Archives for May 2013

Ambition, Inspiration and the Glorious iPhone 5


I talked with my friend, Wendy yesterday. Everyone should have a Wendy that they can call…especially if it’s this particular Wendy.

I love conversations with Wendy because every time I hang up the phone I think, “Huh. I never thought of it like that.” Yesterday was no different. Somehow, some way (mostly because Wendy and I share the same brain) we ended up on the topic of ambition and motherhood.

“Women like you and I need inspiration,” Wendy said. “Yes, we are ambitious, but for us to feel successful we need more than ambition, we need to be inspired.”

That may not sound super profound to you, but it was highly enlightening to me. Because it’s absolutely true.

I was created with a brain that longs to be inspired. It’s why I love the arts so very, very much. I need music and nature and poetry and prose and photography and sculptures and landscape and history and travel and an overactive imagination. I need to see these things to feel creative.


I need to create to feel imaginative.



I need to be inspired to be a better mother.



But I had never thought of ambition and inspiration in the way that Wendy described them. If I had to rate my ambition level, I’d put myself in the moderate range. I am ambitious only to the point that I feel capable of success. This last year has been a big eye opener for me in regards to my ability to chase my dreams.

I’ve realized my limits this year and I’ve embraced them, freeing myself up to be inspired – not to be ambitious.

And in so doing, I’ve accomplished more in the last year than ever before.



Sometimes I look at the successful women around me and I find myself wildly frustrated at my own lack of ability to make things happen. There are some women who are so wonderfully geared and suited for ambitious careers and lofty goals, and they can still manage their homes without becoming completely unglued.

I am not one of those women. I get very easily overwhelmed and when I’m overwhelmed, the world around me shuts down. It gets foggy and dark and I find myself on the couch eating Nutella off a spoon while watching reruns of What Not to Wear.


It’s not pretty.


But when I feel inspired, I am able to do so much more and I feel a sense of confidence in those goals and dreams looming before me. I need inspiration to function, not ambition. That is how I’ve been wired and I’m learning to be okay with that.


So what does that have to do with the iPhone 5? 

I’m so glad you asked!

I bought one last week. It was an early birthday present to myself and can I just tell you? I’m having wicked fun with this little device. The photography potential of the iPhone is one of the big reasons I wanted one. I love photography. I’m not very good at it, but I love it.

red flower

What I especially love about the iPhone is the ability it gives us to looks at the world a little differently. Instead of dashing past a gorgeous spring bloom, we can get up close and inhale the scent. We can snap a picture and manipulate and play with it until that beautiful flower becomes a work of art.


yellow flower


We can create and creating gives way to inspiration



which bolsters confidence




and before you know it the world is an artist’s canvas just waiting to be discovered.


See? I told you everyone needed Wendy they could call.

So tell me – what inspires you?

A look back as the countdown looms

I am 34 years old. I can only say that for six more days. If anyone tries to say I’m 35 before next Tuesday I will kick him in the shins. Last week Lee said something about how my 36th birthday was coming up. I beat him for it.

The same day my mom sent me a text and said, “Hey, wouldn’t it be fun to do a big spa trip when you turn 40 and I turn 65?” There were a few things wrong with that text – first, I AM ONLY 34! Can we not discuss 40 yet?



Also, I will only be 38 when she turns 65! *throws hands up in exasperation*

So, yeah. I’m about to officially be in my mid-thirties. An argument could probably be made for the fact that 34 is technically already the mid-thirties, but that’s not a conversation any of us need to have at this point. Because I don’t want to talk about it.

Crystal clear?

Now I can say there are some perks to aging, one of them being the benefit of laughing at pictures of yourself in years past. Enough time has gone by now for old pictures of me to be wildly hysterical, mainly because I grew up in the ’80’s and, you know…it was the ’80’s. So to commemorate me getting old(er), here are a few pictures from ages past and bygone styles.

You’re welcome.


1985: The partial mullet.

1985: The partial mullet.



1986: The Very Loud Button-Down


1987: Denim on Denim and feathered bangs.

1987: Denim on Denim and feathered bangs.

1988: Units belt, High tops with layered socks, Esprit Bag, Side Ponytail. I was ROCKING 5th grade.


1989: I discovered the crimping iron. Thank you, '80's, for so many wonderful and lasting styles.

1989: I discovered the crimping iron. Oh yes I did…


I blame this photo on a number of things: My parents, Jazz Dance and the '80's.

I blame this photo on a number of things: My parents, Jazz Dance and the ’80’s.


1991-ish with remnants of the '80's clinging on.

1991-ish with remnants of the ’80’s clinging on.


1991: The year of the Coolats, AKA 7th Grade, AKA The year I grew into my nose...

1992: The year of the Coolats (sp?), AKA 7th Grade, AKA The year I grew into my nose…


1995: Calming down a bit in the fashion department. Thankfully for all of us I couldn't find any pictures from 9th, which was a particularly tragic year of fashion for me. Think Sun-In meets short shorts meets way too much make up.

1995: Calming down a bit in the fashion department. Thankfully for all of us I couldn’t find any pictures from 9th grade, which was a particularly tragic year of fashion for me. Think Sun-In meets short shorts meets way too much make up.

I’m also missing several pictures that document those years when I fondly (read: obsessively) wore over-sized flannel shirts. I also had a deep love for overalls my senior year of high school, but then we all did. Don’t act like you didn’t wear them, too…

1999: Rocking the short overalls and a hottie on my arm.

1999: Rocking the short overalls and a hottie on my arm.


And, of course, there were about 6 years there when I wore babies. I actually miss those years...

And, of course, there were about 6 years there when I wore babies. I actually miss those years…


My current fashion of choice is yoga pants. I’m kind of kidding and kind of serious. I really love yoga pants. But I don’t want to get completely lost in the hole of my mid-thirties so I try to lose the yoga pants whenever possible and upgrade to something super fashionable…like a skort. And if I’m feeling particularly ambitious, I might even put on a pair of skinny jeans.

But then I spend the day feeling like I’m slowly suffocating to death.

My kids are going to have a field day making fun of me some day…

Here’s to many more years of fashion, both good and bad.

Saying Yes to the Good and Bad


I’m learning a lot right now about what it means to say yes. By nature, my first response is not generally yes. I’m more of a “maybe, let me think about it, I’ll get back to you,” kind of a girl. Saying yes is scary because saying yes usually comes with some sort of responsibility attached.

(Unless, of course, someone asks me if I’d like some Nutella, at which point saying yes is non-negotiable and always rewarding…)

Last year Lee and I said “Yes” together to adoption and as most of you know – that didn’t work out so well. But we said yes. We agreed because saying “No” didn’t feel right. If you talk to Lee and I individually about our motives to adopt, you’ll hear two different stories. Mine is the longer one.


Lee’s story is quite simple and I love the purity of his answer. When he was asked last summer why he decided to step forward with the adoption he said, “Because God didn’t give me the freedom to say no.”


That was it.


He couldn’t say no because he didn’t feel like GOD (not me – I had given him full permission to say no) had given him the freedom to say no. So he said yes.

I will confess that I still struggle with some bitterness and disappointment that God didn’t lay “No” on Lee’s heart. I still don’t understand why He brought us to this point in the adoption process. But obviously there were lessons of faith and trust and dependence that I needed to learn and so even though I’m disappointed in the circumstance and sometimes even in God Himself, I can still say He is good.

I still have faith, even though my faith feels much shakier than it did before. It’s being tested and burned and molded – it will come out stronger, but I have to wrestle through this.

As we prayed and sought and searched and looked at what our next step should be after the adoption was terminated, Lee felt a deep desire to go as a family on a mission trip this summer, and this time it was my turn to be reluctant. I didn’t want to go because I didn’t want to spend the money. I knew that money could be spent on transferring our adoption to a different country. But Lee felt really strongly that we should take the kids on a mission trip.

And I didn’t have the freedom to say no, so yes was the only other option.

We began to search different missions opportunities that we could take with the kids. We needed to find something that fit into Lee’s hectic work schedule and after a lot of thought, we decided to join forces with Servant’s Heart Ministry on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic.

One month from today we will board a plane with our children to meet and serve the children of the Dominican Republic. I will confess that my heart is still unsure, not of the trip – I have no doubt the trip will be amazing. But I am still unsure about where we stand with the adoption and I still struggle daily with this idea of saying yes to God.

But what is faith if we don’t say yes to the things that don’t make sense – even those things that may not go as planned?  And how will we ever teach our children how to serve those in desperate need if we don’t go and do? Even if it costs money? Even if it sets us back in the adoption?

Or maybe it’s a step forward…


God has been terribly silent through all this adoption stuff, but I have this sense of peace that as we continue to say yes to the things in front of us, He will slowly reveal His plan for our family. As I said earlier, saying yes is scary because the outcome is not always certain, but if there is one thing I have been able to cling to in these months of questioning and doubt it’s that God is good and His plan is perfect, even when I don’t understand it. 

So we are saying yes to the things that are scary, the things that are good, the things that could go wrong or right. We’re saying yes because when presented with an opportunity to bless another person, is saying “No” really an option at all?


What about you? What have you said yes to lately?


(And as a PS to those who gave money toward our adoption – please know that we have those donations set aside and we will not touch them until we decide what we are going to do. Should we ultimately decide not to proceed with another adoption, those funds will be returned. I just wanted to offer that explanation in an effort to be fully transparent. We don’t yet feel that God has shut the door on adoption so we continue to save in anticipation of adopting. We are walking in faith making each decision with an enormous sense of trust.)

French Parenting Vs. American Parenting


From the article “Why French Parents Are Superior,” written by Pamela Druckerman originally posted in The Wall Street Journal Online.


“Yet the French have managed to be involved with their families without becoming obsessive. They assume that even good parents aren’t at the constant service of their children, and that there is no need to feel guilty about this. “For me, the evenings are for the parents,” one Parisian mother told me. “My daughter can be with us if she wants, but it’s adult time.” French parents want their kids to be stimulated, but not all the time. While some American toddlers are getting Mandarin tutors and preliteracy training, French kids are—by design—toddling around by themselves.

I’m hardly the first to point out that middle-class America has a parenting problem. This problem has been painstakingly diagnosed, critiqued and named: overparenting, hyperparenting, helicopter parenting, and my personal favorite, the kindergarchy. Nobody seems to like the relentless, unhappy pace of American parenting, least of all parents themselves.”


“Could it be that teaching children how to delay gratification—as middle-class French parents do—actually makes them calmer and more resilient? Might this partly explain why middle-class American kids, who are in general more used to getting what they want right away, so often fall apart under stress?”

“American parents want their kids to be patient, of course. We encourage our kids to share, to wait their turn, to set the table and to practice the piano. But patience isn’t a skill that we hone quite as assiduously as French parents do. We tend to view whether kids are good at waiting as a matter of temperament. In our view, parents either luck out and get a child who waits well or they don’t.”


From “Why French Kids Don’t Have ADHD,” written by Marilyn Wedge, originally published in Psychology Today.


“In the United States, at least 9% of school-aged children have been diagnosed with ADHD, and are taking pharmaceutical medications. In France, the percentage of kids diagnosed and medicated for ADHD is less than .5%. How come the epidemic of ADHD—which has become firmly established in the United States—has almost completely passed over children in France?

Is ADHD a biological-neurological disorder? Surprisingly, the answer to this question depends on whether you live in France or in the United States. In the United States, child psychiatrists consider ADHD to be a biological disorder with biological causes. The preferred treatment is also biological–psycho stimulant medications such as Ritalin and Adderall.

French child psychiatrists, on the other hand, view ADHD as a medical condition that has psycho-social and situational causes. Instead of treating children’s focusing and behavioral problems withdrugs, French doctors prefer to look for the underlying issue that is causing the child distress—not in the child’s brain but in the child’s social context. They then choose to treat the underlying social context problem with psychotherapy or family counseling. This is a very different way of seeing things from the American tendency to attribute all symptoms to a biological dysfunction such as a chemical imbalance in the child’s brain.”


I considered writing a whole post on these articles about how I would tend to agree with the parenting philosophy of the French. They have a lot of things right and I would even argue that children with stricter and more well defined boundaries are probably more enjoyable to be around. But more than me talking too much, I thought it might be more productive for us to have a conversation. So let me know your thoughts! Have you read these articles? What do you think about French parenting vs. American parenting?

Do you think the French are on to something here?

(I’ll go ahead and get the conversation started in the comments.)


Throwback Thursday


My brother and I at a costume party circa 1995

You’re welcome.

Come back tomorrow for a little chat about parenting – USA vs. FRANCE.


And next week is the final week I can claim to be in my early thirties. I have some plans on how to write my way into my mid-thirties. It’s better than drinking my way there, right?

Happy Thursday!

No More Pencils, No More Books


We had a family movie night last night. When I announced it, the kids were all, “Really?! But it’s a school night!” I know, kids. I know. Why don’t we just play hooky? Let’s just call it a day and finish school now, whatcha think?

I didn’t say that, but I cannot deny thinking it.

My children don’t get out of school until June 7th, which seems like a conspiracy of torture to me. I’m over everything about school and it shows. When the kids get home in the afternoon, our normal routine is a quick snack, then dive straight into homework before any playing.

Our current routine is come home, jump in the pool, play all afternoon and if you get to your homework and reading, yay! Bonus.

We are crawling to the finish line over here.

Every single morning, as I wake Tia up, she rolls over and blinks hard through sleepy, crusty eyes. “Mommy, can’t I skip school just this once?” she cries (sometimes sobs). Friends, I feel like I deserve a medal for not saying YES! Skip it. Let’s stay in bed in our jammies and watch movies all day. Screw school! POWER TO THE PEOPLE!!!

I don’t say any of those things. I put on my Motivating Mom Hat and say super inspiring things like, “Finish strong, honey!” And “Can you taste the victory of your accomplishment?” And “12 More Days – Isn’t It EXCITING?!”

Then I drag her out of bed and force her into clothing. There is some hand clapping involved most mornings. Nature of the beast and all.

This morning the power tripped at 5:00 am, which means our alarm went off, which is honestly the rudest way one could possible be woken up.

(Actually, if you were to talk with my brother, you’d probably find that he has a story of an even ruder awakening. I may, or may not, have woken him up several times as a teenager by standing over his bed and letting loose a blood curdling scream. The memory of the look on his face as he thrashed around on his bed in utter terror gives me unending and eternal glee.)

Anyway, the alarm went off this morning at 5. Mercifully it did not wake up the kids and I was able to doze in and out of sleep. But when 6:30 rolled around, I could not get my brain to communicate to my extremities that it was time to get up. My brain kept sending them messages and my body was like, “Can’t we skip school just this once?”


12 More days until we’re done with all this – isn’t it exciting?! Finish strong! Can you taste the victory of your accomplishment?


Then I told myself to shut up…

12 more days until I can burn the agendas and the reading logs and…well, I probably shouldn’t burn the uniforms since we’ll need them again, but everything else is fair game! I have plans for the summer to keep the kids reading (plans that include paying them – incentive? bribery? Either way, I’m hoping it will motivate) and I have workbooks lined up for math and writing and Russian. But there will be no set agenda.

And there will be strictly enforced rules not to wake me up before 7:00 on any given morning lest they should face the wrath of schedule-free, summertime Mommy. Amen?


And we all said amen.


So show of hands – how many of you are already finished with school? 

Dreamy Little Worker


I’m busy working toward my dream of seeing my book published.

I am writing and editing and pitching and querying and editing and writing and reading and pitching.

I believe in this book.

I believe it has great potential.

I believe it needs work.

I believe it’s pretty dang good.

I believe it will be published.

It’s overwhelming, all the work that goes into making a dream come true.

But in the end….

While I keep working, please, please, please visit my friend Jenni’s website. She’s the one who took that spectacular photo of the yellow flowers.

Don’t you just want to reach right into the screen and pluck that gorgeous flower?

Jenni and her family are continuing on their year long journey around the United States.

Her pictures are inspired, but even more inspiring?

They are chasing their dream.

Do you have a dream you’re chasing? 

The MOB Society – Friday Funnies

baseballI knew my boy would be athletic when he was around eight months old. We were at one of his older brother’s soccer games and I sat his plump little behind in the grass. He couldn’t move yet, so he simply screamed and reached his arms out toward an extra soccer ball lying a little ways down the field. I quickly grabbed it and rolled it toward him and for the entire 40 minute game he giggled and cackled and grinned as he batted the ball back and forth.

He’s five now and he is no longer a fat little baby. In fact, I sometimes wonder how it is his twiggy bird legs manage to hold him up all day long. But one thing has not changed – the boy loves sports.

While most kids his age are into Disney Jr. and CARS, my boy lives, eats and breathes baseball, basketball and…really, anything with a ball. The only station he knows how to find on TV is ESPN and there are some mornings when I walk out and find him engrossed in the highlight reel.

I am then forced to drink my coffee while listening to the run down on which teams are doing well and which teams are “being crushed.”


Join me over at The MOB Society today as we laugh at this business of raising boys.

The Father to His Calvin



Not long ago Landon came running into the bathroom as I dried my hair.

“Mom!” he yelled over the noise. “Where are toofbrushes made?”

“What?” I yelled back.

Where do the toofbrush makers make the toofbrushes?

“Why don’t you ask Dad, buddy,” I called back. “I’m busy.”

He spun on his heel and rushed into the bedroom where Lee was changing. I couldn’t hear the conversation over the hairdryer, but seconds later Landon came tearing back into the bathroom.


And then he disappeared as Lee collapsed in hysterical laughter. Score one for Dad.


Not long after that, I stood in the kitchen preparing dinner as Lee and the kids sat on the back porch.

“Daddy?” Tia asked, her voice all sugary and sweet. “How did you learn to pop your pecs?”

It could have been worse. She could have asked him how he learned to “wiggle his nipples,” which is what she and Landon said for a long time before we finally put a stop to it. It’s cute and funny in the comfort of your own home.  Crying out “Wiggle your nipples, Dad,” in the cereal aisle of the grocery store, however, is embarrassing and slightly inappropriate…

One of Lee’s better parenting tactics does indeed involve popping his pecs when things get tense or dicey around here. If arguments break out, he does a little pop here and there and suddenly everyone is laughing hysterically. Brilliant…

So they sat on the back porch and Tia wanted to know how he did it because for her life, she cannot make her pecs pop.

“Well, baby,” Lee answered, “I actually went to a special college to learn. It’s not something you should ever try unless you’ve been properly trained. There’s a special technique that you have to learn and it could be quite dangerous to try without being taught. That’s why I made sure I got a degree from the Pec Popping Institute of America.


Never a dull moment…


Do the dads in your life give brilliant, if slightly skewed, explanations for some of the workings of life?

Image Credit

Why we need to talk about Kermit Gosnell


When I read the guilty verdict for Philadelphia “doctor” Kermit Gosnell, I felt an overwhelming satisfaction followed immediately by sadness. The stories surrounding this man have been sickening and wretched, so horrific in nature that reading an article about his practices caused a visceral reaction of rage and sorrow.

You want to know the measure of a monster? Look no further than Kermit Gosnell.

There has been a lot of online chatter about the silence of the mainstream media during the Gosnell trial. If a reporter’s mantra is “If it bleeds, it leads,” then why weren’t they covering this story?

There are a couple of reasons why I think the mainstream media ignored this story. First, as Kristen Howerton points out, this story wasn’t new. Gosnell was first arrested in 2011 and the news of his arrest broke then on most major news stations then. So technically, in the world of broadcast journalism, this could have been deemed old news and old news is no news, right?

I don’t agree, but I see the argument.

I think a larger part of the reason this story was largely ignored is because it cannot be covered without addressing the pressing inconsistencies in the defense of abortion.

No one, including the staunchest of abortion supporters, will deny that Kermit Gosnell’s practices were ugly, brutal, terrifying and wickedly wrong. Even Planned Parenthood, one of the largest performers of abortion in the country, issued a statement celebrating Gosnell’s guilty verdict.

But why? What is it about Gosnell’s practices that differentiate him from other doctors who perform abortions? Why were those three infants considered more valuable than the thousands of children that are aborted in utero?

Is it because the three infants that he was convicted of murdering actually breathed oxygen on their own rather than being supplied oxygen through their mother’s placenta? Is that all that sets them apart? There is a serious problem with that logic, because if we deem someone who doesn’t breathe oxygen on their own as incompatible with life, then what about the countless people who are on a ventilator?

I speak of this topic frankly, but please hear my heart. If you are a woman who has chosen abortion in the past, I hold no judgement in my heart for the decision that you made. I cannot imagine the fear and pain that accompanies the decision to have an abortion and I offer nothing but a deep felt sympathy for the experience you may have had.

That said, this topic cannot be laid to rest and we need to continue to educate and fight not for a woman’s right to choose, but for a child’s right to live. Pope John Paul II once said that “a society will be judged on the basis of how it treats its weakest members; and among the most vulnerable are surely the unborn and the dying.”

Gosnell’s conviction is good because it defends the weakest – infants whose spines were snipped with scissors and who died slowly and painfully in the hands of a monster. My heart aches for the mothers whose lives will forever be haunted by the practices of Kermit Gosnell – women who thought they had no other option and who were led astray by a wicked, evil man.

I am a believer in a woman’s right to choose, however, I believe that we need more education so that a woman will choose life rather than choosing abortion. There are so many studies on the emotional and physical effects of abortion. We cannot believe that such a choice will be free of lasting consequences. Women must have a better understanding of these long term psychological effects.

There is no more vulnerable among us than the unborn. We can try to separate the consequences of abortion by labeling a child in utero a “fetus,” but it does not change the scientific nature of the little lives lost. The only thing that separates an infant in utero from an infant outside the womb is the ability to breathe oxygen unassisted. Even at ten weeks in utero, all a child’s bodily functions are developed. Could the child survive outside the womb? No. But that cannot be a justification.

This topic is so difficult and for some of you it stirs up painful memories and emotions. I do not for a second think that choosing abortion was easy or comfortable and I’m so sorry for those of you who must live with the pain of that choice. My heart physically aches at the thought.

But we cannot give up or ignore this topic because the most vulnerable of our society are at stake. While Kermit Gosnell’s practices were sick and awful, the outcome of what he accomplished is no different from those who perform abortions in utero. We need to talk about this and we need to be quick to offer pregnant women who feel trapped in their circumstances different options.

Because I believe in the right for a woman to choose – I just believe that she, and her unborn child, will be better off in the long run if she chooses life.

(And before we spiral down a rabbit trail, let me just acknowledge that there are circumstances when abortion seems to be the only option. I had a friend who suffered an ectopic pregnancy and chose to have the child surgically removed from her fallopian tube because not to do so could have killed both her and the child – a gut wrenching and difficult choice. This topic is hard, trust me, I know that it is. But we can’t brush it under the rug with broad generalizations and defenses built on quick sand.)


Thoughts? How are we doing as a society?