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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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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. ;)

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Sick in July, and Other Questions for God

We are recovering from a bit of nasty over here. All three kids came down with some version of, as Thea calls it, "the pukes."

As in (to her terrified VBS volunteer): "I wish I would have been here yesterday when you had popcorn for a snack. But I couldn't because I had THE PUKES."

As in (to the cute check-out girl at Whole Foods who has alarmingly large ear lobes after a piercing experiment): "I helped Mommy pick out that apple you're holding. I can touch all the apples today, but I couldn't yesterday because I was home with THE PUKES. Apples don't taste good when you have THE PUKES."

As in (to our neighbor who was out to walk the dog and got a big hug from Thea en route): "I've missed you! Too bad THE PUKES have kept me inside!"

So we don't have many friends left, and I murmur "Lysol! Purell! Clorox!" upon waking out of deep and interrupted slumber. I also can do laundry like a mad woman and at all hours.

Laundry is a great distraction from theological wrangling.

One of our children, who shall remain nameless because this child prefers to be blogonymous (so catchy, this made-up word! Anonymous + Blogging mom who hasn't learned discretion = blogonymous! I love it!). My blogonymous offspring prefers to talk theology when gripping the toilet bowl at 3 am.

As in: "Mom, whyyyyyyy does God let us get sick?"

And: "If our world is broken, why doesn't He just fix it and not let me throw up?"

And: "Why did Adam and Eve HAVE to disobey God? And give me some examples of how YOU sin."

I'm not joking. And I want to point out that at these moments, I am the only parent in the room. Marc prefers strictly daytime theology talks.

I do my best, people. I am not equipped to solve the world's ills or to tease out The Meaning of Suffering at my best time of the day, much less while the world sleeps and my Crank-o-meter is on a dangerous upward climb.

At around 4 :15, I suggested that God was, in fact, answering this child's prayers and that He was, in fact, healing the wonky belly. "Your body is getting rid of the ick," I said. "It's flushing out the bad gunk and getting your belly back to its healthy self. I mean, what would happen if you weren't able to get rid of the gunk? What if your immune system couldn't attack the gunk and the gunk just stayed in there FOREVER?" 

Silence. Perhaps a wee bit of fear at the size of my bulging, blood-shot eyeballs and the wild mane of lioness hair I was sporting. And my need of a bra while changing the sheets. Again.

Then, "Is not being able to throw up an actual medical problem or are you making it up?"

And so it goes.

I know God is good and that He hears every whiny, pitchy prayer we all utter, even at 3 am. And I know He knows when we have THE PUKES. And while my science may be sketchy, I'm grateful for healing, in whatever form and at whatever time of the night. 

But if you want the details on how it all worked out, find Thea. She'll tell you ALL about it.