Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Status

Tomorrow is the last day of school. Just thinking about it makes me nauseous. I keep repeating in my head, "Please don't make me do it, please don't make me do it...." Somehow I keep telling myself that if I concentrate hard enough, I'll figure out a way to make the summer days delightful. I like trying to trick myself like that.

The teenager got out of school early. Seriously. Um, why? Apparently there are ways to be exempt from finals. Again, I repeat. Um, why? She's home and this is where she will be for the next 87 days (don't even wonder if I've counted the days):

When I told her I needed to vacuum this morning she got 100 shades of crazy. She was irritated she couldn't hear the TV. When I was her age, I had a summer job. Why doesn't she have one? Why? Deep down I'm pretty sure that's my fault, but I'm not going to think about it. She is going to babysit for my sister once a week for 3 hours. The teenager thinks this qualifies as a job. 3 hours a week. Obviously Todd and I like to teach our kids how to be delusional. It's funny. Or not.

I'm trying to soak in the last few moments of serenity. When I think about the end being near, I start to hyperventilate. So, for now, I think I'll stop thinking. M' kay?

Sunday, May 27, 2012

When My Judgement Falters

The teenager asked if she could invite her teenager friends over for a party. Me, the adult, the one with a brain and a college degree, said yes.

A shaving cream war. Enough said.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

An Unexpected Gift

It's been one of those weeks. The kind where you can't catch your breath. The tasks feel endless and time rationed to miniscule amounts. I know you can relate. This is what happens when everything begins to wind down before summer.

Amidst the crazy, I happened to open a set of scriptures I used in high school. It was a random act thrown in between rushing here while needing to be there.

I discovered a set of notes from my dad. All piled neatly together and tucked inside thin pages. My heart stilled and my soul calmed. And for the briefest of moments, I didn't dare breathe.

There was love. Written in a handwriting I would recognize anywhere. A random note card, a piece of paper, the back of his business card. Simple words once left for me. It felt like I was holding heaven.

Life has a way of reminding you what truly matters. Let us be still and use our eyes to see those we cherish most. Hold love in your hands and let it soak deep in your soul. Set the world aside and embrace the unexpected gifts.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

How She Shines

My oldest child tends to stand in the spotlight. She's the first, so it just naturally shines on her. She is comfortable there. In fact, I think she is successful because of it. We tend to pay attention to those kinds of people. The ones who stand with confidence in that spotlight. They grab it and make it their own. It's just their way.

But then there are those who avoid that light. It makes them nervous. Or, they just simply don't like it. They are the ones we often lose sight of because they thrive on their own.

Daughter #2 stands behind the oldest. She is caught in the middle of the family order. I think she likes it there. Not the first and not the last. Just perfect in between. This girl of mine doesn't like the spotlight. She does everything she can to avoid it. She likes to fade into the normal.

But yet, she is worthy of that spotlight. Every golden ray of it. This learning disabled girl made National Junior Honors Society. That's no small accomplishment. In her world, it's record breaking. And she did it without fanfare, without honor's classes or teacher praise. She did it without a spotlight.

I've come to realize that this girl carries her own light. It doesn't shine down on her, it simply glows from within. She carries it wherever she goes. And there are moments, like when she walks on a stage to receive a hard earned award, that I feel as if her glow could light up the world. She is truly that bright. All on her own. No spotlight required.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The World Suggestion Box

If I could change the world:

Teenagers would not, I repeat, Would. Not. be hormonal.

No cars. Only bicycles. Here's why-- no more carpools, no more teaching my teenager to drive, no more hauling everyone everywhere. They'll have to do for themselves because my bike will have flat tires. Always.

School projects would become outlawed cuss words.

All summer long, kids everywhere will have an insatiable desire to sit on their beds and read.

The food pyramid would be turned upside down. All that food that is bad for you needs to be seriously reconsidered as a necessary staple to living.

No one would be allowed to suggest to me that "if I only would put my family on a gluten free diet", my kids would start acting normal.

School days would include dinner and someone to assist with homework.

Motherhood would come with a salary and a mandatory, yearly "work retreat".

Sibling fighting could be punishable with prison time.

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Warm-Up

I am the mom of 3 violinists. Well, let me correct that-- I am the mom who yells at 3 girls to practice the violin while I hear them say, "I wish I played the piano." That sounds more accurate.

I haven't ever stopped to consider how many violins there are around here. They have been here so long, they've just become part of the scenery. Ordinary. Part of life.

I looked at the cases the other day and decided to line them up. Just to see what they would look like. Gently placed, ordered by size. Lovely and quiet. I stood back and wished my life looked like those 3 violins. In order, placed just so, pretty to look at.

But life isn't about the order and the pretty, is it? No, it more defined by the daily battle to practice and the yelling that precedes it. That's the truth of it. Life is consumed by the ugly and hard parts. Pretty tends to show up at unexpected, small moments. And then things settle back to the regular rough and crazy.

I've been to my fair share of violin performances over the years. I've listened to endless notes sung by a bow. But, do you want to know my favorite violin sound? The warm-up. I know, it's weird.

Before every concert, every recital, all the violins are being tuned, all the violinists are practicing various parts of music. And they are all playing at once. No order. No conductor. Nothing staged or pretty. Just every violinist playing their own violin, in their own way. And when they join all together, without fanfare or worry of what their performance means, beauty transcends.

I tend to want my life to look like the polished performance. Pretty, ordered, finished and touched. But really, truly, my life feels like the warm-up. More of a beautiful chaos. One that requires constant tuning, adjustments and practice. I feel like most days, I can't ever reach up and out of the warm-up. I can't ever make my way into performance ready.

But maybe that's the point. Maybe life isn't about the end game. Sure, that's the goal. But maybe it's not the purpose. Perhaps the soul of life comes from the warm-up. From the tuning and the practicing and all the yelling it takes to get there. Maybe, just maybe, that's what makes the polished performance even possible. The rough and the crazy are the only things that let the pretty and ordered shine through.

What would life look like if we all decided to warm-up and tune together? All playing at once, all in our own way, each with their own music? Somehow, I think that that kind of beauty just might be the truest purpose of all.

Play your own notes. Without fanfare, without polished performance. Play and let your music ring true.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


I'm odd. Did you know? In years, I mean. I had a birthday, and now I'm odd. I really hate being odd. Really, really.

It's put me off my game. This oddness. Well, and the simple fact that school is almost out. That little tidbit has sucked away my will to live. Just kidding. No, not really.

I've tried to settle in to my odd. You would think it would be easy, seeing how I face this dilemma every other year. But somehow, this odd year feels even odd-er than normal. I can't seem to shake it.

Maybe it's not my age. Maybe it's me. Could that even be possible? That I'm just simply odd? No matter my age? I don't know. That's a crazy idea that I don't know if I can accept. If I did, I think I'd come undone.

I have considered trying to balance out the oddness. Like, doing only an even amount of tasks each day. Eating an even amount of M&Ms. Washing only an even amount of dishes. That sort of thing. But honestly, that would just be weird. Right? Being weird and odd is just too much to handle.

I'm open to suggestions. Truly. If anyone has experience with being odd, I'd love to know how you continue living. Oh, and if you have tips on surviving the summer with kids who talk back to you, suck away all your money and fight non-stop, I'd love to hear those too.

Who knows? Maybe an even number of people will give me an even number of ideas, and then all will be right with the world. At least the odd part of it, anyway.