I have been blessed with three sisters. My mom used to call us built-in-friends. She always told us to be nice to each other, because we were who God picked as lifelong relationships for one another. Sometimes it was difficult to follow that advice. Often, it was downright impossible.


As kids


I’ve gone thru ups and downs with all of my sisters. Sometimes we are at similar places in life, have lots to talk about and share with each other. Other periods of life are harder on the relationship. When one, or several of us are having a rough time in our own lives, getting together is usually equally rocky. Even if our difficulties have nothing to do with each other, somehow it’s easy to dump on somebody you know has to love you anyway. It’s not right to do that, but that’s kind of how it works out.

From an outside perspective I think it occasionally looks like my sisters and I have a totally Utopian relationship. We are very tight. We laugh a lot. Sometimes we laugh so hard we cry – and at things that nobody else would even find funny. We’re fiercely protective of each other, but at the same time we’re each other’s worst critics. We nit-pick. We tease. The hardest lessons I’ve had to learn are frequently delivered  to me by one of my sisters. I think God put them in my life to be teachers, friends, confidants and the voice of reason. Let me tell you though, it’s hard to hear those “tough but true” words from the girl who used to beg just to have an opportunity to play dolls with you.

I know not everyone has a sister, let alone three. And I think there’s the risk of romantacising anything you don’t have in your own life. I frequently thought about how great it would be to have an older brother (the one type of sibling I do not possess). I pictured football lessons in the front yard, set-ups with hot older guys, car rides to the mall and general coolness from a big brother. But as an adult I now realize that an older brother would have probably picked on me mercilessly, terrorized me at night, laughed at my male crushes, embarrassed me in front of my friends and generally been a total pain. I think it is easy to have unrealistic expectations of relationships you’ve never experienced.

I was reminded of this today as I was reflecting on my sister’s wedding last weekend. Coming into marriage, often people’s expectations are sky-high of their new spouse. Especially in situations (like my sister’s…and mine when I got married) where you haven’t ever lived together. You don’t know what to expect. You have on those awesome rose-colored glasses and anticipate folding laundry together sharing your deepest feelings. You’ll spend evenings cooking meals as a team, blissfully sharing responsibilities, so in love that you bend over backwards just to make him/her feel your total devotion and adoration. Anyway, the new spouse thoughts got me thinking of sister relationships and how easy it probably is to wish for a sister – and in those wishes, picture a totally perfect version.

So, I guess this whole post is just to say. I love my sisters. They are my best friends in the world. But, they drive me nuts sometimes. I’m mean to them more often than I’d like. Sometimes it’s not on purpose, but other times, it kind of is. We always talk things thru, apologize and laugh or cry together, but frequently it’s not pretty. We see the worst and the best of each other. We are privy to the pitfalls of each other’s lives, often pulling each other out of those pits and being the first ones to deal with the damage that’s been done down there. I’m thankful for the open honest relationships I have with my sisters. Even when they are hard on me. Regardless of the times I want to smother them with a pillow to make them be quiet. I appreciate just knowing that what we have is real. I love that I’m not judged for the mistakes I’ve made,  rather that I’m accepted as is, but encouraged to become more like Christ.

As families blend, you get new siblings. My sister just inherited three brothers. Her husband just got three sisters and a brother out of the deal. Actually, at the gift opening last night, my new brother-in-law’s dad (my dad-in-law-in-law?) witnessed a kind of snarky exchange between a couple of us sisters and commented “Man, I’m glad I have boys.” Melding people into new relationships can be tricky, especially if the expectations coming in are unrealistic. For those of you without a sister of your own, a word of warning…be careful what you wish for. Sisters are a bundle of a lot more than sleep-overs, whispered secrets and manicure/pedicures. They are the relationships that will develop your character – a process that is full of discovery, disaster and discussion. I would advise setting the following expectations. Expect tears. Expect pouting. Expect to not like what you hear. Anticipate having to explain the same thing more than once, and still be misunderstood. Expect hugs that you don’t really want to participate in. In the end, expect to be blown away by all that a sister really is. Totally and completely worth it.


Wedding Sisters


PS: This photo was taken by the fabulous Emily Hall. Book her if you want an amazing experience with all things photography related.

Broken, Bruised and Burned

Just thought I’d share this little tidbit from my week. I have sustained the following injuries in the past 7 days.

1. Sunburn – Back of my neck. So bad it almost blistered. Ouch.
2. Vinyl Burns – From jumping down a giant inflatable slide. Elbow and upper thigh.
3. Upper arm cut – From where my arm cuff pinched/rubbed and created a big cut when I was running. Blood. Ugh.
4. Three knife nicks on my hands – From baking/cooking.
5. Punched in the nose – I think it was mostly an accident. My sister nailed me last night while dancing at a club.
6. Broken toe – Also while out last night. Can’t get my foot into a shoe. Major bruising and swollen.
7. Upper arm cuts – Sequins and dancing all night do not mix. My arms look like I was attacked my an angry herd of cats.
8. 2nd degree burn on palm – Grabbed a hot pot after it had just come out of the oven. No oven mitt. Blistered burn across my palm.
9. Poked in the eye – My daughter was flailing her arms around as I buckled her into the car. Bam. Her finger, in my eye.

Now, in general, I am a very clutzy person. But I cannot remember ever having a week where I sustained this number of minor injuries. I would like to not repeat this in the coming 7 days. I would also like to beg God (please please please) to let me wake up in the morning with my baby toe back to normal. I really need that toe to be able to fit into my tennis shoes so I can continue training for my 10K. Also, I’m supposed to be wearing amazing 4 inch heels in a week as I walk down the aisle at my sister’s wedding. So really, the broken toe is just very inconvenient.

You Can’t Handle the Truth!

I’ve realized recently that not everyone shares my “honesty is best” policy. The hardest relationships I have are the ones I’m not quite sure are exactly what they seem. Why is it some people seem unable to just be themselves?

Many relationships in my life are somewhat volatile. Not that we fight constantly, yell and scream or beat on each other, just that when something upsets either person – it’s going to be talked about. However inconvenient, wherever we are – whatever it is, “it” is going to be out there . Those conversations aren’t usually exactly pleasant, but they are necessary to preserve an ongoing healthy friendship. After the tears and hugs, I’m usually reassured by these altercations, they let me know that problems are being dealt with. They confirm that my friend (or family member often) is being forthcoming about the things that irk them about me. I don’t have the sense that there are things being left unsaid, or things being said to other people rather than to my face. I know it sounds a little strange, but I’m comforted by honesty – even when it’s not pretty. I would rather have 1 friend who is truthful (even when it hurts) than a dozen who passively placate me just to “keep the peace”. [Read more…]

Disneyland Prep

In about 37 hours I will be boarding a plane bound for the happiest place on earth. I am totally excited. Actually, excited doesn’t even begin to cover it.

As a stay-at-home mommy, my world is my kids. Making sure they are fed, clothed and happy is pretty much all I do every day. They are my first thought when I wake up. Usually either “Did I make Donovan bottles last night?” or “Quick! Out of bed – get to Madison and put her on the toilet before she pees.” They fill my days with giggling, play, laundry, toys, diapers, tiny sandwiches, puffs and stickers. They are my final thought as I hit the pillow and fall into exhausted dreamless sleep. My kids are the reason I want to be kind to others, not yell obscenities when a driver cuts me off and answer absurd questions multiple times a day. I want them to be kind. I want them to understand the intricacies of the world. I don’t want them to be the type of horrible drivers that litter our roads. Most of the time being a mom is absolutely delightful. However, the thought of getting to be just Tonya for six whole days is amazing. [Read more…]

Running the Costco Marathon

I ran the Costco marathon today. I made excellent time. The track is three times from the far wall to the bathrooms at the front of the store. I can run it in about a minute and a half. Too bad it isn’t a real event.

I went to Costco to return a sweatshirt and pick up some pretzels. I’ve eaten my way through two 6 pound bags since I got on the weight loss gig in January. I’m not really enjoying them anymore, I now hate the sight of a bag of pretzels the size of a 5 year old, but they are a great low-fat light calorie snack. I headed to my local store after my workout this morning, but before I left the Y, I had to see if Madison needed to use the bathroom. We’re in the middle of our second week of potty training – which means I’ve spent more time in rooms with a toilet than rooms without one recently. Balancing Donovan on my hip, I managed to get Madison’s dress up, panties down and lift her to the seat. I know, it’s hard imagine one person doing all that unassisted. I’m pretty amazing. She wiggled around, asked what the bar on the wall was for and ultimately did not do any “business”. [Read more…]

Lock your doors!

Buuzzzz! Buuzzzzz! Buuzzzzz! At 4 o’clock this morning, I was awakened from my dreams to the sound of my alarm. It took me a few minutes to recall why on earth I was waking up at such an ungodly hour. As I blinked bleary eyed at the green numbers switching to 4:01 I remembered – my dad was having heart surgery this morning. I am not a morning person. I’m quite thankful that both my kids sleep in each day until after 8 and that, as a stay-at-home-mom, that means I get to as well. Even when I have somewhere to be in the morning, I rarely am awake before 7:30 because I refuse to schedule doctor appointments (and such) before 10 o’clock. The few reasons I am happy and willing to wake up before the sun are: Christmas, an early flight to Disneyland or a morning hot-air balloon ride. Driving an hour to sit at a hospital worrying about my dad certainly does not top my list of fun things to do in the wee hours of the day.

At five on the dot, two of my sisters (Amy and Lizzy) arrived to ride down to the premier hospital in the area with me. We stopped to pick up our Nanny (not a baby-sitter, our 82 year old grandmother) on the way. As I pulled into her driveway and dashed up the stairs in the misty rain, the oddest thing happened. Her door didn’t open when I turned the knob. Strange. So, I turned it the other way, thinking I’d forgotten which way it opened. Still not budging. Please understand, this was the first time in my entire life my Nanny’s door had been locked. Seriously. I have no memories of anything other than knocking lightly on Nanny’s door and then going right in. Since she is now mostly deaf, I was pondering how hard/long to stand there pounding on the door when I heard the phone ringing in the house. One of my sisters was calling to let Nanny know we’d arrived – smarty pants.  It hit me just then WHY the door was locked. My Poppa (Nanny’s husband of over 50 years and my beloved grandfather) has been in and out of hospitals and rehab centers since last December and hasn’t lived at the house with Nanny for many months. It made me sad to think of my sweet English grandmother living alone and being concerned enough for her safety that after 40+ years in the same house – she’s finally locking her doors against the evil of the outside world. [Read more…]

Child’s pose

I’ve recently started doing yoga at my YMCA. I don’t claim to be good at it. I’m not even sure I’m doing half the poses correctly. Most of the time I feel like the most uncoordinated person in the room. However, it makes me feel very relaxed despite the fact that I’m dripping sweat the entire hour session. That alone makes it worth the awkwardness and fear of falling over. So, in I troop, three times a week. I haven’t even purchased my own mat yet because I’m still trying to figure out if this is going to permanently be a good workout, or if it only is right now because I’m stretching my body in ways I don’t think it was designed to move – and most certainly is not accustomed to.

I really needed the relaxation of breathing deeply for an hour while trying to stay upright balancing on one bent leg today. My dad was in the hospital on Friday with a blockage in his artery – and is heading into surgery tomorrow to remove the block and have some stents put in. I’m pretty stressed about it and figured yoga would help me (at least for a little while) try and push the fear of losing my Daddy out of my head.

Usually I get to class a few minutes early, lest I get stuck front and center or directly behind the 7 foot tall dude who frequently comes to class. Today, I was practicing my breathing waiting for class to start, and in came trouble. A woman – with her 2 year old son. She looked frazzled. Like she absolutely needed a break from the kid because he was driving her up the wall. I wondered why on earth she hadn’t left him in childcare – and then realized maybe she wasn’t actually coming to class, was only checking out the Y. Silly optimistic me. She was indeed coming to class and proceeded to get herself a mat…and one for the rugrat. Now, as a mother, I love that my Y offers “Mommy and me” yoga classes. I fully intend to take Madison with me to a couple once she turns three.  So, my next thought was that this lady thought she’d arrived at one of the kids-included classes and had no idea she was about to completely disrupt an entire room of people. [Read more…]

“Mommy I have to go potty!”

Ah, potty training. Is there a more wonderful thing in all the world? I think not.

My daughter Madison will be three in October. As of last week, she was still going in a diaper and I, her mother was changing her (sorry – little potty book humor for you moms out there). We tried going cold turkey to panties before, all it got me was a week of cleaning her messes off my floors, carpet and whatever toys she trailed across in her rush to tell me she was going potty. We tried bribing her. For a week she got a new play-doh item every time she went in the potty. For a week, she was perfect. Her motivation ran out as soon as the toys did.

Part of me wants to say she’s too smart for her own good. That she obviously knows it’s far easier to have Mommy (or Daddy) clean her up than to do it herself. So she’s intentionally deciding to continue with the diaper. But I know that’s just vanity – wanting to believe my child is brilliant rather than too lazy or stubborn to just go herself in the bathroom. I mean, don’t get me wrong, Madison  (I’m sure) is a genius who will one day wow the world in some amazing fashion, but that’s not WHY she isn’t potty trained yet. [Read more…]

A steaming serving of guilt

Today I will be returning to visit Jim. Jim is not a friend. He is not a member of my family. In fact, he doesn’t really exist.

Jim is what I call my YMCA. Actually, it’s more than that. Jim is who my YMCA is to me. I created the concept of “Jim” shortly after my son was born in December – I had the desire was to lose the baby weight, but zero desire to workout. I tried to rethink how I was viewing exercise. It dawned on me that I thought of it (as most of us do) as something I was supposed to do, not something I actually wanted to do. So, I put the following picture in my head.

Do you remember when you first met your spouse? Some of you have to think back many many years for this, but stay with me.  Think about the first few months of your relationship. How many times did you drive somewhere just to be with them for a few minutes between jobs, or school? When you were away from that person – what were you thinking of? [Read more…]

For Shame!

I realized today (thanks James) that I haven’t blogged in – well, far too long. Shame, shame on me. I’m so sorry!

I’m currently decompressing from an incredibly busy day and preparing for a new (equally hectic) day on the horizon. I started watching a friend’s children today, and will have an infant, two 2 1/2 year olds and a five year old for the next several days. This on the week I’ve finally put my foot down with my daughter and am refusing her anything but panties to wear on her “I want to keep going in my pull-up because it’s way easier to have you keep changing me Mommy”-butt.

Today I put them to work digging up bricks and then lugging them to the front yard to make a path. No. I’m not kidding. They begged to help me. We also played hopscotch, went to church, read books, pushed Minnie Mouse around in a stroller, ran in circles (this occupied them for far longer than I expected it to), ate Mac-n’-Cheese (real stuff for all but my poor Madison who made due with vegan ‘cheese’), got incredibly dirty, destroyed the playroom and had an all around fantastic time.

I grew up in a family of 5 children, but myself have never wanted tons of kids. The two I’ve got now normally keep me incredibly-crazy-don’t-have-time-for-anything-else-busy and my theory is that God would have given me more than two hands if He wanted me caring for more than that number of children on a daily basis. Honestly, I have no clue how my mother raised (and home-schooled) five munchkins. My brain starts hurting just considering that many offspring.

I will concede however, that today was delightful in many ways that a normal two-kid day just isn’t. Little kids are amazing to listen to, especially when they’re discussing things (that really, only they understand) with each other. I love that today Madison had other little people to tell her funny stories to, laugh with, bathe her babies and”bake” cupcakes with. It really was awesome. I’m looking forward to the next few days – should be full of laughter and fun.

Don’t get too excited Shannon (or Mom) – I didn’t love today enough to want more of my own.

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