Category Archives: funnies

my little man

i.

Mom. Jesus did walk on the water.

Yeah, buddy… he did.

Mom. Jesus did take his friends fishing in the boat.

Yeah, buddy. What else?

Jesus did go fishing and the waves did get big big big. The storm came and the boat did tip tip tip tip tip over. And Jesus did tell the storm to BE QUIET!!! And Jesus did get out of the boat and walk home.

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ii.

Your friend is here, and he is sad. He will not get off the couch. He will not look at us. He will not talk. You spend fifteen minutes on your knees next to him on the couch, looking up into his face. “You sad? You want mines trucks?” And then you gave him all of them. “You sad? You want a snack?” And then you piled chips, grapes, and a can of tomatoes in front of him. “You sad? You need a hug?” And then you leaned in and patted his back. When nothing seemed to work, you turned to the coffee table covered in train tracks and matchbox cars. “You watch.” You said. “I stay here until you feel better. You feel better, you come play wif me.”

And here I thought I’d need to teach you how to be a good friend.

Turns out, I have a few things to learn from you.

iii.

You are exhausted and you will not nap. It is quiet in the house and I get you to lie down with me on the bed while I read and Abby naps downstairs. You talk to yourself for a bit and then I feel you put your hand on my shoulder, as if you need to tell me something but don’t want to interrupt me. I look up from my book and you… you are asleep, your hand a tether to me.

And we do not move for two hours.

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iv.

Mom, Jesus did go away?

He did, bud.

Where Jesus lives?

RIght now he lives in heaven with God.

Him coming back?

Yep. He is coming back.

Him need to get his boat back from his friends?

Yes. Yes, exactly.

v.

Dear Gideon,

You are my favorite boy.

I love being your mom.

Love, Me

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concerning Tuesday afternoon

abby june, 2

Y’all.

This girl.

Tuesday afternoon found all three children buckled in seat beats and the van headed toward downtown. Ry had a doctor’s appointment. It was after school, after lunch, and the complete witching hour. You hear me, yes? Ry’s hair looks like she’s been in a street fight, Gideon is wearing a fireman’s jacket that reads FIRE CHIEF in reflective lettering over his blue and yellow spiderman pants, and Abby is dressed like a dwarf eskimo complete with fur-lined hood. It’s approximately -42˚outside.

So it may come as a surprise to when I tell you that we arrived at at the office on time and in decent spirits. I had to thwart an undercover mission to open the fake but absolutely enormous presents under the square’s 30-foot Christmas tree, but even still- no tears. As we entered the building, the kids immediately begged to ride the elevator up.

And why not? I thought. We’re the last appointment of the day. There’s no one else here. What could go wrong? Sure enough: we, the most beautiful in all the land of East Grand Rapids, arrive on the second floor in style and without incident.

We check in and 3 seconds before it’s our turn Abby announces she’d like to go potty. One family field trip down the hall and we return with a commando 2-year old in pink velour. She had successfully navigated the potty but threw her nap time diaper in the trash without warning because, “Me no need dis! I’s a big girl!”  Who am I to argue with a Half Pint that’s had only 2 accidents in 2 weeks of “training?” The big girl undies were in my purse in the waiting room, though, so naked buns was the only way to go.

Do you have a clear picture of what I’m dealing with here?

The appointment goes well. All the children make it through without breaking anything, and Abby organizes the office desk before we leave.

Y’all. This girl.

An hour after our initial arrival, we are certainly the last people in the building as the good doctor slips out the back door and we head to the elevator. We land on the first floor with a giggly bump and my children pour out of the silver doors. Abby has not gotten to push a button yet, though… she’s the littlest and other hands in our house are still much quicker. Not to worry, for on her way out of the shaft she nonchalantly hits the CALL/FIRE/PHONE button and leaves without looking back.

Y’all.

[I frantically hit the button again. Surely this will cancel it.]

[I can hear my children planning Phase 2 of the Christmas Tree Caper at the glass doors. We could just leave, I think. RUN. But no. Firetrucks will come and I’ll be on the evening news and Abby has no undies on. Ringing. There is a telephone ringing now through the elevator control panel.]

“Abby!” I yell in exasperation.

She is young and still comes when I call. Now Ry and Gideon debate the contents of the (fake) presents under the (enormous) Christmas tree while Abby and I stand in the elevator. I am holding my finger on the DOOR OPEN button.

Surefire Security. Hello?” I hear.

Abby’s eyes get huge as she presses her face up to the button console.

“I’m so sorry! False alarm! We’re ok!” I gasp.

Ma’am? Is there an emergency? Who am I speaking with?”

DIS ABBY!” [dear little tiny baby jesus in the manger]

“No! I’m so sorry. No. There is no emergency. There IS a 2-year old, though.”

Ma’am? Did your elevator arrive safely?”

“Yes.”

And you are able to exit?”

DOORS OPEN!” Abby yells.

“Yes, ma’am. Everything is fine. Thank you.”

No problem. I’ll cancel the call. Have a nice evening.”

WHERE DAT LADY GO, MOM?

Y’all. This child.

I take a deep breath, gather my eskimo, my fire chief superhero, and my street fighter, and we leave. We leave and treat ourselves (no meltdowns! no potty accidents! no news crews!) to cake pops from Starbucks. I need my hands to stop shaking before I can drive, and that is the truth of the matter.

Abby, of course, serenades the small bistro with a raging rendition of HAPPY BIRD DAY TO YOU and I assume our time of Divine protection is rapidly coming to a close. Thirty-seconds later, we are all safely buckled and headed North to the farm- away from doctors and elevator and witnesses.

Upon pulling into the driveway, Abby announces:

Me Abby. I’m TWO!

Y’all. This girl.


fanny packs are uplifting

Thank you for all of your kind words and manic cheering for the post that went a little grass-roots crazy Thursday (huge!) and Friday (huge-er!). I’ve never, ever had anything like that happen before. It was amazing.

Many of you mentioned the photo: it was taken exactly 2 years ago at a gas station. It was difficult to see that face popping up on facebook all day- the stray hair bothers me like bad grammar in a church bulletin. It took more out of me to post that photo than to write the essay Wednesday night. But it was exactly right for those words, and now I know why I saved it all this time.

So, what will I do now?

I will do what I have always tried to do: tell you a good story.

This is a big year for my parents: both celebrate birthdays with a zero at the end. Today and Thursday will be tributes to each.

In 1986, I lived three hours from Germany’s Zugspitze. My brother and I learned to ski very young, a perk of being ARMY brats with adventurous (and Lawd knows, patient) parents. We spent every snow-filled weekend and every school vacation on those slopes. By the time this photo was taken, our family was skiing every color run from top to bottom and sometimes, if the snow was exceptional, all the way to our Jeep’s hatchback in the parking lot. I’m guessing I was 9 and Danny was 6 here. Or maybe 10 and 7. That would make Mom 32 or 33.

momskiing

[I’m realizing that right now I am older than she was in this picture and it’s completely blowing my mind.] 

That’s me in the red. People, I was no. joke. Hardcore and way too cool for school. Obviously, posing for a family photo was completely ruining my life. And then there was Danny… goggles up, snow in his eyes, pompom hat, who cares. Happy go lucky. Mom in her classic powder blue one piece. We never had trouble finding Mom on the hill.

See that buckle around my waist? It holds my fanny pack on. Danny’s is hidden under his jacket thus protecting him from direct incrimination, BUT WE ALL HAD THEM. They were packed each morning with tangerines, fun-size snickers, capri suns, and slimjims- treats for the long lift rides to the top of the mountain.

So, ok. I’m ten and I always ride with Dad on the lifts. Danny rides with Mom and they are always behind us. The chairs scoop you up and you swing a bar down over the top of yourself to stay in… and then you dig into your fanny pack for a quick snack on the way up. At the top of the hill, you raise the bar and glide out to the side of the hill while the chair continues around a huge wheel and then back down the line to the bottom… empty.

returnterminal

The day was perfect and sunny against a brilliant blue sky. We were literally on top of the world. This particular double lift dropped you off on the left, which meant Danny and I sat to the left of our parents. So 10-year old Katie slides off and confidently takes her place at the top of the hill and begins to adjust her goggles. Her dad is right behind her. Danny is bombing toward us at a ridiculous speed because he is not now nor ever careful. And, Mom? Mom is bringing up the rear.

But there is no Mom.

Which is when we heard the scream. It was immediately clear in a sea of international skiers that this was an American scream… and even more obvious in my deepest heart of hearts that it was my mother’s. I still have this sense of turning in slow motion back toward the chair lift and seeing… nothing.

And then looking up…

up the 10-foot snow bank piled against the large metal pole anchoring the return wheel…

and then up another 5 feet…

There. THERE was my mother in her powder blue snow suit against a sunny and brilliant blue sky… dangling by her fanny pack strap.

alfred-eisenstaedt-skier-riding-the-chair-lift-at-sun-valley-ski-resort-march-8-1937

[Just take a moment and picture it, please.]

It was the funniest and most embarrassing moment of my 10-year old existence. My dad giggled, folks… and you know Mister Dan. He doesn’t giggle.

I decided then and there that I would never be like my mom. She could work a full-time job, cook 99% of our meals from scratch, raise two kids in a foreign country while Dad drove tanks, and teach us to ski in the clouds, but she would never be cool to me. Someone PLEASE get that woman down from the wheel before I melt into the mountain.

The truth is I never knew my mother until I became one myself.

And while our whole story could be told in Brandi Carlile lyrics, suffice it to say I get it now.

This is a big year for you, Mom. In your life, you’ve lived on 2 continents, traveled to 3, had 2 kids on a military budget, taught hundreds of America’s youth to read and write and do math, tap danced at your school, and welcomed 4 grandchildren. You’ve cooked 40 Thanksgiving dinners, been to infinite gymnastics tournaments, and prayed your husband home from war. You’ve fed horses, goats, bunnies, hedgehogs, hamsters, and dogs… and all while grading papers with a red pen in your mouth.

All those times, I was looking the other way and you… you were looking out for me. I was a kid- arrogant and too smart and awkward and you were doing the best you could to work full-time, cook 99% of our meals from scratch, raise two kids in a foreign country, and teach us to ski in the clouds.

I love teaching and old movies and milky ways because of you. I know the importance of canning tomato sauce, going to church, and eating as a family because of you. I appreciate antiques, I work well alone, and I picked a good man because I was watching you… even when I was pretending I wasn’t.

You did all right.

All. Right.

Happy Big Birthday Year to you, and many, many more.

I got a new interpretation and it’s a better point of view.

You were looking for a landslide;

I was looking out for you, I was looking out for you.

Someone’s looking out for you.

Brandi Carlile, Looking Out


Let the crazy out.

“That hotplate will have to go.”

She nodded. She knew I would say that. She also knew that, as her resident advisor, I HAD to say that. I knew that she would ignore me and, what’s-more, I didn’t care. The next room would be exactly the same.

My sophomore year at Texas A&M, I was an RA in Hobby Hall on Northside. It allowed me to have a job (necessary) but stay close to campus (preferred) and work while I was trying to pass classes (essential). Turns out college is a lot harder than high school, but I digress.

A few days after the beginning and a few days before the end of each semester, it was my official duty to walk through every room on my floor and make sure everything was up to par. No hotplates. No cigarettes. No live-in boyfriends.

There were only 6 rooms to go and we would all be free for Christmas vacation. I looked over my checklist before knocking to get my bearings. This was a single instead of the usual double. Her roommate had left early in the school year. (I don’t know if you’ve heard, but college is harder than high school.) The whiteboard on her door pledged her loyalty to the trees of the field and every living thing. I rolled my eyes and knocked.

She let me in. She showed me that her window needed fixed. I made a note. I reminded her that hotplates were not allowed. She nodded. Basically, this room was exactly the same as the other 20 I’d already been through.  

There was a bowl of peanut M&Ms in her make-shift kitchen by the door. On my way out I grabbed a couple.

“What color is your favorite?” she asked? Cute girl, I thought.

“Definitely red,” I answered. “You?”

“I like all of them. I’m kind of addicted.”

“I hear you.”

(Like I said: exactly the same.)

Until.

“Well, I like all of them… EXCEPT the blue ones.”

“You don’t like the blue ones? I thought they were a fun change, myself,” and I reached for the door.

“Not me,” she continued. She grabbed the bowl quickly and pulled aside the half a curtain on the ‘pantry’ to reveal- wouldn’t you know– a whole fishbowl of bright blue M&Ms.

“You saved those?” I asked… my hand still on the doorknob.

“I always pick out the blue ones and put them in here.”

“And?”

“And at the end of the semester, I go outside and I bury them.”

I tilted my head and turned the knob, ever ready. Her eyes told me this was no joke.

“You bury them?”

“Yep. Because they’re evil.”

Obviously.

I gave her a quick nod and wished her a merry Christmas. There was no box for this on my checklist, and I am not too proud to admit I was way out of my league.

Now every time- EVERY TIME- I eat M&Ms I think of that crazy resident I had way back in 1997 who banished and buried the blue M&Ms because she was sure they were evil.

I just needed someone else to know that story because I don’t want to be the only person not surprised when the news breaks that Simpson Drill Field in College Station, Texas has erupted in a fountain of petrified turquoise candy.

Happy New Year, friends.


Home Sweet Home

I have been gone for 4 days and 4 nights. Hardly life-altering for most, it was a major milestone for a hermit who hates to leave the quiet of the back roads.

I would do it alone. Curt took off work and stayed with all three kiddos while I flew to South Carolina for a women’s writing conference with 452 other word-slingers looking for inspiration, practicals, and room service.

And we’ll talk about it- you bet. I’m still sorting through the floodwaters of inspiration and information.

For today, let’s pick it up as my plane is landing again in Grand Rapids. Let’s watch as the south gives way to a Michigan fall… the land below a perfect puzzle of reds and yellows and browns. Let’s not be surprised when Kate gets a little mean with a cab valet who requires me to sign in for a ride like I’m waiting in line at Chili’s. Let’s imagine me driving home alone a little under the speed limit, savoring the last moments of quiet.

As I hit my dirt road, my speed increases. I can’t wait to be home. I imagine the kids lined up in the front window or maybe sitting on the front porch, waiting for Mamma. I pull in slowly and pop the trunk.

As if on cue, the kids scream from the back pasture and I hear running through dry leaves as I pull my bag from the trunk. Rylie arrives first… she is the fastest and the one I expect to be the most emotional. We’ve never been apart this long.

She’s so big, I think as she makes it to the driveway. She is so big. She’s suddenly shy and will not look at me. She wanders over to the car and leans against the door. Her hands are in her pockets and I know she is fighting to hold herself back.

I wait while she finds her voice.

It’s a familiar dance for us.

Mom? she asks.

Yeah, Babe?

I finally see her eyes. Those big, brown, Disney eyes.

Mom, what’s for dinner?

And I am home.


matters of the heart

So I said, “Husband! I had a dream last night and we were totally making out.”

And he says, “I had a dream that I was diagnosed with this crazy heart disease and my blood pressure kept decreasing and the doctors said it would keep going until I was 50 and then I would die.”

And I said, “This is so totally not how I pictured this conversation going.”

Being married is awesome.


postcards from Texas • Monday

TEXAS

About 45 minutes into our 19 hours from Michigan to Texas, Abby announced, “ALL DONE.”

She was quickly appeased with a new movie (thank you, Nemo).

About 47 minutes into our 19 hours fro Michigan to Texas, my husband started a conversation about the family budget and I unbuckled my seatbelt and began to open my passenger door.

Maybe that’s extreme.

But I was in a funk for the next hour, to be sure.

Which is why a conversation shift to political nuances and voting priorities was a little better but not making my life awesome. In fact, I think there were hives.

When I suggested we talk about something else, that I needed to be rescued from the funk, that maybe we tackle the SEX topic (to be funny… I was trying to be funny) and he replied,

“What do you want to know about it?”

Well, that’s when I put my earplugs in and started listening to my book.

It was a great book (Someday Someday Maybe). I highly recommend it, for pleasure or conversation avoidance. Either way.

Rylie is 6, almost 7. Please stop growing.

  1. Curt and I are still married.
  2. I still like him very, very much.
  3. I hate talking about hard, serious, possibly conflicting stuff. In confined spaces. With a boy who’s both smarter than me and more logical and more… calm.

Gideon has been running a 100+ fever since we loaded the car on Friday. Rylie is overwhelmed but so very happy, so grown up, so funny here. Abby and my dad danced yesterday and she smiled- laughed, even.

We’re in a good place.

It’s good to be home.