Make Me Wear Waterproof Mascara

Tell me about how you used to think your two year-old would never sleep through the night. Assure me that I’ll get some sleep someday in long chunks of time as fat as a Twilight movie.

Help me to know that these heartbreaking fights I have with my teenager are normal, and necessary. When you tell me that, I feel like less of a failure.

You’ve worried about disagreements with your partner that seem to have no compromise, too? Tell me about that. It seems like everyone on Facebook is so in love, and are also soul mates, which is wonderful news for them, and sadly hard and overwhelming for everyone else. I want to hear about your struggles, because I actually thought you were one of those Facebook people.

I want to know the things that people don’t talk about above a sheepish whisper.

I want the 2 am digging into a gallon of chocolate chip with two spoons kitchen talk.


I crave your eyes filled with tears, that instantly cause my eyes to fill with tears….because then I know your words come from the very deepest parts of your soul.

Please don’t give me the story you give every other person who really doesn’t want to hear anything other than….I’m fine! We  are fine! All of us are so busy and SO FINE!! because I’m not that person, and I just can’t handle anymore of that in my life.



I don’t have that kind of time. And I’m painfully aware of it.

I’m what you might call a  serious earth schooler, devouring every piece of information that exists on living and dying well. I don’t remember how I got here, but I feel that I ended up in this place for a very important purpose. Now, I’m not going to change the political world, or end up the CEO of a huge company, or anything like that. I’m far too laid back love Netflix in an unhealthy way and not nearly interested enough in Math or exact facts. But I feel compelled to live a joyful life, free of worry and full of heart-rich moments that fill my whole body with a buzz so violent, it can be felt 10 miles away. I believe this kind of life can be lived, where one really can’t wear anything but waterproof mascara, due to the excessive amount of grateful tears leaking out of one’s eyes like bad plumbing.

People like Glennon Doyle Melton, Brene Brown, and Elizabeth Gilbert  are my very favorite authors because they believe that our real power lies in our shared stories of shame, failure, and vulnerability.

Someone once asked G, “why do you cry so much?” Her response:
Same reason I laugh so much. Cause I’m paying attention.”


there-must-be-thoseGive me kitchen after the holidays messy.  Level with me. Be vulnerable with snot running down your face. Help me to live my life and illustrate to me that I’m not an alien and so very alone in my thoughts. I feel insane levels of courage when I know I’m surrounded by others who have decided to tell the truth even though it may not have had a storybook ending or fit into an inspiring Facebook post or Tweet. I want to talk to you about what your strategy is, the same way two coaches have a meeting over beers about all that they are going to accomplish this season.  I want to hear about the amazing book or soul-filled concert that changed the way you think about everything.

I will get downright AMEN!!!and ALLELUIA!!! about the time you found God/Angels/Universe conspiring in your favor, when two seconds before you thought all was lost. And I’ll tell you about mine.


I am hungry for authentic earth school classmates who came here for the beautiful challenges of living a mysterious and unpredictable life. And nothing else will do.

Can You Read Backwords?


So my 10 year-old, Quinn, has been big into reversing words lately. It’s a phase, much like the eating only peanut butter and jelly sandwiches phase that all my kids have been through. Or the refusing to take a shower phase, not letting food touch phase, the Pokémon GO phase, or the not eating carbs phase. Wait. That last one was mine. Anyway, these things are all fleeting and are super fun and addictive for awhile.

Except the not eating carbs thing. That was a very dark time, friends.

I’ve been hearing all about words and their abilities to be the same exact thing, no matter which way they are read.

These are palindromes, and they are fascinating to Quinn. But he didn’t stop there. He decided to look at words backwards, and see what they spelled. When he went into that territory, I almost said, “Oh yes! Like Redrum!” but then I remembered that Quinn is 10, and doesn’t really need to know about films that include psychotic breaks and possessed children.


But then he came upon one that made us both stop in our tracks.


Quinn’s smile was slow like a train just coming to life on the tracks. I loved watching it gain speed. He ran to our dog, Frodo, and hugged him. “Yes!” he kept exclaiming. “YES!” and then he came and hugged me. “I like that, Mom! so much!”

I liked it, too.  When I think about the dogs in my lifetime, they’ve all shared the same qualities:

playful, joyful, wordless comfort, deep wisdom, innocence,loving, kind, protective, forgiving, humble, miraculous, faithful, devoted, loyal, insightful…..

And isn’t my list of God qualities the same? I think that’s the way truth feels-like the happiest slap across the face you’ll ever get, you know?

Children and dogs, dogs and children. I swear to you, they are my favorite teachers. It makes me think of one of my favorite quotes by Elizabeth Chase Allen:

Backward, turn backward, O time, in thy flight;
Make me a child again, just for to-night.

Watch this. Tell me that you can’t spot God in this place.

(P.S. for all my wordpress people, I’m really sorry about this new theme. It’s not set up yet, and I’m sort of over trying to figure it out today it’s bothering me, too. Bear with me! )

Oh Christmas Tree

And so I find myself back on WordPress, after a scandalous affair with Facebook. Yes, dear chirping crickets….it was wild. And at first, it seemed I had made a clever decision. So many readers saying, WordPress? Why do I have to go THERE? in the most heartbreaking tone EVER. And the traffic was fabulous. Like New York at rush hour FABULOUS. And then it wasn’t. Facebook became less friendly about promoting me for free (whatever facebook), and it turns out that I’m not much into writing Diary Style. As in, just for MYSELF to read.

Who knew?

I’m not sure what that says about me and my craft of writing, a term which here means,

1. understands the difference between two, too, and to.

2. is a voracious reader who probably is accidentally stealing other people’s words and ideas.

3. Loves the instant happiness that can only come from someone commenting, “LOVE THIS!!”

And so.

I find that I’m actually able to write better, simply because of the italics function. I’m a big stressor. I emphasize certain words, and “airquote” often when I’m doing the other thing I love to do, which is TALK. When I write, I’m really just talking. And without that little italics function, I’m having to ALL-CAP it, which leaves me feeling misunderstood, or like I’m from the Bronx or something. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s not accurate. I’m from the world’s smallest town in Iowa, living in a similarly small town in South Dakota. I’m so italics, it’s not even funny.

The plan was to write to you about my Christmas tree, and I got a bit sidetracked. This is real life in the world of Lisa–so many topics, so little focus. It’s possible that I have some undiagnosed attention things going on, but who has the time for that. I’m sort of counting on my readers to be more clear-headed and able to follow my thought patterns that zig and zag.


This isn’t OUR Christmas tree. But I really like this picture.

(And by the by, thank you dear readers for your focus. Treasure it, we don’t all have it.)

As I walked by our half-decorated tree, that as it was being trimmed, had my children howling in laughter at some of the old decorations, I stopped to look at some of them. Some of them were funny. My middle son had at some point made a Santa decoration in preschool that looks more like an overweight octopus with a jaunty hat and eyes that twinkle. I’m a big photo-inserter of Christmas hangings, and so the little pictures of their chubby cheeks and smiles completely void of any sort of self-conscious vanity seem hilarious to the much older and wiser children who snap dozens of cool selfies (friend approved only).

They have a somewhat different effect on me.


The older and wiser children: (15, 16,and 9)

The three kids oh christmas.jpg

I suppose it’s terribly cliché and overdone, but the feelings I get from all this history hanging on one huge 10 foot Christmas tree that I pulled out all the stops to get (and by all the stops, I mean to say, I threw away every stitch of my pride and begged)–can be overwhelming.

As my dear friend said just this morning,

Man are we hard on ourselves. I mean, we have children who are well fed, have a roof over their heads and warm beds, plenty of clothes and seem somewhat happy.  And we did that! We are really doing just fine, aren’t we?

And isn’t she right? Somehow, despite all the doubts and dysfunction, we’ve raised these children who can go forward into the world with corny pictures of themselves, and stories of the time mom started crying because she really wanted a 10 foot Christmas tree, and family Christmases of Santa bringing anything from surprisingly large air hockey tables to plane tickets. We’ve done that.

There’s so much we worry about as parents. Maybe we should have fed the kids more vegetables and started juicing so they love kale? Should we have forced them to learn an instrument? What have we been feeding them that will someday be banned in every country-even the US? Do they do enough charitable work?

But staring at our Christmas tree full of the past, takes me down memory lane faster than a near death experience.  There’s a crystal clear ballerina with a pink tutu for the time Kinsey wanted to be a dancer, a coca cola bottle because it was Gage’s favorite (still is) , a pineapple for the first time we took the kids out of the country, and all those handmade ornaments that if you hold them up to your ear, you can hear a poor harried teacher sobbing in the background because of all the glue mishaps and complete bedlam that comes from attempting to turn out somewhat decent crafts (or at least as lovely as the teacher’s in the class next door.)

Maybe once a year, it’s ok to put all your accomplishments (as parents who may not be perfect, but sure do try hard)– out there in one not-so- convenient-to -get -Into -a-tree-stand and very large Christmas tree.


But just once a year. And I think we may need a slightly bigger tree next year to fit all the new ornaments from this year. I better get busy working on my tears.


oh christmas tree.jpg




Eating Art

maurice sendak

So, I just read a story of Maurice Sendak, the great children’s author/illustrator. He talked about the highest compliment he was ever paid as an author. A little boy had sent him a very thoughtful letter. It was particularly wonderful, and so Mr. Sendak drew him a picture, and sent it.

His mother sent back a thank you, gushing about how much it meant to her son. Her words, “He carried the picture with him everywhere he went. But, eventually, he just couldn’t stand it, and he ATE the picture. He loved it THAT much.”

Maurice marveled at how much that hand-drawn picture could have fetched if the family had decided to sell it. At the very least, it could have been framed and kept forever. But the very act of what this boy did showed his love and appreciation better than any of those more “normal” reactions.

I seriously love this more than I’ve loved any story in a long time. As I drink my morning coffee this morning, I pondered it. WHAT do I love about this so much? Which part?


I think that’s it. This little Art-Eater is ON FIRE about life. ON FIRE. When I walked the road this morning, I think I can understand, or at least come close to the feeling of ON FIRE. I understand loving what you see SO much….you want it to be inside of your body…you want to join with it.

If I could, I would eat the blue sky with the wispy clouds that make me think of a fancy dress. I would devour the tall wildflowers, and gobble up the rich earth that smells like God.

It’s how I want to live my life. Eating the ART that is everywhere I look.

The Prodigal Writer

No, this isn't MY SPACE. I tried every which way to take a SELFIE. I gave up. Resorted to ole' phone in the mirror trick.

No, this isn’t MY SPACE. I tried every which way to take a SELFIE. I gave up. Resorted to ole’ phone in the mirror trick.

Knock knock! Anybody home? I know I’ve been gone for a bit….where IS everyone? It’s like a ghost town around here!

Wow. I have some work to do. I need to go find my friends!!

I’m kinda scared.


FRIENDS!!! Yoooooooooooooooooooooooohoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!

To be continued in the following edition, entitled: Lisa returns, for better or worse.

Teacher Boy

Teach me how to do that.

To stand alone and face your fear head on. Continue reading

We Belong to Each Other

beautiful kids If we have no peace, it’s because we’ve forgotten we belong to each other. -Mother Theresa Continue reading

Be Still My Heart


Hugh as Wolverine. Super cool guy.

les misHugh in Les Mis. Like OMG.

hugh jackmanHugh’s words.  I’ve just fainted.

hugh jackman picHe’s off the charts for me now. OFF. THE. CHARTS.

Pay attention men. Watch and learn.


There’s More than One way to sing Adele

Dear Readers, You know how I’ve gone mostly to Facebook…cuz I can get my writing done lickety split? It’s good, and quick….but it’s like the microwave version of writing.

I love baked potatoes out of the oven. The skin gets shiny and perfect, and the inside is like mashed potatoes at Sunday Dinner. When you stick a spud in the microwave though? It’s mushy. Yes, you can eat it in 5 minutes, but is it worth it?

I usually decide that unless I have an hour for the oven, I skip out on the tator all together.

I just can’t seem to decide what I’m doing: Facebook, or WordPress? I noticed another blogger called…”We are THAT family“. She has over 10,000 likes on Facebook, and her blog is pretty famous. But even she often gets just a handful of LIKES on posts, videos or statuses that she writes. It seems like people use Facebook for quick scans, but not for reading anything longer than the paragraph on the back of a cereal box.

Take this awesome video: I promise you, it would not get ONE like. And seriously, how amazing is this?! Sing baby girls, SING!

It leads me to wonder…is Facebook like Quickie Sex, and WordPress like making love? Could I possibly come up with more metaphors besides ovens and sex?

To be continued…………………………….

It’s not Croquet, but it’s pretty cool.

Gage Flandreau 2012

So, that’s my Middler, there in the orange and black. He’s “shooting“…which means, he’s going for the other guy’s legs. Then he goes on to “break him down“, and eventually “Pins” him. I put all the technical wrestling words in quotes for you, because until I had boys that wrestled, they were very technical to me. I look at these words…Shooting. Breaking down. Pin. Hmmm. Very harsh, you know? As my husband likes to say, “Well, it’s not croquet, Lis.”

No. No indeedy.

But what is it exactly? My friend and I, fellow wrestling Mamas who put in a lot of time together on bleachers, have mused over this subject so often. We face quite a bit of judgment from others that know nothing about the sport of wrestling. When I had a nasty case of the sniffles a couple of weeks back, and was couchbound, I put in one of my favorite comfort movies: A Knight’s Tale with the gorgeous and dead Heath Ledger. I realized that wrestling these days is almost a little like jousting was hundreds of years ago: not for the faint of heart, and practiced by boys that are brave and noble. (Well, I would say 98% of them noble. You get a few bad apples, but you could get those in croquet, too. Have you ever seen those mallets? Put that with an angry Croquet-er…and….)

Well, anyway. My point is this: it takes incredible self-confidence and courage to go one on one with an opponent, and know that some of them are so good they can bend you into the shape of a pretzel. My boy takes this risk every time he walks out onto the mat. And so does the Littlest, by the way. But 6 year-old wrestling is much less intense than 11-12 year old wrestling, for the simple fact that many of the small ones never even end up catching each other.

My son just qualified to go the state tournament that will take place in a couple of weeks. I was so proud of him that I nearly broke the sound barrier with my scream.  I’ve told him time and time again how much he inspires me with his bravery. I’ve watched him work hard at practices, tournaments, with his Dad here at home; and his never give up spirit makes me sing. I feel like I need to go on record about this sport that so many “don’t get“.

The day of the Regionals, the day that the top 3 kids out of many would be chosen to go to State out of each weight bracket was a long and grueling day.

This was Gage’s bracket from Districts, where he got 1st place. The order of tournaments goes: Districts, Regionals, State.

We arrived to Britton, SD in typical nasty SD winter weather, only to wait outside for about 20 minutes in line.


These folks are NOT the happiest of campers.

We spent roughly 11 hours in the gym, my son wrestling 5 matches about 2 hours apart. We know these kids that my boy had to wrestle, because most of them, he’s been wrestling all year at different tournaments around the state. We know the parents, too. After winning his first two matches, Middler went into the semi-finals. All he had to do was win his third match, and would be guaranteed a ticket to State.

He was winning, right up until he lost.

Phooey. (That’s the G-rated version)

Now he had to win 2 more matches to get 3rd at Regionals. (Remember, only the top 3 get to go on to State)

He won his next match pretty easily, but we knew the second match would be much more tricky. Middler had to wrestle a boy he’s wrestled often, and the pair of them are very evenly matched. It could go either way. Right before the match began, the father of the opponent, the one my boy would be wrestling for that Third Place Spot, came up to my husband and son. He genuinely wished them good luck, and said some other nice things to my boy, as well. Of course he wanted HIS boy to win, but he wanted to show Gage, my Middler, that he respected him as a wrestler, and he sincerely wanted him to wrestle his best.

My boy won. And one of the first things he said, was that he wished his opponent could be going to State, too. He didn’t want to knock him out of the tournament. Gage respected the boys he wrestled: the ones he beat, as well as the boys he lost to.

THAT is what this sport is about. As the boys stood to accept their medals, another parent said to the boys at large: “Good job boys. ALL of you. What a FINE group of boys.”

Gage 3rd in Regionals
Gage is in black, 3rd down. What you can’t see on his face is his intense happiness. He’s tricky like that♥

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

If you go to a wrestling match, you may see things that make you judge it harshly. But if you look carefully, you’ll see boys wrestle their hearts out, and sometimes HUG each other after the match and big brothers hugging sad little brothers who just lost.  You’ll see parents that encourage kids that AREN’T even theirs. You may see a Father’s eyes fill with tears of pride for his son who just got the honor of winning Third Place at Regionals, and who gets to go on to wrestle for the State Championship for the first time.

I saw all of that, and I’ll never forget it.