It’s not a #momfail, I told myself.

Checking Facebook to see what’s trending, to make sure I’m not missing some major world event, I realize that my feed is full of pictures of my friends’ kids . . . kids on their first day of school. Hey, it’s the first day of school for my kids, too, I thought.

But I forgot to take a picture.

We can’t re-wind our way to the morning to re-capture the moment. It was great to see our kids come into the kitchen to eat the potato cakes their dad had made the night before just so the morning would not be so chaotic. We actually sat down for a few moments at the table, the four of us.

We are still in the midst of transition, and routine will surely find us, however hectic it might be. New town, new church, new school, new family structure (with big kids in a different town at a familiar school). We are finding our way, but there will be some moments that come and go without finding their way onto social media or into our camera roll.

I tell my kids we’re “making memories” when we are doing something that they’re not particularly fond of, like hiking through a rainstorm or taking a bumpy ride in a crowded van. We are, indeed, making many memories these days, but to make a memory, you have to fully notice the moment–touch, taste, smell, and see it as much as possible. For me, that’s going to mean more often than not that I don’t have a camera or phone in hand. It means that I’m going to be laughing, crying, moving, being in the moment. It also means that I’m going to look back on it an hour, days or years later and smile because I was so full of life and love, even if it was painful.

We said we would take a 2nd day of school picture but forgot that, too. The morning and afternoon drop-offs are stressful right now, to say the least. So for all the parents and friends who managed to remember the photos, you are awesome. Please keep sharing. For those of us who didn’t, we didn’t fail, even if we feel like we missed an opportunity. We’re making memories, after all, and those memories usually come with any number of stories to share later.

Keep making memories.

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About time

Yes, it’s about time.

“Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while,” says Jesus to his disciples.

That was in my daily reading this morning, and, oh, how I do long for a retreat.  I’ve been away from the family on weekends relatively recently, but it’s been a while since it was truly a retreat for retreat’s state.  At this point in my life, I need clarity, calm, and a solid sense of direction and purpose.  This is harder to maintain when one is frazzled, drowning in to-do’s, or just downright tired.


Jesus was speaking to his disciples.  I wonder who speaks to the women these days.  Who tells the overworked mother to rest a moment, take an hour between nursing, grab a pot of tea and go gaze out the window . . . or sleep a few minutes.  All will be well.  Who tells the outside-the-home-working-mothers that it’s okay to be away for another day or two from the family, not to feel guilty about the piling chores and pleading eyes?  I don’t think anyone speaks up because those around us aren’t sure that all will truly be well.  But, it’s better for a mom to take some time out than to walk around getting crazy eyes and becoming more and more like a woman on edge.  Maybe I project.


We have to take care of ourselves.  To nearly every mother I talk to, I ask if she’s taking care of herself.  I ask about her support system.  To the women I work with and for others I know, I try to set an example.  If I can get away from my household with four kids, surely they can, too.  It’s not perfect, but it’s OKAY.


I wonder about those who don’t need or take time-outs for themselves.  Are they being honest?  Have they fully shut down from their inner voices that guide and protect their best interests?  Because I think that’s where dreams and hopes exist.  If we shut out that voice, we risk losing sight of who we truly are and thus risk losing our sense of purpose in this world.  Yes, being a mother is a worthy purpose, but does it give you a sense of joy — mind, body, and soul?  If not, you’re not listening carefully enough to yourself.  If so, blessings, my Mother-friend; spread that love and joy!


I grant you permission to take a time-out.  Find a friend with a cabin for a night or a weekend.  Pack your favorite nourishing food and beverage.  Sleep in silence, all by yourself.  For you extroverts, take a gang of mothers with you and enjoy the party!  If a weekend doesn’t work, take at least 15 minutes a day for you, and only you.  I smile thinking of my friend who locks the bathroom door for her quiet time.  Take it where you can get it!


As the kids get older, it gets easier to find the time, but priorities will still have to be juggled.  Seeking out a deserted place, finding the time to listen to my still, small voice, I know more clearly what the priorities are.  It takes that leap of faith to put me first that ironically grants me insight as to what is best for all.


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What Mary Knew

Of the four children smacking their cocoa-sweet lips and held captive by The Polar Express, one has a birthday this week, two days before Christmas.  Ten years ago I was 40 weeks pregnant, great with child.  But it wasn’t my first.  I had my support in place.  Preparations had been made.  I knew what to expect, more or less.

In this fourth week of Advent, I love that we light a pink candle to honor Mary.  I love remembering that she surrendered to something greater than herself, that she humbled herself to be a servant.  She didn’t know . . . she couldn’t know what was in store.

Every time I picture Mary or try to work with any kind of visualization or exercise of lectio divina, I have a sense of what Mary might have known.


What was happening was beyond her control.  It wasn’t just about Mary the innocent young woman suddenly expecting child.  As with every mother bearing child, from the moment the baby is conceived and grows, the mother can only do her best to keep healthy.  The formation of the child is left to genetics and the miracle of life.  A mother-to-be can seek the wisdom and comfort of other women to learn all that she can, but when it comes time to birth, there is no bringing forth of life without letting go of one’s identity.  Virgin Mary to Holy Mother of Jesus.  Can you imagine what Mary experienced alone in that stable?  Do you think she found in herself the capacity to pity poor Joseph standing helplessly by?  Could there have been a woman from the Inn who had mercy?  Such details are left unaccounted.

Next thing we know is that there’s a baby in a manger.  Mary has a child, a dependent.  This child’s existence depends upon her care and attention.  She knows this.  With her surrender, though, she knows this child she cares for is not hers alone.  She cares for this precious child not only as her own but as one of God’s . . . as God.  Did she know this?

Could she truly sense this from the beginning?  Could she know the heartache that would come?

From the very beginning, this would be beyond her comprehension.  She might never fully understand.  She could only do her best to do what was required of her in every moment.  She would live fully into each moment, keeping her heart as open as possible to live into the will of God.  This would be the best she could do.  It’s the best any of us can do.

Oh, that I have the humility to live into every moment with awareness and true surrender.  May I raise my children so that they will grow into the beings they are meant to be, not what or how I want them to be.  May I have the strength to be a mother of strength, love, and acceptance.

My children are blessings to me.  I am surrounded by abundance, and I understand this mother role . . . more or less.

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My Lint Bowl

Yes.  I have a lint bowl.  It’s quite small and irregularly shaped.  Actually, it’s from the first and only pottery class I’ve taken.  It wasn’t the first piece I made (that “gem” went to my mother), but it’s one of the first few for sure.

This little bowl sits atop our dryer, and after each load, I put the lint in it.  Or maybe I just set it there . . . or squish it on the top.  It started out in laziness, really.  The small trash can has a lid and is low to the ground and squeezed in between the dryer and the wall that has the broom and dustpan hanging there.  Why twist and stretch every time I switch the clothes?

Then I realized that I liked watching the lint bowl fill up.  The clean clothes these days have been dispersed rather quickly to where they need to go, but the lint . . . it fills up and becomes a little abundance of accomplishment, a monument of achievement.  When I think it’s time to dump it and start over, I do, knowing I can watch it grow again.

It’s the little things, right?  We are all working so hard every day to keep the wheels running smoothly.  Whether we’re working outside the home helping some company/business/organization to thrive or working in the home to make sure those nearest and dearest to us are thriving (and chances are, all of us are doing both, whether we’re paid for it or not), we are all working hard.  Sometimes we just need little signs to remind us that our work adds up.  What we’re doing makes a difference.

I have a lint bowl.  You might have a diaper pail, laundry pile, crossed-off checklists, clean dishes . . . who knows.  Keep tally marks on a post-it if you have to.  I’m telling you that you make a difference.  The work you do is appreciated.

And you will always be loved more for who you are than what you do, anyway.  So, as the card I received from a friend says: “be a beacon of fierce and potent love.”  May my family always remember how much I love them.  I know they won’t know how many times I empty the lint bowl.

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“My Fav’rite”

Right now, our youngest describes things according to her preference.  For example, she says, “Chickies my fav’rite,” and “Worms not my fav’rite.”  (“Fav’rite,” of course, is her way of saying favorite; she just drops the “o” sound.  I wish I had a sound clip because it is absolutely adorable and otherwise completely enunciated.)

In her toddler world right now, she is the sun, and everything else revolves around her.  If you’re not her fav’rite, then you might as well be on the dark side of the moon.  She has a look for you if she thinks that way, and those of you who know her know what I’m talking about.  🙂

In my world right now, I have many favorites shining forth.  Quality time with family and friends, sunshine, gardening.  I don’t get to spend nearly enough time in these arenas, but I love them dearly.  I also love the results of spring cleaning and even the time spent doing so, if I can tap into the right frame of mind.  The skies before a storm.  Watching the chickens find what I cannot see in the dirt.  Listening to others speak their Wisdom.  Feeling that which cannot be seen in another’s suffering.  Watching the miracle of birth unfold in more ways than one.  Learning.  Growing.  Loving.

What may seem like the dark side of the moon in my world is really just like night time or lying fallow in the earth.  The love I feel for everything these days, the compassion I find in oh-so-many places and faces — expected and unexpected, the suffering I know about or stumble upon, all this combines and swirls in the One.  Truly this is a Mystery, but I trust it.  I trust that all things rise and fall in my awareness.  What needs to be done will be done.  What needs to be known will be known.  I hope that I’m where I need to be when I need to be there.

Maybe my busy life is more simple than I realize.  With the right frame of mind and a solid, grounded presence, there’s an altered time, if even time at all.  We can experience life moment by moment, and that is definitely one of my fav’rites.

(photos of some fav’rite moments: Ashton reading, Alexander making artful eggs, Avery & Dino (his chicken), and Autumn making cookies)

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Oh, the Audacity!

A friend of ours has neighbors who just opened a skating rink here in town, and would we like to join him for a skating and pizza party?  It’s one of those things that didn’t fit in our schedule, but I made it work.  Yes, we would love to.

While husband took the older kids to piano, I took the younger two to Starlight Skatorium.  After visiting with our dear friend, I spent what seemed like 20 minutes getting skates on the two restless ones and then crammed my feet into skates, too.

Oh.  My.  Goodness.

My six-year-old took off onto the rink, straight out into the flow of traffic, and then turned to move against the flow!  It was painful to watch, and I gave thanks that the place wasn’t busy, being a Wednesday night.  I couldn’t yell at him over the loud music — not that he would have listened to me anyway. He crawled part of the way to the middle of the rink.  I just had to wish him luck as I turned my attention to my three-year-old whom I was holding up on skates.  We made it a sixth of the way around the rink (basically to the next exit opportunity) before she was done.  I have to admit I was grateful because I wasn’t sure my core and arms could have made it all the way, either!  While taking off her skates, my 6yo reappeared and informed me he was done, too.

Are you sure?


Skates off, it was time for Sprite and pizza, a double treat.  I had yet to make it around the rink myself.  Would I even be able to do it, or would I end up busting my butt?  The older kids arrived after lessons, ready to don their skates.  Of course now the younger two were ready again.  Another 20 minute venture.  Fortunately, I had just kept my skates on.

I suppose I fully embraced the craziness of it all.  Now I had four kids on skates. I let them drink soda and have carry-out pizza for dinner.  Hubby had another appointment, so I was skating solo.  Could I have done this even with one child eight years ago?  Probably not.

I realize that to some, I probably seemed like the 6yo jumping out into the middle of the rink, full of adventure, a devil-may-care attitude . . . sheer audacity. With the two older kids warming up to making it all the way around the rink and the other two using the skate-helpers to roll down an entrance ramp, I finally got to make a couple of rounds myself, totally recalling memories of my younger days.  Skating to loud music, disco lights, hokey-pokey, and 50s dress-up contests.  Good times (even though one time cost me a front tooth!).  Sometimes we just have to let go and enjoy the moment for what it is, trusting that all is well.

I hope our audacity continues to enrich our lives.

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Mind over Matter

dumdumWe had barely pulled into the bank drive-through when my daughter behind me started asking for a sucker in her croaky, congested voice.  I couldn’t help but smile because she sounded so cute — a survival of the species tactic.  Fortunately, my maternal sense kicked in.

“Suckers are full of sugar, and sugar is not good for you when you’re sick,” I told her.

I’m not sick, Mom,” she said slowly, deliberately, downright emphatically.

I tried not to laugh out loud.  After I made my deposit, I gave her the little dum-dum.

“Of course you’re not, sweetheart,” I told her, and I decided to hope that at least for a little while she would stop coughing and make herself well by sheer virtue of will.

With her strong will, anything’s possible.

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What a Mother Should Never Forget

My youngest and her equally young friend pick raspberries in the autumn wind and sun, bundled in their jackets, their hands turning red.  Of course, on their return inside, there’s a heap of jackets, socks and shoes near the rocking chair/climbing gym.

My boys and their friend huddle around their DSes, plotting, sharing and exclaiming together as new levels are achieved.  A day home from school means anything can happen.  Today I’ll witness them conquer new worlds.

My oldest retreats to her room.  A house full of young ones is not her ideal.  Weeks can be stressful, especially when one has to balance living in the world with an old soul in a young body.  I should know.  She asked almost pleadingly if she could play on her DS today, too . . . after chores, of course.  I agreed.

Tonight we jump-start the Halloween celebration by dressing in costume and going to a classical concert of “spooky” music.  Tomorrow we celebrate a birthday, All Hallow’s Eve and our friendships at a couple of Halloween parties.  But as my husband remarked, we should celebrate the kids, with the kids, this weekend.  After he attended the three parent-teacher conferences, he was reminded (and thus reminded me) how wonderful our children are, how blinded we can be by being with them so much and getting muddled in the day-to-day routines.  This weekend, we celebrate.

And as their mother, I should never forget how holy each day is that I see the joy in their eyes, the fragility of their person,  the Light in their lives.  Whether we  birth our children in body or heart, whether they are with us in body or spirit, these things among many are what a mother should never forget.


With a heart full of Love, I give thanks.

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Why I Have to Cancel Netflix

After a busy day, a fulfilling, worthwhile day, I truly love to get the kids to bed and kick back and relax.  Cue the DVD dvdplayer, escape to another reality, and vicariously experience a range of emotions.  I consider it my down time, time when I don’t really have to think about anything.  I unplug from my life for a little bit, plugging instead into a different time and place.

Netflix has facilitated this down time for me, increasing my repetoire of movies viewed, some of which I wouldn’t have ever seen had it not been for their lovely search engines and categorizing.  I may not be able to watch their movies online (because I never got it to work), but I do have three movies at any given time to choose from.  This is helping me dwindle down our personal DVD collection, facilitating that clearing of “stuff” we don’t really need.  For that, I am grateful.

But then I began to feel like I needed to push movies through my que, like I needed to watch a movie a night to feel like I’m giving myself a break.  Truth be told, it is escapist, and not necessarily healthy in my opinion.  Occasionally, sure.  I love a good movie and always will.  I grew up loving John Hughes movies, watching them repeatedly.  Somehow other people’s lives, fictional Hollywood characters’ lives were and are more fascinating than mine.

So, I’m cancelling Netflix.  We’re getting rid of our big, old t.v.  It’s not a flat-screen or anything fancy, and it’s a family hand-me-down.  We’ll get the big entertainment cabinet out of the living room and re-use it for pottery or something.  Not to worry.  We have two computers and a laptop in the house.  We have video capabilities.  We have family with plenty of television/cable viewing opportunities.  We’ll just be encouraged to moderate the time in front of the screen.  Why not keep the t.v., movies, games, etc.?  Can’t you just moderate your time and keep the equipment?  We’ve been asked.

We have four kids.  We have hobbies.  We have precious few hours of time as a family.  And my “down time”?  If I seriously need down time, I need to unplug and stay unplugged.  Filling my mind with static doesn’t help anyone.  And there are books.  So many books I haven’t read; so many books I have yet to write.  There’s also good old-fashioned staring off into space.  I can just sit and look out the window, gaze at the stars or the trees.  In the silence, I can hear myself, allow myself to be still, and maybe, just maybe, realize how close God really is.  Why keep something around that we don’t even use?

My life is a far-cry from Hollywood, but each of us is given an amazing opportunity to find what is magical, what is truly Holy.  Two hours a day or night is a lot of  time to search for something, to discover something that has been there all along.  I would hate to miss it because I was too busy watching the screen.

Thanks, Netflix, for helping me discover what I knew was here all along — time to do everything that needs to be done.

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The Excitement of Firsts

The anticipation in my oldest child leading up to the first day of school nearly pushed me over the edge.  I was ready to trash the school supplies and send her to school with a piece of paper and a pencil.

The second child got stung by a wasp the night before school started and still has residual swimmer’s ear (which will probably lead to a doctor’s appointment soon).  This probably attributed toward his emotional instability before and after his first day at school.


Our third and wild child who started kindegarten this year seems to be doing the best of all — at least outside the classroom.  Could it be that our seemingly most troublesome child is actually the healthiest?  He has consistent behavior and seems to be going with the flow.

Our fourth child informed me she wanted to go to school, too, yesterday.   However, this morning, after being awakened at 7am, she’s not so keen on the early morning school thing.  She’s still in her jammies after 9.

I share all this not only to document my children’s first day of school but also to comment on the different perspectives we take in life.  I remember the excitement, the anxiety, the anticipation not only of first days but of first kisses, first love, first home, first birth.  I hope to experience many more firsts.

Onward now in my spiritual journey and life in general, I realize that part of living life to the fullest is to experience every moment as a first, to bring the childlike enthusiasm to the moment — a beginner’s mind.  I am so quick to make things routine, anxious to make it a habit so that I don’t have to think about it.  There’s nothing wrong with making something healthy a habit, but only if I can do so with awareness and an open mind.

So now I get to practice.  Bring the enthusiasm of the first day of school (that helped me get up at 5:40 am) into every morning.  To make breakfast and help prepare lunches with a happy heart, blessing the food that it might nourish my beautiful, brilliant children.  And then I can move onto practicing in other moments, as if they were the first or might be the last.

“Today is the first rainy day” at my new school, my daughter told us this morning.  Oh, that I might appreciate this day as such.

photo: everystockphoto.com by bies — no, not my child because the only picture i took was on my phone!

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