Scintilla 2013


Scintilla 2013 | Day 12 | when I grow up

So Scintilla is officially over.  But I’ve got one more prompt I want to answer.  You can read my previous Scintilla 13 posts here. Thanks for reading.

Prompt 12: What would it have been like if your life had turned out the way you wanted when you were a kid?

When I was a kid, I wanted to be Reba McEntire.

My mom took me to see Reba in concert – my first concert – when I was about eight-years-old.  I’d memorized all her songs, could reenact her music videos in elaborately staged numbers in my bedroom, singing into a hair brush microphone.

I thought it would be awesome to be Reba, but I figured that probably wasn’t a career option, or a life option.  But other than my fascination with Reba, I didn’t have a lot of ideas about how I wanted my life to turn out when I was a kid.  I didn’t think about what my life would look like exactly.  I never thought about my wedding day, never imagined a husband or children.

Not that I didn’t want those things, but I didn’t dream of those things, either.

So I have to wonder: how did I end up here?

I don’t know.  But I admire the kid I was who seemed to know everything would just turn out okay.  That she didn’t need a specific plan.

In some ways everything in my life has gone according to plan, at least the plan I instated back as a senior in high school.  I went to a good school, graduated, got an advanced degree.  Got married, bought a house, got a dog, had a baby, and now I’m expecting another.

That was pretty much in my plan.  But I didn’t plan on leaving my job.  And Dan and I didn’t plan for the kind of job he has now that has him working from home some weeks and flying all over God’s green Earth other weeks.

In this moment, I’m in the tentative planning stages for my next act, what will happen after this baby is born, what life will look like a year from now.  And I’m taking a page from kid Sarah who just knew everything would work out.  All I can do is make the best decision I can with the facts at hand, add a little faith and trust in the process, and stand back and watch it unfold.

And if it doesn’t work out, I’ll call up Reba McEntire and see what she’s up to.

Scintilla 2013 | Day 11 | Fear

So Scintilla is official over.  But I’ve got a few prompts I want to answer and stories to share, so I plan to finish the last few prompts over the next couple of days.  You can read my previous Scintilla 13 posts here. Thanks for reading.

Prompt 11:  Fears come in different sized packages. Tell the story of a time you had a face a fear, big or small.

The summer Kate was born was also the Summer of the Serial Burglar here in Northern Virginia.

People all over Northern Virginia reported that someone broke into their homes and stole cash from purses and kitchen drawers and wallets on counters.  And it always seemed to happen at night.  While the homeowners were sleeping.  One time a man even reported sleeping downstairs on a couch and waking up to realize money was missing.

That means this serial burglar must have walked right passed him while he was sleeping to steal the money.

Another time a family’s set of trained attack dogs slept while this serial burglar entered the home, stole cash, and slipped out all without waking trained attack dogs.


This situation had me a little more than spooked.

This situation had my post-partum self completely freaked out.

Dan left to resume his busy travel schedule when Kate was between six and eight weeks old.  Meaning, I was still in the throws of post-partum wackoness.  I was already convinced of immedinding doom: Kate would stop breathing in her sleep, she’d fall ill with some strange and unheard of disease, someone would snatch her right out of the Baby Bjorn at the grocery, I’d fall while carrying her down the stairs.

And now I had to add Serial Burglar Home Invasion to the list of things I was tweaked about.

When Dan left for business trips that summer, I’d draw all the blinds in the house, closing out the lovely summer light, and sit errect on my couch for most of the day.  I didn’t want to leave.  But I didn’t want to stay either.  I’d slide my fingers between the slats of the blinds and peak out into the street, taking note of the cars passing by because the police said to notify them if the same car drove back and forth in front of the street more than a few times.

I plead the fifth on how many times I called the non-emergency police number.

Anyway, this serial burglar thing terrified me.  When Dan traveled, I never slept.  I’d go without sleep – with a newborn – for days until Dan returned and I was so far deep into the lack of sleep crazy cycle I think Dan contemplated knocking me out just to end the crazy.

My Dad tried to convince me this serial burglar was probably just a druggie interested in snatching cash to pay for said drugs.  That this person was not a criminal mastermind.  That this person was probably not interested in hurting anyone because this person never entered into an alteracation with the homeowners.  And this person only entered homes with the doors unlocked.  Never a forced entry.

Well you best be certain I checked and checked and checked the locks on our doors each night while Dan was out of town until I drove myself crazy.  I worried that in my sleepless state I’d leave our front door wide open.

So when the police caught the serial burlger, (Who, get this, was found out because he was stopped for a traffic violation and consented to a search of his car.  Okay, I guess my Dad was right, he wasn’t a criminal mastermind.) you’d think I’d stop worrying that a random person would break into my house and steal my child.  But I didn’t.

Before I went to bed at night for that first year of her life, I’d stand over her bed and feel my heart lurch with love and fear.  I loved her so much I was afraid.  That because I was given this perfect gift, this special little girl who brings light and joy into my family’s life, that it would be all taken away.

I lived in this state for longer than was comfortable.  Every time I’d watch Kate run around the playground I’d be seized with heartpounding love and gut wrenching fear.  It was exhausting.

As Kate got older and less wobbly and baby like, the fear lifted slightly.  And as I got more comfortable with motherhood, the fear eased a little more.  And a little more.  But still a part of the fear lingered that prevented me from fully loving and embracing being a mother.

Now that Kate’s almost three and everyone sleeps through the night and I’m no longer a complete nut when Dan goes out of town, I can see another way to think about this fear that something terrible is about to happen.  That maybe instead of, as Brene Brown says, foreboding joy, I could lean into gratefulness when I feel that fear creep in.  Instead of letting fear run amuck, I can let gratefulness wash over me.

Worrying about your kid is natural.  I suppose it would be worrisome if I didn’t have some worry inside me.  It’s that piece of worry that lets me anticipate what sort of dangerous ideas Kate has cooking in her head.  Like I know when she’s being too quiet that she’s probably scaling her closet shelves or that I know she can’t be trusted in the front lawn alone even for a second because if she sees the neighbor boys, she’ll run across the street.

That’s good worry because it prevents incidents that are highly probable.  But letting fear creep in that tries to convince me that Kate will get ebola?  Not so much.

So when I feel that crazy Serial Burglar fear, I fall into gratefulness.  I am grateful for this moment.  For this sloppy, sticky Kate kiss.  For this beautiful moment where Kate climbs all over the playground, squealing and shouting and being a kid and I get to soak it in and forget – if even for a moment – all the whining and crying and grocery store tantrums.

I’ll never stop worrying about her.  And I worry the progress I made might be reset after Baby Boy Bagley makes an arrival.  But when I feel fear pulling at me and trying to get me to go down the Serial Burglar terror rabbit hole, I sit quietly and place my hands on my watermellon belly, feeling my son punch and kick and breathe in grateful.

Scintilla 2013 | Day 10 | Control, or loosing control

Scintilla is a two-week storytelling adventure.  Each weekday for two weeks I will write a post based on the daily prompt.  Sign up and play along!

Prompt 10: We exert control over ourselves and others in many ways. Talk about a time when you lost that control. This can go beyond the obvious emotional control into things like willpower, tidiness, self-discipline, physical prowess – any time that you felt your autonomy slipping away.

Dan and I attended our first parent-teacher conference a couple of weeks ago at Kate’s preschool.  Her teacher described her as “a ray of sunshine” and “a leader in the classroom.”

We weren’t sure who she was talking about.

When I relayed the teacher’s comments to my mom, she said, “Well, she’s certainly the leader at your house.”

With some of the stuff that comes out of Kate’s mouth, Dan and I look at each other, shake our heads, and chalk it up to Kate’s “natural leadership.”

A few of Kate’s recent control-taking comments:

Scenario 1: I observe Kate walk to the bathroom.

Mama: Kate, what’s going on, need help in here?

Kate, while shutting the door in my face: Mama, don’t come in here ’cause I’m busy.

Scenario 2: Night night time, Dan and I both in her room doing the bedtime routine.

Mama: Kate, I love you.

Kate, directed to Dan: I want Mama to leave.

Scenario 3: On the drive home from preschool

Mama: Kate, I missed you, how was your day?


Other daily gems include: THAT’S WHAT I SAID!  And: I’M BUSY!  And, of course: THAT’S ENOUGH, BELLE!

Oh, my.  Is she 2?  Or is she 12?


Scintilla 2013 | Day 9 | Baby picture

Scintilla is a two-week storytelling adventure.  Each weekday for two weeks I will write a post based on the daily prompt.  Sign up and play along!

Prompt 9: Post a photo of yourself from before age 10. Write about what you remember of the day the photo was taken. It may not be a full story—it may just be flashes of event and emotion—but tap into the child you were as much as you can.


I think I’m in the two-to-three month range in this picture.  It’s my first passport shot.  And that hair?  Kate is definitely my child.

Scintilla 2013 | Day 8 | Rewind

Scintilla is a two-week storytelling adventure.  Each weekday for two weeks I will write a post based on the daily prompt.  Sign up and play along!

Prompt 8: Sometimes we wish we could hit the rewind button. Talk about an experience that you would do over if you could.

Coulda, woulda, shoulda.

It’s tempting to go down that I should have done x path.  I could have done things differently.  But for me, that kind of thinking is dangerous and gets me into a pit of despair.  That kind of thinking paralyzes me from making choices in the here and now.

I don’t always like how everything is going in my life.  But when I think about how I got here and where here is, I wouldn’t want to change a thing.

When I was an undergraduate and making lots of decisions – big and small – for myself, I hemmed and hawed much of the time.  I’d call my mom and ask her should I take this class, should I pursue this major, should I try for this opportunity?  What’s the most perfect choice?  What’s the best course of action?

My mom taught me two things:

1) There is no perfect choice.

2) Make the best decision you can with the facts at hand.

The more choices I’ve made, the more I realize the wiseness in my mom’s words.  When I decided to graduate college in three years, when Dan and I decided to get married, when we both decided on changing jobs, when we purchased our home, when we decided to have children.  Could we have done some things differently?  Absolutely.  But did we make the best decisions with the facts at hand?  Definitely.  And would I change a thing?  No way.



Scintilla 2013 | Day 7 | Know by heart

Scintilla is a two-week storytelling adventure.  Each weekday for two weeks I will write a post based on the daily prompt.  Sign up and play along!

Prompt 7: What is the longest thing you know by heart (for example, a prayer, speech, commercial jingle, etc.)? Why did you learn it?

I attended a very conservative Baptist Christain school from grades kindergarten through third grade.  My parents worked full time, and we were living in an area where the public schools didn’t offer before or after school care.  This Christain school did.  So that’s where I went to school.

At the time the school required all girls to wear dresses or skirts.  No pants.  In this suburb of Chicago.  Where it is freezing cold seven months out of the year.  So I wore a skirt or a dress everyday and also learned to recite many a Bible verses.  None of which I remember.

But I do remember – and can recite – all the books of the Old Testament – in order.

As part of my third grade education, I was required to learn all of the books of the Old Testament in order and be able to recite and spell them.  While those Bible verses never managed to stick around longer than exam day, those books of the Old Testament are firmly lodged in my brain.

I can still recite all the books of the Old Testament in order.  And whenever I think of the Old Testament I think about my Baptist school and the skirt or dress rule and how, looking back, I find some of their educational methods a bit…strange…and their disciplinary methods more so (think: paddle closet).

How is it that I can remember all the books of the Old Testament and forget my grocery list and wallet?  Do you ever wish you could selectively purge portions of your memory?  I do.  And I’d start with knowing all the books of the Old Testament.  Maybe it has something to do with the astounding number of talking tallys I racked up at that school or how I’d worry some boy would look up my skirt at recess.