Me: "Who has the best seat in the house, me or daddy?"

Adam: "Well, Daddy's is nice, but yours is best. Your's is squishier."

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


It seems like Summer just arrived with her straw hat and flip flops on, knocking at my door asking us to come out and play, and already I look over my shoulder and see that she is packing her beach bag and folding up her picnic blanket. How dare she!  She always does this to me.  She knows it takes me a while to find my Fun Mom suit under all the laundry, and put it on.  

The other night the kids asked if I would take them swimming next door.  It was 512 degrees out, and I didn't want to go, but I saw Summer roll her eyes at me, so I said yes.  

As always happens, I loosened up once I got there, enjoying watching the kids in the water with their little sis.  Jonah was tickled that Betty had the sprinter on, a sighting as rare as Sasquatch these days, and he couldn't decide if it was more fun to run in the sprinkler or swim, so he ping-ponged between the two.

Nano to grew cold and got out of the pool to sit by me, bundled in her little frog towel.  She snuggled deeply at my hip, chattering away like a little chickadee, and just as easy to understand.  Her suit soaked through the towel and my pants, the feeling a cross between refreshingly cool and annoyingly wet.  With my reading glasses on I looked down at her little face tucked beneath my wing and noticed a spray of tiny freckles on her cheeks that I've never seen there before.  Her lips, slightly tinged a chilly blue, smiled up at me as she prattled on naming the kids and asking for her favorite songs.  In that moment she was so amazingly vivid.  It reminded me of a time when a hummingbird hit our window, and gathering it up in my hand while it sat, still and stunned, I was able to admire its astounding beauty for a few fleeting minutes before it flew away.  Looking down at Natalie's glowing little face, alive with the moment, I could see the flecks of blue in her eyes and the pink returning to her lips.  And, as little birds do, as soon as she was warmed through she flew off again to the pool, leaving me with my wet and empty arm and side, strangely chilled from her absense.

I looked up and saw the clouds spread evenly across the sky, just starting to turn pink.  I read from my book a bit more and watched the kids, and when I looked heavenward again just minutes later, I saw that the clouds had already moved passed their cotton-candy pink into faint lavender-grey.  So fleeting.

I do it every year.  I get all caught up in the scrub and sweep, and forget to look up.  Before you know it, we'll be hunkering down for the new school year.  The thought makes me want to jump up and run through the sprinklers myself.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Running Between the Raindrops

This boy is awesome.  
How could I have missed posting about the most amazing day he had just before school ended?  Bad, bad mama!!!

Adam made it to the region track finals this year.  He trained and worked very, very hard, and I loved watching it all evolve.  Adam is an unusual child in that sometimes he is very social and outgoing, and other times very private and solitary.  He is punctual and dedicated to the things he loves, but happy to blow off the things he does not.

And the boy loves track!

His events at this meet were the 110 and 300 meter hurdles, and the long jump.  Now, the hurdles he had been doing very well in, but the long jump, surprisingly, not so much.  His coaches had him doing things totally differently from last year, and I think it messed him up.  That boy who could fly last year never even got close to his personal best this year.  It was discouraging for him.  And me.  I love watching that boy jump.

At the big meet, a rare but powerful storm rolled in.  The cement stair-step bleachers became a waterfall once the clouds erupted, and even our rain ponchos didn't save us.  By the end of the meet we were the only family left in the stands on our side of the track.    The runners waiting for their events had sought refuge in a metal freight container used to store hurdles, and they reminded me very much of the scene in I, Robot where the robots are all hanging out in the doorways of the freight boxes.  Only wet, and with blue lips.

In his first race, Adam was doing pretty well initially, but in the last few moments a boy pulled past him and he lost the 3rd place spot.  He was more than miffed, and no motherly consoling that 4th was still awesome took the gloom out of his face.  His goal had been top three, and he didn't get it.

Deciding that he could not afford to split his energies between the remaining two events, he decided not to jump.  "I don't want to get all cold and soaked and not do well in the race," he told us.

He knows himself best.

I tried to hide my disappointment.  Part of what I love about the long jump is the fact that they land in a pit of fluffy sand, which is nearly the same as feathers compared to the damage that could be inflicted by stumbling over a hurdle (made, as we all know, of shark teeth and broken glass shards).

He stayed as warm as possible, and we waited for his event as thunder began to roll in the distance.  The MC announced the meet would continue as long as there was no lightning, and they began slamming through the events as fast as possible in hopes of getting as many done as possible before having to call it.  The rain, so needed and wanted by us all in this insane drought, was miserable.  Thank heavens we left The Middles and The Littles with a sitter!  I think I'd rather deal with an angry honey badger than a wet and cranky Jonah.

Finally, Adam's race came up.  We had parked ourselves near the jumping pits early on, and his race came up so suddenly we had no time to move to the finish line, but we got to watch him prepare for take-off, as the race started right in front of us.  To warm up, Adam does this crazy jump straight up into the air that makes him look like a rocket blasting off, like he might not come back down.  

The starting gun went off so close to us that it made my ears ring, and he immediately pulled ahead with the fastest boys in the pack, vying for lead with a few others.  Then, at about the halfway point, Adam suddenly sprung forward.  At first I wasn't sure it was him.  From that distance wet teenagers all kinda look alike.  But then I saw the square shoulders and rigid, pumping fists that are easy for his mama to recognize.  In just the last few moments a boy came up on Adam's left and nearly overtook him!  He told us later that he heard the loud steps of the boy slapping the rain-soaked track approaching, and thought, "Aw, heck no!"  He was determined he would not lose his lead this time.  From somewhere deep down he mustered just a bit more umph to secure his lead, in the last few steps of the race, and with a lead of just about 2 paces, he won first place!

The dark cloud that had descended after his first race had lifted, and he came running across the field to celebrate his victory with us.  His smile was reflecting all of ours.  I felt so proud, of course, but also just plain happy to see him get that thing, that important goal he had set for himself. 

He stayed behind to cheer for his team mates and bask a little in the celebration of his win.  A win for him was a win for the whole team.  Guy and I and the big boys sloshed hurriedly for the van, laughing and smiling all the way, and I enjoyed the chatter as everyone recounted the details of the race to one another.  As we got closer to home, the clouds thinned, and we arrived home to find that it hadn't even rained on our house, a mere 1/2 hour away.

Guy stopped and bought a cake and a pizza on the way home.  We scraped off the "Happy Birthday" from the cake, and I inscribed his name and victory in frosting on it.  

When Adam got home, it was easy to bask in the sunlight of his smile and the warmth of his excitement.  It was like it had never rained at all.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Better Than a Really Great Bra

Delayed Postification: (Noun); The act of posting about an event in one's life well after it has occurred because, although the author is sadly delinquent, the event bears emotional significance.

May was a month chalk full'o birthdays around here.  Two of those were these two lovelies right here; Kathy and Danielle.

I have been so blessed in my life to be surrounded by amazing women and truly caring friends.  These two go the extra mile though, literally.  Well, if yoga can be measured in miles (that metaphor would have worked better back when we were all running together).  They are more supportive than any bra I've ever owned.

Kathy and I have been exercising for several years together, dragging our kids out, rain or shine, to one another's houses.  We've run and jumping-jacked and push-uped together (hey! Like a bra!).  We are yoga-ing of late.  We also do a work-swap in our gardens and a craft day once a week.  We carpool, babysit, and generally help in many ways.  She is amazing.

Danielle, now she is a whole different kind of wonderful.  Our relationship is an amazing one of text-support.  It's a lot like tech-support, but without the outsourcing.  She and I talk food choices, health, exercise, emotional eating, and many other things.  We often exercise together if we can, but more important than anything to me is the absolutely judgement free zone she creates.  I can tell her I ate a whole bag of chocolate chips (which I would NEVER do, says the author, stuffing the empty bag in the bottom of the trash can), and she would listen to the why behind the behavior, and help me to work past it and on to better choices.  I can't say enough about how generous and loving she is.

So, I made these two amazing women a special lunch and tried to dote on them.  I used to be so good at doting!  I could have doted in the Olympics.  I was in The Doter's Hall of Fame.  If you looked in the 2009 Webster's Dictionary under dote, you'd see a picture of me.  It seems, though, that lately I don't dote too terrifically well.

At least, that's what that creepy voice in my head tells me.  The one that tries to convince me that I "should" do this and that.  The one that tells me my offerings are not enough.  The one that tricks me into comparing myself to others.  Well, that vociferous voice has learned a new trick:  Comparing myself to....

Dastardly!  Don't you agree?

You see, a few years ago I had a birthday lunch in October for 3 friends who celebrate in that month.  I made a great lunch with all the best flavors of Fall, and had cards and gifts for each of the ladies; personally made jewelry that I had matched to their individual personalities and color preferences.  

Now fast forward a few years.  This time there were no gifts.  In fact, if Ethan hadn't stepped in as my sous chef an hour before lift-off, meticulously (and rather mysteriously) mincing veggies into impossibly small cubes with his big yeti fingers, lunch would have been dinner.  When all was said and done...

I felt less than.

Less than generous.
Less than worthy.
Less than who I used to be.

Then I caught myself,
I reminded myself that "the lunch with the gifts" was two kids and one homeschooling lifetime ago.  I am not who I once was, it's true.  None of us are.  We give up certain things to achieve or learn or enjoy others.  Yes, we usually aspire to add to our lives things that will bless or improve, but sometimes in order to enjoy the best things, we must let go of a few good, but not essential ones.

"We women have a lot to learn about simplifying our lives. We have to decide what is important and then move along at a pace that is comfortable for us. We have to develop the maturity to stop trying to prove something. We have to learn to be content with what we are." 
~ Marjorie Pay Hinkley 

“We have to forego some good things in order to choose others that are better or best because they develop faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and strengthen our families.” 
~Dallin H. Oaks

Have you ever judged yourself?  
Have you belittled your sincere efforts? 
 Have you called your offerings and gifts unworthy?

Hey, guess what?  You are enough.
You are good.
You are generous.
Your gifts are worthy, and even lovely.
You are doing the best you can in this moment with what you have been given 

Monday, July 6, 2015

He Who Shall Not Be Named

I have a child
who shall remain nameless.

He graduated recently.  I wanted to make a big deal about it.  He would have none of that.  He resisted traditional announcements, and finally agreed to one that had a picture of him holding a large, angry iguana.  I wanted him to walk in graduation.  He most reluctantly agreed.  If it had not been for the rule that a cap and gown must be worn, he would have ditched his in the bushes.  As it was, he wore an old t-shirt and work shorts under the gown.  "Gowns are for chicks," he said.
He posed for what I called "mandatory" pictures with an uncomfortable, obligatory smile on his face. 

 He tolerated a small gathering at the house because he was given permission to take off after a while with his buddies.  Also, there was cake, so ya' know, ya' gotta eat cake.  His amazing shop teacher, Mr. Smith, came to the house and shared with the boy what an awesome kid he is.  The boy thanked Mr. Smith for helping him land his first job at a machine shop and for being his mentor and friend.  I cried ('cause I was so happy to eat cake, not because I was in any way emotional).  

He's my boy, after all.

He also turned 18, this child of mine.
Hard to believe.
And in some ways, it seems like much longer.

It's been challenging.  He helps to make sure Guy and I are firm in our parenting resolve by regularly doing a perimeter check of the boundaries.  The bonus is that we are very clear about most parenting questions that come up for us with the other kids.  

Been there, done that, with him.

I'll send him a thank you card later.

The one thing that I know for sure is that children come as who they are.  They are well formed beings from day one.  I could try to take responsibility for the way my kids are, call it credit, call it blame, but the bottom line is, especially in his case, that he would probably have been exactly who he is today if he'd been raised by wolves.

I'm not entirely convinced some wildlife weren't involved at some point.

I love him. 
 I tell him. 
 He grunts and sticks out his chin. 
 I think he means, "You too, mom," but I don't speak caveman.

A grey cake and black candles for the b-day boy atop a Tres Leches cake.  
He was very pleased.

A cool toolbox for him to store his calipers in at work.
And beef jerky.  It's the bacon of the dried meat world, you know. 

Grandpa looks tiny next to the man-boy, and I don't think he's done growing (the man-boy I mean.  Not Grandpa.  Grandpa is shrinking at about 2% annually.)

Oooo.  Ouch.  Lookin' old there.

The best friend he'll ever have, without a doubt.

Support from his friends who all go to different schools.

And the real love of his life.  Sometimes I think she came here just for him.  She has a magical power over him, a soothe-the-savage-beast effect, that rounds out sharp corners and refines rough edges. 

And, if, dear reader, you see him, just remember: I never said who I was talking about, and I will deny everything.  Plausible deniability.

Child?  What child?