Not what you expected? Don’t miss the magic

When I was pregnant with my firstborn, I was ninety-eight percent convinced I was carrying a boy.

I couldn’t tell you why—but I was quite sure. And you know better than to argue with a pregnant lady.

So when the ultrasound tech confidently declared, “Girl!” I blinked, perplexed, and looked at my husband, Dan. Girl?We were certain they would find boy parts, not girl parts, on that fuzzy black and white screen.

As one of five sisters, I was over the moon at this news. A little girl! I knew how to do girl stuff. This could be good. The names we’d been tossing around probably weren’t going to work, though.

As it happened, by the time we got to our car in the parking lot of the doctor’s office, my imagination had taken off again. I could just picture our little girl: a tiny brunette with dark brown eyes, like mine. (Fast-forward a bit, and the girl is blonde as can be, curls aplenty, with the most beautiful green-gray eyes.)

By that point—18 weeks of not being able to keep food down, glow nowhere to be found—you’d think I would have caught on that none of this was under my control.

Please click here to read the rest of this essay for Kindred Mom’s Comparison & Contentment series. I’m honored to be a Writer-in-Residence on the Kindred Mom team this fall! 

Kids live here

I’d like to invite you into my home for a minute. Come on in!

Oh! Those are just milk and orange juice stains on the couch, but if you’d rather sit in one of the chairs, you can move those Legos! (That couch has also been with us through two newborns and two potty-trainings, but I’d never bring this up in front of you, my guest.)

Anyway. Can I get you a glass of water, or maybe a cup of coffee?

The living room floor, as you can see, is a little cluttered—watch out for the stack of library books, the Shopkins “setup” (please don’t touch that), the train whistle, the Magna Doodle, and those Crate & Barrel throw pillows I splurged on a few years ago. (I thought for sure we’d be able to keep them in good shape, but as it turns out they make the perfect lily pads for child-size frogs when the rug is a pond.)

Don’t worry about using a coaster. No, seriously.

Please click here to read the rest of this essay for Kindred Mom’s Cultivating Home series. I’m honored to be a Writer-in-Residence on the Kindred Mom team this fall!


“Less house, more home” sign in photo above is from Chalk Full of Design.

Just eat something

I don’t like to label my kids, but sometimes you’ve got to call it like you see it, and what I see are a couple of picky eaters.

This doesn’t surprise me much—I’m a picky eater too. In my defense, as an adult I eat a whole lot more than my childhood staples of peanut butter and jelly, macaroni and cheese, buttered noodles, sour cream and onion Pringles, and salad. (I use the term salad loosely, because I’m not 100 percent sure that iceberg lettuce drowned in Hidden Valley Ranch counts.) And for my kids’ part, they both eat foods that as an adult, I still steer clear of.  

Even so, I feel the need to offer a disclaimer: If you’re looking for words of advice or practical tips on getting your kids to broaden their palate horizons, you might need a different essay from a different mom.

I can, however, offer you a fist bump or a high five or a hug, whichever you prefer, and some solidarity if you, too, find yourself dreading dinnertime because feeding little people can be hard.

Please click here to read the rest of this essay for Kindred Mom’s Around the Table series. I’m honored to be a Writer-in-Residence on the Kindred Mom team this fall!


The Tooth Fairy Chronicles

My oldest daughter lost her first tooth—bottom front—a little over a week past her sixth birthday. We’d been waiting for that tiny, wiggly thing to fall out for far too long. I went jelly-legged every time she showed me how she could push it all the way forward and back with her tongue. (What is it about loose teeth that makes me feel like I need to put my head between my knees?)

Our excitement and anticipation over the Tooth Fairy’s first visit was palpable.

Did I mention that this child of mine is the queen of bric-a-brac, a collector of Important Items? Recently evicted baby teeth, we were about to learn, were very important…

I’m delighted to be a contributor to the Kindred Mom blog today with a fun little piece about Tooth Fairy correspondence. Please click here to read the rest!

Writing scared

I’ve been afraid.

And tired.

And tired of being afraid.

I used to spend my weekday mornings, when the girls are both at school, writing—often with a sense of urgency. If I don’t get these words out of my head, where will they go? When there’s a story tickling my brain and I choose to ignore it, I become a highly irritable, overly sensitive person. So typically, for the sake of my emotional health (and that of everyone around me), I am obedient to the nudge: Write it down. Somewhere. Anywhere!

But with the exception of one essay for The Drafting Desk and a handful of random sentences scribbled on scraps of paper, I have written nothing down since December. Not the blog post I’d had swirling in my mind about the books I read last year, not the thoughts I was doing battle with about choosing a word of the year, not the advent insights that are no longer timely.

None of it.

You know what I’ve been doing instead? Here’s the gist. I’ve spent my time:

Repainting various rooms of our home
Organizing my desk and shelves
Planting seeds in pots in my backyard
Rearranging furniture
Switching out random pieces of home décor—mirrors, prints, lamps, curtains, wreaths
Listening to podcasts
Watching [garbage] TV series on Netflix
Knitting squares for a someday-blanket

Mostly (sans Netflix), they’re innocent things. Not harmful. Good, even. And in all of those activities listed (again, sans Netflix), there are stories and eye-opening lessons that God has been teaching me. But instead of writing them, I’ve buried them. Continue reading

Shake it free

This essay first appeared in the January 20, 2018 issue of The Drafting Desk.

Back in October, I embarked on a self-prescribed assignment to pay more attention to the world around me—to look up more, to notice subtle changes, to really see.

Naturally, this led to me making a lot of observations about, well, trees. Let’s just say I took the looking up thing quite literally.

Well brace yourselves, friends, I’m about to talk trees again.

Hurricane Irma thundered through our neighborhood last September, and though cleanup has long since ended, evidence of a storm lingers: mismatched shingles, blue tarps draped across still-leaking roofs, gaping spaces between yards where fences used to separate one person’s property from another, and stumps—so many stumps!—where grand oaks and sycamores and sweetgums used to tower. Continue reading

Peace, joy, and cheese balls

This essay first appeared in the November 20, 2017 issue of The Drafting Desk.

Every Thanksgiving Day, my side of the family gathers at the same home we moved into when I was five and participates in one of our most sacred and meaningful holiday traditions.

My four sisters, husband, niece, nephew, and brothers-in-law (and now, my own children too), circle up, lay down some ground rules, and begin… our annual cheese ball competition.

That’s right—not joining hands and going around the table saying what we’re thankful for, not baking pumpkin pie together, not making handprint turkeys with the kids.

No, we commemorate this day of gratitude by lining up to take turns seeing how many cheese balls we can consecutively catch in our mouths. (Three misses, and it’s on to the next player.)

I’ll wait while you pin the idea to your Thanksgiving board on Pinterest. Continue reading

Day 31: Paying attention as a way of life

I struggled to think up a topic for the Write 31 Days challenge this year. It was on September 28th, during a brainstorm text session with my sister Ashley, that the seed was planted in my mind.

“Maybe it’s something like a practice in gratitude,” I typed. “31 days of paying attention.”

It could have meant a lot of different things. My immediate thought was that it would likely translate into taking note of beauty in the mundane of my daily life and being thankful for it.

That felt doable.

Or, I thought, if nothing else, it would be good practice in descriptive writing and then in forcing myself share whatever I came up with, even if it felt too raw and unfinished.

Both of those turned out to be true, but somewhere around day eight I understood there would be more to it. This journey might lead me somewhere unexpected. Continue reading

Day 30: The Red Dragon

Approximately two hours of my average day are spent in the car—that is, my minivan, dubbed the Red Dragon when we brought it into our family almost seven years ago.

The van makes a cameo in many of my stories (like this one just the other day). It’s where the conversations happen, where the singing happens, where my children still occasionally nap, and where they like to ask hard questions about life and faith while I’m trying to deliver them safely to our next destination. Being in the Red Dragon brings out the best and the worst in all of us, drivers and passengers.  Continue reading

Day 29: Two Sunday afternoons

It was crowded, windy, and surprisingly cold. Everything was a bit overpriced. The food trucks had run out of staple items—it was the afternoon of the last day of the fall festival. The petting zoo contained one horse, a bunny, and a pig. The pony ride line was an hour long. The pumpkin patch wasn’t a patch at all, but rows of pumpkins lined up on bales of hay. The kids argued over who got to ride in the wagon, which was becoming more and more cumbersome to pull around. The little one cried off most of her face-paint because the hot, fresh donuts weren’t chocolate. We had to park really, really far away.

Or. Continue reading