moving on, happy goodbye

Hey readers out there...

It's a new, strange, glorious time of life for us Evans. In light of that, I'm transitioning to a new blog with a new blogging purpose.

It's called The Beanstalk. It's going to be about becoming a family. Guarantee it won't be tidy, but it'll probably be humorous and honest and very, very human.

Thanks for reading this blog for FOUR big years. Honestly, lots of love to you.


p.s. The Beanstalk


dear mom and dad,

Dear mom and dad,

Thank you for listening to Billy Joel and James Taylor when we were growing up. Whenever I listen to either it floods me with such warmth and peace that I cannot begin to describe. I think it’s sort of funny that we listened to that rather than children’s music, hymns and Raffi and all that, which is supposed to be developmentally helpful. But I think that good music helped me develop. I will listen to good, soulful music with my children as they grow up because I think that the good music we listened to as little kids gave me a good taste for music as an adult. You also instilled me with a love for classical (mom)—Pachelbel’s Canon, George Winston, and oldies (dad)—all we listened to in the station wagon. I still know most of the oldies that ever come on, though I don’t know their names.

Thank you for having me so soon after you had Hannah. I know that those years when I was just a little thing and Hannah was a kooky toddler and we had no money were probably very stressful at times. You have both said that you made a lot of mistakes, but I don’t really see that looking back. I’m more thankful for her than almost anything, and I’ve loved coming up right behind her. She was a good one to follow. Today she took me to Target to help me register for baby stuff, an event which would have completely unhinged me had I to do it alone, but that she made fun. She has become the best thing—sisterfriend—and it started such a long time ago when you corralled us to become playmates.

Thank you for not making me play sports. A lot of people I know had to play a sport growing up even if they didn’t like it. I understand that that was a way to keep a kid healthy, but I was not athletic or particularly competitive so you just let me sing. I think that’s what kept me healthy really. I felt so proud and beautiful when I sang with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Somehow we were always healthy too, probably because of running around the neighborhood enough to offset the homemade chocolate chip cookies and Breyer’s ice cream we had most nights after dinner.

Thank you for having one more kid, and dad, thanks that he was a boy. I know that at first I wasn’t overly enthusiastic about his presence, but it’s crazy how much I fell in love with my brother. He is the most kind, wonderful, sensitive, kindly disposed person and I love that he got your family’s height, mom. I loved when people thought we were twins in college because he had started swimming again and his hair went blonde. I’m so glad you had a boy, dad, because I think you did such a great job showing him how to be a man.

Thank you for never dieting, for buying one percent milk instead of skim, kielbasa, and hot dogs. Thank you for taking us to Disney World before and after Kyle was born, and then again when I was in college. Thank you for letting my hair grow like wild weeds. Thank you for working for Young Life, to teach us the value of relationships, Jesus and money. Thank you for having big dogs so we were never afraid. Thank you for making Hannah and me share a room. Thank you for letting us play outside until after dark in the summer. Thank you for teaching us how to dive (mom) and change a car tire (dad). Thank you for loving Mark and Josh, our dogs, our kids, born and unborn.

Mostly thank you for the tradition of opening stockings on your bed on Christmas morning, which now includes our husbands.

I love you.



operating instructions.

I have this great friend Lauren who is a lot like me in many ways. She was one of my first Winston-Salem friends and her husband was Mark's roommate for a time and they flirted with all sorts of trouble and problems because they were bored and bachelors and living in a house in this dodgy back of town neighborhood with two other bored bachelors. It makes me laugh to think of how Lauren and I became friends, how we volunteered for Young Life for three years together, how we got married and became "couple friends"--which is a different thing entirely.

Lauren had a daughter a year ago now during a painful time for us because we were trying so desperately, so fruitlessly, for our own child. We went to meet Eva the day she was born and I thought it would just crush my spirit, but somehow it didn't. She was so precious, and I was wanting a boy anyway so there was that cushion. Turns out Eva is the sweetest little girl on the planet. I always think it's silly that people think one baby is so much more unique than another, but I'm sure that when Jack is born I'll think he is brilliantly different and unique, that he has the most distinguishable features and hair, that his gums form the most beautiful smile. Anyway, Mark and I fell for Eva hard, but Mark did more. He loves this little one-year-old as if she were his own niece. And she loves him back, just ogles at him and walks up to him and stares imploringly into his face until he picks her up.

When we found out I was pregnant Lauren called me elated to find out how I was feeling, emotionally and physically, and to tell me that she already had a gift. Everyone gives the sweetest little outfits and airplanes and bibs and things, but she said, "It's an Anne Lamott book."

Anne Lamott is a hilarious, irreverent, funky hippie throw-back who writes really odd memoir-type nonfiction including one of my most favorite resources on writing, Bird by Bird.

"It's called Operating Instructions. It's about her first year with her son Sam. It's really crude and spouts the F-word every ten sentences, but I know you'll love it because I LOVED it." She gave it to me last week when we met for pizza and salads at the Loop with Brad, Mark and Eva. I started reading it on my lunch break Wednesday sitting at Chick Fil-a drinking a large lemonade/iced tea and was crying in the first five pages. And then by the eighth page I was laughing so whole-heartedly my entire body was shaking and I've got these relentless sloppy allergies so I was snorting and running from the eyes and nose and I am certain several patrons were getting a huge kick out of the whole thing. I was also wearing a tight shirt, looking quite pregnant, so there's that.

The book has a lot to do, so far, with how this woman processes the reality of having a son as opposed to a daughter, so I've been thinking on that a great deal. I'm thankful, really thankful, for Mark and what a stable, solid, loving, FUN man he is and I know there are a lot of things that will fall to him, since Jack's a boy, and that I (God-willing) will not have to deal with. But now that Jack's going to be here in less than five months, it's reverberating in the front of my mind that I'm going to be a mom of a SON. I'm so excited, I want him to get here because I want to hold him and lay him on top of Sidney and watch Mark stare at him.

Kyle, my brother, says I'll be a good mom of a son because he and I have such a sweet friendship. That makes me feel a little more confident, and I'm starting to dream up this little kid in my head. I can't wait.


to vote.

When I was sixteen, a junior in high school, I took an American History class at Severna Park High School with Mr. Haring. Everyone liked him because he was pretty nice and reasonable about late assignments, but occasionally he would get really fired up because either he felt like we weren't taking him seriously, or because of something socio-political.

I don't think I thought much about the electoral system at sixteen, the inherent importance of the right to vote our leaders and judges into office, or the gravity of living under the umbrella of democracy. It was not an election year and I think it is hard to conceptualize the value of our form of government here in America anyway, especially in high school, having seen so little of what is real nationally and more, spanning the globe. Mr. Haring knows American history like nobody I've ever talked to, and I remember he was talking about the Civil War, the fight for African Americans, among other things, to obtain the right to the vote, and I do not remember if someone made a comment or if the pressure in the air was just right to ignite the spark, but all of a sudden the man was raving. He was mad like we had never seen him mad before, drawing his lips thin and stroking his goatee with his index finger and thumb. He talked about our forefathers, our grandfathers' grandfathers, who died by bullet or bayonet in the Revolutionary War, fighting for sovereignty from Great Britain. He barked forward in history, talking about the war of 1812, and the glorious passion that lays sewn into the first American Stars and Stripes, in the words of Francis Scott Key as he wrote what would become our National Anthem. He talked about the Battle of Gettysburg, and our grandfathers, such a short while ago, fighting across the ocean. It was all for the sake of DEMOCRACY. I'll never forget his face, the frustration. He said that our forefathers, my father's father's father's father's father, gave up everything to protect American Democracy which, he continued, hinges on the individual's right to vote - our right to popularly elect our leaders. He said that in the 2000 election an absurdly low number of the voting population in America had actually showed up at a polling station to place a vote. The percentage was abysmal and Mr. Haring said that he had never been so disappointed with his fellow Americans.

A few weeks ago Mark and I visited a friend in Washington and went to the Museum of American History. There is an exhibit there with the real, war-torn, original American flag from the Battle of Baltimore in September of 1812. It's got pieces missing and it's threadbare, but it lays on a graduated spot-lit platform in an otherwise dark exhibit and it took my breath away. I want to remember the history of this country because it is gorgeously brave and heroic. Though the state of our country now, in many ways, breaks my heart, there is some foundational strength to be found in the fortitude, the intelligence, the wisdom, the grace and the faith of our founding generations. I am proud to be an American.

This morning I heard an interview on NPR Weekend Edition. The reporter was on the campus of Bowling Green State University in Ohio interviewing students about their intentions to vote or not to vote. Most of the students he spoke to said things like I'm probably not going to vote because I don't like either candidate or I don't want to have any part in electing Romney or Obama or I don't care who becomes President this time, neither one is saying anything relevant to me. (That last one really got me). All I could think of was that American History lecture and Mr. Haring ten years ago, how as long as I live I will never sit out an election, how casting my vote on an electronic ballot box in the city courthouse is the way I put my chips in, how I demonstrate my citizenship, how I say thank you to those who fought and died to guarantee that their children's children, myself, would be blessed to live in a democracy.


boys and busted knees.

It is football season all around; college football (which nobody in my house cares about), NFL (which one person in my house cares about an unhealthy amount) and Winston-Salem City Flag Football (which everyone in my house cares about... a lot.) Mark has played in this league for five years, September-December, most Tuesday nights. I love when it's football season because it comes in coordination with cooler weather and boots, wearing socks, cold cold wooden floors, the disagreement about what temperature is the heat threshold. Pumpkins are also a highlight. Anyway, the guys brought in this season with several shut out wins in a row, and they were on track to do it again last Tuesday night. Up by at least twenty points with fewer than three minutes left to play, all of the wives and fiances were cold and ready to go home, happy to take home winners (because when they aren't it's not pretty), and Mark threw a long pass to Kyle Welch, who plays wide receiver. It was a perfect throw, perfect catch, imperfect pivot. Kyle went down hard, crumpled up like trashed manuscript pages, rolled twice and then just layed there. Dana and I booked it over to the ten yard line where he was quite obviously exceptionally injured, groaning, panicked. It was terrible, even the pissed-off opposing players came over to offer At least you caught it, man.

Working for three orthopaedic surgeons does have its advantages, so Mark and I took the non-weightbearing Kyle to the home of the head NP at my office where she wrote him a script for some serious pain meds, put his blown out knee in an immobilizer, and told him to come with me to work the next day where one of the docs would take care of business. Owing to the fact that Kyle doesn't have a wife to deal with these yearly football injuries, it usually falls to Dana (friend and fellow football wife) and myself, so Mark and I brought Kyle to the homestead. Needless to say, it was a rather agonizing night for Kyle, but some day I think he will look back on it with something of appreciation. Mark sort of turned into Kyle's crutches. He all but carried him into the house, fixed him up with take-out food, took off his mud, sweaty socks, and to really put the crumbly topping on the muffin, held him up in the shower so he could wash off all the grime. I sat outside the bathroom door half laughing, cringing at the yelps of agony when Mark tried to get some of the mud off of the busted knee. When they opened the door Kyle said, "Well I don't think either of us will ever forget that."

Two days later we found out we're going to have a son. Neither of us knew "what" we were expecting, but when we saw that little boy squishing around on the ultrasound we both about fell apart. We knew his name would be Jack Marshall Evans, honoring some precious family members, and we spent Thursday night calling and texting, starting to imagine what life with a son will be like. I couldn't help but think about Tuesday night, the football, the injury, the twenty-eight year old boys that still play sports and take care of each other. I was thinking about a son maybe a little like Mark, maybe even a little like Kyle, and it made me sort of happy and excited for every minute of the future.

Kyle probably tore most of the acronyms in his knee, we'll find out next week. I texted him on Friday.

"By the way, it's a boy. -- Jack Marshall"

"Sweet. That's so awesome. Jack Daniel?"

Ha. Some things might never change.


the beach.

The ritual of the beach is as predictable as the consistent swelling of waves, the rise, the crash on the sand, and the receding back into the body of the ocean. The salty wind off the water, the sound of the tide, the flat, open horizon displaying every movement of the sun and the moon, it's always the same, even if I am not.

In the morning we wake up to the sun, brighter here, coming through the windows, the shades, and filling our room with light. We wander out into the house where there is coffee and burger-sized glazed doughnuts sitting on the counter. I pull on my sports bra, shoes, socks, pull up my wild hair which is taking on a golden yellow color, and go out to run down the street, around, back up the street for a few miles. Returning, everyone is sitting on the porch with steaming cups of coffee and Bibles, quiet, reading and squinting against the glare of the sun that's now higher than the roofs that stand between our house and the beach. We read quietly, together, until the time has shifted and someone speaks, and then it turns to talking and laughing and looking over pictures from the day before. We move about slowly, drink pots of coffee, and eventually move toward inside so we can change into bathing suits. We go down to the beach, I'm always first, with chairs, towels, books, an umbrella these days, for the babies, small coolers for beer and boxes of Cheese-Itz. We sit the rest of the morning, reading, and the guys play a dozen made-up games with the football. We walk and talk, we smear more sunscreen on our sandy legs and backs, mostly we read, and the sun rises up over us like an arch, and we fall asleep. Eventually we eat a sandwich, then back to the beach for more of the same absolute heaven. In the evening an outdoor shower is wholly sublime, and we all grab glasses of wine and bottles of beer and head back down to our endless picnic blanket with the dogs, and we sit on the beach as the sun sets behind us, somewhere over the bay, taking photographs and talking about the last twenty-eight years we have spent in this very same place, possibly on these very same grains of sand.

Here I am happy. This morning I sat with my journal and a cup of coffee and found myself thinking about the fact that my baby is visiting the beach for the first time. I believe that supernaturally he or she absorbs everything I experience, so I prayed that the beach would soak into me this weekend even more than it usually does. And the prayer sort of went synonymously with this prayer, as the Spirit and the beach are so much of the same thing to me, that It would be wide, full, expansive in my heart and soul these next 6 months so that this child would be bathed in Him, as I am bathed in Him. For 6 months I have a completely captivated audience, a helpless feeder, and I want to feed him, along with Doritos and club soda with lime, the Spirit of God. This is what I've been thinking about for a few weeks and I am beginning to feel a fulness in answer to my pleas.



Tuesday evening after work I met a dear friend to go walking. We walked around the neighborhood admiring the sprawling variety of million dollar homes, then went back and sat around in her mom’s kitchen chatting about a variety of things. At one point she said, You should probably get going, huh? To which I replied, I don’t even know what time it is. To which she replied, It’s 7:20. (Rewind, I’m walking out the door and Mark is sitting on the sofa with his brown work shoes propped up on the coffee table, the dog laying like an expensive hide rug on the hardwood there below, and I say I’ll see you by 6:40). Mark isn’t one to panic, but an hour is a significant discrepancy, so I called as soon as I put the car in reverse.

“I’m on my way, I am so so so so so sorry. Are you mad?”

“No, I was just worried.”

“Oh my gosh, I know. I would have been so worried. I’m so sorry. I didn’t have my phone, totally lost track of time. Oh my gosh, it’s so much later than I thought. You’re not mad.”

“No, I’m not mad. I was just worried. Did you have fun?”


“Good. Dinner is ready.”


For two nights in a row Mark has cooked dinner. We’re not just talking grilled cheese, we’re talking an amazing, homemade chicken sausage, zuccini olive and onion spaghetti sauce over linguine with ciabatta last night and his own recipe for honey mustard salmon, some yummy boxed cous cous and salad tonight. Aside from grilling, Mark’s probably only cooked dinner ten times in the three years we’ve been married, which is pretty much purely because I’m a bit of a kitchen dictator, a non-delegator, a master culinary multi-tasker. That said, it’s an uncommon event. But for two nights in a row he has made it happen.

For what reason would I choose to relax my grip of control on the kitchen? Why, for two nights in a row, would I request my husband to come home from work and hunker down in front of the stove when it is something that energizes me, where as it is a chore for him?

Because I can’t tolerate the smell of cooking food. Because if I have to cook it I will certainly not be able to eat it. Because this BABY that’s growing inside my body has turned me upside down and everything feels opposite and inverted. I want to sleep all day. I don’t want to eat. Can’t cook. Want cheese.

That’s right, the baby! (We’ll consider this an official announcement.)

I’m two and half months pregnant, due with our first little family member March 18! We were trying, for a pretty long time actually, fodder for another post another day, and were stupid excited when we found out in early July. (It was 5:30 am. I was up to work out. I jumped on Mark, waking him up, screeching “IT’S POSITIVE THIS TIME!”)

And let me reiterate right now, my husband. I can’t stop loving him. He should teach this class to husbands of irritable, nauseas, flakey women: “How to Deal with Your Dragon Wife 400.” He is incredible. Granted, he’s kind of enjoying the fact that the only thing I want to eat is pizza.

Promise the blog won’t become a baby forum. But it’s going to be kind of fun to post pictures of baby and Moose Dog in a few months! I'm smiling.


... our pets heads are falling off

Tomorrow morning at eight o'clock Mark, Sidney and I are going to walk through the front door, lock the deadbolt and drive to Pennsylvania for half a week of Evans-family gathering, thus leaving behind this recent chaos and destruction that seems to be falling upon our heads.

When we walk out the door we'll be shaking ants from our feet coming from a steadily growing colony currently taking up residence in the kitchen. I shiver as I write it. A few days ago there were two itsy bitsy ants on the counter beside the sink. In the morning, more. We called our exterminator Bob, whose cell phone number is programmed into my speed dial, but his number had changed so we were unable to bypass the central office. "We're sorry, Bob is booked up until Wednesday afternoon." Keep in mind, we are leaving tomorrow MORNING. "Bob can spray outside the house while you're gone, and when you return we'll have him come back and spray inside." For what purpose are we spraying OUTSIDE? I don't care if there are ants outside, it's my dishwasher, utensils drawer and pantry that concern me.

We will load up into the Jetta, Mark's car from high school, and not our brand-spanking-new Passat because about two weeks ago the large plate that runs underneath the length of the car... fell? Came undone? Dropped? Dragged the highway for 30 miles. Due to the fact that its repair will cost in the neighborhood of $300.00, Mark climbed underneath the car and zip-tied it up. Solution for the forseeable future.

Once loaded into the car, we will cross the threshold of the driveway, which is now a river because our water meter is leaking. We didn't even realize that the water was actually bubbling forth from the iron plate on the curb by the driveway until this afternoon at 5:45 pm, when we quickly called the city, whose representative promised someone would be out within two hours. They came at 7:45 pm (irony?), took the plate off, stuck a crow bar down into the water-filled hole, and then said, "You need a plumber to look at this." What is your job description? "The city won't be responsible for this issue unless the leak is within five feet of the hole." Dear Lord, let it be within five feet. Mark and I spent the ensuing hour calling plumbers to find out who could come tomorrow in the morning, if they could fix the issue while we were either en route or settled in Western Pennsylvania. When I talked to Vic, he said this: "Hm, that doesn't sound good, but it's fixable. Unless, you don't live in Ardmore do you?" Yes. "Oh damn." Fab-u-lous.

I'm taking deep breaths. We will leave tomorrow morning at eight o'clock and pray that on Sunday when we come home our house is still standing.


outer space and a new baby boy.

I swear lately it feels like I am in outer space. The temperatures have finally broken, but for a while there it was like sun-walking. I do realize it was hot across the continent, but inland NC heat is like walking from air conditioning (if you are so lucky)into one of those heavy, prickly, kind of bendable electric blankets - it's on you, under you, all around you and down your throat. I actually gasped for air when I turned on my car and the AC tried to gust through, then drove to the post office where the thermometer read 107 degrees. This is something other-worldly. I haven't written much or edited much of anything in months, which also makes me feel stagnant and shriveled like a raisin (ironically created by the beating down of the sun), though I have been voraciously devouring literature since the spring. I believe writing and reading literature are two sides of the same coin, and hopefully all of this reading is in some way informing me and forming my writing mentality, style and the purposes I hope to achieve. Something needs to tip me, though, back to the actual craft. However, where I am, in this ocean of stories, also contributes to the outer-space feeling because I am beginning to have trouble distinguishing reality from fiction, especially when I keep falling asleep reading. That makes everything exceptionally weird.

My dear friend just gave birth to her son three months early in pretty desperate circumstances, and I keep feeling like I'm there, with her, in Richmond, even though I'm here. Imagining her in the hospital being rushed around by doctors and nurses, her emergency c-section, her new baby son feels very strange. This can't be real, can it? I suppose it can. I keep dreaming and praying for him, for them, but it seems so out of this world. She is the kind of person who keeps calm and sails on. Her unflappability has always disarmed me because it is so different from the way I am, and I think that's why we are such good friends. When she found out her son would be born with some physical abnormalities a month and a half ago, she took it in stride, practically talking through the implications of having a child with some special needs who might undergo several surgeries in the first few years of his life. She mourned some of her expectations, but had this brilliant attitude, thankful for his life. And then, when she was put on a week of bed rest, followed by a week in the hospital where Tucker was ultimately born, she just maintained that steady faithfulness. Here now I can imagine her peering through the glass windows into NICU to watch his fingers open and close, his little head under the small beanie. It's out of this world.

As time goes by there seem to be an increasing number of circumstances that blind side us and I'm more and more cognizant of the imperfection of this world. HOWever, I also think I am (we are) developing a greater love for life. There is more to fight for, and that perspective, the vigor it fosters, is something to be thankful for.