Goodbye House

Goodbye House. Goodbye gleaming hardwood floors. Goodbye white picket fence. Goodbye master bath larger than Little House’s kitchen. Goodbye picket-fenced emerald-velvet grassed yard. Goodbye high ceilings and sunroom Goodbye curving staircase and food-storage room. Goodbye landscape lights and four bathrooms. Goodbye french doors and central air. Goodbye double-hung windows and arched doorways. Goodbye deeply shaded backyard with climbing trees and quail and foxes and deer. Goodbye cul-de-sac where kids could play safely and boys learned to ride their bikes. Goodbye front porch with Adirondack chairs and a birdfeeder. Goodbye deep soaking tub and the kids’ own bathroom. Goodbye dreams and future I planned. Goodbye “we” and goodbye “us”.

And Hello wide-open future and all that it may contain…

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The hard truth is, we are alone in life. We come into the world alone, and we leave it alone. We have to stand before the Lord someday, and we have to do that alone. It’s easy to forget in the hustle of life.

My friend who was going to help me in Houston is very ill and most likely cannot help. I’m scrambling like mad to find a solution- but with less than 24 hours, I’m hitting a lot of walls. Trying to stay positive and believe in myself and my ability to do this, but it’s hard.

My house is empty.

A friend gave me a big gift-certificate to Nordstrom to treat myself to a new outfit and some make-up for Houston. My plan was to get down there this morning. I cannot find it ANYWHERE. And my house is spotless right now- it’s empty, remember, so when I put in my purse, it really should still be there. Its’ not. It’s not anywhere. It’s utterly vanished. I can only suppose I’m just not supposed to have it.

I’m trying hard not to feel sorry for myself. I’m trying hard not to cry. I’m trying so damn hard to keep it together.

Some friends have called and offered help with Houston- but it’s so last minute, everyone is having logistical/financial trouble working it out. All totally understandable. It just hurts so damn bad.

I’m trying so hard. Can I run a show booth by myself for three consecutive days? Alone?

The platitude is that it’s always darkest before the dawn. My eyes are stinging with hot unshed tears and I am so afraid and feel so alone. I’m ready for that light… please…


My house is so quiet. The wind rustles through the trees in the backyard, a sound I’ve always loved, and today… it only exacerbates my aching heart. The birds chirp happily in their cage in the sunroom, and the golden fall light pools on the floor under the window- and it makes the unnatural silence echo through my raw heart.

My kids are in California, with my family. My house is big and empty. There are whispers of memory everywhere I turn, but they are shades, transparencies, veiled and yellow like an old fading photograph curling in the sun.

No matter how much you love your home and think it’s where your heart is, it’s not. Your home is an empty shell, a vacant lot, without those you love lighting it’s walls. The old adage got it wrong.

Your home is in your heart- not the other way around.

Overheard at the M’s

David, in the kitchen, talking to Jeffrey:

“Jeff, women, and your mama in particular, don’t need to be fixed. They just need to be listened to- it took me a long time to learn that son, and you could go far by learning it now. Just listen.”

Olden Days Pictures

bananaThis is my last post about cameras for a while. I promise. Honest. When it rains, it pours.

So when I was in Nauvoo a few weeks back, I picked up a little cheapo throw-away at the market across from Carthage jail. (because that’s pertinent? nope) I left it in a friend’s bag, and it was just mailed to me today. It didn’t take long for the kids to spy something new! and interesting! on my desk- and they asked what it was.

“A camera.” I said over my shoulder, while picking up shards of a mug Abby dropped on the tile floor.

“Oh. A camera? really? Then where is the picture?”

“It’s inside, you can’t see it.” still picking up pottery slivers…

“How does it work mom? What do you do? Where’s the screen? How can you take pictures without seeing them?”

Washing my hands off, I feel really old. “You have to look through the little hole, and the picture goes onto a roll of film inside the box.”

“But WHERE are the pictures? How do you get them out to see them?!”

Taking the camera, I show him how to advance the film, push the flash button and look through the viewfinder. It’s novel and fun, and he and Bean take the whole rest of the roll.

Bringing the spent camera to me, Jeffrey says, “OK mom, I want to see the pictures we took on the old-fashioned camera!”

Old fashioned. Huh. Have I actually reached that stage? Am I… a… relic? Damn. I look at my earnest freckle-nosed son, “I can’t get the pictures out. We have to take it to the store, and they print them for us. It’s called developing.”

He looks at me cock-eyed, “You mean we have to drive to the store, and we can’t see them first?”


“That’s dumb. I’m glad I don’t live in the olden days.”

Yes, my dear son, be glad. Why, way back when I was a small child, we had to get up to change the TV channel, we had to go to the theatre to see a movie, you cooked popcorn on the stove in a pot, bicycles had banana seats,  and you had to beg mom to go to Golf-land to play video games. Our first computer was an Atari, and it had a modem that you set the cradle of the phone on, and a dot-matrix printer- and we were the bomb. We even had a phone that you had to DIAL. It was in the garage, but we had one. Our yard was watered with a rain-bird sprinkler that sucked to run through, we played with all the kids on the street and no one had ever heard of a “play date”. The ice cream man came around every summer night around 7, and everything was a quarter. And you took your camera to the store and had to wait a week to see that you took pictures of your thumb and your eye.

Yeah, it might be dumb. But darling son, my prayer is that someday your memories are quaint and sepia as well. It’s not a bad place to be.

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Happy Birthday Abigail III

abby1Dear Sweet Abby,

It’s 2:15 in the morning, and you are asleep above, in your flower “bunny soop” as you say. In the morning a flurry of activity awaits as your brothers, dad and I all wish you a Happy Birthday and have fun letting you be Queen for the day. I’ve got streamers and balloons up, and your presents are wrapped. When you come down the stairs in the morning, I hope you are excited and happy to see all the pinkness, your current favorite everything color.

But more than that, I hope for your happiness and joy in this life to continue. You are like a little songbird for this family- always chirping and chatting, cheerful,  happy and vivacious. You bring the sun with you wherever you go. You have a sharp, quick mind and you astound me with your problem solving and puzzling skills. Playing outside in the dirt, digging in the garden and swinging seem to bring you great joy. Sometimes, if the house is quiet, I will find you outside, sitting on your swing, singing to yourself and looking as though you are contemplating the cosmos.

Three is sure to be a big year for you. The transition to big-girl undies begins, and you are motivated because you have your eye on a pink carseat you saw in a magazine.  You love to cook, and when I’m  busy and my kitchen is too hectic, you play cook right along with me in your wooden kitchen in the dining area. You even tell the boys to get out of the kitchen. I’m not sure I should be proud of that, but there it is.

Abigail, you are a delight to all who love you. We are so blessed and grateful that you are our daughter, our sister and part of our family. The sun shines brighter because of you. Happy birthday, sweet girl.

Mama loves you.

Heart Drops, Woman Survives

Sending your kids off to school each day is really an exercise of faith. I’ve thought on this before, as I contemplated the unlocked gates at the edges of the school yard, the other people driving my kids somewhere, and the open nature of the way we live. Anything can happen- and yet, mostly we coast along blissfully enjoying Normal.

Jeffrey signed up for choir a few months ago; they have a performance next Monday, so an extra practice was scheduled today. The mama I share carpool with is leading the choir, and she said she would bring Jeffrey home. Score! I usually drive the afternoon shift, so ran errands instead shuttling kids.

Heading home from errands, David was walking back from the bus-stop with Abby and Beanie. Rolling down the window we chatted “No Jeffrey yet, huh? He shook his head and hefted Bean into passenger-side window for the four-house drive home.

Hmmm- I wonder why they are taking so long? As I’m reaching for the phone to call my carpool companion, it rings, “Hello?” I don’t recognize the caller ID. ” Hello??”

“Um, may I ask who is calling, please?” Jeffrey says from the other end of the phone. “Jeffrey! Where are you?”  Here is where I learn how getting accurate information from a seven-year-old boy is nigh unto impossible. He begins to ramble on about the gym, the library, the teacher is gone, there are some balls, school is empty, I wasn’t there… I am trying to piece together what he is saying, and ask him, in my best  I’m Calm and not Panicking at ALL voice to please hand the phone to a grown up…

A mom takes the phone.  She tells me Jeffrey is the last kid at school, everyone is gone, and should she stay with him or would I like to meet her at the YMCA?

WHAT? Holy…what…where…what happened…crap…who… how on EARTH…what? WHAT? WHAT???!

How did my kid, who was supposed to be at CHOIR practice, end up alone at his elementary school? I have a million questions, but by now I am roaring down the road, and half way to the school. I dare a cop to stop me. I cannot believe… how… WHAT?

Pulling into the school (rather, I bounce, because I hit a curb in my, er, eagerness) I see my little boy, oh so little looking, with his backpack and coat, sitting with this mom, the doors are locked, the lights are out, everyone has gone home.

Jumping from the car, I gather him in my arms, hug/squeeze him as tight as I can, which quickly turns into dontyoueverdothisagainyoungman, doyouhearme!

The mom tells me she was there with her kids playing in the gym, and as the other kids went home, Jeffrey was the last kid. When it was time for her to go, she didn’t want to leave him there. She offered her phone so he could call home. I thank her profusely, embarassed and chagrinned and releived and confused and sick all at the same time.

Jeffrey safely buckled into MY car, we head home. “So what the heck happened, Jeffrey? Why were you in the gym and not at choir practice? Do you know how much that frightened me and dad?” I heard a convoluted and confusing story of the library, wandering around, playing with some kids, checking where I normally pick him up, and then deciding playing in the gym was a good idea.

I call my carpool mama. She is freaking out. She had no idea. When Jeffrey didn’t show up for Choir, she just assumed I had picked him up, since it wasn’t a regular practice day.

“Why didn’t you go to choir, Jeffrey? AND WHY ON EARTH.. oh hell. I give up until we get home.

David and I sit down in the kitchen with him and try to figure out what happened.  Near as we can tell, and it’s still spotty:

  • He says he forgot it was choir day, but on pressing from Dad, he says he doesn’t want to be in choir anymore.
  • After wandering around looking for me, he just opted to hang out and play, and after a while, all the other kids went home, and he was the only one left.

All while I was assuming my kid was safely at choir practice and would be home safely, like he is every day.  I’m still reeling. I can’t figure out if this is all my fault, if this is crossed wires, if this is Jeffrey being an innocent little kid, if I need to go to the school and ring some necks, if this was Jeffrey being a naughty twerp and skipping choir…

I mean WHAT IF THAT MOM HAD JUST LEFT!?!?  Oh, the WHAT-IFS are just going to kill me on this one…

Do I go to the school? Clearly, at home we are revising and laying down some Law- but this is just… it’s too… AUuuuugh! I just can’t believe it… I need a tranquilizer.

Happy Birthday To Me Photos


This is what I woke to- Abby had taken my desk chair and scooted it into the kitchen, and was sitting on the counter eating Hershey’s kisses from the canister. And yes, that is a giant chef’s knife on the far left- where I thought she couldn’t possibly get to it. Thankfully, the kisses were more interesting than cutting herself to ribbons.

Up next was a hairdo and color with Mo and Christina at the salon. Christina had to cancel to go to an appointment, but she and Mo had already arranged to have my salon trip already paid for- my eyes teared up when I realized what they had done. I was also treated to lunch, and a new luscious lipgloss from the Clinique counter- and a new princess coloring book. While in the chair with foil all over my head, looking quite like a Tudor torture victim, this bouquet of balloons was delivered to the Salon- for ME!


Jeffrey and Abby have been fighting over them ever since, and the card simply says “from a friend”- so I don’t know who to thank, but I have my suspicions!

When I got home, a bouquet of chocolate strawberries was waiting for me, from the wonderful ladies at MMW. Beanie and I have been gorging on deliciousness. When it came, it was not half-devoured. Really.

So the hair. First, let me say, Mo’s girl rocks. Really, it’s the best haircut I’ve had in a long time. Historically, people are either afraid of my hair and thus nibble and twiddle away on it, leaving me with a thick, unruly thatch, or they jump in with gusto, not knowing what they are doing and leave me with an overly layered, fuzzy mess. This chick was not intimidated, and as a matter of fact, cut three other people while still working on me- she clipped and nipped with confidence, and she foiled it chunky and yet prettily- and she did it quickly. I’ve had it take more than two hours before just for the foil- nope, we were done in an hour. And it looked better than it has in a long time. She left it curly, and I’m fighting wanting to tie it up in a knot, but that’s mostly because I’m just hot- as in sweaty, not as in cute. So, this is what happens when you ask your little kid to take a picture of you:


Not sure what was happening here- but that’s my hair! And here I’m reaching to help Bean push the button. Excellent angle. Fantastic. Curly hair obviously photographs beautifully. It really does look good- I swear. I don’t look like the Swamp Thing, really…


And here we are trying to all get the auto click to get us in the same frame. It’s the best I could do. Thanks to all of you for helping make it a special day- thanks for the well wishes and the kind words and thoughts. I really appreciate the community we make here;  And Mo, you rock.  But you already knew that…

Happy Mother’s Day

This is a post from my archives- but I can’t say it any better today than I did then- and it’s one of my very favorite things I’ve written. Happy Mother’s Day…

I’m feeling rather soft and squishy about my children tonight. Somedays I feel I am the one learning and they are the teachers. Not necessarily the older wiser teachers, but the harder, tough teachers that you never forget the lessons you learn from. Ever had any of those? I’ve got three of them here under my own roof.

The woman I used to be was independent, a world traveler, a career chick who had a really fun job, cool and interesting friends, a convertible, nice clothes and a good dye job on the hair. I relished my freedom and independence, I sat in bed on Sunday mornings reading the paper and writing self-indulgent things in my journal while my dog slept at my feet. I had friends over for fancy meals and to try out new, gourmet recipes. I spent my free time with other bohemians who were equally self-indulgent and submerged in relative luxury. Luxury of time, of money, of place and weather. Luxury of friends and career’s and choices and plenty. Luxury of museums and concerts and sunset cruises on the Bay after tiny bistro dinners in the City… Ah, I can still feel it, and on melancholy days, I might even miss it a tiny bit.

The woman I am now… Ah, the woman I am now is so much happier than the woman I was. The previous life sounds glamorous and full and fun- and at times it was. But it was also a whole lot of hollow- years of looking for what I felt was missing. Years of writing in that journal, wishing for a family of my own, wishing for my eternal companion (even though he was right under my nose), wishing for children, wishing for a home, wishing for everything that now occupies my days and often my nights.

From my children and my choosing to be a stay-at-home mom, I have learned more than I ever imagined possible. From the moment Jeffrey was born, he has been teaching me- starting with his body sliding into the world… Came the stunning realization that there really is a God. Nothing in my life has been as impacting and as sure as that moment. From Eric’s birth I learned that my heart could expand indefinitely, that love was not something metered out or finite. From Abby’s birth, I learned my capacity to cope and deal with pain reached far beyond what I thought were my boundaries, and I came out not only alive, but thrillingly so.

Each day, as I watch my children grow and change, visibly metamorphosing, the same thing is happening inside of me. My life is not about me anymore, but the irony is that I am more alive, more myself than I ever was when it was all about me. Motherhood has given me confidence in the face of opposition, a knowledge of my personal resources and how deep they might actually be, lessons in patience repeated over and again, a solid sense of what is really important, the ability to discern and trust my intuition, and faith. Oh, most of all, Faith.

How could any of us mother without faith? How could we get through the long nights and exhausting days without faith? How could we do what we do, over and over, without faith?The Lord gave me the greatest gift when Jeffrey was born. I had been searching for years for answers, but it was not until the very moment his warm, wet body was laid on my stomach that I knew, knew with all my heart, that God was there, that God is real.

As mothers, we walk around in the world watching our hearts live outside ourselves. Tiny bodies holding our very lifeblood toddle off into the great blue beyond, and the vulnerability would be unendurable without Faith.

So today, I thank the Lord for answering my questions in unmistakable ways, and for giving me the gift of these little teachers, who stretch and grow and push me toward my eternal destination. I pray that I am enough of a mother to do the same for them.

Happy Mothers Day to all of you. Go kiss your mother!

Thread Fraying Fast

Weariness. Stretching hurts. It’s supposed to, right? I mean, that’s how you know things are happening. I’m tired. I want to curl up and be done with all this stretching. Stretching money, stretching time, stretching resources, stretching patience, medication, bills, groceries, and everything else in my life.

It frightens me to say that- I mean, am I tempting fate by acknowledging that I feel like a piece of worn-out underwear elastic?

David has an interview on Friday morning. This may be It- he’s made it through several tiers of hierarchy, and this could be the nail-it interview.

Pray for us, please?

If that’s not your thing, do a sun-dance, burn some incense, pound a cold one, bang your gong, commune with the moon- however you know God, if you could put in a good word for us… We would be ever so grateful.