the buzz of guilt

November 12, 2015

The other day she barged into the bathroom while I was finishing my shower. MOMMY. What, Elsie? I have to go the bathroom. Go for it. Then I turned off the water and reached for my towel, stayed in the shower more to avoid the chill in the air than to avoid the usual, Your tummy is funny and, I can see your butt! From her throne, she suddenly blurted, “I love you, Mommy.” So I told her I love her too, of course. And then I added, “You’re my best girl.” And she said, “You’re my best mommy.” There has always been this sneaking suspicion (or often it’s a very clear, not sneaky, thought) I have that I’m not the best mommy at all, not even close. From my first pregnancy through today, I’ve battled over ten years of self-doubt and guilt. Sometimes it is LOUD and sometimes it’s quiet–a hunch, a […]

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Just Write 156

October 7, 2014

There was a cookies-n-cream fluffy pie with chocolate cookie crumble crust tucked behind things in the fridge. The boys found it, of course, and asked to have some. I told them from the other room to each have ONE small piece, and they did. Well, they were actually really big pieces. What was left was a “piece” of pie so small, it was less than Elsie Sized. She didn’t know yet, but I left it on the counter until she noticed, because what child never notices a pie tin at eye level? What’s that!? She ask-yelled. Oh that? I said. That, is what’s left of the pie after Brothers got a hold of it. Then I grabbed a fork and I sat down right there on the kitchen floor. She came over quick, down to her knees halfway to me, scooting along full-force. I met her with the fork in the air, and […]


Just Write 151

September 2, 2014

There is a kind of tired that feels so good while it also hurts to not be able to move your arms without hating painting. The kind that comes after hard work, together. After finishing something, or working your way (slowly) toward finishing. It’s hard to keep going and everything is screaming that I’m OLD, but it’s worth it. Like childbirth. Only not.that.painful. We are painting and painting at the Cre8tive Escape building, getting ready for our first creator’s retreat in the ginormous room downstairs next weekend. NEXT WEEKEND. We have had helpers, people who care about us and come to roll on paint or scrape the old carpet glue off the cement floor. We pay them with….love. (How nice and generous, huh?) I thought you might want to see what the ginormous room looked like before:   Ironically, the words on the wall from the previous renters of the downstairs space say […]


a bedtime routine story

November 14, 2013

{This post is about our bedtime routine and there’s a good chance it could help you with yours. It is a sponsored post in partnership with Smart Electric and the words are all mine.} The doctor brings it up, it’s in all the parenting books, and your friends ask when you’re having trouble getting your kids to go to sleep: Do you have a consistent bedtime routine?  “They” all bring it up, because a consistent and predictable routine works. (True, so much of what “they” say is just opinion, but this routine thing totally has proven results.) Our kiddos need signals that become ingrained in their little noggins., so this is one bit of advice we’ve actually stuck with over here at our house. Our boys have never known anything other than “same bat time, same bat channel” bedtime routines, and then Elsie came along and BOY OH BOY does she ever need […]


Just Write {109}

November 4, 2013

I have vivid dreams, every night. I don’t know if they’re in black and white, like people say, about dreams and their muted tones. I don’t remember them like a movie, but a memory. I’m revisited by people from the long ago in my dreams. So often there are people I haven’t seen in years, interacting with me like we’re family. Their faces and voices and the stories we’re playing out are so vivid, I’d bank on neon colors over black and white. I talked with a friend, standing out in the sun, about watching old videos of our kids. Those same kids played nearby, the boys knocking each other down and laughing and Elsie Jane watching and shriek-giggling and hopping around them. Outdoor toys were scattered all over the driveway. My friend said that she had forgotten exactly how her daughter was at age four, but they just watched a video and her little […]


I don’t need to tell you that it’s important to sit down together for dinner. Either we do it or we don’t, depending on our habits and schedules. So, right now, either you don’t feel guilty because you are sitting down together for meals as much as possible, or you do feel guilty because dinner has somehow become some sort of shifting chaotic short order cook phenomenon. Either way, I understand. We’ve done both over here. Life sometimes makes every hour of every day pretty messy, so go easy on yourself if you’re in the trenches. There will come a time when the baby is not crying and the toddler will grow into a child who sits still longer. I promise. That said, I’m sharing 5 things we do over here to connect (and stay) at the table:   QUESTION TILES: A couple of years ago I made a trip to speak at an event in Kentucky. While […]


Just Write {107}

October 22, 2013

This morning waking up felt like it had something to do with quicksand. I made us run late, but just a “it’s going to be okay” from Ryan reminded me not to freak out about it. The boys helped get Elsie up and ready and that made me smile. I brought her next door and another mom was dropping off her boy and I told the room, “I overslept. LIKE A BOSS.” They just stared at me, and my bedhead and probably the lines still creased into my cheek. Okay then! SeeyaBYE! I’m still walking Asher in to school these days, it’s what he needs. But I wanted less people looking at my bedhead and creases, so I told Miles he would need to walk Asher today, down his hallway. He said yes without complaining, which made me smile. LIKE A BOSS. I am very sneaky and proud to have a backup plan on mornings […]


Just Write {104}

September 30, 2013

I was getting out of the car, grabbing my bag and another bag, my coffee mug, and I dropped my glasses on the driveway. I bent down to get them and saw a snail in the grass. The squishy looking sluggish body was carrying a big shell. Just like that. It amazed me. My glasses were scratched, but I just needed to crouch down like that for a little while and watch the creature. I got out my phone and took a picture but it was like he was camera-shy and got inside his swirly shell before I snapped the photo. I went in the house, put down all the things and put the picture on Instagram. Everything needs cleaning, so I looked around at where to start. I had been at school volunteering and now it was already late morning, so much to do, a meeting this afternoon and on and on, […]


At four days old, my good friend’s baby boy pushed away from me though in my arms, the first time I held him. With an arched back, he turned his head to the sound of his mother’s voice. His little mouth opened, bird-like, seeking her out. I said, Look! Look at him turning to you. He knows that voice. He knows what he needs. Mama. She beamed and the sound of her laugh was the last straw for him. He wailed for her as if he hadn’t eaten ever before, wanting his mother. We go on needing like that, always. We come to this world and whether we’re nurtured well in our youngest years or not, we’re needy and full of empty spaces and we stretch and turn, trying to get filled up. Then suddenly, almost as in a flash, we become teenagers, and there’s no more insecure and scary time of self-discovery […]


forgive yourself

September 4, 2013

“Take the long view, I reminded myself, looking out across the fields to our own long view. Life finds its balance. Children grow up. Second chances come along. In the meantime, I could choose to savor this moment.” – Katrina Kenison Can you forgive yourself for not living in the moment? When our babies are sparkling new and swaddled up we set out with intentions we can believe in, but we just don’t know. We are going to live in the moment. We’re going to relish these baby years, these elementary years, for we have been told time and again how precious it all is, and how fleeting. And intrinsically, we know it to be true. But, what we don’t know is that we are about to be swept up inside days and nights that bleed into one. And that our minds will fill with a sleep-deprived dense fog of anxiety and joy […]


Last week, after my friend Ann wrote a hilarious school supplies list on Ann’s Rants, I left a comment on facebook for her, mentioning that I didn’t even have the school supplies list yet. This got me thinking something like, I should probably figure out how to get a school supply list for both Miles and Asher. Yeah, I’m quick like that. School starts August 26th here, and we have a couple of busy weeks ahead of us, so after Ann’s post reminded me to print out the lists, I headed to Target solo as soon as the opportunity presented itself. I love Target shopping alone and on this day I had a plan. I can do this quickly, I told myself. A kindergarten and second grade list can’t be that complicated…I know! I’ll pretend like I’m in a race! Super Target Sweep!  (Just so you know, before I started in on the […]


There is something recognizable, the same, about people who have an amazing mother. It seems like a part of their inherent personality, but it’s more than that. It’s what they’ve had instilled in them, day after day, by her example and teaching. OH, to have people see that in my children. This is a loved soul, I think, when I meet them. A soul well-loved. Too many people in the world don’t get to have that sense that someone is there and crazy in love with them no matter what. Sometimes an aunt or a friend or a cousin or a grandma fills that gap, showing the child what true Love really looks like, and sometimes no one does. At night I pray in my kids’ rooms. That they will feel wholly loved despite the times I have failed at showing it. That whatever is in the way, in them, would fall away […]


Just Write {96}

August 5, 2013

Give me air conditioning and a cold drink and the goose bumps start. Miles asked me what they’re for, these goosey bumps, and I can’t think of the answer, even though I know I’ve learned this somewhere along the way. Little tiny bumps all over our skin, raising the little hairs. How strange. My kids so often remind me what’s strange. Life, our bodies, our sayings. Goose bumps. I don’t know, honey. That’s a good question. I can’t remember, I’ll have to look it up. I say this while feeling all drained out. Just tired, but being here with them is where I am and there are many questions like this one and things to do. I want to be nowhere else, but I’m all drained out. It can be over 100 degrees outside and I still get them, by the way. The goose bumps. So I bring a sweatshirt to coffee shops […]


Never has this little old corner of the worldwide interweb been so busy. After a post I wrote about my boys LOVING Minecraft, I received more feedback than pretty much ever before, that I can recall. It’s like suddenly the human masses were walking the streets of New York and I was the corner Starbucks. Everyone came in! Skinny hazelnut latte! Extra foam! Extra hot! No whip!  There was so much yelling! And everyone wanted my view of Minecraft to be just like theirs, and many didn’t seem to notice that I was joking around.  Strangely, after all of the shouting faded away, I learned to appreciate how much my boys love Minecraft. I mean, I have to admit, I still don’t want to play it and I will probably never fully understand it, but I’m certainly more educated and I dig its educational value. The gamers and even the teenagers and the […]


I’ve never fully explained to you the depths my insanity can reach while traveling with children. You see, I get….well, I get worked up. (Understatement.) It’s not that I freak out on my kids or even (that much) on my husband. It’s more like I’m boiling some sort of anxiety soup within my very soul and therefore I grasp the door handle or OH SH*T handle and turn my knuckles white and hardly breathe. Or something like that. That is, unless I keep myself in check. (Read: Am reminded by my dear husband that You see, all three of our kids were horrible….I mean, extremely horrible travelers as newborns and infants. I think I have PTTD (Post Traumatic Travel Disorder). I sincerely thought we might never ever go anywhere beyond 100 miles in our lives ever again ever. Then I learned (thanks to how hard it was) to chill out. A little. […]


The I’M BOREDS have reached epic levels that call for drastic measures. Bored Level Orange, nearing Red. We were handling said boredom claims with the usual “I don’t want to hear that!” and then moved into “For every “I’m bored” you will do one chore!” Then, because it seems that no consequences other than Severe Consequences can stave off stated claims, we moved to “Oh really! I heard an I’m bored…apparently you aren’t all that into All Your Things….go put one of your things in the Goodwill box.” This worked for a time. But it seems there is no sure-fire way to stop “MOOOOMY, what can I dooooo?” Therefore, I have decided to entirely ignore any and all references to not having anything to do. I will act as if no one is talking, and maybe I’ll even pretend that I am completely alone, on a beach in Costa Rica, only a book […]


Just Write {92}

July 8, 2013

They come in with a stroller. A small coffee shop and a tiny baby and Dad is behind the stroller and looking so big. Another couple comes in less than five minutes later. They grin at scrunched up newborn faces that sleep ignore them. They grin at each other. He’ll be a week tomorrow.  Yeah, we remember those days, the other mom says back, and her baby is all of about four months old. I smile inside because that’s what it’s like, going to so slow like Eeyore especially the minutes at night and then so fast when you see a teeny tiny piglet in a stroller like yours. They are immediately swapping stories of way back then and this very day. What the doctor said about this and that. What was normal for them. They are doing some kind of dance we all do at first. The new parent dance. Swaddling is […]


Dear Miles and Asher, I need you to know something. I need you to know that I just can’t talk to you about this game. I don’t understand Minecraft at all and I have no desire to try. Sure, I want to be interested in what you’re saying to me, but I just can’t. Because you say things like, I built a chair! I saw a chicken! I got an egg, ha ha ha!!! and my eyes get that unfocused look because I’m staring past you and my brain has shut down. I can’t help it. I’m only human. That’s why I say Uh huh with no feeling, over and over. I’m not listening at all. You probably can tell, because you’re smart. Whether or not you love this game, please know I still think you’re very smart. Lots of smart people do things that make no sense and then talk incessantly about […]

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To know a “spirited” child is to know extreme highs and lows in another person. To parent a “strong-willed” child is to continuously stand at the receiving end of these changing emotions, mostly dumbfounded. Sometimes we walk away, hands thrown up in the air, no guesses. I can’t help you, I wish I could.  She gets over it, comes over and kisses a knee or your hand, says something akin to sorry, pats you softly with a dimpled little hand.   In this photo she is thrilled for two reasons. 1.She is carrying a little purse, 2. and she just got to feel the water coming out of the gutter…     I have known her for a thousand years and every day I get to meet her again for the first time.   Happy weekend, friends.


(glasses store with brother. you wanted to try some on for funsies.) Dear Future Elsie Jane (or, if you’re reading this now it’s the future and so HI), When I was pregnant with you, I wrote a post called PLEASE: notes to my children. Many people that read it mentioned that they wanted to know what I’d say to a girl. What they didn’t know was that I did have you in mind, you and your brothers, when I wrote that post. Since then I’ve thought about what I want to say to just you, but I didn’t know. Most of what I want to say is in that PLEASE post. I could say so many other things about the (potential) parts of your life as a female that scare me most: the partying, drinking, drugs, sex, etc., but maybe it won’t even really matter because no offense, the teenage brain has some pretty […]


I won’t ever have complete control over the minds and hearts and souls of my children, but I can assure you, I will do everything in my power to teach my boys what it means to respect and even honor girls, ladies, women. Not because they are weaker or less or second, but because they deserve it, every single last one. When my boys are sixteen-year-old boys, will they get drunk and lose themselves? Will they forget how I drilled it in since they could first speak and walk, open the door for her.  let her go first. do not speak to her that way. ask your sister before you kiss or hug her. Don’t surprise her with your smothers. I know you love her and it’s so nice, but just ask her first. If she fusses, move away right away, it’s her body and her space.  Listen to her. Same goes for […]


Just Write {74}

February 25, 2013

We were talking numbers with a realtor. The discussion back and forth between Ryan and this 26 years veteran of real estate left me dazed, staring off toward our piano, wondering if we’ll take it along when we move. They worked out the numbers. The only thing my brain would do in regard to numbers was try to plan how many plastic storage bins I want to buy this week because they’re on sale. I was imagining putting all the things in them that we don’t use every day, to pare down and clean off and give the house the appearance of tidy and minimal and open and big. After our realtor left with promises of putting the house on the market on March 1, I took the bins we already have and headed downstairs to go through our storage space. I organized the kids’ clothing and re-organized the boxes and bins already […]


The truth is, I was scared of her, and I will be again and again, but not right now. Today I’m remembering that we’re simply here to learn alongside each other. She’s my not even two-year-old daughter, and I have feared her. Maybe it’s not her, exactly, but rather, her fierce femaleness. Even the very best things, like femininity, can be terrifying and misunderstood–a girl, a lady, a woman–beautiful and complicated and strong, gentle, sweet and soft and then mean. I only know so far that my Elsie Jane will never stop surprising me, and that’s maybe what brings on the fear–the unknown. She goes from slightly shy to an uproar of out-going. She goes from falling asleep quickly and quietly for many nights to fighting it again night after night, like she forgot she was trying to win at something and now she’s going to take it to a whole new level. […]



January 28, 2013

Most of us don’t want to be viewed as fragile, but here we are. Show me the human spirit that hasn’t been broken in some way. How do parts of us break if not fragile? Be fragile. It’s fine. We were all born fragile. You know, that floppy head attached to a weak little neck, a wide open space in our skulls, vulnerable to poking toddler sibling fingers. There are people who don’t break down easily. The ones we commend for appearing to be made of steel; so strong, so positive, just carrying on. Part of me used to strive for that because I guess it seemed like it went along with wisdom and strength, valor and heroism or something. No more. I’m fragile and I know it. Without this fragility, I’m not as empathetic as I’d like to be and no matter how much it hurts to hurt so often, I’d rather […]


Just Write {66}

December 17, 2012

Ryan walked through the door with Elsie and Asher. Miles and I had fed and watered the chickens and cleaned up the house. I’d been writing and Miles was playing something on the iPad. He’s now off the iPad for fighting with his brother over it. It was Friday. It was supposed to just be movie night and pizza and popcorn night. I held Asher and Elsie close, just like I had squeezed Miles after school. Ryan put an arm around me and I bit back tears because I wasn’t ready to answer “why are you crying, Mommy?” So instead I asked Ryan to start a fire in the fireplace and the kids stayed right there because fires are so cool and good unless you get too close and get burned. We watched over their distance from the danger from our chairs and took in the warmth. We shared time just thinking and […]


{photo credit} I heard and saw the word helpless more times than I can count yesterday. As the number of slain children increased and the information on exactly what happened in Newtown, Connecticut continued to change, we sat helpless. Losing all confidence in the goodness of humanity is terribly uncomfortable, but it’s the way this feels, at least while it is unfolding before our eyes–on TV and Twitter and through Facebook links to the latest news. Oh. So it was Adam, not Ryan. Oh, his mother was a teacher there? Oh. He shot her there? WHY? Oh. No. He shot her at home…then WHY go to the school? All of this uncertainty forces so much insecurity. And while we’re feeling distraught and helpless, we try to think out loud with one another, to gain some semblance of control. Gun control. Control over the mentally ill. Control over violence in our media and entertainment. […]


Remember when I said we were doing the hydrocephalus association’s walk? And that I wanted to raise $1,000 for Asher’s Noggins!? We totally did that! Isn’t that the best!? I learned a lot that day, and I’ve been wanting to sit down to write about it, but again, time keeps on slippin’ slippin’ slippin’…into the future. Today, by a random twist of Internet Fate, or Serwebdipity, I’m over at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital blog. There’s a wonderful woman there that uses words like penultimate in conversation and then I look up the word and I’m all, OHHHH and then of course I just SAY that I didn’t know what the word was and had to look it up. I’m a pleasure to work with, I tell ya. (Also. Serwebdipity is obviously a word that should be in the dictionary with a meaning like; a serendipitous or fortuitous meeting on the world wide interweb.) So […]


I’m so honored to tell you that I’m now a contributing writer at A Deeper Story’s sister site, A Deeper Family. I’ve been a subscriber of A Deeper Story for a long time, and I’m just plain excited to be a part of the Deeper Family Family. Heh. I don’t speak a lot of Christianese here at The EO. It’s not a secret that I’m a Christian, but I’m, in all honesty, quite uncomfortable with one word labels. I own my faith with no regret or shame, but I walk around with it quite differently than a lot of people with the same label. We all do. We’re all so much more than one word and we all put on all of our descriptors in different ways. I get terribly itchy around Christians, that’s just the honest truth. This is understandable since I’ve been trying to shake off some hurtful things for many […]



August 15, 2012

I guzzle my first (and never last) cup of coffee. I don’t mean to, it’s just that it’s one of my last vices. I want to be a person who sips a fantastic cup of coffee, just one, and then goes on with a day drenched in 8 glasses of water and only whole foods. I drink a lot of water and I work hard to eat well, but I also love sugar as much as I love coffee. We addicts are far too aware of our compulsive behavior, at least in sobriety, so I bend and tip forward, pulling my eyes to my navel to dissect this behavior. Then I remember, I’m a human being. Flawed and a work in progress and imperfect and all that. One day I will sit and sip tea, decaf of course, maybe by the ocean and I’ll be wearing something white and flowy and the breeze […]


Just Write {44}

July 17, 2012

{snapshots from last week’s solo trip} driving alone is a simple pleasure for a mother. There’s no mommy mommy mommy! or fighting from the backseat. No angry babies with screams. just you and the road and the radio. I was nervous, leaving Elsie and the knots in my stomach tried to take over what I could see around me but I took those deep breaths and then I saw it, the way the trees and their shades of green made matte and glossy and it felt like I could touch them through the glass. Deer were out during the day, a mama and her fawn standing in the farmer’s field looking on. No deer in headlights, just that look they get like they must be curious but you can’t tell because it’s as if they’ve had botox for animals or something. They were far enough away to not scare me and so it […]