Sunday, December 13, 2009

Driving Lesson

I was driving to work the other day after all the snow fell. The roads were pretty clear, but the people were still driving a little cautiously. Things were moving better than I expected, but those of you who've been a passenger in my car know I have a tendency to get impatient pretty easily while driving. I don't know why it is that I can wait in line at the grocery store with a decent amount of grace, but when I get behind the wheel all bets are off.

The left lane is for passing.

My kids have been the most effective microscope on my behavior on the road. When I hear the sarcastic accusations drip from their mouths with disdain because someone hesitated at a green light or didn't use a turn signal or drifted into our lane because they were on the phone, I know where they heard it first. And it hasn't gone unnoticed that I get asked in the car more than any other place, "Mom, are you okay?"

So, it's just like God to use my car as an object lesson and speak clear as day to me this particular morning while I was fuming behind a commercial van.

You know the kind I mean, right? The big white one with no back windows to see through so you really have no idea what's going on in front of them.

I hate not being able to see what's going on in front of me. Especially on the road. I want to know if there are cars backed up for miles or if there's plenty of room to accelerate if I could just get around this one big van. And the trouble is, I can't follow too closely because I can't see through the non-existent windows, so for all I know everyone in front of him is breaking.

So I'm driving behind this van becoming increasingly agitated because I think I'm going to be a few minutes late now. The van is driving much slower than I would be, I can't get around him try as I might and I don't know what the hold up is.

And that's when I started to get this dawning realization that God was telling me that He's in the van. No, I haven't wigged out. He wasn't literally in the van. It was an analogy - following Him in my walk of faith was like being behind this van.

I can't see what's ahead.

I can only rely on Him to lead the way at an appropriate pace. Not my pace, but His, which might be a lot slower. So I can't speed up when I feel like everything is taking too long.

I can only trust Him to break when necessary. Instead of lagging way behind for fear of crashing if I follow too closely.

I can only resist the urge to pass Him and get in front which might cause me to miss a turn or end up behind a much worse driver.

I can only believe I will get to my destination at the right time, after having traveled on the right route.

But I know how I get in the car and so I'm thinking, I'm not patient enough or skilled enough to follow at the right distance and not be tempted to pass in my frustration. And that's when I hear God basically say, "Right. That's why we need a trailer hitch between us so you can stop driving altogether and not worry about you getting too far behind or way off course."

Matthew 11:29-30 says, "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." He means "yoke" like the one that binds oxen together when they pull a cart side-by-side. That's the verse I thought of when God was telling me I needed to be hitched to Him. When you're "yoked" to someone, you can't get ahead and you can't fall behind, you go at the same pace in the same direction to the same destination.

Funny how sometimes He blocks your vision for awhile so you can see better.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Feeling It

It's starting to feel like the Christmas season to me. Maybe because it's snowing. Or maybe because we decorated the tree tonight that's been standing bare in our living room for four days sucking water faster than I can pour it from the stand. It could be because the kids and I sat and watched "A Charlie Brown Christmas" - one of the very few Christmas specials on T.V. that actually quotes the story of Christ's advent from Scripture when Linus tells Charlie Brown what Christmas is really about.

We were at two consecutive Christmas parties on Sunday and Monday night and the food and the company were wonderful at both - that sure helps ease you in to the Christmas spirit. We sang Christmas carols at the one last night. Dan was a trooper because he had to leave the house at 4:30 this morning to catch a 6:00 am flight to New Jersey to meet with a client for three hours and then go directly back to the airport where his flight was delayed about 2 and 1/2 hours because of the snow. Thankfully he landed around 7:00 and was home around 8:00. And to be honest as much as I feel badly for him, I was thankful the delay meant he wouldn't be home in time to take the kids to Awana and we were able to have a down night which we all really needed.

Shockingly, even with Dan gone, I made a real dinner after eating out three nights in a row at parties!

The Christmas cards are still on the floor waiting to be started, as is the annual letter I write and the photo to be developed. I'll get to them eventually. It was way more important to sit with the kids and watch the Christmas specials tonight.

Before the party last night I was at a wake for a wonderful woman a mere two years older than I am who lost her battle with cancer but won her victory in Christ. She is now completely healed and in the company of the One whose advent we're celebrating now. I am rejoicing for her, but at the same time mourning with her husband and young daughter.

Tonight I'm thankful to Janet for the very precious reminder that it was much better to decorate a tree and sit with my kids eating popcorn, not knowing what tomorrow brings than to have spent the time driving the kids to Awana in the snow, writing out the Christmas cards or shopping for presents on-line. Tonight was a gift. Maybe that's why it feels like Christmas.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Not so fast

Today was a busy day - I had an early meeting at work so I woke up at 6:00 and left the house well before 8:00 am. The meeting is a weekly staff meeting and I'm always so grateful it's in the middle of the week, because the first 15-20 minutes are spent doing a devotional and singing three songs of Praise to God.

I cannot imagine a much better way to begin a work day.

After the meeting there was plenty to do, and almost all of it was urgent, but it didn't create panic or stress because we'd taken the time to reflect before we even began.

During lunch I ran an errand to pay a bill at Kohl's. Wednesdays are senior discount day at Kohl's. There are lovely old people everywhere navigating the dozens of kiosks in the aisles at their own liesurely pace. I only get 30 minutes for lunch, but I managed to wait fairly patiently in a long line at Customer Service where the employees feel no sense of urgency whatsoever and then found a majorly discounted sweater with the exact type of collar I'd been looking for forever in the perfect color for the holidays (red) and a Christmas gift for someone else on the way out.

After work I had to run to Walmart. Again. I was there yesterday. But for some inescapable reason 10 minutes after I get home from Walmart each week I immediately notice a half dozen items we are completely out of and can't wait to buy (like toilet paper, shampoo and milk, etc.). There are a thousand other people in Walmart all in a hurry to get home but I manage to find all the items on my shopping list calmly by stopping every so often to check them off.

I got home and got dinner in the oven and then helped the kids finish their homework, instead of trying to do both at once to save time which, let's face it, always ends badly. Mostly because of my inability to truly multitask for any length of time without great frustration.

After dinner I took Caitlin to her youth group meeting and met with several mom's of the other kids in the youth group for a Bible study during which we took turns reading and talking about the lesson. No one even glanced at the clock for the first hour of a 90 minute meeting.

I got home around 9:30 pm, tucked the twins into bed and cleared out some email, read a couple of friends' blog entries and then came to my own. I thought...what did I learn today?

I learned you can move slowly through a fast day and get a lot of meaningful things accomplished.

But now I'll quickly go to sleep.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


On the first day of Advent, my true love gave to me.....permission to be a little lazy.

December is quite a busy month around here - yes, yes, for us all I know. But it's also Dan and Caitlin's birthday month, we usually have out of town company and working at a church means business tends to ramp up instead of cool down. I am however, extraordinarily grateful not to be working retail anymore.

So...we have plans for the next 9 consecutive evenings, then a day off, then a packed weekend, and five more consecutive evenings planned.

The good news is we both have some vacation time coming and will be taking it. The better news is we had a really relaxing Thanksgiving weekend - the calm before the storm. The best news is, I'm exercising boundaries much better these days and perfectly willing to back out of any number of said planned evenings if I feel the stress rise.

One of the women I work with (whom I adore) had us all over to her place for lunch yesterday to kind of take stock of all our blessings and encourage each other to enter the season peacefully and concentrate on the real cause for celebration and not the stuff or the events or anything that detracts from the real reason we as Christians celebrate Christmas.

The Word became flesh.


Sunday, November 29, 2009


I haven't written all month and since we just celebrated Thanksgiving and I just finished reading a book by Nancy Leigh DeMoss called "Choosing Gratitude" I feel like this would be a good time to write down some of the things I'm grateful for.

My husband. Who has said to me at least 2 dozen times this week, "You're the greatest."

Caitlin, who stood at the tree lighting ceremony in downtown Elk Grove Village Friday night directly under a barrage of fireworks and said "I'm fine, Mom." With a big smile and a cheery voice just three short years after being diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome when loud noises brought tears of pain to her eyes.

Maggie who is always grateful for everything regardless of what day of the week or year it is.

Ryan who prayed before our Thanksgiving meal with the sincerity and maturity of someone who knows how blessed we are.

That Dan and I have jobs.

That I love my job.

That my dishwasher hasn't completely died yet.

That I got to go away for the weekend (one week ago) to scrapbook and hang out with two great girlfriends.

That I have great girlfriends.

That the weather has been mild all November long.

That everyone in my extended family is relatively healthy.

That having Thanksgiving dinner was not at all stressful.

That the stuffing turned out.

For our supportive parents.

For our siblings. All of them. Near and far.

That I haven't gained back the last 5 pounds of the 40 I lost.

That I own a really good treadmill.

That the heat works.

That my car runs.

That my kids go to a great school with great teachers and great volunteers.

For our neighbors.

For the park by our house.

For our church and the many many people who make ministry happen.

That Jesus died on a cross to save me from my sins and give me abundant life.

That I can feel peace in the midst of difficult circumstances.

For the movie "Elf."

For the new sheets on my bed I got 75% off on black Friday.

For my bed.


For U2.

For $5 fleece sleeppants at Target.

That my back hasn't gone out in over a year.

That my nephew Charlie will be here for Cait's birthday.

That I live in a country where I can worship God without fearing the government.

That a gallon of milk is less than a mile away.

That clean, cold, Lake Michigan water comes out of the tap.

That I have next Friday off to celebrate Dan's birthday with him.

That I can write.

That you can read.

And a million other lovely things.....

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


About a month ago I was in a store and I glanced at the strategically placed row of magazines while I was waiting to check out and one in particular caught my eye. It was Oprah. I know this because she was on the cover. And she's on the cover of every issue. Anyway... the cover story headline read, "You're Stronger Than You Think You Are" and I thought to myself, "Bull!" Although if I'm honest, there was a second syllable to that word.

It struck an emotion in me somewhere between ticked off and amused. Because the truth is, I don't think we are nearly as strong as we think we are. And I think it's a huge disservice to keep telling people to find their inner strength and pull themselves up by the bootstraps when they only find real strength in the midst of their weakest moments. And the strength doesn't come from themselves.

I have identified over the course of several years of therapy that there have been people and things that have had strongholds on my life but I didn't derive any real strength from them. And I've only recently discovered how I had allowed a certain extent of my own identity to be defined through these relationships and possessions.

As a Christian, my identity is first and foremost in Christ. I am literally "in" Him and He is in me. It's the truest way to define myself. And if He really is the all powerful one (and I believe He is) than the only way to obtain real strength is from Him.

One of the Bible verses I used to be most confused about is in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10. It says "And He has said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.' Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore, I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong." (NASB)

I've read that a lot and I used to come away going, "Huh??"

How can I be strong when I'm weak?

But just a verse earlier it says power is perfected in weakness. Then it talks about the power of Christ and how it may dwell in me. I don't think I was too hepped up on having Christ's power dwell in me. I kind of preferred my own. Until my own proved insufficient. It took awhile for me to figure out that my weakest moments were actually an act of God's grace. Because who invites another power in when you're own seems to be working just fine?

I'm an American who lives in the northwest suburbs of Chicago in the 21st century, so I don't know nearly as much about insults, distresses, persecutions and difficulties as the apostle Paul. But I have noticed that the closer I get to Jesus, the more I experience these things for His sake. I'm at a point now where I'm content in those circumstances.

Because when I am weak, I am strong.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


Our church is in the midst of an ambitious capital campaign to help purchase a new building as a second sight and make some renovations to our existing site. They are going about it in a very wise way, which is encouraging, because it's our church after all, not to mention my place of employment.

They have scheduled several smaller meetings for people to come and hear the vision and ask questions more in a town hall format than rolling the plan out to everyone at once. And they gave out a book to everyone called Generosity - a devotional with a biblical perspective of being generous in all aspects of life, not just financial giving, and a good amount of perspective on what best motivates any kind of giving.

While considering what our role in this campaign might be Dan and I reviewed our budget. I don't know how often people do this in general, but my experience is most people don't do it very often at all. And if enough time passes between audits, you might be in for a surprise when you start taking stock of it all again. I was.

I think there's no such thing as successful coasting. In fact, I think with the exception of a 60 second period on a bicycle, there's no such thing as coasting at all, let alone successfully! You're always either moving forward or lagging behind.

We do an exercise every once in awhile with our couples small group in which we ask everyone to break down their day on a pie chart. We approach it like a budget, keep track of every "time" receipt - how much time at work, commuting, eating, sleeping, watching T.V., on the computer, doing chores, homework, sporting events, etc. etc. till the whole day is accounted for - then we figure percentages of time spent in each activity in a typical day and ask everyone a few questions. Do they think anything worthwhile is altogether missing (i.e. time alone with a spouse, reading the Bible if that's a priority for them, exericising, etc.)? Were they surprised when they put it down on paper where their time went? Do they feel their current pattern truly reflects what they think their priorities are - or whether it might suggest some new priorities are in order?

I read somewhere once that if you want to know what your highest priorities are, just look at your checkbook and your calendar.

How we spend our money and time is most likely the truest reflection of what we believe and what we value whether we thought that was the case or not. Not knowing how we spend our money and time can be dangerous...albeit tremendously comforting for awhile. No need to remedy a problem that doesn't exist, right?

I think of all the big scandals in corporate America in the past five years because of a lack of oversight, regulation or adherence to auditing practices in place and it seems to me the problem is just as big in our personal lives. If there is no regular check-up (think about the last time you were at the dentist) then the longer you wait to look, the more damage that can occur and the more expensive it can become to address what you find in the end.

I'm glad we did the budget and I'm glad we regularly consider how our time is spent so we can make changes when necessary that prevent much bigger problems later, but mostly I'm glad we both know that the only proper motivation for giving anything is a response to Jesus giving us everything.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Bus Stop Musings

The other day I was dropping the twins off at the bus stop like I do four days a week on my way to work and Maggie said before getting out of the car, "Mommy, I'm glad you and Daddy have jobs and all, but sometimes it's hard when all the other parents are at the bus stop and you're not there."

Okay, I know the working mom's out there just did a collective sigh in sympathy for me while I try to dislodge the knife from my heart. Mind you I leave the bus stop approximately 5 minutes before their bus comes (and yes they are very well attended with the most parents per capita of any bus stop I've ever heard of, let alone seen). Plus, on Mondays when I'm off and I wait at the bus stop until the bus actually picks them up and drives away, they don't stand anywhere near me or talk to me - they go off with their friends and only give me a hug (or in Ryan's case, a quick shoulder bump) right as the bus pulls up.

Watch. I'll arrange to get to work a few minutes late and wait at the bus stop with them and by March they'll be telling me to go to work already, because they aren't babies anymore and I'm embarrassing them at the bus stop.

Or maybe not. Because they are still pretty young, and unlike a lot of kids at their school, not so eager to speed up the aging process. A rare virtue for which I am extremely grateful.

So this has had me thinking. If Maggie wants me there even though she never talks much to me when I am, there must be something about my visible presence that she finds deeply comforting. Especially when the effects of my absence are heightened by the physical presence of so many other parents. She sees the other Mom's (and Dad's) many of whom also work outside the home, but apparently have really flexible schedules, waiting around with their kids.

I know this is something that causes her to struggle in her faith, too. She can't see God or touch Him or hear Him audibly and there are so many other adults around who she can see and hear. How can she possibly experience God's presence when there are so few tangible signs of Him?

How can she know He's there and more aware of every single thing she is doing than all the parents combined who are having their morning coffee together on a corner? How do I assure her she is never alone, even when I'm not there? That she is always thought of, even when I'm not doing it? That she is always completely in her heavenly Father's care whether her mother is close by or somewhere else?

And so far my only conclusion is that I won't be able to assure her of this at all. So I'll pray that the Father does it Himself. And trust that He will give her a stronger faith that helps her see and hear and know and understand how high and how deep and how long is His love for her. And by His grace, I hope she'll know how much I love her too.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Sundays in Fall

Today has been nearly perfect in the most unassuming, noneventful way. We went to church like we do every Sunday. We drove separate this time because Dan was filling in on the Welcome Team for the early service. I was grateful the kids and I were able to sleep the extra half hour. The service was amazing as it often is, and today I didn't take it for granted that we live in a country where we are allowed to drive freely to the church of our choice and hear the Word of God boldly proclaimed without persecution from the government or anyone else for that matter.

We stayed through the second service as we always do to participate in a group called LIFE Connections that is basically a bunch of small groups in the same room that discuss the sermon we just heard to dig a little deeper and then pray for each other. I've been prepared to lead a women's group this year as I have done in the past, but up until today the only women who have participated have preferred couples or mixed groups. So just as I was sitting down at the mixed table I see Dan (who has joined the men's group) escort two women in for the first time and I quickly move to join them.

It never ceases to amaze me when a group of relative strangers can come around a table for a common purpose and encourage, challenge and bless each other in under 90 minutes. I'm hoping they both decide to come back each week and believe God would use that time to grow all of us in our faith if they do. I'm exicted about the possibility of forging new relationships in a solely female setting. However, I also know God will grow us all in our faith even if they don't return and unlike a month or so ago, I don't feel it's up to me to make sure I have a group of women who regularly attend. It's a very peaceful feeling to be surrendered to God's plan...willing to play the part I'm called to without playing God myself.

We came home and ate wonderful leftovers - Lou Malnati's pizza - and watched the Bears game while we ate. The Bears won and are now 3-1 which was another treat! I napped a bit on the couch right after the Bears game ended and when I woke up Dan had just returned from throwing the football around with Ryan and his neighborhood buddies on the perfect 60 degree and mostly sunny fall day.

After my nap I had some energy so I cut down some plants in the garden (it's like the one time a year I get involved in the landscaping) and cleaned out my train wreck of a car. I was thrilled to have accomplished something so rewarding in under 20 minutes.

Together Dan and I made chicken on the grill, rice, salad, green beans & rolls and all sat around the table and laughed together (which we do most nights because of all the quirky little inside jokes and odd languages that exist in our family). Then Dan and I cleaned up together and he went off to the park with Maggie and Ryan to make the most of the little light left after dinner these days.

Caitlin and I stayed back and I'm listening to hear play the French Horn which she switched to from the Trumpet at her Music teachers request a mere two weeks ago. Not because she wasn't good on the trumpet -she's great at it, but there were no French Horns, so she and one other boy are now on the job. She is sounding remarkably good.

I know there aren't many of these special autumn days when the weather and the colors and the football all come together after encouraging worship services to bring me such pleasure. So I'm reveling in them while they are here.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Short and Sweet

So I just reread my last entry, my but I was chatty that night.

An update for those interested - Dan went to court on Thursday for the hearing on our tow. The first ironic task at hand was to find a legal parking spot on the street because there wasn't any at the courthouse.

So he asks the female police officers hanging out on the street if he'll get towed if he parks his car there and they say no, but it might get stolen. Seriously.

He went in a half hour early. There were three cases in front of him - two poor guys who couldn't speak English found themselves out of luck pretty quickly. The other guy thought pictures printed off of Google Maps would suffice to prove his lack of signage claim. The veteran Chicago prosecutor wasn't inclined to agree with him. Especially after she saw Dan took the time to take and print real photos of the street we were parked on from all angles.

After producing all the documentation she requested and a lot of "Yes Maam", "No Maam" and "Thank You Maam" I think she was sufficiently convinced Dan jumped through all the hoops and was respectful enough to go easy on because before he knew it he was filling out a form to get reimbursed for the tow. When he suggested he might be pushing it and began to explain how there were also two taxi fees, etc. etc. It was confirmed he was pushing it and he was dismissed. Ah well, we recovered the tow money and his car wasn't stolen in the meantime!

Today the kids had a half day at school. When I was waking Maggie up a little after 7:00 am I said "C'mon Magz, it's time to get up for school, but it's only a half day today so you can eat lunch at home." She says half-asleep, "Mommy, if it's a half day of school, why don't we just go for the second half?" And lays her sweet little head back on the pillow.

The kids slays me.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Stand Up Comedy

If I were to describe the details of the past 4-5 days it wouldn't sound much different than a person doing improv at the local comedy club. It has felt a lot like "walking down the road like loose electricity," a borrowed phrase from the lyric master Bono who was definitely on his game Saturday night when U2 kicked off their North American Tour at Chicago's Soldier Field. We were there, but first there was Sportapalooza.

No there are no typos there and no it was not a music event. It was the brainchild of my boss, an overactive sports fiend and former athlete (he would contest the former) determined to get men into church to see it can be fun, competitive and still honor God. He insists you keep score. And he's the Executive Pastor.

Well he and a buddy pulled off the first annual Team Competition Event for men (oh believe me ladies, he received plenty of emails asking when its our turn) and about 20 teams of four showed up at 7:30 am to compete in five different events; football toss, slapshot (hockey), closest to the pin (golf, not bowling :-), baggo, and 3 point shooting (hoops). There was a fairly complicated scoring system that rewarded both individuals and their teams and some majorly cool prizes for the winners.

Dan and Ryan attended this event which Ryan said - and I quote -"That was the best day of my life, Mom. I don't care if Dad goes or not next year, I'm in." Ryan came the third closest to the pin and was competing against mostly adults. We've found what he lacks in humility he makes up for in celebrating his victories. Dan - who was accused of not being atheletic by said boss - won the football toss and the best prizes of the day (in my opinion) - two autographed footballs from the Bears - Brian Urlacher (let's backtrack about 48 hours and pretend he's not out for the season) and Alex Brown. Oh yeah.

They finished around 2:00 pm. Dan came home, showered, changed and got in the car with me to drive to Soldier Field for the long awaited U2 concert. I will not include the full concert review here, that will have to be another post. We got down there around 4:30, parked about a mile away from the stadium, checked everywhere for "permit parking only" signs and congratulated ourselves for saving the $40 parking fee (always jacked up $15-20 for special events nights, clever Mayor Daley).

We found a Jimmy Johns, got some subs freaky fast and made our way over the bridge to find a spot on the field with our general admission tickets. I knew I wouldn't be in the "inner circle." Bear with me here non-U2 fans, those of you who haven't heard about or seen "the claw" (or for that matter the stage for the last four concerts) will have no idea what I'm talking about. U2 like to have their fans close by and so they almost always have a catwalk that brings them out into the audience and surrounds the people closest to the stage. I'm usually a few feet deep on the other side of the catwalk. I won't elaborate on the usually for now, but you probably get the idea.

We got a great spot and got to chat with great people, including some from Green Bay! On Bears turf! Gasp! U2 fans unite across all differences. Tattoo riddled 20 somethings and middle aged suburban mothers all speaking the same language for a night.

The opening band was Snow Patrol which was the best kind of icing on the cake. I love that band and they were clearly elated to be playing to this city at this venue, opening for U2 on a perfect late summer evening. The lead singer did not stop smiling (and quite often laughed his way through songs). He was giddy happy and it spread. It didn't hurt that he's Irish too.

U2's show was amazing. They played so many of the songs I wanted to hear, except for one, which I knew from reading all the spoiler reports they wouldn't sing. It's from the new album and it's called Stand Up Comedy and for some reason I'm the only fan who loves it. I mean I love it. Best song on the album in my mind, and best potential to rock live. But no critics, fans or managers seem to agree with me so alas it was missing from the set list.

It was not the best U2 show I've ever seen and by now you may have guessed I've seen a few, but it was extraordinary (as Bono likes to say) nonetheless. So much so, that it didn't really bother me that it took us 45 minutes to walk from one end of Soldier Field to the other because they only had one 12 foot gate for 70,000 people to pass through. I didn't mind when they refused to let us use the indoor plumbing and had no handwashing stations by the port-o-potties and I didn't mind when people stepped on my flip-flops repeatedly while we exited the premises in true cattle prod fashion. I was okay with the police refusing to let us walk on the opposite side of the street and force all of us onto one sidewalk to make our way back across Michigan Avenue. I had just seen U2 perform live. The night was glorious.

Until we got to the street where we left our car, which...wasn't there. We called the police immediately and two nice cops on bikes rode up and asked how they could help. We told them our car had been stolen and they laughed and said "No, your car wasn't stolen, it was towed." We protested, surely they were mistaken, there were no signs posted at all anywhere on the block that said permit parking only and they nodded and said "Welcome to Chicago." They proceeded to claim that is wasn't "them" as in the police, it was a private towing company and we'd need to go to the central pound to retrieve our car. I asked if we could walk there ignoring the look on my husband's face who had been on his feet for literally 17 hours with the exception of the drive down. They laughed again, "Oh no, it's on lower Wacker, the other side of the district, you'll never find it, but every cab in the city knows where it is." Chicago's finest - very polite, even apologetic, but done with us now.

We walked a little over a mile (I'd never seen the Art Institute with no one standing in front of it before) hoping to grab one of the few cabbies not already flagged down by the 70,000 other U2 fans and finally found one with the only driver in the city who didn't know where the pound was. We found it eventually and probably only got charged one or two extra bucks in the process. We were let off in front of a dirty trailer which took off half the nail of my big toe when I opened the door to it.

We were second in line at 1:00 am as a nice couple who drove in from Indiana for the concert were ahead of us. They didn't know their license plate number, the car was brand new. One of the guys (both of whom looked to be well past retirement age) was kind enough to get me the first aid kit out of his car so I could stop bleeding on his carpet. I prayed and we stayed remarkably calm when they told us our cars weren't there after all. They were at the 6th district pound on Sacramento. About 10 miles west of here. Funny.

So we try to make the best of it, be encouraging to the other couple - hey at least our cars weren't stolen and we can share this cab fare (which was almost $30 when all was said and done). Another dirty trailer in a gang ridden neighborhood this time and a 45 minute check out process and we were set to get our car back. The Streets of Sanitation guys blamed the towing company, the towing company blamed the cops and the guy who finally handed us our receipt as the car pulled up said, "It's Daley, man. Anything for money."

We offered to help the Indiana couple get back to the expressway but they were having none of it, nothing was going to salvage the experience for them. We asked for a copy of the towing order because Dan is going to go to a court hearing to protest it since it was a perfectly legal place to park and the cops even admitted as much. Not to mention that the towing fee alone cost more than the U2 tickets. They aren't allowed to give copies. No they can't be mailed. Nope no faxing. They just smiled when we suggested email. They can be picked up three days later downtown at a separate facility. Nope not the same facility as the hearing. And we better have pictures of the street proving there were no signs posted if we want to be taken seriously. The lastest hearing time was 3:30 pm on a weekday - so take off work and come back into the city. We asked if many people contested and they said hardly any. Shocking.

We had tickets for Sunday night's show as well and had talked about selling them because it's time to be responsible in our economy and really try to obey the first commandment as mature Christians (not Dan's problem). Again, folks, think uberfan. This pretty much clinched the sell decision.

By now the encore of Moment of Surrender had well left my head and we drove home in dense fog to relieve my poor parents of their baby-sitting duties at 3:00 am.

When we got home our oldest daughter Caitlin was awake hacking and coughing and I immediately decided not to go to church even though it was kick-off weekend for all fall ministry and I was a main player in one of them.

We put the tickets up for sale on Craig's List around 1:00 pm (mind you this is the day of the concert and they were floor) and Dan's phone started lighting up like Bono's jacket during Ultraviolet rays. We were grateful to sell them so quickly.

We watched the Bears game that night, thought about the guy from Green Bay from the concert who happened to be a reporter in Green Bay and was covering the game and didn't think about the concert we were missing. Our new QB Cutler threw four interceptions and Brian Urlacher went out after the first half with a season ending injury - separated wrist. I kid you not.

Monday I was off, and Caitlin felt well enough to go back to school so I washed all the sheets to try to eliminate the germs and left around lunchtime to pick Ryan up for his oral surgery appointment. He had two more teeth pulled. We arranged for him to get Nitrous gas this time because he gets super anxious about this kind of stuff. No not like everyone else. Super. Anxious. Turns out he still had to get the novacaine shots on top of the nitrous which wasn't having much effect on him even though the doctor gave him twice the normal dosage.

It went by pretty quickly and he finished like a champ though there were tears and beating of fists during those last two shots.

Got home to an answering machine message that a good friend of ours was in the hospital for tests because he was having symptoms resembling a heart attack. He's in his 40's and in almost perfect physical shape. He's okay, but we didn't know that until a couple of hours ago. Thank God.

Today I encouraged Ryan to go to school because I knew work would be busy and that if I let him stay home he would just play Wii all day. He assured me he would read his Bible as well. I told him if he really wasn't up to going it was fine he could stay home. Then he decided to go. A half hour after I got to work the nurse called for me to pick him up. We had a great day playing board games and I finally cleaned the kitchen table. Work will be interesting tomorrow.

Yep. My life is a little like Stand Up Comedy.

But not nearly as clever as the lyrics to the song.

I got to stand up and take a step
You and I have been asleep for hours
I got to stand up the wire is stretched
In between our two towers
Stand up in this dizzy world
Where a lovesick eye can steal the view
I'm gonna fall down, if I can't stand up
For Your love

Stand up
This is comedy
The DNA lotto may have left you smart
But can you stand up to beauty
Dictator of the heart
I can stand up for hope, faith, love
But while I'm getting over certainty
Stop helping God across the road like a little old lady.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Week in Review

What a difference a week makes.

Since I wrote in detail of my stress induced meltdown I thought it fitting to give a progress report.

I have stepped down from a committee whose mission I fully support.

I have delayed the start up of an on-going group meeting that I enjoy participating in.

I have resisted the temptation to offer to help those who have needs for assistance outside of my normal and on-going commitments.

I've been on two dates with my husband in one day.

I've been able to do my job effectively and cheerfully.

I've received an embarrassing amount of encouraging notes, emails and phone calls from several people who have literally showered me with care.

I've cried less out of overwhelming emotion and more out of overwhelming gratitude.

I've looked closer at my own behavior, relationships and priorities and considered how they align with God's Word, will and wisdom.

I've appreciated my family (bot immediate and extended) more and spent more time with immediate and less time with extended.

I've slept better.

I've laughed more.

I've breathed easier.

I've decided to sell my U2 tickets to the second show and (gasp!) only go to one this tour.

I've listened more carefully when my children have spoken.

I've made room for doing nothing. Literally. Nothing.

I've appreciated my husband's patience.

I've treasured my sister's counsel and my brother's concern and my other sister's company.

I've been to the park four times to watch how my kids interact with their friends and chat with neighbors about the new school year.

I've prayed a lot.

I've been to an art fair with my mom.

I've set limits.

I've kept the limits I set.

I've moved a little bit closer to what my boss calls the right trajectory.

I've felt less tired and more peaceful.

I've been blessed this week.

By many of you.

Thanks for reading and thanks for caring.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Stranger Than Fiction

I last wrote one week and two nights ago. It was the day before school started. We have a week on our belts now, we've been to both curriculum nights and met all the teachers (one for Maggie and Ryan and a whopping eight for Caitlin who began Jr. High). In the past week, we've established a routine and survived the transition and came out relatively unscathed. But last Wednesday - the second day of school was one horrendous day. And it took a week to recover enough to write about.

We woke up at 6:00 am, as we do just about every day now that Cait's bus comes at 7:00. I didn't sleep much - thoughts of projects due at work and paperwork due at school kept my brain buzzing all night in a semi-dream state. Whose idea was it to subject preteen kids beginning a new school where they move from class to class eight times while managing to stop at their lockers, lug all their supplies and maybe hit the bathroom in under three minutes to a 7:30 am school day start? The most impressionable kids, undergoing the most social, emotional and physical changes they will experience in their whole lives are not allowed to sleep much.

Since they provided lunch on the first day and everything went so smoothly, I'm not going to get too down on myself for forgetting to make her lunch on the second day of school. I realized it about 20 seconds after she boarded the bus. Without her bus pass. Which I swear was not included in all the materials I was given on School of Information Day. Cait says its because I didn't stop at the table clearly marked "bus passes." She's probably right. I called several times before school started and talked to overworked, underpaid, stressed out, uninformed employees who said someone else would call me back. They never did. I called the office where I got the fairly polite, but slightly exasperated lecture about needing to pay $2 for the lost pass. As if I ever had it in the first place. They let her on the bus, but not without a warning which to a 12 year old kid with Asperger's Syndrome on the first day of school is akin to a big scarlet letter on the chest. A couple days later, I found a real direct line to the Transporation Department and it was immediately sorted out.

I was already feeling stressed by 7:30 knowing I was going to be late for a meeting at work, realizing suddenly I had two fifth graders and a 7th grader, which did not seem right. Started thinking about Caitlin having trouble opening her locker the day before and glanced out the window while rinsing off breakfast dishes and noticed the pool in the backyard looked considerably lower. Turns out three days of non stop rain are enough to collapse a pool that holds 10,000 gallons of water with one inflatable ring. Ignored the woodchips that had floated from the swingset to the backfence in one long riverlike shape, went out to unplug the filter and walked away.

Pushed thoughts of visiting my uncle who was admitted to a nursing home ten blocks from my home a mere two days earlier with dementia out of my head since there would be no time between work, dinner and two concurrent meetings at church that evening to check on him even though my dad was out of town. Briefly logged onto my computer, don't quite remember why - checking the weather perhaps? and stumbled upon two emails, the first a confirmation from the Girl Scout Troop leader that we couldn't get our $130 refunded by not going on the Camp Retreat that coming up weekend and another between two people close to me having a lot of difficulty relating to each other and I began to feel like the pool collapsing.

Got Maggie and Ryan to the bus stop and began driving to work. Felt really emotional. Decided not to listen to music. Every lyric was taunting me.

Got to the meeting late and tried to sneak in unnoticed in the back. When you are usually the loudest person in the room with the most animated face and taking notes in the first row you don't go unnoticed arriving late in the back. And if it looks like you're not smiling and you work with a bunch of pastors and people who assist pastors they notice. Right away. And touch your arm affectionately. And give you looks from across the room like "Is everything alright?" And you know you're going to cry. And you think - okay - no big deal. I'm having a bad day. These people will understand. I can pull myself together and get all the stuff that's overdue and urgently needing to be done today done. Really. I can. And then your boss who is leading the meeting says instead of giving staff updates today, he feels like there's so much going on in our lives both professionally and personally that we should just spend the morning praying. So we're going to break into groups and share our requests and pray for each other and the ministry. I'm now realizing I'm about to lose all control and as willing as I am to have these people pray for me and even see me cry, I won't be able to get the words out I am so overcome with emotion. So I try to leave discreetly (again impossible in a room full of pastors) and disappear so as not to monopolize the entire group I would have been assigned to - hoping to pray alone in a quiet room and collect myself enough to explain my hasty exit later.

Find a dark empty room in the basement and get on my knees praying while crying uncontrollably. Every time I think I'm going to be able to make my way to the bathroom and reapply makeup it starts up again. Scare the heck out of the poor maintenance guy who comes into the dark room to set up for an event later that day. Head over to the bathroom knowing the meeting is over by now and try again to calm down. Ten minutes later another employee comes in and more sobbing ensues. Make my way up to the office of the woman who directs all ministry for women who is also a friend and finally string together two to three sentences that sort of explain why I'm hysterical. Relax a bit while she prays for me and relax a bit more when she suggests I leave. Immediately. She'll even get my purse and usher me out the back door.

I take her up on it. I send emails to a few key people when I get home - nope, it doesn't look like any of that urgent stuff is getting done today....and then I turn the computer off, read my Bible for an hour and take a two hour nap.

When I woke up I felt better - decided not to attend either concurrent meeting at church and plugged on with my week.

Went on the Girl Scout Trip on Saturday even though Maggie was nervous, our schedule was crammed and I had to drive almost 2 hours to Oregon, IL before 10:00 am with Maggie half-asleep in the back seat. Realized God shows a lot of grace when things seem darkest. We had one of the best days of our lives horse back riding, hiking, eating meals someone else prepared, going on hay rides and best of all I got to confer with all the other moms who are equally stressed out - some for very similar reasons, some have whole new stories, but everyone listening compassionately, nodding, even laughing and encouraging each other, while Maggie played her heart out with girls who were happy there were no boys there to get in the way.

I'll maybe write about the two days I spent with my uncle on Sunday and Monday another day. I experienced first hand the opposite ends of the spectrum for someone suffering from dementia for the first time.

Monday afternoon I had another emotional breakdown.

If you've been in therapy for any length of time (and I was for three years) you can brush off one melt down fairly easily, but two in one week really makes you take a step back and reassess if there isn't something terribly wrong. And when you talk it out with a very patient husband and an equally concerned sister you begin to see why you're so stressed. Because if a friend was doing all the things you were doing you'd be telling her/him to stop everything before they killed themselves and figure out what the real priorities are and limit their time to them.

So it's one week into school and my kids are pretty well adjusted. They've adapted to some new expectations, met some new people, figured out how to navigate through hallways and parking lots, gotten their homework done before dinner and still had time to play with neighborhood friends.

I've stepped down from two major commitments, warned several family members not to expect much from me for awhile and gotten a great deal of support at work to cut back on my work load. I'm navigating some hallways too I suppose.

I thought about how much of this to put out there - some of you don't know me very well at all. Some of you don't think this personal stuff is anyone else's business and we don't need to be advertising our shortcomings. But I'm writing about it anyway. Because many people think that people like me always have it all together and truth is we don't. I'm writing about it because I have a prideful habit of always wanting to look good and I'm trying to care less how I look to anyone but God. I'm writing about it because maybe someone can relate and will feel better knowing they're not alone. And I'm writing about it because I love to write.

They say write what you know. I know this was one crazy week of ups and downs and occasional mass hysteria. I know my husband loves me 100 times more than he did when he married me. I know my family cares deeply for my well being even when I'm making them crazy. I know I have friends who will encourage me even if their circumstances are equally horrific. I know I am blessed to work with people who will stop everything and petition God on my behalf. I know Whom I have believed. And He is doing a work in me.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Twas the Night Before School Starts

'Twas the night before school starts and all through the house
Not a kid is yet sleeping, no not even close
They're lying and waiting all nestled in bed
With thoughts of the morning occupying their heads.

Try as they might, the sleep will not come
Too anxious they'll be till the next day is done
The vacation's over, it went by so fast
Though they tried hard to make the days last

The school year upon them, the challenges new
Oh how to convince them, these days are so few?
For soon as you know it, the school days are done
The kids will head off on their own one-by-one

The moments are ticking off quicker I think
Like Mom used to say, they grow up when you blink

Okay - that's my brief attempt at a cute rhyme the night before Caitlin starts JUNIOR HIGH. What on earth? Junior High. When. Did. That. Happen?

I'm not worried about her, I know she'll be okay. It's all the other kids that are freaking me out. Like the ones at the park last night - about 10 boys and 5 girls around Cait's age all in one big circle, some of them hugging. I am just not ready for this. She's probably ready. She's had plenty of transitions during grade school - three separate schools because of the Magnet program though we never moved. And she's adjusted great. Which is a miracle because she loves her routine. Which is why she will do great this year. There is plenty of routine - much more so than the ramshackle summer she just endured.

Then there's the 5th graders in our house. Yes - that's FIFTH Grade for the twins. Maggie said, "Mom, I don't feel like a 5th grader. I still feel like a 4th grader." I said, "Good." They met their teacher tonight. I think he's 22. He just graduated college. He has red hair and looks like he's 18. I almost asked him to show me the diploma. Nice enough guy. I'm rooting for him. Maggie was a little disconcerted that they had a boy teacher for the first time. Ryan thinks he rocks. Could have to do with his being a Cubs fan.

Usually I start to anticipate this day earlier, but we've been so busy that it just snuck up and pounced on me. I'm sure the newly arrived panic is due to my own memories of junior high. Or actually the lack thereof. I have managed to literally block out the entire experience from my mind. I can remember two things from that period of time. A crush I had on a boy named Jerry Dumell who never knew I existed and when our drama teacher played the War of the Worlds tapes for us (yes kiddies, it was right after 8 tracks) during class. I cannot remember anything else. Not a teacher name, not a social event (probably didn't attend any), not a sporting activity (see previous note), nada. I probably couldn't even find the school again without an address and a GPS. I do remember a couple of kids who were nice to me (thanks L.K.) but really nothing else save for a general feeling of depression that lasted two years. And honestly, I think the lack of memories is God's grace, because who wants to relive that?

So I'm hoping the new memories are good ones. Memories formed by kids who are secure in their identity, know they are loved unconditionally and are quick to pray when things get dicey.

Man they are so far ahead of the game.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Starbucks - The New Melting Pot

I've come to terms with the fact that this site doesn't meet the technical definition of a blog as my last post was three weeks ago. Oh well. It isn't what it isn't!

So while Dan and I have gone out with lots of people all summer long and had a blast doing it, it occured to me with our kids going back to school that we never went out alone on a date for my birthday (which was in June). So my wonderful friend Claire graciously offered to babysit for FREE (yes she rocks) and we jumped at the chance last Friday night.

We went to Bonefish for dinner which we only do for special occasions, because they aren't the kind of restaurant that mails you big time coupons to lure you in. If you've never been I highly recommend it - get the Bang Bang Shrimp appetizer if you go (the name says it all). It's funny I never ate fish before I turned 40 and now I love it. Well, if it's longfin tilapia and you stuff it with lobster & crabmeat and sear it in white wine sauce, I love it.

Anyhoo Claire encouraged us to take our time and after Bonefish we headed over to the most hoppin' Starbucks in the area (Streets of Woodfield for you locals). We decided to compensate Claire for her generosity in whole bean coffee, and treated ourselves to a couple of Mochas in the process. It was packed. There were two empty tables (out of more than 2 dozen).

What an interesting experiment in social studies this particular Starbucks is on a Friday night. It was the most intergenerational, multi-cultural, diverse crowd I've seen in one place in a long time. In the six tables surrounding us, there were:

1) Two women in their late fifties playing a board game they brought with,
2) An older couple (late 70's) playing cards,
3) A bunch of junior high kids (if that old) crammed into two tiny round tables (boys and girls) and they all hugged each other when they left. A lot. I kept wondering if their parents knew where they were drinking coffee and touching.
4) Two 20-something girls who looked like they came from work,
5) Two teenage girls texting (other people or each other?) like mad,
5) Three guys with laptops at one little table not conversing at all. Their computers made a triangle - it was like Battleship with a third player - no one looked up much.

Now, I didn't ignore my date all night, in fact it was really good to talk about things besides schedules and logistics for a change. Dan is really good company. But I did notice these other groups and found it really interesting how this seemed to be the perfect hang out for so many different people, that ran the gammit on the socialization spectrum.

There aren't many places you'd find such a diverse group together on any given night. I took a little comfort in it. And it's a great place to have a casual date.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Read All About It

I don't know how long this will last, but right now it's about quarter to 8:00, and; Caitlin is quietly reading a book in the living room, Maggie is quietly watching a DVD in her bedroom (portable DVD player, she doesn't have a TV in there), and Ryan is quietly playing a game on the Wii in the den. That last one is pretty shocking. "Quiet" and "Wii" rarely visit the same sentence around here. I honestly can't remember the last time something like this has happened while I've been home alone with them - Dan just landed in Denver for a business trip during which he'll get to see my sister for a couple of hours tonight.

I usually wait until everyone is in bed to type on the blog, but since it's so quiet, I thought I'd try it while the gettin' was good. How great to have a library that has something for everyone and three kids willing to entertain themselves for awhile without any loud & annoying music, DS sound effects, or arguing.

Oops - never mind - it's 7:52 and time's up (for the quiet anyway): A direct quote from Caitlin, "Finished another book in one day." Technically, it was 3 hours. She just bounded into the den where Ryan declared his score on the game then promptly announced he was going outside (better than screen time) and Maggie called down from her room - "Who's out?" and paused the DVD player to join him in the neighbor's yard. Caitlin is considering starting the 2nd book she checked out this afternoon.

I've been so out of anything resembling a routine lately that I was thrilled to have the morning to myself (well the kids were here, but that's normal). I slept in, read a little, ran the dishwasher, finally got on the treadmill, took a shower, paid some bills and started laundry all before lunch! It was oddly satisfying after a ton of activity to do some mundane things.

While having a cup (or three) of coffee somewhere in this lovely morning, I was reading the Daily Herald's front section. It was an odd mix of stories; some very local (the success of the annual Elk Grove bike race) some very international (how a long overdue crackdown on illegal opium farms in Afghanistan cut off the main source of income for the majority of the population who now may turn to terrorism as the only reasonable alternative for making a living). I've always found stuff like that a strange dichotomy. That those two stories show up on the same page. Same thing in news broadcasts - when they report on some heinous murder and then switch to the county fair to see the winner of the pie making contest. Like it's a perfectly natural segue.

I guess maybe to a degree they might be trying to offset some of the tough stories. But if that's the case, they don't quite pull it off when the bad stories have escalated to evil running rampant. I find it hard to read something like that Afghanistan article and then go merrily about my day. If I didn't have the Bible to give me an eternal perspective of what I believe is a true reality I would have had a pretty depressing day after that.

I actually love getting the newspaper - the whole experience of it. The idea of the paper is probably even more appealing to me than the actual articles, but we're fortunate around Chicago to have 3 great papers and I'm really sad that before long they may all be obsolete. Dan and I recently saw the movie "State of Play" (Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck and some girl - wait a minute I think it was Robin Wright) and one of the main characters was an investigative reporter. It was a pretty good movie, I thought. Plenty of action, good acting, a plausible plot. But the scene I remember most was a bit of a montage of all the different machines printing out the newspaper copies and assembling them into stacks. Something about it made me nostalgic. I love newspapers. And I don't want to read them on-line or on a Kindle, or through any "unlimited app" iphone. I want to spread it all over my dining room table or fold it into quarters and read it on my couch.

I realize how old that makes me sound. It's the second time today. I was on the phone earlier with my 14 year old niece who likes a boy she met at camp. I remember liking boys I met at camp at her age and they always lived in a different state and so I asked her if she got his address so they could write to each other. She was silent on the other end of the line and then it occurred to me, they've probably texted each other a thousand times since they met and there was no need for something so silly as writing a letter and posting it snail mail and getting it a week later. When I figured it out, I asked if they were texting and she kind of laughed (more with me than at me?) and said "yeah."

But she's missing a little something in not having his handwriting in front of her or the chance to read the same thing over and over and wonder what he meant by it. Or maybe she's not. Maybe they ask each other what they meant right away now. It just makes me realize I've become part of that generation - the parent generation - the they-just-don't-understand generation. I guess we understand as much as our parents did at the time. I wonder if she would have known what I meant if I had asked her to 'read between the lines'?

Monday, July 20, 2009


I guess my kids experience the lazy days of summer, like I did when I was a kid, but these summer days feel anything but lazy now that I'm grown up. Don't get me wrong - they're a lot of FUN, but lazy doesn't jump to mind to describe them.

I'm glad I haven't signed them up for a bunch of classes and I'm thrilled my parents have generously agreed to watch them while I work three days a week all summer long. I guess if we were all home together every day we'd be getting on each other's nerves and bored, looking for stuff to do, but the routine never stays the same two days in a row so it goes by fast and fun.

The weather hasn't been warm enough to do a lot of swimming, but we're still glad to have the pool for the days we get close to hot and we're so grateful not to be running the A/C all the time!

I've been trying to establish some sort of schedule for reading, writing and just a few school type activities so our brains don't turn to mush during the break (although there's no real chance of that for Caitlin). I don't try very hard. I think Ryan has written three times in five weeks. Maggie has read a little more often, but usually I end up reading more to her.

I can't believe the summer is more than half gone and true to retail fashion all the back-to-school supplies are donning the shelves five weeks early - quick, get your 17 cent crayons!! It's sad when so many people haven't even gone on vacation yet!

We're headed up to the Dells the day after tomorrow for a Water Park extravaganza with Dan's whole family.

Lazy? No. Summer fun? You bet!!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


So we're back from our vacation and already missing the place! Those of you sick of hearing about Camp Arcadia and how wonderful it is can stop reading now.

The only downside was poor Caitlin took a fall our second night there (I guess we shouldn't have let her ride that scooter down the gravel hill in the dark by herself...) So after we cleared the "road rash" from her knees and summoned Uncle Jim to do his best Principal/former PE teacher/Father of Four/First Aid Certified exam on her and conclude no broken bones, we iced her up good, gave her some motrin and put her to bed.

The next morning the swelling was way down, but she couldn't straighten or entirely bend her elbows. At breakfast we were relaying the story to our friends the Farleys at the table next to us and were thankfully overheard by the table behind us who pointed to a man kitty-korner and said "he's a doctor and he brought his bag". Not only was he an MD, he also had a PhD in philosopshy, so he was a Dr. doctor.

First thing he asked was how much medicine we gave her. I said 2 & 1/2 tsps and he looks Cait up and down, raises his eyebrows and repeats "Teaspoons?" I reply, "uhhh...yeah." Then he asks "Can she swallow pills?" I reply, "uhhh...yeah." He's a pretty gracious guy, but I could hear the "Duh!" in his head while he's looking at me and we agree to give her the adult dose (since she's the size of one) and then some right away. He concurs, no broken bones, and encourages more ice and we thank God we don't have to drive to the rinky-dink two bed "medical facility" in Frankfort for a cast (that was Ryan a few years ago) at the beginning of the trip. Unfortunately it kept her out of lots of limb-bending sports, i.e archery, pool (as in billiards), teatherball, ping-pong, etc. etc. but she was a good sport about it. Pun intended.

The beach disappeared some more as its prone to do, and the water was freezing all but one day, but it was still sunny and wonderful to just park on a low chair, read, talk and get some rays. My cousins Mary Ann & Bob were there, they have 11 kids age 27-5 - no joke -and all but one of them were there, plus a husband, two girlfriends and a new puppy, so it was fun to catch up and hang out with them. Bob (aka 'the saint') took a half dozen kids (only two were his) and walked them up the beach two miles ONE WAY to the north bluff - then climbed up the bluff TWICE with all of them and walked them all back while carrying a 10 pound boulder on his shoulder that one of them HAD to HAVE because it was so special (it looked like a gray rock to me). I met him to help walk them all back (most were 10 or under) and forgot how far it was in the 25 years since I'd last made the journey! Maybe that's the secret to staying fit. A dozen or so kids and five mile hikes in sand and water.

Ryan ate, slept, and breathed all things tournaments during the week - he played every sport there at least once I think and hung out with his buddy Kyle (also a 10 year old twin). There was one day I seriously think I only saw him at meals and bedtime.

Maggie spent about 1/3 of the week on a new merry-go-round at the park on the beach. Yes, that's right, you read "new" and "merry-go-round" in the same sentence. She hung out with her friends/cousins Angie, Meghan, Gretchen, Janine, Melainey and Kyle's twin Katie. She caught a beetle for the critter race early in the week, but alas the poor creature never made it to Friday. She had a blast ditching us for a cooler family in church (Paquettes) and during family game night.

We enjoyed getting to see some friends we hadn't seen in a looonnnggg while (that's you Jeff Moore) and many from home we always wish we could spend more time with (Steff, Jim, Beth) plus got some time to ourselves.

I actually played volleyball a couple of times (or tried to) and Dan played softball and golf. He did NOT go up in John Jass' flying lawn chair this year, much to my relief. We each had a couple of fun night's out (game night in the Trading Post, fire on the deck at McKenna's, wine on the pier with Beth) and nights in playing cards with the Ulbrichs. When a sleeping Jaden fell off the top of the couch onto a sleeping Ryan on the bottom of the couch, we determined it was time to go home. We also got a day in Traverse City at our favorite winery, Left Foot Charley where Bryan was good enough to take the young uns on a tour while I ate cheese and bread and sampled the cider.

The lectures were good with John Nunes at the helm and a panel of interesting people engaging everyone in (I greatly restrained myself and only chimed in three times all week!) The kids had a blast with the program staff leading them in a VBS type morning program and there were a TON of kids their ages there.

Our first night was 4th of July and we all did sparklers on the patio with strangers under a star-filled sky lit up like a lite bright. The mantra all night was "KEEP ONE LIT!" Since we collectively had one lighter that took 30 minutes to light the first one.

I have to admit, I think the thing I may have enjoyed most from a strictly vacation perspective was the meals. God bless Kurt. He's the chef and yes, it's chef, not cook - he's that good. There was something wholly wonderful about entering the dining room at the same time three times a day all week long, sitting down and being served a meal, I didn't shop for, think about, prepare or have to clean up! And they were all FABULOUS! I think I gained another five pounds. So this time, I'm seriously going to start the diet again. Really. I am.

I could go on and on (as most of you well know) but I think I'll save some for another night and actually try to post more than once a week now.

I have the song "Till We Meet Again" in my head and I know if Tammy's reading this she's crying now.

Friday, July 3, 2009


We are headed to our own little paradise on earth in the morning...yes trivia fans, that would be Arcadia, Michigan!! We are looking so forward to some rest, relaxation, renewal, refreshment, rejuvenation and really yummy food! How's that for alliteration?

Seriously though, this place fits the bill. No cell phones, no laptops, no T.V.'s, no Wii, no Facebook, no Twitter, (not that I have the last two at home) - just sports, sun, books, beach, food, fun, and friends! It really is a little piece of heaven to us.

It's been awhile since we spent the 4th of July up there so we're looking forward to that. It's my favorite holiday. Not only because it's in the summer and often involves parades, BBQ's, friends and family (all of which I LOVE), but because it represents freedom.

By the grace of God, Dan was never deployed during his 22 years in the Army National Guard, but we did spend a fair bit of time with folks who had been and they are an amazing group of people. I am so deeply grateful to those who have so sacrificially served (and those who continue to serve) to protect this country's freedoms. I get chills every time I hear the National Anthem at a ball game and every time I see the American Flag blowing high atop a pole in the wind. I get teary-eyed when I see the WWII veterans march in a parade. There are so few of them left now it makes me even more emotional. I guess it is their sacrifice that is so deeply moving. That so many of us enjoy so much because they gave so fully.

The other freedom I celebrate is the freedom I have from sin because of Christ's ultimate sacrifice on the cross for me. I don't always live in the light of that freedom, but I am convinced I have it. And for that I am eternally grateful.

Happy Fourth of July!!

Monday, June 22, 2009

And Now Back to Your Regularly Scheduled Program

I ran into a friend recently who said she'd been reading my blog and I thought "not very often"! I don't know why I haven't been writing consistently. My brother said something the other day when I was saying how I don't know how people have so much time to be on facebook about a blog being the same deal. I guess that would be true of blogs used for journalistic purposes, but mine is basically a creative outlet to post my diary on-line and it rarely gets two entries a week, let alone an hour!

But I do love to write and I am trying to dismiss that artists' theory that you wait for the feeling or muse or spirit or whatever to move you. I think good writers have a fair amount of discipline and I best get myself trained in some routine tactics that produce more print!

I'm on summer mode and the weather in Chicago is finally cooperating with the season, so I'm trying to settle into a new routine. But, alas, routine is not my strong point. To quote Julia Roberts in "Pretty Woman" - "I'm more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kinda girl, moment-to-moment." That might work for a California call girl, but isn't doing much for this suburban mother and part-time employee!

I think I spent most of my life feeling pretty good about my ability to adapt, adjust, and bascially go with the flow. I forgot who it was who first said "Americans are good at war, because they're good at chaos and war is chaos." Chaos never used to phase me - it was the scheduled life that threw me for a loop. I would go around advertising my flexibility, "Call me Gumby!" But mostly it became an excuse for being unprepared or lukewarm about certain commitments. Don't get me wrong - I love flexible people and still try to be one. I'm just really learning to appreciate the value and benefits of a disciplined life.

People who are physically fit don't meander to the gym occasionally. Folks who plan ahead aren't at Walmart or Food-for-Less five times a week because the second they get home they see what else they were out of or started thinking about what to have for dinner around 5:30 pm. So I'm taking a stab at discipline during the least routine part of my year. Ask me how it's going once in awhile so I remember to write, will ya?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Pain in the Neck

In April I finally got a new doctor because I had a pain in my neck and shoulders so severe I literally could not move. I was working and it was almost time to leave so I took a bathroom break and while I was walking back to my cubicle I felt shooting pains down the middle of my back. I drove home cautiously (for a change) because I couldn't really turn my head to check the blind spot. I took some motrin, prayed and went to bed hoping for the best.

Sleeping was tough, and when I woke up the next morning I decided to see a doctor. The problem was, mine is dead. The wonderful man who had been Dan's doctor basically his whole life and mine since we moved to Elk Grove, passed away suddenly almost three years ago. I apparently have been pretty healthy during those three years, because besides one trip to the clinic for strep, I had no need to see a doctor.

So I decided to see his replacement....until I found out he isn't in on Thursdays.

So back to the clinic, where the very gracious NP told me I was not within her realm of expertise and referred me to the new guy. The new guy looked me up and down and asked "How'd you get injured?" I replied "Um, it's not really an injury." Him: "You weren't playing a sport?" Me: "Not so much." Him: "Did you suddenly move or turn funny?" Me: "Um...nope." Him: "It just appeared all of a sudden?" Me: "Yeah." He put me on a steriod, prescribed some vicadin for the pain and gave me a referral for a physical therapist.

The first thing the physical therapist had me do was bend my head every which way. Which went something along the lines of "Okay, now bend your head as far back as you can" and me going "I am bending it back as far as I can", which fetched the reply "Oh."

She said the knot and tension in my shoulder was not the result of one recent pinched nerve, but the accumulation of something more significant over many years, because it felt like a big, solid rock beneath my skin. I was oddly encouraged, because that was sort of validating.

Over the course of four weeks, I learned many new exercises, had 6 ultrasounds on my neck and shoulder and as many manual massages & heat treatments. The rock sunk deeper and the pain lessened and the mobility increased. I made significant progress. I continued to do the exercises at home. I was put on a lower dosage muscle relaxant and stopped taking the pain pills.

We decided we couldn't really justify further treatment to the insurance company and I went on my merry way.

Then it came back. The first time on the day of the twin's birthday party. I took Motrin. Then Tylenol. Then Aspirin. Then I waited a little while and had a couple of Margaritas. It finally felt a little better. The next day I was fine. A week later I had my follow up with the new doctor. He asked how I was doing and I said other than having gained 5 pounds since the original visit, I was good. Then I told him about the one day it came back. He raised his eyebrows about the Margaritas on top of six pills, but I assured him I spaced it out. Eventually we agreed the worst was behind me, I would keep doing my exercises and again, I was sent on my merry way.

The next day I woke up and could barely move. I attended a luncheon with a friend and smiled through gritted teeth. Later I went on a Double Date with Dan and some of our best friends. We had dinner and saw the Beatles Tribute 1964 at the Rosemont Theatre (which was pretty fantastic except I still couldn't move). I took Motrin and then Tylenol and then more Motrin and had a glass of red wine. It did not get better. The next day, I was marginally more functional. I took the vicadin and slept most of the day. I called the doctor in the morning. The doctor who saw me three days earlier and heard me say "I'm fine." He didn't really want to see me again. He said to finish the prescriptions and call if it got worse.

I was feeling pretty sorry for myself at work the following day, still really stiff and in pain. Over lunch I spent some time praying and read the church newsletter which had a prayer request from a family who has a disabled son who is almost 22 and cannot care for himself at all. They have to do everything for him physically, mentally and emotionally. They have another son who is autistic, but he's doing pretty well and they just really wanted some time once in awhile for a respite and more energy.

I left my pity party and went back to the prayer and over the counter meds routine and am feeling remarkably better so far.

I've been reading this book "The Gospel According to Job" which takes you through the whole book one or two verses at a time and gives some insight on the faith of the guy who suffered more than any other human being I'm aware of. It's very humbling when all I have is a pain in my neck.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Fast Forward

The twins will be 10 on Thursday. That's double digits. My babies are in double digits. They look a little taller this week than the week before. Not tall. But taller.

My son has one good friend who is two years older, so some of his friends come to play ball at our house too and all of a sudden I have a flock of 6th grade girls on my front lawn almost every day after school. They wear bras and laugh a lot. I remember these girls being 7 or 8, just a day or two ago. One of them was in the Brownie Troop I led. Another rode the bus with Caitlin on the first day of kindergarten. They were so small, the bus seemed like the Titanic in comparison.

Now they have legs up to my son's shoulders.

I am not prepared for this.

I kind of just got used to writing 2009 on my checks (yes, I occasionally still write checks) and the year is literally almost half over. Four of my nieces and nephews drive. One of them is married with two kids of her own. Our first babysitter just turned 21.

Life is going really, really fast.

I blink and five months have passed. I wake up in the morning and a year's gone by. I looked in a store security mirror the other day and thought I was looking pretty good for my age. Then I realized it was Caitlin I was looking at. She's twelve.

I've been getting up earlier the past couple of weeks, to exercise and pray before anyone else is up. It's something I've been meaning to do for about six years now. It has somehow made the day a little longer - a little more manageable. It hasn't slowed time any, but it's made me slow down. And I appreciate the opportunities in the fleeting minutes more.

Start the day focusing on the One who started the day.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Wall

It's Memorial Day and so I thought I'd post a poem I wrote about the Viet Nam Wall when I was in Washington D.C. about 10 or 11 years ago.

I stood at the wall today and waited for
some feeling to come over me.
Some feeling of pain,
or loss,
or sense of death.
Some frustration for an unjust war.
But none came.

I read a letter a survivor wrote
to the men he served with.
He would not have made it back without them.
Yet he did not come back with them.

They are names on a wall
Unfamiliar to me.
Heroes of whom I have no memories.

The author promised to tell the young people.
To forever keep them alive.

And I believe he will.

Three other men found a name
they had been searching for.
On tip toe they traced it to paper -
a perfect stencil.
They were smiling.
I wondered for a moment who he was to them.

A man walked by missing part of his right arm
and I felt sorry for him.
I thought he would probably hate that
I felt sorry for him.
There were tears in his eyes,
but they were not for his own missing limbs.

A woman stood touching the wall -
for what must have been half an hour.
I noticed her casually as I walked by,
I will never forget how she looked.

I felt left out, as I stood at the wall.
Half-wishing I had a name to look for,
Half-thankful I did not.

They are names on a wall
Unfamiliar to me.
Heroes of whom I have no memories.

I am thankful others do.
For I understand...
we must never forget.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

These Moments in Time

Tonight was celebrate reading and writing night at the twin's school, which is code for 'get-the-parents-in-here-one-last-time-before-school-is-out-to-drop-$30-$40-bucks-at-the-book fair.'

It worked. And Grandma even bought the books.

Even more genius, they had the recorder club play a mini-concert at the beginning of the night. There were all of three rows of chairs set up on the other side of the gym so that the parents of the 15 or so 4th graders could take pictures. I invited my parents because we recently made the executive decision that Maggie and Ryan won't be joining band next year and we thought this might be their only opportunity to see them perform in some musical manner.

I set the expectations pretty low, because honestly...I've heard them practice. Maggie was holding her own at home, but Ryan gave me the impression that the goal was to play as quickly as humanly possible and therefore squeaky notes were par for the course.

Tonight we were stunned. Not only did they sound great - they each had a solo and nailed it. Dan and I looked at each other when Ryan stood up and prepared to smile through the wince, but we never had to fake it. Sometime between rushing into the school with his music in hand and making his way to his seat, the kid transformed. He played one of the more complicated pieces cleanly. At bedtime I told him how proud and impressed we were and how well he did and in true Ryan fashion he said "I had no idea what I was doing."

And then the fact that Maggie didn't run and hide somewhere at the last minute was another miracle. My little living room performer (who has stage fright in public) found the courage to stand up for her solo and play it perfectly. When I talked to her at bedtime she said she messed up on one song at the same place she always does, but she kept moving her fingers and pretending to play and then found her place a minute later. So she won't be playing in the symphony anytime soon, but kudos for pulling this off!

It's these brief moments of pleasure - when I'm watching my kids' brows furrow in concentration as they try to keep time on their little plastic instruments that I will treasure forever. They are pure joy.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

No Next Appointment

For the past four months there hasn't been more than three consecutive days that the mail has come without a medical bill and/or insurance claim in the mix.

I guess it's just par for the course after two ER visits, two surgeries, one bout of walking pneumonia, a pinched nerve, and the regular annual check-ups (which are more extensive for those of us over 40) our family has experienced in that time.

So when we left the therapists office today after Caitlin's session and the Doctor smiled and said "That's it, she's doing great, call me if you need me" it was a rather joyous occasion on all fronts.

The biggest joy is truly how much progress Cait has made since she was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome two years ago this month. She has grown in ways and measures far beyond what I would have expected or imagined when this process began. She is comfortable in her own skin and yet willing to be stretched. She is in many ways an example of surrender and stepping up to the plate simultaneously. She has worked hard, listened attentively, taken a step back when necessary, gotten frustrated, remembered what's she learned and applied it. Daily. She is a joy and an inspiration.

She spent her last session interviewing her doctor for a health booth display she's working on as her last project before moving on to Jr. High. She's going to educate her class (and anyone who will stop by her booth) about Asperger's Syndrome. She feels she's in a great position to dispel the myths and inform the masses. Her doctor agreed. She told me how much she had enjoyed getting to know Caitlin and that she really loved her. I smiled because that's what all the people who take the time to really get to know Cait tell me...they just love her! As a mom it's so cool to see your child have such an impact on professionals who often don't see a lot of progress. As a mom whose blown it a bunch of times and often wondered what took me so long to help her in the right way, I am grateful for God's mercy and patience with me.

So while I sort through the medical bills and try to figure out who wants how much by when for what and where to send it, I want to pause and Praise God, thank everyone for their prayers and commend my beautiful daughter Caitlin for this precious gift of not needing a follow-up appointment.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Blogger's Block

Can you still call it a blog if you haven't written on it for three weeks? Honestly, I don't know how anyone finds time to sit and write on Facebook 15 times a day.

I don't do Facebook. Like I don't do sleepovers. I've found there are certain things that don't work for me or my family and so I take the hard line. It's not personal. So I hope those of you who have invited me to visit your "page" and check out your pictures understand. Oh, and I should probably admit I don't count girl's weekend away as a sleepover.

My kids are banned from sleeping at other kid's houses or inviting other kids to sleep here. Mostly because I like to sleep. And no one sleeps at a sleepover. Plus, I remember being a kid at a sleepover. I know what we did. And as fun as it was those few times I got that call between 11:00 and midnight to come get them (or maybe not so late, but 20 miles away) I can do without it in the future.

I've grown very attached to my self-imposed rules. They establish really clear boundaries. And I've discovered I love boundaries!

I'm told there aren't a lot of boundaries on Facebook.

So while many seem to think I'm missing out on reconnecting with a ton of people I don't really have time to reconnect with or the chance to monitor my kids accounts (they don't have any) or mastering the art of misspelled abbreviated jargon, I'm happy to be left behind.

Besides, I tell them...."I've got this blog".

So I guess I'd better start writing on it again!!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Speak No Evil

I watched American Idol for the first time the other night. I know, I're wondering what cave I've been living in with Nell.

I'm not a fan of reality T.V. and recently I've made tremendous strides to watch less and less of any television show. We cut back to the most basic cable you can get ($11 a month) and I can honestly say I haven't really missed it. But, my kids and Dan have watched idol this season and love to cheer for their favorites and see what they'll sing, so I decided to check it out.

I'd heard a lot about Simon and while I agree he can be rude and negative, as I watched him rate each performance, I found myself agreeing with him. I also found it very easy to jump right into the judgement role and begin criticizing every detail of the performance I didn't find impressive or inspiring.

As we all sat and watched and did our own play-by-play comments, my oldest daughter became increasingly upset to the point of not wanting to watch the show together anymore. She felt we had become (and me in particular) too harsh in our criticisms, focusing only on what any particular singer did wrong and not giving any credit to their courage for being up there in the first place with relatively great voices.

She was right.

I've always had a critical streak, something I like to say I inherited from the paternal side, but calling something hereditary and moving right along doesn't assume any responsibility. So it was convicting to have my daughter brought to tears by my negativity.

I just finished reading a book by Chip Ingram called "The Miracle of Life Change" (I highly recommend it to everyone) and it talks about how we are transformed from the inside out when we become Christians. His focus comes from Ephesians chapter 4. Verses 22-24 say we are to put off the old self (old habits), get renewed by the Holy Spirit in our minds and then put on the new self (we are made new creations in Christ). A lot like changing clothes.

And then a few verses later (vs. 29) I read "Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear."

Sometimes I think my daughter is an angel in the room - God's gentle reminder that it's better to give grace than assume the role of judge.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Do you know how at certain times it seems everywhere you look you're getting the same message, but it seems random?

Like, it's Spring (or so the calendar would have us believe - it's 40 degrees and raining), and so the days are longer and I have a little more energy in the evening to do some Spring Cleaning. I haven't gotten into the whole "clear out the house" weekend yet, but I feel it coming on.

Then there's this website I recently discovered where people offer up stuff actually worth something for free or ask for stuff they want that someone else might be willing to get rid of for free. A huge trading network - very no-nonsense - "this is what I want/have, here's when it can be picked up, etc." Once you get past the crowded inbox, it's great. We've gotten a free ceiling fan and given several toys, stationary, hangars, etc. away. It reminds me of the WWII era of "we're all in this together" and beats the heck out of storing it all for a dreaded weekend long garage sale that will yield $200 on a good day.

Then I'm reading this book (well seven actually, but this particular book is) about making room for life. In fact, that's the title "Making Room for Life". Someone gave it to me today and I read the first five chapters on my lunch hour (quick read). The author, a pastor, was talking about being in Israel and seeing the Bedoin families in their tents in the desert and feeling sorry for them until he learned they are the least stressed, happiest, longest-living people in the country. And guess what? They don't own anything they couldn't pick up and carry at the end of the day.

I got seven e-mails in the past two days looking for donations. All worthy causes, from cancer research, to clean water in Africa to a local family whose house burned down.

I'm thinking the message is we have so much stuff! I look around and I can't possibly maintain all the things in this home. And I regularly give a bunch of it away. Which makes me think I'm still accumulating more than I think I am.

Now some of this is part of the territory of being a mom with three kids. Even in this wonderful age of technology a lot of paper comes home from school. The mail is ridiculous. We fill a ginormous recycling bin EVERY WEEK with paper and plastic. And I know, my sentimentality is partly to blame, but I'm parting with more and more all the time. I now understand the minimalist approach my mom has that I used to make fun of.

I open my fridge and freezer (and fridge/freezer in the garage) and I have more choices than 2/3 of the worlds' population. But I still run to the store four times a week because I'm "out of everything"!

How did I grow to value so much stuff as necessary?

I remember before Caitlin was born, I was thrown (count 'em) five separate baby showers. Through the generosity of others, her room was wall-to-wall Classic Winnie the Pooh. I'll never forget the first time my mother walked into that nursery stunned and shaking her head. She said "when you were born, there was a crib and a picture of Bambi on the wall". I don't think my sister even had the crib - she probably slept in a drawer like all the other baby boomers.

I read a book awhile ago called "The Treasure Principle" by Randy Alcorn. It talks a lot about how you can tell what you value most by looking at your checkbook and calendar. Then it offers a biblical perspective on storing up the kind of treasure that doesn't perish (see the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6:19-20).

I find that the inventory in my house is saying a lot about the stuff in my heart.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Next Time Count Off

Spring is here. Sort of. It's snowing outside right now and perhaps all of 33 degrees (that's Fahrenheit for you Aussie readers) and they're calling for 4-7 inches accumulating before all is said and done. Guess I shouldn't have put the boots away just yet. Last year we got slammed with a huge snow storm on Good Friday and I remember building snow bunnies in the front yard for Easter. We're really not safely into Spring weather until late April early May and by the end of May we seem to be full fledged summer. But Spring it is and that!

The Cubs' played an exhibition game against the Yankees in their new stadium and lost huge, but I still like our chances this year. Of course, like any deluded Cub's fan, I like our chances every year. The season opener is tomorrow (not to be confused with their home opener on Tuesday) against the Astros which is the team Ryan got placed on in little league this year.

He's had two practices (one indoors after a rain delay and more non-Spring like weather) and one outside on a balmy 45 degree day. He's grouped with 3rd and 4th graders so he has the advantage of being slightly larger and more experienced than half his team. It's still astonishing to me the size range you see of these kids who are never more than a year apart. The smallest is maybe 50 pounds soaking wet and the largest could probably take out most high school tackles. They stand next to each other and I try not to laugh.

The coaches seem like they'll be great. Not too competitive, but intent on teaching them the basics, not too nurturing, but willing to encourage and guide, and not at all the kind who show up leaving you wondering how on earth they got the job because they obviously know nothing about the game. So I was really pleased watching this practice....right up until the point when they decided to pick teams.

They appointed two captains (ironically the two largest kids) and had them each select a team from the boys they had just met. You know how the dreaded drill goes -the kids shuffle back and forth praying to God they're not the last one picked. And their parents sit in the stands and pray the same thing. Ryan was picked second to last. Would someone please explain to me the upside of this approach?

For those of us who've been subjected to the humiliating experience of being the last one picked (sometimes repeatedly) we can attest to the fact that it doesn't do much to build confidence or camaraderie among teammates. So I'm wondering what goes through a grown man's head when he defaults to this option. Because I'm talking about a practice for kids on the same team, the majority of which haven't hit double digits age wise! Why, oh why, do we line them up and beat them down??

I told Dan when I got home and he was disgusted. Aren't I blessed that he's my husband?