Changes – Mommyish

In 2006, my family changed dramatically – not just once, but twice.

That April, at the age of 35, I gave birth to my first baby, a beautiful boy who stole my heart and completely upended my life. That whole first year was a blur of broken nights, and days spent sitting on the couch in a daze, nursing my son and trying desperately to piece together exactly what I was supposed to do during the next five minutes…and then the five after that…and the five after that.

I was still in a saggy state of confusion when, less than three months after my son’s birth, my brother told me some startling news he’d just learned. He laid out the details matter-of-factly as I sat, gaping.

A couple of weeks ago, after posting my Grandma’s story on their website, the editors of Mommyish asked me to write a piece for them, about how it felt when I first learned the news. I hope you’ll join us here for the rest of the story…

My Swiftly Tilting Planet

On the Tuesday before Christmas, when my husband was on vacation, we took our boys to a water park, located at the Evergreen Aviation Museum in McMinnville.

This is the place where they house the Spruce Goose and lots of other vintage aircraft, in two gigantic, glass-fronted hangars. Last June, the museum opened an indoor water park in a third hangar. There is a wave pool, a water feature for toddlers, a regular pool (complete with basketball hoops), and four huge swirly slides, which begin inside a hollowed-out, 328,000-pound 747, which is perched on top of the building.

Very cool.

Since our boys are only 3 and 5, hubby and I had to go down the slides with them (which meant I had to get into a bathing suit, which is not quite the jolly fun it once was. Alas.) During my first trip down the slides, I got a very strange, light-headed feeling. That’s weird, I thought. Since I had no other choice, I decided to ignore it.

So we kept going down the slides, and into the wave pool, and into a round section of the regular pool that has jets that shoot you around in a tight circle – hubby dubbed it the “toilet bowl.” All in all, it was a very fun day. The boys were in Heaven.

By 5:00 the next morning, I was in Hell. Continue reading

Monks with Brooms

The newspaper headline caught my eye last Thursday, because it sounded like the set-up to a late-night comedy sketch: “Monks brawl with brooms in Bethlehem.”

This has to be a joke, I thought. Just one year ago, I spent a couple of days with a group of monks, on a sort of silent retreat to a monastery deep in Oregon’s wine country. My monks were all beatific smiles and soft voices and gentle movements. Almost from the moment I set foot on their property, I felt all my worries being swept away in a flood of serenity.

Monks don’t go on rampages, I thought. Curious, I read on.

The story was no joke.


Today I am guest-posting for one of my favorite bloggers, the great Karen Spears Zacharias. I hope you’ll join us there for the rest of the story...


Last week, I purchased the Blu-ray edition of “Planet Earth.” We’d missed the series when it originally aired in the U.S. because at that time, I was still nursing my firstborn and was such a bleary, exhausted mess, the entire Ringling Brothers circus could have paraded through my living room and I wouldn’t have noticed.

But since my boys are out of diapers now, and since we’d recently acquired the prettiest TV on God’s green earth (a 47-inch LED) and a Blu-ray player, I figured this was the perfect time to view this series I’d heard so much about.

And, holy smokes.

After turning on the first episode, I found myself paralyzed, unable to tear my eyes from the screen. For the longest time I stood there, slack-jawed in the middle of the room, because I couldn’t glance down long enough to take a seat. For someone who’s developed a later-in-life love of all things science, this presentation is magical…breathtaking. I kid you not, it makes me weak in the knees.

Continue reading

Off With Her Head

This post has absolutely nothing to do with pilgrims or turkey or Indian corn or any other traditional Thanksgiving topics. In fact, this is probably a completely inappropriate subject for this time of year. I do apologize.

It all started right before Halloween, when a friend asked a question on Facebook: “What’s the first scary movie you ever saw?”

I automatically replied. “Some movie I saw in church when I was ten years old. ‘A Thief in the Night’ or something.” And then I thought for a minute. And then BAM! Just like that, my internal Rubik’s Cube clicked into place.

I finally realized the origins of my worst phobia, one that has plagued me for as far back as I can remember. Or, as it happens, since the age of ten. Continue reading

Minka Disbrow

Update January 2, 2012 – To those of you who have made your way here from the AP article that went viral today…thank you so much for your interest in this story. My sweet Grandma (though very savvy) has no computer, but we are keeping her informed of all the interest and comments. She is more than thrilled that her story is touching so many people. Feel free to “share” on FB, Twitter…wherever. God bless you!

This summer, we visited my maternal grandmother in California. After a motel mishap left us stranded, I called Grandma and asked if we could “crash” at her small apartment near the ocean. When we drove up at dusk, a few hours later, Grandma was just coming back from the grocery store, where she’d gone to stock up on food supplies for us.

Her place was as neat as a pin, as it has been for as far back as I can remember. That night, after I’d tucked all my boys in bed, I went into the living room to keep Grandma company. I sat down with a book. Grandma was filling out a word puzzle with a ballpoint pen.

“I like to do something like this before I go to bed,” Grandma said. “It helps me unwind.” About 45 minutes later I sleepily called it quits, leaving Grandma sitting in a small circle of lamplight, still working on her puzzle.

Sometimes I think this woman will outlive us all. Continue reading

Spiders or Snakes?

Invariably, conversations with my girlfriends always seem to come around to the same topic: “Which is worse, spiders or snakes?”

Okay, maybe not every conversation ends up here – but I have had this discussion many times. It’s like the girlie version of “Boxers or Briefs?”

From a moral standpoint, I would love to say that I am a friend to all creatures great and small, but both of these species creep me out completely, and when I say, “creep me out completely,” I am perhaps not properly conveying the kind of ridiculous shrieking and flailing about that is produced whenever I see either a spider or a snake. Just looking at pictures of them makes me nauseous. On a scientific level, of course, I love that there are researchers who devote their lives to studying these things.

But on a personal level, I want all snakes and spiders to die. Preferably, from at least two time zones away. And yesterday.

Some people just throw spiders and snakes into the same “yuck” boat; but those people are not bloggers with posts to fill. So just in time for Halloween, here is the Spiders or Snakes Smack-down, by category.

You’re welcome. Continue reading