Odd and Curious Thoughts (about what my kids learned today)



(1) The Alka Seltzer jingle. What fun, the kids running around plopping and fizzing with wild abandon over and over at dinner AND later in the bathtub AND streaking across the house shrieking WHAT A RELIEF IT IS! until finally I’m like “it’s not even a song.  It doesn’t work that well.  Stop it with the plop plop because it’s starting to sound nasty up in here.”   


(2) After an episode of Wild Kratts on PBS, my son was talking about lizards and what rhymes with lizards is skizzards (hee hee) and I was like “I can top that, kid, because there’s a band actually called Lynyrd Skynyrd” and his face like was  like “yeah right, and I wasn’t born three years ago” but I showed him how sweet Alabama was on my ipod and he thought everything about that was JUST BRILLIANT.


(3) When mommy’s boss calls in the evening, you get pushed into the living room, mom ignores you for about fifteen minutes, and you get to watch a surprise television show. Hooray for bosses!  See also: can I have a piece of candy while you’re on the phone and I know you’re sound asleep but can I just crawl in bed with you because I’m cold.


(4) Broccoli Stems are Disgusting. The rule involving eating your broccoli to get dessert does not include the hard stringy stalks on which the delicious parts of vegetables happen to grow.  I’m a pushover on this.


(5) If there’s an chance for everyone to sit at the piano wearing plastic crowns singing Christmas songs while children make shaky hand-held music videos on the iphone, regardless of the fact that it’s five minutes past bedtime, such opportunities should always be taken.


(6) When mom comes barreling into your school wearing a pencil skirt to read during second-grade library hour and she busts out into song in the middle of a book (because it says in the book that the person was singingwhat else was she supposed to do?) this is not normal and parents really just usually read.  Huh.


(7) So joy to the world – my daughter now longs for even more American Girl trinkets like a volkswagon, swiss chalet, hot air balloon, competitive gymnastics set, sailboat, and other first-world playthings that cost more than a mortgage payment because the ELEVEN MILLIONTH CATALOG has finally arrived.  Thank you Mattel.  I hate you.


(8) But it was Laura Engles Wilder’s Christmas in the Big Woods and Pa was playing the fiddle and there were lyrics literally written into the text.  It wasn’t like I could just talk that part.


(9) If you leave your scooter behind mom’s large vehicle and it gets run over in the morning before school she will show zero sympathy and will tell you to put away your things with disgust and will drink coffee and tweet at red lights like she just don’t care about your little ruined scooter problem.


(10) For Christmas, don’t waste your time asking for a new scooter from Santa because without shoes and if you are okay with veering slightly to the left and don’t mind a bit of a wobble, this thing TOTALLY WORKS


(11) Mom gets super mad if you say things like “Santa’s not real/ prove it then” when a certain three-year-old brother is in the car and for some reason nonverbal clues like winking, wincing, eyebrow raising, and fake coughing simply don’t work to curtail anything and things similar to “DON’T RUIN THE MAGIC FOR EVERYONE” are screamed out loud.  Geez.


(12) Before bed, let’s all talk about the length of a small intestine, that an esophagus carries food from the throat to the stomach, red blood cells, and umbilical cords.  Thanks a lot, Magic School Bus’ traveling circus through the human body, for causing all kinds of late-night discussions on topics too advanced for children.  What happened to Good Night Moon? Why are we talking about bile?


(13) Mom’s a total nerd. This won’t fully set in for another few years, but a seed was firmly planted with all the singing, wincing, discussion of umbilical cords, and acceptance of crowns.  Just wait until high school, kids, when your dates come over and I introduce Viking Night whereby we tear into turkey legs without silverware.  You’ll love me to the moon and back. See? I’m glad we did all that reading.




Things I Tell My Six-Year-Old


(1) Yes, I realize that feeding the dog one scoop of food is something we have to do every single day, and this chore is extremely onerous.  But somehow, I know you’ll overcome.

(2) Yes, you have lovely teeth. No, they don’t at all look large, protruding like boulders out of your very small mouth.

(3) Please stop squirting room spray on your pillow to help you fall asleep.  Your hair will smell nothing like ocean breezes.  This stuff is swill.

(4) No, you can’t have a Chai tea.  What are you, like 27? Have I ever ordered you that at Starbucks?  You can have an apple juice and a healthy dose of normal childhood, thank-you-very-much.

(5) I’m sorry I ironed on the Daisy pedals in the wrong order but in like five minutes you go through a transition bridging ceremony and you’ll be an official Brownie and won’t need this Daisy vest anyway so please get up off the floor for heaven’s sakes.

(6) It’s not a cartwheel when you land on both feet.  Is that a round-off?  Oh sweetie – did you just fall over?  Oh I see.  It’s your made-up gymnastics move.  Clever.

(7) Please stop eating all the gruyere.  They make icky American cheese for you children of the world who don’t really give a rip.

(8) Yes, take your purse.  You never know when you might need sparkling lip gloss, a bar of soap, and an empty wallet with fake money in it when we go to the grocery store.

(9) Why is there a bar of soap in your purse?

(10)               It’s really just eggs and potatoes and onions with herbs but instead of all that let’s call it Fancy French Eggs.  Au Revoir!

(11)               You will play piano because I said so, and it will increase your skills in all areas of life, and will provide you a ticket into the “I used to play piano when I was little but I hated all that practice but I gave it up and now all I can play is chopsticks” world of adulthood.  You’re welcome.  It’s better than “we sang opera in our underwear.”  At least I’m giving you something you can actually use.

(12)               No, we cannot plant corn in the front flowerbed.  I know that would be “so awesome” but so is the Batmobile and you don’t see me rocking that in the carpool line.

(13)               It’s true that I love you more than the entire world combined.  Because God shines through your veins like a flashlight, illuminating the world with good.  Please don’t stop accepting my love, even when I’m old and stinky.



Dreams are for those who laugh


I wasn’t sure why I went, really, to this retreat full of writers and strangers all focused on Dreaming Big. In Nebraska, for goodness sakes.  I was at the airport with a heavy heart, telling myself to turn around and go back, back toward piles of undone and unfolded and unclean.  But it was already paid for, and I needed a break, so I boarded the plane with my head shaking slightly back and forth and my hands gripping my purse. What am I to do with dreams at a time like this?  Dreams are for the stable, and the settled.  Those who have things paid for and life wrapped up in boxes.

Dreams are a luxury I just can’t afford.

So I landed and bumped along hills and miles, rounding a corner toward this gathering of souls, through red barns and geese overhead and a landscape peppered with silos. There were speakers and art and writing and coffee, but in the middle of a panel discussion on Saturday afternoon, I rose.  I couldn’t sit anymore.  I couldn’t think anymore.  I was the stoic one in the back who didn’t raise her hands to music. My throat was closing up and I needed to breathe.

So I bundled up and bolted, like I was skipping class and didn’t want the headmaster to catch up.  But as I walked, the pain I left back in the south flew straight into my heart like geese in formation, trudging so predictably back in. I ended up on the edge of a Nebraska lake, all buttoned up in a pea coat to ward off the chilly wind, like I could shore up my own heart.  There were ducks swirling aimlessly around, clucking and dunking and mocking me.  Surely, Lord, you have more in store for me than this.  Surely in time, dreams will arise.  

With the wind and the ducks and the pain chasing my heels, I didn’t feel happy.  I felt like hiding.  And it was then that I heard it, so loud it made me jump. A group of men across the water must have been camping, or having a revival, or playing a mean game of poker, because the only sound I could hear was loud raucous laughter coming from male voices.  Cackling, belly-bending howls that only come from deep inside, where a wellspring of joy bubbles up from within.

Seriously, God?  This? 

And I knew it was my only cure. The one way to break up the sharpness in my chest and shake it up like a snow globe, effervescent bubbles rising from my own soul.  I’d find the funny.  In time, I’d see this season of darkness juxtaposed with jewels of sparkling light, like rubies hidden in Easter eggs found one by one with the passage of years.

Dreams are not for the settled.  For the happy.  For the ones-who-have-it-all.  Dreams are for the broken.  For those who hold their arms out wide and say Lord, I can’t bear it any longer.  Help me find a way, with the talents you’ve entrusted to me, to serve.  To find joy.

To laugh. 

And hope will arise, following you all the way to Nebraska.   You stay up past bedtime, and wit will somehow travel from your brain to your pen and it is the new balm of Gilead that is saving your own soul.

I heard the voice of God, and He was laughing. Either that or it was some big hairy dude on the other side of the lake.  Either way, I’ll take it.