Saturday, April 27, 2013

Today and Tomorrow

Today I got to...

Hug the necks of women I love.

Share God's word with like-minded believers.

Pray over people.

Eat a red velvet cupcake. (I might have said, "Don't put me in a room with a red velvet cupcake and not expect me to eat it." Not that anyone was actually expecting that I wouldn't eat it.)

Wear my cute heels that make me taller than Troy.

Call said heels "Satan shoes" after the conference was over because, after 8 hours, they did not feel good.

Eat a breadstick that was actually a pizza stick masquerading as a breadstick.



Tomorrow I get to...

Take my boys down to Zion to hang out with my parents until Friday.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Little Men

This morning, my four-year-old referred to his breakfast as oatmeal and I almost cried. One of his last remaining baby words was the much loved "oh-pino" and now I am sad.

Thankfully, his older brother still says "vitafin" and "ah-post" instead of vitamin and supposed.

They're not little for long enough, is the thing. One second they're small and not sleeping through the night and the next minute they're eating their oatmeal for breakfast.

Last night, when I climbed into the bunk bed to read to the boys, my oldest said, "Ew! Do you smell that?" Then there was a dramatic pause before he announced, "I cut the cheese."

They start off so small and cuddly and then they turn into dirty, smelly little men who say things like, "Cut the cheese."

Even the youngest yesterday was found sitting calmly outside with a stick. "What are you doing?" I asked him.

"I'm squishing bugs until they have blood."

Thankfully, I grew up with a brother. Still, these things, these boys, are somewhat foreign to me.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Reason #1

You're in the dressing room at Kohl's. See, you're speaking at a conference on Saturday and you feel like you need a confident new outfit. However, you didn't find anything in the price range you were looking for because, generally speaking, they don't make confidence exuding shirts for under ten dollars. Still, you made your way over to the bathing suits, saw the exact replica of the bottoms that a psychotic wave in Hawaii ruined when it thrust sand into them last summer, and decided that you must try them on. They're on sale and you have a 20% off coupon, after all.

So you find yourself in the dressing room with your kids, ages four and six. And you just might be the mom of boys if you have the following conversation.

Matthew: (Loudly. And when I say loudly I mean that the men in Lowe's could hear him. And Lowe's is all the way down the street.) YOU WEAR UNDERWEAR INSIDE YOUR BATHING SUIT?

Me: Shhh. No. But when I try on a bathing suit, I have to keep my underwear on.

Matthew: WHY?

Me: Because. Lots of people try on bathing suits. (Switching to a very low whisper) And we do not want to share our...selves with everyone else.

There were other people in this dressing area. I was suddenly very aware of this fact. Snickers escaped from other rooms. My face felt warm.


Me: No. It isn't.

Garrett: I think it is. For sure.

Me: Garrett, be quiet. I would know if my underwear was on backward.

Garrett: MOM! Seriously! It's on backward. I know!

Me: It's not backward.

Garrett: Then why can't I see the superheros?

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Oh Happy Day

My son knows he's adopted.

I mean, as much as a four-year-old can understand what that really means.

The other night, as I snuggled with him before he fell asleep, he suddenly blurted out, "Why do I have two moms and two dads?"

"Well, because you're adopted. And that means that you were in someone else's tummy but you get to grow up in our family. You're very lucky because a lot of people only have one mom and one dad to love them but you have two! That's very special."

More than ever before, he knows that his life situation is unique. We are open about it. If he asks questions, we answer them. If he wants to hear a story, we tell it.

So I think, for the very first time, Matthew's Adoption Day will mean something to him. We've told him that today is the day we celebrate his legal adoption. He's picked a restaurant for lunch. I plan to make a very big deal about how very blessed we are to have him in our lives.

It's hard for me to believe that three years have passed. In some ways, it feels like it all happened last week. In other ways, it seems an eternity has drifted by since that day. The weight of those first thirteen and a half months has lifted and the fear and anxiety are only a vague memory with blurred emotions around the edges.

And we love.

And I am proud.

And I scold.

And we hug.

And I teach what I can. Lessons learned.

And we dance together, my son and I.

This journey could never have been imagined. It can be hard. It is not always what I expected. But it is our story and it is a blessed one. So today I celebrate the legal adoption of my son.

Oh happy, happy day.

Friday, April 19, 2013


It was screen free week at school.

Boy am I glad that's over.

I did realize, however, that even when it's freezing cold outside because winter simply refuses to loosen the death grip it has on this land, my son does just fine without the two dimensional people who live inside the box.

He doesn't use the computer yet.

We don't let him play video games.

The only thing we had to worry about was the television. I gave him his choice, "If you want to be TV free, go for it. If you don't, fine by me." Because I'm a stellar mom like that. Mother of the year, right here. But honestly, I feel like I spend enough of my life telling my kids no or not now or don't do that. I'm not going to force him to participate in an optional screen abstinence program. He doesn't watch that much TV as it is.

Of course you know he wanted to do it. Because of all the PRIZES and COMPETITION and EVERYONE ELSE IS. You want to know who was devastated when he didn't win a single prize. One guess. Yep. Still, he made it all week.

On Monday afternoon he said, "Can I watch a little TV?"

I answered, "Sure. Unless you want to do Screen Free Week."

"Oh. Yeah."

He never asked again. Not once. He put on a jacket and played outside. He played games. He read. He had soccer games and kid's club and homework and two play dates. One night he took a really long bath. With army men.

Um. I know if you have boys there need be no clarification on that last sentence but, for the record, moms of only girls, my son did not actually bathe with members of our military. He took handfuls of plastic army men into the tub with him. Good. Now that we've cleared that up no one needs to call any authorities.

So this kid of mine, the one who didn't bathe with military personnel, just went off track for the last time this year. He goes back in two weeks and will have roughly eight weeks of school left before he's a BIG, GROWN UP, 1st grader. (For some reason I just wrote 8th grader because, apparently, 8 years passed in an actual blink of the eye. So, whew. I feel better knowing that he's really only going to be in the first grade. Nothing like a typo to calm down a mama who wants to click the pause button on her son's youth.)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Fear of Mediocrity

My whole life, I've been afraid to fail.

I don't know why.

I am more than certain that my parents did not instill this in me. They pushed us to be the best we could be, yes. They had high expectations for us, yes. But I can't remember a single time when I tried, failed, and was made to feel unworthy by the two people charged with raising me up.

Still. Failure equals fear.

Somewhere along the line, fear of failure turned itself into fear of mediocrity.

What if I turn out normal? What if all that can ever be said of me is that I am average? What if I never achieve greatness? What if I struggle to make ends meet? Always, always this has been wrapped in the idea that I must reflect the work, the love and the care that my parents put into my life.

It took a lot to get me through those many years until my husband stood at the end of an aisle and I became his problem.

I thought, "My parents invested time, energy, and money into my competitive swimming." I must achieve swimming greatness.

"They put much into my education." I must get myself a good career.

"They are good parents." I must find a way to be equally as good.

The list was/is extensive, this feeling that I want to be the very best so that they have something to brag about. Honestly, I've lost sleep at night wondering what they tell other people when they ask. "She's doing well. a couple of kids. The end." And that's all fine and good except most of the time I feel like the kids are raising me.

I'm speaking at a conference in a week and a half and my session is called Pursuit of Perfection. I've studied. I've prayed. I've contemplated the topic. I've done a great deal of self reflection. Why am I the way I am? Why does it matter so much to me that other people see me--and my husband and children, by extension--as more than just average? I don't have an answer beyond wiring--beyond the fact that I was born a ball of bones and sinew and competition. Because, like I said, no one else put this on me.

Yesterday I was driving alone. Praying and thinking and doing a lot of self exploration, I ended up circling the issue again. And it came to me by divine suggestion.

There is only one thing I want for my children, really. There is a great multitude of things I wish for them but there is only one thing that I truly want for them. I want them to love the Lord with all their heart, soul and mind. That's it. That's all I really want.

I can't speak for my parents and the expectations they had/have for their children. But if their wants boil down to this one thing, perhaps I am not living such an average life after all.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Tongues Aren't Supposed to Look Like That!

Having kids, boys especially, is not for the faint of heart. Because, you see, sometimes they decide to nearly bite their tongues clean off.

Give a boy a tree and he'll find a way to get himself a pretty disgusting injury and knock four teeth loose.

I am thankful that we have people in our church who work in the medical profession. Because, you see, with the amount of bright red blood pouring out of my son's mouth last night, I would have rushed him to the nearest ER as soon as I'd taken a good look at his filleted tongue. Thankfully, my friend applied enough pressure to slow the bleeding. She got a good look at it (several millimeters deep and sliced in a different direction inside than it is on the top). She texted the doctor she works for. Her husband texted the doctor he works for. And we were sent home with instructions to feed him a soft, smooth diet until it has healed.

The mouth is a wondrous thing. The bloody, bruised slice you see in the picture already has a white film over it. It looks ten times better, just twelve hours later. The swelling, however, is still substantial.

"Calm down, Mama," a friend told me last night as fifteen or so people gathered around my son to watch his wound bleed profusely. "Deep breath. He'll be fine."

"Oh, I'm not freaking out," I told her. "It's just disgusting and it makes me want to throw up."

And I wasn't freaking out. Because I have two boys and I figure this isn't even close to the worst thing I'm going to see.

Saturday, April 13, 2013


Sometimes married women can't have babies. Or, at least, not as many as they'd have liked.

Sometimes they cry about it.

Sometimes life doesn't go the way we want it to.

And even when we know that we know that we know that God is in control and that His plans are the very best, sometimes we cry because we wouldn't have written the story in quite the same way and letting go of our draft--as terrible as it might have been--isn't always easy.

Sometimes we've come to terms with things.

Sometimes we've prayerfully acknowledged and accepted that it's time to stop trying. Sometimes we've gone so far as to make sure that we won't spend every month for the next twenty years wondering.

And we're content.

We're so glad that the story is God's because we wouldn't have what we have now if we'd had it our way.


Sometimes we can be at peace and our minds can be clear and our hearts can be pure but it sneaks up on us and when we try to speak we find that there is a lump of tears waiting to be exhaled. And we can't explain it.

It's not jealousy anymore. We know because we remember what that felt like. It's not sinful anymore. (Or, at least, when we're really honest, we don't think it is.) It's nothing like the bitterness that we once carried. And we feel real joy and it isn't forced and we are so, so happy. We have everything we ever really wanted. We have so very much more than we deserve.

But sometimes the lump of tears leaks out and we wonder if this is our reality. Forever.

We have no explanation because we are so, so glad that we sleep through the night now.

And we're sorry. Deeply. Because we wouldn't trade our journey for anything in the wide, wide world.

All we can think is that maybe we still feel like a failure for not having been able to do this one thing very well.

And we wonder why on earth we feel that way at all.

Friday, April 12, 2013

From the Vault

My husband wears a suit on Easter. Also, if he's doing a wedding or a funeral. That's about it. So here we were on Easter. Please ignore whatever my hair is doing. I'm fairly certain it didn't look like that when we walked out the door. However, walking out the door occurred at six something because I heaved my kids--one of them five days post op--out of bed and went to the Sunrise Service at 7:00 am. My boys clean up nice. My oldest is starting to look like he has surfer hair. It's starting to look like the length is intentional. I'm starting to feel like people aren't wondering why I've let months go by without taking my son in for a hair cut.

That picture hurts me though. Physically. Because this is what my boys are supposed to look like. What the heck happened?

Oh...they used to look like this...

And like this...

Mama is going to forbid any further growing up. They must remain six and four forever. They must fight over who gets to snuggle me. Forever. They must say cute things. Forever. Today, at Sports Chalet, Matthew found a punching bag, began hitting it, and said, "Look, Mom! I'm lunchboxin'!" (Except his l's were pronounced like y's.)

So I forbid them getting a day older. Although my mom probably said the same thing.

I needed that picture for a conference I have coming up and when my mom sent it to me...well...I couldn't help but make this comparison.

Then I had the following conversation with my son. Pointing to the softball picture I asked, "Garrett, do you think this girl's cute?"

"Who is that?" he asked.

"Just tell me if you think she's cute."

"No," he responded and then proceeded to tell me that every girl in his kindergarten class is cuter than her.

"Then too bad you look just like her," I told him.

"What?" he asked.

"It's me."

At that point he pulled up his pant leg and looked at his knee. "Our knees are the same!" And I don't know how different a knee can possibly look but he was right. The knee in that softball picture looks exactly like my son's six-year-old knee. Bruises and all.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

If We All Just Told the Truth

An Open Letter to the Mom Who Acts Like She Has It Altogether,
Not one mom, of course, but a combination of many

Stop it.

Because you're making us look bad. And feel bad. And feeling bad is worse than looking bad. Trust me. If you really, truly had it altogether, I'd have to be jealous of you. In fact, more than once, I've found myself jealous anyway even though I know it's an act.

It's just not possible to work, homeschool, cook entirely organic, exercise two hours a day, do your Bible study, teach your toddler division, work toward a Master's degree and win a Pulitzer prize all at the same time. But that's what we think we need to do now. Or other impossible combinations of feats not necessarily listed in the previous sentence.

Long gone are the days of sipping lemonade on the porch with beehive hair and pearls while the kids play hide and seek with the neighbors. I miss Mayberry. And Mayberry was way before my time. Gone are the days when a husband coming home to a clean house and a pie meant an all around successful day. Although, to be fair, I'd probably fail at baking a mouth watering pie.

I'm tired of feeling bad because I give my kid a hot dog.

I'm tired of feeling bad because I let them watch an hour of TV.

I'm tired of feeling bad because my toddlers didn't know how to read. Or do math. Or locate Latvia on a map. The other day my four-year-old told me that my hair was covering my left eye. I put him to the test asking him to identify his left hand, right foot, left ear, right eye and I was ecstatic when he performed accordingly. It's enough that he knows his right and his left. In fact, it's perfectly enough if he doesn't.

I'm not wonder woman. Actually, I'm pretty close to average. That used to be okay. Life used to be lived smelling roses and discovering worms and learning how to make a good meatloaf. Now we're told that if we're not everything to everyone at all times, we're not good enough.

If our kids aren't valedictorians and star athletes and musical whizzes and prom kings and homecoming queens we've failed them. If our kids aren't as good as their friends or their cousins or their neighbors they aren't enough.

But what I really want to want for my kids is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. And really, that's what I want to want for myself. If we never make much money, if we never win an award or write a book or excel at anything beyond mediocrity but we have lived a life demonstrating the fruit of the spirit, that has to be enough.

It is enough.

But if you could just stop pretending that, behind closed doors, you have it altogether all the time, it would really help me out. Because I'm really trying to teach my children what's important and what isn't. And watching you is clouding my judgement.

A Normal Mom of Normal Kids
Representing Normal Moms of Normal Kids Everywhere

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Singing With Stars and Whales

I spent last night and today at a conference for pastor's wives. In one of my breakout sessions, we talked about what organic worship looks like and how we incorporate it into our daily family life. At the end of the seminar, we watched this video with Louie Giglio. It's small part of a much longer video.

Near the end, when the audience begins to sing How Great Is Our God, the twelve (or so) women in the room with me began to sing along. It was one of the most authentic worship experiences of my life. It was not even two minutes long.

Still, as my voice joined with other women, with stars and whales, tears sprung into my eyes, my throat tightened, and I worshiped.

We are told in Luke 19:40 that if we do not praise Him, the very rocks will cry out. How amazing to know that my God hears His universe and it is more melodic than the most gifted of orchestras.

How great is our God?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Tonsil Journey--Day 7

If a doctor ever tells me that he wants to get up close and personal with my tonsils, while holding a scalpel, I'm going to run screaming for the door. I think I might rather have my tonsils swell up so large they take over  my entire body than have them removed.

My little lamb slept through the night a week ago, on the very night he'd had the surgery. He's slept through every night since. But today, after three days of what seemed like good, solid progress, was more challenging. And tonight he woke up screaming. It took me several minutes to get him to explain what was wrong. In the end, this was accomplished by him pointing at his throat and shrieking.

Spit was dripping out of his mouth. Thick saliva was pooling in his cheeks. He refused to swallow anything. When we finally convinced him to swallow the Lortab, he vomited it up ten seconds later. At a loss for what to do, we put an ice pack on his throat. He fell asleep in my arms for three or four minutes and then suddenly began to sob again.

After many long minutes, we were able to get him to eat a third of a popsicle in hopes that it would numb his tender throat. Then I got another half dose of Lortab into him. (I was afraid that not all the medicine came up and I didn't want to drug him.) He laid on his daddy for a half hour and now he's sleeping soundly next to me. I have no idea what the night holds.

I am desperately hoping that his scabs are sloughing off since I was warned that his pain would increase when this happened. Needless to say, I feel so sorry for my little man.

And, also, I live in terrible fear that one day a doctor will decide that he needs my tonsils. Because, just, no.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Tonsil Update

Matthew is on the mend.

Today he only had to take two doses of pain medication.

He didn't "hold his spit" at all. "Holding his spit" was a super charming situation in which he allowed his mouth to fill up with saliva. He would then let it drool out instead of swallowing.

He only complained about his "froat" hurting a few times.

I've heard that when the scabs fall off he will have increased pain so I'm bracing myself. But, for now, I feel like we're on the upswing.