Tuesdays with Ruthie

Every Tuesday the silly boys go to a Cub Scout meeting so Ruthie and I get some crazy serious girl time. And as you can see, monochromatic pedicures are for the not exciting people.

And when our toes were properly polished, Ruthie set to work on a new “tattoo,” and she told me she wanted to be a tattoo artist when she grew up.

First of all, Duh.

Then I was all, “You know you have to draw what other people want on their bodies, right?” because she’s not so much about design collaboration.

All I got was a shrug.

Una cerveza, por favor.

Okay first of all: the swim suit (ever the eccentric). Second of all: the crazy bad hair “fix” after she chopped it all off herself. And finally: the fact that she looks and sounds exactly the same, except she can’t seem to get the words out around those huge cheeks!

I was reminded of this 2007 video of Ruthie “speaking sign language” today, as she stood on our front porch speaking to our (new!) Mexican neighbors in fake Spanish.

Yes, you heard me. And yes, it’s as embarrassing as you’re imagining.

“Hola!” she said. Then fired off a long string of “nodocomalannoporrolucawanna….” etc.

“Your hospitality is inspiring,” I said. “Way to welcome them to the neighborhood. But I’m not sure they’ll take your… um… Spanish in the spirit you intend.”

Fortunately, my new neighbor is awesome and has a sense of humor.

You wanna do WHAT at Qwest Field?!

Yesterday our church held Easter service at Qwest Field – all campuses together in one place, plus many visitors. Over 17,000 people was the last count I heard.

At the end of the service Ruthie asked to get baptized, and contrary to what I was probably supposed to feel, I panicked.

“Are you sure?” I asked.

She nodded.

“Let’s talk about it with daddy later,” I said. “Maybe we can do it another day.”

“Noooo!” she cried.

I texted Bryan, who was in a different part of the stadium. “Ruthie says she wants to get baptized.”

Ironically, he was volunteering on the after service prayer team.

“Ok,” he texted back, and waived us down.

This didn’t come out of the blue. At the ZugHaus we talk a lot about Jesus, repentance, and all the symbolism surrounding our faith, such as communion and baptism. We tend to not make an event about these conversations, but weave the gospel into our everyday life.

Talking to her daddy about getting baptized.

My fear surrounding her request is completely irrational and wholly unbiblical, because my first reaction was a resounding, “SHE’S NOT READY!” She doesn’t have it all figured out yet! She’s still so angry! And screams a lot! And throws a fit when she doesn’t get her way! And is really moody toward other people! And….!

Wait a second…

Didn’t I just describe myself?

In that moment I sensed God changing my heart. I realized I was waiting for Ruthie to stop sinning first, and that I have a lot of fear about her not “doing it right” if she were to identify herself as a Christian. It’s old baggage from my days of believing in labels and one-shot Sinner’s Prayer “conversions.”

The truth is, she will never stop sinning. I know this because at 39 years old I still scream a lot and throw a fit when I don’t get my way, and I’m really moody toward other people. I’m a horrible example of Not Sinning, but I have repentance down pretty good, and Ruthie connects with that.

Baptism is an outward declaration of what has already happened in the heart, AND it’s the catalyst for a new life to come. I’m very excited that Christ is calling my big girl to himself, and very honored that he’s entrusted a very imperfect mother to shepherd her along the way.

Oh yes she did.

On Saturday I took a car full of Ruthie’s friends into the city for a special girly day, and we were rocking out to some Mumford and Sons while en route. Just as we were jamming to Little Lion Man, I suddenly realized what lay ahead in the chorus.

We don’t censor this song at the ZugHaus – we believe if you fuck something up it’s good to own it, confess it, and repent – but since I had other kids in the car I wanted to be sensitive.

Ruthie: “Hey why did you skip that song?”

Me: “It had a word in it that parents may not like their kids to hear.”

Ruthie (to all her friends): “Oh yeah, it has the word fuck in it.”

My apologies to all the moms. I tried. I really did.


Pink Highlights

Ruthie turned eight last week, and our birthday present to her was a head full of pink highlights.

Real ones. As in, permanent.

Bryan was actually willing to go full on head o’ pink, but after I explained fading, roots, and upkeep, he was totally on board with peek-a-boo’s.

Purple People Heater!

I’ve never been one to live vicariously through my daughter, dressing her like a doll or mini me. But when it comes to her hair I’ve been slightly more … opinionated.

The problem is, I want her to always look like she’s three. It was such an adorable haircut, and even if I COULD find someone who can execute this style (which I can’t always), Ruthie’s not having it.

She wants long hair. And long bangs.

And who can blame her? She’s a true girly girl and inherited my gorgeous thick mane.

The Rinse!

So reluctantly, I’ve been letting her grow it out under one condition: she keeps it brushed. This kid hates me touching her hair, even if affectionately, and howls in pain at the mere sight of a brush.

So Miss Sensitive Scalp gets long hair as long as she keeps it up.


We’re pretty excited about the pink. I guess the nose pierce is a few years down the road?

when the tenacity pays off

Earlier this year Ruthie had an ongoing conflict with some kids on the school bus. She wanted to sit in the way back – in the last seat – but the older kids wouldn’t let her. If she claimed the back seat first, the older girls would kick her out.

Sometimes she got off the bus mad, sometimes she was crying. Several times the older kids had the nerve to sass me through the window as the bus pulled away.

“She called me a bitch!” one of them said through the window one day.

I smirked.

I know, I KNOW. Maybe I shouldn’t have smirked, but despite her inappropriate response, I was pleased my girl had moxie.

Every day after school I’d ask Ruthie where she sat, and she’d report what happened. I asked detailed questions about who said what. I learned names. I listened.

I wanted to know why sitting in the back seat was so important to Ruthie, and I learned it was important simply because she could. Kindergartners and first graders were supposed to sit toward the front, but now that Ruthie’s in the second grade she can sit where ever she wants.

And she wanted to sit in the back.

When I pressed, she held her ground. “I can sit where I want mama,” she would say sadly. “But they told me I can’t sit there.”

It broke my heart to see her so sad, but my knee jerk reaction was to sweep it away. I don’t like conflict, and it was tempting to blow it off and tell her to just move on. I wanted to tell her it wasn’t important, to do the “easy” thing and just quit trying.

But I couldn’t. I couldn’t bring myself to say she should back down. If she wanted to back down I would have supported it, but I felt it was something she needed to work out on her own.

I could see that Ruthie was identifying an injustice, wrestling with it, and struggling to stand up for what is right. So instead of encouraging disillusionment or apathy – my own default response – I attempted to teach Ruthie how to deal with conflict in the real world; how to choose what to fight for and how to prioritize her battles.

We talked about why people act like bullies, and we talked about the times when Ruthie herself was a bully, and we talked about the right way and wrong way to respond when someone is mean to her.

(For instance, using the word bitch is sometimes called for, sometimes foolish).

Eventually she decided to sit in the middle of the bus. She was very pleased about this because it was something she decided to do. She was choosing to ignore the other girls and sit somewhere else.

Honestly, I half expected someone to start throwing punches, and I wasn’t entirely convinced it would be the other girl. Regardless, I think Ruthie was finally able to grasp that she wasn’t an enemy of the other girls, but that they were using her to work out their own anger – something she and I know a little about.

not there yet


There must be forgiveness here cuz everyone has their weaknesses…
Cloud Cult, Purpose

If I cataloged everything Ruthie tagged with a marker or pencil, it would make the Ikea catalog look like a Sunday paper insert.

My friend pointed out that at least the graffiti was cute, but since nearly everything she tags involves a love note to me, it actually feels more stalker-ish than anything else.

This tag, along with a similar message she wrote on the wall above her pillow, was made just days after a very stern lecture from me for coloring all over a photo album given to me by one of my oldest friends.

It contained photos of my honeymoon.

And it wasn’t so much a stern lecture as it was a raging explosion of words that may or may not have been appropriate to use near a 7 year old.

I suck at grace.

But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. – David (Psalm 86:15)

In the midst of my rage, David reminds me what anger is supposed to look like. God is patient. It takes a lot to ruffle his feathers, and he certainly doesn’t react.

In comparison, I am quick to anger. It’s easier in the moment to just yell about all the ways I am offended so Ruthie can feel like a total jerk for what she did.

The anger satisfies me.

But what I desire most is to be satisfied by a Love that loves me despite what a jerk I am. If I find contentment in that place, then I won’t need to rage in defense of my own feelings and offenses.

I am loved, after all, despite [dot dot dot].

And if I am satisfied by a Love that loves me despite what a jerk I am, and if I find contentment in knowing I am loved despite [dot dot dot], then all of these stupid little things that set me off won’t even matter anymore.

The peace in my heart will bring peace to my home, and I’ll think to myself, “Wow, there must be forgiveness here, cuz everyone has their weaknesses…”

Including me. And that’s okay.

Not Everything Is Bloggable

I’m not really sure what I was thinking, signing up for this @postaday thing. While I like writing and feel compelled to do it, I don’t want it taking precedence over things like…I don’t know…sleep.

I also don’t want to fill my blog with a bunch of content that’s not really even blogworthy.

I often tell my kids they talk too much, and that what comes out of their mouths is foolishness. Yada yada yada is what I hear, but none of it means anything. Don’t open your mouth unless you have something to say of value, I tell them.

But they lack self control.

So to avoid sounding like an eight year old, I’ll make a deal with you.

(Well, I’ll make a deal with myself, actually, since I would write in this space even if you weren’t here to read it.)

The deal is, I promise to write more, but I won’t post if it’s not bloggable.

Things We Never Forget

Yesterday Ruthie told me she was writing a story at school about visiting her Auntie Jody’s farm in Iowa.

It was 2007 when we last visited the farm. Ruthie was only 4 years old, but she still carries the memory of that magical summer.

So do I.

We were on our way to the mall for some girl time when she told me this. She was chatty in the car, and I sadly realized how long it had been since we did something fun together, just the two of us.

I’m such a grouch at home, caressing my precious agenda.

I’m a lot more fun when we get out and Do Things, so I was glad to be at the mall with my big girl. She bought some new earrings and gave me fashion advice.

Apparently I need more heels, pencil skirts, and blazers in my life.