We were running late for church on Sunday morning.

With only 15 minutes to go until we needed to leave, Corey was getting dressed, I was getting out of the shower and the kids were playing downstairs.

“You’d better get the kids up here,” I called from the bathroom. “They’ve don't have long to get ready.”

Corey shouted down for the kids to come up. I knew, without looking, that Connor was the last one up the stairs. The boy has a hard time staying on task lately, especially when we need him to hurry. “Focus, Connor! Focus!” Corey constantly says. But it doesn’t do much good. Connor is just too six-year-old-boy to focus.

So Sunday, Natalie was dutifully brushing her teeth and Corey was changing Teyla’s diaper and Connor was … well, Connor was doing his usual thing, which is to play good guy-bad guy with his shirt and shorts. “Focus Connor! Focus!” Corey barked.

And so it continued. Corey hurried, Connor tried but failed to stay on task. I know this drill; it’s like trying to push Jell-O.

Finally, we were in the car (and only five minutes late). Corey was obviously frustrated. But he didn’t say: “We have got to do something to light a fire under Connor,” or “Does he not listen? How many times did I tell him to hurry?”

Instead, he turned to me and sighed and said, “We’ve got to give Connor more than 15 minutes to get ready. I should have called him up sooner. He’s only six. I hate riding him like that.”

Corey is a great dad.

Tough Guy

Hey you.

Yeah. You.

Wanna piece of this?

Just kidding! I'm such a prankster.

(Although I do recommend my fist. It's the perfect mid-afternoon snack.)

What's that?

You think I'm cute in my tank top, even with the chubby arms and the double chin?

Get out!

You're the best! I love you too!

The Summer of No Naps

Teyla, bless her heart, has given up napping for the summer.

(Bless my heart, while you’re at it.)

It’s not that she doesn’t need the sleep. She’s a whiny, temperamental drama queen by 5:00 PM most days. It’s more that conditions aren’t right for napping right now. There’s too much noise, fun, craziness, hoopla to sleep in the middle of the day. And I don’t have the time to lay down with her and coax her toward dreamland, as I used to do before Kieran was born.

So she stays awake most days, and we muddle along and give extra grace during the pre-dinner meltdowns and wait for blessed September when routines make their return.

Still, she is tired. (Bless her heart.) If I can time our daily activities so we are driving home around 1:30 PM, she will zonk out in the car for a brief respite. Occasionally, she’ll lay down on the floor right at lunchtime and fall asleep with a Little People figurine tucked under her chin.

Or she might do what she did yesterday, which is to resist the nap all the way until 4:30 PM, at which point she suddenly yawned and curled up into a ball and built an invisible chrysalis around herself, and nothing I could do would rouse her, not even rubbing her back and moving her arms and legs and whispering sweet promises of ice cream into her ear.

She didn’t wake up until 6:00 PM, when dinner was almost ready and her Daddy was on his way home.

I know I shouldn’t have let her nap that late. I should have tried harder to wake her up after just a short snooze. Or maybe I shouldn’t have let her indulge the sleepy at all.

But the quiet. It was so blissful. And I love to watch her sleeping, a sprite with curly hair and peaceful breaths resting on my sofa.

I paid for it later, when she was wide awake and singing at 10:30.

But to be honest, I didn't really care.

Because she needed that. And so did I.

Zucchini In My Kitchen

My kitchen is overrun with zucchini.

And I couldn't be happier.

I know it sounds weird, but the last time I was overrun with zucchini, I had a garden. And I miss my garden.

To quell my veggie lust, I jointed a CSA this past June, which is a lot like buying a share in a local farm. Practically, it means every other Monday, I drive to the chiropractor's office around the corner and unload a box of veggies and drive home giggling that I get to have the bounty of a garden without all the work.

Yesterday, I was pondering Beth's You Capture challenge and I looked in my fridge and saw four different varieties of zucchini just waiting for some attention.

And lo, a light bulb went off over my head. It was a gloomy, cloudy, summer day. Everyone was a little grumpy. I had a bounty of squash. What we clearly needed was cake.

Or should I say, vegetables disguised as cake.

I got busy shredding. (I heart my Cuisinart.)

A globe zucchini. I know it looks like a pumpkin, but I promise. It's not.

A vortex of shredded squash. (Way more than I needed for the cake. Guess who's going to make zucchini bread and muffins later today?)

The cake batter just before I added the shredded zucchini.

The finished cake.

Connor (who wore his pajamas ALL DAY yesterday) eating his veggies.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup oil
1 3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup sour cream
2 1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tbsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups grated zucchini

Cream margarine, oil and sugar. Stir in eggs, vanilla, sour cream until well blended. Sift dry ingredients together (or don't; I never do) and add to batter. Stir in zucchini. Spread into greased 9x13 pan. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes.

Optional topping: Combine 1/2 cups chopped pecans, 1/4 cup brown sugar and 1 cup chocolate chips and sprinkle on top.

*This is a really sweet cake. So feel free to decrease the sugar a tad if you wish.
*I haven't tried it, but I bet you could replace some of the flour with whole wheat flour without anyone noticing.
*Because I had so much zucchini, I piled my cups high. I bet I put in more like 3 cups when all was said and done.
*The topping is really good. But I have trouble with it. It always sinks into the cake, making it even more sweet. I tried putting on just chocolate chips and pecans last night, and the chocolate chips still sank into the batter while baking. If you want to try it, maybe put it on halfway through baking?
*My oven is anemic, so I always end up cooking it closer to 50 minutes. Just look for a clean toothpick to come out of the middle and you'll be fine.
*This cake is super moist (can't believe I just said that word because I LOATHE it), so eat it quickly or refrigerate it. It will go bad quickly otherwise.
*If you don't tell them, no one will know there is zucchini in this cake. Muwhahahahaha..

This post is part of You Capture: In the Kitchen at I Should be Folding Laundry.

A Psalm

Creation, broken as it is

Drips His glory

Billowing clouds of holy white

Crashing waves on a shore of smooth stones

Dancing flowers cradled by verdant hills

Shining moon

Sharp mountains

Whisper snow

I see

And wonder

And my soul wells up

“Oh creation! Sprout tongue and voice! Cry out! Give voice to the glory He has planted within you!”

But creation is silent.

Its cry is but a shadow.

For as majestic and awesome as it is, it was not made in His image.

Oh my soul.

Rise up!

Unique in creation.





Loose tongues designed for praising Him.

Cry out His wonders.

Tell of His love.

Proclaim his grace.

This is my purpose

And my joy.

She's Not Cute. She's Teyla.

Teyla has become quite the literalist.

Lately, if I say to her, "You are so cute in that outfit" or "I'm so glad you're my girl" or "You are getting so big!" she will look me straight in the eye and say, with a serious expression and a slightly furrowed brow, "No Mommy. I no cute (or girl or big). I Te-ya."

It's comical. But it's also understandable. How can one two-year-old be so many things? It's easier to simplify and just be Te-ya.

She's also intrigued by the fact that I'm both Mommy and "Keddy," which I wrote about at 5 Minutes for Parenting today. You can catch the whole story there.

Never Alone

You know what makes me giddy?

An hour at the doctor's office.

No. Really.

Because sometimes, when I go to the doctor, I get to go ALONE. And that brief hour of child-free existence is enough to make my endorphins start jumping around like sugared-up preschoolers in a bounce house.

A couple of weeks ago (which should tell you something; this incident happened a couple of weeks ago and I'm still blissed out by it), I headed to the doctor to get an official diagnosis of the weird, circle rash I've had on my elbow for the past year. It's not red and it doesn't itch and it doesn't react when slathered with garden-variety medicine cabinet lotions and normally, I don't even think about it.

But when it's summer and elbows are exposed 24-7, I'm suddenly reminded that I have a flesh-colored ring on my arm, because my children keep looking at me and yelling (usually across the pool), "Mom! What's that circle thing on your elbow?"

And thanks to Kieran, we've already met our insurance deductible for the year, rendering the rest of 2010 a year of medical jubilee.

Thus, I found myself blissfully alone one Friday morning with my Blackberry and coffee. I traded baby name stories with the nurses and joked with the doctor. (“I think it’s this weird Latin phrase,” he said after looking at my arm, “but I got a D in Latin so I can’t remember the name.” “You could make it up,” I whispered. “Because I never even took Latin. So go ahead. I won’t know!”) I read a few blogs and checked Twitter and let the thoughts that normally swirl in my head at the velocity of a tornado settle down for a few minutes of peace.

It was heaven.

I don’t have a high need for solitude. And that’s a good thing, because my life right now isn’t conducive for much alone time. With all four kids at home for the summer, no grandparents or babysitters nearby and a husband who’s working crazy hours, I might get one hour a week when I’m off-duty.

I might not even get that.

And I’m OK with that. Or maybe I should say: I've made peace with it. It doesn’t mean I don’t have long, hard days. But I didn’t go into motherhood expecting to have extended family in the area, and I was already intimately aware of the long hours and frequent business trips my executive husband puts in at his job. I knew going in that I was going to have to make peace with the constant together and not resent the fact that I’m almost always surrounded by my children. We go to Target together, we make weekly Trader Joe’s run together, we go to the pool together, we make dinner together. It’s just the way it is.

But it does make the scraps of alone time I do get that much more sweet. Which is why I found myself floating as I left the doctor’s office the other week.

Maybe I can sprout a rash on my foot before school starts in a month.

Blog Hop '10

Today, I woke up and nursed a 12-week-old baby, who returned my kindness with a flurry of smiles...

...I helped my wild-haired 2-year-old get some Band-Aids for imagined owies...

...I thought about combing her hair, but how could I do that to her when she's so happy?...

...I kept my 9-year-old and my 6-year-old from fighting over a gaggle of Little Pet Shops...

(See? They aren't fighting.)

I ate breakfast outside and staggered under the beauty of God's creation on a summer morning...

(I'm not trying to rub it in if you live in Hades right now, i.e. The South, but it's blue skies, bright sunshine, no humidity and 80 here in Minneapolis today.)

I had fun trying to take macro pictures of my husband's favorite yellow hibiscus...

...and I wrote this post while the baby napped and the girls painted and my son thrashed Darth Vader with his imaginary lightsaber.

This is my life. It varies from day-to-day, but not much.

I blog here because I need a place to connect with other writers, other Moms, other women who know what it's like to stay up until 1:00 AM because that is the only time during the day when they have a moment all to themselves.

And even as I typed that, I hear the baby starting to stir.

Time to head to the park and enjoy this gorgeous day.

Hopefully, I'll see you at the Blog Hop -- but probably not until 1:00 AM.

High School

My sister has a gift.

She left a comment on yesterday’s post about my disdain for high school reunions that said, “Hopefully, none of the lurkers here went to high school with you.”

I laughed nervously but blew off her concern. I literally haven’t had any contact with anyone from my graduating class since 1994, the year I graduated college and moved away from Minnesota. I try to keep this blog fairly anonymous, without too many identifying places or features. If someone from my high school reads this blog, I figured, it would be totally coincidental.

So imagine my horror when I saw a comment on Twitter yesterday, linking to this post, from one of my high school classmates. A few other classmates quickly joined the Twitter-sation. Most were not amused by my original characterization (you might say caricaturization) of the reunion as a drunken snoozefest for washed up 30-year-olds trying to relive the glory days.

And truthfully, my original post was a bit harsh. I was writing tongue-in-cheek, but I know that doesn’t always translate well to the written word, especially if you aren’t here everyday innoculating yourself against my brand of humor.

So I went back and edited my original post to remove the over-the-top elements, and in the process, I ended up liking it more now than when I first posted it, because it refined what I was trying to say. Which is: I have nothing against high school reunions. I am not the Janeane Garofalo character from “Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion,” the embittered loner who was so ignored during high school that now, she can only snarl for a living.

(One of the most quoteable movies of all time, by the way. If you haven't seen it, do so. Quirky but perfect.)

High school wasn’t miserable for me nor was it the highlight of my life. It was just two years of sitting in classrooms, passing time. So of course, the reunion is a non-event for me.

To use an analogy (because I’m the Analogy Queen): Imagine that I ate dinner last weekend at Outback. Maybe it was a beautiful evening. I might have eaten outside on the patio and enjoyed fantastic service and a gorgeous sunset and a sangria that was everything a sangria should be. Now imagine I got an invitation for a reunion of all the people who ate on the Outback patio last weekend, because to some people, that night was so much fun, they want to remember it. But for me? It was just another night out eating steak.

So reunion or no reunion. Do whatever you want. It's no big deal to me.

What does chap my hide a little, though, is the way our culture glorifies the high school experience to the point of enshrining it. Reunions sometimes feed this myth. Countless TV shows, songs and movies tell us the teenage years are the best years of our life.

I beg to differ.

I enjoyed my teen years, thanks to my friends at youth group. Launching into the adult world was exhilarating. It’s like a baby eagle learning to fly. Up. Down. Catch a current. Spiral to the ground. Dip and curve. Hit my head. Bruise a wing. Try again.

But since those days, I have grown up and learned to soar. I enjoy my life more each year. To portray high school as the peak of existence is a great tragedy to me. It’s only the beginning.

Teenagers already believe they are the center of the universe. It just comes with the territory. How about we tell them that life as a teenager is just a phase, and the best part of life is still ahead?

Because it is.

(And to any of my classmates who are going to the reunion this weekend, have a great time. And don’t forget to designate a sober driver.)

(Kidding! There’s that humor again! Sorry. I’ll stop now.)

Is it still a reunion if you never unioned in the first place?

It feels really mean to tell a person who may have endured high school algebra with you that you don’t want to have any contact with people from your graduating class.

But I did it anyway.

Seems my high school’s 20th reunion is this summer. Up until now, I’ve managed to stay under the radar of the class committee. I’m not sure how, exactly, especially since our move back to the Twin Cities three years ago put me within 10 miles of my alma mater. I suspect one of my sibling’s Facebook profiles turned me in. (Dang you, Facebook and all your twisted levels of privacy controls.)

Either way, my classmates found me. And I’m annoyed. Part of my reason for staying hidden is that I only went to my graduating high school for two years. It was a big school -- more than 500 in my class -- and I didn’t make any long-lasting friends.

(I also went to college full-time my senior year thanks to Minnesota’s wonderful post-secondary option program. Which meant I showed up for high school graduation after not attending a single class at my high school all year. My fellow classmates, the few who knew me, said things like, “Dude! Where have you been?”

Meaningful relationships. Happy memories. Good times.)

And then there’s this: I graduated high school in 1990. (I know! My math skills are amazing!) We were barely out of the ‘80s, a decade that was known for glorifying greed and illicit pleasures. (The seniors in ’88 had a chant for pep rallies: “Drugs are fun. Sex is great. We’re the class of ’88!” No joke.)

(I apologize for my love of parentheses. If it makes you feel better, I really do talk this way in real life. Tangent city. But while I chase many rabbit trails, I usually end up back on the hunt eventually.)

(Where was I? Oh yes. The 80s.)

Apparently, my class will spend its reunion partying as if its 1989. The e-mail I got yesterday about the reunion said (and, a la Dave Barry, I am not making this up):
To incent folks to get there early, we will start with some hosted beer and wine. Current plan is about 20 bottles of wine and 2 kegs of hosted booze.
Don’t pre-party elsewhere, post-party elsewhere. Arrive at the event on the earlier side so that the committee doesn’t consume all the hosted alcohol.
As a way to set the mood, we will have pictures from past and present on a slide show at the reunion. Would love a picture of you over the past 20 years. Do you have a monumental picture where you met President Clinton, scaled Mount Everest, or perhaps spent time in a Turkish prison?
(OK. So that last one was funny. But still.)

At first, I thought I’d just ignore the email and move on with my life. But then I wondered if my classmates might publish a directory of contact information with my email address in it. I like my anonymity. I can contact anyone I wish through Facebook. So I politely asked the organizer to remove my name from the list.

“And never, never contact me again! High school was boring! I don’t want to relive it!”

(I didn’t really say that. The Minnesota Nice Angel sat on my shoulder and made me delete it and say, “Thanks for removing me. Have a nice day.” Darn Minnesota Nice Angel.)

But I’m still shuddering a little. Reunions like this just creep me out. (To put it in perspective, I loved my years in college, but I don't do homecoming there either. Too much living in the past for me.)

Am I alone in this?