April 30, 2012

A Pink Pony Full Of Rocks

Ivy in Paris

I bake brownies so that they are warm and out of the oven as the school bus empties my boys onto the doorstep. This is what a good mom does on a Monday afternoon, I think. And it got me off the couch.

A beautiful friend left a beautiful bag of beautiful books on my porch and I suddenly forgot about the cold I thought I'd kicked and I was motivated to open the curtains and do the dishes. I even reached for the camera. How unfortunate if I'd let this day slip by without notice or fanfare or some sort of productivity. It was on its way, it was. Watch Mad Men was the only thing checked off my list until then.

A while back Ivy picked out a pink pony-wearing-a-tutu purse from Cracker Barrel to keep her treasures, and she's filled it with pebbles and beach rocks. While I'm sure there's probably a princess lip gloss buried in there somewhere, I like the irony. It is so super her. My daughter.

May every day bring me presents and may living in this present be my presents and may I always remember that pink pony full of rocks.

-this is just write

April 26, 2012

On The High Wire

Last night there was a misunderstanding when I picked Carter up from his practice game.  I was in the parking lot where I usually am, only this time with the rest of the kids in the car and taking a phone interview for an upcoming article about my show. He thought I would be coming to the field, and for a short few minutes assumed I'd forgotten to pick him up. I could see the heartbreak on his face as he trudged up to the door. And after he spoke his frustration, the tears he was trying to hold back. 

Oh, I felt sick about it. That he had to know that feeling at all, ever. But I also experienced a strange peace. This is one of those tough life lessons that I dread for each of my kids but I guess I see how preparing them for independence works. And I survived. We hashed out the mis-communication and I explained to him that I would never not show up to get him, and that if something like that happens again, just try to imagine there must be something about this situation you could be missing. Maybe you need to look beyond what you thought was going to happen. Just think, "Now I know my mom is here, I just can't see her. Where else could she be?" He seemed to get it, and in so many other ways, so did I. 

Today Ivy spent the day with Grandma, so I:
  • filmed 15 Mommalogues for May
  • ran Gray's coat to school (it got colder and he hadn't worn it in the morning)
  • mailed two packages and a letter
  • put up Listen To Your Mother posters downtown 
  • had a Cobb salad and a lemon poppy seed muffin for lunch
  • picked up a copy of my birth certificate from the government center
  • got my passport photo taken 
  • set up the babysitter for LTYM 

Not surprisingly, I've had this eye twitch going on for two days now. I'm sure it's from all the busy-ness and life that's happening all up in here. I keep thinking about how excited I am for the show, and then the day after - it's always a huge sigh of relief and reward. And soon Jeff and I will be going to San Diego and maybe a sneak-over to Mexico, and then we'll be right there into summer. I really haven't thought much beyond and that feels pretty good. My brain doesn't need to think that far.

My age doesn't usually bother me so much but I have been having dreams about it, thinking I'm younger than I really am. A friend is turning 30 and is it possible that I turned 30 so very long ago? With age you appreciate the little moments even more maybe because you want them to LAST OMG. Don't let me turn another year older forgoodnesssake. And let me savor my kids in each stage they are in right now. It's scary and thrilling and you're all Woo! Look at me I'm doing it! Kind of like tightrope walking, even though I've never done it I have seen Cirque du Soleil a few times and I figure it's super awesome and freeing up there but at the same time, you're still walking a @?!&+$* tightrope. 

April 25, 2012

But not forgotten


We have stepped over yet another milestone. Gone are my light-headed out of breath bubble blowing summers. She can do it all by herself now.  

April 22, 2012

Time Capsule 4/22/12


I hope I don't forget how you leave your socks stuffed behind the bathroom door every time you go number two. I sigh but will it someday fade from my memory?  You wrote on my to-do list yesterday "I Love my Mom" and I will save it forever.


You told me about your bedtime prayers last night and I hope you will always say them. You've started wanting to hang around the adults more now and I remember when I was ready for that, too. Standing, you are up to my chin now. My chin! I can still hear the nay of your very first cry.

Dearest Ivy,

This morning when I got out of bed and you were lying there on your pillow I thought you must be the definition of how He gives more than we could ever ask or imagine. I am better when we are together.


You are just like the big brother I always dreamed of having, like the ones you always see on TV or in the movies, and I wonder just where you came from and how our family got to be so lucky and you are the only one who can cheer Gray up and I don't think it's just because you want to get some laughs. You amaze me.

To Jeff, my love,

This has been a good year for us. You are more handsome than I've ever seen you, and you know me better than anyone else on this earth and you use that knowledge to take care of me. With you, I am safe.

To dad,

I know my roots in music and sense of adventure are because of you, and I always wish that someone comes along to make you laugh when I don't get to talk to you, and I hope you do win the lottery some day.

To my mom,

I wish I could always be moments ahead of you, and I would drop pennies for you to find. And I wish I could go back in time and do whatever it takes to keep you from being broken. Someday when we read this again and years have passed it will be better by then, I just know. We'll celebrate the healing.


April 20, 2012

There you go

Ivy, tiny dancer

Ivy's dance class is preparing for their June recital. The parents got to watch a little performance of what they've learned so far. It's really too cute for words. (p.s. you can find me on Instagram- I'm babysteph.)

So, I am breathing and sleeping and dreaming Listen To Your Mother right now. Our show is less than one month away! We had our first read-through a couple weeks ago and I am in love with the photos and words from that night.

BlogHer has syndicated one of my recent posts. (For which I'm super psyched and thankful.)

I can not stop listening to The Lumineers and The Middle East: The Recordings Of The Middle East (especially Blood and The Darkest Side.)

On Mommalogues, I confess... that I'm really thinking about going blonde. And apparently I like hot stone massages, a lot.

And over at Your Family, have you heard of The Toydozer?

I loved Brené Brown's message on the power of vulnerability from a couple years ago, and her newest TED talk: Listening To Shame did me in. It could have been the cold medicine I was taking, but either way, I had a good cry.

I've also been reading, like crazy. I found Heaven is Here by Stephanie Nielson (Nie Nie) to be incredibly inspiring, and kind of a game-changer for me. And I also love love loved Planting Dandelions by Kyran Pittman. In the chapter titled "Attach and Release" I was in a puddle of tears. I think you might be, too.

What have you written or read or listened to that you are absolutely wild about?

April 18, 2012

Big Much

My Aunt Diane is visiting for the week. She brought Mommal back from her long stay in Louisiana. On our way to lunch the other day, she was asking Ivy about her brothers in school. Did she miss them? And Ivy said yes, very much. "But you know who I miss big much? Poppal!"

It was one of those things that caught me off guard and just snuck up on us, and we all just smiled and ached. We took a balloon and peanuts from Texas Corral to the cemetery. If you knew him, you'd think that's perfect. 

I was having sadtimes last night thinking about him, and life, and how much he would love to see Ivy in dance, and how the boys have grown, Gray's new teeth, he is missing out on some awesome stuff. And they miss out on having him in their life. I miss out on him. I miss his love. I can't even begin to think about how much my mom misses him.

I lost my Gram when I was in second grade and my mind wanders to how different my life would have been if I hadn't missed out on having her in so much of my life. It just feels so unfair. And I don't understand it, so I just try not to. And I know this isn't forever, I know the promises that await. But still, that doesn't chase the tears away. 

Sometimes I'm baffled that he's been gone more than a year now. Time is strange like that.

wagon ride

April 16, 2012

Early bird

So, I've found that mornings are actually quite awesome. We saw the biggest rabbit in our yard on Saturday around 7 a.m. -- every year we get bunny nests but this mama was huuge and beautiful. We just stood and watched her before we left to meet my family for breakfast. That's another great thing about morning time: going out for breakfast.

Also, the wildlife as we drove, and the newday sky, and the empty streets, first pick of the best donuts at the bakery on Sunday, and the Northern Cardinal couple that has been appearing in my front window each day. I don't want to not notice these things ever again. I'd never have guessed that being excited to see a little red bird would get me out of bed, but it totally does. I bought a feeder and seed for him and he was there today and I felt so relieved, and lucky. There are gifts in the morning, in the other times, I've been missing.

Ivy and I closed our eyes for a few minutes on the couch before the boys' bus was to arrive this afternoon. She slept heavy on my chest, and I imagined if anyone came to peek through the window just then that they'd see a beautiful life, my open book, and the new pillows on my couch. And tonight I still feel so very happy.

April 14, 2012

Report Card

The odd thing about blogging is, that once I press publish, I am really pushing off from what I just wrote. I put it out there, and now I'm done with it.

But for readers who come along, they can think I'm still in that same moment- and sometimes I am, but I'm usually not. Writing my way out, typing to meet or even locate myself, it's a method I use to figure out what in the world I am really feeling. And, being human, I am a harsh critic. Especially when it comes to motherhood because it's kind of a big thing. It's pretty much my world.

And honestly, my morning routine totally gets a C-. But at least I stop to grade myself, and can plan for improvements. Sometimes I need to confess and give it a shake so that I can move on. Maybe it will propel me forward, no looking back, or maybe I'll just hang out and keep treading for a while. It's really hit or miss. I know the pep talks are well-meaning, but my heart is waiting on the I can so relates. That's what keeps me public, and my comments from being closed.

Tonight I sat through Carter's baseball practice -- I've arrived at a whole new parenting milestone. You go from never having a chance to sit still to an entire chunk of time to do nothing while you taxi and wait. I am reading books again! And staring out the window. As an aside, I love that even though the field is far away from where I park, I know which boy is mine. 

But anyway, as soon as we walk in the door from practice I boil a pot of water and successfully scrounge up dinner. Usually I get an A in groceries but it all depends on my hormones. This week was one of the D weeks = bare cupboards. But I made pasta and even put a batch of brownies in the oven. Laundry was spinning and the dishes got done. Total extra credit.

I excel in plenty of other areas, too - I expose my kids to good music, engage them in thoughtful conversation, foster their creativity- whether it involves paint, chalk, rocks, or Legos. They feel safe and confident even in my poor progress months and most of all, they are loved and they know it, without a doubt. Even though I'll never stop doubting. But I already know these things, and don't really need to write about it often if at all.

I do sometimes wonder if I love them too much, but I won't be making any changes about that.

April 13, 2012

Flowers In Your Hair

Ivy, Emerson, & Greta
Ivy + Emerson + Greta

I went on a mini road trip with Ivy last week to visit my friend Jil. I love that our girls get to start knowing each other even sooner than we did.

And, it is increasingly evident that as time goes on, my photo subjects will stand still, like, hardly ever.


I feel like I'm finally getting the hang of my Mommalogues gig- it's really one of the best jobs I've ever had. I can film a lot of my videos in advance so that the rest of the week- or sometimes month!- I'm off. And I can be myself (please keep in mind that the camera tends to add an embarrassing amount of awkwardness to my voice and face, oh LOL.) You can check out some of my recent favorites: how I shop for my kids' clothesmy busy mom beauty secrets (ha), and what kind of car I drive.

Today I am going to stop giving our laundry the cold shoulder, only because Jeff had to dry off with Ivy's elephant towel, yet again, and I am determined to not forget I'm lunch mom for Gray's class. Yet again.

April 12, 2012


I wonder if my kids think all moms are just not morning people.

I can pack a lunch in record speed. From the time the bus rounded the corner of our street, before it stopped in front of the house, I had made a sandwich and included a vegetable, fruit, and dessert, and still kissed him I love you.

But I want better for them. I don't want to be the last one out of bed. This is backwards, I think. And not every morning is like this, but many if not most of them are.

They have a mom whose day was saved by the purchase of a new wastebasket for the upstairs bathroom. It all hinged on that- whether I would have spent the rest of the day amope and static or finally clearing off the dining table and doing away with all the stacks. And cleaning the bathroom because there was a new wastebasket and it made everything look better.

How will this play out? Am I preparing independent little people who can get ready all on their own or am I robbing them of a more structured start to their day? I am here, but I'm underneath the covers. I crawl out, but it's slow and unsteady and this morning it took me a while to find my glasses.

Gray was already waiting on the driveway alone. Through the screen I heard him call for Carter, still in the house, "Did you hear that hahaha?" He belched into the air and giggled. I laughed and said "Graaaay" and he came running and kissed me on the lips and then went back to his post. I realized on today's school menu was something he couldn't have, so I rushed to make his lunch. "If the bus comes, just get on and I'll bring this to school." But I was fast and it was in his backpack and he was off.

I barely make it most days. By the skin of my teeth, I pass. All my life I made straight A's but this mother thing. It's not something I want to just scrape by... and I feel like the gap is closing, what's shaping their behavior, and memories, and when they'll catch on.

April 9, 2012

beaux rêves

ivy, ponies

The things that come out of my daughter's mouth. I want to share them but I dare expect anyone to believe it.

She told me once, "When I was in your belly, I dreamed about you." She said it with such certainty and seriousness and in a tone that was apart from her normal childlike voice that to this day I believe it must be true.

The other night when Jeff and I were just settling in to watch Midnight in Paris she crawled in my lap to say goodnight, again, and I pointed to the screen. We talk about how we're going to go there someday, hopefully sooner than later. "That's Paris," I tell her. And she said, "I know!"

I asked how she knew and she chirped, "It's in my heart!"

That one? I swear, I'm so thankful Jeff was witness to. Beecausssssssssse. Oh my goodness.

This morning she woke, her face to my face (yes, she finds her way to my pillow most middle-of-the nights) and she purred, "I had four dreams and they all came true!"

She is my living dream I never knew I dreamed or maybe I am still dreaming.

-just write

April 8, 2012

Happy Easter 2012

Ivy begged for a new Easter dress and I thought of the plenty good things in her drawer she could wear but then was overwhelmed with the immediate need that My Little Girl should have an Easter Dress, and a hat, and a pink slip with tulle, and of course new shoes, too. 

look at me, daddy
She immediately rushed upstairs to show Daddy when she was dressed.

We went to the early service this morning and the kids stayed in church with us. I looked over at Gray during the message and he was sitting up so still, like an angel, eyelashes tight and fast asleep. Everything felt right. I love those moments.

Easter 2012

The sun is just too bright. What an awesome complaint! Happy Easter.

April 6, 2012

There will be so many times.

Last night I'm sure I was the anti-super mom. I barked and was annoyed and felt like a fail of a mom. I hope what I've said up there is really the truth.

I'm humbled to be a part of the Mother Letters project- have you seen the words (my words!) they've made into art?

edited to add: You can see my original post featuring the above quote here

April 4, 2012

April onetwothreeFOUR

This guy.

We're doing no-TV again and so his brothers beg him to read the comics to us one more time? I overheard him reading the Children's Bible to Ivy after they were supposed to be asleep but I didn't say anything, because The Bible. 

These two.

There's a bond there that in a weak moment I might just admit I am jealous, the way she looks at him and the way he responds to her.


During the recent hot spell, I was scrambling for warm weather clothes for the kids and went through a stack of hand-me-downs for Gray. He- the it's too shirty child - examined one of Carter's old tops with a collar and buttons and said so matter of factly "I'm going to have to start getting used to tags." And he put it in the keep pile.  

April FOUR reality
my April FOUR

This is reality. Noah's shoes are never tied, and Gray well. There's Gray.

I love them so. 

I used to take photos of my kids on the first of every month, now it's on the fourth. Four for four... get it? You can see past monthly photos here.  

April 2, 2012



We spent a few days in Michigan with Jeff's sister and family and it was so nice. I left my laptop behind and that felt... wonderful. I found myself loving the idea of never opening it again, which made me all the more eager to write whenever the time presented itself. Which I guess is now.

On Saturday morning their neighborhood had an Easter egg hunt in the park across the street. It went pretty smoothly despite the gang of plastic-egg burgling squirrels who made off with quite a few themselves. They were ruthless.

When we left, Gray cried maniacally until we reached Ann Arbor, almost an hour from their house- not including our stop for gas and bottled waters where I'm sure the people at the next pump over wondered if we'd kidnapped him. It was that troubling. I guess in the end they didn't want to get involved.

He just didn't want to leave!- he wailsobbed it over and over and over. It started in their house- he had grabbed on to the dresser and then the door frame as Jeff had to physically carry him out. I remember never wanting to leave my cousins growing up. Mostly because it always meant we had to go back to reality, but in Gray's case, I'm pretty sure it mostly was because his cousins have an Xbox.

-just write