Monday, June 30, 2008

Leaving for Camp

Pardon me if I’m walking a little funny today. Or if my typing is off. Or if I don’t hear you correctly.

I feel like I’m missing an appendage or two.

You see, my littlest girl left for camp this morning. I never do very well on the first day that my kids leave for camp. It’s like learning how to be myself again—myself without feet . . . or hands . . . or ears.

Of course, it could have something to do with the 6:30 a.m. drop off time.

Doesn’t anyone leave around 10?

We met the bus at the appointed time in the appointed place. Maggie’s best-friend-since-they-were-one was already there, having staked out two seats on the bus, her blue eyes shining brightly even at that hour, her small hands quickly waving us over toward the bus. The girls greeted each other with excited hugs and quickly placed Maggie’s pillow on the chosen seat.

Apparently, according to Abby, who has gone to this same camp for the past four years, the girls should (and did) grab seats near the front of the bus because later, when they stop for lunch, they will be near the front of the line at McDonalds. If they sat at the back of the bus they might have to wait an hour, behind all the boys ordering five apple pies for lunch. Horrors.

It’s only fitting that these two go to camp together—they have been celebrating “firsts” for nearly their entire lives together. First day at school . . . together. First sleepover . . . together. First time riding bikes to the library alone . . . together.

I’m glad they’re together for this first, too. In many ways they are closer than sisters, knowing more secrets about one another than sisters sometimes do, but that also comes with its responsibilities—the responsibility to tell one another when they are out of line which, along with brutal honesty (those two are very good at the brutal honesty thing!) comes some fighting. Well, maybe not out-and-out fighting, but some definite irritation that will involve a fair amount of whining, a bit of gloating, and no small amount of pouting. I’ve known these girls a LONG time.

Still, it will be nice for both of them to take this step with each other. It’s kind of a biggie.

So I got Maggie safely settled into her seat on the bus. Well, let’s be honest, Maggie got herself settled into her seat on the bus. I didn’t have anything to do with it. I proudly, some might say smugly, announced to my friend, Amy, this morning that in the six, now seven, years I’ve been sending kids to camp I have never been one of THOSE parents who get on and off the bus just to make sure their kids are O.K. Not me, boy. And I wasn’t about to start now. Just because it’s my baby.

And she’s going off to camp.

For two weeks.

My resolve held out, and I did not step on that bus. But that didn’t stop me from going around the side of the bus to the girls’ window to wave and blow kisses like a crazy woman.

The time finally came for us to leave—me and the one child I still have left at home! After the kids were neatly tucked away on their bus seats (some parents having gotten on and off the bus just a few too many times) and the parents had stood in a circle and said the obligatory prayer for safety, Abby and I turned to the car and drove home. Quietly. Thinking about our youngest family member who was taking probably the largest step of her life.

The morning didn’t go quite as I had planned. I’d do a little something, then feel this incredible urge to sit down. Walk the dog . . . sit down. Clean up the kitchen . . . sit down. Take a shower . . . I definitely need to sit down. It was finally 11:15 before I was ready for the day.

The afternoon dragged on, and neither Abby nor I could figure out what to do since it was just the two of us--we both felt out of sorts. We did a couple of errands, and then just came home.

We’re off kilter here. We’re missing our girls, both of them, like we would miss our hands or our feet if they were suddenly cut off. It’s all just too much.

I think I’ll sit a while.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Just Messing Around

I figure the best way to learn this blogging thing is to just do it, so in this post I'm just messing around with things I should know how to do.

First, I need to know how to link to other blogs I like, so here they are. The first one is my daughter's blog--she's artistic, creative, and learning the blog thing right along with me. (Hmmm, not bad! It only took me two tries to figure out how to hide her link behind the words. Yea!) Let's try that again . . . I've also get a lot of encouragement and some laughs from Lysa Terkeurst's blog. Check it out! (Cool! it worked!) Finally, one last try here . . . I found this wonderful blog and the writer just happens to be in one of my favorite places in the country this week. Do you know where that is?

The second thing I've wanted to learn how to do is to post pictures. I've made it a personal goal to learn how to do that this week and since the week is coming to a close very soon here, I'm going to try it now. . . .

Well, that didn't go quite as I had expected it to. The picture (of Thunder the wonder dog) ended up at the top of the page for some reason. Maybe I have to upload my pictures first and work around them. I'm not sure.

One more try . . . hoping the picture will end up below this line.

It didn't. Oh well. I'll try again next week.

In the meantime, I think I'll go back to what I was doing--reading "The Appeal" by John Grisham. At least I know how to maneuver a book!

Friday, June 27, 2008

"Sydney White"

I’m all about celebrations. I love commemorating the big events in life that deserve a little extra attention.

Like Fridays.

Fridays are great and should be celebrated. We’ve all nearly made it through another week, and we deserve a little pat on the back. Pizza would be good.

And then there are the rites of passage—the commemoration of moving from one big place in a person’s life to another. Weddings, baptisms, graduations. All important rites of passage.

But, you know, there are certain rites of passage that I just could do without.

Like shots. Why do they make you have shots to enter high school?

I mean, really, wasn’t junior high enough?

Abby, my middle daughter, is going through her own little rite of passage right now--prancing out of the halls of middle school (with nary a backward glance, I tell you) and trudging with trepidation into the halls of high school. But in order to cross the threshold, she has to do with one, teeny-weeny little thing . . . go to the doctor.

So on Wednesday we did it. We made it to the doctor for the high school physical. Her friends had warned her that would for sure have to have shots--some said they hurt, and others said they were no big deal.

I could see Abby’s wheels spinning as we drove to the doctor’s office in near silence. She was clearly nervous.

The physical part was fine, and then the doc let us know that three, possibly four, shots were in order, oh, and could-you-stop-by-the-lab-to-have-some-blood-drawn-too? Abby went white, completely white. She started to back away from the doctor and head toward the door—I thought she was going to bolt!

I finally talked the doctor out of the fourth shot (we’ll go back for that one later), and settled on the three most important ones. Important because the high school has to see that she’s had them and the registration is due in two days! Last minute? Me? Never!

So poor Abby had her three shots and her blood drawn, and she left the doctor’s office looking like she had been through a battle. An awful rite of passage, if you ask me.

Butterfinger Blizzards really do make everything better, though.

Until the next morning when she woke up with a crashing headache, a slight fever, and nausea. Clearly a reaction to the shots.

So the poor girl spent the entire day on the couch yesterday, just feeling awful and really wondering if it might have just been easier to stay in junior high for the rest of her life.

O.K. No.

Late in the afternoon I asked if she’d want to watch a movie with me. She did, but she qualified that by saying, “Mom, you pick whatever you want because I’ll probably fall asleep watching it.”

So after perusing the selections of On Demand movies, we decided on “Sydney White” with Amanda Bynes. All I knew about this movie, other than the fact that that sweet Amanda Bynes was in it, was that it was a modern day re-telling of the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs story. Sounded cute.

And cute it was!

Needless to say, Abby never did fall asleep, and I stopped doing what I was doing in the kitchen to sit next to her and laugh for a couple of hours.

The movie is a little bit about rites of passage—a girl going to college and finding out who she is and what she wants to stand for. She decides that she wants to stand up for the little guy (get it?!).

Toward the end of the movie, Sydney is standing in front of a crowd of classmates, making a speech as she’s running for student body president against the evil sorority girl who embarrassed her in front of the whole school.

Here’s what she said, sort of.

“Hi, my name is Sydney White, and I’m running for student body president. My dad is a plumber, I collect comic books, I’m a little afraid of balloon animals, and . . . I’M A DORK!”

Everyone starts cheering and clapping and pretty soon lots of other people, even the “cool” people, are standing up confessing their dorkiness. It was such a feel-good moment that even my own inner dork wanted to come out, to not be suppressed like it is so often, and just hang out with the fam.

The movie was a good reminder that people aren’t always who they seem to be—some are worse, but some are better. We really can’t judge until we get to know them better.

I am sorry that Abby was sick from her shots yesterday, but I was not sorry that we took the time to watch that movie together. I hope she remembers, as she’s maneuvering the hallways of high school for the first time in August, that everyone, EVERYONE, has an inner dork that’s just waiting to come out and play.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Dinner tonight

O.K. I have to admit it. Dinner tonight was yummy. Wilted lettuce salad. Fresh bread. Cold watermelon. And my ever-popular "Pasta Supreme," so named by my daughters. Here's the recipe:

Pasta Supreme

1/2 lb. Farfale pasta, cooked and drained
1/4 Cup olive oil
1/2 Cup sun dried tomatoes in oil, sliced into thin strips (I got some wonderful homemade sun dried tomatoes at the local Farmer's Market this week and they are SO good!)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Cup broccoli florettes, steamed slightly then drained
Grilled chicken, if you have it
1/2 Cup shredded parmesan cheese

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Set aside. In large skillet, combine olive oil, tomatoes, and garlic. Cook together over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until tomatoes are softened and warm. Add cooked broccoli and grilled chicken; cook an additional few minutes until all the flavors are combined. Add pasta and parmesan cheese and toss everything together. Enjoy!

This is without a doubt one of our favorite dinners.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Who Me, Worry?

Maggie, my youngest, is a worry wart.

I never thought I’d have a worrisome child, but I do, and she’s it.

Poor girl, her life is filled with “what if’s.”

“What if I’m walking to school and I trip and fall and break my ankle?”

(“Well, one of our neighbors would see you and help you, and, besides, your school is only two blocks away. Chances are I’ll hear you screaming and come find you.”)

“What if the electricity goes out during the storm?”

(“We have a generator, remember?”)

“What if the library doesn’t have the book I wanted to read?”

(“They have a million other books you can check out. Try one of those.”)

I spend a good part of every day telling her, “Don’t worry!”

It’s crazy, too, because on the worry spectrum I am on the completely opposite side. I flit through life like it’s some kind of story book and the ending is already written for me. I pretty much take things as they come, not thinking too much ahead and certainly not worrying about things that are out of my control, which is pretty much everything. So, on this issue, I don’t get Maggie at all. But I try.

I’ve tried lots of different ways of helping her from anticipating any possible problem (she’s pretty good at doing that herself) to just ignoring it (doesn’t really work). Mostly I just say, “Don’t worry!”

One thing that I’ve tried to do, though, is to show Maggie that God is in control, all the time. I’m trying to teach her that putting her trust in God is so much better than worrying about things we can’t control anyway.

So yesterday we had a crisis of worry. I’m down a couple of teenage helpers around here because one is in Costa Rica and the other was at her regular Tuesday babysitting job. Maggie needed to get to basketball camp and back home again by herself because at the time she was in camp I needed to drive my sister to the airport and wouldn’t be home in time to pick her up. She was worried.

Now, the high school where the basketball camp is held, isn’t more than a mile away. I know this because we live too close to qualify for bus service to the high school and the bane of my existence is the drive, twice a day, up there to drop off and pick up kids. My husband would tell them to walk, but I’m a wimp and I’m raising wimpy girls, so I drive them.

Anyway, Maggie and I had planned it all out. I would ride bikes with her part of the way, just to get her across the one busy street she would have to cross. On the way home she would be on her own, but I knew she would be fine.

As we were leaving the house, nervous Nellie (as I like to call her), stopped by the door and asked, “Mom, would you pray with me?” Of course! Why didn’t I think of that?

We stood in the kitchen, arm in arm, and said a short prayer that God would watch over Maggie while she rode her bike and that she wouldn’t be worried about the ride home.

As we got the bikes out of the garage, she seemed kind of excited. After all, it’s not every day that Mom goes on a bike ride with Maggie, not every year even, and she was going to milk it for all it was worth.

“Come on, Mom!” she shouted happily as she headed down the driveway.

“I’m coming,” I said, struggling to get going. I don’t think I’ve ridden my bike in over a year. That’s got to change.

As we reached the sidewalk I looked up to see Maggie’s good friend from school, a beautiful, blonde-headed girl who is as sweet as candy, headed to the same basketball camp and also riding her bike.

“Hey, Maggie, I was just coming by to see if you would want to ride to camp with me today.”

Huh?! Could it be? An answer to prayer just that quickly?

How awesome is God?!

Maggie turned around to look at me with a mixture of joy and consternation on her face. She was so happy that her friend had stopped by, but she also wanted to make sure I would hold up my end of the bargain. I had, after all, told her that I would take her half way there.

“Mom, will you still come with me?” The worry lines were showing on her forehead.

“Sure, I’ll come to get you across Main Street, but then you two go on ahead, O.K.?” That was fine with her, so we all took off.

As we were riding, her friend got a little ahead of us, and I turned to Maggie and said, “You know that was an answer to prayer, don’t you?”

She just smiled, nodded her head, and rode on to basketball camp without a worry in the world.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Saying Goodbye

Honestly, who leaves for the airport at 4 a.m.?

High schoolers, I guess. Kate left at that exact time to meet her missions trip group at church on Sunday morning.

Now I ask you, do they really expect all the parents to be there, holding hands in a circle, singing “Blessed Be the Tie That Binds” at 4 a.m.?

I’m new at the missions trip thing. Kate is my oldest, so I’ve never sent someone to a foreign country by herself before. I don’t know how these things are supposed to go.

Just so I can justify my actions (by which I mean getting up at 3:45, carrying her suitcase to the car, giving her a big kiss and a very long hug, and waving goodbye as she and B headed over to church before climbing the stairs and falling back into bed) I’ll tell you my thought process.

First, B was driving a group of kids to the airport, so if I went over to church we would have to take two cars. What with the price of gas these days, it just seemed like an unnecessary expense to take two cars the eight blocks to church. Know what I mean?

Second . . . well, there is no second. I really just figured I would say my goodbyes at home and send them on their merry way.

At 4 a.m.

And then go back to bed. I need my sleep, dontcha know.

So I was quite surprised when B climbed back into bed at 5 a.m. after driving the kids to the airport and said that there were lots of parents at the church, saying goodbye to their kids. Some kids even had BOTH parents there. Hmmm. Zzzzzz.

The next morning I pursued this a little further.

“Really, Chris and Sara were both there?”

“Yep. And Jim and Becky. And the Smiths . . . with their daughter who was staying behind.”

“Oh, it must have been a pretty big group.”

“Yep.”

“Was I supposed to be there?”

“Nah. Nobody missed you.”

“Oh. That’s good . . . I guess.”

But I can’t get that image of the scene at church out of my head. Of excited kids, teary-eyed parents, and bleary-eyed drivers. Loads of luggage. Lots of hugs and laughter and shouts of excitement. The vans starting up and heading off to the airport.

Well, it’s one of those mommy-moments I’ll probably regret for the rest of my life.

On second thought, it was FOUR A.M.! I’ll get over it.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Ancient Questions

My poor husband. He just doesn’t have a chance.

This dear, saint-of-a-guy lives with one wife, three daughters, and a female dog.

So you can imagine how hard it is to find a movie we all like. He’s actually gotten pretty used to the chick flick thing. I can’t count how many of those he’s watched. And I’ve pretty much put my foot down on the violent-guy-flick genre, so he doesn’t watch too many of those, I’m not sorry to say.

But last night we found a compromise: we watched The Bucket List. A movie starring two man’s men—Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. So B could yuck it up with a couple of real guys, and we girls could cry along with the sentimental story.

Pass the Kleenex, I’m feeling verklempt.

One part of the movie has stayed with me all day, and I kind of hope it stays with me for a while because it’s important to think about. It happened during the scene on the top of the pyramid. The two guys are talking about life and death, you know, the things they talked a lot about in that movie. Morgan Freeman’s character, Carter, is explaining to Nicholson’s character, Edward, what the ancient Egyptians believed about Heaven. He said that they believed that when you got to heaven you were asked two questions that would determine your fate. The first question was “Has your life brought you joy?” and the second question was, “How has your life brought joy to others?”

Mind you, I don’t think the ancient Egyptians held the key to salvation in those two questions, but nevertheless, I think these are two important questions to ponder.

“Has my life brought me joy?” If it hasn’t, I’m probably doing something wrong. Life is to be enjoyed, I don’t care what the Puritans believed.

“Has my life brought joy to others?” This is probably a much more important question than the first. My interactions with others should never be solely of benefit to me; my focus should be on the other person. I truly believe that by being focused outwardly, we will bring joy to others, and thus bring joy to our own lives. Which brings us back to question number 1.

Hmmm. I think those old folks were on to something. When we take our eyes off of ourselves, we find true joy. And somehow that gives us just a glimpse into what heaven will be like.

True joy.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Creating Chaos

You know what’s weird? When you run into one of the girls who used to babysit for your kids and she has a husband, a beautiful home just down the street from you, and FOUR KIDS OF HER OWN! I don’t know, there’s just something about that that seems strange to me.

Unnatural.

Like time marched on, and I was its latest victim.

But, you know, I don’t envy her, that sweet babysitter of mine. I really don’t. She had four kids in four years, can you just imagine?! That’s just too much for my heart to handle.

I don’t do anything that fast. I have about 50 half-finished cross stitch projects from the past 20 years tucked away in a chest just to prove it. They’ll be half-finished antiques pretty soon.

I would feel sorry for her, but I don’t feel that either. She is the most beautiful, competent, put-together mother I’ve ever seen. She actually wanted all those kids in such a short time. When you ask her about it, or look askance at her brood of tiny little kids running around, she just laughs and says something like, “Yeah, it’s crazy. But we like it.”

So on Monday, when I met dear, calm Elizabeth on the street as I was walking my dog to pick up Maggie at piano lessons, I was not a bit surprised to see two of the boys on bikes and the two youngest sitting in a wagon. They were all happily walking/riding to the end of the street to wait for their dad who would be coming home from work any minute.

We stopped to talk a bit, and even though I knew I’d be late to pick up Maggie, I couldn’t help gawking at her brood of beautiful little children, amazed that these were the product of my former babysitter. How could she already have more kids than me, I wondered as I tried to act normal. We chatted about her kids, my kids, summer, the rising price of diapers (to which I couldn’t add a thing to the conversation).

I, always amazed at the differences in people and always ready to point them out, asked her how she was managing with the four-under-five business. “Do they nap at the same time?” I gaped.

“Yes, thankfully they do,” she replied. “But we’re always ready for Daddy to come home at 5:00. That’s why we usually walk down here to meet him.”

Ahh, finally, some honesty. I knew it couldn’t all be honky-dorey in that house. Surely she must have her moments of chaos. Like when the oldest, all of four-and-a-half, throws the eight-month-old down the laundry chute just for kicks. Or when the middle two decide to play fencing with sticks in the back yard and one gets his eardrum poked through. Or when the toddler decided to take a jar of peanut butter to the walls of the basement. The normal, everyday chaos. Not that I’d know anything of that.

As we were talking, I couldn’t help notice her youngest, a darling little girl who was a blessed addition to the family after three boys. This sweet pea, all of eight months old, was sitting so still, looking so clean in her little pink dress, just staring up at me with the sweetest blue eyes you’ve ever seen. She probably never gives her mother a moment of trouble.

Suddenly, my dog, Thunder, who is the friendliest, over-eager, never-met-a-stranger yellow lab you’ve ever seen, became curious about the young girl sitting in the wagon. She had been sitting, just looking at the baby, but as her curiosity took hold, she moved in a little and took a big sniff, right near the baby’s face. And maybe just a tiny little lick. Wouldn’t you know it, the baby started to cry. Not really cry so much as scream.

Suddenly the neat, tidy, clean little girl was dripping with tears and snot, screaming for her mother to get her out of that wagon and away, far away, from that big, slobbery dog. As her mother bent over to pick her up, the toddler, who was strapped in facing his sister, wanted a piece of the action and started his own scream fest.

Before I knew it, my poor former babysitter had two screaming, crying, inconsolable children in her arms. And Thunder was starting to get agitated, thinking that this was all part of the game they were playing together. She lunged toward the crying kids one more time before her choke collar snapped and I yelled, “Sit!”

And I’m getting embarrassed. More and more embarrassed by the minute.

I was in an awkward situation. I wanted to help, maybe take the baby from her or something since she now had one child on each hip and four little arms wrapped tightly around her neck, but I knew that wouldn’t work. She’d probably cry even harder. There was just nothing I could do but say I was sorry (oh my, was I ever sorry!) and get that big, hairy monster away from her kids.

As Thunder and I headed on down the block, I turned around once to see Elizabeth just standing there with the two kids still clinging to her neck and the two older boys just watching in bewilderment from their bikes. We picked up the pace a little as we headed off to collect Maggie.

As I returned home, Maggie in tow, I walked past Elizabeth’s house just as her husband was pulling in from work. Elizabeth and the kids were nowhere to be seen. They were probably inside, recovering. With cold compresses on their foreheads.

I felt absolutely terrible for disrupting her perfectly sane afternoon. And embarrassed that my dog had a big part to play in that—my big, loveable pup who wouldn’t hurt a flea.

But then I realized . . . Elizabeth took care of my kids when they were her kids’ ages. She’s been well-trained to handle chaos.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Do You Generate?

Well, it was an interesting Father’s Day around here. It started out normally enough with a gourmet breakfast-at-the-kitchen-table of cold cereal and toast. B, Kate, and I were sitting there together, the other two sleeping in for the big day, when suddenly the sky turned black and the wind picked up.

“Hmmm, looks like we might get a storm,” I prophecied. I’m good, I know.

As quickly as I said that, the wind picked up something terrible and the rain started pounding down sideways. The tree next to the family room window was bending over almost completely to the ground as if to say, “I’ll bend, but I won’t break.” Unless it’s the window.

“That tree looks like it’s going to come straight through the window!” I screamed.

“Nah, it’s too soft. It won’t go through.” This was one time I was glad they were right—it didn’t go through.

Our family room, just off the kitchen, is surrounded by windows on three sides, so we could see pretty much everything going on outside from every angle. (Of course, on a nice evening when our lights are on, our neighbors can see pretty much everything going on inside, but that’s a story for another day.) As the wind swirled around us and the rain came pelting down, we could only watch in amazement at how quickly and how forcefully the storm came up.

And then the lights went out.

And then the lights went back on . . . as the generator revved up.

Last summer, after years and years of flooding, we finally decided to put in a generator for just such a day as this. We get some pretty serious storms around here, and because of that (and because our city won’t address the flooding problem in our neighborhood) we have replaced our finished basement three, count ‘em, THREE times. Thankfully we were in good hands.

Our basement tends to flood when the electricity goes out because our four, count ‘em, FOUR sump pumps don’t work when the electricity goes out. Funny, that.

And it takes about five, (count ‘em!) FIVE weeks or more to get everything back to normal after our basement floods. It’s a real pain and, more than that, a real sadness that goes through us every time we lose our basement.

So last year, after all those years of battling the elements, we gave in and bought a generator. Not one of those mamby-pamby generators for us, though. We got a machine. One of those gas-powered deals that sits outside the house and looks like an air conditioning unit. But louder. Much louder than an air conditioning unit.

We have a feeling our neighbors hate it. Not only does it sit right outside their son’s bedroom window--have I mentioned it's loud?--it’s probably a constant reminder that we’re sitting inside in our air conditioned house not worrying about the trivialities of life like a little flooded basement. Nope, we’re cooking eggs on our cooktop and keeping the waffles frozen.

It’s embarrassing, really. It seems like such an extravagance to have power when the rest of the neighborhood doesn’t.

But all it takes is a jolt of remembering the many nights of lying awake in the middle of the night, just wondering if the power would go out or if our sumps would keep running or if we would have to start hauling furniture up the stairs again. Just that jolt is enough for us to not worry too much about what the neighbors think. The generator, the loud, obnoxious monstrosity, was a necessity.

So, on days like yesterday, when the storms are raging around us and everyone else’s ice cream is melting in their freezer, we’re sitting pretty with lights, cold milk, and television. And, believe me, it came in real handy yesterday after about eight hours with no power and the U.S. Open about to start.

As the old saying goes, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” Or in our case, “If your generator gives you power, watch T.V.”

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Father's Day 2008

Today’s post is a little personal. Feel free to look away if you’d like.

For B.

Top 10 Reasons I’m Glad You’re My Daughters’ Daddy

10. Saturday morning breakfasts at Ozzie’s. Just you and the girls. What wonderful memories they will have of that.

9. You love fun music and you’ve taught them to love it too.

8. You take them to concerts and plays, encouraging them to appreciate the finer things in life.

7. You handle the throw up; I handle the poop. A very amicable agreement, I’d say.

6. You put up with bobby pins, ribbons, and hair ties all over the house. You step over bras without saying a word.

5. You’ve given up your dream of being the dad to a professional baseball player and picked up the dream of being a grandpa someday (a very far away “someday” but someday nonetheless).

4. You go to work without complaining . . . ever. Some days are hard, but you just say, “That’s why they call it work.”

3. You're generous with your money and your time. You serve others and our church as much as you can, providing our girls with a good example of humility in an age of hubris.

2. You love me. As our girls look for husbands, they will undoubtedly know to look for a man who sacrificially, unashamedly, unconditionally loves his wife. I pray there are three more out there.

And the number one reason I am glad you are my daughters’ daddy . . .

You take them camping! As you know, “I love not camping,” so you never expect me to come along. Thank you, my dear B.

Happy Father’s Day!

Friday, June 13, 2008

As It Should Be

I had coffee with a friend two days ago. It was a delicious time of iced coffee and great conversation. We got caught up with each other's year since we hadn't seen much of one another during the past few months, difficult for both of us in different ways.

We got to talking about how people can let us down--spouses, children, friends--and my friend told me about a 90 year old woman in her church who, before my friend got married, sat her down and told her this: "Your spouse will let you down. He will never be able to fulfill all your needs, and that's as it should be."

Confused, my friend asked her why. Why wouldn't her spouse fulfill all of the hopes and dreams she had held for twenty-some-odd years? She had certainly been looking forward to nightly foot massages and deep conversations long past midnight.

"Because, my dear," the senior saint went on, "when people let us down it makes us realize that no human being can do what God can do for us. It just reminds us that only God can fulfill our need for closeness."

And that's as it should be.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Calm

I bought new shampoo yesterday. Truth be told, I’m really excited about it. It’s called “Calm,” and the reason I bought it is because it was the shampoo they gave out at the hotel I stayed at in Washington DC a couple of weeks ago with my sister. I got so excited about this shampoo and how it made my hair look so smooth and smell so great that when I got home I looked it up online to see where I could buy it. I couldn’t find anywhere around here that sold it, so I actually thought I would end up ordering it online. I liked it that much.

But yesterday I was strolling through Target with Maggie, my youngest, and I said, “Hey, let me just see if they have that shampoo I liked,” and lo and behold, they did! Now, I would not normally spend $10 on a bottle of shampoo, but if this shampoo delivers on what its name promises, I’m in business. “Calm.” Ahhhh.

It’s summer. The kids are home. What am I thinking?

This morning I could hardly wait to pop out of bed and wash my hair using my new calming shampoo. It was kind of like the feeling I get on the first day after a new haircut. I truly enjoy washing all the little flecks of hair out and styling my hair the way I like it, rather than the bouffant that the stylist prefers.

So I jumped out of bed, anticipating my moment with the shampoo, but there were a couple of things I needed to do first. These are part of my morning routine, usually. I have to check email—just to see who thought about me overnight. It’s usually the folks at Pottery Barn or Zappos who are up all night thinking about me, but oh well. And I have to check my calendar to see what’s up for the day because overnight my brain cells float away and I can’t ever remember what I have to do from day to day.

Finally, the moment I had been waiting for. I started shampooing, breathing in the heavenly scent of the “Calm” shampoo, and really starting to feel its effects. I wonder what they put in that stuff?

Apparently not enough of whatever it is. Because before I knew it I was anything but calm as I thought through my day ahead.

Father’s Day cards. Must get Father’s Day cards. Basketball camp at 10:30. Badminton camp at 1:30. Interview at 1:45. Birthday party at 4. Meeting at 7. Laundry. Cleaning. Oh, and we have no food. Must go to the grocery store.

By the time I stepped out of the shower I had completely lost all sense of the calming effect of my new shampoo.

But you know what? As I dried my hair this morning I felt different. Maybe it was the $10 shampoo making me feel like a goddess, like some sort of pampered person with sweet smelling hair.

I kept swishing my head around so I could get a whiff of the beautiful scent, and I’ve been swishing my head around all day, just reminding myself that in the midst of this crazy time we call summer, I should try to remain calm. That is, after all, what summer is all about. Right?

So if you’re in the grocery store today, and you notice a crazy woman swishing her hair around, it’s probably me, trying to stay calm.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Yes, Another Mom Blog

I’ve been considering writing a blog for a while now, and I’ve finally decided that the time has come. I’m a little nervous and a little scared because I don’t know how to do this, so I’ll just start by introducing myself.

Who am I? A mom to three beautiful girls and a wife to one wonderful man. I’m stubborn, opinionated, capable, and fiercely protective of my children. I love to cook, to read, and to travel.

Sometimes I’m a teacher, although I have never taught in a high school, as I thought I would. After a truly hellacious student teaching experience while in graduate school, I ended up working in fundraising at my alma mater. As God would have it, I was asked to teach adjunct there and have happily done so, off and on, for the past 16 years. I only teach as my schedule allows, so it’s a pretty good gig. I love teaching. I love standing in front of a classroom of eager freshmen, hearing their stories, helping them formulate opinions, and showing them that writing is not rocket science. I don’t so much enjoy grading papers, but it’s part of the job. I am currently not teaching, and don’t know when I will again, but the teaching is a big part of me.

Why start a blog? I know, there are probably thousands of blogs out there written by women just like me. In fact, I KNOW there are thousands of blogs out there written by women just like me. So why bother? To be perfectly honest, it’s for me. I have spent the past 16 years of my life taking care of my kids. I have loved about 98% of it. But I have spent the past 16 years focusing so much on the needs of others that I feel like I’ve lost some of me along the way. I guess you could call it a crisis of identity. Midlife. Kids all in school. Still staying at home. I need something to do (just kidding!). And along with that, I have felt a bothersome itch about writing for the past few years. Sure, I have kept a journal. I have attended writing conferences. I have written a few stories. But I am probably the most undisciplined person in the world, so the stories stay neatly locked away, unfinished, in my computer. And the book I carry around inside of me never gets written. I’m hoping that by starting a blog I’ll develop some sense of discipline. So, again, writing this blog is for me. Selfish, I know, but I’m to the point that I just have to do it or I will probably always wonder. I don’t have too many preconceived notions about what this blog will look like. I only just started reading the blogs of others about two weeks ago, so I don’t know much about this. I don’t fool myself that anyone will actually read it (that’s probably a good thing) or that I will achieve some sort of blogging fame from this, whatever that is. I just need to scratch that writing itch. That’s all.

What will it look like? I don’t really know. I guess that’s the good thing about a blog—you just write and see what happens. I know I’ll write about my interests: my family, cooking, travel, books, and . . . ahem . . . politics and religion. I can’t help it. I’m interested! But I’ll probably also write about everyday stuff. I hope I don’t bore you, but, truthfully, I really don’t care because this blog is for ME. Yes, I hope to encourage, inspire, challenge, but I hope to gain those things as well.

So, here I go. Jumping off the cliff into the blogosphere . . .