Anyone who doesn’t buy into the church doctrines of Total Depravity and Original Sin has never had a three year old.  She is the reason I’m sitting here at 4:33 in the morning instead of in bed trying to sleep off this bloody cold once and for all.  She, a trooper really, who has skipped naps for a lot of days in a row and it’s caught up to her.  To us all.  She, who is, as I type, throwing an outrageous fit in her bed because she’s not tired.  Not tired, but wicked pissed apparently.  And so I don’t sleep either.  It’s too cruel to get warm and cozy in my bed and start to drift off to sleep only to hear the swish-swish of her footed pjs coming through my door and catch a glimpse of her bouncing curls floating to me over the edge of the monster bed.  Too cruel to have to remind myself that it’s better to fight this battle now than to have her co-sleeping until she’s married, even though that would solve the sleep problem in the short term.  So I sit here, surrounded by a sea of used kleenexes, thinking randomly that it’s weird to call them kleenexes because I only buy Puffs Plus, and updating you on something you probably could care a whit about and that won’t for a second change the world.  But there you have it.  Three is tricky.  And now there is silence on the other side of the door so I’ll head to bed and read Bonhoeffer until I fall asleep which will be point three seconds and I’m swearing to you to not even worry about how I’ll drag tomorrow and how we won’t be home in the afternoon for her to take the nap she needs so badly.  Because worrying won’t change what is.  And what is is a sleeping three year old who won’t remember her fit in the morning, but will wonder why her mama has stapled her eyelids open and is drinking a cocktail of 5-Hour Energy and coffee and chasing them both with spoonfuls of pure, highly refined white sugar.  Will wonder why we’ve totally gone to the dogs.  And I’ll tell her about Total Depravity and Original Sin until she nods off in her carseat at which point I’ll pull into the parking lot and fall right asleep myself.
This is me being real.  Wondering if anyone wants to have a cavity filled today?  Because I’ve got a 1:10 with your name on it and it’d save me the agony of the rubber dam (rubber dangit) and the embarrassment of forgetting, again, how to breath through my mouth in the dentist’s chair.  Just let me know and I’ll pencil you in.  Unless I’m sleeping…



Oh my stars.  Friends of Grand Rapids Parks is winning out over Kids Food Basket now.  Seriously.  Friends of Grand Rapids Parks is edging out putting dinner in the hands of hungry kids.  This just can’t be.  Please say it isn’t so.  Please, people, use that new Facebook button I labored over and get the word out that if we miss on this, then we have pretty accurately taken the moral temperature of our city and it’s low.  And it’s way, way off from the heart of Jesus, which has a special spot for kids and who has called us to care for the poor and to feed the hungry.  And the last time I checked, dogs and parks were not even in the mission manifesto.  Go vote again.  Go tell your people to kick dogs and parks to the curb and take a stand in the interest of feeding kids.
This is me being real.  Incredulous.  And having nothing against dogs and parks, but seriously.


So, several people have asked me to put a like button for facebook on my blog so when I ask you to vote on a necklace for kids food basket and when I ask you to get the word out you can just push the like button and it’ll pop up on your facebook page.  But the problem is that I’m not very tech savvy and I don’t talk code and I’m not even on Facebook.  So today, after nearly an hour of swearing under my breath and sweat in my bra, I give you my new facebook “like” button.  Yay me.  Giving birth to at least two of my children was not so hard as giving birth to one tiny cyber button.  And no episiotomy this time.  Doesn’t smell like a newborn either.  Bummer.
So, this one’s for you.  Now you can share all you want.  Or keep it to yourself and we’ll just be secret friends.  It’s up to you.
This is me being real.  Wondering if I can get some ice chips.


ArtPrize has arrived and with it, a newspaper brimming with bits and fluff about the art scene both local and abroad.  So I’m pursuing the pages, planning the day when I’ll bust the kids out of school and take in all there is to see and I come to this.  Someone has crafted a necklace and is auctioning it off for charity.  You, as the informed public, get to vote for which charity will receive the proceeds when the necklace is sold on Ebay following ArtPrize.  It’s worth $25,00.  Ok?  You vote and one of three charities get %80 of $25,00, which by my math is a lot.  So the three charities are Friends of Grand Rapids Parks, Humane Society of West Michigan and Kids Food Basket.

I believe in Kids Food Basket.  Absolutely adore a charity that is putting food into the hands of hungry kids.  So I go to vote.  And this is where my soul throws up.  Not only is Humane Society winning, it’s killing them.  People, think about this.  We are voting dogs over kids.  Wait, whaaa?  This cannot be.  How do you vote dogs over kids and then sleep at night?  And don’t even get me started on the %13 who are voting Parks over both dogs and kids.  You’d need a Valium the size of a Schitzu to feel good about that. Can we agree that in the hierarchy of things, kids needing dinner win out over dogs and parks?  And if you agree, would you take your sweet self over to this site and vote for Kids Food Basket?  Because parks and dogs are great things, I like them both well enough (actually I don’t like dogs all that much, but that’s a post for another day, but seriously, these are underfed children we are talking about.  And after you’ve voted can you spread the word to your friends and family via facebook and twitter and email and whatever other means you can so we can spread the word that in the war against homeless dogs, unmanicured parks and hungry kids, Jesus will always pick kids.  Always, necklace or no.  He just will.  And it will say a lot about this generation when the ones who follow see what we held dear and it’s not life.  No one will thank us for that.  So please, help me spread the word? And then the next time you’re at one of West Michigan’s parks, pick up a few pieces of trash and pet someone’s dog and know that, even though you didn’t vote for them, they still matter.  Just not as much as kids with a paper bag in hand that means the difference between hungry and fed.  Not nearly as much.
This is me being real. 


This is what life looks like when you are three and the only one at home all day.  You get to do stuff your older sibs never did like nap on the monster bed and eat Spoonlickers for lunch.  Ok, the older ones have totally eaten Spoonlickers for lunch too, but you won’t know that because you’re only three and because your mom told you this was a crazy thing you could do because it’s just you and her.  And the naps only happen a couple times a week, but when they do it’s like the most heavenly thing on earth.  Just me and her, snuggled up on the monster bed.  I read my book and pretend that I’m not peeking at her out of the corner of my eye, trying to gauge when she’s actually asleep, but eventually I just get lost in the pages and then I hear her breathing deepen and she rolls even closer so that she’s practically inside my skin and then I know we’re good to go.  And then I force myself to stay there in that place for a little bit because I’m really good at cheating myself out of down time and I’m trying not to do that.  Trying not to feel guilty if I put my feet up on the job every once in a while.  Trying not to lay there drumming my fingers and thinking of what in the world I’m going to make for dinner and about what in the sam hill Tess is going to wear for yellow day tomorrow (I hate yellow).  Because I’ve never had the gift of unfettered time with one of my three year olds and I’m sucking the marrow out of it.  And noticing things about her that I missed this summer when there were so many small people around that I counted it a good day if everyone was wearing pants and had eaten a protein.  Noticing things like the fact that she goes potty, pulls down the toilet paper until it’s touching the floor but doesn’t rip it off, wipes and then rolls it back up.  Have wondered all summer why the toilet paper is rolled up funny.  Why it’s damp.  And I’m noticing that she has her nodder (pacifier) all the time and that I would have been totally aghast at the others if they’d still been using it this much at their ages.  Totally aghast and calling up the Nodder Fairy to come get these dang things already, they’ll ruin her teeth. But if I take them away now, that’ll be the end of naps, I think.  And that would be like shooting myself in the foot.  And shooting her in the foot too.  And then getting ticked off when she complained about it.  See where I’m going here?  All this to say that the Nodder Fairy is coming, just not today.  Because today there is the promise of another nap time, this one maybe with blustery weather outside my bedroom doors and a cuppa tea cooling on my nightstand and the latest book I’ve picked up in hand and the lure of doing nothing more than just being with her for a little while.  And that won’t happen tomorrow because we have our first ballet lesson (finally) and it’s going to be hot outside, but maybe Tuesday.  Tuesday is looking good.
This is me being real.  Wondering what you’re looking for on the horizon?


That last month of summer was a slippery guy, gliding through my fingers no matter how tightly I tried to hold on to him.  I tried to make him last, threatened to staple his underpants to the chair, but in the end he slithered away and we closed the chapter on another summer, the best one yet.  It’d take me a month of Sundays to catch you up on all the fun things we did, so I’ll spare you the long version.  Here are the Cliff Notes on our last weeks of summer.

 This girl turned 7.  SEVEN!.  Did it with her signature sideways mullet.  Business on the left.  Party on the right.

 and some spider with her best cousins,

 and a birthday celebration inspired by rhythmic gymnastics and McKenna.

 There was a pie from her Nanny-Burd and her Auntie Vete.

 And chocolate chocolate cupcakes from her mama with fruit roll up streamers.

 She was totally into it.  I love parties when they’re totally into it.

Ezra and Peter took their streamers and sharpened the ends into swords, proving once again that you can give a boy a doll, but he’ll cut off the arms, add a scope and barrel and start a small war in a third world country before sunset the very same day.  And before you know it, he’ll be a small arms dealer even though his only office supplies are a stapler and a banana.  That’s just how boys work.

We celebrated Papa’s birthday too.  Then watched him open his new SeaDoo cover with a knife.  Despite clear instructions to the opposite.  It’s another thing boys do.

Then the adults headed to the tennis court to bring it.  I don’t have any pictures of that since we were moving so fast they would all be blurry.  Suffice it to say that three former varsity players plus one brother and a matriarch who has played her whole life, in flip flops and bathing suits and playing with racquets from the dollar store (they had to be), afforded us proof positive that playing tennis is not like riding a bike.  Except for the soreness.  That was very similar.
 The boys and I ran the mud run.  It is a well-named race.

 There was a last beach day.

 And a last paddle to the sandbar.

And root beer floats on the trampoline.

 And then because we hated our big mean rooster and because Hallmark’s website didn’t list an appropriate last week of summer gift, we let the boys shoot the rooster.  I sat inside with my fingers in my ears and texted my friend to ask if this could lead to psychopathy?  She assured me it could and just as I ran out to put a stop to it, it was over.  And I only felt badly until the next morning when it was blessedly quiet without that bloody bird waking us up.

And no, we didn’t eat him.  Broke our own rule and just pitched that jerk in the woods for the scavengers.  Good riddance.

Without Big Bad around, I loaded four kids, two borrowed dog kennels and a Keloid scar named Steve into the car and drove to a farm in Dorr for 10 new pullets.  And came home with four duckings as well.

 Meet Mack, Sprinkles, Puff and Rascal.  Possibly the cutest ducks on the planet.  We taught them to swim on Thursday.  Today we are building a house for them.  Just when I thought life was getting easier, along came four ducklings.

We are not ready to say Goodbye to summer 2012 yet, so we’ll just say see you later.  Especially since we’re headed back to the lake on Friday to close it up and watch my dad try to arrange all the furniture in the cellar in puzzle fashion while we stand around and laugh like loons and the kids run down to the beach to put sand between their toes one last time.  Then we will say goodbye.  But not yet.  Not yet.
This is me being real.  Still holding on to summer.  You?


 grant, fifth grade
 peter, third grade
tessa, first grade

There are two hours until that yellow bus pulls up and delivers my people.
Two hours until I stand in the driveway clapping my hands like I’m calling the dog home.
Two hours until Peter refuses to let me kiss him, but I tackle him to the floor, put all my weight on his kidneys to hold him down and do it anyway.
Two hours until they say “I’m hungry”.  Two and a quarter at most.
Two hours until the piece of my heart that went with them this morning is reunited with it’s whole and I breathe easier.
Two hours until I can say we’ve done the first day of school.  That wretched first day of school thing that leaves me blurry eyed and trying to act brave but really feeling like all my bones have disintegrated and I’m all quivery inside.  I hate feeling like all my bones have disintegrated.
Two hours and few days until I update you on all the fun things we’ve done to get ready for school, to try to hang on to summer with our teeth.  Things that involve ducklings and eating junk and fancy toes.
Two hours until these people we sent off to school armed only with a blessing and 36 number two pencils come home.  I can hardly wait.
And in the meantime there was Lulu and me.  In the car about five minutes after the bus left, me not able to listen to the echoey silence of this house without it’s people for a minute longer.  So, I buckled her in and we took off to eat doughnuts for breakfast (her, not me.  I’m doing the Daniel Fast with my sisters-look it up-it’s cool), and stock up on new books at the library.  And we were home by noon, my sidekick and me.  And since she was up all night proving to us that she has no concept of hot or cold with her fits of both, I gifted her with the special treat of laying down on the Monster bed for a little seepies.  As we both drifted off to sleep, I whispered to her, Lulu, you’re my special girl.  And from the heap of pink softness next to me came this, you’re my special durl too grandmudder.
This is me being real.  Thankful for a school that I can trust my kids to all day.  More thankful for the yellow savior that will deliver them home to me in two hours.  Thinking our activity tomorrow might be getting my hair colored, because there are 269 days left until school is out for the summer and I don’t want to be anyone’s grandmudder for that long.  How did your first day go?