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Month: August 2012

How to be in the “good” class

How to be in the “good” class

School starts in the morning.

Clothes are laid out.  Backpacks are packed.

Lunches are not made.  (I’ll get to it … just motivating myself to begin that labor of love again).

Jacob will be in third grade, Savannah and Brittany will be in middle school (6 and 8th) and Caroline (gasp) will be in 11th.

I remember my mom telling me when I was in 11th grade that she was worried she hadn’t taught me everything she wanted to teach me before I went to college.  There was so much more she wanted me to learn.  And I totally get that right now.

It’s been an interesting week.  We got home from Minnesota on Wednesday and literally have not stopped since then.  Meet the Teachers, Back to School parties, a volleyball tournament, etc. etc.  The big question, everywhere we go, seems to be this …. “who is your teacher” or for the middle school girls … “what homeroom do you have”.  Of course, everyone is excited and wants to know they will have a friend in their class.

But, Caroline, Brittany, Savannah and Jacob … if there is one thing I could tell you right now … tonight …. it’s this … it matters less who is in your class than who you are in your class.

Trust me …. I know what it’s like to want to have friends in your class.  I’m pretty sure there are some of my teachers back in the day who wished I had a few less friends in my classes.  

I know what it is like to see the list and wish this friend or that was in my class.  I also remember the hurt I felt the year I was standing at your elementary school looking at the posted class list.  I remember seeing one of your names on the list and then having a mom, whose child was in your class, say to her child … “UGH … we never get any GOOD people in our class”.  And it hurt.  It hurt me for you … and it hurt me.

But you know what … that was the year that someone from that class that you had befriended came to Vacation Bible School with you.  It thrilled my heart.

One year one of you had a bad year educationally.  You still say … “that was the worst year ever” … but you know what?  That’s the year you, anonymously, brought a backpack and a new pair of shoes to a girl in your class because it bothered you that she didn’t have a backpack and that her shoes seemed too small.

You probably could have had a better teacher … but I know you were supposed to be in that class.  You learned compassion.  You learned about giving.  And I think, somewhere, there is a girl who knew that someone loved her that year.  I wouldn’t trade a thing about it.

So here is what I want you to know ….

I want you to know that it does matter who is in your class because you can look for ways to love anyone in there.  You can look for ways to help your teachers and most importantly … you can be the reflection of the Christ that lives in each one of you … to everyone in your school.

Nothing would make me more proud.

There is a really special letter I read this week.  Although I could not have written it as well … when I read it, it resonated so loudly with me because of what it said.  The author told a story about a boy named Adam.  I could have written the same story only the boy in my class was named Victor.  I have no idea what happened to Victor but I do know that when the kids in my class laughed at him because he “smelled funny” … I didn’t stop them.  It hurt me to see him hurt, it hurt me that he didn’t have any friends … but to my knowledge I didn’t do anything to make him feel loved.

And I regret that more than you can know.

So, sweet babies … please read this letter.  It’s right here …

The Talk 

And then go out there and have the best year of school yet!  Here’s a little secret … you already are in the “good” class.  You are right where you are supposed to be … so go be the good in that class.

I love you so much.


Ma Ingalls I am not.

Ma Ingalls I am not.

Brittany was born less than an hour after we arrived at Texas Womens Hospital.  One minute I was smiling and having Bill take my picture by the “delivery” sign at the hospital and very shortly afterwards I was about to deliver her.

The doctor told me that I had arrived too late to receive any drugs. Trust me when I say that was not in my “birth plan”.  I know lots of people are in favor of drug free births … but I am not one of them.  

Give me drugs “early and often” was kind of my motto.

I told the doctor …. a little loudly perhaps … that I “didn’t want to be a prairie woman”.  I told him I was “no Ma Ingalls”.  I told him I “HAD TO HAVE DRUGS”.  

He got in my face and said … “I know you don’t want to be a prairie woman but you are having a baby RIGHT NOW”.  

I thought he was so rude.

A few minutes later, Brittany was born.   

After that experience, I had scheduled inductions for Savannah and Jacob so we didn’t ever have to wonder if I was going to do the “Ma Ingalls” thing again.

With the births of Caroline, Brittany, Savannah and Jacob, I had, like all women, lots of blood drawn, shots of this and that, IV’s and with 3 children, I had an epidural.

I should mention here that when we went to the birthing class a man came up to Bill and patted him on the shoulder and said … “I feel sorry for you man”.  Bill asked why and he said … “because your wife yelled while she was WATCHING the epidural video … can’t imagine what she will do during the real thing”.  

Real funny dude, real funny.

You would think that after having four children, one naturally, I could handle a little thing like getting a tetanus shot.

But today when I was told I needed one I immediately began to sweat and panic.  I needed one because of a piece of glass that I have stuck in my foot.  It’s probably been there three or more months.  I don’t think about it much, but every now and then I’ll step on it just so and yelp a little.

This morning I showed it to Bill to see if he saw anything and he said … “ewww, it’s black and probably infected”.

He then walked to the kitchen and got a knife.  A KNIFE!!!  Like one I use to cut food.  Before I knew what was happening he was spraying Bactine on the knife … AS IF THAT WOULD DISINFECT it.  I told him under no circumstances was he carving on my foot unless the knife went through fire so he used the lighter we have for birthday candles and “sterilized” the knife.

Only he really didn’t need to do that because as soon as he went for my foot I yelled out like he was cutting my foot off.  

He then patiently said “I haven’t touched your foot yet”.  

I knew that but I was anticipating the pain.

It was at about that point that he told me he thought it would be best for me to go to the doctor.

And I said … “YES…. one with properly sterilized instruments!!!!”.

The sad thing is, when the nurse looked at my foot I yelled again in much the same way.  She looked kind of panicked but I told the same thing I told Bill … “it didn’t hurt … I just thought it might”.  

Only I apologized to her.

After the doctor looked at it she mentioned things like “the foot has lots of nerve endings and it wouldn’t be good to cut on it unless it was by a surgeon” (did you hear that Bill Baerg?!?!).  

And then she said … “But you will need antibiotics and a tetanus shot today”.  

Immediately I began to sweat and panic.  And they made me wait, all alone, in a room for excruciatingly long minutes until the nurse brought the shot.

I asked her lots of questions … “will it hurt?”, “are other people afraid”, “what happens if I don’t get the shot?”.  

She told me that she had only had one worse patient than me and he was a man (ha!).  She then said … “if you don’t get the shot you could lose your foot or your life”.

She also wondered aloud how someone could walk around with a piece of glass in their foot for three months and think getting a shot would hurt worse.

So I said “okay, give me the shot”.

And it didn’t hurt at all.

Until a friend told me that the after effects of the shot were bad for her.

As soon as I heard that I was sure my arm was aching and I was having “side effects”.

And now I’ve decided they want me to see a surgeon probably because they think I need anesthesia to have the glass taken out of my foot.

And that is OKAY by me.  

Because, as I’ve said before, I don’t want to be a prairie woman.

A “not so hopeful” Olympian …

A “not so hopeful” Olympian …


The Olympic closing ceremonies are tonight.  For two solid weeks we have sat on our couch, night after night, watching the world’s greatest athletes show their stuff.  We have watched and watched and watched and watched….glued to the TV and the incredible athletes showing their physical and mental toughness.  They are amazing.

And so, in honor of the closing of the 30th Olympiad, I would like to share my own personal Olympic story.  You read that correctly … my brush with the Olympics.

It was a story in which I accidentally got involved.

And let me assure you before I tell this story … those athletes train HARD.  Very HARD.  Trust me on this … I trained with one.  


On accident.

You see, Bill and I were spending a weekend, back in 2007,  in Hilton Head, South Carolina.  (I love Hilton Head … one of the three places I would love to move when Bill retires).   Bill worked for a couple of days when we arrived so I “scouted” things for us to do.  I went and found him one afternoon and said … “hey … are you ok if I sign us up for a dolphin kayaking adventure tonight?”. 

His first question was “is it safe?”.

It TOTALLY cracked me up that he would wonder if it was safe.  It had never occurred to me that it wouldn’t be safe.  Why wouldn’t it be safe?

He agreed, despite his safety concerns, and that evening we went out with a guide … each of us in our own kayaks, and looked for dolphins in the Atlantic ocean.  


The dolphins jumped up in the water in their graceful way and I caught my breath every.single.time.

We watched the sun set on the peaceful water and it was beautiful.  Magical.  



I loved it so much I asked if we could do it again the next day.   

(this is where I learned that maybe if something is truly amazing, you should take the memory and go … not try and recreate it)

Bill agreed and so EARLY the next day we headed back to the beach and met our same guide.  He said one other person would be joining us.  He also expressed some concern as the weather was looking less than ideal.

But there were dolphins involved and I said I wasn’t worried.

The other kayaker showed up and off we went in search of another pod of dolphins.  We went out.  WAY out.  And while we were out the weather began to turn and it grew windy.  VERY windy.  VERY, VERY WINDY.

And as we rowed back my arms began to ache.  And my back.  And before long I was counting each row thinking keeping my mind off my sore muscles was the only way I would make it back to shore.   

As the weather began to deteriorate, our guide, Duane, asked me if I wanted to tie up to his kayak and he could pull me in.

Of course, I said “no”.
I was mortified.

And incensed.

I mean … he didn’t offer that to the other woman who was kayaking with us.  It made me SO mad.  Did he think I was some kind of weakling?  (Y’all this is so funny because I was, in fact, some kind of weakling!!!, but of course I didn’t want anyone to insinuate that).

Several times Duane made the same offer.  

Every time, I refused.

Why was he only offering this to me?  Did he think I couldn’t keep up?  How embarrassing.  All I could think was …. “I’ll show him”.  

I grew more and more determined to show him what I was made of by the minute.

Bill was saying things like … “you don’t have to be a hero” and “let him pull you in”.

I wasn’t listening.  In fact, I’d glare at him or act like I didn’t hear him.

I was going to show them all that …. despite waves and wind, I could row my kayak back to shore.


As we came back towards shore, the people standing out on the pier began cheering.  I didn’t even acknowledge them … how could I?  If I, FOR EVEN A SECOND, stopped rowing, I knew I’d never make it.

Plus I couldn’t have lifted my arm to save my life.  🙂

And when we got to the beach, I stopped rowing.  I was so tired I couldn’t stand up.  It would involve me using my arms and, as I’ve said, that was impossible.  They were completely useless. 

There was however, no way I was admitting I was spent.  I wasn’t a weakling.  I was still planning on showing our guide he had totally misjudged me.

Then he said … “I have never, EVER seen such determination in a kayak…. and I’ve been doing this a long time”.

And I decided to tell him how mad it made me that he thought I needed help and not the other woman with us.

So I told him.

“Oh, I wasn’t giving up.  I wasn’t going to be pulled in.  Not when you never offered it to HER”.

“Her?”, he questioned … as he pointed to the other kayaker.

“Yes, her”, I flatly replied.

“She is training for the United States Olympic kayak team.  This was part of her training.  I couldn’t help her.” 


He never told me that.

I promise … no one EVER mentioned that.

Not that I heard anyway. 

Bill began to laugh.

And laugh, and laugh.

He thought it was hysterical that I was adamant against getting pulled in all because I didn’t want to be shown up by an Olympic athlete.

Real funny.

And after I laughed and reprimanded them for not making it VERY CLEAR to me that I was rowing against an Olympic hopeful, I stood up.

And I promptly fell out of the kayak.

And I walked, soaking wet, back to our condo, knowing my Olympic dream was over … before it ever really started.


Now where was I?

Now where was I?

The other day entered into google maps the address of a restaurant where I was meeting Bill for lunch.  The restaurant was downtown but it routed me to Nebraska!  Totally cracked me up.  I’ve never been to Nebraska and thought that would be fun but I also knew Bill would wonder what had happened to me.  I tried to do it again and it put me on a route to Atlanta.  Atlanta isn’t that far from the beach so that would have been REALLY fun but I’ve been to the beach twice this summer so I figured I should just put that out of my mind and try to find the restaurant on my own.

And that’s kind of like my blog.  I’ve had no idea where it was headed.  It has been almost four months since I last posted.  I had fallen off the bloggy wagon FOR SURE.  For some reason I was feeling all contradicted about blogs.  I love having one to recount my life and my stories but I also didn’t want to miss out on my life because I was writing down all the stories. 

At the same time as I stopped writing, I stopped reading blogs.  I’ve only glanced at a few since my last post.  I haven’t even checked our home answering machine messages since March (If you really want me, you’ll call my cell, right?).  It’s true.  Too many devices, too many messages to check … and so I checked out.  

To be honest, I was also kind of worried that I was on my way to having more internet friends than real friends … and I love internet friends, but I crave face to face friends.  The kind that call you on your birthday, the kind that show up at your door, the kind that want to meet for lunch or come over for dinner. 

And so here’s what I’ve decided after my blogggy break … I like to blog.  I like to write stories.  And you already know I LOVE to laugh.  

And I want to maintain friendships both online and off.

So feel free to follow along if you like.  If you don’t have time … I more than understand.   It will be a little hit and miss until school starts …. for two reasons.  The first is that the four children I’m responsible for feeding are ALWAYS hungry.  And they eat A LOT.  The second reason is that I want those same four people to know they have a fully engaged mom raising them … not a blogger.  So once school starts I will blog even more.  For the first time in seven years I won’t be teaching any college classes this fall.  Although I’ll miss the students and the real world outlet, I think a break will be nice.  I might even try to plan out a weekly menu of what to feed those constantly hungry kids.  I want to go to lunch with friends and maybe play tennis again.  

Oh, and if the meal plan happens, it will be a modern day MIRACLE.  

And you’ll be the first to know.  

If you are one of the people that has asked about the blog … thank you.  You’ve been an encouragement to me. 

Now where was I?