Tuesday, January 24, 2012


I started the process of moving over to wordpress about a year ago, then never did it, then didn't write for months this summer and fall while I started homeschooling my daughter.  I finally posted after all of this, and wanted to let you know where to find me.  I'd like to promise that I'll be writing a ton, but any commitment I make to write more is the kiss of death. Please come with me to momdeprovence.wordpress.com

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Good Stuff

Our book club is gearing up for a second attempt at meeting to discuss One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp.  The first attempt was me, a turkey dinner, and two good friends.

 I feel so compelled to share this book with as many people as possible, as it gives the gift of of perspective in a way no other book has.   I believe a plague on many at-home moms is the belief that we are missing out, biding our time until we can move on with our lives. But it's a lie.

I spent the week in the woods with my children camping. I was not raised a camper, more a Holiday Inner, so this is sort of a big deal. And I was alone with them for most of the time, so I'm pretty much a rock star. I'll sign autographs later.

We ate our breakfast eggs under the watchful gaze of towering pines, played telephone by a crackling fire, ate way too many marshmallows, and sang at the top of our lungs while washing dinner dishes.  Our last night was one of "true confessions" at the campfire, hosted by the fiesty girl with the sweet smile.  She says "we'll laugh about this later."
And these are all gifts, memories to stow away and laugh about one day. Seeing everything as "gift" straight from God removes that constant feeling of hurrying through what I'm living today to get on to the really meaningful stuff.  Today, right now, this is the moment to be savored as gift.  No hurrying for tomorrow, for success, for contentment. Contentment is now, right in front of me. It is gift in my open hand. 
Simon enjoys some sweet downhill speed in between Smores.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


The drizzle of rain outside my window sparks memories in my ears.  I started a writing project back in December that got temporarily sidetracked by a furry adoption and subsequent training and readjusting. It would be dishonest if I didn't admit that opening the box of my past (literally a box of my old journals) didn't give me a reason to stop and digest.  I'm back in the game, however, and reveling in what I can only attribute to the God who loves me.

My pastor just gave a sermon on how "everything happens for a reason," is one of those stupid things that well meaning people believe. I heard his case, and I totally get it, but on a day like today I still believe it.    I'm really talking about all of the little particles of  life that that appear around me and start to form a picture.  I see a pattern and a purpose in choices that seemed random at the time.

 I decided to bring my writing project along with me on vacation, since I would be spending time alone with my husband and alone with myself for the first time in years.  I figured I would at least have time to get the juices flowing.  I also wanted to throw a book on my Kindle for my reading pleasure, so I downloaded A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by my favorite best guy friend I've never met, but who makes me belly laugh whenever I read his work. When we got on the plane to Seattle, Mel announces that we're going to try and visit a friend of his before we drive over to Canada. Totally last minute, but I would expect nothing else from my husband.  I decide to go with it, see it as a divine appointment.

Serendipity occurs when within the first 5 minutes at this friend's house, I learn from his wife that she's a self-employed editor, sort of an idea coach. She has a great book about memoir writing that she recommends, and she generally encourages me to continue with my project.  I tell Mel on our long drive to Canada, that if I ever finish this book, I'm totally hiring her to help me shape it.

Double Serendipity for me when I'm lounging at the pool yesterday, and Donald Miller is talking to me about Story in the book I randomly chose for my trip. In A Million Miles he's telling the story of helping write the screenplay adaptation for his book, Blue Like Jazz. It's like the conversation I had with Encouraging Editor is continuing in the book by Miller, like we were all there at the dinner table together and he's just building on what we touched on earlier. 

So to all of you skeptics who say you don't understand what I'm talking about when I say "God is talking", this is how I hear his voice:  through people, smells, words, pictures. I hear him encouraging me to continue the project, and hear him explaining the Story we're all living. 

"Glory to God in the highest, for all these events led me to you. Your gentle hands protected me as I wandered in the woods.  I snagged my clothes on thorns, but no wild beast devoured me."

Monday, April 11, 2011


The minute I committed to writing and posting at least once a week, my brain's inspiration went on hiatus. Every morning I resolve to start fresh,  and then there's the baby up in his bedroom serenading me, calling me to come and rescue him from his tower. The dog baby paws at my laptop and runs up the stairs to retrieve her charge. The Boy wanders down, stares at me vacantly, dish-blond hair at attention. Husband calls from the bedroom requesting a cup of coffee in bed. Big girls are up, wandering around the kitchen, asking for food. That's it.  Breakfast must be had, children dressed, a day planned.
 How do other writers do it? By the time I have carved out a little piece of my day to exercise my brain, all I want to do is sleep. It doesn't help that I'm nursing a toddler who thinks I'm a giant teething ring. And yet I keep starting posts and not posting them, sketching out pieces of chapters and walking away for weeks on end.  Today I'm blogging instead of sleeping, sending it out there all imperfect, just to set the wheels back in motion. My love of words compels me.  When I sit down with God at the end of my life, I want to remember what happened and have some good stories to tell him. (Thank you Donald Miller)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Signs it's Time to Wean Your Toddler

This one's been brewing in me all week while I fight a virus and nurse my almost 2 year-old bundle of wonder.

1. If you toddler pulls away while nursing to entertain you with his beat boxing, it might be time to consider weaning.

2. If Cutie can and does put his leg up through your shirt and through your collar to rest his foot on your face while nursing, it might be time.

3. If you can't sit down without him flopping down on your lap and saying "peeese", it might be time.  At least he says please.

4. If your toddler believes you are a cool refreshment that must remain exposed and available to him through an entire movie, it might be time.

5.  If you start seriously pondering any of the crazy tactics used around the world, like rubbing dung or bitter concoctions on your milk producers, you know exactly what time it is.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Notebook

Some people save pictures in scrapbooks, ribbons and trophies, figurine collectibles.  I save everything I've ever written, from the moment I started writing things down.  I asked My husband to retrieve "my box" with all of the older stuff in it so I could fill in some memory holes for my foreign exchange book.  It took all of Christmas vacation, but it finally appeared, and right on top was a school notebook from 1984.  I'd etched the Van Halen logo in several places and written other random things on the front.  As I started reading the stuff on the inside I had to put it down and walk away.  I left it for another week, and then one of my girls read a page---"AAACK don't read that, you must never read any of that."  So I'd just given her the greatest temptation ever.
 I took the book back in my hand and read through again, feeling nauseous, feeling very sad.  In French I told my husband what I'd written about, stuff he knows, some he doesn't.
"Girls, I want you to know that the reason I don't want you to ever read that is because it's not your mom.  That isn't me.  It's who I was before I knew Christ."
The notebook is now strategically hidden.  I've made a plan to make one more pass through it and then throw it away.  Burn it.  It was my lonliest most tragic summer, filled with things I'm forever scarred by, things I truly regret. I'm not ashamed for my daughters to know what happened, but I want to tell them with my true voice, not have them hear it from the very confused girl, who wrote about herself in the third person half the time.
There is one piece that I will keep, an ode to an Autumn leaf, that I wrote on stationary and tucked neatly in the notebook.  I'll keep this thing because it is truly beautifully written and it celebrates beauty and being alive. The rest will burn.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Obedience School Dropout

This week we lived through our first bath, learned to sit and lay down, and dropped out of our first obedience class.  I'm so proud of myself, really.  I signed up for the class offered by my rec department, and since this was the guy recommended by all the shelters in the area, I didn't think twice about it.  I was a little surprised that a choke chain was required, but sure I'll buy one. The first night he was a little harsh with a couple of the very aggressive dogs in the class, but at the time I really appreciated it.  After the second week, and seeing my dog get aggressive when she hadn't been before, I made the call.  The program coordinator asks me straightaway, "did he throw a chain at your dog?" Seriously.  And what's worse, he had thrown a chain at a 6 month old lab puppy who was snarling at my dog.
I swear I'm a mom blog, not a dog blog, but being a dog mom is making me sort of "focused" on this topic.   This week I experienced a deja vu of my early parenting experience, when my eyes were opened to the huge chasm between "parenting styles" in our country. At the time I followed my heart and prayed through a churning gut about some of the things the people around me believed and practiced.  As I grew in confidence as a mom, I could speak more authoritatively about what worked for me and why I didn't do it the way they did.  I was really assuming that dog raising would be a little simpler and less volatile than that, but that is not the human way, is it?

So we are looking for a new class, preferably one that uses treats and praise. The most amazing book for me on this journey has  been, Living with Kids and Dogs...Without Losing Your Mind by Colleen Pelar.  Short and simple, it has allowed me to prepare my house and kids for introducing a dog into the family. She provides simple things you can teach each age of child (The Boy loves to "be a tree" when Belle comes looking for a treat in his hand) and ways to train your dog around the kids with treats and positive reinforcement.  I have also loved The Adopted Dog Bible by those great folks at Petfinder.com . It's all in there, from housetraining to buying a brush.  And can I say that my dog stopped bunching up and dropping steamy loads around my house within the first week by using lots of positive reinforcement and not one rolled up newspaper.