Must ... Tell ... You ... This

I can (ouch) barely type this entry (ouch).

I'm working out again, and this morning's class (ouch) appears to have taken all my psuedo-muscles (ouch) and turned them into (ouch) lead.

Hopefully, I'll be able to (ouch) pick up the baby by this afternoon.

Luckily, I have a post elsewhere (ouch) today. I'm honored to be featured on The Compassion Blog, sharing a very personal story of why child sponsorship means so much to me and my family. Go check it out.

(Does it matter to you that I just typed ouch-t?)

See you back here tomorrow. If I can (ouch) walk up the stairs again by then.

And Now, I'm Going to Go Eat Some Cheerios

Corey is gone on yet another business trip right now. This is his seventh conference this year, so we're all a little weary of the separation.

Besides the obvious annoyances -- dealing with three kids by myself, trying to give everyone a bath at the same time, handling those "Mom, I'm done!" shouts while I'm nursing a baby -- I'm really feeling frustrated by dinner. I love to cook, and when Corey is home, making dinner is often the highlight of my day. (Yes, I realize they have a treatment for that. But this is my cross to bear.)

But when Corey's not here, it feels silly to make a healthy dinner only to have the kids leave everything on their plates. It's the very definition of "exercise in futility."

I used to deal with this by making kid-centered meals for Connor and Natalie (read: chicken nuggets) when Corey was away. Then I would eat a bowl of cereal. Or three.

But Corey travels a lot. And last year, he was away from home at least two nights every week, since he was working two hours from where we lived.

I hit the bottom of the cereal bowl.

Enter my new resolve to cook something healthy and kid-friendly so I wouldn't be forced to buy stock in Kellogg's.

Also, so the kids wouldn't think chicken meat is supposed to be gray and shaped like a dinosaur.

Today, one of my favorite imaginary Internet friends, Missy, wrote a post about what she feeds her kids for dinner. Because she has four children ages four and under...

(Pause here for a moment of respect. Because Missy? She's my hero.)

... she feeds them two hours before she and her husband have a real meal. Thus, she's in the market for some fresh kid-friendly fare.

I am too.

So in the hopes that we'll both discover some new recipes, I'm going to share my favorite kid-centric meal that's also healthy enough to make even Martha Stewart applaud. Which is appropriate, since it came from her magazine "Everyday Food."

Mini Turkey Burgers and Sweet Potato Fries

2 slices white sandwich bread
1 lb. 93% lean ground turkey
2 ounces cheddar cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 small onion, coarsely grated
coarse salt and ground pepper
1 tsp. olive oil
12 party-sized potato rolls

1. In a food processor, pulse bread until fine crumbs form. (Or, just substitute 1/4 cup breadcrumbs. That's what I use most of the time.) Transfer to a medium bowl; add turkey, cheese and onion. (Note: I also substitute whatever grated cheese I have in my fridge for the cheddar -- usually, I use co-jack -- and I have been known to throw in a couple of tablespoons of minced, dried onion for the grated fresh onion.) Season with salt and pepper, and mix gently until combined. Form 12 two-inch patties.

2. In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium. Cook patties until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Serve on rolls with lettuce, tomatoes, ketchup and mustard, if desired.

2 sweet potatoes (about 2 pounds total), peeled and cut into 1/2-by-2-inch sticks
2 tablespoons olive oil
coarse salt and ground pepper

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Toss potatoes with oil, and season with salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. (Use two if necessary; they shouldn't overlap.) Roast, tossing once, until tender and starting to brown, 25 to 30 minutes.

I serve this with raw, sugar snap peas. Connor is still wary of the "crazy orange French fries," but Natalie loves them now. And truthfully? They are so good, I could eat them for dinner every night. Yummy.

Also, if you have leftover burgers, they are great the next day for lunch. Just throw them in the microwave for 30 seconds or so.

Anyone else want to play? What do you feed your kids when your husband isn't home?

We Have a Winner

Congratulations to ....

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:


Timestamp: 2008-04-28 00:52:20 UTC

... Krissi from Krississippi. She is the winner of the Mother's Day book "A Mother's Heart Knows."

And she was just the fourth commenter, folks. How often does that happen? I guess the early bird really does get the worm.

Unless that bird is in Minnesota. In which case, the worm is still frozen, seeing as it snowed (again!) yesterday. So the early bird might only get half a crystallized worm for its trouble of getting up early.

Which is why I'm not a morning person.

The end.

I'm a Mom

Last night was one of those nights.

Teyla, bless her little stuffed-up nose, has come down with a cold. (Her first cold. I must remember to take a picture for the scrapbook.) (Yes, that was a joke.) She woke up every 90 minutes or so, all snuffles and snot and gasps for air.

I used the booger sucker at one point, which was an absolute delight. I think I missed Booger Sucker 101 in the new parents class, because I never seem to get much with those things. My yield is not worth the effort involved.

Plus, every time I stumbled back to bed, I had to figure out a new way to lay so I didn't twist my wrists. The carpal tunnel I developed during the end of the pregnancy hasn’t gone away yet. In fact, it’s getting worse. On a normal night, my tingling hands wake me up a lot more than Teyla.

All that to say – I’m tired today. I’d love sneak in a nap, although I doubt that’s going to happen. I should be grumpy and snappy and pouty.

But, miracle of miracles, I’m not.

First and foremost, I think that’s the grace of God. The lessons He’s teaching me right now make it darn near impossible to throw a decent pity party.

But I also think it’s because I’m still in love with this role of motherhood. Even on the worst days – or the worst nights, as the case may be -- I’m incredibly humbled to have this calling.

I came across this song yesterday, thanks to Amy’s Humble Musings. It’s a comical take on all the grief mothers put up with. But in the end? It just made me thankful.

Yes, my first occupation does sound like a sweet vacation at times. When the kids are fighting, and the baby is crying, and I haven’t slept more than six hours in the last two nights, and I really, really just want to chill at Starbuck’s for the afternoon, producing the 5 o’clock news during sweeps month sounds like a cake walk.

But I’m rational enough to know that’s just a momentary emotion.

Lord, thank you for making me a Mom. And give me the strength to keep going today. There’s no way I could do this without You.

(For a more eloquent and less sleep-deprived take on parenthood, check out John Piper’s thoughts today. Beautiful and meaty.)

How to Know It's Spring

Alternate title: How to Know You Have a Little Girl

You are thrilled to put a fistful of weeds on your table as a centerpiece.

A Mother's Heart Knows

Sometimes, a mom just knows.

You hear silence from the playroom -- and you know someone is eating the Play-Dough. Again.

You hear wild splashing from the bathroom -- and yet no water is running. You know someone has decided to float their boat in Lake Flushy.

You watch your two-year-old edge toward the pot of dirt on the deck. "No, no," you warn. But you see the gleam in his eye, and you know -- that fist is going to be full of mud in two seconds.

And sometimes, you watch your six-year-old walk bravely into a room full of unknown and larger children. You know it's time for her to start taking her first steps into independence. Yet you also know your heart is going with her.

Margaret McSweeney also knows -- which is why she's written this adorable hardcover gift book called "A Mother's Heart Knows." It's a beautiful poem about all the truths harbored in a mother's heart.
A mother's heart knows in the still of the night.
A mother's heart knows when her child is all right.
A mother's heart knows when to offer to guide.
A mother's heart knows when to step to the side.
Not only is Margaret a mother of two daughters herself, but she knows the gift of a sweet mother. Her own mom, Carolyn Rhea, died shortly before Mother's Day in 2003, and the book "A Mother's Heart Knows" is dedicated to her.

No coincidence, Carolyn was also an author, who wrote nine books herself. Says Margaret, "Her last book, "When Grief is Your Constant Companion," was written about losing my dad. It turned out to be her final gift to me. She was diagnosed with leukemia as the book was being published. Mom's book helped me through my own process of losing her."

Personally, my favorite line in the book was, "A mother's heart knows when to knock on the door," simply because it made me wonder when my children will know when to knock on the door. (Can I get an amen? Or am I the only mom who never goes potty without an audience?)

This truly is a sweet gem of a book -- and a perfect Mother's Day gift. Because moms also know it's hard enough to get dinner on the table each night, much less shop for a great gift, I'm going to give this book away. (Hello, Bloggy Giveaways! Is this not perfect timing, or what?) Just leave me a comment on this post, and I'll draw a random name on Sunday, April 27. The book will get shipped early next week to the winner, so it gets there in plenty of time for Mother's Day.

Margaret is also running a "My Favorite Mom" spa basket contest at her web site. Write something about your mother or someone who is like a mother to you, share the story here, and you could win one of two spa baskets. She also plans to post the stories, with your permission, on her blog.

Spring is Here

The first thunderstorm of the season rumbled through town last night.

Being a CWG*, I was in heaven. The radar danced with greens and yellows and an occasional pocket of red. The rain pounded on my roof, the lightening lit up my house with God-sized flashes, and the thunder roared.

At one point, the lightening struck so close to our house, the flash and boom were almost simultaneous. (Ever had that happen?)The air around me practically hummed with electricity, and the thunder cracked sharply. I happened to be on the phone with Corey at the time (he's on another business trip; I'll be so glad when April "The Month of Four Trips Away from Home" is over), and he could hear it in Dallas.

I said, "Wow, that was amazing. Did you hear that?!?"

He said, "Happy, aren't you?"


Today, the sun is out, the puddles are drying up and the mercury is supposed to hit 65. The grass is turning a thousand shades of green, and the buds on the trees and bushes are pregnant with joy.

Ahhhh. Spring.

Reminds me of a post I wrote last year. I've copied and pasted the majority of it below, because it's one of my favorites.

Enjoy. And see you back here tomorrow for a Mother's Day giveaway.

Right now, I'm headin' outside.

*Certified Weather Geek

I'm happy to report, spring cometh to the Upper Midwest. When I woke up the morning after our return and looked at my window, this is what I saw:

What's remarkable about this picture is what's NOT in it -- mainly, snow and ice. It's hard to believe this was the scene in our backyard just three weeks ago:

But then again, that's spring in our neck of the woods. Just when you think you can't stand one more day of snow and ice and indoor living, the sun comes out and the rain falls and hope rises again.

I was thinking about this one morning last week as I drove Natalie to school. The hope of spring in the Upper Midwest is palpable. You can almost taste it in the air. But it's not a hope as we usually think of hope. It's more of a God-hope. The Greek word often translated hope in the New Testament is elpis or elpo. It isn't just a wish or a desire or a possibility. It's a certainty. The Strong's definition for elpo is "to anticipate, usually with pleasure; an expectation or confidence."

In other words, it's a sure thing. It's coming. Just like spring.

I can hardly wait for those flowers to shoot out of the ground and the leaves to unfurl. I long for the warm sun to shine upon my face and bare arms. I am giddy about the thought of my windows being open so I can hear the birds singing in the morning light.

Until then, I hope.

I love this passage in The Message:

"The created world itself can hardly wait for what's coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens. All around us, we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it's not only around us; it's within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We're also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don't see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy."

An eternal spring cometh. Isn't that amazing?!? Lord, grow our joyful anticipation. Plant seeds of your elpis in our hearts so we will burst forth with beauty and a fragrant worship when the Sun shines once again. Our hope is in You.

Lessons Learned: Road Trip Edition

1. Driving 900 miles with three young children doesn’t have to be a miserable experience. At one point last weekend, the baby was asleep in her carseat (a small miracle), the kids were watching a DVD (yet the van was silent, because they were using their wireless headphones), I was reading blogs and sending e-mails on my laptop (thanks to my husband's fabulous Verizon card) and Corey was listening to his iPod. Iowa has never been so enjoyable.

2. If you follow the advice of my sage readers and pack a few small gifts for your kids to open on the trip, the phrase “Can we open another present now?” will overtake “Are we there yet?” as the most repeated and dreaded phrase of the drive.

3. Bring a mix of healthy snacks and junk food to eat in the car. My husband preferred the baby carrots and pretzels. My kids preferred the gummy peach rings and Pringles. Different strokes for different folks.

4. Don't let any members of your family consume liquids during the drive. Especially the ones who have an insatiable thirst for Starbucks coupled with the bladder the size of a small puppy.

5. Noggin and Nick Jr. have scads of free, printable road trip sheets. My kids loved the Dora’s Colorful Car Bingo and the Backyardigans Color by Number

6. Color Wonder markers really are the coolest thing to be invented since Post-It Notes.

7. It is possible for a six-year-old to lose a tooth while you are hurtling down I-35. (For those of you counting -- which would be my Mom and my sister -- that’s the sixth tooth Natalie lost since last November.) Here's the new smile, minutes after the tooth came out after coming into contact with a pretzel.

8. Being the creative type, I immediately stuck a magnet on the tooth so Natalie could play with it on a cookie sheet. ... No, not really.

9. There is only one Chick-fil-A restaurant between Minneapolis and Kansas City, and it’s in the food court of a beautiful Des Moines mall. Guess where we stopped for lunch?

10. Teyla can sit in a high chair now, and she enjoys conversing with small stuffed dogs.

11. I have the cutest nephews on the planet. (Jordan is 5 months; Silas is one year.)

12. A hotel swimming pool is the only thing necessary for a successful trip in the eyes of a child. (I remember feeling that way when I was a kid, too.)

13. I love weddings.

14. I really love my family of origin. This was the first time we had all been together in about a year.

15. My extended family rocks. I didn’t grow up with grandparents, aunts, uncles or cousins living down the road. We usually only saw our extended family once or twice a year. The plus side of that kind of isolation is a very close-knit nuclear family. The negative side is I didn’t really get to know my cousins until now. Which is too bad. Because they are hysterical.

16. My daughter is a dancing machine. Apparently, all the dancing urges in my body which were repressed due to years of growing up Baptist were passed on to her. She danced nonstop once the DJs started the music. (Many thanks to my cousin Courtney for being her partner most of the night.)

17. Payback is sweet. (Also known as:
Don't mock your wife, because she is the controller of of the camera.)

18. Seeing the new crops of cousins together makes any road trip worth it.

The Frog Catcher

I really want to write a post about this past weekend of wonderfulness. But it's been one of those days where I was fried crispy by 10:00 AM. Between my just-back-from-the-jewelers watch deciding not to work regularly (it's French, apparently), the bag of bananas I bought yesterday at the grocery store disappearing into thin air, the hair that is limp and blah and needs a cut and foil immediately and the birthday present I forgot to buy last night at Target, I'm a mess.

Note: If I had an editor, that whole paragraph would be edited down to the last three words.

So while I attempt to right the ship-that-is-me, here's a journal entry I've been wanting to post. I wrote it last summer, when I was on a bit of a bloggy sabbatical.


My son is a frog catcher.

He finds and catches amphibious creatures within five minutes of stepping out the back door. Often, it takes him only seconds to have a gnarled and chubby toad in his grasp. He’s very proud of his ability, although I think it comes to him quite naturally. He just sees them jump and immediately moves in for the grab.

Since this is mid-summer, and we live next to a lake, the frogs and toads are ripe for the picking. Our yard is filled with scores (maybe hundreds) of baby leapers, as well as their larger and more wart-covered parents. Connor almost always ends up with a prize these days when he goes outside.

And therein lies the problem. Baby frogs are often carried in one slightly closed fist. Larger toads are carried tightly squeezed in both hands. In either case, the toad ends up looking like one of those dolls whose eyeballs pop out when you squeeze them. And in at least one case, I saw the fruits of such vigorous love – a baby toad that fell to the ground with a thud when I finally convinced Connor that the frog would be happier outside.

I think rigor mortis had already set in.

Ladies and gentlemen, there are days when I feel like that frog.

I am held so tightly by my children. It’s a loving grasp, for sure. But it’s hard to breathe in there. And when night falls, I fall with a thud into my bed or my computer chair and wait for the Creator to breathe new life into this drained and dry body.

Don’t mistake me. I love my children, and being their mother is a gift beyond measure. It’s a mercy I never expected growing up, seeing as children weren’t on My Life Plan, and it’s one that I’m thankful for every day.

Still. That frog and I have a lot in common. Which is why I remind Connor (and even Natalie, when Connor shares a frog with her) to tread gently and remember that God loves small, slimy and warty creatures too.

Love 'em and watch 'em and hold 'em tight. Just make sure they get some air.

My Favorite Story

We got home from our weekend excursion at bedtime last night. Thanks to your creative travel tips, the 15-hour drive was relatively painless. It did take us 17 days to get through Iowa, but no DVD or Color Wonder marker can help that.

Unless you’re sniffing the Color Wonders. In which case Iowa becomes a land of enchantment and glowing stars.

Since I have approximately 1,368 pictures to sift through before I can share a few memorable family wedding moments, I decided I would take this opportunity to tell you my new Favorite Story – the story I would tell you right away if we sat down together at Starbucks.

My youngest brother, Unca Jon, is in his mid-20s and has one of the driest senses of humor known to man. He’s like a human Cabernet. Only he isn’t aged in an oak barrel.

(And he’s single. And adorable. Sorry. Had to throw in that shameless plug. Here he is with Connor last Thanksgiving.)

He’s also the only relative brave enough to live in the same state with the Love Well family. So we get to see him often and hear about his single, mid-20s adventures.

Recently, Jon joined a small gym around the corner from his new residence. As he was filling out the required paperwork, the gym owner – a woman in her mid-30s – invited him to try out The Core training class she teaches on Monday nights.

She also let drop the fact that no man had ever come to the class more than once, presumably because they were wimpy girly men who couldn’t handle a real workout.

Jon, aware of the challenge to his manhood, agreed to stop by the next Monday night to see what he could manage.

So the next Monday came. Jon went to the class. Not only was he the only male in attendance, but he was the only person under 35.

Being a gutsy sort, he stayed anyway.

As you might imagine, he endured a good-natured ribbing the entire class. The instructor gave him a hard time from the stage, the other women constantly wondered aloud if he would survive.

Near the end of the class, Jon decided a little pay back was in order. He wanted to say, “Wow, I didn’t realize this was a Lamaze class,” a reference to the technical breathing required while working the core muscles.

Instead, he said, “Wow, I didn’t realize this was a menopause class.”


The whole room went quiet for about three seconds, then there was a collective gasp and groan.
I believe the instructor said something like, “We know we’ve been giving you a hard time, Jon, but that’s really hitting below the belt.”

Funnier still? He didn’t immediately realize his error. By the time he figured out what he’d really said versus what he’d meant to say, it was too late. The class had turned against him.
He barely made it out of there alive. There were gangs of middle-aged women waiting to take him down in the hallway on the way to his car.

To his credit, he returned to the class the following Monday to try and explain his “foot in the mouth” moment.
He estimates about half of the woman believed him.

And from now on, I believe he’s going to work out his core muscles in the safety of his own home.

P.S. Thanks to Jon for agreeing to let me blog this story. (Not that he had any choice in the matter, really. But it sounds better that way.)

Jeans: It's What I'm Wearing

Does anyone know the Spanish word for denim?

Because that's pretty much the essence of Fashion Fiesta at Love Well.

(By the way, if you're here on the tour, ignore the sleet and snow outside my virtual window. I know a fiesta is supposed to be a celebration of warmth and sunshine and margaritas. But I live in Minnesota, and today, we're enduring yet another winter storm. Yo quiero global warming.)


I love my jeans. I esteem them highly. I wear them 6.5 days a week, varying only on Sundays -- when I might wear black or brown dress pants to church -- and the days when I have to do laundry -- when I wear my black yoga pants.

Don't believe me?

Me and my daughter on my birthday.

Me and my older children dishing up hot fudge cake on Valentine's Day.

Even when I'm pregnant, I'm wearing jeans.

Under the snow pants? Jeans.

You get the idea. I love that my jeans are comfortable, durable and able to stand up to baby spit-up without showing the goober marks. I almost always buy my jeans at Old Navy, because I first found stretchy jeans at Old Navy five plus years ago, and I never looked back.

You could say I'm loyal. Either that, or I don't really like to shop.

Plus, Old Navy jeans are cheap inexpensive, so I don't feel bad when I buy a new pair every season. (Warning: Wearing cheap inexpensive jeans 6.5 days a week will cause said jeans to look shabby quickly. Take action before Clinton Kelly finds you.)

But since jeans aren't all that exciting, and I do have a few pictures of some of my favorite non-denim outfits, how about I show you those before we call it a fiesta?

(Why do I suddenly feel like Dora the Explorer? "Do you want to see my clothes? You do? Great!")

This is me and my siblings at my brother's graduation last spring. This outfit might make it into the Top 10 favorite outfits of my life, mostly because I love that color green. Also because I love that scarf. My husband got it for me in Indonesia, and it's silky and a little shimmery and gorgeous.

I also have a love affair with funky jewelry. This shirt is a great color, but check out that necklace! Isn't it cool?

Of course, these days, my fashion accessories trend more toward the warm and moist.

And that's just fine with me. Because, let's face it -- she looks great with denim.

I'm Leaving in a Mini-Van

My brain is spinning with so many thoughts today, I feel like I'm producing mental cotton candy.

But here's one you can help me with: This weekend, we will be attending a family wedding which will require an eight-hour drive in the car with three young children. One way.

We have a DVD player, but even that will only entertain them for so long.

I need advice. I haven't traveled this far in a car with my children for quite some time. (Thank you for your blessings, Lord.)

What should I do?

Besides pack myself a bottle of Excedrin to go with my venti Starbucks, I mean.


Spunk is a highly valued commodity in our household.

You might have noticed that.

Fortunately for him, my husband is irresistible -- in a dark, exotic, Vulcan kind of way. So no, he didn’t sleep on the couch – or, worse, in the nursery – after his little hijacking last week. I just grinned at his obvious delight and mentally filed away my newest “get out of jail free” card.

It's been this way ever since we met. Corey and I are both feisty, affectionate people. Our style of relating to each other is not for the timid or the thin-skinned. We delight in the duel of wits, and nothing sparks laughter between us like a joke well played or a line perfectly delivered.

A few weeks ago, I came downstairs after putting the kids to bed to find that the screen door leading to our deck was only half closed. The glass door was shut, so there was no real danger. But the screen, on the other side of the glass, had been left half open.

Danger Will Robinson! Danger! My faux-OCD tendencies went into overdrive.

I headed straight for the door, with the intent of shutting the screen all the way and thus realigning the very universe.

I also happened to look, out of the corner of my eye, at my husband, who was making coffee nearby.

He was smirking.

My direct route to the door took a detour so I could flick him on the back of his head.

He told me that he had shifted the door on purpose just to see how long it would take me to notice. He figured it would take about one minute.

It took me about 5.8 seconds.


So this relationship, that's full of pizazz and humor and wit? It works for us.

And what a gift the laughter has been.

When I look back over our 15 years, I see that the laughter that drew us together initially is also what held us together during the dark years. Even when our marriage was dry and dusty, even when we weren't communicating on any level, even when we saw each other 10 hours a week, we laughed together. We always laughed.

We didn't listen. We didn't love. We certainly didn't like.

But we laughed. It was a powerful bond.

God knew what He was doing.

I'm in awe of His good gifts.

Even when they hijack my blog.

Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations, "The LORD has done great things for them."
- Psalm 126:2

Because He Must Have Done Something

I'm not ignoring my husband's soliloquy earlier this week. But I had to pop in and share this dinnertime prayer from Natalie.

Important context: Connor had been sick. Natalie was worried about him. And Natalie attends a Christian school. (Evidenced by the first sentence.)

"Lord, we just want to thank you for this day. And Lord, please help Connor get better from his cold. And please, Lord, please tell us what he did bad so he got the cold. Please! Thank you for my family and our food. Amen."

Guess she hasn't gotten to the story of Jesus and the blind man yet.

"And now, for the rest of the story..."

In light of the unfortunate misrepresentations and omissions contained in the recent April Fool's post, the Love Well blog has been temporarily commandeered by yours truly, Mr. Love Well, solely in the interest of preserving the integrity of the Love Well blog. Seriously.

The detrimental impact of the skewed re-telling of the April 1 story is clearly illustrated by such unwarranted and harsh statements as "cruel and cold" (
Mocha with Linda) and "What a snot." (Tracey). Obviously the "hilarious" (Angie) and "INSPIRED" (The Preacher's Wife) comments were much more balanced and constructive. Seriously.

First and foremost, what was omitted from the post was the background and context of the catalyst for the moment of levity. You see, Mrs. Love Well had it a long-time coming. Seriously.

Let's rewind time back to July 1992, to the occasion of the first time Miss Love Well and I had the opportunity to have a conversation alone (albeit heavily one-sided: she talked while I paddled the canoe), before we even started dating. This is how she would have looked around that time:

Do not let that sweet, innocent smile deceive you. Behind those beautiful eyes and contagious smile lurks a dark, sinister spirit of mischief. Seriously.

Judge for yourself:

Look at that evil smile and the cunning look in her eyes! And can you trust anyone who wears collars of that size?!? Seriously.

Or this one:

There simply are no sufficient words in the human tongue...

Now where was I? Ah yes, July 1992. We were in the canoe, and while I was paddling (notice I didn't say "while we were paddling"), she haughtily pronounced this most audacious claim: "I'm a journalist! I can find out anything! You can't keep anything from me!" It should be noted here that was an exact quote. As a Vulcan my verbatim recollection of past conversations is admissible in a court of law as prima facie evidence. Seriously.

Well now, clearly that was a claim that was either to be challenged or proven! The gauntlet was not merely thrown, but slapped across my sweating face (I refer back to the lone paddling). So what was I to do but to test that incredible statement? Twice. Once while we were dating, which had inconclusive results and therefore necessitated the second time, which just coincidentally happened to be on April 1. Seriously.

The first test: early in our very lengthy two-month dating period, we were in my car as I was driving through an empty parking lot. Please note this was at night time, when my back-seat driver date was wide-awake (vis-a-vis the groggy morning comment from the Post in question). She pointed out that I had run a stop sign. I most patiently explained to her that as I had just moved from CA and had taken the MN driver's license test, I knew about a quietly passed law that relegated stop signs that were outlined with a white border to be equivalent to a yield. In other words, one needn't stop if there were no cars going the other way. Fascinated by this revelation, she pointed out that the next one, two, three - slap!

It should be pointed out here that Mrs. Love Well possesses above average intelligence, and thus this first test was concluded to be insufficiently stringent to test her magnificent claim. Plus, it took three stop signs before she caught on. Clearly a second test was necessary. Seriously.

For the second test, vulgarly referred to as an April Fool's prank, it had to be perfect to pass The Journalist's sniff test. Yet interestingly, this same Journalist omitted key elements in her re-telling. Elements that were so brilliant as to expose the fault lines in the audacious challenge.

First of all, yes, it was morning, but please note she was already awake before she received the now infamous call. Secondly, given the vast majority of scams are made by men, and women have a much higher likelihood to believe another woman over the phone, it should be noted that a woman introduced herself as Michelle to Mrs. Love Well - not a man named Larry. Thirdly, I would hardly insult my lovely bride by thinking that a mere assertion "your engine is going to blow up" would live up to her challenge. No, clearly it had to be more subtle. The real recall notice was that there was faulty wiring issues in the upgraded LSI 2.0 liter models (only the best for my beautiful wife), not the standard 1.8 liter engines. A couple of isolated incidents included a spark that caused fires to ignite in the engine, so as an overabundance of caution, the recall notice was issued.

For the record, Mrs. Love Well first screamed, then yelled "I hate you!" and then slammed the phone down. She called back, yelled "Don't come home tonight!" and then slammed the phone down again.

Now you see, the excoriating of the poor husband clearly was not necessary. A man must simply rise up to meet the challenges he encounters. Mrs. Love Well simply had it coming.

Thus ends the very lengthy hijacking of the Love Well site. Seriously.

"Relaxing" Clothes ... And I Don't Mean Sweats

A few weeks ago, Corey returned from a conference with this adorable outfit for Teyla.

It was a gift from some good friends who were also at the conference.

Did you notice the cute little mouse ears on the hood?

And the sweet polka dots on the cuffs?

Baby girl clothes are something of an addiction for me. And this outfit is simply too cute. I love it.

Teyla does too, apparently, because she always -- always -- bestows a blessing upon it within a few hours of putting it on.

Seriously. (Sorry! I'm seeking treatment.)

The girl has never had a blow-out in any other outfit. But this one? It apparently causes her intestinal system to turn into Mount Vesuvius.

Natalie had a similar quirk. When she was young and Corey and I were still jet-setting across the country at will (I think she was on 25 flights before she turned one), she would invariably have a blow-out during take-off. It got to be so predictable, I wouldn't even put a cute outfit on her for the first leg of our trip, because I knew it was going to be changed on the plane anyway.

(For the record, here's a picture of Natalie and me, on her first flight, just minutes away from her first take-off blow-out. Precious memories.)

Corey and I had all sorts of theories about what triggered this phenomenon. The changing air pressure during ascent? (Which, if true, doesn't bode well for us during The Rapture.) The corny jokes from the Southwest flight attendants? (For the record, I adore Southwest.) The bad coffee at the San Jose airport?

We never did figure it out. And now we're dealing with The Predictable Relaxing of the Bowels, Part 2.

Any theories?

April Fool's

Guess what I saw outside my window this morning?

Ha! April Fool's!

Gotcha, didn't I?

Oh. Wait.
That really is what's outside my window.

And my patio window.

And my car window.

Guess the joke is on me.

(Insert maniacal laughter here.)

But it's OK. Because it's April now. Even eight inches of sloppy, wet snow in Minnesota can't last with the sun at this angle. (Sorry; my inner meteorologist is hard to repress during times of extreme weather.) So I'm not going to dwell.

Instead, let's talk about April Fool's Day. In particular, let's talk about April Fool's Day 1994.

My husband and I had been married 11 months. We had just moved to Phoenix, and I was working as a food server at TGI Friday's. (I still have my flair in a box somewhere. I loved working at Friday's. Which may or may not surprise you.)

Because my schedule didn't necessitate normal hours (read: I didn't have to get up early -- ever), I was still sleeping at 9:30 in the morning when my telephone rang. Disoriented and groggy (facts I feel compelled to stress), I answered the phone.

Me: "Hello?"

Phone voice: "Hello. Is this Kelly @ Love Well?"

Me: "I think so."

Phone voice: "Hi Kelly. This is Larry. I show here that you recently bought a '94 Geo Prizm from such-and-such dealership, is that correct?"

Me, waking up: "Yes."

Phone voice: "I'm really sorry to tell you this, Kelly, but Geo is issuing a complete recall on your Prizm model. Apparently, the engine can explode without warning, which can be a bit of a problem, as you might imagine."

Me, definitely waking up: "Yes, I can see that."

Phone voice: "The recall is just now being released to the media, to get the word out. But we wanted to personally call as many Prizm owners as we can so you would know -- under no condition are you to drive the car until the repair has been made. We just don't want to take any chance."

Me: "Umm. OK."

Phone voice: "So this is what we'd like you to do. Because we want to expedite these repairs and get your car back to you in working order, we'd like you to pull your car out to the curb and leave it there for the day. We'll send a tow truck to get it and take it to the dealership where the repairs can be made. Can you do that?"

Me, starting to get skeptical: "So you want me to drive the dangerous car out of my garage and...."

Phone voice, interrupting: "Yes, we feel safe in having you drive it to the curb. But you should not drive it any further."

Me, mental wheels spinning: "OK. Well, I work at noon today. How am I going to get to work?"

Phone voice: "We'll reimburse you for a cab."

Me: "Um. OK. ... Actually, Larry, I just woke up. Can I call you back in a few minutes and finalize these arrangements?"

I hung up the phone, my hand slightly shaking. I wasn't sure what had just happened.

My brand new, pretty green Geo Prizm could explode? And this wasn't on the news yet?!?

Or -- could this just be an elaborate scam? Maybe a gang of car thieves has somehow gotten a hold of the new car registration records, and they're looking for idiots to pull their cars to the curb so they can swipe them with a tow truck and take them to Mexico.

I immediately dialed the number for Corey's work. At the time, he worked with a lot of people in the car financing industry. If this was a real recall, he'd for sure know something about it -- or at least have some contacts who could verify it for me.

Corey: "Hello?"

Me: "Hi honey. I just got the weirdest phone call. (Insert dramatic re-telling here.) Do you know anything about this?"

Corey: "No. I haven't heard a thing. That's really strange. Let me call Bob at the dealership and ask, and oh, by the way, April Fool's."

Me: "Yes, call Bob and ... (long pause). I hate you."

Phone slams down.

I sit and stare out the window for a minute then redial.

Corey, laughing: "Yes?"

Me: "Oh, and don't bother coming home tonight."

Phone slams down again.

I found out later, "Larry" was really one of Corey's employees, who had been drafted into the plot by my loving husband. He had made the call to me from his office -- so I wouldn't hear any familiar sounds or voices in the background. When he got off the phone with me, he walked into Corey's office -- where Corey and all his employees were waiting -- and said, "Expect a call from your wife any minute now." And, right on cue, Corey's phone rang with little old me on the other end.

So not only did Corey get me. But he got me in front of his whole office who was in on the scheme.

Inwardly, I was both laughing -- because, dang, that was good -- and gnashing my teeth -- because I'm not normally so gullible.

Please tell me I'm not alone in my shame and desire for revenge this April Fool's Day. Have you ever fallen for a April Fool's Day prank? Or have you pulled one that worked?

Me? I'm still waiting for my revenge, 14 years later. I'm open -- oh so very open -- to suggestions.