Wednesday, November 11, 2009


How good is our God! How awesome. He tells us, over and again, not to be afraid... and then offers us the opportunity to be FEARLESS. What freedom He offers those who trust Him. What peace. A peace that truly defies understanding, comprehension or explanation. And yet there is daily opportunity for renewal because life can throw me to my knees in a split second. We can look around us, without the benefit of trusting God, and we are surrounded by pain, death, destruction, unbearable suffering, illness, perversion and cruelty. A broken world is breaking up all around us, like a city in the midst of an earthquake. But if I look at it through His eyes, I can see His hand in it. His plan being worked out. His goodness shining through in the actions and words of ordinary people. True Love. Overflowing blessings, amazing in their perfect match -- perfect in pitch, tone and note -- to a person's deepest need (like a tiny baby girl I know, born today! Joy!). He knows us. He wants us to know Him. Does that blow the mind, or what?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


There is a day, in late October, when the sidewalk in front of my house becomes a yellow brick road. When characters from my favorite books step from their pages and knock on my front door, asking for treats. I am starstruck and want to ask for their autographs, but they play it off, their existence just an ordinary miracle of Fall. They are apparently accustomed to adoration and the flash and crush of the papparazzi. I want to ask one what it feels like to be the smartest witch at Hogwarts. I'd like to know from the other what went through her mind when that Lion began to cry. But these are personal questions, and I've only just met them. I guess they just want to be normal children, with everyday lives like everyone else. At least that's what they say when they are interviewed by Diane Sawyer on GMA. I never really believe them when they say that, but that's just me.
Instead, I just watch them move on to the next house and wonder what it would be like to be them....

Friday, October 9, 2009

Take a Picture. It Lasts Longer.

I had a really great moment the other night where I could feel the flow of things. Everything felt structured, ordered and organized. Everything was happening just as I had planned, I was prepared for what was to come and peace reigned throughout the land. Lasted for about five minutes, but still. It was something. I once read that everything in our lives is constantly moving toward chaos. In a fallen world, even our bodies betray us by falling apart a little every day. Which makes perfect sense when you think about it. That's why it's so difficult to maintain a home, when the universe is insisting that evil weeds, dirty laundry and messy cabinets become eviler, dirtier and messier as I am sitting here writing this. And it's why it's so difficult to maintain our health, our relationships, our schedules, our careers. The Chaos Theory. You can just FEEL things getting away from you, a little at a time. Is it just me?

Did you watch The Office last night? Jim and Pam got married, and it was just the sweetest wedding...I'm thinking about the moment in the car when Pam told Jim she had been advised to take "mental pictures" of important moments during the wedding because it goes by so fast. And it's true, isn't it? Actual photos are great but can't always capture the feeling that went along with the moment. Plus you never have your camera on you when the really good stuff happens. Life is unpredictable that way. Pam spent the weekend taking mental pictures with her imaginary camera, and it was so precious. I am going to do that more often. Because I do feel the important moments slipping out of my memory, like precious water, as I toil to hold back the chaos flood.

Here were my mental pictures this week...I try to write them down if I'm near a pen. This week, while driving in the car, I wrote the following on the back of a flyer from school:

Foots asleep dotty. good comics - apple jacket. Dec 5 signup gym. hypnotizer/appetizer.

Now some of that, I must admit, I have no idea what it means. But this is what I remember. Small Fry saying she was shaking her foot in the back seat because it was "all dotty." Which means it had fallen asleep, and she was deliciously describing the pins and needles feeling. I think the hypnotizer/appetizer has to do with our recent vigorous use of hand sanitizer. (Swine flu, you know.) Small Fry is either washing with hand hypnotizer or a hand appetizer. She herself is not sure which, but it's definitely one of those. The apple jacket, well ... I just have no idea. Oh yes, and I need to write December 5 down on my calendar. Registration for gymnastics.


In Praise of Self-Centeredness

Great post....

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Dream, Dream, Dream

There is a place I'm dreaming of.

At the end of this dock.

A place where the sun sets. Quietly, but with maximum impact.

And the moon rises. Silently, but with a beauty that steals your breath a little. And reminds you of the thing you already knew. I'm small. Very, very small.

This is a place where no one can find you. Unless you want them to. Family, best friends, birds, oysters, fish, Bobs and Bobalinas: Yes. Telephone sales hasslers, time/money/happiness suckers, uncertain workplaces, CNN and Fox News: No.

We could just hop on here and sail away, couldn't we? Why not?

We'd have everything we need. Room and board. Sky and sea.

We could eat these for dinner every night.

Or these.

I even have children and a FisherMan who are good at catching these. I'll bait all the hooks, promise. The bounty of the waters would feed us. The bounty of our hearts would nourish us. We'd be set. At least for a little while. And if we needed some Land R&R, a little cee-vah-lized company?

It's all good.

But I'd want to get back to this. ASAP. Road trip? Anyone? Anyone?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Stormy Weather

There's been a storm brewing in our house. Transitions, changes...we don't deal well. Small Fry is utterly grumpy, and Big Stuff has had it. I can just see her seething quietly about how this cocky little upstart sister of hers thinks she knows everything now just because she's at MY school, on MY bus, talking trash with MY friends. She's tries to be patient, but she simply cannot let an incorrect math fact or incomplete recitation of vowels pass uncommented upon. It just burns her up. And for her part, Small Fry has taken on a new arrogance that is breathtaking in its scope and fury. This morning, I ruined her day completely when I disagreed with her that Daddy got her up late (I think because it was still dark outside, although the time, of course, was 6:45 on the nose, just like every other day. Explaining why it was getting darker in the mornings was beyond me, prior to coffee. And probably still, after coffee). She also now notices tone of voice. Patronizing will not do. She needs to understand. Or rather YOU need to understand her. It's tiring.

They still find ways to relate though. I felt that I might laugh uncontrollably two days ago when they came downstairs to perform the "Dog Show" for us. This consisted of Small Fry following Big Stuff, on a leash mind you, and performing various tricks and doggy behaviors on command and without benefit of human voice to argue or propose changes. The show ended with the "amazing doggy headstand" in which Yogurt the dog happily stood on her head for unending minutes while doing various yoga poses in the air. I can't even properly explain to you how cute/hilarious/absurd this was. Big Sister Gets Her Revenge In the End. Never fails.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Firsts. And Lasts.

Well, it happened. The baby started kindergarten. And I'm still alive. I wasn't so sure I would make it through the first day, but there were small graces. Like a donut party and pictures and sweet traditions at the bus stop. Like furtive hugs and hand squeezes when the kids weren't looking. Like coffee and breakfast and laughs with those who understand and empathize and who don't ask what you're going to do to fill your days now. As if. And like bright smiles from two girls who bound off the bus after the first day saying things like - It was GREAT! My teacher is PERFECT! I had the BEST day! And suddenly everything was OK again. I won't say I'm not still grieving. It is a transition, after all, from baby days to big kid times and it's not easy. I search for the baby that she was not so long ago (Big Stuff has been gone from Babyhood so long, I now have to refer to pictures to find my First Baby)....I listen carefully for it as she mimics the sassy conversations of the older girls and pretends to know things she has not yet grasped. I'm pained by little things, like how she refused to let me wipe her hands and face after breakfast. I wonder where mama's girl has gone. Then today, as I jump into her path on her way to lunch, I receive my prize. Joy, joy... as she grabs my neck and lets me carry her into the cafeteria...sticky, smiling cheek pressed into mine and little hands tangled in my hair....And I thought, Ahhhhh, there she is. And I get to have her for a little longer.

Friday, August 7, 2009


Sometimes I don't sleep well. Cutie Pie tries to convince me that we are Getting Older, and that this is a Sign of an encroaching love of elderhostels. I prefer to disagree and cling to my youth. He is giving up too soon, IMHO. There was a perfectly good reason, or make that many good reasons, why I didn't sleep on Tuesday night. There were dream beetles to battle in the girls' room. There was the dog. (There is always the dog.) There was the full sippy cup of water that leaked slowly onto my back, causing me to jump up in the wee hours, strip off my nightclothes wildly, and accuse people and/or animals of peeing on me. See, no one...whether 14 or 105... could sleep through these things. Old? Ha.

But last night, not sleeping well had to do with Worries. Ugh. I hate waking up at 4 a.m. in a relatively peaceful state only to have a flood of worries leak into my brain from all directions. I hate having ridiculous, repetitive conversations with phantom people in my mind...I should have said this, I should have done that. What if this happens, what if that doesn't happen? Why is it that we feel so small at 4 a.m.? So insecure and wobbly? Does the earth shift a little beneath our beds in the dead of night, causing us to wake in a slightly panicked state and we're not sure why? My mind had a life of its own because even though I prayed with conviction that my worries should be laid at His feet, my brain kept saying...yeah, yeah...laid at His feet.... except for this one.... Truly annoying. But I learned today that my prayer was heard. Because today brought restoration, reassurance and encouragement. All may not be exactly right with the world, but it's okay. He is with me. He is with them. The beetles weren't real. It was just water. It's okay to sleep now. The Guard has the watch.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Always Close on a High Note

Well, the time is closing in fast. You know what I mean....Summer: End. Kindergarten: Begin. We have been busy as bees getting the girls ready for the First Day. Kindergarten screening? Check. New backpack? Check. New shoes? Check. School supplies? Check, check. I've refrained from crying for the most part. Cutie Pie, always the realist, just shakes his head at me and wonders at my sentimentality so I've been working on fooling him with my Strong, Take-Charge Attitude. One of the sweetest moments was taking Small Fry for her back-to-school haircut. Big Stuff, who is Retro and a born again Hippie, although she has no idea what those words mean, has eschewed haircuts in favor of growing her hair "really, really" long. But Small Fry is still happy to climb up in her airplane chair and let Miss Tina make her into a living doll as often as I suggest it. One of the more adorable moments is when Miss Tina weaves a small braid into her freshly cut hair and sticks brightly colored jewels on the braid. I mean, words do not express how cute this is. And so I drag my melancholy self home, thinking all the while of the pure innocence and sweetness of my youngest child. A few minutes after she is sent up to get a shower, she calls to me from the top of the stairs. "Mama?" "Yes?" "Look at this." Giggle, giggle. And what do I behold at the top of the stairs but my innocent girl, stark naked, with three strategically placed brightly colored jewels stuck to her person. From kindergarten to bellydancing, how time flies.

PS - And for my readers who are also real-life family and friends....My kids, one of whom can now read and Google things faster than I can, do not exactly know about my blob, as GG calls it. Which is how I like it. So keep it on the DL, people. I'm already in trouble for telling you things on the phone, I can't imagine the trouble I'd be in if they started reading about themselves in cyberspace. Dang, I've got to start putting bells around their little necks. :-)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Road Trip

Big accomplishment today: We booked our vacation. After weeks of hemhawing and trying to decide on the "perfect" place, under the guise of we-really-don't-care-we-just-want-to-relax pickiness....Well, it is the ONE WEEK out of the year when we get to do something totally fun, random and responsibility-free. And it's the one week out of the year that we fling a bunch of precious cash and time at something all in the name of togetherness. It needs to be goooooood. Also, this is technically the first time we are going on a "family" vacation, that is just the four of us for a whole week, and no work for Daddy. All week. No kidding! It's very exciting! What will we do? What will we talk about? Where will we go? What will we eat? How will we make everyone happy? Oh, it's just ever so much pressure!! But it's done. A week in the mountains on a lake and near a bunch of cool, mountainy adventures that mama and daddy experienced in their growing up years and are now excited to share with the offspring. I think it will be just the ticket. Even the dog is going. Now if I can just get rid of the lately ever-present "planning" headache and "can I go back to bed now" fatigue.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Deep and Shallow Thoughts by Jack Handy

I haven't blogged in so long, they insisted that I type in one of those funny, wavy passwords when I came online. And that is so hard when it's late, late at night, pitch black in your office and your brain is foggy. It's hard to spell too. But who cares. I am quite thrilled to be thinking about my friends, who left on a mission trip to Kenya today, and who are approaching the halfway mark of their trip as we speak! Just another hour to go. Dreams come true, you know. ...What a thrill to see God work.

Dreams come true for little girls too. For instance, one of my little girls has spent the week with a bunch of smelly horses at riding camp. I love picking her up in the afternoon - covered in dirt and who knows what else, hay in her hair, boots up on the table like she's been there her whole life, a radiant smile on her freckled face. I know she has encountered a trial or two and yet... she preserveres. She is making her way in the world. She is gorgeous.

We talk to them sometimes about the husbands we pray they will have one day. Someone who loves them, someone who is nice like Daddy. Recently, as Small Fry and I were flipping through the channels, we came across a commercial for an exercise program. A buff, muscular man hawked his product, shirtless and magnificent. She pointed at him, and without reservation or hesitation, proclaimed - that is going to be my husband. I ask her, "How do you know that one will be nice to you?" She replies, "I don't know, but that is my husband." Her daddy says that girl is going to be trouble. I'm beginning to wonder if he's right.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Forget it

I love the post-PreK pick-up (like that alliteration?) conversations. It is one of the things I will most miss next year when Small Fry and Big Stuff burst Kramer-like into the house together, talking at once and fighting for my attention after school. Last week, the thoughtful conversation topic was the phenomenon of diverted attention. Small Fry said she was really happy that her sister helped her the other day when she was crying. Big Stuff told her she was sorry that she felt bad (Go empathy!), and said "Let's read a book together." Small Fry said, "I took that part of my brain that was thinking about crying and threw it away. And then I put the book into the place where the crying was." Utterly impressed with her self-analysis, I asked, "Who told you about the brain thing?" She said dreamily, "Oh, I just thought about it myself."

Today our conversation began with Small Fry declaring that she really, actually thinks that we should move to another house, in Florida, where we can raise racoons and squirrels (raise??) and some other animals. I said, "Oh, well Big Stuff says she's going to have a farm of her own when she grows up. Maybe we can go visit her racoons and squirrels and horses and dogs." To which Small Fry asks, startled, "You mean Big Stuff isn't going to live in our house anymore when she grows up?" Right, says I. She is silent for a few minutes, ruminating. Then she says, "Mama, can we just forget that thing you said about Big Stuff living in another house? I love her, and I want her to live with us always." Consider it forgotten, sweet girl. Consider it forgotten.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Little Princesses

Reading this today, reminded me that I did something horrifying on Saturday. It just goes to show I'll do anything for my kids. We had Small Fry's birthday party at the theater (say it like this ...theeahtah...but picture a teeny hole-in-the-wall overrun with adorable child actors and stage-moms-turned-face-paint-artists). Part of the deal was that Small Fry got to get up on stage and have the audience sing Happy Birthday to her. I was seated next to a loquacious 5-year-old by the name of Talky McTalkerson. Talky is just about the cutest little thing you've ever seen in your life - long dark ponytails, a delightful, bubbly personality and an amazing conversationalist, let me tell you. After the birthday song, during which Small Fry stood in the spotlight with a peaceful and satisfied look on her face as if to say, Yes. Yes. Now, this is living....the master of ceremonies informed us that they were holding auditions for a new play called A Little Princess. He tells us that the lead character is a spoiled little girl who frequently throws tantrums. To which my sweet Talky whispers, what's a tantrum? Obviously she is much too sweet and angelic to have ever thrown one so of course she doesn't recognize the word. I mime to her, you know... a tantrum...and I clench my fists and stomp my feet a little to demonstrate. The gentleman on stage continues to talk and then asks, Now who out there knows how to throw a tantrum? To which my sweet, darling, precious Talky shouts out - SHE DOES! and points at me. I am called up on stage and asked to throw a tantrum. For everyone. With a spotlight on me. It's strangely like every nightmare I've ever had. Except I am wearing my clothes. And as for dear, sweet Talky? Well, that girl is dead to me now.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


One of the most beautiful blog entries I've read lately....

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

News Flash

Did you know that there is a cruel and appalling thing that happens to mothers called mylastbabyisgoingtokindergarten? The ogres in the school system actually force this information down your throat in FEBRUARY, for pete's sake, even though you've been studiously avoiding thinking about it since last August. This really is happening, and apparently there is nothing I can do to stop it. When the ogres informed me of this completely unfair and unwarranted eventuality, I cried for a day and a half. I actually could not keep from crying any time I thought about it. I don't remember the last time I couldn't keep from crying....I'm thinking the year was 1985, and it involved some unfortunate 15-year-old failed romance. Since then, I have stopped crying but there is a lump in my throat the size of Texas that I cannot seem to swallow. Every time I look at her (oh the chubby cheeks, oh the eyelashes to die for, oh those sweet fingers and toes), the lump grows little bigger. Every First with Big Stuff feels like a great adventure, but every First with Small Fry is also a Last that I know will never pass my way again. I guess it is very unfortunate for her, to have the burden of all her mama's lasts. I think I do a good job of faking my enthusiasm....Oh what a big girl you are, how wonderful it will be to get on the bus and go to school, yippee.... but I wonder if she has any inkling of just how much the thought of all this is twisting my heart inside out. Thankfully, the Lord has given her the kind of compassion that astonishes sometimes. So perhaps she will forgive me. We have long established a conversation about growing up...I tell her she's growing up too fast, and it really must stop. I threaten to put a brick on her head. She tells me she's not a baby, but she will always be my baby....This has sufficed well in the past, but I think the next few months are going to call for more. Drastic Measures, I'm thinking. Such as Avoidance of the Truth, Living in a Dream and Pretending Kindergarten Doesn't Exist. Wish me well.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Snow Day

Snow days are a rarity in the South. Just when we think we've happily left winter in our collective dust...And we begin to obsess over the idea of sitting by the pool, lake, ocean or some other body of water...with our toes on the deck, dangling off the side of a boat or buried in the sand....And we are exploring vacation spots on the internet and sighing deeply at the sight of palm trees and water parks...Well, that's when March sneaks up behind us and shouts, Surprise! You're not done with with me yet! And before you know it, children are newly obsessed with finding two gloves, the art of layering and the making of the perfect snowman. No matter that the snowman's body consists mostly of wet clay, dead grass and pine needles. This is fun, fun, fun!
And yet soon our personalities, quirks and genetics begin to show. It's too cold, mama. I'm wet, mama. My hands are stinging, mama. But I don't waaannnna to come in, Mama...wails one. While the other happily persists in making the clay-grass-snowman, tasting the enormous snowflakes and crafting perfectly spherical snowballs.... until finally she looks up and realizes her thin-blooded, warmth-loving family has flat-out deserted her. Puzzled, she stands at the door and says, What are you doing? Come out and play. But alas, the moment has passed, and we are all back in our places by the fire and space heaters observing, from a distance and from the inside out. As it should be if you live in the Deep South, and it insists on snowing one fine March day.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Funky Town

I woke up today in ...well, it was nothing short of a funk. I don't know what it was. It may have been the dream I was having right before I woke up. It was one of those dreams where you kind of think God is trying to tell you something, but you are, no, no sir. I don't want to do that. Sorry. Know you are Creator of the Universe and all but that thing You want me to do is not happening. My reticence made me grouchy. Also, there is something about coming out of a really, really fantastic weekend featuring unbelievable guacamole and margaritas that makes Monday morning's bowl of granola seem really drab. Plus the cloudy morning skies. And the tangly hair. And a friend's devastating and completely unfair loss. And the bad news. There is an unease in the air that keeps picking at me...You could be next. All good things must come to an end.

Three things cheered my mind: The Miracle on the Hudson interview on GMA....what better story to remind us that life is fleeting and yet what a difference we can make in one another's lives. And there was Small Fry...the compassionate girl that she is, putting her head against my chest and listening intently to what was going on in there after I told her my heart felt sad today. The wee doctor then came up with various diagnoses and suggested cures that were sweet and on-target and also made me laugh. Finally, an impulsive lunch with Big Stuff where she jumped out of her seat when she saw me and ran into my arms. In front of the whole lunchroom. Without reservation. I thought my formerly sad heart might burst with happiness then.