Discovering and playing and building in this little corner of the world to document my writing life. I'm glad you're here. {If you want to receive updates via email, sign up below.}

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Vintage Slice 26

December 13, 2011


Andy, my husband, makes blog "appearances," from time to time, but usually only as a part of a post, a piece of a story. Sometimes he hijacks our family blog, the one I keep just for us, but never, not ever, would he consider hijacking my other blogs, mostly because writing isn't his "thing," as he calls it. Yesterday was Andy's birthday, so I could slice about that...but what did I want to capture? Spinning this idea in my mind, I realized I want to capture him.

  1. He has this calm about him, the kind that is made of patience and deep-rooted faith and confidence. He doesn't really get worked up about stuff, but rather, he takes life as it comes, never too seriously and always confident that it will be okay.
  2. He dotes on me. And the kids. And our families. And anyone who walks through our front door. I get a glimpse of what it means to have a servant's heart when I watch Andy with people. You know, he makes me a cup of hot tea every single morning, and I've never once heard him grumble about it.
  3.  He can make me laugh and smile and forget that I'm overwhelmed and wishing I could do more -- or at the very least get it right, whatever that means. He keeps the perspective on the things that really matter, joy and giggles, not laundry and dishes. And then, here's the remarkable part, he makes sure the dishes are clean at the end of the day, proof that I really don't need to worry.
He's 34 now, so there's 3, plus 4 more that you would know if you could hang out with him...
  1. He is a sports nut. Indianapolis Colts football; St. Louis Blues hockey; St. Louis Cardinals baseball...those are the main ones. But they aren't enough -- IU basketball; Purdue football; Komets hockey. And recently professional soccer -- he's learning the teams, Chelsea, Madrid, Barca...learning the players, and even starting to watch the games.
  2. He likes steak and he prefers to make it himself.
  3. A hard rock station or talk radio is tuned in his car, a black SUV.
  4. He can make anyone feel comfortable, usually by telling a crazy story from his past.
Vintage Slice

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Vintage Slice 25

May 29, 2012

I saw a lot of lists around the slice community today. Since it feels like a listy-kind-of-Tuesday, here's mine.
Vintage Slice

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Vintage Slice 24

September 30, 2008

 I've Gotta Secret!

I was putting the little guy down to bed and he whispers:  “Momma, I gotta secret.  Wanna know it?”
Smiling, because, really, what kind of secret could a two and a half year old have from his mom, I whisper back, “You want to share it?”

“Uh-huh,” he nods, serious.

“Okay, what is it?” I encourage him.

He sits up on his elbows and spews his secret:  “Every night when everyone else is asleep I hop outta bed and flip on my light.  Then I play and play and play all by myself until I’m tired again.  Then I go to sleep.”

“That’s a good secret,” I smile at him, now understanding why each morning his light is blazing away.

He nods, his eyes sparkling.  “Don’t tell,” he said as he cuddled under the covers.

“Your secret’s safe with me,” and I kiss him good night.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Vintage Slice 23

March 2, 2011

Library Friends

My mom is a library director. She is also Mimi.  In her role as Mimi she keeps my son, Sam, while I’m at work. In her role as librarian, she works some afternoons. Inevitably these two roles collide, which makes for a little boy who loves the library . . . and Nancy.

Nancy is another librarian and a close family friend. Together, Nancy and Sam read books, build cardboard cities, and fly paper airplanes. They create cat toys, tease, and giggle. She teaches him to draw. He teaches her to use YouTube. They read more books.

“No, not yet,” Sam said when I arrived to take him home, “We are in the middle of this book.”
Nancy smiled and kept reading.

Their relationship has been built over books and years. Nancy takes the time to listen to him, read to him, and create with him. Some people wait a lifetime to have a friend like Nancy, yet Sam is one of the lucky ones. He has had this friend for a lifetime.

Vintage Slice

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Vintage Slice 22

July 17, 2012

Four Days and Four Hours and Thirty-Four Minutes

Anyone who knows me knows I don't count days. As I go about my routine time gets lost. Right now, in fact, I'm not sure if today is the 12th or the 17th or maybe the 20th. It is worse during the summer, but even during the school year, I find myself estimating the date on notebook entries. I look at the highlighted square on my calendar, check for the day's events and completely miss noticing the date. I'm not sure how many years I've been blogging. I don't know the exact day my grandfather died. Birthdays escape me.

But I know thisKarianne left four days and four hours and thirty-four minutes ago.

There's empty spaces in the house where she belongs. The space at the end of the couch where her laptop sat. The corner in the entryway where her flip flops were always kicked off. The empty window sill above the kitchen sink where her bracelets waited while she washed dishes. 
Physical reminders that twist the sting of missing just a little deeper into our hearts. 
It's proof that we did it right, Andy says. If it didn't hurt it means we could have loved more. So this sting, that keeps stinging even after four days and four hours and thirty-four minutes is a good thing. It means we loved deeply and lived fully. It means our hearts have expanded, and we glimpse a little bit more of the definition of family. It means we have more insight into lives outside of ours.
I guess all of that makes up for the sting.
Vintage Slice

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Vintage Slice 21

September 18, 2012

The Lowest Form of Learning

W hy do they
O rder too many  
R eaders to  
K ill time filling in
S paces with mindless compliancy? Do they
H ope students will magically
E xcel and someday
E xperience joy and  
T rue  
S uccess?
Worksheets? Really?

Vintage Slice

Friday, March 20, 2015


I'm glad you are here to celebrate! Share a link to your blog post below and/or use #celebratelu to share celebrations on Twitter. Check out the details here. Celebrate This Week goes live on Friday night around 10(ish). Consider it as a weekend celebration. Whenever it fits in your life, add your link. Please leave a little comment love for the person who links before you.
I'm grumpy. There's no reason I should be grumpy, but I am. It feels ridiculous to be grumpy and write a Celebrate This Week. Still, this is the truth of the matter.

It is also truth that my celebrations aren't dependent on my moods. 

Jay has a birthday.
Steph is super excited about a sleep over she's going to.
There's a cub scout who can barely sleep because The Pinewood Derby is in the morning.
Hannah is glad track season has officially started.
Andy is home from a business trip.
Kate plays fetch. (This I love.)

The dishwasher is running.
The washing machine is churning.
The kids are reading.
And me, I'm not grumpy anymore.
This is the truth about celebration. When I pause to celebrate, my mood shifts. It's impossible to be grateful and grumpy at the same time. The antidote to grumpy is to celebrate.
I'm glad you decided to join me this week. Link your celebrations below.

Vintage Slice 20

November 27, 2012

Early this morning I was thinking about my slice. As I looked in the mirror, I decided I should slice this is me. This is what you would see if you saw me today. Now for the story behind what you see.

The scarf: Yes, it is a pencil. My librarian-friend Nancy made it for me. Do you remember Nancy? She used to read to Sam every week when he was a pre-schooler.
Pearls around my neck: Andy bought them in Peru, South America from street kids in a fishing village.
My sweater: A gift from Andy's mom.
My computer bag: A graduation gift from Andy's mom when I got my masters degree.
A coffee cup: It was coffee today, not tea.
My iPad: Don't you just love that iPad cover that looks like a composition book? Me too. I love it even more because I know Christy Rush-Levine has the same one. Mine makes me think of Christy, the reason I bought this cover in the first place.
Polished nails: I love that this piece of me has returned in 2012.
Yellow shoes: I usually don't wear these in December. But if you're going to wear a big yellow pencil around your neck, you really need shoes to match. My mom bought them for me.
Blue jeans: I'm wearing jeans in the middle of the week because it was part of a fund raiser for CF in November. Rarely do I wear jeans to work.
Rings: There's my wedding rings, which are always present, but also a ring handed down from my grandma.
The photo spot: Karianne took tons of photos in this exact spot last year as she documented her outfits for her blog.

It's all those links that made me want to capture this is me. I go through my day and I'm anchored to all those stories and people and bits of experiences that have went before me. Today I was struck by the physical reminders of the love and support I have surrounding me. I'm enamored by the way life is a great big web. Our present is woven into our past, and our future is waiting to be constructed through the fabric of our stories.

This is me...made up of all these other pieces -- people and causes and bits of nothing that somehow seem to be something.

Vintage Slice

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Vintage Slice 19

January 29, 2013

"Do you know every time you breathe Mom and Dad love you more?" I stop half way down the stairs and listen to the conversation unfold at the breakfast table between Stephanie and Jordan.


"It's true," she insists. "Every time you breathe they love you more." I hear her suck in a deep breath. "See? They love me more. You try it."

"Try what?" I can't even see his face and I know disbelief is written all over it.

She sucks air in through her nose. It's so loud it has to hurt. "You do it."

I hear a little sniff.

"Told you."

"Tol' me what?"

She breathes in again. "They love us more."


There is a pause. I hear the spoons cling against the cereal bowls. "I'm not sure. I think you have to be a mom or dad to understand it. I just know it works."

"We just gotta breathe?"

She breathes again and then coughs from the milk that probably went through her nostrils from breathing in as much as she possibly could.

I hear another sniff.

"They love us more."

"Huh. I didn't know people love yas jus' cause you breathe."

"Yeah, it's pretty great."

I finish walking down the stairs and smile when I see them at the breakfast table. Stephanie takes a deep breath. Jordan sniffs a little. I say, "I keep loving you guys more and more."

Their giggles make my heart grow. I hate to tell her, but I don't think it's something you ever understand -- even when you're a mom.
Vintage Slice

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Vintage Slice 18

June 18, 2013

A sock was my undoing. A single sock and it rocketed me straight into a person I don't want to be. It started brewing when I looked outside and saw all all four of them playing baseball in their pajamas. Andy promised to get them ready to leave so I could spend the morning writing, but now we were twenty minutes from leaving and they were playing baseball. In their pajamas.
You don't need to know the gory details (and I don't need to rehash them), but let it suffice to say it was hands down my worse moment in history as a mother. All because there were four feet and three baseball socks. I'm pulling out an entire load of half-wet clothes in hopes that the sock (which I made sure went from soak bucket to washer to dryer) was still in the dryer.

"What's going on?"Andy asks, completely oblivious that I'm unraveling.

Instead of seeing an ally, I can't get past the three socks. "You promised to have them ready. You said I could write and you would take care of them. They'd be ready."

"I am. They're playing baseball in the yard so you can have a little quiet to write. Why are you in here?"

It must have been the wild look in my eye that makes him ask again, "What's going on?"

"I'm losing it over a sock," I say.

Then it got worse. I'm fighting-mad. Ungrateful. Wretched.

It ended in the garage, when I see his bewildered face. I know if I stop myself, breathe, and pause I would look the same. Bewildered.

Who am I and where did this just come from? He waves me to him. Steps closer. I yield. Get out of the car and slam the door. Walk to him.

"What's going on?" he says again.

I'm ready to deliver another string of rants, but instead I say, "You said they'd be ready, but there were only three socks."

"The fourth one was on top of the dryer."

I lift an eyebrow. There isn't much space for a sock to hide on top of our dryer. There is a photo, a bowl of treasures from pockets and a stack of dish towels.

I'm still fighting-mad.

He hugs me. "It was under control," he says, his breath warm on the top of my head.

I nod because I know.

And I'm left wondering how in the last 14 minutes I became the kind of person who crushes souls.  Why didn't I just snap a picture of the pajama-clad Saturday morning baseball game spurred on by a husband who loves to give me a sweet Saturday morning of stacking words? How did I miss the beauty in the moment?

Maybe because it wasn't really about the sock. It was about me trying to get it right, trying to do too much, and feeling overwhelmed.

Forgetting I'm not in control (and Andy isn't either) of this little life. I want a life that makes much of God. When I'm the one taking control, I have a life that makes much of a mess. It's a mess when a momma comes undone by a sock.

Perhaps after baseball season, I'll hang one of those socks where I can see it. It'll keep me humble, reminding me it is only by grace that I'm here and that without grace, I am wretched. I'm always close to missing the blessings. I'll also be reminded of the pajama-clad baseball game and how I almost missed what it really was -- not the catalyst to being late, but a blessing.

A blessing. Maybe, just maybe, the sock can be a blessing too. Because I never want to lose 14 minutes like that again. Life is fragile. Family is special. And I want my life to make much of Him.

(Remarkably, we weren't late to the baseball game. We all arrived in decent spirits and with four socks! And how did Andy have so much patience with me? I asked too. His response -- "I knew we would laugh about this later because it was so odd you were acting that way.")

Vintage Slice

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Vintage Slice 17

October 15, 2013

In the back southwest corner of our yard is a dump pile. It's a place for grass clippings and watermelon rinds and leaves and trimmings from the flower beds. It is also the place where the kids can dig holes and watch out for imaginary bad guys.
Last year they dumped their pumpkins there too.

They just happened to grow. "We're not touching the vine," Sam informed me. "I read pumpkins don't like to be touched."

I smiled, not really paying much attention to information from the dump pile. I tend to avoid all dump pile news. It's the kind of place where the things they do stay at the dump pile.

Mid-summer, Andy came in from mowing and said, "I think we are growing pumpkins."

I let it roll off of me. I have a black thumb when it comes to gardening and any thought of gardening is unpleasant. I'm a failure at gardening, so the best thing I can do is avoid it.

Late summer and I noticed dots of orange in the southwest corner of our yard. I still didn't give it much thought.

Then Sam showed up in the kitchen with his arms around a pumpkin. "Where'd you get that?" I asked.

"The pumpkin patch!" He grinned. "I told you we were taking care of them."
Last weekend we harvested 19 pumpkins from the dump pile. "That's a bounty, Mom!" Sam said.

"We should grow pumpkins every year," Stephanie said.

"Yeah, we sure should," Jordan added. "We're experts at growing pumpkins."

"We didn't do anything," I said

"Yes we did." Hannah crossed her arms. "We put our old pumpkins in the middle of the dump pile, just so we could watch them all year."

I smiled. I love pumpkins and have always wanted a slew of them to tuck into our flower beds along the front of the house. Andy's not such a pumpkin fan. Or perhaps it's not that he doesn't like pumpkins, but rather he thinks there are better ways to spend our money.

As the kids were washing the dirt and grime from the dump pile off of the pumpkins, I couldn't believe how many there were.

We didn't do anything to deserve them.
They don't serve a specific need, yet the abundance makes me smile.
They are completely superfluous.

And I realized this is exactly how God blesses us. We don't do anything to deserve it and yet the blessings come in abundance. God wants us more than happy. He wants us blessed. My 19 pumpkins will be reminding me of this all season long.

Vintage Slice

Monday, March 16, 2015

Vintage Slice 16

December 3, 2013
Five feet.
Three inches.
125 pounds.
Ten years old.

Andy gave her a nickname.
I was mortified when he suggested it,
Thought it was offensive.
Of course,
She loves it.

It's not something she would want you to call her, but us -- the ones who share a house and breathing space with her -- we're allowed to use it.

I don't use it.

What mother wants her little girl to be called Boss?

These are the words to describe a daughter.

But not this daughter.
She defines herself.


She's redefined my vision.

I will always be
grateful to be a mom to


Vintage Slice

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Vintage Slice 15

March 4, 2009

His loud wailing sobs broke into the serene morning.  Our mornings are peaceful.  Always.  (Usually.)  Right now it isn’t quiet.  The sobs are echoing through the entire house — bouncing off of the  floor; binging off of the walls; filling the house.  In my mind I growl my five year old’s name.  Certainly she did something to break the peace.  I finish hugging my oldest daughter and head downstairs.  “What’s wrong?” I ask over the wails, step-step-stepping down the stairs.

“It’s Sam.  He’s upset at you,” the five year old accuses.

“At me?  Are you sure he’s not upset at you?”

Big sigh.  Hands on hips.  Eye roll.  (Is she really five and not fifteen?)  “No, Mom, you’re the one who drank all the tea and didn’t leave any for him.”

I turn the corner and am met full force with the most recent and desperate wail.  I suppress a giggle, for the picture in front of me truly tickles me.  Standing in the center of the kitchen is a small boy, holding an empty tea cup, head back, face vibrant red, mouth wide, tears dripping all around him.  Howling.

“What’s the matter?” I manage to get out without cracking my voice.

A series of gasps.  A failed attempt at composure.  The tea cup held high in an accusation, “Y-y-you d-d-d-d-drank the TTTTT-EEEEEEE-AAAA!” and the wails commence again.

“It’s okay, pull yourself together,” I attempt to reason with a three year old, “That’s not today’s cup.  I left today’s tea by the door.”

The wails stop.  The beet-red face looks at me, watery blue eyes wide.

“Let me get it for you,” and I head for the tea cup by the front door.  Earlier in my haste, I forgot to put it on the counter.  Each morning, I leave the last sip just for him.

He plucks it out of my hand and chugs the unusually large amount that is left.  Licking his lips, he smiles at me, eyes sparkling and says, “Thanks Mom.  That sure is tasty!”

Then he heads to the door for shoes and coat. Disaster diverted. Lesson registered: It is the little things we do for one another that make the biggest impact. Little things, like leaving a sip of tea,  show our love in lasting, concrete ways. And I'm left with the question: How else do I show my children that I love them?

Vintage Slice

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Vintage Slice 14

March 25, 2011

Middle School Play Directors: Becca -n- Ruth
It is 10:57. I just got home and my bones are tired. Why am I facing a computer screen and writing, even though I left the house at 6:15 am, led writing workshop in four classrooms, joined two teachers in reflective practice meetings, planned a writing celebration, started a new book study with a group of primary teachers, walked forty minutes for exercise, drove 150 miles, went to a doctor’s appointment, received 5 books in the mail, visited with my mom at the library, received 221 email messages, 6 text messages, 12 phone calls, and 2 voice mails today, stopped for gummy worms on the way home, played trains, attended the high school musical with Becca, was hugged hugged hugged by “our” drama kids (the kids who are now seniors, but began acting in the middle school plays Becca & I directed), showered, stretched, and poured a glass of water, unpacked my bag, plugged in my computer, and told myself I will write?

I will write.

The habit is too important to break. The challenge is close to being completed and if sixty other slicers wrote today, I can too. I’m addicted to the rush of mashing words together in powerful ways. Being a writer is about collecting words, even when it is hard to find the time. I don’t just want to like the idea of being a writer. It is more than a romantic, feel-good notion. For me, being a writer is finding the time to put words on the page, doing it even when I don’t feel like it, regardless of if I feel it is good enough or worthy enough or even if anyone is going to respond to it.
I will write for me. I want to believe in myself. I want to know I can do the things I set my mind to do. I want to know I’m not too busy in the midst of this life.
I will write for me.  (I’ll revise for others.)