The Jewel

I had just spent most my morning in La Jolla, the Beverly Hills of San Diego, primarily window shopping for obvious reasons. It really is “the Jewel” from what I’ve seen so far on my trip. I did eat lunch on the patio of a yuppy little restaurant that was much more hip than their customer occupying a table for 2 overlooking the bay. I thought about enjoying the view from inside since it was cool but knew I would have to take off my sunglasses in order to avoid looking odd being indoors. The reality however, of me taking my sunglasses off, would have been more bizarre since I had just sampled a $700 wrinkle cream just before lunch. The beauty consultant had only applied cream to one eye and the left side of my forehead to show off its immediate results and for comparison’s sake. And that it did!!! I still can’t decide if I looked as if I had an acute case of Bell’s palsy on my untreated eye or if I seemed to be chronically winking on my left.

Anyway, outdoors in the sun, with my shades in place, I enjoyed a beautiful Caesar salad with grilled jumbo shrimp while doing my best to eavesdrop on my patio dwelling neighbors. They were ultra cool. Three young men, probably in their twenties, discussing how the perfect watch could finish the image they were searching for. I’m not sure which I found more interesting to consider leasing, their expensive watches or their women they talked about that, when hired, make their parties more fun. I’ve been told I’m fun to hang out with but I don’t think they were talking about the particular type of entertainment I can provide at a party. Considering I’m in California and the sad fact that prostitution has been going on for centuries, I found leasing watches more interesting for the moment.

After my lunch stomach was satisfied I decided to fill my desert one. After sampling approximately 7 types of gelato on those a precious little spoons, I settled for chocolate espresso paired with a small scoop of salted caramel! This little cup accompanied me as I meandered through several art galleries pretending to find the art as entertaining as the exorbitant price tags attached. Lets just say I tried not to laugh out loud because I didn’t want them to think I thought their art was funny. I truly don’t think I’ve ever had gelato so creamy and buttery and I have taste tested a number of frozen novelties in my day. While my actual knowledge about gelato vs. ice-cream is at a novice level, my taste buds in this arena are quite adept. Probably another reason I’m not considered the lease-able type.

By the time I got back to my hotel my left eye was almost capable of fully closing since its treatment and I was feeling fabulously relaxed and sleepy and thought about a short nap in the middle of the day. You know why? Because I’m on vacation, with no kids, and my husband is golfing, and I can. That’s why! It was going to be AB FAB U LOSO!

I had just removed my new earrings that I had purchased at Kohl’s to update my rural, capri-wearing, mother of three look and was snuggled in for a beautiful nap for no reason at all other than because I wanted to …..when Rick burst in the door from golfing.

I tried to pretend I was dead to give him the hint I wasn’t interested in talking. After a bit of conversing with himself, he said, “you know, a nap sounds like a great idea”. I wanted to jump up and yell, ” it IS a fabulous idea and it was MY fabulous idea, so it’s taken”! I didn’t however because we’re on vacation alone and I’m trying my best to be cordial even when I don’t want to.

After he had finished pushing every button on his phone at least twice, brushing and flossing his teeth, then organizing what sounded like a years worth of receipts, he got in bed beside me. The emotion of irritation is not conducive to sleep so I found myself wide awake waiting for the puffing to begin. Puffer

I gave up, found my shoes, and headed to the lobby to have a coffee and write you a little story.

12 Things I Should Probably Quit Doing

You know all those small, insignificant things that you do and plan to continue doing despite having the feeling that you should really stop? Things that really aren’t THAT bad and probably won’t kill you or your kids yet you can’t fully enjoy the experience because of that guilty voice?

I’ve comprised a list of my top 12 things, in no particular order, that I should probably quit doing yet I have no plans to put them on my “things to quit doing” list at this time.

1. Microwave watching.

Sunday nights at our house is popcorn night. My younger kids love to watch the little package of Kroger brand Movie Theater Butter microwave popcorn spin, then slowly unfold. With their noses inches from the door they relay to me what’s happening to their soon to be snack awakened by dangerous microwaves. “Mom it’s getting bigger! The pops are slowing! Can I push STOP? Huh mom? Can I push it? Mom, mom?” It is quite the event. I can’t deny that I don’t enjoy the temporary trance I received from watching a hard stick of cold butter turn round and round as it slowly caves in on itself. I try to tell myself that they wouldn’t have put a window in the door if it wasn’t safe for me or my children to look in, but “they” say it’s not safe, so I can’t fully enjoy the experience for my children or myself .

2. Eating raw cookie dough.

One of my favorite parts of making cookies when I was a kid was eating the dough. This delicious childhood memory is now plagued with the fear of salmonella. I used to sneak and eat it, popping little bites in here and there, while making cookies with my little ones. They quickly caught on that it is fabulous, really even better than the cookies themselves. Fruits and vegetables can have salmonella on them and we push those down our children’s throats thinking rinsing them under cold water kills the bacteria. Nooooooo! “They” gave the bad rap to raw cookie dough! Well, we don’t make homemade cookies near enough so I feel our odds are low. Therefore, we all enjoy at least one cookie’s worth of dough and pray for the best.

3. Using bubble bath in my jetted tub.

The man who installed our tub specifically said, “no bath salts or bubble bath in the tub”. I remember looking at him and thinking to myself, “are you kidding me”? Well sometimes you’re just tired. It’s nice to put a few squirts of bubble bath in the water, throw the kids in and start the jets. Following the wash cycle: 1. Drain the dirty water, 2. Turn on the shower for the rinse cycle, 3. Towel dry. Bath…Time…DONE! Not to mention the kids have a fabulous time and think you are awesome at least until teeth-brushing begins! Additionally, if you are skilled at pretending you are deaf and blind, you can get a few peaceful minutes to yourself to read a magazine while sitting on the toilet lid during the wash cycle.

4. Offering Sweet Frog as a reward for good behavior.

I try to offer non-food rewards to my children but sometimes I really want dessert and using their questionable “good” is a great out. What’s more confusing than bribery is when their behavior is terrible and you still take them because warm weather makes you think about ice cream and frozen yogurt all the time. I sometimes think my odds would be better if I said something more like, “if I can get through this shopping trip without yelling or wanting to cuss, we’re going to Sweet Frog!” I don’t think they have quite figured me out but I think they are on to something after hearing me yell, “so help me Harrison, if I don’t get to go to Sweet Frog because you can’t stay out of the store’s floor I’m going to…”

5. Streaking.

I regularly run from one end of the house to the other insufficiently clothed. We have a neighborhood road that goes in front of our house as well as one in the back. We also have lots of windows in our house because I enjoy lots of natural light. We also have some new neighbors that I didn’t know had moved in yet. I do own robes but they are such a hassle, Gosh! Well, I know that I saw him and I’m quite that confident that he saw me because he quickly picked up his toddler and started heading home after looking my way. In addition to mastering the art of selective deafness, I have mastered the ability to pretend that my eyelids were shut during an unpleasant event completely erasing it from my visual mind. This will make it possible for me to talk to my neighbor on our back road while our children are riding bikes. Another time I was running from one end of the house to the other in just a towel. I looked up to see a man taking pictures of our house and possibly me in the background. I’m not sure if that helped or hurt our recent house appraisal. Did I forget to tell you the towel was on my head?

6. Using things that are not tissue to clean noses.

I do my absolute best to make sure that I have tissues, wipes, and even paper towels on me or in my car at all times. I even carry a gallon jug of water in my truck in the event that I may need to give an unexpected roadside bath. It seems that more often than not however, my children decide to have an explosive, sinus cleansing sneeze when we are at the park and I only have my keys. Trust me, if you don’t know for yourself, leaves do a poor job and hurt. I’ve been tempted to use the bottom of their shirt but then know when they do it themselves I can’t ask them, ” just who taught you how to do such a disgusting thing”! I’ve had to pinch the snot from their nose with my bare hand and wipe it on the grass. Any residual slime left behind on your hands seems to disappear after you rub them together for a bit. If you’ve never done this, I haven’t either, it was just a made up story I told you.

7. Wearing clothes taken from the dirty laundry hamper.

My son always seems to come out of his room dressed in clothes that I know he wore earlier in the week. Same thing with pajamas. He has several pair but he alternates between them like they are his bedtime uniform. I sometimes make him change and always regret it. It takes him twice as long to put on clothes that he doesn’t want to wear compared to the unusual amount of time it takes for him to put on clothes he does like. If Febreeze came up with a scent called, ” I swear I just washed it” I think it would sell like hotcakes, and if hotcakes didn’t sell, we wouldn’t have Pancake Suppers to raise money for our schools. I guarantee school buses all over the place would reek of the stuff in the mornings.

8. Taking an afternoon coffee break to calm down.

Sometimes in the late afternoon, when the kids are home from school, I decide I want to take a little break before we start homework and running here and there for activities and making dinner. I love coffee and the thought of it makes me feel really nice, so I decide to have a cup. Every time, I repeat, every time I decide to do this it is not good. The caffeine usually kicks in mid math or right when I discover we are running late for dance class and all need to get shoes on and buckled into the car and her black leotard cannot be found.

9. Allowing rodent affection.

As many of you know from Warm Blooded Love my kids have their first furry friends. They aren’t dogs or cats but rodents…I mean hamsters. My son’s hamster is named Mickey and he loves him so much. They are best friends and have so much fun playing together. (I’m only speaking for my son right now). Anyway, he’s always wanting to kiss him! On the head or back, I don’t know. I don’t like any of it. I just try and pretend it doesn’t happen. If I told him not to I know he would sneak and kiss him when I wasn’t around anyway. It hasn’t been a problem lately however. My son has been grounded from playing with Mickey for the past several days for not playing nicely. He gets him back on Saturday and yes I have to write things like this on my calendar or they try and trick me.


I had been doing laundry earlier in the day and Harrison was letting Mickey walk around on the top of an overturned laundry basket. Thinking this was harmless, I turned around to my work in the kitchen. When the tone of my son’s laughter sounded mischievous, I turned around to further examine the cause. He had been depressing the center of the laundry basket in, then would wait for it to pop back into shape, throwing his furry friend into the air and would catch him precisely at the point where he stopped going up and before heading down!!!

By the way, I promised myself that I would not Google: Do hamsters carry diseases?…but guess what? Small rodents and reptiles are big carriers of salmonella! So, with the rodent kissing and the cookie dough eating, our family is basically a ticking time bomb for a salmonella outbreak!

10. Eating my children’s Easter and Halloween candy when they are not at home.

I don’t really feel like it is stealing. I’m quite sure they would say “yes” if I asked them and made them feel guilty. They really have way too much anyway and I’m just protecting their teeth. We all know that children don’t have the manual dexterity to thoroughly brush and floss to prevent cavities. Plus, if they filled up on candy their bellies would be full and they couldn’t eat their fruits and vegetables thoroughly rinsed with cold water of salmonella.

11. Expelling gas with my family.

We all do it and most all know where and when it is appropriate, despite the occasional accident caused by sneezing, etc. There’s a time and place for everything and gas being expelled with your closest family is funny. Always was, always is, and always will be…but not at the dinner table . I will never get tired of hearing someone in my family say, “did someone step on a duck in here”?

12. Asking everyone I know, including those on the internet I’ve never met, for advice before listening to the Spirit of God inside of me.

Sometimes I don’t ask or listen because I don’t want to hear, “wait”, “not now”, or “NO”. I then keep seeking and searching for advice from others until I find what my flesh wants to hear. I find advice but I find no peace. Other times, I know exactly what I’m supposed to do but I’m scared or lack faith to act. It is then easy for me to find advice that will further discourage and stop me in my tracks. I find advice but I find no peace. Sometimes, I know immediately when the advice I’m receiving is some I should take.  It gives me chills because it sounds like it is coming from the same voice I hear from within me but too often tune out. I’ve made a mistake. This one needs to go on my “Wise Things to Work On” list.

The Summer of the Scab

I’ve been working on some fun and silly little stories for you but my heart won’t let my mind finish those until it gets to tell its story first.  In the last couple of weeks, young and old, man and woman, rich and poor, educated and not, have reminded me of my summer with the scab. While their stories are all quite different their hearts were touched very much the same.

When I was a little girl, one of my favorite things to do in the summer was to ride my bike. Most of the time it was with the neighborhood hot rod Huffy gang and other times it was alone. While the camaraderie of my friends would always be chosen first, I will never forget my times riding alone. Just behind my parents’ home was a long steep hill that ended in a cul-de-sac. While the cul-de-sac is still there the grade of the hill is about half of what it seemed to me as a child. I remember standing up on my bike pedals and putting my arms out to the side and flying down that hill, waiting till the last safe moment to grab my handlebars and sit down. The breeze that would be stirred up blowing cross my face and through my hair was cool even on the hottest summer days. The right side of the hill was lined with several houses but on the left only one. The man who lived there was always outside working in his yard, out jogging, or sitting on his front porch with his wife. He was always friendly and I knew he was kind, but he rarely ever spoke to us; just smiles and head bobs or a little wave with the hose here and there. I remember one day being about halfway up that huge hill and thinking that once again this wouldn’t be the summer that I would be able to ride all the way to the top without stopping. I could tell I was going to have to give up and push my bike the rest of the way. I could barely turn my pedal another stroke when I heard “c’mon” . It was Mr. Wickline on his front porch alone. He stood up and said it again, “c’mon”; like he was helping his favorite horse across the finish line. That little phrase was just what I needed to discover I had a fight in me. I found it and pushed harder and harder and made it to the top. I then stopped and looked down, hoping to see my coach. He smiled and went back to his seat.

It was another hot summer day when I thought I was riding alone again. I was perfecting a new trick to show off later to my gang when my bike slid out from under me in the cinders left behind from our hard winter. I went down. Really hard. My left knee was busted open and my white, rolled down sock was turning red. My hands were filled with little gravels and it hurt and made me cry. I had no choice to stop my tears. Fear of what was going to happen next and how I would manage alone joined in and the tears rolled down my face even though my crying had stopped. Out of the corner of my eye I saw him coming. He picked up my bike and said it again, “c’mon” but it sounded differently and meant something else, but exactly what I wanted to hear. He pushed me home on my makeshift wheelchair and didn’t say a word but said so much. He pushed me home and delivered me to my “nurse” who had a lot to say and excitedly, but being in her care was relief as well. He turned and walked away saying little more than a head nod to my mom.

For the next couple of days I couldn’t do anything without being reminded of my wound. It was so fresh and it burned and I couldn’t get my mind off of it . I remember going up and down steps acting like I didn’t have a knee to bend at all. It was hard to sleep at night at first as my bandage rubbed on my sheets and reminded me freshly of the event .

As the days progressed a scab formed. I started to forget about my wound but sometimes it would crack open and hurt again and remind me that I still had a way to heal.
I was starting to go on about my days with only an occasional and rare reminder of that childhood big deal. I was so excited that I was moving on and would soon forget that it ever happened. The scab was shrinking!

I was playing hard again in the driveway one evening when I tripped and fell and my scab was torn off. It hurt again just like the first time. The pain made me cry but so did the anger and frustration. I thought I was almost over it and I was going to have to start over again! I wasn’t scared this time though, I had been there before and I knew I could heal again.

The summer went on and my scab had almost disappeared, leaving behind traces of pink, shiny, tender skin. It only hurt every once in a while when I got down on my knees or bumped it getting in and out of the car. I remember looking at it sometimes when I was alone. I thought about picking it but I knew this would only slow my healing and make my scar worse. I would think about what happen that day and I could almost feel the pain again but I had a choice to cry if I wanted to now. A lot of the times my mind would stray away from the pain and the accident itself and start thinking about my helper Mr. Wickline, or my mom the nurse waiting on me. Sometimes it would even remind me of how great it felt to ride my bike and to have discovered my strength and fight.

As fall was approaching and I knew my bike would be put away until the next summer, I’d ride by Mr. Wickline’s house and hope to see him out. When everyone else had forgotten about my wound and had moved on, his little head bob or wink would let me know he still remembered and that felt good.

Remembering the process of healing through this silly, little childhood wound has helped me make it through adult ones when there was no blood or cinders in my hands; just a very painful heart and soul. I remember it is going to be a process and I don’t get so frustrated with the ups and downs, knowing they will come. I remember that I’m not alone and how I can fight when I dig deep.

While loss is often unfairly doled, it does not discriminate. All suffer loss over dreams hoped for and have voids that were once filled with loved ones. I know there are wounds that stay painful or tender for a lifetime and I am thankful I have not had to heal any quite like that. However, remembering my summer with the scab helps me get through when it is my turn and reminds me to be a helper or nurse when it’s not. I sometimes want to say, “see look at my scar, it will go away”. I want to remind them that they will have ups and down when they think they are done but not to get mad or frustrated; reminding them that it’s just the process. I want to tell them that one day their scar will remind them that they had won and they were a strong fighter. But I try to remember Mr. Wickline and how saying so little helped so much.  Whether encouragement to “c’mon” you can do this, find your fight! Or “c’mon” I’ll keep you safe, you’re not alone. Remembering him also reminds me that as the days or months or even years slip by that a “head bob or wink” letting the wounded know you still remember, helps.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3