The Tooth Fairy Chronicles {a guest essay for Kindred Mom}

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 {an essay from The Drafting Desk}

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 {an essay from The Drafting Desk}

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