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(Less than) Perfect

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A new school year begins here on Monday. Wednesday night was “Meet the Teacher” night at my daughter’s elementary school. Thursday night we went to the junior high to pick up my son’s schedule, buy school supplies (thank you, PTA) and find his locker.

There is such a marked difference between elementary school kids and those in junior high. Puberty tends to bring out the worst in kids sometimes. I know that was the case with me.

As I walked the hallways with my son, trying to walk a few feet back from him so he didn’t have his mother hovering over him, I witnessed a very big kid walk past him and yell, “MOVE!” My son just walked past him. I should have kept my mouth shut, but sometimes (oftentimes) my mouth is way ahead of my brain. As the big kid walked past me, I looked him in the eye and said, “You are RUDE!” As the kid made a hasty escape down the hallway with me burning a laser glare into the back of his head, I asked my son what his name was. “Mom, I’m not going to tell you. Don’t worry about it”, my son said. As difficult as this was for me, I let it go. Boys need to fight their own battles sometimes. Of course, this didn’t preclude me from staring him down when I ran into him in the cafeteria later, but that’s all I did. He avoided making eye contact with me like a cat avoids a bath, so I think he figured out I wasn’t his biggest fan.

I hate that kids are horrible to one another. I hate that adults are horrible to one another. But as much as I’d like to believe otherwise, people really do suck for the most part, myself included. That’s why we all need an abundance of grace–for ourselves and for each other.

My blogging friend Michelle has a very talented son named Hunter. He is an aspiring filmmaker who helped put together the following video. As the school year begins, I pray for peace and understanding for our kids and for their teachers. And most of all, I pray we extend a little more grace to each other–undeserving as we most assuredly are.

On patience and painting

Last month I wrote a post called Holding on to the past. If you missed it, I talked about how we had ordered new furniture and bedding for my daughter’s room. Because she suffers from what many of us suffer from: too much stuff and not enough space to put it all, she finally agreed to part with a sizable collection of My Little Ponies, Littlest Pet Shop Pets, Barbies and all the various and sundry paraphernalia that accompanies said collections. Save for that one special item we retrieved from the giveaway box, all the others toys she agreed to part with are gone in order to make room for the new furniture. Her old desk and chair and a very large storage unit/entertainment center from IKEA are also gone. Her bed is still here, but it’s disassembled and will most likely be picked up this weekend.

The redecorating process is going as planned, just not as scheduled.

I received a call on Tuesday informing me that the furniture tentatively scheduled to be delivered July 15 will instead be delivered on Monday. Yeah, this coming Monday.


I had planned to take my sweet time getting my daughter’s room painted. That’s all changed. It has now become a bit of a rush job. Having said that, a rush painting job does not equate to sloppy or bad painting job. I’m fairly laid back about certain jobs I do around the house, but I’m a little particular when it comes to painting.

Soup Nazi photo courtesy of

Which would be fine if my daughter wasn’t so helpful. She REALLY wanted to help me paint. She’s asked me roughly 74 times when that would happen. She wasn’t really interested in the patching and cleaning of the walls and baseboards, the removal of the outlet covers, the retexturing of the mysterious hole in the wall and whatnot.

I’ll be honest. I wasn’t exactly excited about the prospect of her helping me paint. Like I said, I’m a little particular about how a room should be painted. But we both shared some valuable lessons today. She practiced patience while I performed all those mundane but necessary tasks before the actual painting began

She learned how to roll paint on the wall

I learned that I actually didn’t freak out when things weren’t done exactly the way I would do it

(Okay, I freaked out a little. I also rolled over that spot.)

She rolled, I cut in. We’ve got a day’s worth of painting yet to do. But I’m confident we can work as a team and have her room ready before the Monday furniture delivery without any major incidents.

Maybe just some minor ones…

Update: That previous picture looked kinda weird. Here's the wall after I cut it in with a brush.

An elementary guide to the creative process

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“Ignorance and arrogance are the artist and entrepreneur’s indispensable allies. She must be clueless enough to have no idea how difficult her enterprise is going to be–and cocky enough to believe she can pull it off anyway…A child has no trouble believing the unbelievable, nor does the genius or the madman. It’s only you and I, with our big brains and our tiny hearts, who doubt and overthink and hesitate.” – Steven Pressfield, Do the Work

At the elementary school my son attended and my daughter currently attends, one of the major projects the 4th grade kids participate in revolves around the American presidents. Each child chooses a president to research and present. It’s a pretty big deal. My son chose Dwight D. Eisenhower, my daughter chose James Madison.

Each student will present, in full costume, facts about their president. Since girls are given the option of dressing as the first lady, my daughter will be Dolley Madison. They are also required to create a visual representation of their president through some type of artistic medium. My son chose a poster. He’s easy like that.

My daughter decided she would make James Madison out of clay. She’s creative like that. I tried to talk her out of it, telling her that while I could help her paint a picture of him, I have zero knowledge of working with clay, and with the exception of a couple of rudimentary clay projects in art class, neither did she. So, yeah. She opted to make James Madison out of clay. She’s stubborn like that. (She must take after her father.)

What I came to realize while helping her with the project is that the creative process is very similar regardless of the medium.

It's often messy

It's sometimes very messy

Sometimes what's in your head doesn't translate well...

and you have to start anew from scratch.

There comes a point in the process where you must give up the pursuit of perfection and trust your vision of the end result. No matter how ugly the work in progress appears to be.

Perfection should not be the goal of the creative process. Rather, the goal is to convey a concept, and interpretation or representation from the artist to her audience.

I think this process varies from person to person. What is your process? Do you have one, or does it just sort of happen?

P. S. -- Does that James Madison bust remind you of anyone? Just a little? "

“James Madison loves Harry Potter!” – Jeff Hogan

30 minutes ago

30 minutes ago
I should have heard the familiar squeak of the swing
Even though I’ve told him a hundred times
To come inside and put away his backpack first

26 minutes ago
I wondered if the bus was running late
So I phoned a neighbor whose driveway
Is where his bus stops every day at 3:00

20 minutes ago
My husband drove through the neighborhood
Looking for the bus
Which was running late

18 minutes ago
The bus that was running late
Came to a stop at my neighbor’s driveway
But it was short one passenger

15 minutes ago
My husband was driving to the school
While I was on the phone with them
Asking if they’d seen him

10 minutes ago
I’m still on hold
While the woman on the phone
Does an “All Call” announcement
As I pray that he’ll answer

8 minutes ago
I’m wondering if the last words I told him
Were “I love you and I’ll see you soon”
And I’m praying that he’s safe

5 minutes ago
The woman comes back on the phone
And tells me he’s at the school
And he’s telling his dad
That he told me he had band practice today

1 minute ago
I broke down in tears
Because I realized
How much I take for granted
And I took my first real breath
In 30 minutes

(This post was inspired by true events of Thursday afternoon.)

Greetings from Gourd Land!

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One of the great things about not having a 9 to 5 job is that I’m usually available to volunteer for school activities. Don’t get me wrong, I won’t be winning any PTA volunteer of the year awards, although where I live the competition is pretty fierce. Me? I stick to helping out on field trips and making sets for school musicals.

One of the often frequented field trip destinations for elementary school age children is a place owned by the school district known as the Outdoor Learning Center. Here’s a brief description from the website:

The Outdoor Learning Center is nestled on 35-acres of land kept in its natural state. The OLC is a place where plants and animals live and grow and where science and social studies lessons spring to life as students at all grade levels participate in hands-on activities….

The school district is currently expanding the services and classroom experiences offered at the OLC. A living history classroom has been added where teachers and students participate in interactive lessons, and in the science classroom, students explore and discover native plants and animals.

My daughter’s 4th grade class visited both the living history classroom and the science classroom yesterday. I was assigned to one of the ten learning stations in the science classroom:

  • Station 1: Seeds
  • Station 2: Gourds
  • Station 3: Arthropods
  • Station 4: Animal Teeth
  • Station 5: Butterflies and Moths
  • Station 6: Fossils
  • Station 7: Birds
  • Station 8: Vines
  • Station 9: Reptiles/Amphibians
  • Station 10: Mammals

Yeah…my station? Station 2: Gourds. Which I suppose is a step up in the excitement category from Seeds or Vines, but notice how the stations are arranged. The room is a large rectangle. The kids, in groups of two, were assigned 5 minutes per station then moved around to the next station. So the kids who had just come from a table full of taxidermy animals and fur pelts got to come to me next. For whatever reason, the kids did not stop at Station 1: Seeds, or Station 3: Arthropods. I was, however, giving my fascinating 5 minute talk about the wonderful world of gourds while standing next to a tank full of angry crawfish and another tank full of African Clawed Frogs.

So yeah, that wasn’t at all distracting. And since Station 10 was right next to my station, some of the stuff that wouldn’t fit on the mammal table was on a shelf above the angry crawfish:

Oh, and did I mention that one of the frogs was about to give birth?

And that another one wasn’t actually from Africa but straight from the bowels of hell?

This frog started at me the entire time.

As you can well imagine, the children were riveted as I explained that gourds were originally from Africa and were carried by heavy rains into rivers and later oceans to eventually reach all parts of the world; that pumpkins, cucumbers, cantaloupes and other melons were considered gourds, and that there were many uses for the hollow, durable wood-like gourds that were on display.

I could tell they were fascinated by my station, because they asked thoughtful questions like,

“What’s a gourd?”


“Is that white frog dead or what?”

Okay, not really. The kids were actually pretty great. Especially after I told them it would take me roughly 3 minutes to talk about gourds, after which time they could look at the frogs and further provoke the angry crawfish…

So, what’d you do yesterday?

Halloween Costumes or Prostitots in training wear? (Repost)

My 8-year old daughter informed me last week that she wants to dress as a devil cat for Halloween. What’s a devil cat? I have no idea. But it sounds sort of slutty to me, so she will most likely NOT be dressing as a devil cat.

Did I miss something? Since when is it acceptable for pre-pubescent little girls to dress like hookers? Or as Erin, winner of my first ever Super Skanktacular Saturday Giveaway might call them, Prostitots?

I suppose I could play the blame game here. Kids are constantly bombarded with inappropriate images from TV and other media outlets. When was the last time you tried to buy your daughter a pair of shorts? It’s becoming increasingly difficult to find plain, knit or cotton shorts without words like “Juicy” or “Jail Bait” emblazoned across the butt. Lovely…

But here’s the thing – if you don’t want your daughter to dress provocatively, man up and put your foot down. Don’t give in to their incessant whining. Just say no to skanky kids costumes.

Update: This year, my daughter chose to be a “goth vampire”. Which is basically a long burgandy and black dress. I’m very happy.

Anyone dressing up for Halloween this year? What are your kiddos going to be?

What was your worst/best costume ever? Me? Madonna: The high ponytail era. It’s a shame I have since burned misplaced the pictures from that particular year. But I remember showing up early to a Halloween party hosted by my friend whom I have known since the 3rd grade. She didn’t recognize me. I had pulled my long hair up in a ponytail and used that spray-on hair (blond) sold to cover bald spots. Three cans later, my almost black hair was concealed and I was a platinum blond. And yes, the rest of the costume was very much in keeping with Madonna’s look at the time. My friend’s husband was a concert promoter, and she thought I was a band groupie. Good times…


My friend Matt Appling posted an interview with Billy Coffey over at his blog, The Church of No People. He asks some not-so-typical questions. You can find the interview here.


From the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary:

Main Entry: re·lent·less

Function: adjective

Date: circa 1592

: showing or promising no abatement of severity, intensity, strength, or pace : unrelenting

Funny thing about having kids. You think you will spend their formative years teaching them what they need to know to become responsible, God-honoring adults, and you do, but if you’re paying attention, they teach you as much as you teach them — especially about yourself. Before I had kids, I was one of those obnoxious people without kids who considered herself a bit of an expert on how not to raise a child. I would watch with disdain when a child had a meltdown at the grocery store. “That child needs discipline!”, or “The reason that child pulls that crap is because he is allowed to get away with it.”

Parenting is nothing if not humbling. If words had a caloric value, I would be a pretty sizable woman by now. I’ve eaten my share of them. What I failed to realize before I had children of my own is they are not little robots to be programmed by their well meaning parents. They have their own set of characteristics –either nature or nurture –that makes each child unique; each person unique. And while the physical characteristics my husband and I passed down to our children are glaringly obvious, it has taken a few years to fully grasp some of the less tangible characteristics. You know, the ones where you turn to your spouse and say, “He/she got that from you!”

But here’s something I’m finally figuring out after all this time. I’m a fairly laid back person. (No, really — I am). But when I set my mind to something, I am not easily dissuaded from seeing it through. Call it stubbornness if you will. That’s how I read it when this trait reared its ugly head in BOTH my children. I’m telling you, THEY WILL WEAR YOU DOWN if they want something. Not necessarily by whining (Praise Jesus they are past that stage for now), but by pleading and negotiation in any and all forms. I have to smile because I was exactly like that as a child. My mom’s favorite line was, “Just give it to her. She’s never going to shut up until you do.” Annoying? Yes. Did I get my share of poundings from my sisters and brother? Definitely. But you know what? They didn’t beat one of my defining qualities out of me.


Hope springs eternal

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17
I honestly believe that. I believe that whatever good traits and talents we have are His gifts to be used for His Glory. I also believe that if it is God’s will for you to be a great writer, even if you don’t know how to read, He will provide circumstances in your life to see His will accomplished. With God, all things are possible.
Having said that, I also believe that certain abilities and traits (good and bad) are passed down either by heredity or simply by growing up around said traits and abilities. I’d be willing to bet that anyone who has a child over the age of 3 has seen a personality trait in their child that they immediately recognize as one that is shared by either themselves or their spouse. Of course, the bad ones can usually be attributed to the spouse, but I digress.
Both my children are good examples of this hypothesis. But I will focus on my daughter Rachel for the purposes of this blog post. She loves all things creative (me), is a problem solver (Ron), a bit of a diva (Ron, okay me), loves to sing (me), paint (me), is good at building things (Ron), likes to read (me), is sensitive to the feelings of others (hopefully both of us), laughs easily (me), and is a total grouch in the morning (totally Ron). And while she is completely unique and has her own distinct personality, she is also a combination of the two of us. She looks more like me, but I’ve got dominant genes on my side (brown hair, eyes, etc.).
There is one thing about her that kinda baffles me. She is a total girly girl. It’s not that I don’t love that about her, I think it’s incredibly adorable. I just don’t know where that came from. She love pink, Barbies, her American Girl dolls, fashion (i.e. – all things fancy), and jewelry. I’m just not like that at all. And Ron, well, don’t even go there. As evidence, I present Exhibits A, B and C: Rachel’s room circa 2004, 2006 and 2008, respectively. Not to stray off topic, but I feel the need to say that while I have redecorated this space several times, everything you see was either given to me, bought from a garage sale, made by my own hands, or bought at a low, low sale price. (Elbow grease and paint can go a long way and retail is for suckers.)
Now, back to the my original train of thought. As a parent, I secretly delight when I see my children take interest in or excel at something that I’m into. Just as I cringe when I see a less desirable trait that I share, like forgetting where they put anything, rear its ugly head. But in all honesty, as long as she is true to who she is, I’m good with it. I have accepted the fact that my daughter is the living embodiment of “Fancy Nancy”.
Tonight was open house at the kids’ school. When I walked into my daughter’s classroom, her teacher greeted my husband and me, then immediately asked if we had seen Rachel’s turkey. Typically, kids this age and younger make a paper turkey, and on each feather write something they are thankful for. On this particular turkey, their instructions were to imagine the turkey could talk and write some of the things that he or she would say. (Her teacher is awesome.) Imagine my surprise when I read the following on Rachel’s turkey:
-Please do not eat me because I am pregnant.
-Please do not eat me because I am krazy.
-Please do not eat me because I am too big for your oven.
-Please do not eat me because I will explode in your oven and cover it with blood.
-Please do not eat me because I have diarrhea.
Perhaps the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree after all. (*smile*)