Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Time to read

I pile the stack of books on the counter with a thud and smile at the librarian as I hand her my library card.

“No kids today?” She asks.

“No. Just me.” I say.

“Now, I have to ask you,” she says, in her rich European accent, “you have the three little boys, yes?”

“Yes.” I won’t pass this comment on to the noisy boys, who are ten and would take great offense at being called little.

“My dear,” she asks as she scans Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt, “when you do have time to read all of these?”

Good question. When do I have time to read? I mumble something about after the kids go to bed, but I think of it throughout the evening. The simple answer is that I prefer a good book to just about anything on television, but the truth is: I can’t not read. Words are part of who I am. And who I’m becoming.

How do I have time to read?

How do I not have time?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

in honor of Thanksgiving

A couple of years ago, when the Kindergartner was a preschooler, he started asking questions about Thanksgiving. No doubt, they were talking about the holiday at preschool, and he wondered how we planned to celebrate.

"Will we get a turkey?" He asked.
"Yes." I told him.
"We will?" He asked again.
"Of course," I said.

We must have had this conversation a dozen times in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving. Finally, shopping day arrived and I should have suspected something when he jumped in the van without complaint to go to the grocery store. (He hates grocery shopping.)

We got to the meat department, and I said, "Okay, buddy! It's finally time to pick our turkey!"

He looked at the mound of frozen turkeys and exclaimed, "But, Mom! These turkeys are all DEAD!

Needless to say, he didn't eat any turkey that Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 11, 2011

There is a God. And He likes me.

I was in the final moments of copyediting a lengthy document when the unthinkable happened: I somehow lost part of the document. Or the computer ate it. Or whatever.

It was bad.

I checked my files again with no luck: the endnotes were gone. And if the endnotes were gone, I had to wonder what else was gone. I considered cutting and pasting the endnotes from the original document, but quickly scrapped that plan. My reputation as a freelance editor depends on accuracy. Every. Single. Time.

I walked away from my computer and said a prayer while I crawled into bed for a nap. Because I’m spiritual that way.

I had been looking forward to a weekend with my family. A few games of UNO, a family movie, maybe some leaf raking if the weather cooperated. Now all of that was in jeopardy. I needed to keep working in order to make my deadline, and all of my fantasies about free time dissolved like the first sort-of snow of the year.

I printed out my edited document, planning to go through the whole thing again and make the changes on the original, just to be safe. And, what do you know, there were the missing endnotes. Maybe the computer hand’t eaten my document after all.
I consulted with Llama Papa, and with a few clicks, my beautiful copyedited document was there. All of it.

A few more changes, and it would be done. And I would be free for the weekend.

My first response? There is a God. And He likes me.

And yet even if the document hadn’t been recovered, I know the same thing is true. Even if I spent my weekend behind a computer screen, it’s true.

It’s easy to lose sight of God’s goodness when life feels hard, but it’s more true than any feelings we have: there is a God. And He loves us.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

awkward silence

I’ve been quiet for so long on this blog, it feels strange to say anything at all.

Hey. It’s me. I’m still alive over here, busily raising three boys and wearing any number of other hats: writer, friend, editor, wife, mother, cook, housekeeper. Should I keep going?

But you’re busy too, no doubt. Everyone I meet seems to have a couple of lives going.

I’ve been thinking about this space and how I want to fill it, or even, if I should fill it. I still don’t have any concrete answers, but I’m breaking the silence anyway. I’m not going to try to find my writing identity with this blog, instead, I’m just going to keep doing what I love to do: tell stories.

Yesterday, my Kindergartener (can you believe my baby is 5?) asked me a deep theological question on the way home from school: “Mom, why did God even make such a thing as barf?”

So, yeah. Marketing be damned. (I don’t even know if I’m allowed to say that word on this here, but there it is. If I disappear, you’ll know why.) You can expect the same high quality material you’ve come to expect from the Llama Momma. Because that’s the way I roll.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

giving things up for lint

"Did you ask your friend what he might like for his birthday?" I ask Twin A. as he munches a bagel after soccer practice.

"Yes. I think he'd really like some new football cards." He says.

"Doesn't he have a pretty big collection already?"

"Well, yeah. But he said he had to give them up for lint."

Monday, January 24, 2011

nachos from heaven

Last summer, her world fell apart. One of my dear friends got up one day like every other day, and by the end of it, her life was crumbled up around her.

So we did what we have done for years, my friend and I. We headed to Chilis for nachos and a heart-to-heart. But when we got there, the nachos were gone. Off the menu. Replaced with “new and improved” nachos.

Only they were not improved. Just different.

And when your world us falling down, sometimes you just want the same, old nachos.

Last night, this same friend and I met at Chilis. She’s facing a tough week with so much strength and faith and dignity, it makes me cry. And when we opened the menu, there it was: classic nachos.

I know in the grand scheme of things, it’s no big deal. But it was a big deal. The cheesy concoction between us, we enjoyed sweet, comforting communion. And while I don’t think God is off finding me close parking spots at the Walmart, I do think He sent us those nachos. In all things, God is with us.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Keep it Simple Sister


It’s coming.

And I feel compelled to break the silence on this blog to share a few thoughts. Jill Savaage had a great post this morning on simplifying the holiday season, and I wholeheartedly agree.

All around me, women have that glazed expression that will only get worse as the holidays get nearer and they get more and more exhausted. Because, as women, we are the Keepers of the Christmas Magic. We tuck children into bed and our real work begins—making the holiday special for everyone around us.

I believe this is a noble task. I also believe we can make things simpler for ourselves by adjusting our expectations. I’ve written about this before, but each year I remember the days I spent in the hospital on bedrest while expecting the twins—from the day before Thanksgiving until the day after New Year’s. The entire holiday season was spent in and out of active labor, and you know what? It didn’t matter that I didn’t send a single Christmas card, put out a single decoration, or purchase a single Christmas gift. All that mattered to me was that my little family was safe and together. Truly.

The rest of it? It’s optional.

Let that free you, my friend. Do you dread sending Christmas cards? Don’t. Find another way to keep in touch with faraway friends. Hate buying so many presents? Ask people if they still want to exchange gifts. In this economic climate, people are happy to cross someone off of their gift list.

And the most important piece of advice I can give you, mother-of-young-children-I’m-talking-to-you: keep your kids’ expectations reasonable. Don’t go overboard. Young children enjoy gifts more when there are fewer of them. If your kids are older, it may be hard to backtrack; but if they’re little, resist the urge to overindulge them. You will thank me when they’re thirteen and don’t expect Santa to show up with a thousand dollars worth of goods.

So, without further ado, here’s my personal Holiday Survival Guide, in no particular order:

Make a master list for gifts. Include everyone you buy a gift for—teachers, coaches, family, children—everyone. Then brainstorm. Set a budget. As you buy gifts, cross it off the list. Start this today. Just do it. All those little details running through your head? Write them down.

Decide as a family how to spend your time. Do you enjoy going to lots of parties? If the answer is no, it’s okay to say, “not this year.” But maybe you’ve always wanted to have a holiday gathering, but never seem to have time. If that’s the case, make it a priority. Put the date on your calendar and do it. My point is, don’t just let December pull you under—take control of your calendar.

Spend time with friends. Take coffee breaks, make playdates, and enjoy the people you’re living life with. Incorporate friends into holiday activities like baking, cookie decorating, and even putting up the Christmas tree.

Incorporate spiritual disciplines. Don’t neglect your spiritual life because of busyness. Find time to pray, meditate, and reach out to others. After all, Jesus kind of is the point. Remember that. It will put the rest of the holiday into perspective.

Shop online. Seriously. The deals are fantastic and many places offer free shipping. If you know what you want, why drag everyone out to the mall to get it? I’ll never forget when the preschooler was younger and we walked into Kohls at Christmastime. His eyes got big and he asked, “Is THIS the mall?” So, thereyougo. Obviously shopping with the kids isn’t on my to-do list very often!

Plan meals. If I know I’m going to spend the day baking or shopping, I plan a very simple dinner. Sometimes this dinner even involves frozen food from Trader Joes. And, no, I don’t have any pride left. But I do get adequate rest.

Make your family a priority. If you’re screaming at everyone to get in line and have fun because, goshdarnit, it’s Christmas and this-is-supposed-to-be-fun, well, you’re missing the point. Chill out and go with the flow. Throw the kids in the car in their jammies and go through the drive-thru at the donut shop and just drive around, looking at lights. Enjoy the people you live with. If your traditions are turning you into a screaming shrew, maybe you need to rethink your traditions. (Or get therapy. But that’s another post.)

I know Christmas gets crazy, but we don’t have to go crazy to enjoy it!