About Me

I am a proud wife and mother, and a born again Christian. I work from home as a writer while taking care of Miss N, our six-year-old, Miss M, our four-year-old and Miss C, our newest bundle of joy. Life is crazy but so much fun!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Potty Training

If you are my friend, you are probably already tired of hearing about this, but this is my blog and, well, I need to put some things out there to get them out of my head. So if you're tired of hearing about it, stop reading now.

Miss M. For the past two and a half days she has behaved as a potty trained child, making all of her "business" in the potty. Today, she started pooing in her undies again.

I admit, I am tired beyond measure of changing these messes. I have been at this for about three weeks, and I'm tired of the mess.

Being tired is not a reason to quit, and i know that. In my heart of hearts I know that she can do this - goodness, she did it for 2 1/2 days without a problem, even "holding it" for a full 25 minute ride home from church and doing it successfully in the potty.

But then, I read things. Things tell me "Start at 2 and potty train for a year. Start at 3 and potty train for a week."

Honestly, it's cheaper for me to throw away a pair of underwear every 3 days then continue diapering the child (who wears the largest size diaper they make, and is still growing, so then what? diaper her in pullups?), and I know she can do it. She did it for 2 1/2 days.

So why did she refuse to do it today? I knew she needed to go, had her on the potty, and she would not do it. Moments after I took her off of the potty, she did it. I cannot have my eyes on her 24 hours a day, as much as I might like to.

I already started and stopped this process once. People are telling me to quit. I'm thinking about poop and pee all of the time. It's exhausting. But, if I let her "win" this time and quit again, she will remember, and starting again, no matter how old she is, is going to be triple hard.

So I am putting my "big girl" pants on and digging in my heals for the long haul.

Or at least until the end of the week. Then we will re-evaluate as a couple and see what we should do.

Potty training a stubborn child - perhaps it requires mom to be the more stubborn one?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Preschool Memories

Miss N: Mommy, today at recess me and Benjamin were playing Star Wars!

Mommy: That sounds fun. What's Star Wars? (She's never seen it)

Miss N: I don't know because Benjamin hasn't told me yet. We just chase bad guys with our pretend, um, gun hands.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Lovely Family Day at the Apple Orchard (otherwise entitled, Why I Hate Pullups)

It was the perfect fall day for a trip to the apple orchard. Slightly overcast and cool, with rain earlier in the day to drive off the big weekend crowds. Somewhat on a whim, we packed up the kids after nap and went on our way. Apple cider donuts and cold cider drinks were calling our name.

Miss M is smack dab in the middle of the potty training stage, and is doing fairly well. While we are primarily in underwear, we stuck a pull-up on her since the potties at the apple orchard are not very convenient. Off went to have some family fun. We arrived, did the potty thing, and then saw the animals. We played, we picked berries, we ate donuts. In the midst of all this fun we had several trips to the potty. Through it all Miss M stayed clean and dry.

Donuts were a hit, as was the “juice,” (cider). Miss N played reverse psychology on me, pointing out a toy she wanted and then saying, “But I have enough toys, right mom?” This is the phrase I always say when she’s begging for something (because it’s true!) I didn’t get her the toy, and as we were walking past it for the last time, she outright asked for it. I was proud of her for not pouting when I said no.

It was time to leave, and of course a trip to the potty was in order. Daddy went to get the van and pull it around, and I took the girls to the potty. Sounds simple, right? Only one problem with the plan – Daddy took the backpack with him.

We arrive at the bathroom, and in the midst of telling Miss N that “I know you don’t need to go, but we have a long drive and I want you to try” over and over and over, I whip down the pull-up and place the toddler on the potty, only to then realize that the pull-up was no longer clean and dry. Between the brown swipe down the toddler’s leg and the nastiness all over the toilet, I realized we had a very big problem. Then, I looked down at my hands and realized that they matched the color of the toddler’s legs. In my panic I had also touched my arms, which now had their fair share of the nastiness.

Leaving Miss M on the potty, I scrubbed my hands furiously. Then, opened the door to the bathroom (a one person model) and instructed Miss N to walk to the van to get a pull-up and the wipes. Miss N panics and does not want to walk across the path to the van. I stand in the doorway to the bathroom, keeping one eye half on Miss M, who has now climbed off of the potty and is tracking the brown stuff all over the bathroom, and the other eye on Miss N, who announces, “I know, I will just go very slowly to be safe.”

Everything in me at that point wanted to scream, NOOOOO, GO FAST, but I didn’t. Miss N kept taking a few steps toward the van, then running back to me in a panic. Finally, another mom with stroller in tow, who could probably relate to what was going on, saw my distress and got my husband’s attention. Meanwhile, Miss M has wandered into the hallway of the bathroom area, tracking her present all over everything. I tell her to get back in the bathroom, which she does but starts crying because she wants to see me and Miss N.

Finally Miss N got brave and went to the van to get the pull-up and wipes. I attempt to undress my now distressed toddler. Through all of the wandering around the bathroom, she has covered all of her clothing, except her socks, in poo. I strip off her pants after disposing of the soiled pull-up, and in the process she steps in the poo, soiling her socks as well. I give up, strip her to just her shirt, and clean her. Then I attack the spots on her shirt with wipes as best I can, because we did not, in fact, have a spare shirt. Finally, I wrap all of the soiled clothing in paper towels, and attack my hands and arms with soap and HOT water. With the wipes I clean the toilet and floors, and I place my naked from the waist down toddler in the crook of my arm and we leave.

Let’s just say I really hope they disinfect those bathrooms every night.

And I’m not a fan of pull-ups.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Mommy's Piggy Tales: Our Love Story

When thinking about what to write for post high school, the answer was not as clear as you might think. I could write about God leading me to Maranatha, a small Baptist college in Wisconsin. That was, after all, pivotal in developing some of my friendships and my meeting of my husband. I could write about the spiritual journey I went on through my college years, discovering who I was and what I believed. I could write about the birth of each of my children, which was certainly life changing for me. But, I guess the most important event that has happened to me since graduation from high school was meeting my husband. Even in that story, God’s hand was clearly seen.

Most people in my circles meet their significant other in college. I went off to school, honestly, with that as one of my goals. I had a date my freshman year, arranged by two good friends, and went into the summer with hopes that it would develop into something. It did not, and that was OK. I went to several formal events, which were required at my school, with girlfriends. I was having fun.

Then, my friends started getting boyfriends. I did not have one. Then, people started asking me how they could date my friends. I remember one time in particular, a guy from the church Janna and I attended pulled me aside to ask me a very serious question. He wanted to know if Janna was open to dating anyone, because he was so impressed with her (his words). I could not believe the gall he had to ask me, a single girl, that question. I said, “I have no idea, and you know what, people always ask about Janna. I’m beginning to wonder this: What’s. The. Matter. With. Me.”

Not exactly a very spiritual response, but my pride and heart were hurting. I wanted to find “someone,” and it looked like it wouldn’t happen.

Toward the end of my junior year, a very nice young man asked me on a date. We had a pleasant time, and corresponded throughout the summer. I returned to college in the fall and we started acting like a dating couple. It went on like that for a month or so, until my parents came up to visit. He asked my dad if he could officially date me, and when my parents told me that, I started to bawl. I had no desire to date him, yet I didn’t have a good “reason.” I was miserable. He was a great guy, treated me well, and loved the Lord, but he was not right for me. Finally, I told him, and we broke it off.

Interestingly, a few days after I told him we were not right for each other, my roommate, Shelley, told me, “I don’t think I’ve ever heard you laugh this much” when we were messing around in our dorm house. It was true. When I was dating the wrong one, I was miserable. I learned from that that I would rather be single for the rest of my life, than be with the wrong guy.

In January of that same year, my roommate for the past two years, Melody, had a birthday party. Mel lived in a town less than two hours from our college, and we had a tradition of going to her home for her birthday party. A young man I had met on a few occasions when visiting her was there. His name was Tim. He had come to the party in hopes of getting back with his former girlfriend, who was also Mel’s friend. At one point during the party most of the folks went to another room to watch a video. Tim and I had struck up a conversation about mutual friends I knew from high school that he met at college. As the party progressed, Tim and Mel’s brother were pressured into asking me and another single gal to the upcoming formal event at our college, just as friends.

After everyone left (I was staying the night at Mel’s house), I mentioned to her, “Why didn’t I ever notice before how cute Tim was?” She was utterly disgusted since she’d known Tim her whole life. I guess hearing someone you’ve known since preschool called “cute” seems wrong. I was humiliated later to learn that she had told her brother, who then told Tim, what I had said.

We went to the date, and had a great time. We later went to a Buck’s basketball game together as a “date” and also had a great time. I quickly realized the difference with this guy over the first was that we could carry on a conversation. I recall one time that he called me and we talked for over two hours. Being someone who hates talking on the phone, this was surprising to me. We were talking, not the silly listening to someone breathe on the other end of the phone. We talked about fun things, we talked about the Bible, we talked about life.

Most of our courtship occurred over the phone and AOL Instant Message. It was perfect for me, as a senior in college, because I could focus on my studies while still conversing with this young man. He scared me on a few occasions, giving me red roses before we were “officially” dating, telling me to have “sweet dreams” at night. I was so innocent back then, and these seemed very forward to me! Unbeknownst to him, I forwarded all of his emails to my parents (isn’t that horrible!) so they could get to know this young man and help advise me on our relationship.

At the end of the semester I needed to move all of my things home. After four years in Wisconsin, I had a LOT of things. Tim offered to help, and at the same time meet my family. He helped me cart my belongings home and spent a week at my home with me. My mom said the moment she saw us together, she knew he was the one for me because we “fit” each other. During that week, he officially asked me to be his girlfriend. This was in May.
Making cookies together on that first trip. Tim still has that shirt - I, sadly, do not fit any of those clothes any more.

I was growing closer and closer to this man who lived 500 miles away from me. After seeing him go through a particularly trying circumstance, I was impressed not only with his looks and attention, but also his character and ability to stand when the crowd goes somewhere else.

I had one hang up, though. Tim was (still is) an auto mechanic. I had always had dreams of marrying someone who was in the ministry, a missionary in particular. Through much prayer and internal struggle, I finally gave that over to the Lord. I realized that character was more important than a “calling,” and this man had the character I wanted.

The view from the spot where he popped the question.

In August of that same year, just three short months after becoming “official,” Tim took me out for a date I will never forget. We went to the city’s World War I Memorial, overlooking the spot where he had first asked me to be his girlfriend, “our” fountain. He dropped to one knee and asked me to marry him. I said yes, and we had our first kiss. We then went to Skies, a restaurant on top of a hotel that rotates while you eat, giving you a panoramic view of the city. I don’t even remember what I ate, I was so enamored with him.
Here we are the night we got engaged. I'm calling Janna, who was in Guam, the only person alive awake at that crazy hour!

I spent the next semester sitting out of school, working to earn money for my semester of student teaching and planning my wedding. On June 27, 2003, I married my best friend, and I haven’t looked back after two kids, two dogs, and a mortgage.

How is God’s hand seen in this? Tim and I attended different colleges, in different states, over different years (he is older than me and got a three-year degree). Melody was not supposed to be my roommate. The year she was, Janna and I had requested to be roomies, not intending to have another roommate, and when we arrived Melody was added to our room. She became one of my closest college friends, and also the venue through which I met my spouse. Tim would not normally have been at her birthday party, but he was chasing that other girl and so he came. I normally was quite shy around guys, but I struck up a conversation with him. He asked me out on a whim, and it worked! I am so thankful for the attentive, loving, hard working man God gave me, who has turned out to be a wonderful father too!

This is the final post in the Mommy's Piggy Tales project. Janna will be starting a new session in the beginning of October - contact her today to get started!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Thankful for an All-Knowing God

I admit I don't fully understand prayer, it's purpose, and the way it works. Some day when I have some time it is something I intend to study further. However, I am thankful for the fact that God knows what we need, even when we don't, and sometimes when we don't even know how to pray.

About three weeks ago I applied for a writing gig (I work from home as a freelance writer) that I really, really wanted. It took hours to prepare the application and sample, because I wanted it to be just right. I knew the job would stretch my writing style, but it was a challenge I honestly welcomed. Sadly, I don't think I got the job. I haven't heard "no" but it's been long enough that I think I didn't get it. Often in my line of work you don't hear "no."

I prayed for that gig. I prayed that I would get it if it was something I could handle. I admit, I am disappointed, but I know God answered my prayer.

However, I do need more work. Just this week, I got two new gigs and a client I haven't heard from for about a year just contacted me with a new, rather large, project they are starting! Amazing! God knew the need beyond what i was praying for, the need to expand my work options, and answered it in a completely wonderful way.

Today, I find my heart heavy. I have friends struggling with abusive behaviors, chronic pain, and deadly cancers. People my age who have babies like mine. Old friends. New Friends. People I love.

In some of these scenarios, I don't even know how to pray. I know prayer is needed, but prayer for what? Healing, surgeries, therapies? Grace, humility, wisdom?

Perhaps, I am not meant to know. In Romans 8:26, it says, "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered."

Even when I don't know how to pray, I should, and the Holy Spirit will intercede on my behalf. While I don't even attempt to fully understand that truth, it amazes me. And I am thankful.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Four-Year-Old's Prayer

"Dear God, please let me be a farmer when I grow up so I can have a pony."

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Wisdom from a Preschooler

My eldest shocks me with her whit and wisdom sometime. We've gotten past the endless "why" world of three year olds, the nonsensical world of toddlerhood, and are suddenly shooting into the world of young lady-hood.

My girls are both now in "school." Miss N attends a traditional K4 program three days a week, while two of those days Miss M goes to Mom's Day Out at a nearby church so I can work. Mom's Day Out gives the kids a small candy at the end of the day if they are good. Preschool lets the kids earn "Dinky Dollars," which they turn in on Fridays for a prize from the "Dinky Store." Both reward good behavior, but in different days.

This Friday when I picked up Miss N from school, she had a toy rooster she had purchased from the store. We drove to get Miss M, who got her candy. While we drove, Miss N was questioning me about whether or not I brought her a lollipop. I assured her I did not, and she was working herself into a state of discontent about the fact that sister would get a lollipop and she would not. I reminded her that she had a rooster and sister did not, but it didn't matter.

I decided to ignore her discontent. She was choosing to be miserable, and i wasn't going to be able to snap her out of it. After a few minutes of pouting, she turned on a smile and said, "I am going to be content with my rooster. I love my rooster!"

I was very happy to see that measure of maturity come from her. We've talked about being content with what we have. Mommy struggles with being content in our tiny house, but I remind myself, often within her earshot, that we have what we need and much more, so we should be thankful.

Lately my two girls have been playing and interacting better and better. Of course, they fight, but they are starting to behave like friends rather than enemies. One day Miss N said, "Mommy, M is my best friend in the whole world. I love her so much down in my heart!" AHHHHHHWWWWWW! I reminded her that no matter what happens in our life, Miss M would always be her sister, so it was good that she felt that way.

However, the conversation quickly turned. Miss N started crying. "I will be sad when Miss M dies, mommy." Then she sobbed, "I don't want you to die, Mommy." Huh? So, I reassured her that as far as I know, I wouldn't be dying for a very long time, and neither would Miss M. "But even when you are old, I don't want you to die. You are special to me." Then, "I don't want Daddy to die either. He's special to me in my heart."

I really was not able to comfort her. I guess the realities of life and death are becoming real to her. I really wanted to tell her, "I promise, I won't die any time soon," but I can't make a promise like that, for we know not what a day may bring forth. After a nap she was much calmer about it. I have not yet found a way to talk to her about this one, but I am sure it will come up again.

Even with all of these wise thoughts and questions, my daughter is still a preschooler. The other night she was not going to sleep. I reminded her she needed to sleep, to which she replied, "I don't want to dream, Mommy, so I am going to keep my eyes open forever."

I asked her if we should prays he has a good dream, and she said, "NOOOO, I don't want ANY dreams." My friend Michelle reminded me of this verse on her blog recently:

"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee."

The idea is if we are thinking of God, we will be at peace. Of course, my four year old may not know enough about God and His character to think on him long enough to dispel her fears, but it is a good verse to introduce her too. So I did.

I explained that if we think about God, it gives us peace, which is the opposite of fear. I asked her, "What do you know about God?" Her response, "I don't know anything about God."

"Sure you do, let me help you think. What did God make."

Her response to this definitely showed she is still a preschooler. "Mommy, it's just that I'm too sleepy and I need to go to sleep." and with that, she rolled over and did.

Yet, the seed has been planted, and we will revisit the verse and concept again at a later date.

Twelfth Grade - Becoming an Adult

One of my senior portraits - notice Beauty and the Beast in the background?

The senior year of high school is, in many ways, a transition between childhood and adulthood. When you graduate, you enter that world of not quite grown up, but no longer a kid. It was a transition I was not excited to make.

The summer before my senior year I embraced a new form of communication – e-mail! I think I was the first person in my class to use email, but we had a classmate whose parents were missionaries in Italy. She was coming back to our area for her senior year to live in the states and graduate from an American school. After writing paper letters forever back and forth, letters which took weeks to cross the ocean and end up in her hands, my dad introduced me to a way I could communicate via the computer instantly. Amazing! I still printed out each of her emails and kept them in a notebook because they were precious to me. Felicia K and I didn’t end up being incredibly close when she came back to the states, although we were friends, but having a pen pal was a lot of fun.

Me and Jenny were still very close. Here we are at our senior banquet.

I was also one of the first people in my class to carry a mobile phone. It was a large boxy thing that I had to use only in emergencies. My dad did not want me in a wreck with no way to call home. I was NOT allowed to use the phone except for emergencies, because each call had a very high charge, something like five cents a minute, if I recall correctly.

In spite of my nerves, my senior year was a blast. My study buddy, Becky B, and I loved advanced math (pre-calculus) and physics class. We made a lot of memories in those smaller than average elective classes.

My study buddy Becky B and me at our formal banquet

It was a year of travel. Our Physics class traveled to Chicago, where we made fun of the “Watch out for Falling Ice” signs everywhere, until I got clonked on the back of the head with an icicle falling from a high rise – ouch! Our class went to Senior Leadership camp at the Wilds Camp in North Carolina, Washington DC for our senior trip, and the Wilds of the Rockies for a senior retreat. And, at the end of the summer, I made the trek to Watertown, WI with Janna following behind our packed-to-the-brim vehicle, wondering what the next five years would bring. Would I meet my future spouse? Would have I have any friends, because I really didn’t know Janna well? Would school continue to be easy?

Our school play was the story of Joseph from the Bible. ONce again I failed to get a speaking part. I hated that outfit -thought it made me look soooooo fat.

One memory stands out from my Senior year, outside of the formal banquet, cars painted with the words "Class of 1998," friendships, and family. Our class was the “Bad” class. We had earned a poor reputation, and we often felt (probably not fairly) that the staff and faculty at our Christian school had given up on us. On the first day of school, or sometime in the first week, Mr. Sturgill, our new administrator, came to our class. He was (and still is) a spitfire of a man, and we were all a little frightened of him.

“I’ve heard stories about you guys.” He said.

I’m not sure about everyone else, but I thought, “Here we go again!”

“And you know what, I’m not listening to one of them. Any time someone comes to me to talk about your class, I make them stop. No matter what happened in the past, you have the chance to prove to me who you are. You have the chance to make a difference as the leadership of this school. Let’s make this your best year ever.”

That little speech changed something in me and I think my classmates as well. We suddenly felt we had a chance, and we lived up to it in many ways. I am thankful to this day for a man of character who gave us a chance. Later Mr. Sturgill came to be on the leadership team at my college, and he continues to impact my life today. He and his wife have made a difference in my life, and I am forever grateful to them.

Becky B and I worked very hard in our classes, and we knew we were both in the running to be valedictorian. When it got close to graduation time, we checked with the office to see who was in the lead. They started figuring our GPAs to the fourth, fifth, sixth decimal point. I don’t remember who was ahead, it was probably Becky, but we agreed that it was absolutely silly to figure GPAs that far. We went to the administration and asked them if they would agree not to keep figuring the GPAs past two decimal points and allow us to graduate co-valedictorians. What an honor to be able to represent our class in that way. Sadly, I left my printed copy of my speech on the podium, so today I have no record of what I said. My parents have video, I think.

It’s funny. Graduating valedictorian, and later at the top of my college class, seemed so important at the time. I pushed myself very hard to get good grades, although it was easier for me than others admittedly. Today, however, those honors mean little. Few of my friends know I had the highest GPA in college and high school. Those medals sit in a box somewhere gathering dust. They don’t even mean anything on job applications and my current resume as a writer. What did end up impacting my life forever was the spiritual decisions I made that year, deciding to follow Christ and not the crowd, as well as the decision about the college I attended, which was not my first choice but the best for many reasons, including a rather large scholarship.

Only one post in this series left! To read more women's tales or get in on the next session, click the link below.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Could it Be?

I think my child potty trained herself.

I am not joking.

Here was my plan. Miss N started K4 this week. I wanted to get her settled in K4 for the week, then I was going to make the switch to undies for Miss M the following week, and basically stay home except for when we had to go get Miss N from school.

Well, here's what happened.

We ran out of diapers. With Miss N I used pullups for nap time for a long time as she had about a 50-50 track record of waking up to go potty, and quite frankly, since I work during nap time, I'd rather dispose of a wet pullup than deal with a wet bed. So, when we ran out of diapers I bought pullups knowing the training time was coming. Incidentally, because Miss M had to wear Huggies diapers (pampers and luvs give her a rash, and the generics didn't come in a big enough size) the pullups (I bought generic) were cheaper.

To save you a long saga of pee and poo, let's just suffice it to say that I put the pullup on her, showed her how they go up and down, and then told her to tell me if she needed to go potty. Something clicked. All day on Wednesday she told me she needed to go and went #1. The only incident that happened in her diaper was her #2 of the day. I was OK with that, since I wasn't really trying to potty train her that day.

Thursday we were very successful in the morning with #1. I was happy. We had a trip to the library planned after taking Miss N to K4, so off we went with pullup clad baby. While I was browsing books and Miss M was playing, she hollered to me, "poo poo momma." We went to the potty, and she went, #2! Her first success! She stayed completely dry and clean all day, even during her nap and a friend's birthday party.

Today was Mom's Day Out day for Miss M. I told the teachers of her success and they promised to take her potty. I was eager to see how she did.

After taking Miss N to school, I took Miss M to the potty at the preschool. She adamantly didn't want to go. So we ran a few errands until it was time to go to her "school." I was nervous she would wet in her pullup and backtrack. We pulled into the church for Mom's Day Out and she announced that she had to go. We rushed inside, and she made it to the potty.

She did great at school too! The teachers said she would tell them when she needed to go, and she would go when they took her. She had her BM in her pullup, but I'm OK with that. She has consistently told me when she needed to go since then.

I am so glad I backed off for a while after my last attempt at potty training. Seriously, the child has potty trained herself. It's amazing, as I've done nothing. Next week we move to undies. Wish us luck! I will update next week.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Melt My Heart

My little girl is growing up. Here she is on her first day of K4, all ready for school.

But this post isn't about school. I just thought you might want to see her pretty face.

At night before bed I try to ask her, "What was your favorite thing about today." This question, hopefully, will get her mind thinking on positive things, and in future years when she is older, give an open door for good conversation.

We recently went shopping for a birthday present for a friend. Miss N is obsessed with horses. The only toys she would look at were horses. When we found some in our present-buying price range, she finally made her choice. She played with the toy, in the box of course, the entire way home, and proudly showed it to daddy. I was very afraid she was becoming overly attached to it. We talked much about how it was for her friend, not her. She seemed to understand, and she was seemingly very excited to give it to her friend.

Today was the party. I assumed that her response to the "best thing" question would be the cupcake, or the craft, or the playtime. I was wrong.

My sweet little girl looked at me with a huge, genuine smile on her face, and this is what she said:

"Mommy, it gave me such joy to see that "I" (her friend) LOVED the ponies I gived to her. It gave me joy down in my heart." Then she demonstrated her friend's very excited smile when she opened it.

Such a tender heart. My little girl has learned the joy of giving. I hope it is something she remembers for a long, long time.

The second question I ask is, "Is there anything you want to talk to God about or pray about?" which is asked before prayer time.

Tonight, she said, "Mommy, some of my friends at my new preschool are sick! We should pray for them to get better."

And so we did.

I sure love her!

11th Grade - Obsessions and Hitting the Road

This is one of the last posts for Mommy's Piggy Tales. To get in on the next session, click the link at the end of the post. It's been fun!

My junior year marked the addition of driving to my list of talents. Unlike many newly turned 16 year olds, of which I was the last in my class, I had no desire to get my license. Part of my fear was the fact that my birthday was in the dead of winter when ice and snow regularly covered the ground, and the other part of my fear was the fact that I had never successfully driven on the freeway. I was perfectly fine with letting my parents chauffeur me around. Sadly, my dad disagreed, and he put down the ultimatum. I would get my license before summer or I would not be working.

The driving test was the closest thing I ever came in my life to failing. My car was a two-toned Oldsmobile Caprice Classic station wagon in with deep blue on the topand sky blue on the bottom. That car was HUGE. I completely failed parallel parking, but I still say to this day that those cones were closer together than my car was wide. I still look back on my first car with fond memories. The air conditioning didn’t work and I couldn’t start it too early in the morning or it would wake the entire neighborhood with its high “SQUEEL” that it made. But I could cart around tons of my friends, and having a car gave me the freedom to stick around after church and chat to my heart’s content with fellow teenagers.
(My first car. I am so thankful for these pictures. It reminds me to take pictures of seemingly unimportant things when my kids are small. I am so thankful to have a record of the crazy car I drove!)

As the picture shows, I was obsessed with the movie Beauty and the Beast. I don’t remember if the obsession started in 11th grade, but it certainly was fueled during that year. Our family vacation was a trip to California to see family, and in Los Angeles I got to see Beauty and the Beast, the Broadway Musical. I was absolutely hooked. Seeing a candelabra, tea pot and wardrobe on stage was absolutely amazing. To this day I don’t know how they did the beast’s transformation, although the traveling productions I’ve seen since then are a little more obvious. Just recently I was able to share this experience with my oldest daughter, and she loved it as much as I did.

Of course, that experience went right along with another obsession I had, and that was the theater. After August B left in 10th grade, a new student joined our school. Her name was Jenny, and we quickly became good friends. She loved the theater, and we went to many performances together. I specifically remember seeing The Nutcracker with her and an opera at UMKC, the local college. The opera was in English and was HILARIOUS, so I found I could tolerate opera much more than I thought I could. Jenny had dreams of being in the theater some day, and today she is living out those dreams as an adult. I had no delusions of being talented in that area, but I sure enjoyed watching it. I still do, to be honest. Jenny was my “date” to the junior/senior banquet (our school’s version of prom without dancing), and we spent many weekends enjoying sleepovers at each other’s houses, watching movies into the wee hours of the night.

(Our school play was about the pilgrims. I had to hug a boy and was mortified! Jenny looked so pretty as Anne Bollin (I think))

I think that year was the year that Phantom of the Opera came through our town. My dad bought two tickets to one of the showings, and he even splurged for tickets on the main floor, not the balcony. I donned a formal dress and we had a date night at the theater. I felt so important, and was practically giddy with excitement over the opportunity of a lifetime. Seeing Phantom was something I will never forget. I’ve seen many shows since, but never again have I seen Phantom. Before the show we went to my favorite restaurant, a barbecue place called Smokehouse. I was quite proud not to have spilled any barbecue sauce on my formal dress. At the end of our meal when we were waiting for the check, I was playing with my remaining French fries, and wouldn’t you know it, splat! I dropped ketchup on the front of my dress. I was able to get most of it off and still enjoyed the show afterwards, but it was quite the memory. My dad still brings it up when we go to that restaurant during trips home.

(Junior Senior Banquet that year, not the dress from the Phantom)

While these were secular obsessions and memories, I also have a few distinct spiritual memories from that year. It was a growing time for me. I had some close friends who I considered spiritual influences in the grade above me, and when they graduated and went off to college, I had to learn to stand on my own two feet. It was a good lesson, but one that was hard to learn at the time. I am thankful for the influences those individuals had on me, but also thankful that they left so I could learn to be my own person.