No, Spanx.


Remember when you were a girl kid and you were too old to just pee in the pool? And you swam and swam and swam until you absolutely couldn’t hold it anymore. You started doing the crazy pee dance. You convinced others that you didn’t have to go. Just one more jump in the pool. Oh, no. Get out and get going. You better speed walk to the bathroom. Because everyone knows that you can’t, absolutely cannot, run at a pool. And you should not pee in the pool. If you’re not diapered.

You make it to the bathroom and try to quickly pull down your wet one-piece tangled mess of a swimsuit. Nobody would probably know if you just peed your pants, well, your swimsuit. How embarrassing. Don’t. Only babies do that. You pull yourself together and succeed. Victory. That was a close call. And next, a silent drumroll begins, for the trickiest part of the whole process. No parent or sister teaches you these bathroom smarts. There are no shortcuts. You have to learn this skill set all by yourself. Trial and lots of errors. It’s just you and that swimsuit in the stall. You’re a big girl now. Bend your naked self down and try your best to pull that sopping wet, twisted, too short of a torso, one piece suit back up. Whatever you do, don’t fall down and bonk your head on the door, and fall out of the stall. Someone might know that you’re an amateur. And you also might face plant on the bathroom floor. Ouch and gross. There really should be an attendant, standing outside of the bathroom, handing out Popsicles to every girl who completes this task. High five. Your choice: Strawberry Shortcake, Ice Cream Sandwich or Bombpop?

The wet swimsuit bathroom encounter is a pretty close description to how I feel when I put on those god-awful spanx. Why? Oh why? As if it’s not enough torture to wear high heels, someone had to invent those life sucking undergarments that look like you could throw off your dress and then compete in the MS-150. If only you had your bike and water bottle. Heinous, circulation cutting off biking shorts that absolutely take pleasure in making you not slouch, not eat too much and not breathe deeply. But, the positives, how they make you look all smooth and put together under your dress. No, Spanx. Just no. Spanx can’t talk, but if they could they would say, “Don’t eat. Don’t breathe. Sit up straight. Look like you are firm and tight and comfortable.” On the car ride to the wedding, I wanted to throw mine out of the window. Fifteen minutes in and I couldn’t really think about or talk about anything else. I hate those things. Who doesn’t? Probably just the founder/creator. She has made quite a fortune off of making women everywhere feel uncomfortable. If men had to wear them, I’m pretty convinced that they would never attend weddings.

I regretted drinking anything every time I had to go to the bathroom and shimmy out of those angry high-waisted awkward shorts. The first time I went to the bathroom, I thought I had locked the door. Wrong. A girl walked in on me. AHHHHHH! The closest feeling to having someone walk in on you trying to wrestle down Spanx is having someone walk in on you pumping. Pure humiliation. Acute onset of embarrassment paralysis. Next up, apologies abound from both the intruder and me. Please just close the door. I will be out of here in about ten minutes when I get these situated again.

I’m not too good about keeping secrets, I often come down with diarrhea of the mouth. Oversharing. Overtalking. Filling time and space with too much information. I think I may have told one too many people how much I hated those Spanx. I don’t think I would have passed any etiquette classes with that conversation. I can just see my great Aunt scoffing at me. Biting my nails and talking about my undergarments? Sorry, Auntie. It just made me feel a little better. A little more honest. A little more in control than my spanx.

Even though those spanx were somewhat supporting me, I wanted them to know that I do not support them. Quite the opposite. I’m trying to start some sort of revolution. The more women I talk to that say they don’t like them either, the more I think, this protest is gonna be on the news. Off the chain. “Spanx? No thanks.” I have got to come up with a better chant before I call in the crews. In reality, I think I would be the only one that showed up. Who has time to protest Spanx? I would probably leave my homemade signs at home. Along with the Spanx that I was going to wave around in the air.  I would definitely not be wearing them at the protest.

To all of the wedding friends, and my husband, I’m sorry if I talked too much the other night about my Spanx. And sorry, again, to the girl who walked into the bathroom when I was trying to get them down. I should have just taken them off and tried to squeeze them into the little tampon trashcan next to the toilet. That would really show them how it feels to be all crammed up in too tight of a space. But who am I kidding? I’m sure I’ll be wearing them (and talking about them) the next time I need to get all fanicied up. Or better yet, maybe I will let my husband wear them for a change.

Sitting on the Moon


I’ve started a new tradition when I leave work after midnight on Sunday nights. I use my work badge to exit out of the employee garage. Then, I press that germ-infested button with my elbow or pinky finger to exit the second gate. Freedom. From the fluorescent lights. From the painful, beautiful, difficult, life-altering children’s hospital world. I roll my windows down. And turn the music up. Loud. Really loud. I don’t know how to control the bass on my husband’s car, but it’s probably up too high. My butt and ear drums both vibrate. I kind of like it. Oh, how I miss you, Coldplay.

My senses all fight for control. My left arm is hanging out of the window. It feels amazing, wind surfing. The air feels cool outside. It’s loud. Inside, I have the heat on. Guilty pleasure. In between watching the road and driving, my eyes look up and out to the beauty in the dark sky. The moon is gorgeous. It kindly guides me home. First, on the east side of my car, I can see it out of my window. I hold my hand up and it looks like I could grab it. Or touch it. I would love to double bounce myself up there and take a seat on this beautiful, still night. I would dangle my feet over the edge. Maybe have a beer or two to help settle myself down from a long shift. A long weekend. And just wait for the sun to come up. How amazing to see how tiny, yet how gigantic the world is when I’m sitting on top of the moon.

Then, I would gently fall back down tumbling happily from cloud to cloud before my boys wake up. I miss them. Their voices. Their questions. Their faces. It’s two really long days away. Have they grown up? I want to be there for them when they wake up and ask, “do you have to go to work today?” I will happily answer “Nope.” Then, I will tell them all about sitting on the moon. How I saw them sleeping. And how I watched the enormous sun rise. It will be hard for them to believe me. But also really hard for them not to believe the convincing enthusiasm in my voice. Then, they will be bummed that I didn’t take them up to the moon. With me. I just can’t wake them. I can look at them. And kiss them gently. And whisper “I love you.” But, it’s so hard to wake them up, even to come sit on the moon with me. They look so peaceful and beautiful and calm and perfect when they’re sleeping. Their enormous eyelashes, their breathing, their tangled up arms and legs. Just keep sleeping. I will be here when you wake.

I’m singing along the best I can to the airy Coldplay lyrics. I’m even trying to play one-handed steering wheel drums. I’m letting all of the work day craziness fly away. Into the downtown and I-35 breeze created by my car. And the other cars on the road this late at night. We have had the most amazing summer nights. Sometimes, the Bridge plays the most perfect songs, like the DJ knew I would be driving home from work, after midnight.  Other times, I just slide the Coldplay CD in. And I love driving, listening, forgetting, remembering again, then feeling free. So free. These are the kind of nights that make me want to drive forever with my windows down and the music turned up. Forever, then I would need to exit or U-turn back to my house because I miss those boys so much. Those giggly, grouchy sometimes, fighting, then getting along, snuggling, deep question asking, happy, mama loving boys.

Two long twelve-hour shifts away help make me feel extremely grateful and happy to be back. Monday Mama time. It’s rough and exhausting but it’s filled with snuggles, catch-up talks and pure happy to be next to you time. There’s generally some melt-downs and Batman crying on the kitchen floor moments, but I still love it. Because I have missed it. The good, the bad, all of it. Work helps me recognize what an incredible gift I have. This overwhelming, undeserving gift of helping raise three boys. I can’t wait for the sun to rise. I have to bounce down from these puffy clouds and get home to my boys.

103 Freckles


You have gone to nearly a million different places with me over the years, car seat baby, best errand running boy. You walk around the most boring places or actually I carry you most of the time. You’ve gotten pretty heavy, you’re off the growth charts in your almost 4-year-old body. You don’t know this. You ask me a hundred questions a day. Maybe more. Typically, the only one I can answer with confidence is, “will you hold me?” Yes. Until you get too heavy and my back starts to hurt, then I will set you down. In about a minute or so, you will ask, “Mama, will you hold me?” I will pick you back up. Again. And again. Your persistence and sweet voice win every time.

Your big brothers have gone to preschool, elementary school and now they’re going to morning summer camps. You say happily, “Mom, what are we going to do today when June-Asher (Julian and Asher) are at school?” We may go to Target, visit Grandma Fritz, go to the grocery store or we may do something really boring, like go to Firestone. You really never fuss. You find the fun in every place. You’ve always been the most laid-back, easy-going boy. My running errand companion. Sometimes, you’re decked out in a mismatched super hero costume. Other days, like today, you’re wearing two different hand-me down shoes. You say, “I wike a wot of co-wors.” Sometimes you’re wearing a half-pajamas, half normal clothes outfit. And on rare occasions, you have snuck some of your big brothers’ clothes on, since they will be away for a few hours.

We dropped the van off at Firestone to get the tires checked. Nope, we didn’t have an appointment. Somewhat stranded but I knew that air-conditioned waiting room would get boring pretty fast. We walked to Walgreens to get some essentials like bread, poster board, and sunblock. I let you get a cheap bath toy. I knew we needed just one more thing, but I forgot what it was while trying to hold you and the poster board and bread. I didn’t want to squash that bread. You needed to ride on my hip. Slipping down with every step. Like always. “Mama, I’m falling.” Then, I try my best to boost you back up, somewhat forgetting that you can walk.

My phone didn’t ring. The van wasn’t ready so we hung out under a tree. Just you and me. You needed to sit on my lap to play with your new three dollar toy. Then, you asked to “westle.” Wrestle. You love wrestling. You pointed out that the milk truck drove by. I should have remembered that we forgot the milk, but I didn’t. Not until later. You let me count the freckles on your face. All 103 of them. The sweetest freckles. I may have counted a couple of dirt specks too. I love the varying sizes and colors of your freckles. Some brand-summer-sun new, and some there since the spring sunny days. They are perfectly scattered on your cheeks, your nose and your forehead. And a couple on your chin. There’s also the one a little to the left and below your right eye. They may just be one of my favorite summertime traditions. Along with your extraordinarily long bleached tip eyelashes. That I want.

I have a hard time telling you “no”when you’ve been so patient with me and these boring errands. So, I wrestled with you on the grass under that tree. I’m sure it was quite the strange sight, if any of the cars driving by noticed. Just a rare human-being mom and her toddler son playing under a tree on a ninety degree summer day. In the front of a Walgreens parking lot. Laughing and wrestling playfully. Similar to orangutans. Waiting on some tires to get checked out. We eventually walked back to Firestone. Completely covered in grass residue. You told me to just “scwatch”my uber itchy skin. Those “r’s” and “l’s” give you a tough time, but “I wike” the way you say them…”a wot.”

We got in the van and you buckled yourself in. Then, you got to talking. You absolutely love talking while we drive around. You love the Red Bull car. And every motorcycle. And big truck. Your other favorite time to talk up a storm is at nighttime when you’re supposed to be closing your eyes. You never want to close your eyes. In both times and places, there are no brothers around to interrupt or answer the questions that you only intended for me. Tonight, I had to write down your exact words, prompted by that wrestling match with your mama, me. From behind me in your car seat, you said,

“Dad can westle all of us down….But Dad can’t westle God down….God’s the stwongest….I weally wanna be God for Halloween. What does God wook wike? Can I be God for Halloween?

You stumped me again. I don’t know what God looks like, I say. We talk about how strong he is. Your response is, “Him can hold a house. And you. And Daddy.” Yep. Then, we talk about his greatest power is his love. I think God would be flattered that an almost four-year old chose to be Him for a Halloween costume. And I don’t think Costco carries the God costume. I will leave the costume making up to Oma. It may just be her toughest request yet. If you don’t change your mind a hundred times before Halloween. Or if your big brothers don’t influence your costume decisions. I really love our little talks. About big stuff.

Sometimes I’m rather annoyed with car troubles. Especially when it turns out to be something really expensive. Or nothing, like today. However, this morning, with the contagious carefree attitude of the sweetest, most patient little live-in-the-moment boy, I actually enjoyed waiting on our tires to get checked. Under that tree. Just counting freckles and wrestling an enthusiastic wittle boy.

Thanks, Date Night.


I remember you. You’re that guy that I fell in love with. The one that faked the Australian accent. Sorry, Scottish. The guy that I married. And then had three rowdy boys with. I’ve seen you coming in and out of our house, but I haven’t gotten to stop and look at you. Or talk to you. Just you. Without a child asking, tugging on me or demanding for me to find something in the midst of your important story. I remember you now. Oh yeah, I like you. A lot.

Sometimes you go your way. I go mine. Then, we work hard, really hard, to all go somewhere, as a family. Together. We will do this. Coordination and perseverance, baby. Last week, it only took us a few hours to all get out the door. But we did it. Oops. We forgot the bug spray. No turning back. We’re coming, Mosquitoes. Walk a few miles. We’re all together. Jazz in the woods. Yeah. But you’re focusing on those two kids while I got this one. And then we switch. If you push the stroller, then I’ll carry the man child in my “Ergo Baby.” Holy back sweat. Making this memory was a lot of work.

Our schedules are weird, not normal. Our lives are a little hectic. Well, a lot. It’s revolving door, tag team parenting a lot of times. Demanding in so many ways. Family time. Old friend time. New friend time. We have to schedule time together. It requires a conscious effort from both of us to push back on the present and future stresses. Us time. Date nights are crucial. Marriage saving. Stress reducing. And usually a lot of fun, even if one of us tears up at the table.

I’m always exhausted when I need to shower and get ready. Trying to clean up a little for our babysitter. One of the boys is using his action figure to torpedo tampons all over our bathroom. Really? The five o’clock hour. I’ve lost my patience. I want to cancel. And just curl up on the couch. Hire a person to come boil some water for those spaghetti noodles. I have got to pep myself up. Find my legs and get the boys’ (suspect) dinner ready. I hope the effort will be worth it. If now I can only find something to wear. It will be awesome once I can exhale in the car on the way there. And bonus, I can go to the bathroom all by myself in the restaurant. No little commentators. Sweet.

I drive to pick you up at work. I have strategically shoved my co-pilot AKA a lot of papers and crap behind my seat. You open the door and look at me. You tell me how beautiful I look. I think it’s the red lipstick. Then, you don’t want to ruin it but I notice your nose flinch. I left the swimsuits in the hot car….all day. I know, it does smell like a rotten fart. That mildewy smell triggers a great start. We’re both laughing.

Date nights help me to remember you. Why I love you so much. And why I love us so much. There you are. I see you. You’re not coming or going. You’re just trying to make up your mind on what you should order with our kind waitress helping you. Mr. Indecisive Food Orderer Guy. You’re sitting right across from me. Not texting me. Not calling me from a phone or another room in the house. You’re real-live with me. Just me.

Tonight, we used a Christmas present, a restaurant gift card. They’re the best. Especially when we lose them, then, hooray, we find them. I love talking with you and listening to the people around us. It was the kind of restaurant where you sit really close to others. There was the funniest seventy year old foursome sitting next to us. One of the women scolded her husband and he looked at us and apologized to us for cussing so loud. He said he can’t hear very well. We both laughed. No worries. I heard that same man later tell his friend, “Ditto.” Then, his friend said, “I don’t think they’re using that word anymore.” Sorry, Patrick Swayze. I love kid time, family time, time at home, don’t get me wrong. But it’s a fun change to be out with adults, eating good food, drinking wine and unintentionally listening to others’ conversations while trying to have your own.

Thank you for recharging us, date night. Our battery sometimes flickers, or gets out of range. One bar of service type of interactions. I can be a real jerk when we keep missing each other. Miscommunication or just lack of communicating with one another.  I can be short fused. Moody. Perhaps resentful even of the people who get to go to coffee or have a beer with you. And instead of pouring into you, I’m taking everything out on you. I’m sorry. Thanks for always recognizing the symptoms of date night withdrawal. And for making it happen, bringing Siri into the mix and scheduling some “us” time.

We get home. I talk with our babysitter, then our littlest long-napping stinker walks down the stairs. He’s a happy little bed head. And it’s the chatterbox hour. Two out of three boys sleeping. Not too shabby. For summertime. Then the doorbell rings. It’s my husband’s friend from out-of-town staying the night. I pay our babysitter and get our youngest back to bed. Welcome back to our crazy life, however with an adjusted new attitude.  A “we can do this, all of this” attitude. Our battery is charged,  back at 100%. Or pretty close to it.



We sat at a table across from my boys’ principal and I had a post-headache headache. I had gotten less than five hours of sleep. I really felt like I needed to throw up. I would have been okay with puking, but I just didn’t want to cry. Emotional, big decision type of conversations tend to knock heavily on my weakened Monday tear gates. “Keep it together, girl.” I told myself. Passionate=good. Sobbing mess=awkward.

My husband and I had scheduled a meeting with the school principal to talk about first grade options for our twin boys. Whether or not to keep them together in the same class or separate them. Tough growing up stuff. No book can tell you the right decision to make for your children. You know deep down what is best. Maybe. Somewhat similar to the baby teeth that will soon fall out. And be replaced by permanent ones. I knew my boys would not always be together, but that knowledge doesn’t help make the transition easier. I talk about things, cry about things, sometimes write about things and then I tend to work through. Or around or under things.

Ever since we found out we were pregnant with twins, we determined that we would always treat them as individuals, siblings that just happened to hang out in my uterus together. Easier said than done, like most parenting decisions predetermined before you ever have a child. Jinxed it. We didn’t want to raise creepy twins. I know that sounds bad, but we didn’t want their sole identity to consist in being a twin. (Sidenote: A guy asked me on a date my freshman year in college. I was pretty stoked, mainly about the free meal. However, he cancelled last-minute because his twin brother had a headache. Empathetic, maybe too much so for my eighteen year old, Outback Steakhouse loving self. There was no make-up date. Which was okay. I didn’t want to date identical twin brothers.)

We don’t know if our twins are identical because we haven’t done genetic testing. I can think of a million better things to do with $150. It doesn’t really matter if they are or not. They are two very different little people, despite the fact that even they have a difficult time telling each other apart in pictures sometimes. Just recently, Julian saw a picture on the computer from kindergarten graduation and said, “Why is Asher making that face, Mom?” I laughed and said, “That’s not Asher, that’s you, buddy.” He almost wouldn’t believe me until he saw his backpack strap on his shoulder.

We rarely have dressed our boys alike, except in the beginning weeks when we really couldn’t tell them apart. We’re smart like that. Bald scrawny baby boys with matching car seats. Matching blankets, hats, clothes. They were so stinking cute. It makes you feel like a real winner as a first time mom when the nurse ready to dilate their eyes asks you which one is which. Hmmmm. Where are you, sleep deprived insecure first-time twin mom tears? Wait for it. You look down. They are sleeping the exact same way, in the exact same outfit, in the exact same carseat. Bad idea on multiple levels. Ever since that appointment, they have chosen thei clothes, shoes, lack of underwear and favorite everything else.

There are some decisions that we, as parents, have to make for them. It’s a lot of parent pressure, way worse than peer pressure. Indecisivity happens to be one of my strongest characteristics. After our meeting with the principal, we sat in our driveway and my husband asked, “What do you think we should do?” My tears could only be restrained for so long. Permission to cry? Granted. I know what I think we should do. It’s just hard. And I don’t want to do it. I don’t want to separate them. I hate that word. Separate. It hurts me to think they will sit all day in separate classrooms without a brother there. A brother that has always been there. Since those days back in my uterus.

I know I can get oversensitive, overprotective and over psycho-analytical. I hope that we have raised them to adapt, adjust, and thrive. I think I know that they will do great. I think they are not creepy twins, but maybe I am a creepy twin mom. I think I want them to be together forever. Together. There always to stick up for each other, wrestle with each other, laugh with each other, and experience life with each other. All of them. Little brother included in my Peter Pan motherly complex. I half-jokingly told the principal that I would like to be “the catcher in the rye” of sorts playground mom. He probably didn’t know what I was even talking about. I would probably be fired after a day, when I let all of the kids take off their shoes and climb up the slides. I guess I will just have to find another way to get into the school next fall. Until then, I will try my darndest to hold tightly the time my boys all have together.


This Man


God, please help me to remember this moment. This moment when three little boys wrestle with their daddy. And their enthusiasm for “getting him” outweighs any other care in the world. And their father’s dramatic screams and laughs, on his knees, fill my heart with an indescribable amount of love. Pure happiness. Heart spilling joy. To witness a father so thoroughly engaged in his children outweighs the clothes, shoes and dirty dishes everywhere. Every time. And all the broken stuff. The spilled drinks. The door constantly being left open. Wide open. These moments press so heavily on my heart. To be a witness to the joy, the giggles, the music playing in the background of the family room. Dog piled up, three little boys, one giggling father. And me, a happy mother, a proud wife listening in and watching from another room with tear-filled eyes. I don’t want my emotions to ruin it. I’m so grateful and humbled that I get to be a part of this. I am overwhelmed. In the best way. The “what did I do to deserve this?” kind of way. This man. These boys. This house. My heart. So full. Thank you.



We’ve all experienced the wrath of mean kids, I think. Or mean adults. Either firsthand or vicariously through others, maybe now, sadly, even through our own kids’ experiences. There was a boy, Andy, that always called me “Egg Nog” when I was in elementary school. I don’t know why he did it but it bothered me, hurt my feelings. It wasn’t a good nickname. I was a little scared of him. He was scrawny and probably like a boy version of me. Maybe he was being made fun of at home. Maybe he didn’t want to be the target of others. I also got made fun of for my big feet, skinny legs and big teeth. I’m sure a lot of kids made fun of me for plenty of other reasons too. I remember a kid telling me one time that my hair was “growing into a triangle.” Implying that my too thin of hair maybe needed a trim. I think I got a little paranoid after that “bob” my mom gave me and I vowed to grow it out indefinitely. Not the best look, I guess, however my mom could French braid it. My husband constantly had his lunch stolen from him in middle school. He was bullied in more physical ways than me but the punches and shoves seep just as deeply into your emotional gut.Probably deeper. He actually met his best friend in the school bathroom. Mike was being bullied. And my husband happened to walk into the bathroom and say something. His scrawny bodied, thick glasses brave self stood up for the guy who we later named one of our children after.

Kids can be cruel. And so can the parents who should know better. They should recognize that their child keeps hurting other kids’ feelings. Name calling. Bullying. Excluding. Really? Already? My oldest kids are six years old. This seems crazy. And sad. And just wrong. Perhaps a lot of parents are worrying and focused too much on all of the little things. Tunnel vision. Look at the big picture. Does it really matter what your child turns out to be if nobody wants to be around him or her, by choice? I used to get so annoyed with people asking me how my babies slept. Instead of about their personalities or something, anything else. Yeah, if being a good parent consisted of how well your kids slept and ate, I may have been fired a long time ago. I don’t want to just raise a bunch of good sleepers and good eaters. I want to raise kids who are awake, aware, and alive to the life happening around them. The people everywhere. The happy, the sad, the angry, confused, scared, everyone. Awake for the really awesome, joyful, life-giving stuff and the sad, real, painful hard-to-understand stuff too. All of it.

I want my kids to be the ones who include others, look out for others who are alone, defend the weak, the picked on, the silent and scared ones who maybe hope to go unnoticed. I  remember taking my twins to a playground when they were a little over two years old. There were a couple six to eight year old boys playing. My boys wanted so badly to play with these big kids. They followed them around. As quickly and subtly as their little uncoordinated toddler bodies could. And I stayed close, not hovering but within earshot. These two older boys began telling my kids to go away and started calling them names. Their parents did not intervene because they were not even close enough to know what was going on. Despite my irritation and motherly instincts to engage with and say something unkind, I chose instead to question and talk with these boys. I explained why my boys thought they were so cool, they had big cousins that play with them who they love. I told them that they my little boys may learn that “big kids” aren’t nice if they keep calling them names and running away from them. I asked if either of them knew any older kids that they liked to play with. I learned that they both had older siblings. They engaged readily in conversation with me. Still no parent appeared. By the end of our talk, they decided to let my boys chase after them constantly stating their names, because that was about the extent of their conversation skills. I thanked them for letting my boys play, even though they were younger than them.

Last year, I sat with my boys at their future school’s back to school night. It was hard. Eye opening. Unbeknownst to him, one of my hotdog eating sons had ketchup on his face. Two little girls snickered across the table. Relatively harmless but it drew attention to one of my fears. I handed my son a napkin. And I hurt a little, I mean a lot, knowing that I would drop my sweet innocent, protected five year old boys off everyday at this huge school. The littlest kids in the school. I could not begin to know or witness or defend their every move or the words or gestures thrown at them from others. I wanted to put a giant bubble around them. And there were many days when my heart just ached in the pick up line and on the ride or walk home, hearing that they had a bad day, knowing that some kid hurt their feelings. We would talk about it. I would try my best to build them up, but honestly, I didn’t want to send them back the next day. What kind of mom sends her children right back into a lion’s den the day after an attack?

I have had to have serious talks too frequently with my boys lately after incidents at parks. These have provided huge, rather exhausting learning opportunities. I don’t climb up the equipment (usually) but I try to watch and recognize when kids are being unkind, my own included, not allowing others to play, blocking the slide, etc. Then, I typically intervene. Try and make things better, temporarily. My boys and I will talk about things that happened on the way home. Not every time but a lot of the times. I think I feel a little pressure, like I’ve got this small window of time to help explain why its important to treat others with love, acceptance, understanding and compassion. I don’t want the window to close without them recognizing and feeling the difficult yet rewarding side of doing the right thing, the hard thing. Even if that’s walking away sometimes. Or more importantly, walking towards those who need us the most.



“But mom, you always take soooo long to put Colby to bed.” Sharing can be so hard to do, especially at the end of the day, bedtime. And especially when it’s your mama’s affection or maybe protection. Maybe both. Their six-year-old long-legged bodies laying on the floor makes them look so big and so old, yet so innocent still. Like giant babies that have played so hard and waited on that summer sun to set, dodging bedtime, end of the day time. One of them said last week, “it’s not bedtime if the sun is still out.” I agree. It’s hard to lay down when the moon has yet to make a noticeable appearance. And there are no stars yet. How can you say, “I love you to the moon…and all the stars too” if they’re not even out to act as a real-life backdrop. There are toys scattered all over the place. One boy with a Spider-Man slipper on his hand, and his head propped up on his little chair.

I lift the first one up to his bed and whisper next to his ear, “I came back. I love you.” I tuck him in his bed, he doesn’t wake up. I watch the other boy sleep for a bit on the floor in his mismatched, too small of pajamas. He looks so peaceful despite his completely uncomfortable body positioning. I pick him up, hold him so close and walk up the ladder to his top bunk, balancing him the best that I can. How did he get this big? Where do six years go? I can’t let this be the last time I carry his sleeping body to his top bunk bed. Nighttime, sleeping time, can be the most precious time of the day. It’s quiet. I feel so grateful and lucky. And worried that soon they will not ask me to come into their room after I put their little brother to bed. Don’t grow up so fast, I think. I hope. Every once in a while I need to be shaken a little. Pause. Just. Stop. Reminded of the enormous gift of these three little boys living under our roof. Depending on us. It can be challenging to recognize it sometimes in the chaos and never-ending energy of the sunlight hours, but at nighttime, it’s so obvious. They are amazing and beautiful and unique and irreplaceable. And I get to be their mom.

Floor Burns


One of my sons woke up this morning and said, “Mommy, you were pretty good. You were number 14, right?” Yep. It was pretty cute. Maybe I had sweat so much that he had to recognize me by my jersey number. Instead of by my bright red face.

I have bruised and floor burned knees. For some strange reason, I’ve been pulling my pant legs up and showing everybody at work. I think to get some sympathy or some validation or to tell the story or something. It’s not that my many floor burns equate to victories, unfortunately, we lost. Every time I sit down it gets harder and harder to stand back up. My back hurts. I have a new callouse on my right foot. One knee completely gave out on me while I was walking. I am a little uncomfortable. Or a lot. Sore. Everywhere. I really wish that trainer from college could come, even though it was awkward, and stretch my hamstrings for fifteen minutes. Or maybe more.

Sometimes you do crazy things to have fun, meet new people and just help yourself feel youthful again. Also in my case, because I love to compete. In sports. It’s amazing how quickly the adrenaline can wear off making you just feel old. Damn. Old. My poor hibernating basketball muscles quickly awoke to the sounds of whistles and buzzers. Rebounding, defending, finding and passing the ball to the most promising player with the weakest defender. Oops. Letting one too many cuss words escape. Bargaining with the ref to un-call that foul. It was all ball, really. Holy (not) smokes, how many shots can I miss? Insert cuss word again. “Whoa. Slow down. Easy tiger, you’re going to foul out of a fifteen minute game.” I had to remind my active aggressive basketball court self, especially since my Dad wasn’t there. And we only had one sub. I used to always foul once or twice at the beginning of games. Maybe I wanted to grab the ref’s attention, make sure his whistle worked. Or perhaps I just needed to work out some of the jitters and excitement when the clock started. I loved playing basketball. Really loved it. I remembered just how much yesterday.

Something extraordinary happened to my mid-life brain on the basketball court. It got all kinds of excited, like Jock Jams kind of pumped up. It gathered my joints, muscles, and definitely my elbows into a tight huddle, like the coach from Hoosiers. It spoke with passion, “You’re gonna go out there and play like you did in college.” 3…2…1…and boom! The adrenaline flooded my body. Play ball!

I credit or blame that adrenaline for the numerous shots that I threw off of the backboard. Not alley oops, after all. The ball completely neglected to touch the rim. My teammates forgot to dunk them back into the hoop. Several times. If that third little pig was hoping to build his house, I could have supplied all of his bricks. What happened?! I used to be so good, didn’t I? Ummm. Hmmmm. Comparatively speaking, probably yes. I hesitated to tell anyone that I had played ball at a small college. On a basketball scholarship. A full ride actually. Thirteen years ago. Not that anyone asked. They would have just done the “uh, huh. Sure you did.” face.

We were a scrappy team, fighting for boards, holding on to jump balls, and occasionally fouling the crap out of the girl who just got past us. Again. Then, we apologized and helped each other up. All the while laughing in between our desperate attempts at breathing. I am positive that if someone walked around the gym with oxygen masks for breaks on the bench, I would have death-gripped that thing to my face so fast. Breathed in slowly and deeply of that precious air. There is just no good way to get in shape for playing basketball. Truly. Except by playing a lot of basketball.

It’s a pretty awesome euphoric feeling to pick up and do something you loved doing as a kid. The memories flood your brain. You remember the sights, sounds, smells, and touches. It overwhelms your senses, in a really powerful way. I highly recommend competing or participating in sports, extracurricular activities or whatever, as an adult. It’s definitely humbling and equally as much fun as it is painful. Be prepared to leave a little of your skin, pride and a lot of cuss words on the court. The thing is when you’re not feeling so damn old, you remember what it felt like to be young and carefree, like that sport was the biggest deal in the world. Playing ball. Hurling up a last second shot, getting floor burns, put backs, steals, cheering on teammates, sucking wind, feeling like you’re gonna puke and then unlacing your shoes when it’s all done.

We had two tie breakers. Both teams cheered when the opposing team sank the winning shot. We had a blast, even if we lost. I had a girl pat me on the back and tell me, “Way to represent for the skinny girls.” Thanks. I think. Over the next few weeks, I will be feeling the after-effects of that adrenaline surge. My knees will be old lady griping, protesting, maybe giving out on me. I will be feeling sore. Feeling old. Feeling like I shouldn’t do this again next year. But, of course, I will do it again in a heartbeat. That competitive side of me knows that we can do better next year. Work our way out of that losers bracket. I already did a little recruiting for next year. I looked at a security guard and thought, “She looks tough.” Also, I noticed a resident, with a strong base. And even asked an attending if she played ball. Look out, Sprint, Garmin and KU Med Center. CMH 2016. We’re gonna earn us some points.

Yesterday, I sat back and let my brain and muscles kick into auto-pilot mode. I played and felt that passion. I think it helps keep me young at heart. Even with these old tired knees barely holding me up. It’s a pretty awesome feeling when your six-year-old son compliments you and is proud of your best efforts. After he confirms your jersey number. And when all three boys “oooohhhh” and “ahhhhh”at your floor burned knees, that feels pretty good too. I currently hold the title of having the worst looking knees in a house of three active boys. Sweet. They will look stellar in shorts. And if anyone asks, I will probably just say I was diving for loose balls in corporate challenge. Or maybe I will just say I fell off of my bike several times. Or that I forgot to wear my knee pads during my roller derby practice. Yep. That’s the winner.

Late Check-In


Sometimes, well, a lot of times, dangit, all of the time, I arrive late. I can’t blame my kids, though their lack of never knowing where they took their shoes off doesn’t help much. I have been running late my whole life. I think. And I really don’t like being late. I typically get distracted and I think I can pack so many more things into a few minutes. But I guess I can’t, in the end. I know it’s a frustrating tendency. It is not because I don’t value other people’s time. I don’t like attention for being “fashionably late.” I am not fashionable. Please don’t look at me. I’m forgetful, and I strangely remember things at the most inopportune times, like when I should be in the car. On the road. Or already arriving somewhere.

I have been locked out of classrooms, basketball practices, beer tours, and tons of other stuff for being late. These disciplinary measures have not changed me, unfortunately. I get annoyed with myself, so I can imagine that I annoy other people too. Especially the kind who have never been late. Ever. They never run out of gas. Or lock their keys in their car. Or write the wrong date in their planner. Just don’t call me old reliable. It’s okay. I get it. But sometimes, really awesome stuff happens when I arrive late. Like tonight.

I was rather exhausted from a day of garage cleaning, outdoor pool playing, the Minute Clinic(takes more than minutes) with all the boys taking out every Hallmark card and a swim lesson for the boys. I thought “what a sucker” because I had agreed to run the 100 meter dash in the corporate challenge. The guy in charge said,”Not a lot of women in your age group want to run the 100 meter dash.” Really? Pulled hamstrings aren’t cool when you’re 35? I laughed but said I would do it. I even made my husband run sprints with me on the hills of Branson. Tonight was the big night. I used to love watching Flo-Jo run. So, I would just visualize her cheering me on. I needed to drive to the track for my check-in time, you know at 9:00 pm. Yep. When the day is typically over. Awesome time slot. I couldn’t even wear my sunglasses to hide my one zombie eye.

One of my sons wanted to go early with me to warm up on the track and sit by the Children’s Mercy flag on the football field. He remembered watching me run last year. He thought it would be really cool to be down on the field, instead of up in the bleachers. I always love having a companion so I was happy he wanted to ride with me. I knew something was off when we arrived in the parking lot and it was rockstar parking. Last year, I could barely find a spot. We got out of the car and started to walk to the entrance. I guy with a man bun, short running shorts, that also had the slits up the side, told me that we would have to go in the back entrance. He seemed intense, definitely Corporate Challenge material. Maybe a Garmin employee. Okay, I thought. Kind of weird. We walked in and literally there were no people in the stands. Odd again. We walked over to the check-in area which was a concession stand. Nope. It was closed. Lights should have been going off. But they weren’t. Yet.

Ash and I walked down to the infield of the track. We counted five people. No Children’s Mercy flag flying anywhere. Hmmm. I checked my phone. I went to the Corporate Challenge website to make sure that I was at the right location.  Luckily, and ironically, we arrived about 30 minutes early. I had pseudo warmed up and stretched at home. I could probably make it to another track. I read that I was in the right location. Huh. Then, I noticed something odd. The dates for the track events. What was today’s date? It’s so hard to keep track of what day it is, especially in the summer. Ahhhh, last week. The Corporate Challenge track events all took place last week. I was slightly early, but somehow a week late. That may be a new record. Impressive. Looks like no pulled hamstrings for me.

I am pretty certain that I will be blackballed from the CMH corporate challenge track team in the future. Whoops. There’s always basketball. Unfortunately, I would not have been able to run last week anyways due to my sleeping guts. It was better that I forgot because then my guts didn’t even know they stole the Corporate Challenge 100 meter dash away from me. My son and I ended up having the most fun and unexpected outdoor mom/son date. We had races all over the track and on the football field. He’s a competitor. He wanted to beat his mama. We kept “tying” each other. I looked over at the sweet six-year-old boy pumping his arms as hard and fast as he could with his bare feet on the turf and I was proud. I taught him how to get down on your mark, hands on the line. Get set, butt in the air. Then GO!!

We laughed about how nobody was there. Because Corporate Challenge was last week. Then, we went and got ice cream and talked on a park bench outside. There was a guy on a motorcycle, kind of, blasting his music and driving around the parking lot. My son asked me why his music was so loud. I told him that sometimes when a really good song is on, you just want everybody to hear it. And all you want to think about is that song. Then, I told him we could listen to music really loud with the windows down on the way home too, if he wanted to. He loved that idea.

It was the best kind of date. Outdoor, cheap, impromptu. He got to see the old apartments his dad and I lived in. I thanked him for coming with me to the track. He thanked me for the ice cream. I reached back and held his hand outside of my window, as his was hanging outside of his window. At that stop light on Johnson Drive. We listened to music loud with the windows rolled down, when he wasn’t talking my ear off. Telling me about babies feet and how small they are. And about how we need to get another dog for Gizmo so he won’t be lonely. Asking or telling me proudly that he’s the only one out of his brothers who got to see our old apartments. And so on and so on. Special one on one moments. Carved out unexpectedly by my scatter-brained tendencies. And forgetfulness.

When I say that I won’t ever forget tonight. Really, I mean it. And I am quite certain my son won’t either. I think my brain may be holding so many of these most precious fleeting moments and memories that sometimes it just gets maxed out. It forgets things. Times, dates, sometimes doctor’s appointments. It all works out for the best, though, most of the time. If I can just relax and stop beating myself up for a minute and notice the really special opportunities dropped down, right in front of my face. And quickly grab them up before they are gone.