Friday, May 27, 2011


I've invested a lot of time and energy in trying to teach my children, in both direct and indirect ways, about consequences, planning ahead, keeping a long-term perspective, etc. Understanding those things is no small feat when you're only 5.

In Dylan's classroom, they have a behavior chart that looks like a giant stoplight--red, orange and green. Each child's name is written on a clothespin, and if they behave all day, they stay in green. If they get a warning, their name is moved to orange, and if they further misbehave, they are moved to red and get a time-out. Dylan has been getting in orange here and there the last few months, mostly for things like talking or wiggling about when he's supposed to be sitting down and listening. Since the beginning of April, I've been telling him that if he makes it a whole week staying in green every day, I'd take him to get ice cream. Thus far, he's always fallen short of the goal.

But this week he's done really well, and as of last night had stayed in green every day--only one day to go. Last night, he wouldn't eat his dinner (he doesn't believe in eating anything besides chicken nuggets, pepperoni pizza [and only pepperoni or cheese is ok], granola bars, and then anything consisting almost entirely or refined, bleached flour--added salt a plus) so I told him that Keilana was the only one who was going to get ice cream (Doug had brought some home on an errand run a night or two earlier). He whined at first that he wanted ice cream, but I insisted he had to eat his dinner or he wasn't getting any. Finally, he resolutely pushed his plate away and said, "No, I'm not eating sloppy jos. I'll have ice cream tomorrow after I stay in green."

I didn't know whether to cheer or slap him.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Happy Belated Mother's Day

I'm very lucky. I came from the best. . . .
And I got the best. . . .

I love all the mothers and children in my life.
Hope you all had a good day.
Thanks for all that you do.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


I'd really like a break. I haven't done anything without my kids in two months, and very little without them in the six months before that. Just as importantly, I haven't left Tulare County at all in four months. I'd like to go on a date and get out of here for. . .somewhere. I was telling Doug the other day that all of a sudden I keep thinking of all these places I wanted to go: Monterey, camping, Montana, Sacramento, Disneyland, Cayucos, etc, and I finally realized that it was because I hadn't been farther away than Fresno since October (and not even that far away since January). That doesn't seem like a very long time, and normally it's not, but given the six months I've had, it feels like a long time to be stuck here.

Hopefully now that I've identified what's eating at me, I can adjust my attitude. Because it's likely going to be at least another month before I get out on a date, let alone get out of the area. And with gas at $4.20/gallon, I likely won't be going very far after that! So remember me when you have playdates, or I may just go further into hermit mode and lose my mind entirely ;)

On a positive note, we got our garden put together finally! So hopefully in a month or so we'll be picking our own peppers and tomatoes (and hopefully we'll add more spices to our lonely little basil plant and get some onions and radishes in there, too). So if you've been wondering what to get me for my birthday (and I know you all plan your whole summer around that), potted flowers to color up my patio would be good. I'm sssooo excited to finally have pretty, usuable outdoor space!

Saturday, May 7, 2011


Grandma Barnes (Doug's maternal grandmother) passed away about two weeks ago. Katy asked me to put together a slideshow for the memorial and, of many great images, this one is my favorite:
I love it because it really makes me happy, knowing these two and what a wonderful team they were. And for exactly the same reason, it makes me absolutely heartsick. That's a word I don't use often, but I think it is definitely the most appropriate word here.

Let me back up for a minute. Doug's cousin, Stephanie, was asked to speak from the grandchild's perspective at the memorial, so she asked all her cousins to send her some of their favorite memories of Grandma--and boy were there some great ones! I had a great deal of fun listening to Doug and his sister Jennifer as they compiled their lists of memories. After several of the stories she told, she said, "I guess that story's about Grandpa as much as Grandma." Finally, having the same trouble with his list, Doug replied, "Its so hard to think of a memory of Grandma that isn't about Grandpa. Where Grandma's personality really sparked was in how she interacted with him." I have often referred to them as Abbott and Costello--they are hilarious, and if there's anyone who ever spent time around them and didn't enjoy it, I'd be quite surprised. But if you take away half the team, it just doesn't work. They were entirely devoted to each other and clearly enjoyed one another's company. Its fun to be around people who are always having fun with each other, and they always seemed to be having a great time. There was much talk of Grandma's ability as Hostess Extraordinaire--a well-deserved title--as she kept everyone well fed and watered and comfortable. But even in that, the real magic in her hosting was the entertainment, which nearly always came from her interaction with Grandpa. We've all asked many times over the last few weeks, "What's Grandpa gonna do now?"

They've been married 61 years. They've constantly and consistently been the most important thing in each other's lives since they were both in their early 20s. At that point, do you even know who you are without each other? If you've had a good marriage, which they most certainly have, then you are a huge part of who the other person is by then. And so it shouldn't be all that surprising then that the photograph above evokes in me a very similar feeling as this one:
My cousin snapped this photo of my grandma last fall at the graveside of her companion. She and Clark had only been married 10 years, but he is her eternal companion and I can tell you, seeing the difference in my grandma over the last 10 years, he is a big part of who she is now.

So these images make me heartsick for the loneliness of the spouse left behind to wait for a time. Not that either of these two wonderful people is really alone: they both have large, loving families. But even that wonderful blessing is not a substitute for the daily companionship of your one closest love, around whom you've built your life--and your self.

And I admit that is also makes me sad for very selfish reasons, because I know that the statistical odds make it very likely that one day, years from now (many, many years, I hope), I'll be the one sitting in that chair. And even now, likely decades from that point, I dread that thought. Barely 8 years in to our relationship, I can't even imagine a life without my husband. You know how after you have kids, you only hazily recall what it was you were like, what your life was like, before they existed, because now every thought and decision is so naturally informed (whether consciously or not) by your parenthood? I can't really remember who I was before our relationship. Oh, sure, if I stop to think about it, that's in there somewhere, but I so rarely think of anything in terms of "I" "me" or "mine" anymore--my life is all about "we" "us" and "ours". When I'm upset and need to vent, I turn to him. When I'm excited and want to share it, I turn to him. I casually express thoughts to him I wouldn't dare hint at to others. I so seldom have any need to explain myself. We enjoy each other's company nearly always. I remember laughing one time when one of Grandpa's grandchildren asked him about keeping up a good marriage so long and he replied happily, "Just don't get bored, ever."

I can't imagine being bored with my husband, ever. If we know each other this well now, are such a part of one another after less than ten years, I simply can't fathom how difficult it would be to say good bye after six decades together. Maybe if I'm really obedient and good, the Lord will let us quietly slip away together in our sleep, sometime around 2069. Of course, by then Doug would be 93, so maybe I'm asking too much. . . .

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Family Moments

The silver lining in losing a loved one is that is usually means you get to spend some time with a lot of other loved someones. So there are little moments like Mimi and Kylie sharing some cookies after lunch at the country club:
And Christa stealing a laugh with Grandpa after a lot of the crowd had started to clear out:
We got to spend a lot of time with this crew this week. I was born to a wonderful family, people I love, who I would love to be friends with even if I weren't related to them. And then when I got married, I got this wonderful second family. Spending some time with all of them this week reminded me how grateful I am to call them mine. They're pretty cool folk.


I'm ready for renewal, for sunshine, for bare feet and green grass, for flowers and birds. How about you?

Its been a long, trudging winter. Its been tiring. But the other night when I got myself to bed late and I looked at my sleeping baby and sleeping husband on opposite sides of the bed, it took me a minute to crawl in because I couldn't decide whether to snuggle up to my little girl or my best friend, and I thought to myself, "What a marvelous dilemma." Life is good.