What a Drip

I just went outside to turn on the drip watering system my dad helped installed in my garden yesterday. It was our first home project together. Ever. And it was strangely comforting and normalizing to have my father helping me with a home project. It was all his idea, too. He mentioned the equipment he had, he hauled it all down to my house, and he designed the layout.

Dad the Landscaper

The man has energy! We started out the morning digging up and pulling out weeds in my rose garden. From the moment his shovel hit the dirt until he drove away in his Land Rover the man never. stopped. moving. It just goes to prove how ready I am for a workup by a Naturopath to find the source of my lack of energy, because by hour two of hard garden labor I felt bested by a 68 year old retiree!

Thomas the Assistant Landscaper

Around 4:00 we came in and I gave him a soda for the road. I thanked him for coming, we hugged awkwardly, and we shared a brief unspoken look that communicated the deeper significance of our time together that day. I am blessed by healed relationships, changed perspective, altered expectations.

Things That Crack Me Up


I was surfing YouTube last night and came across this video – a very serious matter. I implore everyone who reads this, to watch and find some way to contribute to this worthy cause. Won’t you please help us save the rock?

Also, I caught my fair share of baseball this last weekend, and I have to say the Twins are a much more fun team to watch than the Mariners. The actually get excited when good things happen – it’s like they’re little kids playing in the neighborhood, only they kick ass on the Yankees.

Anyhow, in this article in the Star Tribune, Patrick Reusse calls out a sensitive issue the pitcher faced during the game:

Baker’s other distressing moment came in the second, when his jockstrap broke on a 3-2 foul ball by Jorge Posada. His protective cup came free and started sliding down his leg.

Baker motioned catcher Joe Mauer toward the mound. When Mauer arrived, he said, “Joe, my cup’s down by my knee.”

Mauer, always a young man of common sense, replied: “What do you want me to do about it?”

Baker went to the dugout, removed the cup, retired Posada to end the inning, then raced up the steps to get a new jockstrap to secure the cup.

You didn’t want to face this Yankees lineup without proper protection? “Not a chance,” Baker said.

On a family note, my lovely daughter dropped the F-bomb in my 70-year-old Baptist mother’s presence over the weekend (gee, I wonder where she picked up THAT language). I thought I handled it quite well despite Marge’s near-fatal gasp of shock. To be honest, it doesn’t really bother me when she swears. And to her credit, she used the word in THE most appropriate scenario: she was frustrated – no, dare I say PISSED – and acting out in rebellion against me, and I was trying to reign her in. I can’t say I wouldn’t have said the same thing in her shoes.

In fact, after Marge passed out I reminded Ruthie that Mama uses that word when she does not have a Happy Heart, and wasn’t it true that in using that word it means RUTHIE doesn’t have a happy heart? And to my complete joy she ACTUALLY GOT IT. I do believe I’m raising a genius despite myself.

Easter 2006


“What you did in Jesus’ resurrection proves that you can do absolutely anything.”
– Pastor Leith Anderson in prayer, Wooddale Church, Easter morning 2006.

I hadn’t spent much time preparing for Easter this year in a spiritual sense. I was traveling, visiting family, the weather was warm and sunny, and there were many fun activities distracting us.

It seems we weren’t really prepared for the other aspects of Easter, either. On Saturday night while the kids were sleeping, the three of us – my mom, my sister, and I – we lounged in the living room reading and watching the Twins beat the Yankees. The kitchen was still a mess from the day, the dining table was piled high with purses and books, and the contents of the kids’ Easter baskets were still in a Target bag under mom’s bed.

There we were, three ladies and no men. The house seemed large and empty without the presence of Gordy. On Friday night mom decided to grill hamburgers, and I said, “Really?” Gordy had done all the grilling. Mom and Jody fumbled with the controls on the gas grill until they finally got it working (I don’t do gas grills or car batteries), and we had some juicy burgers.

And now, on the Saturday before Easter, there was no bustle of activity in preparation of a big ham dinner. Without the bellies of men to fill, mom decided to prepare a light brunch. So there we sat, watching baseball.

Then, like three peas in a pod, we all got our second wind about 11:30. Mom found the plastic grass, we broke open the bag of jelly beans, and we shuffled around all the clutter to make way for a nice meal the next day.

Easter morning we attended my mom’s church. It was the church I grew up in, though it wasn’t this large when I lived at home. I guess you might call it a mega-church, but a church of this size is not uncommon in the Midwest. Many churches in the Bible belt of the Midwest have over a thousand attenders each week.

Now, when I attend church with my mom, I miss Gordy. As an employee of the church and a member of the building committee, he is everywhere in that building. I look up at the ceiling to the light bulbs at nose-bleed height and I remember how he’d notice one burned out during the service. I watch the choir sing and I remember him walking me through the choir loft as it was being built, helping me imagine beyond the gravel and concrete. He was so very proud of that building. He took such great care of the house of God.

On Easter morning as the choir sang a medley of hymns, I felt emotion welling up in me. Longing for Gordy, remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice – it all came back into focus as the intensity of the orchestra and choir swelled. We were celebrating, and I was remembering why.

Christ has risen. Christ is alive. And because of this, Gordy is alive as well.

This Is What Vacations Are Made Of

Normally vacations with children are not really vacations. They are just transplanted chaos without the chores. But when vacations involve doting Grandmas and Aunties with grown children, the week comes very close to a vacation for me. I have spent hours reading books, catching up on rss feeds, and updating my website.

I’ve brought back the Book Pile section in my side bar. Thanks to the Harambee women’s book club and the Diva’s book club, I’m back into reading again. Being introduced to new books and new genres has been so rewarding for me that the blog posts are piling up in my feed reader.

The next Harambee book club I’ll be attending is May 22nd, and we’ll be discussing Name All the Animals, by Alison Smith. Then on June 19th I’m hosting Harambee’s book club discussion on About Grace, by Anthony Doerv. If you’d like to join us for either of these discussions, send me an email!

In the Words of Chandler Bing: Could my trip have BEEN any more perfect?


After the initial panicked rush of getting out the door on time, EVERYTHING about our trip fell into place. I was able to fit my laptop, a few books, and some snacks into one backpack, I checked our luggage at the curb, and getting through security was a breeze. We ate some lunch at the gate while we waited for our plane, and the kids had fun looking at all the airplanes out the window.

And the flight? I mean, really. I actually READ A BOOK for almost two hours because Thomas went to sleep in the empty seat next to me, and Ruthie watched the Lion King on my laptop, nearly falling asleep herself. I never knew flying with kids could be so easy.

Last Sunday I decided to keep the kids home from church because a couple of her little friends had the flu the previous week. Since you don’t always know who’s going to come down with it next, I didn’t want them exposed to the potential Yuk just before getting on a plane. Lord knows we didn’t need to repeat The Great Puking Incident of 2005.

I felt somewhat embarrassed by my paranoia, but as it turns out, it may have been a wise decision!

I must be crazy.

Gamma with Ruthie and the newly born larvae.

I swore I would never take my kids on an airplane again after this memorable trip. But I suppose that’s a lofty promise to make when both sides of your family are on opposite ends of the country.

A couple months ago my sister, who lives in Iowa – four hours from my mother, called to say she had an idea that she wanted to ‘just throw out there.’ At that moment I knew her idea involved me and an airplane. She was sending two of her kids out here to visit our dad, she said, and was planning to hang out in Minneapolis while they were out here, she said, and wouldn’t it be great if you and the kids could visit Minneapolis while I’m up there?

Hell no, was my first answer. She had asked me too soon following the Great Airplane Barfing Incident.

But lo, when family calls one must consider an answer beyond Hell No. So today I am not only boarding an airplane with my children, but I will be outnumbered by them, as Bryan will not be joining us.

I really must be crazy.

Practicing the Art of Being

This morning my mom left Minnesota for a month in sunny Arizona (oh, to be retired), and I called her last night to see how the packing was going.

After chatting for awhile I said, “Well, I should let you get back to your packing.”

But as usual, the conversation continued for another ten minutes. We talked about nothing, really. She mostly seemed to be talking to herself as she packed her make-up, lotions, and shampoos into a small carry-on. As I listened, I remembered a conversation we had last week about how tired she is of being alone all the time since Gordy died, that she misses having someone to talk to.

So I asked her, “You just like having me on the phone, don’t you?”

“Yes,” she said. “I kind of do.” So I decided that while she packed, I would make an egg bake dish to refrigerate for breakfast in the morning.

We stayed on the phone together for a long time, chatting about nothing as if she were sitting on the stool in my kitchen. It felt nice to be doing ordinary things while talking about nothing in particular. I’ve never lived near my mom since I’ve been an adult, and this experience made me think about what I’ve been missing being so far from her.

It also made me think about grieving and the many nuances of working through it. Sometimes I think it’s easy to miss the most important way we can support someone who is grieving: just being there. I often default to Helping others in need by bringing meals, or cleaning a house, or caring for small children, when sometimes just being on the other end of the phone is all that is needed.

A friend of mine once spoke about grieving in terms of the book of Job in the Bible:

2:11 When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. 12 When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. 13 Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.

Before Job’s friends went all conspiracy theory on him, their first response was to just sit quietly and grieve with him. Those of us who are fixers and problem solvers have trouble with this. We feel it is not enough to just be present; we need to be DOING something. Sitting on the phone with my mom last night, I learned the value in just being with her. It is exactly what she needed.

IM Conversation

Me: I was always disappointed my mom was a fashion nerd…
there was NO WAY I wanted to share her clothes like all my friends did with their moms

Her: yep. my mom always dressed like a teacher (which shouldn’t be shocking) but I was always embarrassed

Me: ooo, good point. my mom is a teacher, too.

Her: there you go. I think it is a prerequisite – vests, pins, the whole nine yards

Me: YES!!!!!

The Christmas Eve Dunk

On our recent trip to California we drove from the San Bernadino area out to Oceanside to meet up with Bryan’s cousins for a traditional turkey dinner on Christmas Eve. Being from Minnesota originally, it always strikes me as odd to be eating such a large and cozy meal when it’s sunny and 80 degrees outside. Seems like we should be grilling steaks and eating loads of potato salad, instead.

The highlight of the day was driving out to the beach where Bryan baptized his brother, Brad, and then together they baptized Brad’s wife, Michelle in the ocean. Here are some photos to share with you.






I’m Never Leaving This House Again. Ever.

We’re finally back from ‘vacation,’ which I put in quotations because Ruthie woke up between 5:00 and 6:00 am every morning and I did about 25 loads of laundry due to all the puking on me, on couches, on blankets, in beds, and on rugs.

While spending time with family we haven’t seen in two years was fun, I have to say this was probably the most stressful trip I’ve ever taken.

And I’ve spent three months in the jungle before, so that’s saying a lot.

I thought about writing a list of all the horrific things that happened while we were gone, but I couldn’t figure out a way to make it work and not sound like I was complaining. We really did have a good time despite the stress, and the weather was sunny and in the 80’s.

The only reason I would describe the litany of events is simply so you will take me seriously when I say IT WAS A REALLY STRESSFUL TRIP, and not just write me off as a whiney mom. But even if I did describe everything to you, I really don’t think you would believe me. I think you would probably assume I was exaggerating for drama, but I assure you that last week needed no extra drama inserted.

I will say this, though: the trip ended in style as Thomas barfed all over me on the airplane, and as his puke oozed down my neck and into the cleavage of my womanhood, and soaked into the hair on the nape of my neck, Bryan and I had nothing left in us but laughter for the absurdity of such an act.

God bless flight attendants, every last one of you.

Our Reputation Precedes Us

Bryan and I have a reputation among both our families for being extreme coffee drinkers. I’m not sure how, exactly, we came to have this distinction since we really only drink coffee in the morning, but when they all hear the Zugs are coming to town special preparations are made.

Bryan’s brother went out and bought a coffee maker for us because they didn’t even have one, nor did he know what kind of coffee to buy. Thankfully they left this decision up to us, because if he would have asked my mother-in-law she would have brought over a can of Folgers.

Yesterday morning when my brother took his first swig of the coffee Bryan had brewed he shuddered a little and said, “Nothing like a good cup of coffee to chew. The Seattlites must be in town.”

Vacations Aren’t Really Vacations When You Have Children

This vacation sure started off with a bang.

On Sunday morning Ruthie showed symptoms of pink eye. I called our clinic in Seattle to see if her pediatrician would order a prescription from a pharmacy here in California, but of course nothing could be that easy. She needed to be seen by a doctor so we were told to take her into the emergency room.

We spent two hours waiting for the five minutes it took Dr. Steven Stephens (!!!) to shine a light in her eye and tell me she had Conjunctivitis.

I tried to act surprised.

I was overwhelmed Monday morning at the daunting task of trying to keep a two year old from rubbing her pussy eye or touching everything within her reach. At the time we were staying with my brother-in-law’s family who has a very adorable six month old. Ruthie is very tender and sweet with babies — liberal with kisses and hugs, bringing toys, patting them on the head, all those lovely traits that relatives are overjoyed by when your daughter doesn’t have a pussy eye of goo.

Thankfully, my sister-in-law was very understanding and accommodating.

So, other than the pink-eye and the two times Ruthie threw up all over everything, we’ve had a great vacation.

They Say It’s the Little Things That Hurt the Most

I just finished addressing all my Christmas cards. This year I went low maintenance and BOUGHT cards, rather than made them. Life is too short to be Martha Stewart.

It was sad coming to mom’s card, after having addressed envelopes to The Smith Family, or Mr. & Mrs. Smith. I didn’t know how to address hers. It just seemed foreign to say ‘Marge Pearson’ on the envelope of her Christmas card, yet ‘Pearson Family’ sounded awkward, as did ‘The Pearsons.’ Maybe I should have written ‘Mrs. Gordon Pearson.’

I don’t know.

Seems like any which way I write it he’s still not REALLY on the envelope.