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Mi Bolsa

30 Aug

 “As the purse is emptied, the heart is filled.”

-Victor Hugo

The other day, I was chilling out on the front stoop of my house with my toddler and thought to myself, “I could be doing something productive while he’s out here running around.” So I got my overflowing purse out of the van and dumped the contents out onto the sidewalk just to see what had accumulated in there. This is what I found:

  • A small, spiral notebook I use for writing down anything and everything
  • 5 pens
  • A book of selected poems by Christina Rossetti
  • My son’s scorecard from his round at the Sandia golf club in Albuquerque, New Mexico at the beginning of August
  • My wallet
  • A bag of trail mix leftover from our family road trip several weeks earlier
  • Receipts for Safeway (5!), Target, the dentist, the college bookstore, Children’s Place, and Ben and Jerry’s
  • Coupons (which I get with my Safeway receipts and never use)
  • Writer’s notebook (barely written in)
  • An old grocery list
  • A ticket stub to the Debbie Reynolds concert I attended at the Arvada Center at the end of July
  • Appointment reminder cards to the dentist and oral surgeon
  • 2 containers of breath mints
  • My cell phone
  • A $5 bill (a very rare find)
  • My teenage daughter’s Jonas Brothers wristwatch
  • A kid’s hairbrush
  • A small tube of lotion (a free sample picked up in the pediatrician’s office)
  • 5 matchbox cars
  • A partially-made friendship bracelet (dumped in my purse by youngest daughter)
  • A feminine hygeine product
  • A Brio-train car
  • A small hand mirror
  • Girls’ small hair clips
  • A blue Crayola marker

I’ve heard it said that you can tell a lot about a woman by the contents of her purse. So what do these items reveal about me?

#1 I spend far too much time and money at the grocery store.

#2 My life revolves around my kids.

#3 I secretly long to live the writer’s life.

#4 I’m too busy to get organized.

#5 I believe a matchbox car (or 2 or 5) can save the day.

#6 You can never have too many pens on hand.

#7 My life is often a tangled mess at times, a receptacle filled to the brim and spilling over.

What do the contents of your purse reveal about you?


Nose Job

20 Aug


This past weekend my 2-year-old son really gave me something to cry about when he gave me a full head-butt backwards into my nose and nearly broke it. Surprisingly and fortunately for me, there was no blood, swelling, or bruising after the incident. But my son, knowing he had done something wrong, looked up at me with concern and said with his thumb stuck in his mouth, “Mama owie?”

This painful experience has caused me to reflect on just how powerful and unpredictable a toddler can be. It has also reminded me of the title of a book I think I’m authorized to write–Everything I Learned About Self-Defense I Learned From My Toddler.

In the course of raising five children, I’ve had my share of mama owies and wrestling matches as I’ve struggled to get them into car seats and shopping carts. And along the way, I’ve also learned a lot of valuable self-defense skills that I think all women could benefit from.

  • Imagine how effective you would be at taking someone out if you were grabbed from behind and you gave them a full head-butt in the nose.
  • Imagine how difficult it would be for someone to abduct you if you went suddenly limp or ramrod straight.
  • Imagine how difficult it would be for someone to remove you from a room if you were clinging to a doorframe with your hands and feet or were sprawled out kicking and screaming on the floor.

My nose is still a bit tender three days later, but I’m so glad I didn’t end up with an unexpected nose job. I’m a little more cautious around my thuggish toddler now. I suppose having a “head’s up” anticipatory attitude is yet another self-defense skill to add to the list because you never know what life is going to “throw” your way.

A Case of Mistaken Identity

1 Jun

It seems like I’ve had a lot of embarrassing moments lately. Here’s yet another opportunity to laugh at my expense…

So, Friday night, I’m at the grocery store at 10:00 with my 17-year-old son who is in charge of providing breakfast for our annual ward Father/Son Campout (ironically the one he and his dad won’t even be attending). I’m razzing him because the only time Mr. Independence seems to need me anymore is when he’s in a pinch and needs moola. He’s only just let me know 30 minutes earlier that he even has this assignment and we are standing in front of the dairy case trying to figure out how many eggs to buy.

As I’m trying to perform the mathematical calcuations in my head, I glance over at two young men in white shirts and ties who are approaching us. Without even thinking, I say to them, “Hey, Elders!” and then I think to myself, Hey, what are the Elders doing out so late? I look at my son who is looking at me strangely. Suddenly I realize my error. The two men are the store managers NOT Mormon missionaries!

The store managers look at each other quizzically, but then gallantly ask me if I’m finding everything I need. Flushed with embarrassment, I assure them, “Yep, I’m doing okay, just fine thank you…”

“Mom, what were you thinking?” chides my mortified son as they stride away.

Chuckling I respond, “Well, they looked just like the Elders! The missionaries in our ward change nearly every week and they looked vaguely familiar to me. If they were older men, I wouldn’t have made that mistake.”

I guess I could continue to make up excuses for my lapse such as my age or my inability to function well after 8:30 at night. But as I sit here with egg on my face, I think how good it is to be able to laugh at myself, to even get over my self-consciousness long enough to blog about it, and to remember as Anna Fellows Johnston put it, we often “need laughter sometimes more than food.”

Doing the Foxtrot

14 May

Funny story.

My 13-year-old daughter and I belong to a Mother Daughter book club. This past Friday, we drove out to Roxborough, along with two other mother/daughter pairs to the new home of one of our members for our bimonthly meeting. (Roxborough is a growing residential area in Douglas County, but is still more remote and rural than Highlands Ranch.)

 As we wound through the homes nestled on the scenic hillsides, we spotted mule deer grazing along the roadside and commented on how nice it must be to live so close to wildlife and in such a lovely setting.

When we arrived, I parked above my friend’s house on a gravel road and we walked down her sloped driveway so I wouldn’t have trouble backing out when it came time to leave.

Before dusk, our daughters and my friend’s other children were playing outside. From time to time, we could hear their delighted shrieks as they chased after small groups of mule deer who happened into the yard. As I watched the skittish creatures bound away across the grass, I asked my friend if they had had any encounters with coyotes. (Although I live in suburbia, there have been ongoing problems in my own neighborhood with coyotes snatching small pets and displaying aggression, particularly towards children.) She replied that they had a fox den nearby, but that so far, they had not had any encounters with coyotes, mountain lions, or bears. Still, I was a bit nervous as I watched her cat and two-year-old wander in and out of the house unattended.

When it came time to leave later that night, my friend apologized that her porch light was out. Using the remote control to my van, I opened the side doors so we would at least have the interior lights to guide us. We said our goodbyes and my friend shut the front door. It was quite dark, but the walk was short. The girls and one of the moms scrambled up the hillside while me and the other mom decided to take the driveway. I was just telling her how jumpy I felt, when I looked over to my right and spied less than ten feet away a dark hunched shape crouching on the road.

“It’s a coyote! Run!” I screamed.

My normally very calm and collected friend screamed too and we both took off running toward the car.

In the course of my sprinting, I stepped right out of both of my sandals but kept on running in my bare feet until I reached the car.

“Shut the doors!” I yelled as I quickly switched on the headlights.

There, just outside the yellow beam I could see the unmistakable form of a fox standing in the road and my two deserted sandals. Of course, we all started laughing with relief. My friend that had run with me to the car offered to retrieve my shoes. Jokingly, I said, “It’s not worth it–they were only $15! Don’t do it!” But keeping her eye on the fox, she bravely got out of the car and picked them up for me. As we drove away, a baby fox with a perplexed look in its eye peeked out of its den. He was probably wondering what all the ruckus was about.

Since that night, we have all had a good belly laugh at my expense. But that’s okay. I know I’m lily-livered (or maybe I was just demonstrating what I learned about the fight-or-flight response in my Psychology class this semester!) At any rate, I’m sure glad I didn’t step on the hem of my elastic-waisted broomstick skirt as I was running away or it would have ended up in the road, too.

Then everyone would have really had a memorable encounter with nature. Yikes! 😀



Discovering Jim Brickman

6 Apr


Okay, where have I been all these years? I’m a pianist and have just discovered Jim Brickman for the first time. Usually, I stick to classical music, but about a month and a half ago, I discovered two pieces of his entitled “Where Are You Now?” and “Valentine” among the sheet music I inherited from my Aunt. I wanted to hear more Jim Brickman so I checked out his CD “Picture This” from the library and instantly fell in love with his restful renditions. Even though this particular album is over ten years old, Brickman’s New Age music is absolutely timeless.

Then of course, I had to do my “Lisa” thing and ordered the sheet music so I could learn to play these pieces for myself on my own Baldwin 6’3 grand piano. I have been working my way through the book and have found that listening to and playing Brickman’s compositions has been a great antidote for when I’m feeling strained, dejected, or melancholy.

My particular favorite is a wistful and tender piece entitled “Sound of Your Voice.”  It’s so comforting to my soul–like the feel of a warm blanket around my shoulders, or the gentle sound of rain pattering on the roof, or the loving reassurances of a good friend who believes in me.

I find that I turn to my piano for solace a lot these days. I think I could play all day long if I had that luxury. Instead I have to settle for playing whenever I can, which is usually in random moments and snatches throughout the day.

As soon as my toddler is strapped in his highchair and engaged in eating a meal, I slip into the next room and make a dash for the piano. Many times though, my piano playing most resembles a three-ring circus as I try to tinkle the ivories, juggle a toddler climbing up on my lap, keep my five-year-old from pounding on the keys alongside me, and answer my nine-year-old’s question about her homework. When I’m in this position, I often think of runners who train by running on the beach. The resistance of the sand makes their muscles stronger and when they switch to running on pavement, they can run faster and with less effort. I don’t know exactly what I’m training for, but I know that motherhood has made me a better musician–more intuitive to the subtle nuances of musical shading and interpretation that I certainly didn’t have when I was a young Music Performance Major without any life experience to draw upon.

In fact, I often get so immersed in what I’m playing that only the sound of a crash or a child crying in the next room can bring me out of my reverie. These days, I play as if my inner life and sanity depended on it–because it does. It breaks up the monotony of my days and gives me an outlet for positive self-expression. In fact, I’m having a yearning to play right now. Like a magnet, my piano pulls me toward it and I’m finding it hard to resist.

A Little Bit of Wanderlust…

3 Apr

This is Lily, an American Eskimo that was our family pet for about a year. Well, she was more like my dog, actually, and among her many “issues,” she had a problem with wanderlust. Whenever she got the chance, she would dart out the front door, run down the street, and sometimes scoot under a neighbor’s fence and out onto the golf course. No matter how hard I tried to coax her to come back, she would look at me with those black, impish eyes and then run the other way, her white, furry coat a blur of motion against the pavement and manicured lawns.


Lily’s behavior used to really aggravate me, but lately, I’m beginning to identify with her need to roam and have exciting adventures. Usually, I’m quite the homebody, but lately, I’ve got really itchy feet. I’ve had fantasies of running away–of just getting in the car and driving somewhere, anywhere just to be alone!! In my 40 years of life, I don’t think I’ve ever had that sublime experience of going somewhere by myself. I seriously think it’s about time!!!

One of the prizes for a writing contest I recently entered includes a weekend at a writer’s retreat. I’m praying to win…I desperately need the solitude! I don’t care that the “retreat” is just a tiny one-room cabin in the middle of nowhere. It sounds absolutely heavenly to me! And if I don’t win, I think I’m just going to have to go anyway…

Another opportunity I have to get away is in the middle of June. That is if I can figure out how to make arrangments for five kids for six days…As the new Vice President of Scholarship for Sigma Phi (ACC’s chapter of Phi Theta Kappa), I’ve been invited to attend the Honors Institute in San Francisco. Ah…intellectual stimulation, leadership development, a chance to explore San Fran. What could be more refreshing?

Then there’s the temptation of the ultimate getaway that my book club girlfriends just proposed. In the fall of 2010, just after my graduation from Arapahoe Community College, we want to go on a walking tour of England together. Again, another fabulous experience I am dying to have–to go traipsing across the moors Jane Austen style, with flowing gowns, petticoats, and bonnets. Well, maybe we’ll forgo the period costumes, but not the traipsing part. I am seriously in on the adventure. In the meantime, I’ll save my pennies and hopes while I try to restain my Lily-like tendencies to bolt. 

My Life is a Mess!

31 Mar

As a mom, do you ever feel like all you do is clean up one mess after another? Lately, I feel like I just move from one disaster zone to another, automatically access the damage and initiate the appropriate clean-up sequence.

In the past few weeks, thanks to my very active and artistic toddler, I’ve had the supreme joy of cleaning up black crayon scribbled on white carpeting, black Sharpie marker scribbled on glass, painted walls, and wood floors, and black mascara dabbed all over white painted door frames.

Here are some more fun messes and substances I’ve had to deal with recently…


My sister gave some Moon Sand to my 5-year-old son for his birthday. He definitely had a great time playing with it, but I didn’t have such a great time cleaning it up. Even though I tried to confine my son’s play to a shallow plastic container, the Moon Sand ended up all over the kitchen. (Thanks anyway, Darch!) The ad’s claim that “clean up is a snap” is completely false, though the claim that you can “bring the fun of the beach inside” is pretty accurate. There’s nothing quite like the gritty feeling of sand between your toes as you walk across your wood floor. 

So what I want to know is who designs this stuff anyway? Obviously, NOT a mother of five kids…


Then there’s Floam which has the consistency of Rice-Krispie treats. Our church nursery leaders were using this stuff during play time until I told them it was showing up in my son’s diaper. Yes, I found out the hard way that “floam sticks to almost anything” (like to my child’s intestines) and those “tiny foam microbeads…form to any shape you want.” (Okay, I won’t go there…) Let’s just say it made for some interesting diaper changes. Like my oldest son says, “Floam in, floam out.”


Last but not least, there’s good ole’ Silly Putty. My younger daughter brought some home from church on Easter Sunday. It has since shown up in sticky teal-blue puddles on two handmade items I made for her–a crocheted baby afghan and a bed quilt. I’m not sure how to go about getting Silly Putty out of fabric so I think I’ll just sit back, scratch my head and go to my “happy place” for awhile. Sigh!!!!