Monday, August 30, 2010


"Flush. the. toilet." I shout. "JACK, you have to FLUSH the toilet when you poop."

Craig pokes his head in the bathroom, raises both eyebrows. "I've told him like five times today," I say. "JACK," I call again.

"Ok, Momma," he says.

"There you are. Did you hear me?"


"You HAVE to flush the toilet."

"Ok." He nods serious like, furrows his brow, "Ok."

He makes us notes, that Jack. He cuts up papers, small, like my hands, and scribbles out rocks, people, letters. "Here, Momma," a note. "I'm giving this one to Daddy," he says, "because he can fight the best and this one to you because you normally write words." I smile at mine, zigzag edges. He smiles at me.

Later he sits on the couch, "I wonder why Daddy's so amazing," he says and wrinkles up his brow. He lets the thought turn a few revolutions then slaps his knee, "I wonder why Daddy's so amazing."

I shake my head, "Me too." The boy squints those eyes, and I see it: little boy replays a Daddy-moment there in his mind, memorizes him. He plays it over and again. It lasts forever there on repeat. Those blue eyes give him away. He studies amazing until it starts to rub off.

"Yup, pretty amazing," I say. The boy shakes his head and drums off to brush teeth. I wonder how he has time at all to remember to flush.


151. Salty peanutbutter pretzels.

152. Mason canning jars.

153. Genius friend who helps me organize my kitchen. For fun. (!)

154. Sister-in-law who laughs when we find red wine vinegar in six different cabinets.

155. Fresh garden cucumbers.

156. New vacuum, orange and gray.

157. Three pies in one week. One blackberry, two peach.

158. Husband gone and back safe from work trip.

159. Gallons of fresh clean water any time I want.

160. Dad able to breathe well enough to run again.

161. A big ol' garage sale to raise money for Spring of Hope.

162. The house tidy. For a moment.

holy     experience

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Summer Salad

1/2 c. cucumber
1/2 c. cherry tomatoes
1/2 c. pear tomatoes
1 c. red seedless grapes
1/4 c. feta
1/8 t. salt
1/8 t. pepper
2 T. olive oil
1/4 c. mint leaves

1. Chop cucumber, slice tomatoes and grapes in half, layer in a bowl.
2. Crumble feta over salad, sprinkle salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil.
3. Finely chop mint and add to salad.
4. Toss and eat.

**For best flavor, layer ingredients in order. This way, the salt lands on the feta and the olive oil seals it. Then you get a burst of saltiness with each sweet tomato and grape.

Thanks Cerissa for the inspiration for this salad!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Let Go

They gather berries, cup their palms like bowls. Lulie squeezes hers and runs for the swings. Short legs run double time. They huddle, the three of them. Jane scoops smushed berries and counts, "One for you, one for you, and one for you." They watch each berry lob onto piles.

And then the bell. I ring Gramma's little silver bell, the one from her hutch all those years.

The dinner bell. They freeze. The berries, what about the berries? Janie squares her shoulders, "Okay guys," she says, "how 'bout we just set it down here and eat like pigs." They grab for berries. Sweetness dribbles on their chins.

Later, my flowers crackle into shaggy zinnia heads. I weave the children into quiet nap-corners. "Head to bed," I say. "Tuck yourself in for nap."

Janie lingers, casts questions like nets. I eddie in the current, wait. She stops. "Jane," I say.

"But Momma, but Momma," she chidles.

"Jane," I say, "You can have self-discipline, or you can have Mommy-discipline."

"Hmm," she sets her head to one side, "that's kind of a hard choice." And yet, she cradles a book in elbow and slips down the back hall, climbs her bunk and settles into the afternoon.

I slice cherry tomatoes in the kitchen. Each globe splits into a perfect circle. Self-discipline. I picture Jane up on that bunk. Six years old. Discipline. I prepare myself to let her go.

A little.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


The girls cut bookmarks for Jack.

Jane traces a pattern, pins pieces of scrap fabric. She trims edges -- orange stripes, grey dogs and green mint. I zigzag down uneven sides. Janie pokes pins back into a big strawberry pin cushion.

Then Jack turns 4, waves those orange stripes like a birthday streamer. "For my BIBLE!" he cries and flops the Bible open, squinches that bookmark down to the Bible spine. He slaps it closed, "There."

There. With a grin the morning tumbles to motion as if bookmarks could carry the day.


145. More watermelon. And how husband towers up juicy red cubes in cereal bowl until I think no more will fit.

146. My newest nephew born healthy and whole.

147. His momma who brings over a brood of boys to play and play and play and my children never think it is enough.

148. How my boy promised, eyes all earnest, that he really did NOT know you're NOT supposed to spit half-chewed sandwich out to impress the guests.

149. Little baby who sleeps on the floor when I forget to whisk her to bed to nap.

150. How husband made a bumper pool table vanish from my schoolroom in exchange for a haircut. And my HUGE smile.

holy     experience

Saturday, August 21, 2010


"Yeah, but Daddy," Janie says, "I gave that one for his sin."

"Oh," Daddy sets the dime back down. "Okay."

Jack's manners all boy toots and wild shouts, I fined him. A dime. Yet, Jane wriggled a silver circle out of her wallet, plunked it on the table. "Here, Momma."

The wallet.

Goodwill. On the way home from Grampa's we follow Daddy's map to Goodwill. And leave with a wallet. Two actually.

"Now," Janie turns a black wallet over, traces a stitched high-heeled shoe, "if I can just get enough cards and money to fill this wallet, I'll be set to go shopping with, Momma." She rubs the fake leather, "And nickles, and quarters, and pieces of cash."

We wheel home in our big white car and they pour over the wallets. They poke fingers in all the slots and folds, bend them backward. "I noticed a couple of things," Jane reports, "like there was a driver's license place and I don't have a driver's license."

So, in the morning they clip little squares of paper, scrawl faces in red pencil. A driver's license.

Then another fine. Jane thump-thumps bare feet down the hallway after that black wallet. "Momma," she says, "I got you one cause I love you and one cause I needed to." She presses circle money into my hand. And I wonder that these fines aren't having near the sting I intended.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Jane, Jack, and Lulie throw rocks in the creek. And Myra sleeps. Daddy skips the smooth ones. Grampa hunts more stones, tethers Patty-dog on her leash.

And Myra sleeps.

"I know where you are from," Jack says to baby. "You're from Momma's tummy."

Janie turns, "She's from God," she drawls. "She's not from Momma's tummy."

From God.


Sunday, August 15, 2010


"Jesus," Jane whispers, "please give me a patient heart." Pine trees and open meadows whiz past her window, "Every moment, patient." She stares, "Patient. Patient." A slash pile smolders gray smoke by the road, "Patient heart."

Sandwiched into our car we sail through Montana back country. Grampa smooths a list between thumb and finger. Garage sales. He mapped them out. One here, another there, or wait two roads back, did anyone see a sign stapled to the phone pole? Craig and Grampa parse out country roads, small town streets, unmarked dirt trails.

"We did NOT eat up all the gum," Jack frowns at Janie from the way back.

"Yes," she says, "We DID."

"NO. We DIDN'T."


I lean over the baby seat and raise both eyebrows, "Janie. Stop."

Up front, Grampa unfurls a map. Worn folds gape open like little eyes. He runs fingers over the roads.

"But Momma, he's WRONG," Janie says.

"I know. Be stronger."

"But Momma, he's being a bad boy."

"I know," I say, "Be. Stronger."


Grampa assembles the map back into folds, presses the creases, closes worn spots. "Take a left." We trundle over railroad tracks and onto a dirt road. Stronger. I look at Grampa. Gray hair almost white. These past five years Gramma gone and he still makes maps and hunts garage sales. Five years, one next step and another. Another. And another.

I lean over the baby seat, squeeze Jane's hand. The car silent, we sit, wait. Another bend in the road, and patience builds. Strength begins.


125. Grampa. 89 years almost and still as straight and honest as the day is long.

126. A long car drive, a late night, and Grampa still awake when we all pull in.

127. Cedar and soap, the smell in my clothes when we get home from Grampa's cabin. I don't unpack, close the suitcase and hope that in the morning I can smell it again.

128. Red geraniums. Grampa plants them every year the way that Gramma did. Me too.

129. Shallow mountain ditch that the kids float. My piles of memories of when I was a kid.

129. Brownies.

130. Coffee.

131. Garlic, onion, blue cheese burgers that husband barbecued.

132. Grilled squash and onions, balsamic vinegar, olive oil.

133. Chocolate. Black chocolate.

134. Watermelon.

135. How a kiss or a band-aid heals all Lulie's owies.

136. How Jane can make tennies, jean skirt, gray leggings, and a big red flower all seem to go.

137. How the kids try to give me their money after payday like tokens of love, then settle for buying bananas when I give the money back.

138. A soft bed I fall into at night.

139. A strong husband who guards me 'til morning.

140. The gift of a morning run.

141. Teaching our children (and me) to keep a tidy house.

142. Thirty little girl toes painted pretty.

143. The colors we picked. Lulie pink for the bottle was pretty. Janie blue for the color was pretty. Me red for the twinkle in husband's eye made me want it.

144. The slow moments where Jack repeats the same question seven times, and I let the afternoon ease by, nothing better to do than listen and repeat. Or laugh again.

holy     experience

Monday, August 9, 2010


"What I want to learn this year," Janie says, "is to write, play the plano, and learn to handle snakes without them biting me."

Monday, August 2, 2010

Hold On

"Hey Mommy," Jane calls to the kitchen, "Jack showed me the food in his mouth that he already chewed up. I didn't like it. What should I do?"

Jack giggles, shakes his head, "Ignore it."

"Two, four, six, eight, who do we appreciate?" Jane swings her legs on the bench and swishes out more song, "Jack, Jack, Jaaaack."

The boy flaps his lips into tooting-gunfire. He grins, pokes Lulie. "Jack, that's not appropriate." He jabs her again.

"Momma," Janie takes the reigns, "now that you're 32 you should know that you don't get to force him to obey."

"That's right." I tilt my head, "I just discipline. Everybody get ready for naps."

Jack furrows his brow, puckers lips, "What about my chance to go outside?"

"I know, but you weren't being very nice to each other so I took it away." The morning chaos steers toward afternoon. I grab the reigns and hold on.