Thursday, September 27, 2012

Picture Day

As I was dropping children off at school today, I overheard another mother asking the teacher about the upcoming picture day. She asked if she could just make the choice of paying for the pictures after she had seen how they turned out. The teacher informed the woman that no, you had to pre-pay for the package you want, then if you are not satisfied you can sign up for re-takes. The woman went on to explain how her daughter hasn't been so "photogenic" lately. "Have you seen her in pictures lately? Her smile is so goofy."  To which, I wish the teacher would have replied "You know, I haven't even had the chance to go through the 179 pictures the room mom has taken, to see if your daughter's smile has in fact gotten "goofy" in the four weeks that I've known her. Why don't we skip having a math lesson next week, so I can spend my time on that for you." 

Isn't that what being a kid is about, being goofy? And aren't school pictures about marking how you progressively get goofier and goofier each year until you're a senior when you get to have a full color photo shoot to commemorate the very height of your goofy-ness?

I tried to find my senior picture but it's in that blue box.

So I guess I'll just have to re-enact it.
Only I think my hair was much much bigger. And by bigger, I mean wider AND taller.
Anyway, a child's beauty is in her innocence, in her lack of self - consciousness.  There will be way too much time, and much sooner than you'd like, for her to worry about how her hair looks and to practice a "natural" smile.  Let the camera capture each stage no matter how sweaty, messy, mismatched and goofy she is. She is a child. Let her be a child and take a picture of how she really is, not who you wish she was. Because some day all too soon, you'll wish you had that awkward, innocent goofy little girl sitting in your lap. And all you'll have is a picture of someone small trying too hard to be perfect. 

Monday, September 17, 2012


This past weekend, I received news that broke my heart. One of my favorites in this world died in a motorcycle accident.  Scrolling through his facebook page, you know that he was important to a lot of people.

You should be so lucky to get a nickname from him.
Poopearski (earski, or ear or ski for short)
Sweatpant Eagle Talon Tail
Tory Jean
Old Crusty Mouth
He was a lover AND a fighter
He was funny
He was stylish in his own right
He was a secret keeper
He had a mustache for every season
He was inappropriate
He was feisty
He was approachable
He was a presence
He was unpredictable
He was charming
He had a contagious laugh
He had a story for everything
He was wild
He was mellow
He was trouble
He was loyal
He was loved
And I know God Loved Clayton
because on the day that He took him
it was September - the most beautiful month in Minnesota
he had love in his house
he had the wind in his hair
and he didn't suffer
He is my friend
And he is loved.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

An Excerpt (from the book I haven't written yet)

She lay alone in bed, wrapped in memories and sorrow. Knowing all too soon the phone would be ringing with news that it had happened. I try to call her often, so she won't be afraid to answer. So we can talk about funny or mundane or serious things that fill up our days.

It may be silly now, but there was a time, a hundred years ago it seems, that she dreamt of being in bed all by herself.  She spent years growing up sandwiched between two sisters, under a pile of blankets and coats when it was cold.  One would say "Roll over, your ear stinks." Begrudgingly, she complied only to have the same sentiment echoed by the other sister once she was settled in. She couldn't help the smell of the home remedy for ear infections. And she couldn't help being the youngest of ten. Now, she'd give anything to be sandwiched between those girls again. Giggling, fighting, telling each other secrets.

When she picked up my phone call she said: "You know at the county fair, they have those ducks floating by that people shoot at?  That's how I feel. Which one of us is next?"  She's never considered herself frail. Far from it. And even though her frame is small, she has broad shoulders and the determination to wake up each morning and face the world and all it will pile on.  But I pray for mercy and grace in the eyes of the Lord, that He would lessen her sorrow.

The sorrow that comes with watching your family fight, suffer, struggle and finally succumb to death. One by one, she's watched her father, her mother, three brothers, two sisters, her companion, and the love of her life all go into battle with failing bodies.  When those phone calls come, the wounds of her broken heart rip at the seams where they were barely just mended. The toll keeps rising as the pit of grief reaches depths she didn't know her heart had.

I pray for mercy and grace. That she be covered in blankets of warm memories, so when darkness comes, her dreams are full of sisters dancing an Irish jig in the middle of a packed living room, laughing until one of them wets her pants; red faced and gasping for air just before the whole family breaks into a roaring chorus of glee.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

4 Hour Retirement

This morning after dropping the girls off to school, I decided that I should probably start training for this 5k fun run + 400 yard swim that I signed up for.   All the proceeds go to cancer research. As a bonus, I have a goal to work towards, instead of beating myself up for the 12 pounds I've gained since January.

Anyway, I finished up a short run with a quick swim in the pool. The place was quiet, except for a pair of retired ladies floating around wearing ginormous sun hats. I got to work right away thinking about the chores that also needed to be done before picking up the girls. After a few laps, my thoughts turned to those ladies. How nice it must be to be retired. To meet your best friend in the morning for iced coffee and a dip in the pool.

When I was done, I climbed out, slightly eavesdropping on the sun hat gals. I caught something about them trying to figure out a plan for people taking ownership of their roles. It occurred to me that they may have time to swim in the morning, but they still have work that needs to be done.

I started to peel my orange and felt lighter. I ate it as I took a leisurely stroll home. A slight breeze on my face, the sun on my shoulders and all the stress of the school morning sinking to the bottom of the pool.  I may have 30 more years until I can collect (hopefully) my social security checks, but for now, I will be satisfied with my 4 hours of retirement every Tuesday and Thursday morning.