Friday, June 29, 2012

The Tiny Quiet Space in the Middle of the Loud Breakdown

Over the past two weeks, we've been moving into a new church building. The nursery room we’ll be using has literally nothing in it. Just the air between the tile floor and the probably 20 or 30 foot vaulted ceiling. Perfect for babies to screech and nursery workers to feel their eardrums bursting. The floors need to be scrubbed and the walls need to feel toys and tiny bodies banging against them. They will tomorrow.

Inside the worship space, the walls are holding color, color that doesn’t look “too churchy”, since we are very worried about coming across that way. I’m not going to lie: I wonder how Kelly Green will coordinate with Overcast Skies when it’s all over, but that’s the combo I voted for so now I just give a thumbs up. The carpet is encrusted with paint chips in spots, but this only attests to the hours and weeks of indentured servitude labored by our church family. There’s a rumor of fashioning florescent lamp covers, which I sure hope they can figure out because florescent lighting makes me look jaundiced. And there’s nothing worse than a pastor’s wife who looks like she’s losing a battle with alcoholism. Josh tried to organize people in teams and shifts yesterday, but he used a Google Doc for his administrative tool, and I guess the people don’t like Google Docs because no one signed up. But they still come to work. Oh well. Organization is overrated. Apparently.

Sanctuary Walkabout from theWELL on Vimeo.

To only slightly complicate matters, at about 7 yesterday evening, I was on my way to impromptu drinks with friends, and my car broke down at the intersection of McCall and Hayes Drive. In rare form, yes, the first car at the stoplight. It just shut off. Honking ensued from frustrated people who didn’t realize that I deserved their pity and accommodation. Fortunately my friend Bruce in his sparkling, white Mercedes was behind me, knowing I was having car problems. And fortunately the police officer from Pottawatomie County pulled up behind me just a minute or two after the civil disturbance commenced. And then came Josh, maybe five minutes into it, a perspiring knight in gym shorts, to retrieve his wife in her professional wardrobe from standing on the corner with a cell phone, melting into a pool of perspiration. He was a sight for sweat-covered eyes.

We left the car in a parking lot after Josh and the Pottawatomie policeman pushed it there. They made quick work of it. Then we were off, driving home in the car that just got fixed, except for the A/C, which we know now we should have prioritized. When the tow truck got to our house bearing the green European car with 200,000 miles, I could see that its smirky New England personality was feeling a little worn, a little beat up. The tow truck driver’s name was Chad, and he gave a side smile as he recalled dropping off a PT Cruiser at this address a few months ago. I couldn’t hide my amazement at his memory, or at the obvious fact that we were getting to know a tow truck driver because of our car’s illness records. But he was so endearing when he said it that I wanted to have him in for lemonade, or invite him to church, but then I thought that would be tacky because housewives being chatty with tow truck drivers can be misconstrued as other things, although Josh was home, and I couldn’t figure out an un-awkward introduction to it. So I didn’t. And anyways, I don’t think we have any lemonade.

I was supposed to drive to Kansas City for a meeting today, supposed to go to work this morning, but with only one car, it’s hard to justify taking it for 36 hours and leaving the pastor and his baby, ahem, Big Boy, stranded. So I’m home. And I guess we’re going to try to fix this Boston professor’s car that I drive around.

I woke up early because Tuesday through Friday, my brain wakes up about 7am, thank goodness. Some days it’s later though, as my co-workers can attest. I wondered how I should spend the morning that looked different than I planned. How about french toast with the family where we smile at each other and chew all our food without spitting it on the floor? Or maybe I will sneak out to a coffeeshop before the dudes wake up to breathe in the smell of early morning alone? I always imagine sweet, wonderful, impossible scenarios.

So far, I’ve done neither. I felt like I was just trying to escape and chose to stay out of the guilt thing. But not long after I realized that my desire to get away for a few moments isn’t necessarily trying to avoid reality. It’s my need – our need - to sculpt a quiet space into the mess of this life, this runabout weekend, with broken down cars and gut-wrenching heat and the pressure of holding up a church and all its insides. It’s too much for one girl who works 40 hours a week on top of that. The quiet is needed, and it’s okay if I’m asking for it.

A space like this would be perfect. [Photo courtesy of]

The BB is in the next room sneezing and waking himself up. The pastor is still asleep, tuckered from raising a little and saving his wife and the rest of the world. I may not get the silent time the way I’d envision it today, but I’m going to make the baby some breakfast and try to think quiet thoughts, try to take the calm and silence with me.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Essential Implications of Plant Survival

I know they meant well, but it was a sad day. It was the day my co-workers got me a plant for a wedding present. It was a lovely plant, which would make most normal people happy. But for a serial plant killer – not on purpose, okay – the more beautiful the plant, the more tragic its imminent death.

I’m sure it was not a cheap gift. The heavy, blue ceramic bowl was stuffed with crumbly earth, dark and moist, and from the center, the plant sprung up, green leafy vines draped gently over the planter bowl and hung like graceful, ballerina hands beneath it. This was going to be a real tragedy indeed.

The wedding plant, circa 2012

Sweet Southern belle that I am, I smiled politely. “Thank you so much. It’s really beautiful,” I twanged, muzzling the real thoughts, something about how disappointed I was that after two years they didn’t know me better. I mean, really, I’m getting married, and here are my friends, setting me up for failure. What does this plant supposed to represent anyway? Does it signify my marriage, its tiny, fragile roots our first years together? I hate these plant analogies. Make it stop. Please don’t let this peace lily ruin my marriage. [Hyperventilating.]

So instead of muttering something about the underlying implications of passing on such a wedding gift to a notorious plant neglecter, I thought to myself of ways Josh and I could save the plant, or mostly how he could save it, since he might have a green thumb, or at least the peace lily in his living room hadn’t committed suicide or withered of malnutrition.

Later that week, or something close to that, the plant moved in with Josh. I can’t really remember when, but I’m clear on the part where I was eager to abdicate responsibility. Especially if our marriage depended on it. Wait, that sounds bad.

The green lily in the blue ceramic bowl took root in Josh’s living room window until we got our own place downstairs in the same apartment building. And then the lily moved around until we could find just the right spot to catch the sun once or twice a day. We added three bamboo sticks and our foliage collection was complete: two peace lilies and three bamboo, pointing toward the ceiling out of an inch of water.

A plant killer only needs time to do her dirty work. And time we have. Four years later, we just said goodbye to the last yellowed and soggy bamboo shoot. The last of his siblings. It was a little sad, but we were prepared. We had four years to ready ourselves for that day. I don’t know what happened to Josh’s lily, but I couldn’t find it in this house if my life depended on it. But somehow, the peace lily the girls at the office gave me in May four years ago is still clipping along. It only gets a few days of sun a month, and mostly I forget it’s tucked in the guest room under the west window. Leaves yellow, crinkle and fall off, but that thing just hangs on. And sometimes I go and feel bad for it and impressed with its tenacity, and I give it a little water and congratulate it for its perseverance in the face of such persistent trial.
Now I know you’re trying to make an analogy to our marriage, that even though Josh and I have been through our share of harrowing experiences, and even sometimes forget to water our new relationship with nice notes and date nights, we still hang in there and there’s life and greenery to prove it. But I think that’s a stretch. And if I ever kill this plant, well that analogy stuff has got to stop right away. I think it’s best we start now.

But I think I am going to go water it, just in case.

Monday, June 25, 2012

You Have the Hardest Job in the World

Sometimes in the middle of the days and the tears and the diapers, the making sense of words that are not English and trying to recall why I prayed so hard to be a mom, I forget. I forget the reason I was heart-breaky sad and miserable until the day in March I found out I was pregnant. I forget that inside of this miniature, curly-maned lion is a boy who will kick a soccer ball and sing karoake with me, a teenager who will drive me to his school dance and brag about my sense of humor - probably not my cooking, a man who will find a calling, work hard at it, and marry and love a woman. A son who will make me proud with all that he is. 

Then I shrink back into the moment, and I see him differently, the tot who won't stop chewing on things, who yells and bangs and thrashes and laughs at everything and nothing at all. Suddenly he is all the potential in the world. He is everything great that I know he could be, and getting him there will require all the love in my heart.

I am certain that being a mom, being a parent, is the most costly thing we will ever give ourselves to. But it's worth it. Being his mom is worth it. 

Mondays are hard for us all. Maybe this lovely tribute to mums will help. It's sponsored by P&G, just in time for the London Olympics. Weep your heart, mamas. This one's for you.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Caring about caring about stuff

[This was a stream of consciousness on discipline and its value earlier this week. Ended up in a different place than I thought, but I liked the result. Here goes:]

I struggle to care about discipline. Oh, the irony. 

I have difficulty valuing time as it is meant to be valued. I rarely comprehend that I will never get life back, except in the moments where I try to guilt myself into doing what I should do by thinking about how much I will regret it if I don’t. 

I love guilt. It’s been a primary motivator for me during my 30 plus years. I don’t know what I would do without it. Self-hatred too. That’s been a good one. What would you do if you just wanted to do good things, wanted to take care of yourself? I mean, me. What it would be like if I wanted to be with God, value my family, be patient and slow, eat three times a day, take breaks, breathe and listen to people without trying to create answers before they finish speaking? What would that be like?

Tonight I wasted time again. Maybe 3 hours or so. I laughed a lot so in some ways it feels worth it. It was nice to have nothing else to do. But I would like discipline. I would like to know when to do things, when to eat, when to be quiet, when to be alone or with others. I would like to know when to do things, but I am a slave of time, open time without assignment, unemployed time. I need it work to for me, like money in a savings account. Accruing interest as it sits. But instead I spend it haphazardly and berate myself later without changing. I wonder when this will stop. 

It will stop when I stop it.

Photo courtesy of

Budgets. That’s what I need. To employ my money and my time. My ideas. I have so many of them. I want to be what I can be, to wring all the goodness and greatness from the crevices of my life. But I can only do that with discipline, giving my time a job to do. My time is lazy and unemployed. It does what it wants, lives on welfare. This lifestyle annoys me plenty when it’s liberal Democrats but when it’s me, I’m less judgmental. Or less insightful.

Okay, so employment it is. My time needs some direction, very strict instructions or it will get lost, like a blind person. A crude analogy. But I need to give my time the business, tell it what to do. Time, you need to get a job.

7am: you need a job. 10am: you need work. 12pm: what are you doing around here? 5pm: tell me what you’ve done for yourself today?

I would like to end my day with thankfulness. No, I want to start it with thankfulness. Start the day at 7pm like the Hebrew people. I like their time.

The Rabbi Maurice Lamm said, “Something that can be done by anyone at anytime will be done by no one at no time.” Isn't that an incredible thought? And fun to say. So I want to tell my time what to do, give myself specific rituals and actually follow through with them. Good intentions have gotten me here. Here, there and everywhere. I’ve been doing things or making lists of things that can be done any time and alas, they have been done at no time. They have not been done at all.

I will employ my days the best I can. I will give them work to do. I will make goals for my time. My hours and minutes will have deadlines to meet.

So how will it go?

It’s nearly 1am. I want sleep. I want my night hours to work at rest, to work at skill building and memory refinement. Dreams. What time shall I do this work? 11-6? For now that is a good start. And how shall I begin my morning. Or my day.

There was evening and there was morning. The first day. Evening first, then morning. So the day begins with night. The night belongs to the Lord. So the day, the 24 hour stretch, begins as work ends, with the evening meal. Then time together. Then rest. Then the work of the day. But it is always last.

The new work week schedule
7pm: Home. Work is done. Dinner together or evening event.
8pm: Play, enjoy the family. Or evening event continues.
9pm: Home from evening event if out. John to bed. Talk with Josh.
10pm: Read, pray, take iron/vitamins.
11pm: Rest, sleep, dream
6am: Wake, prepare for the day. Make lunch, coffee.
7am: Leave for work.
730-12: Work
12:30-1: Rest, read, quiet.
1-6pm: Work
6-6:30: Drive home. Debrief day with friends.

[Update: this has not worked out as I planned. Starting the day when you're used to ending it is a hard brain switch to make. But I'm working on it. Tonight I knew I needed rest, to start my day that way, so I cancelled my plans, pumped the brakes and came home and hugged a baby. It was good for the soul. Now I'm back here, trying to love the disciplines again. So I haven't given up. But I am so very slow most days.]

Monday, June 11, 2012

You Know You're a Mom Monday

This week You Know You're a Mom features Lindsey Evans, SAHM of the playful Sarah, age two, and the chilled-out Andrew, eight months. Lindsey is a generous, buoyant soul with a heap of toddler-mothering experience. And she has the privilege of staying with her children all day to watch them play, grow and learn. 

The adorable duo in a classic black and white. Love this.

Lindsey is not your average mother. Her story is one of incredible pain and grief, but is marked not by bitterness and stunting but by a rebounding spirit who, along with her family, is making great good from a great sorrow.

Lindsey and I met when her husband, Ryan, and mine were in a Bible study together. There were several of us newlyweds around at the time and we formed a dinner party group, meeting once or twice a month to enjoy some delightful girl talk while the guys scraped their plates loudly and talked "man" in the next room. Dinner was often held in Lindsey's living room, with her two cocker spaniels toddling about to join in the fun. We both were attempting parenthood at the time, although not successfully yet, and there was much to share along these lines as well.

But one of the most important things I learned about Lindsey during our dinner conversations was her incredible resiliency after an earth-shattering family tragedy. In 2007, her younger sister, Kelsey Smith, was abducted from a Target parking lot in broad daylight, and murdered.

Lindsey with Kelsey in the middle, at her high school graduation

Due to legal limitations on cell phones at the time, the family was not able to "ping" her phone and find Kelsey's location. This caused many problems and lengthened the search process for Kelsey. The killer was found and prosecuted, thank God, but the devastation lingered. Of course. Monumental family events like Lindsey's wedding and the birth of her children were marked with the tangible ache of Kelsey's absence.

The Smith family did not simply grieve and move on with life, however. Lindsey's father, Greg Smith, a former police officer, used all his connections and training to begin Kelsey's Army through The Kelsey Smith Foundation. Greg is now able to provide safety seminars to local schools and businesses to promote safety and personal awareness through The Foundation.  And to ensure that other families in their situation were not delayed in a search for their loved ones, The Foundation worked tirelessly and effectively passed the Kelsey Smith Act, which allows law enforcement to determine that a person is in danger and their phone's location can be accessed. This was a huge victory for the family.

The Foundation is a powerful instrument of good in the wake of such evil and pain. I admire each of the Smith's for rallying together and becoming a force to be reckoned with, rather than simply folding and calling it quits on life. Which I think would just be so tempting to do. I'm just so proud of them for taking their great sadness and turning it into these effective bursts of energy that leave a legacy. Amazing resilience, isn't it?

The Foundation raises money through an annual golf tournament at the Falcon Ridge Course in Lenexa, part of the greater Kansas City area, held this year on July 16th. To view a video news feature from a past event, click here. You can also visit the website to register or be a sponsor.

Despite the heartache of this loss, Lindsey and Ryan have two very beautiful reasons to laugh and enjoy their lives: Sarah and Andrew. Sarah arrived several months before our John, and then Andrew rushed in only 18 months later. So obviously, Lindsey's clocked far more parenting hours than I have, even though we started close to the same time. Over the past two years, I've relied on Lindsey for a variety of pregnancy and parenting tips, and she's always been available and ready to pass them on. Which I love. It was Lindsey's cautionary tale of diaper-blowout-at-the-mall woe with her firstborn that informed me to stash a change of clothes and a ziplock bag for every trip, just in case. Now, as she raises a girl and a boy, this mama gets a daily dose of strong laughter and a workout to boot.

So now that I've shared a little of Lindsey's story with you, I'd like her to share about some of the joys, setbacks and head-banging moments she encounters in life as a mom. But first, some up close and personal family photos:

The Evans four: with Papa Ryan, the littles and happy mama Lindsey

The adorable boy child, Andrew.

The huge-smiling pretty princess, Sarah.

And now without any further ado, Installment #9 of You Know You're a Mom Monday. By Lindsey Evans.

You know you're a mom when:
  • You watch what you say not because it's inappropriate, but because you don't want your two year old to use it against you. Case in point, I apparently tell Sarah (the two year) "just a minute" frequently. The other day I asked her to come here and she told me "just a minute Mommy, I pwaying". I try to use different phrasing now.
  • You never go anywhere without at least 3 diapers per kid, a change of clothes for each, and a set of pj's for each. And that's just the bare minimum. Most of the time I try to leave the house with kids, I feel like I'm packing for a week-long stay somewhere. But it turns out that I use nearly everything I pack.
  • A good afternoon nap isn't complete unless a tiny body is curled up next to you. Better if it's two of them.
  • Going to the grocery store sans the littles makes you feel like you're on vacation. Let's be real, I love my kids, but sometimes having them in tow makes getting things done (like grocery shopping) nearly impossible.  
The graham cracker picnic in yellow.
  • You love watching your kids interact, especially when it's in a language that is all their own. Oftentimes my kiddos like to yell (happily) at each other and see who can get the loudest. Andrew (the eight month old) absolutely loves yelling, screeching, and clicking his tongue at anyone who will do it back. 
  • Your relationship with food totally changes. While pregnant with my first EVERYTHING made me nauseous. While pregnant with my second I was STARVING all the time. And now that I have a picky toddler and a chunky baby, food is always on my mind. I have to make sure the toddler eats more than just a few pieces of something here and there and believe me she'd rather be playing. And I have to convince the baby that yes, one jar of baby food is all you get right now, and no you won't die of starvation if you don't nurse every hour on the hour.
  • You have a camera ready (even if it's on your phone) at all times just in case one of the kids breaks out a killer smile, does something totally cute, or does something that merits photographic proof for when you're telling the story of it later.
  • You hear and or say the phrase, "two more minutes", multiple times a day.
  • But mostly you know you're a mom when you realize how much you've grown as a person since God blessed you with the little ones you have. My patience has improved, my capacity to love has multiplied, and my ability to understand toddler speak has increased exponentialy. That's not saying there aren't times when I want to pull my hair out or times that I lose my cool. But this whole motherhood experience has stretched my being and redefined me into something that my pre-baby self would barely recognize!
Thank you so much for sharing with us today, Lindsey. Those kids you've got there are mighty adorable. It was fun to hear from you.

You can read all about Lindsey's moments of knowing for sure that she's a mom every single day on her personal blog, Beyond Motherhood. And please stop by Kelsey's Army to learn more about the Foundation, the Golf Classic and all the progress they're making toward justice and safety in our world. Or shoot them a quick message and say thank you for the important work they're doing.

Have a wonderful week. Thanks for stopping by.

[PS: We're going to take a break from You Know You're a Mom Monday, but I have another idea up my sleeve. And I will need your help. Stay tuned.]

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Why You Are Sometimes Crabby: The Truth about Self-Care

[The following is an open letter to myself. It may or not apply to you too so I'm including you in the conversation.]

This is you. Except for the smiling part. [Photo courtesy of Lady88]

You are sometimes crabby because you don’t always like yourself so you put yourself last.

You are sometimes crotchety because, instead of taking a nap, you scrubbed the bathroom and mopped the floor, because (grumble, grumble) no one else is going to do it.

You are sometimes exhausted and strung out because you are never resting, always in motion. You can’t remember the last time you were in a quiet room and actually enjoyed yourself.

You are sometimes angry, jaded and disillusioned because you value cleanliness over Godliness, as in, you think God is a God of bleach, not a God of peace.

You are sometimes resentful and jealous and you have nothing left over because you opt for web-surfing and mindless bustlings over a quiet book and a cup of tea. And because you think naptime is actually Lysol-wiping-the-doorknobs time.

You say you have no time, but you squander what you do have doing stuff you don’t even like. Why? Because you don’t want to be alone with your own thoughts. Or God. What does God think about you? You don’t even want to know.

[Photo courtesy of]

What inevitably happens is, as we give ourselves to everything and everyone else, we give ourselves nothing. Because we do not like ourselves or at least cannot handle silence, we are surrounded with noise, with stimulation and stuff. We are never alone, even when we want to be, and when we finally have nothing going on, we can’t handle slowness and quiet so we fill it right back up. And we hate that about ourselves. So this is what we become: crotchety, crabby, standoffish, arms crossed in the corner, wondering when someone is going to stop what they’re doing and take care of us too.

Had enough yet?

This might be your life. It’s been mine for years. Isn’t it time we did something different?

This is the reason self-care matters. It matters because you’re becoming a version of yourself you don’t like. This makes you anxious, doesn’t it, to think you might give your friends and your clients, your husband and your children the impression that you can’t hold it together, that life is too much, or worse that you don’t even like them? Your moments of frustration and explosive anger, the battles you don’t need to get in with the kids, just might be the result of you not taking care of you.

This is why self-care is important. It is the reason we must-must listen to God, and agree with him. He’s saying “You are not the sum total of your accomplishments. If you don’t get the laundry done, I will still like you. And if you don’t get a raise, or finish college, or if you and your husband stop talking for a week, I will still want to be with you.” Yes, he is saying that. He’s talking about good love here, the kind that doesn’t have conditions. This is the kind of love you give your kids, so surely a perfect God can give it to you...right?

We must say yes to being loved like this, by Him first and then by the rest of the family and friends in our lives. We must say “okay” to the friends who will babysit or the mother-in-law who wants to cook us a meal. Say “yes” to quiet times, to your favorite movie, to date night, to snuggling instead of scrubbing, to a hobby that requires creativity and not brain-mushing social media.

You do not have to look like this. But you can at least be happy. [Photo found at:]

We change slowly. We change with behavior, with an action repeated again and again. But it’s possible. We can choose to be free of not liking ourselves, loosed from cluttered minds and lives. We can choose that effervescent peace and giddy joy we see in our children. We can choose it, yes, we can. We choose it like we choose our jobs and our marriages and our friendships. Every day when we get up, we say yes to peace, to planning ahead, to making the most of the moments, to soaking up the goodness and forgetting about messes. We say yes to liking ourselves anyway, and letting our guts hang out around good, good friends. Try it today; try it tomorrow. I promise you’ll it. I promise you’ll like you.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Darn You, Imagination

Sunday was one of those mornings. A morning where I used my imagination.  

It was 7:45, and the Big Boy was only starting to wake up. He may fall back asleep, I thought to myself, but as I perused the kitchen, I pictured eggs and banana pancakes, stacked on plates. And me and the Big Boy sitting upright at the table, forks in hand, smiling at each other and enjoying the exquisite company. We were both clean and not squirming. 

And then I came to. 

I remembered all the times my imagination led me astray. I recalled all the images I created in my mind of happy, whine-free quality time, and how it always looked in reality an hour later. So I let the Big Boy sleep. Because now I will have some quality time with myself and God, and at least I have a little more control over that.

The mess of reality. 
I'm not sure what it is about imagination. I mean, I love creativity. I love thinking differently, innovation, all that. But sometimes my imagination is a real drag. Disappointing. All those family picnics where no one needs a bath afterward and the breakfast where the Big Boy doesn't end up with egg particles in his mane, those are simply that: imagination.

I'm left with a bummer afterward, trying to make peace with the gap between reality and the dream sequence that brought me here. Living in the moment is hard. Appreciating things as they are and not being crotchety about who or what they aren't is one of the challenges of my life. I don't want to give up on my imagination either though. But maybe I need to learn a little discernment? Like which of my ideas are actually "good"? My husband would agree. He's always trying to talk me down from my latest adrenaline-rush, telling me I can't bake cookies for the neighbors three times a week and still maintain the dregs of sanity. Oh yea? But I love a good challenge. [I did give up on that idea before I started, thank you.]

So back to the point here: the moment. What is. I want to love that too. So here's to enjoying not the mess, but the person inside the mess. Here's to loving the fact that after he falls over, he insists on getting an arms-wrapped-around hug. Here's to appreciating the roly-poly character in the bathtub who love-love-loves water and stays in the tub long after it's gone just to reminisce. Here's to laughing at our mistakes and quickly forgetting crabby attitudes. Here's to quiet time during a nap. Here's to being all the way in the moment and not lost in resentment about a dream deferred. 

And may you live this way too. 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Hasta La Vista, Baby

Eighteen some months ago, Josh and I became the proud parents of The Baby. An infant. A tiny human who only thought about food, sleep and poop. Because of his apparent helplessness and tendency to use tears to communicate, we aptly dubbed him "The Baby", as in, "What is that Baby doing?" when the house falls eerily quiet, or "Is that Baby going to be in his diaper all day or are we going to clothe him?" The Baby has been a Siders' House staple for quite some time, and we've grown fond of him. 

But during the past month or two, a very sad thing happened in our house. The Baby left. There are still diapers, there is still crying, there are still tired, sunken in eyes in my head some days. But The Baby, he's gone. 

Today, there is a Big Boy in John's crib, a boy with slimmer thighs, longer curls, and a much more childlike, not baby-like, face. This new little person is capable of running (into the street, gasp!) and sharing his desires with words, actual words. He can shimmy up and down furniture while stashing a toothbrush in his mouth and an electronic device in his hand. If it weren't so death-defying, I'd be impressed.

The Big Boy, with Big Boy Juice and a Big Boy plate, sitting at the table. 

Now there is a bit more noise in the house. It's the sound of me asserting my authority over the din of the Big Boy's strongly-held beliefs about his Constitutional rights. Although it's hard to make out the amendments over the screaming. 

     "John, please, no eating shoes. That is gross." [Commence crying.]
     "Out of the drawer, John. Anti-fungal cream is not toothpaste." [Commence dramatically          
     chucking himself  on the floor in a heap of despair.]
     "Okay, we're going inside. See you later." [Commence whining.]
     And perhaps the most time-consuming argument result:
     "Okay, mister, timeout." [Commence limp arms and wailing.]

Just to be safe, and so as not to draw attention from the child protective authorities, we call this Big Boy, "John", although the resemblance between him and his helpless, infantile self can hardly be recalled. Except in pictures. 

When Dad's gone, we let John park his car in the garage.

Saying bye to Baby has been a rough transition for me. I enjoyed calling him The Baby for so many reasons, partly because the generic title made me chuckle, but also because he will forever be "My Baby" and calling him something else, like a Big Boy, meant growth, meant driver's licenses and curfews and college. Can. Not. Handle. It.

But a while ago I committed not to stunt my child's growth by treating him as younger or more incapable than he is. If he is a toddler, with words in his mouth and spoons in his hand, alas, I must grow up too. So Big Boy it is, despite the internal battle. But for short, I can call him B.B, which sounds a lot like Baby, and I'm okay with that. [De-ni-al.]

The Big Boy enjoys a variety of artistic endeavors, but he's really putting most of his focus into music and dancing at this point. He can scarcely be around rhythm without moving and shaking to it. Here he is with his latest choreographed piece by Jock Jams, "Ya'll Ready For This." My sister, Holly, is also an experienced dancer and selected this piece for the performance. Enjoy.