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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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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Signage, Part One

Say this word five times fast: Signage. Say it. Now assure your children you haven't been drinking, but that when you get older, laughs are cheap and you have to resort to reading blogs by crazy people.

When Marc was in grad school, he came home one day and told me in a disbelieving tone that his department had put up signs (signage) announcing an upcoming meeting regarding signage. While this is a very apt metaphor for just the kind of mindless banter that can drive a person right out of academia in a hurry, using the word "signage" has given me no small amount of joy over the years. Why not just "signs?" And why have meetings about it?

These are the deep questions of the universe, and entirely too heady to discuss on this blog. We prefer talking about falling on our tushes and woodchucks.

So instead of thinking about word origin, let's take a look at a sign that gave me GREAT joy recently. When we traveled to Dallas, we had the chance to visit a fantastic new outdoor space downtown called Klyde Warren Park. Yummy food trucks, great green space, delightful people and dog watching, and a lovely little playground.

When we approached the entrance to the playground, we saw this:

Talk about great signage! Only in Texas! And I want you to know I actually witnessed women removing their high heels to walk into the playground area.

I, with the foresight of a frumpy Midwesterner, had left my heels at home. I didn't look very pretty, but darn it, I was able to walk right up to the climbing cube and get AFTER it!

All right, you Southern women. Defend yourselves. Explain yourselves. And for the love of Pete, please interpret the signage.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Resolving Not to Hate Jillian Michaels

I have mentioned this before here, but I would like to reiterate that I will not be making goals for 2013. First my dad made me write those suckers down every year (watch the video on this post for an historically accurate retelling) and now my husband pesters me about this very same subject. Christmas Day, for example, just as I was enjoying my first bite of hot fudge cheesecake, Marc called across the room, "Kim, have you written down your G and Os yet?" For those of you not married to people who view productivity as a virtue, Marc was badgering questioning me about my Goals and Objectives.

Do you see what I'm up against?

The thing is, I'm getting older, which I believe entails me to ignoring G and Os. For example, the area of physical fitness. Can I not make a goal and instead just try to find a swimsuit that doesn't make the neighbor boys shudder? How about I make my one and only G and O to not end up harboring really violent anger against this woman:
You know Jillian, right? The trainer who makes lots of well-intentioned people cry when she screams in their face? It's not enough that they have VOLUNTEERED to be a part of a show called The Biggest Loser, they also need to endure Jillian.

I, too, have endured her in the privacy of my own basement. Jillian's DVDs do come in handy when one is stranded at home with lots of progeny who are out of school due to blizzards. Only extreme weather patterns should make you turn to Jillian, however. When she shouted without shame, "Love the pain!" I actually whimpered.

I walked like a drunk toddler for five days. Couldn't take the stairs without moaning and lifting my legs manually for six.

I resolve in 2013 not to scream inappropriate words at the TV when Jillian is on it. I also resolve to prevent blizzards. That one might be easier to accomplish.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Merry!

Christmas is full of surprises, and not just the feeling you get when you open another one of these from someone you thought loved you:
There are other surprises. Like the delightful ones when you hear your children sing their versions of Christmas carols. Having no reference point they ask you to "Bring us some piggy pudding," instead of the figgy kind. Actually, bacon in a pudding would be a great improvement over figs. Yesterday, I heard Thea singing with all vigor, "Gloooooooooria, in Chelsea's Stadium!" That Chelsea. She is one lucky girl to have such announcement made in her stadium AND to own such a large piece of property.

My favorite part of Christmas, though, has to be how the story of Jesus' birth changes color every year. Just when I think I understand all the implications, that I've seen it from every angle, God is gracious enough to bump the kaliedoscope one tiny degree to the left and I see the shepherds, the angels, the manger, the baby in an entirely different light. My children help me with this, like when they rename the central characters. Meet Wise Girl:
She's the one in the middle. The bob cut gives her away.

This morning, we talked about why on earth God might send angels with the greatest news in the universe to shepherds. Stinky men hanging out with animals known for their stupidity. It seems an inauspicious beginning to the long-awaited rescue of all humankind. Thea said she thought the shepherds would be good at telling everybody. Ana thought they were like David, least likely to be heroes but perfect for giant slaying. Mitch said God likes ordinary people a lot.

All good and perfect gifts come from the Father of Light, right? Oh, what a rescue! What a way to enter the darkness and the muck and the mire! A small, hungry, wide-eyed infant, accompanied only by a cold night and sky full of angels. What a beginning, indeed.

Merry Christmas, dear friends. May the God who knows how to break through the darkness shine His light right into ours, filling our dirty, needy hearts with a redemption so shocking, we're still spinning the kaleidoscope two thousand years later.

Gloria in Chelsea's Stadium!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Traveling Mercies

Travel during the holiday season is not for the faint of heart. We just returned from a quick trip to Dallas to visit our brand-spanking-new nephew, Nathan. Here he is. I dare you to not make cooing noises.
Is there anything better than holding a newborn and kissing the little crease between his neck and his fat cheek? Can't stand it. ALMOST makes me want to procreate once more, but then I mention this to Marc and he becomes very still and very pale, and I let it go. One needs a husband and one must know one's husband's body language for "about to lose it."

Nathan is getting ready for a grand adventure, as his mom and dad, Marc's brother Scott and his wife Laura, are preparing to move to Papua New Guinea as Wycliffe Bible translators. We are so, so proud of them and of their guts, gumption and obedience. We also will be hoping they can avoid going through the Atlanta airport.

Did you know Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson Airport is the busiest in the world? These are fun facts you pick up when you miss connections because of engine troubles on phantom planes that never arrive in Dallas and then wander the busiest airport in the universe with three children and one husband who are in dire need of naps. You also learn survival strategies when you have to cross the hallways, which are so congested with people wearing Christmas sweaters and jingle bell earrings, you fear for the life of your four-year-old as she scampers across. Thea looked like she was living a live-action game of Frogger, terrified eyes bugging and toting her Barbie backpack behind her.
All those crazy people trying to kill my preschooler, however, should not be blamed for their behavior. After all, most of them were just trying to get to their loved ones to celebrate Christmas. My little sister and her family recently moved out of state, and I'm not sure how to do Christmas without Lindsay. I've been thinking about how much we are built to want family, biological and otherwise. We go to great lengths to find family, wherever we are. We go through Atlanta, even though that means risking our lives. We find new family when our first families are far away. Our new "daughter," Tse Ling, is a student at a nearby university. Much to her own peril, we are her host family while she's studying in the States. Tse Ling hangs out with us once a month or so and gets to experience American culture after we've made it thoroughly unrecognizable and loud. So far, she has endured trick-or-treating, Thanksgiving, and Christmas lunch, all while trying to extricate Thea from her personal space.
We are happy to be her family away from her home in Malaysia.  We hope she isn't scared of us.

So as you find your family this Christmas, whether that family is by blood or spirit, I wish you well. Hug each other hard, love each other beautifully, and Godspeed as you make your way to each other.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tinsel Tunes

Sleigh bells ring. Are you listening? Well, of course you are not because all you can hear is janky Christmas music blaring out the radio, the mall sound system, and the tinny speakers in elevators. Sleigh bells can't possibly compete.

So can we talk a bit about some GOOD Christmas music? It does exist, and is only slightly more difficult to find than delicious fruitcake. First, I mention again, Sara Groves. No, I am not her personal stalker, though I did make a complete buffoon of myself when we met. I always mean to play it super cool when I meet people I admire, and then I turn into Crazy Yipping Woman who needs to never meet celebrities. This is a recurring theme in my life. See here and here and here.

So Sara. I can call her that, right? Since we're besties? Sara has the best Christmas album ever, no contest. Don't argue. It's my blog.
Secondly, I am not a hipster, but I can pretend and when I'm pretending, I make up a little martini and float some cranberries and listen to this.
Then one of my children asks for a sip or turns off She & Him and changes the music to A Muppets Christmas and the moment is over.

Also, I am enjoying some tracks on this:

Maybe you're thinking I just bought this CD because I knew Sara Groves had been one of the organizers and that she loves International Justice Mission and that I hoped maybe she'd stop by for coffee someday and I'd just happen to be listening to this and we'd totally be ON. THE. SAME. PAGE. If you thought that, you'd be correct. But there are other songs on here that are great too, like Jamie Grace's Away in a Manger. So see? I'm really super stable.

Also, Marc would like to plug this:
I love my husband and my husband loves Neil Diamond. I have a little fear about ND, but I do admire a man who can dye his hair this long and get away with it. Plus he dresses a lot like Marc, which means I owe him a certain amount of loyalty.
(I must point out that Marc received Neil's CD as a gift from his staff this year. He did not, I repeat, did not know he would be wearing Neil's outfit. Be afraid.)

Go, then, and stop listening to Karen Carpenter use fake words like "Christmasing."And please report back on what you find. I can handle Neil for only so long.

Monday, December 17, 2012

I thought I could do it. I thought I should do it, to resume this blog without mentioning the ache we all have about what happened Friday in Connecticut. I even wrote a different post, figuring we'd heard enough of the pain, the insanity, the grief that has only begun.

But I read stories to my babies tonight, tucked them in, heard them laugh, inhaled the clean, springtime smell of their damp hair after a hot bath. And I have to say I'm sorry. I'm so, so sorry that there are moms and dads tonight who would give anything and beyond to smell the curly hair of their little one, to kiss the nose of their kindergartner, to read a silly story to their second grader, and to bury their faces into a sweaty neck after a soccer goal, a dance recital, a backyard race.

I'm so, so sorry, I can barely stand up under the sorrow, and I'm grieving only from afar.

We were out of town last weekend and did not watch much coverage on the shooting. Our children were always within ear- and eye-shot and we kept the television off. But then I was standing in the airport, and I caught the tail end of a story about two little boys, boys Mitchell's age, and I saw their grinning, toothless faces, and big, hot tears came flooding down my cheeks.
What will those mothers do tonight? How will they get up tomorrow?

Oh, Jesus, come soon. Make it right. I take great comfort in knowing You wept, too, at death's temporary victory. You got furious at injustice. You are the One who set eternity in our hearts. You know where we are, and Your face is not turned from us.

May God have mercy on our broken, fragile hearts.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Tidings of Comfort

Why do we do this to ourselves? Every year, we endure the pain and hardship of Photoshopping taking a Christmas card that will reflect our joy and gratitude for friendships and the Holy Child. Instead, this happens:
And then this:
Which spirals downward to this:
And just when we think we've made it over the mountain, this:
So then our numbers take a hit.
Until finally, we just resort to our true selves.
From our dysfunction to yours, we wish you a merry photo session. Good luck with that.

Friday, December 7, 2012

I Can't Help Falling....

I might be making this up, but I feel like there was a time when I still maintained my dignity. Admittedly, I blame a whole slew of life changes on childbirth, many of which I will not enumerate here because I would scare you off. But I think there was a time when I could still hold my head up in public and not fear that at any moment, I would make a complete fool of myself.

That time has gone the way of Z Cavariccis, Salon Selectives, and Depeche Mode. Nowadays I pick up my youngest child at preschool and end up doing this:
Photo source.

In a hallway crowded with parents and teachers. True, I wasn't wearing red bloomers, high heels or a mic pack. And there were no go-go dancers in the background. But everything else was the same. Thea was holding on to my legs, "hugging" me with force that apparently I am unable to withstand. I FELL OVER, BACK ON THE FLOOR, BOTH LEGS IN THE AIR.

One dad looked away with a nervous laugh, hoping that if he just didn't look at my feet and my sprawled position, perhaps it wasn't really happening at his son's preschool, where they learn innocent things like the Pledge of Allegiance and how to share Teddy Grahams.

Another dad, out of shock and pity, said with wide eyes, "That was awesome."

Which is a relief, because I was definitely going for awesome.
Photo source.

I do praise God I was not wearing a skirt.

Happy weekend, friends. May your rumps remain appropriately absconded and may you refrain from scarring fathers of preschoolers. Go in peace, knowing I will disrupt it at any second.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Holiday Shopping Idea Zone

I know you're all uber organized and that you don't need any help in this department. In the off chance, however, that you are still looking for that little something special for the loved ones gathering around the tree this Christmas, I took it upon myself to be helpful. Take a looksy and you can thank me later.

1. His and Her watches. So cute! So artsy! So budget-friendly!
Wouldn't Marc just love a blue animal skin band with a moon on the face? He totally would! And he will love it that these two beauts only put us out $1,090,000! Such a steal for a little over a million. Plus, the watches come with two business-class tickets to Paris and Geneva, where we can watch the watch people MAKE watches like this. I, for one, would not wear this timepiece in economy seating. Eww.

2. Broadway, here I come!
I have long, long dreamed of playing Annie. Before today, that dream could have been fulfilled in Des Moines community theater, or even a moldy church basement. But now! I know I don't need to think so small. For a small investment of $30,000, I can be in the stinking Broadway show! In New York! On Broadway! I will use only exclamation points when speaking of my theater debut! Plus, I get six tickets to the show, perfect for Marc, my children and my parents, all of whom will need to bring me roses and shout "Brava!" when I "accidentally" trip the lead little witch actress and start belting "Tomorrow!" !!! and !!!! You're only a day (and 30K) away!

3. Jet pack (duh).
I feel almost embarrassed to be stating the obvious, but a Jet Lev R200 is the perfect gift for anyone on your list. This particular model is even better than the one you got for high school graduation, clocking in at 32 mph for a top speed and shooting your lithe and smiling body a good 30 feet in the air whenever the heck you feel like it. And I challenge you to find anything else that can propel you skyward in your swimsuit and not leave you maimed or paralyzed for only $99,500.

Hope this helps. Only 21 shopping days left!

All photos and real life prices courtesy of Neiman Marcus.