Category Archives: Sunday

transitions and here we go again!

Yes, we’re alive over here, time is just going so fast I start wondering where to start.

It’s such a strange thing to suddenly be the parent of older kids instead of having a posse of younger ones. The baby is going into 6th grade for heaven’s sake! I find myself gazing at her playing Barbies and with her American Girls, knowing in a blink they will soon be abandoned for American Eagle gift cards and iPods.

We’ve had a great summer, traveling out west for a family reunion, coming home to another family reunion (hosting all of Gregor’s brothers and family – a hoot and a holler!) The house has been FULL of people and so much food and messes and reminiscing.

Labor Day always marks the beginning of packing school lunches, quieter days, busier afternoons, and the rank smell of soccer cleats by the front door.

I find myself pondering Ernest Hemingway’s quote:

There is nothing else than now. There is neither yesterday, certainly, nor is there any tomorrow. How old must you be before you know that? -Ernest Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls

I’d like dispute that, Ernest. If I may. Because what of this:

The past in a cool, dark pond; our feet are always damp.

I took that line from book critic, Lucy Feldman. Isn’t it terrific?

Or how about Matt Nathanson’s greatest and latest song:

The past is a long distance runner…

So good!

I’ve always been one to look back and also forward. I think I have a better handle on it, feel more at peace with change.

It’s been a good summer and a hard one. We lost a tremendous man and friend to suicide. His impact reverberates through our community in a painful way I’ve wanted to run from, yet it’s been a huge wake up to remember we belong to each other. It’s a reminder to check in with one another. To speak up when we are hurting, to reach out when we need help.

But the good stuff?

A LOT of swimming at our favorite hole:

Traveling to Utah for a family reunion, where the stomach bug traveled through all of us (YES!). We hiked some mountains, sold books, rope swinged into Blood Lake, ate gallons of ice-cream.

In early August I ran in the Beach to Beach 10k alongside elite-level and olympic runners (okay, fine, they were practically finished before I started) and now I’m ready to train for the Cape Cod 1/2 marathon this October. SIGN UP HERE! We (running buddies Maryn, Jill, Chloe, and Cope) have had great times on the rail trail. Running a 9-miler with a pal bonds you for life, I swear.

The other night I lay here in the dark, looking out at a bright moon lighting up the sky. The next morning I awoke early for our girl posse long run. The moon was still up when we started; by the end of the run we were running into the sunrise. WOW.

I’m waxing a bit sentimental thinking of the upcoming year and the many changes that will occur. These kids we’re raising? We haven’t missed anything. It’s happening all as it should. We’re watching miracles happen every single day.

Here’s a picture of my siblings and me from this summer: I remember so well when we were little kids and now look at us. Side note: isn’t it remarkable that I’m the oldest and have retained my natural L’Oreal Medium Brown hair color when the rest…haven’t? What can I say??? I guess it’s all in the genes! 🙂

And look at these kids. What will they remember about their childhood together? Adding Grandpa and Tenny to the mix sure was a great idea!

So here we go:

Cope is awaiting her mission call! It should arrive any day. Like, ANY DAY. She will serve an eighteen-month mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. She will leave behind her phone(!) and everything else to serve and teach others of one thing: the life and mission of Jesus Christ. I’m in awe of her. She could be called to Brazil or Iowa – WE DON’T KNOW. I’ve known A LOT of missionaries, but how different it is to have my own child embark.  Strange, for sure.

Stay tuned!

Nelson embarks on his senior year and is currently going through the college admissions process. Boy, that’s no small feat. Note to self: we will survive. He’s also ALMOST done with his Eagle Scout project and fundraiser. I’m more than A LITTLE EXCITED to see him on the soccer field this fall. He loves the sport so much, and uh, so does his mama.

And Brynne Brynne? She’s a freshman! Zowie. Paige is a middle-schooler. I mean, what is going on? They will also be on the soccer field and I’ll be coaching, so you know, packing lots of Lara Bars.

I process these transitions by running (which leads to cravings of wavy potato chips and Diet coke, but hey, no one’s perfect.) Also? More sleep, please.

Talk to me. What are you transitioning to?

xoxo

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Why I Don’t Play On Sunday

Let me set the scene.

On Saturday morning my one and only son, Nelson, played in a basketball game that kicked off a tournament.  Single elimination.  Have I ever mentioned how much I love sports?  Well.  My heart beats at a quicker pace when I watch any of my children play; we are connected out there against the competition.  His basket is mine, her shot is my near-miss.  Their victory validates me (a little too much) and their defeat makes me pull my hair. I take great pleasure (and way too much pride) in their athleticism, but also take it personally when they fall short.  Yes, mama needs to get a grip.  But all I can say is, sports are a great joy to me. I’m always pushing those sweet things to try sports I never played, to practice their soccer moves, and for heaven’s sake, hydrate.

 

Let us pause here a moment.

 

We thought we knew what Daddy did on Saturday until I received this picture from a person who shall remain in protective custody.  Daddy says he’s coaching basketball when he’s gone to faraway places…but really…he’s playing Starsky and Hutch dress-up?

Let’s not go there today.  It’s Sunday.

 

So.  While driving Nelson to his basketball tournament on Saturday, we had a little pep talk about heart and soul.  Of being aggressive and smart and yeah, be a good sport, too.  He made his mama proud and played his heart out on the basketball court.  His defense was at its best.  His offense was at its peak.  At 11-years-old, he lives for a basket; it can make or break his mood for hours after.  Me?  I want to win, but I get over it quickly.  I’m finally maturing enough to see how FUN it is just to play.  How FUN it is to turn without your knees hurting.

Saturday he dribbled, passed, and shot.  Though none of his shots were going in, he was my hero; I saw the heart and soul.

His team was ahead and the clock was counting down and my Nellie had the ball, five, four…”Shoot the ball” the crowd cried.  “Go, Nelson!”  My hands clenched, I stopped breathing though my heart pounded.  His team didn’t need him to score, but I prayed, please God, please let this shot go in for my Nellie…please…he neeeeeds this!

Three, two…He went up for the shot but was blocked.  “Shoot the ball!” the crowd cried again.  One.. He went right, dribble step, and let the ball fly while getting hit in the face.  The ball soared through the air as the buzzer went off.  And then it swished through the net for a 2-pointer.

I almost cried.

The shot didn’t win the game, but it won my son.  Knees skinned, shins bruised, face clawed, he was exultant.  And need you ask?  So was I.

The team advanced to the next round, which was held the next day.  And even though I was prepared, my heart sank a bit.  The next day was Sunday.  His whole team would advance to the championship games together.  Without Nelson.  Without me in the stands – and who wouldn’t be sad about that??

Picture taking, bonding, rough housing, high fives.  Perhaps a few would ask, “Where’s Nelson?  Oh yeah, it’s Sunday.”  Some think it’s weird, some think it’s dumb, some even think it selfish to let a team down after practicing and competing together for three months and we can’t be there “just because it’s Sunday.”

I have wanted to write this post for a long time, but I always got stuck, worried about offending.  Let me say, I’d be horrified to come across as self-righteous.  That is not my intention, friends.  I’m just going to explain my “Why.”

As a Christian I interpret “Thou shalt keep the Sabbath day holy” as a day that I should keep the Sabbath day holy.  What does that mean to me?  Sunday is a day we go to church as a family.  We don’t watch the Disney Channel or play with friends (and that’s easy because none live on our road.)  We don’t go to restaurants or out for ice-cream or to movie theaters because that would mean we are making someone else work.  And it kills me sometimes, but it also means no basketball tournaments.

It also means I’ll never run the New York City Marathon even if I qualify or win the running lottery.  I’ll never run the Covered Bridges Half-Marathon in Vermont – something I’m supposed to do as a New England runner.  Marine Corps marathon?  Nope.  Dallas?  Pittsburgh?  Well, I’ve never wanted to go there anyway.  It means a lot for the future, as so many thing are now being scheduled for Sunday.

            Some “no’s” are harder than others, but in this case it’s easier to be all or nothing.  If I run one race on Sunday, why not another?  If we go to one birthday party, then why not the next?  If anything, I’m trying to be consistent.  I can’t be the hypocrite.  I just want to do the right thing and not have my kids wonder what crazy mama is going to change her mind about next.

            It’s not something I ever agonized over; it’s just something we always did.  I suspected for a long time it was because my mother liked napping so much.  And the Sabbath is the day of rest.  Bingo!  I get it now! If there is anything that is more appealing than sleep to a woman with children, well, I’d like to hear it.  Sorry, honey.  And anyway, if the Lord himself needed to rest on the seventh day, then why can’t I?

            When I was a kid our church was located right next to the swimming pool we belonged too.  We swam there everyday except on Sundays.  On hot summer days my dad would drive past that beautiful blue pool, us kids shoved in the back seat of the olive green station wagon that never had air-conditioning and say wistfully, “Look at all those sinners having a terrible time.”  Meanwhile my best friend would be canon-balling off the diving board and shrieking with glee.  They sure looked like they were having a terrible time.  We’d sulk and scowl and my dad would laugh his head off.  I guess I’ve continued the tradition of torturing my children, too.

 

            In college it occurred to me that I didn’t have to go to church.  I didn’t have to keep anything holy!  I could sleep.  I could skip.  I could hop on the back of that motorcycle and drive to Tennessee.  Yee-haw, I miss those Idaho days!  But the guilt complex was too much for me.  And anyway, I like my naps, remember?  These days, I rarely get a Sunday nap.  I’m busy being mama or getting a lesson ready.

 

My ma or pa aren’t here to tell me not to go swimming on the Sabbath.  My husband and I had to decide a long time ago what family life was going to look like on the Sabbath.  And we had to think:  Why?  Why doest it matter at all?

 

Why I don’t play.

 

1.  Physical regeneration.  I’m exhausted by Sunday.  I need the Sabbath to get rested for the onslaught of the coming week.  I give the world six of my days.  Can’t I just give the Lord, one?  “Come unto me, all ye heavy laden and I will give you rest.”  I need that rest.

 

2.  Spiritual growth.  I don’t think you need to go to church to feel the Lord’s spirit, but it is a very rare Sunday that I wish I had stayed home after I go.  I always leave with a better feeling than when I arrived.  I need it.  I crave it.  I need to remember who I am and what my purpose in life is.  A prayer, a scripture, a thought…it all helps me, especially when I’m surrounded by people who believe the same.  Their spirits feed mine.

 

3.  Obedience.  The way I keep the Sabbath day holy is my personal interpretation of how I love God on that day.  Heaven forbid that church becomes drive-through church, where I enter and leave unchanged.  I can’t be a brat to my neighbor and completely unchrist-like the rest of the week.  No, the Sabbath sets the stage for the rest of the week.  The way I keep the Sabbath day holy is my outward manifestation of my inner commitment to God.

 “Your neighbor’s vision is as true for him as your own vision is true for you.”

– Miguel de Unamuno. 

And whatever your vision, I respect that.  Each of us must decide what we stand for and then do that thing.

There are conflicts.  Because we don’t have gas stations just around the corner, and because I don’t plan well, sometimes I have to fill the gas tank.  I don’t like that. Sometimes my husband has to work on Sundays because he works at a boarding school and students need him.  Sometimes he can’t go to church with us.  When we lived on campus we went to church and then came home to be dorm parents to twelve teenage boys.  It was our job.  But it was still the Sabbath and the boys knew it.  Some would ask who that picture of Jesus was and why we went to church.  Once a student said to me, “I’ve heard of Moses – wasn’t he a really great actor?”  I always thought that very funny.  And a little sad, too.

            A woman I recently interviewed is a printmaker named J.Ann Eldridge.  Her light is strong.  You can tell by the thoughtful way she speaks that she means to do live with purpose.  She is not of my faith and I have no idea what she does on Sundays.  One of her prints is entitled, “My Religion Has Something to Do With Compost.”  The earth is her greatest passion and she takes care of it, recognizing its gift.  I find that holy.

            Once, when we were at church it was announced from the pulpit that a member of the congregation was having a water issue at their farm.  It was a dire situation and they needed help immediately.  The service was cancelled so we could go home and change and go to the farm with our shovels and trowels.  I’ll never forget my dear friend telling me how much it meant for her, as she sat in the middle of her farm, worried that all was lost, to see her church friends show up with shovels, food, and ready to work.  The farm was saved by brothers and sisters working side by side.  That’s holy.

            The Sabbath was meant for man, and not man for the Sabbath.

-Mark 2:27

            I have to admit, I had a moment of wavering yesterday.  As I drove my son home, I thought of how badly I wanted to be at that game.  How badly I wanted to see us win – surely we would!  How badly I wanted to see my son dribble and pass and play in the championship.  I looked over at my son and told him how awesome he was.  I even sang him a little Alecia Key’s, “This Nellie’s on fiiirre!”

“Man, it stinks that the game in on Sunday,” I said, whacking the steering wheel.

            “That’s why I played so hard,” he said.  “Because I knew it was probably my last game.”

            I wondered if it was unfair of me to make this decision for him.  After all, I hadn’t even asked if he wanted to play.  And he hadn’t asked either.  He hadn’t begged or cried or said one word about it.  And the game didn’t actually overlap with church.  He could play in the game and we could watch him as a family.  Then, as a family we could drive to church together.

            “What do you think, buddy?” I asked.  “Do you want to play?”  What would I do if he said yes? I wondered.  I think I would have to take him.  Perhaps it could be just this one time and we wouldn’t do it again because it really wasn’t what felt right to us.  But as I looked at him, I knew he had to make the decision for himself.

            He shrugged.  “Well, it just wouldn’t work,” he said.  “It’s Sunday.”  True that.  Thank you, son, I thought.  For helping me be strong.  For saying no when mama almost wanted you to say yes.  But not really.

Killer, how badly I wanted to go to that game.

As I recounted my son’s buzzer-boy-basket to his dad this morning I was animated and lively.  “I probably care more than Nelson does!” I said, looking at the clock.  It was one hour before game time.  Nelson put his arm around my shoulder and said, “That’s probably true.”

 

            So we didn’t go.  In-between hair-combing and picking out the church dresses and gathering our Sunday stuff, I checked my phone anxiously as a friend sent texts of the play-by-play nail-biter.  They lost by 8.

 

Would I do it any differently?  Nah.  We drank smoothies for breakfast, dressed for church, squabbled in the car, heard two of the best talks I’ve heard this year, and drove home together with less squabbling because we were all feeling the spirit a little better and a little louder.  And then we had dinner, a short family night and played Pounce and ate Thin Mints for dessert.  As a family.  I guess it’s just the way we roll.

 

I often wonder, if I died tomorrow and found out everything I ever thought was true, wasn’t, would it have been worth it?  Would I be mad I missed the tournament?  I’ve decided not.

 

The Sabbath day has served me well and so I do with that as I will, and keep it the best I know how.  How, I wonder, do you do it differently?

 

Here’s something I believe with all my heart:  We are all brothers and sisters made in the image of the same God who loves us all.  We are here to learn how to be happy, but we must all find out how to do that for ourselves.  I’ve felt the power of God and his spirit.  It is very real to me.  My adherence to the Gospel of Jesus Christ might set me apart from the world, but it’s also the one thing that unites us all.  I know I am a child of God and I also know that so is everyone else.

 

It was on the Sabbath day and at the feet of my mother and father that I truly learned that.  I was also taught to honor God.  In return, God would honor me.  He hasn’t let me down yet.

 

So tomorrow is Monday.  And then I shall play.

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Beware of Being Nice?

My brother-in-law has a theory:  “For every nice thing you do for your child, they will punish you for it.”

At the time he said it, I was confused.  What do you mean?  That’s a little cynical, don’t you think?  But as time went by, I started paying attention to all the “wonderful and nice” things I do for my children.

When I pack their lunches they often say, “I hate that!”  When we take them on a fun trip they fight in the car.  When I buy them one thing at the store, they often get upset that they can’t have TWO things.  I seem to vacillate between being the recipient of two statments…”Oh, thank you Mommy, you’re the BEST Mommy in the world!” and “You’re so mean!”

It is often baffling to me how I can be a witch and Glenda the Good Fairy within the same ten minutes.

I’m really into chore charts, making kids weed, having children vacuum their own rooms because I believe this makes me less of a doormat and them more capable and thus, more confident.  And clean.  

Lately though, I decided that I wanted to work on having more “fun” with my kids.  My head swirled with wonderful activities we could do together.  I downloaded Kelle Hampton’s Petco Scavenger Hunt (FUN idea!).  For everything I’m trying to teach, I also want my children to remember their mother smiling and having fun with them.

This month on powerofmoms.com the author call-out theme is, “How Do You Have Fun With Your Kids?”  Perfect, I thought.  I’d do something fun and submit my story.

I picked Sunday, not traditionally a “fun” day in our house, more of a collapse after church day.  Every Sunday afternoon Gregor and I take a long afternoon nap.  When I’m not yelling down the stairs to “Be Quiet!” or “Paige, do not open my door to ask me about licorice,” Sunday naptime has to happen for us all to coexist.  

I also decided, that Sunday dinners would become more special.  “Yes!” Nelson shouted, “Does that mean no more spaghetti?”  I guess we have too much spaghetti.  So, with “fun” on my mind, I woke up from my Sunday nap and hopped downstairs.  Inspired by Shawni’s International Nights of food, I chose Chinese to cook for dinner.  The kids were super duper double dog decker excited about that one –  they love all things Chinese food.  Even the bad buffet lines.  They love it all.

Now, waking up from my Sunday naps is usually not a fun experience.  Leaving four children downstairs for two hours is a dangerous proposition, but there you have it.  I need the nap more than I need the house clean.

But instead of wallowing in the overwhelming sea of oh my gosh what have you done to this house…I swallowed and smiled.  Today was going to be fun.  Taking pictures always helps me see the lighter side.
This is only the kitchen.  The entire living room was a very impressive-looking fort.  The other side of the kitchen was a ship made out of the table and chairs.  Cope also decided she would make her first skirt with her brand new sewing machine.  She’s never made clothing of any sort before.  I did appreciate her go-getter attitude.

It didn’t quite turn out.  She didn’t know that the fabric was supposed to be doubled.  “I’m so bad at this domesticity!” she wailed.  I hear ya’ girl, I hear ya.  It takes a lifetime to master, honey.  And I never did master the sewing and that’s why I stay far, far away from sewing projects.  That is why I have my sister-in-law Kimmy.  The skirt barely fit Paige, but still, way to try, Cope.

Quick, quick, I said, clean up time so we can have Chinese! They actually hustled with excitement.

Time to move on to our very easy Chinese dinner. Yum.
I found this idea on Pinterest, I think.  Fortunes cooked in rolls!  I put Nelson in charge of writing the fortunes which he whole-heartedly embraced with great gusto and glee.  Yes, dangerous, but FUN nonetheless.  

Write the fortune on a little piece of paper and fold in a tiny square of tin foil.

In the mean time, Grandpa showed up for dinner with summer produce.  Hooray!  Making the evening that much more fun.

That Sunday morning, I took out a frozen loaf of bread (3 for $3.99 at grocery store) and let it rise during the day.  After my nap it was ready to be cut up into eight rolls.  Easy.  The kids always tell me how good my bread recipe is so you should feel very lucky that I shared it with you.

Flatten out the roll, put the tin foil fortune into the roll.  Fold dough up and put on greased pan.  Cook 10 minutes at 400 degrees.
Uncle Ian came over for games of chess in the backyard.  Love having their pictures taken.  Fun.

I admired the swiss chard that was sitting the sink, then froze it for the next day’s Vitamix concoction.

The stir fry came together quickly.  The rice was plucky and fluffy.

And was so delicious.  It really was a hit with the whole family.  Easy recipe:
Ginger (didn’t have fresh; used dry)

Garlic (minced…to taste)

stir fry in a little oil

Add chicken and saute to cook through

add chopped red pepper
sauce:

1 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons vinegar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

red pepper flakes

Mix together and add to stir fry. Sauce will thicken after a minute or two

Then add some dry roasted peanuts and scallions.


Serve over rice.
Thanks, Shawni!

I also made frozen egg rolls.  They were fair.
Gregor cut up the squash and made this amazing spicy Chinese dish, but I really couldn’t tell you how.



The biggest hit of the night was…

Nelson’s fortunes.

Baked inside these beauties were small nuggets of a better life and future…

Mine said, “Good things are being said about you…somewhere.”

I’ll have to always remember how much fun it was to have Grandpa open the fortune roll that said, “It is a bad sign when someone says, ‘you’re ugly.'”

Grandpa is a very good sport.

With our Sunday dinner almost completed, I looked around the table and felt a swell of family love.  Everyone was laughing, talking, chowing down. The light was low, the table had been set and even had a tablecloth.  We used cloth napkins and matching cups.  Yes, a success.  It was decided that our Sunday meals would be a little more special from now on.

My eyes wandered around the table, resting on Gregor who gave me a smile.  We went around the room and asked, “What did you learn today?” and my favorite, “Who did you help today?”  Then my eyes came to rest on Nelson.  He had laughed like Shrek’s donkey and scarfed down so much food he was swaying back and forth with happy delirium.

“Oh…” he moaned, “Can I go lay down?”

“Sit,” I said.  “You’re not getting out of dishes.”  I’m convinced my children are masters at being sick at opportune times.

“I really don’t feel good,” he said, patting his stomach.

He got the look.

Minutes went by and when his mom wasn’t looking, the boy wandered into the living room and flopped on the couch.  I took note of his whereabouts and turned back to our dinner.  Until I heard this noise.  It was that noise.  I looked over to see Nelson leaning over the couch and hurling food out of his mouth.  His entire dinner, all the contents of his stomach came up.  It kept coming…and coming…and coming.

I have never seen so much food come out of a person.

I looked at Gregor.  “Oh…Nelson,” he lamented.  “Why didn’t you grab the bowl?”  (We have empathy issues.)

“You have to clean that up,” I said to Gregor, while yelling to Nelson, “So sorry buddy!”

Gregor went into the living room, turned around, and walked back in the kitchen gagging.  “Can’t. do. it,” he choked out.  This has been Gregor’s one annoying trait since we were engaged. (Yep!  He only has one 🙂 He really did come a long way in our marriage.  For instance, he managed to hold my hair when I threw up every morning pregnant with Cope.  He changed diapers, wiped up spit-up, and scrubbed poop off carpet.  I’ve been so proud of his progress.

But these skills have obviously been under-used and gotten rusty.

So I went into the living room and I’m not joking, I had to run right back out my gag reflex was so intense.  My eyes watered, my nose was so overpowered by the smell that I had to force myself to keep it in.

And so, dear 76-year-old Grandpa, asked for a bowl and a scraper and went to work cleaning up the vomit of his grandson.  I have had very few moments when I felt so ashamed.  But still, even that shame couldn’t get me back into the living room.  

Arthur, I’m so very sorry.

Well, Nelson stayed on the couch and fell sleep.  The rest of us ate brownies and ice-cream.

We did have fun.

We were punished.

No, I did not submit my “fun” story.  It was better here anyway, where I really live.

One thing I vow to continue:  We will continue to have better and higher-quality Sunday dinners where we sit around the table like a Norman Rockwell painting meeting an episode of Parenthood.

But at the back of my mind I am circling back to my brother-in-law’s comment.  “For every fun thing you do for your child, they will punish you for it.”

I’m sorry to say, Curt, that you just might be right.  I’m still holding out a teensy weensy bit of hope though…

This weekend I am running away to NYC with husband.  The children are not coming.  Uncle Ian is in charge…Good luck, honey.  

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