Monthly Archives: July 2013

Who Doesn’t Love a Parade?

I love small town parades. Okay, not the time 30 years ago when the Memorial Day parade consisted of a couple of kids on bikes and the mayor carrying a Sousa-blasting boombox. That was a little embarrassing. But generally, a parade in a small town is a blast.

It’s true, you don’t get the enormous inflatables floating down the street overhead, but you have all the basics, like really loud trucks,


people throwing candy at you, and your parents actively encouraging you to run out in the street.


AND you get all the small-town good stuff. Running into friends on every corner.


Opportunities to descend on one of your babysitters.


And if you have a habit of climbing things that you oughtn’t, it’s possible you might get, ah … hung up on something.


Yes, in fact, I did take a picture before I rescued him. If you’re surprised about that, I’d say it’s possible you haven’t been paying attention.

Living with Fear

There’s a kind of online community of people affected by cystic fibrosis, and I’m loosely connected to it. I heard this morning that a 23-year old woman with CF died yesterday.

I’m sad today. It feels a little ridiculous, because I’d never heard her name until this morning. And yet, her death feels personal. It feels like the future.

I don’t talk about this part much. When people ask about how Levi is doing, I am positive. Because truly, he’s doing very well. And when people ask about the recent breakthroughs in research, I explain what’s going on and I am, truly, very hopeful. But if I were fully honest, I’d also talk about the fear.

Because I do fear. I fear that the next bad cough will be the one that heralds the arrival of one of the really bad bacteria – the ones that you can’t really get rid of, that you can only “manage.” I fear that the bottom will drop out of the research, and we’ll have to start over. It’s not impossible. It’s not even really improbable. It happens with research all the time.

Most of the time, I put that away, and I think about mopping the kitchen floor and e-mailing reports to the right people at work, and whether Elias’ potty training is going to take. (From my lips to God’s ears.) But there is a little part of me that is always alert to the dropping of the other shoe. Hearing about CF-related deaths brings that part right up to the front.

Sometimes, I’d like to disconnect from the CF community altogether, and just never have to hear about it. After all, I know a guy with CF in his forties. And one in his thirties. And peripherally, even more people like that. But I can’t bring myself to pretend that that’s the only story, and the certain outcome.

So I’ve been thinking a lot about living with fear. And I thought, finally, about A Wrinkle in Time.


Madeleine L’Engle wrote it in the sixties, and it’s been one of my favorites for a long time. If you haven’t read it, the heroine is Meg, and she’s facing IT – a horrible entity that’s taken control of her baby brother. She was told once that she had a power that IT never could, and she finally figures it out*.

It’s love. She can love. It’s the terrible, wonderful gift that humans are given, and give to each other. IT can take control and take away, but IT cannot ever love. And she says to her brother:

I love you, Charles Wallace. You are my darling and my dear and the light of my life and the treasure of my heart. I love you. I love you. I love you.

And love wins**.

Love always wins. And it’s what I have that fear does not have, that disease does not have. Even when I am fearful, and even if everything I fear comes true. I can love. And that is enough.


*This is a horrible synopsis. Read it. It’s worth it.
**Look up Ana Grace. That’s worth it, too.

Things Really Mean Moms Say

Honey! Even if you’re bleeding, you still need to shut the door!

In my defense, they were very small cuts.

Fish Stories

Levi’s most recent obsession is fishing. He begs to go every chance he gets. Today, he asked three separate times. He actually got to go twice. Paul has the patience of a saint.

And because he doesn’t want his dear little boys to get sunburnt, Paul hooked up a special rig. (That’s a beach umbrella purchased in Florida several years ago that’s been languishing in the attic.)


Earlier this week, Levi had a once-in-a-lifetime moment – he caught two fish on one hook. I don’t even really understand how it was possible, but Paul sent me the picture, and he doesn’t know from Photoshop, so it has to be real.


Levi didn’t quite know what to think, but he did inform me that he got both a male and a female. If you are as unfamiliar with the intricacies of bluegill as I was just a few days ago, allow me to educate you. See the fish on the tailgate here?


The darker one is the male, and the lighter one the female. Levi can identify this difference with no problem, and he was telling my sister all about it over supper the other night.

Levi: Yes! I caught two fish at once! One of them was a female.
Auntie: Ohhhhh. Wow! Levi, do you know know what a female is?
Levi: Yes. It’s a kind of bluegill.

I suspect he’ll come up with a different definition for female by the time he starts caring what his hair looks like and taking showers without being asked.

Personally, I’ve decided that the fish are a couple, and when one of them got snagged, the other jumped on too, so they could face their fate together.

What? If Nemo’s dad could ride the EAC to 42 Wallaby Way to find him, there could be a bluegill love story. I’m sure Pixar is working on it right now.

P.S. The lovely couple were returned to the water shortly after their photo shoot, not much worse for the wear.

Sugar and Spice

As you know, I am the only girl living in my house. My family’s idea of Fine Entertainment runs to tractor pulls and dirt piles. Going to the bathroom outside, standing up, with Papa, is the pinnacle of the day.

I don’t really get it. Boys are weird.

However, it’s become clear to me lately that I wouldn’t necessarily understand girls, either, if we had any. We have some good friends with three girls and no boys. Their house is peppered with evidence of three little feminine souls. I find mud-caked shorts in the kitchen, and they find, well … this:



I know that’s a purse. I think it’s also a poodle.

And my personal favorite, which I snapped a couple of weeks ago as I was leaving.barbiesplits

Barbie, all alone in the driveway, doing splits. You just don’t get to see that at our house.


Small Packages

Levi got a little package in the mail today. It was from Give Kids the World, and I couldn’t imagine what it could be. (Though I was pretty sure it wasn’t a bill. Which was a welcome change from the rest of the mail.)

It was … a rabbit. Mayor Clayton, to be specific.


He and his wife Ms. Merry preside over the village at Give Kids the World. Ms. Merry was at our first breakfast at GKTW, and Levi was overjoyed to meet her.


Later that week, Mayor Clayton himself showed up in his nightshirt to tuck the boys into bed.


I can’t say it was my favorite part of the week, but only because there are too many wonderful parts to have a favorite. It was really a lot of fun.

Levi got the rabbit, it appears, because he was supposed to get one while we were there, but they were out of stock. They didn’t want us to miss anything, so they mailed it out now.

He’s a very nice rabbit. But even more than Mayor Clayton himself, I am grateful today for the memories he packed in his cummerbund.

Embrace the Chaos

Lo these many years ago, I worked with a woman whose husband was teaching her to golf. She was finding it pretty frustrating, and at one point, he said to her, “Look. On any one golf swing, there are about six thousand things that can go wrong. If you try to think about all of them and prevent every mistake, you’ll make yourself nuts. And you still won’t be any good at golf. Relax. Embrace the chaos.”

I am not very good at this. (Hi. My name is Carol and I’m addicted to understatements.) But I keep working at it. In that spirit, here are a couple of random things for your Tuesday.

Today’s random laundry find: red and white fishing bobber.


I really did check the pockets, but I guess I missed that one. I shouldn’t be surprised. It is nearly Levi’s favorite thing to do.


And a random kitchen tip. We eat a lot of peanut butter, and I like the natural stuff that only has peanuts and salt in it, but stirring it is a real pain. Unless you store it upside down.


I discovered this by accident. One of the peanut butter jars in my pantry fell over and was upside down for awhile before I pulled it out. When I turned it right side up and opened it, that big dry chunk that is usually impossible to get up off the bottom? It was on top. I poked a knife through it, the separated oil bubbled up, and I stirred.

I’m telling you, it’s magic. Go forth and store things upside down. Even if that makes you a teensy bit crazy because you like the pantry to look orderly. Not that I would know anything about that.

After all, I’m learning to embrace the chaos.