Monday, August 31, 2009

...hands, head, heart.

The woman who works with her hands
is only a laborer;
the woman who works with her hands and her head
is a craftswoman;
the woman who works with her hands,
her head, and her heart
is an artist.

~ St. Francis of Assisi

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Everything about it screams: Play With Me.

Tuck couldn't find sufficient shade at the park.
So he created some.
Yes, that's my son, sitting under a towel on the bench.
Mr. Socially Approachable, you might call him.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

... is Your unfailing love.

"And I praise you,
God of earth and sky,
how beautiful
is Your unfailing love.
Unfailing love."
For five days, this song played in my mind, my heart,
and often my voice,
with and without words.
Thank you, God of grace,
for your earth, sky, and unfailing love.
How beautiful.

Bordering on Foolishness

For yet another mountain adventure, we chose to rent bikes (with trailers) and pursue the scenic route around Lake Dillon.

So brilliant, we thought.

The kids will love this, we thought.

Right about now, they were looking so dapper in their helmets, and we were sure to start a family tradition.

With the wind in our faces, we took off on the trail.

But we didn't account for that business of less air at high altitudes.
Or hills, in general.

Or rain and a search for shelter.

Or children who would fall asleep en route and sabotage their afternoon naps.

After several hours of a scenic tour, we weary travelers returned our bikes. In contrast, the boys hopped out of their trailers, feeling fully rested after such a gentle morning's ride.

We are smiling, but I assure you:
Robb and I are each painfully aware of the parts of us which are unfamiliar with routine cycling. And the bicycle seats involved.

We spent the rest of the week sitting on padded pillows and thanking the Lord above for a minivan to carry us where we need to go.

(I'm exaggerating, only slightly. We really had fun... once we abandoned the sprawling hills around Dillon and explored the more predictable paths through town instead. But I do not exaggerate about the loss of afternoon naps, which easily cost us two days' recovery.)
And for the rest of the week, we passed other cyclists on the road, and we casually looked at one another and quipped with such cleverness,
"Hey, that looks like fun. Maybe we should give that a try."
And then we dissolved into laughter.
Over our own foolishness.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Clever Semantics

We have a growing list of Rude Words at our house: words that are 'not okay' in the everyday vocabulary of two little boys.

You know the list. Shut Up. Poopie. And the like.

So, since the boys know they cannot drop these words into their common dialogue, they try other ways of getting their hands on the coveted language.

"Mommy, I don't want to say poopie."


"I don't say poopie. Ever. If I do, I get in trouble. So I don't. I don't say, 'Hey, poopie. What are you doing, poopie?' I don't say that. Because I don't say poopie."

"Hey, everybody! Don't say shut up! What?! No, I didn't say shut up. I was just telling everybody else not to say it. Don't say it, everybody. Don't say shut up."

Loophole Detectives. That's what they are. Clever wordsmiths, you might say. If you are allowed to say such words at your house.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Racing Down a Mountain!

Today's high altitude adventure: An Alpine Slide.

If you've never had the unique pleasure, an alpine slide is an experience of its own. You ride a chairlift to the tippy top of a mountain, board a sled-like cart, and careen down the side of the mountain in a half-pipe chute.

Pretty stellar. And, it turns out, you are allowed to take passengers.

Who are free of charge under the age of seven.

First of all, the task of riding a mile high chairlift with a two-year-old and no seatbelts or even a lowered bar... well, it is not for the faint of heart. Everybody, hold on tight.

Robb carried our sleds for us, since they were taller than the boys,

and I was of course busy taking pictures.

And finally, after brief instructions by a granola-loving college student who spends his days in a coveted spot, we were off!

First, Tucker rode with me.

And then Tyler rode with me.
And halfway down the mountain, he shouted,
"Mommy! Be careful with me!"

As if I could ever, to the end of my days, imagine anything else.

He loved it.
And let the record show, Daddy drives a better Alpine sled than I do. Much faster, so I hear.

That's why every boy needs a dad.

We are the courageous four who braved the fastest alpine slide ever.

And we'd do it again.

Nine Years Later

Today, I finished a book that I started nine years ago.

It even boasts my maiden name in the front cover.

Tonight? Finished. Check.

The odd thing: I loved every page. Every single one. From cover to cover. I fully immersed myself in it, but I just didn't want it to end too soon. I agree: nine years is a bit much.

(I'm such a weirdo.)

Because you are my faithful reader, I'll confess. The book is... The Life You've Always Wanted.

It would appear that I didn't want The Life enough to read any faster, but o' contraire. I was sure, years ago, that I wouldn't find another book nearly as powerful to my transformation. So I read slowly, embracing the potency. (I even gave the blasted book away once, just sure a friend of mine would enjoy it just as much. So I gave it to her without finishing it myself. She read and returned. And I took another six years before I finished it myself.)

(I'm such a weirdo.)

So now, since I have finished the book, since the margins are filled with my notes, doodles, highlights, and tabs, I can place it on the shelf of my most favorite books I've ever loved.

I suppose it's possible that another title on spiritual formation has been published, you know, in the last decade.

I'll find it.

Adventures at High Altitude

"The best thing you can do for your family is take a vacation together every year."

~ Some Very Wise Parents, at the other end of the parenting journey


Well, okay then. We signed on for just that. And so it begins. The boys were pretty stoked to hit the road on Monday morning. Two new surprises: a big boy carseat for Tyler (don't tell anyone he's still two pounds shy of the weight minimum...), and a portable DVD player to make the drive more fun for everyone involved.

A very public thank you to the inventor of such brilliance.

The movie of choice: Polar Express.

We didn't choose this movie for its seasonal correlation, although with all the Christmas music in the movie, combined with the coincidental timing of a Christmas Eve celebration in the novel I brought along, and then the appearance of a real live Christmas tree in a themed store window, I was beginning to feel downright festive by the time we arrived.

No, we watched Polar Express because we were on our way to an honest-to-goodness train ride. We purchased our tickest weeks ago, and we have talked it up. (Because I am nothing if not all about anticipation.) Sadly, the boys were sure it would be about big hills, holding on tight, and flying off the tracks.

Not so much. But they would learn that in due time.

Tucker was the first to spot the train coming our way,

so this entitled him to be the self-proclaimed expert on all things locomotive.

In his careful expertise, he made sure Tyler didn't miss a single thing.

They were expert watchers, listeners, and impersonators of a train whistle.

And would you believe, Ken the train conductor wanted to punch their tickets.
Glory be. That was a genuine highlight.

I believe I have two children who aspire for a brimmed hat with a gold braid of their own.
Once we were on the train and comin' around the mountain, the boys were all eyes and ears.

And they kept checking in with each other, to make sure they were having a mutual experience.

And for the most part, they were very, very brave.

We had quite a day.

Thomas the Tank Engine has nothing on us.

No Licking.

Me: Tucker, nobody likes to be licked. Please keep your tongue in your mouth. Always.

Tuck: But I like to lick Poppa.

Me: Poppa doesn't like to be licked. Neither does anyone else. You may lick lollipops and popsicles.

Tuck: And your shorts.

Me: No. Lollipops. Popsicles. That's it.

Tuck: And your pants.

Good heavens.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Confessions of a Grocery Store Clerk

I had the glorious enjoyment of grocery shopping without the children today. (It's like a day at the spa. Since I've never actually had a day at the spa, it's what I envision.)

I chose the checkout lane I usually choose, since the kid behind the counter has come to recognize me. (I call him a kid because I'm in my thirties now. It's a privilege that comes with the new decade.) He knows the boys, he knows I want my milk (and everything else) in a bag, he knows plastic is fine since I left my eco-friendly bags in the car again, and his memory of such things makes my life easier.

But today, I had no small children (and thereby no monstrous racecar cart) with me, and he noticed that as well.

He said, "Wow. Kid free today. I bet that's a great feeling."

"Oh, it is. I even took my time. I didn't want the experience to pass by too quickly."

"You can even bypass the penny horse today."

"I sure can. It's straight to the car from here. And I don't think I'll even need help loading the groceries in the car. I feel like a new woman. Plus, I'm still smiling at the end of my shopping experience."

"Oh, you always smile. But this time your hair isn't messed up."

Ahem. Did he say my hair isn't messed up? As opposed to the other times I come through his lane?? Have I been so distracted by the children hanging off my cart that I didn't realize my hair had become a bird's nest somewhere near the frozen foods?

I would have expected a comment about no tantrums, no crying children, no arguments over candy, and no scrambling to find my wallet around the snacks and toys in my purse. That I would have expected. But... my hair isn't messed up??

This makes me wonder: I may not have realized how many people are in my intimate community. The people at the places I frequent: the post office, the grocery store, the bank, the doctor's office... they may be carefully noticing things about me while I'm busy entertaining and corraling the troops.

Like, you know, the relative state of my hair.

I think I'll choose a different checkout lane next time. Or swing by the bathroom for a quick once over before I check out. Or not worry about it at all, since Mr. Cashier and I can only go up from here.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Not Out of the Question

As we pulled into the driveway, after only just departing, I heard this from the backseat:

Tyler: Why are we back home again?

Tuck: I think Mommy forgot her List.

(I didn't forget it, because it is forever attached to me. Although had I forgotten it, I would definitely go back for it. Let it be hereby declared.)

(I didn't know they knew I have a List.)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Importance of Accessories

"Who wants to go for a walk?"


"I do!"

Good. Me too. We were all kinds of ready for a change in the routine, and I thought a walk around the neighborhood might break the tedium of our afternoon.

"Shoes on, everybody!"

Moments later, two boys returned downstairs, wearing snowboots.

Nope. Try again.

Tuck returned with his Lightning McQueen Crocs, a much more reasonable choice. Tyler, on the other hand, was whole-heartedly committed to the giraffe galoshes.

Whatever. Let's go.

I took a picture of him parading ahead of me down the sidewalk, with the mental note: I'll write about choosing my battles and letting him wear those silly little boots. And does he ever look silly. Adorable, but silly.

But just then, we rounded the corner and happened on to the most glorious puddle. It was begging for splashers. I promise you.

And who was most prepared for such an adventure? Tyler. With his giraffe galoshes.

Thankfully Tuck had chosen a less conspicuous waterproof footwear, so he didn't miss a drop.

I take it all back, kiddo.
Great choice.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Better Day

Today was better.

There was less whining. More patience. Less fighting. More forgiveness. On all accounts.

There was also some very unfortunate confusion when Tucker thought the cigarette ash tray outside the grocery store was a personal sandbox for him.

And there was a situation with flip flops and dog poop and my bathroom sink.

In spirit, it was a better day. In the germ department, I'm not so sure.

But I'm not crying or confessing, so that's something. :)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Tomorrow. Try Again.


I fear I was not a great mom today.

You have given these children to me, and I have not loved them well today.

I have been

I cannot believe what I have said, neither the words nor the tone. It was a hard day.

Please, God, let them be resilient. Let them remember the story books, band-aids, kisses, hugs, meals, and love. Please.

I am hard on myself. But this job is so important. I have to do it well.

I can only do it in your grace and strength. Please, Lord, help.

Thank you for your love and mercy. I can't live a day without you.

Please refresh me in my sleep. Tomorrow is a new day. Help me to love them well.

He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms,
and carries them close to his heart;
He gently leads those that have young.
Isaiah 40:11
Please, God. Please.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Today's Naptime Festivities Include...

... installing a crocheted rope ladder from the ceiling fan, should anyone need a fast emergency escape from the top bunk.
There has been very little mention of sleep on the agenda.
Until now.
The Activities Director has a different plan.
(Look out boys. I'm onto you.)
Sleep. Now. You. Both.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Solid Advice

Tonight, a woman at WalMart stopped me. Twice.

The first time, she said, "I just wanted you to know that I raised two red headed sons of my own. Your family caught my eye when you walked by. I had to tell you."

She was gracious, and we shared a few stories of the best things about boys.

Then, aisles later, she stopped me again.

With a sly smile, "Ma'am, get a good hair dresser and a great confidante."

Sounds like solid advice. Will do.

(I liked her.)

Friday, August 14, 2009

I'm Thankful For...

[tonight at bedtime]

Me: Boys, what are you thankful for?

Tuck: I'm thankful for Tywer, and Mommy, and Daddy, and My Me.

Tyler: I'm fankta for my Tucker Boy.

Most nights, they are thankful for grass, clouds, bunkbeds, and Buzz Lightyear. Tonight was slightly more profound.

(It does not get better than this.)

Maybe that's a silly thing.

I like to see people reunited,
maybe that's a silly thing,
but what can I say,
I like to see people run to each other,
I like the kissing and the crying,
I like the impatience,
the stories that the mouth can't tell fast enough,
the ears that aren't big enough,
the eyes that can't take in all of the change,
I like the hugging,
the bringing together,
the end of missing someone.
~Jonathan Safran Foer
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

"Where does my help come from..."

The boys were in the playroom, living it up in their post-lunch pre-nap freetime. I heard lots of laughing, stubborn crying (which does not cause me to come running - since it is vastly different from hurt crying), jumping, throwing, and more laughing.

And then.

"Help us! Help us! Please!"

That will get my attention.

I opened the basement door and called, "Is everything okay down there?"

"Oh, there's Mommy. Ask her."

(Turns out, they hadn't been talking to me.)

"Mommy, can you hep us fix the train track? We've been asking God to help us, but he won't."

Or perhaps God has afforded them a mommy who knows how to fix the train track. Help is on the way, boys.

At least they know whom to go to first.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Just Little Boys.

No cribs. No changing table. No baby gates. No high chair. No double stroller. It seems to be official: no babies live in our home. Just little boys. And Tucker starts preschool this month. 'Real deal' preschool, with curriculum, a teacher, classmates, and enough time for me to run more than one errand.

We're entering a new life stage. And I'm not sad.

It seems like I should be, but I just can't find it in me. There are things I loved about the baby stage, about having a newborn in our home and even a crawler. The swings, the baby seats, the high chairs, the Pack 'n Play, the whole setup. I really enjoyed it (except for those daily few harried moments that usually made it to the blog).

But right now, my mind is filled with where we are: bunk beds, tricycles, scooters, big boy underwear (on one big boy, anyway), sidewalk chalk, booster seats, holding hands to cross the street, making friends, swimming on Saturdays, and learning manners.

It's really, kind of, um, what's the word... so, so great.

Maybe I'm a rare bird in this maternity realm, since I don't seem to encounter many women who don't cry when they box up the sleepers and onesies. Or maybe the moms of our move-along-society don't speak up as much, since there is perhaps less to verbally process in a season of contentment. Or maybe I just boxed them up on a lesser hormonal day, when I was more interested in clutter-free closets than in sentiment for what has been.

I'm just not sad. To this day, I haven't been sad to see them outgrow a phase. I think I'm eager to see what's coming next: the things I will learn about them, the things they will learn about themselves, the discoveries we will make together. I guess I try to live in today; I don't mourn over what they were, and I don't worry about what they will be. The what changes: newborn, infant, crawler, toddler, etc. The who stays the same: they are my children. My boys.

I am learning that if I am absolutely, wholly present in their today, then I don't have to wish for it to come back. I lived it when it was here. Now we're into a new one. And I want to be in this one too.

I used to think three, four, five children (although Robb never had quite the same mental picture for our household), but now I'm feeling content with two. I used to think girl-girl-girl-girl, but now I am exceedingly happy with boy and boy.

Who knows? All of this could change at any time, when they stop calling me Mommy, or they don't want a bedtime story, or if I should see two pink lines on an unexpected pregnancy test. It could change.

But for today? No babies at our house. Just little boys.

And I'm not sad.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Friendship 101.

Tyler makes a friend everywhere we go, but he has yet to master the skill of learning someone's name. He just acquires them into his world of friendship, and he assumes the details will take care of themselves.

"Mommy, look at her. She's my friend."

"Well, she seems like a very nice girl. What's her name?"

"I don't know. But I like her."

We're working on that next step. Meanwhile, they play and play, anonymously.

On the other hand, Tucker has a different strategy for his newly acquired friends.

"Mommy, he's my friend."

"Oh, yeah? What's his name?"


"Really? Is that really his name?"

"No, I made that up. Hey, Jason, want to play with me?"

And 'Jason' comes to play.

It's an interesting strategy, this social networking plan of theirs.

Friendship 101: When meeting a new friend, look closely at his face and decide what name he looks like. Give him this name, and forever call him as such. Refuse to believe otherwise.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Learning Curve

Tyler has suddenly revealed a lot that has been happening in his little red head.

* * *

Yesterday, he pointed to the picture he was coloring and said, "T-Y! It says T-Y!"

"What does T-Y say?" I asked.
"That's me!"
(Never mind that his hat says Robby. It's an antique from his daddy's early years as a fan of Mickey Mouse. Tyler found the heirloom souvenir, and he has been wearing it everyday for a week. People at the grocery store have actually called him Robby.)

* * *

Today, as he was eating a graham cracker, he took two separate bites out of the top half, one bite out of the middle of the bottom half, and then held it up to me. "Look, Mommy. It's a W."

Indeed it was.

* * *
In the car tonight, he counted to twelve. (He counted a little past, actually, but I'm not sure I can count numbers called 'forty-teen' or 'niff.')

* * *

And this one is simultaneously my favorite and the most puzzling.

"Hi, Mommy. Senorita."
I did a double take. "Did you just say Senorita?"
"Si. Si. Si, Senorita."
(Did my two-year-old just speak in Spanish? Dora is a faithful character on his yogurt cup, but he hasn't ever seen her show among the scads of TV favorites.)

* * *
Not sure what he had for breakfast (perhaps he was on to something with those 'Einstein Cheerios!'), but it's coming together up there. Quite nicely.

Don't be deceived. He's busy thinking.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Zoo Makes Me Tired.

Good morning, little boys. One delicious hour past the typical morning routine.

They are seated at the breakfast table. Both of them chose a green fruit bar (Apple Cinnamon, for those of you who label your food more by flavor than by color), but now the debate is over the cereal. Tucker wants Banana Cheerios (which we have), but Tyler wants Einstein Cheerios (which we do not have, nor have we ever, nor do they make them to my knowledge). Banana Cheerios it is. Or, Einstein Cheerios, if you want to call them that. Which he did.

Discussions of what to do today: the pool or the zoo? There is a resounding cheer for the zoo, and I really, really, really should have checked the weather forecast before I offered such a promise. Oh, sure. Offer them the zoo on what presumes to be the hottest day of the summer. Brilliant, Trish. Good work. Off to the zoo we go.

Finish cleaning up from breakfast. Usher the boys upstairs. Time to get dressed. Outfits on both. I ask them to merely choose what shoes they would like to wear. When I return from tossing Cheerio'd jammies in the laundry basket, both boys are suited up in snowboots. Nope. No dice, kiddos. "We need our boooooots!" Nope. There is weeping and gnashing of teeth. Mommy wins, but only partly. Yes, the boots go in the closet, but the grumpies are here to stay. Awesome.

Oh, and Tucker chose a pair of sandals that should have long ago been tossed in the box of darling items for Tyler to grow into. The velcro straps dig into his toes, but the soles light up. A fair trade, in his mind. At least they're not designed for the subarctic.

Turn on Disney Channel. Thank you, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, for occupying my zoo-minded children while I gather the things we need for our adventures. I love you, deeply.

I am now dressed. Lunches are packed (however scantily, since I have simultaneously acquired bare cupboards and a traveling husband, neither of which can be remedied soon enough). The backpack is stocked with drinks, sunscreen, diapers, pre-lunch snacks, post-lunch snacks, and stay-awake-on-the-drive-home snacks. All I need are two boys to get in the car. But they are in love with the Disney Channel, and they have decided they want to stay home. (But they do not use words to say this. They groan at me and heave their bodies around my living room floor.) Up. Out. Go. You. Now.

We are in the car, on our way. Good mom that I aspire to be, I turn on the boys' playlist on my iPod. All their favorite in-the-car tunes. But only then do I realize they are shouting over their music, arguing over whether traffic lights are red or green. (They can be either, yes, I know. But, oh, how they love to argue. They sometimes just yell opposites to each other, for the sake of debate. It's riveting. And so peaceful.)

"Hey. If you're not going to listen, I'm going to turn on the songs I like."



Fine. Mommy's tunes win. And thereby does Mommy.

Shoot. I missed the exit. (Blame it on a great playlist. It'll get me every time, and it often does.)

Back on track. Minimal time lost. Boys are still shouting about traffic signals.

We arrive at the zoo! Of all the highlights and things to see at the zoo, my boys dearly love the parking garage. So, even though parking may be accessible in other places, we MUST drive into the caverns of the parking garage. It's part of the experience for them. And I choose my battles.

Parking spot found. Everyone remember: Zebra Level. I unload stroller, bags, water bottles, and boys. I spray children with sunscreen. They argue over who will walk and who will ride, and I argue about not arguing. We're off to a great start.

We ride the elevator to the Zoo Entrance. We exit the elevator into the bright sunshine, and Tucker announces that he forgot his sunglasses. And no, he cannot go to the zoo without them. Yes, he knows where they are in the car. Yes, we must go back. Puh-leez. And down we go. Zebra Level.

Sunglasses found. Back to the elevator. But not before Tucker, against his better judgment, found a displaced rock and launched it, right there inside the parking garage. Oh, dear. Not so much the best place to practice your overhand pitch. We bolted for the elevator before I could wait for the rock to land. There are some things better left unsaid. Or better soon escaped.

Off the elevator. Well on our way to the zoo entrance. Until, wait. Everything stopped. Tucker's sandals are cutting into his toes. Oh, great. I don't have more shoes, any band-aids, or a better option, but he cannot take one more step forward without his big toe surely falling off. Thankfully, the zoo entrance is conveniently located next to a basket of band-aids, and they allowed us a couple for the road.

We're here! Where to go first? We take a vote: left or right. Left wins this time, so we make our way to the camels.

"Mommy, I'm huuuuunnngry." Seriously? Didn't we just get here? Yes, we did. You did not imagine this, Tired Mom Who Is Questioning Her Judgment. But they are hungry and ready to scout out a picnic spot. I hold them off with some Animal Crackers (so clever!) on-the-go.

We have seen camels, oxen, a handful of peacocks, a zebra, two ostrich, and an antelope. And the hungries hit. Fine. You win. Pick a spot. Picnic bench, here we come.

Done eating. Too tired to walk. (Are you kidding me? Whose idea was this?) I do not have a wagon. I do not have a double stroller. And yet I most definitely have two boys who are putzing their way along, too hot and tired to think about elephants or hippos. So, in a moment of genius, I recline the single stroller (our only option), and I squeeze them in to ride in tandem. And they love it.
(Had I known we could wing this, we wouldn't have bought and used a double stroller for so long. But then again, Tyler's once newborn, wobbly neck thanks me for the security of a seat of his own in those formative weeks.)

In line for the carousel. Tyler wants to ride the peacock, but I say no way. We don't ride animals that offer a bench and don't move, and that's all there is to it. (Some battles are worth fighting.) In the end, Tuck chose an ostrich; Tyler chose a cheetah. And there was great victory in the race around the Conservation Carousel. (Please note: Tucker is not wearing his beloved sunglasses.)

I'm watching the clock, sensing the naptime meltdown encroaching closer by the minute. I'm ready to wrap it up, but they suddenly get their second wind. "Let's see the lions! What about the monkeys?? Polar bears??" We do a whirlwind tour, all en route to the exit.

Back to the Zebra Level. Move on out, cowboys. During the drive home, I pull out my best tricks to keep them awake. We sing, dance, talk, say rhymes, list things we're thankful for, review exhibits at the zoo, and ashamedly, I even pick fights with Tucker. ("No, you can't watch TV when we get home," knowing he'll be nearly asleep anyway and won't want to. But what can I say? At least if he's arguing, he's awake. And that is the ultimate goal.)

Boys in bed. We lost Tyler's awake state shortly after I put on his seatbelt in the zoo parking lot, but I kept Tucker awake literally until we pulled into the driveway. Let me tell you, it is no small feat to put a sleeping almost-four-year-old in a top bunk, but I would not be defeated.

Done. Another wildly successful day at the zoo. Perhaps next time we'll look more closely at some animals.

(Today, I'm thankful for the membership. We can go whenever we want... and tomorrow? I think I'll not want.)

Monday, August 3, 2009

Parenting Code

Like most parents, Robb and I often spell words we don't want the boys to decipher.

If we're thinking of going for a w-a-l-k, we don't want them to rush to put their shoes on before we have decided.

If we're thinking of c-o-o-k-i-e-s for dessert, we want to be sure we're in agreement before one or the other makes the announcement.

If we're thinking of giving b-a-t-h-s after dinner, we want to declare our agenda privately, to avoid any arguments or revolts before it's necessary.

"Do you want some I-C-E C-R-E-A-M?"

"Sure. But not until they are in B-E-D. I don't want to S-H-A-R-E."

As with many other areas in our marriage, we have learned to read one another well and we don't have to complete the thought in order for the other one to understand. So, we often spell in abbreviations.

Walk: W.

Cookies: C-O's.

Baths: B-A's

It has become a very cryptic language that makes perfect sense to us, but if you're listening in, you might find a few gaps.

For example, a friend joined us for lunch on Sunday. The boys were so tired, melting fast, and we were running out of options to tide them over before their naptimes. I said to Robb, "By the way, if you need them, there are some C-R-A-C-K in the backpack."

My friend sat up a little straighter and said, "I'm sorry, but did you say there is Crack in the backpack??"

Oh, no. That would be the abbreviation for Graham Crackers. But I can see how we might have misled you.

(And somedays, Crack seems like a better option.)

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Writing After Rejection

It came. The first rejection letter from a publisher.

The envelope boasted my handwriting, since I had to enclose my own Self Addressed Stamped Envelope with the manuscript. It's almost like I sent myself the rejection, as if I told myself no.

But the words inside the envelope were not mine. It was a horrible form letter (which I actually expected), but it aimed to be personal, which is the worst kind. "I'm sure there was something that appealed to me about your manuscript - perhaps it was a good idea, a strong character, or some lovely prose."

"I'm sure there was something..." she said. I pictured her tapping a fingernail to her chin, testing her memory. "What was it... I'm sure there was something."

Frankly, I expected the no. I really did. It's impossibly hard to break into the competitive business of writing, and almost nobody tumbles into a book deal without some heartache along the way. So really, I expected it. And at least I knew. After seven months of waiting, I knew. It's a no. I read it, folded it up, and placed it in my kitchen basket of things to sort through later.

But then came the 'later.' The emotional sorting. I didn't need to open the letter or hold it in my hands; the words were branded in my mind. "I don't think this manuscript would ultimately succeed."

That's not my favorite sentence, that one right there. One's psyche takes a blow after a sentence like that. Yes, I was thankful to have an answer. And I still believe in the manuscript, the story, and its influence. But a few hours later, I found myself questioning. What's the point? Why should I? "I don't think this manuscript would ultimately succeed." It was a scrolling marquis that I couldn't erase.

For a while, for just a bit, I didn't want to write.

But here's the thing: I have to.Writing is like aerobic exercise for my emotions and my mind. Can I live without it? Yes, but I'm healthier when I stick to my training regimen; I'm happier when I have done what I need to do, when I sit down and write. Even when it's hard work, uphill, and the words don't come easily, still it's good for me. I can feel it. And I love it.

Writing after rejection is like getting back in the driver's seat after a car accident. A car accident doesn't mean you'll never drive again, but the longer you wait to get behind the wheel, the more you lose your confidence. I'll drive tomorrow, but just not today. Later. Not yet. Ultimately, I have to choose to claim the task at hand and my role in the process. I have to choose to not be defined by what happened.

I have to.

* * *

"Sometimes you have to fight for the thing that will make you whole."

~ Tully, Firefly Lane

* * *
"A vampire is any person or thought or feeling that stands between you and your creative self expression, but they can assume many seductive forms. Die Vampire, Die."
~ Title of Show

Pickle Pizza

Tucker has confused the names for pepperoni and pickles. He thinks the red circles on his pizza are pickles, and I think that's a great mistake. "Ew. I don't like pickles." (Which is an articulation upgrade from what he used to say: "Ew. I no yike pickles.") He plucks them off and tosses them at Tyler, who gobbles them down.

Someday, I should correct him. Or else he'll be out with his buddies after a game, and they'll say, "Hey, Tuck, what do you like on your pizza?"

"Anything but pickles, dude. I hate pickles on my pizza."

And they'll think, "Right. So do we. And we can't think of anyone in the world who likes them. Let's get pepperoni."

Woefully disappointed, Tuck will be faced with an awkward social setting. In a real pickle, if you will. I sure can't let that happen. Someday, I'll coach him on such things. But for now, I'm riding it out. Extra pickles, please.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Bottoms Up.

"We're here to celebrate her birthday," Robb's mom announced to our waiter. We were at a quaint and authentic Mexican restaurant in the mountains, and I think she was hoping (as I was) that they would bring us a slice of chocolate cake a la mode with many forks.

But that's not so much the tradition, apparently. Instead, he placed before me a brimming shot of Tequila.

Now, please allow me a moment for a sidenote: I have never done a shot of anything before. Feel free to laugh, smile knowingly, nod in agreement, or feign your shock and amazement. I just haven't. The whole loss of control, memory, and feeling in my tongue... it just never appealed to me. But there it was, right before me: an opportunity, a rite of passage, and an audience cheering me on.

Cheers to the Birthday Girl

I'm pretty sure this is the face you're supposed to make.
Oh, and hold a napkin, just in case it comes right back up.

It's a little odd that my three year old is watching so closely as I pound my first shot.

I did it. Sweet victory.

A few moments later, I felt neither sweet nor victorious.
More like dizzy and nauseous.
And maybe a little slurred, although the memory is a little fuzzy.

And here it is, the bottle from whence it came.
Their own brew: 80 proof.
And just like that, I was over the legal limit. No breathalizer for me, thanks.
And no parenting responsibilities, either.
I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have passed either test with flying colors.
But I did it. There. Check that one off the list.
I must be thirty.