This may be one of the reasons we have a bike path cutting through our front yard.  An addition to the neighborhood I was at first apprehensive about, this black invasion of our privacy, but we use it all the time.  So worth it.  And the kids have taken to practicing their memory verses on it.  We call it sidewalk chalk evangelism.  This is, after all, our street corner.  We’ve claimed it for Jesus.  And if we’re to have God’s words written on our hearts and on the doorposts of our home, then why not our sidewalks as well?
 “I have hidden your word in my heart so that I will not sin against you.”  Psalm 119:11
 “You shod love the Lode (your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and most important commandment and the second is like it: love your neighbor as much as you love yourself.”  Matthew 22: 37, 38
Good job, Birdy.  The whole thing would have taken you days.  I get it.
 Grant (the artist’s rendering of himself)
 the girls: Tess is dancing, but Lucy is probably just at her recital doing something naughty.

Of course our next verse will have to be “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you.”  Matthew 18:15
Because if absence makes the heart grow fonder, then being together all day every day makes it wicked prickly.  But, still, this scritch scratching of chalk on asphalt and little hands covered with dust and a sweet voice calling over the waves of heat undulating down the path, asking me how to spell Psalm is going to be one of my favorite memories of the summer.
This is me being real.  And trying to write God’s word on my own heart so that I won’t sin against him.  And failing so often.  And trying again.  Always trying again.


These are the kinds of days we’ve had lately: hazy, hazy, play outside until we’re so languid and wet we nearly have to swim back into the cool house.  The hum of the air conditioning a sure sign that it’s hot outside.  I know it isn’t a tough man’s contest, Mol, but it sort of is to us.  And we normally get away with only turning the air on a few nights a summer, but this is day two with no end in sight, so I’m thinking that record will be shot to heck.  Shot by these days that are so hot the kids are asking if we can please stay inside, which is why we spent the morning helping Miss Jackie do her “I have a box” routine at the library and getting the car washed and stopping off at the stinky store (harvest health) for a gluten free treat for the whole car.  And Lucy, never to be hampered by fashion of social convention, spent her after nap time riffling through my bathroom cupboards since she knew I was in the kitchen and distracted.  Which is how she ended up with double protection and in the front yard for all to see before I caught on to it.  Not that there isn’t normally at least one kid around here who is embarrassing me in front of the neighbors.  And it’s usually Lucy.

This is me being real.  Cause what else could I possibly be with a nearly naked baby running around with a maxi pad stuck to her diaper?


So here I am realizing that I’ve not finished the story I’d begun nearly a week ago and when I realize that, I hurry myself over here to finish it.
So there we were, driving up to the U.P. and not stopping at Clyde’s for a burger since they prolly aren’t gluten and dairy free anyway, and pulling into the driveway and not having Mumsy waiting at the end, but only dad, which is great, but not the same.  There we were, putting our borrowed Sea-Doo in with all hands on deck and settling into our little cottage and trying to laugh through the nervousness that accompanies unbidden tears and heart sickness.
And there we were in the most beautiful weather we’ve ever had, watching kids tube and dig clay out of the river and use it to make little men and trying to get Lulu to lay down for the love of Mike and make memories they’ll always have since I’ll put them in a book and tell them when they’re older.  And it’ll look something like this:

 grant’s pike.  uncle bruce rolled it in gluten free flour and fried it up for us.
 No significance to this picture.  Just, seriously, cute.
 when you invite three hundred people over for dinner, you have to grill nearly eight hundred pieces of chicken.
 and have a small town parade led by a little girl on her power wheels in the slowest speed.  a speed so slow we got dizzy riding our bikes in circles to try to go as slowly as her.  a speed so slow it took us nearly forty minutes to travel the mile from the store to the cottage.

 waiting for the fireworks.  killing time with sparklers.
 Poor grandpa was being eaten alive during the fireworks show, which was spectacular as usual.
 Sweet Jessie took pity on this tired mama one day and put Lulu to sleep for me.
 Lulu’s first fish.
 some of our favorite cousins.
 Our mystery trip to Duck Lake.  To get there, you have to hike through the woods and just when you think the mosquitoes are going to drive you nuts, there it is.  
 We had a picnic on the bridge before jumping off into the warm water.  
 The whole area is a nature preserve donated to the State of Michigan by Charles Osborn (except if you live on Sugar Island you have to pronounce his name “Oz-burne”, former governor of Michigan.  On the hike back to Duck Lake, you’ll pass the ruins of his home.
 Dan’s Grandma and Grandpa faced their own giants and came, even though they knew their daughter wasn’t going to be there.  They were one of the highlights of our week. 
So was this kid.

Cousins that fish together stay together.  It’s a proverb or something.

 We did this for hours a time each afternoon.

So sweet.

This is me being real and committing to posting at least twice a week from now on.  Even if it’s short.  Even if it isn’t deep.  Which is probably won’t be.  Just warning you.


It was sweet, our time up north.  Sweet for being with family.  Sweet for watching Lucy catch her first fish and eating Grant’s pike and seeing great grandma and great grandpa get such a kick out of the kids.  Sweet for remembering that the empty chair around the camp fire used to be so filled with a very proud Mumsy who would sit, knitting small somethings, for hours at a time and watch the kids make merry on the beach. Sweet and hard.  So hard.

Hard to get to Canada on the boat, ready to eat a good dinner, and find her little book she kept everyone’s names and birth dates in for the border patrol.  Hard seeing that clean, cursive handwriting and not think about the smooth hands that wrote it.

Hard watching the kids head off on the Gator for an ice cream at the store and not think that, were she still here, it would be her driving, silently praying for a store full of people she could show them off to.
Hard seeing her kids miss her so much.  No one asks them how they’re doing.  Not ever.  Just dad, and he needs that, but so do they.  They lost their mom, after all.  Their loss is keen too.  Hard for us all at different moments as different things touch our raw edges and made us think maybe we were going to come unraveled.  But we didn’t.  It was still hard though.
Hard to sit in church, batting the mosquitos away and sing that song we last sang at her funeral, that I can’t remember, but I know we did because she loved it.  I remember.
But we made new memories too.  Of mystery trips to Duck Lake and buggy hikes to old ruins and Sea-Doo runs to Canada for biodegradable diapers.  Of tubing and fishing and watching great grandma slip each kid a dollar for some good deed.  A dollar to be redeemed at the store.  A dollar that could be traded for one fifth a jack knife or one third a bright pink cellphone makeup kit from China.  There will be pictures of all these things and more in the coming days as we unpack our memories and settle back into summer in the lower peninsula, reveling in days spent on Nana’s beach and readily available gluten free products and fresh produce.  Until then, there is this: we did it.  Our first trip without Mumsy.  It sucked. It was sweet.  We’re home.  Deep breath.
This is me being real.