Wednesday, July 29

Look at that.

Oh, hey. 
Look who have turned into grown-up kids all of a sudden. 

Look how life moves so fast. 

Wednesday, November 12

Why I'm Not Asking for Anything this Christmas

My husband is a pro at managing our money. 

I can say this today, because after almost a decade, several thousand dollars in debt, a couple of bailouts and lots and lots and lots of hard work, my husband is a pro at managing our money. 
Still, things are tight for us right now, financially. I have two part-time jobs, and he has a full-time career, plus a part-time job. We pay our bills on time, we put gas in our cars and food on the table, but there's not a whole lot of wiggle room after payday. 

Which is why I'm not asking my husband for a Christmas present for myself this year. 

My husband is an excellent gift-giver. He consistently gives me things I've asked for, things I long for, and things I didn't even know I wanted. He has surprised me with perfect gifts every Christmas- from an ornament & a diamond ring marking our first holiday together, to a pair of deliciously fuzzy slippers that replaced an old raggedy pair, to- on two separate occasions- a new computer. 

Our kids were at church choir practice tonight, and we had our once-a-week-for-one-hour alone time. I looked at him with my Bad News Face and told him we had to discuss Christmas presents. A couple of years ago, after our third baby was born, we adopted what has become my favorite gift-giving model: 

Something they want,
Something they need,
Something to wear,
Something to read. 

I forgot where I first heard that, but it's genius, I'm telling you. 
It falls in line with my philosophy on bikinis for little girls- if I refuse to let my toddlers wear teeny triangle top bikinis, then that'll still be a rule for them as they grow up. There's no backsliding, "but I wore one when I was nine!" when they're teenagers. 
If we buy them each four gifts every year, they'll never be disappointed when they have four presents down the road (or worse, expect more as they age). 
And as I've learned with every hard-and-fast parenting rule, I'm certain it'll bend every now and then. I'm sure I'll agree to a tasteful monokini someday, just like I'm sure the gift list will eventually expand. But what I have to keep in mind is that these kids have three grandmothers and lots of people who love them who are all happy to shower them with presents. 
Our showers on them will just be more like sprinkles. 

A few minutes after our Christmas-for-the-kids talk, my husband asked me what I wanted. I fought the urge to give him a long list to choose from, like I have for the last ten Christmases, and instead said, "just a nice set of fancy sheets for you and me."
And I really meant it. (I may or may not have used the demure trick, "oh, just something small," when he knew I was lusting after a new laptop a few years ago.) 
I will be a happy girl if I have just one gift under our tree. 

This year, I want us to really focus on Christmas as a family. I want to buy decent, meaningful presents for my children. I want to get a gift for his mother and mine, even though they both swear we don't have to. I want to carry on our tradition of filling three Operation Christmas Child boxes, and filling one shopping cart with Christmas feast food to donate to a local women's home. I want to buy some bees from Heifer, and make sure each of our children buy one small, thoughtful gift for their siblings. 

I don't want a thing. Well, that's not true. I want hundreds of things, but I don't want anything from my husband for Christmas, except a nice set of fancy sheets for the two of us.


Tuesday, September 9

Loss. Or: Why Friendship Smells Like Old Books

I tried to explain to my husband how the loss of a person I hadn't spoken to in almost exactly nine years had rattled me to my bones. 
It wasn't that he was unmoved, or cold, or lacked sympathy. It's just that he'd never really known her. Or, more, he'd never known her + me.


She and I met in fifth grade. We disliked each other almost immediately. I was small and quiet and nearly invisible (yes, there was such a time), and she was large and loud and demanded an audience. She knew who she was, and I wanted to be anybody other than myself. 
In sixth grade, our science teacher paired us up for the year. I don't remember the switch from hate to love, but isn't that how all romantic comedies work? One moment you can't stand the sight of each other, and the next moment well-whaddaya-know, you're inseparable. 
We rode the bus to her house after school, and I marveled that it stopped right in front of her mailbox (I'd never been on a school bus in my life). I met her big, loud parents and her floppy, useless hound. 
We giggled about boys. 
We cruised the mall. 
We DIY-ed facemasks. 
We were in band- she a first-chair flute, I a nearly-last chair trumpet. 
We watched age-inappropriate movies. 
We got snowed in. 
We at spaghetti next door at her aunt's house. 
We held garage sales. 
We snuck into the kitchen and mixed a cup of her parents' red wine with a cup of our red Kool-Aid.
(We never drank red wine again.)


When I moved school districts the next year, I refused to utter a single cheer for my new team. I secretly rooted for her school during the football game. I spent every single Friday night of seventh grade, and most of eighth at her house. 

We slowly, slowly, imperceptibly grew apart. Not even apart, just away. Same trunk, spreading branches. Every so often we'd stretch and our leaves would touch, and we'd know things were fine. 

I started rooting for my new football team. 
She started smoking weed. 
I was happy, and loud, and knew just who I was. 
She was miserable, and losing sight of herself. 
I took off for college.
She took drugs I'd never heard of. 


She called to tell me she was pregnant. I sighed in relief, thinking this would settle her down. She'd grow up. She'd straighten up. 
On the day she went into labor, I walked in the delivery room and told her to show me how to do it right, because I was next in line. We were twenty. 

Her daughter is six months older than my son. I'd dreamed that motherhood would draw her back to me, back to her senses, back to sobriety— instead it sent her crashing. Back to booze, back to drugs, back to choices I couldn't bear to watch. 


Some months later I saw her at the mall with her mother. "I'm getting married!" I squealed, as I showed them my ring. "Will you be my bridesmaid?!" It came out before I could even weigh the consequences. But it didn't matter. She looked good. She looked healthy. I wanted her with me at the front of the church. 

We made it all the way to the rehearsal dinner. Looking on it now, it's clear she was still using. She slumphed around the church. She complained about the food. About where she had to stand in line. About how the other bridesmaids weren't including her. When we left the church to go back to my house for the night, just us girls, she "got lost" on the interstate and found herself in the hotel room of one of the groomsmen. 

She never showed up at the church the next day. 

I haven't seen or talked to her since. 


I tried to explain to my husband that it didn't matter that I hadn't spoken to her in nine years. "She's a book I know by heart!" He looked at me the way you watch a wounded bird trying to flap it's way into the sky. 

Without even trying very hard, I can smell the medicine cabinet in her bathroom, hear the hardwood floors creak in her parents' house, taste the Schwan's pierogies her dad loves so much. I can still pick out the dog treats her pup favored if I see them on a grocery store shelf. Her life was a book I'd memorized, even if I hadn't opened it in nearly a decade. 

There are some friendships that are shiny, new, spine-uncracked best sellers. They're fun, but haven't been tested. 

There are some whose covers you recognize, whose faces you recall fondly, but not forcefully. 

Then there are the friendships that, even after sitting on a dusty shelf, have the power to move your soul by title alone. 


I have promised to visit her daughter, to introduce her to my son, to tell her stories of how we sat them in side-by-side swings and imagined that they'd get married some day. 
I will tell her daughter how I'd marveled that her mother could play the piccolo so fast and so well. 
I'll tell her that her mother always had better shoes, better skin, and better hair than I had. 
I'll tell her how much her fifth-grade self looks like her momma's fifth-grade self. 
I'll tell her that I loved her mother, and that I'll never get over her loss, and that she'll always be one of my favorite stories.

Monday, January 27

#DestructoTot & Me

Everywhere we go, it happens all the time. People *literally* gasp and do double-takes. 
"She looks just like you!"
"She's your mini-me!"

I don't see it as often as strangers do, but when it's there, it's undeniable. 

That's me on the left, around three. And B3 on the right, right before she turned five. 

Someone said something about a small clone?

Wednesday, October 16

Why I Heart Myers-Briggs

I've always been a test geek.
Seventeen, YM, and later, Glamour and the almighty Cosmo's quiz sections were my first-reads each month.

Are you a good kisser?
Discover what your signature scent should be!
What does your wardrobe say about you?

They would get pretty ridiculous...

Is your friend cheating on you with another BFF?
Determine your odds of marrying a guy named Roger!
How to tell if you are a tree in six easy questions!

I loved the "Spiritual Gifts" test they gave us in youth group at church (I scored high on mercy and encouragement). I am a sucker for a Scantron. The Love Languages was my jam (affirmation and QT are my jam, specifically).

So it was no surprise that when my best friend was completing her Master's degree in psychology, I leapt at the chance to do a formal Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. The MBTI is a fairly complex assessment, based on the Jungian theory of personality.
According to the MBTI, there are sixteen types of personalities that fall into four separate categories.

It's all wildly interesting to me- to answer a few questions and learn more about myself. It's probably a psychological condition in itself that I have to be told who and what and how I am, rather than knowing it intrinsically.

Through the years, my perfume and clothing preferences have change, but one thing has remained constant- I'm an ENFP.

I created that pin a few months ago (well, I added the red letters and arrow- go me!), and I love seeing it pop up all over my Pinterest!

I've got "extraverted intuition with introverted feeling."
I'm super emotional. I get excited easily. I'm a dreamer, a motivator. I talk a lot. I talk animatedly.
I have great ideas, but I'm not always great on the follow-through. ("Ha!" says the book I've been writing for seven years.)
I really like people, and reeeeeeally want people to like me.

I'm such a classic ENFP, that my dear friend Audreya totally called me out on it, without previous discussion. She's an INTJ, just like my husband. It's like we're a case study in opposites attracting- me with those two.

I'm looking forward to finding out where my three kiddos fall on the MBTI. Will they be more free-spirited like me, or more logical and organized like their daddy? Either way, they're full up on awesome already, so it can't turn out too badly.

Have you taken the Myers-Briggs test? Did you go, "Oh, that's totally me!" or did you feel it was off?