Tuesday, September 29, 2015

"Who would ban books?!"

Rebecca and I stopped by our local library on Monday. She wanted to check out the Harry Potter audio books and I just love being around all those books so it’s not hard to get me in there. As we sat and read a bit, she noticed this sign:

And she was appalled.

The books highlighted on the shelf included Moby-Dick, The Diary of Anne Frank, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. “What do you mean these books are banned? I’ve read some of them!” she cried.

“The sign on To Kill a Mockingbird says it’s a filthy, trashy novel! Who said that? Have they read it?” She was really, really hot.

My heart soared. My dear child knows how wrong it is to ban books, even books she might find disagreeable or offensive. My child lives in a world that doesn’t have a category for banned books. The libertarian in me was thrilled!

We spent some time talking about why the books were banned and/or challenged and what books were commonly banned, like Animal Farm, The Catcher in the Rye and, on a more recent list of banned and challenged books, The Giver.

“What?! The Giver is all about not letting people think for themselves! It’s all about government telling you what to do. It’s just like this, just like putting books on a banned list.” She was truly astonished.

And then she said, “Why would the library want to ban books?!”

Oh. Apparently we don’t talk about Banned Books Week in our home school…

When I explained the purpose of Banned Books Week she was beyond relieved to learn her beloved librarians weren’t out burning books in the library dumpster. But she was astonished that people, in this day and age, were still trying to ban books. “If you don’t like it, don’t read it,” was her response.

Sounds like a good slogan for Banned Books Week.

I may have neglected to tell her about people who want to ban books, but at least I passed on my libertarian leanings. I’ll call that a win.
Glad we got this cleared up!

 Banned Books Week is this week, September 27 - October 3. Want to read up on the week? The homepage of the celebration has lots of good info and links. Go read a book! 

Friday, September 18, 2015

We know sexy

After 23 years of marriage, we know how to celebrate our anniversary. We go somewhere for a weekend, get good food, then walk for miles to work off that good food. And then we head back to the hotel room, get cozy under the sheets and map out our calendars for the rest of the year.*

Oh yes, friends. That is exactly how we spent the better part of last Saturday afternoon on our anniversary trip to Chicago - figuring out what the next three months of our lives look like.

As we looked out the window of our lovely hotel room that overlooked the Water Tower on the Magnificent Mile, I worked our master Google calendar on my laptop and Sean updated the calendar app on his phone. We cranked through Rebecca’s and Amy’s upcoming performances and our plans for the car show at Michael’s school. We mapped out a schedule for rehearsals for a children’s choir we’re starting at church. We wrote in the potential Saturday rehearsals for the Christmas choir. I reminded him of the bi-monthly meetings I have with a friend from church and he reminded me of the meal I need to provide for his work luncheon (that’s today!).

As a result of the calendar coordination I wrote a mile-long to-do list that I’ve been working through all week. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll finish it by the end of the year.

Or not.

Twenty-three years ago I never dreamed that coordinating calendars would happen on an anniversary trip. How unromantic. I also never dreamed I’d become a list-maker. How un-spontaneous. But after 23 years of marriage, getting our lives on the same page so our bodies end up in the right places feels spectacularly romantic to me. Sexy, even.

Happy Anniversary to my planner, who’s pulled me, ever so slightly, to the list-making dark side. I’ll gladly sit on the bed and make lists with you any day.

*For the record, we were on the couch. He'd have been at a desk if we'd had one. Please - you think the engineer could do that kind of work on the bed? But I couldn't pass up the opportunity to terrify my offspring - I'm sure they thought I'd say, “And who knows what else will come from that calendar-and-list-making session…” I do enjoy this part of motherhood.

The guy at my right shoulder is married to my sister. The guy on my left is married to Sean's sister. I thought they'd like a picture to remind them of their hair.

Other than a little piece of cake, we didn't eat at our reception. There were so many lovely people to talk to! We drove through Wendy's on the way to our hotel.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Put down the white shoes and nobody gets hurt

In honor of Labor Day, I wore white pants yesterday. And last night, I threw them in the laundry basket to be washed and put away until Memorial Day. Because all Southern girls were taught not to wear white after Labor Day.

some ecards
Now I realize this is a fashion decision that has decidedly fallen out of style. Everywhere people are saying this old fashioned idea should be put to rest. I can’t count the number of fashion bloggers who are declaring this tradition dead. The fabulous Stacy London suggests wearing winter white. Even the writers for the imitable Emily Post have chimed in to say the tradition is past its time

Stacy and Emily’s desire to end the tradition did give me pause. But it wasn’t until Tim Gunn chimed in that I had real heart palpitations. When asked if wearing white after Labor Day should be allowed, he said:

“Oh absolutely! All those rules need to go away. All of them, absolutely. In fact, winter white is stunning, it really is.”

Now y’all, I love Tim Gunn. I absolutely adore him. I got to know him on Project Runway and fell in love with the way he tells it like it is when needed but also loves on the contestants when he senses a breakdown in process. Plus, his fashion advice is classic and classy. So to hear him say this rule I’ve known, loved and lived by since I was a mere babe should be tossed into the garbage heap of fashion history is disarming to say the least.


As much as I love Tim Gunn, even his words of recommendation aren’t enough to get me to pull out my white pants from the summer storage bin. The tradition is too ingrained in me to toss completely. I spent the first 35 years of my life in the South where I was trained not to wear white pants or shoes after Labor Day; not sure a few blog posts or words from a fashion mentor can drive that training from my brain or heart.

That Southern training goes deep.

So no matter what my fashion and etiquette gurus say, my white shoes and pants will be safely stored until next May. At which point, I’ll pull them out, dust them off and say, “Summer already? Man, time flies.”

Just a reminder not to wear  white after Labor Day  or Crocs, ever.:

Thursday, September 03, 2015


It’s the time of year for hellos and goodbyes. Hello to the new school year, new friends, new schedules. Goodbye to sleeping in, vacation days, lazy summer schedules. And for some of us, we have to say hello to a new family dynamic as we say goodbye to our college students.

I’m getting to be a pro at this hello/goodbye thing. Michael started his senior year of college this week. Amy began her sophomore year this week, too. The transition from a household of five to three again feels gloomy
Amy's room on move-in day.
and at the same time okay. Sean, Rebecca and I know what to expect now: quiet. With the two big kids out, things get very, very still around here. We’ll like it for a while. Then we’ll need a visit, an infusion of their energy. And then we’ll be okay with the quiet again.

This ebb and flow of a household in transition can’t be explained. I have a dear friend who just sent off her oldest – I want to tell her what to expect, but there’s no explaining it. You just have to live it. You live through the drop-off. Then you live through the first few days with the void of his presence. Then you live through the first visit. Then Christmas break. And before you know it, the kid you thought you’d never see again (figuratively, thankfully) is home for summer break.

This season of parenting is the perfect example of mixed emotions. There’s so much joy and so much sadness. Reminds me of Solomon and his words in Ecclesiastes: there’s a season for everything. Of course, when I read this as a younger mom, I thought the seasons would be long – I didn’t realize the seasons could be different minutes of each day! For instance, there’s a time to mourn (when you wave goodbye) and a time to dance (when you get the text that the roommate is a great guy), a time to weep (when you pass by the empty bedroom) and a time to laugh (when you remember a fun family time).

The emotional gymnastics of college moms could qualify us for the Olympics!

So goodbye to the lazy days of summer and hello to the new school year. And here’s to enjoying the coming days with all the emotional twists and turns they bring.

If only that would could for actual physical exercise…

Michael's room.

Just once, I'd like them to simply pose like the normal people they see around them.

Sean sent flowers to mark the first day of the school year - 
some of the most lovely flowers he's ever sent.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

He's Cold. Very Cold.

Michael's obsession with James Bond is the reason that he's been cold for three years. 

The Bond film Skyfall came out in 2012. And since then, Michael cannot find a jacket he wants to buy. Because the jacket he wants to buy is worn by James Bond in that movie. And we cannot find a jacket that looks like it. He will not settle on any other jacket because the next jacket he buys has to look exactly like that one.

The dream coat. Good thing Michael's not
looking for the car, too.
Why don’t we just get the actual jacket? Because it costs over $500. So we are on the hunt for one with the same aesthetic. And I cannot count the number of stores we’ve visited, trying to find a coat that resembles the Skyfall coat.

Please understand that I do not have the Shopping Gene. Some people can go from store to store to store, finding joy in the hunt. I am not one of those people. I’m more of the get in, get it, and get out kind of shopper. So this endless search has driven me nuts. And the fact that it's gone on for years is also wearing on me.

The upside is the boy won't spend money on anything he doesn't love. The downside is he still doesn't have a coat.

As we did a little back-to-school shopping this weekend, we once again attempted to find a fall coat that he will agree to wear. In each store, I would ask him, “How about this one?” And each answer was negative. So I began holding up empty hangers asking if this one would work. Then I pretended to drape him in imaginary fabric asking how the fit felt. “Maybe you and the emperor with his new clothes can get together and do some shopping!”

As you can imagine, this did not go over well.

After going through several stores and finding nothing that would work, we landed in our gazillionth outerwear store. And when the sales clerk welcomed us and asked if we were looking for anything in particular, I finally told the truth:

“Yes. We are looking for an imaginary coat. I have no idea if it actually exists outside my son’s mind. If you can find that coat for me, I would be eternally grateful.”

The clerk, as you can imagine, had no idea what to say. Michael acted like he didn't know me. And we didn’t find anything. Again.

I’m beginning to think he’s going to be cold for a long, long time.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Early birthday love

August 21, 1996: life was pretty normal. August 22, 1996: everything changed. Because that was the day Amy Elizabeth entered the world. And nothing has been the same since.

While Amy was by far our best sleeper (eight hours a night at four weeks – no joke), she was also, by far, our loudest baby. She had a wonderful, bold laugh. She also had an incredible scream. When she was unhappy, everyone knew it. Like the whole neighborhood. And surrounding towns. And possibly Alabama.

Our first daughter has taken us on quite a ride these past 19 years. She has brought great joy to our lives. We’ve also cried buckets of tears over her. The move to Michigan was hard on the girl, and the years immediately following our relocation were really, really rough. We prayed more for her then than we ever had before. I am so grateful for the many friends the Lord put in our lives during that time – they prayed for her when we felt prayed out. They loved her and us. And it’s especially sweet that we can look back now and thank the Lord for bringing us all through that difficult time.

Next week we’ll take her back to school for her sophomore year. I didn’t like it when we dropped her off last year and I won’t like it any better this year. But the guy I sleep with keeps telling me that I have to be a Big Girl and do it. Well, he can make me drive her up there and haul all her stuff up four flights of stairs in an un-air-conditioned dormitory, but he can’t make me like it. Because each step up and down those dorm steps is one step closer to the end of a wonderful summer with our sweet first girl. And I’m just not ready for it to end. I never knew how much fun I could have with her – I certainly never dreamed it when she was
yelling at the top of her baby lungs...

Happy, happy birthday, Amy-girl. We love you lots!

Monday, August 03, 2015

Help me, Meg and Katie. You're my only hope!

Thankfully summer is here and Amy is not wearing socks with her sandals. I wrote about her style faux pas back in March. Some tried to convince me that look was in this season - just because some people think socks and sandals are "in" doesn't mean they're right. Because they're not. But true vindication came in comments from Meg and Katie, two of Amy's college friends who loved the post and completely agreed with me. Clearly these two young, stylish ladies' opinions would sway Amy and convince her to quit wearing socks with her Chacos.

Wishful thinking. The girl still thinks the sock/sandal combo is a go-to look for chilly temps. Where did I go wrong?

Meg and Katie, I think we may need to stage an intervention. Somehow, we are not being heard. Amy doesn't seem to understand that socks are for winter and sandals are for summer. And the two should not met.

Surely if the three of us keep working on her she'll come around. Right?

We can hope.

Meg and Katie with Amy this weekend at Meg's final performance of 
Footloose at Grand Rapids Civic. She did a great job as Ariel!