Lie to Me

I never count it a good sign when I’ve hardly started my day and am already counting the hours until I can go back to bed. Nonetheless, I have found myself in that state this morning, thanks to a voodoo TV that turned on in the middle of the night, a naked, little girl who appeared at my bedside an hour later, and a pathetic boy with a tummy ache who tossed and turned next to me–rather in between his two sisters–while I was clinging to the side of the bed with one hand while trying to rub his tummy with the other.

I couldn’t help but notice that Matt is actually here; typically, this kind of nonsense only happens when he is out-of-town. The first night he was gone on his last trip, my youngest screamed in my bed with an earache until 2:30 a.m. when the liquor, I mean Tylenol, finally kicked in.

I have a suspicion, however, that my children are giving me a taste of what’s to come. Last night, Matt came home from work with the news that he needed to travel quite a bit next month. I’m sure my nervous anticipation of that fact already sent the cosmos in disarray, explaining why my one child took off all her clothes in the middle of the night. And since I know there’s more to come, I want to prepare Matt with a little list I made the last time he was gone.

Now, typically, I hold to the idiom that ‘honesty is the best policy,’ but there are certain circumstances that necessitate a lie. Allow me to elaborate:

If one’s business trip is to a state where people are swimming in February, it is okay to lie to the wife who is at home with the kids.

Matt, if you are in Florida, and the sun is shining, and the warm breeze is running through your hair, please just tell me it’s raining. It rained every stinkin’ day.

If part of one’s day on the above mentioned trip ends with dinner on a boat in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico, develop temporary amnesia.

Seriously, dude, for the good of our marriage, do not tell me that you have to go because it’s time to board the boat for your dinner cruise. In fact, if you choose to mention anything about you and the boat, it better only be the details that after you boarded a terrible storm arose. The boat swayed back and forth, and the crew began to panic. “We’re not going to make it!” they screamed, to which you responded, “Yes, you will! Throw me overboard! I’m the reason we’re going to sink!” The crew didn’t want to throw you overboard, a polite, southern gentleman enjoying a nice dinner on the Gulf, but the waves began to rise, and they became convinced that, yes, you were the reason for this storm. They threw you over, and immediately you were swallowed by a great fish. You repented of leaving your wife, were spit up on dry ground, and headed back to Georgia.

Do not call your wife and say, “Hold on a minute; let me step out onto my balcony.”

Seriously? At this point all I’m picturing is my throwing you off of the balcony!

Even if it is true, do not tell your wife, “I really wish you were here with me.”

This statement may sound sweet; it may be 100% sincere. However, now you’ve caused me to lie, or at least deceive you. Yes, I responded, “I wish I were there, too,” but I left off the rest of the sentence. I wish I were there while you were back here with the kids! I wish you were here for four days straight, no dropping the kids off at the grandparents, and no ordering fast food. Just you. And the kids. Four nights.

I’m on a boat sipping a pina colada. Have fun with these crazies!

What lies are you okay hearing?



Nothing Like Me

Anyone who knows my children knows that they are independent little creatures. I don’t mind bragging that at age two, all my children were making their own beds and getting themselves dressed in the morning. No, I don’t mind bragging because their independence also causes them to scale the pantry for cereal and pour milk all over the floor. I hold on to those bright moments of initiative because heavens know how long until their initiative causes another hair on my head to turn gray or another dollar to go towards a Magic Eraser.

For Valentine’s Day this week, I had the chance to beam again. Caleb was tasked with making a box to hold all his Valentine’s, and I secretly cringed thinking about how difficult this craft would be for me. I don’t do arts and crafts, and I’m not very good at wrapping presents. Wrapping a shoebox in a creative manner and using scissors to cut a hole for the valentines left too many possibilities for disaster.

I had wrongly assumed, of course, that Caleb would be the designer while I would have to help execute his design. Instead, Caleb wanted nothing to do with me, not even the creative juices flowing through my mind. He sat down and told me what he needed–red, pink, and white paper. He decided on his own to tear the paper and glue it in a collage-like fashion, and he masterfully created a box that didn’t look like his mother helped him at all, which I didn’t.

No, if I helped him, the box would’ve looked more like the one I helped make with Chloe. Notice the hearts of all different sizes? Yes, those would be my ingenious creations.

Who am I kidding? I didn’t teach my children independence. They learned it as a survival mechanism.

As I looked over our boxes, I couldn’t help but think about how different we are. I was reminded again when I picked up the kids from school, their boxes filled with valentines and sugar. I knew better than to try to restrain them, even though they just had treats at school. I told each kid to take out a piece of candy and enjoy. They could have one piece every day. By the time the kids changed into their play clothes, Caleb was crying because the girls ate all of his candy.

Their little boxes reminded me  of the one I made in third grade. The only reason I remember this box is that my mom brings something from the basement that she wants out of her house whenever I visit. This last supply of ‘unwanteds’ contained cards and mementos from high school and this worn box from third grade.

I reached inside the box and read the valentines scribed in the pen of eight year olds. I tried to remember the faces of each child who signed a card, and, surprisingly, I could remember most. I then had a bigger surprise when I reached in the box and pulled out a large blue lollipop…and another…and another. My daughter reached out, wide-eyed, toward the treasure I just uncovered from the hidden chest.

“Hannah Grace, no! That candy is 25 years old!”

That day driving down the road while my kids’ hands turned sticky, I thought about my box. That day when Caleb came to me with tears in his eyes, his box near empty, I pictured my own uncovered treasures. I waited 25 years to eat my candy. My children couldn’t wait 25 minutes.

In what ways are your children nothing like you?



As we drove back from the hair salon, my neighbor Joann thanked me again for driving her.

“You’re very calm, and I like that. Some people aren’t when they drive.”

I smiled a little because ‘calm’ and ‘patient’ are words that many have used to describe me, but, in the last three years, they are words that to me seem the furthest away. I’ve wanted to reclaim them so that my kids would see what others have seen. I’ve gotten a little help along the way, but I’ve also learned a new trick.

I study them, and I savor their uniqueness. Last night, I watched as Chloe ate her ice cream cone. She took a napkin and delicately wrapped it around the cone to keep the melted mess from running down her hands. And I watched her little tongue. She stuck out that little tongue just over the top of the napkin that came up a little too high, and she found the soft cream below. Oh, how she enjoyed that ice cream!

Watching that sweet face, my heart couldn’t help but turn tender. So I watch my children now, and I send up a note of thanks for every ‘Punky Brewster’ style outfit, every nonchalant attitude toward another 100% on a spelling test, and every silly expression that comes out of her mouth. And this heart turns to mush every time I do.

Linking up with the Gypsy Mama for her Five Minute Friday where we write what comes to our minds whether or not it’s exactly right. We spend five minutes getting down those thoughts and don’t change once they’re here. Click below to play along. What makes your heart tender?


‘Mommy, Look! I’m a Zebra!’


One week into January, and I had already thrown my resolution out the window. In fairness to myself, I actually set three goals for the new year, and I was still on track with two. The third resolution I made in the minivan as church was starting, and we were still two minutes away. Clearly, I didn’t give this vow enough thought. Nonetheless, I resolved to never arrive late to church again.

The next Saturday evening, I walked into church five minutes after the service started. Now at this point, I know some of you are already tense at the thought of my lateness. What is wrong with some people? Why can’t they just get ready earlier and not be late? I’ve asked myself the same questions many times.

In fact, we started attending the Saturday evening service because there was a better chance of us getting to church without my having to plead with God for forgiveness for all the yelling and screaming that happened as I tried to get my kids ready. After all, the kiddos would already be up, dressed, and not needing to be fed before I prodded them out the door.

But I was wrong. The longer small children are awake, the more time they have to get into trouble.

Today, I’m writing over at the Dacula Patch, our local on-line newspaper. I’d love if you’d join me over there. And if you like what you’ve read, please let me know by recommending this story on Facebook or sharing on Twitter!






One Last Cone

The shop was every kids’ dream and my nightmare–shelves lined the store filled with high fructose corn syrup and red #40, jelly beans of every variety and gummy worms covered in sugar crystals. Children could grab the scoop and fill their bags with the colors of the rainbow, sweet enough to bring instant smiles to their faces and impressive temper tantrums when the high wore off an hour later. The front glass case revealed slices of red velvet cake big enough for three people, and they displayed how beautiful chocolate covered pretzels could really look.

But our interests were around the side of that case. Ice cream containers full of traditional flavors and creative mixes filled the tubs while cones dipped in chocolate and sprinkles above our heads enticed my children. The challenge was deciding what flavor to choose while ensuring the kids didn’t steal a piece of candy during the process.

This shop was where we came for ice cream. We came in the summer for a cool dessert, rocked in the yellow chairs outside the store while licking the ice cream melting down our wrists. If Grammy was around, we’d visit after dinner at the pizza restaurant down the strip, her treat to her spoiled grandkids. We were known to make an appearance after T-ball games, celebrating a win one season, and consoling many losses the next. And I had even passed through the drive-thru once, bringing smiles to my home. No matter the time of year, we visited, and we were always satisfied.

This past weekend, we visited for the last time. I pulled open the door with the sign that read “EVERYTHING HALF OFF, CASH ONLY” and looked around at the store. The shelves with the novelty candies were sparsly filled, and the display case that once housed huge cakes was empty. And as we made our way around to the tubs of ice cream, our choices were limited. Vanilla, coffee, and peanut butter-chocolate chip filled our cones and cups.

I looked at our kids’ smiling faces, but the sadness in the air was palpable. I listened as the customer before us offered an “I’m sorry you’re closing. We’re going to miss you,” and I almost felt guilty as I ate my reduced-price ice cream, thinking that I really should pay double.

I don’t know why they were closing their doors that night, but, in this economy, I can only imagine. And that night, as I looked at Matt and my kids sitting around that booth, I was surprised at how affected I was by this loss. Perhaps the empty shelves got me. Maybe it was sympathy for the owners who obviously put much care and effort into their store and now were watching their dream come to an end. Or maybe it was the memories…

…memories of threatening to throw away their ice cream if they ever snuck a piece of candy again, memories of messes so big that only a bath could help, memories of being together….

It was probably all of the above. One thing’s for sure, though; that store that I thought was my nightmare…I’m really going to miss.


I’m participating in the Gypsy Mama’s Five Minute Friday, where we write freely for five minutes, not editing our thoughts, but, instead, seeing where they take us.


I remember when I was pregnant, I thought there was nothing more amazing and miraculous than the development of a baby. I’d watch every pregnancy show, and I loved the scientific ones showing the growth from embryo to fetus to a newborn baby being held for the first time by his mama.

I wanted to do everything right. I read every handout my doctor gave me, every article from the online magazines, attended every birthing class and paid attention as if I were earning a grade. I wanted my baby to develop correctly in the womb, and I wanted to ensure I gave him the best start as he entered the world.

And then when that little bundle of joy entered the world, I read every parenting article, memorized the milestones for each age, knew how much he weighed at three months and then six and then nine…

…but as my baby boy grew into a little boy, and as we added a girl and then another–very quickly, I might add–I started to notice something else miraculous. These little people were growing, and while I have helped guide them and protect them and nurture them, I also have to admit that a lot of their growing has nothing to do with me. And it’s amazing.

It’s amazing to watch my daughter combine colors on a piece of paper in the most imaginative* and beautiful ways. It’s amazing to watch my son create a letter for his teacher and sound out words on his own, without enlisting my help, and it’s amazing to watch my two-year-old girl categorize her Memory cards just because she wanted to.

Their growth is beautiful, and it is their own. But even more amazing is my growth because, while I thought I would be their teacher and guide their way, I’ve realized that I’ve had my own learning to do, as well. I thank them, for I’m the one who needed to do some growing.


*marks where I actually was at five minutes. I took an extra minute to finish, and I reworded my final sentence because it sounded awful. I’m really not trying to be a cheater….


He Danced

He danced wildly, with abandon, befitting of the red hair atop his head. Jumping and turning, landing in karate-like stances, he moved to the music. His mother stood in the back row with her infant asleep in the carrier, but he danced. Whenever a person walked up the aisle, she would gently touch his shoulder, and he would reign in his movements to allow the individual to pass. But when the aisle was once again clear, he reveled in the music.

I watched as he stood still for a moment and lifted his arms to the sky. I was not singing the words on the screen at that moment, and I wasn’t as focused on my own worship as usual. But as I watched him dance, my affections turned to the sleepy one in my lap who, with arm around my neck, stared in wonderment at this little boy. I smiled.

I could feel the Lord smiling, too, as He watched the little children come to Him.

Linking up with Michelle to share how a little boy taught me how to approach God like a child. How has a child taught you about God?

A Mother’s Perspective on Her Children Starting School

For almost five years I’ve always had a child awake and by my side during my waking, and sometimes sleeping, hours (thanks to the fact that two of those little boogers stopped napping at age two). But today things change. Today, my two sweet, little girls venture off into the magical place known as ‘preschool.’

For the last three weeks while their brother was at kindergarten, the three of us shared fun times at the library reading stories or at the playground running around. I enjoyed that special time with my girls. But today starts a new rhythm. For two days every week, all of my children will be out of the house for four hours. I’m sure the sound of silence will feel a little strange, and I know moments of sadness will find themselves in the pit of my stomach, but let’s get real. There was only one word that shot into my mind when I saw those three cuties dressed for school:




Children, I love you so much, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I’m totally excited. Any other parents out there know what I mean?

Dead Fish and Nursing Gowns: A Short Story


Image courtesy of

“Sometimes it’s just hard to let go.”

I wish I had had something more comforting to say, but these words were all I could figure. I pulled Luke down to the floor on my lap as I stroked his thick, brown hair.

“But I don’t want to say goodbye, Mommy.”

“I know, baby; I know.”

“Will Sam go to heaven? Does God let fish in heaven?” He struggled to push the words out without falling into a mess of tears.

“Oh, I’d like to think so. God created fish, so I’m sure there’ll be fish there. And God knows how much you love Sam, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s up there swimming around waiting to see you again one day.”

I hugged him tighter; Luke was so sensitive. I had to get that belly-up fish out of his room.

“It’s okay to be sad, Buddy. It’s okay to cry. You loved Sam.”

And with my permission, the tears rolled down his hot, red cheeks.

“Look, I need to take Sam out of your room now.”

Geez. How was I going to do this? I had never dealt with a dead pet before. Flushing the fish down the toilet in front of a sobbing boy seemed as cruel as those funerals where they lowered the casket in front of the family.

“What are you going to do with him?” Luke asked. Except, I didn’t know. ‘Deal with the dead fish’ wasn’t on my original ‘to-do’ list.

“Well…I can’t leave him in this fishbowl like this. You don’t want to look at Sam like this…”

“Please don’t take him out of my room! Let him stay here!”

“Babe, we can’t keep a dead fish in–“

“Can I have a funeral for him?” Luke interrupted.

“Umm, I guess we can…if that’ll make you feel better.”  If giving a funeral for a dead fish would allow me to take the fish out of Luke’s room, I was all for it.

“Let me just get a box for him, sweetie. Why don’t you go pick some flowers in the backyard that we could use for the service?”

As Luke headed down the stairs, I hurried to my bathroom to bury Sam at sea. And once I bid him a final farewell, I dug through shoes and clothes in the bottom of my closet looking for a proper box with which to hold his ‘remains.’

So we spent the afternoon digging up dirt and picking dandelions from the backyard in order to give Sam a proper burial underneath the big pear tree in our yard. Luke said a few words, and I said a few words, and as the warm sun made its way into our eyes, I was suddenly very thankful that Sam chose to die during Elizabeth’s nap. Yes, he was a good fish.

The rest of the day was typical–dinner and play and baths and stories–but by the time Luke lay his head on his pillow, convinced that Sam would be in heaven, and I kissed the curls on Elizabeth’s sleeping head, I was ready for bed myself. I contemplated hitting the sack early, calling it a night, but then I remembered the bag of clothes I agreed to leave on my porch for the clothing pick-up in the morning. The bag that I had not yet gotten together.

I was rummaging through my drawers when I heard Brian coming up the stairs.

“Hi,” he said as he kissed my head. “What’cha doing?”

“Oh, the clothing pick-up’s tomorrow, and I’m sure I have plenty to give away in these drawers.” I motioned to the crowded t-shirts scrunched forming little mounds in their space. “The meatloaf’s warming in the oven, if you want to make our plates. Give me ten minutes, and I’ll come down.”

“All right. What do you want to drink?”

“I’ll just have some water,” I said with a small smile and then turned back to the drawers in front of me.

Cleaning out the drawers was faster work than I thought. As I grabbed t-shirt after t-shirt, I added more and more to the pile. There’s was no reason for me to have so many. I looked at the clock. It was five until eight. I could finish these drawers, eat dinner with Brian, and then call it a night. There would be enough in the bag for the pick-up tomorrow to be worth their while, and I could get the rest I so desperately wanted. Who knew the death of a fish could be so draining?

I started on my pajama drawer, wondering why I had so many since I always slept in t-shirts, then contemplating if I should hold on to them as I looked at the massive t-shirt pile. I decided against keeping most of the pajamas, throwing more clothes on the growing mound. I grabbed a nightgown that I had forgotten I had, a nursing gown that I last used two years ago.

I started to throw the gown on the pile, but then I stopped. I looked at it in my hands–the white gown that I wore in the hospital after both children were born, the gown that I wore in bed many nights during their first year of life to make three a.m. feedings a little easier–and I held it to my nose. I don’t know what I was expecting, perhaps the scent of a newborn, but I rubbed my cheek with the gown and held it there. And then I pulled it away, gave it one last look, and threw it on top of the pile.

I grabbed a few more items of clothing and tossed them on the pile. I opened the black trash bag beside me and stuffed everything in. Then I pushed my drawer closed, got up off my knees which cracked a little when I stood, and I headed down the stairs to join Brian for dinner. We talked about the day, the fish funeral, meetings with employees at work, the upcoming fall conference at school, and then we rinsed our dishes before closing them in the dishwasher to do the dirty work.

And then I drug myself back to my room and got ready for bed.

That night I closed my eyes as I nuzzled my cheek against my pillow and took a deep breath. Thoughts of ‘Sam’ beneath our tree and the kids dreaming in their beds filled my mind. Finally, sleep could come. But as sleep came over me, so did a picture of me in my nursing gown. I gently opened my eyes only to let them close again before drifting to sleep.

The next morning, though, I got up and headed straight to the full bag of clothes. I dug through the top layer until I saw the white cotton gown beneath some yellow pajamas. I grabbed the gown and threw it back in my drawer without giving it another look before heading to the bathroom.

Sometimes it’s just hard to let go.

Last Thursday, I was inspired by one of Mama Kat’s writing prompts to write a post beginning and ending with the same sentence. However, I stayed up until two a.m. Thursday morning finishing a photo book. Hey–cut me some slack! I had a coupon for 50% off that expired at 12 a.m. PST. Anyway, waking up early to write didn’t happen, so here is my short story a week and a day late.




Thinking Good

I cringed as I watched the dad before me.

His son was up to bat, and his hands gripped the fence tightly in front of him. We had already observed his antics the previous time Micah* came to the plate, his yelling and the look of disgust over his face when his son propelled his entire body toward the ball, bat still, instead of just swinging.

You know the type. The dad who feels his son’s performance is a reflection of himself, even if we all are only watching a T-ball game full of five-year-olds.

So when this dad moved forward to watch Micah attempt to hit the ball, I cringed in anticipation of how he might react.

I wasn’t disappointed.

Micah surprisingly hit the ball off the tee, and we cheered in excitement. After all, the team rallied, and we were only a couple of runs behind. We could actually tie this game up.

But this little boy didn’t seem to understand the weight of his hit. No, instead of running to base, Micah decided to swing his arms around like he was a helicopter, bob his head from side to side, and kick up his legs slowly as he lolligagged over to base.

Everyone in the stands was laughing. Everyone, that is, except for Micah’s dad. The dad yelled through the fence, “RUN, MICAH! RUN!” And then he turned away in frustration when his son was thrown out by a mile (which rarely happens in T-ball).

I wished the dad could lighten up. I wished he could realize these kids are little; who cares if they don’t take the game seriously? Nobody thought he had failed as a father because his son stunk at T-ball. There would be plenty of time for truly competitive sports later.

I’m not sure if this father had any realizations that day, but I surprised myself with my own a few hours later in the car. I shared it that night as Matt and I met in the bathroom getting ready for bed.

“You know,” I said, “I really didn’t  like how Micah’s dad yelled at him during the game. I’m sure he made Micah nervous.”

“Oh, I didn’t notice.”

“Really? I thought he was pretty obnoxious. I’m surprised you didn’t hear him.”

Matt had served as the on-deck coach that game, so he was preoccupied. But now knowing that he hadn’t even noticed Micah’s dad made me doubt what I observed a little.

“Well, anyway, he really bothered me…but I have to admit…I kind of wanted to yell, too.”

Matt and I laughed, and at almost the same time, we both yelled out versions of “Just RUN, Micah!”

Because it’s true. My mind was thinking almost everything Micah’s dad’s mouth was saying. Perhaps knowing my own thoughts is the reason I had such disdain for him. And while I didn’t and still don’t agree with how this particular dad reacted, I felt like a hypocrite for having this disdain. After all, my thoughts weren’t any better; I just happened to keep them to myself.

During my drive in the car I thought about the different times in my life when I had acted the right way but not thought the right way. The times when I didn’t gossip but hid judgmental thoughts in my heart. The times when I didn’t complain at work but criticized my boss over and over in my head. And the times when I cringed at parents who couldn’t relax knowing that I, too, would’ve felt a little embarrassed if my kid rounded the bases like a helicopter.

I know the right way to act, and, most times, I choose the right behavior. I just don’t always choose the right way to think.

After my drive in the car, I was reminded of the fact that I have been reminded of before: I have a long way to go. I don’t want just pure behavior; I want pure thoughts. When I laugh at little kids on the ball field acting like helicopters, I don’t want thoughts of “Geez, Louise, kid! Just run!” interfering. I don’t want critical thoughts filling up space in my mind (I need those spaces for memory!). I want to be good and think good, too.

So, please, Micah. Help me out. I have a long way to go as a person, and you have a long way to go as a ball player. Can we meet in the middle? How about a nice jog to first base next time? I promise I’ll only think good thoughts about you.

*The name of this little ball player has been changed to protect the innocent.

Can anyone relate to my problem, or am I just evil?