Scooting Along

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I drove over to Walla Walla last week.  Four hours down. I attended a one day conference that greatly extended my to do list at work.   Rather boring to do list all about writing policy and procedure manuals and new compliance training logs.  Really nice hotel, great steak and blue cheese wedge salad.   Four hours back.  The drive was fabulous.   Perfect weather.     I’ve been many places around the world and seen some beautiful vistas.  I may be biased but The Columbia River Gorge is still in my top ten.    I love that where I live is one of my favorite places.

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Last week I also went for a run.   (For those of you wondering…I also swam, and lifted weights, and rode my bike….six weeks to go until the big er…little tri).   I invited my nine year old to come along.  She rode her bike.   We went over to the school track because I could see her even if she went ahead.  She loves lapping her mama.   At one point she came up and the following conversation took place.

Nine year old:   Mom, can you stop for a second so I can show you something?

Me:   No.  If I stop running I don’t start again.

Nine year old:   Mom.   You aren’t running.

Me:  What? Yes I am.

Nine year old:  Nope, you aren’t even jogging.  You are just kinda scooting along.

At this point I laughed.   I do way better on my days when this kind of thing makes me laugh not yell. Makes me think I may be able to parent this child and her sister through the dreaded jr. high years.     I laughed.  And then I kicked it into gear and actually ran.   Nothing like a little truth to spur me into action.

Here’s to coaching from nine year olds, cuddles from the baby, dates with my spouse and a big goal ahead.   I really do like the view at my house.


I stole this photo from an adorable wedding – and from   Hopefully she lets me get away with it if you go check out her stuff!

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Longhouses and Outhouses

longhouse twoLast week was spectacular at our house.   And by spectacular I mean we survived.   I wasn’t positive we would.   In the midst of the week my spouse came walking past the living room, saw me staring into nothing and told me I looked like a zombie.   That was the low point.

We had our children six and a half years apart.   There were a variety of reasons including our choice, Rwanda, tuberculosis and the fact that since my sister and I are six and a half years apart it just feels right.   There are benefits.   Comic Relief.   But the big age difference means that we are signed up for the long haul parenting plan.    We told the principal last week at the elementary school that she’s stuck with us for 12 straight years.   We’ll have one child entering Kindergarten right when the eldest is headed to middle school.   That’ll be fun.

But last week it meant we had one child potty training and one child trying to complete a 3rd grade NW Coastal Region Native People’s Longhouse.      Both projects were overwhelming.    I hate potty training.   I think that’s easy to understand.

The longhouse was overwhelming for other reasons.  You know how some elementary schools beg people to join PTA and never have enough room moms?   How some kids showlonghouse up with their projects not finished because no one at home would help?    That’s not the school our kid attends.    We quit going to PTA meetings when it was apparent that the spots were all full and they clearly had it all under control.  I’d rather help homeless kids or foster kids than fight for a spot.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining at all.  I love our school, I’m just grateful they don’t need me!   But it does up the pressure a bit when school projects come home.   The librarian laughed last week and said that NW Coastal Region Native People’s Longhouse week is his favorite week to see what parents can do.   Ha.

So because we survived and turned in a completed longhouse AND potty trained the baby, and because a list is one of my favorite ways to celebrate – here is what we all learned.

Things My Nine Year Old Learned While Completing the Longhouse:        You can make almost anything with a glue gun.  Splinters from cedar planks hurt.     NW Coastal Region Native People lived in close quarters with all their relatives.  (So do we when mom looks like a zombie and calls in help).

Things My Two Year Old Learned:    Pink panties are more fun than white panties.    Purple Skittles are the best.   Splinters canoefrom big sister’s cedar planks hurt.

Things My Husband Learned:     There are a lot of women who live at this house.  I think he knew this already.

What I learned:  I am officially done having children.  Two is good.   I also learned that NW Coastal Region Native People had white wooly dogs.  The technical term in the literature was wooly.

About midway in the potty training process I found myself sitting in the bathroom and cheering for my youngest daughter while picking up poo off the floor.   I was cheering because some of the poo made it into the potty.  Gotta celebrate little victories.

I had an epiphany while sitting on the bathroom floor.  You know how people sometimes ask ‘Why did Jesus have to go through torture and death and burial and all that?     It is not possible to potty train or build a longhouse without getting dirty.    Neither can be done by just giving directions.   You actually have to be present in the mess to make any sort of difference.   Jesus had to deal with hell to save me because that’s where I was.  It was while I was a mess that He showed up.    And that’s part of why I show up for my kids and for hurting kids.

Forget the zombie in the living room.   I’m grateful.

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Brown Like Purple. Again.

For those of you following along with my previous blogs please note that yesterday I officially ran out of eyeliner.  The standard boring brown kind.  I have none.  I’m going to have to go to the store and buy more eyeliner.  I hate buying makeup.

I only bring this up because I’m two weeks into my training for my triathlon which is what I signed up for instead of buying purple eyeliner.   That’s how much I hate the makeup aisle.  I signed up to run 3 miles, swim 1/4 mile and bike 12 miles all to get the same fun kick as trying out a crazy shade of makeup.  Clearly I need help.

In the last couple weeks I’ve texted my ever patient and very talented swimming cousin about a thousand times with every question under the sun.   At her recommendation, I purchased a swimsuit that is scary.  It called a Dolphin Ugly.  Who wants to wear a swimsuit from a company that markets said suit as Ugly?   Me apparently.    I also purchased goggles.   I haven’t worn either.  They are on my front porch.  Go Amazon Prime.  I had my bike fixed and it is now sporting new tires and new shifters.   I joined the local YMCA.    I should have just bought purple eyeliner and moved on.  Would have been cheaper. But now I’m too far in to quit.

First day at the Y I ran and biked and found the bathrooms and didn’t die.   Today was my first day in the pool.   I was thrilled that the only other people in the pool were a bunch of grandmas doing a senior water workout class.      Today my goal was to swim the distance I’ll have to do in the actual event in August.   I succeeded.  Sort of.   18 laps is a long way to go when out of shape.  Most of it I did on my back.   I ran my head into the end wall only once.   I veered into the other lanes only twice.  Go me.  Ha.

Problem with swimming and working out is that now I’m starving.  And I have four days left on my I don’t eat diet.   I’m a tad scared that when its over I’m going to promptly eat everything in sight and gain all 27 pounds back.    I laughed with a co-blogger who stated that she was scared one pastrami sandwich post diet would be her undoing.    She said in reality it would probably take two pastrami sandwiches.   That’s me.  A little scared of purple eyeliner and pastrami sandwiches.

I’m a little scared but mostly I’m grateful.  I am grateful to my cousins who agreed to coach.  I’m grateful to my girlfriends who signed up with me.   I’m grateful to my spouse who like always is cheering me on.

I’m grateful to the Y for this great quotation from Ghandi that is painted on their wall.   ” Strength does not come from physical capacity.  It comes from an indomitable will”.  This is why I think we’ve got a shot at finishing in August.  Its because I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.

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My 100 Books

I’ve had several people ask my for my list of 100 books.  Here it is.  Please note that some of these are recent reads and we’ll have to see if they stick with me.   There are some books I’ve loved over the years that have fallen off this list simply because they didn’t stick.  But most of these books I think about, they make their way into my conversations and into my writing.  They are books I want my kids to read and books I try to talk my friends into reading.   I’ve left #100 empty for two reasons -First I always have room for another book and second – I want to know what books on this list you love and which ones you hate and which ones I should add.    Any that are marked with an * are young adult reads and any with ** are picture books.  Frankly I learn as much from a beautiful picture book as I do from a full length novel.   These aren’t in any particular order – the books of the Bible I listed are certainly not that low on my personal list….

1. Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom
2. The Great Divorce by CS Lewis
3. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle*
4. Amazing Grace by Eric Metaxis
5. A movable Feast by Ernest Hemmingway
6. Exodus by Leon Uris
7. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
8. Left to Tell by Immacule Ilibagiza
9. Taste and See by John Piper
10. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

11. Strength in what remains by Tracy kidder
12. Dangerous Surrender by Kay Warren
13. Gone with the wind by Margaret Mitchell
14. Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
15. Evidence that Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell
16. Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
17. We wish to info you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families by Philip Gourvich
18. The Parisians by Graham Robb
19. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaeffer
20. All the Narnia books by CS Lewis *

21. Andrew Henry’s Meadow by Doris Burn **
22. This is not my hat by Jon Klassen **
23. A sick day for Amos McGee by Philip stead **
24. Grandfathers Journey by Allen Say **
25 The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr.. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce **
26. Don’t let the Pidgeon drive the bus by mo willems **
27. Paperbag Princess by Robert Munsch **
28. No one owns the moon by Tohny Riddle **
29. Hand hand fingers thumb by dr suess **
30. Giant John by Arnold Lobel **

31. Ramona the Pest, Beverly Cleary *
32. Danny Champion of the world , Roald Dahl *
33. Heidi, Johanna Spyre *
34. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkein
35. Bridge to Teribithia by Katherine Paterson *
36.Little house on the prairie by Laura Ingells Wilder *
37. The Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett *
38. Little Women by Loiuse May Alcott *
39.Tales of Winnie the Pooh by AA Milne *
40. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster *

41. John: so much love   (BIBLE)
42. Esther: bravery defined  (BIBLE)
43. Ruth: loyalty lived  (BIBLE)
44. Nehemiah: I am building a wall and I can’t come down  (BIBLE)
45. James: just do it  (BIBLE)
46. Psalms; I see you  (BIBLE)
47. Proverbs: live thus  (BIBLE)
48. Romans; think through this  (BIBLE)
49. Hebrews: you can do it too  (BIBLE)
50. Revelations: glory glory  (BIBLE)

51. The Firm by John Grisham
52. Big trouble by Dave Barry
53. All Things Bright and Beautiful by James Herriot
54. Brave New World by Aldus Huxley
55. Enchantment by Orson Scott Card
56. The Princess Bride by William Goldman
56. When Crickets Cry by Charles Martin
57. Summer of the Monkeys by Wilson Rawls
58. AVoice in the Wind by Francine Fivers
59. From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler by EL Koniksburg *
60. My Side of the Mountain by John Craighea D George *

61. Gone with the Wind. Margaret Mitchell
62. A Room with a View. EM Forster

63. Journey – Aaron becker **

64. Choosing Joy – Kay Warren

65 The Adventures of Beekle = Dan Santat **

66. Throw out 50 Things – Gail Blanke

67. Unoffendable – Brant Hanson

68. Joni – An Unforgettable Story – Joni Eareckson Tada

69 Cross and the Switchblade – David Wilkerson

70 Unbroken – Laura Hillenbrand

71 Seabiscuit – Laura Hillenbrand

72 The Case for Faith – Lee Strobble

73. What’s so amazing about Grace – Phillip Yancey

74. Mere Christianity – CS Lewis

75. The Book Theif – Markus Zusak

76. The Boy who Harnessed the Wind William Kamkwamba

77. Same Kind of Different as Me – Ron Hall, Denver Moore

78. Struggle for Intamacy – (ACofA) Janet Geringer Woititz

79. Erasing Hell – Francis Chan

80. The Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger

81. Winnie The Pooh – A A Milne *

82: Black Beauty – Anna Seuwell *

83. Charlotte’s Web E B White *

84. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

85. The Purpose Driven Life – Rick Warren

86. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy

87. The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck

88. The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway

89. Pilgrim’s Progress – John Bunyan

90. The Screwtape Letters – C S Lewis

91. Olivia and the Princesses – Ian Falconer **

92. Holes – Louis Sachar *

93. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH – Robert C. O’Brien *

94. S: J. J. Abrams, Doug Dorst

95. Enchantment – Orson Scott Card

96. The Great Gatsby- F. Scott Fitzgerald

97. Catch 22 – Joseph Heller

98. The Illustrated Man – Ray Bradbury

99. On Writing – Stephen King



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Brown like Purple

Strange thing happened to me yesterday.   I was standing in the makeup aisle at Safeway.   Which should have warned me something was not right.  I don’t wear a ton of makeup and when I do it’s always the same.   A little Clinique coverup, brown  eyeliner and some mascara.     That’s it really.     

During my get rid of 40 boxes during Lent challenge I cleaned out my makeup drawer and moved out the nine tubes of various shades of never used lipstick.   Felt good.

So over the weekend I told a friend I was ready for a new look.  She told me to go for it. Buy a new eyeliner.   Go purple!   Fun! I like new things.  I like purple!

So yesterday, standing in the makeup aisle I was looking at purple eyeliners.  And I put it back.  Chickened out.  It occurred to me that I’m almost 40 and perhaps purple sparkles is not who I am at core.   Right?

I have this gorgeous pair of heels. Love them. Never wear them. I put them on sometimes and walk down my hallway.  Twist my ankle. Grin. Take them off.  My two year old wears them more than I do.   Giving them away.   They are gorgeous. But they aren’t really me. 

 So instead of buying the purple eyeliner I walked out of the store.   Went to my computer.  Sat and contemplated the novice entry form for the short distance triathalon that friends and I have been flirting with for the past several months.    

Why I really want is a brown eyeliner that feels purple.  I don’t want a new me.  I just want a challenge and an adventure and some silly fun.

So I did it. I registered.  16 weeks. 1/4 swim, 12 mile bike, 5k run. That’s some purple.  Wanna join me?


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Weight in the Court

Every so often I spend time in a court room.  I’m usually waiting to have my two minute say on a claim.    I’ve read enough Grisham novels to be interested in the drama and I’ve worked with enough attorneys to generally keep up with what is happening.   When I has a teen I wanted to be an attorney.   Turns out it’s cheaper and more time efficient to hire one than to get the degree.  But I like courtrooms. Occasionally it’s humorous.  Sometimes its sad. It’s never boring. This week, regardless that the scene was short, was remarkable.

I was sitting in the back row of the gallery.   I like to sit in the back. A better view of the crowd.   It was obvious there was one man who was not happy to be present.   The court clerk called the room to order and asked if anyone needed an interpreter or accommodations.   The man in the front row quite loudly informed the clerk he has had a recent knee replacement replacement and so he needed to go first.   The clerk marked her paper, nodded and continued her speech.

Angry man repeadly huffed and sighed and interrupted the clerk while demanding special treatment.  When he was assigned to his mediator he slightly limped out.   All judgment aside, I’m sure the surgery hurt.   He made sure we all knew.

And then there was this other man who quietly sat in the back.  He didn’t respond when she asked if anyone needed accommodations. Although no one would have blinked had he asked.  He sat quietly and patiently waited his turn.

This man had clearly survived a horrible fire.  His whole body was scarred and marbled.  He had no ears.    It looked like it must hurt to blink.  Both hands had stumps for fingers.  One leg was noticably much shorter.

When this man’s case was called I smiled because it turned out he was a self employed business owner.    I love entrepreneurs.  Especially ones who beat the odds.

When it was his turn to leave the courtroom, he picked up his documents deftly with what was left of his hands and walked out confidently  though it was obvious by gate and speed that every step hurt.

I wanna be like this guy.   Independent.  Tough.   Courageous.  Unassuming.  Patient.  Faithful.   Resourceful.

Sadly,  frequently  I’m like the first man.  Overly concerned about my needs, holding on tightly to my excuses (however valid they may be) and loudly demanding accommodations.

Now I only saw both men for about five minutes. I have no idea who they really are or the stories either would tell.  But I do know our lives are made up of choices we make in little five minutes increments.  Choices about how we handle what life deals.  And people are watching.

 I was a witness to an incredible juxtaposition of two responses to a wait in a court room.   And one man’s choice reflected character.   Weighty.  

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Priceless Porcelain

photoI spent Sunday afternoon at a bridal shower for my beautiful cousin.   She’s marrying my kind of man.   Big burly guy with a full beard who cooks and brews his own beer and has a gentle spirit.   Good choice.    The bridal shower was a full formal English tea.  My lovely aunt pulled out all her fancy dishes and her even fancier recipes.  We were surrounded by Devonshire cream, peanut butter truffles, chicken salad tarts, cucumber sandwiches and strawberry soup.   Earl Grey and Mango Passion and Peppermint Teas.   Rolled butter and jam and heart-shaped scones.    It was all beautiful.

I brought my daughters along even though I think technically they weren’t invited.  My aunt is the kind

photo 1where people who show up uninvited get a warm welcome.   She hauled a familiar child’s table and chairs downstairs and unpacked a beautiful tiny tea set.    I gulped a little.  The table, chairs and tea set all belonged to my cousin, Annie.   She currently has her tea parties in heaven.   Treasures from ones we’ve lost should be treated with care.

And my two-year old is….well….she’s two.

My aunt looked directly at the little miss and said “I know you’ll be fine, you know how to  be gentle”.   She looked at me and said “I won’t take it with me”.

Ah yes.  That lesson again.   People matter more than things.   Our treasures are in heaven.

I love that my aunt holds things loosely and people tightly.   It’s the right priority.

photo 4The little girls were, in fact, gentle.   I’m sure the vote of confidence from my aunt went a long way.  I should remember this.  I tend to rise to the standard that I’m treated.   If  I assume they’ll be gentle than it’s significantly more likely they’ll be gentle.   The girls toasted each other.  They toasted the bride.   They ate all the sugar cubes.    photo 3

After the tea, the youngest daughter hauled presents up to the bride.   My eldest daughter learned how to make a rehearsal practice bridal bouquet.   We told her this was an important life skill.    Used significantly more often than algebra.   Don’t tell her I said that.   Don’t tell my math teacher friends that either.   Algebra is important.

photo 5After everyone went home my sister and I stayed to help with the dishes.    My aunt sent me a text today expressing great thanks for the help serving the tea and doing the dishes.    It was seriously my pleasure.  Standing in the kitchen yesterday with my sister and my aunt I thought about our weddings and bridal showers and graduation parties.    My aunt helped at them all.  It frequently required planet tickets to do so.    This post is officially my return thank you.   Thank you for the many parties and recipes and dishes.   Thank you for the life lessons and the love.   Thank you for sharing your daughter’s tea set with my daughters.   Thank you for letting us love on your daughter.

Moms and daughters.  Aunts and nieces.

It was priceless.

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