Sunday, July 31, 2011

Which Way to the Stage?

I am a Christian. A believer. A follower of Christ.

I have a degree in Theatre.

God made me enthusiastic about the craft. I am passionate about pieces that convey the human condition. Some of my deepest dreams dwell in the performing arts.

God made me enthusiastic about ministry and seeing lives changed by the power of the cross. I am passionate about my purpose. My deepest truths dwell in my Savior and what He has done for me.

Sometimes these two things have often felt as if they stood in opposition to one another. As a nearly thirtysomething, I have almost completely reconciled my love for the arts with my purpose as a believer. At 18, I struggled to balance the two. I searched and learned and enjoyed and loved art. I stumbled upon a show that seemed to be the antithesis of my faith and wondered what to do with it. I loved it for the way it portrayed a slice of life. Someone's life. Anyone's life. I came to the vague realization that the glimpse into another world, a world with wildly different values, did not need to change my faith or my beliefs.

I was 17 when my Play Productions class performed pieces from Les Miserables, Miss Saigon, West Side Story and Rent. We didn't really discuss the plots of each show, we simply memorized the songs and belted out the lyrics. "Seasons of Love" and "Will I" from Jonathan Larson's Rent climbed under my skin. They twisted and turned and, in the end, lodged very close to my heart.

I was 18 and in college when I downloaded nearly the entire soundtrack using the now infamous Napster (and later purchased it) and, with headphones on, first heard the isolated voice of an artist who was living in America at the end of the millennium. An actress who knew, because her composer had died of an aortic aneurysm on the eve of opening night, that there is no day but today. It was, perhaps, the most unique sound I'd heard.

And this began my obsession with Idina Menzel.

Of course, if you know anything about anything about theatre, you know that she went on to win a Tony for originating the Broadway role of Elphaba in Wicked. And if you know anything about anything about attractive African-American actors, you know she's married to Taye Diggs. But back then she was the girl who sang Over the Moon. And I loved her.

I went so far as to perform that particular songologue for my Godspell audition. Complete with a giant white cow on wheels. Oh yes. I did. And I so got the part. One of my huge college research papers looked at Puccini's La Boheme and Larson's updated rock opera. I compared. I contrasted. That semester I lived and breathed the histories of both shows. I followed the members of Rent's original cast as they moved on to other projects. And, as time went on, I fell deeper and deeper in love with the girl who first played Maureen.

So I followed her career on the Internet, wishing and dreaming of a day when I could see her perform. I bought her albums. When Wicked began to take life and breathe all on its own, I trolled the web for information. I sat, glued to the television, waiting to hear her sing Defying Gravity at the Tony's. And then I held my breath as they called her name and handed one to her.

In the fall of 2005, depleted from many moons of infertility treatment, I went to New York City to visit my friend who was studying at Columbia. And it just so happened that Idina was performing at The Public in a show called See What I Wanna See. Obviously we got tickets. I had the opportunity to sit a few rows away from a performer that I admired on epic levels. It was six years after I'd first heard that voice. And it was so worth it.

Of course, in the end, she exited some back door and I didn't get the chance to trip and fall over my words as I asked for an autograph. Looking back, this is probably for the best. She probably wouldn't have wanted to be my best friend. She wouldn't have asked me to join her for a cup of coffee. We wouldn't have summered together in the Hamptons. And what was I anyway, a twelve-year-old? No. I was married. With an embryo happily living inside my body--although that was a piece of information I wouldn't actually have for another five weeks. And the only other time I ever waited for an actor's autograph I was in college, it was Ellen Burstyn, I mumbled something ridiculous and it did not go well. So in hindsight, I'm really rather glad she avoided the situation. Even if I do plan on calling her on it next summer. In the Hamptons.

A few months ago, a friend of mine who knows that I have a platonic crush on Idina Menzel found out that she was coming to Park City. Last night she performed with the Utah Symphony and you can bet your bottom dollar that I was in the center of the 12th row. I'd feel totally stupid for writing that Annie bit if she hadn't actually sang that song. In fact, I still feel totally stupid. Let's move on and pretend it didn't happen.

I made my poor husband go with me and, you know what, he liked it. He'll probably pretend he didn't in order to protect his manhood but I know he did. You know why? Because she's amazing. That's why. Because her voice is, I don't know, off the hook. Or something equally dramatic and more my generation. Something like, rad. Or tubular. And because she is absolutely hilarious. I already knew this from listening to all kinds of sound bytes from her performances and she did not disappoint.

"So I was in a show called Wicked," she said as the crowd went wild. "Oh. Okay. You saw it?" The crowd went wild again. "I was the green one." *Insert laughter. "There aren't a lot of green celebrities." Dramatic pause. "There's Shrek. Kermit the Frog. Gumby. And Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West."

We were in an outdoor amphitheater and when it started raining she apologized and asked us if we wanted to go home. Of course the resounding answer was no. Then she said, "Well then I'll just come out there with you. Really. I will." She started to come out and then stopped. "Wait. Actually, I might get electrocuted."

There were many hysterical moments but none quite as funny to me as when she talked about guest starring on Glee. "I'd just had a baby. I was feeling fat and hormonal. I tried not to be offended when they asked me to play the mother of a girl who, in real life, is 25." Idina, for the record, just turned 40. She then launched into a hilarious one-sided conversation about how she, as an actress who has been awarded a Tony, could not make sense of the fact that they wanted her and Lea Michele to sing a duet of Lady Gaga's Poker Face for their big mother/daughter reunion. "I mean," she said, "I didn't really know the song but it didn't sound like a mother/daughter reunion to me. It has some risque lyrics, and uh, some references to, uh, baked goods. But I said, 'Um. Okay. I'll do it." Now, I make a point of not listening to or even trying to analyze Lady Gaga and I was incredibly relieved to know that Idina was just as confused as I was. And the baked goods bit, well, I'm still laughing. (If you look up the lyrics to Poker Face--not that I'm recommending it--you'll see what I mean.)

She sang a song from Rent, one from The Wild Party and a few from Wicked. She did selections from other shows as well as songs that aren't from Broadway. In the end she belted out Defying Gravity and it was the best I've ever heard it done live. And I've seen Wicked three times. Of course, every time I've seen it, the poor girl playing Elphaba is twenty feet off the ground and hanging by a cord so, you know, that probably makes it a little harder.

And every other time it wasn't being performed by Idina Menzel. I think we've already established that I'm a little biased.

This version is nothing like the way she did it last night. No. Last night sounded much more Broadwayesque. But if you don't have a clue who she is, at least this will give you a little, tiny idea.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Interview With An Almost 30-Year-Old

I used to watch Inside the Actor's Studio. Back when I had time for things like that. Back when I wanted to be...a star (whispered dramatically and accompanied by vigorous jazz hands). Truth is, I haven't seen the show for awhile. Are they even making new episodes? I don't know because I've usually got my hands wrist deep in peanut butter or poop but thankfully never at the same time. Yet.

Anyway. At the end of the show, James Lipton asks the person being interviewed a series of questions. I ask my oldest son these questions once a year and will ask my younger son when he can say more than, "Don't do dat!" and, "I don't want to!"

Although, side note, yesterday Garrett and I were looking for a grasshopper. He'd hopped behind me and Matthew was frantically saying, "Here it is! Here it is!" over and over again while pointing at it. Later, he put his stuffed monkey on his head and declared, "Yook! Monkey hat!" So I have every reason to believe he'll have an actual conversation with me someday.

But the questions. I thought I'd tell you my answers.

1. What is your favorite word?
Grace. According to Strong, "of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues." It doesn't get any better than that. To be kept and strengthened in Christ is to truly live and when his saving grace is upon us, nothing else matters.

2. What is your least favorite word?
Oppression. Defined as "the exercise of authority or power in a burdensome, cruel, or unjust manner."

3. What turns you on? (Understand that this question is almost always answered on a much larger scale than "in the bedroom". It might better be asked, "What stirs your heart?")
Worship music

4. What turns you off?

5. What sound do you love?
Ocean waves crashing on the shores of the beach or gentle currents lapping at the edge of a lake.

6. What sound do you hate?
My alarm clock.

7. What is your favorite curse word?
I'm a pastor's wife so I'm gonna go with...fiddlesticks. Alright. I don't think I have actually ever used the word fiddlesticks. I might start. I don't really use curse words. Unless I'm driving alone and someone cuts me off or I drop something on my toe or other such similar circumstances. My favorite curse word that I actually use frequently is probably crap. I know. Somebody call the cops.

8. What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?
Acting. And as long as we're dreaming here, it really needs to be on the stage. Not that I wouldn't make a movie or be on television, it's just that I'd have to be one of those actors who also popped onto Broadway every now and then.

9. What profession would you not like to do?
Anything having anything to do with sewage.

10. If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
Well done, good and faithful servant.

Your turn. Leave a comment with your answers!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Heard Around These Parts

Two nights ago, while I did weird dance moves and cleared the table, The Rock Star, who was still involved in attempting to finish his dinner, turned in his chair, looked at his father and in a matter-of-fact tone said, "Mommy is dramatic."


Yesterday Garrett came downstairs, "Matthew bit me!" I took the stairs two at a time because my youngest has turned into a biter and I am less than thrilled about it. Matthew had already put himself in timeout so I figured he was guilty.

"Matthew, did you bite your brother?" I asked.


"Matthew," I said more sternly, "did you bite your brother?"


"I'm going to ask one more time. Did you bite your brother?"

He shook his violently, "NO!"

"Are you lying to me?" I questioned.

Without hesitating he nodded. "Yeah."

I swam laps on Tuesday morning (and went back again today). I am so hopelessly, painfully, ridiculously out of swimming shape that I found myself lying on the floor of the kitchen on Tuesday night--too tired to continue sweeping. Or living. When Troy walked past I explained, "I'll just be down here for a minute. With my real friends."

"Your real friends?"

"The crumbs," I replied. "They don't care if I'm lazy and out of shape."

Last night I packed up my swimming gear so that I could get up at 5:55 to be in the pool by 6:15. "Mom," The Rock Star said, "where are you going?"

"I'm not going anywhere," I replied.

"Then why did you pack your laptop?" He asked.

"I didn't pack a laptop."

He looked a little confused. "Yes you did." When I looked at him, bewildered, he patted his head and said, "You just packed your laptop. You know, that hat you wear when you swim laps."

Right. A swim cap. Also known to today's generation as a laptop.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Rock Star's Birthday

The Rock Star is five. There's no denying it. He doesn't look like this anymore.

His limbs aren't as spindly. His head, not so bald. He weighs a good 33 pounds more than he did in that picture.

He's, you know, big.

On his birthday we celebrated with our little family. We Skyped with my mom while he opened his presents.

He requested a knight cake. His father, who is much more creative than I am, did his best. (I baked the cake. Troy decorated.)

We took a picture at the time of night that he was born. Thankfully he wasn't born at 2:00 am. That would complicate things.

Then we took a picture of the boy with his daddy.

Yesterday we had his party. He insisted that he wanted to go to the pool. I told him that he would really have to limit the number of friends he invited if he wanted to go there because we pay for each kid and their family members to get in.

He finally decided on a bunch of friends from preschool, a friend from soccer and a friend from the pool (thankfully his family has passes).

From the left: Max, Webster, Beck, Garrett, Madison's face, Daxton and Weston.

Garrett is obsessed with Hawaii. He's obsessed with luaus (which he calls "luouts" but whatever). He decided he wanted to have a luau pool party. "Mom," he said, "Can we roast a pig?" I explained that I thought the facility would frown on that. We had leis. We had a "Surf's Up" sign. We had little blow up rafts for everyone (all of this compliments of Dollar Tree). I then racked my brain on how to make a cupcake with a luau theme. I came up with this...

Do they look like towels under umbrellas...on sand? Say yes. Say yes and we're still friends.

The Little Buddy didn't care what they looked like. He just wanted to eat one. Then he sported that white mustache for a good half hour.

The kids played and swam and played and swam. Some stayed for two and a half hours, others for three and a half. When they were all still there, we tried to take a picture of all seven coming down the slide in a train. It didn't really work.

But we got the aftermath.

My baby is five. But he's had a good time getting there.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Our Vacation: Part Two

On the second half of our vacation, we surprised the boys with a trip to the Enchanted Forest. It was everything Garrett remembered it to be. The boys had a blast going down slides, exploring caves, visiting different fairytale rooms and riding on a roller coaster.

Troy dressed up with his boys.

And everyone had a great time. Later that night we met up with Troy's good friend, Tony. We had dinner with him and stayed the night at his house in Salem.

The next morning we headed to the coast. Half the family stayed in a rented beach house and the other half stayed in Troy's sister's mother-in-law's beach house. We all spent the majority of the days together so there was a lot of cousin play time. We celebrated three birthdays (Gracie's, who turned eight on the 14th, Garrett's, who turned five on the 20th and Jadyn's, who will turn seven on the 28th). Matthew ate a celebratory cupcake.

These seven spent a lot of time together. (Clockwise from the left--age at the time of the picture: Cooper-7, Kian-9, Gracie-7, Jadyn-6, Garrett-4, Colby-5, Sawyer-5. Not pictured are the two oldest and the youngest. Alexis-17, Kaylie-14, and Matthew-2).

Troy took a picture with his sisters, Jolene, Jana and Julie. I will not tell you their ages at the time of this photo because I would like my sisters-in-law to continue speaking to me. I will say that Troy is the oldest. He's forty. The rest of them, well, they're not a day over 21. Honest. You believe me, right?

We figured we'd take an "outlaw" picture since the siblings were getting chummy.

On our last day at the coast, we went to Pacific City and climbed the giant sand dune (or, as Garrett calls it, the sand "dupe"). From the top we got this picture.

Later the boys climbed a tree. Well, all except for Matthew because mama don't want her baby in a tree. Mama wants her toddler to keep all of his limbs. Mama kept her baby inside where it was nice and safe and made her older nieces play with him. Okay, actually, Matthew spent a great deal of time outside with his cousins, he just didn't get up in the tree. Probably because he wasn't quite tall enough.

We left that night and drove to Biggs Junction, Oregon which is probably not even big enough to be considered a map dot. It's a map speck. We put the boys in their jammies and drove into the night, but not before snapping a picture of them with their grandparents.

We stayed at a little motel just off the highway in a town of 50 people. It was one of the nicest tiny-middle-of-nowhere places I've ever stayed. It even provided us with a continental breakfast before we got back on the road.

The last night of our vacation involved a teepee in Mountain Home, ID. We should have switched the boys in this picture. We should have put the pastiest pasty white kid against the opening to the teepee and the chocolaty boy against the white canvas of the Native American dwelling place. But alas, we did not.

This is what it looked like inside. Thin little piece of carpet. Leaves, human hair, dirt all over. When we got there they offered us an air conditioned cabin for no extra charge instead of the teepee. But we were in it for the experience. We didn't even pull out our sleep pads--they're only about an inch thick anyway. We just threw our sleeping bags down on the carpet, which had ants scampering all over it, and called it a night.

There was a gap of about four inches between the ground and where the teepee canvas stopped. When Troy suggested that we all come up with good Native American names for our evening, I replied, "She Who Hopes She Won't Be Sleeping With Mice." It was a fun adventure though and the boys loved it.

We had a great time on our camping road trip and I hope it was the first of many such trips.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Boy Can Pray

The Little Buddy just doesn't say much on his own. Oh, he has a plethora of vocabulary words. He'll babble the day away. He repeats almost anything we ask him to. He just doesn't really formulate sentences on his own.

Or so we thought.

Last night I was in my bed. There was a boy on either side of me and I was reading them stories. When we finished, I said, "Who wants to pray?"

The Rock Star quickly exclaimed, "Matthew!" (I think he gets this from his father who volunteers me to pray any time someone else doesn't speak up at our life group.)

Since I've been trying to get Matthew more actively involved in our prayer life anyway, and since The Rock Star prays all the time, I allowed Garrett's request.

"Okay, Matthew. Let's pray. Dear Jesus," I said.

"Deh Jesus," he repeated.

"Thank you..." I supplied.

"Tank ew foh daddy an foh butters an *insert several unintelligible words here none of which were mommy* an AMEN!" (Translation: Thank you for daddy and for brother and *who knows what else* and AMEN!)

So he can form his own sentences. And he can pray.

Now, if only he was thankful for me.

Friday, July 22, 2011


Are you waiting for the second half of our vacation post? On the edge of your couch or desk chair? You just can't stand the suspense? Well. I'm sorry. Whenever I have time to sit and write about it, the other computer, with the pictures, is at the church with my husband. Included in that post, however, will be the fact that I slept in a teepee. On the ground. With fairly large quantities of ants and other select bugs.

I'm not prissy.

I'm hardcore.

Which, I'm sure, is why God gave me boys.
In other news, Garrett's birthday started with some seriously dressed up Mickey Mouse pancakes. Banana slices for hair. Blueberries for eyes and mouths. Whipped cream noses. They were pretty impressive, if I do say so myself. And I do.

Then we headed to the 5 day club we were volunteering at and the boys got an earful of the Gospel and had a blast. After that we went out for a pizza lunch and then to the dollar theater where we saw Rio. Later we took both boys to the pool for just over an hour before heading home for cake and presents. It was a full day and he loved it.

Yesterday he wanted his way. "Come on, mom. It's my birthday."

Me: No. It isn't.
Him: Well, it was yesterday.
Also...please join with me in praying for a baby that was born to someone in our church. He was born weighing 1 lb 10 oz. His due date was November 1 and he was born on July 18. He's suffered a level four brain bleed on both sides. Please pray that God's will would be done and that He might heal the baby completely.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Interview With A Five-Year-Old


2. WHAT DID YOU HAVE FOR BREAKFAST? Banana, cereal and water.

3. WHAT IS YOUR MIDDLE NAME? (He said our last name and then...) I mean John.

4. FAVORITE FOOD? Macaroni and cheese

5. WHAT FOOD DO YOU DISLIKE? Potatoes (The other times I've interviewed him he has said mashed potatoes. I think Garrett will eat potatoes if they are french fries. And that's about it.)

6. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE COLOR? Brown (He used to say brown and black. He also used to say, when asked, that he liked brown because that was the color that God made Matthew. Today he said, "Because it is so pretty.")

7. FAVORITE LUNCH? Macaroni and cheese. I already told you.



10. FAVORITE SPORT? Swimming (Now that's my boy!)

11. WHEN IS YOUR BIRTHDAY? In July. (I asked him if he knew the day. He answered, "No.")


13. PETS: No. Only Beck and Ollie. But they're not my pets. They are daddy's and mommy's pets. I want an alpaca for myself. Can I have one sometime? (Oh my goodness. That kid cracks me up.)


15. WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP ? A knight that has a sword.


17. WHERE IS THE FARTHEST YOU'VE EVER BEEN FROM HOME? Lake Tahoe (Hawaii but whatever.)

18. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE BOOK? A knight book.

19. WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF? I am the most proud of loving God. (Be. Still. My. Heart.)

20. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MOVIE? Uh. All the Narnias.


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? cheese (okay.)

2. What is your least favorite word? nineteen (I'm confused.)

3. What turns you on? (I rephrased with, "What do you like?") I like my elephant a lot.

4. What turns you off? (I rephrased with, What don't you like?") I don't like seventeen. (I fear that math may not be Garrett's strong suit.)

5. What sound or noise do you love? I like an elephant noise out of its trunk.

6. What sound or noise do you hate? I hate yelling. (Yet you do it all the time.)

7. What is your favorite curse word? (I asked him what his favorite bad word was. He responded with) I'm not allowed to say bad words. When I told him he could tell me just this once, he answered with, dumb.

8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? paleontologist

9. What profession would you not like to do? I would not want to be an ocean diver.

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) Hi Garrett!

Happy Birthday, Garrett

"Young boys should never be sent to bed... they always wake up a day older."

-J.M. Barrie in Finding Neverland

Dear Boy,

Five years. It seems so monumental, so impossible. I simply cannot believe that it has been 60 months since they laid your tiny body on mine, since I first stared into those steely colored eyes, since I first knew what it was like to be a mommy. I will never be able to adequately express the wonder I have in being blessed with the joy of raising you.

These are the days when you vacillate between being a baby and a grown up. When you talk about the Bible or use your enormous vocabulary, it's as though you're more like thirteen going on twenty-two. When the thunder claps just above our rooftop and you break into instant sobbing with a look of panic streaking across your face, you seem to be two going on two-and-a-half. At night, when I watch you sleep, the corners of your mouth dip down exactly as they did when you were an infant. During the day, you run and play and jump and climb with the ease of a teenager.

We struggled with making the decision whether to send you to kindergarten or put you in another year of preschool. We listened to every opinion, weighed the options, and finally decided to endure a son who is eighteen for his entire senior year. Please, Bud, please don't make me regret that decision. It's just that when you use your big words and your bigger social skills, we know you're ready but when we think down the line we wonder if being the very youngest and one of the smallest (sorry, blame daddy's genes for that one) is in your best interest. Not that we can really do anything about the small part. So we decided to give you a chance to gain confidence in your education, to be one of the oldest, and to mature. You'll be in advanced preschool next year. You have the next couple of decades to go to school for hours every day, I hope you enjoy having this upcoming year to play and grow and eat paste if you feel like it.

This past year you played soccer and took swimming lessons. On the soccer front, you need a little more time to come into your own. There were a few times when you had a great run but if the ball was taken from you, well, you needed some work on sportsmanship. We did what any red blooded American would do and bribed you into having a good attitude. I'm sure there are naysayers who'd be appalled to know that we aren't above bribery but to them I say, "It totally worked." As far as swimming is concerned, you've turned into a little fish right before my eyes and to my sheer delight. I think you would willingly go to the pool every single day if I'd agree. You can now swim about three yards unassisted which isn't quite as advanced as your dear old mom was at the same age but I'll take it. Seriously, I'm super proud of the progress you've made and the fact that you want me to teach you how to bodyboard when we head to California next month. Obviously you'll be in a life jacket for this adventure as I'm sure that your swimming skills aren't exactly up for a current just yet.

This year you made friends with ease and invited all of them to church. No joke. Any time you make a new friend you ask me if he loves God. If I say that I don't know you will reply with, "Well, we need to find out. He should come to our church." Usually an invitation will occur quickly after. You simply are not afraid to share your faith and sometimes I think you have more of it in your little finger than I have in my entire body. It's a faith that will move mountains, Garrett, and I pray that you cling to it always, through whatever life throws in your direction.

You love to help. You love sweets. You love when we curl up into my bed at night and read chapter books. This year we've read three and a half Narnia books, several of The Magic Treehouse series, Charlotte's Web, The Trumpet of the Swan, Ramona the Pest, Little House in the Big Woods...and I'm not even sure if that's a complete list. You love when I take you to the dollar theater for our cheap dates. You especially love when I splurge and buy you popcorn. You love to ask questions. "Mom, can an ant carry a marshmallow?" "What's a calorie?" "How tall was Goliath?" And you ask us to define words for you all day long. "What's the resurrection?" "What does fragile mean?" "Why is it called a nasal aspirator?"

Garrett, you are constantly growing in knowledge but I don't think you've gained more than a pound in the last year. You've certainly grown upwards but not outwards. You were so scrawny when you were born, then you fattened up into that chubby-toddler-I-look-like-a-rosy-cheeked-Virginia-ham stage. Now, there is no question that you've thinned back into lean slice of turkey. All this talk of food is making me want to smothered you in more kisses than I already do. Just last night, I gathered you into my arms, planted kisses all over your face, and told you that I was refusing to allow you to turn five. "Can you turn four again, please?" I asked, nicely.

"No mommy."

"Why not?"

"It's just my age. I can't do anything about it."

Sigh. That is the age old problem. Our lives just go ticking away and suddenly we're staring down the barrel of thirty and we're pretty sure it's loaded. I know that five seems so little to you. You say, so often, that you can't wait to be all grown up. This is mostly because you want candy for breakfast and you know that when you're an adult that choice is yours. But Son, five isn't little. It isn't little at all. It's halfway to ten and more than a quarter of the way to all grown up. Five is worlds away from where you've been. Four years ago you couldn't walk. Three years ago you could barely talk. Look how far you've come.

I love you.

So much. Thank you for sharing your life with me. It's a big life and I know that God has really big things in store for you. Please don't grow up too fast. You have a lifetime for that. Turn five if you must, but don't be in such a hurry. Giggle. Play. Learn. Grow. And know that I will spend each day loving you more. Five years ago they handed you to me. You are everything I ever hoped for.

Happy Birthday.

Monday, July 18, 2011

God's Country

Rolling down the window in Truckee, I tried to take a picture with my phone of a road sign. Something I could send my brother that would convey more I wish you were here and less Ha ha! Look where I am, Sucker. It was dusk and the photo didn't turn out but the smell of pine trees and fresh mountain air crept through my nose and filled my lungs. The smell. The one I can easily create using nothing but memory and imagination. The one that is always better in reality than any remembrance could ever be.

"That smell!" I exhaled feeling suddenly peaceful. My husband glanced at me and smiled. "You have no idea how much it means to me that you love this place." I rested my hand on his leg.

"I do love it," he replied. "Not as much as you do, but I love it."

"If anyone loved it more than me, I'd be astounded," I joked. "Well, unless it was my parents." I paused. "Or my brother. They'd be the only candidates."

It was strange to be there without them. Very strange. But I realized that the place isn't tangled in the laughter of my family members. It doesn't depend on the stuffy smell of the cabin I've spent so many weeks of my life in. Perhaps it isn't even what we do when we're there.

It's in the music of silence--a place where the head clears and a gentle bird's call rings out calmly. A place where the cars on the distant road can almost be mistaken for a babbling creek. Or is it the other way around? It's in the majesty of water so blue, air so crisp, joy so full, that one can't deny the fingerprints of the Almighty Creator.

It was late when we reached our campground. The boys, managing to stay awake for hours upon hours of nothing but hot Nevada desert, were consumed by sleep as we started up the mountain. Matthew awoke when the car stopped but bringing Garrett to consciousness was like trying to wake the dead.

When I finally got him to open his eyes, he looked straight up into the heavens. Gasping, he exclaimed, "Wow, mom. Look at how many stars are out!" My gaze met the objects of his affection and I smiled. Dotting the clear, black, sky were hundreds of twinkling lights--most perfect for wishing on. They were the very first things he'd noticed. I, myself, had not yet seen them.

God's glory revealed. He does that for me. "Look at this picture I've painted," He smiles. "It's better than any masterpiece you'll ever see. Look up, child. Look up and see my immeasurable majesty." Tahoe makes me look up. She always has. I see the tip top of enormous pines. I see light, powdery blue skies. I see birds and stars and holiness unmasked.

Our camp site was gift wrapped and handed to us by God, it seems. Securing our reservation much too late to get anything on the 4th of July, I was looking at campgrounds near Donner or along the Truckee. Knowing that at most of those I'd be unable to bathe--unless I wanted to take my shampoo into the icy waters of the river--and that the mosquitoes would be thick as thieves, I decided just to check several parks along the lake. On a whim.

One site was available. One site out of several campgrounds. "It has our name on it!" I told Troy as I repeatedly temporarily reserved it while he checked the church calendar and cleared his time off. We bought a new tent, big enough for all of us with a screen room for good measure. As soon as I paid, online, for our new equipment, the ranger returned my call and told me that, no, the big tents don't fit on the sites at D.L. Bliss. We crossed our fingers that she was wrong and brought our tinier tent along in the event that finger crossing didn't work.

She was right. The big tents don't fit on many of the sites. It fit just fine on ours. Luck? Fate? Coincidence? Providence. He's in the little things.

I kept thinking about how much my brother would love that campground. The fanciest RV I saw was a tent trailer. Apparently, it was a tent park. There wasn't anyone there in a mansion on wheels. People weren't comparing pop outs or slides. They were pitching tents and camping--the way we grew up. There was something strangely peaceful and comforting about that.

Around the fire ring were several chairs. Two of them were the tiny camp variety. One blue. One orange. They served as reminders that my dream has been accomplished. I am a mom. I first visited that place as a five-year-old. My son will reach that milestone in two days. I'm passing it on to another generation, this obsession with Tahoe. As we walked, hand in hand, down to the water early one morning, the oldest said to me, "Mommy, can we move here?" My heart screamed Yes! A thousand times yes! but, not even bringing my practical self into this, my soul said no. I've often felt that it just wouldn't be the same. It would lose its mystery. It would lose its appeal. The amazing would become mundane. I'd have to sell all my superfluous body parts on the black market just to pay rent. And maybe some not-so-superfluous ones, come to think of it.

But my family loves it there. Enough to dream about moving there. That's what matters.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The One With Last Year's Interview


Last year I interviewed Garrett just after his fourth birthday. A new interview is coming soon but to see last year's answers, go here.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The One With The Naughty Lady


Because this is where Garrett first coined the phrase, "Naughty Lady."

A phrase we use often around here now.

This story still gets people in stitches and has appeared in a sermon.

Click here.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The One With The Poopy Road Trip


The Rock Star probably doesn't want to be the only one who gets his poop talked about while we're out of town.

We're on a road trip. A road trip where we are logging a great many miles with our two small children. I really hope we aren't having any horrible poop situations.

Click here.

and here.

I'm realizing that either I talk way too much about poop or these are the only stories of any worth on my blog.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Vacation So Far

So far...

I can't say that I've ever actually been to the lake at 6:30 in the morning before. Because that is insane early for vacation. But I've also never been in a tent. With a four-year-old. With a four-year-old who is chomping at the bit to go see the water. So this is what it looks like.
Lake levels are crazy high. Large volumes of water are dumping in from all over the place. Eagle Falls, for one.

Since we were camping, we had to put all of our smelly belongings into a bear box. Think food, drinks, toothpaste, mouthwash, dish soap, laundry detergent, bug spray, sunscreen, deodorant, small boys...

Alright. Really. They were just simply fascinated by the large metal box. The Rock Star wanted us to buy one. You know, for our yard. At home. In the suburbs of Salt Lake City.

The Little Buddy (well, every buddy, really) enjoyed roasted marshmallows shoved between two chocolate chip cookies. It's like a S'more but I feel like that actual name might be trademarked with a bar of chocolate and a graham cracker. So these are more like Gimmemores. Or something.
We jumped off rocks at our favorite beach, Sand Harbor.
We saw our good friends who used to work in ministry with us in the San Diego area. They spent the day with us. They were there, in our campsite, later that night when a small bear lumbered by. Troy said, "Bear!" Then he shined a light at it and off it jogged.

We also found out that these people were camping at the lake. I hadn't been to the lake with Jason since fifteen years ago. FIFTEEN YEARS AGO. The twelve of us all had dinner at The Bridgetender. We had to eat inside because it had rained cats and dogs and giant hail balls that afternoon. But it was still delicious.
We also saw my mom's sister's husband's sister and her husband (also known as my uncle's sister) who happened to be at Tahoe as well. They were nice enough to drive halfway around the lake just to see us.

After four full days at Lake Tahoe, we drove through Reno and Susanville (hello long traffic waits while they paved the highway!) and eventually made it to our next stop. It was a pretty drive and we saw reservoirs we didn't know existed. At one point, through the trees, we saw this.
We stayed in a camping cabin at a KOA and had a view of Shasta. (We'd also had a view of Tahoe from our second campground so it was a week full of gorgeous scenery.) The boys loved the cabin. The Rock Star asked if we could move there. To a camping cabin. In the woods. Without a bathroom. Or a kitchen. Apparently if we plopped a bear box down next to a camping cabin, our firstborn would be thrilled.

We drove up to Eugene the next day. If you happened to be near Grant's Pass around lunch time on Saturday and if you happened to see a nearly thirtysomething female producing copious amounts of vomit on the side of the road, well, that was me. I proceeded to run a low fever and continue barfing once we reached Eugene. I fell into my mother-in-law's bed around five and did not leave the room until the next morning. Thankfully, come Sunday, I was feeling much better. We went off to church and then headed up to Portland. We took pictures of all ten grandkids together. It's been more than four years since everyone was in the same place at the same time.
And then, once upon a time, two people fell in love. They're in the middle. They had four kids who all got married and had kids. And eventually we took a picture of all twenty. People at the park stared at us. Seriously. Which is weird because the Duggar's have almost that many children. Gosh that's a lot. I can't imagine trying to keep track at a park.
My friends came to visit me at the park. We went to Starbucks. I miss them.
Today we went to the Enchanted Forest but those pictures are still being held captive on the camera. Tonight we're visiting with Troy's good friend. Tomorrow we're heading out to the coast for a few days with Troy's family.

And by Saturday we should be home. But that will involve many more hours logged in the car and I just don't want to think about that right now. I'm choosing not to. It isn't my happy place.

Although, in all honestly, the boys have done amazingly well. They're good travelers. Even if they do refuse to sleep.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The One With The Cheeks


My poor son, one day, is going to spend a lot of money on therapy because of this blog.

Click here.

Friday, July 8, 2011

The One Where Matthew Jumps


Matthew didn't want to be left out of the old videos. He's only two but I'd already sort of forgotten how much he adored bouncing. Jumping. Hopping. Any kind of movement whatsoever that forced him to go up and down quickly.

Click here.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The One Where He Constantly Talked About Poop


This one is from back in the day. The day when Garrett was two and a half and I was lamenting the fact that he was halfway to five. That happens on July 20, for anyone who's keeping track. Dude. My son is a quarter of the way to twenty.

I just died a little inside.

Click here.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th

Happy Fourth of July!

If all has gone according to plan, we're hanging out at the lake today. We won't attempt to drive anywhere. I've never actually been at the lake on the fourth but I've heard crazy things about how insane crowded it is. We'll play hard. We'll roast hot dogs. We'll roast marshmallows. We'll hope we can secure a spot on the beach that allows us to see at least one of the fireworks shows, maybe more.

What will you to celebrate our independence?

Saturday, July 2, 2011

This Is Not Our Home

Ever used ebeanstalk? I got to do a review for them. Check it out over here.


We received some very sad news this morning. The infant grandson of a couple in our church passed away unexpectedly. What do you say? How do you respond? Sometimes the only thing we can do is sit quietly and know that God is in control.

We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
And we cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we'd have faith to believe

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
And what if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know the pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home
It's not our home

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise

-Laura Story

Friday, July 1, 2011

House Guest

It's not every day that you find a ferret in your house. Of course, in our home it just seems to be par for the course.

I was upstairs cleaning the bathroom. The Rock Star was relaxing on the couch. The Little Buddy was asleep in his room. I came down to put the toilet brush back in the bathroom we store it in and I noticed the dog standing, hunched, over something in the corner of the bathroom. I thought he'd vomited. Suddenly, a little creature emerged from underneath him. For a moment I thought it was the cat but suddenly realized it was too small and narrow to be Oliver.

Within a second it registered. A ferret. There's a ferret in my house.

I said as much out loud and Garrett responded, immediately, without having even seen the thing, "Can we keep it?"

Remembering that I once saw the neighbor outside with a ferret I replied, "No. I think it belongs to the neighbor."

The dog was following it around, sniffing it, trying to get it to play. I put him outside, closed the back door--which had been left open and which was, undoubtedly, the cause of having a tiny member of the weasel family in our house--and picked up the ferret.

We walked next door, knocked on their door, and presented them with their pet. "I didn't know it was missing. He must have gone out the doggie door again."