Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy New Year from an American Girl

Hey Peeps—

Happy New Year!  I know I’m not the only one who isn’t used to the idea of 2012 yet.  Can I get a show of hands?   I’m also betting that I’m not the only one regretting some of my food choices over the past week.  Today while at Target I actually considered licking all the grocery cart handles, in hopes of picking up a quick post holiday GI infection.  I figure I could drop about 5 lbs in 24 hours, rather than go the traditional route of eating right and exercising.  Due to my hypochondria, I decided against it and spent a lame 40 minutes in my home gym (aka:  on my elliptical in the freezing basement that smells like kitty litter). 

Traditionally, Christmas morning starts early in our house—usually right about 6:00 am.  Not this year though.  It was right about 4:44, while the rest of the world was still sleeping as they should, we were woken up in the dark by Jack, as he was bending over our white duvet to tell us he had a bloody nose.  You don’t get that kind of news and easily go back to sleep, so once Billy controlled the bleeding, we headed downstairs to open gifts.  There were about 13 people surrounding the tree, and believe it or not, we were able to maintain some orderly structure as we watched our children’s Christmas lists come to life. 

Jack and Will received the typical things:  Legos, science kits, action figures, and other boyish kinds of items.  (They each got a pillow pet too, but might be embarrassed to have you know that).   Faith’s main gift this year was something I never thought we’d buy.  Ever.   This year she received a gift card to purchase her very own American Girl doll. 

Faith is a girly girl in every way, except that she’s never liked dolls.  It’s not that I haven’t tried either.  Every doll she got from about age 2 on, she would tell me,  “My new doll smells funny”.  And then she’d never play with it again.  I did not expect her to get into the whole American Girl trend, and frankly, I was great with that.  Until about two months ago, when she came downstairs holding a catalog saying, “Mommy, I need $243.18 by Dec. 1 in order to get free shipping”.  I snorted out loud, thinking she was joking.  She was not.  So as any good mother ought to do, I got down on her level and said in my most nicest voice, “Honey, remember your daddy?  Well, he’s the only one with a job in our family, and if we bought that doll, we might not have enough money for groceries”.  She seemed to understand and didn’t ask me again. 

Through the month of November she did talk about her savings and how she’d have enough for a doll by March.  I don’t know what came over me, but the next thing I knew, I’d was telling Billy we needed to get the girl a gift card for Christmas to pick out her very own doll.  Billy never argues with me, unless its about how many times I dropped my phone that day, so he jumped on board and were about to be the best parents in the world. 

On December 26th, we headed down south to the fanciest mall in town.  I’m so glad I didn’t go with my typical active wear that day, considering the way the other mom’s were dressed as they shopped in the American Girl store.  It felt sort of like a contest—who was the cutest mom/daughter pair, and how many accessories were they buying???  We would’ve totally won for best pair, (thanks to Faith’s killer looks) except that we didn’t get the new doll’s hair done in the store’s salon.  Yeah, I know.  Totally creepy.  Plus, we only bought one outfit to go with the doll, and that seemed a little minimal compared to those waiting in line with us. 

I’m trying very hard to be supportive of my daughter’s new friend, even though her eyes freak me out when they randomly open and close.  Faith takes her all over the house.  She props her up to watch her play games and make crafts.  At bedtime, Faith carefully lays her next to the bed, bundled up all snuggly and warm with a stuffed animal.  Watching Faith enjoy her gift makes me happy.  She calls her doll by name, like a real friend would. At first, Faith thought a good name for her doll would be Hope, but after two hours, Faith decided Grace was better.  I don’t know about you, but I’m holding on to my Faith, as I hope for the grace to teach my daughter who she is, Who God is, and how to always look for ways to let her little light shine!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Annual Christmas Letter!

Merry Christmas Peeps!

I’d like to paint you a beautiful picture of my family sitting around the tree, reading a beautiful Christmas devotion, as the music softly plays.  I listen as the children are asking with wide eyes, all about the morning Jesus was born.  Unfortunately this picture is all a big fat figment of my imagination and reality is the four of them are laughing hysterically at the Big Balls on Wipeout.   

There’s a running theme in 2011 at the Repenning house:  Survival and Thankfulness.  Mostly we’re just thankful we survived. 

We’re thankful Jack is 11 and doesn’t ever change.  The boy wakes up every day ready to go, and lives life in overdrive. In order of things he loves most: legos, cats, and video games.   He also took several Parkour classes this year.  I know you are wondering what that is, and I wish I could tell you.   Just rest assured it’s very European and trendy, and for once, the Repennings are cutting edge.  Jack loves to show Will what he’s learned, and makes sure to emphasize his “mad skills” while they run all over the backyard like crazy people.  The highlight of Jack’s year was going to Outdoor Lab with his 6th grade class in October. He did all sorts of outdoorsy things, and came home smelling like he had a good time while avoiding all manners of basic hygiene.

We’re also thankful for Faith.  Here’s what I know about her:  if you’re feeling insecure about your IQ, probably you shouldn’t play Scrabble with Faith.  I learned this the other day when she spelled out “equator”.  Faith is 8 years old and in 3rd grade.  She loves school and her friends, and this year she began playing soccer.  When she’s not making arts and crafts, she’s bossing her brothers and admiring herself in the mirror.  She offered to give me “fashion lessons” the other day, as she saw me struggling in my closet to find something to wear.  I questioned where her fashion knowledge came from, as she was wearing mismatched polka dotted knee-hi socks.  That’s just Faith—she’s quietly confident and knows who she is.

And Will—yes, we’re thankful for him too.  The boy is 6, in 1st grade, and continues to surprise us every day.  People say Will is just like Billy—he’s animated, hilarious, is always singing something, and doesn’t like to be forced to perform.  He also has a tendency to stress out over nothing, another trait I’m sure that came from Billy.  This past summer it seems Will grew up so much.  He learned to swim, went on lots of bike rides, and refused to let losing a couple of toenails make him wear sneakers like I begged him to.  Not a day goes by, where Will doesn’t have something brilliant to say.  For example, last Saturday morning when I went in his room to ask how him how he was feeling.  His response was, “I feel like a piece of pooh in a rat trap”.  You get the picture.

Billy continues to be the man of the house, thankfully, and he does it with a good attitude.  In June of this year, he went through a time of introspective growth and maturity.  He took a long hard look at himself, without his shirt on, and said, “Polos make me look fat”.   Nowadays you may see him wearing shiny shirts from time to time, as he is expanding his wardrobe into the “active wear” category.  At first I liked the new look, until one day I stumbled upon he and Jack in the kitchen rubbing their shiny stomachs together, while one of them was struggling to not wet his pants laughing.

And myself, well, the year hasn’t been easy, but it’s been good.  I began Nursing school in January, and am currently wrapping up my second semester.   Probably the number one question I get, now that I’m in Nursing school is, “What kind of a wart do you think that is?”    Once I get past the dry heaves I say,   “That’s definitely a plantar’s wart”.  It’s the only wart name I know, and it seems to get me out of further examination.    

Billy says I’ll make a good nurse, and he’s speaking from experience.  He let me practice putting an IV in his arm so I could be ready to do it on a real live person someday.  At first he was real nervous, and questioned the sterile field I’d prepared on the kitchen table.  I reminded him it was me that was in school, not him, so stop worrying.  My first attempt didn’t go very well.  Billy got all white and sweaty (I think there’s a technical term for that, but not sure) so I let him take a break and eat graham crackers.  When he was ready, I attempted again on his other arm, and believe it or not, I’m almost 50% sure I hit the vein. He didn’t faint, so I count that as success!  However, Faith did pass out the other day, and if my instructors had seen my reaction, I’m pretty sure they would ask me to try something other than a career in Nursing.  Not only did I misdiagnose Faith’s episode, I screamed hysterically, moved her limp body, and never once thought to clear her airway.  All the while I was doing everything wrong, Billy fell down our stairs from top to bottom while running to call 9-1-1.  Jack stood ready at the bottom of the stairs, holding the phone out for Billy when he came to, as Will sat and watched the whole thing play out, while calmly eating his breakfast.   Faith, as it turned out, was just fine.   

A few other random tidbits…We had no major trips to report on this year, unless you count camping, which I don’t.  Only one visit to Urgent Care, and go ahead and laugh at me all you want, but that splinter was huge.  We’re thankful for our extended family, and in particular, for my sister who kicked her stool softener habit, as I’ve heard that’s a tough one to conquer.  I still hate cooking, and Billy still doesn’t seem to mind.  We don’t live fancy, but we live with joy, and most days we even find something to laugh about.  And thanks be to God that Billy has kept his job another year, doing something with computers, or phones, something about apples…I never really know for sure.  But we’re thankful nonetheless.  We have three kids who were baptized this year, who seem to get the idea of grace and forgiveness more than we ever will.  We feel totally supported by friends who pray for us, who offer to help us out, who text me in the middle of class, just to let me know they care.  We feel humbled and unworthy, and don’t take these blessings lightly.  Well, sometimes we do, but we try not to. 

Well I’ve rambled on too long.  Thanks for letting me share.  We hope you have a wonderful Christmas and send our happiest wishes your way.  


Lisa, Billy, Jack, Faith, and Will

Sunday, November 27, 2011


Hey Peeps—

I believe there are two kinds of people in the world:  Those that buy their dogs sweaters, and those who do not.  I happen to fall in the second category, in case you were wondering.   The holidays are right around the corner, and our dog Spencer will not have any gifts under the tree.  Don’t feel sorry for him though.  Our three cats won’t get anything either.

Today my son Jack asked me, “mom, when are we putting our tree up?”  I replied in a highly irritated, sing song tone, “Well, Jack, in case you didn’t know, I’m in Nursing school, and putting up a Christmas tree isn’t at the top of my list of priorities.”  Instantly I was sorry for being such a jerk, and tried to explain it in a nicer way.  “See honey, the thing is, I’ve worked really hard for 14 weeks, and I only have two weeks to go, before I get a break.  When that break comes, I promise the tree will go up, and you guys can help us decorate just like we do every year”.  Not surprising, Jack had moved on by the time I finished answering, and was no longer even aware that I was speaking.

My conversation with Jack got me thinking about our Christmas traditions, and I thought it might be fun to share a few of them with you. 

The first one, naturally, is to put up a Christmas tree.  While we pass out the ornaments, the Christmas music cheerfully plays in the background.   The kids fight over who gets to put on certain items, while Billy talks to himself while lying under the tree trying to figure out what light bulb is causing all the lights to be dead.  Usually before the tree is done, I have to send one or all the children to their rooms, , to “think about how sad they’ve made baby Jesus” as they fight over the tacky Mickey Mouse ornament that’s missing a foot.  Once everyone loves each other again, it’s time for the culminating moment.  The final glorious decoration is an angel we place on the top of the tree.   Once she is positioned properly, we all gather around and admire the splendor of Christmas.  By Dec. 26th, I’m sick of vacuuming fake pine needles and I can’t wait to take her down.  The children cry and beg us for a few more days of decorations, so I bribe them with a movie and popcorn, while Billy and I furiously work to get our house back to normal.  

Another fun tradition we have around here is reading a book called, “One Wintry Night” by Ruth Graham Bell.  We begin the first week of December and try to read a little bit every night, ending climatically right around Christmas eve.  Some years we forget to read from about Dec. 2 through Dec 22, so that final reading tends to take up a good chunk of our day.  That’s okay though.  The story is simple, yet beautiful, as the author takes the reader on a journey from Creation, through key moments in the Old Testament, and ends with the birth of Jesus.  Every year as I read this adventure to my kids, I see they are beginning to understand the real reason we celebrate Christmas.  They still talk about Santa and toys of course, but hopefully deep down inside their entitled little hearts, we hope they are learning that the gift of Jesus is way better than any Lego set or American Girl could ever be.  Also, Billy, you aren’t getting a new TV, so stop asking me about it. 

The last few years on Christmas Day, we’ve had company over to eat dinner with our family.  I could lie to you and say I was a great cook—that I wake up at the crack of dawn to baste a turkey and remove its giblets.  Unfortunately I don’t know what either of those things even mean, I just heard about it one time while setting the store bought rolls on the counter at my mom’s.  My main dish always comes from the Honeybaked Ham store, and please know, I’m not proud.  However, I do make a few side dishes, and throw in a couple Marie Callendar pies that I get at Kings Soopers for BOGO.  Last year I even bought a tablecloth and placemats that match, so the pretty presentation distracts our guests from the gold tinfoil that surrounds the ham.  The great thing is that we don’t focus too much on the food part.   We mostly just enjoy hanging out, laughing a lot, and reminding our kids to be thankful. 

By the way, if your dog is wearing a sweater, I hope you’ll still be my friend.  

Friday, November 18, 2011

Baby Ruths and Biohazards

Hey Peeps—

I love November.  My kids made a haul on Halloween night raking in the candy, and because of that, we have two huge bowls full of candy sitting in the armoire.  The kids take a piece or two every day—one for a treat at school, and one for dessert after dinner.   I sneak my own treasure, when no one’s looking, enjoying the hunt for the perfect thing to fit my mood.  Smarties are best while I’m studying.  Tootsie rolls a great for a quick pick me up.  And the other day I stumbled upon a Baby Ruth.  I’ve avoided the Baby Ruth since some time ago, in the 1980’s after that particular candy bar was used in a movie to reference something highly disgusting.  But the other day I thought it was time to let go, and give it a try.  Who knew?  They are amazing.  Billy said he likes them too, so when he wasn’t home, I went through both bowls and  grabbed every Baby Ruth I could find.  They are now well-hidden, and I will savor them for at least another week.  I am such a hoarder. 

My guess is that you feel sorry for Billy.  You are correct to do so.  I’ve openly admitted more than once, that he is a much better person than I am.  I know for a fact that if someone handed him a bag of Baby Ruth candy bars, he’d turn around and give me the whole thing.  I really have no idea why God gave me such a good and decent man, but He did, and I have made it a habit to thank the Lord on a regular basis for my man gift.

Speaking of Billy, he came through for me again this week, as I am wrapping up my second semester of Nursing school.  It seems everyone in my cohort has had the opportunity to place a Foley catheter, and insert an IV in one of their patient’s arms.  Lucky for me, I did get to do a Foley on a real patient this week for the first time, because let me tell you, Billy’s a nice guy and all, but there was no way we were going there. He was also quite tentative about allowing me access to his veins, but when my friend Shahara told me I could use her husband’s arm, Billy changed his mind, and said I could try to do one in his arm.

I didn’t want to traumatize our children, so we decided to experiment on our husbands while they were at school.  Shahara and her man came over to our house, supplies in hand, and we went to work at our kitchen table.  Billy was concerned about the “sterile field” when he saw us place paper towels under Cory’s arm, rather than a nice blue pad like you get at the hospital.   Shahara went first, because she’s a phlebotomist and seemed to know what she was looking for.  Cory sat still, grimacing a bit, as she plunged the needle into his arm.  Beads of sweat appeared on his forehead, as she wiggled it around a bit, trying to locate the vein.  First attempt:  no success. 

Next it was my turn.  I used the tourniquet, tapped his arm, pretended to know what I was looking for, and prepped the area.  I was nervous and ripped my gloves as I pulled them on. I tried very hard to not scream and yell, “CRAP!” as I proceeded.   This did not put Billy at ease.  Slowly I eased the needle into his skin.  It did not seem I was in the vein, but rather had gone through.   No success.  Billy and Cory ate graham crackers and drank some water, trying to act tough.  I noticed Billy’s forehead was white, and he admitted that he felt queasy.  I gave him a cold washrag for his head and made him rest.  By the time Shahara worked on Cory’s other arm successfully, Billy had recovered and was ready for me to try again as well.  I’m happy to report the second time went well—Billy didn’t pass out, and I got that needle right in his vein!  I might just become a real live nurse after all!

I’m happy to report our kitchen table has been cleaned up, and is once again a place for eating, and is no longer a biohazard zone. Billy only has one small bruise, from my first attempt, and has fully recovered from the trauma I inflicted upon him.  Not that it’s a competition, but he’s still in first place for “best spouse”.  I think I’m catching up though.  I gave him two Baby Ruth’s after dinner, from my hidden stash, just to say “hey, thanks for letting me stick a needle in your vein”.   Now that’s what I call Love. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

My list of trauma

Hey Peeps—

I did something today that I swore I would NEVER do.  I popped my son’s pimple—right on the tip of his nose.  It was disgusting as you might imagine.  If it were anywhere else on his face, I would have let it fester and run the proper course acne must go through, but you can’t let a 6th grade boy go about life with a little pimple staring you down.  And just because I like to keep it real, I feel I should share with you about a few other things I’ve done lately that have taken me out of my comfort zone. 

In order of most traumatizing to least, it goes like this:

1. I ran out of antibacterial cleanser
2. I sat with my son Jack in his school cafeteria while 55 6th graders “ate” lunch.
3. I let my kids carve pumpkins and make carmel apples at Fancy Boot’s house. 
4. I held a woman’s leg back for her while she gave birth. 

(And yes, that list really does go from MOST traumatizing to LEAST)

Today I had a choice—After my Nursing school duties were done, I had the chance to go home to my quiet house, and take the first nap I’ve had in 14 bazillion years, or I could surprise Jack at school and attend his Greek Symposium.  Most mothers would have no trouble making the decision to be there for his son.  Good for you.  Your crown will be super full in heaven.  I, on the other hand, really wanted a nap.  You’ll be happy to hear I chose to go to the kid’s school and watch Jack participate in his Greek Symposium.  I had no idea I’d be early enough to “enjoy” lunch with Jack before the big event.  I was pretty sure 6th grade boys were disgusting, but after sitting near a few of them today during lunch, my I feel my theory was proven. One kid kept shoving peas/chicken/rice into a water bottle filled with red juice.  I threw up in my mouth a little bit, and tried to focus on how happy Jack was to see me.  After lunch, we headed down to his classroom and prepared for the Symposium.  I was content to sit quietly on the side of the room and watch, however, Jack’s teacher was not about to let me be a bystander.  She handed me a toga and said, “here, put this on!”  I ended up helping serve the children some Greeky kinds of food, and then listened to them discuss topics most of don’t dare to bring up in public.

I’ve always been impressed with the teachers at our school, but this was extraordinary.  The teacher and her aide addressed the children in a way that made them feel their ideas were important.  They asked them things like “What is truth? What’s the difference between faith and knowledge?  And what is wisdom?” I loved sitting and listening to the kids answer thoughtfully, knowing that their opinions were valued and respected.  And somehow all of this was lighthearted and fun.  My decision to attend was absolutely the right one. 

The next event that took me completely out of my comfort zone involved all three of our children.  Our friends invited us over to their house for a little fun Halloween celebration. Of course we said yes, as Fancy Boot’s is a great cook.  I discovered she’s also totally into making huge messes, and completely okay with allowing young children to use carving tools, and other sharp implements.  There were three moms supervising nine children and three dads. It’s a miracle someone didn’t end up at Urgent Care.  I was traumatized by the viscous, ropy pumpkin guts everywhere, and of course Billy had to sift through the mess to gather seeds he wanted to bring home and bake in order to give the children the full experience.  After the pumpkin hoopla was cleaned up, Fancy Boot’s pulled out the caramel apple fixins’.  All I have to say about that is that my idea of torture is being forced to sit at that same table, constantly putting my forearms down in the sticky mess and never being able to clean them off.   The only saving grace is that none of this occurred under my roof. 

The third and final event that has taken me out of my comfort zone recently was being part of an OB clinical rotation and participating in three amazing births.  The first two I was more of a bystander,  and the third time I was told to “grab a leg and don’t let go”.  Wow.  Having a baby is way different than WATCHING someone give birth.   It truly is a miracle, and I was grateful for the opportunity to learn, watch, and witness such a special event.  I was also happy I didn’t pass out, or get sprayed by someone else’s bodily fluids.

I hate to admit my issues of course, but the overriding theme here is avoiding messes, and needing to be in control.  All these events are so important for me to remember because they remind me that real living happens when I experience new things, and instead of being afraid of failing or getting my hands dirty, I can be proud of simply trying.  

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Body Piercings/Body Parts

Hey Peeps—

I realize there are huge problems in the world.  I really do.  I understand that there are wars, famine, drugs…all those things are real and hard and sad.  But can we, just for a second, talk about my problems?  I feel I need to share that for the past month, my very best bra in the world was missing the underwire on one side.  And being that it is the best bra I own, I continued to wear it, asymmetrically challenged and all.   You might be wondering why I wouldn’t just run over to the mall and get another one, then again, you might just be wondering why I’d share publically a story about my undergarments.  You are right to be concerned on all accounts.

Finally Friday night rolled around, and with a bit of a break in my nursing school schedule, I made a date night with my daughter to head over to the mall for a little “Mommy and Faith” time.  Oddly enough, it sounds like I had some sort of revival, and I guess you could say, in a way, I did.   Faith is eight years old, very sweet, and full of zest for any kind of adventure.  Spending any amount of time with her tends to make a person feel alive and happy.  Faith’s been asking to get her ears pierced for a few months now, and we decided that time had finally arrived! And what better way to spend an evening, than to make memories with a good friend?  Fancy Boots Alicia and her daughter Josie met us for dinner, then together we walked to Claire’s to take the plunge. 

Faith went first…she sat and listened to the young girl who was about to put holes in my little girl’s head.  All I could do was watch and wonder if she was using sterile technique.  I looked at the piercing gun and thought about all the different blood borne diseases I’ve learned about recently.  Then I wondered how come some 17 year old girl is allowed to use that kind of equipment without going to nursing school.  I asked her about what kind of training she’d had.  She said, “Oh, I watched a ton of videos”.  Her response did not allay my fears. 

Faith wasn’t afraid though.  She sat completely still as “Jasmine” marked her ears and asked me to look and make sure they were equal.  I guess they didn’t teach her that on the videos.  When it was time to inject the lobe, Faith looked straight ahead and barely flinched.  Both ears were done in less than a minute, and suddenly my little girl wore earrings.   Fittingly she smiled from ear to ear, while looking in the mirror at herself.  Over and over she said, “I can’t believe I just got my ears pierced!”

Josie went next, and handled it wonderfully.  Alicia and I watched the girls peruse  all the hundreds of earrings to pick out something special.  I felt that we mom’s needed to get sparkling tiaras, and perhaps a fancy sash that said “best mom ever” but in the end it wasn’t about us, but all about our girls. 

And speaking of “the girls”, after all the ear piercing excitement, Faith and I headed over to the Body Gap and I bought myself a couple of new bras.  Faith informed me that she also needed a bra, but after a little discussion, we decided we’d wait a little while on that, and just focus for now on our ears, rather than, um, other stuff.  And I’m happy to report, not only are Faith’s ears symmetrical, but once again, so am I.

Faith and I wrapped up our fun night in my bed cuddling and catching up on a few shows we’ve missed due to my crazy schedule.  I told her I was so happy to get to spend the evening with her, and how pretty she looked with her new bejeweled little ears. She was so proud of herself and couldn’t wait to show her new look to her daddy.   To us as parents, this particular night represents another link in the chain of our daughter’s childhood.  Part of me loves to see her becoming a young lady, and part of me is completely heartbroken that she is no longer my baby girl.  And so on Monday, when I feel the heavy burden of Nursing school weighing me down, I will cling to the memories our family continues to make, and thank the Good Lord for a night of revival with my sweet Faith. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Comfort food for a Monday

Hey Peeps—

Just now I couldn’t decide which was more unhealthy for me: 1 oreo or 2 fig newtons.  I went ahead and had both options just to be safe.  It’s just one girls’s opinion, but I think sometimes you have to live unconstrained and free spirited, in order to make it through a Monday. 

Today is particularly difficult for a few reasons.  If you’ll allow, I’d like to share why.  The first reason I’m eating multiple kinds of cookies is that I have a bloody eye ball.  Now that’s three words I’d like to never type together again.  I blame nursing school for the blood vessels that felt the need to erupt all over the right window to my soul, allowing everyone I’ve talked to for three days to look inside my soul and get a pretty nasty glimpse of ick.   My good friend Grace had the courage, like good friends often do, to ask if I had been constipated.   I feel my GI system is working fine, thank you, and am happy to dispel any rumors that may be going around. 

The second reason I’m eating comfort foods has more to do with pure exhaustion, than anything else.  Can I brag, just for a real quick second?  This past weekend was amazing!  I got to see Amy Grant perform at the Women of Faith conference, and then AGAIN, in Cheyenne, WY on Sunday night!  Listen up people, Amy Grant is my favorite, and I know I may have lost a bunch of you because of that , but let me just say not only is she a talented musician, she’s a real life woman who would admit, is never far from the grace of God.  Seeing her in Cheyenne was a huge treat, as my sister and I went together, with our sweet husbands.  Roger, a pastor with a huge heart, let me sit in the second row with my sister, so I could be even closer to the action.  Laura and I stared at Amy like a couple of teenagers—remembering back to our youth and singing the songs that meant so much to us while we were growing up.  We tried to yell, “We love you Amy!” several times, but got the giggles and couldn’t ever follow through.  I’m pretty sure Amy knew it by our big grins and enthusiastic clapping, as she sang her songs only a few feet away.  What a great night I will remember always.

The third reason I’m eating multiple cookies, has to do with the fact that my oldest son, at 11 years old has left home for Outdoor Lab.  It’s a rite of passage for 6th graders here in Jefferson County, and today was Jack’s turn to head up the mountains for a week full of adventure.   I woke up extra early to be sure we had everything he needed.  I tried to sneak him some candy, but he saw it and said, “Mom! NOOOOO Candy!  Mr. Burns said you can’t bring any!”  I suggested he just sneak it anyway, and not eat it in front of Mr. Burns.  Jack’s condescending eyes glared at me, as he took the Reeses back to the cupboard for safe-keeping.  Sometimes I wonder what I did to get a kid who loves rules so much. 

Billy took the kids to school, since I had a test and lecture I couldn’t miss.  He texted me a play by play of all the moms who were crying with him, as the kids ran around getting ready to load the bus.  I choked back tears as I took my test, and tried to not feel completely guilty for not being there for Jack.  Billy stayed for as long as possible, and then headed off to his workday as well.  And just like that, Jack’s gone for three nights, completely out of my care and away from my ever watchful eye.  It’s not that I’m not afraid of phone calls about disobedience (see previous paragraph), I worry about the phone call that says he’s hurt, or lonely, or needs me.  I worry that he forgets who he is, or that he forgets to tell God he’s scared.  I worry he’ll come home a little more grown up, and might not be the kind of kid who needs to hug his mom anymore.  I wonder how I’ll be able to let him go off to college when I can barely let him go up to Bailey. 

There’s no time to cry about life all day though, right?  I have two other kids about to come home to a crazy Monday night of folders and homework, and trust me, if I eat the whole bag of Oreos, Faith is NOT going to be happy with me.  We’ll go out front, ride scooters, and Will, no doubt, will compulsively rake all the leaves in the yard.  We’ll talk over dinner, about our day, and we’ll say a prayer for Jack to be having fun.  The day I became Jack’s mom was the first time I ever knew real heartache.  It was the first day I knew I would have to begin to let go.  

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Hey Peeps—

It’s 4:30 am, and I am not afraid to tell you that I am NOT a morning person.  Normally I’d be in bed at least another two hours, enjoying my 400 thread count sheets, while the bathroom fan drowns out the sounds of laughter and gaiety coming from the kitchen, as Billy feeds our children breakfast.  My job in the morning is to come down after they’ve all cleared out, and pick up the pieces.  Usually it’s coffee beans all over the counter, and large pop tart chunks under the table.  Don’t judge me.  It works for us.

Today I woke up early because my stupid body clock is all screwed up.  Tuesday and Wednesday are my days to go to my clinical setting for Nursing school.  I leave very early in the mornings, before the sun barely comes up.  (who knew it was from the east?)  And now on Thursday morning, at this quiet lonely hour, my body thinks it’s time to go again.  I’m so happy for the five day break from my clinical that I’m not even mad about being up so early.  I’m considering going downstairs, working out, then having breakfast with my family, but I’m concerned it might put them all into a state of shock.  I better not. 

The last two days have once again challenged me to believe I can and that I even want to do something with my life other than being a wife and mom.  The thing is, I’m not discontent in those roles.  I love my identity as “Jack’s mom” and “Billy’s wife” more than anything.  This nursing school gig hasn’t been because I’m unhappy with my life, but because I know there’s more I can do with my life.  Besides, all three of my kids are in school, how else should I spend my day?  As much as I’d like to sit around watching “mama’s stories” and sipping sweet tea, I know after about 45 minutes of that, I’d have an incredible urge to work-- thanks a whole lot to my parents who thought it would be smart to instill in me a stupid work ethic. 

For the first two weeks of my clinical experience I worked with patients who were not overly ill, slightly confused, and seemed somewhat pleased to have my full and complete attention for an eight hour shift.  This week my experience was quite different.  I went in on Tuesday morning, ready to meet my new patient with all the charm and perkiness I could muster up at 7:30 am, and walked in to take some vital signs.  After my cheerful hello, I attempted small talk, which I will admit, is not my strong suit.  He replied with his hand thrust upwards in a stopping motion  “Please, STOP talking.  I’m not a morning person”.    I told him I wasn’t either, and I’d be as quick as possible.

Over the course of the two days with him I had to grow some thick skin.  This patient had me running up and down the hall with questions for his “real” nurse, and he had me flustered as I fumbled around trying to appear to know what I was doing, when it was obvious I didn’t.  I told him I appreciated his patience with me as I was learning, and tried to give myself little pep talks in my head so I wouldn’t burst out into tears.   I also avoided letting my friend, and co-student Shahara see me flustered, because she has no space bubble and likes to give full body hugs. 

 Later in the day my lead instructor from school showed up, saw me rattled and red faced, and wasted no time getting right up in my grill for some tough love.  Oprah would’ve totally loved it.  There we were, two women, one with a lifetime of experience, one shaking like a leaf, talking over what it means to “become”.  How it’s okay to adapt, and add to my identity, and that even though I’m competent as a wife and mother, that I can also learn to be competent as a nurse.  It all just takes time, and how it’s normal that it doesn’t feel smooth and easy and in the end, it’s okay that my patient doesn’t think I hung the moon. 

When I got home to my sweet family, doing homework, playing video games, and “writing code” or whatever Billy does for a living, I felt steadfast and competent once again.   I understand how to be a mom, and how to be a wife, even if I mess that up about fifty times a day.  I understand how to run a house, even as my dryer is on it’s last leg, and my dishwasher leaks if you don’t close the door all the way.  And today I understand that I have a God-given desire, deep in my heart, to continue growing and becoming and that it’s okay to not be perfect every step of the way.  

Saturday, September 3, 2011

One day at a time...

Hey Peeps—

You might be interested to know that I’ve sent my family off to the movies for a couple hours of quiet, focused study time.  I do find that being home alone still has its distractions, however.  The large bag of chocolate in the armoire repeatedly calls my name, as well as the immediate and sudden urge to go and pluck my eyebrows. 

Don’t be nervous though, I made my way outside to sit in the sun with my huge Med/Surg book in hand, and managed to study uninterrupted for a full hour.  Have I mentioned I’m in my second semester of Nursing School?  Well, don’t be impressed.  I’ve considered quitting about 48 times in the last two weeks.  It’s not that I don’t want to be a nurse, it’s just that it’s like, totally hard to BECOME a nurse.  And run a household, and have three kids who have homework and extracurricular activities. 

I’ve tried to really downplay the fun of sports and things like cub scouts, but the darn kids at school make everything sound so fun and exciting.  So far the only commitment we’ve made is for Faith to play soccer and Jack to do a Parkour class once a week.  I’m sure you know what soccer is (“futbol” to my European readers), but you may be confused as to what Parkour is.  I wish I could tell you.  As far as I know, some French dude invented it.  You go to some class where you learn to run up the outsides of buildings and then you jump  on to dumpsters, without breaking your neck.  It sounds dangerous to me, so I don’t attend the classes with Jack.  Billy takes him and texts me periodically to assure me the boy isn’t coming home with a cast on any of his extremities. 

Speaking of injuries and my boys, they visited the clinic three times in three days last week.  It was their second week of school, so at least they waited a few days before going in and using up all the tylenol and brand new boxes of bandaids.  Will hurt his neck on Monday from a fall off the bars—thankfully it wasn’t serious.  Tuesday Jack had a fever and had to come home early.  And Wednesday, Will had a traumatic finger injury in which a rock was involved.  Again, nothing serious.  As I sat at my clinical site, learning how to be a nurse, while getting all the texts about the boy’s illnesses/injuries, I wondered if I was the only one seeing the irony???  I was quite annoyed. 

The good news is Billy is totally on top of things around here.  He’s the only reason this nursing school thing is happening for me, and I will forever be grateful to him.  He didn’t sense my spirit of gratitude last Sunday however, when I yelled at him for buying me a Sunday paper.   I informed him, while yelling at him, that I realized I was being quite irrational, but I mean, come on, like I have two hours to sit and read the paper?  I was feeling the pressure of my first test, my first week of clinicals, and because you and I have developed a circle of trust, I feel I need to share that my hormones may have played a bit part in there as well.  

As you can surmise, we are trucking along fairly well, despite a few ups and downs.  The kids are back on a schedule, and we are taking the business of life one day at a time.  Sometimes I want to fast-forward a year, to the part where nursing school is over and I made it through without giving my family hypertension from eating fast food or psychologically scarring them from using every spare minute to study.   But then I’d miss a whole year of my kids’ growth—their 6th, 3rd, and 1st grades, and all the amazing ways they are changing and becoming the person God wants them to be.  So I guess we’ll just keep moving forward to the best of our ability, laughing when we can, and working hard when we must.  And every day reminding ourselves to never quit trying!  

Monday, August 22, 2011

Endings and Beginnings

Hey Peeps—

Well, much to my chagrin, I have not been struck down by some weird disease like malaria or the consumption as hoped, and it looks like I will have to head back to Nursing school tomorrow whether I want to or not. 

Three days ago I had not been having any symptoms of the aforementioned diseases, so I decided to end the summer with a bang.  And if you think I mean I had my roots touched up, you are correct.  But that’s not all we did around here!  The kids were thrilled when my sister and I met up to go to the Bay on Friday. Normally I hate big crowds and water in the same place—it seems unnatural to me, all those people walking around in swimsuits having conversations about their Christmas plans or what’s on sale this week at King Soopers.  I always feel like saying, “Can we just put some clothes on first, and then talk?” 

Somehow I managed to suck it up and make the day fun for my kids.  For five hours we sat outside watching the kids have the best day ever!  Will is six now, and finally can do one of the big slides on his own.  He would come down the shoot fast as a bullet, and as he hit the water, he flipped over each time.  The first time it happened I yelled at the lifeguard, “Please, you have to help my baby.  He’s under the water!”.  As the teenager looked my way to see the crazy mother screaming nonsense, Will popped his head up and swam over to the steps as if he’d done it a thousand times.  I managed to remain quiet the rest of the day, with the exception of clapping, and a few “thumbs up” when one of our children looked my way. 

But wait!  We aren’t done with the fun times yet!  Our friends Mark and “Fancy Boots” Alicia invited us to spend the day with their family at Carter Lake on their boat.  Personally I never pictured us friends with “boat people”--it seemed way above our social status.  I told the kids they’d have to act fancy and pretend to be boat savvy, in order to make the day successful.  Faith seemed to understand, but this confused the boys and Billy. 

The day turned out amazing.  Carter Lake is really pretty, and the weather was perfect.  Mark laid down the ground rules like, “don’t run to the back of the boat when someone is getting off the inner tube” and “wave the flag” when someone is in the water.  I was thrilled there were rules to follow.  Mark wore his “Tilly” hat and “Fancy Boot’s” wore her boating hat as well. Billy, who looked ridiculous without a hat,  and I listened as Mark explained things about boating like Zebra Mussels and pretended to understand boat culture, while knowing we’ll never be smart enough to learn how to unload a boat into water.  All of this was okay with us, as we watched all three of our children in the inner tube having the time of their lives! 

Jack seemed tentative on the tube, but you could tell he wanted to love it.  His smile spread from ear to ear as he bounced a long.  He’d motion for more speed, and then unashamedly beg for Mark to slow down!  Faith is on constant quest for adventure.   She wanted more speed, more bumps, more excitement, which scared Billy and I to death.  She never gave the thumbs down signal asking Mark to slow the boat, only thumbs up.  Will also loved the inner tube.  He began with great excitement, laughing and screaming with joy, but after five minutes of bouncing over the waves, he’d clutch his head and make a sad face.   Despite a few small headaches, he kept asking for turns on the tube, and we let him go, hoping we weren’t destroying precious brain cells.  You only live once, right?

Tomorrow morning I will wake up early and head back to my second semester of Nursing School.  I will put on a brave face for my kids, knowing that two out of three of them feel the same way about school as I do.  I want to show them that I’m not a quitter, and that even though I’m scared of what I will face, I can reach my goal of becoming a nurse. Before I walk out the door,  I’ll ask Billy to pray for me, and the five of us will tightly hold hands as we ask for God’s constant protection and guidance over our lives.  Then they’ll remind me how much they love me, and I’ll remind them I am so proud of who they are becoming.  I might cry a little, but not for long.  It’ll time to get going.  Time to get learning.  Time to face this mountain, and start climbing.  

Friday, August 12, 2011

Television + Marriage =15 years of bliss

Hey Peeps—

One of my favorite shows on Hulu is Househunters.  I can’t help it.  In 20 short minutes I’ve seen another part of the country, without having to get on a stupid airplane ( aka “deathdart”), I’ve learned something about the real estate market in another part of the nation, and I’ve gathered up a few decorating tips that I might not have thought of without actually seeing it up close and personal.

Billy’s weakness on Hulu is called “Wasted Spaces”.  It’s about a crazy Australian guy who builds shelves in peoples wasted space, like attics and basements.  It’s very boring, except for the guys accent, and leaves me feeling unorganized and cranky.  But I continue to watch the show with Billy, as he does for me, even the ones he doesn’t enjoy.  Watching tv together is one of the ways we connect—Don’t go calling Dr. Phil either cause it works for us, whether it’s healthy or not.

For instance, Billy hates the news.  He hates it so much that he’d rather watch an open sore heal than sit in front of the tv and listen to the banter between Mark and Adele on Channel 9.  Now me, I love the news.  It makes me feel informed, connected, prepared for the next day’s weather…it’s an educational, and somewhat entertaining twenty minutes of my day.   Sure it can get depressing, and that’s when I’ll flip over to Seinfeld, in order to end our day on a happy note, rather than a sad one.  There’s nothing better than being reminded of the soup Nazi, or George’s Jerk store comeback. 

This week Billy and I will be celebrating 15 years of marriage.  Please, hold your applause until we reach 50 years.   15 years is good though, right?  I know early on in our dating life there were a few naysayers when they heard I’d met a grunge musician from Seattle.  Not only was Billy a musician, he had long hair, a previous marriage, and was living in his mother’s basement.  Now that I have it down on paper, I can see why people questioned my choices in dating. 

First of all I was desperate.  I had just graduated from college, and was still 100% single.  I was working in a prison for troubled teens, and was highly doubtful I’d find the love of my life in that environment.  Second of all, I had very bad skin and hair.  When Billy showed an interest in me, I thought maybe he was legally blind, and would love me for who I am, rather than my looks.  Thirdly, I chose to date Billy because my mouth muscles ached from smiling whenever I was with him for more than five minutes. 

Once my family met the guy, they knew he was a good one.  In fact, I suspect there’s few relatives who prefer him to me.  The cold hard truth is that Billy is a way better person than I am.  He’s a better parent, better spouse, is socially adept, and culturally sensitive.  I’m fine with all the aforementioned qualities, but the one that annoys me the most is his hair.  He’s always had better hair than me.  It’s thick, healthy, manageable…he’ll never need to do the olive oil treatments.  Billy is a bit of a Renaissance man, and yes, I know I am very, very fortunate. 

Let’s not get all Billy crazy though, okay?  I mean he does have a few faults, some of which I’d like to address now.  For one, he is unorganized and does not multitask well.  He never can remember what night The Amazing Race is on, and he can’t put laundry away correctly to save his life.  The biggest issue I deal with daily is that he’s a total computer geek.  Just today after church we went to lunch with friends.  We were in Boulder and after lunch the guys mentioned the Apple store, within walking distance.  Kristy and I were responsible for the six childrenbetween us, while Billy and Chris took their sweet time perusing the store.  When we got home today Billy described his time alone with Chris, among all the wonderful Apple products.  He said, “we were like a couple of schoolgirls walking around there together”.   I didn’t have time to ask if they were holding hands, because his went on to say, “We were even finishing each other’s sentences”. 

Fifteen years of marriage is something to be proud of, in my opinion.  We’ve worked through some big stuff, and are continuing to learn and grow and raise three kids who hopefully have something good to offer this world.  We know God has blessed us—not the money kind of blessings, but the kind of blessing that you can’t quite put into words.  We’re friends.  We laugh until we cry.  We love our kids more than ourselves.  We say sorry.  We are a team.  In the end, marriage is about love, communication, and compromise.  And watching each other’s shows.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Summer Revelation

Hey Peeps—

I just had my biggest summer revelation of 2011:  I have not been alone since May 27th, the day my children were released from school.  I guess that’s a small lie, since I have been alone three times actually.  Twice I went to shadow my friend who is a Physicians Assistant, and once I had to do some other errands for my upcoming semester of Nursing School.  Okay, now that the truth’s been told, does being away from one’s children three times in a whole summer seem normal to anyone else?  Anyone?

The revelation was startling yesterday.  It happened at Wal-mart as Will, Faith, and I locked hands in the heat and walked to our car.  I never even go to Wal-mart, mostly because I hate it, but thought I’d take some time to be smart and do a little comparision shopping for school supplies.  A.  Their prices were no better than Target, and B. Checker #11 didn’t know my name like Shan over at Supertarget, nor did she tickle my children.  As we walked on the hot, black asphalt with our small purchase, the heat caused my children to groan and complain like I imagine animals living in the Sahara Desert or Arkansas, might do.    I reached into my imaginary bag of encouraging motherly comments, and realized the bag was empty.  I’d used them all up over the course of our exciting summer of camping, swimming, biking, movies, going for ice cream, and your plain ole’ run of the mill fun.

And since I like to keep it real with you, I think I should tell you my other summer revelation, partially thanks to Will who is six, and more observant than most.  The bottom line is this:  I am not aging well at all.  Especially from the neck up.  Will described it like this, “Mommy, you look like salami”. 

Last night when all five of us were home again, and all seemed right with the world, I called Billy outside to sit with me on the swing in our backyard.  Normally as we swing we talk about happy things like Smashburger, kittens, or cute things the children said.  Not last night though.  It was a family business meeting and this CMO—Chief Mother Officer—needed to let her partner know she needed a day off.

Billy is a smart man.  He saw the desperation in my eyes right away.  He listened and spoke calmly to me, like I imagine one might respond to a bear in the wild who was ready to rip someone’s head off.  The man gathered the necessary information, and went directly to work.  He came back within minutes with a list of fun and cheap activities he could take the children to next Saturday, in order to give his gal a little “me time”.   

Instantly the guilt washed over me, as I thought about them being away from me for more than two full hours.  What if they need me?  What if someone scrapes their knee?  Will Billy remember the Neosporin and bandaids?  Will he talk about me in a positive light, or refer only to me as “crazy mommy” when they wonder aloud why I stayed home.  It’s only three weeks until the children and I are back to school, and now I’m not sure I want to be away from them for even five minutes.  I’ll have to re-think this whole plan, maybe over a bowl of frozen yogurt with fresh fruit.  And chocolate. 

In the end I think I’ll let Billy take the kids on an adventure without me.  They will have fun together, bond, make memories, and maybe even miss me for the few hours they are away.  Fathers need to be as much a presence in their kids lives as mothers, right?  Perhaps the alone time will help me find some new encouraging phrases to put in my imaginary bag, and re-energize me enough to face a very hectic Fall schedule.  If nothing else, I’ll just sit on my swing in the backyard, and wait patiently for the garage door to open.  They will run all over the house yelling for me, fighting already as to who will tell me about their adventure first.  We’ll sit together and talk for a bit, and by the end of the night we’ll be huddled up on the couch watching The Cosby Show on Netflix.  A pretty sweet ending to what might be a quiet day.  

Thursday, July 21, 2011

My summer project: How not to die at Water World

Hey Peeps—

I think everyone should have a summer project.  For one person it might be making cards for the troops over in Iraq.  For another, perhaps it’s delivering meals to the elderly.  For me, I decided it was time to focus on my hair.  After several applications of olive oil to my head, you will be happy to know I think it’s working. My hair is beginning to feel less like hay, and more like hair.  And here’s a shocker:  no one told me it was a good idea to pour olive oil on my head, I came up with it all on my own. I saw my friend Mona the other day at Costco on “treatment” day.  At first she was embarrassed to be seen not wearing make-up, but once she saw my greasy up-do, she relaxed in the comfort of my ugliness.   I guess you could say that true beauty comes at a price. 

One thing I try and avoid is getting chlorine in my hair.  I take the kids swimming regularly, but I do all I can to keep my head above water.  At the neighborhood pool we visit, keeping my hair dry has been fairly simple.  However, Will likes to push my boundaries in the water, and has gone out a little too far a couple times.  I’m always right there with him, as a good mother should be, but I’m happy to say when I’ve saved his life, I’ve also managed to keep my hair from getting completely wet.  

Unfortunately last Sunday, when I had my NDE (Near Death Experience) at Water World, my head was completely submerged, undoing all of my hard olive oil work.  I also lost my $7.00 sunglasses, so that made me pretty mad too.  By the way, if you think you might be a “strong swimmer” but aren’t 100% sure, it might be best to avoid the Wave Pool at Water World.  Or at least stay in the shallow end…which I thought was for wimps. 

Everyone has been telling us we NEED to go to Water World—that if we don’t we are MISSING out on the BEST fun of our lives.  People I used to trust told me the kids would love it, and that we’d all come home safe and in tact.  We met up with some friends who go to WW every week, and they were excited to show us some of the best rides.  I tried to not be jealous of Jen’s ability to carry a 400 lb tube up a hill while talking effortlessly about giving birth without pain medication.  And then there was Billy and Greg bonding over some obsolete guitarist from 1987 that only two people in the world remember.  (Billy and Greg) 

After a few slides, we headed over to the Wave Pool, and our friends explained how to jump over the waves once they began.  Right before the first wave, Faith shouted she needed to go potty, so Billy and I swapped kids—he handed Will to me, and took Faith.  As they swam off, he yelled, “Keep an eye on Jack!”.  Wave number one came.  So far so good.  I jumped, Will screamed in delight.  Wave number two came.  I jumped, Will screamed again, and then I remembered my 11 year old son—the one I was supposed to keep an eye on, who isn’t a strong swimmer.  Wave three came, but I didn’t see it, as I was looking for Jack, in a sea of 4,783 people.  This wave pulled me under, but I managed to keep Will up.  The next 3 consecutives waves also pulled me under, and each time I popped up looking for Jack, while telling Will, “We’re okay Will!  Mommy’s gonna save us.  We just gotta get to shallow waters.”  At this point my friend Jen yelled to me, “Lisa!  Are you in trouble?”  I couldn’t answer, because I was drifting off toward the light. 

Somehow we made it out of the deep waters, to a place we could stand.  My sunglasses were gone, I still couldn’t find Jack, and my hair was completely wet.  The waves stopped, and my friend Jen helped me look for Jack.  We found him a couple minutes later, safely in Billy’s arms, along with Faith.  All I could do was laugh.  I probably should’ve been crying, and trying to find an on-site therapist for the boys, but instead we laughed.  Can’t help it.  It’s how we roll. 

Alas, it was not our Time…on the way home I told the boys we had to go back one more time before summer was up.  Sometimes you have to face what you are most afraid of, and swim right straight into it.  Or jump over it.  Just be sure to wear a swim cap.  And maybe a life jacket.