Friday, August 31, 2012

Ikea and Preschool

Ever since Matthew practically got himself kicked out of the one hour Ikea daycare, we've been all kinds of worried about him starting preschool.

I couldn't even blog about it.

Because, no joke, I cried the entire way home from the store. I couldn't stop. I was like a starving toddler in need of a nap. Cutting teeth. And running a fever. Every time I tried to compose myself I just started crying again.

"So we had a lot of problems with Matthew," they'd told me. "He was bullying other kids. Several of them complained." Several. Awesome.

"Okay but," I'd started, "when you asked him to stop was he respectful? Did he listen?"

When they simultaneously began looking anywhere but at my face I knew we were in trouble. "Uh. Um. Uh," one of them stammered. "No. He got in my face. He was pretty angry, actually."

I'd swallowed the lump in my throat long enough to get outside.

This child.

This little love of my life.

This darling dear that I adore with my whole heart.

He simply doesn't recognize authority. If someone isn't mommy or daddy, it doesn't matter if they're three times as big as he is, he believes he's their equal. And he will not listen. And he disciplines them. "I'm not gonna do that. I'm gonna tell my mom on you. My mom's gonna come yell at you."

That fateful Ikea day we were already headed over to the preschool because we needed to pick up some of Garrett's end of the year stuff. I'd managed to compose myself before we got there. Then I looked into the eyes of the director that I'd known for more than three years and I just came out with it. "I just don't even know what to do with that kid."

We proceeded to talk for a good fifteen minutes. I rambled on about how I parent this little ball of authority challenging chocolate the same way I parent the one who, in three years of preschool, was disciplined a total of three times and two of them were for talking. (Although I didn't actually refer to him as a ball of chocolate.) I told her I was about to just ask for my money back and we'd work really hard with him and maybe try next year. I explained that I am fully aware that my child cannot sit around bullying other kids. He can't tell his teachers that his mom is going to yell at them. He can't put his famous frown on his face and glare through two hours of school twice a week. She asked me not to pull him. She told me we'd partner together to help Matthew recognize authority and to help him channel his emotions. In the end I agreed to try.

I've spent the last month repeating Proverbs 22:6. "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." And by old, please let that verse mean three and a half. We've spent the last month talking up preschool. We've tried specifically telling him who is in charge. "Mommy is leaving. So that means you have to listen to your Sunday school teacher now. She's the boss until I get back." Or whatever. That seems to be working.

Last night was Matthew's orientation. As we drove over to the school I instructed him. "Matthew, you can't hit any other kids."

"I didn't," he told me.

"And you can't kick any kids."

"I didn't!"

Troy interjected, "And you can't eat other kids for lunch."

After a pause in which Matthew had a very confused look on his face, his brother explained, "Daddy means that you can't bite kids."

"I DIDN'T BITE ANYONE!" Matthew yelled.

We walked in to school. Now mind you, Matthew, despite being a defiant little authority challenger, has always been very excited for school to start. On the day that shall live in infamy, I told Troy that we were getting our money back and Matthew was simply not going to school. He'd started crying softly and whispering over and over, "I'm sorry, Mommy. Please let me go to school."

A minute or two after we arrived last night, Matthew's good buddy walked in and Matthew ran to him. They hugged and trotted into class holding hands.

And my little knee bender was a perfect angel. FOR. THE. ENTIRE. EVENING.

When the orientation was over, I pulled the teachers aside and explained our situation. I told them that the director was aware and that I was hoping we could all partner together to make this a good experience for everyone. I was met with blinking eyes. Clearly these women, who had just witnessed my little angel, thought I was insane. I could almost hear their internal monologue. Truly, I'm a bonafide crazy cake to them.

Because that kid from Ikea, he didn't show up at preschool.

So I walked out and I told the director that I'd talked to the teachers so now we were all in the loop and fully versed on the ways of Matthew. I'd been in another room for most of the night and she replied, "HE DID SO GOOD! He was attentive. He was engaged. He was even one of the leaders. I watched him closely because of our conversation but he was AMAZING!"

I'm just hoping that I'm always the mom who crazily told the teachers that her kid is sometimes an angry mess when clearly he is actually a sweet little slice of sunshine.

I'll take people thinking I'm clinically crazy over my kid being that kid any day.

So here's to hoping it wasn't a fluke. Here's to hoping we've turned the page.

But I'm still not planning any trips to Ikea any time soon.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Grandma's Visit

Troy's mom was here for just shy of a week and our boys had a blast with her.

So did I. She took my shopping for my birthday and bought me new clothes. Not that I wouldn't have had fun if she hadn't bought me clothes but, well, I think maybe the way to a daughter-in-law's heart is always through Kohl's. Am I wrong?

While she was here we did lots of fun stuff together.

We went to the pool and the boys showed off their swimming skills.
We hiked around in Big Cottonwood Canyon.

Matthew fell down on our hike and busted his lip and his nose. He was not very happy and Troy had to carry him for a portion of the hike while he sobbed and yelled at the rocks for hurting him.

We also walked around a day campground and explored this cave. Once you crawl inside, the cave is tall and goes back quite a long way.

 My mother-in-law treated us to a few meals, took us shopping, joined us for our church picnic, and, to the delight of my boys, taught them (mostly Garrett) how to play Angry Birds on her Kindle.

They miss Grandma. And the Kindle.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


So, this thing where he chews the inside of his cheeks off to avoid smiling simply isn't going away. When I picked him up from school yesterday he was the very last kid in the long line of kindergartners to be belched from the halls into the blinding sun. I was starting to think he'd been captured by the jaws of kindergarten never to be returned to us. When he finally did appear, he had his arms crossed and was, very clearly, biting his cheeks.

"How was school?" Troy asked.

"Great!" he said with a mouthful of cheek.

"Did you have to go to the principal's office?"

He released his face from his teeth. "Dad! No."

"Well what did you do?"

"I didn't talk at all!" Wait. What? Hold the phone. Garrett didn't talk. Clearly our actual son was abducted by aliens and replaced with this cheek chewing replica. Because, honestly, alien life forms kidnapping my child is a much more plausible scenario than the aforementioned child not talking.

I staggered.

"What? What do you mean you didn't talk?" He may as well have been speaking a foreign language. "Did you answer any questions?" I asked.

"Well, I did answer a couple but I was very quiet the rest of the time." So now I don't know if he's chewing his cheeks to keep the smile at bay or if he's gnawing on his face to keep from talking.

Today we got there earlier and he was able to run around the playground with a couple boys. One of them kept talking about his "squito bite" and showing Garrett his forearm. "Cool," Garrett said. But I honestly didn't see anything and I don't think Garrett did either. They resumed chasing each other around the space.

As soon as the bell rang my boy sprinted over to the wall, leaned against it, crossed his arms, sucked his cheeks in and bit down on them.

I have no earthly idea why.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

First Day of School

In the words of Nemo, "First day of school! First day of school! Wake up! Wake up!" And in the words of Marlin, "I don't want to go to school! Five more minutes!" How about five more years? Troy told The Rock Star he could go to kindergarten when he was 16.

The Rock Star looked at his father like he was insane and said sarcastically, "Sixteen, dad. Really?"

"Sure, you can get your driver's license and go to kindergarten at the same time."

I interjected, "Then you can pick up all the five and six-year-olds in the neighborhood and take them to school." Thankfully my son doesn't know what a pedophile is so to him, this was just a silly suggestion and not a creepy one.

Also weird is the fact that, in a post about my son's first day of kindergarten I just used the word pedophile. Wow. My brand of crazy knows no bounds.

He ate eggs and sausage and a banana (I got major points for the sausage because I rarely make it on account of all the gross but man oh man do my boys ever love it) and then threw his clothes on in record speed.
A friend sent me a link to these online grade graphics but I had to manipulate this one in Paint because whoever designed them spelled "Kindergartner" incorrectly. True story.

My mom bought Garrett a ton of new clothes for school and the boy has been chomping at the bit to wear them. Today was the day! Tony Hawk skater boy outfit. Check.

We snapped some quick photos and then we were off. My mother-in-law is visiting us so she kept Matthew at the house while we drove up to the school.

It was, of course, a zoo, so we had to park a little ways away and walk in. 

When we got there, the first bell had already rung so he lined up against the wall like he'd been taught at his testing/meet the teacher day. He lined up between a kid his height and the tallest Kindergartner ever. In the history of kindergartners. My kid has to be one of the oldest in his class and this girl--look at this--she is like a full head taller than him. If not for the fact that everyone else seemed fairly even with Garrett, I'd have to start calling him "Hobbit." Except he doesn't have hairy feet. Legs, yes. Feet, not yet.

So. At this point the principal came out and shook everyone's hand and asked them their names and high fived them and said, "Give me some skin! Alright, man!" And stuff like that. Stuff that endears a parent to a principal right away even when she is wishing and praying that her kid never has much reason to know the principal at all.

The kids followed their teacher into the classroom and Troy and I talked about what a weirdo our son is because, other than the smile in the above picture, he was chewing the insides of his cheeks in that way that says, "I am so excited that I have to hold my smile down with my teeth because if I act to happy I might lose my status as the uber cool kid."

The principal hung around for a minute and told us that our kids were in safe hands and blah blah blah and that is when I noticed the mom to the left of me. She did one of those audible sobs although she stifled it by throwing her hand up over her mouth. Then she quickly grabbed some tissue and began furiously dabbing at the water leaking from her eyes. And my reaction was to think, "My goodness, woman, pull yourself together!" Because my idea of a worst nightmare is to blubber in front of people.

She couldn't pull herself together and had to wiggle her way through all the other parents, crying all the way. A few other moms were softly shedding tears and I praised God that we were able to send our son to three years of preschool. Three times I've taken Garrett off to school to prepare me for this day.

I haven't shed a tear. I haven't even felt a knot form in my throat. This is our life now. School every day for...ever. Kindergarten, the rest of elementary school, junior high, high school, college, medical school. Or, okay, law school would be fine too.

We're ready.

But he does still have an hour and a half left of the first day of school and, tears or no, if you think I'm not counting down the minutes, you'd be wrong.

Monday, August 27, 2012

One More Day

This is it.

The last day of summer before my baby heads off to kindergarten. The last day before we begin a track schedule that is so foreign to me I might as well as moved to another country. The last day before we're juggling school every day.

It would be very uncharacteristic of me to burst into tears tomorrow. So let's not plan on doing that. But, I tell you what, if I had ever been capable of controlling my own fertility, I'd be having another one RIGHT now just so that I could have something new and small to cuddle with. For once, I'm kind of thankful for the infertility--and other steps--that do not allow me to rush out and deliver babies whenever I feel like it.

Because sending my oldest son off to kindergarten tomorrow and my baby boy off to preschool in a week would probably have done me in.

But let's get real. Does this look like a kindergartner to you?

Because that's still how he looks to me most of the time.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Like An Avalanche

The time.

It's like an avalanche.

Starting slowly, with the rumble of the snow breaking away.

Gaining speed as it ferociously tumbles down the mountain.

Thirteen summers ago I moved onto the campus of Point Loma Nazarene University. The world was mine for the taking. My dad, my stoic dad, fighting tears, put his index finger on my nose in the parking lot of my new dorm and said something about making good choices, studying hard, and having fun. I don't actually remember the words he spoke, just that his finger was on my nose which was something he hadn't done since I was a child. I remember thinking, "Don't lose it, Dad. Don't lose it because then I'll lose it right here, right now, in front of any college student who happens by."

He didn't.

I didn't.

And thus began four years of learning, living, growing, changing, laughing. Thus began four years of incredible friendships built. I started college at the tender age of seventeen and began married life just three months after I graduated.

A lot happened in those years.

Literature. Theatre. Relationships. Professors. Chapel. Meals. Dorms. Jobs. Faith.

It's been thirteen years.

I could have started kindergarten and gone all the way through high school graduation since then. And that is what I mean about the time being an avalanche. Because, etched into my mind like it happened two days ago is that feeling of giddy excitement as I sat in my dorm room that first night, waiting for my life to happen.

Yesterday my niece moved into the same hall on the same campus. She was not quite six years old when I started college. "What floor? North or South? What room? What professors?" I bulldozed my husband with questions as he talked to her on the phone.

When he hung up I said with the weird sadness of nostalgia, "I want to go to college with Lexi."

Because you just can't shake off a place that changed you so profoundly.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Decade Past

Ten years ago I was engaged to another dude. Yeah. Dude pretty much sums it up. "Dude! What was I thinking?" and "Dude was so wrong for me." and "Dude, I am so glad I didn't marry him."

Ten years ago I never would have imagined that my life would turn out like this.
I didn't know I'd be a pastor's wife.

I didn't know I'd be Troy's wife. (One in the same, I haven't decided that polygamy is a good idea. Because good gravy one husband is enough for me.)

I didn't know I'd have these boys...

And that they, in turn, would have my whole heart wrapped around their tiniest of fingers.

I didn't know that Garrett would be so elementary GQ.

Or that my second son's eyes would sparkle with the depth of the choicest fondue.

I didn't know that my then pastor's son would steal my heart and give me the two best boys to love and raise.

Ten years ago I couldn't have imagined all of this.

And sometimes I wonder what we will all be ten years from now.

And I simply cannot imagine it.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

What A Savior!

God is shaking me. Stirring me. Which kind of makes me sound like I'm a martini. I don't actually drink martinis (or much of anything for that matter) but I do know that whether to shake or to stir is a hot debate in martini circles. This post is quickly coming off its rails.



That's where we were before I got sidetracked by martinis.

God is reminding me, in a slap-me-upside-the-head-and-shout-"duh" kind of way, that I am not of this world. I don't have to drive around with a giant NOTW sticker on the back of my car for it to be true. I don't have to wear a t-shirt to remember the Gospel of John.

If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. John 15:19.

I worry, y'all. (A friend of mine saw me type the word y'all and thought it was a Utah thing since, clearly, I didn't learn this speech behavior in California. Truth is, I didn't learn it in Utah either. I just think it's fun. I also sometimes like to call a barbecue a barbie but I've never even been to Australia.)

I worry kind of a lot.

So much so that I've talked about it at retreats and conferences. I know I'm not supposed to do it. I know the proper coping mechanisms and, truthfully, if I'm actually trying, they work. I know what Scripture to turn to. Still, I find myself worrying that I'm not pleasing others, that I'm not a good enough wife, mother, daughter, sister, pastor's wife, daughter-in-law, sister-in-law, friend, restaurant patron. I actually worry about these things. I worry that I'm not applying myself properly.  I worry that I won't be able to afford braces for Matthew and goodness does he ever need them.

And so, a few days ago, God had to totally shake me up. And I remembered that my worth is found in Him and Him alone. When I compare myself to others, no good can come. When I compare, I essentially say that my goal is to be like the world, of the world.

I don't want to be of the world. This world is ugly. The world compromises the truth of my Savior. The world says that my shorts are too long and my hair is too straight and my sunglasses aren't cool and my face needs work.

"Everything I am for your kingdom's cause..." means that I have to give it all to God. Not just some of it. Not just the parts I'm willing to let go of. Everything.

If He calls me to pick up my life and move to India (a place, mind you, that I have absolutely no desire to go), I go. Even if the world says that's insane.

If He calls me to minister right here, I stay.

If He calls me to be poor, I celebrate. Even if that's not a worldly reaction.

If He calls me to be rich, I give liberally. Even if the world wouldn't.

If He calls me to many small ministries, I minister.

If He calls me to one big ministry, I minister.

But this is not easy. If you think that pastor's wives are immune to times of desiring the world, you're wrong. But every time I start thinking about the world, I find myself in the desert. When I'm in the fire, I cling to Christ. When I'm in the battle, I hide behind Him. But when I'm in the desert, I can go days without feeling him. "Are you here, God?" I finally call out. "Because I don't feel you."

"I'm here," He whispers. "I haven't gone anywhere. You're senses are numbed by the world. It needs to be enough for you to know that I am here until you can see me and feel me."

I open my eyes and blink in the blinding sun. When my eyes adjust I ask, "God, why is there a giant dent in the dirt where I've just come from?"

I am so thankful that I have a Lord who will never leave me. I am so glad that He resorts to dragging me through the desert when He has to. Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Sing, Sing, Sing

Right now I want a really good voice, the ability to play the guitar, and a relocation to Sydney, Australia where I will track down Brooke Fraser and Jill McCloghry and make them sing worship songs with me. In the last few days I've become increasingly obsessed with the worship styling of Jill. Her voice and her passion are amazing.

But I sound like a man when I sing and I couldn't play a musical instrument if my life depended on it. And I can't afford to fly to Sydney.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Desert Song

Staring at a blank screen, wondering not what to say but how to say it. Verbose? Blunt? Come out with it then? One way or the other.

I've kind of been a mess. Not a cry-my-eyes-out-can't-cope-my-way-out-of-a-paper-bag mess or anything, just kind of disheveled, inside. Irritated at the apathetic nature of the church, it took awhile for me to realize that when I pointed that finger at others I was pointing three back at myself. Forgetting that I had a plank in my own eye bigger than the specks in the eyes of everyone else. "I'm tired," I told a dear friend, "of the fact that in nearly five years of ministry our average attendance hasn't changed. I'm tired of our collective offering always falling drastically short. I'm just...tired," I sighed, "of not feeling like there is ever going to be any change."

And because I feel like I am wandering around in some deserted valley, and because I cannot will the church to grow or give, I am restless.

Restlessness isn't foreign to me. More often than not I feel like I need to be doing something. But it's a very strange feeling for me where my entire life is concerned. It's one thing to feel like I need to get up and clean a toilet. It's another to search the Internet for some big life change.

Last week it was a general discontent with my education. I need some sort of job, I told myself. So that we can somehow make more money so that we can one day many decades from now retire. But how will I get a job that I like without additional schooling? I need to go back to school. All of my friends have jobs and master's degrees. And this had me popping all over the world wide web looking for a higher education program that interested me.

I could be a teacher.

I could be a writer.

I could be a phlebotomist. Except I hate needles.

I could be a checker at Walmart.

There is nothing major happening in my life. I'm not going through a contested adoption. I'm not moving away from all my friends and family and starting a new ministry. I'm not waiting on the results of a biopsy. I'm just living and in that I've somehow concocted the idea that I need to be more for Jesus.

I need to have a job.

I need to adopt a dozen orphans.

I need to do something really big for Him.

And, in wondering what the really big thing is, I think I've forgotten to do much of anything. In feeling, in my own, personal drama, like I'm not good enough, I've become sedentary.

But yesterday, in my own time with Jesus, I felt Him ask me a question. "What is the most important thing?" I knew the answer wasn't that I should have a really good job. Even if a lot of people around me have really good jobs. I knew the answer wasn't that I should be a better wife and mother. Even if a lot of people around are better wives and mothers. I knew that the answer wasn't even that I should be better at the ministries that I do. But in the quietness of my prayer I answered that the most important thing is that I lead people into a saving relationship with Christ.

And He told me no.


No. Try again.

I thought for a moment and answered, That I love you, know you, and worship you with my whole heart.

My wish for my children has never been that they have the best job, are the best man to the best woman, have the best kids or even that they run the most successful ministries. My prayer is always that they will grow up loving and knowing God. So why should my own life be any different?

My God is the God who provides. He is the God who heals. He is the God who sees. And whether I am going through a time of great trial or a time of great harvest or a time of feeling like I am doomed to wander the desert for forty years, He doesn't change. It is my heart that is prone to wander. Not His.

To know God. To love God. To worship God. This is all that truly matters. As for the rest, I need to stop comparing myself to others and I need to stop comparing my church to other churches. God has put me here for such a time as this.

And I will bring praise. I will bring praise. No weapon formed against me shall remain. I will rejoice. I will declare. God is my victory and He is here. All of my life, in every season, you are still God. I have a reason to sing. I have a reason to worship. -Hillsong

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Odd Life of Timothy Green

Have you seen this movie? If you answer "no" to that question, get yourself to a theater. (Do you know that I always spell it "theater" when I am referring to a movie house and "theatre" when I am referring to a place where one sees a play? I know. If you die today you'll rest better knowing that piece of information.)

We received free tickets to a screening of the film and we got to take the boys last week, several days before it opened. The pre-screening was arranged by the UAC (Utah Adoption Council) and our transracial adoption group told me about it. The theater was filled with adoptive parents, adoptees, and birth mothers. Before the screening they asked people to raise their hands if they'd added to their family through adoption. So many hands went up. Then they asked people to raise their hands if they were adopted. I lifted Matthew's hand up into the air and he held it there, looked around at all the other hands, and smiled. I don't know if he had a clue what was going on but it was a really neat moment. Then someone had to go and ruin it by screaming, "LET'S HEAR IT FOR ADOPTION!" in this ridiculously cheesy fashion. 

In the film, the Green's have been told that they cannot have biological children. Jennifer Garner did it in Juno and she did it in The Odd Life of Timothy Green. She completely nailed a heartbroken infertile woman. I know it's called acting. I studied it in college. But it still surprises me when someone who was pregnant when she got married can play a barren woman so well. I just kind of figure that she never struggled with infertility. I don't know, we're not BFF so who am I to make assumptions like that. But, not only that, she was also pregnant with her son while she was filming The Odd Life of Timothy Green. So, you know, all I'm saying is that she plays barren with heart wrenching conviction whilst apparently being, herself, the land of milk and honey.

The couple buries all their hopes and dreams for a child in a box in their garden. And that's when the crazy starts to happen. Timothy grows up out of the garden and smashes their lives wide open with his wit, his charm, and his leaf legs. It sounds weird. I know it does. But you're just going to have to go with it. And go see it. Because, in The Odd Life of Timothy Green, you find a movie that is humorous and captivating for adults but you also find a movie that held the attention of my six-year-old and my three-year-old.

In retrospect, it may have been slightly over Matthew's head. He clearly identified with the theme of adoption which was good but, when the movie was over, he kept telling us that he came out of our garden. No amount of trying to explain the film to him could convince him that he did not, actually, grow out of the ground. Thankfully he only talked incessantly about this for a day and hasn't mentioned it since.

Sure, you have to suspend your disbelief that a kid could come out of a garden but it's easy to do because Timothy's parents are hysterically trying to figure it out for themselves. Beyond that, this is an incredible film about building a family and navigating the hopes and dreams that we have for our children.

Really. Go see it. Now.

This screenshot comes from a hysterical scene. It's Timothy's first day of school and Jennifer Garner's character is all crazylike and she's totally weighed the kid down with all manner of school supplies. She's super nervous for him but Timothy just trots off to class. Jim yells after him, "Have a great day!" and Cindy quickly interjects, "That's too much pressure!" to which Jim quips, "Have the day you have!"
So Troy and I have decided to start telling people to have the day they have. That way we take into account all the unforeseen issues that could crop up and make a day really great or really horrid.

Joel Edgerton and Jennifer Garner are phenomenal and CJ Adams steals the show as the adorable Timothy. I am so glad that we got the (free!) opportunity to see this movie!

Friday, August 17, 2012

A Baby For Matthew

If it was just that easy, I'd go get my son a brown sibling today.

Two days ago he suddenly told me that he wanted a baby. It took awhile for me to figure out that he meant a living, breathing baby and he wanted it to stay here forever. I'm fairly certain this would last all of ten minutes and he'd be totally over it. I asked him if he wanted a "boy baby brother" or a "girl baby sister" and he gave it some good thought before responding, "I want a boy baby yike Matthew for me and a girl baby...for mommy!" He said the last part as though he was very proud of himself for being so thoughtful and, really, that was very kind of him to think of me like that.

When I ask his older brother what he would want if God ever gave us another baby he quickly replies, "A boy. I like boys and we can have wrestling fights." Sure. I'm positive that another son would just love to wrestle with a brother who was more than six years older than him.

So the fact that Matthew thinks pink ruffles, sugar and spice might just be a nice addition around here clearly makes him the favorite child. Until he starts pointing his finger in the faces of innocent adults and telling them that he doesn't have to listen to them and he's going to tell his mom on them. But that's another story for another day.

Anyway, later that day, after seeing some friends who have a baby sister, Matthew declared, "Pwease can we get a baby for Matthew?" (Should this third person thing be concerning?)

I began to reply, "Well, honey, I can't just go get--"

"No. Mommy, pwetty pwease?"

"Matthew, it doesn't work like that. It's not like I can go to the store to--"

"Mommy. Stop. Wisten to me. I want a Matthew baby. I be good!" And if ever there was a time when I'd go and, say, enroll myself in an adoption program just because my three-year-old asked me to, that was it.

"So, why do you want to adopt again, ma'am?" they'd ask.

"Because my three-year-old told me too." It's a great answer. Perfectly sound reasoning, no?

This went on all day on Wednesday. Him asking for another baby. A Matthew baby. We finally established that he wants a brown baby. And if that wasn't kind of heart breaking then I don't know what would be. We have a lot of books with people of all colors. We have brown dolls. We have brown toys. We have brown friends. We try to be conscious about not making Matthew feel like he's the only brown that God ever made.

But the fact remains. Matthew is the only brown in our family. And he's responding at a completely age appropriate level according to psychology. He has come to understand color (although getting him to name them is another story) long before he understands adoption and race.

And he wants a brown baby.

Last night we got to meet our friends' new baby and oh my goodness is he ever delicious. He is also their white biological baby. All the way over we told our rambunctious, crazy little men that they needed to be quiet and sit still and be very gentle because the baby is very new. They were super excited to meet him. When I settled down onto the couch with him in my arms, Matthew crawled up next to me. He took a good, long look and then let out the mother of all sighs. He whispered, almost inaudibly, "He's not Matthew."

"You mean he's not chocolaty brown like you?" I asked.

He shook his head.

"No. He's not." I said. I try my best to let Matthew make these statements, to figure this out, without giving him more information, without sharing through thirty years of experience what's going on. "Is he so cute though?" Matthew nodded and proceeded to pet him on the head.

On the one hand, it makes me happy that Matthew, who has always been kind of self-absorbed, who has never vocalized that he would ever want another sibling to share things with, actually thinks another kid is a good idea.

On the other hand, it breaks my heart a little that he wants to see himself reflected in the skin of a baby brother or sister. That the books, the toys, the friends, even, aren't always enough.

And then there is the fact that, not ten minutes later, both boys got knocked over by a dog. Matthew started sobbing and, while Garrett was running away he stepped in dog poop, fell over somehow and started bleeding in a couple places. As I carried a wailing Matthew and navigated a poop covered Garrett through the yard, I remembered that, 99% of the time, the question of more children is no.

Even when Matthew asks pwetty pwease.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

No A/C

I'm glad that, while I live somewhere that's hot (in the summer, that is, and bone freezing cold in the winter), we aren't having these ridiculous heat waves seen in other parts of the country. I'm happy about this because our air conditioning is out for the third time since we got home from our vacation at the end of June.

Yesterday it reached 90 on the main level of the house. I can only imagine how hot it was upstairs but my guess is 130. My guess is wrong but there was literally a wall of heat that one had to climb through at the top of the stairs. The only ceiling fan is set on a winter rotation and our landlord lost the remote long before we moved in. No amount of looking at it, taking parts of it apart, or willing it to reverse itself into a summer setting has worked. So, a house with no A/C, no swamp cooler and no ceiling fans can get pretty miserable.

Our landlord, usually really prompt with getting things fixed or replaced, is missing in action. Our only correspondence from him yesterday was a message about contacting us when he heard from his brother-in-law who might be able to fix it but who also might be in Idaho for the week. Other attempts to contact him yielded no response.

Once the sun went down, we tried valiantly to reduce the heat by strategically placing floor fans, opening all the windows as wide as they would go, and performing a ritual song and dance to the god of weather. Not really on that last one. We don't know any ritual songs and dances.

And we don't believe in the god of weather.

And we think that God knows what He's doing and probably isn't going to bring a freak storm just because we're hot.

I'm going to remember this on Sunday when I have to take a jacket to church because it is absolutely freezing inside of that building. After being so miserable for two weeks in a row that I could barely concentrate on what my husband was saying, I started bringing a light weight jacket. That was four weeks ago. I shiver through the jacket, even. After complaints from several other women, my husband started turning the air up to a whopping 72 but, within minutes, it would be readjusted back down to 70. We're thinking that putting the thermostat under lock and key might be a good idea.

This is proving that I have a low tolerance for temperature changes. I blame my four years living at the beach in San Diego where I could expect no more than a fifteen degree shift in temperatures year round. This is also my biggest argument for moving to Hawaii. Perfect beach weather every day? Check. It appears that something is wrong with my internal temperature gauge. I need weather that is consistently between 72 and 88 degrees.

I keep our A/C running at 80 because we need to save money but that's a far cry from the upstairs 130. More than that, my activator personality cannot stand wondering at what point we're going to be able to get it fixed. Are we just supposed to power through the rest of the summer?

Because, by my calculations, we have about four weeks of heat left.

If it isn't fixed by tonight, I suggested a camp out under the stars. That idea is looking better and better.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tiny Dancer

It doesn't make sense. Why I had to choke back tears in the middle of Walmart because they were playing Tiny Dancer, I'll never know for sure.

I mean, it's a song about the 1970s, California, and beautiful women. And while it's true that just about any song about California can make me wax nostalgic, I've never been a dancer. Nor have I ever been a seamstress.

But there I found myself, in the bread aisle at 8:30 am, swallowing a lump in my throat that threatened to cut off my airway. And suddenly, flashing through my memory was an image of my newborn son. So maybe it's all the babies my friends are having. Copious amounts of babies. All of them boys. Like mine was. Is. That is to say, he's still a boy but he is not still in infant state.

My newborn son. So little. So perfect. His eyes big and searching. His lips small and dipping down exquisitely toward his chin. Tiny dancer. 

He doesn't really dance. When the rhythm gets him he succumbs to it by swinging his hips in wild, dramatic circles, clenching his jaw as though he is preparing for a spinal tap, and throwing his arms around in stiff staccato motions somewhat reminiscent of the disco movement.

"Now how many days until kindergarten?" he asked me this morning and then exhaled loudly when I told him two weeks. Two weeks to a six-year-old might as well be an eternity. Two weeks to his mama is not enough time. She is left staring at tortillas wondering where those six years went.

As we snuggled together in his bed last night he asked 1,001 questions. "What happens if you make a mistake on your paper in kindergarten?" You erase it and try again. "Will the teacher give me an F if I don't do a good job?" Not in kindergarten. "Can we walk up the hill to school on the first day?" Not on the first day. "Why not?" Because I don't want you to be all sweaty and gross on the very first day but maybe we can walk home when you're all done. "Will my teacher like me?" I'm sure she will.

So he's excited. And, obviously, a little apprehensive too. I stared into his eyes and reassured him as best as I could. Those eyes, the ones that first looked into mine on that sweltering evening in July. The ones that sparkle now as he metaphorically bounces off some elementary school wall. The ones that will find joy and pain and knowledge. When he is thirty and I look into them will I still see that baby boy inside?

Will I remember when he was just a tiny dancer in my hand?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Son of a Preacher Man

Last night before we headed back to the church for our small group, my youngest son was going to the bathroom. He used to be too short to reach the toilet but he still wanted to stand, because, after all, he's a man and he is not going to sit like his mother. So, he's not too short anymore but he still sometimes wants to stand on my feet for some extra height. So there we were, he on my feet doing his business and me minding mine.

"Apostasy! Apostasy! Apostasy!" He said in a singsong voice.

I was a little confused.

"Are you saying apostasy?" I asked him, thinking he must be saying something else that just sounded similar.

"Yep!" he replied enthusiastically. "But I do not know what it means."

And then I almost died laughing.

Friday, August 10, 2012


Dear Troy,

Just this morning I saw a post on Facebook that said, "How will you know if a person truly loves you? It's when he brings you closer to God." And I thought to myself, well, that pretty much sums it up. My number one criteria for finding a husband was that he drew me nearer to the Lord instead of pushing me farther away. Thank you for meeting that criteria. Thank you for teaching me to be more like Christ. Thank you for praying with me and for me. Thank you for teaching me and astounding me on an almost daily basis with the vast level of your spiritual knowledge. If you were nothing else, nothing more than this godly Christian man, it would be enough.


You are so much more.

You're the guy who surprises me with flowers, who tries to surprise me with nights away but usually only succeeds in accomplishing the actual date but not the surprise, who couldn't care less if I let the house turn into a total mess and, who encourages me to do whatever makes me happy.

You're the dad who plays with his boys in the playroom, who takes them bike riding, who teaches them to wrestle, kick a soccer ball and swing a bat, who hugs and kisses them even though they're boys and you're a man and, who tells them over and over again how proud you are of them.

You're the man who cares about my opinion, who kisses me goodnight, who kisses me good morning--sometimes even before I brush my teeth, who says I'm pretty when I'm wearing sports shorts and a t-shirt and my hair is in a pony tail.

You're the dad who goes to every soccer game, every wrestling match, every school performance, and every t-ball game (except that time when you had to do a funeral but we all understood), who works on his sermon late into the night so that he can spend Saturday with his kids, who works a weird schedule so he can watch a morning swimming lesson because his son begged him to.

You're the husband who knows exactly what I'm thinking, who puts up with my desire to drop everything and paint the house right now, who takes us camping and out to dinner, who thinks I'm talented and smart and funny when clearly I'm not really any of those things.

Nine years ago today, we promised to love one another. Forever. For always. Thank you for being a man of integrity, for honoring those vows, for never giving me a single reason to question your love for me.

Happy Anniversary. I love you.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

I Miss Mayberry

Remember when people were neighborly? Remember when they dropped by to borrow a cup of sugar or shoot the breeze while the kids played hide-and-seek in the street? I didn't grow up in the 50's or the 60's so I don't actually remember these things but I've been told and I've seen Leave It To Beaver and The Andy Griffith Show so I believe that we used to be kinder.

Of course I encounter people every single day who are friendly and willing to give others the benefit of the doubt and aren't completely self absorbed. But I also encounter people just as frequently who are the definition of selfish and, well, not nice.

On Tuesday the boys had a swimming lesson that was over at 11:55. The pool opens at 12:00 for recreational play so when the lesson was over, we put our stuff down under a big umbrella and went to get our wristbands. Later, as the pool filled up, a lady approached the umbrella pushing a double stroller. She had dialogue with some other people near us and it was clear that they were together. After a couple minutes she very nicely asked if it would be alright if she parked the stroller next to me so that the two babies who were asleep inside could be in the shade. Of course it was fine with me and I even rearranged our chairs a little so that she could have more room. We chatted. We were, if you will, neighborly. Several families were sharing the shade of the umbrella and there wasn't a bit of a problem. The umbrella is always shared because it is gigantic.

Today the boys had a swimming lesson. When it was done, we put our things down under the same umbrella. There were two other ladies whose kids had also had lessons. As they went to check in, they had their daughters stay on the chairs that they were reserving. As I looked for our passes in my bag, another family came up and I assumed they were with the two ladies who'd left to get their wrist bands. They started giving me very nasty looks and then, to each other, they started in.

"I have no idea what they are doing. You are absolutely supposed to exit the pool before claiming space." 

"This is ridiculous."

"What does she think she is doing?"

"Someone needs to tell a lifeguard because this is not okay."

Now, I had set up three lounge chairs on the very far side of the umbrella because we only tend to stay for about two hours, more than 90 minutes of that is spent in the water, and, when we get out, we don't usually want to be in the shade because we're wet. I was on the very outskirts of the umbrella property. One of the three chairs was completely in the shade, one was somewhat in the sun and the other was totally in the sun. As the boys and I walked to get our wristbands I could not believe how angry they were so suddenly. I also could not ever remember any member of the fitness center telling me that I had to leave before securing a spot. The deck space is huge and there is simply no reason for such a rule.

As we walked back down to our stuff, I couldn't believe me eyes. The most vocal lady was actually shoving my chair several feet. When she saw me coming, she dropped her bag directly next to my chair, in the space the chair had been only moments before.

And, as my good friend likes to say, I almost came out of my Jesus. 

But I remembered that I have Jesus and so, instead of getting into a poolside brawl with another woman, I gathered the boys close to me and whispered that someone wasn't being very nice and mommy needed to pray before she responded the same way. So I asked the Lord to help me calm down and then I asked Him what He would do. Because throwing peaches at them--which is kind of what I wanted to do--probably wouldn't be His choice of responses.

As I finished whispering my prayer, another couple of ladies joined the group. "She just put her stuff right here, in the middle of our space," I heard one of them say. I couldn't believe this because I was not in the middle of them. I was way off to the side. "They are supposed to go out and come back in. I cannot believe how rude people are." (Yes, she said that.)

"Are you kidding?" Another lady asked as I felt my cheeks flushing the way they always do when someone, anyone, doesn't approve of something I've done. "There is no excuse for that. I can't believe this is happening."

Neither could I, quite frankly. There were several adults gathered around now, all of them loudly talking about what an awful person I was for, you know, putting my stuff on three lounge chairs.

The boys and I walked over to the diving pool. That's when it hit me. No, I did not want to be bullied by middle schoolers masquerading as grown women. No, I didn't want to back down when I'd done nothing wrong. But, did it really matter?

Did it really matter where we sat? As I said before, we spend very little time actually sitting. So did it matter where our stuff stayed while we played?

The answer was no. So I set up some chairs much closer to the diving pool and went back over to the umbrella. I left the boys at the new chairs because I honestly wasn't sure what was going to happen. I didn't want to simply pick up my stuff and walk away because, while I was attempting to do some turning the other cheek action, I also didn't want them to perceive that they had bullied me into leaving.

I picked up our stuff and looked at the two ladies who'd been there at the swimming lesson, the two who'd had their daughters saving seats (which had never made much sense to me because hadn't I done the exact same thing?), "You can just have these. We don't actually care where we sit." I said in the friendliest voice I could muster which was hard because my cheeks felt like they were on fire.

One of the women looked confused. The other smiled and said, "Oh, it's not us. We don't need them. It's those people back there," she turned and pointed behind her. See, I had just assumed they were together. But what had actually happened is that the other two women and myself  had saved seats after swimming lessons. We were all there first. Then the other family had arrived and instantly started saying that we were all in their space. As though the umbrella had their names on it. I was kind of super confused by this development. 

I looked at the woman they were pointing at. She was glaring at me. "Yeah. It's us. We're pissed. Because we got here an hour early to secure this spot. And they shouldn't have let you in early."

I could have said several things like, "There's no way you were here an hour early because my kids' swimming lesson didn't start until 45 minutes ago and you weren't here when I walked in." Or, "They didn't let me in early. I paid 50 bucks for swimming lessons and they weren't over until 11:55. Then I had to get their exit paperwork and their suckers and by then the pool was already open." Or, "Wow. You're a pretty angry person." But I managed to smile. "Well, like I said, we don't care where we're at. We're happy anywhere. So you can have our chairs."

And if I'd been the one being rude in the first place, I would have felt about this big (picture my thumb and my pointer finger pinching together with only a very small space between them). I would have probably said something like, "Okay. Thank you very much," and then crawled under the nearest gigantic umbrella and died a little. Instead, she just glared at me and kind of shook her head like she was disgusted by my presence. She never said another word.

We had a blast swimming and jumping and sliding and, at one point, none of the nasty party was under the umbrella so I walked over to the two ladies I'd accused. "I'm sorry I thought you were the ones who wanted me to move. I thought you were together."

"Oh it's no problem. My goodness. I thought we were going to have a schoolyard fight!" one of them said. I guess the other family, who was, initially, clearly mad at all of us, had continued chipping at the other two who hadn't moved. 

And I miss Mayberry. Because I just don't think that would happen there. In Mayberry we'd all squeeze together to make sure that everyone had a great time at the pool. In Mayberry we'd be a little more patient and a little more understanding.

Just so you don't think I'm exaggerating...

This is the umbrella. All of the black squares are the spaces that the other family acquired. The red square off to the side is where I'd set up. The tiny red square in the center is where the other two ladies were. It looks like my square has a premier spot but, with the way the sun is at noon, there is very little shade on that side of the umbrella.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Winner, Winner!

I used to generate a winner for the Sam's Club gift card giveaway and the winner is lucky number 18. To clarify, number 1 is the first comment that was left on the post not the first comment showing. They show up from newest to oldest. That being is the winning comment.

Honestly, I would probably use the gift card to stockpile some teeny tiny diapers so that having 2 in them for awhile will be slightly less painful. :) Fun giveaway!

Have fun stocking up on those diapers!

Be sure to check back soon for more giveaways.

Fish Genes

Today is the last day to enter to win a $25 Sam's Club/Walmart card! Click here!

My friend, who was adopted as a child, calls it Adoptive Genetics--the things you inherit from your adoptive parents, the things you love because of your environment, the things nurtured in to your personality. When she saw what Matthew did yesterday she said, "He gets it from his momma."

In this case, I have to agree.

As I said in this post, Matthew basically taught himself how to swim in Hawaii. He's taken a total of two sessions of swimming lessons and the first session, back in April, consisted mostly of him glaring at his teacher and refusing to do anything. But he was pretty much in the Pacific Ocean from dawn until dusk when we were on Maui and the result is a confident, brave, fish.

When we go to the pool, which is at least a couple times a week, Garrett wants to spend most of his time in the diving pool, alternating between jumping off the board and perfecting his racing start. His racing dive, with only minimal instruction from me, is actually pretty incredible. So all he wants to do (over and over and over) is practice it. Yesterday, as Garrett was hopping off the diving board, Matthew told me that he wanted to do it.

I was pretty hesitant.

You can't have any kind of flotation device in the diving well.

The diving well is 17 feet deep at the end under the platforms and diving boards.

Matthew is not even three and a half yet.

"Pwease, Mommy?" he asked, his chocolate eyes big and begging.

As a parent I desperately want to find the balance between teaching my children to be safe and not instilling in them a spirit of fear. You're too little. It's too scary for you. Mommy would go into cardiac arrest. Are simply not good enough reasons to keep him from trying. There are three lifeguards on duty for this pool alone and I was standing six feet away. Even if he'd completely freaked and sunk straight to the bottom, I'd have had him back up to the top in approximately eight seconds flat.

He jumped twice before I had the presence of mind to go get the camera.

To put this into perspective, Garrett is often the youngest child jumping off the board. He's usually a head shorter than everyone else. Matthew is a head and a neck shorter than his brother.

The one thing Matthew hasn't figured out is that he can lift his head up to breathe. He thinks the only time he can take a breath is once his hand is safely on the wall. So, he would jump in, sink several feet, swim to the top, and then try to swim to the side all with only one gulp of air. While he was accomplishing this just fine, it was freaking me out a little that he wouldn't make it and he'd panic and that would be the end of his love for the water. 

That's why these videos cut out as soon as he hits the water. Because I would take the video, stop the video, put the camera down, and hop into the pool so that I could reach my arm out in case he needed it. The more he jumped, the more tired he got and the more he depended on my arm. But, even when he was tuckered out, he was still jumping, swimming to the surface, and kicking about four feet before grabbing my arm and taking a breath.

As for adoptive genetics, well, both of his biological parents have told me that they do not even know how to swim. But their son has managed to get some fish genes somehow.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Men's Breakfast

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Very regularly, some of the men at our church meet at a restaurant for breakfast. Whenever it is announced on Sunday morning, my six-year-old's ears perk up. "Men's Breakfast. Yes!" Obviously, he wants to go every, single time. It's almost always very close to our church, which is about fifteen minutes from our house. Of course Garrett can't stay at work the entire day with Troy so, when he does go with his daddy, Troy has to drive up to the breakfast, bring Garrett back, and then turn around and go back to the church.

I'm kind of a practical stick in the mud and I am constantly thinking of ways we can try to save on gas.

Last night as we climbed into bed, Troy told me that he would take Garrett with him this morning. "But, you'll have to turn around and come back. That'll use more gas." (Because I'm observant like that.)

He looked at me and, without condemnation, asked, "What's more important, gas money or me spending quality time with my son?"

Point taken.

I love that my husband introduces my children to all kinds of ministry and fellowship opportunities. And I need to remind myself that there are many more important things than the price of gas.

Monday, August 6, 2012

It's Matthew!

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We're part of a transracial adoption playgroup so my boys are used to seeing families that are made of up of different colors. Since we do go to this group frequently, Matthew is able to see a lot of brown kids interacting with their lily white parents.

Matthew also refuses to learn his colors. For the longest time I thought he was severely colorblind but now I know that he can see a difference, he just chooses not to acknowledge their names. I'd think that he was just having a really hard time learning them but this makes no sense because he basically self taught himself all the letters in the alphabet.

All that to say, he won't point at something and call it red or blue or brown.

Matthew knows that when we go to playgroup he is going to see other brown kids. He knows that at church he's going to see some brown people. But, when he is expecting just another sea of white, he's developed an interesting phrase.

He did it at the pool first. There was a brown boy with a white family and he shouted out, "He's Matthew! He's Matthew!" At first I thought that maybe he'd heard someone say the boy's name and that it was also Matthew.

"His name is Matthew, too?" I asked.

"No! He's Matthew! Like me! Look!" Then he frantically pointed to his arm and then pointed to the boy.

"Oh! Yes. He is brown like you! How cool!" I smiled.

Last week, we were watching Olympic gymnastics. John Orozco came on. Matthew nearly exploded off the couch. "Look at him! He's a Matthew! He's a Matthew like me!"

What's interesting is that we have a lot of books that have all different shades of people. Sometimes I will ask the boys which one they look the most like, just to see how they identify themselves. Garrett has reached an age where he identifies himself as "white" and will almost always identify Matthew as the brown child. With Matthew it still depends. He knows that the boy at the pool and John Orozco are the same color as him but he might identify himself as the freckled blonde kid in a children's book.

But when my son finally learns his colors, I might just miss him referring to brown as "Matthew."

Saturday, August 4, 2012


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We've really been enjoying these last few weeks of summer around here. I told Garrett that every day we were going to do something special together since he'll be off to kindergarten soon. So far we've done some really fun things. We've been to the zoo (free because we went with a friend who has a pass--Thanks Ashley!), Jungle Jim's (cheap because I bought an online deal), Cold Stone (free with gift cards), the pool a few times, etc. We've also done other things like bake zucchini bread together and ride bikes.

Last night, on the way home from Troy's final softball game of the season, Garrett asked if we could get frozen yogurt.

"Not tonight," I said.

"How come?"

"Because, we don't need to get frozen yogurt tonight."

"But remember I'm going to kindergarten soon?" he questioned.

"Yes. What does that have to do with frozen yogurt?" I asked him.

"Well, remember that you're going to miss me a lot while I'm gone?"

Apparently, my precious (albeit manipulative) child thinks we're shipping him off to boarding school. I kindly reminded him that we'd spent hours at the zoo that day already for our special time together and frozen yogurt wasn't happening.

"Can we get some before school starts?" he implored.


Wednesday, August 1, 2012


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I have a confession to make. I'm kind of obsessed with Missy Franklin. This is inappropriate on so many levels. I'm old enough to be her much older sister or her very young mother. The girl is seventeen for heaven's sake. That would be, like, the equivalent of me being obsessed with Justin Bieber. But, for real, if I wasn't the married mother of two, I'd probably start putting posters of Missy Franklin on my walls. Posters not unlike the ones that hung on the back of my door for years after the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. And she doesn't even swim the events that I did. So I'm basically a traitor to the breaststroke. I don't even like backstroke.

But you know what, I'm not even sorry.

Because my goodness. I have never seen a 17-year-old so calm under pressure and so enthusiastically hyper the rest of the time. This obsession doesn't stop with me either. My six-year-old sees pictures of her and shouts out, "Look, there's Missy Franklin!" To put this into perspective, I don't think the dude has a clue who Michael Phelps is. And while that's not saying much about me as a mother--I mean, come on, what child of a former swimmer doesn't know who Michael Olympic Medal Record Setting Phelps is--it does speak highly of the amount of time we've been spending talking about Missy Franklin in our house.

At one point I said, "I can't believe she wears those earrings." Since that time, I have heard my child repeat that very sentence a dozen times. "They don't seem to slow her down," I now answer him when he throws the question at me. Again.

This morning we were watching the prelims of the 100 Free and my son started going crazy once they were in the water. "Which one is Missy Franklin? Where did she go? Mom, show me Missy Franklin!" I informed him that she was at the top of the screen wearing a white cap. "SHOW ME! Point to her!" He demanded. I hoisted myself off the couch--difficult as I've been affixed to it for several days now, eyes glued to the competition--and stubbed a finger on to her head as she swam on by.

"Okay. Go! Go Missy Franklin! Missy Franklin is doing big arms!"

Yes, I'm sure that's what her coach calls them. "Missy, I want you to start with a 500 warm up. Use your big arms now, like a good girl."

It continued, "Missy Franklin isn't winning, Mom. Why isn't Missy Franklin winning? She's not going to get a gold medal." It was, at this point, that I had to explain to him what a prelim is and that she swam fast enough to make it into the semi final. "What's a semi final, Mom?"

Oh boy.

We're also a little obsessed with this around here...
And every time (EVERY TIME) Missy Franklin appears Garrett yells, "There's Missy Franklin!" I think it's safe to say that Kiddo is in love with her.

And of course she just so happens to be a backstroker. One day, a couple of years ago, Garrett was doing push ups and Troy noticed that his elbows were all kinds of going the wrong way. "Look at this!" he called for me.

I looked at my son, shook my head in disbelief and announced, "He's a backstroker."

His feet aren't turned out like a duck. His elbows bend backward at sick angles. I'm questioning maternity. But if my son wants to swim and if he suddenly has a knack for the backstroke, I'm declaring to everyone within earshot that I totally called it.

And then I'll focus my attention on Matthew and turn him into a breaststroker.

Not really. But only because Matthew won't be a swimmer. That kid likes to punch stuff. Swimming isn't exactly a contact sport. I'll cheer him on at his football games.

Whatever they choose to do, I can only hope that my children love something as much as Missy Franklin loves swimming--and that they wear that love in their smiles.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go hang a giant poster of the gold medalist on the back of my door.