Wednesday, February 27, 2008


The first snow in November is magical. In December, it’s festive. In January, it’s exciting and fun. But at the end of February? It’s a real drag.

For the record, I’m done with snow.

But it’s still fun and beautiful, isn’t it? It’s the same snow today that we had back in December when the sled hills were new and exciting, and the kids were clamoring to make snow forts.

This morning, baby b. managed to slip into his big brother’s Spiderman boots and he stood at the window jabbering excitedly, “KNOW! KNOW!” while I drank my coffee. He doesn't mind another snowy day. He's not counting the days until Spring. He's just happy to have today...this moment.

Oh, that I may have just a slice of his childlike wonder at the world. To accept what is with joy and not wish it away simply because I’m tired of it.

This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:24)

Monday, February 25, 2008

addiction and recovery...only one step!

It started off innocently enough. At bedtime and naptime, we’d pop a binky in baby b.’s mouth, and after a few minutes of rocking, he was ready to go to sleep. In the morning he would wave bye-bye to his binky and leave it in the crib and toddle off to play. He is what people refer to as an easy baby.

I think it was day nine of Llama Papa’s Siberia trip that I thought, “Oh, who cares?” Baby b. was fussy, so I just let him have the binky. All day. It went downhill from there.

Last Monday, if it wasn’t in his mouth, he was unhappy. “Ba! Ba!” He shouted. He even climbed up into his crib to get a “hit.” If I reached for him, he shook his head “no,” happily lying in his bed, sucking away. At ten o’clock in the morning.

You know it’s out of hand when even a six year old notices.

Twin A. was getting ready for school, baby b. was fussing, and we were all frantically looking for a binky when he said, “Why don’t you just take that thing away? He’s not a baby anymore. The kid’s almost two!”


So, we did. Last week, baby b. went cold turkey. And you know what? It wasn’t that bad. He asked for his “ba” a few times, but by the second day, he was pretty much over it.

I love to see his smiling face again and listen to him babble.

Detox hasn’t been without its moments. We’ve had a few 2 a.m. crying jags, and it was touch and go yesterday at church when he saw his little friend and was staring curiously at the binky in her mouth.

The transition from baby to toddler is truly amazing. One minute, they’re in your arms, the next minute, they’re off.

My baby is growing up! And that, my friends, is a good thing.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

silence = community

One of the biggest surprises from my five day silent retreat was how much the spiritual discipline of silence has to do with community. At first glance, five days alone seems selfish and self serving, doesn’t it?

And yet.

How many times do I turn to people––to my husband, my church, my friends––desperate for them to meet my needs? Oh, it may not come across as desperate. But it is.

Don’t get me wrong. Many times it’s appropriate to turn to friends and spouses and our faith community for support. It’s a good and healthy thing to reach out for help when we need it. But sometimes the loneliness of my heart is so deep that only God Himself can satisfy it. To go from person to person hoping for them to fill me up enough will only leave me hungering for more. And more. And more. And more. I’m never satisfied.

And so I am learning to go to Jesus. To sit with Him. To listen. To share the truth about my neediness with Him. To open up the deep places of my soul and allow Him to fill me.

And in that filled up place, community is richer.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

the one where I scream for my life

What fun! We spent the long weekend here and had a blast. Traveling with kids is always a mixed bag, and on Saturday I was thinking, “Was all of this work worth it?” when Twin B. declared, “This is the happiest day of my entire life!”

It was worth it.

We shared a condo with good friends who have three boys the same ages as ours (6,6, and one-and-a-half). I know, weird. Ang and I met in a craft store when our twins were all babies. We literally came around the corner of an aisle and head to head with our double strollers. We became fast friends, and our boys have grown up together.

All four noisy boys loved the water slides and just hanging out together. When I asked them what their favorite part of the trip was, Twin A. said, “Going on the slides with my friends,” and Twin B. said, “Going on that big slide with you on the raft and watching you scream for your life!”

Um. Yeah. That about sums it up.

We got over a foot of snow while we were there, which was really something. Llama Papa had quite a time digging us out of the parking lot to go home, but once we were on the road, we had no problems.

Well, no weather induced problems anyway. And nothing that couldn’t be temporarily fixed by a bag of fruit chews.

It’s good to be home.

Friday, February 15, 2008

fugitive llama

I love getting my errands done early. After stopping off at the post office this morning, I ran to the gas station to gas up my minivan for our weekend trip to the Dells. I swiped my credit card, went to fill up, and realized that I hadn’t pulled forward enough to reach the gas tank. So I got back in my van, pulled forward, and then pumped the gas.

I gathered up trash while I waited, scooping up stale goldfish crackers and raisins from the floor of the van.

Then I put on the fuel cap and drove home.

Twenty minutes later, I was on the phone with a friend when another call came in. From the City. I almost didn’t answer it. “Probably the police department raising money again,” I thought.

“Is this Mrs. Llama?” the police officer on the other line asked me.
“Do you drive a blue Caravan?”
“Um. Yes.”
“I’m at the Shell station. You drove away without paying.”

Oh. My.

I grabbed baby b. and headed back to the gas station. Apparently, when I pulled forward, it cancelled out the credit card. Apologizing profusely, I handed the guy my Disney Visa. Baby b. just smiled at the guy, who then apologized to me because I had to come back out in the cold.

I’m just glad I picked up the phone. Can’t you just see the headline now?

Fugitive, gas-stealing Llama on the loose! Rumor has it, she spends her days doing laundry and hanging around with a destructive, but smiley, toddler. If you have any information on this Llama (including pictures of her messy house) call Crime Stoppers today!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

feel the love

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I made my boys a special breakfast. (Remember the waffle story? I got a heart shaped waffle maker for my very next birthday. Because Llama Papa is quick that way.)

And now you’re reading this thinking, “Wow! She’s got three little kids and she’s making her family healthy, homemade waffles on a Thursday morning! What on earth is wrong with me? I only have two kids and they had to get their own cold cereal this morning. Why, that Llama Woman must be waaaay more organized than I am.”

Yeah. I’ve read the Mom blogs and had similar thoughts. So, in the interest of full disclosure, I am bravely posting a picture of my messy kitchen. This is the trade off, friends. Healthy, homemade waffles? Yes.

In the middle of a great big mess.

So on that note, happy Valentine’s Day! And, if you’re interested, here’s my favorite waffle recipe. (I know they sound very grainy, but I’m telling you, your kids will never know. They are fantastic!)

Multi-Grain Waffles

Makes 8 servings


2 C buttermilk
½ C old-fashioned rolled oats
2/3 C whole-wheat flour
2/3 C all-purpose flour
¼ C toasted wheat germ or cornmeal
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
¼ C packed brown sugar
1 T canola oil
2 tsp. vanilla extract


1. Mix buttermilk and oats in a medium bowl; let stand for 15 minutes.
2. Whisk whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, wheat germ (or cornmeal), baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl.
3. Stir eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla into the oat mixture. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients; mix with a rubber spatula just until moistened.
4. Coat a waffle iron with cooking spray and preheat. Spoon in enough batter to cover three-fourths of the surface (about 2/3 cup for an 8-by-8-inch waffle iron). Cook until waffles are crisp and golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Repeat with remaining batter.

NUTRITION INFORMATION: Per serving: 188 calories; 4 g fat (1 g sat, 2 g mono); 55 mg cholesterol; 30 g carbohydrate; 8 g protein; 3 g fiber; 328 mg sodium.
Nutrition bonus: 144 mg calcium (14% dv).

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

WFMW - Giving

In my college years, money was tight. Really tight. As in budget-the-quarters-for-laundry tight.

The small church I attended at the time was planning to go on a retreat that I really wanted to go on. I knew I couldn’t just write a check for the fee, so I looked at my budget carefully. The retreat was two months away. At the time, I drank two diet cokes a day. Eliminating those diet cokes would completely pay for my retreat. Happily, I traded my daily coke fix for a season in order to enjoy a weekend of fun.

Have you been keeping up with the Compassion blogging team? Rocks in My Dryer and Boo Mama are two of my favorite Mom blogs, and both of them are in Uganda right now, along with others, blogging for Compassion International. Reading their first hand accounts of extreme poverty in Uganda brings me to tears. And as I weep over my computer, I wonder how many other people are reading along, crying with me? How many of us have these moments of realization, as Shannon did, that we are rich––RICH––compared to most of the world? How many of us realize we could do more for the poor, both here in the U.S. and around the world?

And how many of us will walk away from our computers and do nothing?

I don’t know your story or financial situation, but God does. If reading these stories tugs at your heart, but you don’t know how you could possibly help, bring that desire to God. Ask Him what you could do. And then listen for the answer.

Maybe it’s as simple as giving up Diet Coke. Maybe it's something more radical. I don't know, but God does. Ask Him.

Then those 'sheep' are going to say, 'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?' Then the King will say, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.'
(Matthew 25:37-40 The Message)

Giving sacrificially? It not only works for me, it’s a biblical thing. Check out Don’t Try This at Home, who is graciously hosting this week’s Works for me Wednesday in Shannon’s absence, for more creative ideas from Mom bloggers everywhere!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

are you tired of poetry yet?

The children are now
wild monkeys, caged animals;
please, God, send us Spring!

And for the gross category...

Sticky, brown mass plops;
Naked baby squeals; Mom screams,
"No! Not my clean floor!"

Write your own haiku, and maybe you can win this year's haiku buckaroo contest!

(Thanks, Elaine, for letting me know about it!)

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Help Me Listen

O Holy One,
I hear and say so many words,
yet yours is the word I need.
Speak now,
and help me listen;
and, if what I hear is silence,
let it quiet me,
let it disturb me,
let it touch my need,
let it break my pride,
let it shrink my certainties,
let it enlarge my wonder.

Poem by Ted Loder
Guerrillas of Grace

Friday, February 8, 2008

Because I'm clever that way

The noisy boys love crafts. Love them. Save bits of garbage for a few weeks (milk bottle caps, paper towel tubes, OJ lids), give them to my boys, and watch their eyes light up. Seriously.

Last night was Open House at the boys’ school. We visited each of their classrooms, took a picture with their teachers, and saw more of what they’re doing in class. One of the projects they were most proud of were these marshmallow sculptures made out of miniature marshmallows and toothpicks.

“Hey! I could do that!” I thought, always looking for a constructive way to keep the noisy boys occupied that doesn’t involve the computer, wii, or television.

So this morning they set to work on their marshmallow structures. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Never mind the eighteen month old who roams the house all day long looking for things to eat or destroy.

Right. Next time, we’ll save this craft for naptime.

And as a side note, people ask all the time, “Are the twins different from eachother?” Um. Yes. Take a look at the two structures for a visual illustration of their differences. Twin A.’s is on the right, Twin B.’s is on the left. For the record, Twin A.’s sculpture had another set of cubes attached on the side before baby b. got a hold of it.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

wild animals

Do you have any idea how hard it is to keep posting about my silent retreat in the midst of the everyday chaos that is my life?

Don’t get me wrong, I want to keep posting about it. And I will. Tomorrow.

But this week my life feels a little bit like my blog when I was away -- overrun by wild animals who carry food into the living room and smear peanut butter on the couch and make entirely too much noise.

(By the way, I enjoyed coming home and finding that my blog had been blogjacked. It brought a smile to my face and I am grateful for this forum to foster such a fun and generous community. I feel like one of the cool kids now! And I’m glad this is a place where you feel comfortable enough to kick off your shoes and just hang out for awhile. And don’t worry about cleaning up next time. As Twin A. reminded me this morning, “our house is ALWAYS messy.” Thanks, buddy. I’m feelin’ the love.)

But back to the wild animals who live in my house.

After asking to play Star Wars Wii at least thirty-nine times yesterday, Llama Papa was annoyed.

“For the last time, no. No Star Wars Wii today.”
“But WHY?” Twin A. whined.
“Because you’re driving me crazy,” Llama Papa answered.
“I know,” Twin A. responded, “But what does that have to do with playing Wii?”

You’ve gotta love the logic of a Kindergardener.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


All of my striving
comes up short.

All of it.

What now, Lord?
I offer you what is:


Are you really enough?
Enough to fill in all of these cracks
without my help?


Lord I believe.
Help me with my unbelief

the truth

I went on this retreat of silence in search of God. And in the silence, as distractions and noise began to fall away, I was left with myself. And God. And what is real and true between us. Not what I want to be real and true, but what actually is.

Here are my reflections from day two:

The day is slipping away; my mind wanders. Have I been attentive enough? I want measurable results. I want to come away from this week and say, “God did this,” or “God said this.” I want to sit for five minutes or five hours or five days and have something to show for it.

But the truth is, I’m coming up empty. The truth is, I’m exhausted. The truth is, I’m distracted. The truth is, I don’t even know what my soul feels like. The truth is, I’m afraid I won’t even recognize God’s voice if He does speak.

Monday, February 4, 2008

an invitation

“What brings you here?” Ruth asks. And so I spend the next hour talking about my life, my restlessness of soul, my deep hunger for God, my fears, my busyness.

“I don’t know where to begin with God,” I confess.

She smiles. We sit quietly for a time, and then she opens her Bible and reads,  
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30).

She smiles again. “What would it look like for you to accept God’s invitation to rest today? To trust Him with all of the things we’ve talked about, and just lie down and take a nap?”

"A nap?" I think. "That doesn’t sound very spiritual." Later, I walk over to the cafeteria, and take a bowl of lentil soup. Homemade. As I sit with my soup and salad, I marvel at this gift of food that someone else has prepared. I want to go into the kitchen and hug the women who made it. "When is the last time I sat through an entire meal?" I wonder to myself.

After lunch, I go to my room to complete my only assignment of the day: rest.

It’s harder than I expect it to be. I open my journal and make a list of all of my distractions and concerns. It’s two pages long.

And I find myself back in this familiar place with God: do I trust Him? Can I stop and simply be for an afternoon? Can that really be enough?

I read the verses in Matthew again and thank God for His invitation. The truth is, I am tired.

And so I begin this first afternoon of my journey into solitude and silence with a long nap.

Saturday, February 2, 2008


I’m not exactly sure why I’m here. A simple note to the author, a question really, resulted in this invitation to spend five days in solitude and silence, meeting with Ruth in the mornings for prayer, devotions, and spiritual direction.

I don’t know how many people have been invited, but only two of us are here––me and a young worship leader from San Francisco.

I feel intimidated. Who am I to be here, sitting across from this woman, whose books have challenged the very soul of my being? Why should she invest this time in me?

It’s surreal. She shares a devotion with us and I wonder that she shouldn’t be standing in front of thousands, sharing these great insights into scripture.

I wonder again, what am I doing here?

I’m surprised by how quickly the ego fades in this setting, how deeply we connect, soul to soul, in spiritual friendship.

She’s no longer a famous author and speaker. She’s simply Ruth.

“It’s no coincidence that you’re here,” she smiles.

This truth resonates with me, and I know that for whatever reason, God has brought me here.

And so I begin my journey.

Friday, February 1, 2008


After a week without words, I’m not sure how to describe the experience using them. This past five days have been the truest I have ever known. Difficult. Hard. But also true and real.

And God showed up, friends.

Not in the ways I thought He might, or even the ways I wanted Him to. But He showed up.

I’ll share slices of this week over time, but the whole experience feels so sacred, I’m not sure how much to say or how to say it. Be patient with me as I process and consider what the Lord has done.

It’s good to be home with the noisy boys again. Twin B. greeted me with, “Dad let us eat 26 marshmallows!”

Llama Papa assures me it was only 14.

In any case, they all survived.

It is good to be home.