared out a place for a passenger to sit. But I kept throwing away and sorting and wiping.  And sometime, right about when I was ripping out carseats and shaking for loose teddy grahams, it started to feel really good.  I was making progress and could actually see my floorboards. And I’ve never been the girl that likes to clean, that gets that happy satisfied feeling when she vacuums. I hate it. I’ve always hated it. But something about reclaiming my car started to clear out some space in my head. 

I filled almost an entire bag with trash, went through a whole canister of wipes and found the following: 3 pairs of earings, 13 books, 4 hotwheels, 11 mix cds, 1 my little pony, 2 pairs of sunglasses, my school id that I had lost, 3.79$ in change, 5 mateless socks, 1 watch, a starbucks giftcard that I’m crossing my fingers has some money on it, a winning scratchoff lottery ticket (no jackpot but 4$ is 4$), more legos than I can count and all kinds of other crap and unidentifiable food items.

The sun had long gone down. My kids were in their pjs piled into my bed watching Star Wars. Again. And I drove off to the carwash and to vacuum out my car. I splurged on the deluxe and vacuumed until I ran out of quarters.

And my car is still kind of gross. So many drinks have been spilled on my seats that they will never be the same again. I couldn’t get all the ick out of the cupholders and the vacuum wouldn’t reach a few places between the seats. But, someone could get in and I wouldn’t have a panic attack.

This morning after getting ready for work I walked out and got into my car. And somehow overnight, I had forgotten. Kind of like a dramatic new haircut that surprises you again in the morning.
My car wasn’t a complete disaster anymore. And something in my heart began to feel just a little bit less cluttered and overwhelmed. Me and my car both felt a little more presentable. And one thing I kept thinking was, all of those things I found in my car…things that I thought were lost or knew were there just couldn’t get to…I wonder how many things are like that for the rest of me.  And makes me ask the question, if I get rid of the mess. At least some of it…what am I going to find?

drive in playlist






Friday night a friend invited us to the movies.
And not just any movies, but she had a groupon for the drive in.
So I piled yoga mats and sleeping bags into the back of my husband’s truck. She packed a dinner and we headed south to watch Gnomio and Juliet under the stars.

Me and my husband used to be big movie buffs. We saw them on opening night and would drive to weird theatres in Dallas to watch documentaries or indie films that most of our friends had never heard of. But in the last five+ years, that has waned. I still go to movies, but mostly cartoons. And I miss them. Like I miss having cable and having someone clean my house.

And I miss movie popcorn with butter or smuggling in my own candy. And I don’t have the best movie ettiquiete. I do remember to turn off my phone, but I kind of like to add my own commentary sometimes. And I have a big screaming laugh and sometimes I’m the only one laughing. But outside, in the back of the pick up, I could laugh as loud as I want…as long as we could still hear the radio. I made multiple trips to the snack bar (and potty, thank you Tess) and managed to stay awake for the ending. Barely.

And it has been awhile since I’ve done a playlist. I haven’t forgotten. I’ve just been a little preoccupied. So I’m back and this week they are all from movie soundtracks…
And I know I’m leaving a TON out, feel free to tell me more in the comments…but grooveshark is giving me fits and I should really be grading papers..

and in case you wanted to know what movies they are from...in order..
1. Threesome 2. Reality Bites 3. Fight Club 4. 9to5 5.My Best Friend's Wedding 6. Something about Mary 7. Garden State 8. Pulp Fiction 9. Romeo and Juliet 10. The Graduate 11. Top Gun 12. Closer 13. Juno 14. Eat, Pray, Love 15. Once

mulitple choice

After Spring Break my job gets really hard. The kids are really ancy for summer. The teachers are too. The seniors pretty much checked out at Christmas. Kids are always out playing in tournaments or on field trips. And when none of us want to be here and have of us aren’t, we have all these standardized tests to prep for. Important ones. Ones that determine whether kids graduate or not.


And what I hate about these tests, is that even when the kids know the content they don’t always get the right answer. Because sometimes the answers are confusing. Sometimes there is more than one decent answer. So I have to tell them to choose the “best answer” or the one that is “most right”.

And I hate that. I wish it were clearer. That it was easy to just pick C.
But. life isn’t always that clear. And sometimes we feel like we have to pick an answer just so we can fill in our bubble. And we’d all like to think that we picked the best one. That ours is the best answer or the most right and that we are going to get a really good grade.
Or at least do better than enough other people to look good.

But, even though I give plenty of them…
Multiple choice tests suck.
They are limiting and usually biased and rarely let you know how much people really know or what they really think.
And to be honest. The only reason I give them is because they are easy for me to grade.
And the school insists that I give grades.
But I’m not so sure that there is always one “best answer” for everyone and every situation.
Sometimes it is all of the above. Or none of the above. And sometimes we aren’t even asking the right questions.
Jesus mostly answered questions with more questions.
Or sometimes he responded to similiar situations differently every time. Depending on who he was talking to.
Even the big essential stuff you think he’d want to make sure we were crystal clear on....well isn’t.

And yes. Some of you have caught on that I am in the middle of Rob Bell’s new book.
The one that people online are saying all kinds of ugly things about. The one that is on back order on Amazon forever. The one that has already gotten at least one preacher fired for talking about. And most importantly the one that isn’t afraid to ask the really hard questions. And attempt some answers.

But these kinds of questions don’t have multiple choice answers. I’m not even sure that there is always one best answer, even though I have my own personal leanings. Even though I’m not sure I agree 100% with every answer in the book, I 100% agree with the conversation.

And that makes people uncomfortable.
That maybe it can be A and C.
Or all of the above.
Or none of the above.
That we can both be right.
Or that we can all be wrong.

And it is really nice to be the one holding the key.
But what if we aren’t getting graded like that.
For being right.
The most right.

I’m thinking if it had been that easy Jesus would have told us.
Written us an answer key.
And not a love story.

u-turns

It is getting warmer. Finally. This girl needs sunshine to feel sane.
And I’ve noticed something since the weather has warmed besides the fact that it might be time to break out the lawnmower.
That I’m starting to make a lot of U-turns.



When I drive on the interstate, there are people on the corners again.
With signs or cups or sometimes nothing at all.
And I know some people think it is a dumb idea. Especially when they are standing on the corner right in front of the liquer store.
But I can’t help it, if I have cash I’m gonna give it away.
Or stop and buy them some food.
Or at least look them in the eye.

So in the last few weeks I’ve had to pull a few Uturns.
Because I know that something in my heart responds to this.
But that doesn’t mean I still don’t drive past the first time.
Or try to talk myself out of it.
Because I do.
But usually as soon as I go past I loop back around.
And meet Boomer in front of the EZmart.
Or John who asked if I could spare a burrito.
Or Dwight carrying a refrigerator box over his head that is likely to serve as his next apartment and I try and shove whatever cash I can into their hands.
And I ask their name and tell them mine. Because I think that matters almost as much as the money.

And usually have an uncomfortably sad conversation with my son as we get back on the interstate as to why we stopped. He has a lot of questions. Like why we gave away our burritos. Or why the man was carrying a giant box. Why they don’t have a home or teeth or a dad to take care of them. And once he even asked why Jesus didn’t take care of them. (my son, the pessimist, already asking all the hard questions) and I told him the best answer I could. That he told us to.

And today at church a friend told a story about another friend in the class who was in a parking lot and saw a man with a 2 year old in the backseat. Without a carseat. And she tried to keep walking. To talk herself out of it. But she couldn’t. She knew she was supposed to give him hers.
She made a U-turn. Figuratively at least.
And gave up her carseat. And it wasn’t an easy comfortable moment. But it was an obedient one.

Thankfully my son has yet to ask the hardest question. Why I almost never stop the first time around. Why we always have to loop back around. Why my heart never seems to work as fast as my accelerator. And I won’t have a good answer for him. I’ll just tell him that when you don't get it right the first time, not to be afraid to make a U-turn.

springbreakout


 
Warning. This is gonna be a super boring play by play kind of post. You might want to skip it. Today is the last weekday of spring break and it has been a LONG one. Shaun was out of town all week. And seriously short in the adult conversation and sleep departments.
Friday. Because the weekend really starts here.I’ll pretend it started at 3:15 but it might have just started a little sooner. I squeezed in a very quick happy hour with friends and rushed home to finish packing and headed south for a fast lake trip. Got in late. My parents weren’t expecting me. I wasn’t expecting them. But headed out on the dock to soak in the sound and smell of the water before climbing into bed.
Saturday. A great long run. Well over an hour. Lots of cousins. A packed house. A cold boat ride. A piƱata. And a giant chocolate cake. A pretty good day.
Sunday. A sucky long drive back. Lots of traffic. Lots of stops. And barely made it back in time for a friend’s shower. I hate showers. But love shower food and laughing a lot. Both of which I got plenty of. Then to drop off the hubs at the airport. Ughh. The worst part of my week.
Monday. Met a friend for coffee and ran into another on the way. I love a good coffee date. But coffee dates with 3 small children often end with some crazy stares and me asking the barista for a broom. I go to that Starbucks almost every day. But. might have to wait awhile before going back. Then for some hanging out and more coffee at a friends house. We chatted in the kitchen while our kids played outside. I looked out the window to check on them only to discover Tess naked in the sandbox. Nothing about that sounds fun. Got the grit out just in time for soccer practice. And a fun dinner out with friends. Grown up friends. With no kids menus or booster seats. Plenty of laughing and good converstation. And wine and chocolate mousse.
Tuesday. Met some friends at a park to play and hike around and feed the ducks. We just scared the ducks. No hiking. But we tore up the playground. I thought it would be a great idea to climb the mini rockwall only to panic a little when I made it to the top. Eventually follwed all the other 8 year olds and climbed my way down only to chase my kid around the playground and be clotheslined by some stairs. I saw stars. Then the dentist. Who decided it was a good time to give me his personal opinions on the state of education and congress right now. Which somehow segued into the good ole days and trick-or-treating where ever you want. I’m still not sure about the connection. And then for a nice little well deserved lecture on flossing. But after a few days on full time kid duty I almost welcomed the break. Even if it involved that horrible scraping tool and someone asking me lots of questions while my mouth was occupied and my gums were bleeding. A quick change of clothes and we hit the pool. Thankfully I didn’t have to actually get in the pool because when a friend asked if I wanted to swim I had a panic attack at the thought of donning a swimsuit. It did however motivate me to shave my legs just in case I had to go jumping in after one of mine. Finished off the night by having dinner with an old friend. That involved my kids screaming and standing on their chairs a lot. You think that this would inspire the waitress to hurry it up with the to-go boxes and check. But not so much. And very little sleep.
Wednesday. Another friends house for some painting (mostly on my face) and four wheeling. I am not sure she heard the part where I told her I had never driven one before but I figured it out and there is no permanent damage. My son loved it. Tess thought they were some giant monster trying to eat her and cried a lot. Which sucked because I was really digging barreling down the dirt roads and through the trees on four wheels.  Owen had his last indoor season game and snuck a goal in against a pretty good team. Unfortunately for me scoring a goal means he gets to pick where we eat. And last time he picked Red Lobster. Which other than the cheese garlic biscuits is totally gross. Unless you are over 70 and like to eat your dinner at 4:30 in the afternoon. Another babysitter and I headed out for some live music. The venue was a little loud and it was hard to have an actual conversation. But was still a fun night with plenty of laughing, homemade fries, and friends I like a lot. And when I got home, my house was magically clean. The babysitter totally got a fat tip and I was about to ease myself into much needed bed when I noticed my son was super hot and Tess screaming and snotty. Motrin for everyone and another patchy night’s sleep.

Thursday. Big plans for the day. None of which were all that exciting to me, but I knew my kids were excuted about them….a mini train ride and putt putt with a friend in my son’s class. But at 8:00 am when I finally found the thermometer that I couldn’t locate last night and read the 102+ degrees and started canceling plans and making dr appointments. I wished there was such a thing as coffee and children’s tylonal delivery, but there wasn’t so we all loaded up and headed out for coffee, drugs, a donut and movies to help us make it through the day. I heart redbox and apparently donuts have magical healing powers. And as much as I hate that my son is sick I did enjoy the quality couch time to waste on facebook and writing down all the nonsensical details of my break that I’m sure no one wants to read rather than actually do something productive like laundry or lesson plans. Tess was ever persistent in her refusal to let me nap. At least she is consistent. A positive strep test and some antibiotics and more movies to make it through the night. A friend showed up late and allowed me to have an actual in person grown up conversation, which was nice, because I was actually considering watching Space Chimps 2 for the second time that day.

Friday. I have been waiting for Friday since last Friday. I still had to cancel my park plans because strep doesn’t go away over night but at least the kid could stand up to pee without help today. I counted down the minutes until my husband’s flight got in late afternoon. Ran a few errands and apparently my son was feeling good enough to attempt to lead all the patrons of Which Wich in the Macarena (which was not playing on the radio in case you were wondering) and Tess wondered around saying “look at my booty”. I hope she was referring to pirate treasure but am sure she was not. But 2:30 eventually came and nothing, not even horrible traffic on 35, could keep me away from the airport to pick up my husband. And even though most of the day was shot I still managed to cram in a nap, a jog, a solo trip to the store and am about to head out the door to Borders to pick up a book I’ve been waiting to read (yes, I know the rest of the world has a Nook)…

I did nothing productive. My house isn’t clean. My papers aren’t graded. My closets aren’t organized. I barely even wrote any blog posts. And for any of my friends did all kinds of productive things….it is called spring “break” for a reason. And it might have even been one if I had a husband this week. Mad props to anyone out there being a single parent all the time. I am gonna need another full week to recover.





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pictures from my phone part 2

part 1.
So it is a good thing my cellular plan has unlimited texts. But an even better thing that I have unlimted pictures.
Because. I probably send as many pics as I do words to friends. When something funny happens, like my little covers herself in marker or makup or, my students do something ridiculous....I usually do what any good mom/teacher would do and repremand them. Well, right after pulling out my phone and snapping a quick picture first. Which may totally negate the whole repremanding thing...

some st. paddy's day love

princess dress + red cowboy boots + shopping in public = lots of stairs. but it was better than the plaid pants, flower dress and fur boots we wore the other day.

an oldie, but this one will earn me mom of the year for sure. looked into the back seat to discover my daughter tyring to color herself as an oompa loompa. i should add that it wasn't the washable markers either.
                                                     
my husband's awesome repair job on my car. yes. i had to drive it like this to work. and I still have duct tape marks on the side.


breakfast of champions. someone snagged my latte.


 
mannequins need hugs too.
hair nets and beard nets for everyone. I didn't even know there was such a thing as a beard net!

 
in case you can't read the medal it says i finished 3rd in the 70 and over age division

spooning.
couldn't resist. I never promised I had any class.
owen's homework one day....what else can we do like rabbits. and yes. this time I totally resisted.

the littlest

I was showing my kids a video from the high school I teach at and my son kept asking who people were. I knew most of them and would tell him their name and if I taught them and maybe something I knew about them.

A little bit after the video ended, he asked which one was the littlest.

Ugh. I thought.
He knows.

I pointed out a really great kid who happens to be not very big but very talented, well liked, smart and athletic and told him all the great things I could about this kid.
He nodded and went back to reading Green Eggs and Ham.
Crisis averted. I thought.

Then the next day from the back seat he was talking about kids in his class.
Justin is taller than Samuel.
But CJ is even taller. He only comes up to his hair.
And so on.
Are you taller than anyone in your class Owen?
No. Not even the girls.
I’m the littlest.

Crap. He totally knows.

My son is tiny. My dad may be over 6 feet, but I don’t think my son got any of those genes. All the asthma steroids he has taken haven’t helped things either. Neither does the fact that his 2 year old sister is gaining on him fast.

And we measure his growth on the doorframe every few months or so…and lately that little black sharpie line hasn’t been moving.
And it is fine for a girl to be cute and tiny and petitie. But boys. Not so much.
There are even statistics proving it.
In presidential elections, the taller candidate almost always wins.
Among CEOs almost 60% are over 6 feet tall.
A university of Florida professor even did a study that said for each inch in height a man earns 789$ more a year in pay (all stats from the book Blink).

I’ve known my kid was little for years. Just like I know he isn’t the best kid on his soccer team or a particularly good artist.
But I wasn’t looking forward to telling him.
Turns out I don’t have to.
Plenty of other people will do it for me.
They stand next to each other in line or back to back on the playground.
And do what most of us spend the rest of our lives doing.
Comparing.

Measuring ourselves against each other.
And realizing that we aren’t as big or as fast or as smart or as cute as someone else.
And I wonder how we would measure up if we weren’t using other people as our standard. Because until a few months ago, my son had no idea that he was the littlest.

And yes, maybe my kid will grow. But he will probably always be the little.
When he compares himself to the kids in his class. Even the girls.
But.
I will always love him the biggest.

ashy wednesday and fishy fridays

This is me cheating again. or recylcling. A repost of something I wrote for a Lenton devo a few years ago...but equally fitting for today and the ashes I am about to recieve.

The school cafeteria always served fish sandwiches on Fridays during Lent. I hated most things from the school cafeteria and wasn’t too fond of fish to begin with. Combine the two and it made for some hungry Friday afternoons. For the longest time I thought this was what Lent was all about. Fish on Fridays. The symbol for Christians was an icthus, or a fish. I thought it was related.

Like so many things in the Christian faith. I didn’t get it. A few years later, I thought I did. Lent meant giving something up. Giving up sodas or my watching 90210 for forty days would somehow better help me understand the sacrifice Christ made for me on the cross. If he could lay down his life, maybe I could lay off the caffeine for awhile. I never chose anything too difficult to give up. I always picked something that I would miss, but would be good for me anyways. Hey, I can be holy and try to lose weight too. Christ didn’t really have that option. He couldn’t choose between french fries, candy or music downloads. He didn’t have any nasty habits or vices to set aside for forty short days. He had to give it all. Just like we are asked to do. And most of us do. In little itty bitty spurts. We surrender. We occasionally even surrender everything. Only to pick most of it back up even before we get off of our knees. Christ didn’t really have that luxury either. His hands were nailed down.

So maybe I still don’t quite get it, but a I do have more of the picture. A few days ago I went to an Ash Wednesday service. There is something holy about a preacher smearing ashes on your forehead and telling you that you are forgiven. Saying those words outloud just for me. I know them. I have read them. I have heard them preached to congregations. It is just sometimes hard to remember that they are for me. Even me. Just me. In spite of me. Really realizing that I am forgiven. All those sins. The little ones like making personal copies at work, to the not so little ones that come slipping out of my mouth are wiped clean. Just like that.
But it wasn’t just like that. The cost was big and huge and painful. The ashy cross on my forehead represents one that was real. Lent is about that. About the cost of our forgiveness. About what Christ gave up. About preparing for that cross. And maybe, for just a breif period, trying to carry it for a little while.

store bought


Yesterday at church, it was communion.
And I love communion. I’m not sure why. I’ve never been a formal kind of girl. Or into ritual. But communion has always had a way of fixing what is broken inside me.
I could write pages on the bread and the wine. And what it signifies. Or what happens. Or how I feel about feeding people. Or community. Or kneeling at the altar.  On thankfulness. And rememberance. And I do think they are all somehow related.
But. I really don’t know what happens. I don’t care if it is a symbol or a mystery. I just like to be forced to the altar. To find myself on my knees. To have someone, especially when it is someone who knows my name, hand me the bread and the wine. And remind me. Of what Jesus did that last night with his friends.  

And my church celebrates communion every month (or more depending on the service you go to). And it is an open table, and so if my kids have made it all the way through the service I take them with me. I know they don’t know what it means. But I still bring them.

And so this week, my son stopped coloring on the offering envelopes long enough to listen to what the person at the front breaking bread was saying.
About what communion signifies and means. And as the preacher ripped the round loaf in half,
Owen, says "They just bought that at the store. It didn’t come from God."
And repeated it. in case we didn’t hear. Or in case the people in the pew behind us didn’t hear.
And I laughed. Maybe I shouldn’t have.
And Shaun took this one on and I think tried to explain something about it being a symbol which was far too much for his little 5 year old head.
But he came to the altar with us anyways. Probably for a snack or the relief of not sitting still for a few minutes. Or maybe just to ask what store they bought it from. He stuck out his little hand and gladly took the bread from the store and the grape juice in the little cup from his friend’s dad. And he ate and drank and headed back to our pew to squirm and color on things that he shouldn’t.

And he is right. I’m sure they bought it at the store. Or someone did. Or maybe some sweet lady baked it. But I’m pretty sure it is just King’s Hawiaan bread. And grape juice they buy in bulk.
But that night a long time ago, in the upper room.  It was also just bread and wine in a cup. And twelve friends around a table. Where it came from didn’t matter.  

But what does is that He was willing to be broken and spilled out for them. And for me.

And so once a month, I tear off my piece of grocery store bread and drink my plastic thimbleful of grapejuice and remember how ordinary things can become so holy.   

covered

If I hang around someone long enough I start to sound like them.
I pick up words and mannerisms.
When I read good writing. I notice that my blog posts start to sound like them too.
I copy topics, ideas and sometimes even steal a little bit of their style.
It isn’t intentional.
I want to be my own person.
But let’s be honest we are all easily influenced.
For better or for worse.

But I sometimes still feel like a poser.
Or a thief.
And never coming up with anything original.

And then tonight….I listened to two really good covers.
One a friend emailed me and the other I saw posted on facebook.
And I love a good cover song.
Sometimes even better than the original.

The Fray covering Kanye’s Heartless.
Obidiah Parker’s remake of Hey Ya by Outkast.
Taylor Swift’s version of Coldplay’s Viva la Vida.
Pomplamoose’s quirky take on All the Single Ladies.
New Found Glory’s amped up version of Kiss Me stolen from Sixpence None the Richer
(just to name a few)

And what makes them so fantastic is that they took something that was already great.
And made it theirs.
And sometimes they don’t even sound like the same song.
They have the same lyrics, but feel totally and completely different.

And most days I don’t say anything profound here.
The good stuff has all already been said.
And plenty of it is written down somewhere else in red.
And we all can’t write great songs.
But we can all sing.
(well not all of us. I can’t. Not well at least. Not even in the shower. But I assure you that doesn’t stop me from trying)
But I am speaking figuratively.

And to quote a little Shane Claiborne…
“Most good things have been said too many times and just need to be lived.”

Or sung.
So find a way…and make it yours.



operating instructions part II

The other day I was talking to a new friend and she started to tell me something that I needed to keep quiet, and I figured I better let her know that maybe I am not the best secret keeper. Among other things. And I joked that I would just send her a list of the rules. Which made me think of this post. That is three years old. And definitely needs some updating. So I am revamping the list a little…..

First of all these aren’t really rules. I don’t like rules. I mainly just like to break them. But the premise is this…..Some people only need a few friends. I kind of need a village. I love my husband. And my kids. But I married an introvert who only has a few hundred words to go through a day and my kids still mostly like to talk about Legos and princesses. I am always friend shopping to a degree. Not for replacements, but for more. I like people. I like their stories. And let’s face it. I like to talk. And to tell mine. And to laugh. A lot. And getting to know someone new is fun. But sometimes I wish I could jump right into the comfortable easy part. Being comfortable enough for them to come to my house or get in my car without feeling like I have to pick up first. We should all come with operating instructions so we can skip all that stuff. Not the fun getting to know you, finding things in common stuff. But the not as fun, can I tell her she-has- spinach-in-her-teeth type things. Or the initially awkward can I call them just to tell them something random and funny that just happened or should I actually have a reason first. What is their coffee order? Should we take one car or two? That kind of thing….
Friendship is something I value. It is something I am intentional about. In some areas I am great at it, but to be honest I have my share of disclaimers. Faults. Mistakes. Things I try to hide or not do again. But usually slip out anyways. And don’t worry. Laying out these disclaimers doesn’t excuse them. I’m working on them I assure you. But. Consider yourself fair warned.
This post is a mishmash of the two. My operating instructions and my disclaimers. And it is not by any means a complete list.

*I am a full fledged extrovert. Nothing gets processed in my little head. It all has to be processed outloud or on paper. This makes for a lot of outloud.
* I am a texting machine. Except sometimes I send things to the wrong people. This can be embarrassing.
* I can be defensive.
* I defend my friends even when they are wrong. If someone is a jerk to me I often take it. If they are a jerk to my friend I come out swinging.
* I show up. Even when it is hard or inconvienent.
* I overshare. Even on a first date.
* I am not the best secret keeper. It isn’t intentional. I’m not really into gossip. Just things come out of my mouth before I realize it. BUT. I can be trusted if you stress the importance of keeping my mouth shut.
* My yes means yes. My maybe even usually means yes. BUT I am unorganized. I occasionally double book. I don’t get mad if you need to back out. Atleast not for long, unless you start backing out more than showing up.
* My brain is always moving in about 50 directions. Try having a conversation with me. There are twists and turns and loops and I usually forget where I was trying to go.
*I’m almost never boring.
*I’m a great gift giver.
*I’ll try almost anything. oysters. zumba. eyebrow threading.
*I am not the best driver. I speed. I text. I play my music loud. If I am ever driving your kid I promise to refrain from all three. I haven’t had many wrecks or anything crazy. But. People have occasionally complained from motion sickness.
*If I’m going to tell you something important or hard or embarrassing I need to warm up a little first. I can’t just jump right in. (and nice is embarrassing to me). I do it in writing much better than outloud, but I sometimes try outloud anyways because I think it counts more.
* You can never have too much background in a story.
* I'll go first.
* Ask me anything and I’ll tell you.
*Sometimes I make up answers and directions.
*I think I’m funny. I will ruin my best jokes or punchlines by laughing through them.
* I am an awful liar. I will occasional try. And then will fess up immediately. If I am trying to hide something it will be the first thing out of my mouth.
* I don’t care who your daddy is. What your husband does or how much money you make. I mostly just care if you make me laugh and will be there if I need you.
* I am bad with space. I know it is a good healthy thing. And I try to give it, but sometimes my husband has to remind me to give people a little room to breathe.
*I make a mean mixed tape.
*I am very considerate while being completely insensitive. I do not have a filter and do not think before I speak. I don't always realize it if I am being a jerk.
*I apologize. I mean it. I still might do it again.
* I don’t receive well. Gifts or nice words. It doesn’t mean I don’t want them or am not appreciative of them. I totally do and am. I just don’t always respond appropriately.
* People often mistake my openness and brashness for a lack of embarrassment or insecurity. Let me assure you, I am plenty insecure and get embarrassed easily. Just not by talking about sex or that fact that my pants ripped and the whole school saw my blue underwear.
*One car is always better than two.
* I don’t need a lot of advance notice or prep time.
* But I do like a plan. Even if the plan changes.
* I get my feelings hurt easier than most people think. But. It isn’t a big deal. I fix easy I promise.
*I am not afraid of an awkward conversation. I’d rather hash something out or face it and be awkward for a day than let something fester.
* I am jealous. Not of your stuff or your position. But of time and attention. I try really hard to not be or at least talk myself out of it because I know it is dumb, but sometimes it slips out.
* I overthink. I underthink. I rarely think the right amount.
*If you want me to dress nice for something, you should probably tell me in advance or not be surprised when I show up in yoga pants.
*I like my kids. I like my husband. I like my job. I like my students. If all you ever want to do is whine about and one or all of the above maybe we shouldn’t be friends. That being said. Not every day is a good day. My kids sometimes drive me crazy, my husband can frustrate me and there are bad days at work. Unloading is perfectly ok. And I do more than my fair share.
*I am not too strongly attached to any of my possessions. I will gladly give or lend almost anything I have. Sometimes even if you don’t want it.
* I pay. You pay. We don’t keep track. It all evens out.
*I am a pretty shallow conversationalist. Meaning I don’t jump right on in to the heavy stuff. I can go there. I actually like going there. I just don’t initiate it. I also don’t want to have deep meaningful conversations all the time. I can fit God and sex and donuts all into the same 5 minute conversation. And those are some of my favorite conversations.
*I am not modest in conversation. There is no filter. Very few conversations embarrass me. Unless we are getting mushy. And then I get really embarrassed.
*I secretly like mushy.
*I could write an entire blog post on hugs. I don’t strike people as the warm huggy type. And maybe this is true. But if I like you. I want you to hug me. That being said. I don’t like car hugs (you have to get out) or side hugs. And I rarely initiate them. Even when I want to.
*Most physical things embarrass me. I hate karaoke, dancing and even aerobics class.
*I am incredibly disciplined but have no self control. Meaning I can train for a half marathon, but can’t say no to dessert or another round.
*I can’t pee if someone can hear me. I get stage fright. In other words don’t follow me into the bathroom.
*I am usually on time or at least close. But you can be late. And if you make me wait for you please have good mags on your coffee table.
*I am surprisingly content. I am a pretty positive girl. But when I get in a rut it can take over for a short while. Send me on a long run and buy me coffee and I’ll work it out eventually.
* This blog has complicated friendships more than a little. First is the trying to be friends with someone who only knows the online version of me. Online and real life might not match up. If you have a preconceived notion of who I am from this space you are probably going to be disappointed with the real life version of me. Second, if someone reads this regularly it means you know a lot about me and I know only a little about them. That’s a hard way to forge a friendship. But I assure you it can be done. And I get embarrassed talking about my writing. And finally, I think people are afraid or expectant that I’m going to write about them. I might. But it isn’t likely. Some of my favorite people get very little air time. And if I do it will usually be pretty disguised. Don’t assume something is about you. You will be wrong about that more than you will be right. Also I usually ask first before writing about someone. And they always have full veto power. Also I try to work out my issues/ problems if they are with people in person not on my blog.
*I like to share. Especially meals.
*I occasionally cheat at games like cards or dominoes but never sports.
*I am fairly confident in who I am, but also miserably insecure and can occasionally think you don’t like me. Even when I know better.
*I am a much better distraction when something goes wrong than a comfort. I don’t ever feel like I know the right thing to say. But I think mostly what matters is the trying. And I’ll bring food. But it will probably come from a drive thru.
*I cry at movies. Almost all movies. Even ones that aren’t really sad.
*But other than movies, you probably won’t see me cry. If you cry, I’m gonna hug you and say nice things. I can’t help it.
*I have recently learned to ask for help when I think I need it. After you keep my dog for the weekend or watch my kid for an hour you might wish I hadn’t learned this new trick.
*I am a slob. My house is messy. My car is messy. My jeans are probably dirty. This means you’ll probably want to take your car but will never stress about picking up before I get there.
*I do not mind being interrupted or woken up.
*I am hard to shake. If we become friends. Really friends. I am hard to break up with.
(and I’m totally not afraid to look ridiculous for your kids. Or just for fun.)