7/28/16 For the Fairies



“Someday you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.” C.S. Lewis

This summer, more than any before has confirmed the notion that I’ve been dreadedly suspecting for some time … my kids are getting older.  Not just older, but older-older.  You know – the kind of older where they don’t need you to be there when they jump into the deep end of the pool, the kind where they can fix their own snacks, ride bikes without you running frantically behind their rear wheel, and even lead the games of tag and hide-and-seek at the park.  They don’t need head starts, or get-me-going pushes on the swings, and they can both now play more songs on a piano than I ever could. 

They are growing up.  And the thing is, I know this is good – a blessing even.  My husband and I got married young, had kids young, and planned on growing up with them.  Everything is going according to plan, except for the ever-present ache of watching time pass and trying desperately to memorize moments and make them stay.  When I look at his mischievous smile, or her bright eyes, I could cry for missing them.  It doesn’t make any sense, I know, to miss someone who is standing right before me, but that is a parent’s heart I’m afraid.  A melancholy mix of loving every memory that has built the individual you see.  

The other day, my nine-year-old told me he had a dream.  He dreamt he was in London, sitting on top of Big Ben and reading a book.  When I said what a cool global dream it was, he shrugged in noncommittal acquiescence. “Would you ever live in another country?” I asked him. 

“Depends on the country,” he said.

“Well how about England?” I continued.

“No way,” he said without hesitating a moment.

“Why not?” I asked. “I’d live there in a heartbeat.” 

“I know mom,” he said gently, looking at me with serious eyes, “but you and I aren’t the same person are we?” 

“No,” I laughed. “I suppose we are not.” 

And that is as it should be.  As Hodding Carter said, “There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots: the other, wings.”  It is true, I know this, and yet there are times when I look at these two beautiful, self-assured faces that seem so ready to take on the world – and I can’t decide if I’ve done something right, or terribly wrong that it happened so soon. I am so proud … but it’s still hard.

There has been one thing this summer, however, that has sheltered my fragile heart.  It has proven that we are not there yet, and there is plenty of time still for pretend.  My daughter, nearly seven now, decided to create a fairy garden.  And after taking care to choose the best doll house furniture, a mirror for admiring themselves, and plates and bowls to serve, she created a gentle rest stop for her fairy friends.  In the early morning hours when the dew still held fast to each grass blade, I tiptoed outside and sprinkled glitter in a trail from piece to piece. 

The wonder that both of my children had at seeing the results were heart-wrenchingly endearing.  She has proceeded to write them small notes.  He has helped her set up and check them each morning.  And though I’m running out of different colors of glitter, and my hand gets cramped from writing as tiny as I’m able … we have captured a memory that will stay. 

I have reminded her that all things move on … well, maybe I’m secretly reminding myself too, but for now – we are enjoying each sun-drenched minute of summer.  We are splashing cannonball-sized splashes, chalking every inch of our driveway, writing stories, catching dandelion wishes, drawing comics, going to bed way too late, and waiting, as long as it takes, for the fairies. 


Salty vs. Sweet



I like this picture.  I like it because it’s sweet – almost like the trees have brown sugared- edges and they are inviting you to find a quiet delicious moment to sway with them in.  As idyllic as it seems … my summer days are not all this quiet or subdued.  Granted some moments are … but then there are the salty moments – the gritty, tangy, “are you kidding me,” events that litter my day with folly.

Colin Wright once said, “If you don’t feel stupid half of the time, you probably aren’t trying hard enough.” Well, I’ve found that I really don’t need to try, because my experiences remind me all the time! I’ve come to accept that for every sweet, there is a salty moment to go with it … and it is the blend of delightful and dopey that make my days go round! I’ve always had a bit of a penchant for embarrassing myself, and my summer break is no time to take off of these antics.

Just this week … these exploits were on the summer menu.

Sweet: I sat down for a thirty-minute break as my kids had swimming lessons. I was just reading the best part of one of my favorite books, smiling to myself and thwap!  A flying flock of geese decided to dive-bomb over the pool and their droppings ricocheted off the ground and onto my leg! SALTY!

Sweet: I was at Starbucks with my kids working on summer workbooks and the barista asked if anyone wanted a free giant drink they’d made.  We were already set, so I asked the group of people beside me not realizing that I was interrupting an interview!!! SALTY!

Sweet: I was driving home after a super long day and my kids and I were singing and chatting but then, (famous last words) one stinking street away I got pulled over for a rolling stop!  SALTY! (At least I got off with a warning!)

Sweet: My daughter decided to pretend she was a mysterious figure and put a ridiculous felt mustache above her upper lip looking not unlike Groucho Marx. Little did I know the adhesive would be strong enough to leave a trail of glue tape, getting so much fuzz and dirt in it that it looked like she had a real mustache for quite some time after! SALTY!

And the Cream de la Cream … Sweet: I tried to be a good mom, so I started a bath for my kids, while simultaneously trying to be a good wife, who was cleaning up dinner, while also filling up water for my cat who likes to drink out of the sink.  Yeah … well, you can tell where this is going.  Multi-tasker that I am, I went downstairs and forgot the sink was still running so three drawers full of water and a wet, wet bathroom floor later, I was feeling very, very SALTY indeed!

What might tomorrow bring?  I have no idea; all I know is even though sweet is my favorite flavor, the salty parts of my day do tend to compliment nicely and give me just enough embarrassment to keep me laughing.

I hope your day is sweet enough to make you happy, salty enough to keep you humble, and delicious through and through, regardless of the ratio of each!




7.13.16 You … Yes You!



Today is my friend’s birthday, she is turning 34 and we have been “best” friends since we were in 6th grade and she hated me.  I think it as a good a way as any to begin a friendship.  She thought I was a matchy-matchy, goodie-two-shoes … she was right.  I thought she was exciting and a little bit scary.  I was right.  And somewhere in the middle, we decided to give one another a try, and then I was hooked.  Like Jane Austen once said, “There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends.  I have no notion of loving people by halves.  It is not in my nature.”  And for the past twenty-three years, I have loved every “whole” crazy minute of our friendship.

In honor of her, and just how much she means to me, I am therefore willing to embarrass myself (and by extension her) just to prove the everlastingness of our bond through a top ten memories list.  So … to Rebecca …

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 4.01.25 PM

10. First sleepover.  When we were eleven, and taking turns having crushes on the five suitable guys in our class, you came over and made me laugh SO HARD I peed my pants!  I couldn’t even blame it on the fact that I had children … or some weakened bladder disorder!  You were just THAT funny!

9. Tripping practice.  We thought if we could just practice enough, it’d all be alright if we fell in public because we would have learned to fall gracefully.  How did it end?  With you “practice” tripping me on the playground as I ran away from you, thus making me rock with momentum when you did, in fact, trip me and I went face first into the concrete!  (Emotional and physical scars still healing from that one!)

8. Softball game.  I had to pee, you had to pee, so we decided to climb the fence in our softball uniforms, but mine was too big and I got caught on the fence at the top!  What did my best-ie do?  Help me down?  NO!  Laugh her butt off as I stayed stuck for a good three minutes, trying my best not to cry, have an accident, or fall off the stinking fence!

7. Cutting hair.  Never a good idea, this one.  And though I have you to thank for growing out my ridiculous bangs (that took three consecutive sleepovers to do) I don’t think either of us was particularly adept with the scissors.  I just remember, “Wholly crap that’s a lot shorter than I was planning,” followed by a, “Yeah, but it’s still not straight … just a few snips more and it’ll be good.”  It wasn’t!

6. Cooking.  We decided to make breakfast for my family.  It was our first time making eggs, and they really turned out into little pellets of the hard, yellow, rubber variety.  I’ll never forget you looking at me and saying, “It is how they’re supposed to be right?”  and me saying, “Maybe we should just stir them a bit longer.”

5. Twins.  Convincing some guy at a party that you, dark-haired, golden-eyed you, were related to blond-haired, blue-eyed me … it took all of your inner strength not to laugh in his face, but you succeeded.  “And the funny thing is,” you told him, “she was the dark-haired baby and I was the blonde!”  I was in awe of you and your gumption that night.  You were always the brand of bravery that I craved!

4. Dating.  You were there for the thick of it all.  It began with sneaking-peeks at my sister and her boyfriend, though she always knew we were coming.  How?  We were so stealthy with your guffaw of a laugh!  After that, we progressed to our own relationships.  From you, patching up my confidence after being dumped in sixth-grade, to standing beside me at my wedding, there is not one significant relationship I was able to get out of or stay in without you!   Best relationship counselor ever.

3. Driving.  From tickets and getting lost to hydroplaning in a storm and using your dad’s van, you’ve always been the #1 most supportive co-pilot of my life.   Why?  Because where others might offer sage counsel or even some backseat driving advice … you proceeded to just laugh at whatever current predicament we found ourselves in, whether it was funny or not!  (Usually it wasn’t, by the way, but you got me giggling along like an idiot anyhow!)

2. Children.  I’ve always loved kids.  I went from babysitter, to nanny, to teacher.   You’ve always been slightly less tolerant of them, having taken care of younger siblings your whole life.  So isn’t it just fate that you’d have twice the amount of kids that I do!?!  God must be laughing at that little twist of our fates!  I can’t tell you how much I love that you think I know what I’m doing and call me with, “What do I do with her now?” questions when I barely have a clue for my own!  Still, I love the confidence you have in me, and I love the Godson you blessed me with!

1. Opposites.  Our entire lives we have always been 100% opposite.  You are bold and brave and hilarious.  I am a rule-follower, a goody-goody, and a dreamer.  You are decorative, fashionable and sassy.  I am a writer, a nerd and quirky.  We look at things from different sides, we see opposite angles, and you’ve always inspired me with your self-assurance as I still look to be that sure.  You’re one of my favorite things about myself.

I am proud of you … proud to claim you as mine.  And I love that out of all the middle school weirdos … you … yes you, picked me.

Happy birthday my crazy-amazing friend.  I love you forever.



7.6.16 You’ll Be a Man My Son




“That best portion of a man’s life:  his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love.” –  William Wordsworth

There are 115 days until Halloween.  Did you know?  Me either, but the young man at our local pool does.  We first saw him last year in the large sand pit.  A bit older than the other boys and out of place, I noticed he was taking care to build a perfectly round pumpkin (complete with stripes and a jack’o’lantern grin) at the base of the centered umbrella.

A few of the other children were giving him cautious glances as he worked tirelessly and methodically to write “127 Days Until Halloween,” beneath the sandy globe.  I saw this as an opportunity, and began a small conversation of pleasantries with him. After about a minute of taking to this  sweet young man, I realized he was Autistic, and not only that, but perfect. Tan skin, shy eyes, and a bright-white smile whenever you mentioned his favorite holiday, he remained someone my children and I looked forward to seeing, because he was just so happy … and who doesn’t want to see or be a part of that emotion?

I am thankful to this boy because he opened up an opportunity for discussion with my kids, about how God creates us all differently, with unique minds, and precious ways that they work apart from everyone else’s.  They realized that day that some people see the world from day to day increments, and some amazing minds see it as a countdown to Halloween.

Fast forward a year … sun screened and ready to go to the pool, my kids and I were thrilled when we saw that same delightful boy.  He was a year older, maybe twenty, but with one question, we knew who he was for certain.  “How many days until Halloween?”

“128,” he said, giving us a quick smile and glancing away again.

And that was the entirety of our conversation,  but to be remembered, isn’t that all anyone really wants in this life?

A couple of days later, my son got a little pack of Disney character toys, and among the pieces, found one that was some little character based on the movie, “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”  He’s never seen it, and didn’t know why there was a spooky little figure.

“Mom,” he hesitated, “isn’t this a little creepy?”

“No, it’s not creepy,” I told him, “it’s just from a Halloween movie.”

Looking at it for a long second he said, “Do you think I could give it to the boy at our pool, because it makes me think of him and I think maybe he’d like it.”

I wanted to cry.  Here was a boy who was willing to give up a part of his new collection, because he remembered someone else who would find a value in it that was greater than his own.  I’ve had the figure in my purse ever since.

We waited weeks to see our sand-pumpkin carving friend again, but eventually, after looking around each and every time we went to the pool – there he was.  Wading in the deeper end, my son patiently waited for the whistle to blow, signaling that the end of swimming was up.

“Are you sure I should,” he asked my husband and I with hesitant eyes.  “What if he doesn’t like it?”

“I’m sure he’ll love it,” my husband replied.

“Even if he doesn’t show it the same way we might,” I added.

A moment later, making his way to the edge of the pool, our son took the chance.

“Excuse me,” he called out to the young man.  “How many days until Halloween?”

“118,” he called back.

“Um, I wanted to give this to you because I know you like Halloween and it made me think of you.”

Handing him the little piece, the boy took it gingerly, examining it slightly, before holding onto it tightly, and parting our company. He may have mumbled a thank you, but I couldn’t tell you for sure.  I was too busy beaming with pride at my son.  As he bravely let out a whoosh of air and a smile, relieved that he went through with it, and sharing how good it felt to do something for someone.  I don’t think he stopped smiling the rest of the ride home.

Looking back on this simple interaction, I think it is not the monumental milestones that make up a life … it is the tiny experiences like this that really shape, form, and solidify the character of a person.  Rudyard Kipling, in a poem to his own child, wrote, “If you can fill the unforgiving minute, with sixty-seconds’ worth of distance run, yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it, and – which is more – you’ll be a Man my son!”

To my own son: I emulate the same sentiment.  You have filled one minute with a greater good than that which takes many people a lifetime to figure out.  You’ve stepped out in kindness, in generosity to make this weary old world just a little bit better.  And in those moments, I see the man you are already becoming … and I thank God for you.

Appreciate someone who may not be seen today by anyone but you.  See them.  Acknowledge them in a way that reminds them they are worthy of acknowledgement.  “Encourage one another and build each other up.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11