The Tap Dancing Purple Armadillo

“What day is it,?” asked Pooh. 
“It’s today,” squeaked Piglet.
“My favorite day,” said Pooh.”

-A. A. Milne

Bedtime, Thursday night: I stumble around in a confused state because Derrick has a bug bite the size of Alaska on his leg AND it feels like Friday. These things can throw me way off. The point is, it was time to tuck small people into Thomas the Train Sheets and Stuffed Animals. They were NOT having it.

"Mom. I'm scared..." began the 6 year old.

Since I had clocked out mentally HOURS ago, I threw caution to the wind. "What are you afraid of? The purple armadillo?" I asked innocently.

He took the bait.

"The purple...what?"

"The purple armadillo that tap dances at midnight!" I exclaimed in an Everyone-Knows-This voice.

He asked me to tell him more. I feel the adrenaline rush of improv night and dive in, head first.

"He comes into little boy's rooms at midnight and does a tap dance. Then he sings a song at the end of his dance. He is a performer," I say with authority.

"Is this fiction?" he asks me.

I glare at him sternly and say, "DO you want to hear the song he sings?"

He nods and I begin, a quick wave of panic hitting me because I need to make this good. It has to rhyme. We are dealing with a six year old who knows what "fiction" means.

I begin in my jazzy scat voice:

"I'm the purple armadillo and I like to dance!

He laughs hysterically and I make a mental note to involve more pant humor in my day to day interactions. Kindergartners, man. Thinking the fears were gone, I follow up with a Rabbit Shadow Puppet show and dance out of the room.

A few minutes later, Derrick goes in to give hugs, and I hear the four year old nervously ask, " it TRUE about the purple armadillo?"

Derrick, suffering from a mystery bug bite and a long day at work, struggles. I can hear his brain creak as he tries to decode his son's question.


"The purple armadillo that likes to tap dance," explains Shel patiently. I fall on the floor, tears streaming down my face. I shake with laughter.

"Um..." Derrick began, "Who is talking about a purple armadillo?"

"Mommy" said Q.

The jig was up. Sheldon announced quite firmly that he didn't want to be visited by a purple armadillo, Q sang the song to Derrick, and I wiped my tears with the sleeve of my sweatshirt.

I Work Out...Twice

I went to the gym this week. Twice.

I wouldn't have gone once if my gym buddy hadn't forced me to, and if the Two Year Old hadn't developed a hard and fast love for the playground in the gym's childcare that one time I went in the Summer.

Day one, I told the kid, "Hey, I don't think we are going to the gym...Mommy has a lot to get done..." and he started screaming and crying hysterically.


No one needs to pay real money for a personal trainer. Just invite my kid to go with you to the gym and TRY to get out of it. Just try.

I don't know how I got on this fitness journey. Like most things in my life, I signed up on a whim and now the rest of humanity is dragging me on for a ride. I tried to get out of it again today. AGAIN I was too busy/tired to go. This is why I have a gym buddy. She gave me a sad story about already being dressed for the 10 o clock class at 7:15. I felt bad, so I went. Classic case of peer pressure. Good thing my friends are just addicted to fitness.

Today's class was called "Body Blast" and I was already sore from the class my two year old dragged me to YESTERDAY which was called "Power Pilates".

I thought "POWER PILATES" was a scary enough name, but "BODY BLAST" was terrifying. I think the main reason I tried to get out of going today was fear. I was afraid my poor abs would revolt and I would just be there on the floor, motionless, while around me 80 year old women with biceps crunched their way into glory. It's happened before. It hurts my pride. I love my pride and I hate it when it gets hurt. I hate it more than burpees.

That's a lie. I hate burpees more.

Anyway I went. As I stood outside the gym door I started chatting with my friend about the terrors of "BODY BLAST". The class description was alarmingly vague. It just said something about high intensity twenty second somethings. As I talked about my fear of high intensity anything, I discovered that the teacher was standing right next to me. She turned to tell me that we would be doing "crazy things" but we would just need a mat and some heavy weights.

"Heavy? Heavy weights? What is a heavy weight?" I asked,  gripping my store-bought water bottle until it made a crunch (the fancy reusable water bottle I purchased to use at the gym smells weird now and I'm afraid of that too)(but not as much as heavy weights).

She eyed me and said, "What do you usually use?"

I decided my pride was already mortally wounded and started planning the funeral. I bravely said, "None. I usually use NONE."

She said, "Five pounds. Don't do ten."

This proved how little she knew me. I wasn't even tempted to use ten. I was VERY tempted to use 2.5 but by that point my pride proved it is impossible to kill and it forced me to grab the five pounders.

I don't remember what happened for the next hour, I think I have post traumatic stress disorder. I know my pride does. I DO remember at one point we were doing jumping jack push-up cartwheels or SOMETHING and the song, "What Does The Fox Say?" came on.

I can promise you I lost it and started laughing hysterically. I almost fell on the floor because at that point my legs were unstable. That song almost killed me.

I survived the class and do you know what? I feel a major sense of accomplishment. I also feel Hope for Smaller Pants because my instructor promised that an hour of that nonsense was worth four hours of regular cardio. AND NOW that I am working so hard, I don't want to mess it up by eating ice cream (although ice cream sounds delicious and I could four gallons of it right now). This could be good.

I know it's only been two days, but two days is better than NO days and I am going to celebrate.  I've just been thinking, "How many things do we skip out on because we let our pride boss us around?" Maybe my sad two day story will make someone else feel like they can conquer pride and accomplish something they've been wanting to do but have been too afraid to try. Something is better than nothing (unless we are talking about mosquitoes) (which we are not).

Okay do you know what else I am thinking? What kind of PANTS can I wear that will keep from falling down when I have to do "legs in the air things"? All the cool ladies at the gym are wearing very tight pants, and I really don't like wearing tight pants...mostly because I REALLY like to wear regular underwear. 

On Writing: My Blogging Manifesto

It's Thursday and I wish you were here. I'd give you a poem: a bowl of vegetable beef soup, extra garlic.

The soup is the poem and it doesn't travel well, so here I am with the cold hard keyboard and the smell of garlic marrying the onion and it's so lovely I want to share. Can the translation be made? If I mail it to you in text will the contents slosh out and become a sloppy mess?

It's the risk I take every time I type.  Sometimes I can't stand the suspense.

So sometimes I quit writing. I eat my soup in peace, happy to have the concrete on my taste buds without the worry of shipping it to you. But eventually I can't take it anymore. This place we inhabit, with the cold and hot, the poor and rich, the day and night, the garlic and can I not write it down?

Here's my soup. Here's my poem. Here's to sharing even though things can get messy...and my family, who lives in mortal fear that I, a writer armed with a cell phone camera, will NOT keep "some things private". And maybe I wont, but too bad, Mom and Dad. I promise not to throw you under a bus without good cause, and the cause will usually be my amusement. Like the time in November you fell in love with a pet frog and ran around your house for days wielding a fly swatter, doing your best to set your phasers to stun and mourning when you accidentally squished (pet frogs prefer live lunches).

These things happen. The soup, the fly, the hilarious smell of life. I will type it out, wrap it up and mail it out. The publish button is my postage and I apologize in advance if the package arrives a little soggy. I'm sending it anyway.

The Empire At Sunset

I have put the children to bed.

Perhaps that sounds like a trivial thing, especially to you, oh people who have "real jobs" managing millions of dollars of hedge fund money or negotiating peace in far off countries with iffy boarders.
Before you scoff, realize our jobs are not that different. I rule a tiny kingdom but the weight of my responsibility is not light.

I have put the children to bed, and it's not a trivial thing. It is a major accomplishment.

All is quiet, yet a mere half hour ago I had one child in the nude, running about wiggling his bottom and chanting the immortal lyrics to "What Does the Fox Say".  I'm happy to say our little nation embraces the arts. We push the envelope on interpretive dance.

The two year old...what can I say about the two year old?

I have to believe I have never really HAD a two year old before. The only other explanation is I blocked the whole experience from my mind (note to self: re-read old blog posts for signs of a two year old).

This one's crazy. In the most cute, adorable, enchanting way. When I started to put HIM to bed...wait, let's rewind. First, I had to give him his SECOND bath of the day because I was tired of someone screaming, "YES I AM STINKY!" at me.

AFTER his SECOND bath, I started to put him to bed and he refused to be rocked. He spent that quality time pointing at MY eyes and yelling, "DOSE ARE MY EYEBALLS! Dey are MY eyeballs! GIVE THEM TO ME!!!"

I ignored him. It's my national policy to NOT negotiate with terrorists.

I gave up on singing and cuddling and I said, "Now I will put you in your bed."

He screamed, "NO! It NOT time for bed."

He paused to see the effects of his words sink in, and when he sensed his mind tricks had not swayed me he went for the extreme tactic. He attempted to create an alternate reality with just his words and tiny pointer finger.

"DATS NOT MY BED!" he yelled wildly, pointing at the little crib/trundle that he has slept in (more or less) for his entire life.

I giggled. I rose to the bait and began negotiations with Iran.

"Who's bed is it then?" I asked, confident that I had won the argument.

"IT's SHELDON's! It is Sheldon's BED! Don't put me in it!"

I hung up the phone, unplugged the fax machine, and the peace talks ceased. I gently laid him down on his pillow and he rolled over with a toy car in his fist. He had tested the universe and found everything to be in it's proper place. I hope he sleeps well in the knowledge that the world is not his responsibility. I know I will.

Just like that, between the hours of 7 and 8 p.m. Pacific time, a little empire felt the wrinkle of rebellion AND modern art, and lived to see another quiet evening. I have put the children to bed. Parents, join me in raising your scepters and cheering! We have kept a small civilization together for another day.*

*my sincere condolences if you find yourself in a more dramatic uprising. Good luck.

When You Have A Bumper Crop in Typhoon Season

The harvest is in and it's a good one this year, like it was last year and the year before that.

It's gotten to a point where I don't know what to do with myself, with the blessings raining down and the storehouses full and the little boy hugs freely given. I don't know what to say.

I started blogging when I was a new mom, with no sleep and tricky hormones. I had to sit down to see, I had to type to taste the wild grace of everyday. Now I see the gifts everywhere, rolling out and reseeding like the zinnias in my mother's November garden. It's a time of plenty for me and it's pouring through my fingers so fast that I can't stop to count them.

Sometimes I worry it won't last, and sometimes I try to gather the gifts and save them for tomorrow. I stay up at night wondering how to preserve my good fortune. Sometimes having much is scary. What if I lose it? What if I'm doing it wrong? What if, when it's gone and I have to struggle to find gifts...what if I regret how I lived when things were golden and good?

I pry my hand open.

I pry my hand open.

Here are my children. They sing hymns and talk about heaven. They are sweet and hilarious and full of energy and dance moves.

Here is my comfort and my safety and my pantry with several varieties of cereal. Here. Is. My. Hand.

Today I took the boys to crack walnuts with a few of their Great Aunts. We sat in a circle cracking and sorting while Q rode his bike around the barn, and Shel used a nutcracker to his hearts content.

We went inside for lunch (made by my Great Aunt Ruth, although she tried to blame the cookies on my Great Aunt Reinette who refused to take credit, and my Great Aunt Jean suggested my mother taste them to see how delicious persimmon cookies MIGHT be and I had seconds and laughed thirds and fourths). My Great Aunt Monteen, who is 98, led us in prayer. She thanked God for our many blessings, the food, the walnuts, the company and the opera music they listened to on the drive over. I found myself standing in the place that I have been standing in for quite some time. What do you do when you are swimming in abundance?

She quietly asked, "Lord make us worthy of all of these blessings."

I pried my hand open.

Next year's harvest might be a bad one. The little people I love might not turn out how I'd like them to. There's just one thing to ask, because God is not an insurance salesman.

Make me worthy Lord.

He is, and He will, and He has promised to. He will be faithful to complete His good work in me, during times of plenty and times of want. My hand is open, but His is closed, holding me tightly and secure, always.

Dear Friends, 
I am a Compassion International Blogger, which means that sometimes I use my little sphere of influence here to draw attention to children who are in need of food, clothing, education etc. around the world. Because of the typhoon that has hit the Philippines, there are a lot of people in need. UNICEF estimates about 1.7 million children are living in the typhoon's path. Many are displaced and helpless. Compassion is a five star charity organization that has set up a Disaster Relief and Stability Fund. This fund will provide things like emergency food and water and restoring the supplies a family needs for earning income. Please pray for the children and families who have been impacted by this disaster, and consider clicking HERE to donate to the relief fund. 

Because It Rained Today

I live in a place that clings to Summer, where you can make it through an October morning with a light sweater. If you don't study the world carefully you can be tricked into wearing a bikini until November.

 I prefer to pretend that each month is behaving itself as it should. I buy pumpkins and make soup when it's 90 degrees outside. I keep my eyes on the leaves and my nose in the air, waiting for the seasons to change.  I know Fall is here because I can smell it. It smells like burning wood and Vicks Vapor Rub, decaying leaves and wet earth, coffee and untrustworthy people who try to talk you into watching Christmas movies in October.

The stomach flu struck this weekend. At two in the morning I was on my knees scrubbing, wondering why it always strikes after we have chili beans for dinner. C'est la vie.

We welcomed the first sickness of the season philosophically. I made chicken noodle soup for the healthy and the sick scattered Saltine crumbs all over the floor. We stayed in our pajamas and watched a lot of television. I rejoiced in the miracle that a squeeze of lemon juice does for chicken broth. It was almost like a vacation, but with vomit.

It was the first day in weeks that we didn't go ANYWHERE. We missed soccer, there wasn't carpool pickup, no bible study or play dates. There was just Home.

After this weekend, I think I can let Summer go and give Fall the big hug it deserves, sprinkled with cinnamon. I've stocked up on Saltines and play doh. We have freed our winter pajamas from their Tupperware tomb.  My Pinterest board is starting to smell like butternut squash. Strange Amazon boxes are arriving at my doorstep, brown paper packages wrapped up in tape, hiding presents for the December tree.

Today it's raining. Inside there's a fire in the right place, coffee by my chair, and little children playing quietly with cars and legos. The dog is shedding. The hamster has built a nest for herself in her little green plastic hamster house. It might still be 80 degrees outside most days, but we know better. We're wrapped up, wiping our noses in expectation and watching the leaves fall, each one a present, each one a tick-tock on Autumn's clock.

The World and Blueberry Pancakes

Tuesday is welcomed with blueberry pancakes. I'd prefer to welcome it when it's halfway over and rolling into Wednesday. I dream of spending all morning in my bed, wrapped in blankets with the window open to feel the faint traces of autumn that reign in the a.m.

Instead I'm up, flipping flapjacks and putting brown sugar in my coffee. The carpool has drowned this morning. A friend has a fever and so I will load us all up jarringly, rubbing sleep from eyelashes and arguing over seat belts.

Today I don't mind the morning or the moving. Maybe it's the brown sugar in my coffee, or maybe it's Tuesday, but I live in a world where Darth Vader's head holds lunch and there are Power Ranger Samurai symbols on the pillars of my back porch. A world of red leaves and dewy grass shining so bright in the sunshine that it's like living in a treasure chest. A planet where the leaves die beautifully and no one bothers to bury them because they are glorious when they're dead on the ground. These things combine to make me realize the world is full of magic, and Tuesday's are worth welcoming.

"The world is made out of sugar. It can crumble so easily, but don't be afraid to stick your tongue out and taste it." - Sarah Kay


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