The Splash Pad

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My best friend sat next to me Friday afternoon as our kids played in the local splash pad. Months had passed since we last saw each other and the only communication we have had was some texts back and forth and sending each other ridiculous pins on Pinterest.

We don’t talk weekly on the phone, or even via text. We aren’t constantly emailing each other or PM-ing each other on Facebook. If someone asks me what she is up to, I don’t usually know.

If you were listening in on our conversation Friday, you would know right away that we were best friends, and had been for a long time. You would never guess that we lived in different states and rarely talked. Our conversation was just as easy Friday as it had been when we were in high school lying on towels on the beach.

We talked about nothing, but that was everything.

There was a group of moms who were all blonde, thin, and attractive near by. They were clearly a group who got together often with their kids–whom they were not watching. This was evidenced by the very small toddler who kept walking over to us and trying to join our little area. His mom never once looked over. I kept worrying that he would fall and choke on his cracker he was carrying around, but he never did.

We talked about that group. We had both seen groups like it before, but had never joined one. Neither of us felt like we fit into a group like that. Both of us work full-time as teachers, both of us are “advanced maternal age” (shut up).

Then our conversation shifts to summer bucket lists and getting our classrooms ready for school. We even give the palazzo pants a quick shout out–I wondered what shoes you were with them and she said, “um. flip flops. duh.” She’s right. She is always right about footwear.

Sometimes I am jealous of other people’s best friend relationships. Other people live close to their BFF. Other people run everything in their life past their bestie. I see people taking pictures and having girl nights and slumber parties and all these close, fun things.

That’s not how I roll.

I don’t call her every time I’m depressed or anxious. She hasn’t said much to me about her dad’s health problems.

She was the first person I texted each time I found out I was pregnant–all five times–though. Some people didn’t even find out our second pregnancy until we were pregnant with Eddie and relatively sure he was going to “stick”.

She was my matron of honor in our wedding. During her toast at the reception she got one joke out and then started crying so hard, she couldn’t finish. We didn’t have to talk about it.

We both felt like friend fails when we couldn’t drive the almost three hours to be with the other when she had her first baby (or in my case my second and third as well).

I think about her often though. As I started reading The Attachments by Rainbow Rowell last night, I giggled at the email exchanges that would probably mirror ours if we actually emailed each other. When I shop, I hear her voice in my head saying “try that on even if you don’t think you’ll like it. PUT DOWN THE BLACK. No, navy does not count as ‘a pop of color’. Don’t even look at those jelly shoes. YOU LOOKED! I’M DONE WITH YOU!” And I can’t watch Home Alone without texting her that “last year I got a sweater with a big bird knitted on it.”

And I’m pretty sure I am not even capable of watching Reality Bites without her.

I wish our afternoon at the splash pad was a routine happening and not something out of the ordinary. I’d wish for her and her husband and son to move back to our little spot in Michigan, but I know they wouldn’t be happy. They love their Big City life and they are perfect for it.

So instead I will wish for ways to see her/them more often. And if that means I have to stay in a nice hotel and get pedicures in the city, so be it.

“You Look Great!” and other lies I want to believe

I don’t gain weight when I’m pregnant. It’s one of the only happy side effects of pregnancy I get other than the baby at the end. I spend a lot of time either barfing or feeling like barfing.  When I’m not sick, I just don’t feel like eating. When I do feel like eating, it’s almost always fruit I want.  Or peanut butter. When I crave junk, I let myself eat junk because at least it stays down.

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All that to say, after my baby is born, I am lighter than when I got pregnant with said baby. Every time. It was most drastic this last time with Alice. I think I was even surprised because she was my first baby who gave me junk food cravings (“fried” is a food group that can be craved, yes?), and because I knew she was the last, I really let myself just eat whatever I wanted because I was so SO sick the first trimester.

I knew it would bite me in the butt later, but pregnant women care not for “later” when it comes to food.

After Alice was born, I lost a LOT of weight. A lot.

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In fact, I was almost 40 pounds lighter than when she was conceived. After “she’s beautiful!” the very next thing people said to me was, “you look great!  Really! So great!”

I thanked them and blew off the compliment because I died a little on the inside every time.

Because I know you meant the compliment in all the wonderful ways possible, but I also knew that the weight loss was temporary.

You see, after I have a baby, I am completely uninterested in food. Nothing really tastes good to me except coffee. So for a good 2-4 weeks, I live on almost nothing but coffee and the occasional peanut butter sandwich. The weight falls off because I’m not eating or sleeping well and my hormones are still all out wack. When you tell me how fabulous I look, I know that as soon as food tastes good again and my hormones start evening out, the weight will pile back up, and no one will tell me I look fantastic again.

Here I am, almost five months postpartum, and the weight is all back.

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I’m disappointed in myself.

I had high hopes of keeping it off this time. Of getting into a work out routine. Of eating healthy.

I have all the excuses: hormones are still acting dumb (my hair is all falling out, my complexion is under the impression I am thirteen again, etc.), I am tired all the time (baby + two active boys = not enough sleep), cardio makes me wheeze (yes, I need to talk to my doctor about this because it is a new turn of events that I need to know if I need to work through or what), I’d rather read a book.  You know all the typical stuff.

The thing is, five months ago when everyone was complimenting me, I knew my aspirations to do better this time were empty. I didn’t want to accept those compliments because I didn’t feel that I did anything to deserve them. I didn’t work on myself or take care of myself to earn a healthier physique. I had a baby and lost a bunch of blood and water and a human from my body. And I didn’t eat.

Back then, I felt that if people knew what I knew, they wouldn’t be telling me I look great because they would also know that given a few months, I would not look great anymore.  Or at least not the “great” they were currently complimenting.

Now I struggle with my body image daily, and I feel that I have somehow let people down.

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I always said, once my last baby was born, there would be no more excuses for not getting my body back to feeling great. But here I am again.

I know it’s not “too late”. I know what I have to do.

I also know thinking about starting makes me want to cry.

Not just because it’s a lot of work (well, that too), but because it overwhelms me. I know I need to start by making an appointment with my doctor. I need to get blood work done and check my thyroid and all those good things that haven’t been checked. I need to talk to him about the wheezing (because DUDE. That never happened before) and find out if my knee is good for some brisk walking (and hopefully more).

I know I need to eat more spinach and less bbq potato chips, more water and less lemonade.

I also know that more importantly, I have three kids watching me. I have a daughter now who will be determining what looking “great” means, and I want her to associate that with “healthy”.

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But most of all, I want to believe that I will do these things because I want to believe that I look great, and I am not in that place yet.

Mary

Before having kids, Cortney and I “shopped” for a church home. Most places we went treated us kindly enough–people shook our hands and said, “welcome”, but that was about it. Even our current church was kind, but not overly so. It had been a long time since we had gone regularly and in those days before kids, we were greeted as if we were new.  This sort of bugged Cortney since he had been a member of our church since childhood.

We found a church we thought could be our church home, but by then I was largely pregnant with Eddie, it was winter, and sleeping in on Sunday rather than driving to a church where we didn’t know anyone seemed exhausting.

We had Eddie and Charlie baptized in our current church, and when Charlie was about 18 months old, we started going back regularly.

This time was different than the first time though. This time we were friends with more people and they welcomed us with open arms.

I figured we would just start going to Sunday services and send Eddie to Sunday School. You know, sort of ease in.

Nope. This was not what God planned for us, apparently. He was maybe sick of us “easing in” for the past eight years, so we were thrown right in.

My friend, The Preacher’s Wife, approached me about “helping” with our Sunday School program: Children in Worship. I figured I would be a helper in one of the rooms occasionally, but I found myself teaching right away.

And that is how I met Mary.

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Mary has been involved with the Children in Worship program for as long as it’s been a part of our church. She knows all the stories, knows what story objects go with every story box, what reflection activities each grade did with most of the stories, and she remembers all the children and loves them all individually. She remembers Cortney being in Children in Worship when he was a wee lad.

She was not just kind and welcoming, she was the epitome of love when she heard I would be joining the team. She held my hand and told me she was so glad. She already loved Eddie from his few times, and looked forward to Charlie joining in as well.

When I told her I was pregnant last summer, her eyes filled with tears and her hands went to her face in excited joy. Then she hugged me.

Before Alice was born, she loved her.

When Alice was set to be baptized, The Preacher’s Wife gave her a vintage baptismal gown, but Mary found the idea of making a hankie into a bonnet with this small poem:

I’m just a dainty hanky,
As square as square can be.
With stitches hands have fashioned
A bonnet out of me.

She’ll wear me home, a newborn,
Or for a special day.
Then I’ll be washed and pressed and
so neatly tucked away.

When Her Wedding Day arrives,
She’ll search about I’m told,
To find an item quite small
Of long ago and old.

And when she spots baby’s cap
No better will she see.
Snip out my stitches, and a
Wedding hanky I’ll be.

by Howard Ray White

She came to visit Alice and me in the hospital and gave me a tiny knit hat meant for a great granddaughter she would never have (she has all great grandsons).

She delivered our family a meal when Alice and I were released from the hospital.

She pats the boys on the heads and always asks them how they are. The boys love “Grandma Mary”. She is one of many “Church Grandmas” my children are blessed to have, but she will always be the very first.

Mary is always there with encouragement and unconditional love. She never expects anything in return, but hold my hand each Sunday and asks how I am–and really wants to know. Love and grace ooze out of her very being.

Without Mary’s genuine love and welcoming for my whole family, we may not have stayed regular church-goers and I know I would not be as involved as I am with our church family.

Mary has been described by many as a saint, but I am sure she would brush that off because all she does is love. But that is so much. In fact, it’s the greatest command, Jesus says.

And Mary does it as best as any human can.

At the end of last week, I received some devastating news about our beloved Mary. Once again I would have to sit my boys down and tell them someone we love is going to make a trip to Heaven soon.

Our hearts are hurting for our Mary. For her family. For our own hearts.

It’s hard to see why God would allow something to happen to the best of the best. We don’t understand. We feel that familiar feeling of being lost in a sea of sorrow and questions.

The image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd has always been a favorite of Mary’s. I can see that she takes it to heart–loving those around her and guiding them to safe places. She certainly guided my heart and family to the safe place that is now our church family.

We hope Mary feels God’s love. We hope Mary feels all of our love and our prayers.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
forever.

Psalm 23

Where My Writing Is

As I mentioned last month, I have been lucky to have my writing spread around the internet lately. In case you missed it, this is where I was in June…

First, a post of mine about being done having kids was republished at The Mid. If you missed it here, you can read it there.

I wrote an original post for BonBon Break about the kind of Christian I am…and the kind I am most certainly not.

I am also a regular contributor at The Educator’s Room where I wrote about how to keep your kids writing this summer and about the issues with public school funding, specifically my own job insecurity over the years.

Thanks for reading along!

The ABC’s of Me

I have about a million posts in draft.

Ok that is not true. I am using hyperbole here, but I have a bunch going on and I can’t bring myself to actually finish anything. So last week, my friend Jennifer did this fun little post that is also pretty informative and neat, and I thought “hey! I can do that!” So here we go…

A- Age: 37

B- Biggest Fear: death. I can’t think too hard about any of my children or Cortney or my parents or my brothers or me dying. My brain can’t shut the scenarios off and I follow them through and have panic attacks. I have what my therapist likes to refer to as an “Anxiety Disorder.” Trying to think about my life without my loved ones, my loved ones being in pain, or what will happen to my conscious after life sends me spinning.

Well. This is proving to be a jolly post.

C- Current Time: 3:30pm on a Monday

D- Drink you last had: coffee

E- Easiest Person To Talk to: Cortney. Sorry, babes. You never should have let me start talking to you all the way back in 1996. Now you’re stuck with all my words.

F- Favorite Song: I don’t think I have just one favorite over all the rest. But I love “Nightswimming” by R.E.M. an awful lot.

G- Grossest Memory: the time Eddie had the worst aqua dump in the history of aqua dumps while I was pregnant with Charlie. And while Cortney wasn’t home.

H- Hometown: Zeeland, Michigan!  Feel the Zeel!

I- In love with: Well, Cortney, of course. But lately I am also in love with this root beer beer called Not Your Father’s Root Beer. It’s actually on my summer bucket list to enjoy a tasty “root beer float” with this and some of my homemade vanilla bean ice cream.

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J- Jealous Of: anyone who doesn’t have to worry about money all the time. Also people who just have to cut out soda to lose 20 pounds.

K- Killed Someone? ‪only with the evil eye O_o

L- Longest Relationship: Cortney is definitely my longest romantic relationship–it will be 12 years in September. But my longest friendship would probably be with my bestie, Tonya since we met as mere tots in Sunday School.

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M- Middle Name: Ann

N- Number of Siblings: I have two brothers, Mike (who is married to the Lovely Ashley) and Chris (who is married to Sarah). I gained a sister, MacKenzie when I married Cortney (she is married to Dave) and another brother, Cody (who is married to Liz). I like to say I have eight siblings now.

O- One Wish: That my kids make choices that keep them safe AND happy.

P- Person who you last called: the dentist office.

Q- Question you’re always asked: “When is this due?” which is closely followed by “How many points is this?”

R- Reason to smile: Eddie slept in undies (rather than a pull up) last night and woke up dry, Alice is rolling to her side, and Charlie was a rock star at his first dentist appointment today.

S- Song you last sang: “Drop the Leash” by Pearl Jam. Because it was on the radio.

T- Time you woke up: The first time = 6:15am when Eddie came in to tell me he stayed dry.  Then 7:34am when Alice decided it was time to eat.

U- Underwear Color: Blue stripes

V- Vacation Destination: Somewhere with a swim-up bar and a wrist band.

W- Worst Habit: Snacking when I’m not really hungry. Although I am sure some people would say my worst habit is being late. Always with the late.

X- X-rays you’ve had: teeth, ankle, lungs

Y- Your favorite food: I have a really hard time choosing this too. I do love seafood–especially shrimp, lobster, scallops, and the like.

Z- Zodiac Sign: Aries. Despite two of my three children being born in March with me, I remain the sole Aries in the house. Which is probably for the best.

And because I don’t know how to wrap this up, here…look at this cute baby who was talking to me all morning and rolling to her side because it’s her new trick.

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In His Image

So God created mankind in his own image; in the image of God he created them.
Genesis 1:27

 I have been sick to my stomach every time I turn on the news or open social media. I see article after article and post after post and video clip after video clip discussing and showing how racism is so institutionalized, it’s rooted in our every day lives.  So much so, that people are still still arguing in the comment sections about whether or not the Charleston murders were motivated by race.

HOW IS THIS EVEN DEBATABLE??? HOW CAN PEOPLE STILL NOT SEE THE PROBLEM?

I have not used my words.

I have shared the words of others over and over. I “like” stuff to show my support. But I have not used my words.

I have been reading comments and posts that make me so angry I can’t even see straight. I want to quit. I want to turn it all off. I want to plug my ears and sing LA LA LA to it all. I don’t want to let it affect me.

And you know what? I could do that. I could.

It would be easy to “block” anything with Charleston or racism in it on Facebook so it doesn’t show up in my feed. And then I wouldn’t have to think about it because it doesn’t directly affect my every day life.

Because I am white.

Because I am white, I could easily shut it off.

But I don’t. I make myself read it and hate it and cry over it.

And it’s not enough. All that pain I feel? It’s not even close to that being my life.

Being hated, suspected, judged…it is woven into the fabric of Black America. Of any color America other than white.

We say, “No. Not me.” But that is how institutionalized racism works. You may not consciously think, “man, I hate black people. They are all lesser humans.”  You may even BELIEVE you are not racist at all. But it’s in your brain. Our country has planted that seed down deep.

It’s everywhere. It’s in all of our cultural images. It’s in our socioeconomic system. It’s in business.

Why is the largest group of people in poverty people of color? It’s because since the day the slaves were freed, there has been no easy way to climb out of nothing. The white people were at the top and they stayed there.

“Oh, Katie,” you might say, “but we have a Black president and my neighbor is Black and he is a CEO.” Yes. Of course. But what about the cycle of poverty swirling at the bottom of America?

I’m not here to talk economics or politics. In fact, there will be those who only focus on my lack of knowing statics and miss my point here entirely.

And my point is: RACISM IS STILL A THING.

I simply cannot understand how people can hear a bowl-cutted runt of a white supremacist say…SAY…he hates black people and felt it was his “mission” to gun them down after praying with them for an HOUR and STILL say, “well, let’s not jump to the conclusion that this was race-related. This country doesn’t have racism like they used to.”

WHAT THE HELL?

Last night I stayed up too late feeling hopeless.

So white and so hopeless to help or be able to do anything ever to help.

Hopelessly helpless.

This morning, I got up, went to church and sat through a powerful sermon about racism. About getting out of our comfort zones–a small, affluent, mostly white mid-western town–and use our voice and words and anything else to break down the racism.

To be uncomfortable and examine our own prejudices which certainly are there because we are a part of the machine that is a broken world, a broken country.

I don’t know what God looks like, but, as it was pointed out this morning, we are all created in his image. Not his white image. Just “his image”.

That means Asian, Native American, White, Black, Muslim, and on and on…ALL…ALL OF US…in his image.

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Galatians 3:28

In Jesus we are all exactly the same. All of us. He created all of us. Not just white people. Not just Christians. ALL OF US.

Stop acting like the racism isn’t there. Stop being comfortable that it’s someone else’s problem and that is just “too bad” for them.

Stop it.

As a member of the Reformed Church of America, I adhere to the beliefs confessed in the Belhar Confession, but the one that I believe applies here is the one brought up this morning:

We believe…that this unity must become visible so that the world may believe that separation, enmity and hatred between people and groups is sin which Christ has already conquered, and accordingly that anything which threatens this unity may have no place in the church and must be resisted (John 17:20-23)

The Belhar Confession stresses unity and was originally drafted in South Africa during Apartheid. The church carefully and prayerfully considered its role in race issues, and the Belhar was born. The Dutch Reformed Mission Church adopted it in 1986.

We must break down the walls of hate. I believe as a Christian I am actually called to break down this hate. It is my job.

Even if it makes me uncomfortable to raise my voice and say so. ESPECIALLY if it makes me uncomfortable. Because if I am uncomfortable saying it, that means it’s there and it scares me.

And it should scare you too.

God Created mankind in His Image; in His image He created them."

The Motion of Motherhood

Why are you swaying? You know you’re not holding the baby, right?

I laughed and stopped moving.

But only for a minute. I found myself watching my oldest son dig in the dirt in right field rather than watch the boy up at bat. As I bit a nail and tried to telepathically tell Eddie to stand up, I realized I was swaying again.

I do this a lot–the swaying with no baby in my arms. It’s like my body has become accustomed to a small one being there.

The Motion of Motherhood

Charlie Bird

If I am standing, I am swaying.

If I am sitting, I am rocking.

When we stand to sing a hymn in church, I sway or bounce regardless if Alice is in my arms or not; it has just become habit.

During “wait time” in my classes, I sway back and forth in front of the room.  I have a bounce in my step when I am walking around reading.

I bounce my leg or shake my foot when I am in  meetings.

Something is always moving.

Something is always looking to soothe.

The Motion of Motherhood

Eddie Bear

The other night I found myself stroking the blanket next to me because I was used to Charlie’s arm or head nuzzled next to me during before-bed-shows.

When no one is in my arms or in my care, I find my eyes wandering to find my children. Where are they? What are they doing?  I do this even when I am somewhere without my kids. It’s like a reflex. No one in my arms or hanging on my leg? Find them.

I smile more at other moms and other children in stores.

The Motion of Motherhood

Alice Beans

All of these movements are new to me since I became a mother six years ago.

I used to actually be able to stand still.

I used to be able to sit without leaning in to each sound or bouncing a baby who is not in my arms.

Not anymore.

Now I move to the motion of motherhood.

Because my children are always with me.

The Motion of Motherhood

Being a Sheep

There is a song that our children sing in church. It goes:

I just wanna be a sheep, baa baa baa baa
I just wanna be a sheep baa baa baa baa
I pray the Lord my soul to keep
I just wanna be a sheep baa baa baa baa*

It’s a cute song and my boys love to sing it, especially because the other verses talk about what we don’t “wanna be”: a hypocrite (they’re just not hip with it), a Pharisee  (‘cuz their not fair, you see), or a Sadducee (because they’re so sad, ya see).

I certainly don’t want to be a hypocrite (although I know I am sometimes) or the other things either, but I don’t know if I can stand up and shout I JUST WANNA BE A SHEEP! either.

Every time the image of Jesus as the Shepard and his followers as the sheep comes up, I cringe a little. I know. That sounds awful, and I feel a little awful writing it.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the pastoral imagery, the connotations that He keeps us safe with love and guidance, and I am even ok with the whole “follow” him thing. I want to follow Jesus and his teachings. I do. I am a big believer in love and kindness.

But I don’t think I want to be a sheep.

sheep

Sheep follow blindly. They don’t question. Sheep are dumb. Sheep are thoughtless.

When I think of people as sheep, I think of that popular insult on the internet: Sheeple. You know, those people who seem to believe (and follow) every “expert” they read on the internet. The ones who blindly follow “data” without following up on it themselves. Those who don’t vaccinate, or do vaccinate, or use baby wraps, or co-sleep, or don’t co-sleep or vote Democrat or Republican, or repost articles without ever doing their own fact-checking. People who jump on bandwagons simply by trusting that what people (and the internet) tell them is true.

I know, I know. Jesus is different.

He’s a different kind of shepard. He cares about us and won’t lead us down the wrong path.

I get that. I do. And there probably isn’t other imagery that the writers of the scriptures could have used to adequately describe the idea that Jesus will take care of us if we follow him.

But honestly, that is where my faith gets weak. I have no problem getting behind the teachings of Christ. Love your neighbor? You betcha (even though I fail often, I still believe in this)! Love is the greatest? Yes, sir! Don’t throw a rock unless you are free from sin? Standing ovation.

I even get the whole, “Katie? You have to trust me. I know what I’m doing.” I get that. I don’t always act like it, but I do believe it.

But “act like a sheep and just follow with no questions just blind faith?”  I don’t think I can.

You see, I have lots of questions. If I was to be a sheep, I would be the bad sheep. I would be the one in the back saying, “where are we going? Will there be a snack because I’m hungry. What about a rest? Are we going to get a rest soon? My legs hurt. Hey, that tree is nice. Did you pick this way because of the nice view?  Do you think this wool makes my butt look big? I think I need a shear.”

I would be relentless.

I know there are Christians out there who would tell me, “just be quiet. He will take care of it.”  And I know in the Bible Jesus tells us not to worry. Birds don’t have to worry. Flowers don’t have to worry. And neither do we.

But I have questions. I have doubts. I mean, there have been some pretty terrible leaders who have told people just to trust them because they know what Jesus is all about and then those people drank some Kool-aid and well, let’s just say they didn’t end up in a green pasture.

I’m not comparing Jesus to those leaders. I’m saying those leaders thought they knew what Jesus wanted and they talked a bunch of sheep-like people into believing it too because sheep do as they are told. They think what they are told to think.

I can’t do that. I ask all the questions and have all the opinions.

“Listen, Shepard. Where do we go when we die? Why does it scare me so much? Is there a sheep heaven? Is it really like the book of Revelation says because honestly? That sounds weird. Why do good sheep fall down? Why do good sheep get made into stew and chops? Why are goats bad? Is it Ok if that goat is my friend? Because he plays a wicked guitar solo and I dig his sense of humor.”

Ok, so my questions and doubts are a little heavier that that, but you get the idea.

I can’t shut it off. I can’t stop being me with all my thinking and whatnot.

Sometimes I wish I could. I wish church would give us a little handbook that says, “Here are your opinions on all the things. Go forth and believe them no matter how anyone challenges them. DO NOT THINK ABOUT IT; JUST DO IT.”

But I know I would fail at faith if that was how it worked.

In fact, as a young adult, I thought that was how it worked and I thought I failed.  I’m coming to find out now, that maybe I’m ok the way I am: full of questions, doubts, and opinions.

But is it Ok to not wanna be a sheep?

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*lyrics and music for I Just Wanna Be a Sheep

**googling free images of sheep will make you happy because sheep are rather cute, if not totally stupid.

Confessional

Alice will be three months old this weekend and I have never had a day to myself since she was born. I’m mostly Ok with this because she is my little buddy and I haven’t had the downward spiral I felt with both of the boys when I had no alone time. But knowing that this week also marks the end of our alone time together since school will be out, scares me. And I am sad I didn’t take people up on the “just give me a shout out if you want me to take Alice off your hands for a bit.”

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I had a zit on my nostril months ago. It’s gone, but now the area is flaky and sometimes painful. I read recently that this can be a sign of skin cancer. Have I ever mentioned that I am paranoid about diseases like cancer? I’ve already had a pre-cancerous spot removed from my cheek. I haven’t gotten it checked out yet because A) OMG how many times can you email your doctor before he thinks you’re a freak show and B) “Hi. I have a weird spot on my nostril.”

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I have no fewer than 25 drafts going right now. I have a huge rush of ideas and words and I can feel them in my finger-tips, yet something has been stopping me from writing. Part of it is life, but part of it is my own confidence. My own “why even try?”  My soul is tired and beat down.

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The school year ended for my district on Friday, May 29. I am officially off maternity leave. Now I await my teaching assignment for next school year. I’m praying I don’t have to move buildings again, but at this point I will be happy with whatever I get. I love my district and our students. I hate that the state forces cuts on us every year affecting our great teaching staff, administration, and mostly our students and their families.  I try to pay attention to what is going on at the state-level regarding education, but it feeds my depression.

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Eddie cries a lot. Not because he is sad or depressed, but because if he even thinks that maybe he got hurt, he cries. I am scared that he will become a target for other kids. I’m afraid other kids will see him as a cry baby.

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I am constantly asking myself: “is this normal? is this just hormones? am I spiraling? is that depression, anxiety, paranoia? does he hate me? did I say something dumb? will they still want to be my friends? Is THIS depression?”  It’s exhausting.

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Age three is my least favorite age yet. When Eddie was three, I thought we wouldn’t make it. Now that Charlie is three, I am afraid he and I won’t make it through the summer together. He is more headstrong and aggressive than Eddie ever was anyway, but with this new “three-ness” he is getting downright awful. He even bit a kid at daycare.

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I have a post in draft about my faith that I am scared to finish and post.

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I’m scared to have my boys home with me this summer. Last summer I was excited about it because the summer before was so fun. Then I found out I was pregnant on the fourth of July and about a week later all the sickness and exhaustion hit and I cried almost daily. Cortney kept saying “next summer will be better when the baby is here.” But I am not so sure. I lose my temper so quickly lately, with Charlie especially. And the boys fight all the time. They can’t just go outside and play nicely for an hour. They are in and out with tattling every few minutes. I’m afraid I will be the crabby, yelly mom.

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I am in the process of taking inventory of my classroom library. I expected some book loss, but it’s still so sad. I want to have a sure-fire way to maintain and replace books, but I know I have to depend on the kindness of others. It is glorious, by the way, how people step up and give. I know I need to let go of wanting to control knowing that books will come, but at the same time, I need books!

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I work really hard not to vent all my whiny crap all over social media, but looking at my Instagram and Facebook, I’ve noticed that it’s hiding a lot of pain with a lot of happy. Not that the happy is fake, but it’s not the whole story.

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I hate asking people to watch my kids even for legit reasons like appointments. I hate even more asking people to watch my kids just so I can have a break or so Cortney and I can go out. We’ve been out on a double-date ONCE since Alice was born.

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I worry about money (or the lack of it) constantly.

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I always feel like I am either A) waiting for something big to happen that will help us financially or B) giving up on anything ever happening.  And then I feel like a selfish ass because I guess I know money doesn’t buy happiness and all that, but I also feel like it was someone with money who said that.

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I am uncomfortable with myself lately. This is probably why I worry about money because maybe I want to buy things to feel better, and I know that won’t fix how I feel about myself. I know what I need to do to feel better, but it all seems…unpleasant. I am a giant wuss and an even gianter (yes, I made that word up) complainer.

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I don’t really know what “take care of you” means. How do I do that? Where is the line between taking care of myself and just being selfish? How do I take care of myself without being a jerk to my family? I don’t even know what to ask for.

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All of these things are so stupid. Right now I have a sleeping baby girl next to me and a cup of coffee. My husband has a job he loves. My three-year old has a smile that takes up his whole face. My oldest is about to finish Kindergarten and turn six. My life is super fantastically awesome. All of the above doesn’t matter and does matter at the same time. All of the wonderful is SO wonderful. And all of the other stuff is just peripheral, but it’s still there.

It’s still there.

Kid-friendly Ice Cream Balls

Once in a while I like to post a recipe here. When I do it’s not just a random recipe we like, it’s got a story. It’s one that the whole family enjoys. This one is no different.

Kid-friendly ice cream balls that are so simple, the kids can help make them too!

Ice Cream balls taste like my childhood. If you make this recipe, while you are eating it straight out of your hand, you will be able to think to yourself, “oh. This is what Katie’s childhood tasted like.”

My mom made these for every single family get together, but I specifically remember them on birthdays. For our birthday parties, my mom invited her three sisters and their families over on a Sunday after church. This included my three uncles and my six cousins and my grandma.

Dinner was always something huge that included meat, veggies, rolls, potato somethings or others, jello with fruit and Cool Whip, and salads. My mom would put all the leaves (leafs?) of the dining room table in and then get out a couple of my dad’s saw horses and a giant board to extend that into the kitchen. She would spread a good table cloth (and some sheets) over all of it, put out the good china, and the fancy water glasses.

My mom poured herself into those meals. She set everything up the night before, even going so far as to put place-holders all over the table where things would go: baskets for the bread, pot holders and trivets for the hot dishes. She set the table the night before and cut and chopped and had tiny containers and baggies for fixin’s ready to go the next day, because of course she still planned on going to church first.

The other thing about about those birthday parties is that we didn’t just have a birthday cake, she also made dessert.

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That’s right. We ate dinner around 12:30pm, then had dessert, then sat around feeling huge and did presents, and THEN we did cake and ice cream.

They were entire afternoon events and they are the reason I invite all our family over for our kids’ birthday parties too. Some day I hope to have enough room to actual sit and have a meal rather than serve buffet style, but that is neither here nor there.

My mom always made at least two desserts: a pie and ice cream balls.

Just recently I remembered those ice cream balls. It’s been over a decade since I’ve had one, but I can still remember crowding around with my brothers and cousins trying to quickly grab the biggest one with the thickest layer of coating.

Rather than giving us a bowl and spoon, my mom shooed us outside and we ate it straight out of the muffin liner; my younger brothers and cousins taking off their shirts in preparation for the impending melty ice cream that would trickle down their fronts as they struggled to keep up.

I had them probably twice a year, but oh man…those two times were enough to cement their taste in my brain as the Greatest Treat of Childhood.

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we ate ours in bowls…with Hershey’s chocolate. Mmm.

This week I asked my mom for the recipe. My brothers overheard and we swapped stories of their deliciousness and how great our birthday parties were because of them. As I made them I realized why mom always made them. They are so dang easy. Messy, but easy.

And now I am sharing with you.

Ice Cream Balls

Ingredients

  • 1 packet graham crackers (crushed)
  • 1/3 cup butter (melted)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup crunchy peanut butter
  • 1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream

Directions

Step 1
line a 12-cup muffin pan with liners
Step 2
in a medium bowl, mix all ingredients except the ice cream.
Step 3
create 2-inch balls of ice cream one at a time. I recommend using an old-fashioned ice cream scoop to do this.
Step 4
Roll each ball in the mixture and place in a muffin cup. You'll have to work fast so the ice cream doesn't melt!
Step 5
cover muffin pan with foil and place in your freezer for at least an hour before serving.

What treat do you remember best from your childhood? What treat do your own children love?

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