Facing the New Year unresolved

Dear Samantha,

I don’t know about all this New Year’s resolution stuff.  I for one, I am least likely to run out and sign up for a gym membership on January first.   I am not going to promise to write every day, or swear off chocolate (heaven help us, no one should ever do that).  I am not going to vow not to have any temper-tantrums during home school grammar.

You see, I spent the first 10 years of my young life being uber responsible and commitment frantic.   Really, I was too responsible for a tween/teen/young adult.  I was on the honor roll, and graduated in the top 5 in my class.  I organized a group of nearly 100 high-schoolers each year for cancer fundraising.  I opened an IRA when I was 19 and despite running out of money for food here and there, I managed to put $200/month into the account.  I got a great job out of college, bought a house, and continued making predictably responsible choices.   I was 24, and I was all burnt out on being responsible, planning ahead, following through.  blog

It was time for an intervention, but what life had planned, I could never have guessed.   That summer, your dad and I found out we were expecting YOU!    ….Uh, unexpectedly.   Over the next three years, you, my adorable infant/toddler/preschooler, beat the type A right out of me.  I was inexperienced at all things domestic, sleep deprived, and in over my head.  I missed an occasional meeting, was late almost everywhere, failed to return phone calls, and even lost a few friendships because I just wasn’t the same person anymore.  I couldn’t keep up simple friendly commitments let alone complicated professional ones.  But without my best laid plans to depend on, I received a remarkable gift.  I began to discover the joy of living in the moment.  Living. in. the. moment.  Still working on that one daily, as you know.

So my live-in-the-moment encouragement to you is this: unless the ad in the sidebar this January is blognewyearsencouraging you to keep your money, take it easy, smell the roses, and enjoy what you have, perhaps you should resolve to ignore it.  You are amazing.  You do not need to redecorate your house or workout at the new gym.  You should only join that volunteer committee if it makes your heart light up.  Only jog the extra mile if it makes you feel more alive!  Or best of all, you can just be happy with you, and in so doing, free other people to be happy with themselves.  Your life is already abundant.

Cheers to the unexpected adventure THIS year holds for us!   I love learning about life with you; you have and always will be my favorite life lesson teacher.

Photo on 1-1-15 at 6.46 AM #2Love,

Your blissfully unresolved Mommy

“A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?”  Ecclesiastes 2:24-25


My sweet Sam,

As I type you are nestled in next to me, your head pressing into my waist, back against my thigh, your legs in a tangled knobby-kneed knot with mine. Happy Thanksgiving, my little love muffin.

I barely recognize the me who wrote at the beginning of the year. Even with the obvious struggles, it seems she was gaining wisdom daily, really joining you in your life, and enjoying the little things. Today presented and opportunity to revisit that blog, and rekindle an outlet for discovery that I have long been missing. Ahh, to write to you again, my love.

In the last 6 weeks I have: missed your school Thanksgiving dinner, forgotten your lunch or backpack multiple times, dropped you off at school after the bell 80% of the time, allowed you 3 unexcused absences, carelessly let your homework go undone, and sent you in a uniform when you were supposed to go in fall colors and visa versa. Even more distressingly, on two occasions I have sat dumbfounded in your playroom (during our very scattered few minutes of time together) trying to figure out what you like to play these days so I can join you before the next phone call comes.

In case I didn’t see these things happening slowly (think “bring lobster to a slow boil”), life presented a screeching-halt opportunity for me to evaluate my business/career situation. Now, having “sold” – I use that term loosely – my business to the bidder with the highest principles (not the highest dollars), I sit here genuinely thankful for the chance to explore all the options that have been accidentally sloughed off over the last 9 months.

Below, the answers to these questions that I was previously unable to answer due to various interruptions (ring, ring). Please accept them with my deepest apologies.

1. RE: that little brother or sister you recently demanded
Daddy and I say “maybe”, and “we’ll work on it”. As it turns out, neither of us are read to give up the crib that we have carefully packed away in the guestroom closet.

2. RE: taking the dogs and moving in with Oma and Opa
Don’t cut and run just yet, I think it’s going to get better around here soon. Not to mention, Walter (German Shepherd) is easily confused, best to keep him in his familiar 40 acres. No, Nugget (mutt) does not get a vote.

3. RE: your request to be home schooled
I’m not sure what you think “homeschooling” is exactly, but I hear you when you say you are overwhelmed by all the other kids and you want more time with just me. It IS a bummer that you spend more time at school than at home, and I’m sorry that discovery was so jarring to you this year. I also acknowledge that in the last 3 years of day care/school, you have never once ASKED to go to school. Just so you know, it’s not all “Barbie spa day” and “Let’s play on the rope swing”, but it IS tons of “Let’s do an experiment” and maybe even “Let’s build a tree house!”. So my answer is, I will dutifully research it and give you an answer by the start of 2nd grade. In the best case scenario I suppose we make up for lost time, have the best year of our lives and we both learn a bunch about our world and each other. Worst case, we scrape by on rice and beans every day, you beg to go to a real school, and we both agree that mommy needs to keep her day job. If we go for it, regardless of the outcome, someday when you are in high-school and I threaten to home school you, you know I mean it. That’s got to be worth something.

RE: your occasional request to move back to town
I think what you really want out of is the drive. Truthfully, you don’t strike me as much of a suburban girl at this age. Maybe after you’ve grown out of “the world is my sandbox” phase we’ll revisit it. But for now, I am not ready to let you trade creek exploration and bone excavation for a picket fence and .18 acres of sod. Will keep you posted if my mind is changed.

Here’s to the life-long journey of self-discovery and adventure! Cheers to you, my sleeping babe.

Re-energized mommy

P.S. Many thanks to your Aunt Pammy and Aunt Juli for the pep talk over gravy whisking and fruit salad prep…a little perspective and encouragement makes a big difference!


You say the darnedest things.  Here is a short list of my favorites.


Jesus is watching you…:

Mommy, does Jesus live in animals’ hearts?
Yes, honey, I think so.
Then why didn’t I see him when we cut open the deer?  Hrrumph. (storming off)  Fall 2010

You know, Jesus is watching and you’re being mean to me. Summer 2011

Headaches are when Satan tells you to do something and you say no.  March 2012

Just plain cute:

You’re driving me banana-nuts!, Mar 2012

This is ridiculous, just ridiculous! (re DIK a lus)  With Aunt Pammy in ER waiting room with croup, Fall 2007

Holy cow, it’s dad!  Fall 2007

Hey mommy, I love this holy moly (rolly polly bug).  Summer 2007

For Halloween, I can be Batman, mommy you can be Robin, and daddy you can be….BatGirl! September 2011

Sam, what would you like from McDonalds?
A hangaber, with pickles., Age 1-6…just didn’t have the hear to correct her.

Hey Sam!  Look at that up on the…
Mom, I am on the phone.  Please don’t interrupt.
Oh sorry. (she returns to her pretend phone conversation)
Sorry about that, that was just the driver. April 2012


Facing real life:

While passing the Victoria Secret mural-poster:  Gasp. Blush. Gawk. Blurt, “She’s in her underware!” January 2012

Oma, Daddy is building me a barn, and we are going to have 7 pigs, and lots of chickens, and 5 girl cows and one boy cow and the girl cows are going to have babies so they can have milk, and we are going to have a girl and boy horse.
Sam, don’t you want lots of mommy and daddy cows?  Why 5 girls and 1 boy?
Mom, (pats my leg with her hand), you only NEED ONE boy cow.  October 2012

(Laughing at one of my dad’s jokes)
Opa, hahahaHA!  You’re…such…an…old guy!  November 2012

Don’t worry mommy, Mrs. Harris says everybody gets to start over tomorrow.   April 2012


Best descriptions:

Mommy my brain is beating like my heart. (3 a.m.)
Does it hurt?
Yeah, real bad.
Honey, that’s called “throbbing”.  October 2012

(To her teacher)
It feels like all of my cells got in a line and are going around and around in a pattern and my head feels like, bubble bubble POP!
Oh my, I think what you’re feeling is stress.  November 2012


A few wrong turns

Yesterday, at a glance:

Get up, shower, make breakfast, feed chickens/dogs/cats/deer?, pack UPS boxes, pay bills.
Drop you off at Stephannie’s for the morning, work, pick you up.
Errands, errands, errands: 5 turned 45-minute banking means we are late for our swim date (guilt and frustration consume me) although you were decidedly agreeable about the whole mess.
I skip my lunch to save time (we are halfway to dinner anyway).
NOTE: This is wrong turn #1

Swimming fun gives way to sugar crash for both of us at which point I publicly lose my temper with hungry/tired little you as you tantrum to stay longer and demand that I provide a restaurant with exciting menu choices on the spot.
Note: This is wrong turn #2
I could have turned this into laughter at any moment by simply saying “You’re driving me banana-nuts!”, but I didn’t take a breather to think of that at the time.

If that is not enough, I deny you a snack with your cousins and tromp off to give you whatever food we have in the car as punishment for your fit throwing, and continue the lecture about niceness (while using an ironically not-so-nice tone).
Note: This is wrong turn #3.  I should have dropped it.

Drive the 50 minutes home and wallow in guilt while you flaunt your self control in the back seat.
You: I am thinking bad things about you in my brain.
Me: Well, God says we have control of our thoughts.  Maybe you’d better pray about that.
(2 minutes later)
You: Satan told me to do something but I told him no.  Hey so do you want to listen to some music?…
Good for you, I’m thinking, I have taught self-control and failed to use it.

I enjoy whatever snack you have left behind. (feeling better)

Call my mom for encouragement, confessing my many wrong turns today.  She promises that “This too shall pass,” and “If you were the kind of parent who didn’t care, this wouldn’t be so hard – just the fact that you are distressed about how today went is a sign that you are a good Mommy”, and “Samantha’s too smart for her own good.  I always envied my friends who had stupid kids because man, was their job easy.  And I regretted thinking that of course, but really.” (feeling better yet)

You fall asleep as we pull into the driveway, so I reorganize and journey out again to the laundromat.  I failed to properly lock the washer so I returned to discover it had never actually washed anything…45 more minutes wasted.  Does this day have an undo button?

I rifle through a display of reading material and find a magazine.  I then sit, tears streaming, in the car reading “WonderTimes”, story after story of mom’s just like me with kids just like you.   Later I take bed-head you across the dusty parking lot for ice cream (like I’m going to cook after THAT day!), and drive home determined to do things better tomorrow.  The words “Yay! You failed!” come to mind.

How could something so hard be so wonderful?

Even with the best preparation, you will someday be faced with difficult challenges.  May you have the courage to forge through in the future, just as you do now.

Much love,

Power of choice

Life gives you this amazing power: choice.    It is easy to forget that our lives are a product of our choices.  I heard from a great man that it is easy to look great when things are going well, but it is how you act when things are unfair that really tells people who you are.

When you are going through a difficult time someday, I hope I am able to encourage you that you always have a choice.   And you can gain a sense of power in that choice.  You are not the victim of your life, you are the master of it.  When you encounter circumstances that are unfortunate, I know you will have the grace to handle it with dignity and continue pressing on toward your dreams.

I hope you grow to expect that things will not always (uh, ever) go as you plan.  But that snags in your plan will open up doors to things you would never have imagined.  Let your creativity help you harness opportunity when it arises.

While the path is always changing, each new fork in the road gives you a chance to choose your way.  And, when someone who has traveled a difficult road gives you their improved roadmap for an easier way, might I suggest that you take it.

Oma says: “No babies until after you have your college degree.”  I listened, and man did that one pay off.

Opa says:  “Don’t buy a car with 100K if you don’t have the money to fix it.”  Three oops-cars later, I get it – he really was looking out for me.

….list to be continued

quiet moments

My love,

On a quiet Saturday morning you were diligently conducting an experiment at the sink while I wrote out the grocery list at the kitchen table.  The light drifted in and gently landed on your silky soft cheeks, and you captured my heart all over again.

Most Saturday mornings are filled with the bustle of getting to town, cramming in visits with friends and cousins, grocery shopping, and anything else we can squeeze in before collapsing for an after-dinner Netflix snuggle session (Go, Diego, Go!).  But on the rare occasion that I resist the go-go-go, you happily flit from one activity to the next, and the words “I’m doing an experiment!” are dependably announced by 10 a.m.

I caught these photos while trying not to intrude on your purely inquisitive moment.  The only sounds were the click of the shutter and the playful swirling of your fingers as they mixed up a slimy mess.

Love, Mommy


little change, big results


I learned a lesson this week:  Never underestimate the power of a little change.

Last weekend your father called to my attention the fact that you and I had been squabbling back and forth for the last two months and getting worse.    Once I came to grips with the problem (me), I was unwilling to let it go on one minute longer.  Out came the token board.   The moment I finished explaining that you could earn tokens toward a pool date with me by following my directions quickly you cheered and asked what you could do to get your first token.  Wow!  Over the course of a week, we probably spent 15 short minutes talking about tokens or doing tasks to earn them.  What was surprising was the complete change in your attitude from resistant to helpful, and all the compliments [like “she’s so respectful” and “what a good listener”]  from your teacher and perfect strangers.

I got so caught up in the problem I failed to do something about it.    The truth is, you don’t need a complete plan to begin.  When you are facing an new challenge you rarely have enough information to determine the best way out.  You just have to take one step at a time and be ready to adjust the plan when needed.  Failure provides the stepping stones to success.  Remember, “Yay, you failed!” (Disney’s ‘Meet the Robinsons’).

When in doubt, change something little, and you just might win big.   This time we both won, sister.   More amazing mom-dates to come.

Love,  Mom