Monday, May 31, 2010

Thinking Only

Today has been one of those unscheduled days. If you know me, you know I don't do well unscheduled. If there is no plan for the day, I'm left feeling a bit undone. Frayed at the edges. I accomplish nothing on these days. For some, that may be bliss. For me, it's a waste of my waking hours.

In between spurts of doing loads of laundry and sitting on the couch, I found myself thinking. It's the one thing I've actually accomplished today. Maybe the last 12 hours wasn't a wash after all. Here are the thoughts that have simmered in my mind--

* I've put no thought towards summer. I haven't formulated any kind of a plan. None. Summer starts in 4 days. I'm dead in the water.

* I can't seem to force myself to wear shorts. It's hotter than the face of the sun here, but I just can't slip them on. You wanna know why? My legs are white. Super scary white. I'm going to have to find a way to get over it.

* I undermine my sister's authority as a parent. It's not nice, but I still do it. Tonight she said that the baby couldn't have a candy bar, but I gave it to her anyway. Keagan wanted it, and I have a tendency to let her have whatever she wants. I can't help it. Maybe I can work on this character flaw while I'm devising a way to wear my shorts.

* When we lived in Utah, we had a babysitter that became a 2nd mom to my kids. She was a much better mother than I ever will be. She started babysitting for me when she was 12. This weekend she graduated from high school. Today I thought about her. She is everything I would hope for my girls to become. If her mom were ever willing to give her up, I'd happily keep her forever.

* Today is a day for remembering. A Memorial Day. It feels like tradition tells me to visit my dad's grave. You would think this is an easy task. His cemetery is down the street. But yet, I can't. I don't like it there. I only seem to be able to stand at the sight where I last saw his coffin, on his birthday and Father's Day. Some people find immense peace where their love is buried. I do not. Every time I am there, the air feels more still and my mind travels to places that seem to lengthen the hole in my heart. So today I choose to remember him here, instead of there.

I hope that you have had a Memorial Day filled with good memories...and a little bit of thinking.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Thread That Weaves Us Together

My brother and his family live in Chicago. But for this weekend, they were Texans. Cousins make me happy. They play, they giggle and they find true joy in being together.

My nieces are beautiful. Fortunate for them, they look nothing like my brother.

We partied. We ate. We played games. We had fun.

We also had a water balloon fight that transferred to a car wash.

These last 3 days, we have soaked up as much cousin love as possible. All 8 girls in one big pile.

There is something definitively more remarkable about being with family. It's entirely different than everyday friendships. It's closer. The bond woven tighter. These 8 are varied in personality and age. Some live in different states. But yet, when they all come together, the distance seems to disappear.

At the core of being together is something not seen on the surface. It is a thread that weaves through them all and ties each one to the next. It's a thread that can't be severed. Ever. It's a thread that seems to stretch to include each member. Growing in length when a new addition arrives. When a trial seems to surface anywhere within this circle, the thread instinctively cinches everyone tighter together, so that we may hold one another up. The strength of us all together is far greater than each of us on our own.

For this weekend, I seemed to catch a glimpse of that thread. I saw it in laughter, in hugs and in sad goodbyes. The distance may be far, but I'm quite positive that our family circle will stretch to fill in all the gaps.

Friday, May 28, 2010

She Leaps

She took a leap today. As her mother, it feels like a giant leap. To her, it simply feels like moving forward. Her elementary life found closure, while her horizons are beginning to open into junior high.

There is a core group of moms who have worked a ridiculous amount of hours to prepare for a grand party that lasted a mere 3 hours. We were exhausted before the party even started. But, for those 3 hours, 140 students had a chance to celebrate the final stages of 5th grade.
For most of the day, she refused all my pleas to have her picture taken. I tried to sneak up on her, beg and even plead. Much to no avail.

But somehow, in the briefest of a moment, she let me have my way. Her glow-in-the-dark glasses may have weakened her resolve.

The life of a parent seems to be celebrated in the smallest of moments. They are found at those times when life seems to stand still and you become fully aware of how fast it's speeding by. The first day of kindergarten feels juxtaposed to the last day of 5th grade. The time that has passed in between, has gone too quickly.

So today, I watched her leap. Bounding with all the energy she always carries with her. And so I shall do my best to leap with her. Ever mindful of this day and all that I witnessed in her.

Onward to her future that is ahead...

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The End Draws Nigh

7 is such a small, teensy number. One week. That's it. One meesely week. 7 days from today, at 3:25 pm, they will descend from the bus for the last time. Then summer will begin. The freedom from routine will be welcomed. But the constant bickering and the need to be endlessly entertained, will not.

I think that for a mother, summer is just like having a baby. Before it's arrival, you view what's up ahead with joy and excitement. But then, when you're living it in the moment, you realize that reality just isn't as pleasant as you thought it would be.

Don't misinterpret my murmuring. I love my kids. I'm (somewhat) glad that school is coming to a close. But, here's the deal--summer sucks away my remaining sanity. It just does. I'm pretty sure that my kids are the biggest factor. They are just not normal. But then again, neither am I.

So, my plan for this next week, is to stock pile sanity and patience. If I have any extras, I'll let you borrow some. I'm going to try and channel all those good mothers who continually have a smile on their face and never yell at their children. I think I'll even get a pedicure and try to soak up all the quiet I can find. Then, I'll be ready. I think.

So many people have asked me recently if I have plans for the summer. I only ever have one response, "just try to stay alive." If you have ever been to our house for dinner, you know that's a lofty goal.

7. Days.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Personal Best

This weekend, Sam ran the 1500 (that's a little shy of a mile) in 5 minutes/52 seconds. She almost doubled over with happiness that she broke the 6 minute mark. Considering the fact that it was 328 degrees outside, her happiness was amplified. Maybe she was imagining that she was running toward cooler weather.

After the race, I realized that her finishing time matches the same amount of time that I can eat an entire cake by myself. I'm kindof talented like that. And I don't even break a sweat. Like mother, like daughter.

Friday, May 21, 2010

I'm A Special Kind Of Crazy

I yearn to turn chaos into order. This longing sits deep within me. I find true joy in an organized closet. My heart beats faster when I open the Martha Stewart magazine issue on putting everything in it's place. This need to order all that's around me is a sick disease. Sure, it looks nice once it's finished. But then real life takes hold, and nothing is returned to it's assigned spot.

I fed my sickness today by organizing the medicine cabinet. Yes, we have an entire cabinet devoted to pills. I like to think of it as more of an homage. Behold the disarray:

Now it is all nicely contained. It's pretty and labeled. Defined categorizes now exist. My soul now feels settled knowing that all this medicine is organized:

But by tomorrow, my crazy will set in. It will start as soon as someone doesn't put a bottle back where it belongs. Or, heaven forbid, someone switches the bins around. I'm closing my eyes and cringing.

For today, I'm keeping the cabinet open. Just so I can look at it. Starting tomorrow, I'll keep it closed and pretend that everything is perfect behind closed doors. Hey, that's what I do with the girl's bedrooms. I shall silently repeat, "there's no place like an organized home, there's no place like and organized home...."

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Child #3 is my deepest thinker. She asks questions about things that I have never had the need to think about. Lately, a lot of her questions are about death. "When you die, do you stay the same age? Do you keep having birthdays?" Or, this is one I get quite frequently, "When you die, will you still be my mom?" I always assure her that I will. But, I'm starting to wonder if she keeps repeating the question in hopes of a different answer.

Last night, Addie and Todd were driving in the car. She asked him "Is the moon big? Because, it doesn't look big. But, I bet if we could pull it down here, right by us, it would look big." Such imaginative thinking for a 7 year old.

At what point do we stop wondering? How old are we when we no longer use our imagination to solve life's mysteries, or ask fascinating questions? I look at my youngest and realize that I no longer 'wonder' about life like she does. I'm not really sure I even did as a child. But maybe I did, just a little.

Does life just become so busy, so stressful, and so noisy that we can't make room to imagine? I tend to wonder about tedious things. I lay in bed at night and wonder where all the forks have gone. Crazy, but true. It's a mystery. They just slowly disappear. Do the kids take them to school or hide them under beds? I'm not sure. Thus, I wonder.

Maybe adults simply become wired not to think about pulling the moon down beside you. We grow up and tend to see life as simply that...Life. What if we slowed down enough to really 'see'? We just might find the wonder in the smallest of moments all around us. We just might find ourselves actually appreciating everything that's in our Life. And maybe, just maybe, I would discover one or two missing forks.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Slip Of The Tongue

Have you ever tried to say your name backwards? Well, a couple of months ago, my kids discovered what LISA sounds like when you say it as ASIL. It sounds strikingly similar to another word. No?

Do you find that ironic? Todd does. And so do my kids.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

She Is Odd Too

She is 8 years younger than me. She is also more carefree, a glass is half full kind of person. I, on the other hand, always see life as more than half empty. When I look at her, I can remember convincing her to eat dog food when she was a toddler. I'm just that sweet of a sister.

Today is her birthday, so I'm doing what I do best--putting my words in print. She too is now an odd number. I thought that by publicly talking about her, it might cheer her up. Again, I repeat, I'm a way sweet sister.

Top 10 things you should know about her:
  • She has used chapstick on her nose. On purpose.
  • She can make a car alarm sound with her voice. It's truly frightening.
  • She has difficulty with the English language, particularly with the words: liberry (library), costchume (costume) and krahn (crayon).
  • She once offered a homeless woman a loaf of bread. The woman threw it in the street. Emily retrieved it and took it home to toast it up. I'm completely serious. I can't even make this stuff up.
  • When she was growing up, my brother would sing a song to her about a beached whale, every day.
  • She is convinced her tongue is too big for her mouth.
  • She is the only person on the planet who hates, and I mean hates, gum. She chewed a piece of bubble gum just to get Makell to promise not to throw any more tantrums. The experience nearly killed her.
  • She is a very patient mom. I watch her in awe.
  • She is convinced that she saw a penguin. In Houston. On the golf course. Oh yes, I kid you not.
  • Over the last year and a half, she has faced many life altering trials. She has walked through challenges that I never dreamed possible. And through it all, she has shown great personal courage and integrity. She has become a hero, and set an example I will forever try to reach.
She is fun, spontaneous, and kind. All the things I long to be (in a very scheduled and structured manner, of course). She is also the favorite. It's a proven fact, much to my dismay. And why wouldn't she be? Not everyone has the intelligence to see a penguin in Texas. I can't even compete with that.

Happy Birthday to the sister I love and adore.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


Events from the week worth mentioning:

The 5th graders graduated from the DARE program. Each one even received an official diploma. Later that afternoon while driving in the car, Kellie happened to mention that she loves the smell of the dry erase board markers. I think I might need to have that diploma duct taped to her arm.
Sam had her final Choir Pop Show Concert. The singing was fantastic. Before one of the performances, I noticed Sam talking to the girl next to her, then she turned to stare at Todd and I, and then she started giggling. After the show, she reported to us that her friend had asked if Todd was her brother or her boyfriend. She simply laughed while responding, "uh, no, that's my dad."
During the intermission for the show, Todd mentioned that yesterday he taught all of his coworkers how to tip a cow. First off, none of them had even heard of cow tipping. They found it fascinating. And, for your information, Todd informs me that you have to come at the cow in full running speed and bend low to put your shoulder into it. It's best if you have a couple of friends with you. When I stared at him in shock, he let me know that its the cow's fault for sleeping while standing up.

After the choir concert, a woman approached me to tell me how well behaved my kids are. Never, and I mean never, has anyone said those words to me. I decided that she just might not get out much. Or she was blind.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


I've been thinking lately about time and priorities. I seem to be in a stage of life where time is in short supply. My kids are of the age that their schedules become all consuming, and I am in a stage where I say 'yes' all too often. Last week I reached my tipping point. Hence, my thinking about time. Where do I allocate it? To what extent do I allow my family to be stretched? At what point do I reign it all in and calm the busy down to something liveable?

Over the last week, I've tried to take control over a few things, in hopes of better managing a lot of other things. But in the back of my mind, my thoughts are endlessly stirring over the choices we are making. What items on the schedule do we skip and which ones do we give all our energy to? Maybe this is a battle that is continuously debated, but never fully resolved.

As my thoughts have simmered over the topics of family, priorities and time, my mind stumbled upon the parable of the ten virgins. I recalled that 5 were prepared to meet the Bridegroom, with their lamps heavy with oil. But, there were also 5 who had made choices to spend their time elsewhere, and thus, their lamps were empty when the Bridegroom came.

I've always seen this story in relation to spiritual matters. But what if it is more? What if it also applies to the daily choices we make as we go about our busy lives? This parable may not have just one application. As I look closely, maybe the 5 who were prepared were those who looked at all the choices presented and were able to select only those that would fill their lamps. What if they too were mothers with busy schedules, and callings to fulfill, and kids to shuttle back and forth, and volunteer obligations at school? Somehow, these 5 women looked at the life of their family and made priorities. They chose wisely. I highly doubt they did it all.

Maybe the 5 who were standing with empty vessels were the ones who tried to do too much. They attempted to get everything done and meet every obligation. They ran tirelessly to accomplish it all, and yet, their lamps were never filled.

So, this week I have tried to discover which group of 5 I am in, and which group I want to be in. I believe it's a work in progress. It probably always will be. Life ebbs and flows. Some times are busier than others. Balance is harder to fight for at different moments and stages. But, as long as we know which side of the parable we stand on, everything will work together for our good. As long as we are trying our best to fill our families' lamp with oil, we will be prepared to meet the Bridegroom. We reach Him one choice at a time.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Celebrate The Mother You Are

"The best kind of mom doesn't exist. She truly doesn't. There is no singular, perfect, absolute, best way to be. There are hundreds of styles of good mothering, every one of which can turn out terrific kids...The message? Stop comparing yourself. Just be yourself and let that be enough."
by Joni Hilton

Saturday, May 8, 2010

A Quiet Moment Admist The Chaos

Our Saturday morning garage sale.
A fairy and an angel eat crackers.
Peace can be found in the smallest of moments.

Friday, May 7, 2010


Today is my birthday.

I am odd.


I could feel it deep in my bones when I opened my eyes this morning.


I hope I make it through the year.

A cupcake or two, or twenty-five, may just get me through.

All hope can always be found within the velvet folds of frosting.

365 days to go....

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Perfect Gift

I'm a firm believer that prayers are often answered through the gifts of another. Well, my answer arrived today in the mail:

I love her. I can already feel a special kinship between she and I. Her tag looks a little worn, her message typed on a typewriter. I have a feeling she has been used well and often.

I can't reveal the source from whence she arrived. If I let the person's identity out into the public, I fear that mothers everywhere would start demanding dolls of their own. Women would clamor to his or her door with pleas for their own stuffing to whack. So, for now, I shall keep her all to myself and close by me at the ready. I have a feeling she shall be used within the hour.

Thank you my special friend. Who knew that a prayer could be answered with some simple fabric, yarn hair and a truth telling poem...I'm feeling serenity already.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Friends And Cupcakes

Did you know that friends and cupcakes have a striking similarity? They're both delicious. Today, my friends gathered for a surprise (early) birthday lunch. I say 'surprise' loosely. Todd gave it all away last night. I almost snapped his head off, but I didn't. Good thing I like him. A lot.
It's amazing what gifts one can receive when someone truly knows your passions and your inner heart's desire. Cupcakes were in abundance. It was like manna falling from heaven.

My mom and sister were in on the surprise as well. Emily worked her fingers down to stubs trying to sand and 'shabby chic' my gift. Behind my back, she had each of my girls write the 3 things they love about me. I secretly think she sat on them and forced them to write something nice.

I love this necklace so much, I'm thinking of having it tattooed over my heart. I'm serious.

I have already eaten all 4 gourmet cupcakes (I let the rest of the family take a small nibble), baked a cake in the giant cupcake pan, and I've worn the necklace from the moment I opened it. A day lived to the fullest. A nice surprise.

Monday, May 3, 2010

A Good Translation

Sometimes I have an idea that doesn't translate well in its final product. But then there are times, when the idea in my head turns out exactly as I had imagined:

This is my Family Tree. I made it for my mom for her birthday. The idea came to me one day while I was driving. It evolved a bit, but not much. I'm still quite amazed that what started as an, "I wonder if..." came to fruition.

My parents are at the center of the tree. Each child (along with their spouse) and grandchild is listed by name and the year of their birth. And yes, I drew the tree and cut it out all by my wee, little self. The frame I can't take credit for. I stole it from my mom's house and dismantled it.

After all my hours of toil were complete, I stood back and realized one thing-- I'm grateful my parents didn't have any more kids, because I'd run out of paper leaves. That seems to sum up my life: only add the leaves that the branch can bear. My branch can hold Todd and I plus three. It's a perfect fit. I like my branch. It feels 'just right'. Graft it in with all the other branches, and a family is born. One that grows, and gives, and loves. And, one that fits perfectly in a frame.