Friday, March 29, 2013

Second Opinion

I can do this, she said. I'm a pro, she said. We've got this, she said. And it's true. It was just a minor outpatient surgery. Some parents live with terminally ill children who need constant medical care. Some moms have kids with special needs. Some care for children with severe challenges. I salute those people. I am not one of them.

We kicked umbilical hernia repair surgery's butt. Kicked it to the curb, hard. We showed our 17-month-old's doorknob sized bellybutton who was boss. I just assumed we'd ninja kick this tonsillectomy to the same curb. Apparently, I was mistaken.

I opened the door yesterday covered in chunks of spit up string cheese and sticky saliva mixed with snot. My house was a wreck. My hair was disheveled and I wasn't wearing a lick of make up. "If the doctor tells you your kid needs a tonsillectomy, tell him NO," I said to my friend who was standing on the porch. I looked like the mother of a house full of children who also just so happened to have a brand new baby (except, without the added bonus of a chest made for nursing).

See, here's the thing. Have you ever known a crazy person? I mean, like, a certifiable, institutionalized crazy person, not someone you've decided is crazy. Because I haven't. I know a lot of people that I think probably ought to be certifiable but I can't recall that I know anyone who is bona fide bananas. But my son is behaving exactly like I expect a true nutcase to act.

Here's a partial list of things my son said to me yesterday:

I want applesauce.
I want yogurt.
Can I have a smoothie?
Cut this string off my jammies.
Can I watch Lazy Town?
Mommy, pudding please?
Cut this string off my monkey.
Can I have my medicine?
I need to go potty.
Yes! I want macawoni and cheese!
Cut this string off my shirt.
My froat hurts.
My froat doesn't hurt.
My tummy hurts.
I'm tired.
Will you snuggle me?
Will you leave me alone?

All. Day. Long.

Sometimes I wouldn't even be to the table with his food when he'd declare that he didn't want it. And I know what you're thinking...this is a kid who is ruling his mother. Believe me, this is not a child who usually gets his way. He knows he's not in control. On the other hand, I have no idea what his pain level is. I read a blog where a woman stated that it is like trying to swallow boiling water. That's how much this thing hurts. His obsession with strings has nothing to do with his tonsillectomy but it sure seems heightened and obnoxious in the face of all the whining about macaroni.

And it's exhausting.

Just when I think I'm likely to check myself into the nearest hotel, I remember the mournful noise he was making when he came out of surgery. I remember the tears flowing from his eyes as they pulled his wagon up to the doorway of his room. I remember how inconsolable he was until everyone else left and he could just snuggle into me. I remember that I'm his mom and that means I get all the good parts of Matthew's life. And that means I get to endure him asking me just one more time to cut the stupid string or stop cuddling him.

But, seriously, if the doctor tells you to have your kid's tonsils removed, maybe get a second opinion.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

It Was A Long Night

It was a terrible, awful, no good, very bad night.

It started at roughly 6:15 when Matthew's nose began to bleed. Troy looked at the paperwork which stated that it was an EMERGENCY if we saw fresh blood coming from our recently dissected child's mouth or nose.

I ended up on the phone with an on call doctor at the hospital where we'd had the surgery done. He told me, approximately five times, that he didn't work with our surgeon. "You need to call your surgeon."

"I can't reach his surgeon, it's after hours."

"Well, I don't work with him."

"Well, okay, what would you suggest that I do?"

"I guess just take him to your nearest ER if you want. That's probably what your surgeon would tell you," he finally supplied.

Guess and probably and if I want are not words I want to hear when my son is eleven hours post op and his nose is dripping fresh blood which my paperwork says is an EMERGENCY. It would have been helpful to me if he'd said, "Hmm, sounds like he's going to wind up back in surgery so you should go to your local ER prepared to be there all night." Or. "Hey, he should probably be checked out but it's also probably not a big deal." Those are probablies I can handle. So I hung up the phone and called a different on call doctor. He told me to go to Walmart and buy nasal spray and call it a night.

All the while, Matthew was sitting on Troy's lap sobbing uncontrollably. He'd been eating fine all day but had suddenly refused to eat, drink or even swallow his saliva. High times.

Then, a giant fleshy boogery thing came out of his nostril, followed by a very exciting pool of blood. But, with the escape of lingering adenoid tissue/blood booger/whatever the heck it was, his nose stopped bleeding.

So I went to Walmart.

Then I cried in the Walmart parking lot because I was plumb tired and Matthew wouldn't stop crying and the doctors who get paid the big bucks couldn't agree on what we should do and I was expected to make a decision and WHAT IF HE DIED.

I'm not dramatic at all.

When I got home, Troy squirted some spray in Matthew's nose. We gave him his meds. He sobbed and gagged and spit medication on my sweatshirt. So we put him to bed. He was asleep within minutes despite the fact that he'd taken an almost three hour nap earlier in the day.

I checked on him when I went to bed and he had a layer of sticky, white foam all over his chin, neck, and pajamas. He was snoring terrible loud and with every snore, more foam was flying out of his mouth. So then, again with all the WHAT IF HE DIES? We moved him into my bed and Troy moved to the couch. And Matthew snored (LOUD!) all night long.

And he tossed.

And he turned.

And he moaned.

And he groaned.

And praise the Lord he did sleep through the entire night because, if only one of us was going to sleep, at least it was the kid with the horrible sore throat.

Because I, on the other hand, did not sleep much at all. I saw every single hour of the night tick by on the clock. 10:30. 11:44. 12:52. 1:18. 2:42. 3:31. 4:48. 5:24. 6:47. Or something like that. At one point, I groggily forgot that it was Matthew in bed next to me snoring like a grizzly bear in the dead of winter. Thinking that it was Troy, I almost punched my poor, unsuspecting, tonsilless son in the head to get him to shut up. (I wouldn't normally punch my husband, either, but I'd never heard snoring like this. At least not quite so close to my ear. It was phenomenal.)

So, needless to say, I was very tired this morning.

Which was unfortunate because today has been a challenge. See, when Dude's Lortab wears off--which it does about an hour before I can give him more--it's kind of like taming a crocodile. If it was a highly emotional croc who also recently had his tonsils removed.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Everything I know about tonsillectomies I learned from The Brady Bunch. I still have my tonsils though they are, apparently, very tiny. My brother has his. My husband has his and all of his sisters have theirs. So I didn't know what to expect, really. Except that Cindy and Carol enjoyed their big bowls of ice cream in the end.

There was no uncontrollable sobbing as the anesthesia wore off. There was no tearing out of the IV. There was no tonsil breath.

The reality is, well, a little different.

This morning I got up at 5:30 to have my boy at the hospital by 6:30. I woke Matthew up five minutes before we left.

"Where are we going?" he asked as I stuffed him into his booster.

"Well, remember how that doctor looked at your throat last week? We're going to go see him again. He's going to do some work on your throat and then you get to eat popsicles all day."

"OH MY GOSH!" he squealed. "REALLY?"

But then I made him take off his comfy clothes and put on a "dress" and Bro was not excited. At. All. This is evidenced by the expression on his face. Garrett saw this picture and asked me what the doctor did to Matthew's other leg.

Nothing, Son. Matthew just thought standing on one leg, looking like a war hero, would be a good idea. He was so ticked about the "dress" that he was yanking on it, trying to get it off. So I pointed at the wall. "Look! Look how cool that wall is!"

"Oh!" he yelled, "NEMO!" Thank goodness for easy distractions.

He had a hospital buddy and a warm blanket to keep him company. Plus, we'd brought his beloved monkey and blankie with us so we had our bases covered.

They gave him some medicine to make him less anxious. It was supposed to make him a little loopy so I had the video camera ready. Instead, all it really did was make him talk like a baby. And climb into the wagon all by himself with nothing more than a, "Bye, Mom." Which, really, means it's a miracle drug that I should carry around with me at all times.

Y'all. He was in the best mood. I felt like a bottom dweller feeding on the algae scum on the floor of the sea for handing him over to a surgeon who would slice apart his tiny, unsuspecting throat.

At 7:26 they took my baby away. About twenty minutes later, Troy got there after handing Garrett off to another kindergarten mom.

At 8:10 the surgeon came into the room to tell us that he'd flown through the surgery like a champion fighter pilot. Okay, that's not at all what he said but hurray! Matthew was alive and well and yes, it was just a routine tonsillectomy, but if you think that the thought never crossed my mind that I may never see him again, you'd be wrong. He told us that they would bring him to us once he was awake. Since Matthew was pretty much born a teenage boy, we thought that might never happen. He told us that Matthew would probably be upset.


My oldest child had surgery at 17 months old. He was weepy after surgery but he consoled very easily and that was what I was expecting.

Uh. No.

Matthew was hysterical. Sobbing and thrashing and writhing and shouting things that no one could understand. Then, shouting things we could understand. "GET THIS OUTTA MY HAND! GET THIS THING OUTTA MY HAND!" He was screaming at his IV. A nurse told him he needed to eat something first and offered him a melting popsicle. "NO!" Nothing I did would console him. I tried singing in his ear. I tried whispering in my most soothing voice. I tried rubbing his back. Nothing worked.

There were seven adults and one Matthew in a tiny room and he was groggy and fuzzy and angry and sore and sad. He seemed overwhelmed. At this point, I was lying in the bed and he was on my lap. In a furious outburst, he flopped from his back over onto his stomach. In that frantic motion, his IV popped out and blood started smearing all over the pillow, the sheets, the mom. Four of the five medical personnel rushed to fix the mess he was making. "Well," I said, "That's one way to get what you want."

A nurse flipped off the light.

We're just going to leave you alone for a few minutes to see if he'll calm down. The moment they left he nestled into my body and fell into an exhausted sleep.

He stayed that way for about an hour.

In the middle of that hour, the nurse came back and said that it was fine to let him sleep but that we would need to get him to eat or drink something before we could go. Eventually, I told Matthew as much.

He sat up and ate a melted popsicle. He drank half a cup of juice. He asked for another popsicle. They made it into a slush and brought it to him. He ate that one and asked for another. 

He watched TV. He said his "froat" was beeping which is what he always says when he can feel his heartbeat.

The nurses came back in to discharge us. They said that his hysterical, sad, angry, erratic behavior was totally normal. Then they gave us strict instructions on his diet for the next TWO WEEKS which is a bummer because EASTER CANDY.

We've been warned that he will feel fine today and miserable in a day or two. So far, yes. True. We just had to tell him to stop doing a headstand or he might have to go back to the hospital.

He stopped right quick.

I second guessed this surgery so much. He hadn't been snoring or waking up much this past week. I didn't want to spend a couple thousand dollars for no good reason at all. In the end, I decided that his constant waking (which never involved coming to get us but always involved whispering and giggling for large chunks of the night) and his snoring have been an ongoing problem for a long time and we would move forward with the surgery.

Turns out, Matthew's airway was 60% blocked by enlarged tonsils and adenoid tissue. So, yes, we will pay the bills. We will feed him Jello and popsicles. We will endure tonsil breath. And, I hope, that in return, Matthew's life will be improved by this procedure.

Although, our church secretary made an important observation. "If he was that energetic with only 40% oxygen, you'd better watch out now that he'll be getting 100%."

Hmmm...very good point.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

My Daughter

It started innocently enough.

See. This is Garrett.

He wants to have "surfer" hair and it's taking f.o.r.e.v.e.r. 

We buzzed his head last June before we went to Hawaii. We cut it again in August just before school started. And he's been growing it out ever since. Every morning we have a routine of dousing his head with water, parting it on the side, and spraying a sea salt hair product into it so that it has that "I just got out of the ocean" quality. Except that as soon as it dries, the part we combed to the side flops into his face, as is evidenced by the above picture. Yes. Meet Garrett. My little ragamuffin whose hair appears to be growing in reverse.

So the other night, after his hair was washed, I decided to clip the "bangs" portion over to the side in the hopes that it would dry that way and remain. I snapped a hair clip into it and wah-la there before me stood the daughter I've never had. This led to comments from my husband about how very much indeed my son looks like me. I don't argue with the people who say things like, "Did you even contribute to the DNA because he looks just like Troy." I don't disagree because I've got the proof in a photo album that's 25 years old. 


This led to me calling him all manner of girly names and him thinking it would be hysterically hilarious if I dressed him up like a girl. He will go to his grave saying that I forced it upon him but that is simply not true. When he finds himself on the couch of a psychologist some day, claiming that it all went wrong when his MOTHER MADE HIM DRESS LIKE A GIRL, he will be lying and will only have himself to blame.

I don't have girl clothes. Well, I mean. I have girl clothes but I had nothing to dress my six-year-old boy in to make him look like a girl. So I improvised.

The hair is still a little too short but I think you get the idea.

The idea being that Troy and I would have made an awfully adorable daughter.

He requested the make-up. HE DID. Not me. I only applied it.

Once upon a time, 25 (or so) years ago, my family was in Lake Tahoe. My mom bought me a ring at a craft fair there. It was my first ever ring and I cherished it. My fingers grew and, eventually, I was only able to wear it on my pinkie finger. After Garrett had adequately been turned into a female, but before we snapped any pictures, I yelled, "WAIT!" I flung open the drawer on my jewelry box and pulled the ring out. I slipped it onto his finger...

It was a perfect fit.


I don't really think we need to be concerned with the fact that Garrett might start identifying as a girl because just a few days before I'd caught him like this.

That's not dirt, friends. That's a pool full of manure. Don't worry--he took an extra long shower not five minutes later.

After he was finished de-girling himself, he asked his father to turn him into a manly man. Here's what they came up with.

 And, because the many faces of Garrett have graced this post with their presence, I thought I'd leave you one of Matthew.
Today was Matthew's last indoor soccer game. After two straight games of scoring zero goals, he went out with a bang and scored four. His total on the year was 13. Not too bad considering they only play eight games.

Friday, March 22, 2013


It's freezing.

And snowing.

And gray.

I hate Utah's spring.

It is, by far, my least favorite season here which is saying a lot because WINTER! The LONG winter. Every year, it seems.

But at least I'm prepared to freeze from November until March. Spring gets me every time with its 65 degrees followed by 20. Don't get me wrong, I love those 65 degree days much more than I love Utah winter but I hate those 20 degree, snowy spring days much more than I hate Utah winter.

When it comes to weather, I am happy from May through October.

I'm a weather snob.

But aren't we all?

Doesn't everyone hate humidity or cold or dry heat or snow or wind or something?

I spent the first 26 years of my life in San Diego and can I just state, for the record, in case you've never been there, PERFECT WEATHER ABOUT 10 MONTHS OUT OF THE YEAR. (If you hate the heat which comes in July and August. Perfect weather 12 months out of the year if you don't mind the summer. Which I don't.)

At this very moment, at 10:33 am in Salt Lake, it is 29. At this very moment, at 9:33 am in San Diego, it is 59.

I am ready for flip flops and tank tops and shorts and swimming outside. Utah is, apparently, ready for more sledding and snowmen.

We have fundamental differences, Utah and I.

Monday, March 18, 2013


Nothing really prepared me for motherhood. I don't even think motherhood prepared me for motherhood. I mean, I had a baby, my heart practically exploded sending love confetti all over the place. I changed diapers and fed the kid and wiped up spit up and walked through foggy exhaustion. Then he went to kindergarten and it was like, "Wait! Hold the phone! I have to make sure this kid gets his homework done? But I already went to kindergarten!"

I find myself sitting at the table. He's holding scissors in his hand because somehow the fetus that used to be inside me knows how to cut now. We're supposed to be working on his letter of the week, which is D, in case you care. But he's still sitting quiet because he's upset about his report card.

His report card was incredible, by the way. He's at or above the bench mark in every subject. He's reading above grade level. His teacher said that he is excellent at addition and subtraction. He got all E's.

And one S.

And it's that one S that's opened a flood gate of tears. He likes talking, he tells me. He isn't talking out of turn, he says. But I know better because I volunteer and I know his voice. So I say that he just needs to work on it. And I tell him how proud of him I am for the rest of the report card. I say that his teacher must be proud of him too because she gave him such high marks. Certainly it's alright for her to ask him to work on one little thing.

He starts to cry again. "Nate's the smartest kid in class."

"How do you know?" I ask.

"Because she always tells him good job. Awesome. You're so smart. And she never tells me." I think this isn't true because I heard her on Tuesday telling Garrett how smart he was at his sight words. Still, I tell him that he can talk to her about it because I'm trying to teach my children how to have rational conversations with people. Another thing I didn't realize I had to teach when I thought about tiny, squirmy babies and how good they'd smell covered in lotion.

We finally saved up enough to start thinking about maybe buying that coveted new to us but certainly not new to the road minivan. Because my taste in vehicles has apparently changed as well. Because motherhood makes you do weird things, like stare longingly at all the vans as they pull out of the school parking lot. What can I say, the heart wants what the heart wants. We've been researching vans, reading about them, thinking about them.

Then Matthew had an appointment with an ENT today. Because that kid snores up a storm and sleeping anywhere near him is a bit of a wretched nightmare. The recommendation: tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy. Right quick. We scheduled the surgery for next Tuesday and after getting off the phone with our insurance company the prognosis is, "Keep dreaming about that minivan." Maybe we can dismantle Matthew's adenoid tissue and sell it for parts.

Now I'm going to spend the next week worrying about surgery because I once heard a surgeon speak about how a tonsillectomy is one of the easiest surgeries of ever. Except for one little thing. They're slicing about two millimeters away from some vital body part that, when cut, instantly kills. Maybe I'm exaggerating. I don't know. That's how I remember it.


I didn't think about trading my minivan dream for a tonsillectomy.

Because I never realized there would be a minivan dream.

And I certainly never thought there'd be a tonsillectomy. On account of the fact that I never really thought about much beyond those snuggly infant moments. Motherhood. A lifetime of uncharted territory.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

True Confession

My bucket list just got a little longer due to the addition of Participate In A Flash Mob.

Few things make me as suddenly euphoric as a group of individuals breaking into lip sync and dance in the middle of an otherwise normal day.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Why We Wear Helmets

"Come quick! Garrett got really hurt riding his bike in the cul-de-sac!" his friend stood on my porch telling me last Wednesday. I was wearing boots.

I know I was wearing boots because I tore out of my house and sprinted down the street in them. Them boots weren't made for walkin' let alone runnin'. I slowed my sprint to a quick lumber when I saw my son standing--alive--in the green grass of the corner lot. His bike was on the ground, an elderly man was standing next to him, and Garrett was holding his helmet in his hands with a bewildered look.

As I reached him, I saw the blood spluttering out of his elbow. He was violently and successfully fighting to hold his tears back.

"He was going too fast. He was going too fast," the old man, clearly rattled, continued to say. Still, I asked what happened.

"He was going too fast. He hit something in the middle of the road and flew up and over his handlebars. He landed on his head. He was going too fast."

"Thank you," I told the man as I surveyed Garrett's broken helmet. Thankfully, only the visor had broken off. His bike seat was twisted 45 degrees off of straight. The man walked across the street and climbed into his car. Apparently, he'd been driving down the road and witnessed the TOO FAST and the FLYING OVER HANDLEBARS.

I thought about how it could have ended so much worse. He could have ridden his bike straight into the old man's oncoming car. He could have neglected to put his helmet on. He could have cracked his head open or caused brain damage or, I suppose, in a worst case scenario kind of way, he could have died.

But he walked away with a busted visor, a bloody elbow and a very sore neck.

And I am ever so thankful that he's alright and that he got a front row seat at the Why We Wear Helmets Convention totally free of charge. Not that he ever argued about it before but he's not likely to now.

Thursday, March 14, 2013


When Garrett was younger, I had to sing him to sleep. Sometimes I would sing and sing and sing and just when I thought he was out, he'd pop his head up and say, "Another one." I can still remember cuddling into him in that tiny toddler bed and singing. Forever.

I got so tired of the same songs and I would search my brain for songs that I knew all the words to. Once, on a weird whim, I busted out the first verse of American Pie. Then the second. And so on and so forth until I'd finished the song.

For some strange reason, my then two-year-old fell in love with it and asked, often, for the song about whiskey and rye. So, you know, not my finest parenting moment.

Today, on the way home from visiting some friends, Garrett asked me to sing him the song about the king getting his crown stolen.

"What?" I asked him, confused.

"Can you sing the song where the king gets his crown stolen and a bunch of other weird stuff happens?"

And that, folks, is all it took. "Do you mean the one where the king was looking down and the jester stole his thorny crown and the courtroom was adjourned and no verdict was returned?" I asked.

"That's it!" he shouted from the back.

"A long, long time ago, I can still remember how that music used to make me smile. And I knew if I had my chance that I could make those people dance, and maybe they'd be happy for awhile. But February made me shiver with every paper I'd deliver. Bad news on the doorstep--"

"Why was there bad news on the doorstep?" he asked.

"It means that there was always bad news in the newspaper. Bad things were happening.--I couldn't take one more step. I can't remember if I cried when I read about his widowed bride. Something touched me deep inside the day the music died. So bye bye Miss American Pie drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry. Them good ol' boys were drinking whiskey and rye--"

"What's whiskey and rye?" he interrupted.

"An alcoholic beverage."

"Is it good?" he asked.

"I have no idea. I doubt it."

"Alright. Go on," he granted his permission.

"Singing this'll be the day that I die. This'll be the day that I die. Did you write the Book of Love and do you have faith in God above?"

"I do!" came Matthew's voice. "I have faith in God above and Jesus in my heart wight now!"

"I know you do! That's so great!" I exclaimed.

"Yep. It's gweat!"

It's funny that American Pie is a full decade older than me. Funnier still that I memorized the entire thing during the Great Oldies Obsession of my middle school and high school years. And, perhaps, funniest--in a bizarrely poignant sort of way--that it is now a song that I share with my children. A song that immediately reminds me of snuggling my toddler to sleep and, now, the love my second son has for Jesus.

And, again, yes. Perhaps I won't be winning mother of the year any time soon.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Trees & Apples

There's a thing about apples falling in close proximity to trees.

My oldest son is a TALKER. Nine times out of ten (or 99 times out of 100), he's the last one finished with his dinner because he has spent the entire time flapping his jaws. I'm sensitive to this because that was me. Last one done. Always losing a point in citizenship because I couldn't keep my trap shut. So I probably have more patience with my child as a result.

And I refuse to stifle this in him. Curtail it, yes. Make sure he's being respectful of authority and other people's time, yes. Teach him to listen more, yes. But restrict his speech, never. (For the record, my family endured my incessant chatter as well.) See, talkers turn into lawyers and broadcast journalists and pastors and CEOs (and, also, apparently, stay at home moms). I don't want to encourage my child to be shy. You might say that I am aware of what silencing my child might do to him.

But I have no patience when it comes to his ridiculous knack for losing things. Apple=Garrett. Tree=Troy. I married the absentminded pastor. I wouldn't trade that man for anything but stories about him are becoming legendary. (At least, in my mind they are.)

His son is no exception.

He misplaces shoes, shirts, toys, books, you name it. Then we spend precious minutes (hours, weeks) of our lives searching for these things.

Currently we're looking for a jacket. A jacket. How do you misplace an entire jacket? It's not like we're looking for one sock (although currently we ARE looking for about six of Garrett's socks as well). I worked yesterday so Troy picked him up from school and while Garrett insists that he had his jacket on, Troy doesn't remember. It's fine. He remembers minute details of the Bible as well as several professional football players' college stats so he can't really be expected to remember what his child was wearing when he exited the school 22 hours ago. But heaven help us all if Garrett ever goes missing and the police are relying solely on my husband's recollection of what he was wearing. "Clothes, officer."

"Are you certain that he was wearing clothes?"

"Not entirely," my husband might say.

(On a side note, my husband has been a total rock star with helping Garrett get his weekly homework done on Mondays while I'm working.Yesterday, I came home to all the homework done and the house picked up. That man would make a terrific stay at home dad. Unfortunately, we wouldn't be able to live on the 12,000 dollars that I'd bring home in a year if I worked as a full time substitute. So he's keeping his job.)

The jacket is missing. I've searched the house. It could be at school although this is doubtful because they hang their jackets over their backpacks. Then again, my husband picks up his wallet but leaves the thing that was sitting on top of his wallet when he walks out the door so maybe Garrett put his backpack on and left his coat hanging there. It could be somewhere in the neighborhood because it's warmed up into the 50's so you can bet that all the kids are outside playing in shorts and hoodies. They get hot because of FIFTY DEGREES AFTER THREE MONTHS OF SOLID TWENTIES and discard the jacket in someone else's yard. It could be anywhere.

And the whole point of this rambling post is that I have almost infinite patience with my son when it comes to excessive chatter but nearly no patience at all when it comes to losing things.

I'm going to need my inlaws to give me lessons and an explanation as to how my husband survived his childhood. I will then implement these tools in raising my own son. The end.

Monday, March 11, 2013

What Makes a Christian?

I'm gonna go relig on y'all right now.

Because, dudes, I almost bit the end of my tongue to a drippy, bloody pulp today in a sixth grade class.

As the students worked, I suddenly became aware of a side conversation taking place between six of them. One voice said, louder than the rest of the voices which was impressive considering that this class would not shut their collective traps regardless of any and all effort on my part, "We should be quiet, we're going to offend the Mormons." My attention perked because the kid who said it was wearing a BYU shirt. Not that wearing a BYU shirt makes one LDS anymore than wearing an apron makes me a chef but still, I sort of least expected to hear it from him.

Now, I am under strict (read it like this, STRICT!) orders not to so much as mutter a word about religion in any class. Ever. This is humorous to me based on the fact that, one of my very first days of subbing found me in an auditorium listening to a whole crew of fourth graders singing about Brigham Young and Mormon pioneers. And I totally get that the history of Utah is tied closely to the history of the Mormon church but it still strikes me as funny (not funny "HA-HA" so much as funny "chuckle snort") that all educators and subs are under orders not to bring up religion but it's okay to do Brigham Young: The Musical. (Totally not the name, but the spirit of it just the same.)

So I nibbled the tip of my tongue straight off as I listened to the following.

"It's not offensive," said one student.

"Yes it is," said another. "Because listen, if you're a Catholic or a Mormon, you're a Christian."

"That's not exactly how it works," one boy chimed in.

"Yes it is! Yes it is! Catholics and Mormons are Christians!" said another.

The boy repeated himself, "That's not exactly how it works."

This went back and forth several times, all the while my mouth just on the verge of tasting tinny. (Keep reading before you go thinking I'm judging the attitude of your heart.) After a few moments, they dropped the subject completely without my having to tell them to stop arguing over religion when they are supposed to be doing their spelling.

These were sixth graders.

I came home and asked my kindergartner about it.

"What makes someone a Christian?" I asked.

"If they believe in God," he supplied quickly, without thinking.

"Really?" I pressed him. "Believing in God makes you a Christian?"

"Oh no! Wait. You're a Christian if you invite Jesus into your heart!"

It's his simple Sunday school answer, yes. But my kindergartner knows what makes a Christian. He knows that no one is inherently a believer in Christ because he attaches the name of a church to himself. He knows that being a "baptist" does not make him a Christian. I'm sure there are plenty of people sitting in churches across the country--regardless of affiliation--who are there simply because it's what their parents did. There are plenty of people who like the friendships or the singing or even the free coffee but have no idea who Jesus really is.

Garrett knows that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) And he knows that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8). He knows that He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. (Titus 3:5) He knows that it is by grace we have been saved, through faith, and that not of ourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works so that no man can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9) And he knows that if we confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised him from the dead, we will be saved. (Romans 10:9)

He knows that we don't work for it and we don't earn it. He knows that we must accept Jesus Christ as our personal Savior. He knows so much more. Because he studies his Bible. (As much as a kindergartner can actually study anything.)

So I can't talk about "religion" at school. I can't share my faith with the students--even when their responses are misguided and ill informed. But I've got half a mind to march my kindergartner into that sixth grade class tomorrow and let him give them a Bible lesson.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Gotta Get Me A Burqa

I have long been vocal about my hatred and disdain for the burqa. You might say I'm an advocate for the abolishment of such an oppressor of human rights. In fact, in my younger years, I used to want to tear them off the head's of women screaming, "You're free! You're free!" Thankfully--for all involved, really--I refrained from such a public display of insanity.

So even I found it strange today when I said to my husband, "You know, there might be something to be said for the burqa."

He only paused for a moment before saying, "Why? You don't want to do your hair?"

"Or my make-up," I finished.

If it was entirely voluntary and not pressed upon me by an otherwise oppressive and stifling religious rule, a burqa or two in the closet might not be such a bad thing.

You know, for lazy days.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


The Little Buddy had his four-year-old check up today and would you believe it, he's shot up so tall in the past year that he's no longer, according to the doctor, "on the chunky side." He's in the 50th percentile for both height and weight. First, he was a teeny baby and the doctors told me to fatten him up because they were afraid on account of his low weight. Then he was, apparently, the toddler version of obese and I was told to lighten him up. Which, uh, I disregarded because of all the TWO YEARS OLD, PEOPLE!

(And, okay, so I wasn't actually told to lighten him up but I was actually told to watch what he ate and lay off the cookies and the chicken nuggets at McDonald's and stick to the apples and the celery. Silly doctors, everyone knows that Matthew prefers the burgers at McDonald's anyway.)

Also, the child got stabbed with needles not once, not twice, but three times. He wailed as if someone was shoving bamboo shoots up into his nail beds. I knew it would be difficult because the last time he got a shot it ended in a four inch, bloody laceration on his thigh. So when they asked me if I wanted to do vaccines today (RESOUNDING YES BECAUSE WE MAY AS WELL GET IT OVER WITH!) I explained that we would need an army of nurses to hold him down.

Three nurses came in.

One held his arms. One held his legs. One quickly jabbed the needles into his thighs. And I stroked his face and whispered sweet nothings into his ear.

He hated all of us when it was over. Well, he hated the three of them. He went back and forth with me. "Hode me, mama. Wait, put me down. I'm mad. Hode me."

But now he's good to go for kindergarten.

Which, you know, isn't for 18 months.

Monday, March 4, 2013

In Christ Alone

"Every effort to remake the Christian faith leads to wickedness. Every effort to adjust the gospel so that it appears more appealing, more palatable, is foolishness. But ironically, we think we can save Christianity by changing Christianity. We think the gospel needs our help." -Matt Chandler The Explicit Gospel

I'm not gonna lie. I see myself in this.

I'm not bold enough--I won't nod my head in agreement but I won't belt out, "You're wrong!" when someone says, "It's really about finding spirituality and connecting with the universe in whatever way works for you."

"No. It isn't," I want to say but don't.

Because I believe that the Bible is the infallible word of God. If you believe there is more to life than birth and death and the beauty and pain in between, if you believe that there is a God and He sent His Son to die so that we could be saved, then there is only one thing left to conclude.

Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)

He also said, "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." (Matthew 7:13-14)

If you don't believe that, then I wonder how you have any real peace at all.

Because there is no peace in death without the hope of life again. There is no peace in every religion being right and true any more than there is peace in two plus two equaling four or five or eleven. There is no peace in a religion invented or warped by a man unless that man is Christ Jesus himself.

And so I hope that I remember, always, that the gospel doesn't need my help. The Good News stands alone. I need only to share my experience.

In Christ I have found peace. In Christ alone.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Dear Matthew

Dear Matthew, 

Four. Years. Old.

Yesterday, in the fading sunshine of late afternoon, we sat on my bed together and watched home videos. You, a baby, giggling hysterically as I tickled your neck. You, a bigger baby, in your high chair, eating tomato soup and repeating single words in the cutest little voice. You, bigger still, strumming the guitar during one of our impromptu dance parties.

It's how we roll. 

There's a lot of singing and silly dancing that goes on in this house. Your musical wiring seems perfectly fine with the arrangement.

I sometimes can't believe that you're the same kid who emerged into the world, only a few shades off white and covered in a full head of soft, fluffy hair. You slept all day and screamed all night and when I looked into your eyes, they told a story that said, "I need to talk. I need to explain the way I see things. I need to make a few of the rules around here. There's some changes I need to make." But you couldn't speak, so you twisted your face into a smushy mess and wailed.

We've come a long way together in these four years.

You smile. Much more often than you cry. You laugh. You have found joy.

You are my little athlete. You kick the soccer ball and score goals. You stand on your head. You do the splits--almost the entire way. You learned how to swim this year. Last night, at Garrett's wrestling match, they called the preschoolers and you stood up and started making your way down to the mat. "Matthew, where are you going?" I asked you.

"To wrestle," you told me as though you'd been doing it your whole life and how did I not know that's exactly where you were headed. It was difficult for me to explain that you aren't wrestling right now. "But I want to," you said. You want to do everything. You are physical force and I have no doubt that if you channel all that energy and attitude into training, you will make a fine athlete one day.

You're smart. So smart. Your memory is astounding and your learning pace is fast--when you want to learn. On your terms. Yellow is still identified as "the color of a banana" because, apparently, that's easier to say than "yellow." But you consistently know almost all your letters and almost all the sounds they make which is more than I can say for about half of Garrett's kindergarten class.

I asked you a dozen times what you wanted to do for your birthday. "Nothing," was the typical response. Crowds overwhelm you. Loud places with hoards of people are generally not your style. In the end, I suggested a couple friends, a trip to McDonald's and then ice cream at Leatherby's. You were thrilled with the idea so that's what we're going to do. Tomorrow.

But yesterday we had presents and cake and ice cream together. 
We let you pick the place for dinner and you would not be deterred from your original declaration of, "TACO BELL!" 

"How about somewhere a little nicer?"


"Are you sure you don't want to go somewhere else?" We made suggestions.


"Del Taco?" we asked because we think we're funny.


So Taco Bell it was.

On Wednesday, I'd taken you with me to Walmart where I made the mistake of looking at cakes--just to see what they had. I was planning on baking you a cake for a grand total of two dollars. But you saw this...

And there was absolutely no changing your mind. "I want that one because it is blue! And I love that one! And can I have it pweaze?" Then you looked at me with those deep chocolate eyes and you flashed that million dollar smile and what was a mama supposed to do? I mean, really. There are times for putting a big, heavy foot down and there are times for picking up that beloved blue cake and placing it in the cart because you only turn four once.

My baby is gone. I told you as much this morning. "What happened to my baby? You're so big now!"

"Yeah. I know. But I can be a baby again someday if you want me to," you suggested.

"No, Bud, you can't. That's the way with babies. They grow up. They just keep getting bigger and bigger."

"Oh. So sad," you said in a tone that meant that you weren't sad at all. Then you ran off to play with your new toys.

So sad, indeed.

But you are larger than life, Matthew. You always have been and, I suppose, you always will be. I'm fairly certain there are big things in your future and I'm so glad that I get to be the one to guide you into the blinding brightness of that life.

I love you.