Fall Colors


We’re coming into my favorite time of the year. I love the Fall colors, the crisp but not cold air, the change in the light as it reflects off the colors of the trees. It’s a magical gift. I have so much fun putting out mums in every color, putting the pumpkins out on the porch, changing decorations to autumn colors.

Some years are more colorful than others. This year where I live in the Midwest we are in in midst of a terrible drought. Some of the leaves are already falling, changing overnight to brown with no burst of color at all. Others are getting their colors, but they don’t last long. At first, as I drove to work this morning, I was kind of sad as I saw a tree that was fabulously reflecting orange and red light just a few days ago, had dropped almost all its leaves. Then I turned a corner and saw a burst of yellow on a tree that was green yesterday. That’s when I realized that this year, the Autumn colors were going to be more like a treasure hunt than a big show. I will have to be twice as aware. Instead of basking in a whole hillside or street full of color, I will need to be looking for those special little gifts that brighten my day and make me grateful for the gifts of nature and color and light.

I realize I should be on that treasure hunt all the time. Being present in the moments of life means finding those treasures of natural beauty, but also the perfect paragraph in the book you are areading, the smile of a friend, or a stranger, the special song on the radio. It means finding treasure in moments of silence at the end (or in the middle!) of an otherwise noisy and busy day.

My 2 year old granddaughter is in that stage of collecting “treasures” to put in her treasure box. The treasures include special rocks, tree nuts, dried flowers, and some completely unidentifiable objects. But she finds beauty and delight in each one. I, on the other hand, am in that stage of life where I am trying to quit collecting objects to put on shelves and boxes, and collecting moments instead. Moments spent finding beauty on my daily commute, in conversations, in watching the birds out the window. Or even in picking up a feather or pretty rock for my grandaughter’s treasure box!

I hope you are collecting treasures, whether they are in your box or in your soul. The hunt can make the everyday moments special, and connect you with that thing we sometimes lose as we get older – wonder.

Have a great hunt! – Mama


Anchoring Christmas


Our Christmas Tree is definitely NOT a designer decoration, and I love it. The 7-foot green immitation pine is absolutely packed with ornaments. Some are beautiful and classic – blown glass handed down from my mother’s tree, a ceramic ornament a dear friend brought me from Ireland, hand-made, stuffed, quilted stars and hearts made by another friend to decorate our very first Christmas tree. Others bring memories of preschool and elementary school Christmas parties – handmade by my favorite elves. There is one lone wise man on a camel (there used to be three – I’ll explain in a minute), and quite a few sports-related ornaments. We are a family of fierce, and sometimes competing, sports loyalties. My Kansas University Jayhawk ornaments constantly disappear to the back of the tree, mysteriously replaced by Kansas State Wildcats. And I always put them back :-).

In addition to lots of ornaments, we have pets. This Christmas, it’s only our cat, Jake, but he is definitely a fan of all those interesting, shiny things hanging from a tree that suddenly appears in his living room this time of year. In other years, he’s had dogs to “help” him knock the ornaments down with their big labrador and blue heeler tails. Pets and Christmas trees are an interesting combination. And then there are the small children, who like decorating so much that they also like to un-decorate and start all over again. They also like to help the pets in their endeavors. Never a dull moment with the Christmas tree, but it can cause real chaos when the inevitable CRASH is heard from the living room and we rush in to find ornaments broken in pieces, tangled with lights, all over the floor. That’s what happened to the other two wise men and their camels. They all hung, every year, on my childhood tree. Then, one Christmas, when the whole family was sitting down to Christmas brunch, there was a loud bark followed by the sound of loud thumps and a crash. We rushed in to find the Christmas tree on it’s side. What happened was easy to figure out. That year, we had a litter of kittens, who had apparently decided to climb the tree. Our 100+ lb. German Shepherd had to help by trying to get them down out of the tree and, well…it was a sad mess. Two of the wise man did not make it. I love the fact that my mother saved #3 anyway.

I am happy to say that will not happen at our house, despite cats and dogs and toddlers. My husband, the problem-solver, installed a post, hidden in a bookshelf behind the tree’s spot, and each year runs a heavy duty piece of wire from the three trunk that serves as an anchor. They may knock a few low-hanging decorations onto the floor, but that tree isn’t going anywhere.

The truth is, I need an anchor more than the Christmas tree does, or I am in serious danger of ending up tired, drooping and in danger of falling over. Every year, I have a bad tendancy to try to re-create the Christmases of my childhood, which I’m pretty certain weren’t really as simple and perfect as I remember. I worry and run myself around and break things – sleep patterns, budgets, peace. I need an anchor to hold me up when the weight of missing people I love who aren’t with us any more threatens to topple me. If I’m not careful, what ends up in pieces is me. Not much of a way to celebrate the miracle of God with us.

I need an anchor. This year, in particular, I’ve found an anchor in a daily email from my church, which we call the GPS guide (Grow, Pray, and Study). It’s a daily Scripture lesson, and right now (no surprise) it’s focusing on the Christmas story and the insights it gives us into our own lives. You can check it out here: www.cor.org/gps. if you are interested. And, as always for me, I’ve found an anchor in quiet. When I am racing in circles, either in my mind or physically (or both), I have been going to a quite place and letting it all play out until I am still and can listen to God talk to me about what I really should be seeing, and doing, and experiencing. When I emerge from this quiet time, I can look around and see the beauty of the Christmas lights, laugh and enjoy the enthusiasm of my family – big kids and little ones alike, and read the words of Matthew and Luke telling us how God loves us so much that he came to live with us and show us what real love and care look like. These anchors keep me from falling over, even in the face of broken plans, missing loved ones, and altered expectations.

I pray that, in this last week of waiting, you find your anchor so that you can hold fast to the joy and beauty of this season. Be kind to yourself and take care of your soul. Ask for help when you need it. Have a blessed Christmas!

Starting Over


And here I am, 29 months, and what seems like another lifetime, since my last blog post. Like everyone, I moved into a different life in the Winter of 2020, and am now figuring out, like everyone, what that life looks like. I’ve had COVID, vaccines and a booster. I own a ridiculous number of masks, and hate them all (but I wear them when needed!). I’ve lost people dear to me to this plague, and learned what it really feels like to “pray without ceasing,” when my children and grandchildren came down with the damned thing (and got well, though some have lingering after affects – my youngest son finds that bacon tastes terrible now, can you imagine?).

Our newest grandchild was born in the first months of the pandemic, as her first-time parents experienced an emergency c-section, the NICU, and the first days of parenthood without the gathering of family and friends. Even though we all eventually got to spend some time together, I still worry that my youngest granddaughter thinks I’m an app on her Daddy’s phone. Those video calls have been a huge blessing, though. At the beginning of our isolation, we did family Zoom calls with 11 or more of us talking at once, trying to figure out technology and how to share family time on a screen. We did the family Christmas Tree decorating via Zoom, and opened presents that way, too. All those things were a blessing. An odd blessing, but an enormous blessing still.

I worked at home, attending endless Zoom meetings and writing emails until I thought my fingers might fall off and I longed for non-electronic interaction. My office mates were an ornery tabby cat who likes to knock things off my improvised desk, and our elderly chocolate lab, who liked to lie down by my feet and put her head in my lap when she could feel my stress at trying to work in isolation. Those months turned out to be a special blessing. Two months ago, we had to say good-bye to Grania, my sweet companion. I would never have had that time with her in her last months if it hadn’t been for quarantines and working at home. The house seems empty now, but I have memories of her that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. Not a blessing I necessarily want to repeat – ever- but a blessing that fitted the time and the situation.

Yesterday was the day we Americans “officially” count our blessings, and give thanks for all we have. That’s not easy for some this year. Empty chairs, long distances that are harder than ever to travel, frustrations of all kinds, seem to be larger and more numerous. But, still we try. Something in our deepest inner humanity, our souls, if you will, tells us that we are blessed and that we need to take stock of those blessings every chance we get. Our state of mind, our mental health, depends on it. We were created with a deep need to give praise, to be thankful.

One of the things I am thankful for is that I have recently, after a two-year drought that started before the pandemic and was deepened by it, rediscovered the joy that writing brings me. I went way too long without putting thoughts and feelings into words. Honestly, I practically abandoned words all together. I even struggled to read. I did not always handle the pandemic well. Don’t worry – I don’t feel a need to dredge it all up either. I feel the need to count my blessings and look for new ones so that I can live in gratitude and joy. And write about them.

This weekend, Christians all over the world will begin lighting a candle, entering a season of waiting and meditating on the the gift of Christ, and new beginnings. So, in Mama Prayed, I will turn my back on the sadness and frustration of these past two years, and celebrate my blessings, and, if anyone is out there who wants to read about life from my slightly cock-eyed, older but wiser point of view, I hope you enjoy it.

The Things We Leave Behind


I read a fascinating article today, learning something, a fascinating story I’ve never heard. In prison camps in Nazi Germany, the Soviet Gulags, Japanese-American internment camps in World War II, and other similar desperate places, women collected recipes, secretly written on scraps of paper, and stiched them together with threads pulled from their own clothes, hoping to somehow leave something of themselves for their families. Miraculously, some of these “most beautiful books in the world” made their way from these terrible places to surviving family members.
What is it about family recipes that make them hold such an important place in our minds and hearts? Last night I made my mother’s chicken salad. It’s a very simple recipe with just 4 ingredients and some common pantry seasonings, and yet, I never feel like it’s really summer until there is a big bowl of it in the refrigerator. I can easily make it without looking at the recipe, and I have even altered the ingredients a little bit to try and make it match our desire to eat in a healthier way, but I still got out the handwritten recipe card and looked at it before I started. Those stained little index cards, and a ribbon-tied file folder full of clippings from long-gone women’s magazines, are a connection to my mother and my grandmothers that I can access in no other way. When my sister passed away years ago, the one thing I wanted from her house was a painted tin index-card box that I gave her for a wedding shower present, now filled with her hand-written recipes for chicken curry and sweet potato casserole and eggs benedict (which I still can’t make like she did).
I missed my mom last night while I was chopping celery and dicing hard-boiled eggs. I smiled while dicing the chicking breasts, knowing that she would approve of my preparing my salad with all white meat instead of resorting, as I sometimes do, to pulling the meat off of a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. I choked up a little bit, but I also felt as physically connected to her as I have in a long time, and she’s been gone for 10 years now. Looking at her perfect handwriting (why can’t I write like that?) on the card with a small stain in the top left-hand corner (likely put there by me – I’m the family lefty), touching the card she touched long ago.

I was deeply moved when I learned of these women, living in starving conditions and knowing that they would likely not see their families again, meticulously writing out the recipes for feasts they would never share, in the hopes that their families would someday celebrate those feasts and remember them. They wrote them on scraps of fabric, cigarette papers, Nazi propaganda flyers, anything that would hold the words, which then had to be hidden away until someday they might find their way to their children and grandchildren. They wanted their loved ones to know something about them other than the tragedy of imprisonment and death.
We need to to leave something for our children and their children and their children, something in our own hand, not just a digital file somewhere. We need to leave something they can hold and leave stains on, and pass along, hand to hand. Even in my own poor handwriting, I think I should do this, and send letters on paper, and make notes in the margins of my books for someone to find years and years from now.
All of our lives are temporary, and the things we leave are, too. But those things are a comfort and a connection to those who love us, and to those who will never know us but will be curious about why the chicken salad tastes so good, and what we put in the vegetable soup. Our senses call out for physical connections.
Tonight, when I steal another bite of chicken salad from the bowl in the refrigerator, I will be blessed by that connection to my mother, and all the generations of women who would never put anything but breast meat in their chicken salad, and carefully chopped their celery to the proper size (about half the size of the chicken chunks). And I hope my children and my great-grandchildren are, too.

If you would like to read the article, here is the link:


The Birds


There’s a scene in Steel Magnolias, when Ouiser Boudreaux (Shirley McLain) explains why she has taken to gardening:

“Because I’m an old Southern woman and we’re supposed to wear funny looking hats and ugly clothes and grow vegetables in the dirt. Don’t ask me those questions. I don’t know why, I don’t make the rules!”

I may have been raised mostly in the Midwest, but those raising me were Southern Women through and through, and I can tell you, there is great truth in that statement. The urge to grow things seems to be stronger and stronger now that I am no longer growing chidren. But another part of turning into my mother has suddenly risen out of the cultural DNA and surprised me more than a little bit.

Birdwatching. Or Birding, as those of us with the binoculars around our necks call it. A line item in the budget for bird seed. Online searches for the best recipes for hummingbird nectar. An entire library of bird books tucked into pockets in my car.It is possible that I am a member of a Facebook group devoted to birding in Kansas. I might be able to identify a dickcissal and a Swainson’s thrush.

I’m not sure what is happening here. Until recently the only bird I paid much attention to was a Jayhawk, and I mean the kind that shoots baskets. Then I got to worrying about the birds in the rotten winter and put out some birdseed in my Mom’s old bird feeder, and bought another one for the smaller seeds that attract the cute little ones like finches. And they started coming in flocks! Then I got to wondering what they all were, and my husband bought me a guide, and a cute little book where you keep track of what you see (and you know how I love lists). The next thing I know, I’m filling in the book, wandering around looking up into trees and across ponds. It’s like a giant treasure hunt.  Do you have any idea how many different kinds of ducks there are??

Looking for the birds has some interesting side effects. The best one, I think, is that I have changed the way I move through time and space. I look up, way up, and watch for color and movement high in the trees. I notice patterns in feathers and unique small features in animals I have been sighting my life, but am now actually seeing. I didn’t know that birds had different colored eyes. I slow down and take my time. I pull over if something interesting catches my eye. When I get home, I stop in the yard and watch the birds play in the water and dart back and forth between the flowers and feeder. The day and its stress fades away while I quietly join in the evening rituals of my feathered neighbors. I’m a much nicer, relaxed person when I go inside.

I am fascinated, not just by the birds but by the color and light playing on leaves, the incredible grace and patterns of birds in flight. And the songs! I’m sure the birds have been making all these wonderful sounds all my life, but I wasn’t really listening. I have discovered how many “wild” places are hidden in and around my usual city travels, even near the heart of the city itself. I have added new birds to my list on the way to the grocery store, and I’ve started taking route to and from work that can include a stop by the creek and pond to see who is migrating through today. They are hundreds of little pocket nature parks, even when they are actually just empty lots. Tiny gifts from God through nature and everywhere, if I will only slow down a little bit and look for them. You can’t see the birds if you are ruminating over the past or distracted by the future. God’s gifts of creation exist in the moment.

I am beginning to understand my mother’s wisdom as she dug in the dirt and looked up into the trees.  I don’t have ceramic bird statues or guest towels embroidered with cardinals on them, but it’s probably only a matter of time. I do have a big floppy hat, binoculars and the bird books. I don’t know why, I don’t make the rules.


Interruptions and C.S. Lewis


I do love C.S. Lewis. In fact, I enjoy his writing so much that at some point I apparently started following him on Twitter, receiving quotes from him every day. This is a pretty good trick, since he died in 1963. But, there’s his name, right on the screen, and who am I to argue with the Internet?

Anyway, he occasionally nails me, and this happened recently, and on a Monday, no less. Here is the quote that appeared on my Twitter screen that morning:

“The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own,’ or ‘real’ life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life — the life God is sending one day by day.” – from The Collected Works of C.S. Lewis

Thanks, Jack.

Is my real life the one that is carefully outlined on my calendar in 1/2 hour intervals from 7 am to 9 pm? Does my real life live on my To Do list? Is my real life the one that I think I control?

Or is my real life in the pauses to really see the world around me, in the phone call from someone who needs a listening ear and a prayer? Is my real life in the messy stuff that absolutely refuses to fit in the little boxes on the calendar and messes up those tidy little lines on the To Do list?

This year during Lent, my church read through the gospel of Mark, full of accounts of Jesus ministry. It strikes me that it is also full of accounts of constant interruptions in the life of someone who could legitimately control the whole universe if he chose. He didn’t ever have to stop what he was doing to heal a desperately sick person, cast out a demon, or explain (again) his teaching to his disciples. They woke him when he was sleeping, tugged on his clothes as he walked by, dropped people through the roof when he went indoors. Constant interruptions.

At each interruption, Jesus didn’t respond to the interruption. He responded to the person. That’s my problem. I respond to the interruption more than the person, at least sometimes. My thoughts are more along the line of “What? I’m trying to get things done here,” or “Could you wait a few minutes?” than they are, “How can I help? Tell me your story. Let’s pray.”

It also makes me wonder about the things that are “penciled in” on that calendar and To-Do list. Things that I might not consider interruptions, but often view as optional pauses that I will take if I have time. Time to pray. Time to read. Time to go outside and soak up sunshine. I treat them more like interruptions than holy moments. I wonder why?  These things enrich my days and my life. They make the To Do list work better, and definitely make me a much more balanced person.

The question, Mr. Lewis says, is “What is my real life? Where do I find it? What does it look like? And what is all that other stuff?” These are the questions I’m pursuing these days. And, as usual, C. S. Lewis is both right and challenging.




Thank goodness something has come along in social media to replace “Eat This…Not That.” Now the internet and good people everywhere are obsessed with SIMPLIFYING. And, yes, it must be printed in large block letters. Upper and lowercase combined are apparently not simple enough. Blogs, social media posts, “happy news” spots, and office conversations are all about how we are simplifying our lives.

So, instead of following my instinct to ignore or delete references to SIMPLIFY, I decided to read a blog post or two, just to see what I am missing. Blog post #1 offered twenty-five ways to simplify your life. Twenty-five, and every single one of them was something to do, including three different kinds of “To Do Lists,” creating a “capsule wardrobe,” and quite a bit of cooking. Every single idea sounded like a good way to live an organized life, but there was nothing simple about any of it. Blog post #2 took an even more all-attack approach to simplifying and instructed readers to clean out their closets, get rid of at least half the items in their kitchen, rearrange and landscape their outdoor space, and pack their lunches a week or two at a time.

Honestly, I was stressed and exhausted just reading them. I also couldn’t help but notice that they all involved spending both money and time.

I get it. That bare space in the pictures with the single flower in the vase sitting on soft blue painted side table ($349 plus tax and shipping), next to the white couch with the view of the ocean, is lovely and simple. It also would not last five minutes in my house. In my house, the cat would knock the vase to the floor and carry the flower away as his prize catch of the day, and my husband would stack mail on the table, ignoring the clever box hanging on the wall by the door with MAIL etched in a simple san serif font on its reclaimed wood side.The labrador would take a nap on the white couch after which it would never be white again. And, of course, the only ocean view I have here in Kansas is on TV when I watch Beachfront Bargain Hunt.

So, what is simple living? I think we all agree that life in 21st Century America is complicated. If we are honest, we will admit that in addition to complicated it can be frustrating and even frightening. We all have too much “stuff.” I know that I don’t always use my time in the way I should, or even the way I want. There is no doubt we need to simplify. But do we really need a list of 25 things to do and buy? Do we need simplicity that costs money, uses up time and adds to our stress?

So here’s my list of four things we can do make our lives simpler. It wouldn’t make a very attractive magazine spread, but everything on it is accessible, doesn’t cost money, and hopefully doesn’t add to anyone’s stress level.

  1. Find a filter. This will be a deeply personal thing, not something you read about in a blog. It might be a scripture, a personal mission statement, or something your grandmother once said. Whatever it is, it will be something you can hold up to activities and obligations and use to choose those that actually fit you and your life, not the demands,suggestions and opinions of the rest of the world. This filter will change as you change, but in the cacophony of voices vying for our attention, energy, and focus, a filter can help us find the simply important.
  2. Find a time and place for silence and stillness. Not just once in a while. Every day, even if it is only for a short time, but try to add at least one longer time in your week. If you haven’t experienced silence and stillness for a while, or ever, it will be uncomfortable at first, but give it a chance. The world we live in is so constantly noisy and full of movement. In silence and stillness we can find refreshment, discernment, and hear God speak to our weary and confused souls.
  3. Take advantage of the gift of fresh air and sunshine, even if your idea of outdoor recreation is sitting on the patio at a restaurant. Observe the wonders of creation, especially the small everyday ones.Soak up some sun. Watch water flow. Listen to the birds sing. Ponder your place in it all.
  4. Be kind to yourself. Treat yourself like the beloved child of God that you are. If some of us love our neighbors as we love ourselves, our neighbors are going to be seriously mistreated.

That’s it, my simple and short list. It’s not any special color or shape, but it’s manageable enough to put in your pocket or put on a post-it. And you don’t have to redecorate!

Archeology, Part Two


So….it’s been a little while since I blogged. OK, more than a little while. Three years and 6 days, to be exact. I don’t really know why I quit posting to MamaPrayed.com. I would love to say that it’s because life went in another direction and I was too busy changing the world or negotiating the movie deal for my bestseller, but the truth is more like I started listening to the dreaded Inner Critic and forgot how much joy I find in writing.

Recently, with a lot of encouragement from wise and insightful friends, I rediscovered writing in many different ways. And, of course, if I am going to write, I need a place to do it. So, I’m back to trying to excavate the Room Once Known as My Office.

Some things have changed while I’ve been setting records for writing procrastination. Only one of the animal roommates from before is still with me. Grania, the Chocolate Labrador Retriever and I are growing old and arthritic together. Her buddy Casey sadly left us to chase squirrels in heaven, followed by her feline companion Hobbes. A new furry friend was added when Oldest Son found a tiny kitten in a park under a bush and Jake came to live with us. Jake is now a large cat who likes to knock things over and take naps on the computer. He is quite territorial about this space, and feels free to dispose of anything I might leave lying around. I am hoping it makes me a tidier person. Or increases my flexibility as I bend over 100 times in an afternoon to pick up what he has swept to the floor. I am also suspicious that he is using my computer to contact the Mother Ship and report on his takeover of the human household. He’s a starer, and I have a feeling he’s taking notes.

Many of the artifacts discovered in the earlier expedition have been moved on to collections in other parts of the museum. That’s a nice way to say that I filled up boxes and put them in the basement. Bookshelves have been added, because, really, there will never be too many books – just too little shelf space.There have been some new discoveries. I do not need to buy highlight pens at any time in the forseeable future. There are notebooks of every shape and size – pretty cloth covered journals, spirals in various sizes, and one great Big Chief pad. And, even though I hate shopping, I  have accumulated an outstanding collection of cloth shopping bags. Each one seems to have one or two interesting artifacts abandoned at the bottom – miscellaneous papers, a petrified protein bar, a pair of earrings I was excited to find after completely forgetting I owned them, more highlighters.

This dusty, cluttered room seems symbolic of what happens  when I don’t focus on using the gifts God gives me and use them to bring joy and fulfillment. Over the last three years, I’ve spent a lot of time not writing, and a lot of time stacking up little notebooks both physically and in my mind. I’ve collected up a lot of bags to carry around, even though I don’t seem to be able to identify or enjoy their contents.Useless thoughts, anxieties, and outdated topics crowd my mind.

So, it’s time for a bit more archeology – dusting off and identifying the bits and pieces of clutter in my space, reclaiming a peaceful corner to work in, and getting rid of the junk, the old projects, and picking up new ones that give me joy and focus and direction, I’m hoping MamaPrayed will be a part of that!




I picked up a magazine at the grocery store not too long ago called, “Where Women Create.” It is an evil fantasy publication, designed to cause unrest and redecorating. It is totally fascinating.  It contains, between advertisements for cardboard boxes costing $40 and up, photos of incredibly beautiful “creative spaces” that supposedly belong to women to write, make jewelry, design the interiors of zillion-dollar houses and paint masterpieces using laundry soap and sharpie markers. And apparently, they never make a mess while doing it because they have all those $40 cardboard boxes to hide the clutter.

The reason I know the pictures in this magazine are probably photoshopped within an inch of their creative limits, or complete inventions of overly organized minds is that some of these pictures feature pets. On the pristine white counter top next to the carefully stacked papers of the “successful editor and feature writer” sits a cat. And the papers are still in a stack.  Fake picture.  In another, a beautiful golden retriever is taking a nap on a rug that probably cost more than my car in a room full of lovely pillows. None of them have chewed edges or stuffing trailing along the floor. Again, an obvious fake.

I’m supposed to be cleaning up my “office.”  It’s a really nice room, painted a beautiful and soothing shade of blue by Oldest Son with a shelf that surrounds it on 3 sides, which is, of course, covered with books, as is the bookshelf  on the opposite wall, a comfortable chair I found at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, and waaayyyy to many boxes of junk and they are, sadly, not the color coordinated paisly $40 variety. Most of them used to hold beer. Or toilet paper.

At some point last year, when our large dog and her cohort, Oldest Son’s even larger dog, needed space to call their own, I, in a fit of dementia brought on by tripping over a dog bed in the family room for the 100th time, said something like “I could share the room with the dogs, let’s corral them in the office.”  I didn’t have to say it twice, and just like that, I lost my private space, my writing space, and a little piece of my fragile sanity.  My nice little room became a nice little dog kennel and I began writing in corners and coffee shops. But today it is snowing and it is about 14 degrees. I don’t want to go to a coffee shop, and because of the aforementioned winter weather, there are no quiet corners in this house because everyone who lives in it or once lived in it, or got bored with the snow is hanging out.

So, I’ve decided on this snow day, to TAKE BACK THE OFFICE!”  How hard could that be, just because it hasn’t been dusted in longer than I’m ever going to admit  in writing, the floor is covered in dog beds, dog toys and chewed up remains of what I greatly fear are some of the books that used to be on the bottom shelf?

It’s kind of like an archeological expedition, or one of those treasure hunts in the remains of an ancient civilization.  In the midst of dust and dog hair and cobwebs, I’ve found:

  • At least a half dozen books that I need to read Immediately. I have already started reading two of them – while conducting this expedition.
  • A stack of wonderful and hilarious cards sent to me by friends during my adventure with breast cancer.  Some favorites offered pearls like these:
    • “Well of course they’re fake – the real ones tried to kill me!
    • A panorama of what at first appears to be intricately painted Easter Eggs. On closer examination, however, you realize that what you are actually viewing is a lot of intricately painted bald heads.  I can’t tell you how close I came to going to church that Easter with my head painted.  Should have done it.
    • The world is full of people who will go their Whole lives and not actually LIve one day.  She did not intend on being one of them.”
  • Enough yarn to knit a blanket for every child I will ever know.
  • A carefully hidden collection of dog toys, which I do not believe actual belong to this household. Yes, it is quite possible that my dogs have been out in the neighborhood stealing dog toys. Or extorting them over the fence.  Or maybe strangers bring them toys to keep them quiet when we are not home. I have no idea.
  • SIX computer mice.  It seems that we never throw anything away in this house.  As far as I can tell, none of these function as actual peripheral computer tools. They might work as paperweights. Or maybe we can glue wheels to them and convince the grandkids that they are toy race cars.  Note that throwing them away is not listed as an option.
  • An entire bag of scrunchy hair bands.  I have not had enough hair to scrunch since the breast cancer adventure, I have no idea why they are here.
  • An envelope full of clippings about disappearances and unidentified bodies, collected during a Mystery Writing Workshop.  If anyone nearby comes up missing or unidentified, I’m probably going to the Big House.  I know how this works.  I watch Castle.

Well, obviously, I’m not making extraordinary progress, and now it is time for the Jayhawks to play basketball, and I know they need me.  But I will keep excavating and report any finds that are important to the understanding of civilization as we know it.

Assuming this expedition is successful and all artifacts are labeled and stored away somewhere with the Ark of the Covenant and Indiana Jones’ hat, that will leave the challenge of sharing my most personal space with a Labrador Retriever and a Beagle/Heeler.  And a Maine Coon, who thinks every inch of this house actually belongs to him.  I wonder how it will all look in a magazine spread?

Grandmother Blogs


OK…so I’ve noticed that Mom Blogs are a thing.  There must be millions of them. My daughter has one, and it’s pretty funny.  Check it out: http://www.talesfrommommyhood.blogspot.com/.  There is even an official Mom Bloggers group here in Kansas City.

As far as I can tell, Mom Blogs seem to fall into — categories

  • The Tales from the Trenches. This is what Sara’s blog is.  A way to share and keep your sense of humor when your children insist upon acting like children. These are generally delightful and for moms to let each other know they are not alone. And for grandmothers to laugh at.
  • The Frequent Christmas Letter. These are updates for friends and family, usually complete with adorable pictures of adorable chidren doing adorable things. They do resemble those letters that come with Christmas cards, but for people who don’t get to see each other or talk often enough, they seem like a good way to stay caught up, and I’m told they give the family a record of the child’s life as they grow up. I’m not sure I’m in favor of this.  It doesn’t seem to allow for judicious editing.
  • The Soapbox. These are written by Moms who seem posessed by a burning need to see everyone live exactly like they do, eat what they eat, sleep the way they sleep, educate the children the way they educate theirs, and if at all possible, only wear the color yellow.  They spend a lot of time trying to make their fellow mothers feel as terrible as possible about their choices and decisions, but in the kindest way possible of course.
  • The Fantasy Life Blog. On these blogs, moms seem to create elaborate fantasy lives in which they clean their houses from top to bottom using only white vinegar and recycled t-shirts, while baking delicious gluten-free bread, canning their own vegetables, teaching their children to sign and speak French, maintaining a rigorous workout schedule and running their successful jewelry design business.  When I was a Mom we just read Danielle Steele for that kind of fantasy.

So, where are the Grandmother Blogs?  I can’t be the only blogging grandmother. I’m sure all Grandmother Blogs will not be alike, but I think I can promise a few differences from Mom blogs:

  • Grandmother blogs will have a great appreciation for the Universe and the Law of What Goes Around Comes Around.  For instance, when the Mom Blogs write about the woes of Children Who Fight Bed Time, and Children Who Try to Negotiate Everything, the Grandmothers will probably write blog posts with titles like:  Apples Do Not Fall from Oak Trees.  After we quit laughing, of course.
  • In General there will be less angst.  We’ve done angst.  Now we are more likely to put on our party hats and let everyone have cookies for lunch.  We are no longer in charge of the upbringing of the next generation, and overall, we’re pretty proud of the job we did on the Moms, so time to spoil, spoil, spoil!
  • Topics such as housework, yardwork, and making things out of pallets will not be common on Grandmother blogs.  We are done talking about the first two, and the Grandfathers generally won’t let us do the last one, no matter how good it looks on Pinterest.
  • I can just about guarantee there will be fewer recipes using quinoa as an ingredient.

So, Grandmothers Unite.  We can’t let the Moms have all the fun.  Take the Blogosphere!  I see that the Kansas City Blogger Moms have get-togethers.  We could do that – and we wouldn’t even have to get home to the babysitters!!