Finding Grace in my Purple Plastic Purse

Do you know the story about Lily and Mr. Slinger? Lily is a little mouse who gets into big trouble when she disrupts circle time because she simply can't wait to show off her new purple plastic purse. Her teacher Mr. Slinger, who had been Lily's hero up until this moment, takes away her purple plastic purse with her two jingly quarters, informing Lily she can claim them at the end of class. Lily is furious with Mr. Slinger and draws a mean and ugly picture to tell him so. But her anger turns to remorse when at the end of the day, he returns her purple plastic purse and her two jingly quarters along with a special cheesy snack and a note.

Today was a difficult day. Tomorrow will be better.

You're going to think I'm crazy, but sometimes I hear God speak like Mr. Slinger, clear as day I hear him say, Today was a difficult day. Tomorrow will be better.

And of course it isn't because I brought a purple plastic purse to school and made a ruckus during circle time, like Lily did. I've never been one to break the rules or rouse the rabble. No, I'm more like the self-righteous mouse that judges the people of Walmart, like surely God must love me more since I don't scream at my children (in public) or smoke a pack a day or categorize jalapeno poppers as a vegetable.

Or I'm like the self-centered mouse that thinks all the squeakin' day long about me, me, me and also me.

Or I'm the whiny mouse, the one who sweats the small stuff and stinks to high heaven of entitlement and ungratefulness.

Today was a difficult day. Tomorrow will be better.

When I hear that, I hear capital G Grace.
I hear no condemnation.
I hear hope.
I hear something so much better, and so much farther beyond me, me, me and also me.

The more I see my depravity for what it is, how significantly short I fall in the righteousness category, the more I see what's so amazing about God's grace.

When He speaks grace, it is enough to forget about the big mess I've made with my version of the purple plastic purse that plays a jaunty tune, enough to forget about me altogether.

Enough, enough, always enough.
I don't deserve the special cheesy snack or a note that forgives me before I even ask.
But He gives it to me anyway.

Today was a difficult day. Tomorrow will be better.

That's grace.

Shared with Emily of Chatting with the Sky in 31 Days of Grace.


On Pumpkins and Brotherly Love

They were sitting eating breakfast when the wailing began.

I didn't hear the conversation leading up to the hiccuping sobs, but I quickly learned the reason.

"I (sob) want (sniff) Caed to gooooo wid me (sob) to da pumpkin paaaatch!"

"Oh hon, what gave you the idea Caed was going? He has to go to school. The pumpkin patch field trip is just for you and the friends in your class." I looked over at Larry and asked him with my eyes and a shoulder shrug whether he could believe this.

Fists covering her eyes, mouth wide open, Dani continued to cry.

"She must have heard her teacher say that brothers and sisters were welcome to join them on the pumpkin patch excursion." I told Larry. "No further proof needed than this that she adores her brother."

Meanwhile, Caed's stopped nibbling on his English muffin, his lower lip beginning to curl. "This is starting to make me sad, too." He admitted. "I just wish I could go with Dani."

Dani's tears ceased eventually, and both kids bounced back as we talked up the activities they could do together.

On our way out the door fifteen minutes later, I overheard Dani talking to her beloved big brother. "Don't worry, Caed," she said. "Even 'dough you can't go to da pumpkin patch wid me, I will pick out a 'pecial pumpkin for you."


By the time we arrived at the pumpkin patch, Dani was all smiles. "C'mon guys!" She shouted to her friends. "Let's go!"

And off they went, into the maize, around the hay bails, through the tunnels. I was surprised to see how assertive she acted around her peers. Without Caed around to boss guide her, she seemed so much older, like a totally different child. It almost pained me to see how all signs of my baby have disappeared, how she's grown into such a big girl.

And of course, she didn't forget her promise to Caed.

We returned home with a 'pecial pumpkin. One she picked out just for him.


It's Always the Little Stuff

It's the smallest of small stuff that wears me down. Like when the do-over chores need doing-over before I'm even done. (This is particularly applicable in the leaf-clean-up department.)

And like worrying the dog might be sick--and scheduling an appointment with a new vet--and then being perfectly on time in leaving the house with the two kids and the dog--only to find the car won't start. Just a click, click, click like a tsk, tsk, tsk--scolded by my own car for forgetting I left the keys in and the auxillary running so Dani could finish listening to "I Know A Chicken" while I unloaded the groceries.

And then there are the mice that keep finding their way in, the brand new appliance that has to be fixed for our tenants, the husband getting home from work in the middle of the night, the not sleeping, the nightmares with kid one and the potty issues with kid two, the breathing issues with the dog. And all this little stuff teams up, puts grainy heads together to form sandpaper and wears, wears, wears that happy-go-lucky layer down.

And it's there, underneath, when the happy layer is gone. It is there my choosing begins. Will the scraping yield joy, natural and smooth, the kind that counts blessings and chooses gratitude?

Or will the sanding uncover the ugliest mold, the rot of whining, snapping, sniping, worrying?

Oh, it's the little stuff. It's always the little stuff.

If I am not consciously fighting the battle, then I have already lost it. If I am not choosing joy over and over, then I default always and again to ugliness and angst.

But sometimes, sometimes the small stuff saves me. Like when I'm in the middle of an ever-undone chore, and I catch a glimpse of a spontaneous game of tackle "football", when I turn off the motor and hear cackling coming from the pile of miniature arms and legs.
When I see the tights that will never again be white. When I pray my heart will never again be hard.

Oh, it's the little stuff. It's always the little stuff.


It's Probably Best I Leave This One Untitled

I dreamed last night that my husband was applying for a third residency. I have never been so relieved to wake up to the reality of three--not six--more years of training. It's all relative. In the dream nightmare, we were living in the Maine house, and talking about how nice it would be to match to Georgetown or George Washington, so we wouldn't have to move. My subconscious has never been that well-versed in geography.


In other dreamy news, we discovered that what Ohio desperately lacks in the Sushi department, it makes up for in Thai food. In our sleepy little suburb, it seems we have stumbled upon the best panang curry I've ever tasted. Crazy, right? (Also, it stands to reason that the Thai food is in part to blame for last night's nightmare.)


This morning the kids and I went to the fall carnival at Caed's school. I dutifully performed the roles of the Hold All The Dumb Prizes lady, as well as the Hold The Jackets lady, the Purchase And Divvy Up Tickets lady, and the Run Interference With Swifty The Clown lady. (Swifty had some mad balloon skilz, and while the kids weren't about to make eye contact with said clown, they sure as heck didn't want to miss out on balloon-fashioned butterfly wings and an air-filled bow and arrow.)

Caed brought home a whoopee cushion (one of the dumb prizes), and he and Dani had a whopping good time taking turns sitting on it. That is, until the quest began to get the dog to sit on it. At which time I confiscated the "toy", cited the children for cruelty to animals (and to mother's ears), and declared the kitchen and living room a toot-free zone.

Okay, I admit it. Whoopee cushions are hilarious. Just don't tell the kids I said that.


Larry is working again today. Shocker, I know! Who would have guessed? And do you know what I'm doing? No? Well I'll tell you. In no less than two hours, I will welcome 30 adults into my house as I host the dessert course of the neighborhood progressive dinner. An assignment I received barely 48 hours ago, and I'm doing it all by myself. Wanna know how I do it? I don't take naps.

(That last paragraph might have come off a bit snooty. Like "hey look at me, I'm little miss perfect hostess slash single parent!" In case the sarcasm wasn't slathered on thick enough to be recognized as such, let me clarify that I do not, in fact, believe myself to be God's gift to progressive dinners.)


Dani has a new favorite song--the top request whenever we are in the car or in the midst of a dance party. I've been trying to catch her on video singing it, but she zips her lips the moment she sees the camera. I'm telling you, though, I'm going to catch her, and when I do, it is so going on the blog, and then you will see for yourself why I'd go to the ends of the earth for this girl of mine.

(In the meantime, you can hear KT sing it here. She's almost as talented as Dani.)


It just occurred to me that people googling "whoopee cushion" and "panang curry" and "residency at Georgetown" might land on this post. To which I say in advance to all of you who may one day arrive here, I'm so very sorry. Well, except you whoopee cushion people. What are you doing googling whoopee cushion anyway? Sheesh. Grow up already.


Uh oh. Time's up. The progressive dinner waits for no one, not even the celebrity dessert course hostess. Happy weekend!

(Caed appears to be preparing to take out the butterfly with his bow and arrow. But the butterfly has a least she looks like she does.)


I am Woman. Hear me Snore.

Me: (big yawn) I need a nap.
Dani: You're being silldy, Mommy. Grown-up mommies can't take naps. Only grown-up daddies can take naps.
Me: Why can't mommies take naps?
Dani: Because you have to make dinner.

Hence, my new woman's liberation mantra: "I am woman. Hear me snore."


What You Find in the White Space

When we first moved here, I fought hard the impulse to fill up our calendars with soccer and swimming and everything in between--times two. All in due time, but in this first of Ohio seasons, I knew we'd need margin, that the only way to avoid the frenzy was to protect the white space on the weekly planner.

Because white space makes way for color. And quiet makes time for life.

Slowly, we're adding to the schedule, signing up for a few of our favorite activities. I admit to feeling flustered, to second guessing my slow-it-down strategy whenever I learn about fun and enriching activities we are "missing out on". And it doesn't help when we drive by a soccer field and both kids shout, I wanna play! I tell them they'll get their chance, that we have plenty of time.

No matter what activities we add, I'm determined not to let go of our down time.
Because without the margin, we would miss out. We would miss out on impromptu walks in the woods. On telling little sisters scary stories, and then holding her hand so she wouldn't be scared.
On taking blair-witch-project-esque pictures with Mommy's camera.
On discovering a new playground.
On "just being" together.

I didn't know it was going to be this hard to protect the down time. But it's been worth it, totally worth it.

Because white space makes way for color.
And quiet makes time for life (loud and large).


On My Way Back from the Mailbox

Outside, it smells like wet leaves and sunshine. The soggy town newspaper leaves print on my hands, and the stack of bills are addressed half to the me in Ohio, half to the me in Maine. My mail stands divided, but I am altogether here. At least in this particular moment.

Good news came this morning, a crucial and long awaited piece of paperwork arriving scanned and paperless. It wouldn't have been a big deal if we hadn't been forced to wait six months for it.

In that waiting and the limbo caused by delay, I might have learned to trust in perfect timing. I might have learned to live with loose ends and frayed edges. I might have learned a bit about taking my anxious and impatient thoughts captive. I don't know if I really learned any of it, or whether I'll have to repeat the lesson. (I probably will).

But here's what I do know. There is a time to rejoice, to clap hands, to dance silly, to breathe relief, to give the sort of thanks that comes easily. And this is that time.

Outside it smells like wet leaves and sunshine. The sun pushes the gray of the morning storm into a blueish black bundle to the left, says to the clouds, "I'll take it from here."

This is the sort of morning in which the sun is supposed to shine. There's no other way to cast it--to stage the scene--than to put me in with the sun, walking up the driveway on the soggy leaves and in the crisp breeze. And then to open the door, to breathe in cinnamon and the fulfilled promise of a new morning, to feed the hope that followed me inside on the way back from the mailbox.


In Which I Give Thanks for Peppermint Oil and Washing Machines

The following unrehearsed butchering of a popular Eric Carle book took place this morning, between the hours of 5 a.m. and 6 a.m.:

Daddy: Pink Girl, Pink Girl, what do YOU see?

Dani (not surprisingly dressed all in pink): I see a DOC-tor looking at me. Doctor, Doctor, what do YOU see?

Daddy: I see a liver and white doggie looking at me. Doggie, Doggie, what do YOU see?

Daddy (on behalf of Doggie): I see a field mouse looking at me. Field mouse, field mouse, what do YOU see?

Mommy (on behalf of Field Mouse): I see a crazy lady with a bottle of peppermint oil looking at me, a lady who is considering, for the first time in her life, adopting a house cat. Crazy lady, crazy lady, what do YOU see?

Well, that's a very good question, Field Mouse. I'll tell you what I DON'T see. I don't see a future for you in my laundry room. I DO see myself making a Target & GNC run, scouring and cleaning the house with unabashed obsession, and throwing up a little bit in my mouth every time I find one of your blankety-blank droppings. So if I were you, I'd get a move on, Fievel.


I should have know better than to write about gratitude this past week. It's like extending an open invitation for all that is smelly in the world to stop in for tea. Since that post, I have:

  • Cleaned up thrice after a sick dog (yes, both kinds of sick). (I know normal people don't use the word "thrice" anymore, but I feel like it lends Old English sophistication to my sentence about my dog's bodily malfunctions.)
  • Endured two mornings after two nights of less than three hours of sleep, thanks to the sick dog, a needy child, and an early-to-work husband.
  • Discovered a field mouse in the dog bowl. Something I sincerely hope doesn't happen thrice.
  • Watched my vacuum die a quick and painless death smack in the middle of the post-mouse-discovery cleaning binge. (Painless for the vacuum, perhaps, but quite painful for me.)
There is a longer, less shallow version of this list, but it wouldn't benefit anyone to share it. The short of it is that nothing on my "to do" list has been crossed off this week. Nothing seems to be moving forward (except the mice). And I am not in the mood to flip that blasted coin over.

Which means now--when I least feel like it--is exactly the time for me to start back in on the treasure hunt. So, how about this. I'll go on record saying how infinitely grateful I am that my washing machine is still working. But please God, just don't break the dryer to test me.

The crazy, easily discouraged, very fallible, often cranky lady
on a treasure hunt
(and also a mouse hunt)
(and the mice are most definitely not to be confused with the treasure),
who wants to be grateful,
to have a "happy heart" no matter what,
but needs a little help
from a gracious God.

Oh, and just one more thing (although it seems I already signed out). I stumbled upon this quote Anne Lamott referenced in Traveling Mercies, and I love it. I keep going back to it. Because grace, yes God's grace, is perhaps the thing in this life for which I am most grateful.

Man is born broken. He lives by mending. The grace of God is glue.
-Eugene O'Neill

Hat tip to Jen from Momalom for the peppermint oil advice. So far, so good!


That Little Kid

We took the kids ice skating this weekend. It was Dani's first time, and I managed to forget the camera. But I did take a few pictures with my phone, all of which were too blurry or too dark, except maybe this one. She's such a goofball.

She did great on her first time out on the ice. Not sure we can say the same thing for Daddy's back, which did the lion's share of "balancing" for her.


With every day that passes, Caed grows more and more sports obsessed. This season he speaks of nothing but American football. Every morning at breakfast he asks me how many days until the Buckeyes play. And then how many days until the Browns lose play. And then he asks whether I think the Buckeyes would beat the Browns, if they played against each other. And I say, "Who knows? They might."

He plays football at every recess, and reported back to me yesterday that the other team--the one with the bigger second graders--keeps calling him "that little kid". Apparently when he was tackled, one of the boys said, "I can't believe that little kid keeps getting up!" And then, (allegedly), after Caed scored a touchdown by running the ball, another kid said, "Man, nobody can stop that little kid!"

I asked him if it bothers him that they call him "little kid", and he said, "No, I like it because, I mean, after all, I am the littlest kid in my grade. And they are just surprised that I can be little and still score touchdowns."

So, it seems as though I might be raising Rudy.

I love that he's growing in confidence and independence. I just wish I could sneak onto the playground and take in a game every now and then. And you know, maybe confirm some of that little kid's story.

On a side note, is anyone else surprised that the children are allowed to play tackle football at recess? I thought by now all forms of good old fashioned, injury-prone fun would be banned in the school yard. But I'm glad it's not. I had to laugh when Caed told me he was "sore from football." I asked him if he got hurt when the bigger kids tackled him, and he said, "No, not that. I just hurt my knee a little when I did my special touchdown jump."

Sigh. I just adore that little kid.


I Can't Complain

It's Saturday morning, and our alarm goes off at 4:20 a.m., just like it's been doing every day this week. First, we hear a song we love, but are likely to hate after two more weeks of this schedule (Nickel Creek - Hanging By A Thread). Then seven minutes later, the wristwatch nearly falls off the dresser beeping like a bomb countdown.

At 4:30 a.m., when I find myself somehow in the kitchen, when I awake to the third alarm of the coffee grinder, I furrow my brow and press my teeth together as if biting back lucidity. My mind is too jumbled to think up proper curse words, so I just pout and think in blurry phrases of resentment.

By 5:00 a.m., when the kids are still upstairs snoring in their sleeping bags, cocooned in the only space on the floor not covered in train tracks and doll houses turned train stations, I brush off my grudge against 4:00 a.m. like toast crumbs from a counter. I peek in at the remnants of Friday night's sleepover, warm mug in hand, and I smile, shoulders scrunching almost to my ears to warm me, or maybe to add corners to my smile. These quiet moments are entirely mine.

(Well, at least until the dog comes clicking up the stairs to see what I'm up to, threatening to wake the kids with her jingling collar unless I feed her. Fine. I'll feed you, but you should know that MOST dogs don't get their breakfast until at least 7:00 a.m.).

It's 6:30 now, and Larry has been at work an hour already, and we hope to see him before bedtime. When the kids wake up, they will tell me they remember Daddy coming into their room in the middle of the night to give them goodbye kisses, but only because they know that's what he does, and not because they really remember.

I know that I could get away with complaining about this schedule, and about how much we miss Larry when he is gone for 100% of our waking hours and some of the sleeping ones too. But on most days, at least once I make it past 5 a.m., the complaints disappear like dew when the sun comes up strong in the heat of summer.

I don't take any of this for granted, not anymore.

I could complain about his schedule or be grateful he has a job.
I could complain about rising so early, feeling so tired, or be grateful for these peaceful hours.
I could complain about the uprooting, the downsizing, the stress of this move, or be grateful that day by day, we are making our way home.

Even now, as I begin a list of what I could complain about, I realize how trivial these things are when stacked up against the beauty of the life I've been given. To complain would be as ridiculous as sitting underneath a sky splattered thick with stars, a paisley black and white threaded by thousands of faraway suns, and to gripe about the moon not being very bright.

When I feel the grumbling welling up inside, I like to imagine turning the issue over like like an old coin, to see whether there is a shinier side, to find the places that sparkle when the tarnish is removed. And when I do this, when I hunt for gratitude, the treasure I find amazes me.

When I see it this way, I can't complain.


What could you complain about? If you flipped that complaint over, could you find something underneath, something shiny or just full of potential, something to be grateful for?


Orphan Sunday (plus a lot of rambling)

Disclaimer: To many of my "real life" friends who read this blog, with spiritual/ religious views ranging across the entire spectrum and in most cases, dramatically different from mine, I'm going to come out and admit that I think of you every time I write a "Jesus-y" post like the one below. I worry a little more than I should that I'll offend you or that you'll decide you don't want to be friends with a religious nut-job anymore and secretly unfriend me on Facebook. So this is just a little heads up. Jesus stuff about to follow; feel free to ignore.

I read somewhere (no idea where) that as humans, we have a hard time processing huge tragedy wherein thousands are impacted (genocide, earthquakes, tsunamis, etc.). We tend to disassociate our emotions from the facts of the events, to shut down emotionally because we can't process the scale of that grief and suffering. But show us a story of one little girl trapped in a well or a three year old battling with a brain tumor for his life, and we latch on. We are more likely to care and more motivated to get involved in the solution when it becomes personal.

I confess I often go numb when I hear horrifying statistics about poverty, human trafficking, genocide, and orphans. I find it impossible to process. I find it overwhelming to even consider. I'm tempted to give up before I get started, because the problems are too big and the solutions too small.


In the past few years, the issue of poverty and the plight of the orphan has become personal. I now have a face to latch onto. Two faces, actually.

My nephews James and Varney, once Liberian orphans in a refugee camp--struggling at 4 and 2 years old to find enough food to survive--these two precious children are now called sons.


I saw Varney yesterday, watched his mom sign his homework folder, heard her reminding him what chapter he needed to study in his third grade science book. It was just another ordinary afternoon for them both. And this--that horror and hunger are no longer the norm, what once defined an ordinary day for Varney and his big brother--this is extraordinary.

My sister will be the first to tell you she's no saint, and I will be the first to tell you that she actually is. But that's not really the point here. You might feel inclined to pipe in at this point and say that you aren't up for the huge commitment of adoption, that this is something you couldn't possibly do. I understand, because that's where I'm at too. So no need to pipe in.

I only bring this up to tell you about an event that my friend Kelly at Love Well told me about, something I think is worth sharing here. This is an opportunity for those of us who want to help but feel overwhelmed; this is our way to make it personal.

November 7, 2010, is Orphan Sunday - an event sponsored by Christian Alliance for Orphans. As Kelly wrote in her email to me (she said it best, so might as well just quote her):

It's a day designed to focus the American church on the plight of orphans around the world. Anyone can get involved, which might be my favorite thing about it. It’s customizable to your specific passion. Do you really want to connect people to Compassion? Set up a sponsorship table in the lobby of your church November 7. Want to tell your story of adoption? Ask your pastor if you can share your heart during the service that morning. Or maybe it would be a better fit with your small group. Or you could even plan a special evening for your family and friends. There are TONS of resources on the website – everything from bulletin inserts to videos for specific causes to posters to t-shirts. It’s an amazing opportunity.

Now, don't worry. I'm not going to lay the guilt on thick, imploring you to do something for the poor, starving children in Africa. I'm just trying to spread the word about Orphan Sunday so you can get involved if you're so inclined.

One of the things that drives my sister a little nuts is when she meets someone new, and their first response to finding out about her adopted boys is to tell her the reasons they could never adopt, to compare their path to hers, to give her a laundry list of the good things they do in lieu of adopting.

I think in the Christian community, we often and even unknowingly slip into the trap of caring more about what others see--about imparting an image of being super spiritual--than we care about the deep-down heart stuff that only God sees. If we respond to Orphan Sunday or similar calls because we feel guilty, or because we want to prove we are "good Christians" (whatever the heck that is), then we're totally missing the point. (Notice how I kept saying "we" and not "you"? Yeah, that was on purpose. Guilty as charged.) This isn't a contest to see who is the most compassionate, who cares the most about orphans, who is the most gigantic spiritual hero of them all.

Because the orphans, the poor, the exploited, they already have a hero.

It's not my sister. It's not Mother Teresa. It's not the guy who runs the orphanage in Tanzania or the lady who fosters troubled teens in Tampa. It's Jesus. He's the Hero. He's the Rescuer.

That said, I think if only for the joy He knows it will bring to us, He allows us to be involved in the rescue. He gives us opportunities to be His hands on earth, to help provide food, comfort, shelter to the most vulnerable among us. So, between you and God, all guilt and contests aside, would you consider how you might take a small step to get involved?

For a more specific and coherent post on this topic, check out the post Megan at Sorta Crunchy wrote about Orphan Sunday. And while you're there, read one of my favorite posts from her--in which she realizes she's called to serve not in some far off place, but "where her feet are".


Wasting My Life, One List at a Time

Let me tell you the ways I waste my life.

On tasks I list only for the crossing out.
On wondering what to write, on daydreaming and scheming and then getting only as far as reading the first chapter of the How-To book.
On fretting five years forward instead of just paying this month's bill.
On debating between chicken roasted or beef braised, so long that by the time I decide, there is no choice but to serve peanut-butter sandwiches.
On feeling sorry for myself about ridiculous things.
On scouring unnecessary stores for unnecessary bargains.
On wishing I could "do more" to help (as if just doing something isn't better than overwhelming-induced paralysis?)
On changing channel to channel.
On not changing the channel (or pressing the off button).

I could go on listing, but then I would have to add this list to the list of ways I waste my life.

Notice, now, I am not publicly berating myself for wasting time. I am talking about my life. If I ran those errands or planned those meals or paid those bills or wrote those words with a sense of purpose, with an in-the-moment appreciation for the story I'm living, then nothing, none of it would be wasted.

No, the culprit isn't the activity or lack thereof. It is what I do with my mind, where I let it run off to during the day (with no supervision!) that squanders the vast majority of this wild and precious life.

I want to live a nothing-wasted life, not measured by how much I accomplish, attain, complete--but by how much I notice, participate, experience, appreciate. I want to live as Jim Elliot exhorted, "Wherever you are, be all there." But short of my current pattern of practice, fail, fail, pray, get back up to practice, I have little notion of how to bring this about, to consistently, daily follow through on the life I desire.

I'm guessing it's not the sort of thing that starts with a list?


Remind Me To Remember

Remember when I said these are the happiest days of my life?

In case I stop believing that, in case I put Gratitude on administrative leave and invite Anxiety to fill in for the interim, in case I forget, here it is. The string of words around my proverbial finger, the little moments that bundle together to spell joy.


Every once in a while I discover the kids playing peacefully together, as was the case a few days ago. I peaked my head into Caed's room to make sure all was well, and here's what I heard.

Dani squealing with delight: "Caed's letting me play Legos!"
Caed replying with big brother authority: "Yeah, and that's a privilege, Dani."

Then they continued playing happily for another thirty minutes. And nothing broke. And as far as I know, no Lego pieces were ingested. A miracle of duplo proportions.


Yesterday I had the honor of hosting a 94th birthday celebration for my Grammy-in-Law. Four generations of family gathered to celebrate her amazing life. Caed read to her from one of his chapter books, and while I'm certain she didn't hear a word--especially the words he sounded out in whispers--she smiled and applauded throughout it all. Dani offered up a bird house she'd made in preschool as a birthday present, along with a heart-shaped construction paper card plastered with princess stickers. Apparently it's what you get for the Grammy that has everything.


After dinner a few nights ago, I looked out the window as the light and breeze hit the tree branches just perfectly. So I grabbed the camera, and we all threw on our shoes. The kids followed me around while I tried unsuccessfully to capture the beauty with a camera. Adding to the delight of the moment were the sound of Caed's voice imploring me to take pictures of the sky and the feel of Dani's hands as she brought me leaf after leaf she deemed photo worthy.


Dani and I met up with some new friends at a park on the most beautiful fall day. Hooray for new friends! Hooray for geese and water and sunshine!


Grandma Laurie came to visit this week, bringing with her (as she always does) plenty of loot for the kids. She gave Caed a watch, and he has not stopped studying it since he wrapped it around his wrist. Last night, he fell asleep watching the long hand inch along. This morning, when he woke up, he ran downstairs and exclaimed that no time at all had passed since he slept! "When I went to bed it was 7:30 o'clock and now it is 7:30 o'clock still!" Then all through breakfast he watched the watch, counting down the minutes to the bus. I'll tell you, it made me infinitely glad when he shouted, "Oh man, I gotta hurry and get my socks on. The bus is coming soon!" So, that's one less bit of nagging I had to do this morning. Every little bit helps.


So, in case I forget why these are the happiest days of my life, well, this should remind me to remember.


Why I'm a Morning Person

"Maaahmaaa! I hear your caaaahfeeee!" She dances around the kitchen in her favorite pink pajamas, the ones that are decidedly too small.

"I think I taste coffee on this banana," says the boy. "Uh oh, I think I'm gonna turn a little crazy at school today!"

Mmm, I taste the sound of morning. Gurgling mixed with giggling, the seconds drip one upon another until we have a whole pot of minutes swirling.

I drink them in, wishing only occasionally for the quieter, smoother blend of years long gone. But mostly I savor the scent and steam that rises from these warm, bold hours, the rapid pouring of daily duties--lunches packed, socks hunted, backpacks zipped, hair braided, tummies filled, foreheads kissed. When their cheeks are still warm with waking, when my coffee is already cold.

A new day percolates, smelling of sunrise and fresh starts.
And so it begins, again.

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