Saturday, December 24, 2005

a christmas eve miracle

Family 5x7, originally uploaded by as we see it.

can't believe we got this with the self-timer... a miracle, indeed!

Merry Christmas and God bless!

like father, like son...

IMG_6783, originally uploaded by as we see it.

watching poppa's train...

Monday, December 19, 2005

thirteen years, and counting...

TomLoriecropped, originally uploaded by as we see it.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

tommy and the H.O.

TrainSmall, originally uploaded by as we see it.

what have I gotten myself into now?

Gonna be a part of a carnival. In case you are, like me, completely blog-illiterate, a carnival is apparently a group of people who write about similar stuff or in a similar style/genre, and they take turns "reviewing" one anothers blogs and post about it so you can check out other stuff. This one is called The Carnival of the Mundane, and it is a bunch of folks, like me, just writing about their everyday lives. Should vary in style and content and hopefully include some good writing. Hope you enjoy!

You can check the info out here.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

snippets from bedtime, part two

“I wish I was you, Momma.”

I pause, halfway out the door. It could be a ploy, but I am intrigued. Turning to face her, I reply, “Why is that, Bub?”

“I just wish I was you, Momma.” She grins a self-conscious grin—the kind of grin that wears her rather than she wearing it. I am now intrigued and perplexed.

“Why do you wish you were me?”

“I dunno. I just do.” Her head plummets under the quilt in mock embarrassment, only to reappear with the same infectious grin. I don’t know quite what to say. So, I wing it.

“Well,” I reply, turning toward the door, “I’m glad you’re not me. I’m glad you’re you.” It’s not brilliant, but it will suffice. That’s when she floors me.

“If I were you, I wouldn’t worry about bad stuff,” she blurts out. I pause, half way out into the hall, and turn back around. I am now intrigued, perplexed, and completely caught off guard.


“If I were you, I wouldn’t worry about bad stuff.” Standing, dumbfounded, in the doorway, I can’t help but smirk at her absurdity. But the sweet innocent has no idea she’s absurd at all, let alone just how absurd she really is—she’s never read my blog, after all. Obviously.

“You think Mommy doesn’t worry about bad stuff?” The same self-conscious grin shakes back and forth. Nope. Mommy doesn’t worry. My smirk threatens to erupt into outright laughter. The child really has no idea. How did I manage to pull that one off?

How did I manage to hide from her my sleepless nights as school approached each and every year? Did she really sleep through the nights I snuck into her room and curled up next to her in bed, convulsing with my fear and wetting her face with my inability to let her go? Does she not understand that I still make her hold my hand in the parking lot because visions unspeakable flash unbidden through my mind at 50 MPH? How does she not see?

Labels. Rejection from her peers. Rejection from her teachers. Rejection from other parents. Deep wounds, thick scars. Illness. Injury. Loss of life, literally. Loss of life, figuratively. Loss of a parent. Loss of our home. Loss. Rebellion. Darkness and anger. Bitterness and resentment. Loss of relationship. More loss. Bad seeds sown. Bad fruit reaped. Deception. Confusion. Walking away. My daughter on a therapist’s couch, talking about me and how I failed her. My daughter, on a morgue table. My daughter, lying in a parking lot. My daughter, in an abortion clinic. My daughter, in a big, bad world that I cannot possibly protect her from.

And those are just my fears for her.

So I’ll leave to her the thoughts of tornados, of thunder, of wind and rain. I’ll leave to her the worries of who sits by whom and what words were exchanged on the playground. I’ll leave to her the “bad stuff.”

And I’ll tell her, “No, my dear. You have it all wrong—it is I who wishes I was you.”

snippets from bedtime, part one

Korey’s Prayer

Thank you God for
Gamma and Gampa.

And thank you God for…

And thank you God for…

And thank you God for…

And thank you God for…

And thank you God for…
more buildings.

And thank you God for…
more buildings.

And thank you God for…
…(Mommy and Daddy?)
mommy and daddy.

And thank you God for…

And thank you God for Sissy…

Tank you God, Amen.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

do you believe?

“Momma, Madeleine says Santa isn’t real, only St. Nicholas is.” She sounds triumphant yet strangely conciliatory, as though we are sharing a tragic secret about poor, simple Madeleine. My eyebrows rise of their own volition—conditioned over time to do so whenever my daughter speaks with that tone.

“Oh yeah?” I ask from the driver’s seat, acting much more nonchalant than I feel as I try to keep one eye on her face in the mirror and one eye on the bumper in front of me—scanning for signs of danger from either view.

Her eyes twinkle as she leans forward. “Yeah. You wanna hear the real story?”

“Sure,” I reply, throwing Pandora’s box wide open at 70 MPH on the rush-hour-riddled freeway.

Well,” she begins, her hands punctuating every point, “St. Nicholas was real and he loved Jesus and he gave presents to people who were poor and put money in their stockings. Lots and lots of years later, Santa heard of St. Nicholas, and he began giving presents, too…”

I begin shaking my head from the front seat—our eyes meet in the mirror and my daughter’s voice trails off. “What?”

“Honey, we’ve read the story of St. Nicholas every year—you know that St. Nick is real and Santa is not.” Something not unlike dread begins to form in the pit of my stomach, spreading millimeter by millimeter like Pepto-Bismol.

“What!?” She looks at me with the look that I never wanted to see—the look that was part of the reason we taught her what we did from the beginning. But it is all there in the rear view mirror—her confusion, her fear, her disappointment. She thinks she has been betrayed. Worse yet, she thinks it was by me.

“Yeah, Honey—remember?” Stupid question, as she obviously does not or we would not be having this uncomfortable conversation. “We’ve talked about this every year. St. Nicholas is real. Jesus is real. But Santa’s just a fun thing we pretend, Honey.”

The “buts” begin from the back seat—her mind trying to make sense out of what was to her, just one minute ago, complete nonsense. How did this happen? I tried so hard to avoid this crisis of belief at so early an age—and yet believe, she did. In more than I bargained for.

“I feel like you tricked me,” she accuses from the back seat, her face confirming that this is not mere manipulation. My heart sinks.

I know how she feels. I’ve felt it before when the circumstances of my life did not seem to match up with the tales of a loving, benevolent father who claimed to have plans “not to harm me, but to give me a hope and a future.” I, too, have felt tricked by my Father—convinced that he looked down upon me and chuckled that he got me again. Convinced that my belief in him was for naught. Confused and confounded over what, if anything, to believe when all was said and done.

She pouts in the back seat, and I leave her to her thoughts as I exit the freeway. We reach the intersection and I pray for wisdom and a long red light. Turning my full body to look my daughter in the eye, I tell her that which has taken me 35 years to learn. “Sweet Pea, I’m really sorry you’re upset. But you need to make a choice, Baby. You can choose to believe that Momma meant to trick you and hurt your feelings, or you can choose to believe that you can trust me and that I never meant to hurt your feelings and never tried to trick you. Only you can make that choice, Honey Bunny. You get to choose how you feel about it.”

The light turns green, and I leave her to her quiet thoughts as we wind through our neighborhood, up our driveway, and into our garage. The ignition quiets, and I turn once again toward her. “Have you decided, Sweet Pea?”

She smiles, and I am disarmed yet again by the gaping hole where her front teeth should be. She is beautiful—looking at me with the innocent trust that only a child can muster. “I believe you, Momma. I know you didn’t try to trick me.” I smile in relief, adding Pandora’s to the pile of boxes in the corner.

“I believe you.” Oh, that it had been that easy for me to say.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

the joys of parenthood

Was going to write something brilliant tonight. Cleaned up vomit out of a crib instead. Going to go overdose on Echinacea and snort Lysol. Maybe I'll be brilliant tomorrow. Or maybe I'll be throwing up...

confection perfection

IMG_6704, originally uploaded by as we see it.

too bad you can't see the frosting smeared across her face and hands...

making friends (literally) in Toledo...

IMG_6565, originally uploaded by as we see it.

Taken in Toledo over Thanksgiving...

Sunday, December 04, 2005


Throughout my life it has been my good fortune to experience the story of Jesus with every turning of every year.  The number of the years of my unfolding age is also the number of times I’ve traveled with my Lord from his birth to his death to his triumphant rising again.

And because the story has been more than told to me; because it has surrounded me like a weather; because it comprehends me as a house does its inhabitants or a mother does her child, the life of Christ has shaped mine.  My very being has been molded in him.

And because my response to this story has been more than an act of mind, more than study and scrutiny; because the story invites my entering in and my personal participation; because I have experienced the life of Christ with deeper intensity than I have my own daily affairs, the Gospel story now interprets for me the world’s story.  It is through the Gospel narrative, as through a window or a template, that I see all things, that I relate to them and come to know them.

In every sense of the phrase: I find myself in Jesus.

As I enter his story, I enter him.  As his life embraces mine, he embraces me, and I am his.

Walter Wangerin, Jr.
Preparing for Jesus: Meditations on the Coming of Christ, Advent, Christmas, and the Kingdom

Friday, December 02, 2005

unto us a child is born (isaiah 9:2-7)

Sweat begins to form on her forehead,
her breath coming faster and faster,
her heart beating faster and faster,
her pain coming faster and faster.
Young and inexperienced,
weary and frightened,
alone and ill-prepared—
she shudders as
labor begins.

there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress

Hands strengthened from his trade now
ache from her grip as she
wrestles with her discomfort,
wrestles with her apprehension,
wrestles with her body.

…you have increased their joy, they rejoice before you…

Waves of pain overcome her—
waves of fear threatening to undo her as she
now knows that of which
every mother has a terrible tale.

…..of the increase of his peace there will be no end…

There is no rest now—
no catching her breath,
no pulling herself together
as the child descends through her lower regions,
leaving her womb,
his head pressing forth into the night air.

…on those living in the land of the shadow, a light has dawned…

Her irrepressible cries echo in the darkness,
anguish and agony shadowing her young,
delicate face—
followed by the wail of the newborn, piercing the dark night.

…shattering the yoke that burdens them…

Trembling and spent,
she gingerly reaches for the tiny child—
putting her parched lips to his blood-stained head—
and with fatigue and love in her voice
she tenderly whispers his name.

…Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace…

Relief comes to the young mother—
her exhaustion given over to sleep,
her distress given over to peace,
her pain given over to joy—
and she smiles a soft smile as
she cradles
her son
in her arms.

…For unto us a child is born…

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

there is no try...

I tried to write last night. The key word in that sentence is tried. But trying is not the same as writing. I am, therefore, switching verbs. Tonight, I am not trying to write. Tonight, I am writing.

I had a good idea, really. And parts of it were, in my opinion, stellar prose. A sentence here, half a paragraph there. But in my attempt to be brilliantly “writerly,” I neglected to just write, and it wasn’t fun anymore. And the idea was to have fun, was it not?

Or was it?

What am I doing here? Really? Is this simply my grown-up equivalent of attention-seeking? Compliment-fishing? Worth-achieving? Approval-attaining? I was so hoping to have outgrown that. But the presence of the site meter affirms more than just my need for affirmation…

There is, of course, more to it than that. Most days. Then there are days like the last two, when all that motivates me is the thought of what will generate the most comments and thereby give my fragile ego the biggest boost for my buck. Those days, in retrospect, are much more frustrating and much less enjoyable. And my writing, quite frankly, becomes overdone.

So, what AM I doing? What is it that I enjoy about this little “exercise?” At a base level, I suppose simply enjoy putting words together. Some people think in poetry—I think in prose, constantly turning phrases in my mind as I narrate the world around me. Life feels, at times, like watching a movie on DVD with the commentary turned on—internal dialogue over the external.

Then there are the words themselves, the mention of which prompts an embarrassing confession: I was one of those freaky, nerdy kids who enjoyed diagramming sentences. As in, did it at home for fun. Really. Word-smithing stirs something within me—there is a joy that comes from creatively saying exactly what I mean to say. The satisfaction it produces is, I must admit, a bit odd…

But there is more to it than these things, I am certain. My friend Dean commented once that writing is largely about seeing (or something vaguely along that vein)—perhaps I am a person who sees things, and I like to share what I see, in hopes that others may see something as well. On a good day, it is this that motivates me to write, to post, to pursue this dream. The little lamb is not the only one who asks, “Do you see what I see?”

I’ve heard it said, by people who are multi-lingual, that they must often shift between languages in order to articulate a thought precisely. My heart knows this. There are certain moods, certain thoughts, which my heart can only convey through my music. There are certain moments I can only capture through my lens. But then, oh, but then there is my writing…

…my native tongue.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


The equation:

Five days away from home and keyboard, plus four legal-sized pages of scribbled notes and ideas, plus two nights with not nearly as much time as I'd desired at the computer, minus any worthwhile inspiration whatsoever, equals squat to post.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


The dark navy jeans with the striped v-neck. No—the turtleneck. The striped one looks better with the black jeans. She looks around the room frantically. The black jeans. Where are the black jeans? Oh fudge—they’re dirty. She shoves them in a bag, climbs over the baby gate, and lugs them downstairs. Here goes another two flights up and down—as if aerobics this morning was not enough. Dang, my thighs are killing me.

Okay. Black jeans with the v-neck, denims with the turtleneck. Oh heck, just throw in all three pair of jeans—and the brown ones, too. Where’s the jacket that goes with that? That would look okay. The pile leans precariously on the edge of the bed, unnoticed by all but the 20 lb. cat who desires to deposit half of his hair along the side of it. “Max!! Argh!!!” She picks everything up off the floor, shaking off cat hair and arranging them in smaller piles not so close to the edge of the bed, but right in the range of the toddler who crawls over them, making his way toward the cat who is now wide-eyed in fear.

Which bra goes with that? Socks! I need socks! Oh shoot—if I pack that pair of pants, what am I going to wear to work tomorrow? “Momma… Moooooooommaaaaaaa…”

“What, sweetie?”



“Will you color with me?”

She turns and looks incredulously across the hallway at the grade schooler, just in time to bump into the toddler who in turn scares the cat who in turn shoots like a bat out of hell (or a cat out of toddler’s reach) down the steps. At least HE’S not in my way anymore…

“No, bub. Not right now. I’m trying to pack for our trip. Sorry baby. Later, I promise.” Yeah, right. Right after I pack for all three of us and make dinner and get ready for my meeting tonight.

“But Mooommmm…”

The whining noise fades somewhat as she returns to her room, leaving most of the guilt pangs in the hallway. Now the toddler is in the suitcase. At least it’s not the cat, this time. “Oh buddy…” Oh heck, never mind. Let him sit there. What am I going to wear to work tomorrow? Here—the black turtleneck with the tweed. Write myself a note to be sure to pack the black boots once I get home. She pastes a third sticky note to the dresser, then bustles into the bathroom, hanging the work outfit to steam in the shower.

She turns again into her two-foot shadow, now carrying his sister’s plastic guitar, which his sister has not desired for months until it was placed in her brother’s room and which is now the object of great rivalry and ugliness. Note to self—pack after bedtime next time. She sidesteps the flailing toddler, takes the guitar back again from his sister, and shuts the door to her room, not even remotely muffling the hysterics of both of them just outside. Okay—socks. I need socks. What colors will I need? Let’s see… red, black, black, white…

Her mind drifts back to the email. What the heck am I going to wear to that party? And to church? Doggone it. The last time I was there, he asked me if I’d lost a little weight. A little? I’d lost fifty pounds—the jerk. MAN I don’t want to go to that party. Wish I didn’t feel so flippin’ obligated. Five years and nothing’s changed. The size ten jeans and the new, tight, red velour top that my husband said was sexy. Now THERE we go. It has gotten quiet in the hallway. She silently debates whether she should be concerned or relieved, afraid to turn the knob and shatter the treasured silence. Toddler footsteps and their voices chattering back and forth—she chooses to be relieved for the time being.

Crap. Shoes. What am I going to pack for shoes? She eyes her closet, momentarily dumbfounded. Why do things have to be so complicated? They never wanted to get together while we lived there—why do they care now? What the heck am I supposed to do? Go and put on and pretend that nothing ever happened? Isn’t that why we moved, really? To not pretend anymore? Oh heck—both pair of boots and the black loafers. Can I fit in my tennis shoes? The familiar urge to tell him off arises within her. She gives in. Again. “I was never unkind to you. I was never, ever rude to you. I never, ever treated you the way you treated me. Not ever. I never deserved the way you treated me.”

She is distracted by the sound of the cat rubbing against the door, causing it to jiggle in its frame. “Alright, Max. Come on. Just don’t get in my suitcase.” She opens the door and he jumps up onto the bed and immediately takes up residence where he has just been instructed not to. She sighs and considers taking up her rant again, then realizes it’s time to start dinner. Room for the tennis shoes. Great. Pack the carry-on in the morning, and I’m all set. She removes the cat, stroking him for a moment under the chin, feeling his motor run against her chest. I wish I could just let go of it… She sighs, and closes the suitcase.

All her baggage is ready to go.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The H.O.

Twenty years since the boxes, carefully packed and tied with twine, have been opened. The musty, metallic smell that begins to fill the room as bags are opened and objects removed attests to the passing of decades. My husband inspects each piece with care, reminiscing as he goes. “This engine here would be worth between sixty to a hundred dollars if you were to buy it today,” he informs me. It is at this point I question, given this information, “Are you sure you want to do this now?”

But he has waited for this moment for years. “Do you think the kids are big enough this year? Do you think we could put the train around the tree?” This year, after six Christmases, the answer is finally yes. With the proper care and monitoring, our children will be inducted into a magical piece of their father’s childhood, as he was, once, into his own father’s, and so on. Nostalgia is something no family should be without. Ours has an abundance, passed down through the generations. Which is why the boxes, after much scheming with his father, are now in our living room and my husband is somewhere circa 1978.

He holds one up—“we have a little red caboose!” That will excite our son, who, of course, is who this is all about. Really. I’ll remind him of that shortly. But for now, I allow my husband to play with his toys in our living room. He pulls more items out and looks, perplexed, at a tangle of red-orange wire for a moment before returning it to the bag. “It really IS for him,” he insists, as he discovers what I’m writing. And I mostly believe him. Mostly.

Our son, obviously, inherited his fascination with trains honestly. He is a child obsessed, his little wheels turning constantly. We’re driving home one night after dark, and my daughter is asking if grocery stores are open all night. We begin to discuss how some places that sell food are, indeed, open all night. “Why isn’t the train store open all night?” my son asks, out of nowhere. We are hiking one day, just a week ago, and my daughter points out to me the sunset, because “I know you like sunsets, Momma.” “I DO like sunsets,” I reply. “I like train sets,” he pipes in from the kid-carrier. Obsessed, I tell you.

So, I do believe this is motivated, in part, to please and excite a particularly coy two-and-a-half year old sleeping upstairs with Thomas the Train. The two-and-a-half year old who checks every time we get off the freeway on the status of the train bridge we go under to return home and reports to me, excitedly, what he finds, as if I can’t see for myself. The two-and-a-half year old who plays for hours with wooden track on loan from a friend and who will sob, broken-heartedly, tomorrow when we return the set to its rightful owner. But I know better than to believe this is his sole motivation.

The lid comes off the engine, the track having been laid carefully on the living room carpet. The moment has come. “Most of the couplers are still in really good shape,” he informed me earlier, but they are about to be put to the test. The engine lights for a moment, then sputters, then lurches forward. He tweeks it, repositioning it on the track, and it is off and running, much to his surprise. “I thought I’d have to do more to it than that--that's amazing!” Cars are coupled together and, viola, we have a train. I must confess it is a little exciting.

I chuckle. And then I smirk. Seventeen years I’ve known this man, and I’ve never seen these boxes. I knew they existed, the mythological trains in his parent’s basement, but now they have come to life for me, as they will for our children come Christmas morning. But more magical to me, for now, is the nine-year-old boy with the twinkling green eyes laying track in my living room, working intently on his model trains.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Monday, November 14, 2005

aerobics: week seven

hour of torture
you did not beat me today
vict’ry will be mine

Sunday, November 13, 2005

setting the record straight

When I am no longer the most important woman in his life and the object of his bright sunny smiles and sticky wet kisses…

When I am no longer the one he calls in the middle of the night when the dark is a heavy presence overwhelming his young, tender heart…

When I am no longer the one he runs to with skinned knees or lady bugs or untied shoes or boo-boos needing the magic kiss of a mother…

When I am no longer his leading lady and another woman moves to center stage, joining him in the soft glow of the spotlight…

When I have shifted into my proper place on the distant home planet of his ever-expanding, ever-exciting universe…

When it all happens, as it all should, and the one who has captured the heart of the one who captured mine holds her breath as he bends down on one knee, takes her hand, and asks her the question every girl’s heart dreams of hearing, I simply want the record to show…

…he asked me, first.

Friday, November 11, 2005

but Mom, everybody's doing it...

I was inspired by Dan who was inspired by Louise The Poet who was undoubtedly inspired by someone else, so we wrote haiku during our freewriting time at part one of our writer’s group retreat tonight. Here were my attempts:

for my daughter:

curly-headed sprite
energy meets emotion
glorious fireworks

for my son:

behind big brown eyes
wheels turning unceasingly
ornery little imp

for my husband:

eyes of heathered green
crinkle around the edges
tell me nothing’s changed
I'll work on visual presentation later--just wanted to get them posted.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Room with a view

PA295480, originally uploaded by as we see it.

From the Mohican Fire Tower, 10.05


PA305517, originally uploaded by as we see it.

Mohican, 10.05


PA305512, originally uploaded by as we see it.

Mohican, Halloween Weekend


PA295450, originally uploaded by as we see it.

Hiking at Mohican, Halloween Weekend

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


I am not the fattest girl in the class.

This comes as somewhat of a surprise to me. By some miracle of natural selection, I find that I am not the weakest, nor the slowest, nor the most out of shape. Should we suddenly be faced with an eat-or-be-eaten situation, I would survive. This comes as a sort of morbid relief, as does the fact that I do not have the biggest legs, the biggest butt, or the biggest waistline. It’s amazing what I will cling to when I’m desperate…

Twenty-some women pour into the mirrored room each week. Twenty-some women grab step boxes and floor mats, dumbbells and body bars, water bottles and stretch bands, arranging themselves where they can either see, be seen, or hide completely, depending on their own love/hate relationship with the mirror. Twenty-some women pant and sweat and groan for an hour—perky, skinny ones with pony-tails and coordinated workout clothes that show off their perfectly tanned and toned abs and overweight ones with well-worn, oversize 1980’s concert t-shirts that whimper “for the love of God, please don’t look at me…”

Skinny ones, fat ones, tall ones, short ones, pretty ones, not-so-pretty ones, even a few unsightly ones. As my two-year-old says, “De good, de bad, an’ de ug-wee.” I find myself somewhere in the middle. And for once in my life, I’m happy with that.

I have no delusions of being buff. Or ripped. Or any other bizarre colloquialism referring to an unobtainable level of physical “perfection.” I will never be skinny—genetics, hormones, metabolic make-ups, bone structures, and the after-effects of carrying two nearly-nine-pound babies have sealed my fate. Add to that the fact I hate to workout with a passion almost as great as my passion for food, and there you have it. Thin will never be in my future. But average… well, average might be another story…

That word would have once made my inner perfectionist shudder, but I am slowly becoming more comfortable with it. Or, perhaps, it is merely becoming slightly less offensive to me, though I’m not entirely certain what was so offensive about it in the first place. For whatever reason, in our “Be All That You Can Be” culture, I am beginning to look realistically at where I am and making the decision that where I am IS all I can be at the moment.

5’2”, 135 lbs, size 10. Average height, average weight, average size. No delusions, no excuses, no comparisons. I will be the best average I can be.

I am not the fattest girl in the class. I can live with that.

fast friends

My daughter and Laura are getting on fabulously, as evidenced by the fact that she read THREE CHAPTERS on her own Sunday afternoon while the rest of the family napped. She not only READ them, she UNDERSTOOD them and could tell me what took place in each chapter. (May I just remind you that four months ago she was not officially reading yet?) I'm ecstatic about her love for reading (and her love for Laura), but half the fun was going to be getting to re-read them myself! In the words of my son, "Oh MAN!"

I guess I'd better catch up if I want to enjoy them as well!

Saturday, November 05, 2005


It was not coincidental. Of that, I am certain.

“Did you remember to reset the white-balance on that? I think I changed it when we carved the pumpkins. These all look a little blue, Babe.” He pointed this out after I’d taken nearly 90 pictures—my attempts to hoard a day’s worth of gold to spend throughout the gray days of winter all done in vain. The shocking brilliance of the sun glinting against the yellow maples reproduced on my tiny digital screen in lime green—a little blue, indeed.

Looking back, blue shadows were beginning to be cast even before the pumpkins were carved and the camera futzed with. A hint of melancholy that I passed off as premenstrual hormones lingered longer than pre and held on into post. Technical issues aside, it was no coincidence I had captured that entire day in shades of blue. The representation was uncanny in its accidental accuracy.

Life is like this, sometimes. Details remain unchanged—the leaves, the trees, the river, the children—but a blue hue discolors everything, turning the golden brightness of life to chartreuse while the operator is unaware. Melancholy does this to me—messes with my white-balance, casting colorful shadows that distort yet don’t.

Photoshop may save my stash of gold. The beauty of digital is that sometimes color can be easily corrected. The problem with life is that sometimes it can’t. I turn to that which re-calibrates me, and I hold out for splotches of yellow, storing them up for the season when blue will turn to gray.

All will be color-corrected in time.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

getting reacquained

She’s exactly how I remember her. Details come back to me as if it were yesterday and not decades since we last spent time together—the way she talked, the way she thought, the way she lived. I reminisce—sharing with my daughter, who I invite in to this circle—about growing up together, about happier, simpler times, about family and friends and faith. There is a sense of comfort, as if a homecoming has taken place. All is familiar. All is well.

I introduced my daughter on Monday to an old friend. She and Laura Ingalls are already getting well acquainted, and it appears my well-worn paperback set may take an even further beating in the years to come. That is okay with me. Good friends are for sharing.

I have eagerly awaited this reunion—many, many more are to come…

love letters, revisited

For being the kind of man who cooks dinner, clears off the counters, runs the dishwasher, occasionally empties it and on a rare occasion returns dishes to their correct locations…

For being the kind of man who loves music and leaves and camping and symphonies and beauty and children and family and art…

For being the kind of man who cleans the house while I’m at work on a Saturday, in between gymnastics lessons and making lunch and running errands and naptime and “Daddy, will you play Barbie’s with me…”

For being the kind of man who cries when he buries the cat…

For being the kind of man who gets up at dark-thirty to go running so he can be healthy but not have it interfere with family time…

For being the kind of man who creates things like “Tickle Fest” and “Milkshake Night” and “Daddy Dates…”

For being the kind of man who has (finally) learned to say, “I’m sorry. I was wrong…”

For being the kind of man who works hard, works smart, works ethically, works as if unto the Lord…

For being the kind of man who would pursue me, marry me, put up with me, and pursue me all over again…

I love you.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

adjusting (or not...)

He left me alone tonight with an empty rocking chair.  

The sadness still hangs in the air just as we left it on Friday—camping with my parents for the weekend served only as a colorful diversion, not an escape.  Not that I expected it would be—I just didn’t expect my husband to go back to work this evening once the kids were in bed and leave me alone on my first cold-lapped night.  That’s all.  

I promise I won’t go on and on about my cat.  It’s just that empty rocking chairs shouldn’t be faced for the first time alone.  

Friday, October 28, 2005 such sweet sorrow

P2020773, originally uploaded by as we see it.

In loving memory.

Ruthie, 1993-2005

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


Her green eyes search out mine—pain, confusion, what is she feeling? Those same soft eyes that stole my heart over twelve years ago, imploring me to take her home, to take her into my life, to take her into my heart. I couldn’t resist those eyes.

She took up residency immediately, she and her brother, together. My first babies. They’ve been a part of our family since one year after its inception—I cannot imagine our family without her. Without her presence at the top left corner of the sofa—the self-appointed Official Welcoming Committee greeting all who come to see her, and, she assures me, they ALL come to see HER. I cannot imagine life in our home without her warmth in my lap on a cold winter’s day, without her chirp-like call that announces her need to be adored and admired, without her persistent pawing every morning as I eat my cereal, eagerly awaiting the opportunity to lap up the remnants of milk she is not really supposed to have.

I was severely depressed when we adopted Max and Ruthie. I didn’t shift gears into marriage and adulthood easily—the jerking and grinding took its toll on me and on our relationship. I convinced my husband to move to a new apartment just so we could get cats, because I somehow knew that if I could only just hold something, just love something, just pet something that I would feel better. There was some truth to that. Ruthie introduced life to our home. Now, she will introduce death.

I hold her longer, trying to be especially still so as to not cause her pain. Trying to make up, I suppose, for the last six and a half years of neglecting her—trying to soothe my conscience for displacing her in a multitude of minute ways. She slept on the bed last night—the first time she’s been allowed in at least a year. More accurately, she slept on ME last night—her faint vibrating felt through the layers of flannel and cotton heaped upon my cold-intolerant body. I cradled her, trying not to be shocked anew by her skeletal state.

“Say goodbye to your dog, Lorie. He probably won’t be here when you get home.” I remember that moment, in 10th grade, as if it were yesterday. I remember crying all day, and my mom being so upset afterward she had to drown her sorrow at the mall to the tune of an amount that made my father's voice raise. And I remember her saying, often, that we would never have another pet because she could never go through that again.

Now I am the mom—and I don’t know any better than she did how to deal with the situation. A trip to the mall is certainly not in our budget. I am half-embarrassed by my response—things like calling a friend to see if she can watch my son while I take Ruthie in for the appointment and not being able to speak through the waves of emotion crashing against my voicebox. Things like choking up on the phone with the vet’s office. Things like writing about my cat dying, with tears streaming down my face to the point where I have to stop every sentence or so to clear my vision.

She is my baby. And she is dying.

And I am very, very sad…

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

I love my job...

IMG_5640, originally uploaded by as we see it.

Being Momma is the BEST.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

an irrational season

“I wan’ a penny, Momma. I wan’ a penny…” Running late already because of his fit leaving the house, I am not charmed by his whiney, demanding voice this morning. Somewhat impatiently, I glance down at the empty space between the front seats where the stray pennies often gravitate. Rustling the residential protein bar wrappers around, I calmly reply, “I don’t have any pennies, buddy. Sorry.”

“NOOOO!!! You DO have pennies, Momma! You DO have pennies!!!” Little legs begin to thrash up and down through the opening in his car seat. The banging this creates jars my already full-blown headache. “You DO have pennies, Momma!” I reiterate our pennilessness, to no avail. His volume increases as his pitch rises, now in full-throttle fit mode. Somehow he manages the formation of tears, though I am unmoved by them in my incredulity. “Buddy! We don’t HAVE any pennies! They are ALL GONE. I’m sorry, buddy. But you need to CALM DOWN.”

I do my best to heed my own urging. Taking a deep breath, I turn up the radio to drown out the continued insistence from the back seat that there are indeed pennies to be had. My husband claims this only makes matters worse—simply layering noise on top of more noise. Considering that the nearly-continual screaming of our children for the last, let’s say, oh, six-and-a-half years has never really bothered his disgusting, unshakeable soul, I disregard his reminder playing in my head and give the dial another twist. “You DO have pennies, Momma! You DO!” That whine will cut through anything.

I wrack my brain trying to determine when this began—this completely irrational you-say-it’s-black-I-say-it’s-white phenomenon. A week ago, maybe two? Last night it was the assertion that he’d brought both rubber snakes in the car when he’d indeed only brought one. The day before was the declaration that Daddy was coming home for lunch. Screaming. Crying. Kicking. Flailing. I rub my temples, cursing the change in weather, and fight the often-present urge to panic. I do not have to have all the answers.

A literal full five minutes later, the pennies are finally forgotten. I turn the radio back to its normal level of too-loudness and point out the blaze of color along the freeway, thanking my son for calming down as nonchalantly as I can pull off. Internally, I breathe a momentary sigh of relief before the edge of fear returns. When will the next blow-out occur? Getting out of the car? Getting back in? Over lunch? Before nap? After? All of the above? Some days, I can handle it. Indeed, some days, I can handle anything. Then, there are days like today…

Maybe it’s the headache. Maybe it’s PMS. Maybe it’s my own irrationality that insists parenting should be formulaic and predictable. Or my own desire to lie down on the floor, kicking and screaming, and let the whole world know that I am not pleased with the current turn of events. Or my own insistence that if I believe it, it IS true, regardless of any and all argument to the contrary.

Curse this change of weather. The ushering in of a new season always makes my head hurt…

Saturday, October 22, 2005

out of balance

She's making me dizzy. Were I to anthropomorphize a bumblebee, I would attribute to it the characteristics of my daughter. Some children flit. My daugher does not flit. She dive-bombs life. She whirls from one thing to another. She is frenzied. She is motion incarnate. She makes me tired and energized all at the same time.

That is what I look like, I think, to many people around me. Frantic, unceasing movement from one thing to the next, not stopping until my body proclaims enough is enough and I have no choice but to collapse into my newly-warm bed and eat grossly insane amounts of chocolate chips cookies with huge glasses of milk and read really bad, really cheesy Christian novels for at least a week at a time. (I highly recommend heated mattress covers. I may never get out of bed again. Cookies or no cookies.) The thing is, I don't feel that this is true about me. I generally feel, for lack of a better, more writerly phrase, balanced in my life. Balanced. It just says it best--the scales teeter back and forth from time to time, but they most often return to center. Center. Another "best" word. There is a peace that passes understanding just as real as the mysterious force of nature, the name of which remains back in my junior high memory unwilling to be recalled, which causes things of equal mass to balance on a scale. Generally, there is peace in my life. Generally, there is balance.

Then there was this week. A few too many commitments and too few opportunites to empty my brain out "onto paper," and the scale is swinging. I feel it acutely. And it all centers around this. The need to write. The need to process. The need to create. The need to BE. When I don't get it, nothing is right in the world. I am, of course, being overly dramatic, but that is also part of what happens when life is out of balance. Things that are not life and death suddenly feel like oxygen and water. And so, gasping for air, I pull out the oxygen tent that is my keyboard, and I breathe deeply.

Equillibrium. It can be recalled, after all.

Monday, October 17, 2005

writing prompt 10.17.05

Write about something that reveals something about your personality, without writing about yourself.

Bright red against the blue sky—color contrasting color like fire against water, like passion against peace. Tethered to the cold, hard concrete, it is difficult to tell whether it bobs and bounces on the wind with great security over being grounded or with great frustration over not being free. The tension in the cord is obvious—the purpose it serves is not. Were the color at the end of it set free, would it be with great fear or great relief? Or would it be, as are most things in life, some complex and confusing combination of both?

Red against blue—two passions at odds with one another.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

a better writer in the house...

Too short, too heavy, too wrinkly, and almost too old.

This is the woman that my wife would have you believe I am married to.

I, on the other hand, know better. The woman I am married to has grown older. Well, it's bound to happen after 17 years. But in those 17 years I've known my wife, she's become more.

More loving, more patient, more confident, and, yes, dare I say, more attractive. Not in spite of time, but because of it. Come to think of it, many of these "more's" (if that's a word), have happened in spite of ME.

As I sit here writing this, I'm reminded of where we've been and what we've experienced. I'm also aware of what our love is capable of producing. For instance, the curly-haired six-year-old sitting next to me who keeps asking, "What are you writing? Can I read it? Why are you writing?"

My wife thinks I only say this because it's my "job." To some extent, she IS right, it is my job. It is my job to love her, to hold her, to encourage her, and cheer her on. It IS my job to love, honor, and cherish. It is exactly why I wanted the job when I said, "I do."

I wanted to be the one to tell her, "You are so beautiful, so kind, so caring."

My husband, October 2005, as written in our really cute little blank books that sit on our bedside table...

Thursday, October 13, 2005

shades of my son

korey small, originally uploaded by as we see it.

If this doesn't make you laugh out loud, I don't know what will!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

don't know squat

I’m convinced women should pee standing up.

That is, I am convinced women should never sit down on a toilet.

I’m not a germ Nazi. This is bigger than germs. I’ve actually even been known, in moments of desperation when my burning thighs scream for relief, to actually sit on a public toilet. Thanks to my aerobics class, I can now extend that time an extra ten seconds, but not without hearing my instructor in my head yelling Feel that burn? Good! It’s supposed to burn! Nope—not about the germs. Hygiene completely aside, sitting on a toilet is just something a woman should never do. It is entirely too dangerous, only for the bravest and strongest of souls. I, for one, am too fainthearted for the challenge.

Brace yourself—you may be, too.

When a woman sits on a toilet, as women have need to do, a shocking, heart-stopping phenomenon takes place within which every ounce of fat in a woman’s body becomes glaringly visible—hanging over the front, hanging over the sides, hanging over itself. It is an unavoidable oddity. A five-foot, 85-pound anorexic model could sit on the toilet and have her stomach wrinkle over and her thighs overlap the seat, sending her back to the gym for another three hours. There is NO hope, then, for women like me.

Seventy pounds lost and I sit down on the throne and I swear it’s all still right there. Stand up, it’s gone. Sit down, it’s there. Stand up, it’s gone. Sit down, it’s there. How is that possible? You can explain the physics of it to me, but as I never took to physics in the first place, it wouldn’t make much difference. All I know is that I sit down on the toilet and I’m FAT. I stand up, and I’m not-so-fat. I’m feeling a little schizophrenic in the body image department. The solution seems to be clear: don’t sit on the toilet. Or pee with your clothes on.

But as peeing with one’s clothes on presents its own obvious issues, or at least I hope they would be obvious, it would seem that short, mildly chubby, post-childbearing women like me are doomed to feel the burn. Or endure the overlap.

I highly recommend my aerobics class. Extended my squat by ten seconds after just three weeks…

Monday, October 10, 2005


The world asks, "What does a man own?"
Christ asks, "How does he use it?"
Andrew Murray (1828-1917), South African evangelist and writer

Sunday, October 09, 2005

you can go back

Seventeen years since I first set foot on my university campus—as recent as yesterday in my memory. Two years since I’d been there last, yet as familiar still to me as if I’d been last week. But for all its familiarity, it is not my home any longer. That is the irony of Homecoming. For the space and time of this weekend, I belonged. Come Monday morning, I would have not.

The tension grows, each visit, between that which is the same and that which is much different. It is as if I am watching a different cast rehearse and perform on the set we’d used for the same production, fifteen years prior. The lines are familiar, the props, the backdrops—but the faces of the cast are not. I remember my cues and might even fit into my costume, but my part is now being played by a fresh-faced freshman with the world on a string and I am very aware that although this is all still very much a part of ME, I am no longer very much a part of IT.

So we come now and linger around the fringes. We make the loop around campus—pushing our stroller through the valley, trying very hard to look as if that’s normal—and make our traditional stops: our choir director’s office, the office of a favorite professor, the Chorale rehearsal, the “new” fountain. We comment on the changes—a new dorm exists where an empty lot used to stand, the President has gotten more gray, the cost to replace a student ID has gone up exponentially. We scan the crowd for familiar faces on a campus where we once recognized the entire student body, and we come up nearly empty.

Cheap Thrills is no longer our venue, now it is the Alumni Choir—a charming collection of the graying and middle-aged, all thrilled, as I am, to be making music again. I take pride in still having our signature piece memorized—it will never leave me, nor will the image of our director, whom I adored, directing it. The chord at the end still moves me to tears—though I’ll never distinguish for sure if it is the music itself or the experience it was couched in that produces them. My husband is two rows behind me and my roommate in the section next to me, and if I squint really hard I can pretend it is the same. But it is not. I am not a member any longer—no fear of blending in with the students. Not when they are calling me “Ma’am.”

In my nostalgia, I consider that someone else lives in my dorm room—at least the seventeenth inhabitant since my posters covered the cement block walls. I consider going to meet her—to introduce myself and ask to show it to my daughter. But I do not. It is her room—this is her time, her university. I will leave it to her. She thinks, as I did, that this place only exists in this space and time while she is there—and she is, in many ways, correct. But it exists beyond her existence—however different, however changed, however distant. It remains. You can go back home.

You just can’t stay for long.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

going home

We return this weekend to the place we met 17 years ago last month. To the place we became friends, fell in love, got engaged, and planned our life together. To the cafeteria where he waited many a morning for me not to show for breakfast. To the dark room where we had our first kiss. To the paths we walked, arm-in-arm or hand-in-hand, for four years. To the favorite picnic spots, leaf-fight spots, walking spots, frisbee spots, snuggling spots, talking spots, and making out spots. To the bench at Decker Hall where he bent down on one knee in an Indiana blizzard and asked me to be his wife.

Dorm rooms, dark rooms, choir rooms, practice rooms, class rooms, dressing rooms. We will visit them again. We will show them to our children, who will be too young to remember but a faint vision of luminaries lining the sidewalks. We will hear the choir sing, reminisce with old professors and directors, catch up with good friends. We will remember what it felt like to be young and in love.

We are going home.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

reasoning skills

(subtitled: Why I Hate Shopping at Target)

“I wan’ dat one,” he proclaims, pointing at one of the two options presented. “You want Percy?” I reply, extending my arm to offer him the one to which he pointed. Seemed like a logical course of action. Except that I’m not two-and-a-half.

“No! Don’ wan’ dat one! Don’ wan’ dat one! I wan’ dat one!” He points to an item on the rack. Reiterating his options, I place Percy and Toby in front of him again. “You can’t have that one, it’s too expensive. You can have Toby or Percy. Which one do you want?” Again the shelf. And again. I round the corner, hoping in my cute little naive way that removing the distractions will make the process easier.

“I wan’ Percy,” he states. Greatly relieved, I hand him the package. “NO! NO! NO! Don’ wan’ Percy!! Don’ wan’ Percy!!” His whiney voice is to my head as his kicking legs are to my stomach, flailing back and forth out of the shopping cart hitting the soft, tender flesh around my incision. So as to not completely lose it in a public forum, I push him another six inches out of range and hold the packages up again, tension growing and hope waning. I force a saccharine smile. “Which one, buddy?”

“I wan’ daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat one,” he whines, pointing back at the aisle, four feet away. An idea strikes me and I retreat, though not giving in, and find a third option within the same price range. Rookie mistake. Except I’m no longer a rookie. “No! Don’ wan’ dat one! Don’ wan’ dat one! I wan’ daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat one!” Toby, this time. And yet when offered to him, the response is the same, save the addition of tears.

There is no way out of this. If I put them all down and leave, we have a scene and I have wasted over an hour of torturous decision-making and bargain-finding. If I force a decision, or make one for him, we have a scene. If I stand here and faint from hunger while waiting for him to decide, we have a scene. No one wins. What seemed like a sweet way to bless my son has now turned ugly and I’m about to bless him right upside the head.

There are three important blunders we should never fall prey to: 1. Never get involved in a land war in Asia, 2. Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line, and 3. Never, and I mean NEVER, take a hungry child to Target.

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. Romans 7:15

Monday, October 03, 2005

end of the tunnel

It was a true story, but it had a once-upon-a-time-in-a-land-far-far-away quality that distanced me from it in the telling. Not that its content was fairy tale material. No Prince Charming, no Fairy Godmother, no Happily-Ever-After. In truth, it was a sad story, as stories go, but, to my amazement, I simply was not sad to tell it.

My life’s work is stories, but not the writing of them. I enter stories, sit down in the middle of one with the main character and, like a 1980’s choose-your-own-ending paper-back, help her contemplate how her story will proceed from here. Fiction or fantasy, prose or poetry, description or dialogue—I hear a lot of stories. I participate in a lot of stories. I tell a lot of stories.

I told them the story of a girl, that day—a girl not at all unlike them. I could see it in their reddening, tear-rimmed eyes, in their nodding heads, their forward leaning torsos. I was telling their story, as well. They had experienced her dark nights, her never-dawning mornings, her days of February gray that lasted year long. They had heard the same well-meaning-poorly-thought-out advice, the holier-than-thou condemnations, the get-a-grip-and-stop-feeling-sorry-for-yourself-and-suck-it-up-and-pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps sermons. They had felt the condemnation, the shame, the futility. They had battled the discouragement, the desperation, the despair. They had been there. They were there now.

They had come, that afternoon, to deal with their own depression. They were expectant, though of what, they were not certain. They teetered precariously between hope and hopelessness—hoping to hope. Daring to entertain the thought that there was more to life than this, that there was a way to get there, that there was something to hope for. And so I told them my story.

The details of my own depression are unremarkable save but one—I am not depressed any longer. The light my father swore to me was shining at the end of the long, dark, never-ending tunnel, once completely out of view and out of reach, now shines like the October sun in the blue fall sky. Like an old high school friend or a sibling who lives out of state or a distant aunt on my father’s mother’s side, the girl in my story is familiar to me, yet I do not know her any longer. It is my story, but it is no longer my life—merely my pre-story, giving the reader the background so as to understand the current plot more fully.

I told them the story of a girl who was once severely depressed, for a very, very long time. That girl is me, but I am no longer that girl. It was a fairy tale of sorts after all—happy endings happen, even in the absence of Fairy Godmothers. There is a Light that shines in the darkness, and it doesn’t glow at the end of a magic wand.

Hope for the hopeless. This is my story, this is my song…

Sunday, October 02, 2005

believing with childlike wonder

The artist who is a Christian, like any other Christian, is required to be in this world, but not of it. We are to be in this world as healers, as listeners, and as servants.

In art, we are once again able to do all the things we have forgotten; we are able to walk on water; we speak to the angels who call us; we move, unfettered, among the stars.

We write, we make music, we draw pictures, because we are listening for meaning, feeling for healing. And during the writing of the story, or the painting, or the composing or singing or playing, we are returned to that open creativity which was ours when we were children. We cannot be mature artists if we have lost the ability to believe which we had as children. An artist at work is in a condition of complete and total faith.

Madeleine L'Engle, from Madeleine L'Engle {Herself}: Reflections on a Writing Life

something to add to my resume

Got recruited to be a judge at the jazz slam tonight- was a blast! Some INCREDIBLE talent- made the judging difficult! If you ever get to go to one, I highly recommend it!

Thursday, September 29, 2005

that would be me

The form looked simple enough. Name, grade, homeroom number-- no problem. Type of medication--check. Dosage--check. Time of day to be administered--check. Today's date--got it. Parent's signature.

I freeze. I stare at it blankly. The panicked thought comes out of nowhere-- My mom is camping. She can't sign it. What am I going to do?

Then I chuckle, grinning sheepishly in my empty kitchen. Parent's signature. Duh.

I AM the parent.

Heaven help us all.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

confessions of a slacker mom

Okay, so I stole the title. But it’s such a good one. And it is so how I feel tonight.

I have never known guilt like I’ve known in the last seven years. It is impossible to convey in mere words the sheer gut-wrenching, panic-producing, stomach-acid-creating, I’m-a-complete-failure-let-me-lay-prostrate-on-the-floor-and-and-slit-my-wrists feeling that comes over a woman the moment she first discovers she’s pregnant and doesn’t shake loose, so I’m told, until the day she dies. They slap a cute little nickname on it—Mommy Guilt—but there is nothing cute about it. It is all-consuming. And it will eat you alive if you let it.

Today was a typical example. The first grader was home with pink-eye, but the phrase “was home” is used very loosely in our household. “Staying home” from school today meant we went for our morning walk, went to the doctor, went to the pharmacy, ran into Grandma at the pharmacy, invited Grandma to join us for lunch with Poppa, went in Grandma’s van to meet Poppa so I could get something notarized at his office, had lunch together, and, finally, came home and “stayed home.” Until the grocery trip after dinner…

Of course, since we’d run around all morning, nothing had gotten done at home. Since I work part-time (more Mommy Guilt), this is a bigger deal than it sounds. Nothing picked up, no bills paid, no calls or emails returned, no projects worked on. Nothing. And after being gone 90% of the week last week, I’m still trying to catch up from the previous week’s picking up, bills, emails, and projects, to no avail. So, I get the toddler down for a nap, head for the office with my mental to-do list on overload, and the first thing I hear is, “Momma, will you play with me?”

My stomach sinks. Nothing triggers Mommy Guilt like the pleading tone of a child asking to be played with. Especially when you can’t stand playing with your children.


There, I said it. I hate playing with my daughter. AAAAAGHHH. Seeing it in print makes me want to run from the room screaming. Mothers aren’t supposed to say that. Still more Mommy Guilt. But it’s true.

There are many things I love doing with my children. I love to sit and talk with them. I love to sing to them. I love to go places with them and do activities with them. I love to read with them, play games with them, make music with them. I’m not a bad mom. I swear. (This is the first sign of Mommy Guilt—the compulsion to swear to people you are not a bad mom.) But, quite frankly, I do not enjoy playing pretend with my children. And it’s not just my children—I don’t enjoy playing pretend with other people’s children, either. I abhorred that part of babysitting—I don’t like to be told how to pretend. Makes me crazy. And this is what my daughter wants most from me.

This is what she asks for this afternoon. This is what she asks for several times, daily. And this is the one thing that I am loathe to give her. I would rather cross everything off my to-do list than play Barbie’s with my daughter. I hate that about myself. I hate the frustration that builds to a near-panicked frenzy when it becomes apparent that I cannot accomplish both my to-do list and my daughter’s. I resolve to myself that the next afternoon I’m home, I will play with her. Then the next afternoon I’m home, I make the same guilt-ridden resolution. But the issue never resolves.

I know in my heart there is much I do well as a mother. But I worry that if it is not what is important to her, it won’t matter in the long run. Will she remember that I would talk with her every night before bed, or will she remember that I rarely played Barbie’s with her? Will she remember me constantly telling her, “I love you,” or will she remember me constantly telling her, “Momma’s got to get her work done first?” Will she remember me writing her stories and playing cards and going to the zoo, or will she remember me at my computer?

Then there are the real questions. Will the effort I’ve put in be enough to sustain our relationship through the teenage years? Does she really know she is loved and valued? Do my actions show it more than my words? Will it be enough to keep her from dabbling in sex and substances and selling her soul to please other people? Have I done the best possible job I can? Will it pay off in the long run? She adores me now—will she when she’s older? And is it lame to pray for the strength to be able to play Barbie’s with your daughter?

There are no answers. Or, rather, the answers are out of my hands. The Lord taught me long ago that there is not a bit of it that is up to me, but, much like higher math, it is a lesson I still do not fully understand. So I just pray that, much like the homework, the equation somehow always manages to balance out in the end.

I am not a bad mom.

I am not a bad mom.

what's in a name?

I changed my name. I am no longer looking for my voice. I have found it. I like what the new title reflects—I am no longer aimlessly searching, but performing a piece in a free style. Hope you like it. If you don’t, don’t tell me. I’m much too insecure.

properly chastised, she returns to her writing...

Insecurity is like a boomerang. A yo-yo. Seventies clothing. You can toss it aside, but it always comes back to haunt you like a ghastly fashion nightmare.

I swing, if you haven’t noticed, between extremes. I can go, within any given point of time, from “Damn, that’s good!” to “This isn’t half bad…” to “Oh my God, I suck. College freshman in ghastly seventies clothing could do better than this. I’m never writing again!” I suppose it’s part of my charm. Or my neurosis. Or one in the same.

Honestly, though, at 35 I’m finally finding a middle ground. Most of the time. Most of the time, I read what I’ve written and think, that’s not too bad… My goal isn’t literary greatness. My goal is to write what’s on my heart, hopefully do it well, and if one, two, or maybe three people think, “I can really relate to that,” I will consider myself successful. It is a start. I have started well, and I am pleased with that. I will press on, trusting that I’m not the only mother in Cow Town who struggles with insecurity and mommy guilt and a morbid hatred of aerobics instructors.

I will try not to let it happen again. The boomerang, the yo-yo, the bell-bottoms—out with the trash this time. What goes around does not have to come around.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

apples to apples

I must learn to stop reading other people’s blogs.

Was going to write tonight. Thought I’d check some sites out first. One thing led to another and now I’m intimidated and depressed and disgusted and wondering why the heck I ever thought I could write. God, I hate it when I do that…

What is it about us that compels us to make unfavorable comparisons? Or, rather, what is it about ME?

If I’m writing about MY life in MY voice, why do I care what Belle the journalist in NYC is posting and that it’s a whole heck of a lot better than what I’ve posted? Or that she got 41 comments for one post? Or that her famously wonderous, fabulous, brand-new blog got featured somewhere or other? I’m not a journalist in NYC. I’m a mother of two in Cow Town. And yet, I do. Care, that is. And compare.

It gets me every time. I never did fully grasp the whole apples and oranges thing—they’re both fruit, after all.

So now I shrivel here in my insecurity, the words within me dying on the vine for lack of belief in them. I’ve got to quit doing this to myself…

Somebody stop me.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Via Colori, 2005

P9254654, originally uploaded by as we see it.

One of my favorite things to do. Next year, I'm doing a square. Really. I'm not going to just TALK about it. I'm doing a square. Next year...

the difference between my husband and I

There is approximately one third of a piece of Kalua cheesecake in my house. With real whipped cream. From the Cheesecake Factory. It sits downstairs, barely protected behind the wooshing temperature seal of the refrigerator door, and it taunts me upon my weak-kneed return from aerobics.

The cheesecake entered my home on Saturday evening, a consolation gift for my husband for allowing me to accompany Beth on her impromptu, late night escape. Two large clouds of whipped cream dotted its dark, stormy landscape, and I was quite certain my Six Carb Original, sans whipped cream (sans anything, for that matter), was a February day in Ohio by comparison. Beneath the cumulus whipped cream lay three layers of rich, fatty goodness—first the light, fluffy coffee layer, creamy brown like hot chocolate, just the way I like my coffee. Then a lighter colored layer, thicker and creamier although unable to be properly identified, but certainly scrumptious just the same. Then, oh… Then, the chocolate and hazelnut crust… dark-dark-dark-rich-crumbly-fatty goodness. Perfection. I presented it to my wonderful husband with great pomp and circumstance upon my return, and awaited the opportunity to watch him relish this rich, fatty goodness and all the while proclaim what a wonderful wife I was for delivering it to him.

That is where the difference between us became apparent.

He didn’t eat it.

Really. He thanked me profusely, and promptly placed the cheesecake in the refrigerator, remarking that he just wasn’t very hungry at the moment. There was a full half-minute of mystified silence before, completely dumbfounded, I questioned what the heck hunger had to do with anything when there was a piece of Kalua cheesecake in the house. Did he not see the puffy clouds? The dark-dark-dark-rich-crumbly crust? The creamy brown perfect coffee layer? Not hungry?

(For the record, I am, at this exact moment, not hungry. But there is a piece of cheesecake in my fridge and if it were not for the fact that I just tortured myself again at aerobics this morning, it would not be in my fridge any longer. Are you catching my drift?)

Last night he powered down the computer and came to join me in bed, where I was happily reading and trying to pacify the 20 lb. cat who nibbles you until you pet him, and he began to eat his cheesecake. Next to me, in bed. I was not happily reading any longer. I was coveting my neighbor’s cheesecake.

He graciously offered me a bite and, pretending to be nonchalant, I accepted. I clamped my lips down around the fork, determined to pry every possible morsel from the utensil. I closed my eyes, and I sighed. It was all I dreamed it would be. I savored the texture, the flavor, the essence of it for but a moment, and then it was gone. Gone. I resolved that I would not ask for another bite, but that if he offered, I would, of course, accept. It would be rude not to. I began to pray that he would offer. Not really, but I did hope and wish. And he did. A second moment of heaven, followed by more dumbfounding perplexity.

Two thirds of the way finished, and he announced he was full and would save the rest for tomorrow. Today, where it now sits tormenting me from the floor below. “What?” he asked as I half glared, half gaped at him with widemouthed amazement. Five to six bites left, and he cannot convince his five-foot-eight, one hundred and fifteen pound frame to pack them in. More mind-boggling is that he could, but he chooses not to. It is beyond my comprehension. Where was I when that gene was passed out?!

Probably eating my cheesecake. Which, by the way, had approximately a 20-minute life span. My husband’s is at 39 hours and counting. Hours. I’ll let you figure the difference.

I’m going to go look at the cheesecake again.