Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Carla's son & Mary's son

Saturday was the funeral for a young man who grew up attending my church. Adam Buyes died on November 26 in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. He was only 21.

His body arrived at the Salem airport on Sunday the 4th. Nick and I both wanted to go, but had Jude's birthday party. On Saturday, Nick, as the leader of New Hope's video team, attended  and recorded the funeral, while I stayed home to watch the boys. Everyone we knew was already at the church. 

This is Adam's mom, Carla. She wins most of the blue ribbons in the cooking category at the state fair every year. Just a few months ago, she was telling me how excited she was to have Adam (and his brother Josh, also a deployed Marine) come home for Christmas.

And now she and Mike (who's in Nick's men's group) are facing the loss of their youngest.

I know in Oregon, we often don't see the impact of the war. There are no active-duty bases of any branch. There are no movie theaters, bars or restaurants replete with men and women in uniform on Saturday nights. There are no fighter jets filling the skies with their piercing screams. Even I, as a military wife, can forget about the military sometimes here.

Not right now.

I wanted to do something -- anything -- to show the family we cared. I sent a sympathy card, which always feels so small and ineffective. Really, what can I say to ease their pain? So when my friend Priscilla reminded me that the funeral procession was passing by very close to my house, I knew I had to go. I dug some cardboard out of the recycling bin, grabbed a Sharpie and started making a sign near the funeral's end.

Jude had just woken up. Jack had just walked into the kitchen with only a shirt on and nothing else. My lunch was half-eaten, and my pitiful sign wasn't finished. But Nick called and said the procession was leaving the parking lot. So I threw some clothes on Jack and Jude in the stroller. I snatched up some hats and gloves and coats. And we booked it to the corner of 45th and Center.

Once Jack stopped crying (we left in such a hurry that he had a minor meltdown), he asked why we were there. I told him a man in the military had been killed by the bad guys, but it was okay because his spirit still lived in heaven with Jesus. And now, his body and his family were driving by, and we wanted to let them know we cared.

Jack's only 4. But he totally got it. The police escorts and Patriot Guard riders came first. They all smiled, nodded and waved at Jack. He thought it was a parade, I think.

Then, Carla and the family drove by. She started crying when she saw Jack holding his sign, and she blew him a kiss.

My pathetic, not-even-finished creation simply said, "Thank you, Adam."

It was only a split second, but her look was like a punch in the gut. I wouldn't have understood before I became a mother....but now I do.

15 minutes after the entire procession left, Jack wouldn't give up his post. Let's go home, I told him. It's starting to rain.

No, he replied. I want everyone to read my sign and know about the good guy.

Me, too.

Walking back, I couldn't help but wonder about Mary. What if, I thought, God had given her a blank book at Jesus' birth and told her to write down the script of her firstborn's life. Everything she wrote would come true. She probably would have written of education, a wife, children, a safe career as the forever King of Israel.

She certainly would have thwarted God's plan to have him die on the cross. Yet her everlasting mother love, if given the chance, would have ruined God's perfect plan for mankind.

I'm betting Carla would have done the same thing for Adam. On his birthday, only in 1990, I'm thinking she would have written about a perfect childhood, good grades, wonderful athletics, close friends, college, wife & kids....to be happy and live a long life. I know she wouldn't have chosen for her baby to die at the hands of evil on the other side of the world.

Yet we have to believe that, like the one He had for Jesus, God has a plan. And Adam's passing from this life to heaven is part of it.

May my mother-love, dear Lord, never get in the way of the plan You have for my boys.

To Mary's son and Carla's son: Thank you for giving your life for my freedom!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

First Year

Maybe I'm a late bloomer. But I never really understood all those women who said they fell in love with their baby the first moment they locked eyes.

Until I met this little man, that is.

 To be fair, I definitely knew what it was to love a son. Jack had opened up my heart to measurements I didn't know possible. Yet it didn't happen right away. I secretly felt like a failure as a woman after Jack's birth; the military hospital where I delivered him made sure of that.

Until I met with my doula Cara in my 2nd trimester with Jude, I had never really told anyone my first birth story. And thanks to her gentle "Um, Crystal, has it ever occured to you...." pointing out of the obvious, I realized that maybe my traumatic birth experience hampered my early bonding with Jack.

As I confessed to Cara that day in the coffeeshop, I had been terrified to get pregnant with a 2nd. Planned on not having any more after Jack, actually. But as time went on, I felt like God was telling me to trust him. So I did, and on the first Wednesday in December last year, I gave birth to Jude Andrew.
Jude's birth was so healing for me. I was NOT a failure as a woman. I was NOT a failure as a mom. I COULD give birth on my own, without a doctor and nurses not listening to my screams and pleadings for help. I COULD trust my body and my instincts. I also, it turns out, was capable of giving birth in an actual room, as opposed to a broom closet. (Jack's birth story was quite a doozy, I'm telling ya). 
I honestly don't know if our family is complete. Maybe we'll have more, maybe we won't. But today, as I look back on this last year, I see GOD'S FAITHFULNESS stamped all over our days and months; I see growth and laughter, tears of frustration, doubt in myself, milestones reached and shared experiences. I feel overwhelming love for my awesome husband. I am daily amazed by the emerging, morphing personality that is Jack. I am in awe of the butterball of Jude and how fast he can walk across a room. (Fat just shouldn't be able to locomote that quickly, in my scientific opinion).

I am breathing in thanks for Jude, breathing out kisses and praises for who he is.

Happy birthday, son.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

4 years ago...

4 years ago, I was still one or two prescriptions shy of legally blind...hence the glasses. Thank God for LASIK, which eventually fixed my eyes.

4 years ago, I was nearly as blind about motherhood as I was in real life...hence the terror in my heart as I held my newborn son. Thank God for JACK, who eventually fixed my heart.

4 years ago, Jack inadvertently introduced me to this girl:
And my life is untold amounts richer because of these two. So different; Jack is a 4-year-old American boy, all rough and tumble, all privileged and pampered, all boy, while Barbie is a 10-year-old Filipina, all sweet and sassy, all striving to get ANYWHERE in this life, all girl.

Yet Jack and Barbie are the same. They are fearfully and wonderfully made. They desperately want my approval. They have dreams. They mess up. They grow and change and learn and love.

And thankfully, they are both mine.

4 years ago, my life changed permanently. When did yours change? 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Shoebox Time!

 It's mid-November, which means gorgeous fall scenery, football, holiday planning and dropping temperatures. It also signals the time for one of my favorite end-of-the-year traditions.....Operation Christmas Child time!

I can never say enough about how much I love this super-easy and meaningful activity. It's one of the best ways I have found to teach preschoolers about giving.

Here's what you do:
1) Obtain an ordinary shoebox and choose it to be for either a boy or girl. Pick an age category: 2-4, 5-9 or 10-14.
2) Stuff the box with things your chosen child would love....school supplies, candy, toys, coloring books, hygiene items, art supplies, a personal letter & family photo, small articles of clothing, etc.
3) Tape a downloaded label (www.samaritanspurse.org/ezgive) to the box. On that website, you'll pay $7 for shipping. Trust me, these puppies go to the ends of the earth and get delivered in all sorts of crazy ways (even by elephant & camel!), so that's a smokin' deal.

Thanks to the barcode system, you can know to which country your box goes! Such an easy way to teach Jack geography. How cool is that?
4) Put a rubber band around your labeled box and drop it off at your local distribution center (find it at http://www.samaritanspurse.org/index.php/OCC/Drop_Off_Locations/) sometime THIS WEEK, November 14-21. Wait a few weeks/months and see where your box has gone! Voila! You have blessed a child's life beyond measure who most likely would never have gotten a Christmas present.

Every year, I watch videos of Samaritan's Purse staff handing out these boxes to children in over 100 countries, and I never get tired of seeing the joy on their little faces. Some kids rip into the shoebox right away, yelling, screaming and showing off their gifts. Others just clutch the unopened boxes to their chests, savoring every moment and hoping it's not a dream. It's my dream to one day accompany my box and hand it to a little someone in person.

It might just be a shoebox, but here's what we managed to stuff into just one of our boxes (we did 2; one for a 2- to 4-year-old boy and one for a 5- to 9-year-old boy).

  • Toothpaste, toothbrush & floss
  • Modeling clay
  • 1 tub of Playdough
  • 24-pack of crayons
  • 12-pack of pencils & pencil sharpener
  • 2 pens
  • 12 chalk sticks
  • Memo book
  • Glue stick
  • Flashlight with 4 batteries
  • Ruler
  • Marbles set
  • 1 pack of gum & 12 pieces of candy
  • Scissors
  • Squishie ball
  • Washcloth
  • Toy dinosaur
  • Hot Wheels car
  • 1 bar of soap
  • Fork & spoon
  • Solar-powered calculator
  • 2 pouches of powered milk
  • Travel box of Kleenex
  • Personal letter from Jack
Jack loved picking out every single item for his little boy this year. Of course, we've been doing this all year long to save money (thank you, cereal box toys and free stuff from our dentist!). I shop after-holiday sales and bargain racks religiously, setting aside a shoe box in my closet from January on.

For more information, visit www.samaritanspurse.org/occ.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


 Sorry for my absence, folks. I don't know how Kelle Hampton (my favorite mother-of-two blogger and photographer extraordinaire) does it. But in my defense, I have written at least 2 dozen blogs in my head over the last month and a half!

Jack is constantly learning. Every day his little sponge-like brain amazes me. But lately, a lot of his new "Hey Mommy, listen to what I learned today!" material has come courtesy of this girl. Yes, the one he's chasing in his John Deere

I was definitely more than a little hesitant about getting a foreign exchange student. I mean, c'mon, don't I have enough on my plate?

But after more than 2 months of living with Spanish Celia (as her name was in my head before we met), I can say she has been a blessing!

She makes her bed first thing in the morning, empties the dishwasher without being asked, sets the table, watches the kids for me here and there and does pretty much whatever I ask without blinking.

One of Celia's perks is....drumroll......she speaks Spanish. Well, duh, but she speaks Spanish to Jack. Between Celia and Dora (whom she so wanted to be for Halloween but never got the costume together, darn), Jack is picking up Espanol like he's moving to Spain tomorrow.

Except it often comes out a little garbled, and in the process, makes us laugh hysterically. Such as: we'll say, "Thank you, Jack." And he'll wink at us and say, "Binada."

Denada, binada.....whatever!

Yesterday, he responded in Spanish to the lady cutting his hair. She said excitedly, "Oh, you speak Spanish?" and took off in her native tongue. Jack looked at me like, What the heck is this lady saying and should I be worried about the scissors in her hand?
But back to Celia.

She only has one older brother and has absolutely NO experience around little kids. So I was a little worried about what she'd think about living with us.

No worries now!

She is definitely getting a taste of what life with babies is like. Great practice for those 5 kids she says she wants some day.

This city girl is down for anything. Since she's been here, she has

  • Gone blueberry and blackberry picking and made jam with me
  • Spent a weekend backpacking in the woods with no running water
  • Hiked behind 2 waterfalls
  • Learned to bake brownies (although she doesn't want her family to know, for fear they will require proof when she returns home)
  • Figured out that food comes from a garden
  • Taste-tested about 20 different zucchini recipes
  • Jumped off a 25-foot platform at night
  • Attended her first major sporting event
  • Learned to use a saw and drill
And she's afraid of nothing. I'm not sure if I'd have that kind of courage at 15 to do what she does every day!

So grathias, Celia!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

First Stop: Preschool

I know the timing of this post isn't terribly original. I've seen tons of status updates on Facebook and in blogland the past few weeks about "back to school" and "first day of school." So I thought I'd be tricky and wait until MID-September to write about it. :-)

Jack has been excitedly chattering all summer long about how he can't wait for September. He told the store cashier, the baby on the playground and the bum on the corner that he is going to "Say-wem Acad-ummy in Septemmer."

And then September came.

I'm not very sentimental (and just for the record, Aunt Penny, I WILL cry at your funeral, so don't give me any more grief!), so when the morning of Jack's first day dawned, there were no tears from me. I dressed Jack in his favorite bug polo, slid on his Buzz Lightyear backpack (purchase last minute from a second-hand store, as I did a dance to the gods of thrift) and loaded him and Jude in the BOB.

Because really, what better mode of transportation to start your educational journey than the world's coolest double stroller?

(As I pulled up to his class, all Jack's classmates were saying, "Whoa, cool stroller!" Jack said, "Yeah, it's our BOB." And I thought, this stroller admiration from your peers isn't gonna last long, buddy, so soak it in while it's here. Because I am NOT pushing you to high school!)

Jack was so excited to look around the classroom he couldn't look at the camera. And really, with a cool cubby complete with your name on a dinosaur placard calling, who can blame him?

As I walked away, there were no visions of the day he was born flashing through my mind. No tears on anyone's part. No sighs of "my baby is growing up." I'm just not that kind of girl.

All I could see as Jack zoomed away toward the train table was the apple of my eye, surprise of my soul and joy of my heart taking his first steps on what I hope will be a fantastic journey of learning to love learning.

And I think I know how God felt when he looked down on his own son and said, "You are my Son, chosen and marked by my love, pride of my life." (Luke 3:22, THE MESSAGE).

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Baby News (and NO, not my own!)

When this sweet little angel was born, she was perfect. True, her heart wasn't textbook perfect. Leah had a tumor, discovered through a series of events that only God could have orchestrated.

I know many of you have been praying for Leah, and I thank you. I truly believe the prayers of people in several states (and three countries that we know of!) made a huge difference. Because I have great news: the tests from her biopsy have come back, and the tumor is benign!

That means no chemotherapy, and most importantly, NO HEART TRANSPLANT!

Doctors still have to figure out how to get the tumor out of Leah's heart, as it's in a rather delicate place. But that is doable and will be figured out shortly.

And here's another little angel I'd like you to meet:

Remember my Scottish friend Debra? You can read her story here. She is an amazing woman of faith. That faith carried her through the death of little Samuel.....and it believed that this next little man would someday arrive.

This Christmas, Debra will give birth to another son.

Another reason to rejoice: a close friend from church is also pregnant after suffering from miscarriage.

On a day where everyone is rightfully remembering, so do I. I remember the lives lost, the heroes who made me proud to be an American, the radical ripping apart of the innocence of the U.S.

But today, I also remember that life, thankfully, moves on. I remember that God is faithful during our darkest times -- during time of terrorist attacks, of planes altering history, of babies dying too soon or being born with scary tumors.

Yesterday was my Uncle Mark's funeral. He was only 52 when lymphoma took his life. His son was only 3 months old when SIDS stole that life.

That's the life we lead here on earth. Great men and women, and even babies, die. Evil reigns. Planes crash. Our children get sick, leaving us helpless to do anything but beseech the Creator for mercy.

Yet I remember that God never gives just enough grace. He gives an ABUNDANCE. He gives love, and hope for the future, through these babies.

So today, I pause to thank God for his enduring faithfulness. As an American, as a military wife and as a mother, I am in awe of the Author who is continually writing the perfect story for us all.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Trying the Tri

I am a morning person. Always have been (even as a teenager), and I'm guessing always will be. There's only a few things, however, that could get me out of bed with an excited smile at 5:15. A flight to Hawaii. Christmas morning. The promise of a surprise present from my husband "as soon as you wake up."

And a race. I'd definitely have to put that on the list, too.

So on a GORGEOUS Sunday morning, Nick, Jonathan, my dad, our new foreign exchange student Celia and I headed out to Fern Ridge. For our first triathlon! Well, okay, we only did the relay. But it's a baby step!

Nickolas thinks Michael Phelps thoughts as he prepares to zoom across the lake. 500 meters of it, anyways.

 I am so bursting with pride for my man. He has never entered any sort of swim competition before -- in fact, I taught him how to swim on our honeymoon. He started swimming in his gym's pool last year and discovered he really liked it.
 He's pretty good at it, too!
 Nick said there was lots of clawing and kicking, but he triumped. And hey, I FINALLY found a use for the tattoo on his back -- it comes in handy for identifying him from the  shore!

Nick ran in from the water like a pro. He finished in the top 25%!

Now on to the transition area where Jonathan was waiting.
This is how fast Jonathan was moving....or maybe I just couldn't get the cameria in focus fast enough.

 Jonathan's part of the triathlon was the longest, both in mileage and time, so Nick and I had a while to wait. Over 25 miles to wait, in fact.
 We knew approximately what time Jonathan would finish in, but I wanted to ready with plenty of time to spare. So I got in the transition area and waited some more.

Poor Jonathan. The first part of his race went not-so-well; his chain popped off first thing and he pedaled himself flat on his face on the concrete. But he picked himself up and finished strong.
 Passing the timing chip on is a delicate operation!
 And I'm off!
 Analyzing these photos leaves me both happy and slightly grossed out. The good parts:
  • I ran a 5k at an 8:20 pace, which is seriously COOKIN' for this short, slow girl.
  • I definitely have plenty of muscle tone in my legs....maybe too much....
  • I'm wearing my Compassion race shirt. And I love my running skirt that I got on sale for $8, thank you very much.
And the self-critical voice:
  • My feet barely leave the ground when I run. Why can't I just look normal at something I've been doing for so long and that feels so natural and good?!?!
  • Apparently my new stride I'm trying out still needs some tweaking.
  • Do I have to look like a bucky beaver when I run? I swear I had braces!
  • And seriously, my legs make me think of timber. Very short timber.
 Go Compassion!
 Crossing the finish line felt so great. I really don't think I could have run it any faster at this stage of my life.
The Kupper Sandwich. Or, as Nick insists it be called, The Riddle Sandwich, because "after all, you don't call it a sourdough sandwich, you call it a ham sandwich!"

And one more thing.....we won our relay division with a time of 2 hours, 11 minutes, 47 seconds!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Learning to Fly

While on vacation recently, I got to read some definite literary gems. And this was one of them:
American Nightingale by Bob Welch
 American Nightingale is the story of the first American nurse killed in action after landing at Normandy. It's an amazing book and one I highly recommend.

Her name was Frances Slanger, a Jewish Polish immigrant who became a nurse despite some nearly insurmountable odds. She was short, not that attractive, slightly plump and wore huge coke-bottle glasses. Her older sister was the family favorite, sort of like the sisters in the film "My Big Fat Greek Wedding."

Frances was no pageant queen. She was a writer and poet, though one with imperfect grammar and mediocre grades. She dreamed....of love, of traveling, of giving back to America what it had given to her. Of serving overseas on the front lines of the war.

But most of all, Frances wanted to matter. You'll have to read the book to find out how she does. But what stuck with me days after I shut the cover was that she did it. She mattered, and now thousands of people know what a true heroine she was.

I was reading this book while mulling over the words I needed to put on paper. About this man.

Only 2 months ago, my Uncle Mark was diagnosed with lymphoma. Six weeks ago, he lost two of his fingers in a work accident. I wrote him some notes, trying to encourage him and letting him know I was praying for him.

One month ago, he went skydiving. But he was worsening fast, so I wrote him another letter...this time, to say goodbye. I'm not sure exactly what I said, but I did tell him how I've always loved his giant, room-filling laugh, and the way his eyes crinkle when he thinks something is clever or funny, and how I've always admired the way he loves everyone simply, honestly and with his whole heart.

I told him I was proud to be his niece. I told him that I loved him and that he mattered to me.

In my goodbye letter to Uncle Mark, I mentioned another book I read at Clear Lake:

Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo is about a little Nebraskan boy's experience with going to heaven temporarily during a near-death experience and coming back. The first person you see when you die, the little boy says, is Jesus. That thought comforts me greatly, and I said so to my uncle. I sent the letter up to Washington with my parents just last week, where my mother read it to him at his bedside.

Uncle Mark died this morning, after a long and violently bloody night. He was only 52, the youngest of 8 children, and grandpa to 6.

I don't know everything about my Uncle Mark. I'm not sure how he met my Aunt Traci, nor how long they've been married. I'm not sure of his favorite color, or what he sport he'd prefer to watch. I do know that he couldn't send an e-mail if his life depended on it, that he knew everything about most any kind of "man" equipment like tractors and tools, and that he would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it.

Those random thoughts filled my brain all day today. Rocking Jude, dressing Jack, feeding Klaus, the pictures of the old home movies flittered through my mind: Uncle Mark jumping his motorcycle as a young man....Unlce Mark as a towheaded, curly-haired toddler cherub....Uncle Mark at Jack's last birthday, giving a hearty, "Right on!" to every present Jack showed him.

Three years ago, my grandma Betty died on her baby's birthday. My mother called Uncle Mark. He thought she was calling to sing Happy Birthday. Instead, she called with the news of his mother's passing.

Driving in the car today, the radio featured Chris Rice's song, "Come to Jesus." I haven't heard it in probably a year. They played it at my Grandma Betty's funeral.

Weak and wounded sinner
Lost and left to die
O, raise your head, for love is passing by
Come to Jesus
Come to Jesus
Come to Jesus and live!

Now your burden's lifted
And carried far away
And precious blood has washed away the stain, so
Sing to Jesus
Sing to Jesus
Sing to Jesus and live!

And like a newborn baby
Don't be afraid to crawl
And remember when you walk
Sometimes we fall...so
Fall on Jesus
Fall on Jesus
Fall on Jesus and live!

Sometimes the way is lonely
And steep and filled with pain
So if your sky is dark and pours the rain, then
Cry to Jesus
Cry to Jesus
Cry to Jesus and live!

O, and when the love spills over
And music fills the night
And when you can't contain your joy inside, then
Dance for Jesus
Dance for Jesus
Dance for Jesus and live!

And with your final heartbeat
Kiss the world goodbye
Then go in peace, and laugh on Glory's side, and
Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus and live!
I had told Jack a few hours earlier that Uncle Mark had died. Instead of being sad, Jack gave a little jump and cried out, "Yay! Now Uncle Mark is with Jesus, and Jesus is teaching him how to fly!"

Yes, he is. Uncle Mark is no longer sick or in pain. He's with his mother and his baby boy Darian. And he's flying.

Uncle Mark lived, loved, made mistakes, grieved, learned.....and mattered. And now he's flying. And truly, really living.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Ooey Gooey Conviction

Last year I blogged about a MOPS presentation I had really liked. The lady talked about throwing an Ooey Gooey party. I tucked away the idea for a rainy day....and now it's here!
I checked the book she used out from the library to inspire me. And yes it has! This book has definitely been more than just fun recipes and ideas for me. It has also been incredibly convicting as a mother. Lisa Murphy, the author, identifies 4 key elements preschool children need to succeed: long periods of uninterrupted free time, few restrictions, adults acting as facilitators, and lots of outdoor time.
Now, the section about few restrictions piqued my interest. After all, I've always been taught that children need and crave boundaries. But this isn't what Murphy was referencing. Children need, she says, to be in an environment where the answers are more often YES than NO.
This one really got me. Instantly I saw visions of a typical day.
  • "Mommy, can I pour in the flour?" "No, Jack, you'll spill it, let me do it."
  • "Can I play in the mud? "No, you'll get dirty and make more work for me."
  • "Mommy, let's run through the puddles!" "No, Jack, I don't have time."
  • "Mommy, watch what happens when I feed Jude!" "No, Jack, you're missing his mouth."
Yikes! I am guilty. On one hand, yes, kids don't get to do what they want all the time. That's just life. But how often have I turned down requests just to meet my own needs and ignored a chance to teach or let Jack have fun?

Murphy writes, "It is vital that while we are on our journey of becoming more child-centered we take time to examine our own egos and our own control issues...We must determine if we are establishing control with and for children, or over them. We must remember the power in controlling the environment and not the little people in it."

If you read the whole chapter, you will see she is not talking about things like safety or proper behavior (respect, playing with others, controlling tempers, etc.). Murphy is referencing things like play, science, discovery, exploration, creative thinking and more -- all things I want Jack to participate in. But how can he when I am constantly telling him NO?

So this Thursday, we are inviting all the church kids over and Ooey-Gooeying it up! Change is possible!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A New Line of Thought

In Idaho, most of our friends thought that Nick and I were hippies. The charges against us:
  • We were from Western Oregon. This one was probably the most damning.
  • We actually USED our recycling bin, often to overflowing.
  • I am fond of wearing peasant skirts, blouses and going barefoot
  • We checked our gas mileage on every tank of gas and experimented with ways to get more out of our little Corolla. No, those experiments didn't include Idaho potato oil, but wouldn't that be cool?
  • At one of our first barbecues at a friend's house, I admit I fished all the pop cans out of the curbside trash can, took them home and recycled them. This involved me getting all the way inside the said can.
Our Idahoan buddies razzed us on a regular basis about our green behaviors. "Tree huggers!" they'd say. Somehow, the laughter only got louder when I reminded them that my dad worked at a sawmill. I most definitely CANNOT be a tree hugger with that sort of occupation! Yet good-natured insults of "Hey hippie, is Cherry Garcia your favorite ice cream flavor?" (it's not, just in case you were wondering) still abounded.

Oh, if only my Idaho friends could see us now.

I admit, it's mainly my MOPS group's fault. They're the ones who got me to use cloth diapers, bike for my groceries, walk to church, get a compost bin and make my own baby food.

So this is just our latest green project. Goodbye dryer (at least in summer), hello clothesline!

My friend Andrea started exclusively using clotheslines and drying racks (even in winter) a few years ago. In her first month of ditching her Maytag, her electricity bill DROPPED 90 BUCKS! I'm not sure if ours is that high to begin with, but I would love to save that sort of money every month!

Already, the clothesline is proving its worth. My older neighbors love it and chat fondly about their childhood clotheslines while I'm outside hanging things up. The laundry smells AMAZING. The utility room stays cooler. I no longer have to starch/iron shirts and skirts (boy, is line-dried clothing stiff!). Jude stays quiet longer, staring up at it while I get yardwork done. Jack uses it as an obstacle course. And as Nick admitted as he hung up his first load, it feels old-fashioned. I count that as a good thing.

Of course, there are downsides: I have to plan my loads out much more carefully because of time. On days like today, I have to work around the rain. And yes, inevitably I've had company waltz through the door right as I realized there were *ahem* certain things on the line I don't want my pastor seeing.

But it's all good. And green.