No Gift Returns

Linking up with Five Minute Friday today. The theme is:

Screenshot 2015-06-05 07.08.25We have a really great tradition at our house. At about four pm, we all kinda fall apart.

It’s typical. I feel pretty adult-y until then. We go on bike rides. I feed the cat. We weed the garden (read: I weed, the boys end up looking like they just went to the spa for a mud facial). It’s all pretty normal. “Look at me!” I think, as we buy healthy food at the store, “We are at the store! And we bought kale! That’s what big people do!” And I even pay for the groceries myself. I drive home. It’s all so very grownup.

And then, it turns four. And that’s when the monsters come out.

Yesterday, that was when my sons had some milk and graham crackers (so, not a healthy-ish choice, I know. Graham crackers are on the cusp. Sorta healthy, cuz they’re brown? Perhaps the crackers are a symbol. The graham crackers are a sign that the adultish-ness is starting to break down.) And then, my sweet cherubs spilled their milk. And THEN, they proceeded to try and clean it up. The horror.

Yes, I realize you might be thinking, “Wow! They tried to clean it up! That’s awesome! What responsible little darlings!” Yea, sure.

Have you ever seen a five and a six-year-old attempt to clean up something?

One small one grabs my decorative towel and proceeds to grind it into one spot on the table, thus pushing all the milk onto the floor beneath the refrigerator, where it will soon fester and make my house smell like something died. Along with my soul.

Then, the other one takes a wash rag, and with one corner of it, proceeds to hover it over the gigantic pile of milk on the table and proceeds to wave it weakly about with the focus of a newborn.

“OH MY GRAVY,” Momsie says, “THE DECORATIVE TOWELS. HOW COULD YOU. JUST LET ME” and starts to grimly scrub up wayward milk with the martyrd gloom of Joan of Arc. If Joan of Arc had to clean the kitchen, with two small boys circling her at all times, she would fuss about decorative towels too. I am sure of it.

And then, both children slink away; their job is done.

They have Momsie fully trained.

So, as I’m trying to clean all this, I move the table away from the wall. When I do that, I notice a whole other subset of grime and despair that is lining my walls. Which then makes me see the ucky dust all over the floorboards. Which then leads me to the fact that there dust balls (balls? how?) all over my WALLS. And I want to cry a little. It’s like Sisyphus and his whole family set up camp in my kitchen. I want to cry a little.

f0e2ab11de5657835cdb621b00834259But then, I spied it.

An earring. An amethyst earring that I had lost ages ago. An amethyst earring I bought for myself back when I was in college, from a time long (LONG) ago but fondly remembered. There it was, sparkly and sitting amongst all the disgustingness that is my floor, as pretty as you please. If the milk hadn’t spilled, I wouldn’t have found it…

But you know that. I bet you, dear reader, can tell me already what the lesson is:

Look for the good. There are gifts everywhere. Even in spilled milk. Yep. It’s an easy lesson. God wants you to look for the good in it all.


And now I’m gonna go pour a pitcher of Kool-Aid in my living room to see what I can find there. Maybe a hundred dollars?

Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Colossians 3:23


Fifty Shades of Momsie



50 Shades of Bad Metaphors and Unrealistic Dialogue


Oh, come on. You know I couldn’t leave it alone, right?



Momsie is upstairs, when she hears him. Her beloved (also known as Tall Blonde Husband) is approaching.

Her palms are sweaty.

She is, of course, in the bedroom.

It is, also, possible that her palms are not sweaty, but that she just helped Red with a bathroom explosion, and she is still a bit damp from all the soap.

But, shhhhhhhh…. (places finger on lips of reader) let’s not talk.

We are here because …. Why are we here?

Oh, yep, right. Seduction.

True, it’s 5:30 in the afternoon, and she just might have a to-do list that involves things like: chop onions for burritos,  make sure Blonde helps Red clean marker off the cat, and maybe try to remember to put mascara on other eye because she only did one, for some weird reason, and it makes her look a bit… unbalanced, whenever she catches a glance of herself in the mirror…

But maybe, you know, she could use that to her advantage. Unbalanced is good. It looks like she’s winking. Surely, winking is seductive?

She tries it in the mirror.

No. No, not really.  It really just looks like she has a facial tic. Or that she’s some grandpa at the store who is offering her kids a Tootsie Roll, all har-dee-har-har, little creepy, jovial-ish.

Ok. So, it is noted that winking is not sexy.

Where were we?

Shhhhhhhh. (finger on lips again, which, also, might be a bit annoying to the reader. Who really likes that? Have you washed your hands recently? Do you KNOW how many germs have been walking around our house? So, duly noted. Finger on lips thingy- STOP IT.)

She calls, seductively, “Honey, come in here a moment. I’m in… (wait for it) the bedroom.”

Tall Blonde: “What?”

She clears her throat, and goes for seduction, only a little louder: “I’m in here, darling. The bedroom. You know. Where all the magic happens?”

Both Red and Blonde magically appear,  because, you know, Momsie SAID THE WORD “MAGIC.” BIG MISTAKE.

Red and Blonde: “Wer? Wer da magic? Der’s magic in HERE? Where, Mommah? Mom? Mother? Mommyyyyyyy?”


Husband shows up. Finally. Small children are ushered out. Finally. She leans against the dresser. This is not a seductive move. It is because she is tired, ya’ll.

“Here, honey. I have something to show you.”

Tall Husband is wearing Superman boxer shorts, a flannel jacket of the homeless man variety (he calls it his smoking jacket, but who is he kidding? I didn’t marry Hugh Hefner, and I think we can all thank God for that), and the coup de resistance: Black socks. Pulled UP. It sorta reminds me of this:


I am so sorry. The visual will stay with you for at least an hour.


Also, Momsie is wearing YOGA PANTS because did you KNOW? They’re unbelievably SEXY!!!  Any man who looks upon them will just burst into flames of longing, I tell you.

Husband does not burst into flames of longing. Perhaps the socks are flame retardant.

“Here sweetie,” she pulls open a drawer…

“I rearranged your T-shirt drawer. Now all your K-State t shirts are on the TOP.” (This is not, as some would imagine, code for something. The t shirts are just, really, on the top.)

Husband smiles and starts to put his finger on her lips, overwhelmed by both the yoga pants and her organizational skills. She heads out of the room, because someone just tried to use Windex on the cat.

The yoga pants will have to wait.

But wait! There’s more!

Later… (For some reason, seduction uses a lot of ellipses. Who knew? This is, of course, breaking my writing rule about only ONE use of ellipses per paper, but I doubt any of my old students are reading this, the poor dears. Also, who are we kidding? I’m not going for a Pulitzer here.)

She is slowly stirring frosting. Peanut butter frosting. The yoga pants are still on, but are now paired with a sweatshirt the size of Milwaukee that seems to be covered in… you guessed it, peanut butter frosting.


Husband approaches and swipes a taste. Evidently, the frosting is really good because he starts groaning and then, the yoga pants embolden him to utter,

“This frosting is yummy, honey. Makes me want to smear it all over you and just gnaw it off.”

(I know. He doesn’t really get points in the imagination department, and also we must take small deduction for use of the word, “gnaw,” but well, he’s trying.)


Momsie stops stirring long enough to hitch up yoga pants. Who knew yoga pants could actually sag? It’s possible that’s because she has worn them for two days in a row now.

She leans back against the husband and smiles. The moment is hers.

“Well, yes dear. We could do that. But, I was just thinking, why not just use a graham cracker?”


End scene.

Now, if that’s not good literature, I don’t know what is.



Wait for it.

It’s Five Minute Friday today!



Today’s word?



Last night, I found myself sitting in boys’ room, waiting for them to go to sleep.

This is something I have done every night for the past three million years or so.

I wait. And I watch them play Twister with the sheets. They ask for water. NOT tap. Cold water. They ask for ice cubes. Two. Not three. Three induces sobbing. They ask for the one book out of the four hundred that we have on the shelf that is not on the shelf.

They ask for me to stay.

I KNOW. I know. I shouldn’t stay.


I get them grumpy water and I toss a couple Clifford books on their bunks and try to wedge a stray stuffed hyena under one arm not hopelessly tangled in the Twisty sheets. “Here,” I say. “This is the Hyena of Blessed Sleep. He will protect and serve, my baby. Cuddle him up. AND GO TO SLEEP.”

And, then. They do.

Red did, last night. He fell asleep. It was a miracle, as it always is. One minute, he’s asking me, “Mommah, where does da slobber go?” (I know, I can’t even, it’s a mystery and disgusting, and I can’t I tell you.) And then? His little fluttery eyelashes are all soft against his cheeks, and his little hands are all plump and unclenched on the sheets that have formed a tight bond of cemented bedding around him in a way that will surely wake him up later, like at three a.m. when he will shout out, “Ima HOT! HOT. PLEASE COME HELP ME NOT BE SO HOT SO I CAN STAY UP UNTIL AT LEAST 4. OR, IF IT’S NOT AN INCONVENIENCE, MAYBE LATER!”


But that’s later.  Right now, the sweet boy is finally asleep.

And I stare at him and Blonde (Asleep long ago. The weirdo.) like Harrison Ford did when he found the Holy Grail.

Why wait? Why not realize they are real treasures all day long?

Oh mommas, you know why. We wait for the next thing; we wait for the night we get sleep (kiss that dream goodbye), or when there is no more teething, or no more crying, or no more… whatever. We look to the next milestone as saving us from more waiting. Really, do you know what is saving us? Saving me?

Learning how to just stop waiting and start being.

I so do not have this figured out, this whole being in the moment thing. My babies, asleep, are the reset button I need after a day of bickering and that one incident in the bathroom with a Lego and the toilet. But I’m learning, with the help of God. He instructs me every day. And when I have a hard time learning?

It’s ok. He will wait.


Let That Be a Lesson To You


Criminal A and B.



Every Wednesday night my church has a great event called His Kids, where seven million children alight upon our little brick church and play, eat, run about, and learn about Jesus.

Ok, not seven million. But it’s a lot.

My children, when they were small and adorable, used to call Wednesday His Kids, “Biscuits!!  It’sa da Biscuits night!” This would become even more compounded in meaning if the church meal there WAS actually biscuits and gravy, and my poor boys were swimming in biscuits all over da place.

This was so cute that I never actually corrected it, and to this day my children seem to link church going to flaky baked goods with honey.

There are worse things.

Last Wednesday night, His Kids was wrapping up, and I was attempting to get two boys in coats and boots and out the door before we hit the dreaded It’s Way Past Your Bedtime, and Your Mom Gets Grumpy deadline.

As I headed out the the car, I spotted them, running way ahead, down the sidewalk, to the car, past the car, and they Just. Kept. Going.

Let’s just say that right then is when I passed the Grumpy deadline. Inside, I had warned them, quite calmly, with a lovely and firm but soothing Mom voice: “Boys, head straight to the car. It’s Way Past Your Bedtime. If you stay up much longer you implode with exhaustion and hyperactivity with help from all those Starbursts you ate after diner.  And I am feeling a grump coming on… it’s a small tickle in the back of my throat, so we best get home. Now.”

As I watched them run past the car with only the roadrunner glee that a four and a six year old can, I thought,

“Humph. They are going to learn a lesson.”

So, I got in my car and drove away.

Now, before you start trying to figure out how to call the cops on a mom blogger, just know this: I didn’t LEAVE-leave… I slipped around the back, silent and stealthy as an unmarked vehicle, and pulled in the side. I sat there for about thirty seconds, giving Red and Blonde just long enough to realize I was gone, and then tears and repentance and all that.

I peered around, to the front of the church, looking for two very sad and sorrowful boys who will never, ever disobey again, like ever.

Instead, I saw two small boys who were sprinting like mini Usain Bolts, and they had a three block head start on me. They were going home. By themselves. At eight o’clock at night.

And, then, I spotted it: They were gleeful.

I was told later that at least two members of my church reported back that “Red and Blonde are out running down Lincoln street! Danger! Danger! And, WHERE IS THEIR MOTHERRRRRR??”

I followed them. I kept praying, “Lord, sometime along the way, could some sort of freaking out occur? Could they get cold or get attacked by a stray cat or something.” I sighed. “Somehow, please, could this whole thing not turn out to be an awesome field trip of wonderfulness? Could we have some misery at some point? Please, Lord?”

Nope. They were absolutely thrilled. When I finally pulled in and revealed my cover – Blonde ran to me, cheeks all red and eyes twinkling,

“Mom! Hey, where were you? We started home acuz you left and we ARE ALMOST THERE and I watched at each stweet and lookits both ways! I was very careful!”

Red interjected with a small jazzstep and some “vroom vroom” noises, and then shouted, “DIS. IS. SO. AWESOME!”

I had prepared a long speech for them. I opened my mouth. I shut it. And then I growled, “Your father will talk to you about this when we get home.”

“Okay! But… canna we walk the rest of the way? Dis is fun!”

Well. Let that be a lesson to you.


Screenshot 2015-01-13 10.24.11


You’re Welcome

Linking up today with Five-Minute-Friday-4-300x300


I give you…

The suspect:

Screenshot 2014-04-15 13.58.10









And… the merchandise in question:Screenshot 2015-01-09 08.32.58











And, the Accomplice:photo 1(Well, not really, but he looked cute in this picture, so I included him.)


Red recently had a major meltdown because I wouldn’t let him have a candy necklace for breakfast. Red is usually quite an affable fellow, sweet-natured, kind, loves to give kisses, throws his arms around me and tells me he wuvs me, oh heck I just don’t even know, his adorableness has just kinda has paved the way for him in life so far…

Except when it came to the Battle of the Candy Necklace. Which lasted: All. Morning. Long.

I don’t really know why he decided this necklace was the Holy Grail, but he did, and I spent an entire morning with a nutball kid who was jonesing for some sugar and string and my GOSH it kind of blew my morning right outta there.

After a long morning of epic, Days of Our Lives, mascara running drama and pathos, he finally decided he was through and wanted some oatmeal.

The kid came downstairs from his room at 8:37, all swollen and snotty, sauntered into the kitchen and said, “I’m done fussing. I was sad but I am done now.” I eyed him over my eleventh cup of coffee and wondered, Can I go take a timeout in my room now? Maybe I could stay up there long enough to read a magazine and catch a nap? I could really use a nap.

I gave him oatmeal and decided to actually heat it up again, as opposed to the cold gruel (or not gruel at all) I was considering for him. I know. This is not the right thing. The right thing would have been no breakfast, or perhaps bread and water and some shackles, but I was weak. The sobbing. Please. No more of the sobbing.

I spooned it up for him, and he took a long shuddering breath, and I said, “Well, thanks Red for getting over your fuss.”

He looked at me. “You’re welcome, mommah.”

Later that day, I relayed this story to some friends of mine. We moms do this all the time. Or at least I do. I share stories and I hope, maybe, that the sharing will maybe smooth over the deep down fear that I am doing this all wrong and my children are going to end up on one of those posters you see at the post office.

And you know? They laughed, and they got me to laugh. And we shared some similar stories. And I sighed a little and felt a small bubble of grace leave its comfort in my soul.

My mom friends get me, and we are welcome to share, and sigh, and even cry with each other.

Or laugh. We laugh a lot.

We are welcome to come over for coffee and sit in our frazzled state and yoga pants, as our children crawl over us, and share our horror stories, or the cuteness, or even the sadness that we are going through. We are welcome to share even when we are so not sure that all this parenting stuff is even POSSIBLE for us – it is just so hard sometimes…

We welcome each other with open arms and lots of hugs, and one friend gives me copious amounts of coffee and lets me in on a big secret: Welcome to Motherhood. It’s not for the faint of heart.

Good thing we don’t have to do it alone.

I tell my friend, as she hands me yet another cup of piping hot coffee with hazlenut creamer, “Thank you.”

She smiles, and says, “You’re welcome.”


Give Notice

Posting over at Five Minute Friday.

The word for today:




My son is cross. He’s so cross he barely can walk, the crossness has traveled down from his brain to his legs, it seems.

As it goes, the cat is now cross, and I am considering crossness too, as I eye my firstborn over my second cup of coffee (microwaved three times).

We stare each other down, Clint Eastwood and That Other Dude, in that movie where Clint chews on his cigarette, and the scenery, and tells the Other Dude,

“Go ahead, punk. Make. My. Day.”

Only, both me and my son vie for the Clint roll in this little drama – we don’t want to be the Other Dude because we all know what happened to him.

My son will not put on his shoes. He cannot walk, you see, and it is just impossible, the shoes, the backpack, the hattttt, it’s all so harrrd.

I have now taken over as Clint because Clint is no whiner, and my son, well, is.

And I chew up the living room with my withering stare.

And the cat slowly backs out of the room. He knows what happens to the Other Dude. He is out of here.

“Son,” I glower with my Clinty best, “You are snotting all over your hoodie. Get. A. Kleenex.”

Other Dude/son stares at me for a moment, not realizing, I guess, how short his scene in this movie is going to be. He then says,
“I have tears. Dats why.”

I blink. I imagine Clint would blink too. His Other Guy just turned the script on him. I look at my son and really look.

“I hava tears. You hurt my feelings.”

“When? When did I hurt your feelings? I made you breakfast; you ate it, and now we’re trying to get  ready for school?”

He looked down at his shoes and started putting them on. Snot and all.

“You were loud at me yesterday.”

I blink again. And then I remember. Yesterday, around four o’clock, my son wouldn’t take his medicine for the lingering bronchial cold he has. I lost my temper. I yelled at him. I did. The day had just come up and swatted me and I was so tired, so tired, of saying everything twice…

So, I yelled. And we all know how well that works.

My son fiddled with his shoes and then stood up, pulled on his hat. I stood before him. And then I said,
“I am so sorry. Please forgive me.”

He sighed. “I do,  mommah.”

We hugged. I looked to the ceiling. My Lord, please help me.

My son notices a lot of things. With noticing comes remembering, it seems.

And I need to notice him. Even in the small moments, or the sour ones.

And I also need to give notice to Mom guilt and sadness today.

Because, Lamentations 3:22-23.

Take notice.


I’m still here

Linking up with Heading Home today for Five Minute Friday.

Today’s word is:


I see you, momma with your jammies on and crooked glasses and hair in an even more crooked ponytail. I see you. You’re talking to your younger son who is pulling on your sleeve, trying to show you his ouchie, and your daughter is shouting and running ahead because it is COLD, and you, I notice, have no coat. Just a hoodie two sizes too small. The hoodie, it looks like, also is a bed for something furry. Very furry.

On the other hand, or paw, your kids have coats and hats and gloves and scarves and backpacks and lunchboxes, and just all of it is so MUCH for three little kids.

I see you. I see that you look pale and I wonder what you had for breakfast and if it was a big hot plate of nothing like me, and maybe later around eleven or so you will have time to stop and stand over your sink and drink some coffee that hasn’t been microwaved three times already. You will stare out the window to the cold and a leaf swirling yard and just breathe for a minute.

This morning we all smushed into the car with all our hats and gloves and scarves and lunches and coats and squirming, and we attempted to leave for school three times before we actually succeeded. Each time, I would start the car, and we would shout, “And AWAY WE GOOOO!” and then I would see that our beloved cat got out. Or that we left a library book inside. Or that I forgot my glasses and great glaucoma we can’t have that. I might drive into a tree.

And away we go. After three attempts and some fussing about lunch boxes being filled with oranges because”I don’t LIKE oranges, mom! Canna I have pudding? Please?” and a quick discussion of scurvy pirates and how oranges keep us from being them, and then realizing my argument was all wrong because the boys are all ABOUT scurvy pirates, we finally left and drove the three whole blocks to get to the school.  I sat in the drop off line longer than it would have taken to just walk.

And then I came home and washed up, cleaned, wiped, rinsed, fixed and folded for a few minutes before I had time to even realize my coffee was in the microwave again – somehow it had traveled there, like it had missed its home or something.

Oh, and I read the bible. Did I mention that? It was Psalms. It was about praising the Lord, but honestly I don’t remember much else, just the praising part because I didn’t get much sleep last night, so I slapped “snooze” one too many times, and then my reading felt rushed. I am sorry, Lord. I should have… oh, many things,  I know.

I should have: gotten up earlier, read and prayed for a long time, had spiritual insight, prayed for peace for all mankind, contemplated Your goodness, spoke quietly and melodically to my children, kept my sense of humor.

But all I could do instead was get breakfast on the table and get to school and rescue the cat from the Polar Vortex.

That last one was debatable for a minute. In my opinion, Steve McQueen the Escape Cat might just deserve a dose of Polar Vortex this morning, but the big brown eyes and furrowed toddler brows in the back seat said “No. Way.”











So. Now, I am at the library. I have coffee and a to-do list as long as Oklahoma is wide, and I don’t care. It’s quiet. My coffee is hot, all on its own. And I want to write.

I am going to make sure and smile at the jammies lady next time I see her. And we will smile at each other even as our own Toddler Vortex is swirling around us.

We are still here.

Thank You, sweet Jesus, for brief, brilliant stillness.

If it was all day I would long for crazy.