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I write novels, eat dark chocolate, raise three children, love my husband, scrub toilets, ignore the laundry, and love a good story, but hardly ever in that order.
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Monday, December 23, 2013

Happy Christmas 2013!


Hello, dear people.

Despite all those Internet rumors, I didn't die. Wait--that rumor was about Johnny Depp. He isn't dead either, though he is against showing his teeth in photographs.





I, however, am not!

Listen, I've missed you people. I'm sorry for my long absence, but I have found I cannot multi-task. That's not true: I CAN multi-task if it involves cooking dinner, breaking up fist fights, unloading the dishwasher, and reviewing subtraction facts. I CANNOT multi-task, however, when it comes to writing.

I'm writing a new book and I can't do that and blog. Sorry. I'm definitely not a millennial that way, but it's true. (For the record, I'm also not a millennial in terms of my texting speed and my ab strength. But those are other posts for another time.)

So I'm writing every now and then and hopefully, by the time Thea gets her first speeding ticket, I will finish this book and be back to (the obsolete world of) blogging. 

In the  meantime, please enjoy a beautiful Christmas with your families. Somehow the God of the universe saw fit to up-end all our thoughts on power and kingdoms and inauguration days and entered our fray as a vulnerable baby. Our hearts sing with the birth of our Rescue, our Freedom, our Unfettered Joy. Star of wonder, indeed!

Merry Christmas, dear friends. And much love to you.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Hungry for More


A week ago, the five of us joined up with a great group of folks and packed meals for hungry people.

Have you heard of Meals from the Heartland?
We Iowans grow a lot of food. Not to brag or anything, but we pretty much crush the Growing Food category. We're really good at it. And I love these people from Meals from the Heartland. They are making it possible for folks all over the nation and globe to benefit from the bountiful harvest of the Midwest. Hungry people getting food from Iowa. I love it all.

So we headed down to a huge room where a bunch of people in hairnets were rocking out to Motown and Gloria Gaynor. These are my kind of people.
We took a two-hour shift, which, by the way, sounds easy. When you are elderly and decrepit, however, like the author of this blog, your back does tend to spasm and your arms do start to twitch. At these moments, however, you must stifle the impulse to whine because (A) you are packing rice and soy protein and dehydrated vegetables for people who need to eat and (B) your husband has gone FULL-THROTTLE into THAT GUY mode. He is THAT GUY, the one who keeps altering the packing system so we become the most efficient, least wasteful packing crew on the floor. He is THAT GUY who monkeys with adding SINGLE GRAINS OF RICE so our weight goal is PERFECT. He is THAT GUY who thinks we might get a TROPHY or a STICKER if we have the most amazingly perfect boxes at the end.
You married THAT GUY and you have never regretted it, but you may not, under any circumstance, refer to your aching back because you know without a doubt that THAT GUY will replace you with a faster, more efficient volunteer who happens to be your five-year-old daughter.
Even with these pressures, I recommend coming alongside what the Meals from the Heartland people are doing. A donation of only $20 provides meals for 100 people! Unbelievable! And if you marry A GUY like THAT GUY he will be quick to tell you that by trouncing the next table over, we packed enough meals to feed over 3000 people! Boo-yah! Wiping up on the hunger-fighting competition! (Good thing THAT GUY is so cute.)


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Swimming Upstream With Diana Nyad



Have you people heard about this woman?
Her name is Diana Nyad. I first knew of her after I read a fascinating article about her in The New York Times a couple years back. Miss Diana is now 64 years old, and this week, after 35 years of pursuit, she swam from Havana, Cuba, to Key West, Florida. I'm talking 52 hours and 54 minutes, only stopping for nourishment. I'm talking 110 miles. 

Did I mention she was not in a PLANE or on a CRUISE SHIP but that she was SWIMMING? 

Have you ever swum non-stop for 30 minutes? You know that lung burn? Well, multiply that for about a gazillion minutes, add salt water, dehydration and general crazytown, and we'll be about halfway to how Nyad must have been feeling.
Please note her swollen lips. And the absence of a lido deck. And note the stunned and clapping Average Humans looking on in shock. The guy in the life vest (!) is thinking, "Dang! And the most impressive thing I did today was floss!" I can identify.
Photo by abc.com
I feel the need to point out that Ms. Nyad was the first person to accomplish this swim WITHOUT A SHARK CAGE. Time to let that one sink in.....And she wore the mask above and a full body suit and booties during the night to protect herself from jellyfish attacks. And another moment to absorb that tidbit.....

Did I mention I flossed today?

This woman rocks. She first became famous for swimming around Manhattan, a thought that makes me a little queasy, considering the summertime smell of Manhattan and what might be washing into the waters around it. But swim she did and three decades after her first attempt at the Cuba-Florida route, she made it. 
I am so tired from writing this very short blog post, I need to take a few days off from flossing. Maybe don't wait for my shark-cage record-breaking. But I do own goggles! 

Woot-woot-to-the-64th-power, Diana Nyad! Now go eat some pizza and take a nap!


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Can't We All Just Get Along?




The gist: Moms who, a decade or so ago, jumped off the corporate ladder to stay home with their children now want back into the work force. The piece was interesting and provocative and well worth a read.

Warner's article reminded me of when I was a young child and had just released Balancing Act, my first novel. The book was reviewed in the Chicago Sun-Times, which was a exhilarating and depressing moment. Exhilarating because I love Chicago, I lived in Chicago, and the Sun-Times is a formidable newspaper. Depressing because the reviewer, I felt, distilled my story into a question of whether a mom should stay home or remain in the workplace.

*My point in writing that book, for the record, was cheap therapy. I cannot tell you how freeing it was to write a book that made my girlfriends laugh, involved a disastrous urine/poop scene, and documented Marc's obsession with budget travel covertly into the character of Jake Elliott. Culture wars? Not so much. 

At the risk of sounding a lot like Pollyanna, can we take a moment and just get along?
I am a mom. I have a lot of jobs that are my responsibilities in any given day. Some of these jobs come with a (meager) paycheck. Many do not. I am grateful to count among my friends women who are physicians, lawyers, writers, musicians, nurses, television producers, teachers, realtors, artists, small business owners, and stay-at-home moms. All of these women are hard-working mothers, in the home, out of the home. I haven't met one yet who feels she is doing everything exactly right and lives in perfect balance. (Actually, I did meet one really annoying woman once who felt she was doing everything exactly right and I found I couldn't understand the words coming out of her mouth. So we don't hang out now.)


Can we, as intelligent, passionate, blessed-beyond-measure women support each other? Propel each other to better things? Can we hope sincerely for each other that the woman God created us to be will find her way in this big and crazy world? It's tough enough doing this thing without female infighting. 

I didn't particularly love junior high. I vote that we stop reliving it.

Whether you are on the corporate ladder, crushing it, being pommeled by it, or have jumped off forever or for a season, I applaud you onward today. Do what you do and do it heartily for the God who wired you and knows every curve of your face, every hair on your head. Ignore the naysayers today, girls, and live your own story well. I'm cheering you on.



Thursday, August 22, 2013

Fast-Forward Family


Will the big invisible finger pushing the fast-forward button of our lives please step off?
I'm serious. I'm getting irritable.
When did this happen? Is anyone else hearing me on this? Four days ago, we brought Ana home from the hospital and Marc stood in her nursery in the wee hours, listening to her weep hysterically and ticking off all the reasons why she shouldn't be crying.
"She's not hungry because she just ate. She's not cold because I just smooshed that little knit cap on her head. And she's not wet because we just changed her diaper. So she must be tired and we just need to let her cry it out."
Ana was barely out of the womb. But I married a physics major, so, we deal a lot with logic around here.

Then two days later, Mitch came home from the hospital and during his first at-home diaper change, he peed in an arc, right into his own eyeball. Ana was beside herself with grief. "WHY WOULD HE DO THAT?" 
Then the day after that, Thea came home and now....she's five and turns a respectable cartwheel and can make her own bed, including decorative pillows. We're all really old and I don't remember how it happened. 
What gives? 

My aunt, Michele, warned me about this. When our kids were tiny and needy and sapping me of all the energy it took to apply lip gloss, Aunt Michele warned me that life with children really did move at terrifyingly high speeds. She and Uncle Doug have four boys and while I marveled at her ability to live in house with all that misplaced urine, I did not believe her when she said life speeds up with kids. That very morning, for example, I had counted the minutes until nap time. 

But Aunt Michele, you were absolutely correct. Sorry I doubted. The minutes seem to skip directly to years, and I shake my head at the speed. Go kiss those children of yours, dear ones. Tiny kids, huge kids, sweaty kids, surly kids. Fast-forward gets faster every year.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Prancercise It


School starts in a matter of days. This means a lot of things to a lot of people, but to me, it means my children are all in need of pants. These children of mine all display the Tall Man Gene so dominant in my husband. I am well on my way to being the squat but bubbly shrimp in my family. And as the Tall Man Gene dominates, no one has pants that fit.

So I can't blog right now. I need to go shop for Tall Child pants. 

I'll be back next week when everyone is clothed with modesty and denim. But in the meantime, my delightful friend, Danielle, has pointed the way to this fantastic video. After our discussion here last week on the fine art of public exercise, Danielle saw fit to introduce me to Prancercise. 

I want you to know that Marc and I have both attempted a prance (or six) around our living room, and though I may be squat and bubbly, I cannot compete with the Tall Man's nimble footwork. I highly recommend you take some time with your loved ones and prance it up. Such a grand stress reliever AND a way to get fit in the flanks like your favorite horsey!

See you next week. ;)

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Drop Down and Give Me Twenty


We're careening around the bend to summer's finale and I really don't want to think about that. So I'm going to write about something even more alarming: Working Out.

If you have been following this blog for any length of time or if you have run into me EVER, you know I am aging. I feel pretty good about this as the alternative is death and, like the end of summer, death is something I'd like to put off for awhile. God willing.

So I'm aging, mostly happily, though I certainly have my days. One such day recently, my sweet son, Mitch, was busy encouraging me. I'm pretty sure Mitch loves compliments and encouragement himself, so he dishes them out to me, too, in an effort to be kind. Turns out, I'd prefer chocolate and almonds, but we'll get there someday. But a few days ago, Mitch walked beside me as we went up to his room and he said, "Mom, I like those cracking noises your knees make when you go up stairs."

Chocolate and almonds.

I have two beautiful, smart, fiesty and faith-propelled grandmas. They teach me to age with grace and sass, a delightful combination. 

So I'm not against aging. I just like to work out every now and then so I can look cute like my grandmas when I get to that part. Or at least release some endorphins so I'm not cranky AND creaky at the ripe age of 37.

Here's the thing, though: I'm pretty sure I look like a freak-o when I'm working out. More specifically: I look pathetic when I run. I'm slow. And sweaty. And red-faced. And desperate for someone to run over my toes with a pick-up so I'll be forced to stop.

I don't make it a habit to run in front of mirrors, which is smart on all kinds of levels. So maybe I look awesome. MAYBE I look like this person.
Photo by Athleta.com
Maybe I do. I'm guessing, though, from the concerned expressions of passersby and the looks on my children's faces when I return home, my face as red as Elmo's and my breathing sounding kind of like I'm working a 1-900 hotline...I'm guessing I don't look that great. In fact, this cartoon captures the truth much more clearly.
Happy week, friends. ;)