Sunday, October 16, 2011

These days it seems to me that no cliche is more true than "like sands through the hour glass, so are the days of our lives".  Recently my days have metamorphosed from hauling infants and herding a gaggle of small children from place to frustrating, time consuming place; to hauling big boys and herding a gaggle of men-in-the-making to and from all the places they need to be.  My conversations circle more around material possessions like cell phones, video games, music and large quantities of food than pirates and action figures.  Even my 4 year old baby is more interested in what's on Netflix than building with blocks.  Daily searches for pubic hair, lose teeth, soccer cleats and swim goggles have left me reeling lately, struggling to orient myself to the fact that I have entered a new phase in mommy-hood.

Pretty soon all four of my precious boys will be too big for me to carry, too interested in the outside world to sit and ponder a bug crawling across the floor, and far too big to spend all of their time with me and I'm a little sad about that.  Never more have I desired to capture who they all are at this very moment and lock it away in a jar and put it on a shelf.  I want to bottle their sweet toothless smiles, the naivete that Joe and I are the authorities on everything, and their amazing belly laughs as they discover each other's sense of humor.  I want them all to remain untouched and un-jaded by the world to know that they are loved regardless of what they do, and remain true to themselves.

Life has always seemed to move fast since I conceived my first child (except, maybe, all those sleepless nights).  We seem to always be riding the waves of organized (mostly) chaos, but in the past 3 months or so I find myself trying to catch my breath more often from day to day as they all melt into weeks and months.  I look at new parents with a nostalgia that I never imagined I would possess and feel a little sad that those days are gone.

I am at the dawning of the age of teen spirit, I hope I can only maintain my memory of what that was like and impart the wisdom that needs to be given.  I do wish I could put a cork in the hour glass for awhile and take this all in for a time.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Birthday Wishes

Today I am going to depart from my cleanse updates, I acknowledge that my 21 day writing streak ended about 2 days in--I should've known better.  However today I am pausing and dedicating this post to two of my best friends.  One whose birthday passed almost two months ago and one whose birthday is today.  This is the second year in a row where finances are extremely tight to say the very least and sadly not even my husband received a gift either year.  Last year I began writing poetry again after a decade long hiatus and I wrote this poem with both Libby and Tasha in mind following one of the darkest times in my life.  These two women have been unshakingly loyal and honest for years and my plan was and is to create something beautiful for them containing this poem and send it to them for their birthdays.  However life and all it's details and pace has left these projects unfinished and on the very back burner in reality.  Tash and Lib, I love you both more than you can know and today I, in my meager humanity, honor you.  Thank you for the women that you are and for who you are in my life.  Happy Birthday!

Standing on this rocky ground changed eyes
seeing what is being found. Staring back
down that twisted path, crooked is this traveled way.
Still, gazing on that hazy road you have helped  to carry this load.

My God has given you to me and so gratitude does overflow.
You must know that through rocks in the valleys
I have tread, the soul Christ placed inside your heart
has given strength as mine bled.
Truth spoken echos softly as a whisper
Reminding me He desires for us all to prosper.

Sister. Paths of joy and miles of sorrow
a ribbon you wind through these canyons
declaring to me His hope of tomorrow.
Hear these words that you have blessed your sister in these darkest hours.
Shown His face as the world turned sour, strengthened faith
and shown a light on His redeeming power.

Today I feel that it is gone, the heaviness has not won.
Darkness has vanished you see the troubled heart has been set free.
This road though hard--worth what He's creating in me.
As I move past this gnarled road
I cannot forget how your spirit reflects His face.
Sister. Your voice forever echos his grace.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mother's Day

         I’d like to thank the Davis County Public School system for a wonderful Mother’s Day.  For providing 3 out of 4 of my children with handcrafted, thoughtful gifts that will be cherished for years to come--if I remember to store them away in a safe place.  I will admit that Mother’s Day for me has been an interesting, supposed Me centered, holiday seemingly contrived by the greeting card, flower, and chocolate industries to guilt men and children into spending money on the mothers in their lives.  The practical part of me resents this holiday the way I resent most holidays for the overtly materialistic, obligatory and detached way we as Americans enter into holidays in general.  I’m not a big fan of guilt being the driving force for attention or gifts.  Now don’t get me wrong, I love to see fresh cut flowers provided for me and packages wrapped up in a beautiful and creative way just for me, it’s just hard for me to get super excited about something that seems obligatory.
Most years as Mother’s Day approaches I have been filled with thoughts like ‘it’s not a big deal’ and ‘it’s just another day’ truly, but as the day arrives and it is actually treated more or less like an ordinary day a little bit of sadness enters my heart and feelings overflow of wanting to be celebrated for this damn hard job that I have been dedicated to for 12 years now.  I want my morning to begin with a chorus of adorably dressed male-folk surrounding my bed with delicious coffee and breakfast that took way too much time and effort to make.  I want, at every turn, these same males praising my every move highlighting--just for a day--how their lives would not be the amazing lives that they are without me.  I want no arguing, complaining or strife on any level and I want gifts--books, drawing pads, jewelry and expensive clothing.  You see as much as I resent Mother’s Day, I really do want the commercialized and contrived holiday images I see on T.V. for the weeks leading up to that day.  But the reality is that will never happen, for a variety of reasons most of which surround finances and the fact that our lives (Joe’s and mine) are filled up with the day to day--feeding, clothing and nurturing to the best of our ability these boys that have made us parents.  I’m sure I could put it all on Joe to make the day fabulous, however that would mean that on Father’s Day I would have to do the same thing for him and I won’t for the exact reasons he doesn’t--we’re just too busy living life.
So through the years I have come to accept that the public educational system my children are blessed to have access to, will be the one’s supplying my gifts on Mother’s Day.  I have received very cute, tear jerking poems, fake plants, real plants that end up dying within a week and wooden jewelry with gaudy plastic jewels glued on them--along with a variety of other gifts.  The thing that I love about these gifts mostly is the insight they give me on what my children’s perspective is on me.  They usually all make some sort of statement about where we are in life and who I am in my kid’s lives.  Typically it is I who has to read between the lines and ask questions about the creative process, etc.  But this year was a little different because the 5th grade project that my oldest was required to complete was pretty big.  It demanded dedication, time and effort in a creative way that, in the end, would have, could have spoke to his entire year being a Fifth Grader.  A culmination of sorts, comb bound and containing 23 individual works of art, that would reflect the art education he is receiving.
The basic idea of the project is that the cover and every other page had a beautiful and time consuming string art design that was accompanied by a poem, prompted by the teacher, but an original work by the student.  As I admired the cover containing a beautiful butterfly and then turned to the apple which marked Fall, the pumpkin, you get the idea.  But as I turned over the pumpkin I saw a blank page followed by three more blank pages, and I began to chuckle realizing that the year started off strong and then priorities lapsed.  After the four blank pages there was a clover, followed by a kite, flower and the grand finale--the author page with a circle line design framing Solomon’s picture and the “about the author” section.  We all had a little laugh as Solomon sighed saying, “I’m so glad that is over, now I don’t have to stay in at free-time any more!”  Basically, “Happy Mother’s Day, Mom, glad that pressure is off!”  Another Mother’s Day passed and it was beautiful having my family around most of the day and being able to share it with my own mom.
However, Monday morning as I flipped through the book a second time I realized that all the blank art pages did have poems attached, which is when I also realized that they were original and written by Solomon.  They started off easy and prompted but then I got to the poem on blank page #3, it was untitled and read:
My mom signed me up for tennis
I really hated it
I didn’t do so well
I went to my first match
I did horrible
We did back hand drills
The match was embarrassing
Thanks mom
Wow! uuhhh.... hum... ok...??
Then I turned to the page containing the clover, it said:
If I had a four leaf clover I’d make a wish for you...
A full tank of gas
Boys that wouldn’t fight
A hot tub
A house that would clean itself
And insurance
That’s how much I love you!
I mean who wouldn’t want a never ending full tank of gas, children that didn’t fight, a hot tub and a house that would clean itself?   That would be great!  But I was taken aback by the mention of insurance, insurance.  That statement highlighted, in an instant, our current state of chaos which is: climbing out of a really tough situation slowly and going without what most people consider basic necessities.  Thanks to public assistance our children are covered, but Joe and I are currently uninsured and have been for over a year.  I guess I could go on about the health care crisis or be angry at corporations (namely the one my husband worked for, that dropped us like flies at our lowest point), or the cost of health care or ObamaCare, but that’s not the point.  My struggle is that this struggle has trickled down into the psyche of my children and in that moment I realized that they feel the struggle and put it into their world, even in their poetry.  
It made me a little sad that Solomon wishes he could provide insurance for our family and that he realizes the importance of it and the sacrifice we have made.   I wish that the dream of what Mother’s Day could be or, even the reality of people trying desperately to make it a special day, would erase the real struggle of being a parent.  But it doesn’t.  Being a parent is hard on every level and there are men and women out there every day trying their hardest to make life great for their kids.  Having children means making unselfish decisions and living with the consequences of our humanity--which shows up in poetry on Mother’s Day.  Just being an average, ordinary parent with average, ordinary kids is *bleeping* hard.  Your guilt and regret is real when you realize your shortcomings.  So here is to all of those mom’s and dad’s out there struggling today, thank you on behalf of your children who probably will never fully realize your struggle whatever it is, even if it is only guilt about tennis lessons.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


         So I freaked out yesterday.  Something that if my husband witnessed, he would refer to for many years to come as "an episode".  I've had a few episodes in our twelve and a half years of marriage, and from time to time he likes to reference them in casual conversation--something I don't so much appreciate.  Probably because it is my flesh at it's worse and I kind of pride myself on maintaining my cool in crisis situations, which is probably my first mistake.  You see my mom has had some pretty serious health issues which has added a lot to my already full plate.  It's been somewhat horrifying to confront the thoughts that run through my head as I get a glimpse of my future taking care of an aged parent sooner than I would have expected.  She is going to be fine, but the truth of the matter is that I selfishly want her to be fine and independent forever--a reality that doesn't exist.  She will get older and I will be the one to care for her.  On top of that I have a husband that has struggled with chronic health issues for seven years, and when his debilitating symptoms rear their ugly head, I will occasionally have horrible thoughts of being alone and raising my four boys alone while the man I love more than anything wastes away in a chair.
           Consequently, as those two very blaring realities collided while Lucas "the Freak" dog was being entirely too naughty and the 'to do' list juxtaposed to the ongoing bank balance crisis was spinning in my head, tears streaming down my face I sat in my car insulated by glass and a nice big garage-- and screamed.  I mean I really lost it.  I guess I was screaming at God.  In that moment I very much wanted Jesus to appear on the hood of my car.  I wanted physical contact with Him, to see what I envision as a sweet calm expression looking back at me.  I wanted Him to grab me by the hand and gently lead me inside and heal all the brokenness.  That of course did not happen so I continued on to the grocery store to pick up some prescriptions and a few ingredients for the cooking project I had planned on doing.
        Now, I am not an ambitious cook.  I like to cook and at one point, early in my marriage, I had a small obsession with Martha Stewart and Williams-Sonoma.  That has faded as the number of my children has grown and the size of my expendable income has shrunk, but recently I have had my desire to create something more that fancier Macaroni & Cheese or a healthier chicken nugget grow.  Mostly because I have been surrounded by people who truly love to cook.  Not only do they love to cook but they love me and my family even though we are almost always in some sort of needy state that can't be fixed.  This crazy conglomeration of humanity has poured themselves out onto my family in a way I could have never imagined.                
       So before the episode occurred yesterday morning I had planned on making Potato Knishes after being inspired by a friend who has a very cool food blog.  You see, she and I both have husbands rooted in Judaism and she made some Matzo Ball soup to honor that side of her family, her post made me realize how much I miss good Jewish food.  Living back East there is not a shortage of great Jewish Deli's and my mother-in-law is a great cook, but the Beehive State is somewhat lacking in this category of fine food.
      I know this story is a little round about, but I do have a point and that point is that even though I had not recovered from my "episode" fully as I began to prepare these tasty little 'buns' filled with potatoes, as I peeled the potatoes, cooked the onions, kneaded the dough and prepared the egg wash I felt renewed.  I pressed my frustration into that dough and imagined the ancestors of my husband and their suffering.  I connected to, in real time, what I have been studying in Exodus.  God calling His people, pulling them out of their suffering, not taking it away fully but still calling them His.  Giving them His law and His way of doing things and allowing them to be apart of it regardless of their flesh, their episodes and their doubt.  I was comforted by the promise that in my messed up, all to human state, that I too am called by Him.  I made comfort food.
        I still wish Jesus would've descended
into my kitchen, that I could have poured him some $9 wine and served him a delicious Knish with gravy and cried.  But instead my boys came home from school and gobbled them all up--a little to my surprise.  Yesterday sucked on one level, I felt totally out of control, my mind went to dark places but my cries were heard and prayers were answered, stories for another day.
For more amazing info on amazing food, especially local SLC check out the Vintage Mixer.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Resurrection Wonder

I wonder how it felt to see Jesus on that dusty road to Emmaus?
To say you knew Him when He walked among us?
To see Him whole and perfect standing on that road
I wonder about and envy, those who got to see
To hear His voice and see His face--the man from Galilee.
I wonder how it felt to see Jesus, to share some fish and wine with God?
To touch His hands and see His side and hear Him say those words.
They say, that even then, some did not believe.
Do you think He touched them gently and His love they did receive?
Did Mary weep and hug her friend knowing it was true?
That God did so love the world and chose to enter in,
To put on flesh and be betrayed because of our own sin.
I wonder if birds sang more beautiful than before?
If the sun shone brighter on that desert lakeside shore?
If hands did grasp and hearts did gasp as He called them all his friends.
Do you think they even thought about this New Kingdom lens? 
I wonder how you respond to such amazing love?
To understand that God did leave his throne above, 
To walk down that broken road and carry His own cross,
To die for you and pay the price so you would not be lost.
Does it make you want to love your neighbor and with those you don’t agree?
I pray our eyes are open to those we do not see.
I pray that from our eyes all those scales would soon fall
Our hearts would change, our minds renewed---to give our love to all.

Monday, February 7, 2011


I want to create.
To be creative like Picasso or Bach or Dave
or the guy in Times Square who bends
Forks into dragons.

I want to create.
The unquenched desire almost chokes me--
driven back into the belly
and I realize that I have created

Children who need stuff like food
and clean clothes and love.
And while I steal away a moment
to let energy out on tablets of white
and blue lines Owen, three year old
Super Boy in Batman underwear
is riding my Ugg boot like a horse.

And I fight back the frustration
of responsibility and chuckle
at this creation.

While I day-dream about building
beautiful objects with my hands,
Judah is mad that life isn't turning out
the way he planned, that being five
sucks and nothing is fair. I nod
that in fact that is the truth, life
is not fair and we don't get what we want
because we are empty.

And I want to create.
To make lanterns out of wine bottles
and poems that give life or perspective
to those a few steps behind.
I want to pour out something beautiful
that is God made and be filled.

But Owen wants to help and be a part.
To chew gum with me. "Mom, are you
going to get me some?" And he sings
a tune and doesn't stop talking.
And motherhood seeps in, and he licks
my finger to draw me out of my page
with his saliva and gooey tongue.

I want to create.
Truth is, I have created people
which seems ordinary.
And Judah protests the injustice of life
with his backpack on his head.
And while he confronts his loss
BBQ flavored potato chips
make everything better and as salty-
sweet crunch permeates the room,
I need to do laundry.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

I have a five year old son whom I love more than words can express, but several times throughout the day for the past four years I've mostly wanted to throw him out the window. Judah is a sweet, loving, funny boy that makes me have visions of freaking out the way Steve Martin freaks out in all the scenes he freaks out in. At times he makes me want to detach my body from my soul, but there is something about that boy, a sweetness that could almost be described as innocent--a beautiful wonderment that overtakes his expression, and is probably his saving grace. The knowledge and memory of his potential sweetness has saved him in the moments when he is lying face down on the driveway squealing a slightly inaudible stream of sound at the realization that, yet again, the world does not orbit himself and we won't be going to Wendy's for lunch either. Again.

Having your hardest child be the third boy in a line of 4 boys is somewhat unnerving. In many ways you've "been there, done that" all too often, maybe a cockiness sets in as having babies becomes a familiar event. Boy number three is a breeze, you would think--but I have come to believe that being boy number three out of four can be a sucky place. Rarely do you get anything new--Judah lives for anything new, he's even begun to settle for new clothes filling the want void in his soul. He knows that I am way more likely to give in to something needed and practical, he is fully aware that we are on a very tight budget, so now he has developed a highly encouraged fashion sense (encouraged by me)--and he's quite good at putting together a wardrobe. His look is a little punk mixed in with a preppy's love for a good collar.

So tonight as I snuck up into his room to say goodnight one last time, I realized that he had hidden under his covers with two glowing lights reading a classic compilation of Dick and Jane. My mother-in-law gave my eleven year old this book when he was learning to read and he hated it. My 8 year old had similar feelings, although for very different reasons, of course. But Judah has just begun reading and he can read this book, and he loves it. Listening to his quiet phonetic stutters spilling out from his outpost on the top bunk was almost too much for my heart to take. One thing that being number three is: one word-- determined. And in that candid moment hearing him reading on his own I felt him slipping away a little bit more. Slipping in to a big boy. He is going to grow up and stop licking things when he's mad or melting into a puddle of limbs and groans when disappointment comes and when the day comes when he pushes himself out the window of my shelter I think I might miss these days.