Tag Archives: birthdays



Birthday Banner

I’ve run 4 marathons, but I’ve never run a 10k–until Sunday. The weather was sunny enough to make you happy, cool enough to keep you from wilting.

I’ve been worried that I haven’t been running enough miles, but the 10k gave me more confidence. I was actually passing people UNDER the age of 80 during the race and finished with a smile (and in 56 minutes).

It was a great way to begin my birthday week.

My Crossfit coach gave me a birthday present in the form of 50 burpees, 100 pushups and 150 walking lunges interspersed between sprints of varying lengths.

The good news is that now at age 40, I am healthier than I’ve ever been. And that is exactly how I wanted to begin this next phase of life.

But life is still life. My week has been filled with (mostly) a good kind of chaos, but chaos nonetheless. My actual birthday morning began by scrubbing the dog’s behind at 6:00 am. Then I spent half the morning finding his special food, which he wouldn’t eat anyway. Now we have an emergency vet appointment to find out why he’s not eating or drinking. Poor little thing.

But being at an emergency vet appointment isn’t how I envisioned spending my 40th birthday. Obviously, I love my fluffy little dog, and who cares about a birthday when he is miserable? It’s just not what I ‘planned.’

I’ve had to do all kinds of uncomfortable things this week–specifically, making several appointments in German, which is nearly as taxing to me mentally as burpees are physically.

All I want to do is stay home one day this week, but it doesn’t look like that will happen until Saturday, and even then I’ll have to leave for a few hours for my long run.  I look back on my ‘sick day’ last week with a warped kind of fondness because I got to lay on the couch and eat jello.

As a wife & mom & servant of God, I don’t write my own schedule. I have to interact with other human beings and figure out how I can best help them. I have to talk to God and actually obey Him when He tells me what path to take–and usually, that path isn’t the easy one.

So while my milestone birthday did not include a luxury vacation, it did include a date with my husband; a card from Libby that was so incredibly sweet it made me cry (and scared her a little); gorgeous earrings in my favorite color, and a ‘Mom’ necklace, bought with hard earned teenage money; lots of hugs & an old hat of mine (which I had loaned out); and a custom-made comic strip, with humor that always makes me laugh.

Libby's card made me cry!

Libby’s card made me cry!

Katie went over the top with my beautiful, elegant cake, and all the kids helped decorate to make my birthday morning (once I was done scrubbing the dog) special.

As much as I dreamed of escaping to a beach somewhere, this birthday has been the best one ever because of the pure and simple love that pours out from my family, even though I don’t deserve it.

40 birthdays behind me.

I look forward to 80 more.


How My Kids Drive Me Crazy While Keeping Me Sane and a Rare Political Rant


“Wow!” exclaimed my teenage son, “I’m surprised to hear you speak intelligently about politics.”

I finished pouring my morning coffee, trying to determine if that was a compliment.

I knew what he meant, but I couldn’t help but give him a hard time about his particular choice of words. It was surprising to him to hear me speak about politics at all–particularly when I brought up some specific points that were on my mind.

I usually avoid talking about politics because I hate the way it brings out the claws, fangs and venom that people normally keep to themselves. Personally, I think it’s a waste of energy to get worried or upset about things over which you have no control. Do your duty, vote, but don’t waste a good emotion like hatred on other people’s opinions. I mean, if you used that same energy to do good works, the world would be a better place.

Which brings me to the really important issue–our house. Yes, politics affects us all, and we need to be responsible, but I’m not going to spend time tweeting on election night when the kitchen smells like birthday cake and I have presents to wrap.

My darling Libby turned 9, and there’s not a politician on earth who can steal her thunder on this day. Her voice quavered this morning, as she said ‘thank you,’ merely upon the sight of her few presents and cake.

We are downsizing here, and so I was concerned that what she did receive wouldn’t be ‘enough;’ basically that it wouldn’t be up to the standards of birthdays past. But I should’ve known better. A birthday is special because of the love that goes into it, not because of the gifts.

Libby proved this today.

Libby is the self-proclaimed “Mama-whisperer,” because she has a knack for making me feel better when I’m out of whack. The kids send her in, like a diplomat or a bomb expert, when they sense (usually from the pitch in my voice) that I’m getting ready to explode.

No kid is perfect, but my kids are each pretty great in their own unique ways. They drive me crazy at times (like William challenging me to write a novel this month, which I naturally accepted), but I can’t imagine my world without them. They keep me motivated, keep me grounded, and keep me focused on the things that are really important in life, which, and I’m sorry if this offends you, does not include politics.

I am all about helping the poor, and I feel strongly that everyone should have easy access to affordable and competent medical care. I also feel that our political system in America is off. Why are there only two parties when in other countries there are many? I mean, this election yesterday was a race between two Harvard Law School grads–since when does the general public trust lawyers?

I have a lot of friends, and many of them would be on opposite sides of any given rally.

And here is what I, standing somewhere in the middle, would say to you: use your energy, your emotion, your resources to cultivate love and compassion in your own homes first, and then use it to reach out to those less fortunate.

Don’t worry about what the government does or does not do, but start with peace in your own home.

Pray for our leaders that they will make wise choices, and don’t speculate about what “might happen,” because you soon find yourself wasting the precious here and now worrying about the future.

And with all sincerity, define in your own mind what you think is “best” for America. If your definition of “best” includes a yacht while the widow next door can’t afford medical insurance, something is wrong. If your definition of “best” means you can buy more gadgets than your neighbors, then please, rethink your life. There are greater rewards than posting shallow phrases, which do not often represent your real life, via iThingies.

‘Friend’ real people, if possible, and if you live thousands of miles away (like some of us) use technology to bring you closer to people, not to alienate them.

We sponsor four children in Kenya, and their letters sometimes break my heart because of their love and sincerity. There is a teacher strike, currently, in Kenya, so these kids, whose prospects are already limited, are outright handicapped by this strike. How can I worry about what this or that candidate might do when Magdalene, who worked so hard to move from 26th to first in her class, no longer has a teacher? 

My hope was never, and I pray WILL never be in a politician.

God appoints the rulers of this world, and there is good reason for it. Trust in that.

Because if your trust is in any single person, you will be disappointed.

That is my rant–and that is as political as I get.

For now, I have a pink, sparkly cake to nibble and a birthday girl to hug. 

A Very Libby Birthday


Whimsical. Sparkly. Magical. Funny. Bubbly. Beautiful. Pink.

These are just a few of the words that come to mind when I think of my youngest daughter. And on her birthday, the adjectives are amplified beyond description.

She was awake this morning (who knows how long), and when she heard the house stir, she put on a party dress and entered the birthday room. There were polka-dot packages, which matched her boldly polka-dotted dress, shiny (pink) ribbons, shiny (pink) baloons, and a cake with that magical sweetness that only ripens on a child’s birthday.

Libby brings so much joy to my life, it seems my heart can’t bear the fullness of it. Which is why it is all the more odd to recall that when she was born, I wasn’t sure if I could love her as much as I loved the other children.

Everything had been going smoothly. My mother-in-law arrived in Alaska, and twelve hours later we were on our way to the hospital. After three hours of labor, my delicate, 10 pound, meconium baby was rushed away, her lungs suctioned, and her head placed in an oxygen bubble.

When they brought her back to me 3 1/2 hours later, she didn’t seem familiar, as my other babies had. And it scared me to think that this baby in my arms would always be a stranger.

Of course I loved her. But would I love her so much that my heart would break with it?

It haunts me to think of it, but at the time, I wasn’t sure.

I know there are stories of mothers and infants clinging to life, and who are separated by medical necessity for days or weeks or months. But for me, 3 1/2 hours was long enough to make me wonder if my baby and I had missed something we could never get back.

I spent three days in my cozy hospital room, with limited visitors, nurses bringing great meals to my private room, and with plenty of time to get to know this new baby, who depended so completely on me.

By the time we walked through the door of our home, excited little kids bouncing off walls, Bushia’s home-cooked meal in the oven, with that tiny human, swallowed up by all things plush and pink, our hearts had been knit together for good.

The bonding had occurred, not as quickly as with the other three kids, but with that same familiar, unbreakable permanence.

God had a lot of women to choose from when deciding which one would have the honor of raising Libby.

I am thankful and grateful and completely humbled that out of all the mothers in the world, I am the one she calls Mama.

Happy Birthday My Darling Libby!