Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksliterally Day

I sent this email to my besties yesterday; the group of girls I've known since 1991.
I know right. You do the math.

Photo credit

Here's a final holiday wish to my best girlies ...

Be safe- and literally, be thankful. For such a large group of us, we are pretty lucky. I know 2011 hasn't been a fist-bumpin', everything rockin' kind of year- but still. We're still here. We have cars to drive, carbohydrates to eat, cheeks to smooch, favorites to text, scarves to wear, checks to cash, and pillows to sleep on. Be thankful ...

I hope you all know how much you mean to me.
Love you to the moon.

Happy Thanksgiving.
Mama loves.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Yesterday morning, with the trees a perfect, icy whitish gray, I drove to pick up the lil' dude after a mini-vacation at her grandparents' of the North. It had been a long, quiet four days without my best girl around. We drove a few miles with the music turned way, way down (a rarity!) so we could catch up. And by we, I meant ... her. Oh, my bleeding, happy ears!

That hotdog made me throw up. The Beagle was in the road. He never listens to Grandma G. Guess who was on the roof but wasn't Santa? Papa hanging the Christmas lights. I got a new horse for the bathtub and hers hairs CAN GET WET! I forgot my new lion from Papa's store downstairs. I have a new wolf and his baby and the fastest animal in the jungle? What's that called? Oh a cheetah and hers baby too. I puked on NaNa. She needs a bath. Why is the Beagle staring at me? Grandma G. and I flapped our wings in the snow to make ... what are those things called? I got new boots. I puked on my new pants. I have a raccoon on my shirt. It's new, too. I am done with that bad medicine. Grandma says my cough is gone. I have a scratch on my leg from the cat. I miss Daycare Lady. Where's Daddy? Why are you driving the truck? I can't hear my music. Don't ever feed me hotdogs again. When can we go to Grandpa T's for that supper thing? How many more sleeps? The Beagle is still not sleeping. There's Caribou. That's coffee. There's where we drive for swimming. That's Daddy's school. Let's go home. Are we by our town yet? I puked on my new carseat. I need a new one for the car, too. For my birthday. I saw it at Target with Grandma S. I got a new Lion King book. Rafiki has a blue butt. I mean tushie, sorry Mama. That's another Caribou. Barnes and Noble! I want to go there on my birthday for cupcakes and drink things. Why do you like me? Let's watch a movie when we get home. I said, I puked on NaNa and she is wet! I cried my face off. Papa made me stand in the snow with no shoes on to clean me up! Can I smell your coffee? I won't taste it, I promise ... Is this song Lady A.?

"Wait. What did you say, baby? Why do I like you?"
Yeah, why, Mama?

Oh, lil' dude. I like you because ...

I still get burning, wet eyes when I hear you count. Your memory is amazing. You're compassionate. I love our mornings spent in my office at work. You're friends with the boys in your class. You get so mad when you get woken up. You love Jim Boeheim. Stories at bedtime are no longer simple with you. You insist on hugging and kissing the Beagle at bedtime. You request Chipotle for dinner daily. You've had the two same items on your Christmas list since January. You love accessories. You made me a Mama. You make giant messes, and no move to ever clean them up. You miss the library. You sit for an hour at the coffee shop on the weekends. You're my daughter. Like me at your age, you abhor tights and long sleeves. You always share. You think my favorite team is the Minnesota Twins. You made your Grandma's, grandmas. You love Old Navy. You apologize, even when it's inappropriate. Your favorite word is awkward. You prefer animals to dolls and babies. You thank me incessantly for new toothpaste. You despise chocolate milk. You sleep with NaNa wrapped tight around your face. PBS airs your best shows. You have a high pain tolerance. You think Daddy hung the moon. You speak with a positive tilt in your voice; it simply oozes with hope. Drinking straws rock your world. You're my best conspirator. You suck at lying. You wonder how long it will be until sandal season. Red grapes and homemade pickles still top your favorite food list. You're literal to the nth degree. You can't wait until our house gets a hole in it, so we can move. You still crave bathtime like you did years ago. You make time fly. You make me giddy for the holidays and special occasions. You make all my sadness evaporate. You're crazy consistent, and good with routines. You still reach for my hand in parking lots. You know Target's secret for erasing bad days. You think yoga is hilarious.

That, dear sweet girl, is why I like you.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

New Music Thursday

This morning, my two best people were at Target when it opened so they could make Mama's day with this album.
Now that is my love language!
When I picked the lil' dude up from school, she said, Daddy and I went to Target. For your music. Did he give it to you?

I thanked her, and said yes.
She said, you're welcome.

The liner notes say, There is great comfort in a favorite sweater, scarf, or stocking cap. As Minnesotans, we know a bit about these things. We also find comfort in music. The kind of comfort that thrills and fills the soul with warmth and hope. The Cities 97 Sampler strives to provide both kinds of comfort. With music that feeds the soul, and proceeds that feed the hungry, clothe the poor, and give comfort to adults, and animals throughout Minnesota. Thank you again and again for bringing us at Cities 97 great comfort in knowing that this annual compilation of Studio C performances means so much to you.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Preview

The Lovely & Talented Auntie Mo. blessed us with her presence Saturday for our annual family portrait session.

And ... here is a sneak peek.

Is this a preview of life at 4? You bet your ass.

Life's a ... hoot.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Half Dozen

I woke up this morning just after five. The house was silent.
I remembered waking up on the same Saturday morning, before five, six years ago.
The day I became a wife.

The dog sleeps on our bedroom floor.
His bed is right next to my side of the bed.
And, as he is prone to do, when he gets up each and every night, he goes around the foot of the bed, seeking out the Dad.

My side of the bed is nearest the door.
On those early mornings when the lil' dude thinks she needs to be up before us, she also goes around the foot of the bed, to the furthest side of the room, seeking out her Daddy.

It's clear we need him. It's clear he's our first line of defense, no matter the situation.
Most of the time, we all just want to be tucked back in, comforted, soothed.
Because there is no one better than him for any of that.

I love you this morning, and this day, this Saturday the 12th of November just as I have for years and years.
Thank you for simply ... being you.
To me and this family.

And seriously?
Thank you for your unending tolerance for my apparent love of self-photography ... as evidenced by these snapshots.
It's how I roll.
With you.

Mama loves.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Won't You

The lil' dude's current anthem ... we just can't stop jammin' on our drives to Jennifer and Kristian!

She even knows more than the chorus.
Have I said how proud I am of my Mini?
That if she would inherit my love and need for music, I would die a proud Mama?
I swoon.

Photo Credit

All the lonely people cryin’
It could change if we just get started
Lift the darkness, light a fire
For the silent and the broken hearted

Won’t you stand up
Stand Up
Stand Up
Won’t you stand up you girls and boys?

Won’t you stand up
Stand Up
Stand Up
Won’t you stand up and use your voice?

There’s a comfort
There’s healing
High above the pain and sorrow
Change is coming
Can you feel it?
Calling us in to a new tomorrow

Won’t you stand up
Stand Up
Stand Up
Won’t you stand up you girls and boys?

Won’t you stand up
Stand Up
Stand Up
Won’t you stand up and use your voice?

When the walls fall all around you
When your hope has turned to dust
Let the sound of love surround you
Beat like a heart in each of us

Won’t you stand up
Stand Up
Stand Up
Won’t you stand up you girls and boys?

Won’t you stand up
Stand Up
Stand Up
Won’t you stand up and use your voice?

Won’t you stand up
Stand Up
Stand Up
Won’t you stand up you girls and boys?

Won’t you stand up
Stand Up
Stand Up
Won’t you stand up

Won’t you stand up
Stand Up
Stand Up
Won’t you stand up and use your voice?

Thursday, November 10, 2011


This week, the lil' dude and I had a discussion about hitting- after she reported an incident she witnessed.

"Hands are not for hitting," I intoned, thinking of a book? I had seen somewhere, or something? "Hands are for ... hugging," I finished.

And, hands are for giving knucks. And high-fives
, she said solemnly.

She always gets the last word, and rightfully so.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Embers to Flames

Wherever you go, go with all your heart. -Confucius

As is constant with any three-year old, your crazed obsessions come and go with fleeting abandon. I've learned to embrace it, and your ability to pick up and love new things with your entire being is my favorite thing about you.

Your constants remain the same, though. Your NaNa, lil' Beagle, plastic horses, Scooby Doo, and Sleeping Beauty all have major real estate in your heart and soul. But the things you obsess over and grind into your daily life come and go at whim. I'm teaching myself to remember each phase as they're introduced to me.

Introducing your newest love and adoration, your Lion King stuffed animals.
We've talked about the Lion King before- how much that movie meant to me as an 8th grader. How to this day, it still reminds me of your Auntie SG. But at the end of August, Daddy took you to see the 3-D theatrical release of the film, a movie you had already seen dozens of times. All lion pride hell broke loose from that point on.

You were redrawn to your existing Lion King books. And, holy Subway infatuation since you learned the kids' meal is all emblazoned with the Lion King logo! You talked your Papa into a plastic set of lions from the fleet supply store, too. You've got skills, I'll give you that! You did a hard sell on your Mama one Saturday morning at WalMart so you could end up with a stuffed Nala. I never give into you in the toy aisle, ever. But something that morning was different. Best $8 I ever spent.

Until I spent another $8 on Simba as your souvenir from my work trip to Miami.
Then your Grandma G. bought you another Simba, the baby version, for Halloween and boom! Your pride is numbered at three now. You four travel in a pack. I love it.

It's hard to not get as excited as you do over life's tiniest pleasures. I always want to support your current desires, even as they recede to embers as your next desire and passion starts to kindle into an entirely new fire. It makes me slow down and appreciate the rest of life away from the obligations and standardization.

Here's to you and your pride.
Just as it was to your little girls.
And your pink kitchen.
Your Beagle-pretending skills.
Or baking cookies.

Monday, November 7, 2011

All the Hurtling & Barreling

One month from today, I will have a four-year old daughter.

November has always been a particularly sweet month for me- there is so much tied to this month. Of dates and times and places, and people and faces and belongings and remembrances and vows. So much has always happened this month.
So needless to say, my nostalgia and longing and memory meters are all in the red zone; pointing, pointing, pointing to everything that lives on in my heart. Just one, tiny month stands between three and four as we barrel and hurtle towards yet another 7th day.

The nurse who was assigned to me for the first 24 hours I was in labor was named Ann. The nurse who finally helped me deliver was named Trista. And the nurse who woke me up in the dark to give me drugs as my baby slept was named Karalee. I can't imagine going through something as awesomely large as childbirth without remembering each and every person who helped me throughout. So every November, when my remembering and reminiscing start to tangle and surface as December begins to stir, I think of those three women and the roles they don't even know they played in my life, four years ago.

Being in charge of a tiny human is unbelievable. I don't quite know how to pack the gravity of the task, or caliber of the gift into one sentence. As she grows and matures and develops, my tiny human makes me falter and question and fake it and study it so I can answer it. That she is now experiencing her own things and regaling in stories I will never see firsthand, like preschool, still shocks and amazes me. That we'll run into W's mom at Old Navy or N. at the library and she will just know who these people are! And introduce them to me! Makes my world tilt all off its axis!

I had to do the math of her months on a calculator just now. She is 47 months old today. I think Pampers finally stopped sending me her updates on a monthly basis, which is for the better. I can't stand other people telling me I have a preschooler! I know! I take her there everyday! I took her to kindergarten screening, I still watch her cry when the Widow Tweed has to release Tod to the wilderness to save his life in The Fox and the Hound, and I hear her whisper about her great-Grandma's dog, who passed away this summer after a long, fat, and lovely life. I know how she reasons; I understand her logic, appreciate her empathy, and encourage her defiance (albeit secretly). My tiny human is hell-bent on becoming a largish-sized human, both physically and emotionally whether or not I like it. It's been my absolute greatest pleasure and honor to be the rearer and Mama.

There's a song I can't stop listening to these days, as is my ever-lovin' nature.

No Fear of Heights, by Katie Melua.

I never walked near the edge
Used to fear falling
I never swam far from shore
Never tried the secret door

But when you give me love
When you give me love

I have no fear of heights,
No fear of the deep blue sea,
Although it could drown me,
I know it could drown me

I didn't wander in the woods
Used to fear the darkness
I didn't like getting deep
I was scared of what I couldn't keep

But when you give me love
When you give me love

I have no fear of heights,
No fear of the deep blue sea,
Although it could drown me,
I know it could drown me

No fear of the fall
No fear if it's with you that I fall
'cause nothing could break us,
No, nothing could break us, now

It resonates with me, word for word, because it's totally applicable to both parenting and childhood alike. Because? Neither of us- the lil' dude nor myself, still has any clue what we're doing. We're waking and breathing and laughing and apologizing and wiping tears and fearing while not, each day. Being girls in Uggs and lipgloss with over-sized handbags and even bigger visions just wondering when we can finally hang out with our besties. We're putting all our faith into every tomorrow, circling days on calendars and items in glossy catalogues until every wish comes true.

One month to go.
All the hurtling and barreling towards everything we can.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


I made my daughter cry this morning.
I was rushed, and per usual, her lack of urgency was prominent in our entryway.
She burst into tears.
I burst into internal cussing and guilt.
It was one of those mornings.

I love words- today I love someone else's.
ELD, I love you for sending this to me when you knew I needed it.
Even from where you stand, you sent it to me.
You're amazing and I love you, mean it.

When Mercy Sucks - by her.

I am a happy person. You bet. But happy people also feel sucky and their lives are also really complicated and painful. We simply seek out and build happiness in the middle of the pain and suckage.

Back in the days when my husband was a pastor and/or student minister, I took several tests to determine what my "spiritual gifts" were. At the top of that list, every single time, was mercy. Some would argue whether these are actually spiritual, or personality traits or what-not. Whatever your personal take is, there is no denying it:

I ooze mercy.

I cry mercy.

I sweat mercy.

I crap mercy (so maybe that's not totally possible ... but if it were, I WOULD DO IT!)

That also means that I feel the pain of the people I love. It's a blessing and a curse. I FEEL it. I carry it. I want to fix it or alleviate it or at the very least lessen it. I have been given many opportunities over the years to practice feeling mercy and not allowing it to crush me. It's hard. The more I love someone, the more I feel it.

My type of person is the reason we bring food to people after a death. We have to do something! Anything! We feel like WE will die if we can't make your life a little bit easier in those moments.

I have pushed myself to find balance in these times. I have to stop and sit with how I'm feeling (usually helpless and out of control). Oh, yikes. Hmmm. "Control" seems to always float to the top when I sit with feelings. Frick. So, perhaps my mercy starts as a very good thing, but floats to the wrong side as I start to feel the enormity of the pain, causing me to realize I can't fix everything, and then being overwhelmed with a desire to be in control.

Yeah, that's usually it. I work through it. I find that balance and allow people to hurt and be comforted/helped/loved by ALL the people in their life. I visualize myself releasing the need to control pain and distress, because let's face it ... I can't! What a waste of energy to try. I also state over and over what is true: "I can live out mercy in a healthy way, and it is good even when the pain is still there. I can come home, hang up the phone, end the conversation, whatever ... even when the pain is still present, and that is not going to make the pain worse."

I don't believe it, so I say it again. And again. And again. Then I'm better, and twenty minutes later have to say it again.

My pain? I expect pain and difficulty. But watching the people I love struggle? It kills me.

So, probably no need to review, but here we go.

Mercy = good

Crushing mercy = bad

The end.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011