in which i rant about air travel

I know, I know, everybody’s had a stab at it, but I just can’t help myself. As someone who flew in the days when air travel looked like this:


and is dismayed that nowadays it has become this:



so that, when I have to travel, I start out looking like this:



and by the end of it, I look like this:



well, surely you can see my point.


I had to fly from Oklahoma (themiddleofnowhere) to the Oregon coast?(prettymuchparadise), and then back again. I know the second half of that scenario makes little to no sense, but apparently I love my children. The secret to my successfully executing this plan was very simple.




Have excessive amounts of it available at all times. Pack extra. You’re going to need it.


I “packed extra” in the form of my sister. She is a black belt in the comical arts. Other traveller’s extra humor may be packed in the form of a friend, an Onion publication, or liberal quantities of a mild sedative, such as vodka. Just be certain to pack it in 3 oz containers in a quart size zip-lock (the vodka, not your friend).


We also travelled with My Beloved, who is also very funny but mostly along to make sure that we don’t wind up in shackles due to our tendency to blurt out words like “bomb” and “plastic explosives” and “C4” in the middle of the airport, even if C4 happens to be the gate from which our plane is leaving. Shouting out “C4!” in response to a query regarding your gate can be risky business indeed, and may result in a dogpile of security with you at the bottom.


My Beloved was quite handy in keeping the two of us females calm, even when words like “One of you is on the Watch List” and “That doesn’t make any sense” were spoken by ticketing agents. These are not words one wants to hear from the lips of ticketing agents, or really anyone at the airport who is holding the future of your ability to travel freely in their manicured hands. Once we navigated these trivial hiccups and were safely ensconced on the aircraft, however, he mostly went to sleep in self-defense.


I say self-defense because my sister and I can become drunk as skunks without ever actually imbibing a drop of alchohol. Pretzels become eye-glasses and nose rings. Words like “marmoset” become exceedingly hilarious, especially when used in sentences like “I think that man is attempting to smuggle a marmoset onto the airplane by stuffing it into the back of his shirt collar” and “will you be sitting in the rabid marmoset, or non-rabid marmoset section?” Also, she brought along plenty of stimulating reading materials like Us and People and OK! which are almost certain to send one into peals of gaity with very little effort.


My point is that, when you are prepared–as we were–there is much to find humorous about the modern flying experience: the wanding, the bare feet, the delays, the surly employees, the hike to the gate that is–what? ohh!–in the other terminal, the unwashed masses, the claustrophobia-inducing cabin, being seated next to the engine for every. single. flight., the stuff that looks like food but really isn’t……….it’s hilarious! Hysterical! One could hardly have more fun if one was beset by a hoard of rabid marmosets intent on biting into one’s jugular!


**I must pause here to mention that there was truly a bright spot, a shining moment that will stand forever in our beleagered memories of the whole ordeal. Her name was Jamie. She was a flight attendant who actually understood why my sister and I had spirals for eyeballs and were cracking up at words like marmoset. It may have been my mental state, but I could swear she had a translucent pair of angel wings sprouting from her shoulderblades. When she picked up the intercom and said things like:


“Should the cabin lose air pressure, a mask will drop down from the compartment above you. When you have stopped screaming, please strap it to your face and breathe normally. Yeah. Right.”



“Please wear your seatbelt at all times when the light is on because, even though these seats were specifically designed with your comfort in mind, the floor and the ceiling–not so much”

we knew we had discovered a kindred spirit. Jamie, if you ever stumble upon my blog, rest assured that you are totally famous in my world.**


One of the things we found truly amusing was the presense of musicians now, posted at the exits to the security gauntlets. We saw harp players and piano players, all strumming and drumming out a myriad of relaxing and soothing melodies as the sheep people were herded directed through the chutes aisles on their way to slaughter their planes. We speculate that this is meant to assuage the rapidly building, almost uncontrollable urge to shriek wildly and perform a tap dance upon the head of the person wanding you. Or maybe it is only to keep blood pressures within reasonable levels. In that respect I can tell you with confidence that it does not succeed.


We flew via American Airlines, whose slogan has now become “We know why you fly.” If ever there was an open-ended idiom, there it be. Here are a few of our responses. Feel free to add your own.


a. it’s too far to walk
b. we’re secretly hoping for a cavity search
c. paying $658 for a bag of pretzels seems like a good deal to us
d. the game of “I must find edible sustenance in this airport before I pass into oblivion” is always good for a laugh
e. marmosets are too small to saddle


~and because I know you want to know…~

a marmoset


I just spent the past five days with my four siblings, celebrating a marriage. My stomach muscles hurt. My cheek muscles throb. I’m in need of rehabilitation from a surfeit of hysterical laughter.



My siblings include 3 brothers and 1 sister. When we get together, there burbles up from our midst an irrational amount of mirth; a sort of maniacal glee at finding ourselves gazing together into our common gene pool. Don’t expect us to stand around the edges and nod politely at one another, dipping in a toe now and then to test the water. We dive. We stomp. We splash. We leap and slap and dance like Gene Kelly forsaking his umbrella, scattering the droplets of our heritage willy-nilly until even innocent bystanders are soaked to the skin. Some of them, kindred spirits, join us. Some smile indulgently and endure the damp. Others retreat, slightly panicked, to a safer, drier location.



We vary in our spiritual convictions. We differ greatly in our political leanings. Our food tastes run the gamut. Our musical sensibilities careen wildly in all directions. Quite honestly, some of us have very little in common. It is a beautiful mystery that we get along at all, and yet there we are, spewing our fluids from our facial orifices because the hilarity cannot be contained. It is dangerous business taking a drink when we are together.



My brothers and sister and I did not trip merrily through our childhood together. There was the usual quantity of bickering and strife between us, and times when we did not see each other for shamefully long periods.It makes the gathering together now all the sweeter. If the ability to cast a forgiving eye over the past and extend grace enough for the future is strengthened through laughter then we’ll do well enough. It has been said that one of the greatest gifts you can give your child is siblings. I owe my parents a debt of gratitude for doing that for me.



(I don’t have all the pictures from my trip just yet…but I’m hoping to post a photo of all five of us together soon…)


Tonight, as I ran, I pushed myself hard. Usually I try to pray a bit, enjoy the evening, maybe nod at the neighbors. But tonight I kept telling myself


just to the next streetlight…
just to the next driveway….



come on….

you can do it…

I ran until I was no longer able to think about anything beyond the next thud of my sneakers on the pavement and how much I hate exercise, when suddenly, in the midst of my fight against entropy, I became aware of a sound. It was the sound of each ragged intake of oxygen into my lungs, and in each exhale I heard it again.







This was not something I was doing, it was the natural sound my breathing was making at its most audible point. It stunned me, and the air around me felt holy in spite of the stitch in my side. Yahweh. He doesn’t just give me each and every breath.


He is my every breath.


I don’t hear it under normal circumstances, but I know it’s still there, even now…the sound of His name, constantly being breathed into the air as I go about my business. Whether I know it or not. Whether I acknowledge Him or not. His name, being exalted by the act-most-taken-for-granted on earth.


There is more here, about praying without ceasing, about God breathing the breath of life into Adam’s nostrils, about the entire earth calling on His name even as it denies and abases Him…


But I’ve got little ones to tend to, and a household to keep. Which may be, after all, the whole point.


A Public Service Announcement

This is an earnest plea to you, dear reader(s), in the hope that I can spare you some of the pain and torturous agony that I have been struggling under for the past week. I humbly urge you to consider the message I am heretofor going to attempt to convey, using the strongest possible language, out of the sincerest desire that you remain blissfully ignorant to the perils that await you at your nearby grocery chain.



Oh, they look innocent enough. They lurk, shiny and alluring, in the check-out aisle, tempting you with their newness and slick packaging and 56-cent label. You may, like me, think they sound “pretty good”. You may, like me, enjoy tempting fate and walking on the wild side by shopping whilst hungry. You may, like me, share a taste for mint, and chocolate, and a certain fluffy yet creamy goodness that melts upon your tongue in a slow, tastebud-tingling tango.


But you do not have to share my fate. When you see these:

Stay away. Step back. Breathe deeply. Focus on something else. Read a tabloid. There, now, isn’t that interesting? Scientists have recently discovered Christopher Walken’s eyebrows being raised by penguins living on Mars! What? NO! You do NOT want to have “just a taste” of the candy bar. Look! Look here! Look at the People magazine; isn’t Paris Hilton funny? LOOK AT THE FUNNY PICTURE OF PARIS!!!




Now you’ve done it. You’ve bought the candy bar. There is only one way left to save yourself.


Mail it to me immediately.

When you can’t think of a single solitary thing to post, resort to pictures of your kids and house and, oh yeah, the beach.

There’s something in the air. I read it here first. And then here. And then here. So I’m tre’ chic right now! But anyway, in the interest of keeping all 12 of you entertained and coming back for more, I submit these photos for your approval:


First, a visual example of a toddler’s eating techniques:

next, a “before” picture of the toddler in question:

And the “after”…yes, I cut the curls. Sacrilege! But he had a heat rash from the sweatiness, and so off they came.

I left a few….

and, because I know you really DID want to know how hideous my bathroom was, here are some before pics of that…
this is after I had already stripped, so I was sweaty and exhausted, just like I imagine *actual* stripping leaves you…

and now, some AFTER pictures!
We still have to put trim on top of the beadboard, but otherwise it’s DONE! The “tahitian sunset” looks far too dark in the first two pics, but the color is much closer in the last.

(from the doorway…it’s a very small bathroom, and it was nighttime when I took the pics, so bear with me…the two plastic containers atop the toilet are labelled “stuff” and “nonsense”. If you live with teen girls you know what I’m talking about)

from the other direction…the lights are actually a pale limey green…

detail of adorable beachy photo…and truer color…

and detail on loverly shower curtain…

Our homeschool group puts on a “prom alternative” each spring…this spring it was a masquerade…
here are my four oldest, plus their cousin, wearing their (homemade) masks…
l to r, Daisy (the cousin), Molly (17), Caleb (14), Rose (19), and Miriam (16)

And now, without the masks….

Example of what happens when toddler gets into certain stamping paraphrenalia…(because I am peculiarly singled out for near misses, I will tell you that the ink was confined to this hand, and a bit of the table. He made it all the way upstairs without a single smear on wall or carpet. Have I ever mentioned how exquisite I think baby hands are? I love this pic).

My 5 year old, Emma, here demonstrates just how much fun Floam can be…

And because I am a good mother, I will now demonstrate just how pretty Emma is without Floam on her face…

a particularly pretty sunset the other night, which made me think of the beach…

where you can see sunsets like this one…

and this…

and thinking of the beach naturally means I need to share pics like this…

and this…

and this…

and this…

and finally, the long walk into the sunset…..good night…sleep tight….



I have a confession. I’ve done a lot of stripping in my time. I’ve stripped in the dining room, I’ve stripped in the hallway, and I’ve stripped in the bathroom. And I hate it. I. Hate. Stripping. The paste wreaks havoc on my skin!


Speaking of wallpaper, that is. Why? What did you think I was talking about?
Anyway, getting back to the original subject, I hate it. More specifically, I despise it with the fiery burning passion of a thousand suns.

The reason I am stripping the bathroom is because it is as ugly as a pair of crocs a naked mole rat’s rectum regurgitated dog kibble okay, you’re just going to have to trust me on this one. I would show you “before” pictures, but they broke the camera and they might make you want to gouge your own eyeballs out besides.


I know I’ve talked about how much I love home renovations before, but really folks, stripping wallpaper is definitely going on in Dante’s ninth circle of hell at this very moment. Screams of torment? You betcha. Picking at tiny flecks along the edges of vinyl with your last two wet and ragged fingernails, sweating from the tedium, praying that just this once a lovely long sheet of it will peel off in your hand, only to hear the low, evil laughter of the malevolent paper-hangers of years gone by echo in your ears…


It’s fun stuff, oh yeah.


This is a particularly tiny bathroom, so I thought it would be a snap. As I said before, I’m no novice. I had the tools. I can wield a spray bottle of hot water with the best of them. However, the wallpaper, I soon discovered, was laid sometime in the mesozoic age, which as everyone knows was a full ten years before strippable wallpaper was invented.


It was not a pretty picture, dear readers. There may have been cursing. But in the end, I emerged victorious. Hot, sweaty, and covered with tiny flecks of glue, but victorious. The walls are bare, and prepared for their first coat of Tahitian Sunset. Future residents may think meanly of me as they apply 3 coats of Kilz over my beautiful pinky-orangey walls in years to come, but I’m just doing my part for the DIY crowd. I’m thoughtful that way.


Last Notes (by Shaun Groves)

There is a part of me
That’s only visiting
Torn from eternity
A stranger here


The awkward mingling of
The loveless and beloved
So far from things above
While I am here


So when the last notes of my
Soul’s summer symphony
Go stealing through this old world’s
Cold garden gates
I will hold no fear
As you close my book of hours
And the hands of heaven carry me
Carry me home to stay


O death where is your sting
Your tears and tremblings
His peace is lingering
Even now


O grave the battle’s fought
Your vict’ry has been lost
To Christ who gave it all
To take me home