Thursday, September 27, 2012


My mom is here so there has been shopping and sweet rolls at Kneaders and a trip to the pool.

Tomorrow is our retreat so there has been last minute details and phone calls and emails.

So that's what I've been up to.

But I should be back on Sunday.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Love Letter

This week Garrett is the Star Student at school. Of course it was this week because this week I am planning a retreat for forty women. This week my mom will be here. This week we have his regular homework plus now we get to make a poster, complete a book, and write our son a "love note" to be read aloud in class.

And he is so excited.

The star student gets to be the line leader. He gets other perks as well but my child couldn't actually remember what any of these perks were.

So we cranked out the book today, finished his homework for the week and now just have the poster left to do. I sat before my computer screen wondering what in the world I was supposed to say in a love letter to my six-year-old. A six-year-old needs some street cred on the playground so it couldn't be overly sappy but the same six-year-old needs to know that his parents think the world of him.

I wrote the following and somewhat desperately wanted to go with him to class and video tape the look on his teacher's face while she was reading it.

Dear Garrett,
            We haven’t really known how to tell you this before so we decided that your Super Star week was as good a time as any. The truth is, that story about being born on a steamy hot day in July is only partly true. It was hot, sure. But it wasn’t San Diego and it wasn’t in a hospital.
            You’re no stranger to adoption, Son. You know that families are made in all kinds of incredible ways. You know all about how your brother was never in my tummy but he’s no less your brother because of that fact. The truth about you, dear boy, is that we stumbled upon the wreckage of a space ship while we were living for a short time in Kansas. Short because I personally feel that Kansas should be blotted out of the United States and replaced with a large lake. Or perhaps, even, a giant mall. But I digress.
            Upon finding the space ship, we decided to explore it. We had no children so what did it matter if we were accidentally beamed up into the atmosphere? Now, we had been hoping and praying for a baby for a long time—that much of the story we’ve told you is true. But what we haven’t explained is that there, in the wreckage of twisted metal and space travel gone bad, was a tiny baby boy.
            That boy was you.
            That’s why your head was so big when you were a baby. Aliens always have disproportionate heads. Not that I’ve met a lot of aliens but, you know, Hollywood usually gets these things right. Right?
            It turns out that you are actually from the planet Krypton. Your birthfather, Jor-El rocketed you off Krypton just moments before its destruction. Your birth name is Kal-El but we really thought people would make fun of that. Not to discount your heritage by any means but we couldn't find it anywhere on the list of top baby names. For some reason that we truly cannot explain, we briefly considered naming you Clark Kent. But then we remembered that our last name isn't Kent so it didn't really make a lot of sense.
            You are six. You’re in kindergarten. You’re the Star Student this week. So we decided it was high time to let you in on a little secret. You’re actually Superman. But don’t worry, all this new information doesn’t change anything and certainly shouldn’t confuse you. So, you know, have a great day!
            We love you and we’ll talk later. Especially about kryptonite. Don't let us forget to have that particular discussion. It's kind of a doozy.

Mom & Dad

I opted not to send this one with him. Instead I wrote him a brief, somewhat sweet, somewhat funny, hopefully perfect balance of making him feel loved but not making him feel dorky, letter. But I really think he would have appreciated the Superman letter so much more.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Progresso Winner

WINNER!!! Please email me at with your full name, address and a contact phone number.

Becky  7 days ago
I follow your twitter!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Potato Harvest

We moved into a house in the south part of the valley when we accepted the call to Utah. There was a garden area and it didn't matter what I did or did not do, that soil was fertile. It was like the octomom of gardens. I grew tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash and berries. I thought I'd discovered my green thumb at long last.

A year into our lives here, we moved closer to the church and into a house with a big dirt patch in the yard. I thought my gardening skills would produce another fantastic bounty of vegetables. I was wrong. Dead wrong. The ground is hard and full of tiny rocks.

With tilling and adding good dirt and manure, I've succeeded in growing zucchini and green tomatoes. Each year a handful of tomatoes actually turn red and are generally snatched up by an obnoxious, albeit lovable, golden retriever.

A year ago, in May or June, I dug a hole and started a compost. Garrett thoroughly enjoyed throwing old veggies, egg shells, and rotten potatoes into the big hole. Last fall, as I was weeding, you can imagine my surprise when I yanked up potatoes. Our rotten composted potatoes had grown new ones. I'd done nothing. I hadn't specifically watered them. I hadn't planted them properly. They simply did what they do and we feasted on them. They were a little earthy tasting for my palate but they made delicious hash browns.

This year we bought really good soil and put it in an old plastic pool. We planted tomatoes and zucchini. It worked and we had squash throughout the summer. The tomatoes, once again, remain green until the precise moment when they turn red and the dog beats me to them. I wrapped the plant in a mesh material to keep him out. He figured out how to get to them anyway. His big dopey personality is just a ruse, I'm convinced.

I also planted potatoes.

The right way.

And I know about how deep I planted them and I know where I planted them.

Still, after digging and digging until my hands are blistered and my body hurts, I cannot find them anywhere. I've tried on two separate occasions. I talk to the ground, "I know you're here somewhere." I see the roots. I just never find a potato on the end. They keep going and going down into the ground. Much deeper than I planted them. I start out calm, cool and collected. "Come here, little potato." I end up sweaty and sore and yelling, "WHERE ARE YOU? I LEFT YOU RIGHT HERE!" Very likely I am now known as the neighborhood crazy pants who digs holes for no reason and talks to the dirt.

I'd been at it for over an hour today when I finally gave up.

"There's got to be a practical application for this," I thought to myself as I stood over a whole in the ground in frustration. Last year I did nothing and reaped a harvest of potatoes. This year, nothing. At least nothing I can find.

I thought about how it's like that with people. Sometimes you hand someone an invitation for her kids to come to Vacation Bible School and a month later she starts coming to church, never misses a Sunday and six months later accepts the Lord as her personal Savior. That's like throwing a potato into a compost pile. Although it's probably ridiculous that I'm comparing eternal salvation to a bunch of rotting vegetables.

Sometimes you diligently plant and water and wonder and there is nothing to show for it at harvest time. At least not that you can see. They may not be there. The work may be in vain. But then again, they could be trapped down in the hard clay-like soil. They might need you to dig deeper, search harder, blister bigger. You could dig and dig and never find them. Or you could discover that they were always there, waiting for their harvest.

I pictured Jesus standing over the garden, dirty and calloused. Not willing to give up. Not willing to leave good (even if earthy) potatoes behind. And I am thankful that he digs for us and picks through the rocks and the weeds until he finds us.

I had to give up on the potatoes because I needed to pick my oldest up from school. I'm okay with that because, in this case, it really is just about a few potatoes that taste slightly like dirt. But the application was there. And the blisters are worth the journey.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

I Love Our Retreat!

In the fall of 2008 my friend and I planned a women's retreat. I'd never done anything of the sort. Attended them, yes. Dealt with all the logistics of planning one, no. We booked a huge house in the mountains and, in the end, twenty women's lives were enriched by the speaking, music, and fellowship of a weekend away.

My friend moved but our church planned a retreat for the next year.

And the next.

And the next.

And again this year.

We leave a week from tomorrow.

Our last day to sign up is on Sunday.

The most we've ever had attend this event is 29.

This year we have 33 paid for and another 7 or so that are planning to pay on Sunday or strongly considering it still.

I have no idea where we're putting all of these women but I know that God has called each of them to be there. Every year I have prayed that we would hit thirty (except for the first year when I prayed that we'd hit twenty). This year God has exploded the walls of my expectations.

Another church in the valley is having a women's retreat two weeks after ours with 45 women. God is doing something here, in this place, among evangelical women and I am so excited to watch it happening. A little worried about that many estrogen filled humans rubbing elbows for two days, absolutely. Apprehensive that we won't have enough space or food or bathrooms, yep. Knowing that God is going to do an amazing work for His kingdom that weekend, you betcha.

Man, I love serving the God of the Bible. He is good!

"You stay the same through the ages. Your love never changes. There may be pain in the night, but joy comes in the morning. And when the oceans rage, I don't have to be afraid. Because I know that You love me. Your love never fails."

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

That Darn Cat

There is still plenty of time to enter the Progresso Soup giveaway. Just go here. Or scroll down, whichever you prefer.

I'm not cat people.

I like--and I use "like" loosely here--my own cat in the same way you like your weird Uncle Hank, because he's family.

My cat got a bee up his bonnet sometime this summer and now insists on going outside all the time. And by insists I mean that he bellows at the door in the most obnoxious fashion until one of us has just had it and throws open the door. Sometimes I come very close to deciding that the sound coming from that feline warrants death instead of my submission to his will. However, thus far, God in heaven, who cares even for the sparrow (we'll get to that in a moment) and His Spirit inside me have stopped me from murdering that small, gray tabby.

And at night when I scratch under his chin and he purrs wildly, I am reminded that there are times when I'm fond of him.

Although I would prefer that he stop bringing me his "finds."

Not long ago he found a beautiful, yellow bird. It was, of course, deader than a doornail by the time I saw it lying between the chairs in our family room. I've heard that you are supposed to praise your cat for bringing you presents because they are trying to gain your approval. If you scold them, apparently, they think the gift wasn't good enough for you and go in search of more.

"THANK YOU, OLIVER! THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS BEAUTIFUL, DEAD BIRD," I said with a smile. "There really are few things I love more than cleaning up bird carcasses. However did you know what I wanted most this morning?" And I promptly disposed of the feathered friend.

Yesterday, just a few minutes after Troy got home from work, Garrett came upstairs and found us. "Uh, guys," he began. "Oliver brought a mouse inside and it ran under the chair."

"Are you serious?" I asked him.

He smiled big and nodded emphatically.

"Are you sure it isn't already dead?"

"Mom," he said with slightly more than a little sass. "I told you it ran under the chair."

"Are you sure it was a mouse?" Although, I don't know why it mattered what Oliver had brought in that was still alive and currently living under my chair.

"Well, it had a long tail," he replied.

"Show me how big?"

He motioned with his fingers and gave me the reassurance that we were not dealing with a rat. Praise God.

Troy and I clobbered down the stairs and, with each step, were met with hysterically excited giggles from the reporter. Sure enough, the cat was guarding the chair with a great deal of interest.

And then it took us approximately ten minutes to get that mouse--who seemed perfectly alive and well aside from the convulsive shaking--out of our house and into the yard.

The cat ran upon seeing us and took off over the fence. The dog started off as an assistant and ended up locked in the bathroom. My husband, wearing ski gloves and wielding a stick (I still have no idea what the gloves were for. Apparently he thought a cold front was about to blow in.) eventually herded it out the door but not before it darted under one chair, back out, under another chair, back out, under the couch, out, back under, out, back under, out. In the end, getting it under the chair nearest to the door and then strategically placing Garrett and me in various spots in the room while Troy poked it with a stick did the trick. Out it ran and then promptly disappeared into the grass.

I am definitely not a fan of dead birds being brought into my house but I think I like herding mice even less. It's all well and good as long as we're successful but the idea of live mice running amok in my house is disturbing.

I've decided that there is one good thing about winter. Oliver tends to take one look at snow and remain indoors for the following six months.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Progresso Soup

So I'm not bragging on myself but I can sure make a mean pot of soup. I get out my fancy can opener which isn't actually fancy at all, and I cut open a can of Progresso soup like I was born to cook. Then I dump the can into the pot and let it simmer.

This incredible dinner is often served in the winter months alongside a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich.

I know you're jealous.

(I also know how to make soup that is not from a can but that would hardly be the point of a Progresso giveaway.)

So. Yay. Giveaway!

Progresso has two new light and creamy soups that have 100 calories or less per serving. This is good, y'all. This is good because there was something about approaching 31 that was unfortunate. Sure, I'm not overweight. Sure, I have a pretty good metabolism. But my knee hurts when I run and my shoulder hurts when I swim and I gained five pounds that I simply cannot get rid of and I noticed today that if I didn't pluck I'd have a full on uni-brow. The uni-brow has absolutely nothing to do with soup but there you have it. Now you know.

So 100 calories for a serving of soup=good. Especially when it's cream based soup. Speaking of cream based soup, I once visited my ex-fiance's grandmother in Missouri and she made the most delicious potato soup. Seriously good. But it had approximately 34,526 calories per serving. It's important for me to mention that when I visited her he was not my ex-fiance. Because that would have been weird. "Hey, I know I broke your grandson's heart and all but can I have some potato soup?"

So Progresso and MyBlogSpark are letting me give away a prize pack to one lucky winner. I also have a coupon that you can all enjoy. Here's the link: Coupon Link.

The prize pack includes two cans of light, creamy soup, a water bottle, an insulated tote and a soup mug.
The soup mug is pretty cool. I sent it to work with Troy because he eats a bowl of soup for lunch quite often. It has a spoon that snaps to a lid. It's microwave safe so he can just dump the can straight into the mug, warm it up, and head back down to his office. We're a super fancy family. I'm sure you can tell.

So hooray! This prize pack can combat weight gain! Although, if you just have a uni-brow, you're entirely on your own. I've got nothing for you.

To enter, leave a comment telling me which of the Progresso soups is your favorite or which one you might like to try. For three additional entries (please leave a separate comment for each):

-Become a follower of this blog. If you're already a follower you get an entry for that!
-Follow me on twitter. @lori_fishbowl.
-Blog about this giveaway (leave a link to the post in your comment).

The winner will be selected at random on Monday, September 24 after 6:00 pm MST and will be announced that same day. The winner will have 48 hours to contact me with her/his name, mailing address and phone number. If I do not hear from the winner within 48 hours, another winner will be selected. US residents only. 

Disclosure: The coupons,  information, and gift packs have been provided by  Progresso®  through MyBlogSpark.

Saturday, September 15, 2012


My weeks are getting busier. (Which I totally just wrote as "me weeks" which made me sound like I'd found my pirate voice at last.)

My house is getting messier.

My to-do list is getting longer.

The laundry pile is getting bigger.

My boys are growing taller.

My posts are getting shorter.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Eyes Wide Open

"The world I live in is loud and blurring and toilets plug and I get speeding tickets and the dog gets sick all over the back step and I forget everything and these six kids lean hard into me all day to teach and raise and lead and I fail hard and there are real souls that are at stake and how long do I really have to figure out how to live full of grace, full of joy--before these six beautiful children fly the coop and my mothering days fold up quiet? How do you open the eyes to see how to take the daily domestic, workday vortex and invert it into the dome of an everyday cathedral? Could I go back to my life and pray with my eyes wide open?

Praying with eyes wide open is the only way to pray without ceasing." --Ann Voskamp One Thousand Things

I read that passage yesterday and tears sprung up in my eyes suddenly and quite without warning. It happens. I'm all stoic and unfeeling and dead inside until I'm not. I wasn't even crying because of the SIX KIDS. Lord, have mercy. I can't keep my two kids straight with the, "Matthew! Beck! Troy! Whoever you are!" when who I'm really calling for is Garrett.

No. Someone else can have six children. That's all well and good for her. If I had six kids I'd have to build a corral in the backyard and keep them there. I'd take two out at a time and pretend we were a well managed family. Oh, who am I kidding, my actual two child family doesn't even begin to resemble well managed.

I cried because, "how long do I really have to figure out how to live full of grace, full of joy--before these...beautiful children fly the coop and my mothering days fold up quiet?" It is so poignantly written and its emotion stabs my heart with a dagger.

My mothering days are going to fold up quiet.

Not tomorrow, Lord willing, but some day kind of soon.

These little boys are going to turn into men and my days of incessant strewn clothing and stepping on Legos and wiping noses and teaching, always teaching, will be done. And they will  fly away on finger painted planes to the place they will call home and it won't be mine. And will I figure out how to live full of grace and joy in enough time to show them the secret? Oh God, my heart cries, let me figure it out in time.

Will I have learned not to lose my temper but, instead, to thank God for each and every moment? Will I have discovered some eternal fountain of wisdom and been brave enough to drink from it? Will I become the godly mama I aspire to be with enough time for them to notice before they are intoxicated by the lure of adulthood?

And so I pray. With eyes wide open because otherwise I'll for darn sure trip over a toy fire truck. I pray with eyes wide open at the kitchen sink as I scrape caked macaroni out of the lunch pan. I pray as I hold a shaking child and his father pulls a splinter out from the deep. I pray, with eyes open, because every moment they are changing, growing, becoming. And it's just a matter of time until my work here is done.

How, oh how, I pray, do I make it all count for something?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Do you want desperately to comment on my blog but you're getting a weird message telling you to download a new browser? (Or something to that effect?)

I have no idea how to fix it but if you've tried to comment and can't, would you mind sending me an email and letting me know?

You can also always just send comments there. Or questions. Or your advice on how to parent strong willed children. Or a recipe for your Great Aunt Edna's Coconut Rum Spice Cake. No. Actually. Don't send me that. It sounds disgusting. But if you have a recipe for "I promise your spud hating six-year-old won't even know there are potatoes in this" you can go ahead and send that. And if you figure out a way to send cheesecake through the world wide web and into my email, I'd appreciate that too.

No. But. Seriously.

(Good thing my old English teachers and professors don't read this blog on account of the fact that that last line would have sent them to an early grave.)

No. But. Seriously.

The commenting thing. Please let me know. I don't know exactly what I'll do with the information but I'd like to know if it's a colossal problem or just a problem limited to my mother and my aunt. (She crosses her fingers and hopes it just runs in the family.)

If you happen to know how to fix a commenting/browser problem, please let me know. Because I googled "blogger can't comment browser message" and would you believe that it had no idea what I was talking about? Go figure. You gotta be smarter than the computer illiterate pastor's wife, Google. That's all I'm sayin'.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


This is Sierra.

She's my parents' dog, brought home not long after our first beloved golden retriever had to be put down.

I was 16 when Sierra came to our family.

Her eyes don't always glow.

She is 14.

She was a feisty puppy with a strong will and attitude.

She grew into the best behaved dog I've ever seen.

Sometimes, before I went off to college, she slept in my bed with me.

When I came home from college, she'd bend in half and bounce up and down and wiggle and wag and make a weird groaning sound because she was so happy to see me.

She was patient when my own golden retriever puppy wanted to play with her--endlessly.

She was sweet when my first baby started crawling and mauling her and clenching her fur in his fists.

She loved life and she loved Lake Tahoe and she loved camping and swimming.

There is a knot in my throat because today she'll be gone. Her quality of life is quite poor. There is no other choice to make.

There is a knot in my throat because explaining this to a six-year-old has been harder than just about anything I've ever had to tell him. It took me over an hour to get him to stop sobbing long enough last night to actually fall asleep. And, as my own mind played a snapshot slideshow of so many good moments with that dog, my son's did the same and his tears flowed wildly.

"I just want to pet her one more time," he cried.

Me too, baby. Me too.

Saturday, September 8, 2012


A special thanks to my mom who spent this day, 31 years ago, trying to get a three week overdue, 8 lb 9 oz chub out of her womb and into the world.

I appreciate all that work you did to make my life possible.

I mean, without that 23 hour labor we never would have been able to spend a ridiculous amount of time taking shadow pictures on Maui.

Happy Birthday to me. Happy You-Deserve-All-The-Credit day to my mom.

And shadow partner.

Friday, September 7, 2012


My youngest son knows what he wants out of life. And right now he wants an Afro Mohawk. Yeah. You read that right. The dude wants to be Mr. T. Or, something. Except he's three and he has no idea who Mr. T is.

His hair was getting a little long and he hates when his hair is longer than half a centimeter because that means that I just might come after him with a comb and I might as well just send an angry pack of wolves to tear him to shreds before feasting on his flesh.

In other words, kid hates having his hair combed.

So, for several days in a row, he asked me to cut it.

And by cut it, he means shave it all off.


He was very specific that he wanted me to use his daddy's neck shaving razor and not the actual hair clippers. Once we'd established that, he put his hands up as if to say, "Wait." Then he gave me step by step instructions.

"Cut it here," he said as he touched his hand to the side of his head. "And cut it here," he said as he touched the other side of his head. "But I want hair right here. Don't cut it here," he motioned along the top of his head as he explained it to me.

"YOU WANT A MOHAWK?" I squeaked, loudly.

"Yeah!" he grinned. "A mohawk!"

I honestly had no intention of leaving it. I mean, really. But I figured I'd shave the rest off first. He felt the top of his head, smiled from ear to ear (and you know how ridiculous his smile is and you know I simply can't withstand its magnetic pull), and ran to look in the mirror. "Thank you, Mommy!"

The problem is it isn't terribly straight. We explained to him that we would need to take the rest off before church. And before school. And, well, before anyone saw him like that. But we did tell him that he could have it all day today. And tomorrow.

It's one of those parenting moments where I'm torn. On the one hand, it's his head, the afro mohawk isn't hurting anyone, and it's what he wants to look like. Nothing about it is permanent. It's not like he's asking us to let him tattoo a mermaid on his arm or something. On the other hand, makes him look like a member of the A-Team. Not that there is anything wrong with looking like Mr. T but Matthew is only three.

His head is turned in that last one. Even I, who have relatively little no experience with mohawks (afro or otherwise), wouldn't create a 'hawk that was that off center.

So, what say you? Am I a horrible parent for even letting him sport it for two days because I'm the adult and he's the child and as long as he's living under my roof he's wearing his hair the way I want him to? Or am I a horrible parent for considering shaving it off because I'm not letting him express himself in an age appropriate and perfectly safe way? Either way I'm sure I'm screwing him up for life and dooming him to hours on a couch with sessions that begin with, "My mother..."

I'll tell you one thing. When I was ten-years-old and dreaming about my future children, not once did I imagine a scenario where I was losing sleep over whether or not to let my kid sport an afro mohawk.

Thursday, September 6, 2012


Let me just start by pointing out how super thrilled the love of my life is going to be when he sees this picture of himself plastered on my blog for all of my six readers to see. (Do you like how I sneaked that "love of my life" part in there just to save myself?)
In any case, this is what happens when your six-year-old asks, with big, begging eyes, if you'll have a pillow fight with him. I wasn't asked. Nope. This was strictly a boy pillow fight. And his daddy was not about to turn down a good, old-fashioned, pillow fight. It does look like Troy is whacking his kids with a sack of potatoes but, I assure you, it's just a misshapen feather pillow.

He's the only one who sleeps on a feather pillow. And, yes, I did have visions of feathers flying all over the playroom when the pillow bomb detonated.

The Rock Star spent a lot of time hiding between the wall and the bookcase alluding the camera.

But his brother was not afraid to get in there and get his aggression out. I see full contact football in his future.

We could have powered our house for a year off the squeals coming from that room. Garrett would back up, hide momentarily, and then charge quickly. Matthew just stood in the center of the room and whacked his daddy repeatedly.

Troy didn't ever really move from one spot. He just sat and swung whenever a boy approached. They were able to perform a fairly strategic tag team.

I have no idea why the camera focused on Troy but this is Garrett in "retreat mode."

In the end, Troy laid on the ground like a slug (it was his only defense) and let the boys pummel him. I took that opportunity to put the camera down and grab my own pillow. The three of us took turns slamming our pillows onto a fetal positioned daddy.

We might be a weird family.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

All Grown Up

He was a baby when we first took his big brother to preschool. Six months old, is all.

So how is it possible that he's old enough to be in preschool himself? Old enough, even, to walk right in, hug me and say, "Bye, Mom."

Old enough to sit on the rug. Old enough to sit at his table. Old enough to play and learn and eat cheese balls? Old enough to carry his bag to school and color a firetruck red?

And how is it that I sat in my car in the parking lot and wondered what to do with myself? What did I do before? How did I spend my time six years ago when I didn't have a baby or a toddler? Four hours a week now I am kidless. Until October when Garrett goes off track, that is.

How is it that I momentarily had the urge to pick up the nearest newborn before hauling myself off to Target and buying new underwear. Because, honestly, if I took my boys with me to buy new underwear they'd be all, "HOW ABOUT THESE NICE UNDERWEARS MOMMY? THESE LOOK GREAT. YOU SHOULD BUY THESE ONES. OH, HI, DUDE FROM OUR CHURCH, MOMMY IS BUYING UNDERWEARS! DO YOU LIKE THE ONES SHE PICKED OUT?"

So I walked around Target and I bought new underwear, in peace, and then I headed myself back to the school to make sureMatthew hadn't already gotten himself expelled.

He hadn't. Apparently he was good all day long. One down. A lifetime to go.

Monday, September 3, 2012


He's there, beside me as I pull into consciousness. It's uncanny, the way I can sense this child. He stands, silently breathing but it's as if his body, once fused to mine, calls out to my muscles and sinews and that slow and steady release of air wakes me. It happened the night the thunder rumbled loud and long. "I'm afraid," he'd said. Reaching out with one arm I hooked it around his middle, pulled him close and whispered my approval about the sleeping bag and the floor.

It's happened again except that the sun is warm through the window already. I sneak a peek at the clock, five minutes shy of screaming. "I made you something!" he tells me when he sees my eyes. My mind tries to unravel itself from the dreams and the cobwebs. A Lego castle. A piece of artwork. Blocks turned into a cruise liner. "It's food!" he adds, proudly. I'm still too fuzzy to fully process the situation but I am suddenly aware that my six-year-old has made me breakfast and my stomach won't be awake for another 45 minutes.

I wipe drool from the corner of my mouth and hoist my legs over the side of the bed where my vows still sleep barebacked. He hasn't woken his father. The surprise is just for me. The significance keeps me from using the toilet--a decision I'd regret for the next ten minutes.

I feel the soft carpeting between my toes, see the vibrant blue sky peering through the blinds of the kitchen window. A bowl and cup sit at my spot at the table. "I poured it all myself!" he declares. "Come. Eat." I shake the final webs from my mind and survey the meal. A full bowl of milk with roughly thirty Cheerios bobbing on the top like tiny life preservers. And, because nine mornings out of ten I pour my boys milk for breakfast, a good fourteen ounces of the stuff swimming around my cup.

I can't stand drinking milk but once or twice a year when I strangely begin to crave it. This is not one of those times.

The Cheerios have been floating for long enough that they are milklogged and sticking together. I smile at his expectant gaze. A more perfect breakfast I have never laid eyes on.

I sit. Shoveling a bite of soggy Cheerios into my mouth, I smile at him and praise his culinary skills. He is proud. I ask him if he might feed the dog. As he trots off to perform the task I become the Olympic champion of pouring milk back into the jug. He is none the wiser when he returns.

"I love you, Mommy. I'll make you breakfast again on Mother's Day, okay?"

But how do I explain to my kindergartner that this is Mother's Day? This random act of service. This waking me when the rest of the house still sleeps. This moment together, the two of us. This is more special than some arbitrary day in May. This is honor.

He pulls a yogurt from the fridge and tugs valiantly on its foil lip. It doesn't budge. "Hey, Mommy, can you help me?" he slides the yogurt across the table. I free the breakfast, easily. "Thanks."

I wink at him.

I may never forget this moment.

Saturday, September 1, 2012


"Mom!" his voice rings out loud and clear from the backyard, where both boys are playing. "Mommy! Beck's being mean!"

So yes, we're smack in the middle of the tattletale phase.

And guess what, Matthew?

That golden retriever, the one who will be nine tomorrow, is hands down my best behaved, easiest child. Sure, he stinks more than my human ones. Sure, he's a lot hairier than my human ones. Sure, he has horrible teeth and he licks himself in an attempt to have some level of personal hygiene. But he doesn't hit or kick or tell lies. His solitary goal in life is to keep the peace.

So, sweet three-year-old boy, unless you are tattling on the dog because he's eating tomatoes off the vine or chewing up a plastic shovel, I'm probably not going to believe you.

When it comes to which one of you is being mean, I'm taking his word over yours.