Friday, July 30, 2010

The Dusty Road

I don't normally do follow-up posts (because really, there's usually not much to follow up on. See: the bathroom remodel post), but I've got so many thoughts about yesterday's "Sad" post and I've got to get them down here.

Yesterday afternoon I was feeling so awful (which is kind of like every afternoon), and I sat down and just blurted a bit of it out on the blog and threw it out there without rereading it a bunch of times like I usually do and thought, "So be it." Since then I've gotten notes from people and comments from total strangers, and I realize, "Yes. There are a lot of us out there. I'm not alone."

One of my mom's best friends wrote to me, and I know she is so sad, too. She said what helped her was imagining Mom seeing Jesus welcome her to His home and the special room He has prepared for her. I love hearing what is helping other people because I just keep thinking about the time when I was four years old and David Fisher hit me on the side of the head with a baseball bat and I came inside, roaring, to tell my mom and then fell down the basement steps. She gathered me up in her arms and just said, "Oh, my baby, my baby," over and over again. And whenever anything bad would happen to me throughout life or I'd be upset about something, before she gave me words of wisdom or would pray for me, I'd get a hug and hear her say, "Oh, my baby, my baby," even up until her last few months. So after going through this worst of ordeals, I keep looking around for her and waiting for her to come back so I can tell her all about it and hear those words again.

There was one dear lady who remained anonymous in the comments on "Sad," but she said something so profound I'll never forget it my whole life. She just lost her 36-year-old son, two days after my mom died, in a motorcycle accident. She said, "I think of the children's book entitled 'We're Going On a Bear Hunt' which keeps repeating we can't go under it, we can't go over it, we have to go through it."

Like I said, I have no idea who she is, but I just want to hug her. Over the past year or so, my mom said to me several times, "There are worse things than dying of cancer." Oh yes, there are. Having your son die unexpectedly in the prime of his life is worse. Like my friends Jack and Alysa whose friend hanged himself in his garage, leaving behind a wife and three little kids. That's definitely worse.

Today was the last day of that Ruth study I was telling you about. I've spent six weeks reading every word of the book of Ruth and going over her story--how she was widowed so young and set out on a dusty road with her also widowed sister-in-law and mother-in-law. How they came to the crossroad and all started bawling and Naomi told them to go back. How tempting that must have been to want to go back home to her parents and family and the place she knew and the gods she grew up with and everything that was familiar. Watching her sister-in-law do exactly that and maybe wanting to run down that road after her, but instead, putting her arms around Naomi and looking up to God and saying, "I'm going with you and You," even though she had no idea what to expect. Would they have a home in Bethlehem? Would there be food to eat? Would anyone befriend or protect them? Let alone, would she ever get married again or have children?

But she chose to keep walking down the road into the Unknown, and the story ends with her married and bearing a son who became the grandfather of King David, and, not only that, but the ancestor of Jesus Christ Himself. And Kelly, the author of the study wrote this:

"I presume we have no idea how the biggest and seemingly insignificant decisions affect our lives and those around us. This doesn't mean we need to obsess and overanalyze and drive ourselves nuts wondering. It only means we have to pursue Christ. He works all the other things out. I am personally amazed at how God masterfully preserved the line of Judah so many times over by the fragile threads of foreigners like Ruth. Only the gospel can make such sense of things."

I handled all the little memorial gifts from my mom to her friends and family, and I included Revelation 21:4 in all the cards, "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain. For the old order of things has passed away."

And I got this picture in my mind today that I keep replaying over and over: everyone gathering around the throne in Heaven at that time, and it's not like there's this afterthought such as, "Oh, by the way, there's no death here. Pass it on." but instead Jesus, with His voice like a thousand rushing waters, shouting out, "No more accidents! No more heart disease! No more cystic fibrosis! No more AIDS! No more suicide! No more cancer!" and on and on, while all our cheers keep getting louder and louder until they echo through all the universes.

In Hebrews 11, there's a list of those who remained faithful. In my humble opinion, there's an ongoing list through the ages besides those that are included in that chapter, and maybe that will get read out when we get to Heaven too, so we can all celebrate together--after this long life of mourning together. My mom will for sure be on the list. Ruth, who made the fateful decision to keep walking down that dusty road instead of turning back, will be on it. I want my name amongst the faithful, too.

Only the gospel can make sense of such things. Can't go under it. Can't go over it. Have to go through it.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


Lots of people ask me how I'm doing. And mostly I just say, "Sad." There are a lot of words I could use: anguished, heartache, lonely, sorrowful, broken, etc., but I can kind of just sum it up with sad. I mean, I try not to spill my emotional junk all over people, but it's sort of ludicrous to tell them I'm fine.

I wake up in the morning, and I'm sad. What are we going to do today? Be sad. What's for breakfast? Sadness. Do you want to go to the park? Yup, if it's Sad Park, count me in. What do you want to watch? That Sad Show.

Here's what nobody can really tell you about bereavement until you experience it yourself and it's this: Life has an insidious, brutal little way of continuing on. Your car (or both of them) still breaks down. You still have to figure out what to cook for dinner. The bathroom still needs cleaning. Your kids still come home from VBS with a vial of colored sand and sprinkle it throughout your bed, and sand is all over the floor and the shower and the sheets and the pillows and the blankets and you have to rip everything off and throw it in the wash and remake your bed at 11:30 at night. (If you're wondering if I handled that situation with sweet grace and a tender mother's love, Readers, oh no, I did not.)

And as much as you just want to throw the (non-sandy) covers over your head and lie there, listening to Annie Lennox sing "Little Bird" on continuous repeat ("My, my, I feel so low, My, my, where do I go...") you don't get to.

When I think about this summer, particularly the beginning part when my mom was in the hospice, it seems like some awful techni-color nightmare. There were some beautiful, spiritual moments, and I'll forever count it a privilege that I held her hand while she took her very last breath. But there were the other times when she was so distressed and told me she was burning alive and thought she was going to hell. If I think too much about that time, and I try not to, I feel like I'm just going to freak out.

I told Darren, "It's like we were all in this massive car crash. I got out of the car and called the paramedics and made sure everyone was OK and got everything organized. But after it was all over, I discovered I have a broken neck and massive internal injuries."

Spiritually, well, that's another story, too. That feels like I got to walk up to the gate of heaven only to have it slammed in my face--consigned back to the regular world for me. It seems like whenever you feel far from God that pastors always like to tell you, "That's because YOU moved," but I didn't. I didn't move. So...where is He?

A couple months ago, Darren and I were visiting a Sunday School class and one of the questions was, "Do you ever doubt the Resurrection?" and everyone in the class (who spoke up) said they never doubted the Resurrection. Wow, I wish I had whatever they've got because I have doubts all the time. Like, at the mall. And the airport--surrounded by everyone else who seems to be doing just fine on their own. Am I the only one who believes this stuff? I'm thinking there have got to be a number of things that can really blow a hole in the side of a person's faith, and death is one of them.

I find myself going through the motions, and I don't necessarily think that's a bad thing. I say, "I believe, I truly do believe, Lord, please help my unbelief." I've been doing this Bible study on the book of Ruth all summer, and, while it's a great study, I don't think I am getting as much out of it as I would another time. Tomorrow is the last day, so this afternoon I went online and ordered a new study called "Rain on Me: Devotions of Hope and Encouragement for Difficult Times."

I hope I will find hope and encouragement from them, and if I do I'll try to post them on here. I feel as though I've been given a passport to another land: Those Who Are Left. I've got quite a number of friends there, too, and they're a great comfort. Like my friend Ann-Marie--her dad died when she was in college--who wrote me an encouraging note. Like Jamie--her dad died a number of years ago--who IM'd me from Switzerland just to say she was praying for me. Like Anna--her mom died five years ago--who said, "The weeks after the funeral are the worst. Call me day or night if you want to talk." And especially like Sarah who told me, "Oh, Alice. When my mom died, I couldn't even say the words 'my mom' for about five years without crying." They're a lot like Job's friends (before they started giving advice) when they just came along and sat down in the dirt and cried with him.

This post today is for my girls to read when they grow up...for Lucy who comes in and sits down next to me on the bed while I'm watching the slide show from my mom's memorial for the nth time and says, "Let's watch it again." For Elaine who looks up at me while I'm reading through my saved emails from 2003 that my mom wrote and says, "Why are there those tears in your eyes, Mom? Will you put this dress on Polly for me?" To them I say, "I think it's natural to feel this way. Life hurts so bad sometimes, and there's nothing that can fix it. Keep reading your Bible even if you don't feel like it. If you can't pray, just tell Him you don't know what words to say right now. Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. Hit the replay on 'Little Bird' as much as you want (or Supertramp's 'Take the Long Way Home'--that's another good one). Sad is normal. Sad is OK for now."

And to my dear friends, those I mentioned in this post and lots of others I haven't, thanks for sitting down next to me at Sad Park.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Brightening Things Up

The two events in this blogpost really have nothing to do with each other, but life is blah and I've been a lazy blogger lately, so you're getting them both together.

Our upstairs bathroom needed a little brightening. Remember the downstairs makeover? I'm too lazy to even link to it. Well, the upstairs needed it, too, but without costing hardly any money.

Here it is before. The people who had our house before us did a beautiful job, but I'm disappointed in the wall mirror in this bathroom. I wish we could have two wood-framed mirrors, one above each sink. Don't you think? But...that's kind of a big project.

Here's a cabinet I am definitely not in love with. Also a project for another time.

It all needed a splash of color, so...voila.

And also...ta da! Courtesy of Kathy at One Elegant Lady...

Aren't they great?

These are my two favorites:

I brought the girls in to see the changes, and Lucy said, "Cool! Now we have a London bathroom." And Elaine said, "Whoa. Rock and roll, Mom!" (I swear to you, she said that.)

In other news, I went out this week. By myself. In the evening. For dinner. I got in my car and drove 90 miles to Chicago (it took three hours).

I met some of my favorite people, three of my mates from a job I used to work BC (Before Children). We met at my favorite restaurant (bonus), here:

We all worked together in the mid-90s as general office people in a huge commercial real estate corporation for this crazy guy. We loved him. In fact, I still have a dream at least three times a year that he asks me to come back and work for him. He used to walk on his hands around the office and play Stevie Wonder, "Superstition" over and over and over as loudly as possible. One time he made me leave work and go to a music store so I could buy the Jefferson Airplane album that had "White Rabbit" on it so he could sing, "Go ask Alice, she's ten feet tall," with accompaniment.

Anyway, we were all young(er) and getting our masters' at DePaul and whatnot but basically spent our time laughing and going downstairs to Seattle's Best. Now we're older and get together about every three years and laugh at all the same stuff. I've been so sad lately, so it was great to just get out and have fun.

I wish I had a before picture and I know we've had a bunch taken, but I can't find any. But here we are now:

Left to right: Anne--she's British and the only person I know who takes Masterpiece Theatre as seriously as I do. Next is Marie--she works for the city counsel and teaches at Malcolm X. She is hilarious and the master of the malaprop. Me--ummmm, mom/blogger. Last is Joel; he used to be a struggling actor. Now he's married, two kids, and works for the Lyric Opera. One of the funniest people I've ever known.

So ah, that's about it. I put new towels and pictures in the bathroom and went out with friends. Then I blogged about it. It could be a GuilfordRoad new low.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Slice of Life

I think I've said this before, but each morning when Lucy and Elaine wake up, they're supposed to get dressed, brush their hair, brush their teeth, make their beds, and straighten up their room.

The success of this plan is fair to middling, especially the "straighten up the room" part. Pretty much every day it's a disaster. Then I walk in, my head spins around a few times, and I say some variation of, "I'm confused. How is this clean? Get it done. Now." and walk away. Sometimes I think "Clean your room," might be engraved on my tombstone, but it will have to find room below "Fasten Your Seatbelt," and "Ladies Don't Eat Like Pigs at the Trough."

Then a few minutes later, I find the girls elsewhere in the house and I ask, "Is your room clean?" and, wide-eyed and innocent, they claim, "Yes, Mama, we cleaned it, we really did!" And it looks exactly.the.same. I can only believe that either a) they're trying to gaslight me, or b) they're the worst room cleaners in the world. I'm just more comfortable with Option b.

For example, here's their bookcase. Seriously. This is how they put books away, if they put them away at all.

I won't show you what the rest of the room looks like--I actually think I did that once before on this blog, and also Darren wonders why I keep exhibiting our shame on the Internet. I go in about once a week and fix the havoc they have wreaked. Here's the bookcase after I'm done with it:

Now, this is a complete side note, but see the top shelf? Here's a parental recommendation for you if you don't already do this. Get audiobooks for your kids, no matter how young they are. Someone (who doesn't read this blog) was telling me recently that each of their kids--same age as mine--have a TV in their room, and every night they go to sleep watching a movie. I'm not one of those no-TV people, but that's just sad to me. Audiobooks are a great way to fall asleep--and it helps your kids obtain a much higher reading comprehension level than they would normally on their own. Plus, they're just fun. So whether you download books on your iPod or your Kindle or whether you kick it old school with a CD player and CDs like we do, it's a great investment. I could do a whole post on my favorites, and maybe I will someday.

Moving on.

In the middle of my cleaning the bookcase yesterday, Elaine came to get me.

"C'mere, Mom, you gotta see my dolls. They're all at school," she said as she grabbed my hand. Now notice this--because their room is a pit and I am cleaning it, she is now messing up the guestroom. Gah.

Here are her dolls at school:

Wait a minute, what is this?

That's Elena. She's the doll Elaine got for her first birthday. Lucy named her, so it's not quite as narcissistic as it sounds. But what kind of mother lets her child go to school with hair like that? And naked to boot? This must be remedied.

So I take a break from book organizing to assist this poor creature.

Much better:

Suffice it to say, this often happens while I'm cleaning their room. The state of their dolls' hair and attire would shock you. It just can't go on. Then they (the girls, not the dolls, but really, who knows??) are so happy when I've fixed them up.

"How do you know how to do this?" Lucy asks. "You are awesome at fixing dolls, Mom. Did you take lessons?"

Of course I did, right between Literary Criticism and a seminar on James Joyce. Those haven't gotten me that far in life, so maybe with Lucy's praise it's something I should be adding to my resume soon.

After the doll dressing and bookcase cleaning, Elaine came back in the room because hey, who doesn't want to play in a clean room? The better to mess it up again. She wanted to pose in front of the bookcase with her favorite book. I think you'll agree that the resemblance is uncanny.

Now maybe some of you might be reading this and saying, "Hey Alice, sounds like you're a 41-year-old who plays with dolls." And to you I say, "From henceforth, I would like it to be referred to as styling."

So, if you have any dilapidated dolls needing such styling or bookcases needing organizing, please contact me. My references are impeccable, and my salary should be commensurate with my vast experience. I'll be waiting for your call.

Monday, July 19, 2010

What We Did On Our Summer Vacation

We've been gone all week on vacation in Door County, and, in the words of Peter Gibbons, "I did nothing, absolutely nothing, and it was everything I thought it would be."

Basically, the girls and I went to the beach every day (Darren worked). We brought our camera, and I meant to take great, artsy pictures like Julie K. and Alysa do: striped beach umbrellas, the girls' little feet in the sand, them eating copious amounts of a revolting ice cream called Blue Moon that tasted like Fruit Loops, stuff like that, but I realized I forgot the camera card, so I didn't even take any pictures of this glorious doing-nothing party.

The girls played in the water, and I sometimes I played with them or we looked for shells or made sand castles, and the rest of the time I laid on a beach towel and read. I reread To Kill A Mockingbird (and cried at all the same places I always do), Maeve Binchy's Circle of Friends, Rumer Godden's The Greengage Summer, and Diane Setterfield's The Thirteenth Tale. Then for the first time I read May Sarton's Journal of Solitude.

When we weren't at the beach, I played Crazy 8s and Go Fish with the girls and watched House Hunters on HGTV. For part of the week, my dad and Chuck and Rome came up too, which was great. We went to the park and climbed to the top of the tower like we always do. And I watched Elaine and Chuck play this hilarious passive-aggressive game they have made up (actually, Elaine made it up) called "Martinelli's." She stands in front of him with a pad of paper and a pen. Here's a sampling of their dialog:

Elaine: Welcome to Martinelli's. What would you like to eat?
Chuck: a hamburger and fries
Elaine: We don't have hamburgers and fries. What else do you want?
Chuck: Chinese food
Elaine: We don't have Chinese food. What else?
(This progresses on indefinitely as his requests get more and more outlandish, like shark fins, none of which can be found at Martinelli's. Then finally, Rome will try to help.)
Rome: May I have some salad?
Elaine: Sure, I can get you some salad.
Chuck: Why does she get salad? I don't think you have any food at this restaurant. I'll just have the Number 8 soup
Elaine: We don't have Number 8 soup. And we don't have Number 9, either.
Chuck: I don't believe you're writing anything I order on that pad. You're just scribbling on it.
Elaine: I am NOT just scribbling.
Chuck: Well then, read me what you wrote.
Elaine (lifts the paper up to her eyes, sighs, and begins with exaggerated patience in a robotic voice): It is im-poss-i-ble to read this to you because you are so mean.

They play variations of this game every time they're together.

Another highlight of the week was that I discovered Julie's Upscale Resale in Sister Bay. What a great store. It was filled with clothes (overpriced), accessories, and housewares, displayed really well--including having various pages from home/decorating magazines in all the little nooks throughout the shop, saying "Try this!" or "You could do this with this table!" etc. Brilliant idea.

I bought this tres cute Gucci purse for fall:

And these two scarves (she had lots of beautiful scarves). This one will look great with a red sweater...

And I love the cityscape pattern on this one...

So, that was Door County. Then on Saturday we headed to Minneapolis to a memorial for my cousin, Jon. He died unexpectedly of a heart attack at age 43. His family had a really nice service for him--a lot of good memories. I hadn't known him very well (we have a huge family), but I was glad that we could be there.

There was a luncheon afterward, and I'm still not sure what happened, but I started feeling sick and sicker as I was sitting there. I finally went outside to lie down in the car (in the 93-degree heat), and then Darren and the girls joined me. We started to drive to our hotel (with me still lying down and saying, "I'm dying. I'm pretty sure I'm going to die soon."), and Darren asked "What are your symptoms?"

"Please pull over right NOWWWWW...." I moaned. Yep. That was a pretty self-evident symptom.

We finally made it to the hotel and then to our room on the 10th floor where I pulled the shades, blasted the AC, and became one with the bed for several hours. Doubletree Minneapolis, I love you so.

While I was unconscious, Darren took the girls swimming and then out to dinner. When I finally woke up, I felt somewhat better, it was thunderstorming like crazy outside, and I found When Harry Met Sally on cable.

The next day we came home, and today Darren's gone to his office while I've got two little suntanned girls and loads of laundry to do. It was a good week.

What have you been doing this summer?

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

A New Shop

I have so many artistic friends. I have friends who make accessories and friends who make scrapbooks and friends (more than one) who are photographers. Most of them have etsy sites. Are you familiar with etsy? It's a great place where creative people can have their own little online shops and sell stuff. Looking for unique Hello Kitty themed accessories for girls? Try etsy. How about custom-made Chinese-theme handbags (as I always am!)? Go to etsy. It's a fun place to find one-of-a-kind items and throw a little support to independent designers out there. Sometimes I feel a little inadequate because I am practically the only person I know without an etsy site, but then I reassure myself that my ministry is consumerism.

All that to say, my friend Kathy is just opening her new etsy site: One Elegant Lady. Kathy makes gorgeous cards and collages and killer handbags (have I lost any men readers I have at this point?) My friend Peg has a robin egg blue and black damask handbag by Kathy, and it does cause me to stumble, readers.

And I've been to as many of those card-making parties as you have, and while they're fun and you can make some cute stuff, Kathy's cards are works of art. My particular (current) favorite is her Ooh-La-La Paris line. She also told me she's got a London line coming right up. She uses quality cardstock and designer papers, which she hand picks.

I don't know if you've bought cards at Hallmark or Target lately, but just buying a few for your family can cost over twenty dollars. Kathy's little gems are reasonably priced, and honestly, I would frame hers and put them up around my house.

She's still adding items and pictures (she doesn't have any handbags shown yet), and she's planning to start a One Elegant Lady blog, too. I'll keep you posted, and in the meantime, check out her cool new shop!

And while you're at etsy looking at One Elegant Lady, remember to visit Becky at Bowture and Betsy at Yellow Elm. You too can join my consumerism ministry!

Monday, July 05, 2010

Friendship Day

Yesterday you celebrated Independence Day, right? I've celebrated it every July 4th of my life in much the same way: parades, cookouts, baseball games, fireworks, the usual. And it's good that way, it really is. Except last year my brother-in-law and sister-in-law and I watched the hot dog eating contest on ESPN, and not only will that put you off hot dogs, it could pretty much put you off food for the rest of your life. Really, it's pretty much everything that is wrong with America, encapsulated right there.

Yesterday though, we did something different--we celebrated American-Filipino Friendship Day, which is also July 4th, didja know that?

We went to Chuck and Rome's. She told me, "You don't need to bring anything," so I didn't. Also, she produces this show, so really, what could I bring except something made with Cool Whip and bring total dishonor to my family's name? Someone tells me "don't bring anything," and I believe her.

Except she also told her many aunts not to bring anything, and they all brought at least three main dishes. Also, I'm all about helping the hosts in the kitchen, but I just beat it out of there because it was clear the experts had arrived. Everyone was chattering around in Tagalog, and it was a great kick-off to 4th of July.

Lucy whispered to me, "Mama, us and Tio and Packa--we're the only white people here!"

I repeated this to Rome, who burst out laughing and said our friend Bob was coming so there would be one more white person. Her family is the nicest big group of people ever, and they'll switch over to English for you too, so it didn't matter anyway.

Lucy and Elaine quickly found other kids to play with, and the girls busied themselves chasing the lone boy round and round the house and yard, trying to get his baseball cap off his head and smear him with glitter makeup.

Then it was time to eat, but first Rome's dad (who, along with her mom, are visiting from the Philippines this summer) read some verses for us and said his prayers had been answered because he was getting to spend his birthday--also July 4--with his daughter and with Chuck and, as he gestured to my dad, "his compadre," which made me tear up a bit and laugh too because my dad needs a compadre right now and also he's about twice the height of Rome's dad.

Then he prayed for the food, and we started to eat.

And eat.

And eat.

I can't begin to tell you everything that was on offer for this unique 4th of July/Friendship Day, but here is a sampling (heh, most of which made its way to my plate): orzo with shrimp and dill, mahi mahi, steak/pepper/pineapple kabobs, fruit salad, something that I think is called "pased" (pronounced with two syllables)--it's noodles with shrimp and chicken and vegetables. I absolutely love it, but Chuck rolls his eyes at it. He said, "Yeah, I liked it too the first twenty times I had it at potlucks. It's everywhere, all the time. It's like how someone always brings lasagna to American potlucks so you just don't take it anymore." Well, I still like it. There was also shrimp curry and grilled tuna (Darren's favorite), oh, and a traditional lamb dish w/ rice that was fantastic, and like I said, I can't remember everything else. Oh, and fried chicken.

After we ate all that, it was, of course, time for dessert, which included something that looked like egg rolls but they're sweet and filled with banana, chocolate bundt cake, some other sort of double chocolate cake, caramel rice pudding, leche flan (Lucy's favorite), a Ghiradelli cheesecake, and the traditional American cake with white frosting decorated like the flag with strawberries and blueberries.

By the way, I know I'm probably missing at least 8-10 other things there. So we sat on the deck on a hot, muggy July day and celebrated birthdays, and family, and friendship between nations, and um, food.

People kept coming and going throughout the day, and finally as we were getting ready to leave (which involves working the entire crowd, shaking hands with all the men and cheek-kissing all the women), another family with little boys arrived. The lone boy with the baseball cap now firmly in place took them aside and told them, "The girls here are CRAZY. You have to watch out for them."

We finally went home in the dark, watching all the various town fireworks go off around us, while the girls fell asleep in the backseat with sweaty hair and their eyes smeared with hot pink glitter eyeshadow. We got home around 10 and carried them up to their beds, still asleep.

It was a great day.

Sunday, July 04, 2010


(while the girls were playing with Polly Pockets the other day)

Lucy: We'll do a play. This will be the title of the first act in our play: "Meteoration." Do you know what "metoriation" means? It's when you meet people.

Elaine: Oh. OK. Moto benny.

Lucy: No, they're not going to speak Spanish at the Meteoration. Just English.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Another viewpoint

Alysa wrote about Mom's service here. And, since she's a gifted photographer, there are some pictures too! It was cool to read about that day through someone else's eyes. And she gives our family a lot of love in it, but let me assure you, the feeling is more than mutual. If I want to have a laugh/cry, I think about one of the many weekends we shared at my house during college. We woke up, and there was some sort of massive bug in our room. We shrieked at the top of our lungs and, I think, ran in to my mom's room (where I'm sure she joined our shrieking) until my dad came upstairs (disgustedly) to kill it for us. HEY. It was a big bug.

Anyway, thanks Alysa--for doing life with us and getting up to sing in celebration of it!

(P.S. I'm fat in that last picture because I'm seven months pregnant. Just to clarify.)

(P.P.S. Those adorable boys in the pictures with my girls are our nephews, Ryne and Joseph.)