Monday, December 30, 2013

He Could Play Hockey

This kid lost all of his teeth. I mean, actually. Almost all of them. Well...most of them. He's lost 8 now. 


He's still the sweetest.

Except when he rolls his eyes. The other day he rolled his eyes at me. I gave him the death look. He said, "What? I just did this..." and then he demonstrated the eye roll again.

Yeah. That was what I had a problem with in the very first place, pal.


He's a good big brother.

He's a good son.

He's a good friend.


He's a happy kid.

And, also, sometimes, a scary one.


He's like a tiny little hockey player.

I think I'll keep him!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Chosen

This kid.

I love him more with every passing minute. If that's possible. 


He's just exquisite. And I can say that because I didn't give a single, solitary drop to his DNA.


He's smart and athletic.

And funny. Did I mention funny?


He kisses my cheek, hugs me fierce, and wraps me around his little finger.


Tonight, as I was snuggling him tight, I thought about how darn lucky I am. His mother chose to let me be Matthew's mommy. I was hand picked to love that face and the tornado of passion and brilliance and fire that lives behind those eyes.

Hand picked. Almost five years ago.

Why should I be so blessed?

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Way of the Ships

He talks in his sleep.

He gets it from me.

It is, most definitely, one of those things that falls into the "nature" category.

I check on them every night. Every. Single. Night. To make sure they're still breathing. I don't know why. They're seven and four and, for heaven's sake, if they weren't still breathing, it might be better to get one last good night of sleep before spending the duration of my lifetime in gut-wrenching grief.

I place a hand on them. Usually this makes them turn over because my hands are always ice cold. Turning over is good because turning over means they are still alive. If they don't move, my hand feels the rise and fall of their tiny chests which also means they are still alive. So far, so good. They've always been still alive.

The other night I placed my hand on Garrett's chest. He immediately began to speak to me. "Mommy! Mommy!" It sounded incredibly urgent.

"What?" I whispered.

"Can you go back down?"

I was standing on his brother's bed so that I could reach him on the top bunk and, at first, I thought he was annoyed that I was touching him and wanted me to get down. But then he followed up his question with, "You know, like how the ships get on?"

How the huh does what now?

"Um...do you want me to?" I asked him, amused.

"Yes. Please," he answered. Then he burrowed his little self deep into his covers and stopped talking.

So I got down. But I have no idea if I did it the way the ships get on.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Elf on Our Shelf

We have elves.

They do things like this...




And this...

                                   

Garrett's friend Brett* (of Bloody Mary fame) didn't have an elf so he did what any sensible first grader would do. He made one. Out of what, I have no earthly idea. Apparently, this elf possesses magical powers and moves around at night--just like Garrett's elf.



This prompted a hysterically funny conversation a couple of days ago in which Garrett declared, "Brett made his elf. I mean, he just made it. And it moves at night. I'm pretty sure it's just Brett's mom and dad moving it around while he's sleeping."

                                     

Hmmm. You don't say?


Meanwhile, he still believes, wholeheartedly, that his own elf moves all by himself.


You know, despite the fact that his hands are sown together and he has a rather large tag protruding from the back of his red felt unitard. 

*Still not his actual name.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Let It Snow--Because It Doesn't Give You a Choice

Today I had a million and two things that needed to be accomplished. A handful of them involved driving in horrendous weather. If you don't live in a place that has winter, FYI: when it snows, the roads are just awful and you may as well be in a parking lot. Generally, when it snows, I have a rule. It involves howling to anyone who will listen that I AM FROM SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA AND I DON'T KNOW HOW TO DRIVE IN THIS STUFF. But then I woke up one day and I'd been living in Utah for six years and, well, it's kind of high time I figure out how to drive in the winter because sometimes I really need to get my haircut. And go to Winco. 
It is pretty. Which is good because its aesthetic appeal covers a multitude of nightmarish qualities. Like sliding through intersections. And shoveling the driveway.


Sometimes I think happy thoughts about beaches and San Diego--just to make it through.

But sometimes, my house is all aglow and the ground is covered in white.


If you lived here, you'd be home. There would be a fire in the fireplace and Christmas cookies on the counter. And you'd have an entire night before you had to worry about driving in it again.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Parenting: Optional

Can I just take a minute to say that parenting is hard. I mean, like, climb back in bed because the cards are stacked against you anyway and one of your kids is white and one is black and one day one of them is going to bring home a book about Thurgood Marshall and segregation and the brick and mortar you've pieced together into a protective wall is going to come crashing down.

Parenting is hard.

For a variety of reasons.

Kids are hard. I mean, really. You mold them and scold them and praise them and raise them and they rarely say thank you and sometimes they say they hate you. And sometimes they throw mashed potatoes. And sometimes they throw up.

I say all of that because I totally get that sometimes we're just at the end of our ropes with our kids. Sometimes it feels like we can't try any harder to make them turn out right and mine are only seven and four and they haven't yet been caught with marijuana. Or caught mooning a school bus (true story in my own family but I'll just let you ponder whether it was my butt or my brother's that was seen by a district employee). So, like I was saying, parenting is hard.

I don't really want to knock other parents for doing it the best they can.

But. Just.

PARENTS THESE DAYS. Am I right?

There was one child last night at Matthew's preschool Christmas performance who decided to sprint back and forth across the stage over and over and over again. He threw every prop they handed him. He threw himself down in front of the other kids. He jumped off the stage and then jumped back on. He rolled across the platform as though he fancied himself a bowling ball and his classmates were the pins. Throughout all of this, his classmates sat. They stood. They sang. They stood on stars. They danced. They did what they were supposed to do.

Now.

I get it. I really do. The fact that my own child actually behaved and did everything according to plan is astounding. It gives me great hope for kindergarten. It was a bright and shining moment in my life. Earlier in the day I had filled out his kindergarten registration form. Garrett is on a transfer to the school he attends so I needed to fill out a transfer for Matthew. There was a question on the form that said, "Has the student ever been expelled from another school?" I wrote no but I thought, "Give it time."

See, Matthew is as strong-willed, competitive, and stubborn as they come. Add to these character traits an alarming sensitivity, fear of being laughed at and desire to challenge authority and you might begin to see why the past four and a half years have been exhausting.

That being said, we've been as consistent as we can with him. We've loved on him and instructed him. We've attempted to channel the "force" of Matthew into positive outlets. We firmly believe that with prayer, consistency and love, we can direct a challenging childhood personality into an incredible adult. The fact that we are slowly seeing the fruits of our labor is a blessed reward from above.

Six months ago, at his June performance, he stood on stage. He didn't make a scene but he refused to participate and he refused to smile, opting, instead, for an angry scowl. I didn't remove him from the stage because, like I said, he wasn't being disruptive. He wasn't trying to bulldoze the other children. He wasn't a colossal distraction. The rest of the audience was not mumbling about, "Whose child is THAT?"

I cannot say the same for the little boy last night. I was seated next to the preschool teachers who were directing the other children through clenched teeth. They tried to get him to stand. They tried to get him to sit. They tried to get him to stop drop kicking his hat across the stage. All while the parents looked on.

Sometimes four-year-olds have a bad day. Or a bad year. Sometimes they don't want to sit still. Sometimes they refuse to cooperate. It happens. Not much can be done. Because you can lead a four-year-old through life but you can't make him mind.

BUT PARENTS THESE DAYS?!

They just sit and snicker?

They make the preschool teachers attempt to deal with it until, finally, the preschool director has to pull the kid down and make him sit by himself on a bench? They ignore the fact that the director is physically holding their child on the bench because, when she lets go, he tries to sprint back over to the stage in an attempt to knock kids over?

They ignore what's going on and then laugh about it when the show is over?

You can't really make a kid obey. But you can pull your own child down from the stage, march him into the hallway and give him clear and concise expectations. You can make him sit on your lap and no longer be a distraction. You can do something other than laugh because that signals that you're fine with his behavior. And if you really are fine with his behavior well...I just...I don't understand. Can you explain it to me?

I know there are people who think we are really harsh on our kids. I know there are other people who think we aren't harsh enough on our kids. We're trying to strike a balance of love and respect. We're trying to get our children to be free thinkers while still conforming to acceptable societal standards. We're trying to teach our children that our love is unconditional but our rewards are not.

I'm sure that we're all trying our best--even the parents of the human bowling ball--but I find it frustrating that I'm raising children in an era when discipline seems wholly optional. I'm left thinking about our crumbling standards. I never would have gotten away with that kind of behavior. And I don't know very many people my own age who would have.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

A New Trick

I've given a talk called The Pursuit of Perfection at two different conferences now. In it, I talk about this incessant need we have to be better, be more, and fit into a societal standard of perfection. I discuss what biblical perfection means and how the only expectation we have to meet is the one God has for us--not what the rest of the world wants us to be...or do. Still, we try to be Superwoman. We try to take the good aspects of every woman we know and possess them all. It's impossible. It's exhausting. It's devastating.

In the opening minutes of the talk, I reference things that my friends are doing. Many of them are taken directly from things I've seen on Facebook. When I rattle off all the great accomplishments my friends are, well, accomplishing, it sounds ridiculously overwhelming. Of course, each of them is only doing one or two things, not all of them.

But, in any case, it sounds something like this...

In this age of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and other forms of social media, we are confronted daily with all the areas we might be failing. I have friends who feed their families all organic, others who are getting promotions, having babies, writing books, writing plays, running marathons, buying new cars, starting ministries, buying homes, tweeting about their immaculately clean homes, working full time, raising kids full time. I have friends who have four year olds that are READING! I feel like I'm barely keeping my head above water. Isn't it enough that my four year old knows his letters? Isn't it enough that my first grader remembers his backpack? No! It's not enough for me. Because I'm a recovering perfectionist and I fall off the wagon a lot.

Later, I discuss that it's okay for us to settle for a degree of mediocrity. We just can't be the very best at everything we do. So believe me when I tell you that I don't honestly know how this happened.

(He seems sad because he is not loving the fact that the camera is on him. He's the opposite of his brother.)

I mean, I meant it when I said, "Isn't it enough that my four year old knows his letters?" Truth is, it IS enough. I didn't really mean for this to happen. His brother learned to read (after a lot of work and hair pulling) just before he turned six and just before he started kindergarten. Once he put it together he flew through books and he's reading at an end-of-second-grade reading level, but the road was long and filled with tears--only some of them were mine. So I was hopeful that a year or so from now, my youngest would learn to read. Then, six months ago he shocked me by moving letter magnets around on the refrigerator and reading two letter words. A couple of months ago I realized he could also read three letter words. In the last month or so he's started recognizing some sight words and willingly sitting down with books. Of course, he's at the very beginning of his journey with reading. He's a work in progress.

But, yeah, he's still four.

I really had very little to do with this.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Bloody Mary

A little bit of background before I jump right into this gem of a story:

I subbed in a first grade class at Garrett's school on Tuesday. I reckon that's about the only background you need. Speaking of "I reckon" I think we should all start saying that. I reckon it's time for dinner. I reckon we should be going now. I reckon I ought to get on with my story.

So the first graders rotate for spelling groups. When it was time for my class to come back in from their various locations, several of them--the ones who have been to my house--starting telling me that they're never coming back over, they don't want to play at my house anymore, and they downright reject any further invitation to our abode. "What? Why?" I asked them.

Turns out it was on account of all the Bloody Mary activity that goes on here.

"Wha? What are you talking about?"

Apparently, my child spent all of his twenty minutes of spelling working with another kid to scare the bejeepers out of their friends. Between the two of them they concocted some story about Bloody Mary, my house, and a dead kid on a trampoline.

Super.

So at lunch, when I saw my sweet angel child deviant little storyteller, I gave him a severe tongue lashing. The idea that we spend our time conjuring up a bloody corpse in our mirror is not the picture I want presented about our family. Additionally, he'd scared his friends to the point that they were all talking about it in the lunch line--and getting in trouble for it by the lunch ladies and the other teachers.

Now, fast forward to the end of the day. Garrett and I went into his old kindergarten class so that he could say hello to his teacher. In the course of conversation, he ended up saying, "I remember what group I was in last year. And I remember what group Brett* was in." Brett just happens to be the same child who was helping Garrett tell stories about summoning a woman who has been "known" to scream at her conjurers, curse them, strangle them, steal their bodies, and/or gouge their eyes out. I only know this from looking it up. What did we do before the all-knowing Wikipedia? I'm incredibly hopeful that my precious firstborn child, the one who only eight years ago was nestled innocently inside my body, doesn't know the gory details surrounding the Bloody Mary folklore. If he does, homeschooling may be in our future. Or a protective soundproof bubble where the only thing he hears is my own voice being piped in while I sing Kumbayah.

"I remember too," she said.

"Yeah, well, maybe from now on you and Brett shouldn't even be in the same classroom," I mumbled to him.

"Uh oh," the kindergarten teacher said. "Garrett, are you having trouble with Brett?"

"Today they decided not to do their spelling. Instead, the two of them told all kinds of stories about Bloody Mary and freaked everyone out," I said.

"Oh no. You have to do your work, Garrett," she instructed. Then, to me, she said, "It's always something. Last year there were a bunch of kids talking about Chuckie."

"He doesn't even know what Bloody Mary is," I said. Although, looking back, I'm not sure why I said that when what I should have said is, "I have no idea how he even knows what Bloody Mary is but I'm willing to bet it starts with PUBLIC and ends with SCHOOL."

In any case, once I said that he didn't know what it was, that kid looked right at me and said, "Yes, I do! It's a drink!" His old teacher actually hit the wall she was laughing so hard. And I started backpedaling in such a way that I made it sound like I'm the town drunk. "I...um...wow...I. How? What? I promise I don't start my day off with a Bloody Mary. I mean, really. I don't. I've never even had...I. What? HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT?"

"Mrs. Benson** told me!" he shouted.

Now his old teacher (By old I mean previous, not ancient. Because she is like 29.) was borderline hysterical. "Mrs. Benson told him!" she loudly laughed.

"Well I'm totally okay with that because that means I'm not the one who has to have a Bloody Mary just to get out of bed in the morning."

Still, if I now have the reputation, in this clean cut Mormon city, of being the town drunk, you know why. It all started with a kid who wanted to tell ghost stories.


*Not his real name.
**Definitely not her real name.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Strange Bedfellows

When Matthew had his tonsils out last winter, the hospital gave him a blanket to bring home. It's the kind where you take two pieces of fabric, cut the perimeter into strips, and tie the strips together. He loves it. Over time, some of the strips came apart. I could have easily fixed the blanket but I didn't because my boy loves to climb inside and use it as a sleeping bag. He refuses to sleep under his covers. Instead, he just sleeps in his blanket every night.

Several days ago, he had a friend over. It was this friend's first time at our house and Matthew was showing him all of his earthly possessions. They wandered through the playroom and then into the bedroom. I was downstairs baking cookies and I could hear the dialogue. "This is my truck. These are my ninja turtles. That's my brother's bed. This is my bed. This is my blanket that I got when I had my tonsils taken out."

The friend was muttering things like, "Oh, neat. Cool. Nice." And various other pleasantries. When it came to the blanket, Matthew said, "Do you want to see how I sleep in it every night?" I didn't hear the friend's response but Matthew must have started to climb into it.

"See," he said. "I get in it like this. Then I look just like a homeless little lady."

If something had been in my mouth, for sure I would have spit it across the room. Certainly homelessness isn't funny, but the way he said it so matter-of-fact was startlingly hilarious. I have no idea where he came up with this. Our children, for better or worse, really haven't been introduced to poverty. We do things like Operation Christmas Child and other ways of donating to those in need--especially at Christmastime--so they understand that there are people much less fortunate than they are, but they've never really seen what it looks like, up close and personal. So I'm not sure how he knows what a homeless little lady would look like.

But, apparently, when he goes to bed at night, he does so impersonating someone without a home. And someone who is female. And small.

I just don't know where he comes up with this stuff.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Christmas is Coming

You wanna know who's excited about Christmas only being 16 days away?

These guys.

You know what was not exciting?

Picking out our tree.

Because it was freezing cold. So basically, we grabbed the nearest one in our price range and hoped that it looked good when we got it home.

You know what is also not exciting?

Shopping for my husband's stocking stuffers. It's my nemesis. EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR. The boys are easy. Dollar Tree or the dollar bins at Target is all it takes. I'm easy. Chapstick. A five dollar CD from Lifeway. Gum. Heck, even a lint roller will do.

But I lose sleep over Troy's on an annual basis.

You know what is exciting?

Nativities. Christmas lights. Baking cookies. Garrett planning a sleepover with his best friend. Elves moving around our house. Stockings hung on the mantle. Carol Sings and Bell Choirs. The smell of pine. And, of course, the first chapters of Luke.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Love

He loves me.

Eleven years ago he took me on a first date.

It was my last first date.

He gets me.

Even when I make it difficult.

Which I do. More than I care to admit.

He cares for me.

He puts my needs before his own.

He puts my wants before his own.

He loves me.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Let It Go

I keep driving past the movie theater and it's all I can do not to go buy myself a ticket to see Frozen again. I know. I know. I'm a full grown adult. This obsession with a Disney movie is a bit of a problem. But, seriously. Idina knocks it straight out of the park. As if I'm surprised by that.
 
 Insert some sort of transition here as I tell you that I'm going to sing a solo sometime soon here. Like an ALL BY MYSELF SINGING INTO A MICROPHONE SOLO. I don't sound like Idina Menzel. Not one single, solitary bit. I was thinking about how it's a real tragedy and shame that I am not more gifted in the singing, dancing and acting categories. Because there is next to nothing I love more* than the process of rehearsing and watching as a piece of art comes together. I mean, who loves the rehearsal process? ME! That's who.

In college I would go to rehearsals that I wasn't even called to. Just to be part of the creative process. Just to learn from the other actors. Just to become a small fraction of art.

I really just love to perform. To act. To sing. I don't get to do it that much anymore. And whenever I see a great piece of art, I wish I was still performing. Even though I was never really great at any of it. I had all the passion, all the work ethic, but not all of the talent.

A Disney movie is not theatre. Except in the case of The Lion King. And Beauty and the Beast. And Peter Pan. Okay, nevermind. A Disney movie can be theatre. But this song is reminiscent of a show stopping musical number on Broadway. So I can't help but watch it over and over again.

I mean, she sculpts an ICE CASTLE for crying out loud.

And, also, she sounds really good.

*Jesus. My husband. My family. To name just a few.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

BRR!!!

I was basically wet for ten years of my life. I experienced some pretty cold moments during that decade. When it's 48 degrees outside and you're diving into an outdoor pool, that feels miserable. What's worse is when it's raining outside and so, between events, your skin stays pruned and damp. 

I know that there are people in other parts of the country who can boast things like, "It's -30 outside today." I can't even wrap my mind around that kind of cold because today, when I dropped my oldest son off at school, it was 12 degrees. I checked the weather page to find that it "felt" like -4.

For those of you blessed by the Almighty God to live in warm parts of this country--places like southern California, Arizona and Florida--let me tell you what that feels like.

-4 feels like your skin is going to split in half and crack right off of your face.

-4 feels like you can't quite catch your breath because the air is freezing your lungs.

-4 feels like YOU WILL NEVER BE WARM AGAIN.

It snowed all day yesterday. A friend of mine sent me a message asking how I was dealing with the snow since she knows I'm not a fan.

I responded that there is a time and a place for the snow. December is that time. I mostly happily deal with it in December because, with Christmas coming, it feels right to wear giant jackets, sip hot cocoa, and stretch out by the fire. 

That said, I am very much hoping that it doesn't feel like -4 for the duration of winter because I might shrivel up and die.

But these kids...

Well, they're loving it.

As I drove down the hill from Garrett's school this morning, Christmas music played and I took a good look at the Wasatch Range. The mountains shoot up from the dreary valley and straight into the sky--almost as far as the eye can see. At this moment they are covered in snow. The sun is shining and the way it hit the peaks is nothing short of spectacular.

It's brutally cold.

But the view ain't half bad.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Fire & Ice

I don't get to go to the movies nearly as often as I'd like on account of the little people in my life. But, in the span of three days I've visited the theater twice. That's almost unheard of. I mean, there was that time in college when I went to see Moulin Rouge and then I went back THE VERY NEXT NIGHT TO SEE IT AGAIN but I was a theatre major and it was Baz.

On Friday we braved the crowds and took the boys to see Frozen. I knew I would love it. I knew I would want to own it and buy the soundtrack. I knew all of this before I ever saw it because I've seen the two female leads in person. I'm practically best friends forever with Kristen Bell (who does the voice for Anna) because, when I was an extra on Veronica Mars, she stepped on my shoe from behind. It came off and, as she went sprinting by, she hollered, "Sorry!" So, yes, you could say that we're pretty tight. I said practically best friends forever because I am really best friends forever with Idina Menzel (who does the voice for Elsa). I've loved Idina since I first discovered her voice back in 1999. I own her albums. I've seen her onstage in concert and off-Broadway. So of course, because of these things, we are the very best of buddies.

I loved and adored the movie. The music was wonderful, the script was hilarious and tender all rolled into one, and it was a visual sight to behold. Of course I'm still singing the songs, even days later. I want to borrow someone else's children so that I have an excuse to go see it again without being labeled as the weird creeper who keeps watching the same children's movie over and over.

Mondays are Troy's day off so today we dropped Matthew off with a friend while Garrett was at school and went to see Catching Fire. I also knew I would love Catching Fire because I loved the first film, I loved the books, and who doesn't like a good love triangle? Especially when it involves Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth and Jennifer Lawrence.

The only thing I didn't like about Catching Fire is the fact that I know I have to wait until 2015 to see how it all plays out in film. I am actually glad that they are splitting Mockingjay into two parts because there's too much there to shove it all into one. But I'm sad that I have to wait such a long time until the fourth installment comes out. I'm left thinking things like, "What if I die before then and I can't see it through?" These are the important questions in life, I know. These are certainly questions of eternal significance. Nevertheless, someone needs to promise that they'll see it for me if I meet my earthly demise before the end of 2015.

Also, can someone check up on my kids? Troy's a good dad. My boys will not go hungry. They will be well educated and biblically trained. But if I'm dead there's a good chance my children will never again make their beds. Someone needs to promise me that she'll come over and inquire as to whether or not the comforter is at least pulled up.

Regardless of the state of my boys' beds, I'm fully recommending that you run right down to the theater and buy a ticket for either fire or ice. Hunger Games or Frozen. Of course, what I'm really recommending is that you do both.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Thankful

Happy Day After Thanksgiving. Yesterday I had a flu that nearly killed me dead. I caught this unhappy little bug from my son who, when he had it, insisted that he drape himself over me thus contaminating me with all of his germs. Oh motherhood!

Thankfully, our house guests left yesterday morning and made it home to their family in time to spend the holiday with them. We decided that we were not eating Thanksgiving food on account of the fact that I never got out of bed. Instead, I threw up for roughly ten hours, ran a fever, slept when I wasn't visiting the commode and felt like death was upon me.

I looked at Facebook a time or two. This was a stupid idea because, in the words of Junie B. Jones, first grader, wowie wow wow! (If you've never read those books, they are hilarious!) Did you know that everyone and her brother's wife's neighbor post pictures of food on Thanksgiving? Did you know that? This is a very bad thing when you are bound to your bed and bathroom with the plague of vomit. So thank you all. I'm fairly certain I tasted all of your food--only it was coming back up. I'm sure that is not the way you intended it.

I'm so thankful today that it is gone. I still feel like I got hit by a truck, but I'm definitely mending.

I'm also thankful for:

My incredible husband who took care of the boys all day, did a ton of laundry, cleaned the basement, washed the sheets on our bed when I told him they smelled too bad for me to get back in them, brought me Gatorade, and held down the fort. He's a good catch. And don't think I've forgotten.

My boys. They crept into my room last night to check on me. They missed me. It's good to feel wanted.

My family. I missed being with them yesterday. Not that I would have wanted to be with them while I was throwing up but I missed the idea of them being there.

My church family.

The roof over my head.

The food in my pantry and refrigerator.

The fact that we are blessed beyond all measure. We don't own a home. We don't have fancy cars. We don't eat at the nicest of restaurants. But we are privileged to call ourselves God's children. We are redeemed. We are His.

And there is nothing I am more thankful for than that.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Hot Chocolate and Bad Words

This morning, while doing some reading work with Matthew, he was sounding out three letter words. They had pictures with them so he was having a great deal of success. That is, until he got to the card with a picture of a mug on it. "Hot chocolate!" he loudly declared, very proud of himself.

It didn't help that I started to laugh somewhat uncontrollably.

Also noteworthy was the fact that I read him Fix-It Duck. His job was to say that sight word "the" every time we came to it. He was moderately successful. His other job was to shout out the words, "FIX IT DUCK!" whenever we came to that part of the story.

He was doing very well with that part. That is, until the time when he became a little tongue-tied and replaced the all important D in duck with an F. He screamed loudly, "FIX IT %^#*!"

Have I mentioned that the people staying with us are in ministry? I'm sure it was startling when a four-year-old shouting the worst of all bad words echoed down through the ventilation system.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

My Boys In Pink

So basically, I'm just sitting around waiting for a six centimeter cyst to rupture inside my body. This is especially special because many of my friends have seen fit to explain the sheer heights of pain that this will bring me. It's apparently like the end stages of labor, passing a kidney stone, swallowing a double edged dagger and having one's body ripped in half all at once. I will likely also be crawling on all fours, writhing, screaming and vomiting all at once. 

Neat times.

I really hope it happens tomorrow or Tuesday while I am teaching math to first graders. "What's happening to you?" they'll ask.

"Oh, just the ridiculous effects of Common Core," I'll reply, through gritted teeth and between rounds of regurgitation. 

I can see myself crawling to the neighboring classroom, barf spewing from my throat. It'll be super if that happens.

Um. Not.

In the meantime, yesterday was National Adoption Day. We celebrated it by snuggling this adorable baby girl.


And realizing just how good my boys look holding pink.


They are now both completely smitten with the tiny bundle.

And I am completely smitten with how gentle and sweet they both are with her.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Pay It Forward

If you've spent any amount of time reading this blog, you know that adoption is one of our most precious joys. So many of you helped us fight for Matthew by lifting us up in prayer, sending money, and holding fundraisers. With every fiber of our being, we know that we could not have done it without the generosity of our families and our friends.

We have always longed for a time when we could pay it forward.

Unfortunately, our financial situation is not one that allows us to hand someone a large check to help them fund their adoption.

Still, we have talked and prayed about a time when we could really help someone realize their dream of bringing a child into their home.

Earlier this month, Troy received a phone call from a pastor in Alabama. He and his wife were awaiting the birth of their third child, whom they would welcome into their home through the miracle of adoption. The baby would be born here in Salt Lake City. This couple was hoping to save hundreds of dollars by finding a home they could stay in instead of paying for a hotel every night.

Troy said he'd see what he could do.

And he mentioned it to me.

One of my pet peeves is when something is so obviously the right decision and people say, "Um...hmmm...let me pray about that and see what God says." Sometimes, I don't think we need to consult Him through prayer. Not when it's all lined up in the Bible already. We are called to have a spirit of hospitality. Of course we can still pray about it. Of course He wants to hear from us. But He isn't going to contradict what He's already said in His Word.

Adoption=Good.

Hospitality=Good.

Add to this situation the fact that we've been there, done that. Add to it the fact that this baby is half African-American and we know a little bit about transracial adoption. Add to it the fact that we aren't handing them money but we are saving them money and, therefore, giving back.

They got here on Wednesday.

The cutest, tiniest little peanut of a baby girl was born on Thursday.

They brought her home to our house yesterday.

When I heard the key in the door, I ran down the stairs yelling, "Yay! Yay! Yay! Yay!" They immediately handed me their 6 pound, 17 inch long daughter and it's entirely possible that I fell in love with her straight away.

Then my 7-year-old asked if he could hold her. They said yes and he fell in love with her straight away.

Matthew did not, so much. He knows she isn't staying but I think he's slightly jealous anyway. We own a golden retriever and a cat. If my children had to represented by those animals, the youngest would definitely be the cat. He loves what he wants to, in his own time. Like the dog, Garrett just loves anything that walks through the door.

The thing about thinking that you are blessing someone is that you always end up being the blessed. We get to snuggle a newborn until their ICPC goes through. We get to talk about ministry and adoption. We all get our baby fix.

Of course, I might already be contemplating felonies. I kind of want to keep her.


Friday, November 22, 2013

Six Centimeters

There's a six centimeter cyst on my ovary.

Yeah. I'm going to go ahead and lead with that from now on.

"Hello, how are you?"

"Good, how are you?"

"There's a six centimeter cyst on my ovary."

And let me tell you, it is not pleasant. It has not been pleasant since Monday when I first started feeling it. It has been unpleasant every day as I have instructed a room full of first graders while wanting to curl into a ball to wait for death.

Or something slightly less dramatic.

My ovaries are covered with cysts all the time, but they are teensy tiny cysts that have never bothered me except to say, "Hey, we're going to make it really hard for you to have babies." This cyst is different. This cyst is dwarfing my ovary.

I went to urgent care on Wednesday. The doctor there pushed and shoved and poked and prodded my abdomen. He checked my urine and he had a nurse take incredible volumes of my blood. Then he told me to follow up with my regular physician yesterday. She wasn't available. So I saw someone else.

Who recommended an ultrasound which happened today.

Now I wait.

For rupture.

For absorption.

For it to grow two more centimeters so that I can have it removed.

I vote for absorption. And it is my after all. So I should get a vote. I should get the only vote.

That's the story of my cyst. The end.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Sice

For some odd reason, I've been getting notes almost every day at work that ask me to excuse students from recess. They go a little something like this... "Please let Fitzpatrick* stay in during recess. He hasn't been feeling well."

Or...

"Aristotle** is still getting over a cold. Please excuse him from all recesses for the week."

Or...

"Brinkleighanna*** is still recovering from the stomach flu and needs to remain inside during recess." Swell! Thanks for sending her!

So it was becoming an epidemic of notes and illnesses and the first grade team got wind of it. They told me that the kids were getting their parents to write notes because they thought that staying inside would be fun. But then I wasn't getting any kind of break in the day at all. They told me what to do.

During lunch recess the students stay in the cafeteria. It's not very fun in there.

During afternoon recess, they stay in the classroom. However, instead of playing and having a grand time, they have to put their heads down on the desk and rest. They are, after all, recovering and need all the rest they can get. I think this is a great idea because if they are truly not feeling well, rest is what they need. If they're milking it, a power nap is not something they enjoy.

It works like a charm.

There are some students, however, that still have a romanticized idea about what goes on when their friends stay inside. I encountered one such student today.

She came up to me, armed with her best pouty face. "Hi," she said, her voice dripping with fake illness. "My mom says I have to stay in today because I'm sick. Here's a note from her" she told me. She handed me a tiny scrap of paper.



Sarah is sice. Except it didn't say Sarah because that isn't her name. It had her real name. Insert real name here is sice. It was all I could do not to burst into hysterical laughter right then and there.

"Sarah is sice?" I read aloud. And by the way, in case there is any other way to read that word, I am pronouncing it as though it rhymes with nice. Or ice. Or lice.

She replied, "No. It says, 'Sarah is sick.'"

"It says, 'Sarah is sice.' What exactly is sice?" I asked. Then I looked at her. "Your mom did not write this."

"YES SHE DID!" The little girl insisted.

"She did not," I replied. Annoyed that she was really going to try to keep up the charade.

"She did so! She could only find a little tiny piece of paper. But she wanted you to know I am very sick!"

"Okay. Well. I'm sorry you're sice," I replied. I couldn't help myself. Seriously. I mean, really. If my only job for the entire day had been to not respond in a snarky manner to this little lying miscreant, I would not have been able to do it.

"So can I stay in for recess?" she asked.

It took everything in me not to burst with mirth. "Um. No."

Of course I shared this with the first grade teachers. Of course they laughed. Of course I contemplated letting the mother know that her daughter is a complete liar by showing her the note. Of course I decided to let it go. Mostly because I really wanted to bring the note home with me and keep it forever and ever. It's sitting on my nightstand right now. I can't look at it and not laugh.

And, from now on, whenever I'm sick, I fully intend to tell people that I am feeling sice.

"I can't come to your dinner party. I'm very sice."

"Last night I was super sice. Up all night with the stomach flu."

"My son won't be at school today. He's really sice."

There is no end to the joy that this little girl gave me today when she chose to exercise her devious sin nature. My world is truly a better a place.


*Not really the name of any kids in my class. Not that I'd put it past anyone. This state has some really strange names.

**Also not the name of any of the students I have. However, once, when I was subbing for a high school class, I had a Socrates. True story.

***It's only a matter of time before I come across this name. I kid not.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Israel 2013

I finally made time to put together a slide show video of our trip. It's nine minutes long and I'm sorry for that but you try choosing between 900 pictures from three different cameras. In any case, here's a recap from our trip.

 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Perspective

"Look what I got!" Matthew said as I walked through the door at 4:00 pm. He was sporting his alphabet crown. Although he's known his letters for quite some time now, he always managed to miss one when he was being tested. Until today.

And I wasn't there to pick him up.

I was there when a first grader started to cry over something so ridiculous it's ridiculous. "What's wrong?" I asked her. She said her eyes were watering. Why do we do that? Why do we hide what's wrong? Bury it under ten feet of crap and lies. I'm a woman. I've been pretending that my eyes are just watering for a long time. I saw through. So I sent everyone else away and I talked to her. And we fixed it.

It was a first grade problem. But we took care of it.

I feel good about that.

But I feel bad about missing my kid's crowning moment.

I live my life wishing I could have a career. I live my life wishing I could be the very best mom. If anything, these past three days have showed me that I can't really have both. And I'm thankful that this job has an end date.

***Edited to add.
I was thinking about this post while I was driving home from Bible study and I realized that it maybe sounded like I was saying that women can't have a career and children and do either job well. That is absolutely not what I was trying to convey. I simply know that, for me, having a full time job and being as involved of a parent as I want to be would be a very difficult balance. One that I am glad, at this point in my life, I don't usually have to attempt. Women who do it all (especially single moms) have my utmost respect.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

What Does the Fox Say?

It's become apparent to me that the blog will suffer while I work full time for the next three weeks.

I'm enjoying it but I'm already thanking the Lord that I don't usually work this much. I miss my kids. Our evenings feel super rushed. By the time I finish my Bible study it's dinner time. By the time we finish dinner it's time to start the bedtime routine. I'm thankful for this time of employment but I'm already thinking about what we'll do together in December, when I'm no longer spending my days inside a first grade classroom.

I might be able to live my whole entire life without ever again hearing, "What does the fox say?" However, since it is my first graders' most favorite thing to say, I am not holding my breath.


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Magnetic Resonance Imaging: Part Two

I was called into the room with the torture chamber MRI machine. The technician in there asked me if I'd ever had an MRI done before. When I told him that I had not, he gave me some rules. Rules like, "DO NOT MOVE A MUSCLE AT ALL OR IT WILL BLUR THE IMAGES AND YOU WILL SPEND MORE TIME IN THE CHAMBER OF DEATH THAN NECESSARY!!!" Okay, so he didn't say it like that exactly. I mean he didn't use three exclamation marks or the word "death" but I got the point. He asked if I was claustrophobic.

Affirmative.

I informed him that I planned to go to my happy place. By happy place I meant that I was going to pray to Jesus continuously. You want to learn how to pray without ceasing? Stick a claustrophobe into a tube the size of her body. Speaking of "the size of her body" can I just ask a question? I am completely serious here. And I don't mean even an ounce of disrespect. I'm a fairly smallish person. I had a couple inches to spare on either side of me. Do they have different sized machines for different sized people?

I hopped up onto the gurney. He asked me if I wanted to listen to music. I figured a little music could only help. This ended up being a good decision. He asked me what kind of music. I listen almost exclusively to KLove and Christian albums. I didn't figure they had a wide variety of that type of music. "Just anything contemporary is fine," I said. This proved to be an unwise choice.

I laid down, flat on my back. He placed a contraption around my shoulder, a foam pad around my forearm, and a wedge under my right side. He asked me if I wanted a washcloth placed over my eyes. I thought this would be a very good idea because then I wouldn't be able to look around, even if I wanted to. He put the cloth over my eyes and the giant headphones over my ears. I slowly slid inside the machine. Both of my arms rubbed against the sides of the tube. The foam around my forearm moved down, pulling my arm into a slightly uncomfortable position.

I interrupt this story to bring you an important message. I'm all for breaking pastor's wives stereotypes. I mean, really. We are all gifted in very different ways. I don't play the piano, knit onesies for babies, or spend three nights a week entertaining in my home. I don't wear a dress every Sunday. Today I wore brown boots over reddish colored jeggings. With a shirt. I did wear a shirt. But when it comes to listening to music in an MRI machine, I maybe shouldn't have told them to play contemporary music for me when I haven't really listened to contemporary music since my oldest son was born.

While I'm all for shattering stereotypes, it is not my style to listen to an artist who calls himself Flo Rida and sings, "Can you blow my whistle baby, whistle baby? Let me know." And I'm just going to go right ahead and stop there because the lyrics just get worse. So I'm in a tube the size of my own body, my sight obstructed, my ears covered in huge headphones blaring about whistles, my shoulder immobilized, and that's when the machine gun began firing. It sounded like what I imagine a war zone sounds like. I could only kind of hear Flo Rida. (That was, of course, merciful, but the loud drumming sounds were not.)

I started to pray.

Please let me block out the song about whistle blowing. Please let me block out the loud gun fire sounds. Please help me not start hyperventilating.

The first fifteen or so minutes were relatively uneventful. The good thing about having music on was that I could guess how long I'd been in there. I'd been told that the first set of images would take 25 minutes. After several songs, my shoulder began to throb. All I wanted to do was move it. I knew I couldn't and that just made me want to more. My ears were on overload. I concentrated on breathing and tried not to think about how much my shoulder hurt. Then I made the mistake of opening my eyes under the cloth. I could see out the hole created by my nose. That's when I realized that the top of the machine was two inches from my face. I continued to hear loud gun noises and crashes and smashes and the only thing keeping me sane was the thought that I wasn't really trapped in there. I knew the end of the tube was open and I could wriggle myself right out if I absolutely had to.

Suddenly, I felt myself moving out. A woman removed the cloth from my eyes. The man took the headphones off. They asked me to position my arm over my head for another image that would last four minutes. I don't know whose minutes these were because they were certainly not Earth Standard Minutes. They were some sort of medical imaging minutes where four minutes might actually equal seven or eight.

Back went the cloth, except it only partially covered my eyes that time. Back went the headphones except they weren't positioned correctly and my ears were bent up inside. Back I went into the machine.

Roughly eight minutes (ESM) later they pulled me out.

And I was done.

So I survived my very first MRI. It wasn't actually as bad as I'd imagined it would be. Perhaps the most traumatizing thing was Flo Rida. In hindsight, I probably should have asked if they had access to KLove.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Magnetic Resonance Imaging: Part One

Apparently, dedicating ten years of my life to competitive swimming was shoulder suicide. The right one has some sort of permanent injury which, thankfully, only now bothers me every once in a while. Like when snow is coming. The left one has something more pressing going on with it.

By pressing, I mean that it's been hurting for a year and a half.

The first round of physical therapy helped tremendously and got me through the summer almost entirely pain free. Then I did something--I have no clue what, exactly--and the whole shoulder just fell apart. Or maybe it wasn't that dramatic but a second round of physical therapy hasn't helped it. The less I use it, the better it feels but I'm tired of my left shoulder and, by extension, my left arm being purely ornamental.

I went in on Thursday for my very first MRI. Since the shoulder is a very small space, the doctor ordered an arthrogram to accompany it. After reading a horror story about a hip arthrogram, I decided to stop taking the Internet's word for how bad the pain would be. I'm the biggest wussy about medical procedures and it's rarely as bad as I make it out to be in my overactive imagination. Let's just say that there was a lot of room to freak out ahead of time given that I'm a recovering needlephob and I'm also terrified of small spaces.

When I got to the imaging office, I had to step over the tail of a 60-year-old little mermaid. Because Halloween is a bizarre day. After waiting for a few minutes, I was called back and put into a room to change my clothes. That took me approximately thirty seconds. I was sure that the woman who took me to the dressing room had said she'd come back for me. In fact, the more I think about it the more certain I am. She said, "I'll be back in a minute." So I sat in the chair and waited. And waited. After ten minutes I heard a knock on the door. A man's voice said, "Lori?"

"Yes?" I responded.

"Are you doin' okay?"

"Yes..."

"Are you ready to come out?" I could tell that I was supposed to have come out nine minutes earlier. I explained, as I opened the door, that I thought the lady was going to come back for me. Apparently they'd both been sitting around discussing how it could possibly take me so long to change into a hospital gown. I assured him that it had taken me thirty seconds and I'd been wondering what in the world was going on.

It was embarrassing. I'm certain it was made worse by the fact that I was wearing a hospital gown, gaping in the back, and the guy was incredibly attractive. As in, he has no business working in an imaging office but should, instead, earn his living by modeling...anything. I mean, really. I just feel like I wouldn't have been as embarrassed if he'd been a fifty year old socially awkward imaging technician who was addicted to gaming. (If I wasn't married I would not be seeking a spouse among gamers, just sayin'.)

So the attractive guy took me into a room and explained the arthrogram procedure. He informed me that I would first be injected with lidocaine. "That part is going to hurt and sting for about a minute. It's pretty intense," he warned. Later, the doctor said almost the exact same thing. I almost questioned the level of intensity. Like am I going to scream and cry and make a bigger fool of myself than I already did when I sat in the dressing room for ten minutes? Compare this to the pain of contractions...

I was flat on my back, my shoulder was exposed and Hot Guy buttered me up with iodine. He asked about my kids, what they were going to be for Halloween, told me his three-month-old daughter was going to be Minnie Mouse, then asked me if my husband and I were going to have a girl to go with our two sons. It seemed like a bit of a strange question. Kind of like asking if I wanted fries with my burger. He asked me to tell him my birthday. I did. He asked again. I told him again. "Hmmm...it's in here wrong. What's your name?"

I told him. He asked what I was there to have done. I told him. I guess he found my answers satisfactory.

Then the doctor stuck me with the lidocaine. I was prepared to clench my teeth, wiggle my toes, whatever I had to do so that I didn't scream. That was unnecessary preparation because I felt a slight sting, definitely no worse than a bee sting, for about ten seconds. Then another prick. Another slight sting. After that was finished, I turned my attention to the monitor so that I could watch what was happening. I saw the large needle descending into my shoulder. As I watched, I felt pressure in my shoulder. It was not pleasant. It didn't hurt but it felt like the needle was separating everything that was supposed to be together. My stomach felt sick. I clenched my jaw a bit and looked away. Once I could no longer feel my shoulder falling into pieces, I looked back. Dye spilled from the needle into my joint.

The doctor retracted the needle. Hot Guy wiped up my iodine and my blood, put a band-aid over my bleeding puncture wounds, and told me I could get up.

I'd survived the needle being thrust deep within my shoulder. Now I had to survive being trapped inside a tiny little tube with no hope of rescue...

Friday, November 1, 2013

Before You Came Into My Life...

The older my youngest son gets, the more aware I become of my responses to personal questions about his adoption. I also become more aware of the gap between my level of recognition of his sensitivity and the rest of the world's ability to see the subtle ways his face falls.

No one ever asks me if Garrett is my son.

Matthew notices that. And his expression drops--even if ever so slightly--when people ask me if he's mine.

No one ever asks if we adopted Garrett.

It's true that we didn't, but how do they know?

Matthew is nearing five. Questions like, "Where did you get him from?" just might make him feel like he came from outer space. And, as much as he might like to pretend he came from space when he's playing with his brother, he doesn't want to feel like he's different in real life.

This is a challenge for us as parents. We are adoption advocates. For me, I simply can't understand why everyone doesn't consider building their families in this way. It's outrageous and I get that. It's complicated and I get that. But it's also gorgeous and wonderful and I couldn't love anything more than that boy. I want to answer people's questions because I know that they (almost always) come from a place of genuine wonder and I want to take any chance I get to share about what an incredible experience this continues to be for our family. But the older my son gets, the more challenging these questions become. I just can't risk his well being to satisfy the world's curiosity. I'm an open book when he isn't right next to me but I'm trying to be more protective when he's standing there.

I've learned subtle ways to respond to their questioning while still trying to confirm Matthew's permanent place in our family and in my heart. Generally speaking, we do okay. I can usually change my tone when questions become too invasive. People seem to pick up on the fact that I don't want to talk about it with my ever aware four-year-old standing there.

In our country.

But in the Old City in Jerusalem, it was another story.

We were browsing in the Muslim quarter and our family of four wandered into a shop. As we stepped in, a man pointed and said, "Is this your son?"

"Yes," I replied with a smile.

He gestured more emphatically, as if clarifying that he was talking about Matthew. "This one?"

"Yes," I said, a little less friendly because Matthew was now staring at the man, aware that he was being singled out.

"Is this your husband?" he pointed at Troy.

"Yes, he is."

The man looked baffled. We continued to look around and, eventually, Troy and Garrett wandered out. Matthew stood there with me. The man questioned me again. "This is your son?"

I set my jaw. I think I flared my nostrils a little bit. "Yes. He is."

The man then said, "But he's not your son..." and as he said it he moved his hands from his torso to his pelvis as if to simulate childbirth.

Matthew stared up at me. "No. I did not give birth to him. But HE IS MY SON," I said.

"You adopted him then?"

"Yes, we did," I said more curtly. He wasn't picking up on my tone. At all.

"The other one is your son?" he asked.

"Yes. They are both my sons," I responded. Then I turned and walked out.

I conveyed the rest of the story to Troy who explained to me that in Arab cultures adoption is completely different. If a child is adopted, he becomes a ward of the caretaker and not a son. The concept is completely foreign. So then I kind of felt like a jerk.

Except that this stuff affects my kid.

Moments later he looked at me and said, "Mommy, before you came into my life I missed you so bad. And you should know that. I missed you so so bad." Oh sure, he was just repeating Carly Rae Jepsen but he wasn't singing it. He was saying it. With feeling.

Just a few shops down the street another man began waving me over. I approached him. "Is that your son?" Here we go again.

"Yes," I said.

"You adopted him then?"

"We did."

"Beautiful," he said. My family was still down the street and out of earshot. "Where did he come from?" he asked.

"We're from the United States and he was born there as well," I answered.

"Do you get to keep him until he's grown?" he asked. I was thankful for my husband's quick lesson on Arab adoptions because, without that new information, I might have said something really snarky. No I do not keep him like I hang on to last night's leftovers or a shirt that has sentimental value. I raise him, love him, clean up his vomit. He's not a possession. Instead I smiled and said, "Yes." But it was easier, because Matthew was down the road.

"Amazing," he whispered. "I want to see him. Bring him to me, please?" he asked.

That was kinda weird. Not gonna lie.

"Uh...he's with his dad. He'll be coming this way in a minute." I figured Troy could handle whatever strangeness was about to happen. I went into another shop. When they met up with me, I asked Troy what the man did. Apparently he just said hello and waved at him, enthralled by this concept of adoption.

I grapple with this, though. What to say. What not to. How to validate my child and still answer questions to advocate for future adoptions. It's a difficult place to find myself.

Lately Matthew has been saying, "I wish I was in your tummy. I like your tummy better than your heart." I remind him of how special it is that he has two mommies that love him. But tonight I decided to just share my feelings with him when he said it again. "I know. I wish that you had been in my tummy too. But that isn't the way that God chose for us to be a family. He decided to have you grow in my heart and His plans are always the best plans."


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Around Israel

Some important facts from our travels to Israel. 

1. Our family slept for about five hours on the plane coming home. That meant that, when we finally went to bed last night, we'd slept a total of five hours in the span of about 45. That is not enough. Especially for children. Garrett slept for 13.5 hours last night. He got the most. I got the least with 10. I'd have slept longer if I wasn't awoken by my four-year-old who had, in his deep state of sleep, wet his pants.

2. I didn't actually eat this...
But it really does have more to do with the fact that I ate a chicken kabob, salads, pita chips, french fries, fresh fruit and cake and didn't feel the need to also eat the lamb/mutton kabob than the fact that it looks like a giant dog turd on a stick. Also, I don't like lamb when it looks like normal stew meat. I especially don't like it when it resembles poop on a stick.

But if you think this didn't prompt a rather long conversation about deep frying it and selling it at the fair, you'd be wrong.

3. My boys ate these. Because they rock. The owner of the restaurant came and asked me, "Can I bring them pasta instead?" I said, "No thank you. This is what they ordered. They're happy with it." His eyes nearly bulged out of his head. He couldn't believe that they wanted it. I should have had him hang around for the part where Matthew asked me to scoop the eyeballs out of the fish's sockets so that he could eat them. And then he did. Because of course he did. When my youngest son is making a living by winning eating contests, you can tell everyone that I predicted it here first.
4. This happened.

Also on the list of ailments included my airplane vomit, Matthew throwing up on the bus with absolutely no warning whatsoever. He just leaned over and vomited on the seat. And a raging sinus infection that included me waking up one night with the entire left side of my face so hopelessly plugged that stuff was leaking out my eye. I kid not.

5. This photo show the tooth that my son lost on the very last night because he was ridiculously determined to loose a tooth in Israel. It came out the last day we were there. We didn't actually spend that night in Israel and he was somewhat demanding that the tooth fairy come while we were on the plane. But, due to the fact that he doesn't believe in the tooth fairy and she wouldn't be able to fly at that altitude anyway, he had to wait until last night for his money.
The more interesting thing about the above picture, however, is our son's new found obsession with Judaism and, in particular, the practice of wearing a kippah. Or, in Yiddish, a yarmulke. His grandparents were going to buy him a shirt but we'd already bought him a shirt and he insisted on this kippah. He now parades around the house wearing it as though he made a religious conversion while we were gone.

6. Finally, for today anyway, I leave you with this.

That's the list. Those are the four things that are, apparently, the most offensive things at a holy site. It's like one of those standardized tests where you have to choose groupings of things that go together. Except in this test I FAIL because HUH? I mean, are knives okay? Gerbils? Hookahs? 

It amuses me.

If you're wondering, I had to walk all the way back to the bus when I found out that I couldn't take my gun.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Burgers in Israel

Dear Israel,
 
I need some sort of explanation.
 
You offer some sort of burger that you refer to as the "Big America" which is all fine and good and my husband says is delicious. What I don't understand are the seven different ways you offer it. There's the regular Big America which is really just a normal hamburger. Then, you have decided to choose six different regions to represent for variation on your burger.
 
I have no idea what the differences are on these because you list their "uniqueness" in Hebrew which is Greek to me. Not really, it's Hebrew to me. Which means I cannot decipher a single bit of its meaning.
 
We've got the Texas burger, the Broadway, the Miami, the Vegas, the Chicago and the New-York. The New-York burger (not sure why we're hyphenating between New and York) has a chili pepper above it, suggesting that it's significantly hotter than the rest. Is New York known for its hot hamburgers? Because it seems more logical to me that the spicy burger would better be represented by the Mexican flavors found in Texas or the island cultures of Miami.
 
This isn't my biggest source of confusion, however. If you're going to choose six locations in the United States to represent in your Big America Burger line, you could have included something from California, or the northwest, or the deep south. What the heck is the difference between the New dash York burger and the Broadway burger?
 
I love myself some Broadway. Probably a lot more than the next girl. But giving them their own burger? It boggles the mind. The Hollywood burger, maybe, would have made more sense. I can't imagine that there are ingredients on that sucker that are only represented by a theatre district.
 
It seems like it would be similar to me having a line of Israeli falafels and naming one of them the Jerusalem and another the Temple Mount. Not that I really think that naming a falafel "Temple Mount" would be appropriate.
 
But, seriously. What the heck?

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Israel Photo Dump

Just a photo dump. Because our Internet is still spotty. And I'm tired.                    

               
Flip flops on the white powdery sands of the Mediterranean Sea.

Boys in front of the ruins of Herod's indoor pool.

Joppa. (Of Jonah fame)


The Valley of Armageddon.

The boys with their Grandma at Megiddo.

Garrett & Matthew with their Grandpa ('s head) at the ruins of Beit Shean.

Swimming at Gan Hashlosha. This place is, hands down, one of my most favorite places on earth. Natural spring. Directed by walls and tunnels and wading pools. Super incredible.

The boys pretending to use the "bathroom" at the ruins of Beit Shean.

Me. Drinking the "right" way at Gideon's Spring. Although, who are we kidding? I would have totally left with the crowd when Gideon told anyone who was afraid to hightail it home.

Tel Dan. Northern Israel.

Our family in Nazareth.

Garrett at the Sea of Galilee.

Matthew at the Sea of Galilee.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

A Day in the Life

What this looks like.

Day 2 (Which, for us, was Thursday)

3:00--We're all wide awake, proving that jet lag is very real and very obnoxious. The boys giggle in their bed. We toss and turn in ours. A man stands outside our room talking loudly in Hebrew.

5:00-- After insisting that we all stay in bed and at least "rest" we get up.

5:50-- We check out of our Tel Aviv hotel and call a cab. We've arrived a day early and it is now time to go meet our group at the airport.

5:55-- Our cab arrives to take us to the train because a cab plus the train is only like 100 shekels but taking a cab straight there is 230. The trunk is tiny so we end up with large amounts of luggage in our laps.

6:55-- The train arrives. We try to board. It's crazy busy and we're throwing luggage on and tossing kids in and Troy realizes he's not going to make it. So he dashes down to another door. The boys and I are unsure as to whether or not he got on. The boys insist he didn't. I'm hopeful he did.

7:05-- The doors open. Within three seconds Troy is standing there yelling, "I'm here!" He grabs bags and kids and we're off.

9:00-- We've collected our group. Bags have been loaded on to the tour bus.

9:30-- We head to Tel Aviv. We're very close to our hotel. I wonder why I didn't have the bus pick us up as it drove by. After Tel Aviv we visit Joppa. Yes, as in, "JONAH, GO TO NINEVAH!" "Um, no, God. I would rather catch a boat from Joppa to ANYWHERE ELSE." That Joppa. We explore.

11:15-- We go to Caesarea Maritime which is one of my most favorite places ever because it is beautiful and there are ruins of a theatre and a swimming pool. We explore.

1:15-- Lunch. Chicken salad on pita bread. Mediterranean pasta salad. Cucumbers. Yum.

2:25-- Aquaduct ruins.

2:30-- Begin driving to Mt. Carmel.

3:15-- We explore various places at Mt. Carmel before heading to our hotel.

5:00-- We arrive at our hotel, a kibbutz on the Sea of Galilee. It's beautiful. We settle in and take the boys to the pool.

6:45-- Dinner.

8:00-- The boys are sound asleep.

9:30-- Troy and I are sound asleep. (Although I will spend most of the night wide awake attempting to breathe and fight the 101 degree fever I start running.

6:20-- Alarm goes off. I still have the head cold but not the fever so I hop out of bed, ready to face an eleven hour day of touring Israel.