My Wii character, Mii if you will, does much better on the basketball court when I’m not playing.  Seriously.  She does just fine, blocking and shooting and stealing the ball, as long as I don’t try to tell her what to do.

The boys made a Mii that looks like Robb.  His animated character is on the other side of the cartoon fence, watching the game, jumping and clapping.

“Look, Mommy.  See him on the sidelines?  He cheers for us from over there.”

He does, sugar. You’re right.

It’s Time To Be Brave

She was volunteering as a classroom mom on the day when the reptiles came to visit.  The reptologist brought her up front for the demonstration, and he put a boa constrictor around her neck.  The boa’s name was Mrs. Pretzel.

As I listened to the story, her daughter said, “Mom, I remember thinking you were so cool.  You just took this snake on your shoulders.  You were so brave.  You didn’t seem afraid at all.”

“Well, I couldn’t be afraid.  Not in front of all those children.  It was time to be brave.”  Even as she remembered, she stood stock still, unflinching, as if Mrs. Pretzel were nearby, waiting to wrap around her neck.

Later in the same conversation, she asked me if I worry about the boys, about the things they’ll try and the risks they’ll take.

“I feel much like you felt about Mrs. Pretzel.  I can’t be afraid.  It’s time to be brave.”

Cut, Twirl, or Eat With Your Hands

We have Red Plate traditions in my family.  The Red Plate is exactly as it sounds. I imagine there’s a great many of you who have eaten on the very Red Plate in this picture.


In our family, you may be Red Plated if you have had a particularly extraordinary day, if you’ve achieved a grand goal, if your report card is outstanding, if you nailed an audition, if it’s your birthday, or if your room is clean.

Age is not a factor; anyone can be honored with a meal on the Red Plate.

If you’re a dinner guest in our home for the first time, you’ll probably get Red Plated: as you eat from the Red Plate, we get to take turns asking questions so we can get to know you better.  Questions may come from anyone at the table, and they range from “What is your favorite color?” to “What is the best vacation you’ve ever taken?”

Age is not a factor; anyone can be honored with a meal on the Red Plate.

Fifteen years ago (or maybe closer to twenty… oh my word), my brother, our Swedish foreign exchange student, and I each had separate dates for the Homecoming dance at our high school.  It was Thursday, the dance was on Saturday, and our family tradition stated that a person would have a Red Plate meal before dating any one of the Lott Kids.

All three guests came on one weeknight, we ate on red Chinette, and it was a fest of questions and answers and one of the best nights in my family history.

For guests, the traditional Red Plate meal has been spaghetti.  And this is why I write to you today: to discuss the merits and preferences of cutting spaghetti.

I come from a family of twirlers.  Snag a few noodles with the tines of your fork, twirl it in the round tummy of your spoon, and spin yourself a bite.

It’s actually part of our family culture, I’ve learned; not every family twirls.  On a beach vacation years ago, we had a pasta buffet for dinner for the 21 of us in our beach house.  As you looked down the table, the families were divided.  Without knowing any of us cousins, you could have arranged us in sibling groups by the way we at our noodles.

Of course there’s also a third option: to serve spaghetti with no silverware.  To eat with your hands.  This is good to do once a year or so.  On bath night.

Twirling is kind of a rite of passage.  You know you’re growing up when you don’t need anyone to cut your spaghetti for you any longer.

In fact, while my mom was traditionally choosing spaghetti to serve to our friends, believing it was a simple meal that nearly anyone could enjoy, we later learned that this was in fact the most intimdating menu option.

The night of the three Homecoming dates, it turns out they were each exchanging glances as they cut their spaghetti, feeling thankful to not be isolated as the only person at the table using a knife.

Robb and I were married before he finally said, “Seriously, I don’t know how you do that.  You all do it.  Spaghetti is a big deal at your house.”

My kids are twirlers.  (The key is to only take a few noodles at a time.  You think you want a lot, but really only two or three.  They spin into quite a mouthful, actually.)

We had a Red Plate dinner just this week, and Tyler was teaching the grownup beside him how to twirl a spaghetti noodle.

And so, I ask you, do you cut or twirl?

Blue Grey

I threaded a needle and mended Tyler’s blanket tonight.

And that’s so much of a big deal, I can’t even tell you.

Considering I can’t thread needles and I really don’t sew.

Now there’s a blue grey scar across the plush side of his baby blanket, and the whole thing is so endearing.

Scars make great stories.


Like Garments and Branches

“Let us say to Christ:
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord,
the king of Israel.
Let us wave before him like palm branches
the words inscribed above him on the cross.
Let us show him honor,
not with olive branches,
but with the splendor of merciful deeds to one another.
Let us spread the thoughts and desires of our hearts
under his feet like garments,
so that he may draw the whole of our being into himself
and place the whole of his in us.”

~ Andrew of Crete, eighth-century martyr