August 31, 2010

buy me some peanuts and cracker-jacks

And another day down.

I jumped out of bed bright and early at ELEVEN-OH-MY-GOODNESS-FIFTEEN, so it was after noon before I was dressed and ready to face what was left of the day. If I didn't know better, I'd think I was on vacation. Cooked the beginnings of Chicken Enchiladas, Baked Ziti, and Stroganoff, washed some dishes, made Mac & Cheese for lunch, texted my favorite people, then finally figured out how to access the new Church Management Software, so I spent the rest of the afternoon doing some very stimulating data-entry. I made it all the way from the A's to the middle of the B's. This could take awhile.

Yesterday's "first" was Peruvian food; tonight I attended my first real baseball game ever, with the Indianapolis Indians. No offense to the FOG, my beloved church softball team. However, I noted some differences between the Pittsburg Pirates minor-league games at Victory Field and The FOG games.

VICTORY FIELD: Fully-shaded, theater seating for 12,500 in downtown Indianapolis where we were ushered to our seats, 7 rows behind home plate.
FOG GAME: Dusty plank & concrete block bleacher seating for 16 in the suburbs of Symsonia, Kentucky where we park in the grass on the opposite side from the corn field and carry our own lawn chairs.

VICTORY FIELD: Multiple concession choices and numerous kiosks with loaded nachos, rib baskets, chili dogs, cheeseburgers, quesadillas, giant pretzels, and, of course, a margarita bar.
FOG GAME: Pixie sticks.

VICTORY FIELD: Free giveaways - tee shirts, car washes, mall gift cards, restaurant certificates, etc.
FOG GAME: Free giveaways - sunglasses, iPods, keychains, leather wallets . . . but only if you steal them off the dugout bench during the bottom of the innings.

VICTORY FIELD: Between-inning entertainment, games, and music.
FOG GAME: Frog catching.

VICTORY FIELD: Multiple large, clean, air-conditioned restrooms.
FOG GAME: One unisex port-a-potty where you have to utilize the light from your cell phone just to find the roll of toilet paper.

VICTORY FIELD: Two enormous, fully lighted scoreboards with player photos and stats, live video and a pre-game viewing of the Swagger Wagon video.
FOG GAME: A lady with a clipboard who never seems to be quite sure of the exact score.

VICTORY FIELD: Digital billboards encouraging you to "GET LOUD" and a Red Rodent mascot named "Rowdie"who gets the crowd all riled up.
FOG GAME: An adorable left-fielder who holds her husband's hand on the way to the outfield, and who squeals when the ball is hit her direction.

VICTORY FIELD: Professional ball players who hit hard, run fast, catch fly balls, stop all grounders, and always throw exactly where they want the ball to go. Very entertaining.
FOG GAME: Players from all professions who, well, try really hard, swat flies in the outfield, occasionally let grounders roll between their legs and frequently overthrow the bases. Still, very VERY entertaining.

The baseball game was great, the food was yummy, the stadium was immaculate, and the weather was perfect (except for Kacey, whose lovely pregnant body glistens at the very mention of sunshine). But I'll still take a pixie stick, a plank bleacher, and my FOG friends any day of the week.

Speaking of pregnant body . . . the countdown continues . . .

August 29, 2010


Ain't It Grand?
The countdown is underway. I'm now in Indianapolis for my "Grand-Maternity" leave, which could be 8 days long, or 40 days long, depending on the little person growing inside my daughter. September 15 seems like a nice day to breathe in and out and invite a midwife to the house. I'm just sayin'.

I would just like to state one more time, for the record, that I am ENTIRELY TOO YOUNG to be a grandmother. That being said, I have finally decided on my grandmother name! Kacey said it took me longer to pick a name than it did for her to grow a baby, which is nearly true. But this name definitely suits ME, and when I get used to it, I'll share. :D

Swagger Wagon
I finally broke down and bought a mini-van . . . a lovely silver Honda Odyssey, which we have officially named Eddie Van Honda. I made it through the child-rearing years without, but now it just makes sense. I figure I can save the church $1000 this year just by loaning it out for youth group trips, and that's just one of the perks. I had hoped to pay cash for this vehicle, but the Honda was a bit pricey, so the bank and I will share joint custody for awhile.

The Girls say "Hello"
As I was putting the finishing touches on my packing the other night, I lost my cell phone. I mean, somewhere between the 14 bottles of White Rain Pearberry hairspray and the kitchen sink, I LOST my cell phone. I retraced my steps, went through all my suitcases, checked the freezer, and pulled out the couch cushions, but nada. So, I finally gave up and called myself from the house phone. When I did, my boobs rang.

Speaking of the girls, I have THE best friends. The only problem is, if you combine all their ages, I'm still old enough to be their mom. Seriously. I graduated from high school the VERY SAME WEEK the oldest one of them was born. But they inspire me and push me and entertain me and make me appear much cooler than I actually am. I am INCREDIBLY blessed by them.

Okay, time to get some beauty sleep. I need to stay well-rested. When my granddaughter arrives, I don't want these bags under my eyes to be her first memory of me. Nightie night.

The Countdown begins . . .

August 27, 2010

it's not a lie if you believe it

Lettuce Try Again
Reigh Anne, my sweet friend and mother of five, sat at the table across from me, enjoying her Panera Asian Salad and our “Grown-Up Girls Only” lunch. Next to me, Sara commented that she had convinced Reigh Anne to give Panera a second chance, as she had eaten there once already but had NOT had a good experience. Shocked at the thought, I asked Reigh Anne, "So . . . the last time you were here . . . what did you HAVE?”

Without missing a beat, Reigh Anne stated flatly, “My kids.”

Seems she ordered a strawberry chicken salad, and her youngest picked out all the strawberries and all the chicken and left her with a big bowl of lettuce.

Separation Anxiety
Sitting around a different table on a different day with some different friends, we were discussing the upcoming school year, and this being my son’s LAST, and yet FIRST, year of school. (You know, the whole homeschooled-his-whole-life-but-now-going-to-public-school-as-a-17-year-old-senior thing). One of the women at the table is long-time Kindergarten teacher, ‘Miss Becky’. I asked if she was excited to start another year. “I am,” she replied, “except for the first couple of days. Those are always the difficult days of ‘THIS IS HOW WE GO TO SCHOOL’.” To which Sara M. exclaimed, “THAT’S WHAT KEVIN NEEDS TO DO! HE NEEDS TO GO TO MISS BECKY’S CLASS!” Made me giggle. A lot. But after I held Kevin's hand and walked him to all his classes, and sat with him at lunch for a couple of days, he made a smooth adjustment to being without his mommy.

I wish I could say the same was true for me. I MISS my boy.

You Can't Handle the Truth
At this point in the blog, Kevin would accuse me of lying, as he frequently does where my blog is concerned. “It’s not lying,” I defend, “if it’s BASED in truth . . . it’s called literary license.” He sarcastically muttered something under his breath wondering which office at the Court House issued me a Literary License.

Having completed three full weeks of school now, he admitted that, while he LOVES his AP Biology class, he is relatively bored out of his little mind with the rest of his classes, which is both good and bad. Good, because it’s nice to know his homeschool education has well-prepared him, but bad because he seriously needs to be challenged this year.

Anyway . . . Kevin also admitted that, for the first time in his life, he now FULLY appreciates the concept of a weekend. I laughed, “Tired of school already?”

“No, I could do school every day . . . if it started at NOON!”

I have to confess, I enjoy his waking ME up most mornings now, instead of vice-versa. If I could only train him to bring me coffee in bed . . .

August 23, 2010

Where is the A-Team when you need them?

Like most middle-aged girls, I love a good chick flick, a dark chocolate kiss, and a box of Puffs Plus. But I also love a good testosterone-laden, sweaty-muscled boy movie. Die Hard, Terminator, Rambo, yeah. "Yippee-ki-Ya, I'll be back", and all that jazz. So when a preview promises a good boy movie with Bruce, Arnold AND Sly? Well, baby, count me in.

So I paid $4.75 for a diet Coke and snuggled up under my denim jacket (yeah, I know it's 97 degrees outside, but the theater is always an icebox), and I was ready to experience two quality hours of Shoot 'Em Up, Bang Bang. Which is exactly how the movie started - an ambush. Four "good guys" mow down three dozen "bad guys", the first of which got his torso blown in half and one of the good guys says, "Whoops, too low".

There were about 75 such machine-gun-to-the-chest, machete-slitting-throat, and small-blades-jabbed-into-the-ear scenes, complete with extended blood splattering, splurting and gurgling. But, okay, I did ask for a boy movie.

There were chase scenes. Lots of 'em. And, ironically, in every single one, fruit stands were overturned and big 'splosions occurred. Luckily, however, none of the good guys were ever harmed in the making of this film.

There were rigorous fight scenes where multiple thugs attack a single hero . . . politely, though, one at a time, so our hero is able to aptly kick all their butts in sequence.

There were two women in the movie, shockingly both drop-dead gorgeous, who were unable to do anything without their burly past-their-prime, locked-and-loaded men to protect them and rescue them. Repeatedly.

There was witty dialogue like:
(Bald Bad Guy): "Who sent you?"
(Stallone): "Your hairdresser."

There was a shocking final moment from Head Bad Guy Eric Roberts (at least, that's what his name tag said), when he confessed to being a drug-runner because his soul is empty. Then they kill him six different ways, with extended blood splattering, splurting and gurgling.

Oh, and then there was THE LIE. THE BIG LIE. The glorious previews. The promise of the greatest boy movie ever made with all the greatest boys starring in it. Well, that "promise" amounted to nothing more than a 30-second CAMEO with Arnold and Bruce. Seriously. One scene. Although, later in the movie, Stallone does hold up a glossy 8x10 of Bruce's face, so maybe you can count that as two scenes. This is a Stallone vehicle, written and directed by Rocky to rescue his aging career . . . and ego.

The Expendables was completely . . . oh, what's the word for something you can really do without???

Plus, my diet Coke was flat.

August 18, 2010

real. simple.

Last week, we were discussing the discipline of simplicity.

The concept of living simple lives . . .
1. Don't "buy" things just to "have" things. (Like all those empty Rubbermaid containers I have in the utility, in case I get one of my overwhelming urges to organize something.)
2. Don't let anything become an addiction for you. (Like chocolate. Or, say, chocolate.)
3. Take joy in giving things away. (Here, you can have my utility bill!)
4. Appreciate things without having to own them.
5. Develop a deeper appreciation for creation. (Like the weeds in my flower bed.)
6. Reject anything that oppresses others.
7. Get rid of the distractions that keep you from seeking and seeing God in your life.

When asked, "How can we be more intentional about simplicity?" a lovely, young professional mother-of-three commented that she tries to limit her schedule to 3 things a day. She said anytime she tries to squeeze in more than that, it makes her a "grouchy mommy".

Well, I don't want to be a grouchy mommy either.

So today I got out of bed, shaved my legs, and drove to Panera's for a Cinnamon Crunch Bagel.

One, two, three. It worked. I don't feel grouchy at all. Mission accomplished.

Simplicity is good.

August 13, 2010


God is trying to teach me patience and contentment and I have been fighting Him. For a long time. And I have been angry with Him. For a long time. And I have become completely disillusioned with prayer while, ironically, continuing to pray more than I ever have in my life, because I don't know what else to do.

My friend Lynn once said that "anger is simply unmet expectations". The first time I heard her say that, I dismissed it as oversimplified and generalized. A couple of years later, she repeated that phrase, and I kept it with me. Looked at it. Rolled it over in my brain. And came to realize it is unfailingly true. Without exception.

If Anger is Unmet Expectations, then what I've also come to realize over the past few months is: Depression is Anger that Just Doesn't Want to Get Out of Bed.

See, I have let my unmet expectations overwhelm me. I want what I want. I have forgotten that my life is not about me. My BLOG is about me, but my LIFE, not so much. It is in God's hands. I have forgotten to trust that he KNOWS the plans he has for me. Mostly because I have my own plans, and I don't trust that he is paying close attention to the details.

Tonight I have been lying alone, outside in the dark, listening to the crickets and the frogs, and watching God's attention to details in the form of a meteor shower. And I was reminded once again, in the vastness of this universe, in the midst of my unmet expectations, he still loves me, he still promises NEVER to leave me, and he still gives me hope . . .

August 09, 2010

refined taste

I don't know if you're a fan of crackers or not, but as far as crispy little baked goods go, Club crackers rank pretty high on the list. They've been a staple in my kitchen for a long, long time. They work especially well with egg salad or cheese of most any kind.

A few years back, the kids started asking if I would buy "The Good Crackers" next time I went grocery shopping. Sure! I assumed they meant would I just replace the good crackers we always have because they had all been eaten. So I brought home more Club crackers.

They never complained, but the next time I was Kroger-bound they asked again, "Please Mommy, would you buy The Good Crackers THIS time?" Sure, my sweet babies! What ARE the Good Crackers? But they couldn't tell me. "You know, they yummy ones!" So I perused the Ritz and the Cheese Nips and the oyster crackers, but decided on Wheat Thins (my personal favorite cracker . . . besides Matthew Shafer). Once home, I asked, "Are theeese what you wanted?" and I waved the yellow box in front of them with a satisfied smile. Two disappointed little faces told me I had not hit my mark.

Some time later I brought home a little sack of Pepperidge Farm Goldfish which cost roughly the same as a 16-oz ribeye. This time I was met with enthusiasm! Yes! Score one for Mommy! Goldfish crackers are practically CANDY to small children. They enjoyed feasting on them for several days.

More weeks passed, and on this occasion, the children were grocery shopping with me. As we strolled down the cookie/cracker aisle, the kids stopped dead in their tracks and stared at the floor. Heaven opened up. All the spot lights in the ceiling swiveled to illuminate the place at my children's feet, and angels began singing "Hallelujah".

"Mommy!!!! The GOOD crackers! Please, please, please!?"

And there, at their feet, were the Saltines.

The good crackers.

August 08, 2010

08 08 oh wait

I canNOT believe it has been 2 years since the wedding.
It's going too fast!
Happy Anniversary!

August 07, 2010

of mice and men

I have the best laid plans . . . when I'm lying in bed. I stretch and think and outline out all the things I'm GOING to do when I get up. I do this every day. Today is a big housework day. Catch up on the laundry, clean the bathroom, mop the kitchen floor, pull weeds in the flower beds, vacuum, dust, windex - I'm certain you know the drill. I even plan to move the silk trees outside to wash them, move the desk from the den to the living room, hook up the new computer, clean out the refrigerator, and shave my legs.

That's the plan. At least that was the plan as of 6:30 this morning. But 6:30 is too early, so I reach for my iPod and play a few rounds of Scrabble with my daughter, answer a phone call from an old friend, and fall back to sleep. No worries. It's Saturday. I have no place to go today. Plenty of time for my agenda.

When I wake for the second time, I hit the ground running . . . until it came time to fold laundry. My first mistake came in turning on the tv. My second mistake was flipping to the SyFy channel, because I know it is Saturday and I am going to want to laugh at the cheesy dialogue and heckle the bad acting and become completely enthralled with the special effects. (In today's movie, the dragon bites off a guy's arm, and as the camera pans over his now bloody stump, you can actually see his real arm tucked behind him.)

Not to worry. The dishwasher is running, the garbage has been taken out, the silk trees have been washed, most of the house is vacuumed, the toilet & bathtub are as clean as they are going to be without some sort of nuclear bleach bomb, the laundry basket is empty and the clothes are now folded and put away. And to maximize my time, I always work during commercials. Unless, of course, it's a Toyota Sienna commercial.

Then I realize it's 1:30, so I make a little lunch (which totally counts as housework) and flip channels and become quickly engrossed in a movie where James Garner is telling Sally Field he's in love for the last time in his life, and I sigh a wistful sigh. Then I click the remote again and Mr. Darcy is telling Miss Elizabeth his feelings have not changed, and the look between them lets you know they are in love, and not just fluffy love, but that with-your-whole-heart-until-the-day-you-die kind of love. Sigh again.

Now, since I'm already vegging, I play a few more rounds of IPod Scrabble, check Facebook, my Blogher Revenue ($4.63 this week), and realize I have now misplaced my early morning motivation. I try to find it. I sit here and stretch and think and outline all the things I still want to accomplish. Only now they don't seem so important. The house is clean. Mostly. Except for the kitchen floor, but I chose the kitchen tile based on the single point that it doesn't show dirt. So really, mopping it would be wasted effort unless somebody is planning to eat off it. Somebody besides the ants, that is.

So I took a bath and shaved my legs. I can now cross off the last thing on my list. I'm finished. Right?

Sounds good to me.

August 05, 2010

it is finished

Fewer than three hours after my last post, Tony left this world to go home.

I cannot stop the tears, nor do I want to.

praying for a miracle

This is Tony when he was about 5. He is a perfect blend of his parents, Neal and Sherri, who were our best friends when we lived in Alaska, and who remain, to this day, the kind of friends you would do anything for. We spent countless hours together eating, talking, playing games, worshiping, etc.

Our kids have played together since they were babies, and have continued to remain in each others' lives via Facebook. They are more like cousins than just childhood friends.

Though we have been gone from Alaska for many years, we have still managed to get together 13 long weekends since we left . . . the last time being in January last year when we went to be with them when Tony had surgery on a brain tumor.

We always pick right up from where we left off as though we have never been apart.

We still have a copy of their will in our safe which names us as guardians for Tony and his sister should something unspeakable happen to their family.

And something unspeakable is happening, and my heart is breaking. Surgeries and treatments for Tony, even from M.D. Anderson, have not been successful. While Tony should have spent the last 18 months finishing college, (he is nearly 22 now) he has spent it fighting this astrocytoma. And his body is not winning.

Tony is now in his bedroom at home in Alaska with his precious mom and dad. He is in more pain than his medication can relieve. He has lost feeling in some of his body. His brain can no longer make the connection between his thoughts and his words. He has stopped eating. His breathing has become shallow and labored. He is aware that he is dying. He is ready, but he is worried about his parents. As am I.

I am still praying for a miracle.

coffee talk

My boy . . . my youngest . . . my baby is starting his very first day of school today. I can hardly believe it.

He looked so cute this morning standing on the front porch for his official “First Day of School” photo.

Brand new shoes.

Backpack over his shoulders.

Week-old haircut so it looks nice, but not TOO “I just got my hair cut”.

Lunch money in his pocket.

Rolling his eyes at me and saying, “Mom, give me my keys. I gotta go NOW so I'll have time to stop and get coffee on the way.”

Did I mention that my baby is 17 and a high school senior? Not really so much his “first day of school” as it is his “first day of public school”, having been homeschooled his entire life.

Still. I’m all misty. And a little verklempt. Talk amongst yourselves while I go fix my mascara.

August 01, 2010


I am getting ready for bed when my phone rings. It is late, and I know even before I look who the call is from. With a smile on my face, I answer with the words, “Are we going to have a baby?” The mom-to-be on the other end of the phone questions the feelings she is having . . . contractions? gas pains? Wishful thinking? “How far apart?” I ask. Maybe 15 minutes, she thinks, though not sure. So I ask if she wants to “rest” or “rock and roll”, to which she replies that resting sounds nice. (It sounds nice to me too, but it is not my decision.) I advise her to drink a glass of water and try to sleep - I will come whenever she wants me.

I am a doula. A birth doula, to be more specific. Supporting women during childbirth. It has become a job, a hobby, a passion, a ministry.

I sleep lightly for two hours, anticipating their call. This time from her husband. A sure sign it is time for me to meet them. I dress quickly, grab my bag, and drive the 32 miles in the middle of the night, meeting only a few headlights. The roads are quiet at 1:15. I arrive to a dark street, dark houses, except for the one expecting me. The porch light is on, the door is unlocked, waiting for me to let myself in. I change my shoes, wash my hands, and head to the bedroom where she is laboring with quiet moans and easy rocking. “How we doing?” I whisper. She looks at me with eyes that say, “This is not what I was expecting. Is it supposed to hurt like this?” The dad-to-be lets me know that she woke nearly an hour ago to steady contractions, about 8 minutes apart. We have now moved to 7 minutes and she does not want to be bothered when a contraction rushes over her. They sit together on the bed and with each wave of tightness, he holds her hand and rubs her arm. Her feet are cold, so I put socks on her feet, and remind her to take deep breaths through her nose and blow them slowly out of her mouth. I get her some water and rummage through the bathroom drawer for some much-wanted chapstick.

We decide to walk. The house is small, but open, so we can walk in uninterrupted circles. Hubby tries to catch a nap, as she and I walk and talk, then stop and rock. When a contraction comes, I put my arms around her back, she puts her head on my shoulder and we do a little rocking dance. Back and forth. The waves strengthen and move closer. We rotate between walking the house, squatting on the birth ball, and standing in a hot shower. Time passes unnoticed. In the wee hours of the morning, it is time to make the drive to the hospital. We load the bags, grab a pillow and quietly go to the car, pausing every few minutes for another contraction.

When we arrive at the hospital, the birthing couple gets settled into their new location while I meet and greet the nursing staff and make sure they are familiar with the birth plan. By the time I get to the room, she is having a hard time opening her eyes. She is focusing on the pain and is starting to become overwhelmed. A quick check shows she is only dilated to 5. She looks disappointed, hoping this would almost be over, but I reassure her that 5 centimeters is respectable for just over 6 hours of labor, that she is doing great and I am really proud of her. I really am.

She can’t seem to get comfortable in the hospital bed, so we stroll the halls, hubby and I taking turns in the rocking position. I encourage dad-to-be to take the lead as often as he wants, completely if he wants. He is grateful for someone to help him know what to do, how to respond, how to help. It is hard for him to see her in pain. With every contraction now, one of us massages her lower back with a very effective palm-twisting rub I learned from an Amish midwife.

Back in the room, we drop the lower half of the bed down to the floor and I get on my knees in front of her. She sits on the edge of the bed, her arms draped over my shoulders, her face glistening with sweat, her blonde hair in her eyes. I tuck the hair behind her ear and tell her what a trooper she is, and that very soon she is going to be holding her baby in her arms and this will all be a memory.

She is moaning loudly now. Deep, gutteral moans that seem to push the pain away from her body. In between moaning, we breathe. Her husband lightly strokes her back and kisses her repeatedly on the forehead. They are incredibly sweet. She instinctinvely begins to bear down with each contraction, her body in tune to the rhythm of labor, now nearing the final stage. Almost in an instant, her eyes grow wide and she starts to breathe fast, shallow breaths. Another check shows she is dilated to 9. I smile a huge grin and she almost starts to cry. “No crying now, you are doing an amazing job, and it is almost time to push.” But the reassurance is not enough to overcome the intensity of transition, so as her moans turn to low cries of doubt (“I can’t do this anymore! I want it to be over.”) we continue the routine of massaging and breathing and rocking and reassuring that not only CAN she do this, she IS doing this.

The hospital staff begins to descend upon the room, readying equipment and lights. The bed is further adjusted into a complete upright position, and then everything goes quiet. No screaming, no moaning . . . no pain. A mini-reprieve. Time to breathe. Time to rest. Time to wipe her face with a cool washcloth. Time for the CNM to tell her that with the next contraction she can push. And she does. I talk her through HOW to push (yes, there is a “right way”) and her husband directs her eyes to the mirror at the base of the bed. “Can you see?” She can, but another 30 seconds of pushing interrupts the viewing. Then another 30 seconds. Then another. After dozens more, the midwife tells her that with the next contraction she doesn’t want her to push. I remind her the baby is crowning, so much like putting on a turtleneck, she wants to ease the baby’s head out slowly. So we pant. Short quick blows in and out of our mouths as we stare at each other. Her attention now moves to her husband, so I grab the camera and get ready for baby's first photo. Once the head has crowned, she closes her eyes and bears down hard until she hears the midwife’s words, “There we go!” and looks down just in time to see a tiny wet little body slip out and hear his new lungs quiver and start to cry. Her hands reach down to comfort him.

“It’s a boy!”

He is brought to her tummy and covered with a warm blanket. She melts into tears and smiles and relief as her baby's cries subside and he settles his head on her chest. “He’s perfect,” she says as she looks from her son to her husband and back again.

It is a mere 10 and a half hours since the first contractions began. Much shorter than the average labor. No drugs. No interventions. No complications.

A beautiful new family. A beautiful new day. Time for me to sleep.