This lady friend of mine just chopped off her hair. Okay, she had good reason. She donated 12 inches of her lovely locks--and I do mean lovely. She has the best hair in the world. And personality. And family. I'm about to start stalking hounding her for dates this summer when I could drive my kids to their Y camp and hang out with her for a week.

But I digress. Her decision has me looking at photos like this. Since we're not going to London...


We're having a bad week. I'm tired. Lily is having some setbacks. Just keepin' it real.


Bad Medicine and Theology 101

Lily is currently taking three medications. Three. It feels like three too many. Actually, I need to change that. She's taking five, if you include her allergy meds. We were seeing some success with one of the medicines, but one of the side effects is increased appetite and subsequent weight gain. I didn't notice anything at first, but for the last few weeks she is complaining of constant hunger. I help her choose healthy snacks and I also make sure she doesn't eat more than she should. Her doctor is amazing and weighs her every time we see him, but she's gained four pounds and he's "monitoring it closely." He won't let it get out of control, but it just sucks that on top of everything else, Lily is now having to count calories and restrict her diet and possibly worry about being overweight. I have been vigilant about my kids eating healthy. Always. I just want to throw a brick through a window somewhere to get all my frustration and disappointment out. And to make matters worse, her medicine may be losing its initial benefits.

I am not at a crisis in my faith. I don't talk about my faith (if at all) on my blog because, well... it's just that. My faith. Just like I don't talk about all the details of my marriage, because it's my marriage and I don't feel like you need to know every little thing that goes on between myself and David. My faith is precious to me and personal, but I would be remiss if I did not share once in a while that without my faith--my belief in a God who does care about me--and my time in prayer, I would be a complete wreck. I think prayer is one of the greatest mysteries in the universe. People either believe in God or they don't. People read the Bible because they believe in it and put it to work in their lives or they think it's a nice collection of verses that can't have much application for today. But prayer. Prayer is different.

Quite a few of my friends who do not believe in God do ask for "good thoughts" or "good vibes" when they're going through a difficult time. Is this because they're selfish and just want me to think about them? Hardly. Can it be that collective thought on a positive outcome gives them a sense of comfort they wouldn't have otherwise? Maybe. Is the idea out there for us all that we can somehow help the universe along by hoping for a more positive outcome? I think deep, deep down we do hope for that.

Where does prayer fit into that? For me, prayer is one of the greatest mysteries of life. I don't embrace the idea that God is up there like a vending machine, that if I just pester Him enough or plead in just the right way He'll give me what I want. That's plain wrong. I think prayer works in the opposite way. As C. S. Lewis so eloquently put it, "I pray because I can't help myself. I pray because I'm helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time--waking and sleeping. It doesn't change God--it changes me."

That is what I know to be true. When Lily's illness or financial frustration or sibling bickering drives me bonkers, I remember the verses I read in my Bible that morning, like "don't be anxious but be thankful" or "have a joyful heart" or "love unconditionally." And I pray. In praying, my mind becomes less all-about-me and more what-can-I-do-to-make-today-better. I become less focused on my own problems and more focused on loving others.

I'm no theologian. And I've never been eloquent with words or opinions. But I know this to be true: prayer is a lifeline for me.


Where, Oh Where...
are my pictures?

I have been terrible lately, forgetting my camera and not taking photos. For example, yesterday we drove to our good friends' cabin in the mountains. The kids were jumping off 15 foot embankments into snow drifts. Carver actually managed a few flips. And what was I doing? Not taking pictures, that's for darn sure. Okay, I was yakking away with my friend Ali and hoping my kids wouldn't break their necks, but I was also not taking any pictures. I've got to remedy that.

It's Sunday morning and that usually means we would be getting ready for church. (I love our church.) But today we literally have no food in the house and I'm afraid David won't be speaking to me if I don't go to the grocery store immediately. Also, it's a rare cloudy day in Colorado, and I can not seem to get out of my pajamas. So of course I'm blogging and procrastinating, but I will get to the store eventually.

Carver is still at the cabin, sleeping there with his friend. We gained their daughter Bailey, who is currently snuggled up with Lily in Lily's bed. Zinabu, my shadow, is sitting on the floor next to me, giving me a play-by-play of whatever cartoon he's watching. I am very slooooooowly looking up recipes on Pinterest, Google, and my cookbooks. I'm slowly transitioning back to a vegan diet, and I'm also slowly transitioning back to exercise. My knee has completely healed from my surgery in October, so I've begun running. I'm using the famous "Couch to 5k" app on my iPhone, and even though the process is slow, I'm hoping I can regain my stamina without re-injuring anything.

So that's my Sunday. Hope yours is a wee bit more exciting than mine.


No Rest For The Weary

Lily had to have two teeth pulled this morning. Not baby teeth. Permanent teeth. I swear, I'm begging God to just give her a break. I have a whole post written in my head about prayer and its role in my life, but that's for another day.

Lily has no permanent incisors. They are the teeth that live right next to your two front teeth. The dentist told me it can be hereditary, so we'll just chalk that up to another medical mystery in our kids that we don't know the history behind. Anywho, when you are faced with this predicament, you have several options. Close the gap between her two front teeth, leave the gaps where the incisors should be, and give her a retainer with false teeth for the next several years. Then, when her jaw stops growing (around age 20), she can have a bridge or implants. The other option is to pull two bottom teeth so that all the teeth match up in number and for her bite, then with braces move all the teeth forward to close the gaps.

David and I thought a good long time about this, and there's no right or wrong way to do this. I think different orthodontists and dentists have different opinions about it, too, but in the end we chose the pulled teeth and braces. Well, she would have had braces regardless, but this is to bring all her teeth forward and align them. I just looked at the future and foresaw multiple lost and broken retainers, issues with fake teeth, and Lily not having dental insurance when she's in her 20s if she's not on our plan anymore. Plus, for her sake, we wanted this over and done with. Fix it now in the next two years and not worry about it again.

So after putting it off for as long as possible, I took Lily to our dentist today to have the bottom teeth pulled. At this point in my life, Lily is the bravest person I know. With all her current medical issues, she has every right to chuck some serious rotten eggs at life. But she gets up each day and does her best. The best for her. Taking her to the dentist broke my heart, but she did it! Then, stuffed full of gauze and completely numb from the nose down, we went to Target to pick out some toys and games. I rarely do this for my kids, but can you think of a better reason to spoil her? I can't.

Right now we just finished playing electronic Simon, attempted oatmeal (seriously funny), and plan to watch a horse movie.

Lily, I love you so much!


I wish I could say that for Martin Luther King Jr's birthday we celebrated by singing "We Shall Overcome" together. We didn't. Instead, I watched Carver do this:

I'm sorry, Martin.


Book Review
Let's see, recently I read.... (insert crickets chirping). Not a whole lot. I did get a book from the library about Lily's disease, but it was more harmful than helpful. I find that, yes, I need to stay informed, but too much information makes my head swim and causes me to lose sight of today. If I stay focused on today, I am in a much better place. And that's all I need.

I remember checking out something from the library, but I never touched it and had to return it before I ever got to read it. Please understand that I have always been the type of person that needs 146 books next to her bed in order to feel calm. I have always HAD to be reading something. But I don't have much time to read any more, and these days when I go to bed I just watch something on Netflix in my iPhone to escape. Always something funny. Always something to help me forget about everything. It's good therapy.

However, the kids are reading. Carver more voraciously than anyone. It's strange to have a child that is now old enough to be into books that I know nothing about. It used to be that we'd read together, or he would read books that I had already read (like Harry Potter or the Chronicles of Narnia or The Hunger Games). But now he gets the Middle School books of the year list and dives in. He just completed some mystery trilogy, and he is currently reading a fantasy novel about Frankenstein's apprentices. We have found audio books to be spectacular!!!! He can go through them like he goes through his socks: ridiculously fast. If you haven't gotten your kids in the habit of sitting and listening to books on tape or CD, I highly recommend it. I started Carver when he was 4 or 5, and it has been an invaluable tool in his life. He will still sit and play with Legos, and listen to a novel at the same time. And when his brother or sister get to be too much for him, he escapes into his headphones and a book.

Lily prefers non-fiction, which I am still not used to. I just don't know what to make of that. How can you not love a good novel? But she doesn't. She's her own person, and she prefers fact and science to fantasy or fiction. She is currently reading The Secret World of Wild Horses, The Encyclopedia of Horse Ownership, and Horses and Ponies: A Guide for Beginners. (Um, do you see a common theme?) Not my cup of tea but she does read them. I actually just offered to pay her to read a chapter book. She's considering it.

Zinabu is also turning into a book lover, but he doesn't like to sit alone to read. He prefers to be next to someone or reading aloud while somebody listens. Like when I'm on the phone or trying to cook dinner. The problem with that is he likes to stop every fifth line or so to tell you what's going on and give you the play-by-play to the plot. Remember, he's my verbal one. So he doesn't read as much as he could because he runs out of people who are willing to listen to him. I still read aloud to him every night, and he still loves picture books. He's currently reading The Spiderwick Chronicles.

Let it be known I'm taking book suggestions. I need something that is good enough to make me desire to stay up past my bedtime and get lost in its words. Any ideas? Hit me!


I have some good news to report. Lily is feeling better. A lot better. One of the therapies the doctor wanted to try seems to be helping. She's sleeping better, too, and that is phenomenal. It feels so wonderful to watch her have more normal, pain-free days. It gives us great hope that 2012 will be a little easier than 2011. The doctors have warned us, though, that at times she can regress health-wise, but for now we'll take the improvement.

She's so brave!


How Free?
David's journal from his bike trip.

When David was 17, he rode his 10-speed bike from his small town in Minnesota to Washington state, then down to California.


Please imagine this with me. Still in high school. No cell phones. No family stops along the way. One boy. One bike. The great unknown and hours and hours and hours by himself. Imagine all the things that could have gone wrong.

Except, nothing really did. He prepared his trip really well, he knew how to take his bike apart, fix it, and put it back together. He budgeted his money for food and supplies. He had family and friends send him letters at post offices along the way. He knew what he was doing and he did it. He confided in me that it was one of the hardest things he's done, but also one of the most rewarding. His mom once said, "I'm not really sure what we were thinking letting him go on that trip all by himself." And we've joked that it was a bit of stretch, his parents letting him do that all by himself. But David was (and is) pretty responsible and was (and is) really great at planning travel. So it all worked out.

If you're not a frequent reader of Free Range Kids, then you should be. I absolutely love that blog and read it often to get a dose of parenting reality. I think, as a parent, I fall somewhere in the middle. Pretty protective in some areas, and super lenient in others. If you've been to our house you know we are surrounded by trees, rocks, and the occasional cactus. Sometimes people will come to our house and be visiting with me and suddenly gasp, "Your children! They're going to kill themselves!" I follow their gaze and see my kids hanging from trees, jumping off giant rocks, and sitting precariously close to places where Black Widow spiders most likely live. For me, when my kids are outside I really don't care what they do. I want them to ride their bikes around the neighborhood by themselves, get to know strangers (like our neighbors), play, get filthy dirty, and build things with hammers and nails. I want them to (and I let them) ride elevators by themselves and meet me at the top. I want them to (and I let them) go into the grocery store with money, pick up some milk, pay for it, and meet me back at the car. I want them to (and I let them) be out of my sight for long periods of time and solve their own problems. Right now Zinabu is in the kitchen cutting his own apple with (gasp) a knife! These sound like such little things, but in today's version of parenting, they're monumental.

Would I let Carver, at age 17, ride his bike to Maine? Probably not. But I always hope I am the kind of parent that lets my children stretch their wings, test the water, loosen the apron strings, and gain some independence without me always hovering over them, making sure their grapes are forever cut in half or that they have clean socks.

It's all about balance.


My fingers are bent in the cramped position. Carver's hair is looooong, and he loves having it in cornrows. I did his hair last night, and this morning I am doing Lily's twists. Twists are way faster than braids, but all in all the entire process takes about 5 hours. We're taking a break right now to not kill each other stretch and grab a snack.Thank the good Lord for podcasts. I am blissfully listening to all kinds of information goodness while Lily plays on the computer and I comb and part and wet and twist and repeat. During November Lily was feeling especially crummy health wise and didn't really want me touching her hair. I let it go, but we've paid for it. I spent a good two hours combing (and cutting) the knots out of her hair. We're in a better place now and I'm hoping I can keep on top of her hair. Not to mention she looks so darn cute with her hair done well.

An FYI about the tamale recipe in the previous post. It was the BOMB.COM! All my kids devoured them. However, I found that I had three times the amount of masa and not nearly enough veggie filling. So I would halve the masa amount you make and triple the filling amount. I also added Boca meatless crumbles to my veggie filling and it was divine. I'm pretty sure homemade tamales are now a part of our regular meal rotation.