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...