The Life of Boys

I always imagined raising a pack of boys. A lot of boys. I love the daughter I have now, of course, but before I had kids it never occurred to me I might actually have one.

Now my only experience with a pack of boys is our Cub Scout pack, and it’s delightful.


Last night we were at Golden Gardens beach to roast hot dogs and s’mores, and it was dreamy to watch them run, play, tackle, stuff their faces, and get dirty.

There’s just no drama with boys. Your hot dog falls into the fire? AWESOME! I GET TO ROAST ANOTHER ONE. You get hit in the face with a plastic shovel? AWESOME! I GET TO SPIT UNTIL THE SAND IS OUT OF MY MOUTH.

My favorite part of the night was watching the boys decode a secret message that was a clue to where the marshmallows were buried.

It took them quite awhile to dig out the canister, mostly because no one took point and delegated who would dig and who would remove dirt, and there was one kid who kept yelling EVERYONE STAND BACK, but no one listened.


I followed the example of the other parents, though, and didn’t get involved, even though I desperately wanted to take control and make it easier for them.

I realized the longer it took, the more fun it became, because the best part is the digging, the yelling, the conquest, and the well-earned victory.


I used to be a scrapbooker, which I’m sure conjures up a variety of assumptions on your part. It does for me, as I used to watch HGTV and I know how crazy those crafters can be. They have entire rooms filled with craft supplies! Oh the luxury!

*cough* Nancy Jean *cough*

I did not have a room in my house dedicated to scrapbooking, nor did I spend thousands of dollars on paper, tools, and accessories. I mostly bought cast off paper on clearance and slapped things together while I watched American Idol.

I don’t discriminate in my hackery, people. I do everything half-assed.

Every once in awhile we sit down to look through Ruthie’s 1st year baby book, which I scrapped. Notice the subculture language I used there? Scrapped? That means I made her babybook via scrapbooking. Crafters have all kinds of cool lingo like that. It’s pretty spectack.

Every time we go through Ruthie’s book, Thomas will say, “Okay, MINE NOW!” and I have to quickly think of a diversion like, “LET’S HAVE ICE CREAM!” or “HEY, WAS THAT AN EARTHQUAKE I JUST FELT?” or “THOMAS, I THINK YOUR BLANKIE’S ON FIRE!”

I was pregnant with Thomas when I started this blog, and my step father died right before he was born. I spent most of Thomas’ first year slipping in and out of grieving, post partum depression, and sleep deprivation. Writing became a soothing salve that stitched the holes of my sanity back together, and scrapbooking as a hobby fell to the back burner.

And besides, it was in no one’s best interest at that time that I play with sharp objects.

Seven years later, I bought a Groupon for Shutterfly with the intention of finally creating Thomas’ 1st year baby book. All his photos are digital anyway, so it made sense to make use of all these online scrapbooking-like tools.

Some things never change, though. For instance, I’m still a hack. I procrastinated this until the Groupon was about to expire, so it was put together with love around one in the morning.

No one ever accused me of being a perfectionist.

But the coolest part is, I get to over share my son’s first year like I over share everything else about my life. So here you go should you be interested… my son’s first year in pictures:

Click here to view this photo book larger

Create your own personalized photo books at

I should point out that my kids were fascinated by how nice everything looked in our house. Especially the deck. It reminded me that I’ve been saying for about six years that we need to re-seal the deck. It’s so bad now that I make my kids wear shoes so they don’t get slivers.

And the yard? Yeah, we used to have grass. In fact, recently my kids were picking up trash in a patch of grass in Belltown, which is in the middle of the city, and Ruthie said, “Our yard used to look like this. We used to have grass.”

My poor kids. They don’t have grass, but at least they have scrapbooks.

It Smelled Much Better Back Then

Where the blankie addiction was born.

I’m a bit late with this news, but SURPRISE! I have a 7 year old!

This is probably the last opportunity I’ll take to embarrass my son publicly about his blankie, so here are six fun facts about Thomas and his blankie:

  1. Thomas doesn’t like his blankie to get warm, so you are not allowed to sit on it or pack it in the bottom of a suitcase.
  2. Thomas refers to his blankie as a person. As in, I CAN’T FIND HIM! This is one of many not-cute things about a 7 year old still having a blankie.
  3. When he was a toddler, the blankie was getting a little warn so I bought him a new, identical blankie. He never knew the difference.
  4. Thomas hates it when I wash his blankie, but if I don’t tell him, he doesn’t seem to notice.
  5. A couple years ago we briefly lost the blankie and he managed to sleep without it for several days. When we found it, some crazy person impersonating a sane woman gave it back to him.
  6. Every once in awhile when Thomas isn’t looking, Bryan tears off part of the blankie and throws it away. He never seems to notice, so I figure one way or another we’ll be done with this thing soon (Shshshs… don’t tell him).

I drafted this post almost two months ago. Since then, Thomas lost the blankie again, and it still hasn’t turned up. He’s doing just fine without it, but since I have no idea where it is either, I’m afraid he’ll find it first and get reattached.

We are living on the edge, people.

Believe Like a Child

I feel overwhelmed this week. Weighty things are on my heart, and a busy schedule intensifies the emotional stress. In addition, several friends are in the midst of weighty circumstances as well.

My first reaction is to want to do something – about their circumstances and my own – but there is often nothing I can do fix or change the circumstances. This is not an easy pill to swallow for a task-oriented person.

Recently Thomas and I were talking about things that were opposites, and he blurted out that Jesus was BIG and outer space was small.

It was so great how matter-of-fact he said it.

This is the child-like faith God desires for me to have – a faith not jaded by cynicism and chronic eye-rolling, or even by my own expectation of how God should solve the problem.

Most of the time my ego is too proud or my fears are too dark or my anger too festered to rest in his peace. But Thomas would think this is silly, for how can my anger be too big for God, my grief too deep, my circumstances too weighty?

I wish I were more like Thomas.

Thomas’ Question

World Trade Center, July 2000
Me in New York, July 2000

This morning the kids and I watched videos of the planes hitting the two towers, and videos of the towers coming down. We talked about what happened on this day ten years ago, why it was so confusing and scary, and what Bryan and I were doing when we first heard what was going on.

After asking a few questions about the planes and the pilot and the men who took over the planes, six-year-old Thomas said, “But why did the guy fly the plane if he knew he was gonna die?”

Thomas’ questions often make me stop and think. They’re always profound.

“Those men were so angry at our country, they were willing to sacrifice their lives to hurt as many people as possible,” I said. “Compare that to Jesus, who sacrificed His life because he loved us so much and didn’t want us to hurt anymore.”

Thomas just scrunched up his face, contemplating that chasm.

Doe Bay Fest… or bust.

Doe Bay Fest 2010 from Decade ii on Vimeo.

I’ve had a helluvatime explaining to my kids where we’re going this weekend.

Every year for the last seven or eight years, we’ve attended a small music festival on Orcas Island. This year that music festival was canceled, but we’re going to another music festival.

On Orcas Island.

So, yeah. My kids are confused.

Thomas especially, but I think that’s only because he doesn’t pay attention when I’m talking to him. I clearly explained how we were going to the same island to see a music festival, but it’s a different campground and a different music festival.

Thomas asked me about 42 questions to clarify what I was saying, and after 10 minutes of me repeating myself he finally goes, “OHHHHHH, so we’re going to the SAME ISLAND but to a DIFFERENT CAMPGROUND.”

See that bald spot on my head? That’s where I pulled all my hair out.

Do you know Bob?

Every Thursday we host a small group of friends in our home. We eat dinner together and hash out the challenges of living a meaningful life.

Our friend Bob usually brings dessert because he shows up a little late, after he gets off work.

Bob is now Bob the Dessert Guy in the eyes of my children. Thomas actually believes that Bob’s home is lined with shelves of cakes and brownie bites.

He begs me all the time to take him to Bob’s house.

Last fall when we were in California, Grandma served up ice cream after dinner. There was discussion around the table re our favorite desserts, and Thomas said, “Do you know Bob?”

I had to dash into the kitchen, laughing uncontrollably as Thomas talked about Bob and his desserts as if everyone knew who Bob was. I mean, why wouldn’t you know who Bob was? Bob is the Dessert Guy!

But this is who Thomas is. He invites you into his experiences. He wants you to see what he’s seeing, to taste what he’s tasting. It’s never a complete experience until he can share it with you.

So Thomas knows Bob the Dessert Guy, and he thinks you should too. Wanna come over this Thursday?

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.

The Daily Post

This is Thomas. I believe I had asked him to put the laundry basket back into his room, and he spent about 20 minutes crying about how that was so hard. Or something. After awhile I start tuning out his drama, but I guarantee you it was less about it being hard than it was about it not being his idea.

I should note that his room is just across the hallway there, about three feet in front of the basket.

This may come as shocking news to you given that I posted only ONCE in December, but I’m going to give the WordPress Daily Post thing a shot.

It’s true that I have a few things going on these days, and I have a highly creative job that tends to drain my creative energy, but I still love to write, and I still have things to write about.

It’s become far too easy to ignore my blog lately. I fear the longer I ignore it the harder it will be to jump back in, and I’ll end up whining like Thomas about something that’s so easy and right in front of me.

So into the deep end I jump.

To keep it simple, I’ll use photos as a writing prompt.

This Kid.


At LAX for our return flight to Seattle we were herded into a queue that took us to an escalator that led to the security screening on the second floor.

As Thomas boarded the escalator, he didn’t make the turn wide enough for his wheely bag to clear the end, and it got stuck. As he ascended the bag finally cleared, but he didn’t quite have himself situated.

Also, he wasn’t paying attention.

I’m not sure how it happened exactly, but he ended up rolling down the escalator steps like he’d just rolled down a grassy slope a few days before.

A quick-witted attendant stopped the escalator, I comforted him and kissed his scrapes, and we headed for the elevator.

Fast forward to our Seattle arrival.

On our way toward baggage claim, we obviously take the elevator this time. As Thomas is getting on the elevator, he turns around to say something to me as he continues to walk backwards.

And I swear I’m not making this up.

He says, “I’m sure glad we’re not taking the escalator this time because I got kinda scared.”

Then he tripped over Ruthie’s bag and flipped over backwards into the elevator.


thomas' pumpkin

The picture to the left is Thomas’ vision.

He was very concerned that Bryan could pull it off, given that it turned out a bit small in relation to the size of his pumpkin, and he was very adamant that the pumpkin have a pucker.

Bryan, of course, pulled it off with his eyes closed.

Ruthie's pumpkin

This is Ruthie’s pumpkin, based off her vision on the picture to the left.

Ruthie was a very demanding Creative Director and submitted many creative change orders after the design was already approved, such as substituting hair for eyelashes.

But she was nothing if not thorough in gutting her pumpkin.

Jack Black, We Salute Thee.

We probably shouldn’t have watched School of Rock right before bed. And maybe the marshmallows were a bad idea. But Ruthie’s fits of giggles over Jack Black’s silliness was worth every minute of delayed bedtime.

And this encore presentation? Awesome.

I recommend you turn the volume down or your speakers might blow. Also, stick with it long enough to see Thomas’ dramatic slide at about 1:03.