another lesson from the driver’s seat

lessonMy KK is new to using a lunchbox. She brings lunch to her new pre-school a few times a week. We haven’t bought her her own lunchbox yet, so she uses a random lunch bag that fits her various food items (she likes a lot, and variety) ‘just so.’

This morning, she asked me to pack her Spider-Man waterbottle, and though I was not sure of its spill-proofness, I obliged. On the way to school, while she sat in the back of the minivan, far out of my reach, she took everything out of her lunchbag to view what I had packed. Then, she proceeded to haphazardly cram it all back in and fight with the zipper to get it closed over Spider-man’s head.

Disclaimer: I will also add that we have family in town this week, so we are doing that “pretend we are on vacation even though there is school and work” thing, and we’re a little tired…

Cue teaching moment for KK’s mama:

Kaity, don’t try to zip it. It has to fit a certain way. Just leave it.


keeps trying

KK, just leave it.

keeps trying

KK, I will fix it when we stop. Just leave it!

keeps trying

me (as I picture applesauce, grape jam, and water flying everywhere to mix with all the other crap making our van sticky and horrible)
swears under breath

slams the lunch bag down on the seat.
glares at me


The truth of it all is what actually glared at me. Allow me a moment to map it out:

  • I was driving my child safely to her keep-calm-and-learn-from-your-5-yr-olddestination, after having lovingly and thoughtfully packed her mess in the only way it would have worked.
  • She tried to see what was in there without help and before the appointed time.
  • When I forced her to listen to me telling her why her actions were wrong and how I could help her, she threw it down and got mad at me.

Unlike God, I lost my patience. But everything else in that scenario could have easily been switched out… God as The Parent, me as The Child.

I want to know what is waiting for me.
I want to take care of all the messes myself.
I, after 36 years of growing, still sometimes throw it down and get mad at God when something doesn’t go my way or even if He, through the guidance of another voice or His Holy Spirit, stops me from doing something stupid.


Nothing was spilled in the car. I repacked KK’s lunch, and we hugged and exchanged “I love yous” as if no conflict had occurred. It is the beauty of small children, how their hearts open wide enough to blot out offenses.

It is a 15 minute drive to KK’s school, but another example of how being a parent teaches me a multitude of wisdom for this life’s journey.

Yesterday, a pastor/friend of mine said to me,

“Just tote it; don’t try to wield it.”

Translated out of church-ese, that says:

“Carry it, but don’t try to control it.”

Wisdom whispered to me… may I pass it on gently to my children.




my most recent failures

It’s funny how trained I’ve become as a woman to think that the “I’m failing” stories make me more likeable. – Kelle Hampton

So one month ago, I stopped eating gluten. And for the most part, I have really stopped eating gluten. I also began working my nutrition system again (breakfast drink/tea at night).

And last week, I started tracking my calories again.

On Thursday, I weighed myself and had lost 2 pounds form the beginning of the week.

And this morning, I weighed myself and there they were, again.

Also this morning, I called the pre-school down the street from my church/job and enrolled KK. Just like that. I had already toured it in the fall, when I was weighing options, had met the director, knew the price was right. When I discovered today that they also have an attractive “drop-in” program for the summer, I was hooked. I printed out the forms, filled them out, broke the news to KK (who, though inseparable from me since December 20, basically shrugged), and rode on over to introduce her to the teacher.

Amazingly, I do not feel guilty.


my cool girlsI was just encouraging a friend last week by reminding her: most decisions we make are not forever. We are usually not in circumstances that last forever. I go back and forth and back and forth again with schooling decisions, for example. Our seasons seem to change constantly. I know there was a deep desire in my heart to homeschool, but I also know that was borne when we were traveling constantly and I was surrounded by close friends homeschooling with me. Life has changed. Randa is flourishing in school, and after this 3.5 month experiment, it seems KK needs it to a degree. So for this season, here we go.

For this season, when my ‘spare time’ is a battle of chores vs. errands vs. time with husband vs. time with friends vs. writing vs. reading vs. doing nothing for 20 minutes, it’s hard to find time to work out. And without that, I am not going to significantly lose weight.

…but maybe when I drop KK off at pre-school a few days a week, I can walk/run on the beach for 30 minutes before work. I will be in better shape, and so will my time with KK.


There are some things I am really good at. Keeping in shape? Not one. Teaching my kids to read while updating websites and having work conversations? Not that one either. But that doesn’t make me a failure, nor will I feel guilty about it. But I can bake bread, make event flyers, give awesome hugs, find great restaurants, write glowing somethings-or-other, and love my family quite awesomely. Let’s celebrate our gifts and quit musing on our failures!


“Chicago feels smaller today”

The news broke as it so often does these days: on Facebook.

Immediately, I tried to go to the Sun Times website. It would not load, so I went to Chicago Tribune instead. There I read the headline about Roger Ebert’s death, and the essay about his life.

I posted my own thought on Facebook, and one of my oldest Chicago friends pointed me to the WBEZ stream, the whole show being dedicated to discussion about Roger.

And that led me to this tweet:


And that led me to this thought:

twitter screen-at the moviesDays like today, when pieces of my childhood, pieces of my life in Chicagoland, are gone not just from me, but from the world, my heart is never more there.

We used to have a little black and white TV in our kitchen, and roger and Gene Sikel’s At The Movies TV show, on channel 11 {aka PBS} is one of the shows I most remember being on it. As a teenager and budding journalist (my dream job is still “paid columnist”), I loved that Roger was a graduate of University of Illinois, my dream school and where I eventually attended for a year. As an adult, I still always turned to Roger’s movie reviews first…and sometimes found myself stirred or angered by his social commentaries on Twitter.

I heard him described 100 times on Thursday afternoon as “prolific.” ‘Tis true.

Sometimes I wonder if I will ever think of any place but Chicago as home. I still go to Chicago websites for news. I  know what the weather is like there most days. I hold allegiance to their teams, museums, colleges, Mexican restaurants, and airport. And even though it would be entirely sensible, I have not been able to change my area code form “708” just yet. And upon hearing the news of Roger Ebert’s passing, just a day after hearing about his recurrence of cancer and lovely turn of phrase, “leave of presence,” I found myself more than a little homesick.

In these past few weeks, I have made big strides in solidifying the south strand as my home. We have found doctors… local-owned favorite shops and restaurants…shortcuts. I am in the mix of things, like playdates and meal trains and gatherings. I get asked where to get hair done or what is the best movie theatre! I am so, so, so happy about and grateful for this.

But for now, my home is still divided a little (hence the title!) {Chicago-lina, if you’re new here). I first heard this beautiful song the month we moved, when Rod and I were sitting in our still-not-quite-unpacked living room and watching the season/series finale of the great show, Chicago Code. I can’t imagine moving away from my beach, from the blue and green and salty air and basket full of flip-flops, but sometimes, often really, I still dream of Chicago.

Recently, the same dear, talented, lifelong friend I reference above sent me pictures she took of our “See YouS Later” party. Here are a few of my favorites, and just a few of the reasons my diverse, sweet home Chicago is close to my heart always:

Mort Castle and Miranda
Mort Castle and Miranda
My Gramma, Aunt Janice, baby cousin Gavin, and Dad (Paige laughing in background)
My Gramma, Aunt Janice, baby cousin Gavin, and Dad (Paige laughing in background)
Me, Rick, and Bex
Me, Rick, and Bex

The Bible Miniseries: Stuff I Loved

or rather,
The Top 10 Details That May or May Not Have Been Completely, Documentary-Level Accurate But That I Totally Loved About The Bible Miniseries.

1. Noah telling the creation story to his family while on the arc. Historically, perhaps not (though we do not know that just because it wasn’t yet recorded that God didn’t share the knowledge with Noah. They were on good terms). It was a creative way to begin this epic tale, and it was a sweet rendering of the family unit God chose to save when He destroyed the whole rest of the world.

2. I love how so many iconic figures were shown in their flaws… Sarah and Abraham, David, Samson. I love how there was a sympathetic lean to some of those we might think of as villains or weaklings (Delilah, Zedekiah, Judas)…. lest we ever forget, all of them were humans.Jesus Loves You

3. Jesus was full of love. It is so simple and obvious, yet often overlooked. I love that He was depicted as a true friend, a son who loved his mother, a man who was heartbroken over the troubles of others.

4. Mary Magdalene hanging with the disciples… Yeah. That would have been me :)

5. The passion and crucifixion was bound to have comparisons to The Passion of the Christ. I think for a made-for-TV product, it was just right. The goriness factor was obviously turned down, but two aspects of Diogo Morgado’s performance made the suffering palpable to me: his constant trembling, and his crawling to the cross. Ugh. I can barely type those words.

6. The use of satan was spot-on… subtle, shadowy, menacing, but not interfering. Isn’t it like him, to appear in the background and make us lose our focus?

marys7. The sisterhood moments between Mary the mother and Mary Magdalene after the crucifixion… might not have been recorded anywhere, but may it serve as an inspiration. Christian “Mamas” need to be there for Christian “daughters,” the pure and focused need to love and mentor the newborn in Christ. Rock on, sisters.

8. I before never saw a depiction of the stoning of Stephen. It was chilling and inspiring, even if the culprits were watered-down. he stood for Jesus, and then He saw Him in the sky. Could I do that?

9. Saul’s conversion to Paul was intense. I enjoyed how a shout-out to “Amazing Grace” as well as an oral presentation of 1 Corinthians was part of his testimony. Again, the message has been shared!

10. As a lifelong (well, since age 7) pentecostal, I LOVED and APPRECIATED the depiction of the “upper room experience” more than I can say. People who are not pentecostal do not “get” speaking in tongues… some do not believe… some think they are scary, weird, made-up, etc. I even have a sweet friend who looked up some instances of tongues-speaking on You Tube just to see what it is all about. I cannot imagine the amazing-ness of the moment when the Holy Spirit first visited the Church, but I love to think it was exciting, exhilarating, empowering, and not to be mistaken for anything but the Spirit of God. Boom! I’m gonna go rewind it again…

well-balanced days

They are the most exhausting…
…and they are the best.

kk explains it all

Tuesday’s included~

breakfast with husband
talk to Mom
post blog
work, including staff meeting (only time of week we’re all together)
re-connect with a website to do some writing (yay!)
carry on constant text-conversation with IL friends
take kids to library
– and research gluten-free baking and 1200/calorie a day eating
take kids to Sonic Happy Hour (victory! ordered half/half tea)
take kids to grocery store (Dear Jesus, why??)
take kids to butcher shop (I love having a butcher shop)
make kids clean out mini-van
talk to Dad
deal with 2 KK-sized meltdownsranda on porch
start laundry
clean out refrigerator
clean out food-storage area (that was holding misc. junk from our move…in June!)
have dinner with friends (and our kids. One broken glass, 2 spills)
cuddle with kids
put kids to bed
track in MyFitnessPal (ugh! over my calories :( )
find digital recorder
write blog for tomorrow
contemplate whether passive-aggression is A) hereditary B) a sin
fold laundry
converse with husband in full sentences
drink magical Zija tea
go. to. bed


Have a well-balanced Wednesday…. or a restful one.