As a sterling example of the nobility of this man I married, I offer up The Lowell Guy.  He is an addict?  Mentally challenged?  Developmentally disabled?  And he got Dan’s cell phone number and calls it.  Incessantly.   Often in the middle of the night, when we’d leap out of bed and into the hall, hearts racing, sure it was a call that Dan’s parents were sick again.  And on the other end of the line are deep, incoherant mumbles rambling through the wires.  We called back once and got Hope Network, where he lives.  So, Dan gave him his own ring so we’d not panic when he calls at 4 am nearly every night.  And when he calls at 4 am nearly every night, I picture his profile on Dan’s cell with the moniker “Guy, Lowell” and try to pray for him as I roll over and go back to sleep.  We’ve attempted to engage him in conversation, asking if we can help him, what his name is, who he’s trying to call.  Nothing.  Just unintelligible scramble.  And this good good man of mine, who is so busy and fields hundreds of calls a day, accepts The Lowell Guy’s place among his other contacts and receives often a dozen or more calls from him a day, all without complaint.  And just so you know, we’ve gotten in touch with Hope Network and let them know that someone who perhaps shouldn’t have access to a phone, does, and when we tried to imitate The Lowell Guy’s deep timbre, they knew right who he was.  And still the calls.  So now we consider him a proxy member of this strange collection of people we call family.  Right between the Kevins and my Keloid scar, Steve.  And we’re not giving them our number.



As promised, pictures of the Kevin’s new digs…

Seriously.  How talented is my man?
Sign and name courtesy Grant.  (for you city slickers, scratch is what chickens eat)
Lucy and I painted this.
And this.
Oops.  And this.
The Kevins, enjoying a breath of fresh air.
Ok, this Kevin probably isn’t enjoying this so much.
Or this.
But it could be worse.
A lot worse.


Every Tuesday night finds me shuffling my feet trying to stay warm while I watch my son practice for Little League.  It is a new world for us, with new words to add to our vernacular.  Like cup.  Weeks ago I got an email from Peter’s coach requesting that he come to practice with a mitt, a ball and a cup.  A cup.  So he asked me what one was and I tried to explain it as best I could, but I think I did it wrong because when Tess asked him what it was he told her, “It’s a thing that I wear in my underwear when I play baseball to protect me, because if I get hit there my balls will explode.”  Which is totally not how I explained it to him, but Dan says that it’s actually pretty right on.
So I threw the kids in the car and drove to Dick’s (smirk) and bought my six year old his first cup, which is a bit like booking a 747 Airbus for a single passenger.  And it doesn’t have straps, just these biker shorts that have a special pocket for it, but which could easily double as extra storage for snacks or his water bottle.  So now when I stand at the edge of the field and root for him, I’m really just trying to distract him from knocking on his cup every couple of minutes to show whoever is coming into first that he’s protected.  Because he’s really proud.  And excited.  And I don’t know how long this baseball craze will last, but I figure even after Little League is a distant memory, we’ll always have the cup.  And the memory of Peter wearing it.  Being real (cute).


If I were writing a book about my life, this chapter would be called “Gravy is Stupid” (even though we don’t say that.  But it is.  Stupid.)  I rarely eat meat, but am raising at least one carnivore and sleep every night with another and they both love gravy.  Grant reminded me yesterday that he never got a I-get-to-pick-whatever-I-want-for-dinner-cause-it’s-my-birthday dinner, so I took his request: roast beast with gravy, potato casserole and strawberries and went to town.  Except I cannot make gravy.  Cannot.  Make.  Gravy. I have Allrecipes on my computer right here in the kitchen and have consulted it often, but the closest I can come is gravy flavored jello that falls out of the gravy boat in one gelatinous gloop while Peter and I look on in horror.  Tonight it was too runny even though I followed the recipe to a t.  Even with the aid of my new fat separator from a dear friend who feels my pain, but has her own issues with meat (you know who you are), I can’t do it.  But I’m taking it to the mattress because the menfolk are asking for it and I like to please, so if you have any tips, pass them along.  Until then…gravy is stupid.


Freth Eggs Here (spelling courtesy Peter)
Ego centricity aside, this is the best “s” she’s ever written.
“Wook!  It’s pewfict.”
“Seriously, dude, that’s the best orange “s” in the whole wide world.”
Our neighbor Jay-dub (nickname courtesy me since he remarked last week that all my kids have numerous nicknames and we only ever call him Jake).  He can claim ownership of our flock since the kids gave him a chick of his own, Patty (aka Kevin).
The “Sign Makah” complete with red marker scratches on his freckly cheeks from a falcon fight he and Peter had after making claws out of these crazy long q-tip things I ripped off from the ER during hour 3 of trying to keep my baby happy while being poked and prodded (but that’s another story).  

After umpteen hours of staining and painting while lugging Lucy around in her baby carrier thing, I was too tired to do anything other than throw an old chicken casserole on the table outside and tell them in a falsely cheerful voice they could stick the pieces on a skewer and cook em over the fire.  No one bought it.
Then, later, when the kids had destroyed the bathroom with toothpaste (more on that later) I dragged my sorry self up to their bedroom to find their stuffed animals thrown all over the place.  Again.   I turned into Mommy Dearest.
“I detest soft guys (we don’t say hate, but I have a thesaurus).”
“Soft guys must be the stupidest toys ever created (we don’t say that either, but I was too tired to consult my thesaurus).”
“I’m gonna throw every soft guy in this house in the trash if I have to pick them up one more time.”
Peter “Then will you buy us new ones for our birthdays?”
“Never.  I’ll never buy another soft guy again.  Ever.  (not true.  The guilt alone from last night may drive me to welsh on this).
One look at their stricken faces and I was asking forgiveness and agreeing to two chapters of Harry Potter instead of one.  

Came downstairs and found Dan in the tub, soaking his sore muscles, and watching the Tigers on his laptop.
I went looking for my happy place in the monster bed with my book and a bowl of dry Cinnamon Life (current fav dry cereal-more on this later).
I’ll post pics of the finished coop when I get my second wind.  Again.


I hate HATE what Disney has done to classic pooh.  The originals as written by A.A. Milne are among my favorite books.  They are beautifully written and have nearly nothing in common with the fat yellow bear and cutesy cartoonish characters on baby clothes and tv.  A.A. Milne dreamed up Pooh and his friends in the Hundred Acre Wood, using his son’s stuffed animals as models, to be bedtime stories for him and only put them to paper once his boy was grown up and Milne was wistful for him.  He lived in England, of course, where nearly all lovely things come from and the originals are dripping with goodness.  Get your hands on some now.
So tonight I snuggled in with Gussie and some classic Pooh and read this:

Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind.
“Pooh?” he whispered.
“Yes, Piglet?”
“Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s paw.  “I just wanted to be sure of you.”
                             ~from The House At Pooh Corner

And I nearly wept thinking of the sweetness of this.  I do that.  Often, in the quiet of the night I go and lay a hand on one of my baby’s gently rising and falling back and just spend a second being sure of them.  I do this with Dan in the middle of the night when I roll over and reach out to feel his smooth shoulder, just to be sure of him.  And I do this with God.  Especially when things are crazy and I’m done, just done, and I feel so empty.  I sidle up to God, through prayer, the Bible, being still and listening.  I know he’s present.  He promises that he always is.  But sometimes I forget and then I have to find a way to sidle up.  Just to be sure.


Crazy week around here.  From moving the Kevins into their new, almost finished coop to many playdates with friends and too much sun and not enough time.  I feel like a chicken with her head cut off, and since witnessing the phenom  of headless, running chickens last winter, I can use that idiom with a fair degree of certainty that it’s what I look like.  Now Lucy has a fever of 104 and Tess cut her hair short on one side and the garbage disposal has a leak in it, so I had to put an old 9×13 under it to catch the water which smells like someone getting a perm in a brothal in the back alleys of Calcutta.  And while a sick kid doesn’t fit into my plans to start painting the barn this weekend, I think I have to chalk this one up to Jesus.  He knew I needed to slow down.   Why I have to slow down this suddenly, is a mystery, but I think I’ll just try to see this bump in the road as a gift.  What better way to pass the day than with a sick, hot baby in your arms and your eyes closed, running through your prayer list that’s been neglected and maybe, just maybe, catching your breath?  And now Tess tells me the sea (bathtub) in fake Mexico (master bathroom) is overflowing which sounds like a natural disaster I should attend to fairly quickly and since I hear Junebug mewling, I have just enough time to call in the coast guard before I get back to the day God has set before me.  And soon the boys will come home and Dan will come home and then it will feel like all is right in my world and if I’m lucky, I’ll have taken this opportunity to rest and I’ll be ready for the next curveballs that’ll be thrown.  Perhaps I’ll even have a little time to write.  You know.  About me.  Being real.


This kid turned eight today.  Eight.
Which means that eight years ago today I also was born into this wonderful, scary role of mother.  Well, before that even, but eight years ago today it became tangible.  So much so that I ache a little thinking of how quickly these eight years have flown by and how many amazing things he’s done that I’ve probably been too preoccupied to notice.  How many things I’ve missed by saying, “Just a sec.” or by choosing laundry or one last swipe of the countertop over flopping down on the floor with him and engaging.  I’m going to do better.  Meanwhile, here are some things I haven’t missed:
His lips are curly and his eyes are twinkly.  He’s developing a great sense of humor coupled with a knack for delivering punchlines at just the right moment.  He’s always been funny.  And he used to say the most delightful things like, “O-tay” and “benumber (remember)” and “necorize (recognize)”.  When he did that I wanted to chew on his lip.  I still do.
He is tender and kind.  He always has been.  He is sensitive to the feelings of others.  He’s a thinker.  Sometimes I catch him with a faraway look in his eyes and I know there is a storm of thought brewing in his head and that if he can’t puzzle it out himself he’ll ask eventually.  
He was named after Grant, MI.  Well, not really, but we got the idea driving up to Dan’s parents in Newaygo when we were pregnant.  If you’ve ever driven through Grant, MI, you’ll understand why we may lie about the origin of his name.  Every one looks like they’re having a yard sale.  No one is.  And the billboard you pass on your way out is the cherry on top: Credit Stink? Then check out  It’s an actual website.  I googled it.
We took him on a lunch date today, just him and Dan and me and I realized for the first time, maybe, that someday I wouldn’t be the most important girl in his heart anymore.  And so I resolve to pray harder for her.  That God will protect her from harm and spend these years molding her into just the person Grant needs her to be so that he can be just the man God intends him to be.  And that I’ll be able to let him go when it’s time.  And that that day won’t come for a long time.  Because I’m holding on to him as tightly as I safely can and I’m sucking the marrow out of this gift of a kid who I adore.  So much.  
“We prayed for this child and God gave us what we prayed for.  For the rest of his life we will give him back to God.”  Didn’t know really what this verse was about when we chose it for his birth announcements.  Now, eight years into it I’m starting to get it.  Sometimes a hundred times a day I have to remember that Grant was God’s before he was mine and he is God’s still.  And in true Jesus fashion, I’ve been given something I completely don’t deserve.  Not at all. 
Be still my heart.  This kid is eight.


I tried unsuccessfully to upload some video I shot of the Kevins as we found them this afternoon upon returning from the zoo.  Words can’t really do it justice.  We’d recognized for a couple days that they were quickly outgrowing their brooding box and needed to move to the garage to a larger one, however, today clinched the deal.  We opened our door to find ten Kevins running around the back hall (which was mercifully shut off from the rest of the house), with crap all over the place.  All over.  Three Kevins were missing but were eventually located in and behind the recycling bin.  And although Chickens: The Essential Poultry Publication swayed me into thinking escape was unlikely, it indeed is.  So, an hour later, after having to scrape chick poo off the floor with my cooktop scraper and then scrub the floor with a scour pad and lysol, we have the cleanest, chick free back hall.  And the Kevins?  They’re out in the garage in time out, taking some time to think about what they did.  We’re having chicken nuggets for dinner tomorrow.  Little ones.