Thursday, May 31, 2007


Tomorrow is the last day of preschool. Two years ago, when I dropped them off for the first time, everyone told me I would cry. I insisted that I had been with them every single minute of their lives, except for maybe five, and I was ready to drop them off for awhile. Anywhere. I did not cry on the first day. I went to Starbucks by myself and sat, happily, for two hours and fifteen minutes. And they absolutely loved preschool.

Yesterday was the annual spring program. The noisy boys stood proudly with their class, Twin B. with his new glasses, singing silly songs. They all looked so grown up, in a five-almost-six kind of way. They sang “Brown Bear, Brown Bear” to the tune of Baa Baa Black Sheep, and even did sign language along with all of the animals. And by the time they got to the end, “Children, children what do you see? We see mothers looking at us,” I was all choked up. How can I forget the early years and all of our worries about their development? When the speech therapist who evaluated them periodically said, “Read, read, read,” I did. After breakfast each morning we would sit on the living room floor and read all of our books. Every last one. It took over an hour, but we soaked up all of those words, my boys and I. And “Brown Bear” was my personal favorite. Well, that and “I Love you Stinky Face.”

My tears yesterday weren’t tears of sadness that they’re growing up. They were tears of joy and accomplishment. Twin A. and Twin B. are ready for Kindergarten. Really ready. And as their lives unfold, it’s a privilege to guide them along the way; to teach them; to give them opportunities to grow.

Happy summer, noisy boys!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

blog security

A few people have asked me why I don’t post names or pictures on this blog; after all, my three boys are so stinkin’ cute it’s not even funny, and their photos would make a lively addition to these posts. For a long time, my answer to this question was, “I don’t know. I’m just not comfortable with it.” The name thing is easier to explain. After all, I don’t want someone to read this blog, notice my husband travels a lot and I’m home with these three adorable boys and lots of computer equipment, and google my name and learn all sorts of things about me. (My address, for instance. Well, unless they want to help with the laundry. In that case, come on over!)

Now, my mother-in-law and my grandma are probably reading this and nodding their heads, “Yes! This makes good sense! You’ve already said too much, what with that tube-top post and all!” And a few of you are reading and thinking, “Oh, come on. Get over yourself already. It’s a Mom blog. Everyone is doing it!” True. And I don’t think poorly of anyone who does post their name or pictures of their adorable children. I really don’t. I just won’t be doing it. Two little words have solidified my anonymous stance on this blog: site meter.

I added a google site meter a few months ago out of curiosity. Who reads my blog, anyway? A handful of far-flung family and friends, a few friends of friends, and a few people I’ve never met, but have common interests. And then there are the google searches. With the name “llama momma,” I get hits from people looking for the feeding habits of llamas, the spitting habits of llamas, and everything in between. My post about emotions gets quite a bit of traffic from people searching for information about flying with children and googling, “can I take formula on the plane” and “flying with a baby on my lap.” I always feel like I’ve performed some great public service when people read that post. I should edit it to add: “Do not do it. Do not get on the plane with that baby. It’s just too hard.”

And then there are the other google searches. (Forgive the asterisks, please. These are words I have eliminated from my blog writing, due to these google searches.) d*irty llama poem; n*aked boys; and the one that sends chills down my spine: cute little boys. It scares me that people would troll Mom blogs looking for pictures of children; and while I pray for these people to find freedom from their perversion, I do not want them looking at pictures of my sweet boys.

I do not live in fear, and I don’t think I’m being overly cautious. Much of my writing is about my kids, and while I’d love to show them off to you—my known reader—my first obligation is to protect them from harm.

Speaking of protecting kids from harm, we now live in a gated community. Baby b. was not happy to see those baby gates go up, but it was time!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Quote of the morning

Me: Hey, A.! Do you like my new outfit?
Twin A: Yeah. What is it?
Me: It's called a skirt. (Can you tell I don't wear many of these?)
Twin A: Oh. I thought it was that thing you tried on and almost had to call 9-1-1 to get it off.
Me: The tube top?
Twin A: Yeah. The tube top. What is a tube top anyway?

When you don't think they're listening, little ears are everywhere.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

What was I thinking?

I hate shopping. It’s something I do as infrequently as possible—especially for clothes. Buying clothes for myself ranks right up there with going to the dentist. It’s just not fun, but I’ve gotta do it.

I’m s-l-o-w-l-y dropping my pregnancy weight and fitting back into my old clothes, but I really needed to pick up a few more basic pieces. So when my sister-in-law offered to watch the kids for a couple of hours yesterday so I could shop, I took her up on it.

I skipped Kohls and Target, where I can wander for hours and never find anything that fits. (And fill my cart with playdough and bubbles and t-shirts for the kids!) I went straight to my favorite petite shop—Ann Taylor Loft. Now, I’ve mentioned on this blog that I’m short. Really short. That’s one problem. I’ve also got the middle-section, floppy lumps that need hiding. (Twin pregnancy did a doozy on my body.) And I’m a little bit, uh, disproportioned on top. I’ll leave it at that. Let’s just say that finding shirts that fit me properly, are reasonably attractive, and modest is like trying to keep three boys quiet in the library. It’s not impossible, but it’s very difficult.

I tried to go in with an open mind. Walking by all of the cute, feminine blouses that are on the racks this season, I decided to go for it. I gathered them all up, even the ones that I was sure wouldn’t work, and brought them to the dressing room. Maybe they wouldn’t be as bad as I thought?

Wrong. They were worse. The low point was, don’t laugh, a tube top. I know, I know. A woman of my age and figure has no business trying on a tube top. I get that. And for the record, I have not worn a tube top since I was seven. Until yesterday. I got it over my head fine, had a good laugh at myself in the mirror, and tried to pull it back off. It was, um, stuck. I got a little panicky at this point, and tried a different angle. No luck. I was trapped. And I looked like a pasty-white overstuffed sausage.

Knock. “How’s everything going in there, ma’am?” the perky size-0 clerk asked.
“Not so well. I, um, I know this is going to sound crazy, but I tried a tube top on and now I can’t get it off. I never should have tried it on. It’s bad. Really bad.”
“Do you want some help?”
“I am so embarrassed. I cannot believe I tried this on.”
“I won’t even look,” she promised.
And she didn’t.

And people wonder why I don’t like to shop.

Monday, May 21, 2007


This morning my husband and kids surprised me with homemade waffles in the shape of—you guessed it—hearts. Is that sweet or what? It’s my birthday today, and in the words of Twin A., “all of these hearts mean we love you.” The waffle maker wasn’t even on my Amazon wish list, so my husband gets huge bonus points for remembering that I wanted one. And all of this is “extra” really; we already celebrated my birthday on Saturday.

One sure-fire way to get what you want on your birthday? Plan it yourself! About six-months ago (maybe more?) I told my husband I wanted to see Wicked. (Well, I told him that 2 years ago, but six-months ago I went online and ordered tickets.) I bought tickets for us and good friends, who also happen to be family, secured babysitting for the day, and it was settled. We’d spend the day in Chicago celebrating my birthday.

We feasted on dim sum in Chinatown, and afterwards, I had a tapioca pearl drink that tasted a lot like body wash. This was the only low spot of the day, really, and at least it provided us all with a good laugh. (Seriously. My all-time favorite tapioca pearl drink back at our old haunt in California is the taro root flavor. It tastes exactly like the milk at the end of a bowl of Captain Crunch. This drink did not. Instead, it resembled the “freesia” scent at bath-and-body works. Actually, LL would probably really like it!)

Wicked was hot. If you have a chance to see this musical, go. In fact, I’ll see it again if you need a friend to go with. This show was amazing. Afterwards, we walked to Garrett’s and bought popcorn. The mix was the perfect blend of sweet and salty. Mmmmm.

I feel blessed to have so many dear friends and family in my life. And enjoying my heart-shaped waffles today with my boys, I’m reminded again of God’s faithfulness to me. “God sets the lonely in families…” (Psalm 68:6)


Thursday, May 17, 2007

white privilege

A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of hearing my friend, Ed Gilbreath, speak on the subject of his latest book, Reconciliation Blues. If you ever have an opportunity to hear Ed speak, go. You won’t be disappointed.

One of the things that struck me were Ed’s remarks about “representing” black people. If he’s the only minority person in the room and a racial issue comes up that nobody else notices, he feels a burden of responsibility to speak up. I can only imagine how exhausting this role must feel at times. A part of me wants to tell my friend, “Just be you and don’t carry around this burden to be Everybody; to always represent the minority point of view is just too hard—just be Ed.”

I cannot relate to this burden because I’m not required to carry it. I’m white. If I’m at the park and my kids misbehave, nobody looks at me and says, “Look at that white woman who can’t control her kids,” and walks away thinking, “those white people. Can’t they get it together?”

White privilege, —the ability to go about the day, the week, even the year without once considering matters of race—is something many of us white folks remain blissfully unaware of. That’s part of the problem. We don't even realize that some of the privileges we enjoy are related to the fact that we're white. We judge and criticize without ever once stopping to consider that maybe our opportunities in life were different from the start. And when we stay blissfully unaware of racial issues, things just slip by. Like the dreadful VBS curriculum, Rickshaw Rally, and this skit, by Youth Specialties (who issued a public apology for the material and immediately pulled it).

We don’t think we’re racist. Really, we’re not. And yet this stuff keeps happening. (And when I say, “we,” I’m speaking collectively for all white people. It’s time we started taking responsibility for OUR own.)

So what’s the solution? In the church, what is the antidote to white privilege? I realize this is a big topic, and I fear I've grossly oversimplified the issue, but I'm interested in what others think on this topic.

Monday, May 14, 2007

I'm it!

Craver tagged me with a game, and I'm breaking the rules. Without actually posting the rules of the game (which is against the rules) or tagging anyone else (Who’s left? Serioulsy. How many blogs do you people read? We can’t go on tagging one another forever, can we?), here are my 8 random things about me:

1. I hated going to the zoo as a child. Seeing the animals living outside of their natural habitats and in cages made me sad.

2. Back in my men are scum days, I decided to pursue a relationship with my now-husband because of his coffee pot.

3. I once got lost in Poland. A girlfriend and I kept getting on the wrong bus and getting further and further away from where we were supposed to be. Between us, we spoke about 12 words of Polish. It is only by God’s grace that we didn’t end up like this woman!

4. I’m really short. Only four feet, eleven inches.

5. After 6 weeks of complete hospital bedrest carrying my twins, I haven’t missed a shower since! That’s right. Every single day of the noisy boys’ lives, I’ve had a shower.

6. I drink too much coffee.

7. Once, on a mission trip to eastern Europe, I got completely sloshed. I was trying to be polite and kept drinking the strong Russian vodka my hosts poured for me, so they kept pouring more. By the time I left to meet my team for an evening of street evangelism, I was too drunk to speak clearly.

8. I started this blog as a fluke. If I had known how much I would enjoy blogging, I never would have chosen the name Llama Momma!

Sunday, May 13, 2007


I grew up in rural Michigan. I remember hot summer days riding around on my bike with the other neighborhood kids, stopping off for a drink of water every now and then, or riding over to Aunt Belva’s house. Aunt Belva was a surrogate Aunt to the entire neighborhood, and though her children were grown and gone, she stocked her freezer with ice cream treats for us kids.

I remember one hot summer night when my own Mother declared that it was simply too hot to cook supper. My brother and I watched wide-eyed as she got the crank ice cream maker out. “How about ice cream tonight?” she asked, with fun dancing in her eyes. Oh, what a delicious memory of my Mom. It’s my favorite one, I think.

Happy Mother’s Day to the Moms, Surrogate Moms, and Aunt Belvas who are reading. I’ve already had a morning full of hugs and kisses. The cards the noisy boys made in preschool were sweet, “My Mother is beautiful when we are…going to church; My Mother helps me…make my bed; My Mother loves to…make crafts with me.” But I’ll never forget last years card, when Twin B’s said, “My Mother helps me…wipe my bottom.” That one is my favorite.

After church we’re having a picnic at a park, which is infinitely more relaxing to me than a restaurant at this stage of the game. And later today? A movie with whatever friends I can scrounge up. This is the best gift of all—an afternoon off!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007


I have a confession to make. It's really hard for me to ask for help. Now, I know I'm in good company when I say this, but it's true. A week after my gall bladder surgery, I was at the grocery store and the clerk asked, "Can I help you to the car?" No, of course not. I just had abdominal surgery and feel like I'm going to fall over, but I'm good! As I lugged the too-heavy groceries to my mini-van, I could have kicked myself. Why is my first response to "Can I help you?" always "No"?

My husband is on the road for the fourth week in a row, and I'm tired. I expect today to be jam-packed and intense. So, when my sister-in-law called yesterday and offered to stay with baby b. for a few hours while the noisy boys are in preschool, I said yes. (Notice I still didn't ask for help, but at least I accepted it when it was offered!)

It's humbling, though, to be in a position of needing help. And today, I need help. Pray for me, if I come to your mind, as the Holy Spirit leads.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

an open letter to a friend

Dear Tivo,

I love you, but we've gotta talk. It really irritates me when I'm watching the Food Network and you change the channel, WHILE I'M WATCHING, to record a decorating show on HGTV. And while we're on the topic, why do you fill my "Tivo Suggests" feature with decorating shows? I hate all things lace, have no clue where my sewing machine is, and, in case you haven't noticed by my preschooler's collection of snow globes on top of the piano, am not really into decorating. So give up already. Oh, and thank you for finding "Jon and Kate plus 8." I love this show. Watching a Mom juggle twins and sextuplets, even at the end of a long day, makes me feel less tired. I know, she's kind of a control freak, but aren't we all? Seriously. And I cannot believe that she feeds a family of ten healthy, organic food for $150 a week, including diapers. She is my hero.

your devoted friend,
Llama Momma

Saturday, May 5, 2007

for blondes

Last week we were painting, and Twin b. wrote his name in dots.

"Wow, those are some fancy letters!" I commented.
"I wrote it that way so the blonde people could read it."
"Blonde people?" I inquired, confused.
"You know," he explained, "blonde people read with their hands by touching the lumps."
"Ah. BLIND people."

It all makes sense now.

Friday, May 4, 2007


Have you ever watched a group of five and six year olds play t-ball? What a blast! On the way to our first ever “real” game, Twin B. commented, “T-ball is sure tricky, and I’m kind of bad at catching. But tonight’s the big night!”

Twin A. nervously agreed, “We just have to have fun and be a good sport,” he added. He likes to do things well right off the bat, so T-ball is challenging him in a good way. It will take time, practice and perseverance to learn to play well.

The game itself was hilarious. What the kids lacked in skill they made up in enthusiasm. Never mind that the coach had to tell them where to stand and what to do and where to run. “First base! Run to first base,” he would shout to the batter, pointing him in the right direction after he hit the ball. Those kids had a good time. (Well, except for the one boy who just sat down in the middle of the field. I don’t think he was having much fun.)

Our community places great value on giving kids these opportunities, and I do too, but it got me thinking: do I give my kids a variety of opportunities to serve God? I signed them up for t-ball and soccer and swimming, hoping to find a sport they’re each good at. How can I also give them opportunites to serve God and others? To find their niche in God’s kingdom?

Lately I’ve been feeling discouraged by my “just-a-Mom” status. But yesterday, Twin A. was wandering through the house singing “Walk, walk, walk with God, walking in God’s way. I can learn to do what’s right, every single day!” And it hit me again—the awesome responsibility of raising these boys. There will be plenty of time for a “real job” down the road. For today, I’m shaping and molding little lives to be good neighbors, to love Jesus, and to serve Him with all they’ve got.