Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Wow. Middle Child and I went with two of our Honduras teammates last night to see a triple feature ending with the 12:01 release of the latest installment in the "Twilight" series. Failing to grasp the seriousness of this event, I figured we would arrive a half-hour or so before the movies since tickets were already purchased. Not so. Our friends arranged to arrive at 5:00 for the 7:15 movie start time. (I thought they were kidding, so KT and I were not ready.) We made it to the theater by 6:00 where we found that at least one of the multiple screenings set aside for the three part series were already full, but that our intrepid partners had managed to slide into the next one being opened up for seating to snag an ideal location for viewing pleasure.
The building was alive with free-flowing estrogen and t-shirts proclaiming allegiance to one side or the other in the epic battle for the heroine's heart to be won by Edward or Jacob. I was a little taken aback by the middle-aged women joining the throng of teenagers in their Twilight regalia. And tickled to find that the practitioner who did my knee injections and one of my companions for the evening were amongst those dressed for the event. Personally perplexed by this, I figured it best to write it off in the spirit of fun and the recognition that my mister was no doubt correct that most of those present were likely of the Super Fan persuasion rather than simply being entertained by the story. (ahem.)
This remained true until a peppy theater employee entered the room to offer up free t-shirts. My semi-derision sort of evaporated as one of the few t-shirts flew toward our row. In an overly competitive moment I fumbled with my sweet friend for the shirt falling in front of her seat as it tumbled down behind the seats of the row before us. Taking advantage of my longer reach, I grasped the shirt and pulled it greedily into my lap to unroll the prize and see that it was not one of those Team Somebody shirts, but a souvenir of the movie complete with the release date. (Oooh. Ah.) Um.
The fourth member of our group was celebrating her 35th birthday. Breaking the spell of Gotta-Get-It, I checked the size of the shirt since we were a group conveniently made up of an X-Small, Small, Medium/Large, and X-Large with the thought that the shirt ought to go to She Whom It Would Fit. The Birthday Girl wanted the XL, but the Prize was a large confirming it as mine. (Never mind that my size logic conveniently put the odds of ownership in my favor with two sizes...) Leaping out of my seat, I took off after Peppy Employee in the hope that perhaps the Birthday Girl could still receive a free t-shirt to mark her special day and the much-anticipated movie release.
I explained with only a tinge of the prior t-shirt-grasping frenzy that I had caught *cough* one of those shirts tossed into the throng, but that it was a mere size large and my friend was celebrating her birthday and had a preference an X-Large which would be a wonderful gift to mark the occasion. (I did not offer to sacrifice the Large. Peppy did not even ask. She was wearing the same shirt partially revealed by her uniform and had just trumpeted to us all that she had already seen Eclipse-and-it-was-awesome.) She said she would check for the other size, and we headed down the hall. As we walked, I mentioned that our group had met as part of a mission trip to Honduras where we stayed at House of Hope, and Peppy Employee became very excited. It turned out that she spent a month at an unrelated House of Hope in Ghana, and it tickled us both to find this unexpected similarity--- however tenuous. It also resulted in her making not one, but two trips to find the only X-Large Eclipse t-shirt left.
Returning triumphantly to our seats, I presented the shirt to Birthday Girl with a distinct pleasure at her good fortune while wishing that I had somehow been able to score the Small and X-small, too. Stepping past my wrestling partner for the Large shirt, I figured she was good in her Team Edward tee, and was highly amused that Middle Child (the youngest in our group by a full decade+) was the only one no longer possessed of a bit of dorky Twilight apparel.
The movies were entertaining, and the near-swooning women in the audience more so. The evening giggling with the four of our six Honduras Girls was priceless. Coming home after 2:00 a.m. with the car filled by chatter between Middle Child and I as we rehashed the shared experience from crazy bathroom lines to the rabid suburban feminine fans was the best of all.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Day after tomorrow is picture day. The resulting images will not likely be suitable for framing. Dr. J has done some blood work, and ordered a CT of my chest, abdomen, and pelvis for Thursday, July 1st. The appointment to hear the results of these tests was set for Monday, July 12th, but Middle Child is leaving for Mexico with the youth group on the 11th. Praying for the tests to be completed quickly, and the opportunity to be seen again to come sooner yielded an opening on Wednesday, July 7th despite the doctor's otherwise packed schedule. (Thank You, Lord!) There is a desire to see her off with an answer to the current burning question, "Does my Mom have lymphoma?"

Monday, June 28, 2010


Ah. Joseph is the subject of the current series at our church. Joseph had an awful lot of ups and downs, and yesterday we contemplated what an old friend would refer to as some serious, "down-dooby-down-down" stuff because our hero refused to bring grief to his Lord. It was pointed out in the message that with all the badness dragging Joseph deeper into misfortune, that God was with him. Joseph just kept living the life that God had for him. The guy was no weenie because God was with him and he knew it.
Today, I am clinging to this thought. In an hour and a half, I will be sitting in the office of a hematologist/oncologist. I have already had an oncologist, and I do not want another one. The last one was treating thyroid cancer which is, thankfully, the most treatable sort of cancer. (It's the cancer of choice for weenies.) Dr. J is a specialist in less weenie-fied sorts of out-of-control cells and blood diseases and disorders. Hopefully, he will have answers to why my spleen and liver are enlarged.
Hopefully, fear will not kick into hyper-drive whatever Dr. J says. Joseph is not listed as whining. Complaining. Kicking and Screaming. (He did put fleeing into good use, but that's not quite in context here. Even though I wish it was appropriate to run away from what I do not find palatable.) Not possessing the sort of strength of spirit to be cast down in the prison of a body that does not work quite as it should, there remains the underlying faith that God is with me in all circumstances.

Friday, June 25, 2010


There's an old Bill Cosby bit about couples who wonder if they can get pregnant. He assures them that they can. Except that sometimes they cannot. The Boy was an "impossible" pregnancy due to a hormone deficiency. Except that the impossible turned out to be entirely possible. One would think that the success of an impossible pregnancy would have convinced even the most doubtful mama that pregnancy was not outside the realm of possibility. Except that another doctor following up on the same hormonal condition claimed that the was zero chance of another pregnancy.
Mr. Cosby continued his comedy routine to say that second children are often the answer to the same parents who wondered if they could get pregnant asking themselves if they could do it again. He again assures them that they can. The mister and I again proved doctors wrong and Bill Cosby right with the successful conception of Middle Child. I don't know what Bill Cosby said about subsequent pregnancies, but the doctor who delivered our third child also performed the subsequent surgery to prevent any further experimentation.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


There's a brief line in Genesis that says volumes. In 18:12, "Sarah laughed to herself," after hearing that she was supposed to have a son in the coming year. So often Sarah's laughter, her disbelief, her lack of faith resonate when the impossible calls out. When logic decries the direction of my heart, I think of Sarah and her laughter. (Even if my own laughter is more of a hysterical giggle.) Sarah laughed at the impossible.
She tried to apply logic to the issue at hand--- namely her own lack of issue. Her effort to figure out how to fulfill God's calling Abraham to fatherhood was, well... disastrous and with consequences reaching far into a future lacking in peace amongst the descendants of Abraham borne to him by Hagar and Sarah. Those consequences (an epic fail) help to stay my mind when I begin to try to think through the How of whatever God has called me to on any given day.
Rather than laughing at the impossibility of a given situation, perhaps one day I will be more like that Proverbs 31 woman in verse 25 as, "...she smiles at the future." The verse implies a sense of peace rather than the disbelief of incredulous Sarah and I.

Friday, June 18, 2010


Holy Discontent featured a chapter last week on a SAHM to five who packed up her suburban home and family, and hauled them to inner city Detroit to ignore race and class distinctions. As I read about the food pantry that is part of the ministry, I thought of how long it had been since I last dropped off a bag of groceries at Pleasant Suburb's version.

A call to the food pantry yielded a return call from Carol whose passion was obvious even over the phone as she talked about the needs of our community's hungry. She quickly offered a short list of items that were particularly needed right now: 2 pound bags of dried beans, 3 or 5 quart packages of powdered milk, and cans of spinach, carrots, pears, peaches, and fruit cocktail. She said she could give me the "full menu" later as we talked. It was a lengthy conversation, but it passed all-too-quickly. Carol is the sort of woman who is probably all sorts of in touch with what Bill Hybels calls our inner firestorm of frustration.
Getting off the phone, I was anxious to go to the grocery store. When the group of holy, discontent women met this week, a lady whose personal passion runs to feeding the hungry suggested we do something in a general way. I restrained myself from shrieking, "YES! Have I got a deal for you...", and used my inside voice to offer up the short list of needed items to the ladies. Those women were quick to express willingness to add to their regular grocery list in order to help combat hunger amongst our neighbors.
But that's not all. Yesterday, I met a friend for breakfast who plopped cash on the table and said I should add some items to the cart for her, too. Our youngest daughter sacrificed a week of her doggie poop scooping earnings to purchase spinach, carrots, and beans. A friend we met on our shopping trip let her small daughter select items to add to the growing donation after hearing about our quest to add to the food pantry's stock. Positively giddy over the donations that would surpass what our family would have given on our own, a challenge has been issued to the offspring to try to think of ways we can help or encourage others to give to the food pantry so that in this town no one need go to bed hungry.

Words Fail

Me: "There are some things you do NOT say to someone facing cancer."
Offspring: "Like what?"

I don't know. I remember a close friend in high school who ceased to be a close friend after she explained to me that my cancer was just creepy. Wow. She was 17. And compassion wasn't really her thing. Apparently. So, I'm going to say that severing relationships and referring to one's disease as creepy would be on the "What Not To Do/Say" list. Instead of offering up a list of such unpleasantness, I decide we should consider this from an alternate perspective.

Me: "Maybe it's less about what not to say, than it is about what to say?"
Offspring: "Like what?"
Me: "Well, how about just a simple greeting, then ask how the person is feeling..."

We pull into the drive, and each of us grabs a hot or cold dish as we climb from the car. We walk to the door, and knock. The Lady of the House answers and welcomes us inside. She leads our procession to the porch where we place our offerings on the table set for their dinner. Her husband of almost four decades laughingly says he will not be rising to greet us today as he gestures to the towel over his lap covering the tubes that are in place after his surgery. We briefly chat, and the kids are shy, but polite. They love this place, and we are all tickled by the antics of a squirrel hanging off the edge of the swimming pool outside the windows. The talk turns to that of a bobcat that prowls the property on occasion.
I cannot be polite. This is monstrous. This thing threatens the peace and joy of this home, this marriage, this family. How can I help but rebel against such darkness in this place? I wade in by naming the darkness, but refuse to be daunted by it. I relate the good results of another who has shared this particular type of cancer in treatment, and in the life still being lived. Because I think what we should say is not that everything will be all right, but that we will be walking steadfastly alongside our friends through this journey. We will pray, laugh, cry, cheer, listen, and hope.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


  • I took the Boy in to have the dentist say Evan can have the solid food we have been giving him for 24 hours. I ended up having two crowns. (The intervening story isn't very interesting, but what you imagine fills in the space between those sentences could be, so I will leave you to it, Gentle Reader.)
  • Little Bit is trying to figure out how she can parlay her future goals of writing and burger flipping into a sustainable income that will satisfy requirements for her to eventually adopt a baby. I'm not sure what makes the kid tick, but it's always intriguing to hear what is rattling around in her skull at any given moment.
  • The Boy needs a job. Well, he needs a job if he wants to drive at some point in the next couple of years. He wants to work at Local Market. Since Local Market has not called him back, he is willing to consider Take-out Pizza as a potential employer.
  • Middle Child is going to Mexico next month. The headlines are threatening me with the heebie-jeebies. She is going as part of a team who will be building a home for a family that would otherwise go without, and their need persists despite the dangers in the country.
  • The mister and I need a honeymoon. We did not take one after our wedding, but perhaps we will get around to it one of these days. Or at least a nap.
  • The local food pantry has specific needs. After talking to a representative, it has become somewhat clear that most people do not ask what those might be. Little Bit and I are headed over to the grocer's with the Pantry's shopping list. I find their list far more motivating than my own.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Standing in the kitchen with the mister, I commented on the Holy Discontent discussionn group's increasing number of what can be described as conversation with feeling. Those exchanges of words when the speaker's convictions pop up and say, "Hello!" There is no absence of passion in that group of women. Commenting on the notably increasing occurences of feminine passion conveyed in our talk, I told the mister that these particular ladies were not, "Wallflower Women," and he was quiet for a moment or two before replying that he did not think there was such a thing.
I thought about how desperately I can wish to melt into the floor or a wall if thrust into a group of Pleasant Suburban PTA Mommies. Of how my spirit quails at the idea of being surrounded by semi-strangers at one of those parties where the hostess is earning free stuff by selling the guests some exciting product. Of how much reliance there is on a cup of coffee or punch in hand to keep from fidgeting in social situations. (I once fled an engagement party where everyone was of the closest relations. Worse, it was an engagement party in honor of the mister and I.) I can go all sorts of wallflower in under sixty seconds unless an escape route makes itself known. Yet, our subject matter has been that searching for what stirs us. The question, "How is God shaking your tree?" Is one that fails to encourage shrinkage.
I figure that says more about God than it does those women, though the women still have that free will thing going on... but we are not going down the Free Will and Predestination rabbit trail today. I was just taking a few minutes to marvel at the way that passion bubbles up. The author is encouraging each reader to seek out that place where God has built in a unique passion, and to feed it. Each week, the ladies come together and, whether the sparks of our little firestorms of frustrations are large or small, there is something of a conflagration coming that will prevent any of us from remaining ignorant of how we may serve.

Saturday, June 12, 2010


Little Bit has been experimenting with a British accent. She has taken to performing an odd assortment of daily activities with her pinky up, too. He accent is generally good, if somewhat overdone. She has developed a vocabulary characterized by her accent and this acquired mannerism that includes a few odd words that are of unknown etymology such as, "Moo-thuh" which is a bastardization of the more mundane, "Mother". (I do not answer to this word. It sounds too much like it has a bovine root.) The pinky-up thing is making all sorts of daily activities from video games to turning door knobs entertaining, if a tad inefficient. Whatever unknown something makes this child tick, every second with her is a jolly good adventure.

Friday, June 11, 2010


Nothing big today. Just a few little things.
  • The Boy is feeling no pain, but he looks a little like a chipmunk with his post-extraction swelling.
  • I have an appointment with another in the slow parade of -ologists on the 28th. Still no idea why my spleen and liver are enlarged.
  • Little Bit has become enamored of a blue shirt with a star on it. I am going to hide it because she has been wearing it since Sunday. First, I will have to extricate her from it.
  • Middle Child has somehow managed to murder the computer she saved to buy herself for her 12th birthday. I hope the mister and I sprung for the "no matter what" replacement plan.
  • My closet may have a moth. I am finding an increasing number of articles of clothing with holes in them. Shopping is not my happy place. The full-length mirrors and inconsistent sizes tend to highlight the body image issues that are otherwise held at bay by ice cream.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


I maintain a theory that each person on this planet is going to be given precisely the circumstances that God has for them, and that those circumstances will be fitting for that person. Sometimes others indicate that my circumstances sound overwhelming, confirmation, of a sort, of that personal conviction. My circumstances are precisely the appropriate materials for whatever God desires to build in me, and in others, when I am in service to Him regardless of my limited ability to understand the plans.
Having recently heard the suggestion that God did not have a plan for my service right now outside of my own small world at home between the latest health issues and the reintegration of The Boy, there has been time given over to a bit of self-examination. Except that looking outside of myself often is the plan. The blue print for the finished project is incomprehensible to me, and it is only in completion that one may perhaps recognize a particular phase of building. This idea has been successfully applied to others as well, and who better to serve as an example of such a theory than one of my own offspring?

Middle Child had been in a messy place emotionally through her first half of middle school, but rather than wait for her to "get it together", I invited her to journey to Honduras to serve others. Middle Child needed to give this offering in honor of her King in order to heal what was broken within her. This is the sort of result that has led to disagreement with waiting for everything in our personal lives to reach status quo before stepping out.

That kind of waiting is reminscent of those who choose not to set foot into a church or pick up a Bible because they feel themselves too broken. It is too close to the idea that one can be too sinful to receive God's grace. Rather than drowning in her own discontent, Katie found a source of holy discontent and kindled a desire for serving those in need. The architect who designed all of Creation is in charge, and she and I are simply masons placing one stone on top of another. He will direct the project, and we will keep laying down the materials He gives us to form the design He has set.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


A few years ago we instituted, "Summer Math", in answer to the, "I'm bored..." chorus from the offspring, caving to perceived pressure from other moms whose offspring were all reportedly delighted with learning, and addressing one of my own lovey's falling math grades. Summer Math may be remedial, or it can be a chance to become familiarized with the following year's expected course work. Or it may be writing one's multiplication tables over and over until Mom is satisfied that the New Math is not interfering with one's basic skills.

The kids were not exactly thrilled, but once the declaration that they would have to earn time on the computer, video games, or staring at the boob tube was made they became infinitely more interested in the completion of daily math assignments. Adding in the proviso that limited swimming pool trips to after Summer Math helped to motivate them to complete their daily work early. Summer Math as a currency has expanded. Over the passing years, the method for gaining time to goof off has grown to include Summer Reading, Bible reading/study, physical activity, chores, and volunteerism. Such efforts can be exchanged for rewards ranging from a hug or praise to the more obviously appreciated cash, time with friends, a trip to the movies or swimming pool, or electronic access. The lovies give Mom the satisfaction that they are doing something parentally perceived as beneficial in trade for an equal amount of time spent doing something potentially mind-numbing.
No legalistic system is in place to track the time with sticker charts, tickets, lists, or tokens as we did when the kids were all young. They keep a general idea of what they are doing to earn their goofing off in Mom's Economy whether that is Middle Child keeping a mental tally, The Boy charting his detailed time sheet, or Little Bit who reads late into the night while playing her computer games during the hottest part of the day. This barter system has become something of an honor system as well because these kids are old enough to do what they are supposed to do.

Summer Math has become so ingrained in the lore of our summers, that the absence last year was lamented. They pester me ask about when we will go on the annual progress in search of appropriate material for their self-paced summer curriculum. It seems to alleviate both the brain drain and the foolishness of risking self-proclamations of boredom. The years have marched past in a series of workbooks offering matching and shapes until now we have to head to a regular book store in search of Algebra and Geometry texts and workbooks. It's a progression that makes ma a tad nostalgic, but that also brings a sense of accommplishment in considering the proof that the lovies can be taught.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Little Bit has healed up nicely from her four teeth extracted last week. Thinking that we had that behind us, The Boy and I headed over to the dentist this morning for his cleaning. As I signed him in, it occurred to me that perhaps I was due, too. Sure enough, June 4th had come and gone. Our obliging dentist offered to clean my teeth during Evan's appointment since I was already there. Perfect.

Reclining in the chair, there was a certain amount of pleasure in hearing from the hygienist that Evan's oral hygiene was excellent. (Whew. That should preclude any cavities. Um, no, but cavities are not all that lurked in The Boy's sparkling clean mouth...) Once the cleanings were completed, the dentist popped in to go over the findings from both exams at once. Displaying Evan's panoramic x-ray, he pointed to four little teeth unsuccessfully attempting to erupt. Four little impacted wisdom teeth pushing up against the roots of The Boys back teeth and just waiting to cause his nerves untold trouble. The dentist suggested getting them out sooner rather than later.

So. In another show of accommodation, the office has an Oral Surgeon who was scheduled to be in the office tomorrow for another procedure at 8:00. Said surgeon will be removing four impacted wisdom teeth at 9:00 from Evan's mouth. Theoretically, Middle Child does not have a set of four teeth that might need to come out, but after the past few days, I'm not counting on that.

Friday, June 4, 2010


November, 2000: Library books helped maintain my sanity while stuck on bed rest in the final trimester of pregnancy with Erin. The mister turned in the last batch of books while I was in the hospital after delivery.
March, 2001: Library notification of a missing book and the bill for replacement cost arrived. (Mad search ensued. Book found under bed. Uh-oh.) The book was returned to the library and the baby displayed to the librarian along with the bill. Despite the explanation of, "I was GIVING BIRTH," the librarian in charge of fines proved unsympathetic to the circumstances. She decreased the amount owed to reflect the $21 late fee rather than the $22 book price. How gracious. Irate library patron left without paying the fine, and vowing to forgo the benefits of an active library card in the face of stupidity.

June, 2010: Leaving Erin at home under her Daddy's care to watch t.v. while clutching her glitter-covered plastic box of baby teeth and chomping on gauze post-extraction, the elder offspring and I headed for the new library branch a couple of blocks from the house. The big kids have lived with Mom's enmity toward the Pleasant Suburban Library since Evan was in kindergarten. It seemed reasonable that they should accompany Mom on this errand of restoration.
We entered the long avoided coolness of my one-time haven as defensive supplicants. I explained a tad too cheerfully to the nice lady that, "I need to pay the most asinine library fine ever levied." She took a step backward, but then proceeded to the keyboard to look up the offense. I paid the fine while explaining how it came to be. The lady very apologetically explained that there would be a $1 fee for a replacement card. (The original was recycled into confetti. Very small bits of confetti.) Fair enough.
The big kids and I each picked a couple of volumes off the shelves, checked out, and stepped out of the building with our shiny renewed library cards. The kids waited very patiently while I entered an abbreviated portion of each title into my phone so the calendar will alarm two days prior to the due date. We are reinstated into good patron status, and none of us is anxious to sacrifice another decade of library access over late fees anytime soon.


I am taking Little Bit to have four teeth extracted this morning. Since I am too preoccupied with her to blog this morning, may I suggest that Gentle Reader takes a side trip over to see what Miss Erin has to say for herself.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Time Change

It probably should be less of a surprise to see June 1st on the calendar. There were 31 days in May to serve as a hint. Still, despite the daily reminders that May was marching along, it seems June has somehow arrived too quickly. It can be said with absolute certainty that the weeks between Spring Break and Summer Vacation were far longer when spent parked at a desk in Mr. Ryder's fourth grade class than those slipping by parked at a grown-up desk with no one grading penmanship. The offspring report that their days are still dragging slowly through the same weeks that have somehow escaped Mom. Mom is very ready to decelerate to the creeping pace described by those watching a school calendar for the start of Summer Vacation.

That change should hit in the next week or so. Time will flow quick as molasses once the Summer schedule truly arrives with late meals and later bedtimes as the sunsets extend our days past evening. The heat will make us slow, and the children will sleep in out of the conviction that they have nothing to do. Iced tea will be more appealing than coffee most days, and our skin will carry the chemical scents of mosquito repellent and sunscreen. Toes emerge from winter's socks to gain a splash of pretty polish before celebrating the freedom of a pair of flip flops. Even the household decor reflects this transition as hoodies and backpacks give way to beach towels and goggles on the hooks in the entry way. Curling up with a good book shifts to a poolside morning immersed in a favorite beach read. The pantry stocked with breakfast cereal and individually portioned foods suitable for lunch boxes is less appealing than the increasingly available seasonal produce. (Berry Season. Oh, I heart you, Berry Season.) This is the loveliest sort of transition--- the slide into Summer.