Monday, March 31, 2008

the mall

“NO!” the little girl screams, arching her back and falling out of her Mother’s arms.

The young Mom has three little ones, and I read the exhaustion in her eyes as she tries to put the little girl in the stroller. She thrashes out of her reach again, and this time, the weary Mom just sits down on the floor next to her other two children. Tears spring to my eyes unexpectedly. It seems like just yesterday that was me. I was that overwhelmed Mom at the mall.

The noisy boys must have been around three when we had our Big Episode.

“We’re all going to smile nicely for the picture,” I explained. “This is a special picture for Grandpa’s birthday.”

Twin B. didn’t want to go to the mall. He didn’t like having his picture taken.

“If everyone is good,” I continued, “we’ll go to McDonalds for lunch.”

I pulled into the mall parking lot, anxious to meet my sister-in-law and her girls. The noisy boys were happy to see their cousins, but Twin B. was still scowling. He managed to hold it together until the photographer told everyone to take off their shoes.

“NO!” he screamed.

“Remember, B. if you cooperate we’ll go to McDonalds for lunch.”

“I don’t want to take off my shoes!” he yelled.

And it just got worse from there. He screamed and cried through the entire picture taking session, even after we let him keep his shoes on. I wanted to crawl in a hole and hide with a martini. Make that a double.

Leaving the mall that day, I half dragged him through the department store toward the exit. “We’re leaving, B. We can’t stay and have lunch at McDonalds because you didn’t cooperate for the picture."

Looking back, maybe I should have waited until we were in the car to remind him of his consequence. Because at that point, all hell broke loose.

A security guard actually stopped us in the store, “Is everything okay here?” He asked.

“He’s having a temper tantrum because we’re not going to McDonalds,” I explained, suddenly grateful that my boys look so much like me.

“Is this your Mom?” He asked Twin A.

“Yes.” He said, thank the Lord.

“And this is your brother?”


"Oh, they're twins," he noticed. “Good luck, Ma’am.”

We survived that day, the noisy boys and I. It was horrible in a million different ways, but we survived.

I didn’t always cope well when the noisy boys were little, and today, I see myself there, sitting on that mall floor unsure of what to do next. And so I stop and the overwhelmed Mom and I lock eyes. “You will survive this,” I tell her. “Hang tough. All the Moms in this mall are on your side.”

We both smile. I hold the stroller while she buckles her screaming daughter in.

And I cry at the beauty of God's grace right there in the middle of the mall. Because whether we recognize it or not, it really is enough.

the drawing

“Pick one,” I encouraged baby b. But he doesn’t want to pick a piece of paper from a hat. He wants my camera.

After a few minutes of coaxing, I ask my husband to draw a name. “Peepers!” He reads. Yay! My friend from church wins a book!

“Draw another one,” I ask him.

“You can’t give all the books away,” he says. “How many do you have?”

“Ten. Draw one more! This is fun!”

“You should do one drawing now and another one later,” he says.

“No. These drawings get tiring. It becomes too much about me. Just draw another name.”

Okay.” He draws another slip of paper. “Mommy Cracked.”

There we have it. Peepers and Mommy Cracked. Congratulations, Ladies! Peepers––I'll bring your copy to church next week! Mommy Cracked -- send me an email with a shipping address and I'll put your copy in the mail.

I wish I could give a copy to everyone! (See? This is why I will never make money as a writer.) If you didn't win, you can buy a copy of the book here.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

book giveaway!

“Can I have your autograph?” I look up from my coffee and smile. She must be waiting for the speaker I’m assisting at the conference. But she hands me a pen.

“You want my autograph?” I ask, incredulous. After all, I share the writing credits with fifty other Moms in the compilation book.

“Oh, I do!” The woman insisted, glancing at my pink designated-author pin. “You never know. You might really BE somebody someday!”


It’s not very often that I’m speechless, but this comment did the trick. I just signed her book and smiled.

It’s a privilege to be included in this fifteenth anniversary compilation book from Hearts at Home, I’m Glad I’m a Mom! This book would make a great Mother’s Day gift for any Mom, young or old. The stories will make you laugh, cry, and in case you’ve forgotten, they’ll remind you why you’re glad you’re a Mom.

Leave me a comment or send me an email for a chance to win a free copy! Baby b. will draw the name on Monday morning, so I’ll leave the contest open until then. The contest is open to anyone, anywhere in the world.

And if you win, I’ll even sign it. With my real name. Because you never know. I might really BE somebody someday!

Monday, March 24, 2008

memorable Easter quotes

"Look! It's Franken-Jesus!" Llama Papa commenting on a preschooler's choice of using purple and green crayons on the picture of Jesus next to the empty tomb.

What in the world do bunnies have to do with Easter?” – Twin B.

You mean the house is free? Like mercy is free? We all need mercy, but God knows we can’t afford it, so He just gives it to us.” – Twin A. while watching “Extreme Makeover Home Edition.”

More?” – Baby b. with his mouth full of jelly beans. (I know, ask me what the twins had in their Easter baskets at this age. Let me assure you, it wasn't candy. Everything is different with the third, isn't it?)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Not again!

“How was school today, B?” I asked.


“What was your special thing?”

“Learning Stations.”

“How fun! Who were the helping Moms?”

He rattled off two names then shrugged his shoulders. “But there was one Mom who didn’t show up.”

You know that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach? I had that. And then I found my volunteer schedule, and sure enough: It was me.

This happened a few weeks ago, and actually it turned into a really good teaching moment with my boys. “Nobody’s perfect,” I told them, “not even me. We all need grace.” Twin A. especially was struck by this not being perfect concept. He tries really, really hard and he really wants that to be good enough. It’s hard to accept grace when it means acknowledging your own failings.

So I chalked the whole thing up to another Kindergarten Mom Moment, apologized to the teacher, combed through my calendar and regrouped my organizational efforts, and moved on.

Until Monday.

It happened again, people.

And once again, the teacher extended sweet mercy to this tired Mom. She was so kind, I cried on my way home from school. And when I think of all the times it’s me on the other end of inconvenience, I’m ashamed. Because while I talk a lot about grace and forgiveness, the truth is, I expect people to tow the line. I tend to be critical, not gracious, when I’m on the other end of inconvenience.

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8)

Monday, March 17, 2008

a new normal

I didn’t even notice her. She was sitting on the other side of the room. The speaker, Jaynee, held up a beautiful tiered cake platter and showed us how she had glued silver butterflies at each edge, to cover up the chips. How clever, I think.

And then a conference worker walked right into our classroom and interrupted Jaynee in mid-sentence. She called a woman out by name, a name I can’t for the life of me remember now. But the woman stood up right away, and together they filed out of the room. Jaynee paused, and then she took a break from talking about loaf pans and how to cut crumbly cakes and she prayed for this woman that none of us had noticed before.

After the workshop, I helped Jaynee pack up all of her dishes and tablecloths. “I’m concerned for that woman,” she told me. “In all of my years speaking at Hearts at Home, if they have to pull someone out of a workshop, they always mention that it’s not an emergency so women don’t worry. She didn’t say that this time.”

A few minutes later the golf cart guy wandered in. “Will you ladies need a ride?” He asked.

“We will,” I responded.

“Do you know anything about the woman who was pulled out of my workshop?” Jaynee asked.

“Yes,” he said with a long, heavy sigh, “her husband collapsed this afternoon. He had a heart attack and died.”

We continued packing up dishes in silent, tearful prayer. And this morning, I find myself weeping again for this young mother, praying for her this Monday morning as she finds a way through the dark wilderness of grief, somehow forging out a new normal for herself and her children.

Friday, March 14, 2008

any LOST fans?

I’ll admit it. I’m hooked, and have been since I watched that first, creepy season on DVD a few years ago.

If you haven’t watched last night’s episode yet, don’t read the rest of this post, and don’t click on any of these other posts listed on Shannon’s blog either.

I’m just saying.

I was most disturbed by Jin’s supposed death. (And I say “supposed,” because what can we really know for sure when it comes to LOST?)

I didn’t like the way the writers manipulated that hospital scene to make us think Jin was rushing to the hospital to be with his wife when, really, it was some kind of flash back. That’s my theory anyway. I don’t think Jin was one of the Oceanic Six. I think the Panda scene was a flashback to a time before the plane crash, when Jin was still working for the bad guys. (And while we’re on the subject of the Panda thing, I will say I was getting frustrated with Jin. As a woman who has had the privilege of giving birth several times, I wanted to shout: JUST GO TO THE HOSPITAL ALREADY. YOUR WIFE WILL NOT CARE IF YOU BRING A STUFFED ANIMAL OR NOT.

So will Jin be the one to die next week? Maybe. He did say that he would do whatever it takes to protect Sun and the baby. Of course, maybe he sent Sun off to be rescued and simply stayed on the island, and Sun has to pretend he’s dead.

And Michael. Wow. He must be Ben’s spy on the boat. But how does Ben get everyone to do all of this stuff for him? A few weeks ago, we saw that even Sayid had succumbed to Ben’s powers, which both sickens me and rouses my curiosity. Who exactly is Ben and how does he get people to do the things they do?

As always, there are more questions than answers.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

abs of...cheese?

My neck hurts.

When I saw the trainer lean back on that big exercise ball and start doing crunches, I knew I was in trouble.

“I don’t think I can do that,” I said.

“Well, just give it a try. We can modify it later if we need to.”


When I signed up for the 12-week fitness challenge at my gym, I thought it would help me bring my three-times-per-week workouts to a new level. But after my hour-long meeting with the trainer yesterday, I’m starting to wonder if it’s for me.

I have no desire to spend eight hours a week at the gym. I’m not looking for washboard abs or buns of steel. Seriously. I’m 35. Pretty much, I just don’t want to have a heart attack anytime soon, which given my families history, will be an accomplishment in itself.

I get tired of hearing the rhetoric of “But you deserve this! You deserve to look and feel great!”

Well, yes and no.

Do I need to take care of myself? Absolutely.

But what is my motivation? Good health? A svelte figure? Pure selfishness? At this stage in my life and in the lives of my children, where is the balance when it comes to taking care of my body?

On the couch pounding down potato chips? At the gym for hours every day? I’m thinking somewhere in the middle of these two extremes is good. I don’t need abs of steel, but flabby abs of apple juice aren’t good either.

I’m thinking abs of cheese might be just right.

Monday, March 10, 2008

please pray

I don’t often post prayer requests on my blog, but would you please pray for the Achlimans today? Tyson, Leslie and their young son are a part of our church family, and have been on a long, hard road since Leslie was diagnosed with cancer last fall.

Today, she faces another difficult surgery.

Read more about their journey here.

Oh gracious, sovereign Lord,
hold Leslie in your hands today.
May she and Tyson know your presence;
and, please, God
heal her.

Friday, March 7, 2008

q-tips and marriage

A few days ago I was driving to the gym when my ear started feeling itchy, so I scratched it. Imagine my surprise when a huge glob of ear wax came out. And I do mean huge. (I sincerely apologize if you’re trying to eat lunch and read this at the same time.)

This got me thinking about my marriage. (I know, I am just romantic that way.)

Over the past few weeks, almost every time we get in the van to drive somewhere, Llama Papa and I end up frustrated with each other. For instance, Llama Papa says, “What do you think we should do for Spring break this year?”

“What?” I ask.



“Never mind.”

And I say, “What? What were you going to say? You never talk to me. Why don’t you ever talk to me?”

“I do talk to you, but you don’t listen.”

“I’m listening. Tell me!”

“What do you want to do for Spring break this year?”

“Would you please stop mumbling? I can’t understand you when you mumble.”

“Oh, never mind!”

I’m sure nobody reading this can relate.

Honestly, until a few days ago I chalked the whole thing up to Bad Communication in Marriage and started to wonder if maybe we needed some marriage counseling.

I am really good at being right. But like everyone else, I don’t know what I don’t know. I need to keep in mind that things are not always as they appear.

Sometimes we need marriage counseling. Other times, we just need a box of q-tips.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

craft overload

I love to encourage creativity in my children. The twins would rather do crafts than just about anything else, and they come up with some really cool stuff. And what the boys’ crafts may lack in quality, let me assure you, they make up for it in quantity.

Oh yes they do.

See these fine creations covering my kitchen table? This is from one morning.

One. Morning.

And they like to make things every day. Which is wonderful, really it is, but all of this creative wonder is wearing me out.

Today is the backwards edition of Works for me Wednesday, and I actually have four questions to ask, but this one seems the most urgent:

What do I do with all of these crafts?

I’ll admit that my strategy at the moment involves some stealth afterhour trips to the trash can. And in the morning when one of the boys asks me, “Mom? Have you seen my skyscraper?” I play dumb. “Skyscraper? Hmmm. I don’t see it anywhere…”

What I need is a plan.

So leave me your best advice for handling all of these crafts, then head back over to Shannon’s. Blogging Moms everywhere need your help!

Monday, March 3, 2008

guess again

Gloomy weather and a crummy night’s sleep have me down on this Monday afternoon. So…let’s play a game, shall we?

Just for fun, I’ll post pictures of four objects and you try to guess what they are.

Ready? Here we go.

Did you guess a pot, a laundry basket, a napkin basket, and a stool?

Well, you got one right. Actually, at my house, these are all stools. Baby b. scoots pots and baskets over to wherever he wants to be that he shouldn’t, and voila! Access to Mommy’s computer! The phone! Whatever his little nineteen-month old self wants to touch that he shouldn’t.

And I wonder why I'm exhausted at the end of the day.

Saturday, March 1, 2008


Why does the barfing always start in the middle of the night?

It was eleven o’clock and Llama Papa and I had just settled into bed when we heard baby b. crying. Llama Papa jumped out of bed, “He doesn’t sound right,” he said.

And he wasn’t.

Which brings me to my next question: When we’re dating, why do we spend so much time going out for dinner and the movies? Why don’t we care for barfy children instead? Because, honestly, I can’t think of the last time Llama Papa and I went out for dinner by ourselves. But barfing kids? We’ve done that on a fairly consistent basis.

We dated for three years and asked each other important questions in the process. Neither of us took marriage lightly, and in many ways, we went in with our eyes wide open.

I expected to make sacrifices in marriage, I really did. But self-sacrifice is so much easier in theory, isn’t it? How can any of us know how we’ll handle barfing kids in the middle of the night? How can we predict life with little sleep, and the enormous grace that will be required in order to simply survive, much less, survive without being crabby at the people we love most?

When I think back to our courtship, I’m grateful for all of the fun memories we made. When we married, I knew Llama Papa well enough to know he was, and is, a man of integrity and godly character. What I didn’t know was that he was also a man willing to get up in the middle of the night and wash vomity sheets and rock a barfy baby.

And that, my friends, is what it’s all about.