The Wall


Our relationship has changed over the years.  I don’t see him as much as I should and I’m not quite sure what to talk about when I’m with him.  There are the awkward pauses after the pointless questions I ask to fill the white space searching for something meaningful to say.

We had finished dinner and he had made his way back to his chair, shuffling behind his “buggy”.  He sat in his recliner, my grandmother’s sitting empty next to his, and turned on the game.  Loud.  Now conversation would be next to impossible.  It is almost as if he is saying, “I’m done now.  You can go.”  Perhaps he wants to communicate with me just as I do with him, but he doesn’t know what to say either. There is a wall between us and neither one of us knows how to get through.

Jack Buck’s voice fills the room.  Matt Carpenter is up to bat.  Two men are on base.  Score is tied.

This is a familiar scene to me now.  Jack Buck “lives” in our house.  Cardinal players are more familiar to my sons than family members.  My Baker boys live and breathe baseball.   I am slowly learning to love the game.  It has taken almost 20 years.

Crack.  The ball is flying.  Farther.  Farther.  Farther.  Home run!

As Matt runs the bases, Grandpa smiles.  He says, “I should be getting a phone call now.”  His neighbor, whose wife has Alzheimer’s, calls whenever the Cardinals hit a home run.  It’s how they watch the game together.

The phone rings.  They talk, replaying the hit and celebrating the new score of 4 to 1. Take that Rockies!

He hangs up the phone and says, “The other night, when Yadi got his homerun, we talked for awhile.”

My heart leaps.  I saw that game.  I pick up the sledgehammer I have just found.

“That hit WAS amazing!  Bases loaded, full count, and he sails it out!  It was awesome!  And it wasn’t a double play like it is most of the time,” I say in a rush.

Grandpa turns away from the game.  He looks at me.  His eyes are no longer flat, but sparkling again.  He smiles.  There is a hole in the wall, and we find each other again.




Sam was watching the Cardinal’s game.

Max was getting ready.

I was sitting at the kitchen table, nose in my phone, waiting for Max so we could run errands.

Bank:  withdraw $60

School:  complete registration for basketball camp and give them the $60

Library:  pick up holds and check out new Peanuts comic book for Sam

License Bureau: pick up rule book for driver’s examination

Kolten Wong makes an amazing play at second.  The announcers go crazy.  Sam starts screaming.  Max runs from his bedroom.  I look up.  Sam rewinds the tv and replays the play for us.

It was an amazing catch.  The boys linger in the beauty of Wong’s catch.  The tv continues to a commercial break.

I’m instantly drawn into the commercial.  The announcer’s voice pulls me into his story as images flash before me.

I look over at Max.

I see his life flash before my eyes.

He turns 16 tomorrow.

My heart is a bass drum, thudding against my chest.

I blink as my eyes cloud over.

Breathe, I whisper.

Just breathe.



I have been trying to get some walking time in every day.  Today I brought my camera along so you could take a walk with me.

20150630_094730  Charlie and Lucy are a little impatient at how slowly we are getting started.  “Speed it up a little,” says Luce.

20150630_095049  Finally, we are at the park.

20150630_095335 Head down the path.  There is a surprise at the top of the hill.

20150630_095351 Stop and notice the beauty of the field as we walk up the hill.  It looks so inviting.  I love imagining the rabbits who make their home in that field.

20150630_095432 Aren’t these pretty?  They are so delicate.  I have no idea what they are truly called, but I call them Chinese feather dusters.  Chinese because they are red, delicate, and they remind me of calligraphy pens.

20150630_095450_HDR  SURPRISE!  There is a pond at the top of the hill.  I wonder if we will see any frogs or turtles this morning?  Or perhaps a glimpse of the fish from Sam’s fish tank he relocated here last week.  🙂

20150630_095648 Aren’t these purple flowers regal?

20150630_095514 Or how about the Queen Anne’s lace?  Whenever I see these flowers I remember my grandmother.  She had these on her farm and I would collect handfuls of them to fill up her vases in the summer when we would visit.  She would always exclaim they were her favorite.

20150630_095738 There is something so happy about daisies. I imagine them cheering me on as I walk, saying, “Yay, you’re back.  So good to see you this morning.”

20150630_095918 I don’t know what kind of berry this is.  It looks like a cross between a blackberry and a raspberry.  But look how it is surrounded by “leaves of three”.  I think I will let them be.

20150630_100130 Just missed capturing the snake with the camera that slithered past.  I guess he was on a morning “wriggle”.

20150630_100208 This is “Deer Hill”.  Often you will see a few munching as you walk past.  Not today, though.

20150630_100225 Look how this spiderweb is shaped like a bowl.  Wow!

20150630_100428 These are some of the biggest leaves I have ever seen.  What is this plant?

20150630_100714 Stop and gather some dandelions for Oshie.  These aren’t allowed in our yard and they are his FAVORITE!

20150630_100835 Time to head home.  Our footprints linger just a bit longer at the park.  Thanks for coming on my walk with me.

The Choice

20150622_200204Every parent has been there.  That moment when you see your child not being successful at something you know they desperately want to be successful in.  You have seen their shoulders roll forward, the head drop.  Their body screams defeated. It is a horrible place to be.

Last night was the first game of the playoffs for Sam’s baseball team.  My son was pumped up!  During dinner, he visualized all the what-ifs and the could be’s for the game.  He has had a GREAT season.  He continually makes plays at first and has become a hitter. He was right to expect good things. However, the first inning did not go as he had planned.  He missed a wild throw from third to first and didn’t make the out.  Later that same inning, the ball that was hit to first rolled past and continued on to the outfield allowing the runner to get a double.  Frustrating?  Oh, yeah.  At the end of the inning, he walked back to the dugout and wilted like a flower.

We all have these moments.  We have to make a choice.  Do we give up and stay married to our failure or do we choose to say, “Yeah, that sucked.  But that’s not who I am.”  Last year at this time, I can tell you which choice Sam would have made. The easy choice.  “Hello, Failure.  Let’s hang out together for the rest of the night and maybe into tomorrow.”

But last night, I realized my son had grown more than just in height this past year. Something happened on that bench in the dugout before he got up to bat. He walked out to bat with his head up, determined–not resigned. And he smacked that ball to the outfield. Again and again last night he hit the ball, made the plays, pitched the strikes.  He helped take the team to victory and Game 2 of the playoffs.

He ended up having the game he imagined at dinner. It was wonderful to watch. I was proud every time his bat sent the ball to the outfield, every time his throw was straight and true, every time his glove caught the throw.  But I was most proud in his determination and attitude.  Baseball is a great game. Playing it has brought Sam joy, friends, and skills.  And perhaps, it has prepared him for the game of life.


The Invitation

He stands at the top of the stairs and whistles down to me.SOL

“Hey, would you want to go on a walk with me?”

My heart jumps.

Eighteen years on Sunday and he still does that to me.

I look up at him from below.

I smile.

Stolen time, alone together from this crowded house now that school is out.

“Let me grab my shoes.”

Role Reversal


It is just past 2:00 pm and I am sitting at the kitchen table. Max and I have just returned from buying more things for his car. I am tired. I am a tad frustrated. I missed lunch. In front of me sits a box of Dunkin Donuts, purchased fresh that morning. I only had one that morning. I hear the donuts calling out to me from inside the box. I reach into the box and pull out the chocolate cake donut that was calling to me. His voice was rising above the others.

dunkin donutI tear him in half and return half to the box. I quickly bite into the half remaining in my hand. Mmmmm.  Delicious.

The first half seems to disappear in moments. The other half is calling out to me from the box, wanting to join his other half in my stomach. I reach back into the box to retrieve it. As I take a bite, Sam walks by and sees me. He surveys the scene. His eyes miss nothing. I don’t make eye contact. I focus on the donut.

He looks at me and asks, “Mom, are you stress eating?”

His voice is filled with disappointment. The kind of disappointment we put in our voice when we catch children misbehaving or dogs chewing up paper on the floor. And if that wasn’t enough, his eyes narrow and give me “the look”. You know “the look”.  It is the look teachers have and use on students all the time when they are making unwise choices and we know they know better. It is the look I have used on Sam many a time and he has seen me use on others. It is the look that makes people remorseful and regret their choices.

Sam sighs and reaches over for the Dunkin Donuts box. He lifts it off the table and carries it to the kitchen counter behind me, removing it from my view. His job finished, he grabs his glove and heads outside to the pitch back leaving me to wonder, how did our roles get reversed?

Behind Me


When Scott and I were newly married, we took a Discovery class offered by our church.  The purpose of the class was to help us identify our calling–what God created us to do.  We were told our calling is where our passions and our interests intersect.  Seventeen years ago, I figured out my calling, and it hasn’t changed since.  I am passionate about kids, teaching, and reading.  Through this class and prayer, I discovered my calling is to help kids learn to read so one day they would be able to use this skill to find God.  This was my goal when I was in the classroom, and it is my goal still as I work with teachers.  I want them to help their students fall in love with reading, so one day they can fall in love with God.

You know that saying, “Behind every good man is an even better woman”?  My saying would be, “Behind every good woman is an even better man.”  I would not be able to do the things I do if it weren’t for my husband.  I left today and won’t be home until Friday.  During these four days, not only will he go in to his own office to work, he will also coach three baseball practices/ games, chauffeur two boys to and from school, baseball practices, drum lessons, chapel practice, youth group, and the early morning bus for the competition Max is competing in on Friday.  He will fix breakfasts, help determine lunches, cook dinner, help with homework, wash and iron clothes, feed two dogs, help corral one rabbit after exercise time, and if that weren’t enough, it is When In Rome Day in the fifth grade on Friday, and Sam needs to wear a toga to school.

My husband’s willingness to stay home and “man” the house (pun not intended, but it is funny!) allows me to work towards my calling.  To say I am grateful, would be an understatement. However, I guess that is what love is and what love does. Love thinks of the other person when making decisions.  Love is using actions to support the hopes and dreams of the other.  Love is saying, “Go, I got this.  We will be fine.”

So while I am off spreading the love of literacy across this great state, my husband will be home, spreading love to our two boys, our two dogs, and our rabbit.  And let’s not forget, he will be creating a toga!