Wednesday, January 29, 2014


I can't remember if I have ever gushed about my sister here?

No? Well, it's about time then. 

My sister is hands-down one of my favorite people in the whole entire Universe (the world is not big enough, I had to go with Universe just in case there really is life on other planets). 

It's not because she is perfect. Being perfect is not a requirement for being one of my favorite people. Thank goodness, since if it were no one living in this house could make the list, including me. 

It's not because she is smart, even though she is. 

It's not because she is beautiful, even though she is. 

And it's not because she can do actual, for-real, military-style pull-ups and therefore could snap me like a twig....even though she can....and it scares me a little. 

The #1 reason she is one of my favorite people in the whole entire Universe is because there are scarce few other people who know me like she does and, remarkably, she loves me anyway. 

I know...that's sweet. But I'm about to put that love to the test. 

You see, if there is one thing my sister and I agree on 100% of the time besides the irrefutable truth that eating raw cookie dough is worth a small case of salmonella poisoning, it is our dedication to Lazy Parenting. 

Let me explain, Lazy Parenting is not the same as neglectful parenting or love-less parenting. Don't judge us too quickly. It simply means that if there is a path of least resistance available, we are going to take it. 

Get out of bed to make the kids a hearty breakfast on a Saturday morning, OR, stay in bed and let them scrounge around for granola bars and string cheese? That one is too easy...

Offer to take the kids for a bike ride and picnic in the park, OR, make a big show of conceding to let them ride their scooters up and down the hallway (like you've done something really generous and cool) while you heat up some hot dogs and read your book? Uh huh. This is where we start to separate the over-achievers from...people like my sister and I.  

But even more important than the careful investments of time and energy you make within your own home are the ones you make outside your home. This is where it can get really dicey. 

Lazy Parents are very careful not to over-commit, over-promise, over-extend and over-volunteer lest they should pull a muscle or have to give up their favorite TV show. They are the Kings and Queens of the Sign-Up Sheet Shuffle. You keep moving around that table, pen poised, carefully reading every volunteer request and checking your calendar for dates, all with the hope that by the time you circle that table for the 35th time all of the jobs will have been filled. Oh, really? Shoot. 

It's an art form. My sister and I keep saying we are going to write a book titled The Lazy Parent's Handbook but, well, I think you know why that hasn't happened.

And given all of that...given our conscientious dedication to this important life philosophy...given that we perpetually refer to that fake book which we are never going to you know what a Charter Member of the Lazy Parents Forever Club absolutely, positively, under no uncertain terms DOES NOT DO? 

She does NOT agree to be the Team Parent for the High School Soccer Team!!!!!

I'm so ashamed (and exhausted already and the season doesn't start for over 4 weeks). 

So, you can see why this is going to be a true test of my sister's loyalty and devotion. I'll understand if she can't see past this horrible lapse in judgment. Who could blame her? It's obviously indicative of some tragic, hidden character flaw. I can't even look at myself in the mirror. Sisterly love can only be pushed so far. 

I will understand if our daily texts and phone calls and accidental Facetimes dwindle to nothing in the wake of Soccergate 2014. Betrayal is a bitter pill to swallow. 

But I'll miss her. 

Just as soon as I have time to miss her....which will be sometime in May...maybe June. 

Did I mention this is a two year commitment? 

She shakes her head slowly in silent humiliation. 

We were so happy then...

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Handle with care

My daughter Annie would be the first to tell you that she is a bit on the sensitive side.

And while it's true, I often try to help her reframe that idea of herself into more positive, affirming adjectives. I tell her she is compassionate, she is empathetic, she is thoughtful, and she has a tender, open heart. And I tell her that those are all good, good things. I tell her I wouldn't change a thing about her.

And, in theory, I wouldn't. Except that I kind of want to...for her sake.

I want to temper her compassion and empathy with just a dose of apathy (just a dose, mind you). I want to water down her thoughtfulness with just a drop of selfishness. And most of all, I want to build a wall around that tender, open heart of hers. Not a very tall wall, and not an indestructible wall, just a wall high enough and strong enough that maybe not everything can get through.

I want to do all of those things in spite of my great love for all that is Annie, because I know exactly how it feels to move through the world with paper-thin-skin and a gaping wide open heart.

It's interesting to me when I hear people talk about or write about "Facebook envy" or in its more general form, "social media envy." The idea being that some people find themselves feeling deflated by what appears to be the perfect lives of others. Perfect crafty birthday parties on Pinterest, perfect photos on Instagram, perfect family vacations on Facebook. And while I can't relate to it, if I step outside of myself enough I can understand how under different circumstances I could fall prey to the same phenomenon. I don't feel that envy but I also don't judge that envy because I know it is most likely coming from a place of hurt. Back in the day when I was struggling with infertility, Facebook might not have been the right place for me, and I'm kind of glad it didn't exist.

So, when I say I don't personally feel the social media envy some people struggle with, I am not saying I think it's crazy. It's just not my battle.

My battle is with social media fighting and labeling and political posturing and the feeding frenzy that can erupt when someone says something the slightest bit controversial. And the reason this is my battle is because at the end of the day I am NOT cut out for battle.

I feel wounded when someone else feels wounded. I feel attacked when someone else is attacked. I want to speak but fear keeps me silent. I am a great big baby who doesn't know how to unravel the knot in my stomach every time I witness conflict flare up, even when I am not personally involved.

Here is the thing, I just don't DO conflict. Even perfectly sensible, civilized debate leaves me rattled. I'm not proud of that, believe me. Part of me wishes I could stand up for my convictions and then walk away without another thought about it. But that's not what happens. I worry. I stew. I fear I've offended someone. And then I just start saying sorry even when I'm not entirely clear what it is I am apologizing for.

Honestly, I think it's too late for me. I've tried to figure out how to grow a thicker skin but I'm learning that at almost 44 years old, you either have it or you don't. However, I do hold out hope when I see elderly people who have that distinctive "I could give a crap" air about them. I wonder if they were always that way or is that the final gift of age? I kind of hope so. I could look forward to getting older if I thought it meant I would stop carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders and could finally unleash every controversial thought I ever had without fear of reprisal. That would be awesome.

Picture me, I'll probably be about 4' 10" by then, just going off in the nursing home on a rant that would make Richard Sherman look like he was just reading a bedtime story. And all this stupid exercise I've done my whole life is going to finally pay off then because I will still be strong and feisty and I'll single-handedly start a Senior Citizen Mock Trial group just so all of us oldies can argue and argue and argue to our heart's content. And at night, I'll sleep like a baby.

That's what I'm going to hope for.

But until then, please tread lightly. Be kind. And let's keep Facebook fun.

Peace out.

Be gentle, World. Handle with care, please.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Goals, dreams and visions

I have a friend who has some big goals. I'm not going to call her out but she knows who she is. And as I made clear in my previous post, if you got goals, I got your back. I am cheering her on and trying to support her efforts in every way that I can.

And the truth is, I stand in awe of her goals. Because you know what I got going on in the way of big goals?


See, to me there is a difference between "goals" and a "to-do list". I got me a nice, long, daily to-do list, I promise you that. But those are the things we check off in order to meet our commitments. It shouldn't really be a "goal" to schedule your kid for a dentist appointment. That's a "to-do" for any mom who is concerned about oral hygiene.

(And as an aside, taking my kids to the dentist is one of my most dreaded "to-do's". It is an exercise in humiliation every single time. I swear I do make my kids brush their teeth and we even run some floss through those chompers fairly often, but it's always the same thing....Brush better, floss more, blah, blah, nodding and trying to ignore the judgment that lies behind that pearly white, plaque-free smile.)

Back on topic! Goals, as distinguished from to-do's, should be inspiring. They should require effort and aspiration. They should be a little bit scary and require sacrifice. They should propel your life forward in some big, exciting way.

My friend has GOALS! I got to-do's.

I'm also not a big fan of the term "bucket list" mainly because I don't have one. You know what's in my bucket? Cookies, maybe? Yes, I aspire to eat cookies, as many as I want, each and every day.

I wasn't kidding when I said I have no goals.

But in all seriousness, it's not that I am uninterested in improving my life, I think it just looks different for me. I tend to challenge myself interpersonally rather than in visible external ways.

I do not want to start my own business. I do not want to invent anything (unless it's a mouth rinse that tastes great, cleans teeth and removes all plaque with one simple swish). I don't want to write the Great American Novel. I don't want to run for office (I shudder just thinking about it). And as much as I love singing I don't even aspire to sing anywhere else but my little church choir. I have small goals for my Children's Ministry position but for the most part they all fall well within my natural skill set and don't really challenge me all that much; but that's okay because I love the job just as it is.

I believe I've mentioned before I have a tendency to be very, very content...right?

But as I thought more about this over the past day or so, I've come to realize something. There actually are things I hope for, dream about and aspire to. I do not for one minute think my life is perfect or that I have no need for change or growth, far from it. So, while walking the dog (another of my daily to-do's), I took some time to figure out just what are my "goals"?

Here is what I came up with:

I aspire to be friendly to every single person I interact with as I go about my day (and that includes Internet interactions). My kids have occasionally made fun of me for how cheerful I am to the grocery checker, drive thru cashier, or elementary crossing guards. But that is because my intention everyday is to have each person I speak with feel that I value their existence. It's as simple as that. Sometimes I could do better with the people who actually live in my own house, but that's why this is goal-worthy- because it's challenging at times.

I aspire to be a positive example of the Christian faith. This one I say with humility because I fall short in so many ways when it comes to living out my faith, but my prayer everyday is that God can shine through even me and that at the very least my life will never cause another to stumble in their journey. My prayer is that even those who do not share my faith would not have cause to look at me as another example of why they choose not to believe. I hope at least that.

I aspire to fulfill and exceed the expectations of my commitments. Yes, I know, I said this was more of a "to do", but I think there is a way to meet our commitments that rises beyond our minimum duties. I hope that when I agree to do something, lead something, or plan something...that people will feel confident that it will be done efficiently, effectively AND with a smile. :)

I aspire to take less, want less, acquire less and give more.

And of course there are always my aspirations to be a better, ever-improving, ever-striving mom, wife, sister, cousin, daughter, friend.... Those go without saying.

I don't know. Do any of those count as goals? Do you have to want to DO something or is it enough to just want to BE something?

It could all be a cop-out. Maybe this is more of my sloth peeking through. But I also think there is something to the old adage to "bloom where you're planted."

And this guy is pretty maybe he would think my goals are okay. I hope so.

But where was I to start?
The world is so vast.
I shall start with the country I know best, my own.
But my country is so very large. 
I had better start with my town. But my town, too, is large.
I had better start with my street.
No, my home,
No, my family.
Never mind.
I shall start with myself.
~Elie Wiesel

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


I could start this off with the intriguing news that I started off the New Year by waking up in a bed that was not my own...But I doubt any of you would believe that was indicative of anything truly scandalous or exciting, and you would be right.

I woke up in Annie's bottom bunk because Superdad was so wheezy and stuffy and coughy and gross last night that I wasn't sleeping anywhere near his germ-ridden face. The lower bunk down the hall was my best option, especially once I convinced Annie that it really was too tight for us to sleep in the single bed together and that this was a golden opportunity for her to have her inaugural overnight on the top bunk. We both fell asleep to the sound of pre-midnight fireworks and Annie didn't even stir when the big ones erupted at the strike of twelve. Upon waking this morning, Annie pronounced our New Year's Eve sleeping arrangement absolutely perfect and declared she and I should be permanent roommates. I don't think I am going to take her up on that offer but I love the sweetness behind it. I figure, how many more New Year's do I have left when she thinks a sleepover with Mom is the best way to ring in January 1? I'll take it while I can.

All in all, a nice beginning.

But, that's enough fluffy, cuddly stuff... it's time to get down to business. New Year's is the time for taking stock, reflecting and then pushing forward with new determination and focus. And even though it's easy to make fun of all the unfulfilled New Year's resolutions, I am of the mind that we should always support one another in our efforts to grow, learn and improve. So it might be more of a one step forward, ten steps back kind of what? At least you took that one step, and maybe next time it will be ten steps forward!

(Yes, I have been accused of being a bit of a Pollyanna. Whatever. Better than being called Debbie Downer, am I right?)

So, please know that if you are the resolution kind of person, I got your back. I am cheering for you and pulling for you and when you conquer that goal I will be the first one to say, "I knew you could do it!" Because anything less than that doesn't look much like friendship, does it?

Resolution People- I'm in your corner.

Goals People- You can count on me to give a standing ovation every time you check one off.

No-Resolution-No-Goals-I'm-Just-Trying-To-Be-Better People- Amen and amen. I'm right there with ya.
This past year what I opted to do in lieu of any specific goals and resolutions was to go the One Word route along with a Verse of the Year.  My word this past year was "diligence" and my verse was Ephesians 6:10-11 (Nope, I'm not going to tell you what it is. You have to be diligent and look it up yourself if you want to know. Hee hee. Boy, I'm sassy this first day of the New Year!)        

Like resolutions, goals etc... that may sound pointless to some people but, honestly, it really worked for me. When I would feel myself floundering in some area, or procrastinating, or wishing magic fairies would come and solve some particular problem, I would ask myself, "What would diligence look like right now?" And usually it bore very little resemblance to what I was actually doing.

I have not yet chosen my One Word for this year but I have chosen my verse. I have to admit, it is a similar theme to last year but I think that is because my greatest weakness hasn't changed. My greatest weakness that is also one of my strengths (as they so often are) is contentment. That is, contentment run amok. Because while contentment can truly be a gift, taken too far it starts to look more like complacency. And complacency easily slips into laziness. And, for me at least, laziness oozes and morphs into sloth.

Good ol', one of the seven-deadly-sins...sloth.

Sloth is sometimes defined as: "Failure to do things that one should do." It can be both physical and spiritual. It has also been said that this particular sin is defined by its end result which is a failure to use one's gifts and talents. Ouch.

I mean, what better word is there to describe it? Sloth. I am a sloth. At least, I am sometimes...and more often than I should be.

So, that is why I need verses that remind me to GET UP and DO SOMETHING and more importantly, DO THE RIGHT THING. RIGHT NOW. TODAY. THIS VERY MINUTE. And quit acting like you are too tired, because you are not. You are just being slothful.

Do you hear what a tough inner voice I have? Well, she has to be. I can be very stubborn in my contentment/complacency/laziness/sloth.

So, in order to combat my slothful tendencies the words I am leaning toward right now are:

Energy (a little new-ageish for me...but maybe)
Give (as opposed to Take)
Hospitality (looking at it as service to others)
Discipline ('nuff said)
Honor (honoring my abilities, gifts and good health by doing the things I ought)
Persistence (too much like diligence, I know)

Anyway, it's a work in progress. I hope to have my One Word nailed down by the weekend.

But, in the meantime, I have my verse I can go to for motivation. it is...

(No, I won't make you look this one up. The sloth in me is always sympathetic to the sloth in others.)


Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
~Galatians 6:9               

And if I were going to rewrite that verse in my own words, I would say something like:

DO NOT get tired of doing the right thing, because the blessings that come from giving your best far outweigh your momentary fatigue. But you can't GIVE UP!!

I'm tempted to add "you lazy slug!" to that last sentence but that doesn't strike me as very biblical so I'll just let my inner voice add it.

For me this verse can apply to every aspect of my life, from the biggest things like Loving God and Your Neighbor, to the littler stuff like good health choices, parenting, home maintenance, and putting dinner on the table seven nights a week (ugh). 

So, there it is. That is the verse that will be ringing in my ears from now until New Years Day 2015. And, please, if there is a way I can encourage you or be of help to you in 2014, please don't hesitate to let me know. Like I said, I'm on your side.

Happy New Year, Friends!!