Saturday, April 23, 2011


This is the most amazing song about church life and community--and the man singing is pretty amazing, too. Not only is he the chair of Westside's nominating committee, he taught Junior High Our Whole Lives sexuality class--that's October through March. And he even chaperoned a sleepover. His family is woven into the fabric of the whole congregation--his wife is the chair of our Religious Exploration committee, his in-laws volunteer and play music. And his kids will do pretty much any job I ask of them--from fun ones to not so fun ones. Our church is a much better place thanks to this family. But then Rand Cufley writes this song, and well...go listen.

Yes, Westside has been named a "Breakthrough Congregation" and yes, it's not enough to break through, it's time to carry each other through.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Free Fallin'

I suppose I should feel grateful that I'm healthy and my family is well. That we're employed and we love each other and that we have a little dog who is a little neurotic, but who loves us.

But I'm not. I'm not grateful. I'm pissed.

People should not get sick. Life should not take a turn for the worse and cancer sucks.

Things that feel solid and regular--pieces of life that have finally smoothed out should not get ripped right out from under your feet.

I feel like the cartoon character who runs off the cliff. The ground is suddenly gone.

But my solid ground is not gone. It's right there. This is not free falling. This is just a lousy bounce of life for someone I really care about-- for someone who has had an enormous influence on the lives of my sons. It's not my issue to rail against.

I will write meaningful notes of thanks, make a nice dish to pass for the hastily planned and low key "good-bye" lunch. I'll smile and blink back tears. I know it's just the way things go. I know. And really, who knows what gifts are hidden in the manure pond of this lousy thing called cancer?

There are often gifts.

I pray that there are gifts.


Friday, April 8, 2011

Not shutting down, well, yet anyway

I am relieved. I didn't want a million people to be furloughed, I didn't want vacation plans to be disrupted and passport applications and tax returns to be delayed. I am happy our National Parks will stay open.

But really, I'm happy my husband will continue to be paid.

In 1995 the government was shut down for 21 days. Three weeks with no pay would have deeply affected my family. And I'm relieved.

But I'm also incredibly angry with our government.

I'm angry with the people who claimed on national news that they are "for life" and that they can't support the money that the government gives to Planned Parenthood. What? WHY! You don't want people to get tested for STIs and to get free condoms?

I'm angry with the people who were in power in February of 2010 when this budget was proposed and would not pass the budget because there was a freakin' election coming up and they were too stupid to stand for something that was right and good.

I'm angry with the whole entire system of governance. This is not governance, this is simply the absolute worst of human nature thrown against the worst of human nature and smeared all over tv and internet in a 24 second news cycle.

I know it's not over, this budget issue, but I have been damaged. I used to appreciate our leaders, I used to be proud of my country. Now I'm ashamed. Driving home tonight my skin was crawling with disgust as I passed the strip malls and the darkened houses. These people who live near me believe the things they are told. They buy into the rhetoric and the hate. They do not have the strength to think for themselves, much less actually study an issue to understand it.

How is it possible to be a person of faith, a person that believes that each among us is worthy? How is it possible to raise children amidst this hate and the slinging of blame and deceit? When is it time to throw out the entire system and to begin anew? Is it now?

I wonder.

Let us try to find a square centimeter of common ground on which to build and let us try to come together as a people. And let us reconsider the way we govern ourselves in this land. There is so much potential for good, but this thing we have now--this way of governing ourselves is absolutely not it.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Opening Night and boy teens

You would think that I'd be used to parenting teen age boys. It's been like what, almost six years I've been doing this. But it kind of sneaks up on you. First there's one young 13-year-old who likes to play video games and is a little surly.

Then there are two--one older and one surly one. You get some drivers ed, some grown-up like things, say....traveling across the country alone.

You get to three teens--one living away at college, one driving and working and leaving home for weeks and weeks of wilderness travel and one surly one performing in front of a thousand people and knowing more about applying make up than I ever did, and well, it's a little surprising.

They're really becoming men, and I'm becoming a mother of young adults.

And it's opening night for the youngest's latest show. Have you seen this show? Lots of companies are performing it, "13 The Musical"? This is actually his second run in the last year of the show. But it's a good one. And it's pretty appropriate for the stage of life we're in here. It's about growing up, coming of age, becoming a man.

I need the play "43! The Musical" that's all about getting old and growing up and coming of age, learning how to be the mother of young adults. Maybe it could include henna tattoos and a mani pedi. And a box of kleenex. Because as much as it's amazing and wonderful to see your sons grow up, it's constantly heartbreaking.

Break a Leg tonight, kid! Hope the show is amazing. I'm just thankful the theater is dark, so no one can see me cry through the whole damn thing.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Seasons and the Family Room

I know this is all we 40-something women seem to do: whine about our busy, busy lives.

We are so busy doing everything that we can possibly do and we are damn lucky to have so much, but we whine. OK, it's our role, it's just what we do.

But I have been super-duper-hyper-blast-drive-busy this whole year. And I have not had time to do nice things like see my friends, or you know, sit down.

Recently my lovely little homeschool school had some trauma and we have a new policy that requires parents to sign up to be "monitors". I've been sitting at the hallway handing out hall passes (and making the teens do things like give me an idea for dinner for the menu I'm working on or to at least say "hello" to me before they can have the laminated green hall pass). But yesterday we had a little confluence of the moms who have been around at our little school for a long time. We're supposed to stay til 1:30 even though all the kids go to class at 1, so we had a half an hour to visit before we were all scheduled to be someplace else doing something very busy.

It was a play date for the moms.

And it was wonderful. We laughed and talked about hormones and teenagers and new babies and work and you know, being busy. We shared the space and the time. We've raised our children together for years and years. And there is respect and care between us all, despite huge ranges of faiths and politics, we care about each other.

My years here are coming to an end. Next year I don't think I'll have any children in the little homeschool-school. My kids go to regular high school for a couple of years and then on to what we call "Running Start" or early college for high schoolers. So it's almost over.

I'll miss the shared dirty kitchen that gets cleaned up over conversation. I'll miss the toddlers and preschoolers who easily visit with teens and other adults in the family room. I'll miss the impromptu ballet class offered by the nine year old to the "little kids" in the preschool area.

It's the end of a season of my life. I'll pre-mourn for a while and by the time it actually happens, I just might be ready. Or not.

Seasons come and go. Life's just like that. It really was a lovely day.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Motherhood and Ugly Labels

I'm sure I'm a helicopter parent, hovering over my children, fussing with the details of their lives.

And I've certainly been a soccer mom, complete with the mini-van and the whole "hang the stuff from the folding chair so it doesn't get wet in the grass" talent but without the vodka in the travel mug.

I've been a swim team mom who knows how to run the meet and even how to time relays with splits.

Once I went from being the soccer mom with soaking wet jeans from sideways rain to being a swim team mom with soaking wet jeans from the flip turns of fast kids--all in the space of an hour.

The latest one: "Stage Mother"--I hate that one. And I'm not really even a stage mother. The program my son is working with right now prevents the whole stage mother thing by keeping parents completely out. You can sit outside the door and listen, but you can't ever come in. Not at all--never. You see the show when it opens.

Yesterday I dropped him off at the stage door and he ran in right behind the dresser--chatting and animated. It's tech week. Eight hour practices, missing school, homework gets done in snippets and snatches. Then I went to six stores looking for the perfect shoes--for some reason we "Stage Mothers" provide shoes, nothing else. But his character is obsessed with shoes, which makes me obsessed with shoes. And I have 20 discount tickets lumped in groups on my kitchen table, my weekend is carefully planned so that I can see all six shows. Yep, guess we're there, aren't we.

Show opens in TWO DAYS! Exciting.

I can't even imagine what the next label will be. What is the mom who knows all about the SATs and college applications? How about the one who sends cookies during finals week? Who cares. It's all good.

I'm in.

Monday, April 4, 2011

.....and on Southwest Airlines

In a previous life I worked for an airline.

No, actually I worked on the phones, you know, taking calls from people. Usually taking calls from people who were having trouble.

The worst kind of calls we got started with a little whisper in the headset. It let you know that trouble was coming because the agents at the airport had rolled out the portable bank of phones. Not good.


Oh no. Not rebook. No, please.

It usually meant bad weather or some other bad thing was happening in some poor city. And people were going to be stuck. I mean, eventually they'd get out and on to their vacation or business trip or they'd get home to their cat or their baby or their elderly great Aunt. I mean, no one gets stuck in an airport forever.

The poor folks would yell and curse or sniffle, but really--there was not a whole lot I could do. Planes usually fly mostly full--even the flights from other airlines. There's not a whole lot of room on other planes to get you there, buddy. Sorry.

We were authorized to put people on other airlines when things were really bad. Usually when there was a mechanical delay to the flight--a problem with the plane, not weather. I mean weather just happens and if one airline is grounded, they're all grounded.

There was a hierarchy to getting the passengers on other airlines. The airlines with codeshare agreements were highest on the list, the ones who shared the routes and mileage plans and all. The others were lower on the list, but we could do it when things were really crazy.

But not Southwest. They didn't code share with anyone. No luggage agreements, no shared flight information. They were on their own, no need for any other airlines.

I gotta wonder how things went on those zillions of cancelled flights this weekend. And oh man, am I glad I wasn't anywhere near that mess!

Give me a quiet church kitchen with some crusty dirty dishes left over from a big auction and a quick turn to a soup lunch any day! Upset kids having a bad morning and needing to do the rounds with me? Yep. They hug you at the end of the day. Sweeping up after a very successful money making lunch while a marimba band practices? Oh yeah.

But please, never again ".....rebook..."