Circle Time


Well, yes dear. That certainly is a set of more than 6 circles. Now if only you had applied the same creativity and extra effort to your writing homework…



“Well??!!” he exclaimed. “I was trying to use all those words!”

“Ok, so maybe you try ‘I was at home and then I went to school, where I saw my teacher and gave her an apple. Then I saw my principal…” I started.

“Who had a monkey on his shoulder!” my husband added in.

“And that monkey handed me a book to read! It was the weirdest thing ever,” I finished. “Isn’t that a much more interesting story?”


“When they tell you to use all the words, it’s still ok and probably a good idea to use other words too, sweetheart.”

Gotta love first grade.


Children make life hell sometimes. Don’t worry. I can love and cherish and be unable to imagine life without them and still feel this way. Because it’s true. Life might be less colorful but it’d be easier and more predictable and more… in control.

I have trouble with sleep. I’m always tired during the day, sometimes to the point of barely functioning. I don’t have any trouble falling asleep – it’s staying asleep for a reasonable amount of time that eludes me. I wake up several times during the night and I tend to wake up about 4:30 every morning – regardless of whether I went to bed at nine or midnight.

When I wake up during the night, I often have trouble falling back asleep. Especially if my brain starts spinning. For this reason, my doctor and I are trying medication for stress to see if it improves my sleep. My sleep situation is my top health priority right now.

What does that have to do with my children?

Let me tell you.

You expect sleepless nights and fatigue when they are infants. You know that for a period of time that is much longer than you think you can survive, they will wake you up every night and you will have to go feed them, rock them, hold them.

And then there’s the period after, when you get to sleep without disturbance most nights. But every once in awhile, more frequently than you’d like but not every night, a child comes into your room or screams from their bed. To tell you he needs to go potty. To tell you she had a bad dream. To try to wheedle her way into your bed for the rest of the night. To cry about the scary thunderstorm.

But eventually, he learns to just go to the potty without coming to tell you about it. She rolls over and goes back to sleep and waits until morning to tell you about the bad dream. She quits trying to sleep with you when it never works. He learns the thunderstorm won’t hurt him and begins to sleep through it.

By the time your youngest child is nearing seven years old, you no longer expect to be disturbed at night. You fool yourself into believing you have your sleep schedule under control. And then they deviously shatter your illusion. Ruthlessly. Mercilessly.

I went to bed early last night. I had sat on my bed from 8 until nearly 8:45, listening to said near seven year old read a Frog and Toad story to me. All 60+ pages of it, in careful, practiced monotone without consistent pausing at periods and with only a few word stumbles. He’s doing great and I’m very proud of him. It’s also kind of mind-numbing and lulling.

I was ready for bed after putting him to bed. So, at 9:15, I retired and fell quickly asleep. I was excited about the possibility of a good night’s sleep. That’s when it always happens. Sleep. Will. Be denied.

Around midnight, I was dragged from the deepest, darkest recesses of sleep by an electronic rooster crowing. I was confused and disoriented. As I slowly and painfully joined the world of the living, I tried to interpret what was happening. An alarm. So it must be time to wake up. But who’s alarm? And why isn’t my husband in bed if it’s morning?

Where is the alarm coming from? Not my room. Not the boy’s room – theirs is a much quieter beeping sound. Not the girl’s room. Hers is even quieter. And both are always quickly silenced. This damn rooster is still crowing. From the living room? Where?

No one seemed to be moving. Except the dog, whose claws I could hear clicking on the floor as she wondered about the rooster too. Then I heard movement and the rooster silenced. My husband? Did he set the alarm? Why?! And why the rooster? He knows I consider that particular alarm sound to be evil. And why the living room when he knows my sleep issues and he was sewing at the far other end of the house? Why?

My heart fell and I felt hopelessly sad and defeated. My dear friend sleep had left me for good. I wouldn’t be falling asleep anytime soon. I finally decided that I might as well go ask him what was going on.

He was, indeed, at the other end of the house, adjusting sleeve and pant lengths on band uniforms for the high school and listening to music that I couldn’t hear until I opened our bedroom door. He had his back to me as I approached. I began to think that maybe I had imagined the rooster. What would I do if he hadn’t heard it? What if I had advanced to waking myself up with imaginary sounds? What then?

Hesitantly I asked him, “Um. Did you hear… a rooster a few minutes ago?”

He burst out laughing and turned with a smile, “Did you like that?!”

“No,” I said without a trace of humor. “It woke me up. I was so deep asleep that I was confused and couldn’t figure out what was going on.”

“Well, I was confused too and I wasn’t asleep. Hal apparently set several alarms on his tablet.”

Boom. Just like that. A curious kid had accidentally or purposely set some alarms, not comprehending the full effect of his actions. Not understanding time, or A.M. vs. P.M. He was just playing. And now I was awake. Children make life hell sometimes.

“I turned them all off,” my husband continued. “He had another one set for one and another for four, I think.”

I must have looked defeated.

“Would you like a hug?” he asked.

I took the hug but didn’t cheer up.

“You know how much I hate that rooster,” I said.

“I know honey. I’m sorry.”

I returned to bed, where I composed this blog post a dozen times in my head before returning to the land of slumber. I slept through my husband coming to bed some time later, and only woke up once that I know of before my alarm went off. But I can tell that today will be an exceptionally tired day.

I was resting on my bed, talking to Jane, when the boys’ alarm went off. I raced into the room, flipped on the light, and as Daryl tried to return to his bed, I yelled, “Cock-a-doodle-doo, Hal Monkey!!”

He began to laugh.

I started with good humor but firmly told him how big of a problem it was. He knew the alarms were set and was proud of it, although I’m still assuming he didn’t understand when they’d go off.

I won’t be able to try going to bed early again until at least Sunday. Last night was to be a rare treat.

Rare treat, indeed.

Time To Meet The Boy

So… how to write about my daughter’s boyfriend? Especially knowing that 1) she reads my blog, 2) she has shared my blog posts with the young man, and 3) some of my opinion is formed from information that maybe I’m not supposed to have. That’s been my quandary for the last week. But, really, I can’t just throw out there that she’s bringing a boy home to meet us and I’m anxious about it and then not fill you in on the results.

I wrote about my worries Thursday evening (the post ran Friday morning), before going to the high school to pick her up after the JV football game. Jane isn’t interested in football – at all, but Brent (not his real name) is on the JV team. When I arrived, she texted that she wanted to say hi to him before she left. I sighed – they were just then running off the field to the locker room. I’d be sitting in the car for a bit.

Eventually, though, I saw her walking toward me with a young man beside her. Guess I’m actually meeting him tonight, I thought. He leaned in through her door to shake my hand and introduce himself. He was a bit awkward and obviously nervous, but he was very polite and left a good impression. After saying good-bye to me and saying he’d see me Saturday, he turned and gave Jane a hug before walking away.

“So we’re at the hugging stage, are we?” I asked.


“But you aren’t his girlfriend?”


We talked (and laughed a bit) about how nervous he was. She said his hands were shaking. He had patted his chest and told me he was a sophomore in a way that had me giggle inside. He texted her to say that he liked me. I told her I was glad I could make a good impression for at least a few minutes.

I told her he had relieved a lot of my fears and when she asked why, I had her read my blog draft. She said, “Don’t you think I have a bit of you in me and know how to pick a good one?” I reminded her of some of her less stellar sixth/seventh grade selections in response.

When he came over Saturday, his mom came in and introduced herself. He abruptly cut in and asked if he could take off his shoes. It was a bit startling but I reminded myself that he was likely still nervous. We sat down in the living room while my husband finished something on the computer. I intended to just make small talk – even though it’s not my strong suit.

He took the moment to be his interview, if you will. His opportunity to sell himself to me. He started off by patting his chest as he told me (again) that he was a Sophomore. Jane laughed good-naturedly and said, “Brent, you’ve said that twice now. You’ve literally said that twice in two days.”

He wasn’t fazed and went on to tell me about how he has his whole life planned out. And I can say this: while it is hard, having been there myself, to take a fifteen year old very seriously, he is definitely a young man who has spent a lot of time thinking about what he wants, both in life and in a relationship. He is not a superficial child by any means.

This makes me happy. In a text conversation with one of Jane’s friends a couple of weeks before this meet-up, he basically stated that he didn’t know where things stood with Jane. He was pretty sure he liked her but wasn’t sure if she liked him. He didn’t know if they were just destined to be best friends but that that would be fine with him too. He said he preferred to talk before dating because he thought you should be close to someone first. And he wasn’t interested in relationships with people that he couldn’t see himself with long term.

He didn’t want to be with someone who when you asked, “Where do you want to go?” would say, “Wherever you want to go.” He had already picked up that Jane would speak her mind. He knew they had a lot in common. It was important to him that she was smart. He thought her personality was the best. And he thought she was extremely beautiful.

He recognized that if they were in a relationship, they would probably fight, which he didn’t want to do but knew that would be part of it. He wasn’t sure if he had feelings for her but felt that she was the best person to come into his life so far. He was obviously wrestling with his feelings and thinking about them rather than going off emotion.

He went on to say that they had said they loved each other but didn’t know if it was love love or just letting each other know they cared.

Needless to say, I found all of this pretty positive. So when she texted me at work last Monday and said, “BRENT ASKED ME OUT!!!!!”, I responded, “REALLY? Who could have possibly seen that coming?! I sure didn’t!!”

She told me that sarcasm suited me.

So maybe this parenting a high schooler thing will be survivable. Maybe even enjoyable. And as a friend pointed out… if he does break her heart, I’d rather it be now while she’s at home and I can help her pick up the pieces.

{And my apologies to anyone waiting anxiously for this story. I wrote it fairly promptly but the edit got lost in a busy week. I did skip working out this morning to finish it up! :)}

You Look Like A Cow

Saturday afternoon, my daughter referred to a comment made by a friend of ours as if my husband had said it. He responded, “That wasn’t me. That was Mrs. Duke. Do I look like Mrs. Duke?”

She said, “Well, you have two eyes and two ears and a nose and a mouth and so does Mrs. Duke, so yeah, you look like Mrs. Duke.”

“Ok,” he said, “then you look like a cow.”

She immediately hurried into where I was and said indignantly, “Daddy just said I’m fat!”

“No he didn’t,” I said.

She raised her eyebrows as if prompting me to explain.

“He didn’t say you were fat. He said you look like a cow.”

“See!” she cried triumphantly.

“He meant that you have big floppy ears and a vacant expression on your face, honey.”

Her reaction was quite satisfying.

And what I really like about my daughter is that even though she feigned even more indignation at my clarification, she liked it enough to share with the young man who came to meet us later that evening.

What If Overdrive

Parenthood can be anxiety-inducing. Some parts are scarier than others and I’ll admit that I’m entering into one of those stages right now. The last time I remember being this scared was when we brought our first child home and I worried about her dying of SIDS in her crib while I took a shower or slept myself or did anything other than watch her chest move up and down and up and down.

It’s the lack of control that gets me.

When they were little, I had full control. They weren’t going anywhere without me. They weren’t alone with anyone unless I allowed it. Then they went off to preschool. I knew all their friends. I knew the families of all their friends. I had full knowledge of everything they had going on. I talked to their teachers every day.

Then they headed off to Kindergarten. And they started talking about kids I didn’t know. Eventually, I got to know their friends, but I didn’t really know their friends’ families very well. And they interacted with a lot of kids that I didn’t know at all. As they got older, I didn’t necessarily stay at the birthday parties they went to. I was losing touch.

Still, they didn’t go anywhere that I didn’t know about. I took them places. I picked them up. They had no ability to slip from my grip. Or at least my awareness. I still had a handle on things. For the most part. It still felt safe.

Now Jane is in high school. And she’s bringing a boy home to meet us tomorrow. I find myself in a mild panic. I was much more comfortable over the past year when she had steadfastly held that relationships weren’t worth the drama. I had honestly hoped and foolishly believed that the perspective would hold through high school.

I should have known better.

At first, I was happy for her. Basically. They aren’t “dating”. They are friends who think they might be interested in pursuing a relationship. It seemed mild enough. Then I realized that I didn’t know this boy. At all. Never seen him. Never met him. And the what-ifs started.

What if he’s not a nice person?
What if he hurts her?
What if he has dishonorable intentions with my daughter?
What if this relationship distracts her from her grades?
What if the relationship changes her personality?
And then it struck me: Oh, no. He’s a Sophomore. He’ll be driving by the end of the school year.
What if she turns on us? He could pick her up without us knowing.
I won’t know where she is.
She won’t necessarily be where I think she is.
What if they lie to us?
What if they run off?
What if they have sex and she gets pregnant?
What if he’s a perfectly nice boy but not a great driver?
What if she dies in a car wreck with him at the wheel?

The whole driving thing has already been weirding me out. I’m terrified. It’s just too simple for kids to do something stupid. And then they are gone and there’s no getting them back. I don’t want that to be my kid. I don’t want her behind the wheel. I definitely don’t want her in the car while any other young person is behind the wheel. Even if she did say that the Senior who drove her to our church the other day is a better driver than I am. I don’t care.

So, see? It’s the lack of control that I can’t handle.

Parenthood is about slowly and surely losing control. I started off feeding them with nourishment from my own body. Ever since that first weening, I’ve been letting go a little bit at a time. Sometimes I haven’t noticed. Sometimes I’ve rejoiced (never was a big fan of wiping little bottoms). Sometimes…

Sometimes, I’m like that moment a few months before Jane was born when the reality of impending parenthood overwhelmed me and I kept backing up on the bed, trying to pass through the wall into oblivion to avoid this thing that I couldn’t stop. “No, no! We aren’t ready for this! What were we thinking?! We can’t do this! We don’t know what we are doing!”

Too late now.

We don’t know what we are doing. We don’t have a clue. We’ve never done it before. The stakes are so high during this tumultuous time in a child’s life. Not everyone makes it through, but everyone has to enter. So here we are.

I understand now why parents wait up for their children to come home. I understand now why, even past 40, when I leave my mom’s house for the long drive home, she tells me to call her when I get home. I get it. It doesn’t make me any less scared though.

Throw Back Thursday: Facebook Flashback

I mentioned recently how much I was enjoying the look-back feature on Facebook that shows all your posts from that day in years past. It’s interesting to see how much I used to post compared to now. And how much of it I now consider drivel. Yet how much of it makes me laugh all over again.

Take August 21st, 2012. We were visiting my mother-in-law in Colorado. I hadn’t started blogging yet so Facebook was my only outlet. My husband must have been teasing our daughter about her appearance because early in the evening I posted a quote from her to him:

“I didn’t choose this face. You chose it for me.”

Then, almost two hours later, this:

Standing in the bathroom, I notice that Jane’s toothbrush is missing. “Hal, where is Sissy’s toothbrush?” He silently runs out of the room, straight to the futon, where he drops to his knees and crawls under. He emerges with the missing toothbrush and says very matter-of-factly, “Mommy, I found it under the bed. Somebody put it there. It wasn’t me.”

Not only had I forgotten that wonderfully amusing story, I had started to forget how often he said things like that. “Somebody did this thing that no one else could have done or even known about, but trust me, it wasn’t me.”

And then an hour after that:

Watching the PBS fundraiser Celtic Women concert with Jane and my husband. One of the women comments on being in America, which prompts Jane to ask, “Wait. Where are they from?”


Her daddy replies, “Um. Ireland. Hence all the green and the use of the word ‘Celtic’ in their name.”


“And the accents,” I add.


Then Jane explains her confusion: “But they look American.”


My husband: “Why, yes. They are human, just like us.”

That day, three years ago, would prove to be a formative day in my crawl toward blogging. I didn’t know it then – I was freakin’ on vacation! But my blog would come to life just eight days later. It’s grown to include other things. Whether that’s good or bad, I don’t know. But it was originally intended to be a vehicle for this – funny stories about me and my kids.


Don’t Play “Telephone” With My Daughter

“Is Panini Pizza tan?”

I glanced up from my plate. So did my husband. Our daughter looked at us expectantly.

“Excuse me?” I finally asked.

“Is Panini Pizza tan?” she repeated.

I looked at my husband. He shrugged. “Is Panini Pizza… tan?” I asked hesitantly.

“That’s not what I said!”

“That’s what I heard,” my husband said.

“Uggh! Is Panini Pizza a chain?”

” Panini Pizza? I don’t know what that is,” I said.

“No!” She slowed way down and clearly enunciated each word, “Is Panini Pete’s a chain?”

“Oh. I have no idea. I’ve never heard of them.”

“They are in Fairhope, Alabama.”

“Oh, ok. Maybe you should ask Siri or Google.”

So she did, “Ok, Google. Is Panini Pete’s a chain?”

She frowned at her phone.

“You don’t have to ask a question. Just try ‘Panini Pete’s’,” I suggested.

“Ok, Google. Panini Pete’s…What? Mini Peach? How did you get that?! Seriously! Google, how did you get that?!”

“That’s what I heard,” I said, turning to my husband. “Isn’t that what you heard?”