Saturday, July 25, 2015

The One Where I Bought a Kiddie Pool

This post, originally found here, is easily my most viewed entry. Apparently, a lot of people google kiddie pools. So, in honor of summer and my most famous post, please enjoy reading about that time my car transformed into an aircraft.


Today I decided to get Garrett a decent kiddie pool. He had one that my mom supplied last summer but it's seems to have gotten so small. I think it has something to do with the fact that my son has gotten so big. It was a blow up pool and it worked great last summer. This summer I decided we needed something slightly more permanent, something I didn't need to blow up every time I wanted to put Garrett in it.

I drove to the WalMart by my house (five minutes away) and I found the hard plastic kind that I was looking for. However, for ten extra dollars I could get one with a slide. I figured this would be ten dollars well spent. They were out of the one with the slide. I asked if they could check to see if the other WalMart by my house (ten minutes away) or the other WalMart by my house (twelve minutes away) had them in stock. The girl who was helping me couldn't find the item number so she told me to go to Customer Service and ask them to call over to the other locations. I did so but not before Garrett had a near death--or at least near major injury--experience.*

Me: Hi, you are out of the hard plastic kiddie pools with the slide and the person who was helping me told me to ask you to call the one at Jordan Landing to see if they have them in stock.

Customer Service Girl: I can't do that unless you have the item number.

Me: She couldn't find it.

Customer Service Girl: Then I can't help you. I'm sorry.

Me: You can't call them and ask?

Customer Service Girl: No. I'm sorry.

Me: So I have to drive over there to check and see if they have them?

Customer Service Girl: Yes. Sorry.

This is the point that I turn and walk away completely floored and knowing full well that if I can pick up the phone and call them, she can pick up the phone and call them. In the car I called my husband and had him look up the numbers for the other locations. I stopped at Target to see if they had them. Nope. They had decided not to carry the hard pools this season. I stopped at the house and got bungee cords. This is very important and will play an exciting role as the drama unfolds. I was on hold with the WalMart at Jordan Landing for over ten minutes before the guy helping me came back on the line and said, "We have one in stock. It does have a big hole in it though." At this point there is a long pause as he, apparently, waits to see if I still want it. What I said aloud was, "Um. Well okay. I, uh, don't want it then." What I thought was I don't want it for its decorative value you pinhead. I want it for my kid to swim in. I'm pretty sure a big hole kind of defeats the purpose. I mean, I don't know, I only swam competitively for ten years of my life so I'm not really the expert on the whole concept of a pool but I have a sneaking suspicion it needs to have the capacity to hold water.

So I turned my car in the direction of the other WalMart and called them. Again with the on hold thing. Oh and also a guy tried to cut me off and, when he wasn't successful, he laid on his horn and flapped his hands in my direction. There may have been a middle finger. I'm not sure. I know that my blood was already on boil mode and it was just about all I could do to keep my own fingers in check. But then, in the Pastor's Wife Handbook, rule number one is Thou Shalt Not Flip People Off. So I didn't. Finally I got a hold of the other WalMart and they had them in pink, blue, and yellow. Trouble was I wasn't sure where this WalMart is. I called Troy and had him Mapquest it. Mapquest wouldn't work. So I drove to the one I thought it might be. It wasn't. They did, however, have two blue kiddie pools with a slide in stock. They were outside in the garden section covered in bird poop, dirt and feathers but they had them. Here is where the real fun begins.

I kid you not, this pool is about five feet across and, given the fact that it's mostly a circle (the slide makes its dimensions weird) it is pretty darn big. And I had a cart. And a kid. I should have left it there and gone back with Troy but I was so over trying to find my son this stupid pool that it was going home with me if it was the last thing I ever did. By the time I got out to the parking lot Garrett was crying because I had put the pool on top of him in the cart (he was sitting in the back part and it was over him like a fort) and it, apparently, scared the bejeepers out of him. Thankfully a very nice woman offered to watch the pool while I found the car (it was lost) and put Garrett in it. I drove the car back to the pool and began the task of bungee cording it to the roof. It must have been quite laughable, me on the back of the car, trying my best to look like I knew what I was doing. I finally got it affixed to my roof and I started driving through the parking lot. I rolled down my window, reached my hand out and pulled on the side of the pool. It seemed alright. I started driving faster. I heard thumping. I reached my arm out and I could no longer feel the pool. Uh oh.

I had put the pool bottom side up. Wind was passing underneath. What we had here was a sort of kiddie pool airplane, hovering just above the car. Luckily the bungee cords were keeping said aircraft from taking off on its own flight pattern. I pulled over and grabbed a hold of it with my left hand. Thanks to those ten years of competitive swimming and two years of toting around a child, my biceps are in working order. I held it firm the rest of the way home, if I went over 25 mph the pool caught air and ripped out of my hand. If I stayed below 25 I felt relatively sure that it wouldn't blow off the roof causing a major wreck. I prayed. A lot.

After Garrett went down for a nap I spent about an hour building it (it has a railing next to the slide) and cleaning it out. Then I filled it with water and it was ready for Garrett. Beck has this basic working knowledge of what belongs to Garrett and he usually doesn't bug Garrett's stuff. (There was that one time with the crocodile but generally speaking he's pretty decent.) He looked it over and then plopped down next to it. However, Holly, the Labrador retriever we are dogsitting for a few days, did not quite understand the order of things and she took to the pool like a moth to a flame. So, within moments the pool was swimming with dog hair and dirt. I didn't have the heart to tell her to get out, she was just too darn adorable.

Later, Garrett got to get in his new pool--dirty as it was. I don't think he minded the dog hair. You can decide for yourselves.
I mean, I think he looks pretty happy. Ignore the cloudy dog water.


*As I was surveying bathing suits with built in life jackets, I turned my back on my son who was in the back of the cart. I know, I know, shame on me for putting him there. As I turned back to ask him a question I saw him reaching for a toy on the other side of the aisle. He had already pitched completely over the side and was plummeting head first for the concrete floor. I dove into the side of the cart and grabbed the heel of his right foot, catching him just before he slammed into the ground. He started sobbing and I literally held him so tight and kind of scolded him and told him how much it scared me.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Freezing Summer

Summer is so short. Especially with year round school. And we're lucky because we stayed on the same track so we get a longer, six week summer, instead of the shorter three week ones. I already find myself dreading that it's all going to start again in less than four weeks.

I want more long days of warmth.

More wiggling my feet in the sand.

More popsicles.

More waves and salty hugs and football tossing in the yard.

More tank tops and flip flops.

More chlorine and carefree giggles.

One more month isn't enough.

I want to say yes more.

Yes, you can have a sleepover.

Yes, you can turn on the sprinklers.

Yes, to that slurpee.

Yes, to that hike, that adventure, that dirty puppy.

I still get to watch my boys surf, listen to the sound of the waves crashing on the shore, see that great expanse of ocean. I still get to hear their laughter as they draw all the marrow out of the bones of summer. And yet, I feel the creeping of the coming seasons. The grind. The months that pile on top of one another, over and over, until these boys are grown and gone.

Linger summer, for just a moment longer this year.

Let them halt their height for a split second, that I may freeze them in time.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Share Us

This week, at Adoption Center of Hope, we're the featured hopeful family. That means we pop up first on the list of hopeful families.

Click here and you'll see what I mean. After this week, we'll still pop up, just not first.

There are several new matches at ACOH and, you guys, I can't tell you how much it makes my heart swell to see these families being matched. I pray for all these couples. When a match is made, I do not feel jealousy that it wasn't us. I feel SO VERY HAPPY that God is putting families together.

Here's the thing though, when it comes to our family, we believe that there is a mama out there who is looking for us for her little girl. Garrett desperately wanted a sister by the time he turned nine. God has other plans and we believe that His plans are always better than what we can dream up. Still, in honor of Garrett's birthday, he would love it if you would share us with the world so that we can find his sister. Can you share and ask your friends to share and their friends and on and on? We're waiting. We're ready. Adoption Center of Hope works with birth moms from all walks of life, all situations, across the entire country.

Can you link to this post? Can you share this link http://www.adoptionanswer.com/troy-lori/  with your friends? You never know if yours might be the share that changes our lives forever. Please put it in your blogs, on your Facebook pages, wherever you can. You might not be looking to place your child. Maybe you don't know anyone who is. But maybe one of your friends has a friend who has a sister who is considering adoption. If you share our story, you could be THE person who makes our adoption match possible.

Please, please share us.



Monday, July 20, 2015

Interview With a Nine-Year-Old

1. What is your favorite T.V. Show? My favorite TV show has to be Dual Survival.
2. What did you have for breakfast? I had an egg and a prune and an apple and milk.
3. What is your middle name? John.
4. Favorite Food? Snow crab.
5. What food do you dislike? Avocado.
6. What is your favorite color? Brown and black.
7. Favorite lunch? Snow crab. (I think he likes snow crab.)
8. What is your favorite thing to do? Go to Israel.
9. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would it be? Uh...Israel.
10. Favorite sport? Wrestling and swimming.
11. When is your birthday? July 20, 2006.
12. Are you a morning person or a night person? Both.
13. Pets? Two. I have a puppy that's really mouthy. (She's nine weeks old. She likes to use her mouth to play.) I have a cat who is really shy.
14. Any new and exciting news you'd like to share with us? I have a new puppy.
15. What do you want to be when you grow up? I don't know. (I said, if you had to pick something.) I want to be in the coast guard. But first I want to be a little pizza guy.
16. What is your favorite candy? Cotton candy.
17. Where is the farthest place you've ever been from home? Israel
18. What is your favorite book? Little House on the Prairie and Taran Wanderer.
19. What are you most proud of? That I ran a mile in 7.22.
20. What is your favorite movie? The Hobbit.
21. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? The chicken. That's a simple question. (Why is it simple?) Because God made the animals and the animals make more animals.

And, for fun, I asked him the same questions that James Lipton asks at the end of Inside the Actor's Studio.

1. What is your favorite word? Sword.
2. What is your least favorite word? Can I say this word? Sure. I don't even know what it is but it's the F word. Wait, I think I know what it is. Okay, what? Funky. (Ha. HAHAHAHA!)
3. What turns you on? (I rephrased with, "What do you like?") Snow crab. (Oh. Boy.)
4. What turns you off? (I rephrased with, "What don't you like?") Blood. (Same answer as last year.)
5. What sound or noise do you love? The crack of snow crab. (Oh. My. Goodness.)
6. What sound or noise do you hate? When Styrofoam is rubbing against something.(Same answer, three years running.)
7. What is your favorite curse word? I can't answer that. Yeah you can. Sucks.
8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? A pastor.
9. What profession would you not like to do? Be a tank driver. It's too deadly.
10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? (I omitted the "If Heaven exists" part)? Hello, Garrett.

Letter to a Nine Year Old

Dear Garrett,

I remember it like it happened yesterday. You were there and I was there and I'd waited so long for you that all of it seemed like a dream I'd wake up from. I was afraid to sleep, for fear that the bassinet by my side would vanish into the night. But it didn't. You kept on existing. Days turned to weeks and months and years and now we find ourselves nine years in.

Halfway.

I let that one word pass so quickly through my mind because I cannot think on it. You're halfway to all grown up. This breaks me in ways you may never fully understand and, if you do, it won't be until your own children are mostly grown. The years seem faster now, kamikaze and out of control with the way they topple into one another. Long gone are the lazy and never ending days of toddlerhood which were broken, if I was lucky, by a mid day nap. Now it's all sports and school and scouts and homework.

You are so much more than I ever could have dreamed. Ephesians 3:20 says that God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine. Son, you are living proof of the awesome power God has to surpass our wildest dreams. I couldn't have dreamed up this wonderful YOU if I'd had a million years and all the parchment in the world.

You are so much better than me in every way that matters.

You are brave. You are tender. You are uninhibited. Your smile lights up a room. You are gentle. You are enthusiastic. You are friendly. You are spiritually sensitive. You are flexible. You are respectful. You are optimistic.

This year has pretty well sucked for our family. That isn't to say that we have not been blessed in incredible ways. We serve the God of our good days and our bad ones. He never changes and He always loves us. But, the year has been hard. Still, yesterday, you informed everyone within earshot at church that this has been the best year of your life. It was as if the hard stuff disappeared and what was left was tree climbing and campfire having and firework watching.

But the hard things didn't disappear. They all happened and I watched you change. Before my very eyes, you transformed. You watched your dad and I crying and you decided to grow up. It broke my heart and made it swell with pride all at the same exact moment. As your mama, I don't want you to have to grow up. I don't want you to see or feel or experience any of the tough stuff. But when I watch you weather the storm, I see a glimpse of the man you're becoming and I feel, somehow, confident in the person I'm releasing to the world.

You took care of me. While you still needed me for food and shelter and tangible things, you put your arms around me and gave me permission to lose myself. I didn't feel like I had to be strong in front of you and that, son, was the best gift your little eight-year-old self could have given me.

I think, in some ways, you realized how crazy fierce I love you. If I could love your sister that much without ever even having set eyes on her, how much of my heart must be wrapped around every inch of your body? I hope, something immense, that one day another mama picks us because I am convinced that you will be the best big brother that ever there was. I'm longing to see a day where you hold your sister in your arms.

I'm sorry you couldn't hold Kate. I know you desperately wish you'd been able to. There are choices we make, judgement calls and parenting decisions, and I hope that one day you can understand why we couldn't let you. I hope that one day you can process life enough to know that, while ultimately cathartic and good, it was an experience that wrecked me. I couldn't let that happen to you. It's my job to try to keep you unbroken. I'm sorry that you don't have another sister yet. I know how desperately you were hoping to by the time you turned nine. God has other plans. And, like I mentioned before, they are so much better than anything we can imagine.

You are light and life and volume and energy. You're also very NINE and very EYE ROLLY and very MY-PARENTS-ARE-THE-DUMBEST-PEOPLE-ON-THE-PLANET. I do not so much love those things but I understand that it comes with the territory. I do love that you still want me to climb up into your bed to snuggle with you at night. Every night. And I'm well aware that those moments are numbered. I love that you'll still have insane dance parties with me. I love your cackle as we watch Duck Dynasty or Amazing Race or American Ninja Warrior together. I love the freckles that dot your nose and the fact that you were born a freer spirit than the rest of us put together.

I'm mostly convinced that you'll grow all the way up, buy a one-way ticket to Hawaii and live in a van down by the ocean. The old me would have experienced heart palpitations just writing that sentence but the me who has parented you all these nine years has been kneaded and stretched and she understands that you are different from most all the other boys. The same in that you love bodily functions and poop jokes as much as the next kid. But different. Waiting, perhaps, for something the rest of us don't even know is coming.

I don't know what it is. I can't put my finger on it. But it's there, beneath the surface of who you are. Something special. Something different. Something that makes me wonder how I got so lucky. Of all the boys in all the world, God chose me for you.

Thank you for listening to teachers and coaches and other adults. Thank you for understanding that the world likes well-behaved young men much more than it likes hooligans. It is my heartfelt prayer that you hang on to that, that testosterone doesn't flood over your brain and cause a great deal of damage, that your annual letter in five years doesn't start with, "So, you're away at military school."

I sure do love almost everything about you. I love that you run fast and surf and love the outdoors and love your family and play soccer and baseball. I love the way your eyes sparkle when you smile. I also know that it's only by the grace of God that we've managed to make it this far together--and fairly unscathed. So I'll keep praying for every part of your life and you keep trying not to go to juvie, deal?

I love you,
Mom

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Platform Jumping and Rule Breaking

Confession: Sometimes, I'm a rule breaker.

Case in point. Our local pool has the rule that you must shower before you go swimming. NO ONE does it. In fact, they have an outside entrance that doesn't even have this rule posted. It's never enforced. Never even mentioned by the lifeguards or any staff members.

The pool also has the posted rule that you have to be ten to jump off the platforms, eight to jump off the higher spring board and capable of swimming to jump off the regular board. Matthew, for example, has been jumping off the smallest diving board since he was three years old. Our pool also has the rule that you must have a parent within arms length if you're under the age of six. This means that my youngest son had to have me within arms length for THREE ENTIRE YEARS AFTER HE WAS CAPABLE OF JUMPING OFF THE DIVING BOARD AND SWIMMING TO THE SIDE OF THE POOL.

I find it infuriating. I've seen adults that are worse swimmers than my nearly nine-year-old and my six-year-old. I stand by my opinion that the kids should have to pass a swim test and, once that's passed, they should be able to swim and jump off the boards freely. But no one asks me.

So I'm a rule breaker.

Let me explain though. I do not let my children lie. If they're asked their age, they must tell the truth and live with any consequences. They also have to look the part. At least, somewhat. Matthew, for example, isn't going to try to jump off any platforms anytime soon because he definitely couldn't pass for a ten-year-old.

Last year, just before my oldest son turned eight, I told him to jump off the spring board. You have to be eight. He refused to try it until his birthday when he walked right off the end of the thing like it was nobody's business. This year, he wanted to try the platform. He'll be nine on Monday. He's a full year away from being "platform eligible." 

But he's known how to swim since he was three. He goes to surf camp every summer. He jumped off a cliff in Hawaii when he was five! He's totally capable. So I told him to go for it. The pastor's wife in me DOES NOT CONDONE THIS BLATANT DISREGARD FOR THE RULES. The mom in me told him to look confident and to, well, attempt to create some sort of swagger in which he might, possibly, pass for a ten-year-old. In June, he jumped off the five meter platform. He just walked up and hopped right off. No questions asked.

He did it several times until, finally, one lifeguard blew her whistle and yelled, "How old are you, Bud?" He turned around and dejectedly walked back down the stairs.

On Tuesday, I took the boys to the pool. "I want to jump off the platform," Garrett told me. "And I'm fine with that," I said. Because I'm completely confident in his ability to do so and completely confident in my ability to rescue him if something goes wrong. "But you can't lie if they ask you how old you are." He walked toward the platforms and began the climb up. I yelled his name. He turned to look at me and I motioned for him to go higher.

The 10 meter, "white" platform is only open for two hours a day. It was closed, but he nodded at me and continued past the "red" five meter platform and on to the "blue" 7.5 meter one. He confidently stepped to the edge and waited. The lifeguard raised her flag and he stepped off.

video

I am mostly convinced that this child is living in the wrong state. He needs to be in Hawaii where he can surf and cliff jump all day long. He's a free spirit. Way freer that the rest of us. He is unafraid. Confident. Brave. Amazing. He's my hero.

He waited until the white platform opened and bravely walked toward the staircase. But, alas, they'd placed a lifeguard on the stairs to ask each person how old s/he was. He hung his head and walked back to me, tears stinging his eyes. 

"IT ISN'T FAIR!" he wailed.

"It IS fair," I explained. "It's the rule. They're just enforcing it." Tears rushed down his eight-year-old-not-big-enough-for-the-platforms-yet face.

"But I can do it and I WANT to!" he sobbed. Then suddenly, he stopped. "Will you do it?"

"No."

"But if you do it it'll make up for the fact that I can't," he said.

"No."

"Are you a chicken?" he asked.

"Yes. Yes, I am a chicken," I said confidently. (A confident chicken, I am.)

Matthew joined in the conversation. "If you don't do it we're going to call you a chicken forever."

"Then a chicken I will be forevermore," I smiled. "Now, let's go play in the pool."

I've jumped off enough platforms in my life to know that it looks moderately high from the ground and it looks like an eternity fall from the top. I'm too old for 10 meter jumps (or, probably even, three meter ones). But my eight-year-old, it would seem, is too young. Even though he's braver than most.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Cinderella

If you're one of the friends mentioned below, please don't think that this post is in any way written out of any offense whatsoever. IT IS NOT. It just got me thinking about what I want my boys to know about life and fairy tales.

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Awhile back, a few of my friends were taking their daughters to see Cinderella. They invited me to go along with them. I couldn't because our afternoon was busy but I remember noticing that they didn't mention my boys. I thought one of two things.

1. It was an outing just for girls. No boys allowed.
2. For whatever reason, they thought my boys wouldn't want to go.

It hardly mattered because I couldn't go anyway and, if I could have gone, I'm sure I could have brought my boys. It's a free theater, after all. Well, I mean, it isn't free. But certain freedoms afforded to me by this country would, in fact, allow me to take them there. Not that I think my friends would have minded in the least.

Last week, I took my boys to see it at the dollar theater which, on Wednesdays, is the fifty cent theater (and you cannot beat that). They both loved the movie.

Today, I was talking about the fact that I'd taken my boys to see it and my friend, who only has girls, seemed genuinely surprised that my boys would want to see such a film.

I suppose I understand where the question comes from. Fairy tales and Disney movies almost always focus on--and title their works after--the heroine. The attention is given to the ballgown, the tiara, the glass slipper. The men are the supporting characters, underdeveloped and secondary to the feminine stars. He often doesn't even have a name. Prince Charming is the moniker given to Snow White's prince, Cinderella's guy and Sleeping Beauty's beau. Either that dude was a polygamist or some of these authors need to get more creative with their names. Where will my boys find themselves in these story lines? What will they learn?

Obviously, I think the stories could be a little more inclusive of men, develop the male characters better, give them names. But aside from these perceived failings, why do we live in a culture in which Cinderella is only for girls? Cinderella has been told and retold countless times by Basile, Perrault, the Brothers Grimm, folklorists, and playwrights (most of them men). It is represented in opera, ballet and theatre.

My boys loved Cinderella because they're children. The idea of a fairy godmother and magic and pumpkins turning into carriages fascinated them. A world in which they can transform their rags to riches is a world their imaginative little minds fully support. Matthew leaned over to me and excitedly asked, just before the clock began to chime, "Does the spell have to break?" As though his every happiness hinged on its lasting forever.

I want my boys to like movies that focus on strong female heroines just like I'd want my daughters (if I had them) to like films about football and dinosaurs. (Or dinosaurs playing football. I'm looking at you, Spielberg. There could be a real market there.) But more than that, I think that, in this film, my boys can find qualities to emulate.

This new version sticks with the general story line we're familiar with in the United States but adds a few different plot elements. ("Prince Charming's" name is Kit!) At it's core, Cinderella is the story of a girl who is kind and courageous though she suffers through dark abuses. It's the story of royalty falling in love with her for who she is and not what she can do for him. It's the story of a kindhearted monarch who will stop at nothing to find his one, true love. It's about the girl being found in a miserable situation by a stand up guy. He wants her...just the way she is. He wants to care for her and protect her but not because she needs him to, because he loves her the right way.

I want both of my boys to meet their Cinderella. (Although I hope, for her sake, that she isn't being horribly mistreated.) I want them to stop at nothing to find her. I want them to love her for her wit, her kindness, her tenderness, her tenacity, and her rags. I want them to love her when the carriage turns back into a pumpkin. I want them to earn her love, her respect, her hand.

We live in a world that says that boys shouldn't like fairy tales, that they should "age out" of Disney movies by the time they're four or five, that they should like movies about war and death and burping. My kids plenty like those types of movies too, don't get me wrong. But I'm going to ride the Cinderella train for as long as I can. Because in well developed heroines, my boys are often exposed to quality women. The kind I hope they find.

We need to stop thinking about Cinderella as a story for girls. The Brothers Grimm certainly didn't. There are enough knives, blood and pecked out eyes in that version to pacify even the manliest of men--and the strong, non-conformist women they've managed to woo.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Adoption Is An Option

I don't just have a heart for my own adoptions. I have a heart for beautiful adoption stories. I believe that SO MANY women choose to end the life of their children because it is so much easier. And I get that. I do. Not, actually, because I've never been in that position, but intellectually. Any feelings of shame or embarrassment are buried. The pain of childbirth is erased.

But I've heard enough stories to know that, more often than not, the shame manifests in other ways. The emotional pain is 100 times worse than the physical pain. Abortion hurts. So does adoption. I'm sure of it. Adoption means that your child is running around someone else's backyard. That has to be all kinds of incredibly hard.

But open adoption can be a beautiful thing.

The mom can decide what level of contact she wants. Together, birth parents and adoptive ones can make an adoption plan.


There are 24 families just like us--but completely unique and different--waiting at Adoption Center of Hope. We are all trusting in the Lord's timing to bring us the child He has planned for us. When I hope for a baby, I hope not just for my own, but for little ones for each of these families.

Do you know a woman in a crisis pregnancy? Maybe she's a teenager and this doesn't fit her plans. IT FITS INTO SOMEONE'S PLAN. Maybe she's the victim of sexual assault and she can't bear the thought of bringing that child into the world. SOMEONE WANTS THAT CHILD, DESPERATELY. Maybe she thought she could parent and now it's the last minute and she has decided that she just can't and doesn't know what to do. THERE IS SOMEONE OUT THERE THAT WANTS HER CHILD. Families are waiting. Families are going about their lives with the knowledge that that very life could change dramatically with one phone call.

Some want boys.

Some want girls.

Some don't give a wild fig.

Some are open to early matches, others to last minute situations.

I read that there were roughly 1.2 million abortions performed in 2008. Put differently, about 2% of American women aged 15-44 had an abortion that year. When asked why they chose abortion, women said that having a baby would interfere with work, school or other responsibilities or that they could not afford it. Some stated that they do not want to be a single parent or are having problems with their husband or partner.

I do understand all of that. Babies are...a lot. But there are so many adoptive couples hoping beyond all measure that they will be chosen--that a child will be given life and placed into their arms. I wish I could sit down with every woman in a crisis pregnancy and share my story. I wish I could tell her that she doesn't have to go a lifetime meeting that child's needs. If only she would consider going nine months.

She could be the author of such a beautiful story. She could build an entire family.

I see so very much of my boy's mama in him. I tell him how much he looks like her, how beautiful she is and how she passed so much of that on to his brilliant face. I owe my son to her. I'm privileged to have that wonderful boy because she chose life and then chose me.

I wish every woman could look ahead to the joy she will bring if she chooses life.

If you are a pregnant woman who needs answers or you know someone who is, please pass along this post and this link Adoption Center of Hope

www.adoptionanswer.com

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Tessie's Letter Home

Dear Mom & Dad,

Hi! (I think) My name is Tessie. For awhile there I had no idea why they kept yelling this particular combination of letters at me, squeaking it in a high-pitched voice reserved, typically, for babies and kittens, cooing it as they held my face against theirs and stroked my ears. Then it dawned on me that maybe it's my name. I'm not entirely decided on the matter yet and so I give them glimpses that maybe I understand. But if I don't feel like listening then I pretend that I have no idea that this might be my identifying moniker.


You guys, these people are obsessed with me. The tall one with long hair takes my picture constantly as though I'm going to one day not be small and tiny anymore. The littlest one follows me around, crawling on all fours with his tongue out. He says we're playing "Puppy" but I am pretty sure he's actually playing some strange game of "Rabid Dog." I don't really understand what he's doing but I humor him. I'm constantly being carried around by the other boy and I cry a lot whenever he leaves the house.

Just after I got here, we celebrated some kind of very noisy holiday. There were a lot of loud booms and everyone kept sitting on the edge of their seats, staring at me, as though they were waiting for me to sprout fairy wings and fly away. Or freak out. I'm not exactly sure which. Joke's on them though because, at least for now, I am not the least bit bothered by the brightly colored explosives. Nor do I possess fairy wings.


I've gone to a lot of places since leaving home on Thursday. I've played with two golden retrievers, met some other doggies at the park, visited track practice, and even played at a lake. I had a great time playing in the sand but I met some critters that I am entirely unsure about. Apparently, a lot of dogs like us enjoy something they call duck hunting. Lemme just tell you that I am not planning on being one of those dogs. I encountered a very vocal mother duck and her babies and I was NOT impressed. Give me exploding fire any day but a flock of unsuspecting ducklings might just send me into cardiac arrest.


They make me sleep in a kennel but I sure do like it. It's like my own little den. I'm not sleeping through the night just yet but I'm doing really well. Also, today, I didn't even water the carpet once! And I've only pooped in the house one time since I got here. Granted, the big two-legged people take me out all the time but I'm doing pretty great.

I like to mix it up by making them wonder if I'm going to be Mellow Puppy or Spastic Psycho Puppy. Mellow Puppy is sleepy and really cute. Spastic Psycho Puppy is also really cute but she uses her mouth and her super sharp razor weapon teeth to play. She also sprints very quickly back and forth. In short, she's nuts. Some have even used the word "monster." Apparently this Tessie character is some lake monster and the tall, long-haired one keeps telling me that naming me after a monster is appropriate. If I wasn't so easily distracted, I'd be offended. But...squirrel. 


I have lots of toys and I love them all. My favorite is a little bug that is supposed to be a cat toy but their cat doesn't really like it so it's mine! Oh my goodness! THE CAT! I forgot to mention him. He's crotchety. The people keep assuring me that he just needs to warm up to me. I try to help him along in the process by running up to him quickly or trying to grab his tail. So far my tactics haven't worked and have earned me a strange hissing noise. I'm told that the cat was fast friends with the dog who came before me so I'm hoping that one day he'll love me, too.

It looks like I'll be here for awhile. They all really love me (the cat didn't participate in the poll) and I think I'll stay. Who knows, maybe some day I'll even let on that I know my name.

Love,
The Puppy Possibly Known as Tessie

Friday, July 3, 2015

There's Something New Around Here

Almost as soon as we put our sweet ole Beck down, I started thinking about a puppy. The year has just been SO sad. I can't make a birth mother choose our family. I can't get my boys the sister they pray for every night. But a puppy, well, that I can do.

I asked my parents what they thought because we'll be with them for over two weeks this month. So they kind of needed to weigh in. My arguments were strong. The boys got out of school today and don't go back for six weeks. It's the perfect time for all of us to love a puppy and train a puppy and really get to experience the joys (and horrors) of a puppy. Additionally, I talked about my sad, sad children and how I just really wanted to bring them some NOT SAD. My parents concurred that the whole puppy thing really kind of needed to happen. At least, that's what they said to me. Behind closed doors they probably cursed me and my cockamamie ideas.

We started looking. And we found this litter of puppies that would be ready for their forever homes on July 2. There were ten of them...
(Focus in on the puppy on the left because we fell in love with her.)


We met her when she was five weeks old. It would be another two weeks before we could bring her home. That was actually good. Our house was sad and lonely without our Beckster but I don't think I was ready for a yapping ball of fur. Beck was old and broken in. He was nothing at all like the little curious furball we brought home today.


We saw her on a Thursday but didn't actually put a deposit down until two days later. We got to see her again and play with her and fall in love and decide that waiting twelve days might KILL US ALL DEAD.


But then it didn't. Today we picked Garrett up from his last day of school and went to pick up our girl. Over the past twelve days, we've whittled a whopping 22 names down to one. 

I loved the idea of a Tahoe related name and came up with several (terrible ones) that we rejected right off the bat. Ponderosa (Rosa). Little Jo(sephine). Fanny. (Troy refused to stand outside at night and yell, "Fanny!" for all the world to hear.) There were several others like Rubicon (Ruby), Dixie (for M.S. Dixie), Lake and River that stuck around for awhile but didn't ultimately make the cut. We also threw in several others that had not a thing to do with Tahoe. We also loved Summer because, well, it's the best time of year.

On the day we decided to put down a deposit on her, Garrett threw out Tessie for the legend of the lake monster, Tahoe Tessie. I didn't love it. It had already crossed my mind but I didn't want to go with it so I didn't say anything. "Tessie!" he'd yelled with enthusiasm, so proud of his creativity. And, truthfully, I do love that it's a total reference to my favorite vacation spot but it's not so overt that everyone we come into contact with will know it.

Still, I wasn't ready to commit. I realized that she was born the day my mom and I went to The Cloisters and Rockefeller Center and Magnolia Bakery. "Magnolia! MAGGIE!" I threw out. (Because that is a very cute name and who doesn't want to share their name with a delicious cupcake shop?)

But my eight year old had all but contacted the American Kennel Club himself to confirm that his pup would be named Tessie. In a last ditch effort, I texted Troy and asked him if he was sure we didn't want to go with Maggie. I received this picture with the caption, "The Diet Coke has spoken."


And it's perfect really. Because golden retrievers are notoriously known for their long lasting puppy stage. Who better to name a dog after than a fictional (I hope) monster? Today we officially registered her as Tahoe Tessie Lady of the Lake. (We might as well throw two legends in to one name, right? Why not?)

But, we've already taken to calling her Tessie, Tess, The Tess, Little Miss, and Red (the breeder called her Red Girl) so she's not lacking for nicknames.


The boys are head over heels in love with her already. And, what with her popcorn paws and puppy breath, it'd be nearly impossible not to love her.


His smile says it all. My heart is so happy to see the grins of pure excitement on the faces of my boys. Also, Tessie is one cool cat, er, dog.


Speaking of cats, these two do not love each other. Oliver has been moping around since his best friend died and you'd think he'd be happy but this is definitely NOT his best friend. She is small and smells funny and is very unpredictable. Their encounters today were based on a mutual terror of one another. At one point they went nose to nose for the briefest of seconds before Oliver recoiled and Tessie ran away and hid. Every time Ollie would make a cat sound, Tessie crept away and stood in the corner.


At one point, Tessie zonked out and Oliver approached. I managed to snap this picture before he ran away again. I have high hopes that they'll get along soon enough. Today it was just a victory on account of the fact that Ollie didn't hiss and/or claw at Tess and she didn't try to eat him. (She's a VERY mouthy puppy which is VERY not awesome. I was on the couch tonight with my foot hanging off and she stalked it, leaped up and bit my toe before I ever even knew she was there. Those puppy teeth sure are sharp.)


We can't replace Beck. He was our very first baby. Our practice child. If we could keep him alive, we could try our hand at actual human babies. And we managed for eleven and a half years to do that very thing. He is gone but never forgotten.

However, if you're going to bring another one home in an attempt to heal hearts, it might as well look like this...

 
Tahoe Tessie Lady of the Lake--May 14, 2015

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Incomplete

I'm about to have a first grader and a third grader. I don't know how that happened. But, also, I'm supposed to have a three month old. And I really do use that word "supposed" loosely. My God knew that she'd never be here for her first trip to the pool or her first day at the beach. He knew she wouldn't celebrate a first birthday or get married. So I am not supposed to have a three month old, really. It just feels like I should.

When the boys dive into the pool, I wonder why I'm not splashing in the shallow end with my girl. When I tuck them in at night, I think about how she should be sleeping in the crib in the room next door. Her tiny feet should be kicking barefoot in the summer breeze. Because that's how I imagined it all.

I see babies and I think of her.

I see strollers and car seats and I think of her.

It is better. Summer has a way of making things better because the sun comes out and the weather turns hot and we distract ourselves with the vacation of it all. And time has a way of healing us. But though it be better, it is not complete.

We are amputated.

We choose joy. Sometimes we choose distraction and sometimes we choose tears but always we are trying to choose joy. Because whatever happens in this life, whatever comes our way, whatever challenges us or shifts us or changes us or terrifies us, it is all passing.

And, in a way, our discomfort now simply directs us to a deeper longing of the perfection that is to come. Our grief reminds us that one day our tears will be wiped away. We live. We leave. We come back. But we are not home yet. Home is where our Father is.

Home is where our daughter waits.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

In Summer

We're finally ALMOST on summer break. Matthew has three days left and Garrett has four. IT NEARLY KILLS ME DEAD EVERY YEAR. Coop them up in a classroom all winter long when it's cold and miserable outside and then let them go free long before July 2. For the love of all things warm and good! LET THEM FREE.

The sun is shining.

The water's running.


The pools and splash pads and sprinklers are waiting.


The milky white skin needs to brown. The brown skin needs to blacken.


It's time for the school to shut its doors. The office staff is ready. The teachers are ready. The students are ready.


We've already started our summer with trips down the slip n slide and stops at the pool. 


On Friday I checked Garrett out early. I was wearing my bathing suit* and I did not apologize. "We're going to the pool," I said. He missed lunch and fifteen minutes of class. I hardly felt bad about it.

 

Look at how happy they are in the summer. (Also look at his stomach. I...just...I'm thirty shades of jealous right now.)


It's the MOST wonderful time of the year.


Also. This kid is almost halfway to eighteen. Excuse me. I'll be over here with my head stuck in the sand, pretending this isn't happening. Pretending he's not all but grown up.

And then another also. Hi, Baby. Your brother has insisted on growing up and leaving me already. Will you please stay small even though your tibia is as long as his and you have more muscles than most adults? I mean it, Matthew, please keep those scrumptious chubby cheeks forever.


There's nothing quite like being a kid in the summer.

*And some other stuff. I didn't just waltz into the school clad only in swimwear.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

On Dogs and Delusional People

Here's the deal. We wouldn't be talking about getting a new puppy if it wasn't for the fact that it's summer. Beck was our sweet baby and he's in a box on my mantel with an old ball and his collar resting on top. I know. This is exponentially weird. Last night I told my husband that I missed Beck's bad gas. His GAS, PEOPLE. Loving a dead pet makes you think all kinds of crazy things and I am sure to lose at least half my followers for the gross offense of even mentioning dog farts. And they smelled horrible. But now they're gone forever. Excuse me while I go cry some more about missing my old dog's disgusting digestive system. So, you see, I should not even be thinking about a new dog while I am in this altered mental state. But our boys will soon be out of school and since they're on year round, they only get six weeks off. They should enjoy their new pup while it's warm and they're not stuck in a classroom. Plus, I do NOT want to try to train a puppy in the rain/wind/sleet/hail/snow of autumn and winter...and spring.

So we turned to KSL which has a classifieds section for Utah and Idaho. Sure, there are plenty of legit, NOT ABSURD, less hysterical ads for dogs that a regular family living on a regular sized paycheck could afford. But those aren't gut-busting hilarious. I wish there was a comment section where I could make snarky statements but, as there is not, I decided to bring the ads over here for your enjoyment.

First, an explanation. Why was I up past midnight as is evidenced by the time posted on the screenshot from my phone? I HAVE NO EARTHLY IDEA. I get distracted. I sidetrack myself and then suddenly it is midnight and I'm still not asleep. AND THEN, ALMOST AS SUDDENLY, IT IS 7:00 AM AND I AM SAD ABOUT THE POOR CHOICES I MADE THE NIGHT BEFORE. 

First, I present you with Gunner. Gunner is a champion show dog imported from Hungary! He's not available for purchase for $1,500 though. No. That's how much it costs to use him as a stud. To put this into perspective, when we bred Beck (who was AKC registered), we were paid $450. Gunner commands more than triple that price!


You guys! Gunner might have the very best pedigree in all the world but Gunner is still JUST A DOG. His puppies will look a lot like the puppies you can find in any backyard in any state in this beautiful country (or Hungary). He will die in a handful of years and no one will remember his pedigree. The ad goes on to state that (and I'm sure I've never once used this word on my blog before) Gunner's fresh OR frozen semen can be shipped through a reproductive veterinarian. Oh my. Poor Gunner. Gunner wants to run and fetch and roll around in the mud. I'm going to go out on a pretty sturdy limb and say that he does not want to hang out with a reproductive veterinarian behind a closed door with copies of Pethouse and Playdog.

It's highly likely that by the end of this post my husband will have lost his job on account of his wife's questionable blog material. It's also possible that my blog will now pop up when people google gross subject matter.

Moving on.

Do you know what a Golden Doodle is? It's a mixed breed. A highly intelligent, generally compliant, specifically bred, mutt. We've very strongly considered getting a golden doodle. Made up of a poodle and a golden retriever, doodles are all the rage. Often, they don't shed which is a real bonus. They're often smaller than golden retrievers. They still love water. They're great. And cute. But they are mixed breed dogs.

So, with that being said, perhaps you can understand my confusion...


$1800 for a dog resulting in cross breeding? What the? I can't even...I just...what? In my opinion, all doodles are overpriced as they command more money than pure bred retrievers and pure bred poodles but that doesn't mean I wouldn't consider buying one if for no other reason than LESS DOG HAIR=HOORAY! But $1800 for a puppy that is going to grow up and eat you out of house and home and then die taking your heart with it? I don't think so.

But if y'all thought that was overpriced.

This one just about kills me.


So wait just one second. Your dog, the one you have, presumably, raised from a puppy, is RETIRING FROM YOUR BREEDING PROGRAM AND IS NO LONGER OF USE TO YOU AND SO YOU WOULD LIKE SOMEONE TO PAY YOU $2,500 FOR HER? Am I the only one who thinks this is not only delusional but also cruel and greedy?

The dog is FIVE. The dog, based on the average golden lifespan, has about five to seven years of life left. That breaks down to roughly $400 a year just to own her. She is house trained (most goldens by age FIVE are), crate trained (good for her), a therapy dog with champion bloodlines (all good things but you can't do anything about those champion bloodlines because she's retired from breeding), loves the water and to fetch a tennis ball (SHE IS A GOLDEN! So...duh).

I feel SO sad for poor Berkley. If I had $2,500 just lying around, I would buy her and love her and show her that some people like dogs just because. Not because of the money they can make off her womb. I certainly wouldn't discard her (for an exorbitant price) because she was retiring from my breeding program.

This next one, well, I thought it was a typo.


But then it turned out to not be. For FOUR THOUSAND DOLLARS, these bulldogs had better plan on getting the boys to school, keeping my house clean, and bringing me breakfast in bed. Also, my husband has requested the occasional massage. I don't care if the blood pumping through their veins is liquid gold or if they are actually famous circus performers, THEY ARE DOGS. Correct me if I'm wrong but a $100 shelter dog and a $4,000 bulldog both sniff butts, right? 

On the other hand, if I bought one of these and bred it twice a year, my husband wouldn't have to work.*


Finally, there's this which, I mean, has to be a typo. Right?

The ad does state that this guy comes with a crate and a brush! Perhaps the crate is made out of precious gemstones?


*Breeding your dog twice a year is NEVER recommended and, as previously stated with poor Berkley the golden retriever, I would never buy a dog for her womb.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Falling in Love is the Easy Part...

Church leadership is a funny sort of business. You meet and fall in love with people. They move. Or you move. You meet and fall in love with more people. They move. Or you move. Pretty soon, you have an incredible database of friends that feel more like family. Older folks who feel like honorary grandparents, people who are more like aunts and uncles than just friends, sisters, brothers, nieces and nephews. The body of Christ really is like a big extended family. For better or worse.

Some will always be just friends or acquaintances or people you say hi to on Sunday morning. But some people cry together, laugh together, hug tight, anticipate life and overlap lives so often that it really, truly does feel like whatever happens to them will greatly impact your own life. Some people, you really just love a lot.

It is a blessing to love like that.

But when they hurt, we hurt. When they're anxious, we're anxious. When they need prayer we step in and say, "Lord, we will still be worshiping you tonight, even if this doesn't go the way we want it to. You will still be on the throne. But, please, Lord, can you answer this prayer the way we're all hoping?" And maybe we don't think about it as much as they do but we sure think about it an awful lot.

We are praying today for a family we love big. Maybe they don't even know how much we love them. But we do. So much so that we are going before the Lord constantly and begging, "Oh Lord, hear our prayer..."

Please pray with me. You might not know them but trust me, they are worth your time. One day they will move. Or we will move. But for now, we share this space, this town, this church building. I am honored to know them and to partner with them in ministry. They need our prayers.

"Lord, bless this family's sacrifice. Accept what they have done. Allow it to come to pass as we hope and desire that it will. Amen."

Monday, June 22, 2015

Choosing Joy

In church yesterday, the worship leader was talking about going through tough times. He rhetorically asked if anyone was experiencing difficulty. Garrett turned his head toward me and nodded slightly.

"We are," he said. I half smiled and winked as if to say, Yes. We are. "We have been through a lot," he continued. Then he finished gently, "It's like there's something wrong with our family and bad things just keep happening."

I fully acknowledge that things could be SO MUCH WORSE. We could live without our basic needs being met. We could have major health concerns. More of us could die! I know all this. But to an eight-year-old, losing a sister and the beloved dog he's had since birth seems pretty awful.

I ran my fingers through his hair. Our eyes met. I didn't speak but he knew.

We will praise if the bad things keep happening and we will praise if the good times come. We will acknowledge the infinite blessings we have and eagerly look forward to what the Lord has for our futures.

We will choose joy.