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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The View From Behind The Tee Box (Repost)

I have spent many days in the past few weeks driving a golf cart over rolling hills, trying desperately to keep my eye on a tiny ball shot through the air and holding my breath as it rolls toward a black hole on a perfectly manicured green.  I've had to bite my tongue so that I won't bring out my "baseball mom voice" to cheer too loudly when things go right.  I've tried to conjure up jedi mind tricks to stare hope and perseverance back into my son's thoughts when things go wrong.

As for my personal experience with the game, it was short lived.  I took lessons seventeen years ago and played a few holes with some girlfriends that long ago summer.  The next summer found all three of us pregnant and spending our summer shopping for strollers and cribs.  It was - to be sure - a devastating blow to the future of women's golf.  My experience was that I could hit five ridiculously awful shots and then one perfectly beautiful shot. It is true that in that one shot, anyone, on any course, suddenly believes that he or she is the next Tiger Woods.  Those perfect shots were very few and far between for me, so the time I spend on the golf course now includes no clubs, just carts and cameras.

From behind my lens, I have determined that golf is both infuriating and exhilarating,  In watching my son play, I feel like I am observing some fickle girl who makes him feel like he is the love of her life, only to change her mind minutes later, breaking his heart.  And then she comes back, flicking her hair and batting her eyelashes, making him feel like a hero again.

That two-bit tramp. ;-)

Still, as frustrating as this game is, it takes place in the most perfectly serene of settings. I have to be still and quiet and my being welcomes that.  I am surrounded by white puffy clouds, brilliant blue skies and trees of every sort and size.  Often I find myself pulling up next to a mama deer and her baby. They are rarely fazed by me.

My son, his teammates and his opponents are calm and measured. (Mostly calm and measured.  Admittedly, my boy's own baseball voice makes an appearance on occasion)  They help each other in reading putts and clarifying rules.  They are polite and dignified, talking quietly with each other and encouraging opponents with, "Good ball." or "That'll play.  Nice shot."

The golf season for me is a welcome change from rowdy baseball crowds and blazing sun.  It is soft breezes and singing birds.  It is whispered encouragement and gentlemanly handshakes.  And for a few hours this:

It is almost impossible to remember how tragic a place this world is when one is playing golf.
-Robert Lynd

God finds me in both the oddest and the most ordinary of places.  Reminding me of the gift of this day, the gift of this creation and the extraordinary gift of this boy.

"No other game combines the wonder of nature with the discipline of sport in such carefully planned ways.  A great golf course both frees and challenges a golfer's mind.
- Tom Watson

"I'm about five inches from being an outstanding golfer. That's the distance my left ear is from my right."
-Ben Crenshaw

"What other people may find in poetry or art museums, I find in the flight of a good drive."
~Arnold Palmer

"They call it golf because all the other four letter words were taken."
- Raymond Floyd

"Golf is the closest game to the game we call life.  You get bad breaks from good shots, you get good breaks from bad shots, but you have to play the ball where it lies." 
-Bobby Jones

"One of the most fascinating things about golf is how it reflects the cycle of life. No matter what you shoot, the next day you have to go back to the first tee and begin all over again and make yourself into something."
~Peter Jacobsen

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Girl on Fire

Hi, Friends,

I just wanted to check in right quick because it's been awhile. For the last few summers, I've been sure that I would be putting a priority on my writing. I imagined long stretches of time for writing submissions for magazines and online publications - maybe even working on a book. When imagining those long, wide open days, I never seem to remember that what I write about is the life of a mother and wife and if I'm not doing this life with full and present focus, then the writing can't come anyway. Summer around here, while not fancy and exciting, is still full and busy with living. I'd love to tell you that I've been summering in the Hamptons or Jackson Hole or wherever people who use "summer" as a verb do so. But I haven't. I've been summering right here in Virginia which feels exactly like the surface of the sun.

Last week, I spent my time schlepping teenagers to basketball camp, feeding teenagers all manner of teenager food, and eavesdropping on teenager conversations while they hung out in the pool. What I keep finding is that teenaged boys are smart and engaging and straight-up hilarious. They smell a little bit sometimes and individually, they can be closed off and moody, but I find if you get a whole mess of them together they can be delightful. I find no drama among them. No hurt feelings or efforts to be the head of the pack. This "enjoyable teenager" thing continues to be a shocking revelation to me. So far, I'm a fan.

Speaking of fans, I've also spent the last couple of weeks watching various Little League baseball games. I know you are shocked to hear this. My kid is not even on this team, but I think we've previously established that I have an obsession with Little League that borders on HEY, WEIRDO, GET A LIFE. The thing is that this summer our Little Leaguers are repeating what Drew's team did last year. Last year, we won the district and the state and got to the regional championship game only to fall short of the title. But I think these boys are going to take that last game this year. The world has been dark and twisted and getting on my last nerve. And watching little boys who are seemingly a gazillion runs down come roaring back to win the game is insanely fun. When the news would have us cowering in the corner of our homes in despair, I'd rather just celebrate the fire out of every little thing I can find to celebrate. So, bring it on, Little League. I'm in.  

Speaking of fire, the other matter I've been dealing with is wondering if we all might burst into flames at any minute because DEAR SWEET LORD THE HEAT. You will recall that I hate winter with a passion and every summer, I vow that I will not complain about the heat. Yesterday, when we went out for a walk, I turned to Steve and asked him if my shoulder was actually on fire. I was certain I needed to Stop, Drop and Roll.  Here's a photo of us yesterday when the "feels like" temperature was a balmy 109 here in Virginia.

Still, we are determined to power through this vacation staying hydrated and keeping the a/c cranking. I'll likely continue to be absent from the blog for the rest of the week, but if you are really bored you might be able to find me on Facebook HERE, Instagram HERE and Twitter (barely ever) HERE.  You will see no political posts from me, so if that's what you're up for go find me. You will likely not find much else interesting, but I'll give it a shot.

The last thing I feel I am obligated to say to you before I go is NORDSTROM ANNIVERSARY SALE. I know the thought of putting socks and boots on our feet right now makes us feel a little woozy, but it will cool off soon and the prices on fall clothes are RIDICULOUS. I'm eyeing all things Frye and sending links to my husband telling him he can be completely done with shopping for Christmas, my birthday, Valentine's and Mother's Day with one click. I'm quite sure that he is promptly deleting said emails, but a girl can dream.

THIS BAG is gone now. I am going to imagine that my husband snatched up the last one just for me because the heat has made me delusional.

THESE BOOTS are still on sale. My feet are sweating just thinking about it, but there will be a day when the baseball game will go into extra innings and I will be so cold I will not care who wins as long as someone will just get the last out. And to keep my mind off of it, I will stare down at my boots and remember the summer that I tried to stay away from flammable liquids lest I become a human torch.

There are so many more great things on sale, but I have to go because I have to burn through my data by live streaming a bunch of 10 year olds playing baseball in about 20 minutes.

I hope you are enjoying your summer, hugging on your people, and just generally loving the heck out of anything you want to love the heck out of. Life is good. It is messy and scary sometimes, but it is good.

And also it is hot.

PS. Yell, loud, Loudoun South Mamas! I'll be listening!

Friday, July 15, 2016

5 Things on a Friday: Searching for Joy

It's another Friday. Another Friday after another horrifying Thursday. I was in a basketball gym and didn't know what had happened in France until very late last night. I scrolled through my Facebook posts as Drew's team was warming up and I saw a number of vague posts referencing our broken world and evil and fear, but I didn't realize that something else had happened.

It's odd. Our summer sermon series at church is on  Galatians 5:22-23, the fruits of the spirit. This past Sunday the sermon was on joy. This weekend it will be on peace. I do not believe that our world is bereft of these two. I do not believe that the entire world has gone mad. I believe that there is more good than there is evil. That there is more love than there is hate. There has been, there is and there will again be trouble. This I know because the Bible told me so. I'm not dismissing evil. I'm not discounting it. I'm not ignoring it. In light of the absolute truth that many in our world are desperately broken, I'm going to search for joy today. I'm going to grab hold of it, share it and ask the Lord for help in creating it.

So here are 5 Things on a Friday. Please, do enjoy the joy and let's keep praying that it won't be so terribly hard to find it, it won't be so terribly hard to share it and it won't be so terribly hard to be it for the world today.

Do all the good you can and then come home to your mother

Joe has been in Sneedville, Tennessee with his youth group all week for a mission trip with the Jubilee Project. There was no cell service so I haven't heard his voice or seen his texts in a week and I can't wait for him to get home today. The last text I got from him was about 30 minutes into his 6 hour road trip with his one of the adults going on the trip who happens to be his baseball coach and some other youth including some teenaged girls. I had been all emotional after dropping him off and sent him a mushy text. This is what I got back:

Luckily, one of the youth directors had cell service and sent me a couple of pics of my boy painting the roof of a house and cuddling a sweet baby girl when the youth offered childcare service during the Women's Ministry being held that week. So this is the joy: a kid on his way home, a kid following God's call and a mama watching his friends and him try very hard to carry out the words of John Wesley: 

Do all the good you can, 
By all the means you can, 
In all the ways you can, 
In all the places you can, 
At all the times you can, 
To all the people you can, 
As long as you ever can.

Ode to Joy Flash Mob

In preparation for his sermon on joy last week, our pastor sent this youtube video. You cannot help but smile and cry tears of joy when you watch this. It's perfectly beautiful.


The Chicken Runs at Midnight

You take a baseball coach and you mash it up with an inspiring story about a young cancer fighter and then you mash that up with a  rock solid sign from above that a departed loved one is really not so far away and I AM IN. Steve and I watched this on ESPN last week after church and we could not stop smiling. I PROMISE you that the 15 minutes you will give to watch this will be worth your time. And if you don't believe in signs and messages sent from above?  If you just think that this crazy beautiful story is a matter of coincidence? Just open up that mind a teeny bit, for just a second. Just consider it for a second. In that second, I think, you might feel immeasurable joy. Just try it. 

Thai Peanut Chicken Wraps and Shaken Iced Tea Lemonade from Starbucks

Sometimes joy is in the little things. Especially when you've been running 456 errands and it's approximately 456 degrees and you realize that it's about 456 o'clock and you haven't eaten. These two together are my new favorite things at Starbucks. And if you would have told me a month ago that I would ever go through a drive through and not leave with a large Diet Coke I would have called you bananas. A tea that costs almost $5.00 is definitely bananas, I know. But I can tell you what can make you feel better about that. Pay for the car behind you. It's easy. It's fun. It's being joy in Starbucks drive through line.

Justin Timberlake Joy (of course)

A couple of months ago in the weeks after our friend, Tom, passed away suddenly, I would find myself hard pressed to stop tears coming down my face when I drove Drew to school each morning. I'd try to hide them under my sunglasses, but Drew would know. Automatically, he would take control of the music situation in the car and every single time he would put on a JT song from my Iphone and glance over at me. Pretty soon, we would both start singing and smiling. That boy knows his mama well. Lately, Drew and I have pretty much nailed the Drink You Away lyrics. There is nothing more adorable than looking over at my little guy belting out, "Now, tell me baby! Don't they make a medicine for heeearrttt break?" Which reminds me that the CMA performance of this song which it seems I have mentioned no less than a hundred times is 4 minutes and 31 seconds of pure joy.

Have a great weekend, Friends!!! Take Joy.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Tell Me Somethin' Good

I haven't written a blog post for Kyle's Kamp in awhile. When I first joined this cause I agreed to write a  monthly blog for the site. Sometimes it's hard. And honestly, despite the subject matter, sometimes it's easy. Being in the presence of the children, families, doctors, nurses and advocates I have met in the pediatric cancer community is awe-inspiring. It's brutal and beautiful all at the same time. There are so many lessons to be learned and perspectives to be explored. There is no doubt that these experiences have informed and inspired my writing and, in many cases, made it better. Still, there are moments when I sit at this keyboard and the words will not come. There are times that I wonder if there is anything left to say. I wonder if my words have become not encouraging, but empty. Not hopeful, but burdensome.

The last time I wrote here was six months ago. As I sat shocked and numb by the news of the sudden death of a four year old girl who had seemingly beaten leukemia, I tapped out words and wondered how many in the Kyle's Kamp community could move forward after becoming so attached to a sunny-faced beauty like Kate. I wondered if we wouldn't just want to throw up our hands in defeat. I wondered if anyone would ever tell me something good around here.


Monday, July 11, 2016

1 Thing on a Monday: Have Mercy on Us

It's Monday and I haven't posted in a week.

And although I'm not all that consistent here - especially in the summer - I actually had written most of a fun 5 Things on a Friday post last week. I didn't post it because generally most of those five things are somewhat frivolous. Which is fine on a lot of Fridays. But didn't seem fine on that Friday.

Dallas is where I was born and I lived in and around Dallas until I left for college. Much of my family is still in the Dallas area. And in my heart, Dallas's people are my people. So for me, the fact that shooting and killing and chaos and tragedy happened in my city as opposed to somewhere else made me feel that posting about a summer recipe or a cute pair of shoes or a fun, new song would be all kinds of wrong.

And honestly, while I felt that was an appropriate decision in light of what happened, I wonder if my hesitance to post that day was even more of an indication that often we simply don't let pain register with us until it happens to the people and the places we consider our own. Would I have kept the 5 Things on a Friday in the draft folder if that tragedy had happened in Seattle or St. Louis or Philadelphia?

Because before the horrific events in my hometown happened, there was an exceptional amount of violence elsewhere. And I was sickened by the images I saw earlier that week. Maybe it would have been more appropriate had I gone the other way completely and instead of posting 5 Things on a Friday, written a political or cultural commentary. But I didn't and I won't. I would contend that there is plenty of noise out there already. And just because I might have a blog and a thought or two in my head, it doesn't mean I need to rush to the computer and spew that all out. It seems to me that what social media creates in us is a feeling that we absolutely must comment on every event that occurs, and often before we've really even thought it through. I don't think that's necessary for me. I don't think that's necessary in this space.

What happened in Dallas jolted me into realizing that hurt in our world is happening not only to my people or to your people or to their people. Suffering and brokenness and grief are happening to our people, no matter who we are or where we live and we must acknowledge that.

A post by Anna Whiston Donaldson last week put it perfectly:

"We can shut down and say we don't want to hear about the hard stuff any more-- the ugly stuff in our neighborhoods, our country, and our world. We can cover our ears and think, "Nope. Only that which applies to MY FAMILY and MY STORY is important." We can be in denial and refuse to acknowledge pain, racism, and  injustice if it doesn't touch us personally.

It's a luxury to be able to live that way, complacently putting our trust in the walls that separate our experience from others, but I don't think that's how we are supposed to exist. Your pain should be my pain, your story, my story.

One aspect of the verse, "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit" is that sometimes WE are the way that closeness and help comes, from being called to seek justice and mercy and step into each other's lives, in letting God use us in love."
(see the whole post HERE)

What Anna wrote resonated with me on Thursday afternoon. What Anna wrote convicted me on Friday morning. I think that existing with the understanding that our people are in pain requires something of me. I'm pretty sure it requires a lot of me. I can assure you that I do not even remotely have a fully formed answer for what this requirement entails. All I know now is that there is deep pain and deep suffering in the hearts of all of my people in all of my country.

So for me, I won't be writing a long cultural commentary on my blog. I won't be pontificating on Facebook or tweeting with all manner of hashtags and slogans because I don't have an answer. What I will do is think on these events and pray on these events and talk with my children and my husband and friends about these events, in person. And then, maybe some of what is required of me will become clearer. Until then, I'll start with the words from my Bible and I'll ponder what these words call me to in my home, in my neighborhood and indeed, throughout His kingdom.

"He has told you, O man, what is good;
 And what does the Lord require of you?
To do justice, to love kindness
and to walk humbly with your God."
Micah 6:8

Dear Lord. Have mercy on us, each and every one.

Monday, July 4, 2016

On Losing & Loving (and Little League, of course)

Well, it's summer and that means it's Little League All-Star baseball season, but I haven't written much about it yet. It's the most fun to write about this season when it's about wins and comebacks. I love me some stories about resilience and teamwork. And if I can mention a double play or a home run? GET ME TO THE KEYBOARD.

In the best of games all of those things can happen. And we've had some games like that so far this summer. But in the very same game errors and strike outs can happen. Dropped fly balls and missed throws can happen. Sometimes, a crushing loss in extra innings happens. Sometimes we find ourselves on the other side of cheering and fist pumps and victorious dog piles. Sometimes the climb for that big ol' championship banner becomes awfully steep.

And sometimes the mama/writer watches it play out and thinks on it and also happens to listen to a sermon at church on 1 Corinthians 13 the next day. And she realizes that the little things in life with her children that she wants to write about shouldn't only be the happy, triumphant moments. She realizes that sometimes love and life and parenthood get all mixed up with sadness and loss and defeat. And she thinks that those disappointing moments are as worthy of the words as all of the other moments are.

So, then she decides that the losing of a Little League baseball game in Virginia in 2016 and the Apostle Paul's perfect words about love to the people of Corinth in about 57 A.D. can be mashed up in a blog post all at the same time. I mean, really who doesn't?

So, here's what happens sometimes in Little League baseball. Sometimes there's a 6-3 lead in the bottom of the 6th for your guys and everybody's feeling like the team is about to be 3 and 0 in the tournament. Except everybody knows that this is baseball. And in this game, it ain't over 'til it's over. Because just like that, there can be a 3 run homer to tie it by the other guys. And then you've got some extra innings. And you and all the other mamas and daddies know that all of those boys on your team have practiced so hard and you love their sweet little faces and their grim determination so much, so you believe they can pull it off with all your heart.

Love believes all things. Love never gives up.

Suddenly, the other guys have a runner on 3rd and the ball is hit with a force that seems to your mama eye like a cannon right at your kid. And you want to write that your kid made a sick, ESPN-worthy play and threw it from his knees to get the out because you're a writer and you love it when the drama in the real world matches the drama in your head. But you can't. 'Cause he didn't. He wasn't able to make the play and the runner on 3rd crosses home plate for the run. So sometimes you lose 7-6 and you don't see the victorious leap into the air. You see something wholly the opposite.

The game was over and I stared out at that #6 position on the field. Realizing that the opponent was safe at 1st already and he wouldn't make the play, my boy smacked the ball to the ground. He ripped off his cap and slapped it against his hip. He sank to his knees and lay his forehead on the ground and I stared at his defeated, crumpled little body. The cheers from the other team floated above him like a cloud. I willed him with all my heart to pull it together.

Love is patient. Love is kind. 

We don't ask for perfection, but we do ask for good sportsmanship. And he isn't the type to cry or whine or throw things on the ball field often. But as I continued to watch, staring lasers into him from behind the fence, I really wasn't mad. I wasn't embarrassed. I wasn't disappointed. I just wanted him to rise up. I knew he felt like he had let his team down. "You can do it, kiddo. Get to the baseline, bud. Please, move your little feet toward your team. Please shuffle through the handshakes." And he did. The last one in line. Wiping his eyes, pulling his hat low. He shook the hands and walked the walk. He met his team in the huddle. And I stared at his hunched shoulders.

Love always hopes. It always trusts.

He made his way through the crowd of blessedly gracious parents. They, one by one, told him to keep his head up. They shouted his number, calling out, "Good game, 8!" He nodded at a few and I bit my tongue. The "parent" in me wanted to grab his arm and urge him to say thank you, but the "mama" in me wanted to wrap my arm around him like a secret service agent and hustle him out. As he rounded the corner with the refuge of his dad's truck in his sight a kind soul from the other team yelled out, "Hey, short! You're a heckuva player, kid." Good manners did not prevail. He kept his head down and held tight to that bat bag, rolling it through the gravel. He clearly wanted to get out of that park because he believes "There's no crying in baseball."

I wanted to hug that sweet man. I wanted to yell out to my boy, "Look that gentleman in the eye, Son. Say thank you." Instead, I let him go and I looked at the stranger with a shrug and said, "I'm so sorry. That is so nice of you. He just can't muster it now, but thank you." He nodded that he understood completely, "He's a player, ma'am. That's alright."

Love is not easily angered. It does not keep record of wrongs.

He made his way to his dad's truck and dropped his bag. He found a spot, sat up against the tire and folded his arms around his bent knees. He pulled the brim of his hat down low over his eyes to hide his tears. I followed not far behind.

Before I found my way to him my mama bear tendencies rose up as I heard one of my older boys mumble something behind me. I don't know what he said. It could have been something wonderful and encouraging, but I was quick to protect my littlest one from any instruction or "should haves" from his big brothers. So, I must admit, that I whipped around and pointed my finger at them both daring them to come an inch closer. "NOT.ONE.WORD. will you say to your little brother. Not now. DO.NOT.SAY.A.WORD. or I will rip someone's head off."

Ahem. I'm not proud of myself. It's just well, hell hath no fury. And also:

Love always protects.

I found my way to him. All the phrases, all the verses, all the encouragement like pin balls bouncing through my head. I must say something. I must remind him of all the good plays he made and that he mustn't focus on one play. I must remind him to keep his head up. I must remind him that baseball is just a game. That this is how baseball can be. I must remind him to be gracious in defeat. I must remind him that disappointment makes us stronger. I must remind him to get 'em next time. But ultimately, I decided differently.

Nope. I mustn't.

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy, but don't love, I am nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. 

Love doesn't force itself on others.

I must bite my lip and decide that motherly advice and admonitions have a time and a place and this is neither. I must simply crouch down between the cars in the graveled parking lot. There are no other eyes or ears on us. I must refrain from being his teacher, his coach, his mentor, his preacher. In the safe haven of a secluded spot behind his daddy's truck I must realize that some rules are meant to be broken and some lessons can wait. As the blessedly cool evening breeze blows through the sweaty red curls sticking out from beneath his cap, I must simply lay my hand on his heaving shoulder. I must press my lips to the top of the dirty baseball cap and whisper, "I love you, buddy. I'm so sorry." In some cases, away from the diamond, in the quiet presence of only his mama, it's quite alright if there is crying in baseball.

Later there will be a hot shower and a giant burrito from Chipotle and kisses from his puppy dog. The freckled face will ask when the next game is and he will smile again.

Because what the Apostle Paul wrote thousands of years ago to a city far away is the absolute truth today in my little corner of the world

Love never fails. 

Friday, July 1, 2016

5 Things on a Friday: It's JULY!!!

Hey, y'all!

It's Friday! It's July! It's a Friday in July! It's the Friday before the 4th of July! This is a big ol' deal! It's 5 Things on a Friday in July! Here we go!

1. Happy 4th, Y'all Napkins

I bought these napkins at World Market. They make me happy because I love combining America and a uniquely American vernacular with a handy paper product that will wipe up various mishaps that occur at weekend events that celebrate America.

2. God Centered Mom PodCast: Conversation with Jennifer Clouse

THIS episode of Heather MacFayden's God Centered Mom podcast absolutely blew me away. First of all, it seems that all of these people are from Dallas and the accents just make me so happy and settle my soul. Secondly, I have read Melanie Shankle's blog for years and Jennifer Clouse is one of her best friends. If you read Melanie's book, Nobody's Cuter Than You, you read some about Jennifer, and if you haven't read that book, I highly recommend it. Anyway, the entire podcast is wonderful. Jennifer is facing terminal breast cancer with a faith that is so inspiring. There were two parts that were my very favorite. When she mentioned holding our children loosely so that God can direct their paths which reminded me that ultimately it is God who will decide how these kiddos turn out, I had to stop my walk and sit on the curb for a bit. Also, the discussion of heaven is what really got me. It's just a beautiful perspective from someone who is facing death with such hope and faith. Let me just say this: lots of shoes without the sin of materialism. That's all I have to say. Just listen to the podcast and you'll get it.

3. Giddy Up, Eunice: Because Women Need Each Other by Sophie Hudson

Sophie Hudson writes one of the most endearing and hilarious blogs on the web. Giddy Up, Eunice is her third book and it is such an encouragement and so darn funny. I so appreciate a believer who can make me bust out laughing as she describes important moments in the Bible. For example, in discussing how women - at least as depicted in "reality" tv - can be relentlessly competitive, she mentions the grace with which Elizabeth, miraculously pregnant with John the Baptist in her 60s, receives her young cousin Mary's news about her own pregnancy. If rewritten for tv in 2016, Sophie imagines that Elizabeth might respond a little differently:

"Hey, Can I maybe just have A MINUTE to enjoy this pregnancy thing, and feel, I don't know, SPECIAL? Because, here I am, IN MY SIXTIES, feeling like a miracle because I'm finally having a baby, and then you walk up here all BOOM. JESUS. SAVIOR OF THE WORLD? That's a well-played trump card, sister. Good thing I enjoyed the spotlight before you snatched it right off of me."

Y'all. I had to put the book down I was laughing so hard. As funny as it is, this book also has made me cry and think hard about relationships with women across generations. It's a great read.

4. All the Sales for All the Things!!!

Friends, all the stores have lost their minds with all the sales on all the things. 

Loft is offering 50% off with code JULY4TH. I love their patterned shorts.

Anthropologie is offering 30% sale items with code EVENBETTER. I bought this dress for full price earlier this year because I loved it so much and now I'm filled with regret because it is waaayyy on sale now. I have actually worn it a ton, so I maybe I feel okay about it. Kinda.

JCrew Factory is having somewhere between 15% and 50% off and I can't even figure it out, but use the code HAPPYSALE and just see what happens. I will be purchasing this outfit for Fake Daughter and she will wear it to all the 4th of July parties.  

5. Best Summer Beverage Ever

I've heard all kinds of different names for this drink, but we tend to call it the AllStar Baseball Beverage around here. It's perfect for your 4th of July party. I'm pretty sure that Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin drank this all the time when discussing the fight for independence.

1 container of frozen pink lemonade
3 LIGHT beers
3/4 cup of vodka

Happy 4th, Y'all!!!