Apr 12

It Isn’t Fair But It Is Good

We’d gone in search of lavender fleece.  We came home with jewelry making supplies, three unpainted birdhouses in need of jazz, and half a yard of turquoise fleece for, “You know, mom….  more projects.”

The idea was that each of us would paint a birdhouse.

Will and Jen are coming out of that blissful phase of thinking everything they do is fantastic.  They are starting to compare their creations to others.  But for right now they still relish the act of creating.  That means they get out the paints, sit down on the floor and go to it.

Without a plan.

Without first sketching, erasing, sketching again or starting over. Continue reading →

Feb 12

On White Knuckles and Comfort Levels

white knuckle drivingA semi hauling gasoline was in front, another semi was behind, and we were crawling along a snow-packed two-lane road under heavy cloud cover and falling snow.

My hands were at 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock on the steering wheel.  The tunes weren’t blaring like they are when the roads are dry.

“Will, honey, I can’t talk right now.  I need to concentrate on these roads.”

The snow kept falling.

The skies stayed gray. Continue reading →

Jan 12

A Work In Progress

I am a work in progress and so is this blog.

First, some chronology to set the stage:

5 1/2 years ago –  Stuff three boxes, buckle two young kids into car seats, leave husband,  nice house, financially secure future, perpetual stomach aches and nicest yard* I’ll ever tend.

5 years, 5 months ago – Discover NPD and naively present the concept to narcissistic husband and helplessly watch as message falls on deaf ears.

5 years, 3 months ago – Buy tiny, cozy, safe home for the three of us.  Put holes in walls, roll in grass that is never fertilized, refuse to make beds, leave projects out in plain sight, smile and laugh every day.

4 years, 4 months ago – Youngest starts public school.  Take a temporary, part-time job with family.  Rush between commitments like every other family in the U.S.  Stomach aches start to make a reappearance.

4 years ago – Divorce is finalized. Kids seem to be coping well with divorce, not so well with public school. Continue reading →

Nov 11

What Do You Need To Be Happy?

I could have said, “Geez you guys!  I can’t handle this stuff laying around everywhere!”

I could have said, “I want more time to do what I love, instead of having to pick up after you two!”

I could have said, “I need a break from this mess!”

I could have said a number of things, but while I was washing off the metaphorical dirt in the shower, I hatched a better plan.

It went something like this:

Take out a piece of paper. Continue reading →

Nov 11

The Impact of Attitude

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company … a church … a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude … I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me, and 90% how I react to it.
And so it is with you … we are in charge of our Attitudes.
C. Swindoll*

I have a choice.

I could wake this morning, annoyed that winter is on its way, and I’ll soon be shoveling walks and hauling firewood; or I could appreciate the built-in exercise routine that doesn’t require a monthly health club fee.

I could be angry that I am a single mom with full responsibility for raising two kids by myself; or I could appreciate how fortunate I am that they are with me 98 percent of the time.

I could be missing the much nicer house we used to live in, and the lack of money worries; or I could appreciate that this home is full of love and comfort, and my kids have learned valuable lessons that come from living within our means.

I could be annoyed by the mess from the English Muffins and coffee makings; or I could appreciate that they can make their own breakfast, and make me a cup while they’re at it.

I could be anxious that I’m single and 49; or I could revel in the sheer joy of being single and 49.

I could be worried about what the future holds, and whether I’ll benefit from the choices I’m making; or I could trust that the level of contentment I see in the three of us is a good indication that we are headed in the right direction.

I could be cranky about having started a bathroom remodel when I know next to nothing about such things; or I could turn this into a homeschool project where all three of us learn in the process.

I could bark at the kids when I can’t handle the mess; or I could acknowledge that this is their house, too, and gently ask them to help when I feel overwhelmed.



I could choose to see what is wrong in our life and our choices; or I could choose to see what is right.

I can choose to wake with a positive attitude and greet my two with a smile and a kind voice that gets the day off to a good start.

I have a choice.

*Thank you, Kate.  ;)

Nov 11

Around the Corner

old-faithfulThe car was stocked with corn nuts, sunflower seeds, pretzels, waters and grapes. (I forgot the Fritos.)  Kids had their papers and pens for marking off which animals they might see. The tank was full of gas and the heat was cranked.

They say the best times for viewing animals are in the morning or in the evening.

We entered at the West entrance of Yellowstone at 2:30 p.m.

We had time to circle through, catch Old Faithful, and hope to see whatever animals would be out before it got too dark.

I’ve always loved Yellowstone in the fall.  There aren’t as many tourists and there are more animals to see because the temperatures are more favorable – for the critters, not the humans. Continue reading →

Oct 11

Serendipity in a Story

Through tears she asked, “How come he says other kids do things well, but he can’t say that about me?  How come he doesn’t think I’m great?  What do I have to do to get him to say those things about me?”

Will turned to me and said, “Mom, you have to call him.  Tell him!  Tell him he needs to say that stuff about Jenny.  Tell him it hurts Jen’s feelings when he brags about other kids and doesn’t talk about what Jen does.  Call him!”

I asked Will to hand Jenny a kleenex.

“Honey, I can call your dad if that’s what you want.  I can talk to him about this – again.  If you think that will help you to feel better, I’ll do it.”

She wiped her tears and said, “It never does any good.  It never makes a difference.  He won’t change.  He doesn’t hear us.  What’s the point?” Continue reading →

Sep 11

On Full Moons, Rainbow Trout and Gratitude

The rainbow cleared the surface of the water to get a glimpse of the full moon. It was his job to report back to the others. “Yep, it’s full. They can’t catch us for at least another 24 hours!”

The ripples set off by the splash broke the seamless reflection of the sailboat. Without a breeze, the ripples smoothed quickly and returned the cove to a dark mirror spotted by boat lights and star haze.

Up until then, we’d been wondering if that sailboat had two masts. We couldn’t tell where the boat ended and the reflection began.

In our shorts, sweatshirts and Keens, we stood arm-in-arm, gazing at the moon hiding on the other side of the trees. Their leaves were still clinging to green. Even though it was September 11th, they weren’t ready to change into yellow, orange and brown.

Not yet.

When I asked what thoughts came to their minds when standing there bathed in moonlight, they both uttered something about being thankful.

Thankful for fish caught.

Thankful for new friends made.

Thankful for trees to climb with new and old friends.

Thankful for grandparents fun enough to camp with.

Thankful for the opportunity to enjoy a warm summer night when others had to go to bed early on a school night.

Thankful for the opportunity to appreciate our simple lives when others have lost so much.

Thankful for closeness and comfort and not so much stress.

Thankful for coffee in the morning, jeans to ward off the chill, warm chocolate milk and the opportunity to catch more fish.


We pointed out the constellations that tried to stand out against the bright light of the moon. We knew some of the names and made up the others.

As we turned to walk back and tuck in for the night, we acknowledged the date. For a brief moment we felt awkward in our gratitude.

Was it enough to be thankful?

Should we do more?

And then we heard the splash. The rainbow cleared the surface again. We turned in time to see the ripples sending a code that said, “Come back tomorrow.  Catch me if you can.”

Dec 10

On Breathing Easier and the Battle Ax in the Middle of the Night

apronAt 2:00 a.m., those voices in my head can be pretty loud.

I don’t know who let the battle ax into my bedroom.  She was holding  a cast iron skillet.  I don’t know if the skillet is her trademark, or if she was planning on hitting me with it.  Her hair held spongy pink rollers.  Over her mom-jeans, she wore a food-stained apron in a cherry print that barely stretched over her ample hips.

I’m sure her middle name is Guilt.  Her last name is Doubt.  First name is Jesse.

She barked at me for taking my kids out of public school.  She lectured me for wanting so damn much out of a relationship.  She snarled at me about my choices and the direction I’m heading.

With one hand on her hip, she started her relentless pestering.  “Everyone else seems content to be in a so-so relationship.  Why do you think you deserve to be any happier than anyone else?  Hello, Missy, this is happy.  Look around you.  Everyone is coupled up, and they go about their business just fine.  How much time do they spend worrying about being happy?” Continue reading →

Jun 10

When To Break From the Herd

Barbie at school I do  follow the rules in unfamiliar situations.  I read the signs, ask for directions, follow the guidelines and survey the expert opinions.  But once I’m in my comfort zone, I start to look at things differently.   I start to ask, “Why?”  I’m not trying to be belligerent.  I’m trying to understand if the reason something “has always been done that way” is really the right reason for doing it that way.

I ask a lot of questions.

Public school is the way that educating has always been done.  Is that the right way for the three of us?

I have a lot of questions.

The decision of home school versus public school is weighing heavily.  Actually, it wouldn’t weigh anything if my natural inclination was to follow the herd.  I wonder if the herd has all the answers.  Just because public school has always been the commonly accepted way to teach, can’t there be other good options for kids and moms on the fringe of the herd? Continue reading →