Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Face of Joy

My favorite joke about church is "if you're going to be in church, please let your face find out about it."

Many years ago, I was ridiculous enough to think I could sing in the church choir for a holiday program. I had no business singing in the choir other than a love for music and an energetic idea that I belonged up there. They were kind enough to allow me to join in.

I remember practicing for weeks in rehearsal, as well as preparing in my car, at home, any chance I got to sing that inspiring holiday music. I loved it and it truly allowed me to wear the holiday spirit for weeks on end.

The day of the program, I was excited beyond belief. The church was lovely, softly aglow with candles and pointsettias, even a fireplace was lit during our worship. All the families and friends were flurried with the holiday season spirit and I was thrilled to be one tiny portion of the magic.

Our Christmas choir assembled up front and launched into our 15 minute medley of most of the holiday favorites, as well as some new special mixes. I remember singing with "in-need-of ankle weights" style happiness and then feeling a huge wave of irony crash over me. As I looked over the faces in the congregation, I didn't see joy -- I saw people looking bored beyond belief. Many stared blankly out the window or silently scolded their misbehaving children. Some folks were even asleep. Many faces had a dull blank look that seemed to say "when will this end?"

There were only a few smiling appreciative faces and one of them was the pastor, so he didn't really count. As the dull faces stared back at me my plastered on grin got bigger and more elaborate. I thought surely if they saw my smiling happy face, they might catch a bit of the joy I was singing about. No deal.

Holidays are such an emotional stewpot for everyone from bad memories growing up to the gifts you never got as a kid. But there is also so much joy to be had. Even in the midst of hard times, there is good. In fact, the light comes easier to see when everything appears to be dark all around it.

Now I can be accused of being a Pollyanna at times about life -- I guess there are worse things to be called. But with the holidays approaching, it's a great time to think about the joys in our life. Not the fake plastered on kind that I had on my goofy face so many Christmas Eves ago. The real kind that celebrates the simple promises we all share. But don't keep that joy limited to just you -- let your face find out about and spread it around.

Lastly, if you end up visiting a church with an energetic choir singing their hearts out -- give them the blessing of smiling back the joy they give you.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

God is in My Bathtub

Last night I took a bath with God. Seriously.

It was one of those days where you get to the end of yourself. I made the mistake of starting to think about the holidays and that sent me on a downward spiral of overwhelm and guilt. Plus, having had a cold for almost two weeks was perching me dangerously close to the edge.

It all started with getting the mail and finding almost 50 catalogs to greet me. Their glossy pages were filled with alluring images of well-dressed people, fantastic homes and glorious meals of happy times. My holidays never feel like that. I usually am ridiculously tired from not sleeping well and getting up at 4 a.m. to polish silver. A friend and I have this joke about how women are the "magic makers" of the holidays -- preparing all the meals, the home, the gifts, the experience, the everything. But seldom do we have enough energy left over to enjoy the magic for ourselves.

In the last few months, I have been part of a very encouraging group of women of faith who meet regularly to talk about the Bible and it's promises. We like to discuss the hard stuff like how do you make your marriage work? or what do you do when it feels like God is on vacation? I'm not saying we all have it figured out, but it's relieving to come up with some faith answers for the journey.

After discussing some pretty hard topics one day, one of our leaders said to me "You just need to hang out with Christ and let him love on you for awhile. Ask Him to lavish you with His adoration and grace and see what happens."

The idea of inviting Christ to hang out with me had never really crossed my mind. I certainly pray, read my Bible, go to church, journal about my faith -- but asking Him over for dinner and a movie didn't ever come up as an option.

So that is what I thought of when I had my bad day. I wanted to climb in the bath tub and soak away all the fears, worries and frustrations that seemed to hang on me like a big heavy coat. I thought, "God can you get in the bath tub with me?" I know that seems odd and you probably think I'm weird for saying it out loud. I really wanted to be held and loved and adored in the promises that I know are true. I wanted God to hold me and soothe me and tell me everything was going to be okay.

So I did. When I got out of the bath, I felt like a small child who had just slipped on her footed pjs and was wrapped up in her favorite blanket. That day I understood that it's okay to invite God into every aspect of our lives, whether it's for pizza or wherever you need Him. He's not just available on Sundays in stained glass churches. He's even available in bathtubs.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Mommy Dangerous

I love the Patagonia catalog.

Not for the clothes, those are nice yes. But for the amazingly dangerous things that people do in between the pages of the stuff to buy. Women scaling mountains in Third world countries, men surfing in ridiculous places. The photography is usually stunning, the stories equally. The last issue featured two women that were skiing in Pakistan to evaluate the effects of global change on the planet.

Secretly I want to be them. Women unafraid to hike, ski and camp in a strange place. To be confident in my own abilities and strengths to know that I could survive in most any weather conditions, most anywhere on the planet. In a sense, to be a female Daniel Boone.

But that desire stops in my head -- I am only a vicarious danger woman. I like the idea of doing things that are really risky like mountain climbing, biking, trekking to beautiful summits. But in practice, not so much. In truth, I am a big fat weenie. The Patagonia catalog and others like it become my fantasy life. I love reading about women and men doing amazing things that are both mentally and physically daunting.

In my perpetual safety belt, helmet wearing, side curtain airbag state, my life is one constant "ranger danger" event. Always on the look out for safety recalls, safer cars, safer toys, the dangers of this, the toxicity of that. When I got married and had a child, risk became something I only read about in parenting magazines.

Recently, I thought maybe I could satisfy my desire by going on a mission trip to a Third World country -- that would be risky and an adventure, combined with doing good works. A safe risk if you will.

I thought about this as I drove by a woman in crutches standing by the side of the road wearing a hospital gown. She obviously was waiting for a ride that had not come. I thought, maybe I should stop -- but then just kept driving on to finish my tasks. About a half hour later, I was coming back by the same spot and remembered the woman. She was still there.

I pulled up and asked if she needed a ride. Her voice cracked as she humbly said no but asked if she could make a call on my cell phone. She was freezing and had no purse, no shoes. I told her I would pull around and she can warm up and make the call. She made her calls and no one answered. She told me she didn't want to ask me to drive her home because it was so far. However, it happened to be the exact same town I live in about a mile from my home. (God is so funny that way!) I ended up taking her to her ride and she was flooded with relief and gratefullness.

I tell you this story not to share how great I am. After I dropped my new friend off, I felt as if I had gone on a mission trip. So often, I like to make things so much bigger and grander than they need to me. It taught me that a mission trip can be found in Cary, NC just as much as it can be found in Costa Rica. People need help everywhere.

I have decided to live more dangerously without going anywhere. But it had to start with opening my eyes to opportunities right in front of me. Every day could be my personal mission trip to help others without Patagonia clothes, scaling mountains or even visiting a Third World country.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Mom the Hockey Dork

With kid hockey season in full swing, my Saturday and Sunday mornings now start with an adrenaline rush and the brain tug moment of "what time was practice today?"

The thing I have come to learn about youth hockey is that the time set for practice is always a moving target. A fluid, ethereal spot in my day that may change by rink, by time and even by the night before.

So here I am Saturday morning, sleepy, hair askew and wheeling the biggest bag of equipment ever imagined. A bag so big I could probably pack two seven-year old boys and all their equipment too. Yet my son is proud that he has this big statement of a bag, nevermind I'm dragging it behind him.

It's a gorgeous fall day, a warmish Indian Summer spectacular, and I breathe deeply knowing only too soon we will find ourselves inside the sweatiest, feet-smelling changing room. The locker room, about the size of an airport Starbucks, has 16 kids and mostly dads, all with that same ridiculous monster bag. To say I am overwhelmed -- you betcha.

They all know what they are doing. The moms even know what they are doing -- wielding huge handfuls of tape to their son's gear, smartly lacing up skates and pads and other acoutrements. At age seven, I was working on my Barbie townhome, organizing tea parties and feeding my Baby Alive pretend food. I wasn't putting on Shock Jock sport cups with coordinating Under Armour athletic pants.

So here I am, feeling like the biggest dork among a sea of cool, in-crowd hockey knowers. All this stuff feels completely unnatural to me and if I could talk my son into another sport, I would do it in a heart beat. But I know I am projecting my own insecurities on a boy who doesn't even notice.

As we wait for our turn on the big white sheet of ice, we watch the Junior Hurricanes play. Kids flush in talent and amazingly only ten or eleven years old -- they are stunning to watch. I am humbled by my son's face as he see these "kid heroes" come off the ice. I see him stand taller watching them come by. His face is serious with a look of resolve and pride -- knowing if he works hard enough, he could be just like them.

Hockey is not for the faint at heart -- it is risk, adventure and power rolled up on a frozen oval. I have no idea if my son will continue to love it as much as he does now. He is undertaking something where I have nothing to teach him. But in hockey, we both are learning how to be passionate about the sport together. Yes -- passion is a life lesson that is of beautiful value whether you are seven or 70. Even a dorky mom gets that.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Yo Yo Ma and Me

Last week I was lucky enough to see Yo-Yo Ma perform (world class cellist for those that don't know.)

Now before you roll your eyes and peg me as an elitest snob, I confess that I am an amateur classical music lover at best. I am a Saturday morning sipping coffee sort of classical music person. It relaxes me and it seems like the right thing to do on a quiet morning.

As a kid, after spending weekend visits with my dad, we would commute to the hospital where he worked about 20 minutes away. My dad's ritual was to drive and bask in the beautiful music during road time. As a sleepy child, I thought this had to be the best possible way to start the day -- riding with my dad and listening to grand sounding music from faraway places.

Each time I listen to classical music, I am transported again. When you are listening, really listening to it, you can't help but watch how your breath slows. My mind soon begins to wander off to distant places, thoughts and ideas, carried on big curvy bends of music. It's like taking a vacation and yet going no where.

Afterthe Yo Yo Ma experience, a friend and I were discussing what we think about during the performance. Each of us had different answers about the places our minds took us, but we all agreed it was a wonderful journey.

Listening to Yo Yo Ma, I couldn't help but think about my childhood pastor, Rev. Stephen Wardwell. He was a huge classical music fan and his house was right across the street from mine. As a child with nothing but time on her hands, I would visit often to see what was going on at his house. Usually he was working or studying or gardening, but always there was classical music. I can remember him introducing me to all his favorite pieces and famous musicians, including Yo Yo Ma.

He even let me make a cassette copy of his complete works of Dvorak one day. I can remember leaving his home and thinking I was probably the most cultured 9 year old kid on the planet. I had my own copy of Dvorak's music.

Classical music gives me an appreciation for things I cannot understand. How do people make this music? How do people like Yo-Yo Ma get this talented? Why does music speak to my soul in ways that the written word can never venture?

I guess that's what makes it so beautiful and vapor-like. It begins in a dream for the composer and ends in a dream for the listener.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Reluctant Hockey Mom

I'm trying to channel Sarah Palin.

Not necessarily the high power, VP candidate, political Sarah. More of the effervescent hockey mom Sarah Palin. In recent days, she glowingly declares she's a proud "hockey mom" among all the campaign rhetoric. I wish I could muster just a tiny bit of her enthusiasm -- at least for hockey that is.

This past weekend kicked off our six month journey in "Mighty Mite" hockey house leagues for seven and eight year olds. Let me repeat for effect, six months. As I peeled my son out of bed for early morning practices on both Saturday and Sunday, I couldn't help but ask myself "whose idea was this?"

He's seven. I know at some point we thought it would be brilliant fun to be decking ourselves out in ridiculous amounts of gear with razor sharp skates and zooming around with long sticks. To add more fuel to my doubts, my son declared on the way to the first practice "I don't think I want to do this next year." Great.

To make matters worse, I was walking in with another mom and son that I mistakenly assumed were in my camp. I smiled to her and said "remind me again why we are doing this?" She gave me a look like I had three heads as if to say, "lady, you better get with the program!" and then calmly said "because we love hockey of course!"

Despite my son's earlier statement, he tumbled off the ice changed. He was sweaty and stinky, but grinning ear to ear. Each time he sets foot on the ice, he comes off blooming with confidence and joy. And despite my grumblings, I know that this moment is worth it.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Summer of Flip

Summer 2008 will forever be known as "the summer of flip."

Out of no where, my shy, quiet 7 year old son learned how to do a flip into the pool.

Now I know kids flip all the time and I myself in a younger form was actually quite good at flips into the pool. I love to admire other kids antics with their athletic moves of forward and backward flips in the community pool. The flip is about more with my son.

This flip notion is but a new characteristic I see bubbling up in him. I see this wellspring of confidence, a more outgoing personality, a boy finding his own and the thrill of performing a flip, along with the delight of growing up.

I hate it. I want to find out who taught him that flip and shake him (or her.) I want to say in a mean mom voice "that is much too dangerous for a 7 year old to be doing." (Maybe add a pointer finger shaking, with hand on hip for effect.)

Each time he does it, I quickly hold my breath and wait for his small head to surface. He comes up sputtering with a giant Chiclet-gum smile, contrasted against his tanned brown body.

All the while, I can't stop wondering where this fresh confidence comes from. Is it from all those hikes and talks we had this summer? Is it all those Sundays in kid's church finally coming together for him? Is it from spending time with the older and more boisterous neighbor kids?

It could be all of that and none of that. Most likely I know the answer. He's growing up. And he knows it too. His jubilant smile shows me he is shocked and thrilled by what he can do. All I can do is cheer him on.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Final Summer Wonderings

Summer is drawing to a close and lately I have been doing quite a bit of wondering. I have just returned from as close as I could possibly ever get to a modern day Walden experience. You remember that book by Henry David Thoreau where he goes into the woods and doesn't do much more than think and write. Well, that was sort of me.

Spending the last 30 days with my family in one of the most remote parts of Western North Carolina in a log cabin on steroids, I had a chance to do a lot of thinking. Not thinking about "what is the meaning of life?" sort of stuff. But thinking about what fresh wild blackberries that I picked this morning tasted like. Or contemplating the aqua blue of thousands of what looked Blue Morpho butterflies in a mountain meadow. But the best thought I had was how delicious it is to do cannonballs off of a dock into a freshwater mountain lake.

It was funny to me that when I had a chance to completely unplug from e-mail, internet, cell phones and modern day obligations, my thoughts were not of deeply spiritual things, but of things sweet and simple.

I think this was because prior to Walden, I had met my limit. Caring for my mom after two consecutive hip replacement surgeries and 3 dislocations in 30 days was emotionally and physically draining. Hosting a family reunion for 40 of my family members was a huge milestone, but I felt overwhelmed by trying to balance the needs with everyone and those of my own. And to add to all of it, this summer I lost one of my dearest friends to melanoma cancer of the liver. Watching her slip away a little more each week and then finally leaving us, left me flooded with grief.

So when I went away to be like Henry, my goal was to treasure it up. To find out what it would be like to completely focus on myself, my son and my husband. To really listen, to do things slowly. To read without watching the clock, to eat and cook with pleasure, to not know what day it was or have any agenda. I have to say it was wonderful. It was exactly what I needed. And when I came back I was ready to let the world flow back in because I had a chance to sort it out.

If I had to sum up "what I learned on summer vacation" I would say in one word "savor." To savor what is before me whether it's fresh tomatoes, holding hands or a good laugh. Because if I can learn to savor the little beautiful things in life, maybe that can carry me through the hard times.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Momma's Gone to Paris

The best laid plans for a meaningful, enriching summer are not going according to plan. My lovely picture of warm, happy times with my family and husband, a slower pace to my days and finally moving ahead on my book about summer aren't really working out.

It's been a deep breath sort of summer so far. My days have been filled with caring for my mom recovering from surgery. Rushing to and fro to hospitals and rehab, doctor appointments and picking up medicine. Then, dropping my son off to camp early so I can shoehorn some free time in my day. Visiting and praying with my friend who has melanoma cancer in the liver. Oh, and did I tell you I was planning a family reunion too? Very big deep breath.

Last night as I was staring at the TV not really watching, my son came to me way past his bedtime to say, "mom, isn't it my bedtime?"

Now what came next cannot be helped -- the exhaustion must have taken over. I explained that I wasn't his mom. That his real mom had gone to Paris shopping for hats and perfume. The person sitting here watching "America's Got Talent" was really his "sub-mom" filling in to appear as if she was really his mom. So he needed to put himself to bed because the sub-mom didn't know the true ritual anyway.

Mr. Smarty Pants didn't buy the mom went to Paris bit. I put him to bed and ended up falling asleep right next to him. I guess his persistent reminder of bedtime was truly what I needed anyways -- not more TV.

So my summer doesn't look like a magazine cover. Oh well. At least I get to be a blessing to my mom, to truly be present with my friend, to take care of my family, to snuggle with a six year old while giving myself the rest I need.

This season might be my deep breath summer where I really learn to take it only a day at a time. That'as all we have anyways.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Summer Wishing

Now that it's the first week in June and summer stretches before us, it's a great time to make "summer wishes."

This little project is my favorite thing to think about before summer gets too jam packed with BBQ invites, summer camps and vacations. So while things are still in the precious "here comes summer" phase, I like to brainstorm wishes for the season ahead.

This week, I asked my 6 year old son to join in the fun by getting out a piece of paper and either coloring or writing his ten wishes for summer. In an effort to be helpful, I even tried to impose my summer wishes on him (in case he needed ideas of course.)

My oh-so-ambitious suggestions for him included the following: a trip to Carowinds, learning to fish, white water rafting, horse-back riding, going camping in the mountains, learning how to rock climb, going stargazing, etc. After about the 10th suggestion, he looked up at me with irritation and said, "Mom, I don't need ideas. I already have my own!"

So after much study and deliberation with the Crayolas, he came to me to present his summer wishes. I was humbled at his list. It included things like "playing with mom in the back yard, going to the movies, turning 7 and having fun outside."

In my Grand Canyon-style planning, I wanted big and amazing things for him. My son presented me with what he wanted. To be great, it doesn't need to be grand, it can be simple and lovely. In fact, it's even better when it is.

And isn't that what summer is all about -- treasuring up the pure, essential bounty blooming in our lives.

So in keeping with this notion of bounty and pure goodness, here are my wishes for summer. I invite you to create your own!

My Summer Wishes

1. Spend more time in the back yard playing with my son.
2. Savor my summer garden by noticing it's changes day by day.
3. Go to a baseball game and eat hot dogs.
3. Learn something new (maybe how to fish)
4. Take my son to the movies.
5. Re-read Gifts from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh.
6. Watch my favorite summer movie "The Sand Lot" with my son.
7. Go to the farmer's market to experience summer's bounty.
8. Roast marshmellows over a real fire.
9. Camp out in the back yard.
10. Treasure up the wonder of the season by being grateful every day.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

End of School Year Mommy Blues

Right about now, I should be singing that Alice Cooper song "School's Out For Summer." But instead I feel like letting out a deep blue sigh.

In a matter of days my first grader will be a rising second grader and that is farther away from kindergarden than I would like. I know that sounds dumb. I should be thrilled. We worked hard this year, we mastered our math fact families and learned about Ancient Rome, read great books and learned so many interesting things. It probably is about time to move on. Yet like a good book that I don't want to end, suddenly I'm realizing it's coming to an end.

This week I sat with another mom over a foo-foo breakfast and we were both joking about how we have to cram everything fun into our last week of freedom. And in some ways, our summer days do get taken over with camps, vacations, family visits and other priorities. But it's more than a schedule change, it's about seeing a chapter come to a close.

These days feel like treasure. That probably sounds corny. But I love, love, love that my son says mom "kiss me before carpool gets here!" Or bounds into the car to tell me all about the special thing that happened today at school. Or beams with pride that he received the "Industriousness Award" at school. (never mind that he can't pronounce it and has no idea what it means, he's still the glowing with joy.)
I adore this time and I don't want it to change. But it will.

Selfishly, I guess I like the certainty of my days with my son. Or perhaps I'm overwhelmed by having to conjur up the same amount of learning opportunities and joy he gets from school. I think it comes down to the fact that he is growing up and the end of the school year is the milestone that says it out loud.

So I let out my deep sigh and I smile with the other parents as we celebrate all that our kids have gathered up this year. And in one moment, the page is turned.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Treasuring Tortillas

What's your emergency meal? Mine is a tortilla.

When I say "emergency meal" I mean "I'm so hungry that I could eat my arm if I don't get something in a jiffy."

I like to cook them directly on the stove (no pan). Flipping them quickly back and forth, I warm them until their browned bubble spots become a bit burned. Next I slather with gobs of butter and roll them into a handy tube for quick eating. My 6 year old son even loves tortillas and likes to chomp faces out of them -- biting holes for eyes, nose and mouth spots. I know this sounds weird, but he likes to wear his "tortilla face" just for a little while before he eats it. What can I say? It's all for the love of the tortilla.

I personally treasure them so much that I wrote an entire essay about tortillas. Actually it was more about a lovely lady named Hope who made them by hand and taught me as a kid to appreciate their humble goodness.

Carolina Woman Magazine recently selected this essay, "Hope's Tortillas" as an Honorable Mention for their annual Writing Contest. You can check it out at

Yeah for tortillas!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Momma the Trucker

Today I feel like a trucker. Or at least what I think it might be like to be a trucker. This week so far I have spent more time in my car than a mom should be allowed. The mommy snap quotient is mighty high.

I don't know what it is about May, but activities and events seem to be coming at lightning speed. April is this lovely, leisurely walk through the days and May is a knock down marathon of activities to cram in before the end of the school year.

There's the ferrying back and forth to school, carpool kids dropoff, field trips, groceries, the almighty Target visit, grandma to the doctor, dog to the doctor and pretty soon momma's going to need a doctor.

I'm working on not being a whiner about it. I'm trying to move my mind from "I have to" to "I get to." The thinking that I don't "have" to drive my son to school, but I am blessed with a car, an amazing son and a chance to connect with him before his day begins. And all these errands, instead of feeling overwhelmed, to move my thinking to -- this is the way I honor my family by taking great care of them and using this time to listen to my Creator as I go about my day.

It's so easy to focus on the negative and stay stuck in that -- my lovely young friend has inoperable liver cancer, my dog is dying of melanoma, my mom has to go through hip surgery again and I'm not sure how she can pay for it.

But as my buddy Room Parent says "good always wins." I have a strong healthy body, I have a wonderful church family, a dynamic mixture of friends, a beautiful son and loving husband. I am surrounded by so much goodness. And complaining about that seems shallow.

So for now, I'm a temporary trucker. My aim is to be a joyful one.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Super Secret Decoder Manual for Moms

Wouldn't it be great to have a "super secret decoder manual" for moms on need to know advice? Maybe even a ring that makes us invisible and a neat outfit to match.

The next best thing is available from in an online anthology with an inspiring collection of essays on advice that you wish you had received as a mom. (ring and outfit sold separately). Just in time for Mother's Day, the online anthology features writers from across the globe as well as small town USA (that would be me.)

Shameless self promotion here -- you can check out my anthology submission called "Wearing the Ruby Slippers" at

Here are more details on the Mother's Day Anthology Collection...

The 2nd Annual Mothering Heights Mother’s Day Anthology, a hilarious and poignant online collection of essays on motherhood, debuts May 1st, 2008 on the popular website, The Anthology is a culmination of the 2nd Annual Mother’s Day Essay Contest held by Christine Fugate, the writer of the Mothering Heights syndicated column and blog. More than one hundred entries from Israel, Germany, Australia, and thirty U.S. states were submitted to this year’s contest. Thirty-two essays were chosen for inclusion in the book The Mothering Heights Manual for Motherhood, Vol. 1: What we wish we knew before we became a short order cook, shuttle driver, laundress MOTHER, which will be released May 15th, 2008. Additional essays submitted to the essay contest were invited to be a part of the online Mother’s Day Anthology.

“I wanted this to be a celebration of motherhood – and for readers to laugh,” says Fugate, editor of the Anthology. “But some of the essays were so powerful, they had to be included. While we moms need to laugh, we can also use a good cry.” Highlights of the online Anthology include essays on how to avoid being a Stump Mom, the search for parenting instructions, and quenching the desire to be a Mother-Goddess-Lioness.

The 2nd Annual Mothering Heights Mother’s Day Anthology will be debut May 1st at The Mothering Heights Manual for Motherhood, Volume 1: What we wish we knew before we became a short order cook, shuttle driver, laundress Mother,edited by Christine Fugate (trade paperback, $12.95 Mothering Heights Press, 2008) will be available May 11th at and June 15th at and bookstores.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

For the Love of Kon Tiki

In case you missed it, yesterday was "Kon Tiki" day....

If you aren't savvy to Tiki, it's the 101 day expedition by a Norweigan explorer in 1947 who decided to build a balsa log raft and see if it would be possible to sail across the Pacific Ocean to South America. Just to see if he could...

Now the deeper story here is Kon Tiki is a bit of a talisman thought to me. Just hearing the words takes me back to being 12 years old again.

As a kid, my dad thought my education would never be complete unless I read the book Kon Tiki. For him, it was pivotal, it was a man triumps over nature story. It was a guy who was rugged tough and with cowboy like gusto, went for his dream, no matter how far out. As a 12 year old, I thought they were just a bunch of numbskulls.

Who in their right mind is going to build some raft out of a bunch of trees and sail half way around the world just for fun? Turning the pages made my teeth grind and want to shout "what were they thinking?" Even at age 12, I had some sense.

But my dad kept on pressing. "Read it, it's good, it's essential, you need to know the story.." And so I plugged on, that whole summer, resenting every moment, reading that felt like trudging through mud, desperately wanting to get through it.

Now as an adult, I get it. I get it because as a grown up and a parent, a lot of my days feel like you are constantly living on that ridiculous raft. Life is a lot of trudging through, braving the storms, doing things that don't make sense, embarking on the unknown and barely hanging on.

The gift of Kon Tiki is that everyone has one. Everyone has that crazy, no good sense dream lurking inside of them. The one that everyone around you will scream "idiot" and with only your voice quietly whispering, yes. My dad wanted me to see the possibilities of Kon Tiki.

Yesterday was the anniversary of their launch. And that is a day worth remembering...

If you want to learn more about Kon Tiki, visit:

Thursday, April 24, 2008


The d-word was uttered in the back seat by my six-year old this week and I found myself in uncharted mommy waters. You would think by now that this should be a parenting lay-up. Your kid swears, they get punished.

Yet I found myself in my "talking spot" with my son on the sofa fumbling over the words on how to explain why he is was in trouble. He knew it was wrong, I knew it was wrong. But how do I explain in a way that's meaningful? Here's how it went...

Me: You know why you are in trouble, right?
Him: (Sad cow eyes) Nodding somberly.
Me: You know why you're not supposed to say those words right?
Him: (even sadder) Sort of.
Me: Okay, well, we we um, don't say those words because they are bad. And it's not right to swear. And it's not right to swear because people will think you are bad.

(In my head all the while -- bad is the best you can do? Isn't there some lofty parenting principal about character or integrity or some other important sounding word on why we really should swear. *!!@@* - that's me swearing in my head because I can't think of something really good to say.)

I guess I'm shocked that we are already now in the curse phase. I thought that didn't come until about 10 years old. So I guess I sort of blew my teachable moment.

Hopefully he will curse again soon so I can work on it and have something really inspiring to say next time.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Survival of the Funniest

Growing up as the youngest of five kids, funny was the only way to survive.

As the baby and the youngest girl, I was constantly scheming with my family members on pranks we would pull on each other.

There was the puppy chow in the cereal trick – hidden secretly beneath the Cheerios. Or the flour bowl perched over the door – messy but good. My personal favorite was the ice cold pitcher of water tossed on whoever happened to be showering at the moment. Naked and screaming – the victim could never retaliate, making it the best prank of all.

I think my family loved huckstering tricks on each other because we had nothing better to do with our time. We had no computers or VCRs. We didn’t even have cable in those days – our small Midwestern town was lucky enough to get three channels of TV, four if you count UHF, which didn’t really get any shows anyways.

Those were the days where we would spend hours at the park (by ourselves), built forts in the backyard and rode bikes endlessly up and down main street. We lived on a lake and would sometimes take our small rowboat out to a nearby island or explore the secret cemetery directly across from it. I can recall entire afternoons doing nothing at all but skipping rocks, pulling apart cattails, and collecting piles of snapdragons. I guess that’s why we loved pranks – it was pure, simple fun that we could invent ourselves.

We were the typical small town family where there was literally nothing to do but watch the grass grow. In desperation for fun, I can actually remember making up entire songs out of the contents of the bathroom cupboards. I would hum a little ditty called “Lysol, Listermint, Dial, Shout!” until my family would beg me to stop. I wish I was making this up.

That’s what got me started on dumb jokes. As another way to pass the time, we would make up jokes filled with ridiculous nonsense. I loved making up my own funnies with punchlines that sometimes made sense and often times would not. We would tell jokes late into the night where we made popcorn the real way, with Jiffy Pop from a long handled popcorn popper over a fire. Telling jokes wasn’t to be funny, it was something to fill the endless spaces of boredom in our lives.

Now I recycle jokes from my childhood by sharing them with my six year-old son. Every day he insists that a joke is put on a post-it note in his lunch for school. I oblige because I desperately want him to appreciate the plain funny things in life. To know that everything doesn’t have to be loaded with graphics, music, technology and pizzazz to be great. Some things are sweet and funny all by themselves.

Dumb jokes have a simple, easy humor about them that I adore. They don’t require any sort of high-minded intellect or even much thinking at all. They are a great equalizer of people – no matter whether they come from the Ivy League or a small farm town. If they are 6 or 60 years old, everyone appreciates a good joke that is meant solely for delight.

The thing that I like best is that jokes remind me of the days when we had to invent our own fun. Where we couldn’t simply look up a website for a thought, we had to actually create it. All we had was our imagination and endless hours to fill.

Despite the fact that I am now past pulling pranks on my family members – sometimes I still can’t resist a good trick. My childish dark ways come out at inappropriate times – like cocktail parties. I cannot resist a friend’s purse sitting innocently by itself at a table. While the unsuspecting gal is off filling her plate at the buffet, I load it up with silverware, salt and pepper shakers and whatever else I can find. Girlfriends have discovered entire menus and vases (depending on the purse) after an evening out with me. I hug them goodbye with my wicked smile and they wonder curiously how their purse got so much heavier than they remember. The pure pleasure of a good practical joke is a sweet devilish thing.

Funny started for me as a way to get through my childhood. And now I find it as the best way to keep that spirit of youthful joy alive. With this child-like notion, I wonder if perhaps one of the most treasured parts of life might be a dumb joke and a deep belly laugh.

Monday, April 7, 2008

One Wild and Precious Life

My writing coach recently shared a poem by Mary Oliver called "The Summer Day."

Wait, "my writing coach" -- I love saying that. I love saying it because it means I'm writing and by the very action statement of it makes me, uh huh, a writer. Okay, I digress.

Back to "The Summer Day" -- I have been playing around with this neat book about summer idea and she shared this lovely poem with me in that same notion. The very best part of the poem and not to spoil the ending, but Mary asks "what is your plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"

I love that. Wild and precious. I love the fact that my (yes MY) life could be WILD and PRECIOUS. It's a daunting and delicious question that I want to dive down deep into and ponder for days at a time.

That line says to me -- hey! it's not too late. You can still savor up your dreams, you can still do anything you want. You haven't missed it, yet. If I were to get into Mary Oliver's head, I'm wondering if she was trying to encourage her readers to know that your life is like a summer day. It's gorgeous and wild and precious and right now. So chop chop, get to it!

Here it is for your own personal thinking and pondering...

The Summer Day
By Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Re-Thinking Me

Do you ever keep doing things the same way even though you have no idea why?

I had this realization recently about my son. Every day I pick out his clothes and lay them out on what I call the "road map." It's basically a fun trail of clothes for him to follow to make getting dressed fun. I called it that when he was 3 years old to make it a game. The problem is he's now 6, almost seven. He knows how to get dressed.

Today I asked him if he wanted to pick out his own clothes. He immediately said no. Sensing his underlying fear of the unknown -- I then reviewed the process of where the pants are, where the shirts are and how to make stylish choices. Then he immediately said "Mom, can I pick out my own clothes?" almost as if it was his idea in the first place. But of course.

This mommy has been a bit on auto-pilot. Doing the same things over and over, even though they make no sense, even though my son can do many of these things on his own perfectly well and without me. Ouch. Maybe that's why change is hard -- having to admit he needs me a bit less each day.

Last night he cooked for me and we made Thai Stir Fry -- I'm not sure if Thai people actually use woks, but my son was so fascinated by the cool cooking equipment and stirring up everything with his wok tools that we went with it.

Picking out your own clothes yesterday, making Thai food today -- what will he learn to do on his own tomorrow...I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Smell of Grass

What does grass smell like?

I'm not talking about the smell of freshly cut lawns, or happening to drive by and getting a casual whiff of that green tangy smell. I'm talking about nose in the earth, fully body face down in the green stuff.

Recently, I was doing something that required me to lay face down in the grass. I forgot my mat for stretching, I didn't have a picnic blanket, towel, chair, nothing. There I was, face planted in the grass, body stretched out, tummy side down.

I started laughing at the idea of it -- it had been a long long time ago that I actually layed in the grass. Usually if I am in the grass, it has to be with 15 modern day conveniences like a lawn chair, a sheet, a blanket on top of that, bug spray, wipes, etc. None of that was in play and it was wonderful.

I was instantly transported back to the days of college when we didn't travel around with gobs of gear for safety and hygiene purposes. If it was a nice day, we plunked ourselves down on the spot. We made out in the grass, we ate our lunch in the grass. Backpacks tucked behind our head for support, the grassy lawns of my college campus were perfect places to stretch out in between classes, get a tan, smooch with a boyfriend or savor life on a sunny day. Grassy was good.

With warm weather here, the grass is looking that fresh color of baby green. So the next time you see a lonely little patch, plant yourself in it and see what happens. You are guaranteed a trip to someplace else from a simpler time in your life.

Come on in, the grass is fine.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

You Never Know

Sometimes writing feels like tossing a pebble into a pond.

Instantly gratifying with the good flip of the arm and the all-satisfying "plunk" as it lands in the water. Watching the ripples even provides curious interest to see how long it takes for the ripples to reach the shore.

Writing is like that for me. I love the thrill of creating something that I conjured up. The twinkle of an idea, the laying it down on paper. The toe-curling feeling of having it done and hitting the send button on your e-mail. Then waiting with heartfelt anticipation of having the ripples come back to you with good news.

Only sometimes it takes forever for the ripples to come back. Or sometimes not at all. Usually in unexpected ways.

Last fall, I wrote an article for a network of websites for mommies. They were nice enough to say, thanks and we'll put it in our database of articles. Pretty soon I found it on one local website, then another, then yet another. Today I found it on a website in Hawaii. The ripples keep coming.

And the article wasn't earth-shattering -- it was about ending the morning crazy time. You can see it at But it was a pebble that people liked and I love to see how it keeps showing up in unexected ways. You never know.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


I am feeling un-inspired lately.

If I could describe my mental state it would be gray, blobular cardboard. My head feels like its have been transformed into an accountant brain, looking at numbers all day and feeling overwhelmed at the thought of picking up a sock.

I can't blame it on the weather -- it's been gorgeous 60 and 70 degree weather here every day. I can't blame it on my spouse, my dog or my health or anything else. It is just me, feeling un-inspired.

I know mostly it's because I have been really productive with my writing and really productive with receiving rejection letters. Nothing deflates my energy like a good rejection or two. I morph into that familiar awkward feeling of being in high school and the dorky girl who hopes someone will like her. But they don't.

When I am struggling, it feels like everyone is getting along great in the world, except me. Have you ever felt like that? Like everyone is living a fabulous life, wildly successful at their job, having deeper and more meaningful experiences every day -- and then there's me -- getting rejection letters all day long.

I guess the best way to work out of un-inspired is to surround yourself in change. I picked myself up from my desk in the darkest part of the house and moved outside. So as I write this, I sit with bare feet on the deck in a shorts and a t-shirt. My hope is that I will be transformed by new surroundings.

Who knows if it will inspire least I am surrounded by beauty instead of darkness.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Making Jesus Smile

It was an ordinary Tuesday, that ended in a not-so-ordinary way.

I was tucking my 6 year old son in as usual. We read our three books, we said our prayers. I said goodnight to him, he said goodnight to me. I usually like to lay there with him for a few minutes and rub his back to help him relax and smooth the way to dreamland. We were silent for about five minutes. I thought I was done with my mommy-ness and was enjoying the relaxing moment before I headed down to clean up the kitchen.

Out of the dark silence came "mom, what does acting with character mean?"

Time to put my game face back on.

When a six year old asks you this sort of question, this is the time to not screw it up. I felt like I was on one of those game shows where it is absolutely important for me to get it right. I paused to gather my thoughts, usually asking more questions to buy some time.

"Where did you learn about that?"

"I don't know" he said, usually to mean he didn't want to tell me in case it was a bad thing.

Then I proceeded to put together my best response I could gather. I flustered my way through examples of when someone hurts you on the playground or cuts in front of you in line, how to choose the high road. But I gave him my failsafe test of acting with character -- asking if what you are doing makes your mom and dad smile. And also if it makes God smile.

I borrowed that one from his teacher. It was so good that I thought I would recycle it. When given the rare special day at his Christian school to wear their favorite out of dress code clothes, the teacher's only rule is that their outfit has to "make Jesus smile." I think that's a pretty good test for acting with character and just about everything else in life.

I hope my son got it. He said he understood. I felt like I wanted to keep talking and talking to make sure he got my point. But my son prompted, "mom, I got it. Can I go to sleep now?"

I lay there next to him five minutes more enjoying this rare proud moment when my son asked a good life stuff question. Even better, I was basking in the fact that I actually had a great answer.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Some Kind of Wonder

The time has come to admit I will never be Nancy Drew. Or a Copa Cabana dancer. Yes as I approach my 40th year -- reality has started to point the finger of truth about my life.

It feels like five minutes ago that I was climbing trees and planning out my future from my leafy kingdom. That skinny 10 year old girl who constantly believed all was possible. I was going to be a Rockette, Wonder Woman, or maybe the Bionic Woman. I was going to own a newspaper, tell amazing stories and write books to transport people to dreamy far away places with my words.

While I have been able to accomplish a few of these things, still those pesky paths not taken break my heart. Like the ski instructor job offer in Crested Butte Colorado. Or the chance to work for the big deal Chicago advertising agency. Then the nanny setup in the Hamptons with the Italian family. I said no to all of these and I can’t help but dream about the possibilities. Instead of Wonder Woman, I have become a wondering woman.

I hope this doesn’t make me out to be a whiner. Really, I adore my current path. I love the fact that I get to write, be a mom, class room parent and a wife. It’s only sometimes in the daily minutiae I begin to wonder. When my days are filled with endless laundry, e-mails, schlepping my dog to his cancer treatment and I am greeted with not-so-happy notes from my son’s teacher that I think, “hey, what about Nancy Drew?”

Or then there’s some throwback song that sucks me back to my own version of land before time. I’m not talking about the dinosaur cartoon movie. I’m talking about hearing some 80s song and transporting myself back to my college campus, gawking at some hottie frat guy without a shirt, grilling hot dogs and smiling to myself, “man, I can do just about anything.”

And I can. Sort of. Well, as long as I can be on time for carpool pickup and it doesn’t conflict with piano lessons and hockey games. Which leads me to appreciate that in some ways I kind of am a Wonder Woman. The amazing fact that I can accomplish breakfast, carpool, a load of laundry, writing a few pages, getting my son and husband out the door and down 2 cups of coffee all before 7:30 in the morning. Let’s not mention that I have packed up lunches, library books to return and stuffed my own workout bag in there too. And I’m not sharing that to brag, but I find it pretty inspiring.

Still, I’d rather be Nancy Drew sometimes. I know it’s ridiculous. I guess I’m missing the risky, adventure, the heady sort of wonder. The chance to have a day with surprise, delight, magic, charmingness. My days feel so ordinary. They line up together like simple smooth stones. The day by day grayness of making beds, going to work, cooking dinner and doing it all over again. All the while dreaming of something crazy happening other than getting caught by the neighborhood association with my garage door up. The surprises like the one time I found this plain stone at the beach, but turning it over discovering a brilliant pearl belly. The delight of unexpected heady wonder in my hands.

My stepdaughter graduated from college this year and I am beside myself. It’s all I can do to drown her in unsolicited advice about the world and what she should do with it. I want to shout “Go! Take risks, do something ridiculous, live your dream, take the hardest possible path you can imagine, don’t arrange your life around what’s easy. Listen to your heart. Travel. Do amazing things. Explore the limits of yourself. Don’t settle. Be bold! Go before you have a mortgage payment!”

But there will be no hearing of that. Not in a way that she could understand anyways. It wouldn’t be fair to project my own choices on her. She has to find her feet on her own. I will encourage her to be true in her career choices, but I think she sees me and doesn’t really get it. Yet I try to help her understand that the orderly life isn’t all there is to the world. That carpool, work, dinner, laundry, church repeat isn’t the end.

I want to help her see that she really could become a Copa Cabana dancer if she wants to. I sit in carpool pickup and wonder of donning a sequined beautiful costume of ridiculous feather headdresses on dangerously high-heeled shoes. Walter Mitty style, I tune out while I should be making productive use of my time by checking voicemail or readying my son’s snack. But I don’t. I sit and wonder.

The ache still remains of those paths not taken. I wish I had something brilliant to say about how to let them go. I’m guessing that ache spot is meant to stay there to keep us connected to our Creator. His thumbprint to remind us that there is a part of you that can only be satisfied divinely. The knowing that life here is temporary and the true heady wonder comes only in the next round.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

For the love of books

Have you seen J.K. Rowling's fairy tale book on

You can check it out at

Would it be too cliche to say it's magical? I am an esthetics person who adores the way books look and feel. I treasure all the small intricacies of how books are put together and this book is a stunning feast for the senses.

The feature on her new book "The Tale of Beedle the Bard" is lovely. It shows you all the gorgeous hand illustrations and small touches of how creative one could get with a book. Of course there are only 7 copies in the world, so looking at the books on the website is about as close as I can get for now.

If you love books as much as I do, you will delight in seeing the images of this book. Who knows, it just might inspire something new in you!


Monday, February 25, 2008

Eating Humble Pie

We are stuck on the sixes...

That would be the number six fact family of addition in school (you know, 6 plus 2, 6 plus 5, etc.) Despite my controlling and overbearing attempts to practice the six family until oblivion, we still have not mastered it. Or correction my first grade son has not mastered it yet. And the problem is we cannot move on to the sevens until we get all the sixes right. So we continue to drill the 6 fact family.

The real story is that I know my son is smart. I know he knows it. I think he misses the little details because he's 6 1/2 and as a boy, would rather be running wildly in the outdoors. Or anything else other than having his mom drill him like a tiny army soldier about what six plus whatever equals.

I guess my freaky mommy side is showing -- The problem is I can't help him and it's bugging me. I want him to do well in school. I want him to keep up with the other kids. But I don't know whether to shut up, back off, keep drilling, or what else to do. So in my desperate attempt in what to do, I simply asked him.

On the way home from school I said "what would you do if you were the parent and your child didn't master the 6 fact family?" (as if this is the greatest problem in the world.)

He quietly said, "I would say, that's okay son, keep trying and do your best."

How is it that a six year old has it all figured out? Time to eat some humble pie.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Dreaming Out Loud

A recent radio show asked "what are your dreams?" and invited people to call in.

Ahhh, where to start. My mind immediately goes to the most selfish thing I can find. Hey, after all this is my dream. A house in France, Paris or Italy. To study Spanish and the art of tapas in Spain. And speaking of art, why not visit all the great works in the world. To read and collect amazing books. To have a house in Maine. To camp in the Grand Canyon.

Which leads me to more soul-ful type of dreams -- for my family to be safe and happy. For those I love to be in good health and to be knit closer together. For each of my family to be true to their absolute best and to live up to their potential God has given them.

While we are talking about the great short order cook in the sky, we might as well invite Him to solve world hunger, end all wars, save the earth and love everyone with a Coke and a smile.

I'm sure if I would have called in to the radio program to share all of that, they would have cut me off after paragraph one. This would have been followed by "aren't you asking for a little much?" I guess so, but why not? It's my dream, might as well make it a big fat one.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Nancy Drew & Me

As a kid I loved Nancy Drew. From her super sleuth abilities to how she always trusted her hunch. Every time I see one of those Carolyn Keene books at the library and their lovely 50s-ish covers, I get a warmish delight.

On scalding hot summer days as a kid in the 1970s, I would escape to the shady spot in my bedroom and wrap myself in her stories. Nancy was so smart, she always knew what to do and she could always figure it out. As a ten year old, Nancy was my it. Even when she made mistakes, it always seemed to be part of the plan and eventually led her to the right discovery.

What I wouldn't give to be Nancy Drew. But knowing she is not real and the fact that Carolyn Keene was not even real does give some comfort. The fact that there was an entire stable of writers devoted to creating the tales, coming up with the drama and solving the mystery does give some perspective.

I guess that's a lot about who I am as a person. I want to figure it all out alone but all the while knowing that's not how life gets handled. You can't do it solo -- or if you do it feels sort of empty and hollow. It takes friends, a family, a church community, a dog, a kind act from strangers, something interesting to cross your path to find life's best. You get through stuff with a patchwork of encouragers. And how we are lucky enough to be given these blessings is probably the greatest mystery of all.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Red Dress That Changed Everything

Since it's almost the love month -- I share a story of love.

The News & Observer asked people to share about how they met their soulmate. Here's my entry and hoping it will inspire you to share your love story too. You can post them at If nothing else, it's a great time to remember how it all began....

For me, it all started with the red dress.

It was Labor Day Weekend and with zero plans, my roommate and I decided we would get all decked out and head to the best restaurant we could find. Alas, the red dress.

Staking out our places at 411 West's bar in Chapel Hill, we decided to enjoy an amazing glass of wine while we waited for our table. Tonight was the night we were going to treasure up the best in life and forget that we were single, broke and tired. We were both working ridiculous hours, I having two jobs that barely covered rent, student loans and yes, the glass of wine I was enjoying.

Then came the elbow. Some man at the bar was cheering in celebration over an apparent touch down. As he raised his hands to cheer, they immediately high cut it into my sternum with stunning impact. I'm sure my look was half high rage, half shock and definite breath-taking pain. He turned to look at me as if he just ran over a puppy with his car. Completely mortified.

I guess pain is the ultimate ice breaker. In his most gracious gentleman mode, he found me somewhere to sit down and offered to ease the pain with another glass of wine. (How nice, since I couldn't afford the first one.)

We proceeded to have a very intimate chat about Jesse Helms, beliefs, the real definition of success, faith and other shocking conversations you don't usually have until about the tenth date. He gave me his card and I left that night smiling. It was one of those experiences where I didn't know if I would see him again. But I adored the knowing that I had met someone who made me feel more as a result. More than just meeting a great guy, I felt a sense of gratitiude for his crossing my path.

He continued to surprise me with unexpected ways -- like faxing me to ask me out on a date when he was on an a business trip. Or creating "wish weekend" where he proceeded to grant three of my wishes from my life's list of dreams. But that's another story involving the Waldorf Astoria, the Red Door Salon and New York City...

We were married the day after Hurricane Fran. In so many ways, our wedding day was a perfect reflection of our relationship -- highly unconventional, surprising, shocking at times and culminating with a hurricane. After 12 years of being together, what I love most is that he still continues to re-invent our relationship together. Not stuck in what we both were when we met, but continuing to move forward in building a legacy together with our lives in faith, community and family. And that is all a girl could ever ask for, minus a giant elbow in her heart.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Pouch Time

It had been a bad day for my son.

A note home from the teacher, getting a warning flag on his classroom car and now a fever of 102. The sort of day that says, man, it's hard to be six years old.

His solemn eyes looking up at mine and asking to go to bed two hours early. I completely understood. Who hasn't had those days as a grown up when you wished you could travel back into time and put on those Carter footed jammies. Their hug-like warmth accompanied wtih your mom tucking you into bed with your favorite story and a mug of warm milk.

As part of our nightly ritual, I rub his back and ask him to share his 3 grateful things of the day. He responds, "right now, three times."

Which was immediately followed by "mom, can I have pouch time?"

Now before anyone calls DSS, let me explain. Pouch time is when I wrap my arms around my son and he spoons up into my tummy, pretending that he is a tiny kangeroo in a mom's pouch. Pouch time is special, only saved for injuries, scary dreams and hurt feelings. Pouch time is like calling in the big guns.

"Of course," I answer. Amazed at the fact that this is the same boy who refuses to kiss me good bye in carpool, who won't hold my hand because he knows how to walk by my side. I adore that we still have pouch time.

And yes, this is my grateful thing of the day too -- three times.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Family Sandwich

My morning started just the way I like it -- with a family sandwich.
My husband and I sleeping peacefully in our beds. Next add in the 6 year old about midnight. Then comes the dog Java around 3 a.m. (after first needing to be let out and then back in). We are all piled into what feels like the teeniest of, husband, kid and me. Each one making their own unique breathing sound. My husband throaty sighs, my son delicate puffs, my dog serious and big snozz type of snores. And me, usually awake, quietly taking it all in.

Some people would get irritated beyond belief at the lack of space and the symphony or noises. I love the family sandwich. I love it because I know when 6 a.m. comes, we will all go our individual and highly busy ways. We will all be lost in the intricacies of work, school, writing, activities and for my dog, sleeping again. But for these tucked in, cozy winter nights, I can't help but treasure my family sandwich.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Today's the day!

Okay, so today I turned 39 -- happy birthday me. (deep sigh)

I wanted to chronicle the year leading up to 40 as my year to really soak it up.

With that said I thought the perfect way to chronicle it is with this blog "Joy Goggles."

Everyone knows what beer goggles are like, so I thought I would try looking at life to see through the lenses of joy.

How good can life get, how can I capture more of the good stuff, what do I want to pack into my last year of being in the 30s?

By noticing joy daily, how will that change me as a person? My goal is to find out by looking through the last year of my third decade with joy goggles...