Thursday, March 29, 2007


Yesterday was all sunshine and eighty degree breezes, windows all opened wide and fans whirring, a million trips in and out of the house barefoot, my hands in potting soil and happy petunias, a chapter of Anne Lamott's Blue Shoe on the front porch steps in the seven-thirty dusky warmth after the dishes were done and another load of laundry was spinning...a bright day has its own energy that gets me project-busy around the house and eager to play tag with the makes me linger on the porch long after the moon is up and I think of chasing fireflies, long time gone adventures in the woods with my sister and cousins, and all the springtime/summer exploring that has yet to be done by my own kids.
Today I woke to rain cannon-balling onto the roof...a dim light glowing behind the closed blinds. When I got out of bed and opened the curtains and blinds, the rain was slowly falling - drops perching all shiny and jewel-y on the new blossoms of the dogwood right outside of the boys' bedroom window...I opened the window a bit over the kitchen sink and was met with a fresh whoosh of cool air - we've exchanged the 80's for the 50's overnight. I made a cup of coffee and stood at the door to watch the rain come down - I think we were due for a day like this, and I don't mind it. A rainy day brings a sense of quiet - things go just a bit more slowly and the house feels a bit cozier. It almost requires a hot cup of something and a book - an extra long story time with the kids or a few hours to watch Little Women and bake something yummy. It is extra permission to dream. A placid rainy day is to the world like a long soak in the tub is to me.
Two days, two energies. Our Father sends both, because He knows that we need both. The basics of earth need both...the animals and the trees and the flowers require sunshine and rain...I have to remember, as the days march on (and sometimes it feels they march right over me) that it's the same with circumstances. We'll have a burst of blessings and then, sometimes, immediately following the blessing is a blow from out of nowhere - a heart hurts, an argument bounces out of control, things just don't feel right. It's so easy to ask God why when this happens - why me? Did I do something wrong? Was I ungrateful for the good things you gave me? There's usually not an answer as to why...I've come to realize that the good and the bad come equally to everyone, and it's because we need the good and the bad - equally. If we want to grow- as people, as mothers, as friends, as writers - we need the sunshine and the rain. Sometimes we need a thunderstorm, a hurricane, or a drought.
God is there in the cloudburst and in the sunburn and in the perfect butterfly-edged springtime...He knows what you need and He longs to walk with you through it. Sometimes He just wants to show you that it's possible to skip through the rain and splash in the puddles - and how good it is to dance with Him beneath the cloudy sky.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Home Away From Home, Part 1 : Sam I Am

I acted upon the afore mentioned contemplation of a visit home, in spite of the ants...fortunately, the pest control guy (my new hero) seems to have nipped the battle in the bud. I left on Saturday to go to my hometown (a little over two hours away)...this isn't where my parents actually live at this point, but it is where the church they pastor is...they'll move there when their current house sells. But almost all of my extended family lives there - both sets of grandparents, lots of aunts and uncles, lots of cousins. So I stayed there until Sunday night and then we traveled an hour and a half to my mom and dad's house. I finally packed up and left late this morning. It is hard to leave my mother's home cooking and my dad's funny comments and my siblings' dependable (silly) arguments...sometimes it is just good to pretend like I'm 14 again and still living in that safe haven under my parents' roof. (The two kids calling me Mommy usually brings me back to reality. :) )
I have lots I'd like to blog about - but time requires that I do it bit by bit.
And tonight, I am travel-worn (it's an hour and a half back to my house from my parents' place) and laundry-worn and a little bit homesick, as silly as that might seem. So I'll share just one major revelation of the trip.
Here it goes.
I. Like. Cabbage.
No, wait.
I love cabbage.
My mom made an awesome country dinner last night and it included cabbage, which I've always claimed to hate.
I realized, as I watched everyone else take a serving, that I couldn't remember actually ever trying it...I just always assumed that I had tried it at some point and disliked it - how else could I actually be so sure that I hated it?
So I was a big girl. I tried the cabbage. I liked it so much that I had two helpings.
Sam I Am is absolutely genius. You really don't know what you're missing until you try it.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Mid-Morning Conversation

You need a little back story to understand this chat between Carrie and I...

A, Neil chopped down a tree in our back yard earlier this week. (with an ax and a garden hose. long story.)
B, I was contemplating a weekend trip to see my parents and
C, this week has also brought an exorbitant amount of ants into my house. I called our pest control place that does our bi-monthly spraying and told them I needed immediate assistance. He went underneath the house and reported that he had never seen so many ants in his entire working career. There were 10, maybe 15, colonies just scurrying around like they're paying the mortgage on the place.
D, we were a bit bored (the pre-lunch lull). Ok. We weren't all that bored. This is just normal behavior for the two of us. If we're nuts, at least we're the same kind of nuts. (But we prefer the politically correct term of 'quirky'.)

Here you go. A peek into our chat-life...

Carrie: another reason to retreat - invading ant army!

me: i'm sort of scared to leave the front, though...if i'm not here killing as I go, will they flourish and claim my house as their kingdom? Sort of like a conquistador?

Carrie: I don't know - I would say Hitler-like. Alexander-like.
Taking over the known world.

me: b/c at this point, i'm pretty sure they have it all mapped out. strategic in their little ant tents with little ant lanterns.

little ant spears and arrows

Carrie: little ant swords

me: little ant grenades
little ant cannonballs

Carrie: (I had that at the end of my sentence and took it off!)
little ant trojan horses

me: little ant flame throwers

Carrie: little ant shields!

me: little ant suits of armor

Carrie: little ant chainmail
(great minds...)

me: :)
little ant kamikaze planes

Carrie: I seriously think they are waging a war down there just like this, with little ant generals and all.
They use roly-polies as beasts of war.
they're pre-armored!

me: The war started because when the tree fell in the back yard, they took it as the Apocalypse -- they hid out in the nearest bomb shelter they could find and now they're having it out to take control of the post-apocalyptic world...
holy cow. little ant Hummers.

Carrie: olil!
made by, who else? Assembly lines of spiders.
They have the multiple arm thing going on.

me: ha! totally can see it...and they're biding their time, secretly waiting until the ants annihilate themselves so that they can take over...faulty wiring and such in the Hummers, you know?
And the ladybugs are like the elves, innocent and running away to find a peaceful paradise...using their soulful powers to save the grasshoppers and fireflies.

Carrie: oh, of course. Ladybugs abhor conflict.

me: of course. not like the regular beetles, who are eagerly drafted. can you imagine fighting a stinkbug?

Carrie: ew. no.
the beetle armies probably use smokebomb mushrooms as weapons.

me: makes perfect sense...
and they recruit mosquitoes to fly over the smoke and pour blood over the enemy, as to further confuse and disgust them.

Carrie: EW.

me: mosquitoes do it just for the fun of it. they're cold hearted, cruel sorts. they don't care which side wins, as long as they can distribute ugliness.

Carrie: I so believe that. That's one of Josh's questions to ask God. Why do they exist?

me: I think when Lucifer fell from Heaven and was spying on the newly created earth, he talked the mosquito into turning his abilities for evil...snakes are very convincing. they probably have a deal. snake won't eat mosquito if mosquito will annoy the heck out of humanity...originally, they were probably supposed to suck up juice from honeysuckles and gently distribute it among the squirrels.

And then we parted ways for lunch...and I spent the rest of the afternoon outside with Sean and Christian- pretending to have superpowers, looking for bugs in the grass, and playing a strange combination of football and tag.
It's official.
I've turned into an 8 year old boy.

Thursday, March 22, 2007


Nichole Nordeman, one of my all all all all time favorites, has an interview over at Infuze Magazine...follow the yellow brick road to gain insights from one of the best Christian artists in the market today...

Spring! Spring! Spring!

Spring is officially in gear!!! This time of the year is bursting with fresh scents, bright colors, and an overall feeling of hopeful happiness. I thought I'd celebrate by throwing a little e.e. cummings celebration, complete with decorations. e.e. is one of my favorite poets and God is my favorite visual it's a perfect way for me to start the season. From me to you - a blogged bouquet.

O sweet spontaneous

O sweet spontaneous
earth how often have
the doting
fingers of
prurient philosophies pinched
and poked
has the naughty thumb
of science prodded
beauty how

often have religions taken
thee upon their scraggy
knees squeezing and
buffeting thee that thou mightest conceive
to the incomparable
couch of death thy
thou answerest
them only with

in time of daffodils
in time of daffodils(who know
the goal of living is to grow)
forgetting why,remember how
in time of lilacs who proclaim
the aim of waking is to dream,
remember so(forgetting seem)
in time of roses(who amaze
our now and here with paradise)
forgetting if,remember yes
in time of all sweet things beyond
whatever mind may comprehend,
remember seek(forgetting find)
and in a mystery to be
(when time from time shall set us free)
forgetting me,remember me

i carry your heart with me

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

i am a little church
i am a little church(no great cathedral)
far from the splendor and squalor of hurrying cities
-i do not worry if briefer days grow briefest,
i am not sorry when sun and rain make april
my life is the life of the reaper and the sower;
my prayers are prayers of earth's own clumsily striving
(finding and losing and laughing and crying)children
whose any sadness or joy is my grief or my gladness
around me surges a miracle of unceasing
birth and glory and death and resurrection:
over my sleeping self float flaming symbols
of hope,and i wake to a perfect patience of mountains
i am a little church(far from the frantic
world with its rapture and anguish)at peace with nature
-i do not worry if longer nights grow longest;
i am not sorry when silence becomes singing
winter by spring,i lift my diminutive spire to
merciful Him Whose only now is forever:
standing erect in the deathless truth of His presence
(welcoming humbly His light and proudly His darkness)

i thank you God for most this amazing
i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
wich is natural which is infinite which is yes
(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday;this is the birth
day of life and love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)
how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any-lifted from the no
of all nothing-human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?
(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Can Anyone Hear Me?

Neil brought home Blood Diamond last night, the Academy Award nominated film starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Djimon Hounsou, and Jennifer Connelly. For those of you who haven't seen the movie, it's based around the civil war in Sierra Leone back in 1999. The main thread of the plot concerns the diamond trade, which fueled the conflict.
This movie is not for the faint of heart. It's a clear picture of what was happening - villages massacred, children turned into rebel soldiers, men killing men....for money. For power. For no real reason at all.
This blog is called Whistling in the Dark, because the world is a dark place. In the eternal battle of good and evil, it sometimes feels like the evil is winning on this earth - and I truly believe that we, especially those of us who call ourselves Christians - are called to do what we can to spread hope. It is our calling to keep up the melody of redemption that Christ began.
But sometimes I feel like I can do so little to make a real difference. Here I am, cozy in my house with my boys, with plenty of food and no real fear of stepping out onto my street. And in other parts of the world - people are being killed for just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. In Sudan, for example, Darfurians are being systematically slaughtered by the government. Since 2003, over 400, 000 innocent people have been killed.
The thing is, that conflict isn't even over. I'm sure that we all studied the Holocaust growing up...those pictures of piles of shoes and bodies are ingrained in my head. I'm wondering what my kids are going to study by the time they're in fifth or sixth grade...what horrendous pictures and heart breaking stories will be in the text books that are taking place right now.
I know that bad things are bound to happen while we're here on earth. That's the consequence of actions that started with Lucifer waging war in Heaven and continuing it with mankind - he wants to drive this wedge between man and God, and being far from the heart of God naturally results in the disaster that is cruelty and hate.
But it terrifies me - the thought that one human being can be so infiltrated with darkness that he will simply do away with another human being as if they are nothing more than trash to be swept out of the way.
I think it is our duty, wherever people are hurting - whether it's in our town or state or Sudan - to reach out however we can. Jesus said that we will be known as His disciples because of our love for each other. And I'm sure that we can all agree that the love of Christ is a love of action - He didn't just talk about mending the broken. He did it.
So how do I help? I'm not sure. I will, of course, keep on writing my little stories in hope that they'll communicate some message of hope and love to those who happen to read them (because hope is important for all of us, no matter where we live or the problems we face)...but as far as these larger disasters...genocide, the slave trade (which still exists), do I make a difference? Can I make a difference? When I think about all of this, it's so overwhelming - and I can watch a movie like Blood Diamond, which makes my heart break - and try to forget about it...or I can figure out how to get involved. There's peace now in Sierra Leone...but not without the effort of people who cared.
I'd love to hear some ideas. I've come up with some links to sites concerning these issues, which I'll list below.
You know, God cared so much about our pain that He sent His Son to bear it for us - how can I, then, neglect to show compassion?

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Bill Cosby Was Right

This is the greatest thing I learned during our sick weeks:
As my throat was really sore from coughing, I ate more Jello in the past two weeks than I have in the last two years. It's cold, smooth - the perfect food for an irritated throat. I figured the boys' throats were feeling aggravated, as well, so I offered the Jello to them. Sean just ignored it, as he has been for the past three years (he tends to refuse any food that can be eaten with a spoon) and I discovered the best thing - Christian thinks Jello is extremely funny. That is, as long as it's safely in its cup or on the spoon...if he can see it from a distance, he laughs out loud and points at it.
However, if you make it wiggle and jiggle after him, he suddenly thinks Jello is extremely scary. By this I mean that he actually screams and runs, glancing over his shoulder like the strawberry gelatin is going to bloom up and eat HIM.
Um, under medication, a certain mommy may have found this a tad too funny. (And without medication, I may or may not be still eating Jello just for the purpose of freaking out my two year old. Don't tell anyone. :) )'s alive!!!!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Thoughts To Chew On - oops, that should be Thoughts On Which To Chew, right?

I've been non-stop editing this short story for two days. Hard to get the revising to stop. The deadline is today and I still have a few hundred words to cut. Yikes. To make myself feel a little better about this, I've copied down a few quotes from some of the great writers - if something is making you crazy and obsessive, it is good to know that there are people out there who commiserate.

"A work of art is first of all work." Paul Engle
"I spent all morning putting in a comma and all afternoon taking it out." Oscar Wilde
"Real seriousness in regard to writing is one of the two absolute necessities. The other, unfortunately, is talent." Ernest Hemingway
"My family can always tell when I'm well into a novel because the meals get very crummy." Anne Tyler

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Still Breathing

So I think I've survived the sickest week and a half to afflict this house...well...ever. We're all still coughing and whiny and all that - but we've made it through the worst of the illness.
A longer post is in the works - for now, I just wanted to say thanks for the get well wishes. I hope that everyone has enjoyed the Daylights Savings Time gift of a lighter evening...and the fact that my Tarheels won the ACC championship! :) (Sorry, I wasn't sick enough to obliterate the annoying fan cells...)

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


You know what happens to a person who is taking care of sick people?
Yup. She gets sick.
I don't feel quite as bad as I did yesterday afternoon, but I've got that whole congestion thing in my throat now - so that when I cough, it really and truly feels like I am going to choke and pass out onto the floor.
Which would be bad, for many reasons - the foremost being the children I still have to feed and clean up and stuff.
Too bad there isn't a stay at home mom boss-man to call and demand a sick day. I really want to snuggle into my bed (alone!) with the ipod and the Gail Godwin novel I'm trying to finish. AKA, I'd like to ignore the world until I feel like a functioning human again.
Too bad my boss-men are two and three year olds only concerned with Mommy playing hide-and-seek and Mommy distributing snacks in a timely manner, etc. etc. etc.
Maybe I can send myself into a time-out...

Monday, March 05, 2007

Duke Wants to Win a Game? Not in Our House!

No. 8 North Carolina Upends No. 14 Duke, 86-72

The game was a BLAST. Neil still felt a little icky, and Sean was sick at home with his grandparents, but none of that could stop us from showing up at the Dean Dome and screaming through the entire beat down of the Duke Blue Devils.

It was a great night to be there - we witnessed the annihilation of our hottest rivalry, the women's team won their championship and marched out to a standing ovation, it was Senior night, and the crowd was continuously fired up.

Except, of course, for the gentleman who tapped Neil on the shoulder after a particularly amazing dunk and asked him if he would please mind sitting down. Neil replied that, actually - he would mind. :) (He did make an effort, though, to keep the standing to a minimum after that. My thought - if you want to sit down and relax through the game...well. Stay home and watch it on the big screen, fella. )

The game ended with some drama - Tyler Hansbrough's bloody face and a stadium full of angry that interim when the refs were reviewing the play and trying to figure out how to call the blatant attack on Tyler, the fans were all on their feat - frankly, the refs would have been endangering their own lives if they hadn't ejected Henderson.

Check out for a full recap.

We're now the number one seed...and we're headed to a 2007 championship!

Go Heels!

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Calling Mike Rowe

I'm playing nursemaid. Neil and Sean have both contracted some combination of fever/aches/upset stomach...what is better, on a Saturday night, then scrubbing up macaroni-laced vomit?
You know that show Dirty Jobs on the Discovery channel? They should send Mike Rowe into the life of a mom with toddlers still unable to take care of most of their personal business by themselves - icky on a regular basis, but during a stomach virus?
DEFINITELY Dirty Jobs material.

Friday, March 02, 2007

I Heart Dr. Suess

Happy Birthday to The Cat in the Hat!

Today is the fiftieth anniversary of a classic - and it all started with Dr. Seuss taking his list of words appropriate for beginning readers and creating a book that kids want to read.

Carrie started Sean's collection of Dr. Seuss books when he was born - and both he and Christian love to hear each one that's been added on holidays and birthdays. What's not to love? Dr. Seuss books ooze with color, crazy characters, silly rhymes. In Seussville, imagination is the law of the land. And who doesn't like to yell out - "I DO like green eggs and ham, Sam I am!"

There are several ways you can celebrate the birth of the Cat - take part in the National Education Association's ( Read Across America Day! Read The Cat in the Hat aloud (to yourself, to your goldfish, to your kids or your neighbor's kids) and be a part of the nationwide read-along. Check out and send the Cat in the Hat a birthday card - for each card received, Random House is donating a book to the First Book organization (

Every kid deserves to know the thrill of being transported to a new world through the written word...

In the words of the Doctor himself, from the book I Can Read With My Eyes Shut -

Young cat! If you keep your eyes open enough, oh! the stuff you will learn! the most wonderful stuff!


The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Original Romantic

Isn't it true that the weather and nature can truly affect your mood? All of the studies showing that depression can be related, in some areas, to a lack of sunshine fascinate me...and I know that, for me, a warm breeze and the scent of fresh foliage can do a lot to improve my outlook on life. It's particularly interesting when you consider the fact that all of that outdoorsy stuff is the detailed handiwork of God meant to showcase His presence and personality. Our physical health can depend on being inundated in His physical works...just like our spiritual and mental health can depend on being inundated in His words and in His spirit.

Today God surprised me with the simplest hint of spring.The morning was a long one - I dragged the kids on a shopping trip that ended, after several stores, at Food Lion for grocery buying. They were as good as could be expected, but we were all cranky and exhausted by the time we drove into our driveway. I've had a lot weighing on my mind in general, lately, so the triple-threat of irritation wasn't the best turn of events. But when I stepped out of the SUV to start the process of hauling in toilet paper, food, cleaning supplies, small humans, and the inevitable fast-food paraphernalia, the first thing I noticed was tiny purple wildflowers spread out all over my front yard. In the long neglected flower beds, by the mail box, lining the driveway - little spots of lavender everywhere.I immediately felt rejuvenated and all of the crankiness slipped away...I guess flowers can just do that for a girl, no matter how they show up...but especially when they're hand delivered by God.