My mom adventures in Fort Collins

Another Gratitude Post: 19 Things I’m Thankful For

Once I set out to accomplish something, it’s hard to get me to set down the baton and admit the race is over. Furthermore, I’ve publicly announced my goal, so there is no stopping me now–the fact that Thanksgiving has been over for 3 months means NOTHING to me. Two more posts about gratitude… after this one.

Since it is the nineteenth of the posts on gratitude, why not go for “Nineteen things that I am thankful for RIGHT NOW”?

1. Ruby is a bit sick, but she’s holding it together rather well. She keeps calling her cough a “Naughty Cough” which is mostly inexplicable but quite hilarious. I can only hope that we don’t all get Ruby’s Naughty Cough. But if we do, we will shame it into submission.

2. Cory did the dishes for me tonight. I have been trying to convince him for several years that he should get around to doing this a bit more, and lo and behold it is WORKING. Turns out nagging DOES work.

3. I am thankful for my friend Polly who took a very long walk with me in the sunshine today. Today was a glorious day, and it was made all the more lovely by the river, the sound of a meadowlark, and connecting with a good friend.

4. I am grateful to both Ruby & Scout for a good–I’d even say GREAT–morning around here that didn’t involve any yelling. Woohoo!

5. I am grateful for The Cellar, and I’m especially grateful to their employee Becca who directed me to a delicious red wine that I am sipping presently.

6. I am grateful for my health, and that of my family. My dad is healthy, my mom is healthy, and though they both have their issues, we are NOT where we were last year at this time.

7. I am grateful to people who have a sense of humor, like whoever took the time to make this:

8. I am grateful for a warm, safe house. After a gorgeous day with temperatures in the 50s, I find myself suddenly feeling chilled to the bone after the weather turned cold.

9. I am grateful to Mary Pope Osborn, and the great work that she does that has entertained my children so much in recent months. Jack & Annie are almost real people around here, I think Scout even asked if we could look for Frog Creek, Pennsylvania on a map.

10. I’m grateful for my Secret Sister. Secret Sister is this thing we do at my daughter’s preschool, sort of like Secret Santa but all year round. My SS gifted me Enstrom’s toffees. If you’ve never had such a delicious treat, check them out here.

11. I am grateful to my sweet hubby, who is currently gearing my kiddos up in the living room something like this:IMG_4718

12. I am grateful for good books. I read a lovely one recently called The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. It’s a story about a young woman who aged out of the foster care system. Also important to the story: this woman communicates in the Victorian-era “Language of Flowers,” where a red rose means romantic love and a thistle means misanthropy. If you’re at all curious, there is a great interview with the author here:

13. I am grateful for coffee. EVERY DAY OF MY LIFE.

14. I am grateful for my sweet niece who turns 8 today. Years ago, on the day she was born, Cory and I drove up to Cheyenne, Wyoming so that we could catch a glimpse of her. Seems hard to believe that she’s now so mature, when it doesn’t seem that long ago I held her in my arms.

15. I am grateful for small favors, like when someone holds the door for you while you’re carrying something or when you find exactly what you’re looking for at the grocery store without having to wind your way back to an aisle that you inadvertently forgot.

16. I am grateful for The Mindy Project, which is not coming back until April 1st, but I can be patient a bit longer. PLEASE, please, please, Danny, DO NOT SCREW IT UP. You either, Mindy!

17. I am so incredibly grateful for the teachers at my daughter’s elementary school. Her kindergarten teacher returned today from a 3-month maternity leave, and the long-term-sub was such a gem in her absence. The other kindergarten teachers and the paras pitched in so incredibly well. I feel so fortunate that there are so many kind people who are out in the world working with these littles and teaching them about life and literacy and how to hang your snowpants up.

18. I am grateful for my church, a place of community and love. The pastor recently gave a sermon on “Faithfully Side Stepping Tradition”–about welcoming EVERYONE.

19. I am grateful for it all, this messy, imperfect, bittersweet life. I am not a person that exudes joy in every step, or pretends that all is well when indeed it is falling apart (as it often does in parenthoodland), but I think I can honestly say that there is nowhere I’d rather be than right here in this place.

Do you have something that you are grateful for RIGHT NOW? 


Giving the gift of forgiveness

I have so many spiritual struggles. Don’t we all? My prayer life is practically non-existent, I have failed to find a meaningful way to connect with the service-oriented side of me for years, and lately “charity” has meant giving a teenager $5 when he comes to my door trying to sell coupons for the football team. I haven’t been the prayerful, loving, charitable person that I want to be in a long time. Or at least it feels like it. I need a soul-nourishing overhaul.

But that is not what this post is about. (Well, it is a little bit.)

What this post is really about is love. The love of a sweet, spiritual girl, and the gifts she gives me all the time.

This week, my oldest had her first day of kindergarten. I have been struggling with what to write about this momentous occasion. As far as I can tell, I’m supposed to think this is a bittersweet moment: my baby is all grown up and ready to set the world on fire. Me, as momma, I’m supposed to feel happy for her and proud of her, but also feel a bit of my heart break because there is no more denying that her babyhood is a thing of the past. This girl is growing up.

Insert obligatory smiley-faced photo here

Insert obligatory smiley-faced photo here

What can I say? I have to be different. That’s not the way it went down for me.

I do agree that it was bittersweet, but not for the reasons that you might think. Let’s start with sweet, because that’s easy. I felt sweet because I know that she’ll do well. She’s grown into such a kind and capable girl, with an amazing creative side and a truly grand ability to simply observe and soak it all in. I felt sweet because I personally love new adventures, and I’ve been hearing so many amazing things about our neighborhood school since we moved into our house three years ago. I felt sweet because my mornings can become purposeful again, and I will actually have some time to myself. But mostly I’m overcome with the bitter.

I’m bitter because this is the official end of our summer, and this is the beginning of a new schedule for us.  Where some families appear to feel rejuvenated by the beginning of a new school year and the routine that it provides, I feel the dark, suffocating choke-hold of this time of transition. Hmm, what’s a polite way to say this? “My sweet kindergartener finds adapting to a new routine rather challenging. ” She was a bucket of nerves before school started, and she told me more than a dozen times that she didn’t want to go. Though by all accounts she’s liking school now that the first-day jitters are behind her, she is not exactly a lovely person to be around. School is wearing her out, and she is constantly exhausted and hungry. She complained that school doesn’t offer nap-time, and she has not willingly taken a nap since infancy. Yesterday, she ate a hot-dog… for her third afternoon snack. Our house has become a roller-coaster of emotion, ranging from excitement to nerves to aggression to apologies.

There can be no amount of “The Kissing Hand” to diminish these struggles. As the saying goes, “You can’t go over it. You can’t go under it. You can’t go around it. You gotta go through it.” And excuse me if I just don’t like going through it.

I’m not delusional. I know that the world has bigger problems than adapting to a kindergarten routine, and I realize that I’m not the first mom to have this struggle. The logical piece of me is aware that we’ll get through it, but it’s just such a difficult time for me. My heart is breaking, but it has nothing to do with her babyhood ending. My heart is breaking because my child has such strong emotions and she’s still learning how to process them. Though by her own admissions she’s “tired,” or she want to “lie down,” she balks at the suggestion that we take some quiet time. She is awash in the feeling of what my friend calls “hangry”–hungry and angry. She acts difficult and aggressive, and then realizing she has hurt me or her sister, she quickly backpedals and apologizes.

“Momma, I’m so sorry.”

“What are you sorry for, honey?”

“Well, I’m sorry that I was acting so mean and being so crabby. I’m a bad kid.”

After the third exchange like this yesterday, I had to do something. My heart was so achy and breaky, that even Billy Ray wouldn’t be able to shake his mullet enough to do away with that kind of heartache.

I explained that she is not a bad kid. She is NEVER EVER a bad kid in my mind, because I KNOW that she is really truly a kind, loving kid. I explained that this was a hard time, and that her body is adjusting to this new schedule. I explained that her mind was working so hard to take in all of the new friends and experiences that it made her extra-tired. I explained that sometimes when we start something new, we don’t always sleep right and that makes us super-tired, too. And when we’re extra-super-tired, it’s so difficult to act our best.

But I had good news! The good news is: You can forgive yourself and start all over! You can do better next time. Isn’t that fantastic?

We talked a lot about forgiveness, and how God always forgives us. I told her that with God, you have a second chance, a third chance, a fourth chance… even forever chances!

Forever chances. I love that. (I learned that from my I-wish-I-knew-you-in-real-life soul sister, Glennon Doyle Melton, because I’m reading her book Carry On, Warrior right now.) And I told my sweet girl again that I know that she’s kind, and she is NEVER EVER a bad kid. And God knows that, too. God knows that better than even I do. And my sweet girl, who found prayer to be so soothing last year in moments of anxiety, remembered that she could talk to Jesus and ask him for help.

And after this whole conversation, I was thinking, “You are brilliant, my dear!” Does this ever happen to you? My child reminded me that the advice that I was giving her is truly the advice that I need to be following myself. You know who wants to help me become a more patient mother? Jesus does. And all I have to do is ask. Maybe tomorrow, I will do better than today. Maybe the next day, I will do better than tomorrow. But each day, if I get angry or I get crabby (which I always do), and if I am hard on the people I love the most (which I always am), I can pray. I can ask for help. I just have to stop and forgive myself, and try again because I have forever chances.

So, here’s to love and prayer and forgiveness. And here’s to the bittersweet, because often the most worthwhile experiences do have a fair amount of growing pains. We’ll get there… I’ll keep praying.

Kids are not little adults

Like most parents, I struggle with a lot of different issues. Some of them even involve my kids.

Lately, I keep hearing about the virtues of children behaving as adults. When a young child demonstrates the general mannerisms of a polite individual, we congratulate the child and maybe even the parents. When a child speaks willingly to an adult, we may think to ourselves, “Wow, little [insert name here] certainly is confident!”

I know that Fancy Nancy has taught us some big words and all, but we’re just kids. We’re not little adults.

Don’t get me wrong. These are indeed virtues. I love it when children speak politely. I love it even more when those children are my very own children. I do spend a great deal of time (it feels like a great deal of time, anyway) trying to coax my children into using kind words to ask for things or the correct tone of voice to express their dissatisfaction with a situation. In lieu of wine before 5 pm, I find that the use of polite language can grant me just a bit more patience. When requests are demanding, harsh or perfecting a nine-octave-range of pitch, mommy wants to slam her head into the counter-top rather than accommodate any petition for a glass of water.

And I love talking to kiddos who can hold their own. I thoroughly enjoy hearing about life from a five-year-old’s point of view. Prior to one such conversations I had little knowledge of a My Little Pony named Rarity, and I certainly had no idea of the inter-personal drama that exists among the ponies. Who knew you could learn of such tales all while waiting in line at the grocery store?

I will relent to an extent: Much can be gained from encouraging certain mature behaviors in a young child.


Kids are not little adults. Kids are in no way, no how, ever to be expected to be adults even when they are capable of demonstrating certain adult-like behaviors.

For all the kids out there who are not capable of behaving like an adult, I want to send up a little homage in their honor.

  • If your first word is not “please” and your last words are not “thank you,” it really just means you are a work in progress. Keep trying to use those “magic words”!
  • If you holler and yell and say things in a decibel well beyond the regulation “inside voice”, it really just means that you’re alive and animated and feeling things in a big way.
  • If you cry and scream at inappropriate times (like in a restaurant, in church or on the 11th hole of the US Open), it really just means that you’re human and you have emotions. (And, trust me, adults all the world over have wanted to do the exact same thing but they don’t do it due to fear of repercussion.)
  • If you turn away from a strange adult who is asking you if you like unicorns simply because there is one on your t-shirt, then GOOD! For crying out loud, stranger anxiety exists for a reason and children who shy away from  adults who maybe-might-be-safe-but-we-still-don’t-know-them are doing themselves and the world a favor.
  • If you can’t hold still for even a moment and prefer to bounce, bound, skip, run, prance, dance or boogie-on-down, it just means that you are a lively person and your exuberance cannot be contained.
  • If you dislike any food that is green or once grew in the earth, you are probably living proof of evolution. Some of that green stuff that grows in the earth really can kill you. That being said, please please please throw your parents a bone and branch out every once in a while at the dinner table.

I’m sure that there are many more lines to devote to this “Kids who are not little adults” homage.  Please feel free to give me some of your own.

Sometimes you just get lucky
March 23, 2012, 6:33 am
Filed under: Family | Tags: , , , , ,

Several years ago, my friend Beth told me this story about how she found a thousand dollars in cash. It was autumn, and she was walking home. As she walked along, she was swinging her feet through the piles of leaves that had accumulated along the sidewalk. She literally stumbled into a dirty, rubber-banded stack of bills. Fairly certain that this money was not the milk-money of a quiet suburban housefrau, she figured that the money was hers. Good, bad, whatever, the money was hers. She chose to look at it as providence, and it made a few different travel arrangements possible for her at a time in her life when she was broke, lived far from her family and desperately wanted to see them.

Personally, I haven’t ever experienced luck like this. Well, not exactly. There was the time I watched the documentary about “The Secret” (you know, the book that Oprah popularized a while ago). The film spoke about the laws of attraction, and mentioned specifically that if you want your finances to improve you need to picture money arriving in your hand. I did that for a day or two, and then a few days later we got a $300 refund from Verizon. I wanted to believe that I had stumbled upon a magic genie, but either I lost the determination to keep visualizing the copious amounts of cash rolling in or the checks dried up.

But in general, I don’t consider myself lucky. True, my life has been blessed with good health, fun adventures, and lovely people I hold dear, but in the traditional sense of winning bingo, leaving with a door prize, or even coming up with a $5 win on a scratch-off, not so much.

In any case, what happened to me tonight seems way better than $300 from Verizon.

Tonight was a small miracle for my little girl. After all the anxiety of the past week, where the mere mention of swimming lessons would send her into a puddle of tears, she went—willingly—to her swimming lesson. Despite protests earlier today when she claimed she would just sit on the sidelines and watch her sister’s lesson, she did actively participate in her lesson. I watched happily from the bleachers. I seriously couldn’t believe my eyes.

How did something that prompted such worry and so many tears suddenly become a non-issue? Do I question it, or do I just embrace it? I’m positive that the issues with her fears, worries and anxiety have not simply disappeared, but for a night they were transformed. When we left the pool, she said to me, “Mom, I really liked my swimming lesson.” I still get all smiley just thinking about it.Image

Does this ever happen to you?
March 6, 2012, 2:40 pm
Filed under: Parenting | Tags: , ,

You have the day. Whining, crying, everything must become dramatic. Nothing is easily remedied and most things render them inconsolable. A big mess in the bathroom after someone tried to wet the mop in the sink. Trying on five outfits (but not from the dress up bin, mind you. From the closet. And breaking a hanger in the process.). Dumping shoefulls of sand from the sandbox onto the kitchen floor.

And then, in a moment, they’re playing so well together. Coloring. Then, Scout suggests that we have a cafe right here on our premises. And when I walk up to her with a notepad and a pen to take her order, she is deighted.

“What can I get you, darling?”

“I don’t know.”

“Well, your choices are roast beef, fish heads and rice, or some chicken noodle soup.”

“Okay, I’ll take the chicken noodle soup.”

“Sounds good. Your order will be right up. My name is Jayme, I’ll be your waitress.”

Then, I brought her an “appetizer” of some sunflower seeds on a napkin and it was like the preceding 8 hours hadn’t even happened.