Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Seven Late Takes

Jen at Conversion Diary hosts even Quick Takes on Friday. When you post the following Wednesday, you get blackballed. Visit Jen's site to find some neat blogs.

Here's my week in a nutshell:

1. Dave is back! We met him at the airport with a giant welcome home sign and an exuberant two-year-old who dashed passed security to fly into his arms. If you leave the photography to boys, you end up with a blurry shot of the vending machine:

The photographer managed to get a better shot of Ainsley riding the carry-on luggage:

2. So I was about to plant a second flat of flowers, and for once procrastination paid off. Before I knew it, the intended site for the flowers was looking like this:

2. Two weeks and an undisclosed (and rather hefty) sum of money later, the patch now looks like this:

3. During installation, the workmen were treated to this:

4. Last night I woke up and thought: I'm cold. This was quickly followed by: Thanks be to God and the fine crew of AC installers.

5. I picked up the paper this morning and spotted this ominous headline: Outlook calls for scorching summertime. And then I thought: When has Augusta not been scorching during the summertime?

6. I have resolved to refrain from commenting on the weather until Labor Day except to say:

 a) We had a cool and pleasant day today (Cool and pleasant being relative. I'm guessing my friend Christine from Scotland would not call a cool day in Augusta cool at all).

 b) We've had a lot of rain. What a blessing!

Yes, I am embarking on a three-month fast of all weather-related whining. I'm still going to whine about my messy house, bad traffic, and any number of other thorns in my side. But the weather? It's off limits. Writing guru James Kilpatrick advises that we refrain from using superfluous words. Summertime in Augusta is scorching. 'Nuff said.

7. As all this may tell you, I don't like heat. I also don't like crowds. Through an interesting series of events,  I will be spending Memorial Day at . . . drum roll, please . . . Disney World!

I think it's all pretty funny, too.

P.S. Dave will be here (just in case you're a blog-reading robber setting your sights on my house).

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Compelling Reasons to Homeschool

School is grinding to a halt.

Tim came home yesterday and announced, “I’m done!”

From here on, it’s party time in the middle school. And all I can say to that is: 1) Thank the merciful Lord that it is much cooler than normal, and 2) God bless those teachers. It’s hard to teach at the end of the year; it’s much, much harder to supervise lake trips and field day and pool parties.

I baked cookies for the middle school principal who, I am convinced, worked his way out of Purgatory in a span of 48 hours. In my book, he’s been dubbed Saint Dennis of McBride. On Friday he helped make and deliver over a thousand egg rolls with a kitchen full of eighth graders smelling like cabbage and grease. On Saturday he took the same bunch (hopefully all showered) to an amusement park three hours away and arrived back home just before 2:00 a.m.

In a discussion board recently, a mother was weighing the pro’s and con’s of homeschooling. A wise woman gave her this advice: Don’t evaluate anything at the end of the year.

So true!

School’s almost out for summer. The students are done; the teachers are done; the parents are done. Homeschoolers are ready to abandon ship and -- you know what?  -- school- schoolers are in the same boat.

 It is with a heart full of gratitude and tongue firmly planted in cheek that I offer the following  Really Compelling Reasons to Homeschool:

1.       You need never dash to the Dollar Store at 10:00 to pick up poster board.

2.       Permission slips? Unnecessary.

3.       Two words: Spirit Week.

4.       Two more words: group projects.

5.       You never get the dreaded note from the teacher.

6.       Two tone shoes? Not a problem!

7.    You never have to break the news that, no, a Great Pyramid built from brownies probably won't garner any extra credit points.

8.      You’ll never be seen using a brown Sharpie to camouflage the contrasting stitching on your son’s new oxfords.

9.       Half birthday celebrations? Your call.

10.  You never hear, “But all the other kids get Hot Pockets, Lunchables, filet mignon with hollandaise sauce, fill in the blank.”

11.   You never run the risk of a stress-induced stroke as you attempt to transform the diorama of Picket’s Charge into a model of the Gobi Desert.

12.   If your kid’s haircut reminds you of Davy Jones or Peter Tork or any of the Monkees, hey, hey, that’s your affair.

13.   No need to ponder the pivotal question: Was that the first bell or the second?

14. Last but not least . . .   Superhero day on the second from the last day of school? So totally not happening!

Happy, safe, and blessed summer to home-schoolers and school-schoolers alike! Extra blessings to all who call themselves teacher.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


So the older boys had their piano recital last Friday. Their wonderful, generous teacher pulled out all the stops to celebrate.

She even had gifts for the mothers who persevered at least as much as the kids in this endeavor.

Each musician received a medallion with a musical note on it.

John picked it up and said, "Look! It's the note that follows So!"

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Stink, Stank, Stunk

During my morning surf, I ended up here and had a chuckle over several posts.

On being a stay at home mother, Kristen posing a daunting question: I'm afraid I s-ck. What if I'm right?

I am not a big fan of the word suck unless you're talking about straws or nursing babies. So we'll substitute stink for suck and continue the discussion.

Stay at home motherhood is an interesting job. For a performance oriented person (especially one who has just left the paid work force), the life of a stay at home mom presents a unique set of challenges.

To name a few:

1. You get no performance review.

2. The reward structure is idiosyncratic.

3. Power suits? Just not happening.

4. Expense accounts? Ummm, no.

5. People outside your family don't see your failures, but then they don't see your successes either.

6. You do so much, but rarely finish anything.

7. The frustrations are monotonous and jarring and give all the appearance of being eternal.

For a performance oriented person who may or may not have a dash of undiagnosed ADHD, there are a few additional challenges:

1. There's little built in structure.

2. There's no dress code.

3. You do so much, but rarely finish anything.

4. The frustrations are monotonous and jarring and give all the appearance of being eternal.

I'm doing the dishes and overhear this exchange:

John: I didn't get any Goldfish!.
Ainsley: I didn't get any Goldfish!
John: Stop repeating me!
Ainsley: I 'peating you!

I walk into the study and find Ainsley smearing my brand new lipstick on her face. Oddly, there's also a head of lettuce resting on the recliner.

I sit down to end the day with a few minutes of prayer. The four-year-old is bouncing off the walls, the two-year-old starts whining for another drink, the ten-year-old is all but rolling his eyes, and I want to yell. During prayers.

I overhear the baby say, "I'm making a pile!" I shudder.

In some ways, I'm a black or white thinker. Either that was a good holiday or a bad one. We had a pleasant morning or a miserable one. That project went well, or it didn't. Life with children -- young or not so young -- isn't black or white; it's a steady stream of moments of all flavors and varieties.

You know, around here someone cries everyday. And once in a while it's Mom. Because some days I feel like I totally blow at this stay at home mother gig, too. And if you polled my children, my neighbors, maybe a mental health professional or two, they just might concur.

I called Dave a few months ago and announced I was getting a job. I want to be appreciated, I told him.  I want to feel capable.  I want to be clean. I want to sit at my own private work space and not spy a half eaten frozen waffle sitting on the mouse pad. I want a spiffy outfit with a tag that reads Dry Clean Only.

I want to finish! Something! Anything! For the love of Pete, I just want to finish!

(And, you know, I wouldn't mind getting paid.)

I felt that I was working my tail off and at the end of many days, I felt like telling Dave, "You have no idea how hard I worked to get this place looking so mediocre." Parenting  -- from home or from the workplace -- is the last word in delayed gratification. Some days -- many days -- the fruit of your labor is not obvious to the naked eye.

Let me step back and say without equivocation that becoming a mother is the best thing that has ever happened to me.  Fourteen and a half years ago my nurse handed Tim to me, and in a way I can't adequately articulate, my capacity to love simply exploded.

In an instant, I was different.

So it was with Kolbe and John and Ainsley.

Friends used tell me they watched "A Birth Story" and cried. Until I had kids, I found the stories moving, sure, but that was it. I watch that show today and cry, cry, cry. I cry over blogs. I cry over adoption stories. I cried reading a children's book the other day.

I love my children, and I love being with my children.

What does all this have to do with being a stay at home mom and whether or not we stink at it all?

Being a stay at home mother gives me two tools that help me be more of the mother I want to be: time and proximity.

Time is a tricky one. Years ago, I wrote a piece for Faith and Family Live! called Seventeen Minutes. Seventeen minutes -- that is the amount of time experts estimate stay at home moms spend interacting with their kids.

I could dispute the figure -- though, the more children I have, the more reasonable it seems. The idea that stay at home moms spend the entire day flitting from meaningful activity to art project to intellectual stimulation is about as realistic as those Pottery Barn ads.

But whatever the amount, being at home gives me more of it.

Then there's proximity. The other day we pulled out the water colors and spent some time painting.  John had a Winnie the Pooh coloring book.

"What color is Piglet," John wanted to know.

"Well, Piglet is a pig, and pigs are usually pink," I told him.

"I didn't know Piglet is a pig," he told me.

It was an odd conversation -- the fruit of leisurely time spent together without specific end point or defined purpose. It's the fruit of proximity, and it captures why I stay at home with these kids of mine, even when it's frustrating, even when I'm convinced I totally and completely stink at this.

Veterans of the business world will remember a season when Total Quality Management (TQM) was all the rage. A business model imported from Japan, TQM stressed clear, measurable goals. We broke larger jobs down into discreet tasks. We fashioned mission statements. We set benchmarks. We created flow charts.

Sitting around discussing the fundamental nature of Piglet is random, not measurable. Stacking blocks that will then get knocked over and eventually shoved under a couch doesn't fit into a pie chart. Being available is vague and not particularly productive and sometimes to the discerning eye an absolute waste of time.

So much of what we pass on to our children is oral tradition -- a stream of unscripted conversations about nothing and everything. Ten or fifteen years ago, "cultural literacy" became a popular buzz phrase. Kids today, gray-haired Thinkers would say, just don't know much about history, geography, literature,etc..

This concern spawned an entire series of books (books I love and have purchased, by the way). I am not opposed to cultural literacy, you see. I'm all about survey courses and vocab lists and memorizing the state capitols.

But none of this replaces the day in and day out exchange of ideas that goes on within the family.

Dave's out of town and we pull out the atlas to pinpoint Las Vegas and then suddenly we're talking about the Hoover Dam and President Hoover and The Great Depression. We drive through Papa's home state and cross the Chuck Yeager Bridge and talk about the space race and the Cold War and on it goes. We're sitting in the yard and someone finds a bird's egg and we talk about how some are blue and some are speckled and some birds eat from feeders and some prefer worms and why they migrate.
Part of being a parent is wasting time together. Being a stay home mom helps me waste more of it.

Some days -- because of circumstances or moods, because of trying behaviors or lack of sleep, because of temperament or plain, old, garden variety selfishness -- I really do stink at all this. Big time.

I'm still glad I do it.

Monday, May 21, 2012



Feeling like old Elmo here this morning after refereeing a knock-down, drag-out fight between my two oldest.

Pretty sure I should call my mother and beg her forgiveness for the ten years or so my younger sister  and I invested in non-stop fighting.

Glad my boys don't succumb to hair-pulling and stealing each other's clothes.

Remembering that the whole fight started over a shirt.

Glad they don't pull hair, anyway.

Pretty sure punching and shoving aren't any better.

Reflecting on the fact that they don't have much hair to pull, so it's probably not much of a temptation.

Wondering if these two will ever voluntarily spend fifteen minutes in each other's presence when they're grown and gone.

Hanging on to the fact that today I count my sister Karen among my best friends and treasured confidantes.

Laughing about the fact that one of the warring factions said, "Mom, you have some really obnoxious kids . . .   Wait, I mean . . ."

Acknowledging the fact that even he had to laugh over that comment.

Fighting the urge to despair. Summoning the strength to pray.

Come, Lord Jesus. We need your grace.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Not a Stepford Wife

You don't want to advertise the fact that your husband has been out of town.

But he has been. For three of the past four weeks. Six states away. In and around Las Vegas.

He comes home tomorrow.

Here are my reflections on his absence:

1. He does so much more around here than I ever give him credit for.

2. When the little people pull into the driveway, they spy his truck and yell, "Daddy's home!" When John heard a car in the driveway, he yelled, "Daddy's home!" When Ainsley heard someone at the front door around dinner time, she yelled, "Daddy's home!"

We need not worry about Dave's bond with the children.

3. I've noticed this trend before: I cook for Dave; I clean for me. Since he's never been gone this long, we didn't subsist on waffles and eggs, but let's just say, I keep it simple. The whole meat, veg, starch thing? Not happening every night around here. If we have spaghetti, we have spaghetti. No salad. No bread. When we have mac and cheese, it's mac and cheese. We've eaten a ton of cereal -- it's fortified, you know. I've pushed the fruit here or there and been mighty generous with the multi-vitamins. I've played enough Oregon Trail to realize this is the quick road to scurvy that could mar our pristine dental record if carried too far.

4. When your husband is gone long enough, it becomes the new normal. To a certain degree, you get used to it. I understand just a bit of what military wives go through.

5. I pay none of the bills. All the accounts are password protected and, while I know how to access the passwords, it's all a pain in the tookus and eventually we'd lose some major utility out of sheer inertia if this went on for much longer. I am remarkably (and voluntarily) ignorant of many of the details of house and finances, though because of our recent AC problem, I am now clear on what runs on gas and what runs on electricity.

I've had two salesmen (a cable guy and a natural gas vendor) knock on the door with some amazing offer. When I was vague about our current service, I totally got the "Oh, don't worry your pretty little head about that. When will your husband be home?" routine. Okay, so they didn't call me Little Lady or refer to Dave as the Man of the House, but puh-lease. Believe me, you won't sell much with that kind of attitude. Yes, we have our little areas of responsibility and it doesn't all fall along gender lines and I could go on and on about issues related to intelligence, but I'll just cut my bad self off right here.

If you see me on the front lawn burning a bra, you'll know why.

(And just so I don't appear to be a total Stepford Wife, I handled 100% of our finances until John or Kolbe was born. I am not ashamed to say Dave is much more detail oriented than I am and does a far better job than I ever did.)

6. Betty Beguiles issued a challenge a few weeks back: Spruce up your bedroom attire. She wasn't getting all R-rated about the whole affair. She rightly pointed out that here, as in most areas of life, a little effort could be in order.

For me, I realize there's something between army sweats and the lacy stuff. So I went shopping. The fact that I'm posting this after my husband has been gone for two weeks is just now seeming a tiny bit tawdry or maybe just TMI.

(And this on the heels of #5 must have you thoroughly convinced I'm a Stepford Wife).

7. So I used a axe while Dave was gone, but this must leave you thinking I don't use an axe while he's here, and you'd be right.

Stepford Wife!

8. I sent ten of his shirts to cleaners yesterday. Not a Stepford Wife! But does a non-Stepford Wife make her husband take his own shirts to the cleaners? What if he's been in Las Vegas for two weeks?

9. I expect he'll fix clock which, believe me, I do not intend to worry my pretty little head about. Stepford Wife!

10. I miss him terribly and can't wait to see him. (And it's not due to a metal plate in my head. Not a Stepford Wife!)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Seven Quick Tales

1. On the potty training front -- and, I'm happy to say that this time 'round it's not much of a "front" -- we're seeing progress. Not overwhelming success, but progress nonetheless.

We woke up the other day, and I asked Ainsley if she wanted wear panties.

"Okay," she said initially, but quickly thought better of it. "Maybe next week."

Through out this procedure I, too, have adopted a "maybe next week" mentality. And, really, if you want to be potty trained (past tense) as opposed to potty training, (perpetual present tense), you need to steer clear of the "maybe next week" mentality. "Maybe next week" tends to seamlessly morph into "or perhaps the month after."

On the other hand, I'm not stressing, and I'm not getting upset with Ainsley.

Today it was systems are go. "I cool," she declared. "I potty training!" She danced around the house naked, all sorts of proud of herself.

2. I offered Tim a generous bribe to fix the printer. Wouldn't you know, he quickly pin-pointed an obvious problem. If we run short on one type of ink, we get a helpful error message. When all four cartridges run dry simultaneously, the printer can only scratch its head.

3. So one of the older set picked up one of our Little People figures and, for no reason I could discern, sent it flying across the room and smack! into a picture on the wall.

"Just my luck, I hit the picture," he said. "I was aiming for the lamp."

I've read that whole spheres of the teenage brain don't, in fact, connect. This is one more data point supporting that theory.

4. Everyone had dental check ups this week. In fourteen years, we've never had a cavity. This says far more about good genes and top notch dentistry than it does about pristine oral hygiene. Whatever the reason, I'm grateful, grateful, grateful.

5. On the optical front, things are not so rosy. John gets his mini-glasses this week. He's four years old! And on top of that  --  (warning: insufferable Mommy comment coming your way!) -- he's so blasted cute! And his eyes are the cutest thing about him!

(Well, there's also the fact that he climbed into bed last night and said, "Mama, I love you! With all my heart!" and then kissed my hand and said, "Now, don't drop your kiss, but if you do, I'll give you another!")

I can't take the thought of covering those brown eyes with glasses. Sniff, sniff.

The doctor assures me that we will have no problem motivating John to wear his glasses because at the present moment everything is blurry. Another sniff, sniff.

This is somewhat reassuring because the idea of handing a four-year-old an appliance that cost us $150 doesn't thrill me. Tim was five when he got his glasses so we've been there, done that. Soon we'll be shelling out nearly that much for a graphing calculator that I hope won't take up residence in the Lost and Found.

God calls us out attachments to created things. I guess we're in for some practice in this regard.

6. School ends next week, believe it or not. This means two important items have moved to the top of my To Do List: 1. Do the happy dance because I won't be packing lunches for three months. 2. Join a pool.

7. The little people have been playing in my miscellaneous utensil drawer. Oh, the fun to be had! Mallets and sifters and ice cream scoopers.

"What's this," John asked, holding up a tea infuser.

"That's a tea infuser," I replied.

"Oh! A tea infuser!" John responded as if he infuses tea on a daily basis. "Do you catch bugs with it?"

Have a great weekend, and head over to Jen's to add your Seven Quick Takes.

Thursday, May 17, 2012


My printer is on strike, and I'm ready to torch the wretched thing. It's the end of the year, and I have permission slips and registration forms to print out Like Right Now!


At moments like this, I recognize how dependent I am on technology that let's us get a whole lot accomplished with a few keystrokes.

As a general rule, I have an anti-technological bent. Take cell phones, for instance. I was one of the last people I know to get one. And my current phone? Tim and Kolbe are forever lamenting the sheer and utter lameness of it.

"You can't do anything," they bemoan.

I point out that I purchased my phone, oddly enough, to make phone calls.  I do not want to surf the net on my phone; I do not want to order plane tickets using my phone; I do not want to examine my conscience with the help of that handy Catholic app; I don't care to watch re-runs of Downton Abbey on a 2 x 3 inch screen.

All this my children find absolutely incomprehensible.

Yes, I have an anti-technological bent, and I freely admit it. This dates back to my college days when I would stroll the streets of Ann Arbor en route to class. I would routinely spot my friend Mary Ann and give her a wave. Without fail, Mary Ann would walk on by absorbed in her Walkman and the alternative music ringing in her ears.

This drove me crazy.

It's the beginning of the end as we know it, I would think to myself. I pretty much still think that way.

Fast forward twenty-five years. I'm sitting around eating chips and salsa with a group of friends. All of us needed to get out of the house and waste some time together. Out of seven women at a table, five were on their phones. Oh, there were good reasons for this. One friend was calling to check on another who hadn't shown up. Someone brought up a recipe she had just tried, and two women felt compelled to look it up right that very second. And on it went.

My friend was frustrated because her twleve-year-old daughter claimed to be the only girl in her class who didn't have a phone. Turns out most of these girls have an Ipod Touch -- looks just like a phone, but it's used to text, not chat. Of course this begs a basic question: Why does a twelve-year-old need to text? How do you ride a bike, climb a tree, or jump rope with an Ipod Touch in your hand? Back in the day, if we had an urgent message for our BFF, we picked up the telephone, ran next door, or passed a note during class. So nineteen seventies.

Speaking of the seventies . . . I have never watched That Seventies Show, but I did catch a five minute clip that made me laugh. The husband is describing this new-fangled invention called the VCR that can tape a TV show. The wife gets a puzzled look on her face and asks,"If you want to watch TV, why not just stay home?"

We've all watched people text at Mass on Easter Sunday. We've all attended family gatherings during which teenagers (and adults!) logged hours on their Smart phones doing who knows what. I sat behind a father at a school play and watched him gaming nearly non-stop as his daughter performed. He barely paused to look up.

As adults, you and I are Johnny Come Lately to this digital world. Our children are cutting their teeth on it. Seriously. Have you seen the commercial for some sort of rocking horse that plugs into the TV and provides a video game experience to a baby who can scarcely walk?

What happens when imagination, concentration, and conscience are all formed at a hundred million bits per second?

Who knows? Who knows?

In and of themselves, electronic devices are neutrals. Certainly, there are huge benefits to some of the electronic breakthroughs. I remember with vivid detail the night I ended up with a flat tire halfway between Columbia, South Carolina, and Augusta, Georgia. It was a terrifying experience to be a woman alone on a highway miles from the nearest phone. This will be a problem I hope my sweet Ainsley (or any of my children) never has to face.

Cell phones have a million mundane uses -- the toilet paper left off at the grocery list, the quick text to say you're running late, the ability to send everyone a timely update on a baby's arrival or the outcome of a surgery.

Yet, there is a flip side to this: Technology can become an ever-present intruder in every conversation, dinner, outing, and drive.

Elizabeth Foss, commenting on all the recent hoopla surrounding Attachment Parenting, penned a sentence that spoke volumes to me: Truly, if we let it, technology can destroy parenting as God intended it. A tool for the good can be used for ill to the detriment of generations.

This was written not by a woman living on an isolated farm, but by a mother of many, an author, an influential online presence, a woman who blogs and texts and tweets and who sees that our ever-connected state brings with it a fragmentation that costs us something.

We can de-fragment our hard drives, but can we de-fragment our relationships and our habits and our minds?

I may not spend hours playing with an IPhone. I'm not exactly sure what Farmville is, and I am fairly confident I can die a whole and fulfilled person if I never find out. I will never (ever, ever, ever) take an online quiz to determine which one of The Seven Dwarfs is my kindred spirit or which character from Gone With the Wind most resonates with me.

But this blogging gig? Listen carefully and you will hear a sucking sound from the ever growing vortex of wasted time wrought by my foray into the world of online self-publishing.

We all have our vices. I certainly have mine.

If I had lived a hundred years ago, I would have lamented that the invention of the typewriter would replace good penmanship. I would have been the person suspicious of TV pushing out radio as a form of family entertainment. Today I wring my hands wondering if the young people in my life will know that K is actually spelled Okay and 2moro is actually Tomorrow.

In the middle of drafting this, Dave called to chat about the kids and to get an update on the household woes that bombard us non-stop when he is out of town. He offered a few quick fixes for the mis-behaving printer, and then added, "If you get desperate, you can print something at the neighbor's."

"Yes," I told him, "but that require using a thumb drive."' Which -- believe it or not -- I have never once used!

He recommended I not go next door with floppy disk in hand

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Stirring My Heart This Morning

Psalm 9:1,2

I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart;
I will tell of all Your marvelous works.
I will be glad and rejoice in You;
I will sing praise to Your name, O most high.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Beat the Clock

If you see me at Home Depot buying a sledge hammer, my husband's alarm clock is the intended target.

We have developed a complicated love-hate relationship, this clock and I.

I love it because the numbers are oversize -- as in huge, as in me with my ever-worsening far-sightedness can figure out the time in the middle of the night. And that's what clocks are for, right?

Then there's the hate side . . .

I had to be up and at 'em at oh dark thirty for a field trip last week, so I attempted to set the alarm . It wasn't easy, but at 4:45 on Wednesday morning, the alarm went off without a hitch.

Thank you, clock!

The following morning clock did the same. And I pressed what I thought was the off button. And the alarm sounded again. And again. And again. After I managed to press (bang, slam) every switch on the beeping thing, I was met with blessed silence. Clock was inexplicably blinking 0:08, whatever that means, but at least clock was mute.

But of course the story doesn't end there. Oh no. See, this deluxe model has two alarms -- one for weekdays, one for weekends. On Saturday mornings long about 4:00 a.m., my dear husband goes on prayer watch. He gets together with another neighbor from Alleluia Community. They spend an hour praying together while driving through our neighborhood, checking Alleluia's office, and walking the grounds of our school.

So at 3:50 Saturday morning, Dave was out of town, but faithful clock sounded the alarm. Once again I tried every button and switch I could toggle or smash. No luck. Most clocks have a snooze button -- this one has snooze, sleep, and nap. What these terms mean, I couldn't tell you. I think there's a unlabelled button called Primed to Irritate the Stuffing Out of You. Apparently I nailed that one repeatedly.

Meeting with no success whatsoever, I unplugged clock.

The dual-action alarm is not clock's only amazing feature. It's also equipped with battery back up in case of a random power outage, natural disaster, or nuclear meltdown. I'm telling you, the great brains behind this machine left no stone unturned.

I carried clock to the dining room table at the far end of the house, shut the doors in between, and attempted to go back to sleep.

Wishful thinking.

About ten minutes later I was met with Beep! Beep! Beep! And you know what the really insidious part of it all was? The volume kept getting louder and Louder and LOUDER! Our smoke detectors have nothing on this baby.

I got out of bed, removed the batteries, and successfully fought the urge to curse, fling clock out the front door, and hurl the batteries.

Clock is barred from crossing the threshold of my room until Dave returns and can get its bad-self back under control.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Sometimes You Can Judge a Book By Its Cover

I won't be reading Time magazine this week.

Never mind that I don't read it most weeks. This week I'm Taking A Stand.

You may have seen the provocative headline and cover. "Are You Mom Enough?" the headline screams. It's accompanied by a picture of a mom standing with a defiant look on her face. Her three-year-old son -- who looks remarkably like a second grader -- is on a step-stool with her breast in his mouth.

We all know the old adage You Can't Judge a Book by Its Cover. This time, I would just bet I can.

Time supposedly wanted to explore Attachment Parenting. No doubt they sought the most extreme and militaristic examples of this type of parenting. O omniscient me says the article makes a mother who practices Attachment Parenting look like a fringe lunatic, but at the same time manages to load another mother down with a ton of shame because she's Just Not Mom Enough, darn it!

Truly a Win Win situation.

A few days ago Elizabeth Foss posted this to Facebook:

I'm taking a social media sabbatical for the weekend. I'm tired of seeing that Time cover. I distinctly remember the email asking me to consider that photo shoot. I recoiled at the thought of exposing my three-year-old to a media circus and reducing our relationship to a marketing gimmick. I feel sorry for that little boy. One day he will be 15. What happens when someone digs that photo up and posts it to Facebook? Attachment parenting is about nurturing trust. I think those moms made decisions that betrayed a child's trust. But those are their decisions. My next decision is whether to keep talking about it.
Kate Wicker also declined to participate in the photo shoot and is very glad she did. She puts a very different face on toddlers and nursing.I have friends who practiced extended breast-feeding. I would imagine this involved nursing a toddler at nap or bedtime, curled up on a couch or bed. It was a time of cuddling and stories and comfort. One of my friends nursed a child until he was four. She faced a fair amount of criticism for doing it. When she talked to me about it, I had two pieces of advice: Do what you want and don't poll the neighbors.

Some things -- many things -- are nobody's business.

We practiced many tenets of Attachment Parenting -- breastfeeding on demand, extended breastfeeding, and, to some degree, co-sleeping. I would have done the baby wearing thing -- Lord knows I tried -- but I'm five foot two. We tried nearly every baby-wearing device out there and met with limited success and one aching back.

I can jibe with Attachment Parenting to some degree, but let me say that Tim, my oldest, was a high needs baby, and I would have given my left, um, arm if he had taken a pacifier. Nursing 24-7 was not liberating or freeing; it wiped me out and not in any healthy way. Further, I will tell you without hesitation that the weekend we did what AP would call "sleep training" with Tim was the best thing we ever, ever did as parents. While I eschewed schedules for itty-bitties, let me say with dogmatic fervor that toddlers and young children absolutely thrive on routine, and the only way you get to routine is to be a bit inflexible with the schedule.

So we're hybrids around here. And what worked with number one wasn't how we rolled we number four.

I have two beefs with Attachment Parenting. First, the name. You can be just as attached to your children without baby wearing, without co-sleeping, even -- brace yourselves, now -- without breastfeeding.

Second, I recoil at any parenting philosophy that provides a laundry list of Musts and puts pressure on mothers (and fathers) to do what they very well may be incapable of doing. The passion many AP adherents show for babies, I have for mothers as I wrote about last week (If you kill the cow, you kill the calf).  I take significant umbrage with absolutists who try to make mothers do the impossible. Why? Because at the end of the day, everyone suffers. In truth, the most official AP website I could find wasn't at all militant, purist, or dictatorial. The authors presented their tenets and offered alternatives or modifications for nearly all of them. I've stumbled on an AP blog or two that set a bit of a rabid tone, but I suppose the same can said of most topics related to parenting.

I have never watched Nineteen and Counting, the show peeking into the lives of the Duggar family. I have read lots of articles and seen plenty of news clip about them. God bless the Duggars and their quiverful brethren. Maybe they are as happy as they seem. Maybe the kids' needs really are met. Maybe the girls don't mind wearing those long skirts.


If their goal is to put a face on one type of large family, fine. Apparently they do that and do that well. If their goal is to evangelize other families into thinking that having nineteen children in roughly twenty-five years is The Only Way To Go, Sister!, I say wait just a minute. Few women could do what Michelle Duggar is doing and emerge healthy and sane at the end of the day.

(Just to clarify . . . Does she have a right to live her life as she chooses? Absolutely. Do I think children are a blessing from God? Yes, I do. Do I think some couples are called to raise large families through birth or adoption? Of course. Am I not an observant Catholic who disagrees with artificial birth control? Yes, I am. Do I embrace the quiverful mentality? No, I do not. Am I providentialist? No, I am not.)

My experiences with La Leche League were overwhelmingly positive. To any mother with any sort of nursing problem, give your local chapter a call. They, obviously, are pro-breastfeeding. I've heard writers chide them for their "Gestapo tactics," but in my experience, nothing could be further from the truth. Their mission is to help mothers breastfeed successfully, and they are committed to meeting mothers where they are. Take what you want; leave what you don't -- to me, that is a balanced and healthy organization.

When a parenting paradigm is offered as an ideal with the flexibility to suit individual families, great. When it becomes a dogma -- when one way of life is pitched as the only way of life -- I say steer clear.

We are all fearfully, wonderfully, and differently made, and every family is a unique reflection of God's creative genius.

I think we're all quite capable of discerning what's best for our families without incendiary articles, false guilt trips, mommy baiting, or provocative photos.

I Triple Dog Dare You

We're headed to the eye doctor this afternoon. At his four-year-check, John bombed both the sight and hearing tests. Apparently it's not uncommon for four-year-old boys to fail the hearing test, and this typically has more to do with the test than the hearing. But the sight test? The pediatrician turfed us over to the opthamologist.

I love our eye doctor. I'm not, however, too crazy about how his office is run. Do you ever go into a store or an office and find one Warning! Warning! Warning! sign after another, all nicely laminated and posted on every door and surface? Such is the case here.

Payment is expected at time of service! Perfectly reasonable. Don't place your kid on the counter! Okay. No children in the restrooms unattended! I'll inform my fourteen-year-old son. And then the real kicker . . . Parents are responsible for any restroom damage!


Are my kids disabling a lavatory smoke detector? Wetting paper towels and sticking them to the ceilings? (Okay, in the interest of full disclosure, one of my kids did this once. Thankfully, I caught him before it became a habit.)

They keep the bathroom locked. You have to go to the front desk and ask for the key. I'm surprised it's not attached to a hubcap like some scene from a sitcom. All this leaves me feeling a tad . . . like an outlaw. Do they think I'm going to stuff the extra roll of toilet paper into my purse? Use an excessive amount of soap? Really, the bathroom isn't that big or interesting.

I had to take a quick trip downtown a few weeks back. A certain department store seems to have a monopoly on the white Good Humor Man pants required for this event. This store is a relic from 1950. Creaky wood floors. An elevator that leaves you worried about spending an afternoon between floors. A lingerie department that sells bras and panties I swear my great-grandmother would have worn.

And then there are the signs. No returns without a receipt! Hats are not returnable! Underwear is not returnable! Don't open packaged clothing! Beware of the dog! Trespassers will be shot!

I have a confession to make: Signs like these make me want to spray paint the walls. Really, they summon the inner rebel in me Big Time. It's hard to explain, but I've seen this dynamic before.

When I was high school teacher, I took my students to a play. We walked into the lobby, and this man started reading my students the riot act. Do this! Don't do that! I hope you know this is a theater! Blah, blah, blah. My students had done nothing except walk into the lobby. The other chaperone was so taken aback, she threw her arms up in the air and said, "Don't shoot!"

This man treated my class like they were a bunch of vandals.

And you know what? A really awful exchange involving one of my students took place during the intermission. And I can't help but to think the undeserved chewing out as we entered fed the event that followed.

Now, I've been that man in the theater. I get that people in charge want to side step trouble and sometimes go about it the wrong way. I gave plenty of briefings before field trips -- no short shorts, no gum in the theater, best behavior, representing our school, yada, yada, yada. But this was over the top. Every teenager isn't a potential vandal, but if you treat them as if they are, you just might get what you're looking for.

I spent twelve years in the Army reserves. My first unit was a badly run outfit with poor, poor leadership. Every edict came with a threat. We were a hospital unit full of nurses, doctors, and therapists, captains, majors and colonels -- and we were treated like twelve-year-old truants or bamboozlers out to rook the government out of a day's pay. Trust was non-existent.

I joined a second Army unit that couldn't have been more dissimilar from the first. I worked an odd day one week and was trying to explain to my boss how he could verify that I had worked when I said I had worked.

He looked me dead in the eye and said, "If I thought you were defrauding the government, I wouldn't come up with a plan to prevent you from doing it. I would fire you."

How refreshing was that.

The commander and his staff set a tone, a tone that said we were competent, hard-working, talented soldiers who were there to do top notch work. And you know what? We did.

As I go through my day, I realize how often I put up virtual signs and issue actual threats. At least three times this week alone, I heard myself saying something that I fully recognized as idiotic before it even left my lips.  And why is this? Frustration, fatigue, control, all of the above. None of this is effective, and it probably summons the inner rebel in my children just as it does me.

(Issuing the threat of the day is, I think, very different from pointing out the natural consequences: You can't go to your friend's house until the dishes are done and your room is straightened.)

I want to steer away from Threat of the Day of parenting. Truly I don't want to foment rebellion where there isn't much (that would be Kolbe) or stir the pot where it's ever present, lurking just beneath the surface (that would be John).

If you look an impish four-year-old in the eye and say, "I triple dog dare you," the results are fairly predictable.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

What She Said

My friend Amy summed it all up for us: May is like December only much, much hotter.

December, at least, doesn't sneak up on me. I fully anticipate a packed schedule. And December comes with twinkling lights and lots of lovely greenery.

I do believe that things will settle down about 11:00 a.m. tomorrow. But then I had a similar thought relative to 1:00 p.m. today. Didn't happen.

Work the list. Work the list. This is my current mantra.

The list says to iron tableclothes for tomorrow's Teacher Appreciation Day. And pour a glass of wine.

Better get to it.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Being There

When I was a teacher, I rarely took a day off because, honestly, it was just too much work. Doing my job was far, far easier than leaving written instructions so someone else could do it for me.

So it is with motherhood.

Kolbe r-e-a-l-l-y wanted me to go on his field trip today. My participation in class activities has been spotty mainly due to two factors, and their names are John and Ainsley. Adults chaperoning field trips have to be free to take care of the kids in the class and, therefore, are asked to leave babies and pre-schoolers home.

I haven't managed to pull this off too often.

Today was the big field trip to Discovery Place, a museum three hours away. We planned to leave at 6:00 a.m., and Dave was going to be out of town. It was a logistical challenge that involved no fewer than seven people and about fifty-two phone calls. Details, details, details. Cell phone numbers and house keys; diaper bags and tooth brushes; carpools and sippy cups.

Due to the early departure, John and Ainsley were going to have their first sleep over two doors down at my neighbor Sue's house. I was packing up jammies and making sandwiches and placing a last call or two when Tim informed me that he had no shoes for P.E. the following day. I had picked up a pair on Monday, but they proved to be too small. I started to stress. I started to debate whether I should write a note for the P.E. teacher. Instead I jumped in the van, zipped across town, and exchanged the shoes.

The museum was neat. We watched a demonstration on elements that included both fire and loud explosives. All of us laid on a bed of nails and learned why it isn't painful but stilletto heels are. Best of all, there was a large working area where kids could build objects using duct tape.

Did they know Kolbe was coming or what?

Kolbe didn't sit by me on the bus. Kolbe didn't sit next to me during the Imax movie. Kolbe didn't sit next to me at lunch. 

At the end of the day, he turned to me and said, "I''m so glad you came on the trip with me." 

After school, I called to check on Tim. "Thanks for the shoes, " he said. "They're great!"

Tonight I walked through the door to the sounds of the little people shrieking at the sight of me and throwing their arms around me.

And John -- oh my sweet John,  the boy I think of as John of my heart -- he looked at me and said, "Mom, you know what my happy thought is? You."

Later I spied the DVD case for Hook and realized John's sentiments were lifted straight from Peter Pan.

But do I care?

Gotta love a kid who quotes movies (clean movies!) and manages to slay his mother once again.

Sometimes it's the big things. Sometimes it's the little things. On their end and on mine.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

A First

Tim attended his first dance Saturday night. More accurately this was his first formal dance. He attended his cousin's Bat Mitzvah a few years back, boogied down to YMCA, and danced the Horah.

This was an even dressier event.

The girls were decked out in white gloves and miles of tulle. The boys' outfits ranged from jackets and ties for the youngest guys to tails for the older ones. Watching a thousand kids parade into the civic center in formal dress was a sight to behold.

The organization hosting this affair is called Social. I've heard about it for years, and, frankly, have done a bit of scoffing over the whole idea. It all sounded to me like Project Debutante Wanna Be with a bunch of high falutin' country club folk.

I just love it when I eat my words. I've swallowed so many, I'm beginning to acquire a taste for them.

So it was with Social. A friend encouraged me to think about it. Saturday night I thanked her profusely -- practically with tears in my eyes -- because Tim has loved every minute of it, and so have we, his parents.

I can see how social grace is a learned trait and one that can be very helpful in life. Social has reinforced a premise I've found true in other areas of parenting -- sometimes kids need to hear an outside voice,just another someone saying introduce yourself, make eye contact, manners matter, etc.. Social does all this very well. Plus the kids learn to waltz and to shag and to do the twist.

A thousand kids paraded in. The seats were packed with parents who paid ten bucks a head to watch. Dave sat down and said the words I've thought all year long - cash cow! A veritable gold mine.

But you know what? It was worth it, worth it, worth it -- worth the money, worth the driving, worth investing $40 in a pair of Good Humor Man white pants I promise you he'll never wear again.

Another first and one enjoyable evening.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Seven Quick Takes

1. "I'm hungry," John informs me. When I offer him peanut butter or cheese, he tells me, "I want something dessertier."

Dessertier -- I like that.

2. Migraines, migraines, migraines . . . Is it the pollen? Are misbehaving hormones to blame? Could they have anything to do with the fact that I consumed six -- SIX! -- Nutty Bars and a glass of Merlot last night? Why am I telling you? I need to get myself in the confessional and expose my gluttonous ways to the grace of God. Oi.

3. Kolbe flew through the door the other day and announced, "I'm starting a new business -- duct tape wallets."

Yes, duct tape wallets in numerous designs and a price to match any budget. The Tardis model, for all you Dr. Who fans, will set you back $4.00.

The boy is flat raking in money off his road wallet stand.

4. I miss "Small Successes" that Faith and Family used to run. Remember when some of us co-dependent souls needy for affirmation would rush to report to the entire blogosphere that we had managed to fill a bird feeder or hem a pair of pants or fill in the blank with some other piddling task that had somehow turned monumental? Well, I'm still co-dependent, still needy for affirmation, so let me announce that I planted flowers this week and I mailed a cooler full of medicine to my Dad and Ainsley pooped in the potty for the very first time.

As they used to ask in Weight Watchers, "Anybody need a bravo?" I need a Bravo.

Thank you.

5. I had pretty much given up TV (for me, not for the little people). Then we subscribed to Amazon Prime. Suddenly there's something on the tube worth watching. I've loved police drama since Dragnet was part of our regular viewing while I was growing up. Trouble is, today's police dramas are 1) gruesome and 2) an unwelcome lesson in all manner of other odd behaviors. I caught part of a show last week that left me wondering if there's anything verboten on the airways these days.
Well, I just discovered Foyle's War -- a British detective show set in World War II. Great cast, period costumes (for those grieving the end of Downton Abbey), minimal gore, plot twists, but no twisted plots. Check it out.

6. On the book front, I just finished The Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Death, and Hard Times by Jennifer Worth. Worth was a nurse-midwife who cared for women in London's impoverished East End during the 1950s. A quick, easy, rather heart-warming read that will make you so very grateful for washers, hot water, and epidurals.

7. Meanwhile John is a contributor to What's Cooking: Mom's Best Recipes. Born into a family of heath food nuts, John's recipe was "Sausage and Bacon." The directions are as follows:

Get the sausage from the store. Take it home and cut it with a knife in big pieces. Put it in a pan to cook on 38 degrees (that's Fahrenheit for my European friends). Cook the bacon in another pan for 80 minutes. When it is done put it on a plate with pineapple (John's fav). Don't forget the milk to drink!

When you're finished, ask for something dessertier.

Head over to Jen's to add your Seven Quick Takes.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Kill the Cow and You Kill the Calf

Hilary Rosen. God bless her. God bless all the people who use words for a living. They are bound to misspeak.

Margaret Thatcher, on a whirlwind tour of  European nations, gave a speech and said something like, "I'm so honored to be visiting Bulgary (or maybe it was Hungaria?)." Ouch. Dan Quayle once wowed elementary students with his spelling of potato. But his funniest gaffe? Commenting on a natural disaster, he said, "The loss of life will be irreplaceable."

I laughed until I cried over that one.

Politicians, Talking Heads, Wordsmiths -- they use words and lots of them. They are bound to blunder. So Hilary Rosen famously said, "Ann Romney has never worked a day in her life," and thereby ignited a firestorm and gave pundits and bloggers of America fodder for the month.

As for me, I read her words and literally did LOL. 

See, I've worked a few days in my life. I've delivered newspapers. I've washed windows full time. I've been a nanny and a maid. I've waited tables and served as a restaurant hostess. I've scooped ice cream. I've taught little girls how to ride horses. I've been a camp counsellor, many times over. I was a candy striper for about four hours and a cocktail waitress for one night. I squeezed oranges and went table to table selling the juice. True story. I think I earned seventeen cents a glass. I've been a logistics manager and an English teacher. I've served as an Army captain, and I've manned the drive-thru at Burger King.

As I've shared before, the toughest and most rewarding job of all is caring for these four cherubs who call me Mom or MOOOOOOOM! (as the case more often is).

On a morning I should have spent tackling an editing job that's due tomorrow or hacking away at the mound of paperwork shamelessly breeding to my left or having a tea party with two-year-old Ainsley, I instead wrapped my brain around the article Dartmouth undergraduate Clare Coffey posts at Everything's Coming Up Rosen and Sally Thomas' response over at Mother, Self, and Sacrifice.

Coffey describes "The Cult of Motherhood" that rests, she says, on the idea of victimhood. She writes:

I see women at the playground who look like zombies–completely exhausted, frazzled by the demands of their children, clad in dirty and ill-fitting clothing, constantly interrupted in what may be their only adult interactions till the Mr. gets home by the requests and complaints of their children. “Men just don’t understand,” they say. “It’s all part of being a mom."

She goes on to say:

Contrary to the sacrificial lamb aspect of the motherhood mythos, it is perfectly acceptable to say “We need to make buying clothes for me a priority in our budget, because I am a human being and a worker, and both of those facts demand a certain dignity.” It is perfectly acceptable to say “No, you’re not doing trombone camp this year, because I have interests and talents that do not involve you, and spending my life in the car prevents me from pursuing them.” It is perfectly acceptable to say “No, I will not stay up late making rice-krispie treats in the shape of ninja turtles, because who does that? Thanks for nothing, Pinterest.
From the start Coffey says, "I don’t know squat from motherhood."  Some readers have scoffed at Ms.Coffey -- single, no children -- for tackling the subject at all. I beg to differ. Here you have an articulate young woman  pondering, as she says, "the Big Questions" and getting herself published to boot. Bully for her, I say. Young people should be examining these issues if only to avoid limiting their options later in life.

(Naturally I get nervous when a writer criticizes mothers in "dirty and ill-fitting clothes," but as long as she doesn't move on to the mother with the wet hair pulled back in a pony tail with the sunglasses on top, I guess we're in safe territory.)

Clare raises valid points.  The issue of mother as victim is worth examining, and it leads to another issue -- the child as god.

If  I have a passion, it is that women, mothers, and families need support. That's one reason why I'm part of the Alleluia Community (click here to read a little more). It's one of the reasons I write this blog and throw perhaps a little more than I should out there for other mothers to read. It's why I read and support Faith and Family Live!, a great source of encouragement, advice, and humor.

The family is the most basic unit of society. Begin to fix the family, and you'll begin to fix half the problems our nation faces. At the heart of family is the mother, and we need to take care of her. All mothers -- stay-at-home mothers, working mothers, single mothers, divorced mothers, sick mothers, young mothers -- need the support and friendship of other women. Babies, small children -- their needs are more obvious and usually more urgent. Of course we put them first. But, in a metaphor that falls short and is sure to irk many, if you kill the cow, you kill the calf.

I've heard of priests who counsel mothers, "Forget about penance. Being a mother is all the penance you need." Self-sacrifice is built into the job whether you want it or not. A while back I wrote Why Not Take All of Me in response to a mother's attempt to calculate with the precision of an accountant just how much she was willing to sacrifice for her children.

I sat with a priest one morning getting spiritual direction and confessing my sins, most of which had to do with my failures as a mother.

"Isn't it great," the priest consoled me, "that you have so many opportunities for holiness?"

Yes, Father, but by 8:30 in the morning?

It is constant; it is intense; it requires eradication of selfishness.

But let's examine Clare's issue of victimization. Sally Thomas, picking up this theme, describes "the way the parents seemed to wear their nose-wiping and their constant family diet of chicken nuggets as badges of honor." Woe is me, these ill-clad mothers cry, wearing their sufferings on their snot-laden sleeves. Tribulations become some sort of competition: I'll see your conjunctivitis and raise you one case of strep throat and a bout of rota virus.

Sally writes:

I used to laugh at the comic strip "Baby Blues," for example (and okay, in small doses it's still kind of funny), until I realized that virtually every story line revolves around the shambles the children make of their parents' lives. It's all chaos and vomit and Mom wearing ketchup stains and baby spit-up, and while I've been there, and I know that those things are reality in a house with young children, still as a meme it gets old.

Agreed. It is reality, and it does get old. And to a child-free college student like Clare Coffey, I would imagine chaos and vomit and spit-up presented as the sum total of motherhood would be very, very unappealing.

While fully recognizing the hard work and, yes, drudgery that parenting entails, Sally differentiates between this and what she calls "self-negation" or "self-erasure." Whittling away at selfishness is one thing; destroying self is quite another.

When victimization isn't just venting with your mom friends in the backyard or penning a cathartic blog post full of poop, you end up in a much darker place. There you find chronic resentment. There you find long term depression.  There you find neglect and abuse. And let's face the stark truth: Once in a great, great while you find an Andrea Yates.

Kill the cow and you kill the calf.

When a mother moves beyond self-sacrifice to self-erasure, she runs the risk of destroying herself, and she sends a destructive message to her child: You are a god.

Let me just say right here that to a large degree my life revolves around my kids. There are four of them and one of me. Their needs are many and will be for years to come.

As Sally Thomas writes:

Human motherhood does demand sacrifice; in fact, I think that's sort of the chief purpose for it. That's what's in it for the mother, at any rate. In following Jesus, we have to learn somehow to detach ourselves from ourselves, and I can't think of too many better ways to do that than to carry another human being in our own body, to suffer to bring that human being to birth, and to serve the flourishing of that life. In our children's flourishing, we find a lot of our own flourishing, and we wouldn't find it if we weren't continually laying down our lives in love for these nearest of our neighbors and friends.
But the key to meeting needs without enabling neediness is balance. Sally continues:

A lot of us, myself included, do say things to our kids like, "Not now," and "Run along while I finish what I'm working on," and "You can do X when I'm done with Y," and so on. Which is to say that don't have to be a sociopathic narcissist to a) have projects of your own, or b) intimate to your children that that is the case, and that the absoluteness of your ability to them depends on what you happen to be doing, which may or may not have anything to do with them and their desires at that moment.


Self-sufficient is what they should be at the end of the day, having been raised by warm, supportive, involved parents who have met their needs and plenty of their wants.

I don't want to be erased. I don't want to raise narcissistic gods. I don't want to become a narcisisstic god myself.

Thankfully, we are fully able to select "none of the above" when presented with these rather bleak options, and I wholeheartedly agree with Sally's assertion that, "In our children's flourishing, we find a lot of our own flourishing."

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Welcome Back

Dave's back from Las Vegas, and we are enjoying both him and our welcome home gifts.

          Ainsley's gift - cookies!

          John"s gift - a little red corvette. He even slept with it.

          Kolbe's gift - playing cards (officially used in a casino).

          Tim's gift - loaded dice (officially not used in a casino).

          Mom's gift - Merlot.

He knows our love languages.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012


A few comments you don't care to overhear as you battle a migraine, ponder a difficult situation, realize there's no way you're going to the meeting you're expected to attend, and finish a batch of cookies you decided to bake for the Cub Scouts just 'cause you feel like it when there's no reason whatsoever that you should feel like it at the present moment:

1. Uh oh.

2. I sorry, Mama.

3. I cwean it up, Mama.

4. Owwwwww!

5. Mom, you left the cookies in the oven for a l-o-n-g time!

6. I didn't do it.