Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Hey y’all!  Did you miss me?  I was in Florida last week while Tropical Storm Debby took place, but my mind was in Colorado with Tess as she braved the forest fires, and with Cole as he was in the flooding Dakotas.  As I called home to check on Shay, she told me that her father had flown to Arkansas, and that she was feeling rather lonely in Ames, Iowa.  At least she was safe.

Oh, and Luke is still in China. 

And also, I forgot to tell you I’ve had whooping cough. Remember that little blue mask that Cole had to wear? Here’s the big whoop; he didn’t have the disease.  I did. There is a reason they immunize for this. Yes, the doctor prescribed antibiotics—which I faithfully took (we all did) even before I got the results back so I wouldn’t expose any of you—but antibiotics DO NOT cure whooping cough, they just make the whooper not contagious.  And it really hasn’t been all that bad except those times where I woke up at night choking because my throat was all closed up.  And the times I couldn’t stop hacking because of the incessant tickling in my esophagus.  And the fact that they call this “the 100 day cough”.  I’ve actually kind of enjoyed pounding the Mucinex and the bubbly-feeling Hydrogen Peroxide gargles.  Kidding.  I’m kidding folks.  It’s been un-fun and a bummer.  Go get your tetanus shot now because it includes a bonus pertussis (the scientific name for whooping cough) vaccine in the mix.  Really.

And then you won’t have to sleep on 6 pillows while your cow-shaped vaporizer puffs water mist out of it’s little horns.  And you will probably have sweet dreams instead of dreams that you are drowning in a deep sea.  And your jaw won’t lock shut if you step on a rusty nail—you know, because of the tetanus booster and all.

But, at least I didn’t have to wear a ridiculous mask…because we all know how horrible that would be—although I did see someone casually wearing one on the airplane earlier this week—and she seemed perfectly fine with it—like it was an accessory or something.

To each his own.

Excuse me now while I whoop.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Grown Up Mothering

It makes me feel strange that one of my children is in China, another is in Colorado, and another in South Dakota.  Just Shay is here in Ames this week—and even she is away during the day working.  My mind seems scattered in all directions since I think about all of them several times a day, trying to imagine what they might be doing at that moment…or wondering if they remembered to bring a water bottle…or if they are feeling happy in their unfamiliar surroundings. I wonder if they think about me and their dad or their home or their pets.  And it makes me sad to know that their mom and dad and home and pets are slowly, but surely, becoming less central in their lives—and more periphery.  Their fledgling wings are growing strong, and soon they will be soaring independently…just as we trained them to do.

This is good, right?  Then why am I struggling with it so much these past few months?  Why do I feel like crying every time I look at the lonely swing set?  Why does every discarded toy in the goodwill pile make me sad?  Why does errand-running all alone seem so wrong?  Why do I mourn the loss of my little family “community” when this same “community” made my house really messy and used to drive me crazy by the end of the summer?  I think it’s because we, as a family, are nearing the end of an era—a really great era—an era that required huge amounts of time, energy, and perseverance—but a rewarding era, nonetheless.  It is a period of time that we can’t repeat or replicate.  This is how life works.  That’s how God designed it.

But still, I struggle.

As a young mom, with little kids, I used to look at mothers with teenagers or adult children and think, “Their kids are old now.  They can’t possibly love them like I love my kids—older kids just aren’t as loveable.”  But, oh how wrong I was.  Now as one of those older mothers, I have so much time and training and teaching invested in each one of my children; there is no way I could love them any less.  I have so many dreams for them because I have watched them struggle and strain and develop perseverance and I know who they could become.  I have pushed them toward the Truth and rejoiced when they have become more like Jesus and less like the world.

I have prayed thousands of hours for them during illness, and adjustments, and track meets, and driving.  I have cried for them because I was happy and because I was so frustrated I could do nothing else.  I have been so proud that they were mine that I wanted to announce it to the world.  And I have been hurt by the fact that they really don’t need me to help them anymore. My heart has become enmeshed with theirs and their desires have become my own. My entire life has become wrapped around them.

Never ever ever have I stopped loving them.  Nor will I. And never ever ever will I cease to be their mom.  Beside my husband, they are the most precious gift I have ever been given on this earth.

I’m trying to embrace this new era—this grown up era—but the goings’ a little rough now and then.  Like when all of my kids are all over creation…and I can’t protect them, or even see them.

So, I sit at home and rock the cat and write in my blog and get ready to go on a trip. on my own. like a grown up. a grown up mom with older kids. 

That’s how God designed it.


As a mother comforts her child,
so will I comfort you…

Isaiah 66:13

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father’s Day Adventures

Happy Father’s Day to all you dads out there, including mine!  Love you Dad!

When Brent woke up this morning, he found these pictures in an envelope with a note from Shay (our resident creative genius). She claimed that she had re-discovered old photos of she and her dad on past adventures.

But it’s funny, ‘cause I don’t remember any of them…see if you do:





Sunday, June 10, 2012

What’s the big whoop?

Do you ever have something tickle your funny bone in such a way that you absolutely cannot stop laughing about it?  That happened to me this week while I spent some time with Cole. 

I’ll let you in on the joke.

Friday morning, I got a call from the Story County Public Health Nurse telling me that my 14 year old 8th grader had most likely been exposed to Whooping Cough during his last week of school.  And, since he had coughed a little in the interim, they wanted to test him to see if he was positive for the disease.  So, being the socially conscious mother that I am (even though I was 95% sure he’d never had it—I mean he never “whooped”—I didn’t want to expose others to the threat), I dutifully took the boy to the doctor to have him tested. 

Now here’s where it gets funny. As we walked into the pediatrics department at the clinic, we saw millions of tiny children coughing and hacking and watching colorful fish in the aquarium.  Cole, being nearly 6 foot tall and weighing 154 pounds, felt a little foolish to start. But as he walked up to the counter with me to check in, and the nurse told him he had to wear a blue doctor’s mask over his mouth and nose, I thought he might die of humiliation right then and there.  I am laughing out loud right now just remembering.  And so, he slipped the mask on his bright red face to protect the other tiny patrons, and he slinked over to a miniature chair and sat down...with his mask on…and I could not stop giggling because he looked so ridiculous.  And not only did he look ridiculous, he felt so incredibly stupid that he took off the mask as he was waiting, and the nurse on call saw him and said to me in a mean voice, “He needs to put that mask on and wear it the ENTIRE time!”  This all took place as a boy from his class walked in and did one of those kind of 8th grade boy shrugs to acknowledge his presence.  I don’t think Cole even looked up.  Soon, though, they called Cole’s name (I was still laughing) and he had to get up off his miniature chair and parade through the peds department with his little blue mask on.  As he was doing this, he passed a girl that he knew coming out of the hall.  She ignored him and he was very glad.  As we got to the examining room, and the nurse had gone out, Cole ripped off the mask and said, “I HAVE NEVER BEEN SO HUMILIATED IN MY WHOLE LIFE!”  and I’m pretty sure that was accurate.  And I’m not sure I have ever laughed that hard or that long or that inappropriately while in the doctor’s office ever.  It was sooooooooo funny to witness this embarrassing debacle—well, maybe not for Cole.

We don’t have the test results back yet, and even though my boy is acting fit as a fiddle, I’m not sure he’ll ever fully recover from the big whoop in the peds waiting area. 

And I’m pretty sure he’ll never want to be a doctor.  or go to China during a SARS outbreak.

I’m still laughing.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Adventures on I-80

A funny thing happened as Tess and I were traveling from Iowa City en route to Ames yesterday.  Actually, it was more weird than funny…see what you think.

As we were attempting to pass a slower moving pick-up/pull-behind camper combo in the fast lane of I-80 West, here is what we saw:


Now, a motley looking Australian Shepherd would not normally be alarming, but here is where we saw him:


We did not see this barking, snarling creature IN the pickup, nor did we see him baring his sharp teeth from in the confines of the camper.  No, as we drove by, this alpha dog, standing on all fours on the little space between the camper and the cab—on top of the cab cover—was barking his little heart out while trying very hard to keep his balance on a vehicle going near 70 MPH.  He did not seem to be secured in any way, and one wrong move would have sent his yapping little body flying wildly into unsuspecting traffic.  I wondered if his owners were trying to kill him or if they were just unaware that their beloved pet had escaped to what amounted as the ‘roof” of the pick up cab.  I, however, was glad that he was either 1) glued down with gorilla glue on one or more paws, or 2) had suction cups on his feet like a frog.  Maybe he was a frog dog and that’s why they didn’t want him anymore.  Anyway, I was glad he didn’t splat on my windshield because he looked pretty mad and I think he would have probably obstructed my view for the rest of the trip.

So, what should this little story teach us?  We should never take our Australian Shepherds camping with us when they 1) don’t have a seat in the vehicle, 2) when they are excessively angry, or 3) when they don’t have suction cup feet. 

And that’s your lesson for the day.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Beyond my bench

While I have been hanging out in Iowa City (my third trip on the ten day tour), during Tess’ college orientation, I have had opportunity to do lots of people watching (this is because I chose not to do the parent portion of the orientation since I had just done it two years previous).  As I sat in the ped mall—a very cosmopolitan, outdoor, community-inviting section of downtown Iowa city—I ate my Jimmy John’s Turkey Tom Unwich and my cake batter/black forest froyo, I watched a traditionally dressed Indian woman talking on her cell phone and guiding her tiny beautiful daughter, who stopped and stared at my yogurt, with her dark and delicate hand.  I saw another mother, Caucasian, obviously mid-forties, dressed in the clothes of a teenager, trying to look like a teenager, and walking with her soon-to-be college bound daughter, who was dressed in the same type of clothes; it was easy to tell who the real teenager was. I noticed a 50-something biker dude all decked out in spandex shorts and shirt, and he looked great from the back, but when he turned around, he had this huge belly which was showcased by his tight white biking apparel—and his phone—which had to be plastered with sweat to his skin—was also zipped inside.  Maybe he’s new to the sport. and wanted to make sure he had his phone in case of emergency.  I saw guys and girls walking hand in hand, girls and girls walking hand in hand, and young mothers with strollers and ice cream-stained children trailing behind them.  I heard a little girl on the bench beside me telling the people beside her that she had never seen so many birds up close.  The birds at the ped mall—pigeons, and sparrows, and little un-namables with very cute perfectly round heads—reminded me of the birds I had seen while in Holland in the town centers.  They are so tame and plentiful—looking adorable while they feast on everyone’s crumbs.  I saw two preppy guys and a magnificent-looking Siberian Husky retreat into a mysterious door on the side of a bar.  I eyed some parents on the bus with worried-looking faces—each wearing Iowa pins and carrying remarkable amount of Iowa paraphernalia—obviously here for orientation; as they clung to one another, their son sat aloof beside them trying to act cool and not scared. I watched a grandma, adoring her grandson as he toddled into the fountains of water erupting in the playground.  I told her that I was adoring him too, and she beamed.

I wondered about all of these people.  What were they thinking?  What were they doing out and about on this Monday afternoon?  Were they thinking about the doctor’s diagnosis?  or their late rent? or the fight they had with their spouse before they left?  Were they proud of their middle school baseball star? worried about their chronically sick child?  their wayward teenager?  their ailing parent?  Did they wonder how they would make it with their son away at college? Were they excited to be married?  depressed about their impending divorce?  rejoicing in being a grandma?  mustering up the courage to ask the admired one on a date? Were the moms delighting in their children? or just trying to make it through the day?  Were they appreciating the little ones’ dependence or yearning for an early bedtime?   Did they feel appreciated?  obligated?  taken for granted?  I thought about saying “Good job!” to the little Hispanic man cleaning the high light fixtures on the side of a building, but I didn’t. Maybe I should have. Maybe he needed encouragement. 

Everyone’s got a story.  Everyone feels pain.  Everyone feels joy. Everyone feels.  Sometimes that’s hard for me to remember.  Sometimes I get so wrapped up in my story, and my lunch. and my bench, that I forget to look beyond.  My world becomes all about me.  That’s not how God wants me to be.  He wants me to watch these people, get involved with their stories, and love them lavishly.  He wants me to show them Who He is by getting to know who they are. 

He wants me to get out of my own little world and into His big one.  That’s not an easy task for an introvert like me.  But I can do it, through Him, because I desire to obey.  and to become less like myself. and more like Him. 

Dear Jesus, help me to have eyes to see beyond my bench…and hands to reach your world.

Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again,not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.

1 Peter 1:22-23

Monday, June 4, 2012

Tres in Diez

Hello!  I haven’t forgotten y’all.  It’s just that I haven’t been home much and am on the last day of my third trip away in ten day’s time.  I wouldn’t recommend three separate trips in a week and a half unless you like feeling exhausted and out of touch with your real life. I’m looking forward to starting my real summer soon—which involves lots of iced tea and some good books. 

I was pretty shocked at the amount of views my “Letter to young moms” attracted—558 to be exact.  If you missed it, you can see it here.  Thanks so much for spreading the word on the sweetness of childhood.  Make your kids a priority while they are still kids. 

I don’t really have much to say, so I will leave you with an interesting tidbit.  While away on my recent adventures, I saw a blind man (I am assuming this because he was finding his way with those long sticks that blind people use to navigate) with several tattoos. Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure that I would invest in body art if I couldn’t see it myself.  Like did he go to a tattoo parlor and just point at an unseen image in a book?  Did he draw it out on a notepad before he arrived?  Do tattoo artists have braille tattoo diagram books for blind people to peruse?  Did he get referrals to a reputable artist before he decided to go for it?  Or did he just find the nearest place and say “do your best.”?  I am in no way judging those who are blind or in anyway disabled, but these were just a few things I was wondering about.  Cause, what if they spelled something, like the name of his sweetheart, wrong?  It would be painful to fix that, don’t you think? 

That’s all I’ve got for you today, but my second trip was to a writing/ publishing conference, and I’ve got lots of great ideas rolling around in my brain just begging to come out…and I will let them once life slows down a little.  Bet you can’t wait.