Monday, May 30, 2011

all the cool kids are doing it.

i'm still sick. stupid sinuses. and of course i have to take meds that make me feel really weird in order to feel better. so i'm basically useless today. however, i have some fun things to share.
first, we just got back from the beach. Nags Head, on the Outer Banks of NC. You should go there someday... it's spectacular. I love it.
(these are actually pics from last year. this year i was too full of snot to get my camera out. i'll be stealing some from our friend Brian soon. I will then post them here).
Pea Island:
Sand dunes at sunset:
Also, this was fun. We had the van all packed up on thursday night. Got in the car at 6am friday morning. And nothing worked on the dashboard. And no working wipers. GRRRR. So, anyway, it was broken. busted. Mysteriously fine now that we're back. But, we had to unload the van AND load the CAMRY. toyota. camry. with three kids piled in the back, all still in boosters/carseats. here is where i thank the gods of portable DVD players, because HOLLER, the kids did great! And it was mostly due to the great dvd player, not our great parenting, although i'd love to claim that.

onto more important things:
One thing you should do, like right now, is go HERE. Read about this organization (The Adventure Project) and then click on the #1to1000 thingy. They are trying to get Bill Gates' attention by having lots of people create profiles, and dedicating those profiles to their cause. So, you go to the site, create a profile, and in your bio you write about yourself and add this: I am One of 1000 people giving their page to be about so-much-more. We believe that by empowering rural farmers we can help end hunger and extreme poverty.

Once you've created your profile, go back and register it at the Adventure Project. All we have to do is make some noise, and then small farmers in KENYA get help, a voice, and a jump-start to feed their families and communities. Yes, that is awesome. thanks for lending your VOICE! it matters!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

I miss you blog.

hello internet, how are you?
I've been busy... had a birthday and an anniversary (9 years married and creeping further into my 30's... i really do love getting older and wiser :))...
and i have a cold... (still have the cold. very annoying).
Blowing out candles with my favorite peeps...

making all of pete's mohawk dreams come true for "crazy hair day" at school...
cursing dear pete for making laundry that much harder...

Sammy chillin' and making funny faces while staying hydrated... (have i told you how HOT it is?it went from like 65 to 90 here. just like that. hello 90 degrees. go away.)
Leah was in her recital a few weeks ago and I haven't been able to share pics yet! she was a crocodile...
and she did a super job! it was the same weekend as her cinderella play, so she was tired out by the end of it all! but she did a great job.... loves the stage!
that's the same stage I performed on for many years... so cool watching my baby girl dance too! we'll definitely have to find a good studio once we move...
oh, and who wouldn't be highly entertained by a naked booty statue in the lobby? hmmm? not pete. didn't affect him at all.
Have a happy weekend... we'll be soaking in the Atlantic Ocean for a few days... lots of love to you all!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

a lot.

there's a lot going on. Normal stuff.
My birthday is next week, and so is our anniversary.
I'm creeping higher into my thirties.
I keep remembering that (I'm getting old) in between preparing food for three hungry mouths (plus 7, if you count my parents, sisters, husband, and myself), attempting to potty train the most stubborn three year old alive, and doing laundry.
I see a few gray hairs here and there, and day dream about living in Italy.
I stress over where my kids are going to school next year, when Sam will poop in the damn potty, and where the heck are we going to live after Zach is done with school?
I get a little panicky about my kids growing up. Will they be nice people? Will they be respectful of others? Will they work hard? Will they want to make a difference in the world? Will they remember what I want to teach them? Am I teaching them well? Am I teaching them enough?
Zach ran out of video time during Leah's dance recital, so we didn't get it on tape. I was sort of sad about this, and was telling my mom and her friend after the rehearsal. Her friend, Susan, whom I've known since I was little (and who's dumbass husband just left her after raising 4 kids together) just looked at me, smiled huge, and in her awesome southern accent said "honey, life is made up of tiny little moments that you never, ever catch on tape. That's what matters. That's what makes up your memories."
Just good ol' every day life. Ain't that the truth.
This week, as I ran one kid here, one kid there, the other over there, and myself here and there, I remembered how amazing my life is. I get to raise these kids. I love them more than I ever, ever, ever could have imagined. They are brilliant and beautiful and fun. I'm the luckiest mom!
Even better? I get to raise these little lights (lights who, without fail, also drive me nuts about a thousand times a day...) with my best friend.

This song made me cry the first time I saw it, because it's us. That is me, and that is Zach. We were so, so young when we started dating. And now we've been married for 9 years, next week. Every day is a challenge and miracle, and I can't imagine living life with anyone else, even if he stinks and thinks baseball is entertaining.
I love my life. this year has brought weird tumors and surgeries and getting into school and selling our house and a bajillion other things... all revealing mercy and grace.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Nyasha of Zimbabwe

My daughter was INCREDIBLE last week in her play. I truly had no idea that her role was so big! We are incredibly blessed to be a part of an amazing arts community, out of which a school was created. This is the saddest part of our move for me, as a mother. This school is amazing in so many ways, and I'm so sad to leave it! I know we'll find another great community, but this is truly special and should serve as a model for ALL public schools. Sigh. Hopefully schools like this are leading the charge in our education reform... because all I know is this... it's WORKING! And watching these little kids perform like this is proof! Anyway, I'm stepping off my soapbox now to show you some photos from this amazing performance...

Leah was Nyasha, Zimbabwe's version of Cinderella. The kids did three versions of Cinderella in order to study the story from different cultural perspectives. Leah's class did Zimbabwe's version, one class did Italy's version, and the third class did India's version. They were all so well done and I was sooo proud of each and every little performer!

Leah in her costume:
We did braids... if I'd had more time that morning I would've braided her whole head, but that proved impossible, so a few worked just fine!
Leah was singing here, all by herself on stage! She was growing her garden... (I'll try here not to show other kids' faces out of respect for their parents and not publicly showing them!)
She's singing, still watering and growing her garden...

Reflecting on being the kind sister and doing the right thing (as opposed to the sister who would rather be a mean queen than a nice princess...)
A few scenes later, the prince sees that Nyasha has proven her kindness through all kinds of tests, so he asks for her hand in marriage...
Then they do ceremonial dances to celebrate the wedding!
We were so proud :).

Way to go sweet girl! We're all so proud of you!!!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Crazy May

Well Hello there, it looks as though it's MAY ELEVENTH.
Holy toledo, where does the time go?
May is another busy season for us... the wrapping up of oh, everything. School, dance, school performances, jobs... birthdays, anniversaries, etc, etc... all good, all fun, all head-spinning!

Ignore my wrinkles and big nose for a second and check out this gorgeous little lady... she has a lead role in her 1st grade play this week, in the Zimbabwe version of Cinderella... she is Cinderella (in this version: Nyasha)!!!! So proud of my brilliant girl... and she'll be in a big dance recital this weekend too! Pictures to come...
It's been quite fun living here for these few months... I get to see things like Annie's PROM HAIR! Yes, our sweet Annie got to go to prom! I need to track down some pictures of her dressed up, but here's the hair at least... she looked so cute! She went with a special-needs boy who has been in school with her since their education began. Their teachers were at the prom to make sure they were okay. So cool that these kids were included in such a fun event!
While it HAS been great living here (hi mom, hi dad), it's also been eye-opening to live with a middle schooler (my youngest sister). Ahem. I won't say more than that. However, if you don't know what this is like, get ready. Be prepared. Be very, very afraid. And have a good therapist lined up. And a lot of wine. (I kid! Sort of! AAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!).

Anyway, It'll be nice to wake up to this every morning:
And I can't wait to make lots of delicious meals in this cute kitchen (not usually a huge fan of darker cabinets but HELLO! Check out these original oak beauties!). We are so blessed to have found a home that will serve our family so well.

I wish you all a wonderful week... and I'm holding so many of you in my thoughts and prayers. Many friends are traveling soon to meet their children, their children who have waited for families for so long... many others are waiting, in that time of painful wondering... who are my children? I have such dear friends walking the long, tedious, heartbreaking road of infertility, and I'm holding you all in my heart as you journey through these things.

I love this little passage and reflecting on gratitude.... lots of love to you all!

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity.... It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow. Melodie Beattie

Saturday, May 7, 2011


Hi there! I just wanted to thank you for reading my post from Thursday and being so kind. I wrote that about a week ago, after I had overreacted about something and felt a ton of shame over it. Simultaneously I was reading Anne Lamott's Grace (Eventually) and her words buoyed me up at the right time. I needed to write out my thoughts regarding my own struggles, and I had wanted to write about Anne's words as well. Initially the essay was personal, just a plain old word document, but I heard a voice whispering to share it here, publicly. I was afraid to share such a personal struggle. But Anne shared hers with the world and helped me, so I wanted to be real here, too, and possibly help others feel less alone. Thank you so much to those of you who commented with stories and encouragement... you are all brave a wonderful women!!!

To lighten the mood a bit, let's talk about the Royal Wedding. HELLO! That was incredible! And I hadn't dressed up for awhile, so I dressed up along with Leah :). We felt beautiful! A good cure to feeling shame and self-loathing? dress up and wear something fabulous on your head. The British are smart like that! Cheers! Have a lovely weekend!

(Leah has the good stern face going on...)
Don't you love my pink jeep in the background?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Confession: the anatomy of shame

If you’ve known me for any number of years, you know that I overreact, and that this is the number one thing that leads me to shame and self-hatred. I don’t overreact so much to big, huge life events, but to the everyday little annoyances. When my mom got breast cancer? When my husband had a tumor in his arm? Sure I shed a few tears, but then my reaction was over. I moved from fear straight towards duty. Let’s get these tumors out, get through treatment, and move on with our lives, no harm done. I tend not to overreact to big things.

It’s the little things that get me. Luckily, as I’ve gotten older, my overreacting has calmed down. I’ve noticed that it’s one of my biggest personal flaws and I’ve taught myself to take a few breaths and chill out before drawing conclusions. I’ve extended mercy more freely. I’ve matured, I’ve taken things less personally, I’ve waited a few days to react. (usually, my overreacting comes after being challenged on a thought/idea or someone being rude to my kid, etc, etc…). As I’ve gotten older, things roll off my back more easily, and I’ve finally learned that it’s usually not about me.

Every so often, though, the perfect storm happens. One bit of bad news is accompanied by a badly timed message about something and BAM, I’m steaming. I overreact, and then I realize I’ve overreacted and I’ve made a fool of myself. I apologize and try to move on, but that doesn’t happen. My mind moves from “you made a mistake” to “you’re the worst, most hated idiot on the planet. Oh, and by the way, you’re ugly, your parents are probably ashamed of you, your brothers and their wives can’t stand you, you have friends only because they feel sorry for you, and your husband hates you slightly less than everyone else.”

I often wonder where this deep shame comes from, and why I believe the voice in my head that preaches it. I truly believe that other people don’t make the kinds of overreacting mistakes that I do. Maybe they don’t. It’s a lonely place to be. I look around and see people who have it all together. They are calm and don’t freak out like I do from time to time. My mind wanders to how much better everyone else is than me, and then (of course) immediately wanders to how everyone I’ve ever met must think I’m a nut job. This (for some reason) includes cousins, aunts, uncles, and in-laws. “Yes” the voice says, “they think you’re just awful to be around. Too opinionated, too talkative, and a terrible mother. Oh and don’t forget, they think you look like a horse.”

Really, I can’t make this stuff up. This is where my mind goes after I’ve made a mistake. I have no ability to see that people might actually forgive me for my (at times) wild humanity, my temper, my reactions.

I have spent my life psychoanalyzing myself, and not extending one ounce of mercy or forgiveness to my own soul. It is work for me, to feel worthy of such grace. But it’s work I must do, because I cannot exist in this self-hatred for long. It is so damaging! It affects everything. So, can I let light in? Can I see my own worth even though I’ve failed every day of my life? I want to be seen as loving, forgiving, full of mercy and grace. But I fear I’m only seen as mean, calloused, and cold. This is my worst nightmare, that I’m not spreading peace and joy but that I’m spreading more filth and hatred.

I believe my self-worth would be even further in the toilet if not for the writer Anne Lamott (full of messy, broken, real life, {including cuss words} and loves God). Her words have literally lifted me from the darkness on some days, washing away my loneliness and showing me that there are others, too, who fail, who feel like morons, who feel that they don’t deserve respect because they’ve done nothing but wallow in misery.

She writes: The gist of the story is that faith and grace will not look as they do in the Bible stories, will not involve angels, flames, or harps. Disaster usually happens for me when everything I have counted on has stopped working, including all of my best skills, intentions, and good ideas. I overreact or shut down, then torture myself about what a fraud I am, like Kookaburra’s bitter Aunt Esther, in the branches of the old gum tree, pretending to sing the laughing song of the others but privately stewing. Usually there is something I can’t climb over, all the tools and stepladders have broken, and no one is around to give me a leg up. No one comes along to say, “I’ll haul you up, little lady.” Some pitiful thing appears or occurs, entirely inadequate to help shift this grim situation, and it can’t possibly be enough, but then it is.

--Grace (Eventually) p. 246-247

And it’s true. There always is something that shows up, even if it seems stupid, and pulls me out. This is where Faith comes in for me… it’s nothing short of miraculous, because I really am so wretched. Is it true that I can be cleansed and made new? Is it true that I can check my shame at the door? And is it true that I can have this and freely love, not judge, all people? Anne Lamott and I think so. (oh how I wish I could meet her in person).

I’m still a work in progress. I’m going to be a horrible person for much of the day, every day, but I’m hoping that I can continue to be refined and polished. I’m hoping that I’m not alone, and I’m hoping that my family and friends don’t see who I see in me. I’m hoping that at least I’m doing a little better, that I’m not as wretched to them as I am to myself, and I’m spreading some kind of beauty, even the generic kind, to the places and people I encounter. That’s all I really want, in the end. To get ahold of my wicked overreactions, to be a better person, to help someone feel loved, and to better receive love.

Anne also writes: It’s incredibly touching when someone who seems so hopeless finds a few inches of light to stand in and makes everything work as well as possible. All of us lurch and fall, sit in the dirt, are helped to our feet, keep moving, feel like idiots, lose our balance, gain it, help others get back on their feet, and keep going.

--Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith p.41

I’m going to find my few inches of light, and stand there for awhile, and hopefully let the light into my heart a bit. I hope you can find some light, too, if you feel you need it.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Happy Birthday Dad!

Happy Birthday to my Dad, otherwise know as "Papa Doc"... and no, that's not after the Haitian dictator... he's a "papa"... and he's a "doc"... so, it's fitting (in the kind, non-dictator way), don't you think?

He's an excellent dad, an even better grandfather, and a healer to all!

Always up for a good tractor ride...
Always loving the newest addition to the family...
always playing with his kids/grandkids...
and always putting up with crazy talk (here's annie with her prom hair, giving dad the "whatever" hand...)
And, just to top things off and make the rest of us look like world-class slackers, here's the latest press on his (and my mom's) great work for! Check out the article on Voice of America and be sure to watch the video there too.

Way to go Dad! Happy Birthday!