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    Monday, February 23, 2009

    Baptism and You

    Ever tried to explain baptism to a literal-minded seven-year-old? Kory and I faced the dilemma a couple weeks ago. A good friend was getting baptized and asked us to be present.

    Just in case you don’t speak the lingo, baptism is a symbolic gesture. You know? Symbolism? Like when you take all the computer parts lying abandoned on the office floor, carry them out to the garage, and dump them in your husband’s parking space, so he can’t park until he’s done something with them.

    Hmm, maybe my explanation was somewhat lacking. Okay, baptism: when a believer in Christ is reverently dunked into a tank of water to symbolize leaving their old life behind, having their sins washed away, and becoming a new person. It’s a fancy, spiritual bath, folks.

    Okay, so we’re driving to church and explaining things like symbolism and non-threatening immersion and new creations to the boys. From the above paragraphs, you can see how I might have gone wrong.

    After Kory and I exhausted our mental faculties trying to get the point across to our “water-is-water” seven-year-old, a silence descended upon our minivan. Then Monkey says, with fear and angst coloring his words, “Mommy, will Miss Jaime have her clothes on?”

    Despite our assurance that our friend would be fully clothed, Monkey chose to go to his safe and very dry Sunday School class instead of watch the blessed event. Chunky, on the other hand, was all about watching people get dunked.

    In a very sweet gesture, our friend chose to have her husband baptize her in front of the church audience. Chunky also thought this was a great idea and has been after his daddy about it ever since. “Daddy, when are you gonna baptize Mommy?”

    I’m living in perpetual fear that Kory will get sick of being asked the question and decide to just get it over with in a spontaneous, ambush baptizing. He is from a Baptist background after all. Not to fear, though, if I go down, I’m taking him with me.

    Monday, February 16, 2009

    Table Manners

    A lot of parental instruction (read: lecturing) goes on around our dinner table. At the table, our children hear that they should not burp so loud that Great Grandma’s china hutch rattles. And during mealtimes we remind the boys to eat with forks like humans and to say things like “Please, may I have the macaroni and cheese,” instead of pointing at food and delivering guttural cave person grunts. “Uuuhhh!”

    As is often the case with uninterrupted nagging, very little change results. Our boys still eat like chimpanzees, and the best we can hope for is a self-satisfied “Excuse me” after one of their earthquake burps.

    But the other day Monkey introduced a new topic for the Manners Committee (Mom, Dad, Grandma.) He told us his class talked about calling names during one of the school counselor’s regular visits. For several minutes after that, he and his brother listed all the possible names one could, but should not, call someone. Poopy Head and Maniac topped the list.

    Monkey told an ambiguous story about a time in recent or perhaps distant history when a child having neither name nor gender called him a very mean, yet forgettable, name. Having a highly-developed sense of justice, his brother leapt into the discussion with some aggressive suggestions for dealing with Monkey’s nebulous bully. Chunky’s tactics included yelling really loud, swiping toys, and some heated, but indecipherable, threats.

    To his credit, Monkey insisted that walking away and telling a teacher was a better method for dealing with name-calling. We were quite pleased that he’d soaked up some instruction, even if it wasn’t ours. Now all we have to do is buy a cape and some spandex for Chunky, our vigilante preschooler.

    Saturday, February 7, 2009


    When I was a teenager, my brother would occasionally look at me, raise one brow, and say, “You’re bubbly.” Translated into Non-male, I’m pretty sure that meant, “You’re bouncy, flaky, and way too girly.”

    My brother is a very patient person, but I tried his patience whenever I thought it convenient, necessary, or just plain entertaining. Case has been the size of a football player since the sixth grade. If he had a mean bone in his body, I never would have made it.

    I don’t get bubbly very often anymore. Sure I get happy, excited, gassy, but not jump-up-and-down, flap your arms like Wallace, giggle like a twelve-year-old bubbly. I like to think I’m a little too mature for that. But I’m bubbly today, and I’ll tell you why.

    But first, because I’m becoming fond of torture in my advanced years, I’ll tell you all the reasons it could be. (But isn’t.)

    It’s not because we refinanced our house this week. Even though Kory—my adorable, number-loving, engineer hubby—is very pleased with the rearrangement of figures in our mortgage, I can’t quite work up the energy for so much as a “Wee!”

    I’m not bubbly because Monkey stayed out of the principal’s office this week, is making great progress in his school work, and managed to be really nice to his brother last Sunday.

    And I’m not bouncing because Chunky’s homeschooling is going great, he’s kicking four-year-old patootie in gymnastics, and he made real strides toward blowing his own nose this week. (An aside: You can pick your nose. You can pick your friends. And, apparently, you can pick your son’s nose when you’re so tired of hearing “mmmfflork” every three seconds that you stick your pinky up there and dig out the offending boogie yourself.)

    I’m not overjoyed because Bubba and I found some really awesome MIA black velvet stretch boots on Endless for half price. I’m not bubbly because today I added 30 whole seconds to my top jogging time, bringing me up to a minute and a half.

    And I’m not ecstatic because I found an instant mix for Hot and Sour soup that tastes great, looks like barf, and only has six carbs.

    I’m thankful for all of the above. But I am pee-my-pants happy that my novel Brandy and The Vine will be on the desks of nine editors very, very soon. I got the email this morning that my proposal and manuscript are ready, set, GO!

    I’m not counting premature poultry here. Maybe you think I should reserve the bubbly for when/if I get a contract. But I feel like celebrating this step regardless of whether or not Brandy finds a publishing house. It feels good to be here, and I am giddy with excitement.

    If my brother were here, he’d definitely be raising that brow and muttering something about excitable females. And then I’d steal and hide his book—just like I did when we were kids—and demand that he party with me.