Tag Archives: hope

Where Are You Christmas?

Where Are You Christmas?

Cindy Lou Who sings this contemplative line in her sweet childlike soprano in the iconic Christmas movie The Grinch.  I will admit, I opened my eyes this morning and looked around this hotel room that has been my home for the last several weeks and I was feeling a little melancholy mixed with a little smidge of Grinch.  I scanned the room for any signs of Christmas.   Aside from the adorable little 12-inch Christmas tree we were gifted, a surprisingly hardy Christmas cactus (also a gift), and a Charlie Brown Christmas card taped to the wardrobe door, Christmas was pretty scarce. (Sing)- Where are you Christmas?  

I have scrolled through social media and seeing all the families gathered in celebration both warms my heart and stings a little.  I have Christmas decorations that have been sitting unadmired through nearly the entire advent season.  Christmas gifts are piled in my closet, some are wrapped, the majority are not.  They were abandoned in haphazard fashion unadorned in the matching wrapping paper and massive glitter ribbons that my family loathes.  Naked boxes and empty stockings… (Sing) Where are you Christmas?

Christmas is about joy and laughter and being with those you love.  It shouldn’t be about cancer, surgery, and being far away from home.  Kevin shouldn’t be getting Christmas dinner in the form of a nasty supplemental formula through a tube.  I shouldn’t be eating chicken noodle soup out of a cup and feeling like a rat for eating anything at all.  We shouldn’t be far away from our kids, family,  friends and pups.  We should be donning our fat pants and belly laughing around a table as we stuff ourselves with a Christmas feast. (Sing)- Where are you Christmas?

Life hasn’t brought me to this exact moment in time to lament in my perceived seasonal misfortune and wail along with Cindy Lou Who’s mournful sad-sack song of Christmas despair.  Yeah, it sucks big fat moldy holiday fruitcakes that we are here for the Yuletide, but do not despair! The spirit of Christmas is alive and well.  While we might not be celebrating in the traditional sense, we are surrounded by the true meaning of Christmas, every moment of every single day.  (Sing)-Joy to the World.

Kevin has been FINALLY able to get some rest over the last couple of days and when I say this is a gift, it truly is a Christmas miracle.  He has been immensely uncomfortable and despises the feeding tube and has been finding it extremely difficult to get comfortable enough to rest for any length of time.  This sleep hurdle is one that has been HUGE for him to conquer.  (Sing)-God Rest Ye Weary Giant Man.

We are now counting down the days to when we can return to the mundane magnificence of our ordinary life.  I guess being propelled into a state of worry and chaos really makes one significantly grateful for the day-to-day simplicity of just being at home, healthy, and wrapped in a blanket of familiarity that provides such complete warmth, I often fail to acknowledge its persistent comfort, until I am standing without it in the shadow of uncertainty. (Sing)-I’ll Be Home for Christmas-if only in my DREAMS.

It is slow progress as Kevin starts to heal, but it is forward progress and that is what matters.  He has appointments next week and we hope to be leaving Houston as soon as he finishes up with the doctors.  We will have a short reprieve at home, before returning the first week in January. He is frustrated with the process and he REALLY wants a drink of water or something to eat.  I have offered to give him a tiny drink of root beer or anything for that matter, if he would agree to just swish it around and spit it out.  He said that would make it worse.  I thought it was a reasonable compromise and honestly, if it was me I would have been totally taking him up on that offer of medical noncompliance.  He has also decided that we should continue with the routine of me drying him off after his shower and dressing him, even after he recovers.  He keeps forgetting that Santa is watching.  (Sing)-He knows when you’ve been bad or good…

Christmas is about LOVE and we have been on the receiving end of an abundance of love.  We feel it in every prayer, call, message, gift, card, text, and thought.  We may be far away from home, but we are far from being alone.  You all are with us in each moment of this journey.  You are our Christmas angels.  You have created a cocoon of love, hope and joy for us and your love shines brightly. When I couldn’t pray, you have prayed for us.  When things were dark, you brought us sunshine. When faced with the impossible, you make it possible.  When I thought Christmas was lost, you reminded me that it is in all of us, all the time. (Sing)-Angels We Have Heard on High.

Merry Christmas.  My wish for you is that you drink in every moment, love with pure hearts, give without reservation, receive with graciousness, and hold each other for just a moment longer.  I hope that you never have to ask the question, where are you Christmas and if you ever do, I hope you have someone to remind you that where there is love, there is Christmas.

Big Prayers for Big Kevin-The Termination of Thurmo’s Tumor

Big Prayers for Big Kevin-The Termination of Thurmo’s Tumor

It is the season for giving thanks and it is thanks that I will give.  First and foremost I am thankful for the Head and Neck ENT/Oncology Team at MD Anderson for skillfully



removing the tumor from Kevin’s skull base.  It was a tedious procedure that lasted over nine hours.  I am so thankful that the first step in his journey is behind him.  Although the tumor ended up being more virulent than we had anticipated, it is a huge victory that it had not invaded the brain!  This type of cancer is unpredictable and wily and that has my hackles up a little, but I am going to take one victory at a time.

Once the surgery team found a bed long enough to accommodate him, (insert, “we are going to need a bigger bed” here) the surgery went well.  When we were able to see him in Recovery, we were amazed at how good he looked.  He had some issues with his heart


Sophi “watching our stuff”.  Great job Sophi.

rate being too rapid, but eventually he was moved to his room and that is when things got not so fun for him.  The pain and nausea hit him hard and because of the bones they removed and the grafting they did in his sinuses, the main focus of his hospital stay was for him to remain as still as possible to avoid a Cerebral Spinal Fluid leak. No standing, lying flat or higher than 30 degrees, no drinking through a straw, no standing, no bending, no straining at all and it was obvious he was going to be sick to his stomach.  Long story short, I showed my ass (just a little) about him not getting something for nausea and his pain, he got sick, he didn’t bust a leak and I didn’t hurt anyone.  He did have a horrible, terrible, painful, fitful, night.

With the new dawn, he seemed to feel a lot better. He rested off and on and was way more of a trooper than I would have been if I was tethered to the bed.  His main complaint was the nasty knots and open areas on his skull where they bolted his head in a vice to keep it from moving during surgery.  He had a pretty uneventful albeit uncomfortable day.  The night once again brought new adventures of pain and the new sensation of him experiencing  extreme vertigo when he tried to close his eyes to rest.  He


If Cancer were as easy to wipe out as stains-Mom would be a miracle worker.

had another brutal and exhausting night.  I am not going to lie; being the pony companion to this steed on no sleep was wearing me down as well.  He met the new day today and was allowed to walk to the bathroom and sit up in the chair for a while.  He rested a little and Riley and Sophi worked a puzzle and ordered him lunch and supper. Mom, Ron, and Kim worked on logistics of travel plans.  I helped him ditch the hospital gown and got him into some comfy clothes.  It was a pretty good day.

This evening when they started to give him his antibiotic in his IV he told me it made him feel kind of sick.  A new night shift crew just came on and I may or may not have trumped up his nausea complaints and Phenergan was delivered IV and he is currently out like a light.  I think this is the most consecutive rest he has had and I might get a couple of winks in as well (win-win).  The doctor has postponed our departure from Houston from Friday to Sunday, but we are looking forward to coming home!

In my extended state of exhaustion I have managed to surf the entire spectrum of emotions these past few days.  There have been moments of joy, elation, relief which fluctuate with fear, anxiety, anger, frustration and immense heartbreak.  Trying not to crumble under the weight of bearing witness to his pain, fear and frustration has left my heart weary and my faith wobbly.  Watching my children struggle to tamp down their heartbreak and be brave for their daddy sometimes hits me like a swift kick to the gut.  But at the end of the day, we have so much hope for the future.  We know that there are literally thousands of people praying for his healing.  We have an entire community rallying behind this fight and paving the way for us to get him the very best care possible.  We have so very much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

As I sit here tonight and reflect on everything that has brought us to this moment, I sometimes feel like Peter after he called out into the storm to Jesus, “Let me come to you,” and Jesus says, “Come on, Peter, I’ve got this.”  I have faith to step out of the boat and trust Jesus to protect me in this storm, but then I look around at the wind, the waves, the clouds, the rain, and hail and I start to sink and it feels like I am drowning.  Me of little faith, sinking like the cinder block I am.  Without fail, I am reminded to focus on my faith and not the storm.  Those reminders have come in the form of instant messages, text messages, and hugs from my family, a song someone sends me and one very amazing email that I just happened to open in the darkest part of my night (thank you, Meg Reiner).  Thank you all for meeting our needs sometimes before we even realize what those needs are going to be.  Thank you all for carrying us on this journey, standing in the gap, having faith when ours falters, and most of all, for loving us.  We are truly and humbly thankful.

Cancer better find a bigger boat, because we are here for the long haul!

The Security Breach at Breakfast

The Security Breach at Breakfast

There was a time not so long ago that the avoidance of national and world news by my sister, Kim, was viewed by me as bordering on irresponsible. I would ask her opinions on a crisis, mass murder, or natural disaster and she would respond with, “I have no idea what you are talking about and I don’t want to know. So, shut up.” Recently, I have started to envy her ability to close herself off from the world that seems to be unraveling. It seems to be open season on human beings killing one another has had me considering looking for real estate under one of the secluded rocks she likes to hide under. The world is a scary place.

One would think that with all the headlines screaming violence, I would be extra vigilant in protecting myself, my family, and my home from the volatile world. In many ways I am. I have educated myself on gun and personal safety and I have obtained my Conceal and Carry permit. I have purchased a firearm I am comfortable carrying, handling, and shooting. While traveling, I try to be aware of my surroundings and not put myself in vulnerable situations. But Sunday morning, when a homeless young man showed up on my porch asking for a drink of water, my heart overrode my brain and I invited him inside for breakfast.

He couldn’t have been more than 20 and he had a heavy pack and a long road ahead of him. It wasn’t just hot; it was MISSOURI sticky-sweaty-humid-as-hell hot. When I went outside and handed him a couple bottles of water he was very grateful and thankful for my offering and as I watched this kid turn back toward the highway, it never crossed my mind that this shaggy-haired tattooed kid with more than one piercing was a serial killer or an axe murder. All I saw was a kid who probably needed something in his belly and so I called after him, “Hey, are you hungry?”

After offering him a seat at the table, I made him a plate of biscuits and gravy, something to drink, salt and pepper, etc. His only request was a napkin which he placed in his lap. While he ate, I asked him where he was headed and if he had any family in the area. I didn’t want to pry. It was obvious this kid had a story, but it isn’t my story to tell. He ate. He said very little.

Things really got interesting when I went to the bedroom to give my husband, Kevin, a heads that I was feeding a wayward stranger breakfast. He was not overcome by the warm fuzzy feeling of helping out our fellow man. In fact, I believe the emotion I identified reflected in Kevin at that moment was: completely pissed off. We had a rare and heated exchange in whisper voices:

Kevin: What in the hell were you thinking?

Me: I don’t know. What was I supposed to do, let him starve?

Kevin: NOT invite him inside the house would be a reasonable thing to do.

Me: I had to invite him in so he could eat biscuits and gravy.

Kevin: You know better!!! I can’t believe you.

Me: ….


In all my arguments with Kevin I end up sounding like a toddler, especially when confined to whispers. It is hard to really sell a good point in ‘whisper voice’. Kevin went into full protector mode talking briefly with the young man and seeing him on his way, all the while keeping our .38 in his pocket. He made sure the kid made his way down the highway and proceeded with the following: Complete perimeter check, locked and secured all doors, reviewed the security modus operandi with the kids for locking cars and doors, emphasizing the point that someone had breached security protocol and so we were all going to have to be EXTRA vigilant for the next few weeks (followed by an accusing stare at me for my reckless behavior).

I went about my day justifying in my own mind what I failed to articulate to my husband. Later that afternoon, I asked if he was still angry at me for inviting a potential murderer, terrorist, puppy kicker inside for breakfast. He assured me he was not mad, but I had to promise not to do it again. I was compelled to try and justify my actions and I probably should have just made my promise and kept my mouth shut.

Me: Kevin, I traveled thousands of miles around the world to feed hungry children in Africa! Do you think I could just let a kid starve on my front porch?

Kevin: Of course not, you invite him in and feed him biscuits and gravy. We will see what a good idea it is when he comes back and kills us in our sleep and steals all our shit.

Me: …..heavy sigh.

Kevin is right the world is a scary place and I could have very well invited danger into our home. I appreciate his ability to protect us and keep us safe. I do hope that in some small fashion he finds a way to appreciate the innate flaw in me that allows my heart override my head in some situations. The truth is, I am so caught up in my own crazy life I neglect so many opportunities to make a difference in the lives of others. My focus has gotten so blurred that it has become easier to see only what I don’t have and I have become blind and complacent to the abundance of my blessings. I hear the news, read the headlines, and I become consumed by all the things that separate us. I needed a reminder of the one thing we have in common; at the end of the day, we are all just human beings.

heartPerhaps the good Lord sent that young man to my door to remind me that I need to look for opportunities to lift up others around me. Perhaps, it was God himself coming to the door as a scruffy homeless kid to see if I would give him a drink or turn him away. Truly If nothing else, I can rest easy knowing that had I been chopped up by the biscuit eating guest, I would probably go to heaven (the way I am quick to anger, cuss like a sailor, struggle with envy and pride and occasional slothfulness I need all the help I can get)….AND if it was God testing us, I fed him biscuits and gravy and Kevin covertly held a gun on him while he ate them (I am still winning). We make a great team– I can try and save the world and he can try to save me from the world…and myself…and coyotes….and spiders…and BigFoot… I think this text he sent me says it all:


It’s a Heart Condition


I have a relatively high aptitude for imperfection. It’s no secret that I have fumbled my way through life and managed to mess up things on a pretty routine basis. Based on my predisposition for blunders, one would think I would have a high tolerance for others acting a fool. Most of the time this is completely true; I have a high tolerance and understanding for the human condition. This weekend was not one of those times.

Nothing brings out the ridiculousness in people like youth sporting events. It’s like a convention for short-sighted delusional parents. The dads of the quick-handed 8 year olds or the off-the-growth-chart-early 12 year olds are compulsively barking from the bleachers to their obviously superior genetic offspring. The same DNA patriarchs can often be found red-faced and berating the inexcusable effort of a well-intentioned aspiring athlete. And the moms…they can be categorized into a few different groups:
1. The Maniac Mom-yells at the ref, the coach, her kid, other kids and parents. Usually she has poor grammar and is wearing ill-fitted yoga pants.
2. The Hoity-Toity Mom- Well groomed and manicured with expensive handbags and shoes. She will quickly tell you how great her child is, how much exclusive training he/she has had, and will eventually crack like an egg and yell unabashedly in frustration if the momentum shift too far in the other direction.
3. The Annoyingly Celebratory Mom-They travel in packs. They have matching team gear and loudly credit one another on the respective child’s performance: OMG, Gladys. Ashley’s shooting just like she did in that game against the Lions! That camp you sent her to is paying off—or— Beverly, what have you been feeding that boy, he has gotten every rebound. Annoyingly Celebratory Moms continue to scream and cheer, even when their team is decidedly better and up by 20 points.

Sadly, this seems to be the norm; the status quo of youth sports in these United States of America. There is an epidemic of perspective lost. I saw a Facebook post last week about a parent screaming at a 14 year old line judge at a volleyball flagtournament. Three weeks ago, my son stood up for one of my husband’s players when a coach from the other team was screaming at her and the opposing team’s parents in the stands turned into a spider monkey posse against my son. Note: My son’s response escalated into the realm of inappropriateness, at which point I was accused of being a $hitty parent by group of vigilante strangers. Evidently, losing makes them CRANKY. Two weeks ago, my husband had to call the police at the tournament our club was hosting because an unruly parent refused to leave after being ejected by the referee. Someone hand me my red flag, it’s time to wave it.

This weekend was a tough one. His team played and lost to the cranky team with a band of misguided parents backing them. After the game, one of our players was on the phone talking to her dad and was overheard saying, “We played bad. We just lost to a team we usually beat by thirty.” One of the Moms from the other team stopped and snidely said, “Yeah….but you didn’t beat them today.” Like an idiot, I piped up and said, “Way to be classy, lady,” and just as the words rolled off my tongue, I saw a little girl playing near is. She was probably seven, her eyes were bright and her smile wide. She reminded me of a place I had been and more importantly, of the person I want to be. I turned and walked outside.

Her name was Annette. I met her in a village on the outskirts of Kampala in Uganda. She was small, beautiful, and smart. She was also hungry. She was hungry for food, but she was also hungry for affection. I was fortunate to be able to annette2give her both. For an entire day, she wrapped herself in all the love and attention I could give her. She slept on my lap and I kept the flies off of her face and traced the creamy softness of her skin in the heat. I met and loved on so many children during my short time in Africa, but this one left a mark on the tender flesh of my heart. Seeing that little girl at the basketball game who so resembled Annette, caused a knot to form in my throat and a lurch of regret in my heart.

I was reminded how easy it is to lose perspective and to get sucked into the craziness of the world around me. Flexible is something I strive to be, pliable is something I resist being. I don’t think it is ironic that a poor bright-eyed child from a village 8000 miles away is helping meannette3 to strive to be a better person. I think it is powerfully purposeful. It’s a shameful part of my character that I would need to be reminded at all.

Perhaps, this post is nothing more of than an expose of my judgmental spirit. After all, it isn’t nice to generalize people at youth sporting events into categories. The truth is, there are many times when I could easily be grouped in with the ridiculous people. Sometimes it’s difficult to see when I am in the midst of the madness. It is much easier to see when the truth is reflected in the memory of the face of a hungry child. Today I remembered what is important. It isn’t about the score or which kid is bigger faster or better. It’s about being human and teaching kids the values you want them to have both on and off the court. Reaching down to help a fallen opponent is every bit as significant as reaching out to a hungry child in a village on the other side of the world.

As adults, we set the tone. We lead with our attitudes, good or bad. At times, I am annette1guilty of joining in the frenzied actions of the ridiculous people, but I am learning. For today, I listened to my heart. It’s a heart condition, of sorts. Isn’t that’s what it’s called when your heart doesn’t work the way it used to?

Revelations of a Mzungu’s Heart-Part 1– An Open Letter of Gratitude

Revelations of a Mzungu’s Heart-Part 1– An Open Letter of Gratitude


Preface:  I am not sure if a preface is appropriate for a blog post, but appropriateness isn’t a large part of my repertoire, so on with the preface.   On January 27th, I was having a bad day.  I cannot remember the circumstances. I believe it was a culmination of several things.  I had actually sat down in on my living room sofa and had started to cry and said aloud to myself, “This cannot be all there is to my life”.   Within the hour, I received a text message from my stepdad, Ron that read:  Would you like to take a mission trip to Kampla, Uganda with your angel mother?  Last week of June first week of July.  This is the first of a series of blogs about my experiences while serving in Africa. 

Dear Ron-

It is without question that the “steps” in my life drew the short stick by acquiring me as a stepchild.  I will be the first to acknowledge that I tended to be somewhat of a challenge and that adolescent trend seems to have followed me into adulthood.  There have been many life lessons that you tried unsuccessfully to teach me, as I have made it a staunch habit to ‘learn the hard way’.  You are the sole reason I was able to take the trip to Africa and I wanted to take this opportunity to express to you my sincerest gratitude.

It would be fair to say that I have had a history of producing poor returns on your investments in me, but for what it is worth, I wanted to share with you a few of the revelations that were awakened in my soul along this journey.


1.        My mountains have never been mountains.  I am the queen of the molehills.  I am the princess fitfully agonizing over the pea beneath my mattress.   Clawing my way up the perceived summits I have built out of layoffs, wrecked/ruined vehicles, a kitchen with no oven, struggling kids, and dollars that only stretch so-far, I failed to see the blessings surrounding me.  Moving through the red clay roads of Africa, each step became a confirmation of how incredibly easy my climb has been.   It only took lifting up one hungry child and before she had even completely wrapped her rail-thin legs around me and contented herself in drinking my affection… my mountains crumbled.

2.       INXS isn’t just an Australian rock band from the 80s, it is a way of life.  There have been countless times I have stood peering into a fairly stocked refrigerator or shoeskitchen cupboard and declared, “There is nothing here to eat.”  The same goes for a closet full of clothes and I have absolutely nothing to wear.  We had ELEVEN TVs in our home in the recent past!  Being graciously welcomed into Ugandan homes, most which would not even be considered suitable to park a zero-turn mower in, much less serve as an inhabitable dwelling, I could feel the shame ignite in the remains of my humanity.   This internal realization wasn’t the result of how little these people have or how much I have in comparison, it was sparked by the utter thankfulness they had for their meager assets.  These are praises I heard from the lips of those who have to walk a mile or more for clean water, have dirt floors, no electricity, no access to health care, and an AIDS epidemic robbing them of their loved ones at an alarming rate:

“Praise God I have a roof over my head”-Ugandan man wrongly imprisoned

This young boy is 13 and HIV positive.

This young boy is 13 and HIV positive.

testifying in church

“My sister has HIV, but glory to God she hasn’t fallen sick yet”-Ugandan woman, Kathrine.

“Sometimes I don’t have enough food for all the children I care for, but they go to sleep knowing they are safe and loved”-Joel, proprietor of an orphanage/school for deaf children.

“I prayed for several years that I would get a Bible of my own and today God answered my prayer”-Ugandan woman, Harriet.

I hope that my spirit will never extinguish this knowing.  I am working daily to be thankful for all that I have and to be mindful of that which I need and that which I do not.


3.       My joy has often rotted on the vine.  Being introduced to the Ugandan people,photo (2) it became quickly obvious that they are some of the hardest working people on the planet.  For most, it requires continuous strenuous physical labor to provide the basic necessities (food, shelter, clothes).  There are no government subsidies for the poor and struggling in this country and the number who are poor and struggling is staggering.  From the outside looking in, it would appear that these folks have nothing to smile about—yet smile they do… and sing and dance and play the drums and laugh.  They immerse themselves in joy.   I didn’t see any kids running around in $100.00 tennis shoes or tuned into a smart phone or other electronic device, but I saw MANY dance and sing when given a toothbrush.  Nearly every child in Africa gave us the gift of song or dance and not one shrugged off a hug or passed on an opportunity to snuggle in the lap of willing mzungu.  I wash my clothes in a high efficiency washer, I drive to work every day, my family is healthy, I have plenty of food, I have hot showers and indoor plumbing and a nice warm bed.  Even with a life full of amenities, I fail to consistently cultivate joy.  There should be a song on my lips and jig in my step every moment of every day.  I journeyed 8000 miles from home to learn how to be happy right where I am.

So, as I continue to sort through the lessons this journey has taught me, I wanted to begin girlby saying ‘thank you’ for still believing there was enough of my ragged old soul to salvage.  Thanks for answering a call to send me, even when I have disappointed you in the past.  Thanks for knowing, above all, that God had something amazing to teach me.  I pray that this experience will be a springboard to serving others, honoring God, and making you proud of the person I am working hard to become.



Full Disclosure–Not Quite

Full Disclosure–Not Quite

One of my best friends, Leslie, was trying to talk me into running a 5K with her this weekend and since I haven’t been running much in recent months, I was resistant to the idea.  During the course of her appeal, she used the phrase ‘in the spirit of full disclosure’ when revealing details of the event that she knew wouldn’t entice me to participate.  I always appreciate Leslie’s tendency to give me all the facts, even when she knows they may push me in another direction.  Against my better judgment, I agreed to run.  When you are as out of shape as I am, not to mention the slowest living land mammal on the planet, even a short race like a 5K provides a lot of time to think.  I began to ponder the very reason I was trying to pound out 3 miles and some change with no preparation, when my brain got tripped up on the ‘in the spirit of full disclosure’ phrase that Les had tossed me a few days prior.    Trying to distract myself from my current situation, I began silently deliberating the concept of ‘full disclosure’.

It was at a very young age that I came to terms with the harsh reality that lying wasn’t going to be tolerated by my parents.  Punishment for lying was swift and severe and thus, I learned to compensate.  I almost always gave the unaltered facts, but I routinely eliminated the pesky details that I knew would interfere with my parent’s overall perception of a situation.   I often needed an accomplice, and this was almost always my younger sister, Kim.  I rarely asked her to lie for me; I just encouraged her not to talk.  I wasn’t above lying, but lying was complicated and often exhausting.  She was seven and I was ten, the first time she fully understood her role.

               Atari® game system had finally found its way into our living and I had asked for one thing for Christmas-FROGGER. It was about a month before Christmas and I began to use the 45 minutes Kim and I were home alone after school to explore the forbidden areas of our house for our gifts.  It didn’t take long until I discovered a neatly wrapped box in the far corner of a high shelf in my parent’s closet. Even though the identity of the box was hidden under Christmas paper, I knew instantly that I had struck amphibian video game gold. Unwrapping one end of the box, I slid it out of the paper cocoon and headed for the game console.  Kim watched as I attempted to guide my little frog across the busy highway, over the logs in the swift river to the safety of the lily pad.  We laughed when the frog was reduced to the state-of-the-art graphic red “X”, when I failed to avoid getting the little guy out of the way of a car.  When it was getting close to the time for Mom to come home, I put the game back in its box, slid it into the wrapping paper, carefully wrapped the end and returned it to its hiding place in the closet.

Kim was worried that we would get caught and be in trouble.  I told her, “If Mom comes home and asks you ‘Did Karri find the FROGGER game in my closet and play it?’ you can tell her I did.  Otherwise, just don’t say anything.”  We repeated the scenario of unwrapping-playing-rewrapping for the next several weeks without incident.  Occasionally, I would even let her have a turn, just to reinforce that we were on the same team and to ensure that she had been a willing participant if things were to go awry.  Christmas morning arrived and I excitedly received the gift in a state of excitement that was only worthy of a complete surprise.  My parents were astounded at my uncanny ability to safely beat level after level of the game, but after weeks of practice, I had gotten pretty good.  Mom watched and said, “I cannot believe how good you are at this!  It’s amazing!”  I held my breath and I looked at Kim and let the silence of our secret hang for a moment between us.  I knew the spirit of full disclosure was fully behind us, when she reached for the joystick and asked, “Can I try?”

When we reached our teenage years, Kim was starting to see through some of my BS tactics and because I was often a total bitch of a big sister to her, she started to become a hostile accomplice.  There were other times when she would keep silent until I pushed her to the breaking point and she would gladly toss me right under the bus.  One such instance actually involved a bus- the school bus, which I LOATHED.  As a freshman in high school, I suddenly became completely repulsed by the very idea of riding the bus to school.  It was totally uncool and I would intentionally miss the bus, so that my parents were forced to drive me to school.  Each morning became a battle of wits and wills to get me on the bus.  It became a source of such contention that I was regularly being punished for not catching the bus and my attitude became increasingly sour.

My mom and step-dad were, needless to say, astounded when one morning they found me up, clothes on, hair curled, and ready and willing to head out and meet the bus!  My delightful attitude in resigning myself to utilizing the public school transportation was a welcome change.  Day after day, I would be up and ready and making no complaints.  Once they were convinced that it was not a fluke, they started expressing their gratitude.  “Karri we really appreciate you not making a federal case out of riding the bus” and “You must be growing up, because you finally understand how much it helps us out when you ride the bus to school”.   One evening my grandma was eating dinner with us.  She had been witness to some of the bus battles and Mom proudly bragged about my “new attitude” about riding the bus.  There we all were at the table, with Mom gushing about how nice it was to have stress-free mornings since I had turned over a new leaf.  Grandma even chimed in about being glad that I was helping my mom out by being sweet about riding the bus.  I was soaking up the accolades, when Kim had finally had enough, “She is not riding the bus because you want her to and because it helps you!!!  It has nothing to do with being good, or sweet or anything like that!  The ONLY reason that she gets up and ready and catches the bus is because she discovered that the hot junior football player that lives down the road rides the bus!!!”   My little sister–busting me out in the spirit of full disclosure.

A couple of years later, my step-dad asked a business associate/friend of his to give me part-time job as a checker in his grocery store.  I reluctantly complied with the new job requirement and went after school and Saturdays to fulfill my checker obligations.  A few months passed and I managed to learn the difference between a russet potato and a baker’s brown.  I was polite, mostly punctual, and liked earning a little of my own money.  All was fine and well until one Saturday afternoon a group of my friends stopped by to offer me the extra ticket they had to a Cardinal baseball game.  I asked the manager if I could take off and go to the game and he said I couldn’t.  So I quit.  I went to the game and had a blast.  Two weeks later my step dad came home three kinds of pissed off at me. He had casually inquired from his friend how I was doing on the job and was informed that I had quit two weeks prior.  My boss–busting me out in the spirit of full disclosure.

It has been a long-time coming for me to fully embrace the spirit of full disclosure.  Understanding the damages that relationships can incur under the auspices of revealing only the details which are easy to swallow has been a motivating factor in the way I choose to interact with others.  There are many qualities in myself that I wish I could hide, many choices I have made that I wish I could omit and I am confident there are many more mistakes I am going to make.  Striving to be my authentic self is something that has made my life fuller and my relationships stronger.  Remembering what a brat I was is a reminder to ask my children VERY specific questions.

NOTE: Thanks to Leslie, I finished the race.  Like an ironic revelation in the spirit of full disclosure, it revealed that I am pathetically out of shape.  Thanks, Les!

Carla, Leslie, and Me