This is what can happen when you foolishly begin to think that it matters what the deep toe kick under your sink looks like.  And I discovered what it looks like when retrieving a Squinkie last night and decided that I couldn’t do another thing until I’d scrubbed the whole area with a sponge.  But instead of a clean toe kick, I now have half inch long sliver under my fingernail and only half a clean toe kick which in itself isn’t precious, but feels like adding insult to injury.  So, if you, dear readers (you both know who you are) have any idea on how to remove said splinter please weigh in.  Any advice ending with “and the doctor will have to remove your fingernail…” is not welcome and won’t be heeded.  Unless you are a doctor and then I might think about it.
As I was laying in bed last night feeling sorry about my finger and massaging my blocked milk duct (which I warned my husband should absolutely not be mistaken for foreplay) I realized that I’m exactly nine days away from San Francisco and unfettered time with my husband and an end to my book fast.  And in light of that, blocked ducts and really painful, really really painful slivers don’t seem such a big deal.  Because as much as I hate leaving these people I adore, I think I’m due a little R and R.  An idea reinforced this afternoon when Tess was playing house with her friend and had to put on her bathrobe so she could be the mom.  Can’t wait.
So this is me.  Looking for ideas on how to remove a splinter.  Off to change into my sweats and settle in for a bit of Numbers reading.  And wondering what your idea of a cozy afternoon looks like.


This girl who has gotten on the bus everyday with nary a word of complaint and was barely recognized for it.  She is so compliant.  We expect that of her now.  So we sent her off to a strange school full of strangers on a bus full of strangers and she didn’t bat an eye.  And there were no Lego minifigures waiting for her at the end of the first week.  I honestly didn’t think about it.  Just knew she’d go.  Knew she’d go anywhere we asked her to.
“Here’s your new bus honey.  Yup, that’s your driver in the Viking helmet and holding the mace.  I’m sure she’s very nice, usually, perhaps she’s just having a bad day.  I know there are no seat belts, but I swear it’s safe.  And when it stops, you can get off and that’ll be your new school.  All you have to do is find your new classroom, you can ask any one of the 700 strangers milling around outside to help you there.  Nope, I can’t come.  You’ll have to just go with your brothers and you know what good care they take of you.  It’ll be great.  Now give me a kiss and I’ll see you at noon.  I love you.”
Yes Mudder.
So, yesterday Lulu and I wandered around Meijer and looked for some kind of treat for a kid who would do this brave thing and then stand by while her brothers were rewarded for it and she wasn’t.  Briefly considering if there should be direct correlation between monetary output and what a crappy mother I felt like, I did ask someone in a blue vest to direct me to the ponies, but landed instead in the aisle of her dreams where I threw $6.95 at making it up to her with these lovely new toys.  Meet Squinkies…the newest stupid fad (think silly bands) that will sweep the nation and leave us all regretting not thinking of it ourselves.  We now have three and more in my stash waiting distribution into bags for our upcoming trip to San Francisco (more on that later).  She has named them Blueprint, Greenprint and Pink/yellow/purpleprint (but you can call it Sally).
There was also this quilt that I finished two years ago but which was just located and returned to me beautifully quilted and finished that I put on her bed to make us both smile.  It worked, even though the pattern is called Snake Charmer and I think snakes are, well, not charming.  It still is a happy quilt.
And these slippers that were dropped off by a dear friend (you know who you are) who I was maybe too brash with about a certain upcoming fundraiser dinner?  If so, I’m sorry.  Turns out you actually can get salt water and fresh from the same spring (look it up in your Bibles).  They were crafted by another dear person (you know who you are) who is a more talented seamstress than I’ll ever be.  Ever.
So all these things worked together to make this wonderful, compliant, brave girl feel justly rewarded for her feats of courage these past three weeks.  This girl who asks nothing of me but that I stock chocolate in the pantry and enter into her world of imagination a few times a day.  This girl whose language melts our hearts even while every speech therapist within miles starts formulating a treatment plan as they listen.  This girl who as we speak is dressed like a child prostitute from the Ukraine but can somehow pull it off, spangles and all, and who has been out in the barn checking the mouse traps for the last little bit.  She has been rewarded.  So have I.


Only a God with a sense of humor would have seen fit to drop me smack dab in the middle of the desert of Leviticus when I needed something so much meater and comforting like Philippeans or Psalms, but here I am.  Wanting to stay true to reading the Bible chronologically, I’ve stayed.  Where God put me.  And now that I’m safely in the book of Numbers, I can see God’s hand in the whole thing: Leviticus when I needed Psalms.  The book is rife with exhausting rituals and rites designed to help the Israelites live a life of richness and purity.  There are sections about guilt offerings and sections about mildew and sections about bodily discharges, which was actually quite interesting.  The God of the universe felt that the everyday happenings of his people were big enough to garner his attention.  He cared about their mildew and their bodily discharge.  But the thing that struck me again and again was how often was written these words, “I am the Lord”.  No arguments.  No leaving this place before you’ve learned what you were placed here to learn.  “I am the Lord.”  It seemed every time I though to skip ahead to something that could soothe my anxious heart I’d read those words and would stay put.  And while I can’t say I was riveted, I did catch a glimpse of God in those pages filled.  Caught it often.  And learned that this place I am right now is exactly where I’m supposed to be and that God’s job isn’t to make me feel good about it, but to continue to teach me this obedience lesson I find so hard to absorb.  And if I get nothing else out of this time of uncertainty and fear I got this: He is Lord.  Period.


Nearing the end of week two and we are in desperate need of a weekend.  Legos and pjs are on tap for tomorrow with an evening at church and an empty Sunday stretching out before us.  Can’t wait.
Am sick of thinking about and writing regarding the recent school change, but have these random thoughts to throw at you in a queer stream of consciousness:

Everyone needs a pair of red shoes.  I’m as sure of that as I am that skorts and tapered leg jeans are bad ideas.  Just look.
I think I nursed Lucy this morning for the last time.  Mostly ok with that, but since she is likely our last am a bit nostalgic.  It’s time.
I realized Dan and I have a song and dance routine we do every morning.  Every morning.  
His alarm goes off at 5:30 (he puts it across the room so he has to get out of bed to snooze it). 
He gets up and snoozes it.
Nine minutes later it goes off again.
This repeats three times until this conversation takes place:
me: “Last time, please?”
him: “Ok.”
me: “Seriously.”
Every morning.  Except Saturday and Sunday.  Different routine on those days.  No less frustrating.

It’s entirely likely that Leviticus is the boringest (not a real word) book in the Bible.  Even God must get bored reading Leviticus.

Peanut butter is complicated.  It’s a great source of protein, but sticks to kids like napalm.  Can never figure out if it’s worth the trouble.
Lucy has been bringing me tampons several times a day.  I just figured out that she thinks they are string cheese.  
This time in my life is teaching me that God can fill a need that nothing else can.  Not the hombre sweater from Banana Republic.  Not chocolate.  Not books.  Not even Dan or my kids.  Only God.  It has to be that way.
I have become so spoiled with eggs that I pitch the ones that have even the tiniest bit of poop on them into the coop and the hens slurp up all the insides then peck at the shell.  I can afford to be picky.  It’s weird that they like eggs.  Wonder if they like chicken?  Wonder what they think it tastes like?
Peter got his Lego minifigures yesterday.  He bravely went off to this new school seven days on the bus with no fuss.  That was good enough in my book.  Yesterday after school he hit a wall and needed a pick me up.  First grade is a lot of work.  I made him try on his new winter coat that came yesterday.  He hates doing that.  He loved finding Con Dooku and Bobba Fett in the pocket.  Good boy.  The only thing I found in my pocket yesterday was some lint and a barrette.  
Took the kids fishing last Sunday.  Tess caught the only fish.  Grant lost Dan’s sunglasses which made him feel really badly.  Dan, of course, took it all in stride and told Grant that sunglasses are not precious. Though they are very expensive.  Bummer.  Then we watched a couple get engaged right across the pond.  I cried then asked if they wanted me to take a picture of them.  Magical.  Totally worth a pair of sunglasses to get outdoors, have a picnic and watch someone launch a marriage.
Peter told me he’s practicing at school for a musical to celebrate Halloween.  Here we go.
Driving today I realized the little oil change sticker puts me at three months over my due date.  Is that bad?  It made me think of the new restaurant I saw this week called Lube and Steak.  An oil change place combined with a steak house.  Which means one of two things:
Either you’re getting your oil changed in a kitchen
You’re eating a steak cooked in a garage.
Neither sounds appetizing.  This has to be a mans idea.
Have a happy weekend.  I’m praying for a rain storm here that will force us to stay in our comfy cozies and play all weekend.  We need that.  The whirling dervish of destruction and I spent two mornings cleaning this week so we can totally devote ourselves to fun for the weekend.  And since I’m thirty five years old and don’t have to sleep on Saturday nights with pink spongy rollers in my hair, it’s looking good.


Six days into the new school and the best way I can think to describe it is a settling in of sorts.  There are still tears in the morning, theirs and mine, but that would be the case no matter where they were off to, I think.  The girls and I stayed and ate lunch with the boys today, thinking that would ease my soul a bit but it didn’t really.  Romantically I’d envisioned conversations, interview style, with their new friends as we ate with sporks and drank chocolate milk, but what really happened was a lovely outside picnic of styrofoam trays and little people in clusters chomping at the bit to run off to the playground.  Except my little people.  They were glued to my side and disinterested in inviting their friends over to join us.  I did get to meet a couple of them between dodging soccer balls and chasing lulu out of the path of wayward swings.

And so this season continues.  One foot in two worlds and not really feeling like we belong in either.  Wanting to play with old friends but knowing I have to focus on helping the boys build new friendships too right now.  Transitioning is a bit lonely, but there are good friends (you know who you are) to meet for coffee and the lure of volunteer schedules coming out so I can look forward to planting myself in their classrooms and grafting our family into this new place.  There have been tens of great conversations with neighbors at the bus stop that would not have happened if we were still in the old school.  And this heightened sense of these children being held because I understand more now than I did three weeks ago that I’m not in charge.  That right now my job is to be here, praying and letting go and trusting that when the bus pulls up at 4:15, they’ll be on it and ok and will have settled in just a bit more.  And so will I.  Settling in.


I thought I was so ok with this whole switching schools thing and then I was up most of last night having anxiety attacks and I realized.  I’m not.  Ok with it.
We’re walking in obedience, which is the only place we want to walk, but it’s really really hard.  The kids are doing great, have all found friends and are happy.  But I miss the old school and seeing all our friends there and feeling safe and knowing what the kids were doing and who they’re interacting with.  At the new school, I don’t know who Daniel is, only that he’s Peter’s new buddy.  I can’t picture what it looks like for him to be in art class, not even sure I remember where the art room was.  And short of hiding in the trees with a monocular and glasses (which I briefly considered doing) I can’t drive by and watch Grant kick a soccer ball around with Jacob, whoever that is or catch my breath when he pauses to wave and realize he’s still young enough to be unembarrassed by it.
I’ve been crying a lot and fighting the urge to crawl into bed and pull the covers over my head.  Thank goodness for Lulu and the desperate need to get my brows and lip waxed because life has to move on, even if I feel crummy about it.  Even when I feel panicked because my kids are in a strange place with strange people and I’m not ok with it.  Even though it seems like I only get a teeny piece of their day during which I only have time to cook them some dinner and remind them to brush their teeth and, for crying out loud, leave their sister alone.  This is a season, and not shaping up to be my favorite one at that.  But it’s only a season and we know those come and go and are never forever.  And I’d still rather be here, having anxiety attacks that force me out of bed and upstairs to lay my hands on my sleeping sons and implore God for their safety and well being, than anywhere else on earth.  Because even though obedience is hard, it’s also good and it bears fruit that we might not see for a long time, or maybe never, but it does.  Bear fruit.
And when I crawl back into bed, scared and sad and just yuck, there is Dan, my love of fifteen years today.  Who wraps his arm around me and stands in the gap and makes me feel safe.  And has done that so many times over the past fifteen years.  Heaven help this man who married a crazy lady.  So here’s to being real even if it feels like I’m exposing my ugliness and weakness and here’s to obedience even when it sucks and here’s to fifteen years of hard work and laughter that have netted me four children and an amazing helpmate and more blessings than I can count.  Even when it’s stormy, I would rather be here, smack dab in the middle of my Father’s will and held in his capable hands, and teaming up with the partner I adore than anywhere else on earth.
Oh, and if you think about it, could you just pray these names: ashley, jennifer, rebekah, lauren and sophia?  God loves to hear the names of his children on our lips.  And these children need their father today.  Thanks.


We woke up early.  Well, I woke up early.  And we prayed together, Dan and I, which doesn’t happen nearly often enough and felt really good.  We prayed for them by name and for their teachers and for the other kids we know who started a new school yesterday (you know who you are) and for us, that we would remember to pray often and fervently for these people we’ve been entrusted with.  Mostly I was silently praying that they’d get on the bus nicely with no fuss.  That felt like the biggest hurdle.  And while I did hold out the promise of four new Star Wars Lego mini figures (minifigs if you’re in the know) from my friends at Amazon, they all bopped onto the bus as if they’d been doing it for years, which they haven’t.  Then I walked into the house and did the ugly cry for approximately 3.87 minutes before unloading the dishwasher and getting on with life.  Have to do that.  Cry.  And unload the dishwasher.
And I prayed at least 2,796 times that day and today and I’ll do it again tomorrow.  For friends, and kindness, and safety, and sealed ears against unclean talk of others and sealed lips against unclean talk of their own.  
Tess, of course did perfectly.   She gets picked up at noon and has no anxieties of any kind.  Whatsoever.  Girl will make nice with anybody and have them eating out of her hand and pushing her on the swings in short time.
We walked to the bus stop, which starting tomorrow will be approximately 16 steps from my front door, but yesterday and today was at the neighbors down the road a bit.  Got there very early.  Took no chances.  Cried when the bus pulled up.  Collected the scorn from my third grader that I was the only mother who cried and jumped up and down and perhaps could I tone it down a bit tomorrow?
Everyone reported sweet success.  The boys are making friends and learning the ropes and come home happy and tired and it won’t be like that everyday, but I needed it to be like that today at least.  So I’m fuzzy with thanks and praise to a faithful God and prayerful friends.  So thankful.  
I feel like we’ve slayed our Goliath.  This one at least.  For now at least.  With our little stones and a lot of prayer and a loving God we’ve slayed that Goliath.  Not to be a kill-joy, but there is another Goliath on the horizon.  Don’t know what it is yet, but there is always one lined up.  It’s how Satan works.  And God too.  So I’m hoping to not let my guard down, but continue in this space where I am dependent and needy and looking up because I think it’s where I’m supposed to be.  There.  Being real.


As we stand on the precipice of this new thing, this sending the kids off to a new school thing, we are looking for ways to reassure them and ourselves that this is ok.  We can’t physically go with them tomorrow as they step foot into a strange school filled with new people, and my heart aches for that.  If I could go you know I would.  You know it.  But I can’t, so I’m learning once again and a million times a day to remember that these kids are God’s people, were his before they were ours, and he is going with them.  Dan talked with them tonight about the story of David and Goliath.  How David was probably a young boy and small and how Goliath was so big.  And how God only gave David five stones with which to defeat his giant and David was ok with that because he knew that God was with him and that was the only weapon he needed to arm himself with, really.  This first day at the new school is our Goliath.  And we are arming ourselves only with the knowledge that the God of the universe who calls us sons and daughters is accompanying our kids to school.  And we gave them these:
Their own little stones.  They are already in their pockets in their clothes, folded on the step and ready to go. Already getting warmed up in their pockets.  
You just put your hand in your pocket, we told them, and you feel your stone and you remember that your mommy and daddy adore you and are praying for you.  So hard.  And that there in no place in the world you can go that God doesn’t go right with you.  Even to school.  Even on the bus.  You are safe, we told them.  We believe in you and in your ability to do this thing.  This scary thing called first day at a new school.  And when that bus pulls up tomorrow afternoon and you dance off I’ll be there.  Right there.  Clapping my hands like a loon and probably crying because I’ll be so proud and thankful.  So thankful.  
If you think about it, can you pray for us?  For Peter especially who hates new situations and being the center of attention?  And I’ll be praying for all of you.  For every kid who is starting school tomorrow and especially the ones stepping foot into a new school.  For every parent who has to let go and trust that it’ll be ok.  And I’ll be praising God for good friends (you know who you are) who invited us over for brunch this morning to meet some new people and spend time praying for each other’s children by name.  It’s a privilege to do so.
So this is me.  Feeling five hundred emotions all at the same time and at least one of them is making me want to throw up, but when I worry I do it in my own strength and I’m not strong.  So I’m going to take a page from my own proverbial book and wrap my hands around The Rock tonight.
“I will lay down and sleep in peace for you, alone, O God, make me dwell in safety.”
And it’s making me wonder: what Goliath are you off to slay this week?  


I was laying in bed just now trying to convince myself that I was well rested after being up half the night with a sick baby when I had a strong impression from the Lord.  It went something like this.  I love books.  Lurve them.  But for as long as I can remember, they have been the portal for escape.  Box of dry cereal and a stack of books and I was a happy kid, am a happy adult.  My mom can attest to this (you know who you are).  But somewhere along the way, books became more than an escape, which I would argue is not bad in and of itself, and became a form of escapism.  When I’m in the midst of a good book, I’m mentally wishing the kids would disappear and leave me alone so I can get back to it, that my husband would find a good baseball game on tv so I can sneak off to the bedroom guilt free and read.  Books are good.  Too many books are not.  This is what my bookshelves look like, even after taking three bags full to Schulers yesterday and selling them to the used book department there:

Most shelves are two books deep and I’m still running out of room.  Which makes me very happy.  Someday I’d like to live in a house with wall to wall built in bookshelves in every room, crammed full of delightful things to read and browse, but that’ll have to wait.  Besides, this reselling thing with Schulers was very lucrative:

Currently in love with the Percy Jackson series thanks to a good friend (you know who you are) who has been bugging me for months and my mom recommended the hardcover after I recommended it here, so I bought it so I’d have my own copy, and, ok, the Lego book isn’t mine, but it made two Lego obsessed boys agree that the trip across town was totally worth it and it came with a much-coveted Luke Skywalker minifigure who now is enjoying joint custody.  Him and his tiny light saber.  Oh, there was a suncatcher kit too that Tessie and I made last night but it’s hanging from her window already and I’m not going to wake her up with my flash just to show you, sorry.
The books.  So, God gave me this strong impression that I was to give up the books for awhile and focus on this home and these people who live here with me.  This is what is precious and sometimes I miss it for having my nose in a book.  Dan and I are headed to San Francisco in a month and I’m shelving the habit until then, which means that the great books I got yesterday will be waiting for me to crack their spines on the long ride out west.  Until then, I’m continuing on with reading the Bible chronologically, which my sister (you know who you are) highly recommended and I’m totally enjoying, except for Leviticus.  No one enjoys Leviticus.  The deal is Jesus writing the story of my life and I want to be totally engaged in it, not part time but really engaged.  In these amazing kids I get to be with, and this man I get to do life with even when life is crazy which it is most of the time, but I’d rather do crazy with him than anyone else.  I’m looking to pour myself into them, the boys who have made a bed on the floor next to their Lego bin so they can wake up early and get back to it and Tess who has taken to replying to my every question with, “Yes Mudder” like a penitent, which she is not, and Lucy whose sweet disposition make me want to bury myself in her neck and never come out.  Never.  This is the good stuff and I’m diving in.  So, this is me.  Being real.  Engaged.