It’s quite possible that I have nailed this parenting thing

I have figured it all out, the parenting gig.

It’s basically the hardest job I have ever had (next to back-up dancer for some guy named Steve, who played for about three people in a basement bar called O’Malleys, and yes, dad, if you’re reading this I am sorry. It seemed like a good idea at the time.)

You know, the more I think about it,  the whole back up dancer for an abysmally unsuccessful man with a pony tail and a dream was actually good experience for parenting, in some ways. But that’s a post for another day.

Are you ready for the key to perfect parenting?  Here it is:

The rule for being the best parent ever is:



Last weekend I packed up my bags and left them. All three of my cherubs (husband included in this mix) were all alone with some pizza and a lot of football for the whole weekend, while I attended a writers’ conference in Indiana, and tried to remember the days when I wore professional clothing on a regular basis.  And do you know something? IT WAS AWESOME.

Especially for the following reasons:

1. Writers are my peeps. True, we are a quirky, sometimes rather unbalanced lot, but we get each other.

2. Writers accept dark jeans as “professional clothing” so my tuckus has still not seen a nice pair of pants for, oh, some years now. Now, truthfully, my dark jeans had rhinestones all over the back pockets. I do like my rear end to sparkle.  And I did have a moment of trepidation when I realized my glittery bottom did not really shout “serious writer,” but I decided I was gonna speak my TRUTH, ya’ll, with a rear that would be a shining beacon for all to see.

3. In my presentation, I got to talk about myself. Yea!

4. People actually LISTENED to me talk about myself! ADDED BONUS. SO BEYOND MY EXPECTATIONS, I TELL YOU.

5. My hotel room.

Now, let me just interject here with a brief description of me walking into my hotel room:

Walking down hall with plastic key and rollie suitcase, all, “here I am, a writer, doing my writer thing, all grown up and somewhat professional in my dark jeans, just gonna freshen up in my hotel room-” (opens door, after some problems with the plastic key thingie, user error, of course)


(I did some sort of weird shimmy twerking thing that would shame my entire family, but HOLY ROOM SERVICE, BATMAN, I AM ALL ALONE HERE FOR TWO DAYYYYYS.)

  • Big fluffy pillows that have been slept on my a majillion other people but I don’t care because mine now?  Check!
  • Big bed in which I will sleep, not sharing, just me, all alone, by myself, no mouth breathing toddlers or snoring husbands or weird cats, JUST MEEEEEEE?   Check!
  • A marathon of Say Yes to the Dress AND Dirty Dancing, in which I can program the remote to bounce back and forth between the two, with crazed Swayze, poofy wedding dress fervor as much as I like?  Say Yes to the Check!!!


Um. It is quite possible I had rather strong feelings about my hotel room.


After a good fifteen minutes of me just wandering around, fondling all the appliances like one of those stick model women on The Price is Right, I decided to, you know, actually go to the conference.

But ya’ll? For a moment there I seriously considered jumping on the bed, ordering 400$ worth of room service, and then, NEVER LEAVING THAT ROOM.

Like, everrrrrrr.

For all of you waiting in breathless anticipation: No, I am not still in that room. I did actually return home. It involved a lot of driving and grim resignation to the fact that I would again have to do my own laundry.  And ohhhh no, not just MY laundry, but the laundry of three boys and sometimes, it seems, additional toddlers from all over the neighborhood.  In the spectrum of life, I rate laundry just a scooch above how I feel about political ads.


But back I came, like a neurotic little boomerang, drawn always, back to these three:



photo (2)


photo 5



And CURLY,Screenshot 2014-04-15 13.58.10

Oh, and Shemp?



yes, those are Spiderman underwear on my furry head. It’s a thing, evidently, in this family to wear undergarments on their heads. I want out.


As much as I gripe (the lawyer interjects here with actual statistics on how often griping occurs in my posts, along with moaning, whining, general malaise, and some bad singing of 80’s music, but who needs statistics when you have important things to say?) I did actually like returning home.

Here’s why:


Ok, ok, and seriously?  I love them. I really do. I loved that hotel room with a deep and passionate ardor, yes, but it didn’t hold a candle to the life I have here. Which, if I really allow myself to think about it, pretty much looks like the life of Consuela, my housekeeping lady, who cleaned up after me the whole time back at the hotel.

Call me Consuela, I still choose home.

But I’ll be back, hotel room, next year.  Wait for me, darling? We’ll have a lot of catching up to do.  I know there will be a conference in there somewhere too, but honestly?  You had me at hotel room.














Linking up with Kate over at Five Minute Fridays -

The word for today:



Three years ago:

Sent in an essay to Kansas Voices contest. Placed. Asked the hubs:

“So… you wanna pack up some stuff, drive three hours, and sit in the audience while I read my essay? It’ll be fun.”

Yes, of course my sweet dear.


Then, decided to write an article about my post partum depression. Revealed it all. Got published in magazine.

Told the hubs: “I think I want to be a writer.”

Yes, my darling. Go for it!


Then, went crazy.

Found out I was sick with a disease that told me I wasn’t sick. Kept at it for a long time.

Told my hubs: “I’m FINE. Leave me alone.”

No my sweet one. But I’m here. Always.


Then, got sober.

And went a little more crazy. Because, well, recovery at first is kinda like walking across the Grand Canyon.

On a swingy bridge.

In the wind.

With no tether.

And no idea where the bridge actually ends.

Told my hubs: “NO I just CAN’T. This is too hard. I’m SCARED. I don’t do SCARED. I want to go back.”

No my love. Keep going. I’m right behind you. I won’t let you fall. But you have to do the  walking.


Then, I wrote about it. For all the world to see.

And I said, “WOW. Would you look at this? Other people have been there too! Dirty laundry? Nah.”

No. None at all. Just my life. I support you. Go for it!


Then, I told him:

Um, I think I would like to try to speak at this conference. It’s like a majillion hours away. I’ll be gone all weekend. I think Red might be coming down with something. I’ll be a nervous wreck prior and all cranky and stressed. Hows that for you?

Of course. You go. Dreams are God-given. Pursue them.

But please, darling, after you have slept in that hotel room with those big fluffy pillows and that endless Food TV -

Please do come back?


My husband cares for me. Often, he carries me.

In doing so, he has allowed me to hop in my carriage and attend the ball.  His willingness and humor and affable spirit has been my carriage out of poor humor, depression even,  pain.

He is a prince.

I mean, just look at him:IMG_2288

Well, and: photo (2)





My morning on a scale of 1-10


I would rate it a Z.

On the scale of “bright-eyed, bushy-tailed: I would rate it a:


I hate everything.


Here’s how mornings go, in my head:

Get up. Walk around. Drink a healthy smoothie with green stuff. Read the bible. Journal. Bask in the whole “oh what a beautiful morning,” Lamentations 3:23-ness, of it all.


Here’s how this morning suffered and died at our house today:

Got up. Or tried to. When attempting to put one foot on the floor, something in my back went, “Uh HO! No way, old lady. Walking is hard. I’m putting you on shuffle.”

So, I shuffled about. No green stuff in the smoothie because I burnt the oatmeal. And yes, I know, the two don’t seem to relate, so let me explain: The wee ones insist that all the oatmeal is TOO HOT. It’s TOO HOT MOMMAH! It’s HOT LAVA I WILL NOT BE ABLE TO EAT THIS EVERRRR. IT WILL MELT MY FACE OFF.

Since listening to my children whine about porridge makes me start googling “full frontal lobotomy, what are the perks?” I prepared the oatmeal waaaaaay in advance for my sweet heat seeking cherubs.  Then I watched them sit there and chuff and blow all over it with moist abandon (mental note: do not eat leftovers) for, like, an hour.

By the time they had hyperventilated all over the oatmeal, I was on to making lunches. Something, like, oh I don’t know, THIS:


I found it on Pinterest! Who knew?

I know, right? RIGHT?

So, then, I had a moment to myself, in which I:

Put hair in ponytail. Then realized it still looked so colossally bad that also added a baseball cap. Considered a burka because the baseball wasn’t really cutting it, but thought that might cause some confusion amongst my church going friends.

Added some moisturizer and some lip gloss. Except I used an under eye highlighter as my lip gloss, because, well, morning.

So I looked like THIS:


Except she is a lot happier about it than I am.

And, you know, no decal hearts on my face. I coulda colored in some of my sun spots, but who has time for that insanity?


Okaaaaaay. So the boys are still staring down the oatmeal. They are in their underwear, and it’s five minutes till go time. Momsie decides to start barking orders like a crazed seal. Something like THIS:

Clear up!

Move out!


Shirt! Turn it!

Ok, Spiderman in back.



KEYS?  KEYS ! KEYS !!!KEYYYSSSSSS!!!! Oh snap. Here in my hand.


Awesome! Car! Children dressed and IN car with shoes and backpacks. The heavens opened and sang, I tell you.

And then I realized I hadn’t put on pants.




So…how was your morning?

My neighbors had a great start of the day, I’m sure.


God, grant me the serenity, to accept that I forgot, um pants.

Courage, to change that for future mornings.

And the wisdom to laugh at myself.


And thank you, dear sweet Jesus, that at least I was wearing my husband’s old rugby t-shirt. I wear these huge things to bed because I like to remember the 80’s whenever possible. Thank you, baggy 80’s fashion.

Coulda been worse. I coulda been wearing THIS:



You’re welcome, neighbors.








Because is a hard word

Linking up with Five Minute Friday today over at Heading Home.


Today’s word:



It’s been a tough day.


Red had just cut fringe in my table cloth. All around the entire table. I asked him WHY?

“Because…” he stared at his handywork. “Because, it’s pretty. Look? Mommah? See? And, well,  da scissors were there.”


Blonde had a moment of total meltdown when I asked him to help with the folding. I asked him, WHY?

“Because I can’t DO IT. I can’t make the squares! I CAN’T!”


Red decided to slug his brother. I asked him, WHY?

“Because he hurted my feelings! And I needed to tell him so!”


Hubs is late again. I ask him, WHY?

“Because.” (heavy sigh). “It’s been a hard day.”


I keep looking for reasons for things. For all things. The “because” should fit in, logically and clear, like the last puzzle piece. But so often, the because is veiled with hurt and irrationality and random scissor attacks.

Becauses often leave me cold.

Whys are loaded with expectations.

Good heavens this world asks a lot.


Asking a toddler WHY after he tries to flush his matchbox car is kind of silly.

Asking your husband why he is tired after a 14 hour day is just goofy.

Needing the answers is not the answer, BECAUSE I want them to be tidy, neat, and fitting my expectations.


Sometimes people do stuff that doesn’t fit my plan. Ok. Maybe not sometimes. Pretty much all the time. My answer to this?

Because we are all broken. And yet, we can ask for grace. And GET it.


Because He loves us more than, and despite of, and through all our brokenness.

That’s the only solid answer I know. 




Truth, Lies, and the Single Woman



Joining up with Allison K. Flexer on her Truth, Lies, and the Single Woman Blog Tour today!  I am thrilled to be invited along!

Let me present to you a brief, yet captivating, timeline of my life:

19something: I was born. And the world was never the same.

1998, sometime in November: I finally, FINALLY became a Christian. My mom had been praying for 28 years. She could relax. Jesus take the wheel! Woohoo!

1998, sometime in November the next day: I was pretty sure my sweet Lord would now be bringing me my husband like, tomorrow.

1999: Nope, not yet.

2000: Well, not yet. But no Y2K so that was good.

2001: Yea, not yet.

2002: Hello, God? This is Dana.  I don’t mean to pester but I’ve been good. Is there an extra bible study I need to do?

2003: *humming tune from Jeopardy*

2004: Ok, really, I get it. Patience. Got it. Lord, I am thirty-four years old. That’s like, Sarah and Abraham old. I won’t be able to walk down the aisle without a cane.


2006: Met Brian.  THANK YOU. I AM EXHAUSTED.*

2007:  You know, the rest doesn’t even matter. I’m married! All done!

Allison K. Flexer’s book, Truth, Lies, and the Single Woman, is a book that I really wish I could have gotten my marriage-hungry hands on back in 1998. She tells her story with humor and vulnerability, and gives practical advice to help women who struggle with the “I’m single and I’m waiting” mantle. When I was single, I felt like I had a huge flashing sign over my head, a gigantic arrow in lights, flashing I’M HERE. RIGHT HERE. HELLO, OVER HERE! All the while, so focused on finding the “one.” It was distracting, and painful.

Here are a few things that really made me rather tense when I was a single:

1.  I hated being called “a single.” People don’t go around and say, “Hi, I’m a married. And you?”

2. People telling me that I was married to Jesus and that is enough just made me want to cry a bit.

3. Christian singles events and gatherings can be just awful. You can cut the desperation, accompanied by a lot of Chris Tomlin, with a knife.

4. Sometimes dating is just hilarious. I once dated a fellow, very nice, who kept speaking in different accents during our date. It was awesome. We never dated again, incidentally.

Allison Flexer gets the tension. She understands the heartache and the waiting and the questions that can be asked when, repeatedly, you keep checking “single” on your tax return each year.

But the best part is how her book debunks many myths and lies that we tend to believe when we are “a single.”

Some of her chapters are entitled:

  • Because no one has chosen me, I’m not valuable.

  • I’m not beautiful.

  • Getting Married will Solve All My Problems. (This one is paired with a loud guffaw from all the married peeps reading right now. Can you hear it? It’s DEAFENING.)



Today, I would like to focus on Allison’s chapter called:


It is 2002. I am at a Barnes and Noble, on a date, with a very nice fellow named Roberto. (Ok, I changed his name. I always wanted to go on a date with someone named Roberto.) We are drinking coffee prepared by a surly barista. It’s very hip. The music is hip. My leather boots are hip. The books we were talking about were hip.

The date, however, was not hip. It was a total disaster.

All conversation felt like it was being pulled out of us, like some dentist had set us up in chairs and was extracting sentences, painfully, for an hour. It was so bad that I had to pull the, “I have to get up for work early tomorrow,” card and leave early. It was 5 PM.  I think I left him with the impression that I had to get up at 2 am or something.

That date should have had a copay. It was that awful.

Anyhow. The point here is that I really, really wanted to like Roberto. He was the my list:

    Nice shoes (savvy)

    Good teeth (clean)

    Reads things (smart)

    Had a dog (sensitive) but not a cat (weird cat guy)

    Owned a house (J.O.B. need I say more)

    Loved Jesus (Ok, this should be first on the list. I always check the shoes first; it’s a weakness)


And as I walked to my car, at the late hour of 5:13 pm, in defeat, I just gritted my teeth and prayed, “God, REALLY? He’s fine. Why can’t I like him? Why can’t I just relax? Why can’t you send me someone that when we talk it doesn’t feel like I need to get a shot of Novocaine first?”

Allison Flexer’s book would have told me the answer. And here it is, nice and simple:

“The loneliest place is being stuck in a bad marriage.”

Boom. That about sums it up.

Flexer’s chapters all end with a series of lies that follow the chapter heading. She then trounces all those lies with scripture and a lot of honesty. This is not a “let me just tell you Romans 8:28 until I’m blue in the face and we’re good” kind of writing. (And yes, I know, Romans 8:28 is like the Superman of verses and it has its place!) This is gutsy, real, and really helpful stuff.

Truth: You can trust God with your life.

“You’re completely safe in His arms. You can trust him, remain close to him, and abide in him. Relying on God is the key to achieving peace in our dating lives and preventing us from settling.”

I would venture to add, He will prevent us from settling in any capacity. Married or single or young or old. Whatever walk we are on – He wants the Best for us.

I read Allison’s book thinking of my single friends who are looking, looking for that peace that marriage brings. I found her book spoke to me, right now, an old married lady with two kids.

Funny how that works, huh? Every time I review a book for this Beacon Hill Press gang, it ends up just trouncing me. In a good way. A God bounce. Thank you, Allison.


To sum up: God knows what’s best. I believe, Lord, help me in my unbelief.



If you are interested in ordering Allison’s book, click here.

If you’d like to meet her at her blog, Anointed with Grace, click here! You will be glad you did!



*I would like to add, for the record, that marrying my sweetie was the best choice I have ever made. However, it has NOT been a cakewalk, people. He is my knight and I am his princess, true. But our castle is kinda wonky and we argue over things like forks in the dishwasher sometimes. Camelot is a song in a musical, y’all. Marriage is TOUGH.

Hold up

Linking up with Five Minute Friday today!

The word is:




Red is approaching me. He’s wearing a creased red cowboy hat, tipped waaaaaaaay back on his head.  He kinda reminds me of James Dean in Giant. Except for two things:

Red is not, nor will he ever be, a brooding kind of guy. It’s impossible for him.

He is only wearing his underwear, along with the red hat. Oh, and a cape. There’s a cape there too.  So really, not so James Dean after all. It would have definitely been below Dean’s artistic sensibilities to do the whole cape thing.


Anyhow. Red is currently pointing a popsicle stick at me.

“Stop. Wight. There.”

“Dis is a hold up, mister.”

I mention that he has no handcuffs. For it to be a proper hold up, don’t I need to be handcuffed? (Now, I do realize that those of you who are actually paying attention to this might interject that noooooo, that would be an arrest. But it’s 8:37 am and I have not had enough coffee to get my criminal behavior ironed out.)

Red also solves the whole handcuff issue by telling me he tried to put them on the cat, but his paws were too small. So der under Steve.

It’s 8:38 am. I need to:

wash things

clean a bunch of stuff

maybe sweep up some floors, like all of them

wipe down the stickiness that is on every conceivable surface

try not to fall back asleep while making my bed

not slip into despair

brew more coffee


Instead, I stop and hold up my hands. I am going to play with Red. I might even teach him the finer points of silliness – the cat can be kidnapped and we can work on a ransom note. Steve’s up for it as long as he has a surface on which to sleep and a square of sunlight.

My sons keep me in the squares of sunlight.

I hold up my hands to You. Help me to remember what is important, what to hold up to you. What to give over. What to give up.


And thank you, Lord, for coffee and this house and all its stuff that I clean. I am grateful even for the sticky linoleum, because that means maple syrup happened, and it’s only by your grace we are able to afford the stuff. It’s like 400 dollars a bottle.




11So it came about when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed, and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed. 12But Moses’ hands were heavy. Then they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it; and Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other. Thus his hands were steady until the sun set.    Exodus 17:11-12



Thursday Throwback and Netflix Streamteam – Wonderfulness

I have an addiction.

To school supplies.

I have a straight up, no chaser, hold my credit cards, holy cow MORE POST-ITS PLEASE addiction to anything office related.  Every fall, you might find me deeply inhaling the sweet pink rubbery goodness of a handful of bubblegum erasers (and yes, I KNOW that sentence sounds rather… wrong. But I stand by my statement. I’m not ashamed.)

Pink Pencil Erasers

I mean, look at them.

As some of you know, this was the first year for school for Blonde. It was epic. But really, every year in June  (or is it late May?) when the great television gods start up with their JC Penny and Target ads and even, I think, Sharper Image gets in on the game, I get all goosebumpy and happy.  It’s a glorious thing, School.

We should just skip all this summer nonsense and school all year long.


I was breathing in my erasers rather heavily and got a bit dizzy there. What I MEANT to say is:

One month, preferably July = Summer

All the other months= School. Because, pointy new crayons!

Except for December, obviously, because, well there is a lot to do.  Trees to decorate. Santa to contend with.  And baking all those cookies, ya’ll. There’s cookies just exploding outta everywhere  in December.  And I gotta try to figure out how to wrap a bike, usually, or maybe a new kitten.  Oh, yes, and the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Sometimes I forget that one. It’s busy.*

Oh, and also February. No school in February because that is just an awful month and we should all just go away in February to some place that is as non-February as possible. Even a new Trapper Keeper isn’t gonna dress up February.

Oh! but yes, School in February 14. Of course! Because these:


And we get to decorate a box to put them in! Which means? Glue! Markers! Maybe even… GLITTER.



Ok, so I’m getting a little confused here myself. I think I need to make a calendar. I know! With new Sharpies! And A RULER!


Since I have the honor of being a Netflix Streamteam blogger, I was thinking of what kind of shows would pair well with my back-to-school fervor.  And immediately, this gem came to mind:




Kevin is adorable. Winnie is just… winsome. The Wonder Years was a simply perfect show.  It had depth and also humor, and some episodes could give you a knot in your throat the size of Toledo, unless you were heartless or just completely unmoved by Kevin’s brown-eyed earnestness.

Do you remember the episode where Mr. Collins, Kevin’s beloved teacher, just.. he… I CAN’T EVEN. I CAN’T EVEN TELL YOU.  It was the best ugly-cry, cathartic, I don’t need therapy I just need to watch this, kind of show ever.

And don’t even get me started on the soundtrack.

I binge-watch shows that are about angry dragons and angry politicians and REALLY angry ex-science teachers…  I’M GONNA BINGE THIS ONE.

It’s … well, it’s just wonderful.



*No. I don’t ever forget that one. I promise.