Home to this Space

“I miss your writing,” an acquaintance told me in the juice aisle at the grocery store. “Are you going to get back to blogging?”

A few years ago, I was creating and publishing content to this space three or four times a month. If you were a regular here, you saw that taper off and become sparse these past two years.

What happened?

It’s not that I lost my drive to create — not at all. But the bulk of my creative energy was consumed by other endeavors. It started when I was a preschooler, really. As a young girl, I ached to live on a farm. I was sure I was born into the wrong era or the wrong family or at least lived on the wrong street in a quaint neighborhood of small-town Michigan.

I dreamed of climbing mountains of straw and soaring from a hay loft on a rope swing rather than shooting hoops on gravelly pavement. I dreamed of open space beyond my home rather than houses neighboring on every side. I dreamed of pets that clucked and quacked and mooed rather than squeaking caged creatures taking turns running on the wheel to nowhere.

When I read the Little House on the Prairie series, I was certain Laura Ingalls was the luckiest girl who ever lived. Those open fields. Those prairie hens. Those evenings around the fire with hot cider and a lively fiddle.

I wanted a life so big, yet so small. Room to stretch my legs. A creek in which to cool my tired feet. Snap peas so fresh I’d have to shoo off a dragonfly before biting into the crisp pod. Of course I’d be barefoot in the garden for this idyllic moment.

But alas, I lived in a ranch home on a corner lot in town, and the only thing we grew was a lawn.

In the summer of 2015, everything changed. I was thirty-three years old, married with three kids and two college degrees collecting dust on my shelf when a cherished friend died suddenly and unexpectedly. My friend’s death shouted in my face that you get one chance to do life on this earth. My friend had dream-chased himself to New York City to work in the English department of a Manhattan university. It was time for me to chase my dreams in the opposite direction — so into the country I went.

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Five Forever: My Youngest Son’s Thoughts on Having (or Delaying) a Birthday

He cried yesterday when I excitedly told him it was his last night as a five-year-old. “I like being five — I wish I could just stay this age forever. Will you take one last picture of me while I’m still five?”

He has always liked being little — being near. He spent hundreds of hours strapped to me in the baby carrier, peaceful and secure among the whirlwind of toddler and preschool aged brothers.

Years later, his brothers may wander to the yard or down to the neighbors’ house, but this boy often parks it at the kitchen counter, chatting to me about his Lego creations or asking if he can crack the eggs for me.

He is content to hang out with our animals or snuggle with me in the reading nook for hours, not thinking of what he might miss out on. I love this about him. I will never hold my kids back from growing and exploring, but I am grateful for the rare gift of a boy who sees everything he already has as enough, a boy whose undemanding presence reminds me of how sweet it is to just be — together.

Happy Birthday, Miles. And yes, I will keep a picture of you in my heart where you can be five forever.

On Christmas Card Cramps and Connection

Every Advent season, when my husband sees me stooping over the pile of cards and envelopes, flexing and unflexing my writer’s-cramped fist, he asks “Why?”

Why spend all that money creating and sending cards that are likely going to be read once and then hit the waste can?

Why spend hours in an already busy season writing and folding and sealing and stamping?

Why bother when most people are already connected through various forms of social media?

This is my Why.

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To Gray on Your Ninth Birthday

The boy who made me a mama is nine today. I’ve written many letters to my kids over the years. I think I’ll share a few here. . .


Dear Gray,

You have been a big kid with a big personality since the moment we met you. When Dr. Ryan delivered you, he shouted to the operating room, “Somebody get this kid a cheeseburger!” When he put you on the scale and you weighed over twelve pounds, Mom thought she was hallucinating! Dr. Ryan must be some kind of a prophet, because you really do LOVE cheeseburgers, don’t you?

Mom and Dad have enjoyed watching you grow into the terrific guy you were created to be. We admire many things about you, but here are some of our favorites: Continue reading

Grace, Anywhere

A sweet friend took me out on the town last night. We dined at the only fancy-ish restaurant in our small city, swooning over Greek Bruschetta and perfectly roasted artichokes before scurrying to the theater to support friends in a local production of Rent.

Another friend met us at the show where our three mouths hung agape over the showcase of local talent. (“Wow, that girl can WAIL! Where do these people COME from? Do they LIVE here?”) After the performance, we chatted in the street beside my friend’s ginormous SUV, wishing there was somewhere we could grab coffee.

“There’s always McDonald’s,” someone offered timidly, more like a question than a suggestion. . .

***

We rolled into Mickey-D’s at 10:15, settling in between the giggling high school crowd in the back and the cat-vibes lady with the pink sequined scarf up front.

Four hours later, we were still in the booth. Our conversation had rambled through the territories of foster care, intercessory prayer, seasonal depression, religion-based shame, Kindergarten crushes, self-love, gluten farts, and the most absorbent mom-bladder pantyliner. Continue reading

Written on Our Hearts: Parting with a Foster Child

In March of last year, my dear friend and fellow foster mama left me a voicemail one evening explaining that she had a new placement and was wondering if I could care for the child for a few hours the next day while she was at work. I called her back and accepted with a flutter of excitement and nervousness in my belly, then I lay awake into the night anticipating meeting this baby in the morning.

My husband and I were new foster parents; we were just licensed the month before and had not yet had any placement requests. Despite our training, we had little idea how the system worked or what to really expect as we became involved with caring for foster children. Continue reading

Broken Places

This is the view from my recovery recliner – my view for the past month.

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NKOTB blanket circa 1987

It’s the best time of year here in Michigan and I thought for sure I would miss it.

I would miss my walks beneath the wooded canopy of Fumee Lake, calico leaves swooshing underfoot.

I would miss the apple orchard and the pumpkin patch, cornstalks rustling as kids dart in and out of rows.

I would miss cinnamon and nutmeg, spicy Chai, the flavors and smells of my autumn kitchen.

I’d miss it all because I’d be stuck in this stupid chair with these stupid crutches and this stupid aching hip.

Somehow, that’s not how it went at all. Somehow, I didn’t miss it.

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A Swell Day

Dear Friends,

I was draggin’ my wagon after last week’s hip surgery, but I think I may have turned the corner this morning.

I’ve already. . .

Cleaned my eyeglasses.

Color-code highlighted my appointment calendar.

Soaked my feet in Epsom salts.

Swatted four houseflies from my recliner.

Took my blood pressure three times.

Cleaned and oiled the foam pads of my crutches.

Clipped coupons from the grocery store flier. You wouldn’t believe the prices they’re offering on Ensure and Metamucil! (I wonder if they deliver…)  Continue reading

On (Re)naming an Adopted Child

The boys have been talking about what their names would have been had they been girls. Gray would have been Ana (these were pre-Frozen times, people). Reed would have been Fern. And Miles would have been Brooke. Funny how, even though they are boys, those other names still seem to suit them. Or maybe mother dreams just have a way of sticking.

I’ve thought about names a lot lately. We submitted our last piece of adoption assessment paperwork last week. (By this point, I feel we should be cleared for jobs with the FBI or CIA — we have been fingerprinted NINE combined times and evaluated from angles I didn’t know we had. Wondering why I haven’t been writing much? My hand is still cramped up from recording my relationship history from the 90s to the present day on more than one form. But I digress.) 

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I Almost Said No

It has been rainy for the better part of two weeks around here, and while we’re grateful the river is high and the green beans are watered, we’re just a little bit over cloudy skies and 60 degree temps.

Yesterday, during a downpour, my six-year-old approached me with a handful of fishing lures (no hooks) and asked for a bowl of water.

I almost said no. I was in my mess of a basement packing away winter coats (finally) and trying to figure out which water shoes from storage will fit my third son (and going blind doing it because all the size labels are worn off). I wasn’t sure I could navigate through my fortress of plastic totes to the stairs if I wanted to.

And honestly, I didn’t want to deal with the request. I didn’t want to stop what I was doing to go upstairs for a bucket and a towel. I didn’t want to clean up water messes or hear the post-water-play whining about wet shirt sleeves. I wanted the boys to find something quiet and orderly to do while I got stuff done. Something like Latin flash cards. Or piano chords.

Ha. Continue reading