Suddenly I See


I’ve worn glasses since 7th grade. I probably should have started wearing glasses in 4th grade, but that was the year my sister started wearing glasses, so when I mentioned I thought I also needed some nobody believed me. It was assumed I only wanted glasses because my sister had gotten some.

I eventually stopped asking, but started sitting on the front row of every class and also pulling my chair up about 10 inches from the board whenever I had to copy something down. It never occurred to me this was abnormal behavior. My 7th grade science teacher, however, did. She called my parents and soon I was sporting this stylish addition to my 1987 wardrobe:


You are jealous, aren’t you? I know you are.

But it was so amazing to now see what for years had been normally out of focus. It restores some literal meaning to viewing life from a new perspective.

I started wearing contacts two years later, and switched to a less facially-intrusive pair of wire rims in high school for those days contacts just don’t cooperate.

Fast forward a couple of decades. I have four girls and we homeschool, so the opportunity to pull one’s chair up 10 inches from the board really doesn’t exist. But when at a routine well-child check the doctor suggested I take my oldest who was then 8 in for an eye check, I made the appointment immediately. Survey said? Glasses.

Two years after that and we added daughter #2 to our collection of glasses-wearers in our family.

Now this year, daughter #3 began complaining about less-sharp vision.

One thing I learned from the past is never assume a child is wanting glasses just because a sibling also has some. We went in to the eye doctor right away, and also had the other two checked again.

Survey says:

Daughter #3 really doesn’t need glasses. Yet. But she wasn’t lying when she said she’s had some trouble. Her eyes really are beginning their inevitable inherited decline, but it isn’t far enough yet that she needs any wire-rimmed help.

But I did discover this:

The eye doctor gave me a chart that explains the Optical Focusing Units:

  • Mild 1-3
  • Moderate 4-6
  • High 7-10

He then took my glasses and figured out where I am on the chart. I’ve been told in the past I have 20/400 vision. He told me I’m a 5 on the scale, which I’m assuming is equivalent to 20/400. Seriously – I can’t see squat without my glasses. Heaven help someone who is a 7 or 8. I presume 10 equal to blindness? I don’t know. Anyone know?

Anyway, Maddie went from being a 3.25 to 4.25 on the scale. In 5th grade. Yowza. Chloe went from 1.25 to 2. Katie went from 0 to .5.

So, all that to say this: I’m glad we went in to the eye doctor yesterday. I’m glad to have a point of reference for Katie for when she goes back again next year. I’m glad to know Maddie needs a stronger pair.

Your kids may not really need glasses, but peace of mind is worth the hassle of finding out. And if they do, you will save them years of seeing the world through a clouded glass.

Trust me on this.


Girls Are Cool and Boys…

are also cool.

What? That's not exactly the way that little rhyme goes, is it? Somewhere along the way we as a culture decided it was okay to send mixed messages to kids on how to relate to the opposite sex. Here are the accepted norms:

1) Despise them

2) Objectify them

I don't know about you, but I'm not okay with either of these options. I'm not okay with boys despising girls for the mere sake of their being girls, just as I'm not okay with the whole "boys will be boys" mentality when it comes to accepting the sin of the lust of the eyes.

But guess what? This behavior is not reserved for boys alone. Girls have picked up the baton and have started running full force. 

Case in point:


Does this look familiar to anyone? Think I'm being too hard here? Think I'm an over-the-top-homeschooler and trying to be a culture dodger?

Not so much.

I have watched the High School Musical movies with my girls, primarily so they would have a point of discussion with their peers when the movies invariably enter into their tweenage conversation. Is it cute? Sure. Is it catchy? You bet. Does it place a heavy emphasis on parents-are-idiots-kids-always-know-better thinking? I believe it does. I also believe it places an unhealthy emphasis on the dating game and portrays kids in relationships they really have no business being in while in high school.

Yet everywhere I go I see at least one under-teenage girl wearing an "I love Troy" t-shirt. And their parents wonder why their little girls are obsessed with boys at earlier and earlier ages.

I scratch my head. 

On the flip side, a year or two ago we went to the store to buy a baseball bat. Did you know they make them in pink now? My girls thought that was awesome. We picked up one of the pink bats and written in swirly pink script on the side it stated, "Girls Rule!"

You know what? We didn't buy that bat. I'm trying hard to teach my girls to respect men, even young ones. How in the world can they do that when they are surrounded by propaganda that teaches them to either belittle or obsess the opposite sex? Is there no middle ground?

I think there is a third way. And it isn't an easy one. Sure, it would be simpler just to convince my girls that boys are dumb and not worth their time. Maybe teaching them that would delay some tough conversations that will come up soon. Likewise, as they approach their teen years, it would be easier to turn a blind eye to their growing interest in boys and employ a "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

I don't believe either of those options to be in the best interest of my girls or any of their future friends who  may happen to be guys. 

As they grow, I want to teach them to be kind, compassionate and gracious to both girls and guys. To treat others the way they want to be treated. To view boys with the respect they are due as fellow people made in the image of God.

My girls won't be wearing any "I love _______" clothing, nor will they be hanging any "We hate boys" signs up on their walls.

Because you know what? Girls are cool and boys…are too.

Sorting Out Suffering

New post up at WORLDMag today.


Yesterday I followed a link from a friend’s Facebook page to a video of Sarah Kovac, a 26-year old with Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita, who gave birth to a son last August. As a result of her disability, Sarah uses her feet to do pretty much everything—from diapering and feeding her baby to driving a car. She is really pretty amazing to watch in this video (and her baby is one of the sweetest-natured babies you will ever see, period).

After watching her in action, I turned around and saw everything around me that I haven’t made time to do. I imagined trying to do it all with my feet. I realized with a completely renewed perspective that I haven’t been using the gifts God gave me to the very best of my ability. I vowed to do better.

Yesterday I woke up with a migraine. It took nine hours before I began feeling semi-normal again. My girls did school on their own; they cared for me as best they could and were the best nurses I could have wanted. But I’ll admit: I wallowed in my weakness. Going through the day with sunglasses on indoors and asking four children to whisper everything all day is not exactly my idea of stellar parenting.

I do not have any idea what it means to truly suffer in this world. I have my own versions of suffering, which include things like complaining about the size of my laundry pile and lamenting that my van still reeks of mold in spite of the fact that I poured an entire gallon of bleach directly onto the carpet in the back. I usually do a pretty good job of letting those around me know I’m suffering when it’s happening. But to really know hardship? I have no idea, nor am I all that anxious to find out.

I am thankful for Sarah Kovac. I’m thankful for her spirit and her attitude and her perseverance. And I’m thankful for her willingness to share her normal everyday life that is so foreign to me as a reminder of all that I have to not complain about. Indeed, she is an inspiration.


Tourist in Your Own Town: St. Louis – Concordia Seminary


Today’s installment of Be a Tourist in Your Own Town is an oldie but a goodie for our family. A visit to Concordia Seminary.

I know. A seminary may seem like an odd place to feature in my Tourist in Your Own Town series, but consider the source. We moved here to St. Louis five years ago to be…a seminary family. (Incidentally, not Concordia, but Covenant. Also incidentally, Craig finishes his second degree NEXT MONTH. And there will be much rejoicing…until the loan deferment wears off and we receive the gift of a steep monthly bill in the mail which will come for the rest of our natural lives. Ahem.)

Okay, so back to Concordia. We lived here for about 15 months when I learned that Concordia allows people to come tour their campus. We couldn’t resist.

For Whom the Bells Tolls

While the institution itself was established in 1839, the present location of the seminary came to be in 1927. It is in the heart of the Central West End of St. Louis which is just all kinds of amazing as you step out of the city and into the peace and serenity these 72 acres of landscaping and architectural wonder provide. It was almost enough to make us want to become Lutheran.

Concordia Courtyard, Side View

We’d heard a rumor before we went that sometimes Concordia students climb the statue of the great reformer himself and place a can of beer in his hands. We asked our tour guide about this. He offered no comment on that. We laughed quietly.

Here I Stand!

On your tour of the campus you can climb Luther Tower if you are so inclined (get it? inclined? It’s late…)

Down the Up Staircase

You can see the tower in the background of this photo:

Shadowed in front of Luther Tower

At the top of this tower you can see the 49-bell carillon that is still played today. More info
on this can be found here

More Bells

After you’ve accomplished this feat, you are given one of these “I Climbed Luther Tower” buttons.

Our Claim to Fame

I still have mine.

Concordia Seminary

All in all, not a bad way to spend an hour or two in the middle of St. Louis. I recommend it.


PS: I know.

I have two “Tourist in Your Own Town” posts up back to back. And trust me on this: if my parents weren’t in town I wouldn’t have anything to post at all.

I don’t like to be the one to make the long list of reasons why I’ve been MIA, but trust me – the list has been long and sordid.

It may or may not have had anything to do with this:


Or this:


Or this:


I’m hoping to get back on my blog saddle again really soon. I need to tell the world how I’m smoking my husband in fantasy baseball and I know nothing, and I repeat nothing, about what I’m doing there.

Sometimes life is just hard like that.

Tourist in Your Own Town: St. Louis – Fitz’s Rootbeer


Today’s installment of Be a Tourist in Your Own Town brings us to Fitz’s Rootbeer on what is known as “The Loop” in the hip part of town, the Delmar Strip between Big Bend and Skinker.


The really cool thing about Fitz’s (besides the bottomless mugs of rootbeer) is the history behind it.

Fitz’s Root Beer made its appearance in
1947, at a small drive-in hamburger joint in Richmond Heights, Missouri.
The secret formula was developed with the help of a flavor house in
St. Louis and remains a closely guarded secret to this day. Ask an
older St. Louis resident about Fitz’s, and chances are he’ll remember
parking his Chevy Bel-Aire convertible in the lot, ordering a couple of
burgers with kitchen sauce, a side of fries, and a large mug of Fitz’s
root beer. And the total bill was under two bucks. The root beer
became the St. Louis favorite.


Really, Fitz’s is your standard hamburger joint with a slightly steeper price tag. Kids meals here are $4.59 each which I think they think they can get away with because of the bottomless mugs of rootbeer they hand out.


And maybe because of the vintage paper cars the meals come in:


I did notice a sign up today that says kids eat free all day on Tuesdays which is good news for you. Not such good news for us since we went today (Monday). But keep that in mind – I don’t know how long that promotion will last, but it’s definitely worth looking in to.

Even though it is pricey, I like the vibe. What you can’t see pictured here is that directly the left of the following photo, they keep their bottling plant behind big glass windows. I’ve only seen them in action one time when we came with an organized field trip, but there was a guy cleaning the equipment there today so I’m guessing they run the plant in the morning. It was cool to see it in action, so it would be worth a phone call to find out when they do that so you can see it too.


They have main level seating as well as upstairs and patio seating available.


I believe I mentioned it is in a hip part of town, so even though you are walking around with your comfy pants on and your four youngish kids, you can still pretend to be part of the happening scene. For about 45 seconds. Then you might trip in front of the loop sign pictured above and draw unnecessary attention to yourself in front of the street workers there on the loop.

That may or may not have happened to me. It may or may not happen to you.


So, that’s the skinny on that. If you are in the St. Louis/Central West End
area looking for a hip hamburger joint and don’t mind paying for the ambiance, consider Fitz’s Rootbeer on the Loop!

Prayer as a Last Resort

New post up at WORLDMag today.


This week has been uncharacteristically warm for a Midwestern April. As a result, my husband, Craig, and I found ourselves sitting on the back deck last night catching up after several weeks’ worth of baseball-consumed days (he coaches JV at a Christian high school).

The subject? The children, of course. Specifically, sin in the children. More specifically, our sin in our children.

There are about two or three times each year when I think it would just be so much easier to put our kids in school somewhere so I don’t have to deal with their sin on a 24-hour basis (and, honestly, so they don’t have to deal with mine). The default school I always look up on the internet during these times—despite a discount—would still require a financial sacrifice.

I was waxing eloquent on Twitter earlier this week about some of what I thought was going on:

“The baby and toddler years were a piece of cake. It’s this tween time that’s going to make me go gray early. . . . When they are three, it’s common sin that you see. When they are 11, it’s YOUR sin that you see in them. . . . And that makes the stress compounded by guilt b/c you know you are a hypocrite when you correct them. . . . *BIG SIGH*

As Craig and I were talking last night, I confessed I hadn’t been spending much time praying about the situation. You see, I have the problem of trying all other possibilities first and then, when all else fails, pray. Self-sufficiency is an idol of mine, and I love being (or at least pretending to be) completely in control of everything around me—my schedule, my time, my kids.

This, of course, is my problem.

My shame last night came in my admission that praying is so hard to do when you think you can just do something to fix it (“it” being whatever is going on at any given time). I admitted that I would almost rather sacrifice to find the money to send our kids to school than to find time in my day to earnestly pray for them.

Did I mention I have lost my desire to pray? This is my other problem.

When did daily family prayer time develop a cheesy connotation in my mind? I’m not sure, but Craig and I came to the conclusion that the enemy’s way of preventing us from going to God is by making us feel like we don’t need to.

But we do. And last night Craig initiated a family meeting at our new “headquarters”—the small landing in the middle of the stairs leading from the living room to the bedrooms—and all six of us piled into this little area to begin what we needed to begin a long time ago. We began praying as a family for each other.

And it was good.

Oh, ahem, this is the part where I’m supposed to, you know, write and stuff

Tomorrow is week 24 of our Classical Conversations school year. Last day. All of us love CC, but we’re all really ready for the break. So glad tomorrow is the last day.

But it’s not really over until Friday. We have our end of the year banquet on Friday night and I have about five bajillion things to do between now and then.

As this program has grown and grown over the last two years I’ve had this major fact about myself reinforced: I’m no business woman. The accounting and paperwork about drives me over the edge. Somehow I’ve made it to April, but I’m collecting fees already for next year and so the beast continues. One of these days I may figure out what I’m doing here.

Anyway, I’m not really sure what this week is going to look like other than CRAZY. But it’s April. And April is the new May which is the new December which is to say that all the months are turning crazy. And all I really want to do is get our pool pass for the summer and veg.

But that will come in time. In the meantime, I thought I’d just check in here to say hello and that I’m going to try to remember to post something cool about St. Louis on time for Tuesday. Hope you all are doing well.

Peace out.