Archives for October 2011

First Crush

“So Brayden, I hear you think I look like I princess,” said my daughter Faith to our young neighbor.

Brayden gulped and sat up in his chair. “I, um did I say that?” He looked at his mom in panic and gave her the mini eye roll for letting the cat out of the bag.

It was no secret that Brayden adored my ten-year old daughter, but this was the first time he had been caught in the act of his crush.

Faith gave a tinkling laugh and tossed her long golden locks over her shoulder.  Four year-old Brayden looked dazed as if fairies had dusted him with smitten powder. He squared his shoulders and looked at his dad with newfound determination, ready to slay dragons and fight for his princess.

“Dad, I don’t think we can be friends anymore,” Brayden stated, now serious and reflective in his demeanor.

“Why not bud?” Brayden’s father Tyler replied.

“Well dad, I don’t like boys anymore so we don’t have anything in common.” Braden suggested.

Tyler nodded his head and played along with his boy, “its ok bud, we can still be friends. Because guess what?  I like girls too!  That’s why I married your mommy.”

Brayden looked relieved. “Oh that’s good dad.”

Tyler looked at his son with a proud smile and recognized this was the big moment Brayden needed to court his girl. “Who are you going to marry Bray?” he asked.

Brayden took a deep breath and owned his intentions, taking his first bold step towards manhood. “I am going to marry Faith!” he exclaimed with a swoon and a giggle.

And the table erupted in glorious laughter and a bit of wistfulness.

Because we all remember our first crush.

Poignant. Powerful. Piercing.

It made every day better just to catch a glimpse of our beloved.

Later that evening Faith tucked our little pajama clad Romeo into bed and read him a book.

And without a word, his contented smile and beaming face told the story of his heroic romance.

Duck Hunting-Scrappy Sam

I just love Duck Chili mommy!

I’m a single mom this week to my three kiddos.  It’s been challenging to say the least. So far, we’ve only had one ‘girl” melt-down, one mommy melt-down (I was out of coffee-nuff said) and the boy and the baby have fared pretty well in the last thirty-six hours.

My husband Tim is out doing manly Wild at Heart shenanigans-namely shooting fowl in the wild of North Dakota. I can just picture him traipsing through the tick infested brush, spotting a flock of ducks, lifting his big rifle into the air and pulling the trigger on a poor defenseless duck. (Quack. Bang. Plop)

Sounds awesome!

And while he is out making sure I will have no room in my freezer for the foreseeable future, I am left to hold down the troops. (At least we get to eat whatever we want until he returns, because then it’s all downhill)

Kid-“What’s for dinner mom?” 



Me-“What’s wrong with duckloaf? You should be grateful we put food in your mouth and give you duck sandwiches to eat. There are a bazillion kids starving in the world”

Kid-“I wish I was one of them.”

Me-“Just wait until daddy goes venison hunting?”

Kid-“What’s a venison?”

Me-“I think it’s a type of big cat?”

Kid-“I love duckloaf!”

Me-“I thought so!”

Tomatoes are good in duckloaf, right mom?

So until Friday I will attempt to navigate pre-school drop-off (with a toy to share), middle school drama, and elementary school cliques. 

I will make sure all homework is done through subtle mind games and a few threats. I’ll change diapers, sing lullabies, and juggle football practice, cheerleading, high school open house, Willy Wonka rehearsals, and writing deadlines-all with a pained smile.

I will go to work, commute an hour each way, sing hymns, and somehow hopefully find the time to shower (probably not going to happen), buy more coffee or maybe steal pods from the office? (Just kidding) and write about the church bathing suit (an article I am dying to tackle).

I’m sure I’ll also fit in a quiet time and some scripture memorization. (Yeah right)

I’m pretty sure Jesus is in the trenches of motherhood. (This just has to be a spiritual test, right?)

And I will dream of my duck man and the day we are reunited (so that he can deal with all this kid nonsense for at least thirty minutes and I can take a very long bath).

How do you survive motherhood?


I’m in a wistful mood. Nostalgic. Teary. Reflective.

I lost a loved one today. It makes me want to hold onto my babies a little tighter, linger over beauty a bit longer, and enjoy the blessings I have been entrusted with.

A lovely tableau

Like antiqueing with my husband in Carlsbad on a surprise getaway.

Or snapping this shot of my friend Keri in her Halloween costume. (Seriously, she got this at Target and I am in awe.  She looks like a regal princess)

Like finding just the right pumpkin.

Kyle's blowing out his birthday candles

And celebrating the best thirteen years of my life with my cherished boy.

Like stopping on the side of a busy road to smell the flowers and look at a bug.

Or watching a beautiful bride float down the aisle toward her beloved.

And then taking a picture with her so I can remember how much it moved me.

Like my first-baby girl turning into a young-woman, despite me wanting to keep her locked in a castle far away from all the ogres, and dragons and eager suitors.

And I’m not even ready to acknowledge how fast the baby is growing up. (Amazing block skills for a 1 yr old, right?)

And then there is romance. 

Like my husband who still courts me, despite the busyness of life.

And my Father in heaven who pursues me with His relentless love.

Today I am wistful. Nostalgic. Teary. Reflective.

And most of all Blessed.

My super-power is…

A woman came up to me last week at my son’s football game and said all in a rush, “I just discovered your blog and I’m like totally addicted and I had no idea you were so hysterical because in real life, you’re just, you know, the pastor’s wife. And, I’m not saying you’re dull or anything, but you’re not like all-out there in your face funny. And I really love your writing. I really do.”

“Uhhh, thanks,” I replied sheepishly.

I stood there with a dumb smile on my face not sure whether I should be flattered or insulted. And while I appreciate that she thinks I’m a funny writer, there’s this part of me, some striving little girl in legwarmers from the 1980’s that wants to be funny in public too (even though I’m most decidedly not).

I’m the girl who’s a bit socially awkward. I can fake twinkly gaiety and confidence around crowds for a set period of time, but I’m generally exhausted afterward (unlike my extroverted husband who’s like the energizer bunny).

I’d rather get to know a few people well at social occasions. I like deep probing discourse and intellectual stimulation. Smalltalk is death to me and what’s with the church hug? (I never know what’s appropriate) Either go in for the bear hug or go home-just don’t go in halfway and awkwardly hit my boob.

I am deeply envious of those quick witted folks who are stand-up comics on the fly. My friend-pastor Jeff Maguire is like that.  His body language alone makes me snort and blow corn out of my nose. I can laugh just thinking about him.

One time at a wedding, Jeff was out on the dance floor showing off his Rico Suave moves, when this little old lady inquired about him. “Is that young man a professional dancer or a comedienne?”

“Actually,” I replied. “He’s a pastor.”

Which has to be the least funny job of all time, right? It’s like we lay down our right to be a sarcastic on the altar of religion.

I love it when people find out I’m the pastor’s wife and this look of horror comes over their face. “Oh no, I just had a beer in front of you (or said a bad word, or talked about sex).”

Once the cat’s out of the bag, people stand up straighter, tell me how they should go to church more often, and then tell me how they are more spiritual than religious. It’s like we have to get the confessions out of the way and I have to make the sign of the cross over them before we can really get to know each other.

I met a unique young woman at a blogging conference recently who struggles with bi-polar tendencies. She was transparent and funny and I found her irresistible. She named her blog “Crazy is my super-power.”  I love it when people take their weakness and turn it around (with God’s grace) to be a force of strength and encouragement.

So I guess I’m a bit like Clark Kent-really, and my alter-ego is cooler than my regular gal aura.

And might I suggest that my super-power is funny and maybe that’s good enough. (Because even though Superman is awesome, Clark Kent isn’t cool, but we love him anyway)

But if I make you laugh hard enough to pee or snort corn, please let me know…comments make me deleriously happy.

What’s your Super-Power?

Scum of the Scum

I waved to my wailing baby, winked at daddy and dashed into an overcrowded Starbucks to grab a quick cup of Joe to get me through the afternoon.  The line was snaked around the corner and I tapped my foot anxiously as precious minutes slipped by. I glanced outside at the car which was now shaking with toddler angst and daddy’s frustration.

I should have walked out of the store then and there and been the kind and loving wife I long to be, but my head was throbbing from caffeine withdrawal and I justified that a happy mommy is much better than a cranky mommy and “gosh, gee, golly” I was really doing my family a favor. 

Besides, my teeth were already starting to hurt and once the teeth hurt a migraine must be lurking around the corner.

Finally it was my turn and I stepped up to the counter, ordered a triple Americano, gave them my name, paid and waited in the mosh-pit of caffeine addicted souls such as myself. After a few minutes, I saw what looked like my triple Americano in the hand of the barista.

Strangely enough the barista paused, looked a little baffled and then stared at the cup far too long.  I started to walk toward the pickup counter, now curious, when he called out the name on the cup, “Scum, your Americano is ready, Oh Scum, please pick up your drink.”

The noisy, jubilant over-caffeinated crowd quieted down to a whisper. I heard the plop-plop of the percolator and the swishing steamer heating cappuccino froth and the individual thump-thump of my own heart.

Here was my make it or break it moment. Do I walk out to the car empty-handed, wasting not only my family’s time and patience but my money as well, or do I suck it up and take the walk of shame to the counter and admit that I’m the scum?

When I think of “scum” images of lewd women brawling on trashy TV shows pop into my head; I see Casey Anthony at her trial and Sandra Bullock’s sad face after Jessie James humiliated her. Entitled, selfish, and crummy people leaving the world worse for the wear are scummy to me.

But if I’m honest, I have scummy moments too. Like now for instance-feeding my helpless husband to toddler mayhem to soothe my coffee addiction and stubbornly justifying this behavior as acceptable.

I’m often selfish, full of pride, slightly rebellious, sometimes defiant, and generally envious of expensive purses. I’ve hurt people and should be the last one to be throwing stones at anyone.  Without God, I am at best-the mutinous gelatinous scum on the scum of scum.

So, after a long painful pause, I made up my mind and decided to take the walk of shame. I strutted up to the counter and choked out, “Uhhh, yeah, hi!  So, I’m the Scum, thank you very much.”

And Starbucks erupted into laughter and even few claps.

Because, the truth is we all have scum in our hearts, it’s just tougher for some of us to own it.

The Halloween Bootique

“Can we pleeeeeaaaaassssse go to the Halloween store?”

My sweet little Faith pleaded, cajoled and whined long enough to drive me batty and so I caved (which you knew I would) and off we traipsed to the dreaded Halloween store to pick out a costume.  But this time, just to spice it up, we took along a posse of little ladies consisting of three ten year-olds and a toddler.

On the way to the store, the girls turned up the radio and belted out Taylor Swift songs with all the gusto they could muster, wailing on and on about some nasty girl who stole Taylor’s man and getting revenge and so forth. (That Taylor is a wee bit snarky and I think I like her)

We pulled up at the Halloween Bootique at the Kaleidoscope in Mission Viejo and I must confess I was blown away (in a pleasant red balloon flying away in the sky kind of way) at how upscale and charming the store was. It was far more Harry Potter than Nightmare on Elm Street and nothing like the mega-suck Halloween stores I am used to.  

In fact the second I walked in I did a double take and giggled in delight.  I danced around and whipped out my camera.  The owner Ryan Privratsky, a young hip guy, stared at me, bewildered by my bizarre behavior, but then recovered quickly and asked if he could help us.

He took us to a beautiful children’s section and then helped us to a fitting area where a very patient lady (because the girls tried on about a bazillion costumes) meticulously and with great pains took apart each costume, assembled it, and then lovingly placed it back in the bag like it was a couture outfit.

I’m not kidding; it was the Nordstrom’s of Halloween retail.  This Bootique had stellar customer service and darling displays. There were also roped off areas, where I assume the more mature costumes were concealed, not that I ventured into the X-rated section with my babies, but I was tremendously relieved none the less that it wasn’t in my face; though I did take one sweet pic just to tempt my hubby for a private costume party.

The girls grabbed dozens of costumes and the show began.

One of the girls pulled out quite a few costumes that her mama nixed via text message.  I thought it was hysterical because if I hadn’t been there in person, Faith would have been looking behind the ropes and eyeballing the grown-up section.

“Mom, what about the gothic vampire?


“Genie with bare belly?”


“This one?”

Me-“No, no, no!!!”

Finally we found the “Ahhhhhhhhh” costumes for all the girls, where everyone in the store smiled and the birds chirped and mama was happy that no tummy, booty or gaping expanse of chest were showing.

And in response to this blissful experience I forked over way too much cash for Faith’s costume.  But for the first time in this whole drama of costume buying business, I felt like I got my money’s worth because I had a lovely experience with the girls and I didn’t have that awful feeling of being violated by bad taste and gruesome ickiness.

I guess some things are worth a little extra cash.

The girls want to have another Girl’s day out next month, where we can assume I will spend too much money, shopping will be involved, and Taylor in all her teen angst will be sung. 

Oh Boy…I can’t wait!



 Check out the Bootique on Facebook!

Also, I found this article on Ryan in the OC Register.

And oh by the way, this is not a sponsored post. I just really wanted to help out and promote a cool young man who is working his butt off and making this mom’s life a little easier. Well done Ryan!

Just Being Real

I saw a Real House Wife from the OC yesterday at the grocery store. This lovely is my neighbor, if you count living in the track across the street as part of my hood, and I do, because somehow that makes me cooler (or maybe not).
We both had three kids trailing at our heels and our eyes met in a moment of “Lord have mercy on me,” or at least that’s what I was thinking with a crying baby, my son begging for coconut water that costs five dollars per eight ounces and my daughter trying to assemble the perfect cake making materials to create an atomic particle (will somebody please tell me how the crap am I supposed to make positive ions out of frosting?).
Right about then it hit me who she was and the “ding, ding, ding,” bell of acknowledgement traveled though my thick skull.
Trying not to be too obvious, I snuck copious glances and did the female version of celebrity gawking. She was dressed in fancy workout clothes (because that’s what you do when you are a hot reality star) and her long blonde extended tresses were flowing around her shoulders. She had lots of makeup on and was a perfect shade of bronze.
I, on the other hand, am proud to say I did not have snot or poop or pee on me. It was a good day.
We checked out around the same time and somehow ended up right next to each other in the parking lot. I walked over to my Nissan Xterra and she walked up to a white BMW and then realized it wasn’t hers.
She started mumbling cuss words under her breath and for the first time I saw a REAL woman. The scenario was funny and dumb and something I would do.
And for a moment, I connected with a single mom who struggles to remember where she parked the stinking car. And I know that feeling of panic all too well, that “Oh no, is this early Alzheimer’s setting in?”
I loved it! I love the MESS! I love it when we desperately need Jesus and I love it when people don’t have their act together and acknowledge it.
What I really want is a REALITY show where moms act like real moms.
• Real is: when they walk around all day with baby vomit on them and are too exhausted to care.
• Real is: when they show the parents pretending to be asleep when baby cries and then fighting over who will get up for the third time. “It is not my turn! It’s your turn jackwaggon.”
• Real is: when a mom prays for a girl who is a bad influence on her daughter to disappear and this bad girl moves and the mom shouts-“Yes Jesus Yes!!!!” and the daughter is baffled why her mom is having a big whoop dee doo in the kitchen because her friend (who didn’t even say goodbye) has just moved to Texas.
• Real is: when Facebook is the cause of endless arguments between teens and parents, and mom commandos the teen’s page and posts links to “Lord help me have a heart for the Poor and Needy.”
• Real is: when parents turn on Yo Gabba Gabba and park their baby in front of the TV and get crazy in the bathroom for five minutes because it’s the only time they have to be intimate.
• Real is: when neighbors come over and bawl and hug because it’s been a bad day and we pull out the Skinny Girl margarita mix and we encourage each other to forgive and forget, even when it’s tough and even when we know we are right.
• Real is: when real mommies and daddies fight and make up and pray and laugh at each other’s jokes, because mommy thinks daddy is freaking hysterical and adorable and the best thing, alongside Jesus and her babies, that has EVER happened to her.
I could go on and on… but for me, this would make REALITY TV far more real.

What real stuff do you think is missing on TV?

It’s not as bad as it could be…

The Christmas my daughter Faith turned four, I succumbed to Barbie Guitar mania.  I was one of “those” parents who got in a bidding war on Amazon and eventually paid twice the retail value to score an overhyped piece of plastic that ended up buried in a storage unit: only to be unearthed years later- just in time for our littlest girl to rediscover it’s hokey Shania Twain belting wonders.

You would think after all this time, I would have figured out the words to the incessant songs on the guitar that my toddler plays over and over and over, but admittedly, I have an awful ear for lyrics, and am repeatedly caught making up my own version of songs and am then mocked by my family.

The other day was no different. Baby Kolby and I were rocking out to the guitar, swaying our hips and singing, “It’s not as bad as it could be, seems everybody’s bugging me.”

My husband looked up from his iPhone snorting, “What did you say? The song says “It’s ‘bout as bad as it could be.”

“Oh, well I like my version better,” I said sheepishly. “I guess I’m just an optimist.”

I flounced away and Kolby and I kept on dancing to our own tune. 

But later, I replayed our interaction and it made me think about how often we choose to hear what we want to hear, based on our own emotional paradigm and life experiences.

When I hear Shania’s song it takes me back to my own journey through abandonment and betrayal, divorce and struggling to survive as a single mom with health issues.  And I guess it’s all perspective, because even on a bad day, I’m pretty confident it’s not as bad as it could be. It could be total crap.

And so a few poopy diapers, teen stress, and pure exhaustion from our hectic life is still merely a gentle breeze ruffling my feathers, not a tornado picking me up and leaving me unconscious and naked thirty miles from home.

And I think I like being an optimist in a world full of cynics, and maybe its God’s little gift to those who choose to trust him for a grander purpose instead of turning to bitterness over life’s disappointments.

At Bible Study the other day, this woman showed up with a big cake for her friend’s fortieth birthday, but she was clearly frazzled from her ordeal with the baker. She explained that she had specifically called in and said she wanted the message to say “Forty and Fabulous.”

When she picked up the cake it read, “Forty and Flabulous!”

I guess some things get lost in a pessimist’s translation.

What could be better than this? Cheap pumpkins and cute kids!

The Man Cave

Let’s face it-guys need a place to get away from the madness of life and chill. It might be a garage or a rumpus room; but it needs to be semi-isolated and have a door to shut.

Now the goings on in this elusive environment is a mystery to the female species and we scratch our heads in bewilderment and wonder, “what the heck you boys do in there?”

We suspect games are played, Sportscenter is watched , and maybe even video games-but we don’t really know and the evolved wife doesn’t usually care because the man is content and out of her hair.

In our house we lack a traditional Man Cave. The garage is too full of man stuff (i.e. a large Caddy) and tools, so my husband has forced himself out of the only potential extra space in our home; so the poor guy had to improvise, and this is what Tim came up with, the “He-Restroom.”

For Sale

In the He-Restroom, Tim hides out on a daily basis with his iPhone.  I was concerned for a while because I didn’t think it was healthy for anyone to be pooping for a few hours a day, and suggested maybe we have his colon examined, but then he reassured me he wasn’t pooping the whole time, he just likes to be alone and play Words With Friends and read the news.

What? (Deep breath and process)

And, I think I’m ok with this and it’s a totally valid need and I respect his quest for solo male time. I even honor his ingenuity in creating a little man cave in the lavatory.

And maybe I’m a little jealous.  Because when I go potty the kids barge in and talk to me, the baby sits on her little potty and it’s like a stinking fiesta every time my butt hits the porcelain; which is why I generally try to keep my restroom time as short as possible.

But a dude can shut the door and check out for an hour and it’s no big deal. So unfair!

My son admitted he was tardy for school the other day, and that his social studies teacher (a guy) loudly confronted him in front of the class, “Kyle, you better have a good reason for being late.”

Kyle replied, “Sir, my step-dad had to use the rest-room.”

And the teacher replied, “Ok,” and nodded his head like it was perfectly understandable.

I guess you just have to be a dude.


A Walk to the Hospital

Some people labor in vain, while others are just vain laborers. (quote by Sam)

It started during the morning staff meeting. Just as I reached for the tapitio sauce to spice up my egg burrito, a wave of intense pain rolled around my tailbone then wrapped all the way around to my swollen belly.

I frantically gripped the counter of the church kitchen and panted, “whoo whoo whoo, heee heee heee,” in the breathy way pregnant women are instructed to huff and puff. That is, until the pain gets bad enough for the real guttural groans of childbirth. This is why you don’t ever tell the labor and delivery nurses you are in ministry. That way if an F bomb escapes while you are bearing down to push they won’t stare at you like you’re a hypocrite.

Emily, the children’s pastor, looked at me quizzically. “Are you in labor? Do you want me to get your husband?”

“No, maybe, I don’t know,” I replied. The last thing I wanted was to be an inconvenience to the team or to my busy pastor husband. We were trying to get this new church up and running and I really didn’t have time to fit birthing in on this particular day.

Ironically, it was my actual due date, but baby number three seemed quite content to hang out in the nice warm womb for the full term. Labor wasn’t really on my radar because we had a scheduled induction the very next morning. Wrapping up all my loose ends was on the agenda for today. I had the meeting to attend, a few quotes to do for work, and kids to pick up from school.

Besides, I had it all planned out down to the hour. The two older children were scheduled to spend the night with my ex-in-laws and the renovation on our condo from unanticipated flood damage was to be completed that very night. And most importantly, the baby’s arrival was perfectly coordinated to not conflict with Sunday Service. Our fledgling church was every bit as much as our baby as was the actual child now dropping precariously low between my thighs.

As we moved the meeting into the study, I alternately paced and rolled around on the sofa while the church staff shook their heads at me in disbelief.

“You are so in labor.”

“Uh, Sam, it’s probably about time to head on over to the hospital.”

Defiant, I stared them down, determined to keep my schedule. I picked up the kids from school then headed back to church and to my favorite sofa. Around 4:00pm. A gush of water dampened my seat. I ran to the restroom to check if my water had broken. But when I stood up, it seemed to stop. Embarrassed and humiliated that I had more than likely wet my pants, I kept my mouth shut and continued to deal with the contractions which were growing more painful by the minute.

My husband walked in around dinner time and suggested we head out to find some grub. Now my husband, the soon to be father of the baby on the way, was not the baby-daddy to my two older children, Kyle (eleven) and Faith (eight). So though he was a great step-dad to the kids, he was rather clueless about childbirth.

Planting a church during the pregnancy had required almost all of his time and energy, leaving little room for Lamaze classes or birthing preparation. When the Doctor had told him a few weeks prior I was about ready to pop, he had protested adamantly.

“But, I’m not ready,” he said. “I’ve got two more weeks! I’m just getting used to you being pregnant.”

The doctor and I looked at each other in bemusement. But now, here I was the stubborn one, clinging to my agenda and in complete denial of actually being in labor.

The kids and I piled into my husband’s grey Ford Expedition and we headed over to the Panda Express in Ladera Ranch. It sits dead center in a strip mall of idyllic suburbia. I timed my contractions on the dashboard of the car. They were about four to five minutes apart now. I figured I could make it to three minutes apart before I cried “uncle.”

In we trooped to the restaurant and ordered up our usual favorite fare. But my insides were violently churning and the mushroom chicken I normally adored didn’t look too appetizing. My husband urged me to eat up. “You need to keep up your energy; we are having a baby in the morning. “He decried jubilantly.

I smiled back weakly.

“Oh by the way, “he said, “I need you to drive your car back to the condo, pick up the kids bags and then take the kids over to their grandparents. I have to wrap up some work at the church and then I’ll meet you there.

My eyes filled with tears. “I don’t know if I can do it, I’m really in a lot of pain.”

He smiled his charismatic smile, “Kyle will be with you. He’ll take care of you.”

Mumbling low-grade insults, I drove the thirty minute commute back to Newport Beach in waves of delirious pain. The contractions were holding steady now at four minutes apart. I whined and moaned the whole way home as my son both encouraged and laughed with me at the absurdity of driving in labor.

We walked in the front door to our condo and were greeted by the roar of fans. The construction crew was still on sight, even though it was now after 8:00pm. And all of a sudden, I got grumpy, real grumpy.

I glared at them menacingly. “Hey lady,” the guy in charge said, your husband told me we had to have this done before you brought your kid home from the hospital. We are just doing our job.”

I grabbed the bags, shot the workers a dirty look and headed to the car. We pulled up at my ex-husband’s parent’s home (Mimi and Papa to the kids), a few minutes later. Mimi ran out and invited us in with open arms. Finally, I had found a nice place to relax. I plopped down in their big comfy chair, curled up in a cozy blanket and then “whoosh” another big gush of water burst forth. This time I knew it wasn’t pee.

“My water broke!” I shouted. Just then my husband walked in the door and everyone got very excited. The kids were laughing, the cats were meowing, and the adrenaline was pumping. My husband’s eyes got very big. “It’s time! It’s time!” he said with joy and trepidation.

We kissed the kids goodbye, thanked the ex-in-laws and headed back to our condo where fortunately the workers had retired for the evening. I told Tim I wanted to take a quick shower before we headed over to the hospital. Honestly, I just wanted to look decent for the round of pictures that I knew would follow. So, I jumped in the shower, blow-dried my hair, carefully applied makeup, and even managed a few curls with the curling iron. The contractions were now about three minutes apart.

At some point, I finally got around to calling my doctor to tell them we were on the way to the hospital. When questioned about my contractions and time of water breaking, my doctor seemed a little miffed that I was not already at the hospital. She sounded a little angry in fact, “Let me get this straight, you have been having contractions for the last fourteen hours, your water broke six hours ago, and you are now just calling me? Get your butt over to the hospital.”

“Ok” I said. We practically live next door. We are on our way”

Tim walked in and said nonchalantly, “Remember that day we were walking around on Balboa Island and we passed the photo shop with the gorgeous pictures of the pregnant woman with her belly showing. You know I always wanted to take some pictures of you like that but we sort of ran out of time. Could we do a few now?”

“Now?” I asked incredulously.

“Just a few, it will take two minutes, max.” he promised.

With a loud “fine,” I walked out to the living room and dropped my meticulously packed bags by the front door. I had packed the special little tie-wrap t-shirts my older kids had worn in the hospital when they were born, the perfect going home outfit for baby, a brand new mini-pacifier, soothing music on the iPod, and my favorite pillow. All the essentials a girl could possibly need for the hospital stay.

Tim lined me up where he wanted to shoot me and then had the audacity to request I change into a black satin top which he thought would curve nicely around my giant belly.

Seriously…a costume change?

I am going to stab the eye.

But I adore my husband enough to play along with his badly timed request. So in the throes of labor, contractions now about two minutes apart, I do an impromptu photo shoot for my hubby. As a former model (yes, I’m serious. It’s how I put myself through school), I pose and smile, in between contractions of course, and make love to the camera with my eyes.

I hate you...

I throw in some more under the breath cussing at my husband for making me do this in the first place. My personality is now teetering between curmudgeon and loving wife.

When Tim is satisfied that he has captured my pregnant essence we head out the door to walk to the hospital.

Yes, I said walk to the hospital. Our condo complex was just down the street from Hoag Memorial Hospital in Newport Beach, so I figured we could save some money on parking and walk. I might have been hallucinating when I thought this was a good idea, but now fifteen hours into labor, I’m not really operating with a full deck of cards.

My husband pulls our travel bags with the rickety wheels across the cobblestone pathway as we make our way over to the hospital. Now reeling in pain, I stop several times and desperately hold on to the stone planter and screech in pain. Then we have two more minutes to walk as fast as I can trot.

Waddle, waddle, howl, waddle, waddle, yelp.

Finally, we arrive in labor and delivery. The nurses crowd around me and bark off directions but I refuse to let them push me in the wheelchair to my room. If I’ve made it this far, I’m not wussing out in the final stretch. I do let them convince me to take the epidural though. I’ve birthed one child drug-free and that was enough pain to last me a lifetime.

Epidural kicked in...I look sooooo out of it.

And so Kolby Grace Keller entered the world. She came out of the birth canal with a true knotted umbilical cord wrapped twice around her neck. The doctors believe Kolby tied her cord up around the fourth or fifth month in-utero. The knot completely blocked all blood flow and nutrients from reaching the baby. She should have died, but somehow the cord fused around the knot to give her just enough sustenance to live.

They said she was a miracle baby. The doctor was so amazed Kolby survived he had the nurse take multiple pictures of the mangled cord.


Call me Kolby the Survivor!


But it didn’t surprise Tim and I. Not that we deserve a miracle or take God’s grace lightly, but we do believe in a big God whose endless love allowed a little baby to survive against the odds. He is a God who can take the endless knots we tie and lives we so easily tangle and turn them into beautiful things.

Got a good baby story? Share it with me…

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