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I shared a couple of things with FB friends, but didn’t write them down here. And since this is my virtual brain/memory book, I thought I’d recap:

Sam found a cardboard box and spent ages drawing all over it. Finally, he stepped back, gave me a big Sam grin and said, “I did it! My very own spaceship (it’s Sam, so actually it was Thpathethip). It took a long time, but now it’s all mine!” With that he stepped inside, sat down and began furiously tapping at a set of circles drawn on the front flap.

“Whatcha doin’, buddy?” I asked after he’d been tapping away for ages.

He didn’t even look up, just kept pounding away. “Oh, just seein’ what all the buttons do.”


Yesterday, Sam did not get things exactly his way and it resulted in a HUGE blow up. He declared that he just didn’t want to live with us anymore.

We offered to pack him a bag.

In the end, he decided he’d better just go spend some time in his room. On his way down the stairs, Sam turned and screamed, “Thith ith the Worthtetht day of my LIFE!”

Later, when he’d calmed down enough to munch on some goldfish crackers in the kitchen, I sat down beside him and said, “I’m glad you decided not to run away, Sam. I would have missed you.”

He nodded as he finished chewing, then said with a shrug, “Yeah…I couldn’t remember Maw Maw’s phone number.”

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What VBS means to me

My children are having a great time at VBS. They’re making new friends. They’re learning fun songs with hilarious gestures. They may even be taking home the idea that God is always with them. I hope so. But I can’t help feeling a little sorry for them. Why? Because they won’t have MY Bible School experience.

Notice I say Bible School. I’m from the generation before acronyms. When KFC was still Kentucky Fried Chicken and Bible School still started with the Pledge of Allegiance and a rousing chorus of Onward Christian Soldiers. My classmates always included at least one cousin, usually more. And I could count on spotting older or younger cousins as we moved from one station to the next. My little, round Bible School pin, with the red, white and blue color scheme and the MURDEROUSLY sharp point was one of my most treasured possessions from June through August. And it might randomly be used to accessorize any outfit, including my nightgown.

There was one big project we worked on all week — usually a separate one for boys and another for girls. One of my favorites was a round piece of wood with a painted a face and long braids of yarn for hair. You could clip your hair barrettes to the braids and not lose them; one of life’s major frustrations solved. My cousin Carolyn was the teacher that year, and she made me plait my yarn a half dozen times before the finished product was deemed even enough to pass muster. I can still plait a mean braid even today.

But without a doubt, the most undeniably wonderful part of Bible School was my Uncle George Lee Gardner. To describe my Uncle George as taciturn would be a disservice. While he was slow to speak and rarely inclined to any great show of emotion, there was something in his eyes that drew children to him like a moth to a flame. At almost 20 years my mother’s senior, he assumed the role of stand-in grandfather, and I worshipped him accordingly, marveling at the wood-working projects — such as gun racks and shoe-shine boxes — he instructed the older boys in assembling.

He did everything circumspectly, no word or gesture wasted. But if you were patient and bided your time, a cousin or older member of the congregation would set the stage. “George!” some grown-up would begin. “Do you reckon these kids know anything about…” and that’s how the stories would start. Stories of  a young George Lee “riding the rails” to see the cherry blossoms bloom in front of the White House in Washington. Stories of dangerous jobs, near misses, and fantastical happenings. Another voice would chime in, “Did you really kill a snake with your bare hands?” And Uncle George would reluctantly explain how a person could kill a rattlesnake by grabbing it’s tail and cracking its body like a whip. I remember my jaw hanging open as I pictured its severed head flying free with a SNAP! Several kids wondered what would happen if the head hit you after the snake was dead. It was a staggering thought and one that made us even more mindful of the state of our eternal soul. Because the severed snakehead of life was no respecter of persons, and it just seemed wiser to go ahead and get things right with God while the gettin’ was good. Repeat attendance was rarely a problem with Uncle George on the scene.

Another wonder was that my birthday always, always fell during Bible School week. And every year, Uncle George would bring me a frozen coconut cake to celebrate on the grounds after everyone else had gone home. Thinking back, the flavors still mingle in my sense memory — coconut, cool whip and cardboard. I imagine I liked coconut about as well as the next kid, meaning not at all. But that didn’t stop it from tasting like ambrosia on my tongue. Simply because it came from Uncle George.

Many birthdays meld into one. The hot June sun, the stickiness of the icing, the rasp of the concrete picnic table against the bottom of my paper plate. Uncle George’s soft murmur, mama’s answering laughter and my own feeling of perfect rightness in God’s world. It’s a memory I revisit often, then carefully tuck back in my treasure box of remembrances.

I hope my boys find something this week they can hold onto. Better yet, I pray for them to consistently experience something wonderful, like I did every year in Vacation Bible School. Because that’s where the deep teaching can be found. But still, I feel a little sorry for them. Not because they don’t sing Onward Christian Soldiers in anymore, but because God broke the mold when he made my Uncle George.


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Clash…of the Titans

I stumbled across this picture today.

Really, what's not to love?

It’s The Clash’s Paul Simonon. And I was reminded of hearing “Should I Stay or Should I Go” on the radio when I was in the 2nd grade. The Clash, The Pretenders, Blondie, The Ramones, The Police…It almost seemed as if there was too much wonderful music to take it all in. But I did what I could and still am collecting tunes over the years. There’s newer blood: Foo Fighters, Cage The Elephant, Them Crooked Vultures, The Raconteurs. But how do we find out about the Next Big Thing in this post-modern music landscape devoid of the beautiful eclecticism of AM radio. Does FM even play music anymore or is it all conservative talk shows? And if you haven’t seen ‘em live do you even know who you’re listening to? Discuss.


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Just a thought, Luke Skywalker…

…but if attack formation D “always works,” why not make it attack formation “A” and just go with that first? I have lots of other suggestions that my husband doesn’t seem to appreciate while watching one of his favorite movies, but just know I’m here if you need me.

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No substitutions, no exchanges

As I clipped Jack’s toenails (not usually a spectator sport), I noticed Will surreptitiously trying to get ahold of one of the clippings I’d collected.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

Will shrugged and replied, “Well…Tooth Fairy takes toenails, too. Right?”

Believe it or not, I did not see that one coming. “Umm — No. I’m pretty sure Tooth Fairy is only into teeth.”

“But there was that one time when I left her a bead,” Will insisted. “And she took that didn’t she?”

“Yes, but do you remember that she left you kind of a snarky note telling you not to try and trick her again?”

Will sat back on his heels, “Oh…guess I forgot that part.”

I hope to heaven Will loses a baby tooth soon. I don’t think Tooth Fairy’s heart can take any more surprises.


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Conversations with my better half

Him: What’s that thing on the counter that looks like a savings bond?

Me: That’s a refund check. We actually got one this year.

Him: So…what is it? Like $10?

Me: Enough to get that plane you wanted.

Him: Helicopter.

Me: What?

Him: Technically, it’s a helicopter.

Me: Whatever. Keep being a @#$% and I’ll go buy shoes.



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The Good, The Bad, but mostly the Ugly

If you’re in my inner circle, you know I’ve recently had a hysterectomy. Ok…let’s be honest. If you were behind the register or trapped in line with me at Target, Publix, or Any of my Usual Haunts, you may know I’ve recently had a hysterectomy. I’m a sharer — what can I say?

Things weren’t going well at week 6, but a change in tack has made for smoother sailing in weeks 7 and 8. BUT…it also means I’ve been really inactive for over 2 months. Inactive with unrestricted access to Easter Candy. You see where I’m going here? And I have to wear a swimsuit at the family beach trip in just under 3 weeks AND have pictures taken by a professional photographer. At this point, I don’t have a good side. Or a waistline for that matter. It’s depressing.

Also, I seem to be at a critical parenting point with one of the triplets. Suffice it to say that things are NOT easy right now. And I’m not at all sure I’m doing the right thing. I mean maybe I’m doing the right thing, but there’s really no way to know until he’s lived his entire life without a prison stint. I’m not sure I fully understood going in that once you’re a parent, there really is no “finish line,” just a constant evolution in what your children need/demand from you. It’s stressful.

To this depression and stress add a severe case of writer’s block. So severe, it’s also manifested as ‘reader’s block’ in that I don’t even have the attention span to read someone else’s work. At least that part has lightened up in the past few days, I’ve enjoyed reading an old favorite author, Georgette Heyer. Light, easy reading for the thinking impaired. And now, hopefully, I’ll start to see some of the little grey cells I use for writing wake up and return to service. But I wonder if I’ll always be crippled by the certainty that I’m a terrible writer and should confine myself to the random musings of this blog.

So there we are. This is the last Sunday I’m allowing myself a day off. Back to the regular routines from here on in. To my usual list of laundry, dinner, housework, I’m forcing a regular exercise and writing window. Hopefully the exercise will give my brain enough of a release that it will let go of some of the words it’s been hoarding. And if I should happen to see a waistline again, all the better.



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“Mom! Mom! I kicked out Tom’s loose tooth!” Jack announced, the leader of a thundering herd of boys racing up the stairs.

“You did what?”

“Remember how he accidentally knocked mine out with the doorknob that time? Well I accidentally kicked his out while we were playing.”

“And now I get to put it under my Pillow!” Tom crowed. “Thanks, Jack!”

They stand beaming their gapped toothed grins at one another for a beat, then someone suggests Tom go look at the blood in the mirror. They gallop away, and their dad and I are left bewildered, wondering what, if anything, we are supposed to do about Jack having kicked Tom in the mouth hard enough to dislodge his already loose tooth. If both parties are thrilled, has there been a crime?




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Job Opportunities

Tom and Will are going to be paleontologists when they grow up. We had to listen to this song by They Might Be Giants a zillion times to prove it.

But Sam? Sam has a higher calling. In addition to being an astronaut fireman (because why settle for just one?), he plans on also being a “bird rescuer”. All noble pursuits.

But his fourth aspiration is the one that has me a bit puzzled. He wants to catch squirrels and look at their feet. No further goal. Just catch them and look at their feet.

His grandmother said she wasn’t too sure if there was a market for that particular pursuit. I suggested it might be more of a volunteer opportunity.


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Hangin’ Loose

Tom has a loose tooth on his bottom row. This means soon Will and Sam will have loose teeth, too. Jack’s already sporting a snaggletoothed grin, so I suppose it was only a matter of time. Tom looks at the thin line of blood at the gum line in the mirror. He’s torn between horror and jubilation. He skips across the floor to show me his progress, then skips back to the bathroom to continue monitoring his progress in the mirror.

I’m not surprised he’s the first of the triplets to sprout a grown up tooth. Hardly anything surprises me about Tom any more. Something I’ve only shared in snippets is Tom’s tendency to race ahead on milestones, but since this is essentially a glorified baby book, I’m sharing these next few things so I’ll remember them years from now.

Tom is…smart. Really, really smart. Like learning-everything-Jack-is-learning-almost-as-fast-as-Jack-learns-it smart. I’ve re-read that sentence twice now, and it still doesn’t convey what I mean for it to. Everyone thinks their children are bright. I think all of mine are exceptional. But his dad and I actually refer to Tom as our “singularity” — meaning everything we think we’ve learned about child-rearing on the other three doesn’t seem to apply to Tom. Even more so than with the other three, we feel like we’re just making it up as we go along.

Last night, Tom was frustrated that Jack was having a turn with something he wanted. In an effort to distract him, and knowing how much he likes puzzles, I thought I’d see what he thought about simple algebra. When I wrote 2 + 3 = x, he died laughing. Literal belly laughing, as if I’d just told the funniest joke he’d ever heard.

“Mom! That’s 5, not x!”

I went on to explain that x was just pretending to be a number, and we had to find which number x was pretending to be. We worked a few more with me explaining as we went along. Finally, I summed up.

“See babe, it’s like a see-saw. The equal sign is the middle of the see-saw, and we have to make the other two sides balance.

“Oh, so it’s like measuring,” Tom said.

I was stumped. “How is it like measuring, babe?” I asked.

“Well, if the one side is too light it goes up, and if the other side is too heavy it goes down. Like me and Will.”

I grinned; it was a lot like weights and measures. “Right, Tom! You want both sides to be even — like when you and Jack see-saw.”

We talked about numbers for a while longer, then Tom ran off to play.

There’s no moral to this story. I just want to be sure I remember that moment, his laughing at x, and his satisfaction at finding the answers to every problem I posed.

If there’s anything I worry about, it’s failing to provide him with enough variety to keep him interested. Because he’s so much MORE than a calculator. His handwriting is gorgeous, he draws beautifully. His construction paper creations are frame-able. He can memorize long passages with very little effort, provided he can read them as well as hear them. And he LOVES to be the center of attention, so I’m thinking maybe drama would be a good idea. But I have NO CLUE how to even get started on something like that.

When you’re the parent, it often seems like you’re constantly being dropped in the center of uncharted territory. So that’s my job, I guess. To figure out what he might like, then blaze a trail to get him the opportunity. Sounds easy right?

Well it’s not. Not even a little. But I’m trying to stay relaxed. Hangin’ loose like Tom’s baby tooth, trusting I’ll find the right road at the right time.

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