Thursday, September 26, 2013

Mysterious Specimen

"How is your research progressing with this particular subject, Doctor?"

"This is a curious creature:  intelligent, cooperative, easily distracted."

"Have you been successful in establishing communication yet?"

"Primarily through grunts and body language, Sir."

"So, it acts like an animal?"

"But, it's definitely human."

"Interesting...and the age?"

"Eleven, I believe."

"And gender?"



A 55-Word story inspired by the current scientific experiments going on in our home in our endless efforts to raise our pre-teen.  I love that boy!  (but not his wandering socks or misplaced homework or his 87% success rate at following through...)

Linking up with Trifecta - inspired by the word:  animal 

3  :  a human being considered chiefly as physical or nonrational; also :  this nature

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Aromas of Fall

Betty dried her hands on the checkered apron tied around her waist and checked the timer on the stove. She could just smell the allspice wafting out of the oven, signaling her nose that the apple pie was almost done.  Stopping to stir the cider as it bubbled on the stove, a heavenly aroma of cinnamon filled the kitchen.  She smiled, watching the clove-studded orange slices float on the surface.  Betty turned down the heat under the kettle and turned to the honey-spiced bread, carefully cutting generous slices of the still-warm loaf and wrapping it in the rust-colored towel before depositing the fragrant bundle in the basket on the kitchen table.  The timer dinged and Betty slipped on her oven mitts, careful not to bump the pie plate as she set it on the trivet.  Standing back, she surveyed the fall bounty.

And then she frowned.

"You did it again," she mumbled.  "You prepared the feast, but forgot to invite the friends.  Better hope the neighbors are hungry."


Inspired by the picture above and my own tendency to bake, bake, bake in the fall and winter.  And then eat, eat, eat more than I should.  Gratefully, my kids are getting old enough to help their mom out with some of the culinary creations coming from our kitchen, so I can cook with abandon and not feel any guilt!  And I get to enjoy the added bonus of a house filled with these delicious aromas of fall!

The recipe for the honey-spiced bread is on my blog:  Honey Spice Bread.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Under a Cloud

We sat, listening to the drumming of the raindrops on the roof.  After a week of rain, the ground was spongy, the sun was elusive and we were ready for a glimpse of the sky.  But still it poured.  And not the pitter patter of a springtime shower, but the thumping and thundering of a storm pent up, unleashing it's weighty burden on us. An unrelenting veil of water washed down over everything.

We laid in bed, praying for a break in the storm.  Not the deluge that gurgles through the gutters and sputters into the yard below, but a respite from this storm of our hearts.  This season of waiting out our own personal tempest has taken its toll:  sleep is elusive, tears burst forth unexpectedly and we're ready for a glimpse of a rainbow -- a reminder of God's promise that He hasn't forgotten us.

Under these clouds of doubt and worry, we weather the steady drips and drops of life.

Another bill in the mail...drip, drip.
Another trip to the grocery...drip, drop.
Another critical comment about our house on the market...drop, drip.

In spite of feeling like our prayers have gotten lost in the storm above, blown away and scattered in the wind, we are reminded again that God is good.  He will see us through this storm and His faithfulness is surer than any illusory rainbow; His reward for patience and endurance is more precious than a pot of gold.

Yesterday the rains persisted and we kept our umbrellas near at hand.  Today, however, the sun is shining and the clear sky nearly blinds our eyes.  In the same way, our storm will pass and on that day the piercing brightness of seeing God's goodness revealed will make every drip and drop worth it.  In fact, His radiance shining through our fragile gratitude will be a beauty to behold.

image courtesy of Unsplash, Creative Commons

The waters saw you, God—

    the waters saw you and reeled!
        Even the deep depths shook!
17 The clouds poured water,
    the skies cracked thunder;
        your arrows were flying all around!
18 The crash of your thunder was in the swirling storm;
    lightning lit up the whole world;
        the earth shook and quaked.
19 Your way went straight through the sea;
    your pathways went right through the mighty waters.
        But your footprints left no trace!
20 You led your people like sheep
    under the care of Moses and Aaron.

Psalm 77:16-20


Linking up with Write at the Merge this week - 315 words inspired by the picture above, the storms in Northern Colorado and our own stormy hopes.

Linking up with Trifecta - inspired by the word:  Rainbow 

3: [from the impossibility of reaching the rainbow, at whose foot a pot of gold is said to be buried] :  an illusory goal or hope 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


Tune in this evening at 8 o'clock for the series premier of, "I'm Home!", a laugh-out-loud comedy zeroing in on the ups and downs and ins and outs of the life of Nicki, a stay-at-home mom with a score to settle with Mrs. Cleaver!

You won't want to miss the hilarious confrontation between Nicki and the UPS man when he innocently comments on "how nice it must be to just sit at home all day".  Or, the slapstick silliness of Nicki attempting to vacuum the living room in the midst of Legos, action figures and a tea party in progress, while at the same time carrying the newest member of the family on her hip.  Your sides will ache as you watch Nicki labor over six different dinners in an effort to please her picky family only to find herself ten minutes later packing lunch-boxes in the never-ending efforts to keep her kids fed.

Hijinks ensue with episodes like, "Why's Your Toothbrush Under My Bed?", "Hotdogs Make Me Gag" and "She Keeps Breathing My Air".

Don't miss this season's Must Watch Show -- and remember to call and thank your mother!


Curiously, this show only made it through the first three episodes, but you can watch the reruns on channel 8 every morning at 3 am.  If you watch them on constant repeat, you can get a pretty good idea of what Nicki's life is really like.


Linking up with Write at the Merge this week:  Write the plot of a TV show.  

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Bottle of Youth

The green goo slips between her fingers; a faint hint of aloe fills the steamy bathroom.  Squinting into the foggy mirror, she gently applies the gel to her forehead.  Obediently, she "avoids eye contact" and works her way over her laugh-lines and across her nose.  She squirts an extra dollop of goo onto her fingertips and finishes smearing the mask over her skin, paying special attention to the creases around her mouth.  Rinsing her hands at the sink she turns her head from side to side to make sure she didn't miss any spots.  She can feel the mask drying, tightening, pulling at her skin.  The lines around her eyes, her crow's feet, disappear and even the "commas" on either side of her lips diminish.  Picking up the plastic bottle, she reads the directions:  Let dry completely before removing.

"Hmmm...I don't suppose I could get away with leaving it on.  I look ten years younger."

She smiles into the mirror and watches as the rubbery film pulls away from the skin around her nose and mouth. Ragged air pockets remain, leaving her looking more ghoulish than glam.

"Ack.  I guess not."


I remember dissolving into fits of hysteria with my mom and sis as we beautified ourselves -- rubbery goo stuck in our hair, flapping masks pulling away at our mouths and cries of pain as we inadvertently plucked our eyebrows.  Oh, but our faces were so smooth!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Chaos Containment

Approaching the loft, my eyes widen.  The plastic castle has exploded, carnage abounds:  princesses, horses, a jewelled crown.  Testing my tether, I secure my line of retreat.

"I'm goin' in!"


Linking up with Trifextra - 33 words including tether, loft and crown.  Also inspired by our current play room we have been calling "The Loft" -- Lots Of Fun Toys -- and the daily struggle to contain the chaos.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


“Recalculating,” chirps Mechanical Myrtle from the GPS.  I groan, frowning as my destination disappears from sight in the rearview mirror.

“I think you were supposed to turn back there, Mom,” my son announces from the backseat.  “That’s the way Dad took us.”

“Yeah.  You missed it,” chimes in another voice, and I feel a twitch beginning in my right temple.  Taking a deep breath, I peer up at the glass-faced buildings, trying to get my bearings.  I’m a country mouse in the big city.  This is why I didn’t want to move.

“ ‘Calculating, ‘calculating,” sings my baby girl as I turn on my signal and wait to merge into the left lane.

“Shh, Sweetie.  Mommy needs to think.  You’ve been to Daddy’s office, but this is my first time.  I don’t even know what it looks like.”  According to the map, I was supposed to turn left.  Maybe I can retrace my path.

“Turn right in 100 feet,” Myrtle announces.  “Turn right.  Turn right.”

“I can’t turn right,” I mutter, “I’m in the left lane.”

“Recalculating.”  I fight the urge to scream while hot tears burn my eyes.  Blinking rapidly, I try to read a street sign as I drive past it.

“You went the wrong way,” squeaks another child from the back.  “Again.”

“Just give me a minute.  I think I can...nope.  That’s a one way street going the wrong way.  This is so frustrating.”

“There’s Daddy’s building again!  Turn here!”

“Arriving at destination...recalculating.”

“Hush, Myrtle.”

“You should pull in right there, Mom.”

“Hush, Buddy.  Let me drive, please.”

I swing into a parking space down the block and put the van in park.  As I turn off the ignition, the floodgates open and all the tears I had been holding back erupt.  

“Good job, Mom.  That’s Daddy’s office right there.”

Grabbing a tissue, I wipe my eyes and feel a little hand pat me on the shoulder.  With a quivering smile, I look back at my kids’ anxious faces.  Pull yourself together.  Take a deep breath.  “Okey-dokey.  Let’s let Daddy know we’re here.  I’m excited to see his new office.”

“With the purple wall!”

“With the purple wall.”

Back up ten months and you find me braced against the kitchen sink and wiping away similar hot tears.  My chest is tight, and my heart is sad.  His words echo in the silence between us.

“I don’t want to work there anymore.”  

I can see in his eyes that he is just as afraid as I am about what those seven words mean for our family.  Nodding, I want to allay his fears, to be strong for him, to assure him that we’ll be okay, but deep inside I feel my world tremble.  For ten years we’ve been in this community and for ten years he’s worked for the same company.  Ten years worth of memories and friendships.  Ten years to grow our family and put down roots.  But it’s been five years since the first stirrings of change:  the first road signs of discontent and a desire for something more.  

Five years ago, he brought up the subject of a new job and I’m ashamed to say I played the “what about the kids?” card.  While it’s true that I was anxious for our kids, I was actually more concerned about me.  Selfishly, I was happy with the way life was, even if it meant that my husband spent forty-plus hours a week at a job he didn’t like.  Couldn’t we be enough for him?  Can’t he just tough it out?

And now here we are again, having the same conversation, but I know in my heart that this time it will end differently.  For Brett’s sake, it has to end differently.  For the good of his family, he has been a faithful provider in a dead-end job for five years longer than he wanted to, and now it is time for a change.  It is time for him to have an opportunity to be satisfied and challenged in his job.  It is time for him to experience a sense of pride in himself and his work, and it is time for me to be brave for us both.

“I think that you should start scoping out your options.”  I gulp, hoping that he doesn’t hear the quaver in my voice.  “Of course, I hope that you’ll look for possibilities here in town,” I swallow hard before continuing, “but you need to feel free to pursue any prospect.”

“Cast the net wide.”

“Right.  Cast the net wide and we’ll see what God has planned.”  I can barely get out those last words; my throat constricts, and I clench my jaw.  What could be better than our life here, God?  Why would you ask us to give this up?  Relief washes over his face as he pulls me into his arms.  The sobbing starts, and I can’t stop. Life as we know it is recalculating.

The following months jumble together:  résumés sent, interviews scheduled, career changes made, boxes packed, tears shed.  In spite of feeling God’s peace about the decision to accept the new job, our future is foggy and we find ourselves second-guessing our choice.  Are we doing what’s best?  Did we hear You right, God?  Focusing on moving our family across the state, we begin chipping away at our lengthy to-do list and do our best to capture moments with friends and family.  All the details click together, every facet, that is, except for the big one:  the house.

We flip the calendar and find ourselves in the middle of summer with our home still sitting on the market.  Months ago we had envisioned ourselves, by this time, settling in to our new community.  Instead we twiddle our thumbs in our mostly-packed house and anxiously anticipate Brett’s weekly visit from across the state.  While he loves his new job, we don’t love the new family arrangement -- thirty-six hours a week with our Daddy is not nearly enough.  And yet, what can we do?  Daily we remind ourselves to wait, hope, and trust that God still has a good plan for us, even if it’s not the plan we would have designed.  If only we had a road map to follow.

After a month of living apart, I’m ready to accept a new strategy, a plan I had rejected earlier.  We recalculate life again and make plans to move into a rental, clean out the house, and hopefully let the dust settle before the kids start school.

“That top box will go up to the bunk bed room, but the other three will stay in the garage.”  I stand in the driveway and direct the movers as they deliver our almost-ten-thousand pounds of life into our much smaller rental.  “All of those dining room chairs stay in the garage.  And the table, too.  That box will go to the kitchen.”  

With each labeled box carted off the truck, I feel a tumult of emotions:  relief at having our family reunited and confusion about this u-turn in our plans.  Every carton that has a pink sticky-note is something we need for our temporary stay here, while the remaining boxes are stacked in the garage near our over-sized sofa and wait until our house sells and we buy something here.  Every cardboard box I unpack will have to be repacked in twelve months. Wasn’t there an easier way to do this?  Did we take a wrong turn somewhere?  I’ve no choice but to keep trusting that God is in the midst of this move and He will give me the courage to make this place our home, in spite of my own uncertainty.

Today I sorted the last of the “pink sticky-note” boxes.  We have the basic bits of life unpacked, and we’ve even hung some of our favorite art work on the walls.  With just a few personal touches, the living room reminds me that this is home.  The kids are setting down roots in school, and each day they walk home with new stories and new friends.  Our days have fallen into a comfortable routine, and I’ve mapped out new routes for shopping and errands.  We even have new cards at the library and fresh books on the shelf, ready to be read.  

Most importantly, I see my husband every morning and every evening, and the joy on his face when he recounts his day at work makes this crazy move worth it.  

Life is full of recalculations.  We can choose to stay on a dead-end road, driving straight to nowhere, or we can follow the road signs that God has placed in our path, even if it seems that at times we’re going the wrong way.  While I most likely wouldn’t have chosen this particular road we’re on right now,  I am grateful to be on this trip together.


I wrote this for an essay contest with RealSimple, prompted by the theme, "A Time I Was Brave".  I would appreciate your feedback as I will be sending it off next week.  Thanks!