Saturday, October 4, 2014

Vaccines, ice cream, Legos, and s.ex

You may be wondering about that errant period in the middle of "s.ex" in my title. I'm just trying to prevent Google from picking up my blog for inappropriate reasons! Now that that's cleared up...

I just watched this PBS Nova episode on vaccines. It was great! Chickie watched with me; she likes science. Zoodle watched most of it too, while he played with Legos.

There is a segment on HPV, which led to one of the kids asking what it means for a disease to be s.exually transmitted. For us, it led to a good, natural, age-appropriate conversation about s.ex.I haven't always handled s.ex conversations with my kids perfectly (I'm remembering one particularly horrid one right now), but my ideal is for s.ex to be something we talk about whenever it is natural. I don't want the conversations to be a huge deal, because I want them to feel comfortable talking to The Engineer and me as they get older.

The results of today's conversation? Chickie wishes babies were made by eating strange-flavored ice cream, and Zoodle didn't have any questions; he just wanted to show me what he was making with his Legos. When a s.ex conversation includes ice cream and Legos, I think the kids must have been pretty comfortable with it!

You can watch Nova: Vaccines: Calling the Shots by clicking here.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Stupid ads (Warning: Rant ahead)

I'm sure I'm not the only one who has issues with the shallow, often demeaning, ads on websites. I frequently notice them on news websites. This one is from

I was reading an article there with great news about scholarships for women, and then I saw this stupidity on the sidebar. It's always extra-insulting to me to see such disrespect after reading something so positive.

Some people argue that when someone chooses to live in the public spotlight, they should accept this type of insult. But you know what? If I was a celebrity making $20 million a year, it would still HURT me for strangers judge me on my prowess in the bedroom or my hygiene habits; or to make my personal life inappropriately public.

Yes, I know these ads are not created by the news organization. But if several of the "big guns" in media would be more careful about which ads they allow, the ad companies would be more careful about which ads they produced.

P.S. They keep making these ads because people click on them. If you are tempted to click, remember that.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Hard day

It was a rough afternoon and evening with this girl today.

That dramatic flair for fashion (which I think is adorable) is echoed in her dramatic flair for emotional outbursts (which tend to be less than adorable.) We clashed today, with a bad attitude leading to unpopular consequences. It left me tired.

Thankfully we had a good talk, and she went to bed cheerful. But when I came downstairs, I thought, "Some days it's hard being a mom."

And a little voice inside me said, On those days, it's probably hard being a kid too.

I need to remember that. As much as my kids need me to teach them and discipline them, they also need me to understand them and empathize with them.

If I care that she's having a hard day, maybe she'll learn to care when I'm having one too.

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Winding Path (or, First World Problems at Target)

I'd just finished shopping at Target and was walking to my car, but I couldn't find it. Plus, I was holding a chai latte I'd just bought at the in-store Starbucks, which made it trickier to push my cart, and turn my cart around, and push my cart in another direction.... You get the gist. Ugh.

I knew that, as problems go, this one was silly and minor. I'd just purchased various items, all of which I could have lived without. I was carrying an overpriced, overcalorized drink as I tried to find my dependable car so that I could drive to my uncrowded single-family home. This was a First World Problem if there ever was one. But, silly or not, I was getting annoyed.

As I walked toward yet another row of vehicles, a car pulled up next to me. "Do you know where this highway is?" she asked, naming a well-known road that happens to be close to my house. I spent the next minute or two telling her how to get there and how to avoid the toll road on her way.

As I continued toward my car (which was, astonishingly, right where I'd left it), I thought about the way my path had crossed with that of the lost driver. She was in search of a Bealle's department store, and couldn't use the map on her phone since it had died. Yes, yes--hers was another First World Problem. But I really was happy I could help, happy she'd asked me since I knew the area of town she needed to find, happy I'd taken the winding path to my car so I could encounter her.

I've heard before that it's not about the destination; it's about the journey. And when my path (literal or figurative) is less than straight, that longer journey can provide opportunities. I hope I keep my eyes open for those opportunities and take the time to appreciate them. My chai latte will still taste good if it's a little lukewarm.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

I don't like to say yes

This kid....

He is pretty awesome. He's creative and smart and sweet and funny.

But, man, can he whine.

I like having simple, repeatable reminders I can say to my kids over and over and over to address behavioral issues. My most recent one?

"When you whine, I don't want to say yes."

It's certainly nicer than, "STOP WHINING, YOU WHINY WHINER!" which might be my most natural response on a bad day. But it's not only nicer; it also lets him know in a simple way that whining doesn't get him where he wants to go.

I think he's getting it. Maybe in time he'll lose his position as a World Champion Whiner.

(I'd be okay with that.)

Friday, September 5, 2014


For the first time, scientists have mapped the supercluster of galaxies in which our galaxy exists. They call it Laniakea--"Immeasurable Heaven" in Hawaiian. This video fills me with awe.

We are surrounded by billions of other stars in the Milky Way, and when our galaxy is mapped with the 100,000 other galaxies of Laniakea, it fades into seeming insignificance. Our little planet is on the outer arm of our galaxy, which is on the outskirts of our supercluster. We are on the edge--the wallflowers of our galactic dance.

Our world is not much more than a speck when we broaden our view. And if the world is a speck of matter, what does that say for us? In the midst of this universe full of incomprehensible amounts of matter, do we matter at all?


The mind of God, which somehow was big enough to create this inconceivably large universe, is also somehow detailed enough to know the location of every quark and electron and atom, and of every man and woman and child.

The heart of God, which yearned to oversee an ever-changing universe full of stars and galaxies and superclusters, is also intimate enough to love me, extravagantly, to walk with me, constantly.

In His eyes, I matter.

And I want my children to know that as their buckets of learning become full at times to bursting with the wonder of the world and beyond, their individuality makes them each an indescribably special part of this world, this universe.

My daughter's smile, with its teeth gapping and overlapping, contributes to her unique beauty. Her creative mind, used to draw comic books for her brother, is priceless.

My son's eyes, hazel and expressive, are unlike any other eyes on this earth, and, I daresday, in the universe. His smiles spread to those around him, a beautiful contagion.

In the middle of the immeasurable matter of the universe, they matter.

You matter.

The universe wouldn't be the same without you.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Youre a perfect little snowflake

I look down at myself right now, and I see a shapeless t-shirt that identifies me as a worker in the kids area at church. I see 8-year-old PJ pants with cartoonish penguins on them. My sparkly toenails don't come close to redeeming this lazy Sunday afternoon outfit.

There are people around me, though, who see more.

A little while ago, Zoodle showed me a picture. I quickly deciphered the writing on it, with its oddly-hyphenated words. "No matter what youre always a perfect little snowflake!" it read. He'd drawn an orange snowflake with the label, "Perfect little snowflake."

 "It's for you," he told me.

Then he took it back, and to make it clear, wrote, "To Mommy" on the corner.

But his creativity was still flowing, so he once again grabbed the paper and made an addition--another snowflake. This one wasn't that attractive, so he gave it the captions, "Bad snowflake" and "Not like you." We both smiled.

Then he drew one more snowflake, with long eyelashes and a big smile. "Pretty snowflake like you," he wrote.

I cuddled with my guy and knew this was one work of art I won't throw away.

In his eyes, I am a perfect, beautiful snowflake. I'm not sure what I did to deserve those accolades today, but I'll take them.

Look around. I bet there's someone who thinks you're amazing. It may not be a universally-held view, and that's okay. That someone has the opinion I want you to listen to today. Don't listen to those who criticize needlessly. (A lot of days you probably shouldn't listen to your own opinion of yourself either.)

Instead, listen to that person who sees the wonder of you. Smile, and bask in it. Know that your Creator also sees this wonder in you, every single day.

You're a pretty snowflake too.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it's off to school we go

Oh, you know, it's just me...blogging after 9 months off. Man, I could have gestated a human being in that length of time!

For the record, I didn't. But a lot sure has changed.

I took on a very part-time job at my church, directing the elementary ministry. I decided to leave real estate behind to focus on that. Then that job turned into a part-time-but-closer-to-full-time-including-office-hours (hey, with nine months off from blogging, my ability to be concise is rusty) job as a children's pastor.  And this week...the kids went back to public school.

I'm glad I always told people that I was open to reevaluating homeschooling, since it ended up (unexpectedly!) being only a two-year venture for us. For various reasons, it was time for a change.

But I was nervous. Chickie has been dealing with something that one in eight kids struggles with...anxiety. (If I remembered where I'd read that statistic, I'd cite it!) I felt it was time for her to gain some confidence by spreading her wings at school. But I knew that she would need a teacher who could be gentle and understanding with her. I prayed and prayed--and so did Chickie--that she would get a great teacher.

A week and a half before school started, the kids and I went to New Family Orientation. We walked down the third grade hallway, and Chickie saw a sign outside one of the doors. It was hand-painted with the teacher's name, and it had popcorn painted on it too. We peeked in the window and saw a cute classroom. "That's the teacher I want," she said.

A week after that, we were back for Open House, the night when the kids would meet their teachers. We found the lists--and Chickie had gotten the teacher she wanted. By the time we'd visited Zoodle's class and walked to Chickie's, all the other parents were gone from the room. A few minutes alone with the teacher...on Open House night? Score!

I asked the teacher if we could talk. She, Chickie, and I sat down, and I explained Chickie's anxiety and what I've found works when she gets upset. The teacher listened with a look of kindness and understanding, and then she bent down a little so she was eye-to-eye with Chickie. "My daughter deals with bad anxiety too," she said. Then she proceeded to ask Chickie questions about herself. Everything about her spoke gentleness and kindness. I came away from the meeting amazed at the perfect match of this teacher with my daughter. We'd prayed--and God really did care. He put Chickie in just the right place.

Those moments set the tone for Chickie's school year. I've been so pleasantly surprised at how well my daughter--to whom change can be daunting--is adjusting this week, and I give her teacher a large portion of the credit for that!

Zoodle missed the first two days of school thanks to illness, and these last three days have been up and down. The adjustment of a stricter schedule, plus the long school day, has worn him out. I think he'll be fine, but for now he's not so sure about this whole school thing.

But you know what? The God who cared enough to put my daughter in just the right class cares about my son too. I'm looking forward to seeing the little miracles that happen with him this school year.

I'm glad we had this chat. Let's do it again soon, okay?