Friday, December 18, 2009


This one:
This one truly taught me the meaning of the word "breathtaking;" so thrilled was I to have a second chance at motherhood, I'd stand over her crib and stare at her, soak her in, realizing moments later that I had forgotten to breathe once again.

This one's passion, simply put, is life.

Her first words were "...and me!" and she said them often as she followed her big brother through the house trying to mimic his every move. Those words were soon followed by "I do it myself." And she meant it. She will take on any project, any assignment, and laugh her way through it while giving it her all.
And that laugh. My stars, that laugh! By the time she was three, her laugh was bigger than she was. And now it makes me weak in the knees. It's deep and true. Thankfully we get to hear that laugh many times a day, every day.

I'm in love with her joy for life. I'm in love with the privilege of sitting back and watching her enjoy this party that is life for her. I'm in love with the fact that she allows me to have a front row seat on her journey. I'm in love with her.

This one has men in her life that will turn the world upside down for her. She may not always like it. She might not like it, at the moment, when her brother goes to school dances and watches her the whole time. She might not like it, at the moment, that he teases her about the boys in her life. But deep down, I know she realizes how lucky she is to have her own security staff of one looking out for her. And I know she is proud of him. I know that she is proud of the man he is. I know that she is proud to call him her brother.

This one had her daddy wrapped around her little finger from the moment the doctor said "It's a girl." He wants to tell her "no." He needs to tell her "no." But he struggles with it. He really does.
Because when she wraps those arms around his shoulders, she also wraps her eyes and dimples around his heart. And then....
Well then he is rendered helpless. And the princess is granted the kingdom. Again. But seriously. Look at that smile. Look at those dimples...that hair blowing in the wind. I suppose many dads would be turned into a helpless pile of goo when faced with that.

This one thrives on being with others. Her mood might take a slight dip if her heart isn't kept full with the presence of those she loves. Just as my mood might take a slight dip if my heart isn't kept full with her presence. Sure, we need time apart. But my day is just a little darker when I haven't seen her smile and felt her energy.

Sometimes I think I want a day alone. Sometimes I think I don't mind having the house to myself. But then she walks in at the end of the day and I realize that I love a rainy day until the sun comes out again.

And I realize I have missed the sunshine all along.
This one. I don't know what her path in life is. But I know it will be a path bordered with laughter and light. I know that she will make life the joyous party it is meant to be.
I know that she is my heart.
Early photos by Lynn Austin - L.A. Photography
Current photos by Jenna Stahl - Daily Life Photography

Monday, December 14, 2009


From our house to yours:

Monday, December 07, 2009


This one:

This one initiated me into that wonderful, maddening, frightening, mysterious, joyous club we call motherhood.

All mothers know that when we first hold our child in our arms, we experience our heart living outside our bodies. What we don't know at that first glance, that first touch, is that we will blink once, twice, three times - and they will be grown, with one foot outside the nest, eager to jump and fly without us. Does anybody tell us that? I suppose we wouldn't believe them anyway, so wrapped up are we in sleepless nights, bottles, colic, fevers, first smiles, first teeth, first steps, first words. There are days we think we will not survive the baby stage.

And then we blink again and they are grown. Like this one:

This one who started out talking with a vengeance, using phrases bigger than he was as a toddler. Somewhere along the way, though, he morphed into a man of few words. He is the strong silent type I guess.

But when he speaks you can count on his words to be well thought out and full of passion. Usually. You can count on them to be self deprecating. You can count on his words to leave no doubt in your mind where he stands on a subject. Subjects like protecting the unborn and supporting our military. Subjects like loyalty and fairness.

But make no mistake; this young man who is so passionate and independent; this young man who is several inches taller than his dad, absolutely adores this man:

I have learned, with this tall lanky son of mine, that physical height has nothing to do with the people you look up to in your walk through life. He has made mistakes, this son of mine. He has hit a bump or two on the road to adulthood. Who of us hasn't?

But he has come out the other side a little bit stronger, a little bit wiser, a little bit more willing to laugh at himself. And carrying a little bit more character with him than many adults he knows; though his spirit might have been a little bit bruised in the process.

He will look out for the underdog. He will take the lost one, the weak one, the new one, under his wing.

But in his youthful eagerness to keep all things equal, he might also strive to take the arrogant one down a notch or two. But once that is done, he takes the newly humbled one under his wing and gives them a special kind of respect.

He doesn't talk to his little sister a lot. He doesn't talk to anybody a lot.
But, again, make no mistake. He would take on the world for her. He threatens to have his shotgun in hand when boys come to the house. There are rumors that he's had "little talks" with boys he doesn't deem worthy of our girl. He has little respect for young men who do not treat girls well; especially if these young men have little sisters of their own.
Eighteen and a half years ago, when I held this one in my arms for the first time; as I rubbed his round fuzz-covered head, I had no idea of the man he would become.
And now? Now I'm getting a glimpse. I know he has a desire to serve his country - a desire so strong that it could not be quashed by this fearful mother's pleadings. I know that he has learned from his mistakes. I know that he is eager to be out on his own and face the challenges that life has to offer.
I know that he is my heart.

*Photos by Daily Life Photography -


Maddy spent the weekend with us. You know. Cousin Maddy? My cousin's daughter? The one who makes Kayla absolutely miserable when she's around. Seriously, look at these unhappy girls, just before they left for the mall:

See Kayla's scarf? Well, it isn't. Kayla's that is. It's Maddy's. She had bought it at the mall the day before. Yes, they go to the mall every day when they're together. Anyway, I liked it so much I asked the girls to pick one up for me on chapter 2 of their mall trip.

They didn't have the same one, so they picked a different one out for me:
Poor Maddy. An old woman wants to dress like her. By the way, Maddy's dad is very tall. So is Maddy.
Before we took Maddy home last night, amongst much wailing and begging and pleading that we not separate them for another week, the girls were giving me some advice on how to rearrange the basement so that they would be more comfortable down there.
Not that they aren't grateful for the space and all (so they said) but they had some good ideas on how we could better utilize our space and give them room to actually let five girls lie on the floor while watching television.
Silly me. I thought providing a couch and two recliners was nice enough, but NOOOO-uh....they want plenty of floor space.
They suggested that I simply move the two large bookshelves and the three small bookshelves (all of which are full of books), take all the pictures off of one wall to make room for the television stand, and rearrange the furniture; and that would make the basement much more conducive to a happy slumber party.
I took that to mean they were willing and eager to do all that moving and shifting.
So Friday, when Maddy returns (if the girls can make it that long between visits), I'm assuming they will both have their muscles primed and be ready to lift, scoot, and pivot - all while I supervise with a cup of coffee in my hand.
And surely, they are willing to do that because they've asked if they can have a New Year's Eve party here. With boys.
Pray for us.

Saturday, December 05, 2009


The only television we have on the main floor of our house is a little 13-inch one in our kitchen. We do not have one in our family room up here because when we finished our basement, I decided we'd put the main TV down there for the kids and make the main floor television-free.

Each of the kids has a television in their rooms, which I know makes us lousy indulgent parents.

Commence with food throwing now.

So then. Last night, I was really looking forward to watching the series finale of MONK because I've always loved that show. LOVE. IT. I was unable to watch most of this season because of football concession duties.

*sigh* The things we sacrifice for our children.

The main TV in the basement was occupied by our daughter and some friends, so I decided I was going to sneak into Blake's room and watch MONK on his television.

So after wrestling practice I quizzed him a little more intensely about his plans for the evening:

Hang out with Drew, eat somewhere, go to see Blind Side at ten.

"So, you won't be home 'til around midnight, correct?"

"Yeah, prolly."

So at eight o'clock, Paul and I went into his room and totally hi-jacked his television. I even brought an extra pillow in an propped myself on his bed.

That kid has a pretty good situation going on in there.

About twenty minutes into the show, we heard car doors slam, then a key in the front door.....

Then two teenage boys walking into our house.

Paul and I looked at each other.

"What are they doing here?"

"He promised me he'd be gone until midnight?"

"Why can't we teach our kids to stay out all night?"

"He's totally ruining my MONK farewell....!"

So I met Blake at the bottom of the steps and told him that Dad and I were watching MONK in his room because we had no place else to watch it.

"No, no, no, no....MOOOOM-uh! We have these games we rented and we need to play them before the movie at ten. Seriously, I'm gonna have to ask you to get out of my room. This is just wrong."

"But, Blake, I made you brownies. I set aside a torpedo sandwich for you guys. Look! FOOD! It's only forty more minutes...You said you'd be gone. I thought I could count on you to be gone all evening."

"Please, mom. We need to be in there"

Well, seeing the urgency of his timeline and his obligations, I relented and told Paul we had to clear out.

So we moped down to the kitchen and tried to cuddle on a bar stool in front of the television. (We didn't go to Kayla's room because her TV is much smaller, and we knew we'd likely be interrupted in there too. These kids just keep finding us.)

In an attempt to make things more romantic, I did offer to turn on a stove burner so we'd at least have a fire going while we watched TV on our bar stool.

The good news is the ending of MONK was wonderful.

The bad news? We are buying a television for the upstairs family room after Christmas.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009


Eighteen and a half years ago, after delivering Blake via c-section, and after lying flat on my back for 12 hours, a nurse helped me brush my teeth. I was finally able to sit upright and she held a little basin under my chin while I brushed.

Interestingly, when I went to spit my toothpaste into the basin, it merely dribbled weakly down my chin instead of hitting the basin. Not that it mattered. I had said goodbye to my dignity upon entering the hospital the day before.

Since my abdominal muscles had been traumatized and I was still somewhat numb from the spinal block, I had no spitting power. There was no oomph to my spitting.

Never having been much of a spitter (much to my brothers' chagrin) I had no idea how important abdominal muscles were to spitting.

It was one of the first lessons motherhood taught me.

Now I find myself in the same boat, being unable to spit well.

Because I have a huge canker sore on the side of my tongue, a smaller one on the inside of my lower lip, and one forming on the inside of my upper lip.

The sore on my tongue has nearly left me incapacitated. It's like having strep throat on my tongue.

It hurts to talk. It hurts to chew. It hurts to swallow food, medicine, and my own spit. When I try to spit my toothpaste into the bathroom sink, it merely dribbles into the basin in a pitiful stream of Crest Whitening. There's not enough force behind it to even hit the drain.

I warned my husband last night,that it was beginning to hurt when I talked. Seeing the dread on his face that I would remain silent for the next five to seven days (surely it was dread) I assured him that I would soldier on and talk through the pain.

Anything for my beloved.

Today, though, I changed my mind. I do not want to talk. I have taken to printing e-mails regarding our family Christmas parties and marking them with "FYI" and placing them in front of him. Normally, I would follow him down to his man cave and fill him in on all the details, but today he gets a memo. Just like at the office.

Funny, though, my inability to talk seems to have hit at the same time as a profound lack of hearing on my husband's part. The few things I have said to him this evening, he responds to with "what?" I do not know if this is because, in my effort to talk somewhat painlessly, I may sound a little bit like Quasimodo, or if he is torturing me just for fun and finds it amusing to watch me grimace while I speak to him.

Surely he wouldn't be torturing me, would he? I mean it is the Christmas season.

I am rinsing my mouth with a peroxide mixture. I'm rinsing with tea (the tannin is supposed to speed the drying of the sores) and I'm eating ice cream and mashed potatoes. And I am praying for fast healing.

In the meantime, my family is just going to have to get along without my voice for a few days.

I'm totally counting it as their main Christmas present.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Oh Bayeux. Sweet Bayeux.

It truly was the favorite part of our trip for Paul and me. This is not to take away anything from our sweet friends whom we visited later in the week. It's just that WE WERE IN FRANCE. A tiny little French village that was quiet and full of history. And we were with our children who were also having a great time.
Photo taken by our sweet tour guide, Naomi.

And the locals actually liked us. And we were on our way to the beaches of Normandy. The beaches that once held the imprints of my grandfather's boots.

And it was in this town that I made the sweetest memories of our family trip.

Maybe it was the charming shops. Maybe it was the charming shop keepers who didn't mind that I spoke no French.

Maybe it was the narrow cobblestone streets.

Maybe it was the tapestry handbag I bought that is oh-so-chic and oh-so-French.
Ladies? Was this a mistake?
At parent-teacher conferences I plopped this on the table and let Blake's French teacher read it to me. Was that wrong?
Maybe it was the fabulous birthday dinner we had for Blake at La Butcherie, where we had potato patties - hamburger patties with a hashbrown patty on it, covered in melted cheese. But it was totally healthy because there was no bun. Or maybe it was the real live French Creme Brulee we had after our meal.

Maybe it was the two....I mean....three...OKAY....FOUR French pastries I had (but two were tiny samples) while strolling the streets.

Maybe it was laughing with the local vendors in the open air markets as we tried to complete a transaction -neither of us knowing the other's language. Kayla wanted to try some fruity candy and the sweet French lady would say "It you say....a bay-REE? um....not red but, uh...bleu?"

And I'd say "BLUEBERRY!" And she'd laugh and say "Oui!!" We got really good at that game as we tried to decipher what flavor each piece was before handing over our Euros.

Euros. We were spending Euros!!

But I think the sweetness of my memories of Bayeux come from the sleeping arrangements we had for the night. Since we could not get two rooms next to each other, we decided to put the girls in one room and the boys in another. Because I decided I was not going to put my babies in a room without a grown up.

This was very logical I know. Like I was going to protect Kayla better than her brother could.

So then.

The boys got the bigger room, but we got the shower. I know Blake enjoyed his bubble bath that night. The kids came up with a shared custody agreement for Paul's lap top so they could each have some contact with the outside world that evening.

And oh what a sweet evening.

Kayla and I sat in our room with the window open. There was no telephone. There was no TV. There were no screens in the window because there were no bugs in Europe. Really. They do not allow bugs in Europe. And we sat on the window sill and watched the traffic and the people in the courtyard below us. And the weather was glorious; we could smell the flowers below us all the way up in our second story room. We read our books. We planned our morning and shared our shampoo and hair supplies. We planned our outfits for the next day.

And the next morning because the guys had gotten up early to go for a run, they ate breakfast without us. At first I was a little miffed at them for that, but then I realized things were so much better this way. My girl and I, in an historic French hotel dining room, World War II era French music playing softly, eating breakfast before we headed to the beaches. Just us girls.

And I was taken back to the days when she was four and five years old - the days when she'd still hold my hand in parking lots. And as we walked down the street or across a parking lot, she'd swing my arm and look up at me with a giant grin and say "Just us girls, Mommy!"

Oh the sweetness of that morning in France with my girl.

Our French breakfast. Kayla had a bowl of fruit and some warm French Bread with fresh Strawberry Jam and a glass of skim milk. I had a bowl of fruit, a glass of skim milk and a cup of coffee.

Oh, and a croissant as big as my head.

That was one big croissant. And oh so buttery and flaky. And oh so painfully delicious with fresh apricot jelly. Yes, I did indeed make it my mission to see if I could become ill on French pastries. Surprisingly I did not, as hard as I tried.

Don't judge me. I had to eat the giant croissant for energy.

After all, I was on my way to Omaha Beach.

Friday, November 20, 2009


Autumn is my favorite season.

I love cool rainy days,

and red leaves.

I love early evenings and lamplight,
And mixed flowers in reds and golds.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


November 19, 2009

Dear U.S. Preventive Services Task Force,

I have listened with great interest to the news these last couple of days, because apparently you all have made a brilliant recommendation regarding women's health.

Is it true that you are recommending we put off our first mammogram until the age of 50? And after that, you want us to have one only every two years? Is this true?

And is it true that you're suggesting we stop doing our own self breast exams every month? I tell you what; we'll stop doing our self breast exams, when you tell our male counterparts to stop "examining" a certain part of their anatomy in public. Are all those baseball players checking for lumps? Because surely that's against your rules.


And your reasoning in cautioning against self breast exams? That you don't want a bunch of women being scared by lumps that turn out to be nothing; and, after all, false positives occur and then we've wasted our time for nothing. Oh the horrors of finding out you are actually healthy after being fearful you had cancer!!! Your way is much better. Let's all bury our heads in the sand until it's too late to do anything about it.


Brilliant People, long gone are the days when you get to pat our hands (or any other part of our bodies) and tell us "you don't worry yourself about such things. Let me handle it." The thing is YOU are not worrying about it and your way of handling it is to let potential cancer fester in our bodies for ten years or more. Probably less, actually, because by the time we get that mammogram, all hope will be gone.

I don't mean to be harsh but YOU PEOPLE ARE NUTS!!

I have a few suggestions for you:

My first suggestion would be that you visit the homes of women who were diagnosed with breast cancer IN THEIR THIRTIES. Look into their eyes and the eyes of their loved ones and then tell them "Um, yeah, ma'am, we really wish you hadn't gone and found that cancer on your own. It was entirely too early for you to be messing with this. You've totally messed up our research." *sigh*

Second, please PLEASE, PLEASE stop in at my family doctor's office and tell him that you don't want me to have a mammogram for the next seven years. Please do it. I will pay money to see the verbal annihilation that awaits you.

Third, put out a similar recommendation that men stop having their PSA checked. Let's ban prostate screenings. What's good for the goose......

Fourth, recommend an immediate halt to all insurance coverage of Viagra.

Fifth, why not recommend that all women start smoking two packs a day and eat a small tub of Crisco shortening for lunch? While you're at it, let's ban exercise, just for fun.

Now I know we are all just a bunch of simple minded little women folk who can't worry our pretty little heads about cancer and other things that might scare us, but we are watching. We know that you are a government panel of doctors and scientists. We know that this could very well become a part of our new American health care system. So we are watching and listening.

And if we start having coverage denied for mammograms and other cancer screening simply because we have breasts but are not yet fifty; well, then we know who to thank, don't we?

Just when I thought I'd seen my fair share of STUPID.....

Yours in good breast health (so far)


Monday, November 16, 2009


A couple of weeks ago, I had to eat some crow.

Because two days after I sat on the softball bleachers and told my fellow softball moms "Kayla will never have genuine Uggs..." well....I went out and bought her some.

I know. I know.

I'm a terrible indulgent mother.

I know none of you expect an explanation (or rather a justification) but I'm going to give it.

See, Kayla is a saver. She doesn't nickel and dime us for money. She babysits and pet sits. She shops carefully. When she is heading out with her friends on the weekends I'll ask if she needs money and she very rarely says yes. When she sees something at the mall she likes, she waits a couple of days before buying it. Last week, she put two pairs of jeans on hold at the mall and asked if I'd buy them. They were $15.00 a pair. That's pretty good. And while she always has her own money and could have bought the Uggs herself, I really do believe it's a good thing to occasionally reward our kids for managing their money well.

So when she called and said she found some Uggs in her size and in the color she liked, I told her to put them on hold and maybe, just maybe, I'd run back and buy them in the next day or two.

This all occurred during a very stressful time at the W house. And even though Kayla wasn't trying to take advantage of that stress, it was easy for me to go out and buy those Uggs, because I like to live by my college roommate's advice:

"When you're having a bad day, do something nice for someone else."

There were a few weeks there where LOTS of people were getting surprises from me.

So I bought the Uggs and came home and was, like, THE. BEST. MOM. EV. VER.

It took a couple of days for Paul to find out about the Uggs, though. Not because I keep purchases from him but because he was working 14 hour days and we basically saw each other enough to say good morning and good night. Plus he doesn't tend to notice his daughter's footwear.

So when something was said about Kayla wearing her Uggs to a football game, a little bell went off in Paul's head and he said "Wait....she has Uggs?" And I said "Oh, yeah I bought her some Uggs earlier in the week." And he did that thing with his eyes and didn't say anything else. So I gave him the justification that I just shared with you, my ones of readers. Well, I added another reason but that's private W family stuff.

So then, he recovered fairly quickly from the fact that his daughter was wearing Uggs - which by the way I'm sure got their name from the sound parents make when they are paying for them.

Fast forward to yesterday after church.

We were sitting at lunch with our friends and Kayla said "Daddy....can we go to Plato's Closet." And Daddy tried to say it wasn't near enough to the restaurant. Thank you, Bridget, for chiming in and saying "oh it's just around the corner." We women really do need to stick together when someone is trying to trample on our constitutional shopping rights.

Since Plato's Closet is a re-sale shop for teen clothes, I piped up and said "Um....Daddy? You know, most 15-year-old girls would be asking to go to Hollister or Von Maur. Couldn't we go by really quickly so she can get a few things?"

And after being assured that she had some babysitting money with her, he agreed.

And let me just say right here: that whole exchange was totally unnecessary and almost comical. Because as soon as Kayla said "Daddy..." he and I both knew she was going to get whatever it was her brown eyes and dimples were asking for. Because from the moment she was born, Kayla has merely had to hold out her little finger and Daddy would begin winding himself around it, occasionally stopping to ask "How tight, Honey Bunny?"

So Daddy dropped us off at the door of Plato's Closet because it was raining. Then the preacher jumped in our van and they headed off to the bank to deposit the church offering, while Kayla and I went on a hunt for some darling bargains.

One hour and about a hundred dollars later, we came out with a sack bulging with a dozen items, including this skirt and leggings.
I'd say a trip to the re-sale shop totally makes up for those boots. What do you think?
The top half of her ensemble came from her own closet and my jewelry box. Skirt? $4.00. Leggings $3.00.

Boots? Well, the boots aren't the point of this post, now are they?

Friday, November 13, 2009


Dedicated to my Fellow Officer Moms (FOMs) - Kelly and Gretchen

Oh Taco meat, dear taco meat
how delicious you are,
when piled into one little shell
on an innocent taco bar.

But when cooked in our kitchens,
ten- TWENTY! - pounds at a time,
then the sight of you...the smell of you...
well, it's almost a crime.

You'll soon be transported
to a busy concession stand
where we'll be selling you to
parents, coaches, even the band.

Piled on chips, topped with some cheese.
They'll all long
for your goodness.

You're sure to be a money maker
not a better one could we find.
But putting this one together?
Well, it's costing us our minds.

The burgers, the pork chops,
the pizza and hot dogs,
This whole concession stand thing?
Well, it's turned our minds to fog.

But this is the last one
our dear friend Taco Meat.
If you could last until halftime,
that sure would be sweet.

Guess what I've been doing today?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


And the American Rangers began to climb. They shot rope ladders over the face of these cliffs and began to pull themselves up. When one ranger fell, another would take his place. When one rope was cut a ranger would grab another and begin his climb again. They climbed, shot back, and held their footing. Soon, one by one, the rangers pulled themselves over the top, and in seizing the firm land at the top of these cliffs, they began to seize back the continent of Europe.

President Ronald Reagan, June 6, 1984 - Normandy.

Three and a half months after seeing this in Normandy, I still nearly weep at the words.
"When one ranger fell, another would take his place..." Oh, the heartbreak of watching your brother in arms fall and know that you must not falter from your mission. You cannot stop to see if he has survived. You cannot tell him goodbye. You must keep climbing. Because you are an American Ranger and a continent is depending on you.
"....soon, one by one, the rangers pulled themselves over the top..." One by one. The sacrifice of one ranger, and then another ranger, and then another ranger. One man at a time, one sacrifice at a time, these heroes began the job of liberating a continent. One by one they formed the mightiest military force in the world.
And in this place, Normandy, they have not been forgotten.
Happy Veterans Day to all of our service men and women.
And thank you.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


I have a confession to make.

Most days? While the kids are at school and my husband is at work? I sit in the old blue swivel rocker in Blake's room (which he charmed out of his grandmother when she bought new chairs - it's LOVELY) and I play violent war games on X-Box. Or X-Box 360, or whatever it is.

I sit there and ignore the phone. I ignore the laundry, the grocery shopping and my volunteer obligations.

I just sit there all day long yelling "DIE! DIE!" to all of my virtual alien enemies.

Or at least that's what the clerk at the game store thinks.

Because when I walked in there today, receipt in hand, to pick up a game for which Blake had prepaid, I was very nicely told "um, yeah, Blake, like, paid in full for this, but since you're not, like, on his list of approved people to pick it up, we can't, like give it to you," as the clerk stared at his computer screen like a weary airline worker.

"But I've picked them up before" I say.

"Yeah, well, if he'd only put down, like, five dollars, we'd let you have it. Because then if you weren't supposed to have it we'd only be out five dollars and not the whole price of a game. Plus he's eighteen now and he's paid for it in full, so you can't pick it up"

And then I felt my brain bend ask I cocked my head to one side and started laughing. Baroo?

"Oh, I understand" I said. But I totally didn't. "What if I show you my license to prove we are related?"

"Sorry, I can't let you have it, in case, like, you know, it doesn't get to him. Some people try to pick them up and keep them for themselves. Tell him to put your name on the approved list and we won't have a problem again."

"I will and thank you so much," I said as I looked for hidden cameras. Because surely I was being Punk'd.

Be honest. Do I LOOK like a lover of war-themed video games? Do I look like someone who would STEAL a war-themed video game from an unsuspecting teenager?

This really poses a problem because Blake is absolutely not going to believe my story.

See, I have this terrible habit of playing jokes on him when I pick up his games. I hide them and leave treasure hunt clues, which believe, me teenage boys REEEEEAAAAALY LOVE!

So this morning when he left and handed me the receipt, as though he was handing me the cure for cancer, he said "mom can you pick this up and can you just bring it home and leave it on the counter? Seriously, mom, just leave it on the counter and don't do anything funny."

To which I responded "well, of course I can pick it up....but as for the funny business, I can't make any guarantees."

He is SO going to miss me when he's a Marine.

Monday, November 09, 2009


Veteran's Day is only two days away. And while our school district chose NOT to recognize this national holiday, I've decided it's the perfect time to get back to my vacation journal. Especially since we are ready for our tour of the Normandy beaches.

We arrived in France on Tuesday July 28th - Blake's 18th birthday.

We're really sorry son. We couldn't do much this year so we're just taking you to Europe for your birthday. Please forgive us.

Blake and Paul did a wonderful job getting us from Cherbourg to Bayeux. They did such a good job, in fact that upon entering Bayeux, we had no trouble at all finding our hotel:

And oh sweet mercy. I was in love with this hotel. The flowers. The decor. The steps. The flags of the allied forces.

The trained security dog:

Okay maybe "trained security guard"' is overstating things a bit. This is Siyah and she immediately took it upon herself to search our luggage. The only time that green ball left her mouth was when she replaced it with a red one.

Siyah on duty in the rear garden.

Always the watchful guard dog. We really took a liking to Siyah. And her little green ball.

Bayeux was spared during the German invasion. After the Germans left it unscathed, the American generals wanted to destroy the city, thinking the Germans might come back and use its resources. The British generals, knowing first hand what such an experience would do to its citizens, convinced the U.S. to leave the town standing. And so Bayeux became a point of rest for soldiers marching through after having survived their landing on the beaches of Normandy.
I spent two days wandering this beautiful village, wondering if my grandfather, after surviving his own landing on the beach, rested in this town.

Did he enter this church? Did he pray for his own safe return home?

Did he sit in a pew, where these chairs now are? Did he fervently pray that he would be returned to his young bride and baby boy? Did he sit in this stone building and hear the noise of distant bombing and gun fire? Did he fear that the sights he had seen on the beaches might never leave his memory? Did he mourn for his lost brothers in arms?

Did all of them? Did all of the soldiers who passed through this haven of rest enter this church? Did the townspeople sit within its walls and seek peace for their trembling bodies and hearts? Did they use their energy to welcome our soldiers, their liberators?

We will not forget our liberators, was a common sign in Bayeux.
I do know this. I know that somewhere in France two young women - sisters who were both school teachers - took my grandpa and some of his buddies home for dinner one night. They brought these American GI's home to their mother and father and shared their small rations with them. They gave them a touch of home. They fed their liberators.

Was that in Bayeux? And if so, was it near this water wheel? Was this water wheel turning when our soldiers passed through? Was it turning at the locals' efforts to keep their lives going in the midst of their own unending nightmare?

Bayeux was peaceful and refreshing after the buy streets of London. We spent the day strolling narrow cobblestone streets. We enjoyed the beautiful weather. We enjoyed the quiet and the reverence.

We saw the Tapestry of Bayeux. Photos were forbidden on this tour, but it was amazing. A tapestry eighty meters in length tells the story of William the Conqueror. It was stitched for the "common man" who couldn't read. It was stitched so the story could be told for generations and never forgotten.

After the tapestry we needed a little sweet treat, so my little sweet treats had some ice cream:

I passed on the ice cream because I had indulged in a French pastry earlier. A Bignet. Sorry, but a Bignet in France FAR outweighs an ice cream cone anywhere.

Eating ice cream and pastries in a tiny French village? Seriously, what is better than that?
I'll tell you what, waking up the next morning to walk on the sands of Omaha Beach. The best part of our vacation was truly only hours away.

Saturday, November 07, 2009


Look what I found in the pumpkin patch:

One week ago today, on Halloween, this little peanut of a guy entered our family: my brother's sixth grandchild, Micah Derek.

Big brother Landon was not happy about being called away from his vacuuming to have his picture taken. He's two, you know, so the moods come and go.

But then he realized he could actually lift great grandma's "lello" - what he calls the Yellow Vacuum - off the ground. And then a favorite toy became even more fun.

Because, really, what is more fun than lifting a yellow vacuum cleaner off the floor and carrying it through the house while all the grown ups tell you how strong you are?
Could life get much better than this?

Thursday, November 05, 2009


We were recently at an event where I was watching a man in the audience balance his little boy on his knee. The boy was probably about three or four, and I commented to Paul that those parents were still in the phase of parenting where they could say "My boy would NEVER...." fill in the blank with any number of options.

We have teenagers and, I know this will come as a surprise to most of you, but sometimes teenagers have to be disciplined.

No really, they do.

Sometimes teenagers don't make the best decisions. Did you know that?

And sometimes you actually have to do more than slap your forehead while slowly shaking your head back and forth in a great big gesture that says "I CANNOT believe this...."

Sometimes you have to get your hands dirty, really dirty, when disciplining teenagers.

Except it's not your hands that end up feeling dirty and worn out. It's your heart, but that's another post.

As a parenting somebody who knows a lot about, I mean....since I am full of parental knowledge.....

Since I've given birth to two children (that keeps your expectations low enough, doesn't it) I've decided to publish, right here on this blog, my parenting philosophy when it comes to disciplining teenagers. I will do so in a "Bullet Point" format. And I have no idea how many bullet points there will be because I will be making them up as I go along.

You know. Like James Dobson and John Rosamond probably do.

Let's get started, shall we?

When your teenager gets into trouble, you can:

*Deny. Deny. Deny. I call this kind of response the "Not MY boy" response. These are the parents who could actually see their little Mikey vandalize the neighbor's car and still say he didn't do it.

*Make excuses. These are the parents that admit their little Mikey did indeed vandalize their neighbor's car but claim it was the neighbor's fault for having their car parked in their very own driveway instead of behind a locked garage door. If the car hadn't been left out, little Mikey couldn't have vandalized it. These parents are usuall not too popular in the neighborhood because nothing is every their child's fault but they are ever so eager to throw other children under the bus.

*Explode like an atom bomb. This explosion will reach everyone - the victim, the authorities, the wayward child. This explosion will accomplish absolutely nothing except showing people what an idiot you are, but it will make the parent feel better - short term. After the explosion, the parent will most likely never be taken seriously again. Especially if he threatens to sue the neighbor for leaving his car parked in his very own driveway.

*Ignore, ignore, ignore...your child that is. This is the parent who gives the child the ultimate of silent treatments. This method is good if you want to reach the child at their level - you know, the child is a teenager, so the parent acts like a teenager. It probably doesn't accomplish much but you will at least be at your child's level while the problem remains unsolved.

*Bury your child in guilt. This is my personal favorite and I apply it quite often. Do you know how you've embarrassed us? What will people think of our family now? I give and give and give and what do you do....? A little guilt can be healthy I think. But too much guilt can be crippling. I don't know why I haven't learned that yet. Perhaps I'm doing an experiment to find our just HOW MUCH guilt is too much. Yeah, that's it - a parenting experiment with my own children as the emotionally damaged guinea pigs.

- and finally you can

*Put your hand on your child's back. This serves two purposes. First, and most importantly, it pushes your child forward. Forward toward the people to whom he must account. Forward toward his consequences. Forward toward learning from his mistake. And second, the hand on his back reminds him that you are there. That you literally have his back. It reminds him that even though he must be accountable for his actions, even though he must make that walk, he is not walking alone. If he needs to look over his shoulder for reassurance, you are there with your hand on his back to steady him against that crippling guilt, those people who hope to see him fall under its weight, and the fatigue that comes with cleaning up ones own mess.

Like the days when our babies took their first wobbly steps and needed to hold just one of our fingers to make it across the room, so are the days of raising teenagers. They can get across the room. They HAVE to get across the room. They have to be standing alone when they reach the other side.

But hopefully if they've felt our hand on their back througout their journey, they will feel ready to stand strong again and they will be glad that hand was not only steadying them but also pushing them along to meet their goal.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009


I just finished making an online purchase.

In filling out the billing information, I came across a line for "nickname." Naturally I assumed that was optional and skipped that little box.

Silly me.

After clicking "enter" I saw a whole bunch of red letters appear on my screen, telling me that "nickname is a required field."

I had no idea a nickname was so urgent in ordering turtlenecks.

So I began to panic.

Because, people, I don't have a nickname.

I mean, my husband calls me Honey. My kids call me Mom. Or "Maaaaaahhhm-uh" depending on their mood. Sometimes it's "MUH -THER."

When I was little my mother called me "Little One" or "Heidence."

And actually there might be some people in the community right now who are calling me some things that can't be printed on this PG-rated blog. You locals know I'm right about that.

But I don't have an official nickname.

So I decided to be clever and fill in the little box with "Bubbles"

Oh stop! You now I'm kidding.

I simply typed "Heidi" and ordered my turtlenecks, feeling just a little empty inside.

Saturday, October 31, 2009


...are some really tired moms.

Mrs. R, Mrs W, Mrs K

A couple of weeks ago, I told my FOMs (Fellow Officer Moms) that I'd really like to skip just one football game. There were things going on that just made me want to stay home and catch my breath. I needed some space.

And they were very gracious and understanding and said all sorts of encouraging things.

You relax, and don't worry about things.

You really do enough, it's okay for you to miss one game.

Really, they were so sweet in allowing me to be a great big slacker.

But then I started worrying that they really liked it better when I wasn't there.

I mean, what if they no longer LET me work in the concession stand?

What if they didn't let me do ANYTHING?

What if I wasn't given any more responsibilities with the fund raising?

What if they no longer let me sit at the cool kids' table?

But then I woke up and said "pffft! That'll never happen" Because as little as I might do (I am known for excusing myself to the bathroom when any hard work comes up) they probably still need me, if for no other reason than because I always have gas....I mean I always have THE gas...I mean I'm the one that gets the gas.

Okay, let me start over. I am the one that gets the propane tanks filled for the gas grill so we can grill up all those scrumptious burgers, pork chops and hot dogs during the ballgame.

And without the propane, we have no hot sandwiches people!!!

I am the gas lady, and I choose to believe it is a vital job despite the fact that I have sat dormant for the last 2 weeks when it came to keeping the concession stand running.

Thank you FOMs - Kelly and Gretchen. Thank you for letting me beg off for a week or two so I could stay removed from a difficult situation and catch my breath. It really means a lot to me.

And you can count on me for that Christmas raffle. Really, I'm you get that one up and running.

In the mean time, if you need me for anything, I'll be in the restroom.

Thanks again, ladies.

Friday, October 30, 2009


I have pleurisy, which is an inflammation of the lining of the lungs - the pleura, I believe. I think it also means I'm getting old.

And pleurisy really hurts.

Come. Come with me on my journey of pleurisy.

So then, in the middle of last week, I started feeling a tightness in my chest, then pressure, then pain - over a period of a few days. I get congested at this time every year so I decided not to worry too much.

And I told myself if I had not awakened dead by Monday I would call my doctor.

Take me to Vegas, baby! I played those odds and won.

I got into the doctor on Tuesday and he diagnosed me with Pleurisy.

Which was really good because it would have been a real bummer if I was having a five day heart attack.

But after he diagnosed me, he sat and stared at me with a puzzled expression - an expression that said "I really don't know what to do with you."

Not unlike the expression my husband and children give me several times a day.

But I wasn't offended because he's a medical person and it seemed far less insulting.

See, the problem is that the two treatments for the pain of pleurisy are:

1) Non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs


Which, now that I've typed that seems very much like a contradiction.

But what do I know?

My problem with these two options, is that my body can't tolerate either one.

If I take the anti-inflammatory drugs, they will aggravate my ulcer.

If I take the steroids, they might accelerate my heart rate because I have a teeny tiny little heart condition.

My goal is to be a case study in a medical journal before I'm fifty. That is the only way I will ever be a cover girl.

To help the doctor out, I weighed in. And, believe me, after 19 years as his patient, he totally loves it when I weigh in on things. Or better yet, when I tell him I've saved him some time by diagnosing myself using Webmd before my appointments. He loves that.

So I said "Well, since I won't be on the anti-inflammatory drugs for more than a week, let's go with those. I can handle it if it irritates my stomach." I am woman. Hear me roar.

Boy was I wrong.

Two hours after one dose of the sample he gave me, my stomach set itself on fire.

But because I'm a slow learner, I took the second dose the next morning.

And by eight thirty I had called my doctor to ask for the steroids. This made my husband happy too because the first drug was going to cost over one hundred dollars. Ther steroids cost us $1.86. No, really they did.

With a steroid pack, you have to take six doses - SIX DOSES - on the first day and you decrease your doses every day for a week.

So after each dose yesterday, I sat in a chair and concentrated really hard on my heartbeat.

Is it beating fast now?

How 'bout now?

Now? Is my heart beating too fast?

Which, I realize, was a total waste of time. I mean if I'm going to be on steroids I should be in my garage swinging a seventy-pound sledge hammer for fun or something. Which is not to say that my friend's husband is on the 'roids. No, not at all. He's just freakishly fit and has this unbeatable spirit.

I, on the other hand, wear myself out using my little kitchen hammer to put a nail in the wall.


Now that I got me some 'roids.

Tonight at the football game I think I'll lift the team bus off the ground just for fun.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


So then, the other day I stopped in briefly at a place where I do some volunteer work.

I can't say where it was because this is a small town and any complaints will get right back to them before I hit PUBLISH and I've got enough controversy in my life right now thankyouverymuch.

Anyway, I made a brief stop to make arrangements for my REAL volunteer day and I was treated rudely by the front desk person.

And I don't like to be treated rudely by somebody who works at a place where I volunteer my time.

I don't like being treated rudely by anybody, actually, but it really bothers me when it is by somebody who is either being paid by me or is receiving free labor from me.

I'm not going to complain to anybody about it (you know, like formally) because that would reflect badly on the organization I represent. I will probably let our coordinator know that somebody hurt my feelings *sob* and then let it go.

But Geesh!

I figure a volunteer should be treated like a client.

And as a former receptionist/secretary, LET ME TELL YOU, clients are supposed to walk on a red carpet when they enter your place of business. It doesn't matter if you have a migraine, if you're mad at your boss, or if your toilet overflowed before work that day, you treat the clients nicely.

Am I wrong here?

So now that I've given you a detailed account of my persecution, you can all weigh in with some sympathy.

Those of you who aren't too busy on Facebook that is.

Now speaking of RUDE, I was telling my sweet neighbor about a little issue we've been dealing with at home and she said I should totally blog about it. So since it fits right in here, let's have a little chat about....


Okay, you can blame Jenna for this post.

We have a senior dog.

She's really sweet and loyal and as docile as they come. She barks at the UPS man and Schwan man but she's afraid of the neighbors' new puppy. She folds herself into the litter box when it thunders and sits there shaking until the storm passes. That is, if she isn't in the bathtub trembling. We have considered sedating her on each Independence Day because the fireworks turn her into a trembling drooling mess. Poor Baby.

As most of you dog owners know, a dog can be pretty smelly at times. There have been times when our whole family has simultaneously dropped to the floor from her silent fumes as she lies among us snoring.

But now aren't just Silent But Deadly (SBD). Now they are actually Audible But Deadly (ABD).

And they scare her.

Yes our dog is scared of her own flatulence.

Now as she dozes on the carpet, she scares herself with her ABD's. She will be in the midst of a well deserved nap and hear a suspicious noise behind her, leap up and run across the room with her tail between her legs and look back as though she expects to see a predator.

And her little canine thought bubble reads "What the heck was that? Don't worry family, I'M ON THE JOB!"

Then she looks at all of us to see if we're frightened before settling down to another nap so she can repeat the process. I think she might be a little confused as to why we are all laughing so hard during such a frightening time.

Such is life with a senior dog, rude as it may be.

The only person who seems even the slightest bit pleased with this Paul.

Now when he says it was the dog, he has proof.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Approximately ten days ago I told half of my heart that it would be wearing brown for family photos. The other half, since I actually trust her fashion instinct, decided to pair PINK with the brown. Go figure,

This is the result.

Is it any wonder I asked my sweet neighbor to take Blake's senior portraits for us and then snap a few of the whole family?
A few words to mothers of little ones. Remember that feeling when you saw the first professional photo of your baby? Or even the one taken in the hospital? Remember how you fell in love all over again and you wondered how in the world you were still breathing even though your heart had suddenly jumped outside your body?
Remember that?
Well, that feeling doesn't go away.
Even when, say, hypothetically, your grown son has decided not to shave or get a haircut until January 1st. Even, when, say, hypothetically, he holds fast to this commitment when it's time for his senior photos.
Even when, say, hypothetically you beg and plead and say "Why, son? WHY?" And you wave the white flag of surrender because, as you're pleading for a clean shaven young man, his peers are saying things likes "Dude, that is SO COOL. It's like you're a wolf man or something."
And how can a mother hold battle against such encouraging words?
But you look at the photos of "Wolf man" and his little sister and you fall in love any way.
You really can't explain it.
It's just there like a balloon swelling somewhere inside of you (probably that place where your heart used to be) and as you look at each proof, that balloon grows bigger and bigger. So big you know it's going to burst and leave a spray of tears all over your computer screen.
I love photos. Photos have a way of putting life into perspective. They remind you of what really matters. They remind you to put the past where it belongs. They remind you not to fear the future. They remind you that life is beautiful. Life is good.
They remind us that we somehow manage to do our job on this earth even when our heart is living outside our body.
Thank you, Jenna. The photos are all gorgeous. You have a wonderful gift and we appreciate you.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


...David Whyte in The Heart Aroused can resonate with the Spanish poet Antonio Machado who wrote:

Last night as I was sleeping, I dreamt - marvelous error! - that I had a beehive here inside my heart. And the golden bees were making white combs and sweet honey from my old failures."

"White combs and sweet honey from my old failures." Sometimes it works out that way, but not always. Sometimes my failures have me buried in shame and guilt and loss. I've come to learn that when I fail alone and isolated, I don't crawl out of the muck so well. Sweet honey only comes from my old failures when someone has taken the time to love me through my failures. And through the loving touch of that caring human being, I am healed.

Paul S. Williams

From the devotional book When I'm Learning to Love by Greg Allen, Rick Rusaw,
Dan Stuecher - Paul S. Williams, editor.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


*Edited to add: Apparently this post made my friend cry and she sent me an e-mail IN ALL CAPS telling me so. This is not a good thing for her to be doing at work, crying that is. She works in a male dominated profession, which she combats beautifully by wearing lots of pink and carrying great purses. But still, there's no crying. So, sweet J-net, if those big mean men made fun of you, give me their names and I'll come down and smack 'em.
Okay, not really. That's your job.

I have this friend.

I'll call her J-net.

She's carrying quite a load right now so I decided last week to take dinner to her and her husband. I whipped up a pot of chicken noodle soup and popped in with it.

Don't they say chicken noodle soup is good for the soul or something?

So anyway, I had such a good time that night that I decided to do it again tonight.

Because even though I went to make their evening a little brighter they ended up making my evening a whole lot brighter.

Tonight I popped in with some meatloaf and trimmings. I knew I'd have to keep my visit short because Friend J-net has a cardio class in the evenings and I didn't want to keep her from it. Turns out she had a tiny little headache and decided to skip cardio so we could visit and laugh.
And laugh and laugh.

Here's the thing, though. She really didn't want to tell her husband she was skipping cardio due to a tiny little headache. Because, see, he has cancer. And he was in the garage working out while we were in the living room making excuses for skipping our own exercise routines that day.

He was working out with some other guys and I kept hearing this "thwump." "thwump." "thwump."

What IS that noise?

Oh, they're just swinging a sledge hammer against a tire.

Wait, what?

This man who is on the tail end of thirty six radiation treatments is in the garage swinging a sledge hammer before heading off to his second job?


For fun.

And he's not, like, on a chain gang or anything.

And he's undergoing radiation treatments.

And I decided to skip my exercise today because I had cookies to bake and a meatloaf dinner to prepare. Oh and I had to run to the mall to buy an ice cream cone. I had a busy day, people!

So then.

When he came inside Friend J-net confessed that she was skipping cardio because she had a tiny little headache. And I decided to make the ultimate sacrifice for her and let him know: "Her headache's name is Heidi and I'm crying on her shoulder. She can't leave."

Once he finished his NINETY MINUTE WORKOUT he ate some dinner and left for his second job.

Hello. My name is Heidi and I am a slug.

Here's the thing about my little visits with my dear friend. I like to think that by showing up every week or so with a simple meal it might take a little stress off of her for a couple of nights. I like to think that the hour (or two or three) we spend laughing and talking might be a little pick me up for her.

And maybe it is.

But as it turns, out, it is a HUGE pick me up for me. Because even though she is carrying such a heavy burden right now, she has, on each of these visits, set her own burden down, and picked mine up for just a little while.

She has encouraged me, affirmed me, loved me, teased me, and made me laugh til I cry and cry til I laugh. She has been my sister in heart and in Christ. Each of us has helped the other bury her father. When I try to imagine my life before I met her, I simply cannot comprehend how empty it must have been without her shining smile, amazing humor, self assurance, and true loyalty.

Plus, when someone hurts my feelings she offers to hunt them down and smack 'em. Really, she does.

I am blessed by you Miss J-net. You have helped me more than you'll ever know during our years of friendship and I want to help you carry your burden.

And next week we have a celebration dinner to plan....

Love you sweet friend.


Each of my children has faced a bumpy road lately.

And each of them seems to have navigated it better than their mother.

When Kayla was having a disagreement with another girl - a disagreement that took an ugly turn - this mama bear had to work very hard to keep her responses measured and her words kind toward somebody who was hurting her cub.

Then one night, Kayla came home and calmly said "Oh, we worked it out. Things are fine now."

Now I have a confession.

When she said this, I wanted to say "But...wait...what do you mean you worked it out? What if can't have...."

"Wait, what?"

But there was such finality to her statement, such calm assurance that I, for once, was able to keep my mouth shut and listen and learn.

It's over. It never happened. For now I choose to believe in this peace.

And I slinked away in shame.

Yesterday Blake had an encounter with an adult that, in his words, left him feeling intimidated.

And here came that mama bear again.

I calmly said to him something like "I'm sorry this happened to you. Do you want me to step in and say something?"

And he said "No, mom. I have a future ahead of me that's so much bigger than this man and this situation...."

And I slinked away in shame.

Last Saturday was Senior picture day for Blake, and since it had been a while since we'd had family photos taken, we turned it into a session for all of us.

And as I watched a couple of Blake's shots (I didn't want to watch them all - I want to be surprised) I turned into a puddle of goo just thinking about the fact that we were at this point in life.

Then, just for fun, I had our photographer take a few shots of Kayla.

And I turned into a puddle of goo.

Because, come on!!

How does this happen so quickly? How do we get to this point so quickly - the point where we no longer spend an hour getting the perfect shoes, the perfect dress, the perfect socks, the perfect bow for pictures? The point where we no longer beg and cajole and threaten so that Blake will cooperate with "just a few shots, buddy. - PLEASE!" The point where Blake no longer has to hold his head at odd angles to work around the giant bow on his sister's head.

The point where our children are fighting their own battles better than we could fight for them and coming out the other side with a lesson learned.

The point where glimpses of their character are starting to shine through and we can, between prayers and frustrated slaps to our own foreheads, say maybe, just maybe, things are going to turn out just fine.

And we get out their baby books and try to convince ourselves that those days really weren't so sweet after all.

Monday, October 19, 2009


Yesterday at Kayla's last softball game, I noticed a guy there that looked a we say....shady. He was wearing a funny stocking cap and sunglasses that I suppose were like Oakley's or something like that. Maybe he got them in te da....

He had not been at any of the games before but he kept standing around watching MY DAUGHTER'S game so I was just a little disconcerted.

So much so that I turned around and snapped his picture:

Oh wait. It's only Kayla's big brother and his friend Mitchell.
"911? Uh, yeah, never mind. The shady guy is my son."
Crisis averted.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Life has been coming at us hard and fast lately - as hard and fast as a speeding freight train.

And we are tied to the tracks.

For a local point of reference - we are the Trojans and life is Tuscola.

We are the Titantic and it is the iceberg.

Yeah, things have been a little rough.

But Friday I got some news that puts things into perspective for me.

Our neighbor's son was injured in Afghanistan last week. You might have seen the story on one of the national news channels. Our troops were caught in a fire fight - outnumbered - and lost eight brave soldiers. Our neighbor's son, a medic, received multiple shrapnel injuries. I think his body will heal more quickly than his spirit. After all, he had the horrendous task of tending to his brothers in arms who gave their lives.

This young soldier's step dad was Kayla's softball coach last summer. His little sister was on her team. I thanked him last summer for his service to our country - before he shipped out. I talked a lot to his mother about what it was like to have not one but TWO sons serving our country in a war zone. I listened to every word she spoke but I still did not comprehend.

I still don't.

But I called his mother today. I called to tell her that I was praying for her and we most certainly would continue praying for her boy and her family. And that is all I could do. What does one do for a neighbor whose son is injured in a desert half way around the world? How does one even begin to put words to that kind of pain?

Please pray for this family. Please pray for all families that are receiving that most heartbreaking of phone calls or visits from some U.S. Government official who never met their loved one.

It is indeed time for peace.

Monday, October 12, 2009


Now I know why they call it a FALL league.

It was a wee bit chilly at Kayla's games yesterday. But notice the trees in the pictures below. They are truly becoming gorgeous.

But anyway. When we started the day yesterday at the fields it was a balmy 51 degrees, partly sunny with a breeze that kept things a bit nippy. At the end of the final game it was 48 degrees with no hint of sunshine and a breeze that kept the moms a bit snippy.

And now for a brief pitching tutorial - from the least athletic mind God ever created.

When a pitcher warms up she does not throw fast solid pitches lest she hurt her arm and her mom and dad have to pay for some sort of contraption to make it all better. And no no no that's not gonna happen.

Here is Kayla "framing."I think that means she is just like, maybe, getting herself centered, and, like, maybe, staying balanced. Frankly, I don't know. But she's doggone cute while she does it. (notice the girl to the left. That's Hillary. Her hat? It's a magic hat 'cause that girl was on fire yesterday. note to self: buy 12 zebra caps.)

Then the pitcher will bring her pitching arm above her head, forming an "L" with her other arm, then bring the pitch around in a nice smooth arc, then snap her lower arm quickly and release the ball, like so:
She will do this a dozen times or so. I actually caught this whole action in a series of frames but have no idea how to explain it. And I'm sure Kayla will read this post and say "Um...mother? You got it all wrong." Whatever. But she looks doggone cute while she's doing it.
Perhaps as the mother of an athlete I should know more about her sport but I consider myself to be my kids' chief cheerleader. That is my only job. They have coaches. The parents who know lots about the sports - all the technical stuff and every teeny tiny rule - tend to be, in my experience, the ones who are also more critical of their kids. I don't know sports, but I know how to encourage so I'm going to keep myself ignorant, thank you very much.

The girl with the hat? She also wore some pretty nifty little boots to the game. I told you it was chilly.

Here are Kayla and Becky. I had asked for Kayla not to act annoyed at my picture taking so Becky was kind enough to step in and take on that role. What are friends for?
My daughter will not let brisk Autumn temperatures deprive her of her flip flops. She has a thing for flip flops. Oh don't worry. She doesn't play in them. She changes to her cleats that are black with pink stripes. 'Cause you gotta work the pink in somehow.

Kayla, what's with the annoyed look? I'm your mother. I birthed you. I'm really cold.

Could you please give me a genuine, sincere, appreciative smile?

Okay maybe a little over the top but we'll take it.
Oh and her coat? We thought it was a little pricey when we ordered it last year as part of her school softball uniform. But I threw it on today to step outside and it's REEEEALLLY nice and warm, and it's water repellent and it fits me.
If it didn't have her name embroidered on it I'd totally steal it.