Baba’s Red Nails and the Stuff We Remember

This picture showed up in the slideshow at my Grandmother’s funeral last week and I’m obsessed with it. I emailed my cousin Josh and said “Send me that picture, the one with her laughing over Dominos.” He did and I’ve spent the last week looking over it whenever I can.

I love everything about this picture. I love the way Bobo is staring at her adoringly. I love the way Aunt Pat is cracking up but still guarding her hand – these games were no joke. I love the thumb in the left side of the frame, marking the picture as undeniably pre-digital. Now we take 80 shots of everything and pick the best. Sometimes I miss the thumbs. I even love the Ranch Dressing behind them on the kitchen counter, reminding us, in case we doubted, that this is real life. No one’s leaving the Ranch dressing out for carefully staged pictures. It’s always the first to go.

I love the way Baba is laughing uncontrollably. I can hear that laugh. And when I look at that face all the years and the illness disappear and there she is. 

But my favorite part? Her hands. That gold jewelry – the bracelet, the watch, the wedding bands, and the left hand ring you can barely see with a gem for each child and grandchild. And her bright red, perfectly shaped, very long fingernails. Always painted, always manicured, always done herself. She did mine before proms but unless I wanted Bright Red, Hot Pink, or Even Brighter Red, I needed to bring my own polish.

We remember her nails. We all do. There was a flurry of red nails at the service in honor of her.

I’ve been thinking about those nails and the stuff we remember – how it’s never the stuff I spend my days stressing over.  I remember how  Baba sang a lot and danced all the time with maracas readily available on her living room bookcase. She had a vanity filled with Estee Lauder make up and Elizabeth Taylor perfume.  I remember borrowing her super cool black and turquoise Reebok sneakers in the fifth grade and riding beach cruisers with her around her neighborhood at dusk.

We remember the essence of what made someone unique, the million ways they lived out what they believed and how they made us feel. I’ve yet to attend a service celebrating  that someone  accomplished…being like everyone else.

As my life has felt increasingly overwhelming over the past months, I found myself going into manager mode. I’m transactional  - building my days around getting stuff done and organizing other people into getting stuff done. Spinning from task to task, I fall into bed exhausted – grieving of course over everything that did not get done.

The past week of celebration and family provided a poignant perspective.

Because in the end, the to-do lists are never mentioned. Instead, we celebrate the nuttiness of each other, the eccentricities, the ways we break the mold and the rules. We always remember how well someone loved and how much they shared. We remember what made them laugh and how they made us laugh and, for goodness sake, that we all took a break to laugh.  And in a world of tempting Essie neutral tones, we remember their unwavering commitment to  Bright Red Nails.


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Christmas is for the Crafty( but Advent is for Everyone): Overcoming Holiday Lies I Believe with my Whole Heart.

Our Baby Jesus has no arms.

This is a different Baby Jesus than I wrote about earlier. That one is alive and well: they fight over him. It’s like Medieval Times.

No this Baby Jesus is the only one we have not manuafactured by Fisher Price. He rounds out a Nativity Scene with a headless angel. And I can’t decide what’s more disturbing:  that he has no arms, or that I was really sad to realize he was missing BOTH arms, because I am convinced last year he was only missing one. And I have that arm. I would prop it up next to him in his creche, a picture of broken humanity, and my inability to fix, replace or improve on anything.

You see…

I’m bad at Christmas.  Don’t tell my kids. Though they might sense it.

If it’s not true, I believe it like it is.  As if Christmas is something we do-  something we can fail or succed at, something we are all competing in.

Silly me.

See Christmas is full of things I’m not any good at: decorating, baking, maneuvering, storing, finding, and purchasing stuff, and managing expectations. Oh the expectations…

Christmas takes organization. You have to know where you put all the decorations the year before and what you needed to replace., and if Advent starts December 1, you need to have a calendar before then. I’ve learned this recently.

Christmas takes space. Living room space. I’m still working on settling into this house and BOOM, time to move in a large green tree.

It’s also full of family, with even greater expectations. Can’t we all just pretend its March and be happy to see each other just because?

Then I have my own expectations based on my own mythically magical childhood. I remember the first time Travis bought the girls presents. I didn’t know what to do. You are not supposed to buy them things! You are on batteries and assembly and custom furniture construction. Or was that  just my Dad?

Just wait, one day my girls will be all grown up, indignant to their husbands: “The Baby Jesus isn’t supposed to have arms.”

So now I could launch into all the ways we’ve made Christmas too hard and too expensive and too busy. But you know all that. I’ll just tell you about the little talk I had to have with myself. Just in case you need to have it with yourself.

1.  Be Thankful.

I keep waiting for Thanksgiving to start earlier and earlier like Christmas. But instead its shrunk down to three hours on a Thursday. I love Thanksgiving. It’s just about being thankful. And somehow no one has ever tried to load it down with more expectations. What is Christmas not about anymore? It’s about home  and family and magic and Peter Pan and lattes and new cars and snow, the romantic kind not the dangerous kind. It’s about wishes and presents and dreams coming true and eating whatever you want and looking beautiful.When Christmas starts making me panic I’m going to secretly be celebrating Thanksgiving. I’m thankful over and beyond this year. It deserves at least a month.

2. Advent is for EVERYONE.

This is about waiting for Jesus, with hope and joy and grief and honesty. That’s it. Someone else made the rest up. Seriously. It’s all made up. So you can make up your own ways of waiting and celebrating too. And opt out of the stuff that makes you feel small or miserable or like January is the best month of the year.

3. Do what is in front of you.

Mother Teresa claims that is all she ever did and so it’s one of my mantras. The other day I looked up and saw what was in front of me. It was the house across the street. The one with the eclectic architecture resembling something ready to take flight (Not bad. Just different. )It’s where the girls soccer team lives. My girls and I are going to invite them over for a Christmas party complete with recipes I make all the time and paper products. I get overwhelmed easily by my compassion for the world. So many to love and care for. Sometimes I just have to start by looking up.

4. Know what you love.

I love books.

Two weeks ago I went to the library and checked out 24 Christmas books. Each night we will unwrap one under the tree. And when Christmas is over we will RETURN THEM ALL !!!

and birthdays.

I love celebrations – marking the miracle of a life, and the journey of a year. Every year I do my girls birthdays differently. Never bigger or better. Just different  - depending on who they have become that year. Creativity over consistency. Maybe that’s my way of doing Tradition?

I love the Bible.

I find it more astounding the older I get. Deeper, and richer and more challenging. I love the dance of mystery and revelation. I cry at the heartbreaking love of God for his people, over covenants and exiles and returns and redemptions.

We are going to go through Ann Voskamp’s Unwrapping the Greatest Gift this year. I decided this today of course. The book is strikingly beautiful but more than that it tells the Bible’s whole story. The story of a people and their God.

Ann intimidates me because she homeschools and farms and is clearly good at Christmas. But I have a feeling that she would say that I’m being ridiculous and we would be friends and she would even applaud that when I decided to make this Jesse Tree of hers, instead of using felt or branches I went to Walgreens, bought a tiny fake tree and ripped the berries off.

Ann and Jesus have much grace (and Advent is for everyone.)



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My [Recent] Life in Books: The Short List

Travis sat down with his Kindle the other day and I started screaming, “What are you doing? READING? We have four kids!!! There is no READING around here!”

I was a bit tense.

Because there is still quite a bit of reading around here. Haphazard, and unfinished, books still pile up around me, in my car, next to my computer. I swore off Kindle reading for a season, the exact season I was in the hospital having a baby, so I conveniently lugged books with me. Oh the burden of being counter-cultural.

The word at Starbucks is the holidays are upon us, so consider this a bit of a gift list, maybe? This is the run down of what I’ve been reading in the last few months.

Okay, I actually read this last spring. But it’s the best fiction I have read in years. YEARS. That is all.

This is the three pounder I hauled to the hospital. Maeve Binchy just writes good, sweet, stories. They don’t chase me in my sleep or make me ponder my place in the world. Great hospital read. Almost as good as…

Yes. Because sometimes you have to remember what it was like to be fourteen and reading this. I decided post fourth c-section was that time. Maybe not such a great idea in those first nights home when I was depressed, worried about baby weight gain and up all night. Mrs. Danvers began following me down hallways. (My gift lists will never be about trends will they?)

Speaking of trends, I’ve started this but need to get back to it…just need to get some more alone time…(get it? get it?)

Finally read this one. Great great book on faith development for kids and families. REALLY liked this. Be warned. They say “sticky” a lot.

Now be ready, because these books are even more spiritual so the images are BIG…(or as you know I am so bad at this website thing…)
We went through this book as a church recently. I call it spiritual practices for normal people. Great stuff on false narratives in here.

This is a great title. And a great book goes with it. I haven’t finished it yet which is puzzling because it’s really quite wonderful. I think I just wanted to walk the title out a bit. Amazing what Peterson can do with the Psalms…

If you are wrestling with vocation, I am prone to mail this to you. In the spirit of Christmas I’m empowering you to get it for yourself (or a friend). So so good, it’s a classic: “What is your life saying to you?”

Switching gears…or perhaps not at all…

If you or someone you know loves  ”The Sound of Music”, get this. Get it now! The girls and I are still working through it because there are copies of scripts, and sheet music and tons of pictures and letters. It’s like an obsession, packaged and bound. There is even a DVD of silent home movies of the kids playing on location in Salzburg and pictures of Christopher Plummer smoking and brooding off set. I understand if you need a moment, it really is quite incredible. This would make a great gift for that 1960′s Movie Musical lover in your family. We all have them…??

Now, in closing, because I’m tired of unsuccessfully trying to upload pictures of books (if you want to know the rest of my list email me. Seriously, I have this whole section I planned on comic memoirs, but my life is speaking to me and telling me to go to bed) Thus I end with this brief vignette: I was at the library the other day and I requested “Dora” books. We all know that Leila is partying like it’s 2006 over here with the Dora love. But here’s the difference with the third child: When the Librarian cringed and said, “I only have one Dora book and it’s written by Shakira…” I said, “I’ll take it!” With Sophia we were all about Little Critter and Rosemary Wells. Olivia still loves Eric Carle. Leila?

Oh Baby Ruthie. Let’s just start reading “Barbie saves the Mall”, right now.

Love and Library fines ( does anyone else still go to the library) to you and yours!


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Once upon a time, in a kingdom closer than you think

there lived Three Princesses and a Screaming Fairy

The four sisters loved all sorts of celebrations and this year had greatly anticipated Elsaween, the day of feasting in which everyone but three people dress like Elsa, when they would parade from their Quaint Schoolhouse, around the Fair Colonial Kingdom.

Elsaween dawned bright and clear and their Dear Haggerd mother dashed off to Target early to search for Frozen party supplies for an upcoming birthday. Luckily they had a few things. She then drove through the nearest Starbucks and,when asked, agreed to upgrade her chai order to the OPRAH chai. Having long lost the confidence in her own ability to order chai, she found it best to stick with only celebrity endorsed fake tea products. It was during this series of events that The Mother realized who she was for Elsaween: American Commercial Culture Embodied. She hung her head in shame, then lifted her chin, donned her hat

and went home to lounge with the Third Princess and No Longer Screaming Fairy.

Now it was this Third Princess who really brought an Air of the Unexpected to the Kingdom on this Grandest of Days, when in a moment of both enlightenment and confusion she revealed herself to be none other than

Princess DORA ANNA of ARENDALE!!!! A truly innovative new member of Disney’s Royal Company, Princess Anna Dora/Dora Anna said No More to those cold Nordic winds, equally chilly personalities, and undeniably horrid dancing, and reclaimed the pronuciation of ANNA (Ana) for Latinas everywhere. Her appearance brought together the Young Girl Marketing Campaigns of 2000 and 2014 like never before.

She also scared her Mother whenever she came around the corner.

The Mother rallied the Now Sleeping Fairy and Princess Dora Anna and they headed to the nearby Elsaween Parade, meeting the Father on his Bike-drawn Carriage.

Cheered on by royal parents and Elsas everywhere, the Elsas and the Few Other Costumes marched triumphantly

The parade was a huge, magical, joyful success rivaled only by the Mother’s Attempt for a Group Picture:

The magic had to end at some point I suppose.



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5 Things 3 Weeks with 4 Kids have Taught Me

1. Stances Schmanzes.

We sent Leila to ‘Buela Camp for the first ten days of Ruthie’s life. ‘Buela Camp is the place one sends 22 month olds so that their mother can recover before facing the reality that she has two babies. But really, the mother spends the whole time, while recovering, crying because she has sent her older baby away whilst receiving pictures from her parents such as this one…

assuring the Crazy Mother, that not only has Older Baby completely forgotten and replaced her family of origin, but she is fully enjoying the all-inclusive resort lifestyle we all long for.

But then soon enough Older Baby returns.

And remembers that she missed her mother so much she best not let her out of her sight.

Or let her sleep alone.

I’ve never “believed” in having children in my bed.

Stances yield to survival. (Except if you notice technically, she has the bed to herself. She sprawls out so much there really isn’t room for us.)

2. Some things you don’t get good at…no matter how experienced you are.

Hello Post-Partum…Basically, when I come home with an adorable baby I  cry uncontrollably, have fearful thoughts all night long, and make every scheduling decisions based on whether or not I need to get dressed.

I also watch far more TV than is my usual routine.

Meaning…I have wept too many tears over George and Amahl’s wedding, jumped every time the floor creaks at night and lived in luxurious maternity pajamas with matching newborn nightgowns. Yes, thanks to borrowed pajamas I can match Baby Ruthie as we sit around crying. It’s like she’s my live American Girl Doll.

3. Personal Space is a completely unnecessary cultural construct.

Leila sits on my lap while I feed Baby Ruthie. To keep her from rubbing Ruthie’s face and head raw, or pulling her fingers (she calls it “petting”), I say “Don’t touch the baby, you can touch Mommy.” She then pokes my nose, mouth, and pulls my ears.

Friends, at some point during these every 2 hour scenarios, my personal space has evaporated so fully, that I find myself transcending. It’s like I’ve reached a higher plane. I look down on myself and say, “Someday you will be alone again. But alone now means only 1-2 children with you – in the bathroom.”

4. Stay Current.

The hospital no longer enourages umbilial cord care. This was the process of cleaning the baby belly button with rubbing alcohol until the super gross, yet metaphorically beautiful, cord stubb ( does it have a name?) falls off. This was Travis’s thing with our other babies. He really leaned into this job. He owned it. I don’t look at the belly button for the first two weeks.

Well somehow in the past two years, they said “You know, we don’t think that alchohol is doing anything anyways, let’s just leave it alone.” Like that. 50 years of supportive spousal contribution out the window. Not only does it no longer matter. IT NEVER MATTERED. All that meticulous cleaning.Poor Travis.

Stay current friends. This means talk to first time parents. And buy all new stuff. Clearly. Always.

5. The Great Sibling Shake up

I used to carry Leila around.

This is her new mode of transport:

Olivia used to be The Middle Child, and now she’s been bumped to Top Tier…and picked up a maternal edge along the way…

 It’s been a WILD couple of weeks. I still whisper to Travis every day “Are we going to make it?” I can’t figure out how to go anywhere, so I don’t, things are louder than ever, no one’s sheets match.  But seeing these relationship dynamics shift has been a delightful surprise. Add someone new to the mix and that whole seemingly immovable Family System gets all shaken up.  We are not who we were 3 1/2 weeks ago, and I welcome that. Preferably during the daylight hours, but I can’t be too demanding –  we’re a “Large Family,” now,  no one can.



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Meet Ruth[ie]

Ruth Miriam joined our family on Thursday, October 2nd. Surprise! She is a girl.

We were not really surprised.

She is named for my sister and my Aunt, joining a rich legacy of Ruth Miriams and providing increased confusion for Puerto Ricans everwhere. Growing up, on hearing “Ruthie,” my mom would go “Ruthie my sister or Ruthie my daughter?” I cannot wait to say this. Except it will be “Ruthie my aunt or Ruthie my sister or Ruthie my daughter?” At that point the speaker will have forgotten what they were going to say.

Look how relaxed we are as a family of three…


Yes. That’s more like it. I should have asked if I could just wear that monster blood pressure cuff home with me. Or can I at least be swaddled?

Here’s to more than we could have ever hoped or even imagined. Humbled and thankful over here – in deeper ways than ever before.



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Breaking points and Baby Jesus

If you saw my life over the past few weeks you would have seen this (next time I won’t make them face the sun)…

and this

and this

become this

and this

and this

amazingly with the help of The Village, become this

It’s no secret that it’s easier to share pictures of my life more than sound bites.

If you heard my life right now you would, in turn, run screaming.

Tonight, I fled to FOOD LION, and Food Lion is not quiet nor peaceful. It doesn’t even smell good like nice grocery stores.  But it’s nearby and no one screams at me – usually.

Because, right now, there’s just a lot of yelling and crying and asking and yelling and shrieking.

Leila is swiftly developing her language skills. But she practices by shouting a word and waiting for us to repeat it. If we get it wrong, she shouts it again and again louder. If we get it right, she shouts it again and again louder.

The pattern culminated this week when Leila got attached to the Baby Jesus from our Little People Nativity Set. When we cleaned out the garage, she discovered the Christmas bin and because she is a third child and I am tired, nearly deaf, and with low standards, I opened it up and we celebrated Christmas in September in the driveway.

But then she fixated. So now if we get in the car and head off somewhere without the Baby Jesus she begins screaming, “JESUS!!! JESUS!!!”. I say “JESUS!!! JESUS!!!” to affirm. But then she keeps screaming it because she wants me to hand her Jesus. Which I can’t because he is somewhere on the floor of the garage.

People, I found myself, at a true breaking point, in public, in all of my maturity,  yelling back to a 22 month old.,”LOOK. HE ISN”T HERE!!! Jesus isn’t here!  We left him at home!! We LEFT JESUS AT HOME!!!!”

Any signs in your life recently that something needs to change?


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At Summer’s End

We sold our house on Wednesday. Like in the papers signed, keys exchanged, someone else now lives there sort of way. I vacuumed it out for the last time Tuesday night, locked it up, and gave myself seven seconds to feel something BIG. You know what I felt?  Grateful that we bought a quality vacuum cleaner a few years ago.

But when I got the text from our realtor the next day that the closing had finished, I had a long ugly cry in the shower. Not because I’m sad to leave the house but because I remember so acutely a certain day last February when the unknowns in our lives seemed insurmountable and I had no idea how we were going to get from here to there. And here we are. (Which is actually the “there”.) Here/there is not what I could have imagined or planned and it so much better than either.

The last month has been spent doing final moves from the old house (there is something both dreamy and devastating about an incremental move), endless discussions with LL Bean customer service that went like this “No, I want the Original Bookpack not the Original Jr…in Beach Rose. What – it’s sold out? Connect me to your Tysons Store.” and phone calls with the school nurse that went something like this,” She’s missing the polio vaccine? Is THAT going around again, because I can’t face another shot appointment” ( I’ve never been so ecstatic about a clerical error.)

We spent last night at the pool. It was an End of Summer Potluck and  a magical time of being with old and new friends. Tonight we will say our official goodbye to summer by letting the girls slide down the stairs in sleeping bags. They’ve never lived somewhere with stairs and Sophia has been asking since we moved. I have to think this one through logistically because we have yet to be vaccinated for concussions.

Here are some pictures from the second half of summer which I found had a theme of cousins, goats, rabbits, pigs, and pretzels.

We went to Virginia Beach for a week and did the obvious – fed goats at Hunt Club Farms. It was a huge hit. A little interactive for my tastes…but who can resist a good pony ride?

Don’t be deceived by this child’s serious public persona. She’s wild.

She spent most of the summer with a scraped up nose and chin. There was a two day period when Olivia wouldn’t look at her because it grossed her out. Ahh. Family.

Speaking of family, we’ve had a lot of great cousin time this summer including the addition of our new favorite Baby Cousin Granger!

Granger felt the weight of Leila’s training and experience,

She and I just have a few disagreements on holding technique.

Now take a deep breath before this one.

Yes, that’s a Roasted Pig in my parents dining room. Ole! We celebrated my grandparents 60th wedding anniversary a few weeks ago with a huge, wonderful, joyful party in which the ceremonial pig was brought in for the event and, wait for it, named. My grandfather bellowing, “What are we going to name the pig?!!” still echoes in my ears. They decided on Elsa, which we vowed to never tell the small girl cousins who were outside at that moment dominating the salsa-intended dance floor with a Frozen Sing-a-Long. Help us all. I take pictures such as this one to bring to therapy to explain my life.  But honestly what I missed was the Puerto Rican Photo Booth which is when everyone poses with the pig. I had to draw a line.

Now on to rabbits.

We have a rabbit who lives in the backyard and loves to play with Leila. She wants very badly to touch the rabbit. He’s considering it.

Some final highlights:

The Pool Lost and Found Pretzel:

The Sandbox:

Co-Sleeping (it’s not just for Parents and Babies anymore)

But it’s definitely not for sleep.

Summer 2014 has been one for the record books. Tomorrow we will bike the older girls over to school and then I might sit down and really reflect on it all.

Or I might just pray for what is next.  There is always something…

Happy Summer’s End!

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Practicing Lament

I read “news” news on Twitter – local, national, global. I read my friend’s news on Facebook  - a lot about a few, a little about some, and nothing about 400 of them. I check Instagram to be assured of what’s right in the world including new babies, new shoes, and the comforting reminder that somewhere, right now, a farmer’s market is occurring. 

The last few days FB’s personal updates and Twitter’s global ones have collided as we sit behind our screens, horrified at a world seeming to spin out of control.

Beth Moore tweeted, ” I have no words.” That’s saying something, love that woman.

Meanwhile during the past week I’ve been reading a book on faith development. The author has a section in which she discusses the practice of lament – as in it’s a discipline we should practice

Because as tragedy does rightly silence us, when needed, we do have words. They’ve been being said for thousands of years. I’ll never forget Philip Yancey ,in the wake of the Newtown, Connecticut school shootings, explaining that not only can God handle our grief, He provides us with the words to express it.

One-third of the Book of Psalms are psalms of lament. One-third! But what about the sheep and the tambourines and the still waters?! In there too, but alongside a whole lot of articulated pain. How have we overlooked this? Avoided it? Forgotten even that there’s actually a whole book entitled “Lamentations”?

Will Willimon says this:

Today, when the contemporary Church reads Lamentations, the disciplines of mourning are being taught by a people who have experienced the worst of disaster to a people who tend to avoid grief at all possible costs…there will be no recovery, no renovation, and no rebirth until there is first the legitimate expression of grief, the public processing of pain, and honest admission of our true situation. Lamentations is the part of the Bible that teaches us how to grieve, how to be angry with God when we need to be, how to weep when tears are necessary.”

So if you’re interested, there are two forms of Laments, personal and corporate

Personal Laments (Psalm 13 is an example) contain five elements:

1. Address to God (vs.1 and 3)

2. Complaint (verse 1-4)

3. Expression of Confidence or trust (verse 5)

4. Petition (verse 3)

5. Expression of Praise or Vow to praise (verse 6)

Corporate Laments (Psalm 80 as example)  contain six elements because “Expression of Confidence or Trust” is divided into two elements: “Remembering God’s past actions” and “Words of Affirmation.”

Still with me? You structure people are loving this! We can organize our grief!!!

No, not at all.

But we can use a model that plants us in the practice of grieving,  making it feel less foreign, less an interruption. Especially in confronting global atrocities, practicing lament assures that our grief is not a fleeting internet-inspired emotion quickly overshadowed by the equally fleeting joy of shopping or fleeting grief of a failed car inspection. The Bible grounds our emotions, not dispelling them, while culture continually manipulates. 

Social media overwhelms me into inaction. It’s a cacophony of causes out there. We are urged to pray and urged to act and urged to give and urged to not look away. Yet eventually, I switch sites or shut down and deal with the ones yelling their needs in real time.

But spiritual practices are work over the long haul. I know this because I don’t like  them. But I also know this is how I am transformed. This is how all of us become people who know how to grieve and mourn and complain so that we may become people who know how to pray and  act and not look away.

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Cindy’s Serums and Circles

I had never really feared getting older. My goals were always to be smarter and better, not prettier and cooler, so age seemed to be on my side. But our culture is pervasive and persuasive and right around my birthday this year, numbed with confusion and burdened by the environmental affects plaguing my skin (namely, the air in the minivan} somewhere between 5:30 and 6:30 am, I hit the wrong channel on the remote and landed on an informercial for this:

 You see, Cindy Crawford has teamed with a doctor  whose method halts aging on melons…so he prescribes it for faces. This is what I needed. A non-aging melon face.

My last thought before giving out my credit card for the starter kit? It’s Cindy Crawford, it cant’ be a scam.  

Am I twelve? No. Apparently that’s the issue.

Though often billed as  a steady force of face-dulling, dark spot enhancing, forward motion, I experience aging when things come full circle. Overalls and Birkenstocks are back.  I’ll leave Birkenstocks out, as orthopedic comfort is more appreciated as I age, but overalls really? Like the ones Erin and I wore everyday in tenth grade as our own weird sociological experiment until I broke out in a rash? Was that a good look?  The rash definitely wasn’t. Welcome back.

But then a few weeks ago I attended a wedding where I got to pray with a group of women I’ve watched grow up. In a stolen moment before the ceremony that was quiet and sacred, we stood around a beautiful bride and thanked God for grace and friendship and joy, for the past years and the future ones. I had two inches of Cindy Crawford’s Glowing Serum on my face but for the  first time felt so matronly, and so content to be there exactly as I was. Look what I have been able to witness…

Then the very next week one of those women, who not so long ago sat on my living room floor eating brownies after  I put Infant Sophia to bed at 6:30 because I was a hyper sleep trainer, led my almost second grader at Vacation Bible School. Sophia came home every day talking about the chants Tara had her crew do as they marched around the church. I felt not-young and awe-filled, and immeasurably grateful. I only hope that some of these women will circle my girls in prayer one day, with or without me, my face no doubt disintegrated from non-FDA approved product use.

When we recently moved it was to the  same street I lived on in college. Heartwarming. Bizarre.  I sometimes imagine my 20 year old self walking down the street in front of my house, to get to class or wherever I went instead of class. I like her. She’s funny and idealistic and has worked out a good scam in living with all of these athletes who feed her. I yell to her to wear more sunscreen.

Then the creepy flashback ends and I return to my life. I’m not who I was and I’m glad. I’m earning my matronly badges and learning this side of things might have the real perks. I’m more honest, less hard on myself, more hopeful, more at peace. I’ve seen too much of  God’s faithfulness to be unchanged and  the ways it has shaped me, perhaps my face may never show.

Besides tonight when our new neighbors, you know, the Girls Soccer Team, brought me their team dinner leftovers, all was right with the world. Full circle. Welcome Back. 

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