The Playlist

playlistTomorrow I will put my three children on a school bus and ship them off to a building that (if I’m being totally honest) looks a bit like a prison. They will be gone five days a week for a solid seven hours. In case you’re new here, you should know that I only have three children right now. So that means that for the first time in a decade, my house will be devoid of sound for a routine amount of time five days a week.

That is scary. If I’m going to be totally honest one more time and as blunt as I can possibly be, I’ll tell you that it’s scary as H-E-DOUBLE HOCKEY STICKS. 

If I think too long about sending all my babies off to a prison-like building inside the belly of a giant yellow bus, I feel a slight panic attack start to rumble somewhere in my gut. It kind of moves around before settling like a giant weight. If I’m super lucky, that weight will push itself up into my throat where it will expand until I can’t really breathe, at which point my eyes will involuntarily fill with tears and my heart will race and I’ll wonder if 10:00 am is too early to start drinking.

So instead of thinking about ALL THE QUIET, I’m thinking about fun stuff.

Like that fact that Lee and I are going to go to Busch Gardens on Friday just the two of us so we can ride all the roller coasters as often as we want without small people whining at our feet.

I’m also thinking of an IKEA trip where I can slowly meander through the aisles without worrying about having to buy a broken vase because someone couldn’t keep his hands to himself.

I’m considering a Tuesday morning Bible study for the first time in ten years because I will finally have the time to attend and the quiet moments of my days to think.

I’m looking at that pair of jeans that fits a littler more snugly than I prefer and I’m envisioning the time I’ll have to work out.

I’m thinking about the fact that I may actually be able to earn a little more money doing this writing thing I love so much because I’ll have actual stretches of time to piece together coherent thoughts.

I’m pondering how many actual home cooked meals I may be able to feed my family now that I can wrap my mind around dinner before the 4:00 hour.

There’s a lot to be excited about this week. Well, there’s at least enough to hopefully keep me from chasing the bus down the street sobbing and wailing and tearing my clothes in utter and complete grief. I’d prefer not to gnash my teeth this week.

choosejoyThere’s a price to be paid when you choose to stay at home with your children. It’s an easy enough sacrifice when they’re very young and there’s work to be done in the house. It’s hard work and exhausting, but at least you knew you were needed during those long daytime hours. But now? Now that they’re going to be gone and my job is less seen, less cumbersome, the sacrifice feels more…sacrificial. What will I do?

I’ll tell you what I’ll do.

I’ll start by cranking the music and having a dance party. My “Kids have gone to school playlist” includes the following songs:

I’m a Survivor

You Gotta Fight for Your Right to Party



I Will Survive

Miss Independent


I’m going to hold my head up high and embrace this time because I honestly don’t know how long it will last. There may be another little one in our future. In fact, I rather hope that there is.

I may end up homeschooling again. In fact, I rather hope that I do.

I’m embracing this year as a blessing and with only a small amount of trepidation. I’m nervous about being alone. And I’m excited. I feel both emotions, and if ever there was a reason to jam, the conflicting emotions of freedom and loneliness was it.

So…what songs should I add to the playlist?

And who wants to jam with me?!


Practically the same…

photo-1 copy

It’s my 35th birthday and the day couldn’t be more crazy or indicative of what my life is these days. I have end of school awards, play dates, kindergarten registration (SOB!), laundry, dirty dishes and somewhere in there I think I’ll be allowed to breathe. It’s hectic and crazy and a skooch stressful, but altogether awesome because my life is bustling and full and rich. I wouldn’t change anything about it.

As I sat and thought about turning 35 and remembered back to the day when I thought that was SO OLD, I realized something. 35 and 21 are almost exactly alike! I mean, stand them up side by side and you can hardly tell the difference. To prove my point, I give you:

Ten Ways 35 Is Exactly Like 21


1. You are up at all hours of the night, only at, 35 you’re up involuntarily changing sheets, or doling out medicine or looking for lost lovies and on and on and SWEET MERCY I’M TIRED!

2. You eat Mac and Cheese for lunch. When you were 21 you did it because you were broke. Now you do it because making lunch for yourself takes effort and sooooo tiiiiirrrreeeeddddd…

3. An alcoholic beverage incites a bizarre amount of excitement, again for different reasons.

4. You look at a book and think of all the other fun things you could be doing instead of reading. Only when you were 21 the fun things you thought of involved less sleep, not more sleep.

5. You live in a pigsty and you don’t really care.

6. You have to clean up vomit periodically.

7. When you’re in the car, you crank the tunes. Of course, when you’re 35 the tunes are usually sung by Disney Channel teeny boppers and you turn it just loud enough to drown out the sound of arguing children….

8. You run outside to play in the rain just for the fun of it, only when you come in you now have an entire mountain of laundry to clean instead of just your own soggy clothing.

9. You enjoy a laid back movie night now and again, but instead of that creepy horror movie that allowed you to hide your face in the shoulder of the cute guy next to you, you’re watching a Disney movie with a scary bear in it while small people hide their faces in your shoulder.

10. You have high and lofty dreams of the future, but this time those dreams don’t center around you, but rather around those small people that you helped create….and you dream of a vacation where you’re allowed to do nothing but sleep.


So basically 35 is exactly like 21, only it’s better. Because I sure wouldn’t trade a single thing about where I am or who I’m with. 


At 21, life was all about me – my future, my goals, my dreams, my accomplishments. Today I sat on the most uncomfortable chairs known to mankind in a room full of other thirty-five(ish) year olds and I watched my third grader walk up on stage to receive a school accomplishment award and I thought, “Huh. So this is what thirty-five year olds do.”

Afterward I walked out the the courtyard and he ran to me, throwing his long, lanky arms over my shoulders and leaning his head on my shoulder. I kissed the top of his head (because it won’t be long before I won’t be able to reach the top of his head anymore) and I decided 35 is kind of awesome. It’s awesome because of them:


The 21 year old me would have been shocked at this picture.

Heck, the 35 year old me still does a double take when I look at them.

I am blessed.

Thanks for all the birthday wishes everyone! It’s proving to be a good one.

(And if you can think of other ways that 35 is just like 21, share them in the comments. I dare you…)

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? 

Cinco de I’m Tired…

I distinctly remember leaving the hospital with Sloan and as the nurse wheeled me out, she patted me gently on the shoulder and said, “Good luck, honey and enjoy it. Motherhood is a thrill, but exhausting. You won’t sleep well again for the next 20 years.”

She then packed me into the car and waved with a bright smile as Lee and I pulled out of the parking lot, our eyes saucer-wide. I looked back at the sleeping baby in the back seat and thought, “Whatever. All those books I read said he should be on a sleep schedule within 8 weeks. Two months and we’ll be sleeping all night again.”

No, it’s fine. You can laugh. Go ahead, I’ll wait…

I have been at this motherhood thing for almost a decade now and I can say with certainty I haven’t gone a single month in the last 118 months where I have been permitted to sleep well every night. People…I am exhausted. E-X-HAUSTED!

I mean, it’s awesome. Don’t get me wrong. If we’re being honest, you should know that I was never a great sleeper to begin with. There are stories that my parents like to tell of me not sleeping at all when I was a baby. Oddly enough, they tell these stories with a tiny bit of glee whenever I mention the kids keeping me up all night….

Between bed wetting, nightmares, random fevers, falling out of bed, the dog barking at phantom shadows, the power tripping which sets off the alarm (C’MON!!!!) and down the list it goes, I am exhausted. Right now, I don’t want a month of uninterrupted sleep – I just want one week. Just a week!

Heck – I’d settle for a Saturday morning where I got to sleep until 8:00.

Or…you know what? I’ll just take another cup of coffee. It’s the best I can do for, well at least for the next 15 years, right?

While I sip my Cup ‘O Joe, you can enjoy these pictures. They make the sleepless nights totally mostly worth it. (You’ll notice Landon is missing from all these shots. He is the one with the fever who woke me up at 4:30. Tia is the one who fell out of bed. I’m going to need two more cups of coffee.)


Playing Hooky

Image taken by Avodah

Today, this girl and I are blowing off school and heading to Busch Gardens. We could have done this after school, or on Saturday, but there’s something about skipping school to have a fun day with Mom that’s extra special.

Sometimes playing hooky is the right thing to do.

Sometimes they need you all to themselves.

Sometimes they need to know that time spent alone with Mom is fleeting and special and a little bit exciting.

Sometimes they just need to see that building a memory is more important than reviewing spelling words.

Sometimes playing hooky is right because I want them all to know that family is fun and life is an adventure and it’s okay to get away now and again for no other reason than just to have a good laugh. I also want them to know that this is not something that we do all the time and it’s only to be done with Mom and Dad’s blessing and involvement.

Sometimes you just need a break. Today I get my break with her and her alone and we are both giddy with excitement.

What are you up to today?

Catching water in your hands


“Now you will have noticed that nothing throws [man] into a passion so easily as to find a tract of time which he reckoned on having at his own disposal unexpectedly taken from him…[This] angers him because he regards his time as his own and feels that it is being stolen. You must therefore zealously guard in his mind the curious assumption ‘My time is my own.’ Let him have the feeling that he starts each day as the lawful possessor of twenty-four hours.” C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

This curious assumption of time is a topic that is not unfamiliar to anyone, least of all the mother of three young children. Time is a curious mystery, fleeting and entirely elusive, yet ever constant and unchanging. Each day allots the same amount of time in which to operate, but it often feels as though time slips right through our fingers like a gush of water.

Lee first read this passage to me late one evening. We were laying in bed and I was trying to do something wildly important like read Facebook statuses and catch up on blogs. My husband, on the other hand, was trying to improve his mind by reading an actual book.

(You remember books, don’t you? They’re made of paper and bound together so that you have to physically turn each page in order to find out what happens next. Fascinating contraptions…)

As he read, he would put his arm on mine and go, “Ooohhh…listen to this.” It was cute the first time, endearing the second time, annoying the third time and so on. He was interrupting my quiet time – my time at the end of the day when I can turn my brain off and waste time without guilt. Could he not see the reverence and near holiness of my solitude?

It was at this point he read me the above passage that made me stop and think. Do I regard myself the lawful possessor of twenty-four hours? I believe that I do!


How has this attitude affected my life and the lives of the people around me?


I will confess that there are few things that irk me more than my kids waltzing in and interrupting me when I am alone. I feel immediately violated and ridiculously offended at their assumption that they can just come in and make demands of me when I am clearly having a moment to myself.

How dare you want food, water, love, attention?!

Shame on me.

“You (the demon, Wormwood, who is tasked with tempting this particular man) have here a delicate task. The assumption which you want him to go on making is so absurd that, if once it is questioned, even we cannot find a shred of argument in its defense. The man can neither make, nor retain, one moment of time; it all comes to him by pure gift; he might as well regard the sun and moon as his chattels.” C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

Time is a gift. Every moment of every day is purely a gift. None of it is mine and I have no right to claim possession of a single moment. What I do in each moment is a reflection of how grateful I am for this ever changing, moving and fleeting gift.

Does this mean I shouldn’t guard some time to be alone? Absolutely not. A healthy mother knows to teach her children the importance of granting her time alone. Time spent away from children strengthens every parent and should be taken regularly.

Time together with my husband is not to be interrupted and I guard it as jealously as I can because this is a healthy use of my time. This is using the gift I’ve been given wisely.

But when the time does get interrupted, what is my reaction? Many times, I confess it is not a holy reaction. As C.S. Lewis wrote so beautifully in this same letter from the demon Screwtape, “The more claims on life, therefore, that your patient [man] can be induced to make, the more often he will feel injured and, as a result, ill-tempered.”

So what is my reaction? Well, more times than not, it is ill-tempered and that makes me sad, because such an attitude toward life is, I believe, what makes life often feel so fleeting.

If I recognize time as a gift and do not hold firm the belief that I am the lawful possessor of my moments, I can react graciously when time is interrupted – when random hugs need to be given while I’m working on a blog post, or the phone rings when I’m working on my book – when a neighbor knocks on the door while we’re eating dinner, or my husband wants to read to me while I’m trying to shut down for the evening.

What’s more, when I regard time as a gift, I will be able to use my time to bless others. When I’m less focused on time being my own then I can help those who need my help and do so in a way that makes them feel important and not so much like they were an interruption.

If I embrace each moment as a gift, I am more likely to live for the moment, to love in the moment, to bless in the moment and maybe every once in a while, I could catch a moment in my hand and hold it for a lifetime.

Easter Present and Past

Because you can always use one more dose of cute. And because it’s my blog and I’m feeling sentimental and my babies are growing up and oh dear…

I’m crying again.

I do that a lot these days. It’s like my life has turned into one giant Hallmark commercial. You died those Easter eggs on your own? sob! You can read this whole book by yourself? sob! You want a little sister? sob! You don’t need my help getting dressed?

Well…that’s kind of nice, I have to admit.

Oy vey. I’m a wreck. Ignore me while you look at these photos.

Easter 2009

Easter 2010 - Landon...I just can't stand it.

Easter 2011 - Again with all the Landon....


Easter 2012

Easter 2013

I'm sorry, but when did this kid grow up?!?!

And then there's this one. Handsome little devil...


How was your Easter, friends? Do you have the same problem I do – the problem of children who seem to be growing way too fast?

It’s a problem without a solution, unfortunately.


Bearing with one another

There is a lot of talk these days about social media, technology and the effect that it will have on our children. They are the first generation to grow up under a microscope and with the world at their fingertips, it’s a legimite dialogue. How do we keep our children engaged in real life? How do we teach them to utilize technology to their favor and not to their disadvantage?

How do we show them that the world is real and yet still give them all the tools of expansion that technology provides?

It’s a constant battle and our children will have to learn to navigate life in a way that most of us who grew up without the internet, blogging and smart phones never even had to consider. But I think there’s something that we’ve missed and there is a dialogue that has been brought up less frequently that needs to be considered.

We are the first generation of mothers who are letting our lives play out online. 


This is an entirely new world for us, just as it is for our children and we are navigating motherhood under a microscope in ways that no generation before has ever done. Yes, it is mostly by our choice, but even those who abstain from documenting the day to day are affected by this world of online motherhood.

We’re all learning how to walk this journey together, but I wonder what kind of example we’re setting for the young mothers coming up behind us, not to mention for our own daughters who are watching and learning. This thought alone has given me a lot of pause in recent months. It’s why I’ve blogged less and held my cards a little closer to my chest.

I’ve been trying to figure out how to blend this technology with motherhood in a way that is healthy not only for me, but for those who are watching and learning. I didn’t have an example of how to do this – I am the example.

As mothers, and women, our natural instinct seems to always gravitate toward judgement – judgement of ourselves and of those who do things differently. This tendency is not new to our generation, of course. This ability to judge others, both negatively and positively, is part of the make-up of womanhood. Blame it on estrogen, I guess, but we are prone to gossip and judgement and that is a fact that cannot be denied.

Before us, these tendencies were confined to the playground or water coolers or the sideliens of the soccer games – whereever mothers congregated in packs, there was always the opportunity to share a tidbit, to vent a frustration, to share insecurities. Mothers lived out their offenses on a much smaller scale.

But now, these grievances are aired in such a public way that it leaves me concerned. I worry about what the young ones behind us are seeing and I wonder how my contribution to the noise might be affecting their perception of others and of the world around them.

The problem is, we are all different and different things will rub us all the wrong way. It must be very confusing for first time moms to figure out what should upset them and what shouldn’t. This viral post tells them to get their eyes off the iPhone, while that one tells them it’s okay. This Facebook post tells them to be upset when someone urges them to enjoy every moment with their kids because it goes by fast, but that Facebook post tells them it’s true! It does go by fast! You should enjoy the little moments.

This post says be upset if someone asks you if you are going to try for a boy/girl, if you are going to breastfeed, if you are going to homeschool or public school or private school and on and on the list could go. Every post written has a different one that contradicts it. The older generation must now walk on pins and needles lest they upset us young moms with our fast fingers, constantly ready to tell the world how offended we are.

It’s noisy, isn’t it? And I’ve contributed to the noise in my own way. But more and more I’m learning to just accept people for who they are. I’ve found that 99.9% of the time, people don’t mean to be offensive so I’m working on giving the benefit of the doubt and moving on knowing that my way won’t be the same as her way and that is okay! 

Can I, perhaps, offer a bit of encouragement to us all? Let us not be so easily offended. Let us not feel the need to publicly correct every stranger who says something that rubs us the wrong way. Let us try harder to give one another the benefit of the doubt.

What if we spent less time getting offended by others and more time simply loving one another? How would that look online? If a woman at the grocery store comments on our number of children, or asks if we “know what causes that” *wink, wink* what if we just smiled, thanked her for her interest in our family and moved on…without sharing it online? What if we bore with one another patiently, knowing that sometimes people say things that bother us not to be offensive, but simply because we are all different and are affected by different things?

I don’t know how good I am at this business of bearing with one another, but I’m learning. Even writing this post, I wonder if I’m helping the problem or perpetuating it. But my heart is to encourage myself, and all of us, to think before we type.

Because we’re being watched and we are the first to walk on this particular path of motherhood. Let’s show the generations to come how to do it well. 

To Mother – with love

“At the very least, they (man) can be persuaded that the bodily position makes no difference to their prayers; for they constantly forget, what you must always remember, that they are animals and that whatever their bodies do affects their souls. It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things in their minds: in reality our best work is done by keeping things out.” C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters, Letter #4


Two weeks ago, I pulled out the final box. Nearly eighteen months in our home and this one box sat in the office closet, taunting me with the unpacked contents. I lifted each item from inside the brown cardboard and carefully decided whether to keep or purge. As I pulled out the final photo album, I looked down to see a single, red book.

It was thin and hard bound, the binding worn just slightly. As I picked it up, I inhaled deep the smell of history. I don’t ever remember seeing this book and as I turned to see what treasure I had just uncovered, I drew in a sharp breath.

The Screwtape Letters. C. S. Lewis.

I sat down in my plush yellow chair and slowly opened the book. It smelled musty and worn. The pages were crisp and yellowed. Opening the cover, I noticed the inscription:

To Mother,

On this Mother’s Day – with love




Purchased and gifted with love in 1946 by a man who wanted to give his mother something special on Mother’s Day. I ran my fingers over each page and wondered what stories this book held. Bought at the end of the World War II, a subject and piece of history that consumes most of my days right now as I finish my novel, this particular copy has a story.

A story for Mother.


Read the rest at Kelli

Not for the faint of heart

Photo by Jenni at Avodah

I walked in the door after a beautiful weekend away and kissed their sweet, sweaty faces. They’d been outside running, playing, relishing in all that is childhood. They looked like children who were having a grand old time.

In short, they were filthy. So I suggested a shower. Crazy, right? I know!!

Here’s the thing – generally we do not make our children shower every night. It’s a pain, they don’t like it and I can handle a little bit of dirt and slightly crusty hair for a few days in a row. However, when they play outside for hours without shoes on (yes, I am raising those kids) I generally think it entirely reasonable to have them jump under the running water long enough to bring their feet back to a normal peachy color and less…blackened by mud.

But I was unaware of the fact that showers were taken the night before and the night before that and oh you’d think I’d come home with a whip in hand and walked through the door cracking it. There was weeping, gnashing of teeth, glares that could easily turn one into a pillar of salt. The horror of suggesting a shower for a third night in a row.


Welcome to parenthood, right? You attend a conference established to encourage and refresh you in the journey, you come home armed with loved and gratefulness for the small ones lent to you for this lifetime and you prepare yourself for a sweet reunion complete with kisses, snuggles and giggles. It will be a beautiful time as they gather around you, sitting quietly with hands folded sweetly in their laps, their hair clean and slicked to the side.

“Tell us about your weekend, Mother,” they will say, all sugary and precious. “Tell us more about how truly wonderful you are going to be from here on out. Tell us how magical life will be now that you have been blessed with so much knowledge and wisdom.”

(Side note: You should read the above dialogue in a British accent because it sounds a lot cooler and gives a better dramatic punch. Just give a try…)

(See what I mean?)

You imagine that surely your job will be easier now, because you’ve just learned how to be a better mom. You’ve just learned how to love them more graciously. You have new tools in your arsenal to build them up and point them toward their full potential.

Unfortunately, the kids don’t get the memo about all of that. They go on acting like…kids. They haven’t become the perfect little robots that will make your job a walk in the proverbial park. It’s like a cruel, cruel joke.

Does this happen to anyone else? Is it just me? I hope not, because within fifteen minutes of being with my children last night I was already completely fed up.  It was all I had in me not to point my finger, grit my teeth and mutter, “Look, kid. I just learned how to be the best mom I can be and you’re in here making it difficult. Be nice so I can be AWESOME.”

I didn’t say that, of course.

Out loud.

We finally got them in bed (with only two actually showered and one with clean feet after we comprimised and wiped them down with a wet rag) and I collapsed on the couch and looked wide-eyed at Lee, my eyes conveying every emotion and frustration I felt. I’m home fifteen minutes and I already want to cuss? Hellooooo real life! Thanks for smacking me in the face.

Lee smiled, winked and patted me softly on the shoulder. “Welcome home,” he said with a grin and I could hear the chuckle in his voice.

Parenting. Not for the faint of heart. At all.

At. Freaking. All.

Can I get an amen?!