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Sunday, January 30, 2011


As it happens, the loveliest day of our vacation turned out to be the one in which we had to come home.  Sunny and 70, it was the kind of weather people travel to Florida for.  The kind of weather we traveled to Florida for.  And we were so thankful for it.  Partook in all those fun last-day-of-vacation rituals, like wondering if you really need that pair of shoes anymore since you're pretty sure they are going to throw your suitcase over the fifty pound limit and feeding the kids whatever is left in your fridge just so it doesn't go to waste.  We did those things and more and at the end of a delicious day, still dragged ourselves to the airport and came home, even though none of us wanted to and no one less than my sister who has to move on Tuesday, but could forget about that as long as she was in Florida.  We said goodbye to all our favorite places and promised we'd be back as soon as we could.  Sooner, even, if we can.
And in the end it was our memories that kept us warm on the flight to the frozen north, Peter sick as ever next to me.  I joined all the college kids at Meijers, restocking our fridge and pantry in the middle of the night so I wouldn't have to do it today.  Which panned out well since we spent a lovely, lazy day in our warm nummies, looking at pictures of our trip (which are decidedly lacking in quantity, I must admit) and reading and moving Lucy into her new big bed.  Tess fell sick this afternoon and Peter's coughing sounds like an entire Tuberculosis ward contained in one little boy and with a major snow storm forecasted for Tuesday, I'm especially thankful we can hunker down and weather it out with a full pantry and a new appreciation for the beauty of a snow covered landscape.  Florida is great, but we love Michigan, with all it's seasons and weather quirks and fresh water lakes.  But we'll go wherever our family is, because that is home.

Friday, January 28, 2011


Possibly our most beautiful day yet, evidenced by rosy cheeks and noses and probably three hundred more freckles sprinkled across Grant's cheeks.  With Peter still down, but on the upswing, we split up, leaving one parent inside with him and the other supervising pool activities.  And since I did sick duty yesterday and since I still can't get my nose out of Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, I took pool duty.  It's one of my favorite things: sitting in the warm sun, watching kids splash and play and chatting with people I love.  One of my favorite things even though my sister left this morning.  One of my favorite things even though part of my heart was inside with Peter, sick on the couch, and wishing Dan was next to me on the lounge.  One of my favorite things even though it was the last full day of vacation and as such, sent my mind spinning between what we have yet to do before we leave this wonderful place (like a last burger at Cheeburger, Cheeburger, and renting a surray bike and visiting the shell museum) and what the coming week is going to hold (back to school, birthday parties, grocery shopping, working in Tessie's room, hosting lunch club, getting chicken food).  One of my favorite things even though we leave tomorrow and, while we pray we'll be back some time, we have no immediate plans to do so and so it's wistful.  But I'm so thankful for this sweet sweet time and so happy to have spent nine days with my family, large and small.  So happy.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


While the dads once again took off with the kids, this time to the Naples Zoo, the moms and a couple stray children stayed behind to hang out and soak up a little sun.  Unfortunately, Peter is still so sick, so my day was spent snuggling him on the couch and reading.  Speaking of which, if you haven't read Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, head to Costco where it's cheapest and get your hands on a copy.  It's the true story of Louie Zamberini and his fight for survival after his bomber crashed into the ocean during WWII.  If you're not a fan of non-fiction, let this be the book that breaks you out of your genre comfort zone.  My dad passed it along to me a couple of days ago and I've had my nose in it ever since.  And while I'm praying hard for complete healing for Peter during the night so he can enjoy his last day here tomorrow, I'm selfishly so thankful for a few blessed hours this morning in which to lose myself in history and well placed words.  And since the zoo visitors got to see poisonous snakes up close and personal and watch some crazy zoo-keeper man feed a chicken to an alligator, we're all happy.  Until I think that tomorrow I have to say goodbye to my sister and watch her fly off back to Norway.  Then I'm a little sad and wistful.  But I'm still happy.


After a night of helping two of my four kids make it to the bowl on time, we spent a lazy morning doing more of the same.  The fever that came on so suddenly in Tess left just as quickly, but Peter nearly always takes longer to recover.  He's still throwing up and hot.  And with our vacation running out and the list of things we wanted to do here still largely unchecked, we find ourselves wistfully wishing we'd not left it all for the end.  But c'est la vie.  Even if we don't do anything else for the rest of our time here, we'll still leave completely satisfied that we spent precious time with family.  And if the last few months has taught us nothing else, we've learned that putting our to-do lists aside and just being with family is precious.  Very much so.  And so is listening to Tessie's ever growing list that begins with, "The fing I like most about Fworida is...", and watching Grant head off to the tennis court for the third time today and seeing Lulu's curls get even tighter so that I can watching it twine around my little finger and become lost in it's soft springiness, and watching Dan's beard get longer and longer as he shrugs off all the weight of keeping us and his work afloat at home, the length of his stubble a testiment to how relaxed he is.  And even snuggling with Peter on the couch, putting my cool fingers on his hot forehead.  Those things are precious too.  Very much so.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


The warmest day yet, nearly 75 balmy degrees, and we took full advantage of it, basking, swimming, souveniring.  Lucy's curls get tighter and more riotous by the hour, leaving us with an eyeful of bouncing spirals as she runs: away from us, toward precariously balanced displays, into danger.  Curls.  Tess got her first pair of Havaianas, much to my delight, pink, pearly ones that make her feel all grown up.  And everyone picked out their souvenir.  But only after Tess and Peter melted down in the toy store, chagrined at not being able to get Legos or a Barbie mermaid (a policy we later revoked on account of Tess asking in possibly the sweetest way for the mermaid she's apparently wanted her whole life).  Embarrassed and utterly ashamed, we dragged them to the car with threats we couldn't possibly see through.  Threats that involved leaving the island and/or keeping them out of the pool all afternoon.  Instead, we drove to another store and left them outside the door while we went in a bought Grant a souvenir as our thanks for being the only one who hadn't thrown a fit at the last store.  They watched, shame faced through the open door as he was handed his bag, then asked our forgiveness, which we gave of course.  After a penitent afternoon with no one asking if we can go get a souvenir now, please?, we did.  And so tonight we're tucking four tired kids into beds with their new souvenirs and happy smiles and heading there ourselves.  Can't wait.

Monday, January 24, 2011


As if sitting by the pool all day, watching the kids swim and alternately purusing design magazines and chatting with my dad wasn't enough, today was perfect in all it's other parts.  The dads headed off to take the kids to bet on the crab races while the moms and babies took off in search of Naples shopping.  Hours later, Tessie's hermit crab, Unicorn Love, took the red second prize ribbon and won her thirteen dollars, more money than she's ever had in her piggy bank at one time.  And the moms and babies had driven hours for less than twenty five minutes of shopping, but my stomach hurts from laughing and my soul has been filled in a way that the necklace I saw on sale at Anthropologie can't (although I was sort of convinced it might at the time).  This time is so sweet.  And even though tomorrow is calling for thunder and rain, we're together and that's the best part.


So much sun, I've completely restored my vitamin D levels.  Worshiped at a lovely church this morning then hit the farmer's market, but couldn't find the strawberries I was looking for.  Spent a magical afternoon on the beach on borrowed chairs watching the kids make sculptures with borrowed buckets and shovels and fried my chest.  Am looking forward to another Keloid scar as a result and have decided to name this one Francis. 
Tomorrow promises to be sunny and high 60's, which we'll take.  Any day.  Cause we're here and so is our family and lots of the people we love, including my brother in law who flew in last night, changing places with my baby sister who flew out at the same time.  So we're breaking out the chemical chips and calling a moratoriam on good sense in the interest of having fun.


We've been forced to completely obscure our snowbird feathers under layers of sweatshirts in an effort to ward off the chill.  A family of matryoska dolls.  It's in the low forties.  Too cold to swim, or even be outside, really.  Still, we're not home, so the adventure continues.  So happy I made packing our fleece blankets (all of them) a priority, since wrapping up in them and watching HGTV is so totally on my horizon tonight. 
Drove to Captiva Island for an insanely expensive dinner with bread that I'd pet a snake for.  Seriously.  Realized in the middle of the night that we left our stroller there.  Am going back for more bread.  Might pick up the stroller if I think of it.


Bar none, best part of today was walking into my parent's place and finding my sister from Norway sitting on the couch.  Still can't believe it.  Totally can't believe it.  Eight more days of catching up with her (it'll take us that long) and watching the kids run on the beach and maybe actually finishing a sentence with my husband.  Overcast and cool today, but we'll take it.  Ate a rocking burger at Cheeburger, Cheeburger, one of our favorite island burger joints.  A cool fifties place that allowed Papa a serene hour of knowing all the lyrics and telling us.  We will be going back for seconds before the week is up.  I can feel it.


Not the number of pieces of luggage we took.  Not the number of times the kids asked if it was time to leave yet.  Not even the number of packages the UPS man delivered with sandals and swimsuits and sunscreen.  Day 10 saw us flying the coop with 21 members of my family, 13 of them children, all of us giddy with excitement.  None more so than Nana.  We're off.


We've been transformed into snow birds and have flown the coop, and while we'll be calling Sanibel Island our new nest until Saturday, we'll still be checking in with our folks in the snowy north.  I meant to post everyday from vacation, not only to show you what you're missing, but also just to stay connected, but then promptly forgot that I meant to do that, so I'll be posting numbers 10-6 today since we actually left last Thursday.  Try to keep up.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


There are these people I love (you know who you are) who were asked by the Holy Spirit to move downtown and minister to the people on the west side.  And they did it.  Them and their four kids, now five kids, moved there and began a house of prayer that is linked in my sidebar.  It's called the Stockbridge Boiler Room and if you ever are driving around the west side on a Wednesday night and you want to catch a glimpse of the kingdom of heaven, go there.  Because you'll see homeless people and addicts and business men and families gathered together at a love feast that feeds souls and bodies.  And afterward, if you want, you can stay and worship because that's what they do afterward.  Worship.  We've been there before and need to go more often because it's a glimpse and sometimes (often) that's what we need.
These people (you still know who you are) are flat busted broke.  On account of spending all of themselves on behalf of the least of these and on account of the fact that no showed up to provide dinner for the love feast tonight and they had to buy pizza because there were all these people and they were expecting food.  Had come to get a hot meal.  So they provided it.  Loaves and fishes.  Out of their small small coffers.  That are now empty.  So if you want to share a hot meal with the people Jesus would be hanging out with if he was still on earth, go to the Stockbridge Boiler Room on Wednesdays.  And if you are able and willing, would you please consider giving to the ministry, so that this wonderful work of expanding the kingdom can go on?  There are instructions for that on their website, which is really, really worth visiting.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Spent my T.A.T. (time away tuesday) getting counseled, weighing in, and checking in.  And exactly $123.78 and 3.8 pounds later, I've found another little piece of me that was lost (please, God, let it weigh less than 3.8 pounds, cause that would stink).  And I'm only a little bit sorry for driving away the middle-aged guy just minding his own business and trying to read System Analyzing for Dummies, but we needed that couch by that fireplace and sometimes two mamas have to talk about poop, cause that's what we're in up to our knees somedays.  But this is the thing I learned tonight: that there are dark rooms in everyone's life and if you've invited God to live in you, to inhabit your heart, then he needs access to those dark rooms too, not just the pretty rooms that you're proud of and that make you look good.  The ones you've locked because what is behind the door is too painful, too scary, too shameful, too...  And he's standing at the door waiting for your permission to enter, because he won't unless you ask, and then he'll sort through all the crap behind the door with you so you don't have to do it alone.  He'll just throw that door open and go in with you and Satan will be standing in the doorway, sort of pissed and wondering what just happened because that used to be his room, but not anymore.  Not anymore.  I did that tonight.  Just sat in my car and invited the Holy Spirit to go on in.  Help me sort it out and grab that stuff right away from the evil one who wants to keep it all in there.  Gave him an all-access pass to everything.  Take it. And it's sweet and really scary sorting through all the ugliness you've let built up in the hidden parts of you, but when Jesus is there it's ok because he's got your back.  I'm not living in darkness anymore.  Not anymore.
And then you have to find a dear friend (you'll know who you are) with whom you can whisper secrets in the arts section of Schuler's and when you do, you'll find that you're telling some of the same secrets, only with different words and things will become that much safer because of it.  You'll tell a little ugliness, see that she can handle it, then ask if she thinks your jeans make you look fat because you've been wondering all day and haven't gotten an honest answer out of the baby and someone needs to tell you straight up, for crying out loud and life will continue and you'll still be breathing.  Easier even.  Cause that's how God works: ugly, then some levity, ugly, then some levity.  You've gotta love God.  Seriously.
So this is me being real.  And cleaning out the rooms.  And still wondering why Schuler's can't start selling Aquafina.  Then everything would be perfect.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


Sorry I've been so absent lately.  We're here and doing well.  Really well.  Just haven't felt like writing and haven't had any large events going on that necessitated a post, but there are a million minutiae of life that have continued to go on.  That never stops:
-Tess deciding she desperately wants her ears "peerd" like her friends at school.  Holding her on my lap and telling her that I'm not ready for her to grow up and could she please, please consent to being a big (little) girl a while longer before doing something so grown up?  Holding her and inhaling the perfume of her hair and trying to commit it to memory.
-Peter and I on a date tonight that fed my soul as I drove us along to Costco to pick up a mattress so Lulu can be in a big bed soon, and I nearly ran off the road several times watching his chocolate eyes in the rear view mirror and praying that the car, when we're alone, will always be a place where he can just talk and talk and know I'm listening, just like it was tonight.
-Lulu deciding her first 18 months of being a great eater is officially over and that protein is dumb and vegetables are too.  String cheese has become her love language and I'm tired of speaking it.
-Dan as I type, installing teeny magnets on the kitchen cupboards so they don't spring open as soon as I walk away anymore.  I hated that.
-The boys taught Lucy to burp, which is actually really cute, but very rude, so I'm teaching her to say excuse me, but that is apparently much harder to learn than burping.
-Grant still telling me he's not 'comftortable' with things.  Want to chew on his curly lip when he does that.
-Being in the public schools since they have Martin Luther King day off tomorrow.  Only thing on the agenda is nothing.  And getting my lip and brows waxed.  That has to happen.  Good thing the kids all love to stand around the chair and count down to the rip off, nearly rubbing their little hands together in anticipation.  Except Tess, who holds my hand and tells me it'll be ok.  And Lucy, who sits in her stroller and rubs sucker all over her hair.
-All of us speaking in Ukrainian accents and quoting Gru from Despicable Me.  Grant calls Lucy Dave now after his favorite minion.  "Uhh, Dave?  Listen up please."
-Homemade granola bars from a neighbor (you know who you are) new fav.  Recipe follows (I can take no credit for them.  Unless you love them.  Then I made it up myself.)
2 1/2 cups oats
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 t. cinnamon
3/4 t. salt
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cups flax seed
1/2 cup honey
1 egg
1/2 cup butter
2 t. vanilla
1/2 cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350.  Mix dry ingredients and wet separately, then combine.  Use butter wrapper to grease pan.  Fill with mixture and press.  Bake 20 or until edges are golden brown.  Cool 10 minutes then press firmly into pan again.  Cut into bars and serve.
This is me being real.  Random.

Friday, January 7, 2011


We've been in this strange mode of deep sadness punctuated by frequent tears, yet with the need to keep moving, keep putting one foot in front of the other, in frequent parenthesis.  The sum of the parts is this long run-on sentence of grief and fear and a million other emotions.  But I couldn't stay home and cry yesterday, for goodness sakes, my mother in law was going to get her hair done and if she could pull it together, I certainly could too.  So Lulu and I headed out to run some errands, whispering a silent prayer that we wouldn't see anyone we knew at Costco.  Anyone who would ask how we were doing.  And on the way we found joy.  It was here:
Well, not there exactly, but the same song only on the radio, lulling me from the doldrums into a much better place.  Casting Crowns sings it and it goes like this:

As the thunder rolls
I barely hear Your whisper through the rain
“I’m with you”
And as You mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away

I’ll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
Every tear I’ve cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

I remember when
I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry
You raised me up again
My strength is almost gone
How can I carry on
If I can’t find You
As the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
“I’m with you”
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away

I lift my eyes unto the hills
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord
The Maker of Heaven and Earth

Because the truth of the matter is that if we can't praise God in the midst of the storm we're not really much good to him.  Or anyone.  Not that he expects that from us right away.  He gets it if we need to have a time of joylessness, or even a while to be wicked pissed, but he'll bring us to that place of joy before too long, if we'll only ask to be restored there.  Until then, I think the praise God really loves to garner is when we are laying on the floor, totally broken, so mired down we can't move and so numbed and immobilized we can only whisper, "daddy.  help."  And he does.  But it doesn't always look like calming the seas or quieting the winds.  To us it hasn't looked like miraculous healing for my mother in law, that storm is still blowing.  But it does look like peace, knowing that Jesus is there and if we listen really really hard, around the shrieking of the wind and our own unsettled hearts, we can hear him saying, "NEVER will I leave you or forsake you."  So we're lifting our eyes up to the hills and praising the God who made heaven and earth and holds my mother in law's fragile life in his hands.  And ours too.  
Oh, and our new dryer, the one that melts everything?  The one that I got on sale and has cost us hundreds of dollars in melted warmies?  The one I've called a bastard on more than one occasion?  It's getting fixed.  Thanks to Joy (seriously)(you know who you are, girl) in Customer Service.  She's got my back, overnighting parts here and calling to make sure they've arrived and that the service guy has called and that I have everything I need.  Joy.  I love her.
This is me being real.  Being bombarded by joy.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


Yesterday began filled with promise.  The long-awaitied American Girl nightie finally came.  The one that matches Kit's exactly and has a ruffle down the front.  And Nana skyped (proving once again that she is the most tech savvy Nana ever) to announce to the kids an upcoming get-away to Florida with the whole family.  Cousins too.  Friends came over after school and the moms languished on the couch, watching Andrea's baby roll inside her tummy while the kids destroyed the house and we didn't care.  Not sure we even heard them in the midst of taking a breather and catching up.
And then a call of a very different nature.  My mother in law is not going to get the liver she needs.  Too sick for the life-saving surgery.  And in an instant the world stopped moving for just a bit and we found it hard to catch our breath.  Are finding it hard still this morning.  Dan immediately left to head up north to be with them and his sisters and his parent's pastor and they had a sweet night of praying together and crying and wondering how to help mom live well in these months she has left.
My mom knew just what to do (she always does), ignoring the email I sent out to my family and calling in her response and then just listening as I did the ugly cry on the phone, thinking of missed things: weddings, holidays, trips to the Sugar Cottage and a million other small and big milestones that we need my mother in law for.  It's caused us to reevaluate.  To wonder if we shouldn't skip ski time on Saturday and head up north instead so we can hang out with her and my dad in law, who is so sad.  To wonder if we can't just skip life for the next few months and move in so we can wring out every last second together.  But life does move on, doesn't it?  And the best thing we can do is try to incorporate her into it more so that we spend the next months making the memories we will need to sustain us when she is gone.   How to live the rest of our lives in the next few months so she can see it?
Praise God that he is a God of hope and the great provider.  Praise God that he knew all this already and has been preparing us for it; we see it.  We do.  Praise God that our citizenship is not on earth, but in heaven.  That this world will pass away and a new earth will be revealed and we will be together again when that happens and even if we aren't, it won't matter cause we'll all have Jesus and that matters most.
So this is me being real.  Sad.  Hopeful.  Weepy.  Challenged.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


In a brief, sweating through my bra moment between sleepovers and outdoor activities last week, I determined to launch a better me campaign and declared Tuesdays as my day to implement the bettering plan.  I'm calling it time-away-tuesday.  Some of my plans were derailed.  Joining Weight Watchers (again) was pushed back for another week so we could go to the airport and welcome home my in laws from Florida, undoubtedly a nicer way to spend the dinner hour than paying to have a stranger find out how much I weigh.  And I gave my seven o'clock counseling session to Dan since, with all the health problems his parents are having he needed it more than I did.  I can wait another week to start delving into how messed up I really am.  I did, however, still get to meet my bosom friend (you know who you are) for tea at Schuler's and, in the process, discovered that perhaps sitting with her for the evening got me farther than an hour of Psychotherapy would have.  And at $2.37 for the bottle of Absopure (owners of Schulers, if you're reading this...Absopure?  Really?), considerable cheaper than counseling.  Now if she would hand me a pamphlet at the end next time, you could convince me to swear off counseling forever.
Not that this gig is bad.  This wiping snotty noses-picking up soggy snow gear from the floor (again)-reading books on the couch with my girlies while wearing warm nummies and watching the snow fall outside-making a casserole for dinner-tackling the boys so I can get some sugar-cleaning the house even though it's going to be unclean in three minutes-coaching the boys through their spelling lists even when English makes no sense and was clearly invented by idiots-collecting eggs from the chickens-gig that I have.  I love this gig more than anything.  But I've been accused of not taking enough time for myself and sometimes I feel like in the midst of all this stuff I've lost me.  So I'm taking Tuesdays.  Thanks friend (you still know who you are) for helping me launch my self-help program and for making me realize that in the used book section of Schulers, sitting at a table in front of a bottle of Absopure was a little piece of Megan that was missing.  Not anymore.  This is me being real.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


We have this friend we've met (you know who you are) and he's so wise and real and he's a teacher, so we went to his church this morning to hear him teach.  I've been mulling over a good post for the New Year, since all we did was order pizza with dear friends (you know who you are) and had a New Year's brunch with other dear friends (you do too) and nothing really profound came up, just lots of yummy conversation and the general din of children playing happily with friends they haven't seen in awhile.  Then sitting in church this morning I was handed this perfect New Year's gift from this wise, real teacher.  If you have a Bible, read John 6.  If you don't, email me and I'll send you one and count it my honor.
I've read the New Testament many times and never seen this part, really.  John 6 tells of the words of Jesus in the aftermath of feeding the five thousand.  People start to question him and what it means to follow him and he begins to tell them this crazy stuff about being the bread and the life and how hard it will be to follow him.  I mean crazy stuff that only Jesus could think up but that is true, cause it's Jesus, but it's still sort of crazy, about eating his flesh and drinking his blood and they don't understand.  Don't understand this blind, naked faith that Jesus is calling them to that says even if things seem crazy and don't make sense and will cost you dear, it is the way to forever life.  The only way to forever life.  This is how they respond:
vs 66 "From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him."
They up and left.  Got scared and left.
All except the twelve.
They still sat there and so Jesus says to them, "You do not want to leave too, do you?"
And here's the best part.  The. Best. Part.
"Simon Peter answered him, 'Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.  We believe and know that you are the Son of God.'"
Lord, to whom shall we go?  Like, are you serious?  Without you, we've got nothing.  You are everything that is good and pure and we are nothing without you.  We don't care what it costs, how much we have to suffer, what we have to give up.  We are nothing without you.
I've spent lots of time in the desert.  Times when it hurt to love Jesus (and lots of time when I didn't love him well), when I was terrified and anxious and stuck in this deep dark mire of my own making.  I've spent lots of time thinking God didn't make sense, that he asked too much and gave too little, that I'd never figure this faith stuff out.  And then at some point, if you're the most blessed person in the world (and you're all invited to be) you just totally let go and fall.  And when you don't hit bottom, when it's soft and warm instead of hard and full of hurt, you realize you've just fallen off the edge of yourself and smack dab into the arms of the only savior who offers everything for nothing more than letting go.  That this bread-of-life-only-way-to-forever-alive Jesus has saved you.
So, this is the challenge that the teacher this morning asked and I'm passing it on to you because it's marrow and you're starving, if you'll only admit it.  I am.  Starving and admitting it.  Will you leave because you don't fully understand and it seems like it might cost too much to stay?  Or will you stand up and join Simon Peter in saying, "Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.  We believe and know that you are the Son of God."  Please say you'll stand.