In the Land of the Whirling Dervish

Five minutes has gone by since I typed that subject line. In trying to decide what I would title my summation of yesterday, I thought up that particular subject. And then, in a stroke of genius, I thought I would begin the post with a very official definition of the term “whirling dervish,” which I was 100% convinced was a fancy, technical term for “Tasmanian devil.” This is a true story. I thought, “whirling dervish” = “Tasmanian devil.” Am I the only 40-yr-old human under this particular rock?

I am so shocked to find that a whirling dervish is a crazed, dancing, Muslim monk.

“A member of any of various Muslim ascetic orders, as the  Sufis, some of which carry on ecstatic observances, such as energetic dancing and whirling or vociferous chanting or shouting.”
I mean, I am totally shocked. Totally.
Really shocked.
They don’t just engage in whirley dances. They do vociferous chanting. Vociferous, people.
This is what I thought a whirling dervish was.
And this is what one actually is.
I guess you can learn new fun facts at any age. I’ll be more careful how I describe my children in the future. The former clip really describes my household more accurately.
Especially yesterday.
Especially after 2:30.
Up until school got out, I was sluggish and struggling to keep up with my duties for the day. I was scheduled to pick up two extra kids from school, so I did that. I gave everyone an ice cream snack, because nothing says ‘calm household’ like 6 kids full of chocolate. We got homework done.  And from that moment on, it’s like I was surrounded by Tasmanian dervishes. Or whirling monks.
There’s so much to tell that I think I will have to just hit the highlights.
I have a new buddy. Javaris. He’s in AG’s class. He’s a really sweet kid and everyone in the family likes having him around. This is good, since he’s always around. Now he even eats with us. And his cousin does, too. But back to that in a moment. Javaris was over. And Darius. And everyone seemed to be interested in the hamsters. This must have been shocking for the poor little beasts, because they’d enjoyed a period of peaceful waning interest lately and hadn’t had to fight off the grubby, fat paws of my children. SnuggleMonkey was a bit of a hazard with the hamsters and had one of them in the orange ball, chasing it all over the downstairs. So our very beloved house guest, we’ll call her Blemma (man, that’s a good name), rescued the hamster and put her back in the box. And then Blemma and I proceeded to chat in the doorway to the kitchen. Over Blemma’s shoulder I could see a flash of movement from the hamster, which is not unusual after a child  has driven her crazy. So I kept talking. But that flash of activity turned into a flurry of very uncommon behavior. And that’s when I noticed it.
Both hamsters were in the same box.
Maybe you don’t know that hamsters are not social creatures. Unless you consider instant mating or death a social behavior. I suppose you could make a strong argument for one of those. But our hamsters are sisters and sisters don’t socialize.
They were fighting.
And if we hadn’t interrupted them, we’d have a very dead Olive on our hands.
Since I don’t deal well with such urgent matters, I immediately began to scream in nonsensical words. “Ohhhhhhh, hey….guys……arrrrrrrr……pggggggggg.” I finally managed to screech out, “Help! The hamsters are together!” Then I ran into the dining room, where most domestic rodents are stationed, and placed the top of the box vertically down into the box to separate the hamsters. Then AG and Javaris picked up the little underdog to inspect her.
She was wounded.
Bloody paws. Cuts on her side. No other damage.  I made a joke about neosporin and then went to Google what I should do to help this hamster.  It said to clean the wound with water, peroxide, and apply neosporin.
And that’s what we did.
The 3-yr-old wandered in to ask, very indignantly, how the hamsters had ended up in the same box. We decided as a group to blame her, the 3-yr-old. It just seemed like what needed to happen. No, we didn’t. We just pretended not to hear her.  Just kidding again. I think I just feigned confusion and walked on. Except I really was confused.
About this time, the potatoes needed to be browning in a skillet. So I started this process. My phone rang. It was a number I didn’t recognize and I was expecting an important call, so I took it. The potatoes were moved off the heat, I removed myself to the porch, and the whirling, dancing monks carried on with their vociferous chanting inside.
Twenty minutes passed. A very critical twenty minutes, if you have 7 kids in the house and a 6:30 cub scout meeting to attend. There was no skipping that meeting. He was getting his Bear rank, his pinewood derby medal, and some belt loops.
Somehow, in the midst of all of that, we sat down to eat. And Javaris and Darius sat down, too. On the fly. We prayed. We ate. We laughed. We destroyed the kitchen. Only two of us made it to the cub scout meeting and even then, they were 30 minutes late for it.
After AG and his dad left for the meeting, and Darius and Javaris went home, I was alone in a kitchen that looked like a band of 14-year-old boys had tried to cook a Thanksgiving feast in it using materials from 1812. I hardly knew where to start. But I loaded the dishwasher. I washed the remaining dishes by hand. And then I decided to mop. While the mop water was filling the sink, I figured I would use my time to vacuum the rest of the downstairs.
Sorta forgot about that mopping business. When I remembered, I had this to contend with.
The picture doesn’t do justice to the 1/8th of an inch left before the Red Sea spilled over onto my dirty kitchen floor. I guess that wouldn’t be the worst thing, but it’s also not the most efficient way to mop.
And then I threw the gyrating monks into their beds and asked them to chant less vociferously.
That’s the last thing I remember. The rest is fuzzy.
All I know for sure is I went biking tonight in my pajamas and I’m pretty sure that’s not  okay.


Eighteen years ago today, I awoke from a scarcity of sleep to a generously sunny May morning. Around me were friends that had come to usher me into a new life. Before me was a future I couldn’t have imagined. Outside the door that contained all of us sloppy, sleepy girls, the smell of pancakes pulled us into full awareness. It was Saturday, May 15, 1993. This was it. I was getting married.

At that time, I had no idea what Todd had been up to with a much less savory band of boys in our new duplex. Did they smoke cigars? Would the place look and smell like rancid sardines when we returned from a California honeymoon? Did they shave his legs the night before our wedding? I was already worried about things I couldn’t control. I was already trying to bridle a horse I didn’t even own.

The day went on like an old waxed over jar of honey. I was anxious for 7 p.m. and yet I had too much to cram into the creeping minutes. Things like a trip to Gayfers (I’d like to meet with the people who sat around a conference table and decided this was a good name for a department store) for help with the hair and make-up, last minute packing for a trip to San Francisco, snacking because I didn’t feel like eating, and tiny spurts of conversation with the man I wouldn’t see that day until I looked down a very long center aisle to see him waiting at the end of it. These conversations were hard to squeeze in, in a world without cell phones. I made a phone call from the Gayfers reception desk to our new home. I finally caught him home. It was a different world in 1993.

I remember being very concerned with the details of the day. Would I know what to do with my bouquet when it was time to hand it off? How would I turn in my dress to light the unity candle without getting twisted into an awkward wreckage of sequins and lace? Would I light my dress on fire, thus upstaging the entire event? Could I eat little smokies at the reception without smearing my lipstick? Who did I need to say goodbye to? So many details.

Since then, the details have faded and backslid into corny memories of 1993. The dress was donated to charity during my 2nd pregnancy after I attempted to take flight using only the puffy sleeves. When I determined it was not aerodynamic, there seemed no reason to further store it. Also, it was yellow. And ugly. The engagement ring was lost at the beach the summer of my final pregnancy, whenever that was. If you think I haven’t grieved over that one a time or two or 316, you can rethink. Gone are the details, the dress, and even the diamond. (Bless the man, he got me a new diamond this past Christmas! I love it.) Gone is the red, red lipstick that was applied by a stranger and almost made me cry that heralded my arrival like a flashing emergency signal. Here are the children, the blessings, and the vows that are stronger than they were that balmy day 18 years ago. Here still is the proof that we were indeed meant for each other and for the children God would someday carefully hand to us to raise. Here now is the much more mature understanding of what it all means and what it needs to look like. And here with beaming clarity is the realization of what I have and my dedication to treating it delicately.

I married Todd because he was smart, because he REALLY made me laugh, because he loved God, and because his family was everything I wanted. I couldn’t know what the choppy waters would feel like or when they’d come. I’ve been blessed to discover that Todd goes from good to amazing when faced with grim circumstances. These are things you can’t know when you are 22 and so stupid you think you are smart.

“I do” are very short words. My young sons can spell them and they think they know what they mean. I thought I knew too and I’m thankful for the mercy of 18 years. This has given me time to realize what those words don’t mean and how to re-file our family flight plan for the umpteenth time. And though my sharp-witted Todd has promised,yay even on his life, to never stand before humans again and renew our vows, or sing Devoted at a rehearsal dinner (what were we thinking?), or dress up like monkeys in sequins, there are a lot of things he has promised and he’s come through on them all.  Also, I still think I can talk him into a Hawaii vow renewal. Maybe for our 20…

One Todd + one Missy + eighteen years = an Andrew, a Brady, a Lucy, a Jenna, a Flipper, a Tiny, an Olive, and a Claire. At one time, it really mattered where I was going. Now all that seems to matter is the ones I’ve got going with me.

To be continued, on the North Shore of Oahu. In 2013. You’re all invited.


Let’s make this short, so as not to traumatize anyone.

Last night I needed diapers. Well, I did not need the diapers. Some certain bladder-control-challenged short members of my family needed the diapers. What I needed was exercise, so I decided to combine my need with the need of the short incontinent people. (Is that the right word? Doesn’t look right somehow. As I stare at it now, it looks like a person without a continent. Like…a person caught in the air between Africa and Australia. OK. Moving on.) I got on my bike. My bike has been somewhat neglected, as we don’t have a garage. So I tried to WD40 the pedals and wheels and chain. And I took off.

I even grabbed my son’s Hot Wheels bike lock.

Awesome. The wind in my hair. Sleek. Zipping in and out of traffic.

Grabbed that bike lock. Grabbed a back pack for the diapers.

Did not grab my wallet.

Back home again, sleek and zipping, wind in hair. ANNNND, we’re off a second time. Less sleek. Less zippy. Still got the wind in the hair.

Whatever. I managed to cram two packs of diapers into that backpack and started back home.

I didn’t smell so good when I got here. But I needed to mop. So I did that whole thing, to get just a tiny bit more smelly and sweaty. And then I showered.

I was clean. And feeling groovy.

Until I felt a bug in my hair. On my scalp. Setting up shop. Having a carnival.

There are several things that are efficient solutions to having a bug in your hair. Meticulously and calmly removing it. Asking someone with more sanity and presence of mind for some help. What I do NOT recommend is thrashing like a woman possessed to the point that you will feel as if all of your ribs are broken when you awaken the following morning. Yes, all ribs broken. Somehow. Maybe that’s from the sleek zipping on the bicycle. I rather think it’s from the bug thrashing.

I immediately thrashed until I thought I was going to knock the pictures off the wall, all while yelling and frothing at the mouth. Then, I immediately (Can you immediately do something twice in a row. Do you feel the urgency here?) turned the shower back on, full blast, as hot as I could stand it, and immersed my buggy head. I washed every strand of every crazy clump of hair on my head. Perhaps that also could account for this morning’s broken ribs. As I was washing manically, I was thinking, “How’d he get in there? What was he thinking as he set up shop? Was he trying to escape or is he now heartbroken to have been discovered? What happens if I don’t get him out? How will I live, sharing my very large head with a bug?” Blah. Blah. Blah. And then, 45 minutes later (not really), I raised my head up from the shower head and I saw him. A very traumatized, very dead bug.


I thought I was going to have to shave my head. If I’d done that, this would be altogether a different kind of post. Still thinking about doing it, but I’d like to combine that move with the purchase of a convertible.

Must go. Everything takes longer when your ribs are broken, and I have to get two boys off to school.

Sermon Notes for those under 50″

Todd is working on Snappshots for me. I sure hope it’s bright purple and automatically plays Yanni for anyone who pops over to say hello.
No, I don’t hope that.
I hope you don’t hope that, either.
If you are a purple Yanni lover, I have nothing to offer you. Sorry, Justin Bieber, I know purple is your thing. Perhaps Yanni is, too. But you are so much richer than him. And better in every way, really.

It’s a bad day in Cyberspace when you veer off on a Justin Bieber, Yanni, purple tirade.

The following photograph illustrates a recent creative endeavor by Mama’s Boy. He leaned over to me in church one day recently and whispered, “Can I write in these blanks?” I answered ‘sure.’ He then said, “Can I write anything I want in them?” Sure, I said again. And when he was done, he handed it to me. I had a very difficult time containing myself. You know how much funnier things are when you are in church, right? Well, picture yourself in a quiet church building, on a red cushioned pew, with a speaker up front. If you can do that, the following photo will seem funnier. Pretend we’re in church together.

Simple Phonics Translation Table:
Keroty = karate
sowkeen = I HAVE NO IDEA. If you figure it out, there’s a small cash reward for you.
mnuken = mannequin
enomys = enemies

Better site coming soon.

For lack of better material…

AG has become the neighborhood pied piper. He plays outside a lot and kids just somehow end up in our yard. Last week, I came outside and found an 8 year old on my roof. That was shocking. He shimmied up a Ligustrum tree, hopped onto the roof, and retrieved the yellow frisbee that was up there. All in a day’s playtime, I suppose. I just know I’m going to get sued out of all of this.

At any rate, at the end of every afternoon, the boys are sweaty. Nasty. And they have entire construction sand piles in the bottoms of their shoes. How do they even play with that going on in the bottom of their shoes?

So, I ushered them into the showers last night right after dinner. And Mama’s Boy stay gone a long time. I had to go retrieve him. And this is what I came upon. There is no nudity in this clip. Only oddity.

Good day to you. Fare thee well.

Funny HaHa or Funny Freaky?

I don’t receive a lot of personal mail, either in my physical box or electronically. I would guess that most of us don’t, now that Canadian drug companies know how to spam us and we all get so many offers to become rich beyond our wildest dreams if only we’ll wire our account information to Mr. Navarro in Nigeria. Perhaps you do get 15 pithy, personal emails a day from all of your closest friends. If you do, please don’t tell me.

I hear from Groupon and Living Social a lot. Most of the time I delete their epistles without reading. I know right off that I’m not going to Belize this year or spending a day at a mud spa. I’ve got my own mud spa right here, where St. Augustine grass is supposed to be. But sometimes the subject line promises a bit of entertainment, even if it doesn’t promise a deal I plan to take. I’m not really sure why I opened the Living Social email today, because the subject was as dry as my great-great aunt’s split ends. Something about dental cleaning and whitening. Riveting. So I opened it. And here it is for your own personal growth. I’ve highlighted the things that made me wear my James Bond face.

A healthy, bright smile isn’t always as easy as brushing with top-notch toothpaste and slipping on whitening strips. Everyone needs a professional to give your mouth a proper cleaning. Get your grin in check with today’s deal from HaHa Sedation and Family Dentistry. For $99 (regularly $465) your teeth will be treated to a proper cleaning along with a whitening treatment that will put any of those over the counter gimmicks to shame. You will endure a dental exam, full X-rays, a healthy mouth cleaning, and a take-home Nitewhite whitening system. With a focus on implants and sedation, Dr. Ha will certainly be able to take care of all your future dental needs. After your visit with today’s deal, you’ll be saying “HaHa” all the way to the bank.

  • HaHa Sedation and Family Dentistry. Is that for real? Or was he just tripping on Nitrous Oxide the night he printed his brochures?
  • You’ll be saying HaHa all the way to the bank? Does anyone go to the bank after visiting the dentist? Again with the trippin’, Dr. Ha. That’s an expression you use when you are making money off of something. And while $99 is quite a savings from $465, it still isn’t a profit. And it still means going to a dentist called Dr. Ha. Would any of us actually go have work done at a place called HaHa Sedation? No. We would not. Ever. In fact, I don’t think I’d go to HaHa Sedation if it meant receiving a check for $99 as I left the building. I would go there if I could leave with a check for $465.
  • I can be bought. Keep that in mind if you have money.  If you don’t have money, don’t contact me.
  • Ha.
  • Or should I say HaHa.

The Bathroom Fan

I have two things to share that will not change your life in any way.

I hate bathroom fans. You know, the white noise bathroom fans you turn on to disperse steam or an unpleasant aroma? Hate them. Hate.them.  I can’t explain it. I can’t trace it back to a traumatic childhood event involving bathrooms, fans, or white noise. But I hate this appliance and I turn them off any chance I get. Unfortunately, I am part of an extended network that is practically married to the bathroom fan. And no matter how many times I turn it off myself or announce to the world that I hate bathroom fans, the fan blades keep on turning.


When I rose from my slumber this morning, I found not one, but TWO bathroom fans running in this house. That’s ALL THE FANS WE HAVE. And they ran all night. What in the world? It was like acid poured directly into my ear drums at 6:30 this morning. That’s no way to wake up.

And since nobody in my house actually cares how much I loathe the bathroom fan, I have no other option but to blog about it. It doesn’t take away the pain. But it does give me hope that if the bathroom fan actually causes my untimely death, one of you might stand up and protest in my funeral. I’d like someone to stand up suddenly in a quite moment of reflection on my life and yell out with angry fervor, “IT WAS THE BATHROOM FAN THAT KILLED HER!”

Actually, no matter what kills me and when, I’d like to ensure this happens. Thanks.

A Thank You Note

It’s funny how things are. You can suffer for so long with something that you think there will never be a solution or a different set of circumstances.  Ten years ago, I was infertile. Supposedly. And after all the findings and surgeries and speculations and pill poppings and tribal dances with our fingers crossed, there was nothing to say at the end of it all. The answer was “we don’t know why you aren’t pregnant.” There was no reason for it. Except that there was. There was a girl in a town 2 hours north of me who was pregnant but should not have been. She was in the middle of a mess she did not know how to clean up. She did not have the support of her family. She was not planning on marrying the man she’d been seeing. She had no money. No options. And certainly no stability to offer a brand new life. She wasn’t stable herself. How could she make a stable life for someone else? That baby was meant for us. And God knew it.

Read More

Happy Mother’s Day

They buy you hydrangea bushes and stackable storage and v-neck pink t-shirts. They draw your likeness on cards that they made just for you.

But the real gift is in the fact that when there is a hug to be given to only one person, it is given to you, the mother. When there is a problem to be solved by just one person, the little ones bring it to you, the mom. When there is a choice to be made, they choose you. When there is a secret to share, they share it with you. When there is a game to be played, they want to play it with you. It’s true that you also have to accept the other side of that coin. There are all of the horribly unacceptable things from my previous post. Things that ought not be discussed and certainly shouldn’t be blogged about. It is you holding the bowl under the chin, chiding the child for doing things even farm animals wouldn’t do, and cleaning the sheets in the middle of the night. But this is a price most mothers are willing to pay for the rewards that come alongside it.

Every day has moments that cause me to take a breath, consider who I am and what I’ve been given, and utter my thanks to the Father of Lights. Every day presents opportunities to savor parenthood and observe it for its gore and its glory. But this day is set aside for the public expression of all of that. It is a mom’s annual review from her company.  It is the day the world professes the thoughts that other days just remain in their heads.

Today was nice. Worship was warm and uplifting. Lunch was delicious in every way except for my unobstructed view of a man whose pants did not suffice, if you know what I mean.

I was thinking I might like some Botox, you know, to kind of buy back a few days from my early thirties or something.
I received, among other things, an iron (badly needed, I assure you).
But the real gift is not in any of this. It is in the milky white skin, the chipped toenail polish, the brown eyes that almost completely disappear during laughter, the sticky hand of the oldest child that reaches up in the middle of a department store and unexpectedly takes yours, and the note that is passed to you in the middle of a sermon that tells you you’re special. The real gift is fragmented into, but not diminished by,  every single moment of every single day…

And I think living in a shoe without the Botox is a small price to pay for all of that.
Happy Mother’s Day.

The Stuff Kids Say

Art Linkletter had his whole Kids Say the Darndest Things fame. And I love that stuff. But I don’t let my kids say darn or darndest, so we don’t listen to that much around here. I know. I’m a prude. Sometimes.

I used my status on Facebook last night to poll people on funny things you never expected to say or hear as a parent. I’m going to post those responses in several different categories. I’ll warn you before we get to bodily functions, so my mother-in-law can stop reading if she wants to. Actually, let me just warn you now. It seems you can’t have the small child without the Gross. So if you are of weak stomach constitution, just skip this post entirely and return tomorrow for more refined material. Sorry!

I really love it when a kid either messes up a word or just says something quirky in a dead serious way.

For instance:
Mama’s Boy:
I don’t want to take a bath tonight. I’m afraid I’m going to have quesadilla. (What? Oh, he meant diarrhea. He’d been sick.)

Or, one child having had the “quesadilla” turned around to survey the situation and said, “Look Mama, I made coffee.”

One day I was sitting at the kitchen table, eating lunch with Mama’s Boy when he looked up from his plate and said, quite seriously, “Mama, what if every person in the world was named Uncle Doo Doo?” Honestly, I think I could live in that world…though I recognize the complications it might create.

Franklin, my nephew, peering into the toilet after being sick in it, said, “Huh, I guess I ate a sticker.” There was an apple sticker floating…

Things parents wouldn’t have imagined themselves saying:

Whose poo poo is this?
We don’t eat our own poo poo!
We don’t paint the windows with our poo poo!
We don’t bite other people’s toes.
The rule is, you only grab your own wiener. Nobody’s else’s.
You can touch your own boobies. But you can’t touch other people’s.
We don’t EVER lick the toilet seat! EVER!
So what were you thinking while you were slinging the poop water?
Who wants to do a naked run?
Kids, come to the car. Daddy will bring your rats after he checks out.
Please don’t throw Squeaky Manatee in the cheese sauce.
Please don’t wipe your snot on me.
Come here. I need to dig that booger out of your nose.
There is no reason why your hand should be in the toilet.
Hey! Are you putting bouncy balls in the toilet? No bouncing balls in the toilet!
Get your mouth off the sting ray tank!
Kid: Can I have some pizza? Adult: After you eat your cake.
Hey Mama. I have a riddle. If you get the right answer, you get to tell me what I’m getting for Christmas.

Things parents wouldn’t have thought they’d hear from their kids:

Why are there rocks?
What is yet?
Dad, you have glue on your arm. Or snot.
Dear God, thank you for our sins.
“If we see a stunk (skunk), we should all go get our swords (we don’t have any) and kill the stunk.”
‎”My stinky smells like eggs! I didn’t know stinky could smell like eggs!”
One child talking to another: “Yeah, we’re going to Utah.” The response: “Utah! Is that your grampa?”

And since I’ve totally grossed you out with some of your own submissions, I will try to redeem this only slightly with an excerpt from Art Linkletter:

A Kindergarten teacher was observing her classroom of children while they were drawing. She would occasionally walk around to see each child’s work. As she got to one little girl who was working diligently, she asked what the drawing was.

The girl replied, ‘I’m drawing God.’
The teacher paused and said, ‘But no one knows what God looks like.’
Without missing a beat, or looking up from her drawing, the girl replied, ‘They will in a minute.”