Thursday, December 31, 2009

for my mom...

...who has waited patiently to see a picture of my tree. or one of my trees, namely the one she created all the 100 snowflakes for as my birthday present this year, despite her insistance over the past 39 years that she would gladly teach me to crochet, as that was the only way i was going to come by a tree full of snowflakes.

thanks, mom.

oh, and my kiddos thrown in for good measure. it is for my mom, after all...

Sunday, December 13, 2009

disappointment and dilemmas

She sat staring at her brunch—face pale, eyes vacant. This was not our daughter. "I don't feel well," she whimpered, sipping her lukewarm raspberry tea. "You'll feel better after you eat something, Bub," I replied. The same turmoil I'd been feeling all weekend returned. How do I handle this? What's the best thing to do? My stomach churned. I wish to God I knew. But I didn't. And I still don't, even in hindsight.

Life is full of these handbook-less parenting moments—I realize this. I know I am not the only parent who struggles to know what is best for their child on a given day. But somehow the addition of gymnastics to our lives has increased the number of these moments in a rather disproportionate way, and I am left feeling like I'm faltering (and failing) more often than not.

This weekend was meet number two of the month, just one weekend after State Championships. Practices are Wednesday nights, Friday afternoons, and Saturday mornings. Dilemma number one: do we opt for the additional Monday night practice, like many of her teammates do, and give her a competitive advantage, or do we allow her to have at least one afternoon (I work T/Th so she goes to her Grandma's and isn't at home) free for being a child? We choose to forgo the additional practice, and spend Monday's at home, reading and relaxing. Her friends do not, and their scores reflect that. What's a parent to do?

Most of the time, we do not have practice on Saturday mornings on the weekend of a meet, but this weekend we did. This was a good thing, as it meant we didn't have to miss a practice. More time to work on the events that trouble her. A good thing, right? Or no? Dilemma two: do I opt to keep her home and let her rest and rejuvenate, or do I take advantage of another opportunity to get more confident on her bar routine? I choose to send her, some moms choose to keep their girls at home. Which choice was better?

Having practice on Friday nights and Saturday mornings means missing a lot of social events. Sleepovers, birthday parties, mother-daughter events for school—most fall on Friday nights. She finally gets invited to an event on a Saturday afternoon—a couple of hours at Fort Rapids, an indoor water park. She loves water parks, she loves the friend who has invited her. She's tired, but she's had a nap. She never gets to just be a kid and do things with her friends. But the meet is tomorrow. Dilemma three: Do I allow her to go, or no? I consult with her father, the Voice of Reason within our household, and he agrees she needs to be a kid. She goes to the water park. She wakes up today tired and with a sore throat. Wrong decision, or no?

We get up for church this morning, unable to sleep in because I'm teaching Sunday school and Tom's running camera, and we're all out the door by 8:30ish. We leave church and head to brunch, to fuel our gymnast for her meet, and she announces she isn't feeling well. You can tell it to look at her. She is not her normal self, by a long shot. Dilemma four: do we pull out and go home, or push through? We get some cold medicine, and within an hour she is feeling better. We push through. But is it the right thing to do?

The meet begins well, with a 9.15 (out of 10) on her floor routine. She's shooting for her 36 today—she needs two within the season to move up to level five next year. Both of her buddies have achieved it—but both of her buddies practiced all summer while she was out with a broken arm, and both attend the additional practice. Dilemma number five: do I break it to her that she's not likely to catch up to them this year, or let her continue to hope (and continue to be disappointed)?

Vault is decent—another 9.15. She's done better, but she's done worse. She squeaks out an 8.65 on the bars, which is a full half point improvement from last weekend, and I make a mental note to point that out to her. You can't spend four months out with a fracked up arm and expect to get a 9 or above right away on the bars. But I digress. She heads in to her final event, the beam, needing a 9.05 to get her 36. Should be a piece of cake. She took first place on beam for her age group last weekend. The 36 should be in the bag.

I am nervous as she begins, remembering that her warm-up was a little more wobbly than usual, probably because of her head cold. I breathe a short prayer, but that is the last breath I take for what seems like an eternity. She is still wobbly, fighting to hold on to poses that normally don't sway her. I pray harder. She wobbles again. And again. And then, my tenacious little fighter falls off the beam. I curse under my breath, trying to keep my disappointment from escaping my eyes.

She finishes, but she is not happy. She dismounts, fakes a smile for the judges, and makes it barely ten steps before bursting into tears. 8.4. There will be no 36 today. Both her friends make 37s, and my daughter is inconsolable.

Dilemma number six: had I made a different choice on any of the decisions above, would it have changed today's outcome? And if so, am I partially to blame for her disappointment? Or worse, totally?

Where is the handbook for THAT?

Monday, November 16, 2009

what remains

The day began innocently enough as far as epiphanies go. After a slow start due to a late night the evening before, we were finally all up and moving—moving tubs and bags and boxes up from the basement to be dug through and sorted and stored or gotten rid of. I was nearly jubilant as I plowed through the last ten years worth of stuff (which had heretofore been accumulating en masse all over my basement, already a pit to begin with) trying to determine what were keepsakes and what was simply not worth keeping. Baby clothes, teething rings, books, baskets, tennis shoes, clothes out of date, out of style, out of size. Three carloads to Goodwill later, I was nearly finished.

Laid out before me were the remnants of babyhood to be sorted and stored, and then my work would be finished. I perused the items carefully—which child did they belong to? Was this handmade? By whom? Would they want this for their own children? I tried to identify all the important information one would want to remember but would never be able to in twenty-some years. It was at this point I picked up the dog.

He was cute—a soft, shaggy brown mutt about the size of a webkinz. I couldn't remember for the life of me to which child he belonged. I noticed he had stitching on each ear—one ear read "record," the other, "play." Easy enough, I figured. I'll press play and see if it gives me any clues.

I pressed play and out came my own voice. "Hi Buddy! I love you!" I crooned. Problem solved. It was my son's. I was not prepared for what happened next.

The recording wasn't over. After my own "I love you," there was a second's pause, and then an 18-month old voice echoed back, "I yuv you!!!"

If this afternoon in my life were a scene from a movie, that moment would look like the scene in Ratatouille when Anton Ego, the food critic, takes his first bite of Remy's ratatouille and is sucked back through a wooshing vortex of memory to his mother's kitchen some thirty or forty years earlier. I could almost feel my hair swoosh around my ears as I was transported instantly back to chubby cheeks and cherubic faces and wet kisses and infectious laughter. I lost it.

I sat there in the middle of what will never be again, and I couldn't pull myself back together. And that's when it all finally came clear in one heartbreakingly obvious moment. It was more than just mourning the passing of these stages in my children's lives, though I am wont to do that ad nauseum. No—it was something more, something deeper, something I've never spoken. Something I've ignored and stifled and stuffed and shrugged off but could never quite get rid of. And there it was, all messy and snotty and out in the open. I. Want. Another. Baby.

There. Will. Be. No. More. Babies.

There will be no more babies. After two difficult pregnancies, one of them with multiples, I couldn't have dreamed of putting my 34 year old body through that, let alone my nearly-40 body. I knew, when my son was born, we were done. I simply couldn't do that again. The nine months of terrible pain, the destruction of my body, the disruption to our lives, the months upon months upon MONTHS of screaming, diaper changing, screaming, sleepless nights, and did I mention the screaming? No. There will be no more babies. I knew this six and a half years ago. I know it still.

But there is a difference between knowing and knowing, and my heart began to understand that difference this Saturday knee-deep in blankets and bears and binkies and baby books. I grieved on and off all afternoon. I grieved lying awake in bed, unable to sleep with pre-meet nerves. And I grieve it now, wiping tears between paragraphs, putting it all into words for the first time and perhaps the last.

There will be no more babies. Surrounded with what remains, I closed that chapter yet again this weekend, flipping forward once again to the school-aged years where I will continue to suck every bit I can out of each and every moment available to me. As Buddy listened with curiosity to his younger self, he crawled in my lap, wrapping his slender arms around my neck. "I still love you, Momma," he reminded me. I held him too tight for a little too long, and I told him I loved him, too.

And then, yet again, I let him go.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


Buster Brown raking with Poppa this weekend!

airborn, take two

Bub had her third meet of the season today. Fourth place all-around for her age bracket. Would have been higher, but learned a hard lesson about gravity on her dismount from the uneven bars. (Translation: she fell on her FANNY.)

Giving that the apple does not far from the Perfectionism Tree, she of course is not happy unless she's at the top of the podium. After a frank discussion about the fact that she's outscoring some of her teammates from last year even after being out for four months with a COMPOUND FRACTURE, she calmed down. But she's still aiming for that top spot...

Here's a couple shots of her in action!

No wonder I get so nervous!
Way to go, Bub!!!

Monday, November 09, 2009


So, I posted ONCE in October. That could have something to do with having had two major sinus infections and a bout of bronchitis. It could also have something to do with having four weekends away within a five-weekend month. Furthermore, it could possibly have something to do with the general malaise that set in around here, likely as a result of both. At any rate, there was no writing taking place, here or anywhere.

I wonder sometimes what the heck I'm doing here. Blogs almost seem passe now, what with FaceBook and all. I know they are entirely different beasts, but who bothers to read a blog post when updates "thrown" up on the "wall" are so much quicker and easier to read? I try to remind myself that updates are not what I'm about here--that I'm trying to really write something of substance. But when most people just check in for updates, and they're all people I already know, how is that meeting my objective?

What IS my objective? And could it better be met elsewhere?

And while we're at it, what the heck am I doing with my life? Ugh.

Two more days left on the antibiotic. Perhaps the malaise will lift when the steriod finally wears off and I stop wanting to crawl out of my skin. In the meantime, I'll try not to take myself too seriously.

I'd be much obliged if you'd do the same.

a few pix

With good friends at the lake a few weekends ago... Hiked, played tag, ate lots of good food. And saw five bald eagles at the wildlife refuge!

Me and the hubby (AKA "The Old Man")

Boo at the Zoo (Subtitle: The Lamest Year Ever)

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Forty Things I Love About My Husband (On His Fortieth Birthday)

  1. He does housework. The list could end right there.
  2. He also does laundry. The list could end here, as well.
  3. He also cooks. Need I go on?
  4. I will go on. He is a fabulous father—loving, nurturing, almost always responsible. Almost.
  5. He has a great sense of humor. The kids love it. I, on the other hand, mostly put up with it.
  6. He loves adventure and living life, not watching other peoples' lives.
  7. He is hard working and has more integrity than many men have in their pinky fingers alone.
  8. He is disciplined. Half of the time I love this, the other half I can't stand it. Usually, it depends on whether or not the discipline works in my favor.
  9. He honors his parents and his family.
  10. He honors our family and treats me with respect and appreciation.
  11. He tells alien stories to the kids around the fire out back. The kids love it. I, on the other hand…
  12. He washes and cleans out my car. And he doesn't get too mad if I don't notice.
  13. He helps with bedtime. All of it. And if I don't feel well, he does it ALL.
  14. He has a great smile.
  15. He has fabulous gray-green eyes that crinkle around the edges when he uses that smile.
  16. He most often uses them both on me.
  17. He has a great, um, errr, well… backside, shall we say?
  18. It's the only spot on his body with any body fat—that is worth being happy about.
  19. He gets a great tan with little to no effort. Unfortunately for me, his kids got lucky and inherited that gene, so I am the only pale one around here.
  20. He has put up with me for twenty-one years now, and counting.
  21. He hasn't left yet…
  22. He promises he won't.
  23. He's a man who keeps his promises. Always.
  24. He supports my desire to write and encourages me in it.
  25. He believes me when I say I have a headache. (Could be because I usually have a headache…)
  26. He doesn't watch sports unless we're with someone else who does. The list could end here, as well.
  27. He likes to play with the kids.
  28. He likes to go on dates.
  29. He likes to go to the theater or symphony. Or the art museum. Or…
  30. He's fairly almost sort of patient with me much if not most of the time. Most…
  31. He doesn't rub it in when I don't deserve any more patience.
  32. He gets over things quickly and he doesn't hold a grudge.
  33. He is kind and gentle and affectionate.
  34. He is strong and powerful and provides for our family.
  35. He is completely invested in being the man God has called him to be, and continues to pursue it, albeit imperfectly at times.
  36. He is a man of faith, strength, and honor.
  37. He reads my blog. (He and three other people…)
  38. He is better to me than I deserve. Honestly.
  39. He is truly, madly, deeply crazy in love with me. Still. And I know it.
  40. And did I mention he has a nice, um, you know

Happy Birthday, Babe. I love you. Truly.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

catching up

I suppose it would be so much easier to share pictures on FaceBook, but I just can't bring myself to jump into that black hole of time-sucking oblivion. So, here is what we've been up to this fall!

Bub's first "official" USAG meet. 34.95 overall score (out of 40). Not bad for a kid who was out for five months with a broken arm!

The day after the meet, we met up with the rest of my family to go hiking in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. This is us with my folks and my "little" brother and his family.

The kiddos climbing on the rocks. My mom emailed me the next day and said she couldn't sleep that night because she kept having visions of her grandchildren falling off rocks. I had to laugh. No reason. I certainly did NOT have the same problem...

I love my Bub... She's such a happy kid!

This past weekend we camped at Pokagon State Park in northwestern Indiana. We used to camp here frequently when I was growing up--I've not been there for almost ten years. It was great to go back!

My Buddy! Could he be any cuter?!?!

Loving the fall color!

Friday, September 25, 2009


The hubby came home for lunch to find the bird had made it's way back up and out of the vent. But not without leaving, um, well, traces, if you know what I mean...

In other news, I finished the rough draft of chapter two this afternoon. Word count is at 11,000, counting the intro and preface. Things are moving along, albeit not as I'd envisioned. It is an interesting and sometimes frustrating process. I don't have nearly as much time to dedicate to it as I would like...

Off to pick up kids from school, take Bub to gymnastics, and go eat ice cream with Buddy.


just "venting"

With a full day of no kids ahead of me, and a sinus infection that persuades me not to go to the gym this morning, I sit down to the computer with a cup of Vanilla Chai with cream (real cream, because I'm not losing weight anyway) and anticipate a full day of writing and, quite possibly, napping. As my tea steeps, I bustle about getting things in place, so as to be undisturbed for the rest of my morning. I pull up, "tune" it to my George Winston station, and settle in.

As I boot up the computer, I hear a metal clanking outside my kitchen window that sounds as if it's coming from my driveway. There should not be metal noises coming from my driveway. I stop and listen for a second or two, conclude our neighbor must be home and getting ready to mow his yard, and go ahead and pull up my email. Then I hear it again.

It really sounds like it's closer than his yard, I think. But it has to be the lawn mower. Can't think of what else it could be. I go on reading. I hear it again. Finally curiosity gets the best of me, and I get up to look out the kitchen window. Nothing. I look out the back door. Nothing. I look out the kitchen window again. Nothing. Then, I hear it again. And I realize it's not coming from the kitchen window, it's coming from the kitchen.

I turn toward to noise, coming from above my refrigerator, to find a tiny beaked head sticking out from my kitchen vent into my kitchen. Then a little foot. Then a wing. Then the noise, again, and all appendages disappear. I freeze in shock, then, as its head appears again, realize I need to do something before I have a freaked out sparrow flying around my house, freaking out both myself and the cat.

But what do I do? As much as I like birds, I certainly don't like them that much that I want one flipping out and flapping in my face! I start to dial my husband at work, then realize he probably is not going to come back home at 9 AM to deal with this. I know that Beth, though on her way to the grocery, has just dropped her kids off at school near my house and I may be able to catch her before she's too far north to come back. I breathe a prayer, something like Dear God please let her answer her phone and come help me even though she is going to be even more freaked out than I am, and hit the button for her cell phone. God is merciful, as is Beth. Help is on the way.

But help to do WHAT? I don't know how to open the vent, nor do I want to open the vent. It is becoming apparent I need to call my husband. I speed dial the office and the new receptionist answers. "Good morning, Lorie! How are you today?"

"Um, I'm good, all except for this BIRD in my KITCHEN--is my husband there?"

She transfers me with an "Oh my!" and puts my husband on the line, who is less than enthusiastic about the issue. Of course, he's not the one watching the bird try to escape into the kitchen, where it's going to freak out and flap all over and, let's be honest, likely POOP all over everything. He says he can come home at lunch. That's not working for me. He instructs me to pull apart a cereal box and tape it up around the vent until he can come home. That, I can do.

Beth arrives, questioning what, exactly, the cat that sits at the front door to greet her is good for, if he can't deal with the bird in the vent. She reminds me she's terrified of animals. I remind her I'm aware of that, and assign her the task of handing me the tape.

I climb up on the chair, just seconds after the last escape attempt, and the bird goes still out of survival instinct. Yes, that's right, I soothe, you just be real still and I'll pretend I don't see you, okay? I manage, despite my height deficit, to finally get the box secured around the vent, and Beth goes on her merry grocery-shopping way.

All is eerily quiet now, with an occasional flutter or clank from above the fridge. (Why is "fridge" spelled with a "d" and "refrigerator" is not?) It is 9:45, and it will be a few hours before my husband comes to free the little critter, hopefully without my help, but most likely with. I regard the poor creature--stuck in a deep, dark place, unable to get help, light and open space on the other side, just out of reach. I know how this little bird feels. I want out, too.

But freedom is coming. Help is on the way.

As long as my attempt to keep it from escaping doesn't suffocate it in the meantime.

Sure is quiet up there now...

Monday, September 21, 2009

on (not) singing

Normally, my mail doesn't make me cry. Normally. But today's mail was an exception. Today's mail contained the season brochure for The Toledo Masterworks Chorale, and it pressed on a tender spot in my spirit I have gone to great lengths to avoid over the past several years. This blog began as an effort to avoid that tender spot. And I'd done pretty well, as of late. But tender spots always seem to be found, somehow. Someone presses on them by mentioning the unmentionable, asking the unaskable, or mailing you a brochure that gets delivered right into your hands and says, "Hey—pay attention to me now, would you?"

We moved here nine years ago, leaving behind this fine group of semi-professional musicians with whom we had developed deep friendships and made incredible music for eight years. It was the first time since kindergarten that I had not been a part of a choir. I am still, nine years later, choir-less, and today, in particular, that makes me very, very sad.

In a season of life within which women already tend to feel every shred of their identity is laid on the altar of motherhood, it was particularly excruciating to take this part of my heart and lay it down, not knowing when or if it would ever be restored to me. Singing was not just a part of my identity, it was the entirety of who I thought myself to be. I loved singing choral music with a passion that nothing else—nothing else—in my life has ever even come close to. Passion deferred, I am discovering, makes the spirit sick.

Singing with the Chorale was a source of joy, of emotional outlet, of pride. It connected me with God and with others in a way few other things can. I ache for that, and there is nothing I can do about it. There is still, nine years later, no ram in the bush to spare this offering. And so today, thanks to the Chorale's 38th season, I am sitting here at my computer wiping tears and grieving this empty, achy place in my spirit that cannot be comforted by anything less than being a part of that glorious sound again, and again, and again.

Best wishes to the MWC for a fabulous season. Looks like fun. Wish I could be there.

Sing loud, old friends. Sing loud.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

how i spent my weekend

Marmon Valley with a crew of fifth grade girls. I am still recouperating!

This whole "having more time when the kids are both in school full time" thing is more challenging than I'd hoped. Sure wish I could get in a regular pattern of blogging. How do y'all do it? At any rate, I have about 6000 words done on "the book." They're rough, but they're on paper. Well, theoretically speaking. Tomorrow my goal, for the whole four hours I will have free, is to write chapter two. Wish me luck! And don't email me, okay? I'll be too tempted to respond... Gotta stay out of my email!!! Ugh!!!

Friday, September 04, 2009

a conversation of my own

Just finished reading Angry Conversations With God: A Snarky But Authentic Spiritual Memoir, by Susan E. Isaacs, within which a disgruntled spiritual spouse decides to take God, whom she has been told all her single life will be her husband, to couples counseling.

Near the beginning, Susan imagines, after having heard about the very popular Conversations With God, what a conversation with the God she currently is "married" to would sound like. It goes something like this:

Susan: God, what the **** are you doing?

God: Shut the **** up or I'll kill you or something.

Of course, this is not what God really sounds like. And, of course, she and God reconcile in the end. But I found the book intriguing, as both a counselor and fellow conversant, and began to imagine my own conversations.

Mine goes something like this:

(I see God across the room, standing alone, looking around at the crowd.)

Me: (Approaching him because he doesn't make eye contact with me.) Hello? God? Do you remember me?

God: Oh! (His eyes register a blank look, but he smiles and shakes my hand.) Sure. I remember you. What was your name again?

(I smile awkwardly, embarrassed that I've remembered his name but he's not remembered mine. Happens all the time.)

Me: It's Lorie. Remember? We grew up together. I go to your church.

God: Oh, yeah! That's right! I thought you looked familiar. How is Scott? (He looks around the room again, scanning faces. He waves at someone.)

Me: Tom. (I smile another politely strained smile, embarrassed all the more.) My husband's name is Tom.

God: That's right—good ol' Scott. (His hand is on my arm, but he's already moving toward someone else.) Hey, listen—I'd love to chat, but I need to go shower blessings on people and heal some stuff and get to know some folks for a while, so, I'll catch you 'round, okay? Good talkin' with you, Leslie! Don't be a stranger!

I stand there, smarting, as he makes a bee-line for a beautiful couple with the right clothes and the right hair and the right stuff and embraces them warmly. I overhear him:

God: Hey guys! Great to see you again—last night was great, wasn't it? Hey—did you get that new job I sent you? Oh, good! And how about the tuition payment? Yes? Great. And how are the kids enjoying the new pool? Fabulous. Just wanted to bless you guys—love to love on ya! We'll get together again tomorrow night, okay?

The sting grows warm, spreading, a stupid don't-you-dare-cry smile plastered to my bewildered face, as I watch God go from person to person, working the room. I observe with jealousy, with hurt, with anger. And I wonder why, after 35 years of trying to get his attention, he still doesn't notice me. As I turn to escape, I hear him laughing, see him embracing others, observe him gaze deeply, affectionately into their eyes.

I walk out into the parking lot, the cool fall air mixing with my tears, soothing my red cheeks but little else. A life-time of trying, in my own insecure, imperfect way, to try to get to know this man, and he still doesn't really know I exist, much less give me the time of day. Why do I continue to pursue him?

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

more blue skies

Wrote this over the summer on a long, sunny drive. Thought it was fitting for today.

Green upon green upon blue upon green,

Spreading wide and long and high and deep.

What touches the earth, reaches the sky,

Bringing heaven within reach.

Spreading wide and long and high and deep—

Fruited branches ride the breeze,

Bringing heaven within reach,

Rooting peace in the soil of my soul.

Fruited branches ride the breeze—

What touches the earth, touches the sky,

Rooting peace in the soil of my soul…

Green upon green upon blue upon green.

nothin' but blue skies...

Clear blue skies, mild temperatures, days at home to my self. THIS is what I love about September.

These next four months are my absolute favorite time of the year. I welcome them with the first bit of hope I've felt for a LONG time.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

a taste of freedom

It is 11:30, and my house is eerily empty. I have both anticipated and dreaded this moment for months, if not years. After ten years of child-filled days, I now have three days a week to myself. Having already had breakfast with one of my best friends, now also child-less, I'm not quite sure what to do with my afternoon.

Today will be filled with getting done all that has not gotten done this summer. Paying bills, updating accounts, catching up on emails--all sorts of fun awaits me at my computer. I might even unpack from our weekend. Maybe.

Buddy is now at lunch--I try not to picture possible scenarios, as they all, currently, in my own fearful mind, involve him ending up in tears. It's just best that I not go there. Not today. Not any day. He will be fine. He will be fine. He will be fine.

I will try to turn my thoughts to balances and budgets and bookkeeping. I will try to not watch the clock. I will try to work first, and will try to play later, as well. I will try to not call out to an empty room, "Listen, Buddy! There's an airplane!" I will try to reserve this time for myself, and fill it only with what I want to do. I will try to not miss my Buddy, and wonder what he's doing every moment. I will try to focus on being an adult without children, if only for a few hours. I will try.

Then, once they are home and tired and whiney and bickering, I will remember why I couldn't wait for today to come. And I will sigh a sigh of both contentment and frustration, and I will both look forward to and dread Friday, when I will do it all again.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

the big day

I really have actually done a little writing, but have been on the road and getting these kiddos set for school. Hope to post some of it tomorrow, perhaps!

My baby, first day of first grade. Where has the time gone? (Where have his CHEEKS gone? Not to mention his TEETH?!?!)

My FIFTH GRADER. Ugh. I am getting OLD. (Isn't she pretty?)

Two peas in a pod...

...all the way down to their toes!

Monday, August 24, 2009

my baby starts first grade tomorrow morning. which of us do you think will get the least amount of sleep?

our last days of summer vacation

If my dear friend Bob thought it strange that we spent part of our last spring break in Indianapolis, he will be completely flumoxed by the fact that our summer "vacation" was spent in Springfield, Illinois.

The kiddos in front of the state capitol building. (Should that be capitalized? I'm too tired to care...) It was one of the most beautiful domes (from the inside, of course) that I've ever seen.

Hangin' with the Lincoln Family at the White House. I HIGHLY recommend the Lincoln Presidential Museum. Very, VERY well done.

Yep, that's corn. Right next to our camp site. BUT it's the BIGGEST darn corn I've even seen--which says a lot for a girl who grew up next to a corn field. (To give perspective, I am 5'3" in shoes. That is BIG corn!)

Was thrilled to find out my good buddy, James (we've been friends since kindergarten), got back into the country the week before we drove right smack dab through the town where he's doing his Ph.D. Stopped and had lunch, then made him late to go sell his textbooks. Oops.

Not the most exciting vacation, 'tis true. But when you spend over $3000 on a broken arm, you make do! We had a great time with my folks, and it was great to see all the Lincoln sites during his bicentennial year. Now, to prepare for school!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

chihully at the conservatory

Bub and I spent at day at the conservatory while Buddy was at fishing camp a few weeks ago, taking in the new Chihully installment. We each had a digital camera, and together took over 500 frames. I haven't had that fun in a LONG time. What a blast.

These have no post work done to them, and I've saved them as medium quality jpegs so as to not take so long to load, so the quality isn't spectular, but wanted to share a "few" of my faves.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

a letter to my fifth grade self

After eyeing it for months, I finally picked up What I Know Now: Letters to My Younger Self (edited by Ellyn Spragins) with a gift card I received for my birthday. I was immediately transfixed and began thinking of all the different ages at which I wished "I'd known then…" I picked fifth grade for an obvious reason—my daughter begins fifth grade a week from today, and my mind is swimming with all I want her to know about all there is to know.

At ten, I was painfully self-conscious, boy-crazy beyond belief, and immensely insecure. My love-hate relationship with attention was beginning to bloom, and I swung wildly from seeking attention at any price to wishing I could vanish into the cafeteria walls. My worth was based on the label on my back pocket, the insignia on my polo shirt, and whether or not my hair laid flat that day, which meant that most days, I did not feel too worthwhile.

This is what I wish I could have understood then, and what I pray to be able to instill within the heart of my own self-conscious, developing, precocious ten-year-old:

Dear Lorie,

Hiya! How are ya? I hope you're enjoying fifth grade. Mrs. McCarthy is a great teacher—she will follow your progress all the way through college because you made such an impression on her. Betcha didn't know that, but you will in time. Oh, and get over your silly feud with James over whatever the heck it was about. You'll still be friends thirty years from now, so it doesn't really matter.

So, first things first. You need to know that one day you will love your hair. I know. It doesn't feather. I know. I know it is, at times, the sole focus of your neurotic, self-conscious attention. I know you spend hours spitting it down in class, pressing your palm to your forehead, trying to get it to lay flat. It doesn't. It won't. Ever. Not until in your 30s when you discover smoothing serum and the ceramic flat iron, and then you will be giddy over the option to have straight hair for once in your life. But you won't choose it very often. Why? Because you will grow to love your hair, as will everyone else. You're just going to have to trust me on this one. Embrace it, don't fight it. Love your hair, and in doing so, you will learn to love yourself.

Next item of important business—NO ONE IS LOOKING AT YOU. The seemingly trite saying is actually, it turns out, true: they really are too busy worrying that everyone is looking at them to possibly even think about you. Remember this. In the cafeteria. In the halls. At the mall. At church. Any time you're out in public. Hold your head up high, walk proud, and speak confidently, and the right type of attention will come your way naturally.

Here's another secret you're gonna love—all the girls you're jealous of? Miss Gloria Vanderbilt Jeans with the horse and the tennis courts? Miss Perfectly Feathered Hair with the big Goode comb and the attention of all the Goode comb boys? Miss My Father Makes More Money Than Your Father? Get this—they're all actually jealous of YOU. Your creativity, your musical ability, your confidence "on stage," your relationship with your teachers, your grades and your gift for writing—they wish they had some of that. You see, shiny hair, designer jeans, and a clear complexion only go so far. So don't wish you were them. Because they wish they were you, and they will tell you so, in time.

Finally, I can't tell you how much I wish you weren't so afraid. Of pain. Of failure. Of rejection. Oh, what we could be now if you only believed in yourself. You need to know that this is what is true: you can and you will be more than you think you can. But only if you conquer the fear and self-consciousness that that paralyzes your spirit. Be confident, Lorie. And if you don't feel confident, simply act confident. The confidence will follow. There is no need to shrink within yourself. Bloom. The world will open before a young woman with poise and confidence.

Oh, and one last thing, Kiddo. You're not weird, you're not funny looking, and you're not fat. You are gifted. You are beautiful. You are fearfully and wonderfully made.

And you are very, very loved.

See you 'round, Girl! I'm looking forward to it!



Monday, August 17, 2009

another go ‘round

I was kinda sorta almost doing okay-ish with the thought of my baby starting first grade a week from tomorrow. That is, of course, until I looked at this.

I had all sorts of fears for my daughter's first year of school—fear, of course, being what I do. In the end, it was all good, as everyone assured me it would be. The role my daughter was cast in has fit her well, and I am eagerly anticipating the playing out of her fifth grade run, though I wish I knew where those adorable cheeks went.

My son, on the other hand, is causing me great concern and distress as we gear up for his elementary school debut. Not nearly as gregarious as his sister (read: at all), my fears for my son include sitting alone at lunchtime and prowling the playground by himself at recess at best, and being teased or bullied over his slight frame and sensitive spirit at worst. My stomach gets all knotty when I think of it—when I picture his sad little face, unable to hold in all that sad and having it spill down all over his cheeks. I just can't bear it. Tell me I'm being unrealistic. Tell me I'm being overly concerned. Please, someone tell me it is going to all be okay.

At day camp this summer, my Buddy never made a buddy. This is not unusual—in all his time at school and church, he has only made one good buddy, and that friend chose him two years ago and latched on to him like stink on a dog and has not yet let go. So after two days of camp, curious if the social situation had improved any, I asked him who he played with at free time. "Nobody," he responded. "The other boys don't want to play with me."

"How do you know that," I responded. "Did they tell you that?"

"No, I just know 'cause they ignore me when I try to play with them."

He delivered the line matter-of-factly, and I responded in-kind, but inside both the fear in my spirit and the lump in my throat grew.

In a two or three weeks, God-willing, this will all be behind us and Buddy will be settled in both scholastically and socially. There will be a lot more prayer between now and then, as prayer is the only thing I can do in this situation. It will be a long two or three weeks, as we wait for the dust to settle and the cast list to be posted.

Then, once that is behind us, I will be free to obsess about how impossible it is that my BABY is in first grade. If I can contain myself that long…

Friday, August 14, 2009

ready or not, here she comes

She hurtles down the run-way full speed ahead and jumps onto the spring loaded board, exploding upward with a force that belies her size or age, and lands that force directly upon her arms, which then propel her into the air and over the top of the vault. I cringe internally, then breathe a sigh of relief as she sticks her landing, the arm having carried her there. The arm is healed—but my heart is not. I have a feeling this is going to be a long, long three hours.

Bub is back in the gym after her four month arm ordeal, and she is back with a vengeance. Having broken the arm a mere three days before team tryouts, her coach informed me, once released by her doctor to return, that she'd been invited to join the team based on her coaches recommendations and her scores from the past year. Lots of prayer and a huge financial leap of faith later, my daughter is now a competitive gymnast.

Today is practice number three, but the first I've been able to attend. I am, as is usual, surprised by my daughter's strength and ability. Other than not being able to execute the round-off double back handspring yet, she looks pretty darn good. She's got some work to do, but, quite frankly, no more than some of the girls who have been continuing to work for the past four months.

There is some fear that will have to be overcome, but her first week back has already re-bolstered some of her confidence. This is essential—for us both. Her team manual reads, "While winning is not so important, trying to win represents everything we strive for. Trying to win means coming to practice every day, working hard, overcoming fear, getting up every time you fall down, setting and achieving goals, and getting up on a 4" beam to perform skills difficult to do well on the floor. We do not try to win in the abstract. We try to win in the real world where rules apply, comparisons are made, judgment calls are the norm, grace under pressure is expected, and where falling and failing are part of everyday life."

She must be ready. To fall. To fail. To get up. To go back.

And I must be ready, too. To catch. To comfort. To trust. To let go.

As for which of us will have the harder time, I cannot yet tell you…

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

the state fair: a photo essay

top ten things i love about the fair:
1. for one whole day, i don't feel fat, frumpy, out of style, or underdressed.

2. i leave with a newfound appreciation for my own children. i get to watch my daughter be my daughter...

...and my son be my son.

3. the sky lift. the best three bucks ever spent after ten hours on your feet. (with the exception of the 25 cent massage chair...)

4. fried dough with sugar on it. 'nuff said.

5. the ferris wheel. what's not to love?

6. more food on a stick than you can shake a stick at.

7. the state fair youth choir. summer of 1986. ah, the memories...

8. baby cows. can you get any cuter?

9. bright, colored, twinkly lights. lots of 'em.

10. cows made out of butter. only in america.

hope you enjoyed! we sure did!

Sunday, August 02, 2009


As this is a milestone year, I have been thinking about what I want life to look like during this season. To that end, I have set a few goals. Feel free to harass me about meeting them.

1. (I can't believe I'm putting this in print) Complete first drafts of More and Fear Not.
2. Return to and maintain my normal weight by working out four times/week.
3. Take two spiritual retreats, one alone and one with the Hubby.
4. Attend a writer's retreat at The Convent.
5. Be intentional about deepening my intimacy with God, my family, and my friends.

I have rough outlines completed for both manuscripts. Don't ask me about my weight. Did you not hear me say I had a birthday? Retreat number one is scheduled for October. I am already saving money for the writer's retreat in the spring. As for the last one, not really sure what that will look like.

Wish me luck.

writing date number two

(Wrote this last week, but couldn't post it because we were at Spend-Bucks and I was NOT about to pay for an internet connection.)

My mind won’t get quiet. Neither will my daughter. Writing date number two begins. One hot Tazo Passion tea and an iced decaf white chocolate mocha. “I’m cold,” she tells me, hanging tight to her iced coffee. My tea is still too hot to drink, her cup is nearly drained.

She scrunches up her nose at my computer/reading glasses. “You look better without glasses,” she tells me with a consoling tone. “No offense.” A smile to ease the blow. Personally, I think they’re cute. But I’m three days away from turning 39. What do I know?

“Only three days?” she asks.

“You gonna write or what?”

I struggle to tune out—the Big Band tunes over the loudspeaker blend with the trio of men talking business at the next table, and my earbuds don’t block out either, but at least make it impossible to discern what they’re saying, helping me to concentrate on writing rather than eavesdropping.

“Hey! It’s all gone!” She slurps what’s left clinging to the ice in her cup. I’m about to make her move to the other side of the table so she stops reading what’s on my computer screen. She giggles. But she’s still reading.

And talking.

And I’m still trying to write. Trying to focus. Trying to clear my mind and shake off the tension of the day that lingers like the smell of cigarette smoke after a night out. I can’t get rid of it. Stubborn, this feeling in my insides. It will not be coaxed away.

“I like that,” she says. “It will not be coaxed away.” She hates that I keep quoting her. But it hasn’t caused her to be quiet and write yet. So I’ll keep at it.

“Good idea.” Pencil to paper, her side pressed against mine, we begin, finally, to write something.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

you know you're not in your full mind when... stand in front of your front door for a full minute pressing the unlock button on your car key, wondering why the door won't open...

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

a snapshot of my summer

This pretty much sums things up. And since this picture was taken, about six sunflowers have sprung up and bloomed, as well. None of which were planted. All the wrong things are bearing fruit here, lately.

The question, of course, is what to weed out. Or is it? It's pretty obvious all that has grown up between the cracks here does not belong. That which was not intentionally planted does not belong, either. I can identify these things easily. Applying this metaphor to my life, however, is not as simple.

The sunflowers can stay. The cornstalk, despite my kids' protests, has to go. As for what is next, who can say?

Monday, July 27, 2009

bub's big adventure

A "Proud Momma" moment--please forgive me. Bub started her National Youth Leadership camp this week. She was nominated by her teacher and accepted into the program. She wrote letters to help raise funds, and came up with half the money "herself." Pretty exciting!

catching up in photos...

Some highlights of our summer, since I've been remiss...

The Hubby and I at Young's Dairy, celebrating my birthday.

Bub (with her "bionic arm") and Buddy hiking at Glen Helen, same day.

Ditto--Glen Helen. "Cool Mom" overroad "Mean Dad" and let them get wet. Do I rock or what?

Bub's fish--LOVE this picture. From her week at "Quilt Camp" with Grandma and Grandad.

Buddy, hiking with us while Bub was gone.

My college roomie, Holly, and I, doing our best Calvin and Hobbes impersonations. She and her family spent the 4th of July weekend with us.

Hol's cutie patootie, who is exactly four days younger than Buddy.

The kiddos having fun 4th of July weekend!

Had to put this in because it makes me LAUGH OUT LOUD. My jock-brother's son, AKA "The Monster Fairy," on his fifth birthday. Great show hands!