Off the Script

The snow turns gray and piles up in the tire wells of my cars.

(I usually like to use the word grey, but this is mess is gray.  Not nearly as pretty as the solemn grey one might paint in the entryway of her home.)

The boys love to come out from school and see what kind of frozen madness has stored up in that space.

“Tucker! Come look on this side!”
“Tyler! Look at this – kick right… here!”

And there is an avalanche of gray slush and giggles.

As we got into the car, I said, “Guys, I really appreciate how you weren’t fighting over who would kick the snow off the tires. You were giving each other chances.”

They looked at me as if I had degraded them.

“Mommy, why would we fight? That’s something ’emenies’ would do. And we’re not ’emenies.’  Why would you ever think that?”

(Why would I?  Why would I ever, ever think that?)

“Oh, you’re not? Well, that’s great to hear. Can you tell me what you are?”

They look at each other and think. I’m fishing for something to validate my years of investing in their friendship, both in the past and in the years to come. Something like, Mommy, we are brothers in blood and in spirit and we are forever thankful you had two children and gave each of us a built-in best friend. You know. Something easy like that.

“We are wolves.”

“Wolves?” Wolves?

“Yes. Wolves are in a pack, and they always stick together. A wolf never leaves the other wolves in his pack. That’s like us.”


An even better answer than the one I had scripted for them.

Most of all, because they don’t need a script from me.

Science Fair, O Science Fair. I’d Rather Write You a Sonnet.

Robb and I had this foolproof plan. With our collective energies and varied interests, with his left brain and my right, with his love for the periodic table and my affection for the dictionary, our kids’ school projects would be a snap.

And we planned for our kids to benefit greatly from our unified expertise. I would help them with english and literature assignments, and he would help them with math equations and science experiments.


Then Robb went to heaven, taking all his science expertise, logical preferences, and the left side of our brain with him.  And now it’s time for the early-elementary science fair.

(Do you hear that slow and methodical click-click-click that’s getting louder and faster? It’s my anxiety. Inching up the first hill of the Magnum.)

(A shout-out to Cedar Point and all of you in northeast Ohio, America’s RollerCoast.)

I pretended not to notice the paperwork about the science fair, since – after all – it is optional until fourth grade. And then my children came home all hyped up about the science fair, optional or not, as if it’s just a matter of mixing together egg yolks and mustard and leaving the bowl out overnight.

“We are not doing the science fair.” I put myself to sleep with this mantra every night.

And so, guess what though? We’re doing the science fair. Scientific Question, Hypothesis, Recorded Method, and a tri-fold display and all.

Because every once in a while I get a glimpse down the road, a decade or two, and I can’t handle the fallout from this seemingly small and insignificant decision. My children could become riddled with their own science anxiety, haters of learning, all because their mother said no when she could have say yes, so long ago when it was all so much easier, involving celery and food coloring or a jar that has been cracked with the fascinating expansion of water in the freezer.

But no. She said no. And so now, they don’t know anything and they’ve become afraid to ask why.

I nixxed the celery and the food coloring, though I encourage you to give it a try if you’d like to know how chlorophyll or photosynthesis or pollenization or food coloring works. Something like that.

Anyway, we’re turning the ol’ volcano experiment on its head by asking: Will a balloon explode from the chemical reaction of baking soda and vinegar?

Stay tuned, folks. Stay tuned.

(Google says yes. And they promise me an easy cleanup.)

One Thousand Days Later

I don’t really know how it happened, since I have long loved Chris Tomlin. But somehow, I had never heard that song before.

Three years ago, there were two memorial services for Robb: one in Colorado, and one in Ohio, our home for so many years. The absence of Robb was felt far and wide. On the day we all came together to remember him, both venues were standing room only.

In the Ohio funeral, which took place in the very same chapel where we were married, I heard this song that I had somehow never heard.

Our God is greater.
Our God is stronger.
God, you are higher than any other.
Our God is Healer,
Awesome in power,
Our God, our God.

I sat in the front row, letting these words pour over me. Everyone around me, as far as I could hear, sang and worshipped the God who gives and takes away. That song has become pinnacle to me. Words, melody, lyrics, and truths that I cling to. It always takes me back to the front row of the Memorial Chapel, where I let my friends sing and believe when I could hardly do either.

Now, more than one thousand days later, I sit among the congregation of proud (and digitally equipped) parents listening to the children’s choir. My two sons are standing on the left as I face the stage. Tucker is in the third row, fiercely paying attention and singing his heart out. Tyler is standing in the third row, joyfully making up his own choreography, and sending messages to me through sketchy sign language and words written in the air.

(My favorite: he traced a heart in the air and pointed from his chest to me. I heart you, Mommy.)

And then, my children sang in a choir of voices loud and pure, unashamed and believing:

Our God is greater.
Our God is stronger.
God, you are higher than any other.
Our God is Healer,
Awesome in power,
Our God, our God.

And then my boys stomp their feet in rhythm with the song, because this, my friends, is our favorite part:

And if our God is for us, then who could ever stop us?
And if our God is with us, than what could stand against?

Tears stream down my face as my children sing these words, these truths, that have held my pieces together. One thousand days later, my children lead me in worship.

Our God is greater and stronger. If he is for us, then nothing, nobody, can ever, ever stop us.


Is This Child For Real?

I heard some movement in my bedroom last night. I stirred and sat up to find Tyler kneeling next to my bed, his head rested on his folded hands.

“It’s okay, Mommy. I’m just praying for you.”

“You are?”

“Yes. I am asking God to give you good rest and a good night and so many good dreams.”

Laugh Lines

“Mommy, I’ve noticed that your face is changing. See these lines right here? They weren’t there before. We need to change that.”

He is tracing the paranthetical lines on either side of my mouth. Laugh lines.

“Well, buddy, not much we can do about it. I think those lines are there to stay.”

Says every woman at some point.

“No, I mean on the Wii. You don’t have those lines on your face on your Mii. I think we need to find you a new mouth.”

Of course my artist would notice. Yes, lovey. Let’s make sure the Wii version of me ages with accuracy.

Of course my face would age with punctuation.  First parentheses around my mouth, and next is probably exclamation mark between my eyebrows.