Sex with teenagers in the house

I have had a lot of people ask me the personal question, “How do you have sex with teenagers in the house?” I really don’t mind the question and it always brings a smile to my face. It warms my heart that others see my husband David and I as a couple that is still intimate. And with your teens, I think that is where it begins: the appearance of intimacy.

David and I hold hands everywhere we go. We sit on the couch together, right next to each other. We turn on a favorite song and slow dance or take advantage of a melody Lilly plays on the piano. We spontaneously kiss as I do the dishes or David is doing a project. We whisper sweet nothings in each other’s ears and giggle, loudly sometimes. We let the children know it is okay for us to have inside jokes. We spend time each day after David has greeted the family, just the two of us chatting, letting the children know our relationship is important. We aren’t trying to gross them out, but we are okay with them understanding, we are attracted to one another and we were made to be sexual human beings. We both grew up with parents modeling they were in love which has helped us immensely with our own family.

In our house, with the ages of our children living at home ranging from 4-23, there is almost always someone up until the wee hours of the morning and then again at the crack of dawn-usually different children-but they are always up! So waiting to spend time with my husband until everyone is tucked in bed is not an option.

If you read my earlier post on special dates ( ) then you already know we spend a weekend discussing sexuality with our children when they turn 13. So opening the door to healthy dialogue and questions, along with an understanding that we view sex as a very good thing- HELPS! An experience happened about four years ago that paved the way for a more relaxed approach to intimacy in our house.

All of our children were home, including our now daughter-in-law. The littles were in bed and all of the older children, ages 14 and up, were waiting to watch a movie. I said I was going to go “tuck their Dad in bed [I am a night owl, he is not] and visit with him a little and maybe join them later.” David and I were “visiting” and Lilly came to see if we had the VCR remote. She didn’t knock and even though the door was locked, her forceful knock and push of the knob elicited a loud and forceful shriek with a “Don’t come in here!” A bit later in the evening I decided to venture downstairs and join them. They were well into their movie and as I snuggled down in my chair, fits and starts of giggles erupted. “What? What’s so funny?” I inquired. Giggle, giggle, laughter everywhere, followed in unison by simultaneous mockery from various children. “What? What? ‘Oh, oh, don’t come in here. Step away from the door. Don’t come in here.’ We know what you were doing.” Ha ha ha ha ha! Or at least they were amused! 😊

So we decided to just go with it. Laughter seemed to be good medicine for the situation. We sleep with our door open, so now if one of my big kids is moseying by our room and the door is shut, they know not to knock unless there is trauma or fire. They understand if the door is shut, we are having private time. It doesn’t necessarily mean we are being intimate, but it does mean we are carving out our alone time.
Some of you may be thinking, oh, but I would still be too self-conscious. Turn on Pandora, a CD, the radio, a white noise machine. If it is getting late, I also am not afraid to say to my older children, Dad and I could really use some alone time, stay off the second floor (we have a three story house and the big kids’ rooms are not on our floor) for the next hour. I think establishing you are a couple and your relationship has important needs that require attention is vital in the life of a family.
Now, we do get a chuckle because sometimes when we are already in bed, reading and chatting, occasionally one of the bigger kids will walk by and say, “Would you like me to shut the door for you?” 😜

Note: This was written almost three years ago and never posted. The children are now almost 7-28. We are in a different house now with the sleeping quarters all on the same level, but it still has three floors. I would say I still find this post to be true, but I would add one other “suggestion”. Take advantage of teenage or adult drivers. Recently when Grace was home for a visit and almost everyone else was at their Saturday morning martial arts class, we spontaneously arranged an early lunch date for Grace and her youngest sister Lydia. Grace didn’t mind and I figure we will readily be babysitting her future little bambinos some day. And when that day comes, we don’t need to know whether they are doing their taxes or taking quality time for one another- though I recommend the latter 😉

Can Anybody Find Me Somebody to Love?

Mondays are long days for our household. Mondays are good days-fun days, but long days. We are members of a local homeschool co-op that meets on Mondays and takes up most of our day. Our evening is full of one activity or another for several members of our family.
I allowed myself to sit for a short time on the love seat in our kitchen before I accepted a simple everyday fact- yes, these people really do need to eat (again) and I probably should feed them. I sat just long enough to feel my hips stiffen and my knees ache. We had decided on boxed organic chicken noodle soup and drop biscuits for dinner. A simple meal.  Lydia and I took on the role of biscuit makers. After we made our buttermilk substitute we mixed the remaining ingredients. My oven reminded me for the umpteenth time this week that it was long overdue for a cleaning, as I stood fanning the smoke detector to appease the head-splitting beep. All three dogs chose to hide under my legs each time the box on the wall screeched.
As the soup began to steam and the cheese bubbled on the biscuits, I had many hands wanting to help and make our workload lighter. I wasn’t sure I wanted help. The extra patience to make sure this one didn’t get burned on a cookie sheet and that one on dripping hot liquid was a virtue I had to dig deep in the moment to find. I was hot and tired. I was weary from our pace of life, but it took me more than a minute to realize I was hot because I stood over the open flame of the burner, forgetting to turn it off as I lifted the pot to pour.
The song, ” Can Anybody Find Me Somebody to Love?” played in the background. We had one of those TV commercial moments where everyone was singing as we ladled the soup and placed our nourishment on the table. We were in sync. Singing and dancing rejuvenated us all.
As the music faded and we bowed our heads, all I could think was, “Thank you God for giving me many somebodies to love.”

Savor the treasures

Wow this has been quite a year for us! But it is such a joy to see all the beauty God has brought to our lives this year- a sweet marriage, a beautiful babe, and today I find myself philosophical as we celebrate our sweet Phoebe girl’s 17th birthday. Our former neighbor in Richmond posted a tribute of sorts to her son Jimmy. I met Jimmy when he was 13 and he died when he was 21. He died of a heroin overdose. I have never forgotten Jimmy or watching the boy grow into a man. His life and his death impacted me greatly. These are Karen’s words:

“Our son was a delight to all of our family and was born again as a child of God, but chose to try heroin and became addicted to it. While he was trying to get free from it’s control( moved back home, daily N.A. meetings, working daily) he succumbed to that lure and died in a work van of an overdose. The thing that a friend said at his funeral is always a comfort to me. “Jimmy is in heaven, not because he was good, but because he is His(God’s)” . Even suffering the pain of the loss of this precious son, I have remained grateful that I was allowed to enjoy him while he was here and I look forward to the day that I will see him again in glory. One thing I have learned is that my husband, the daughters we have and the precious grandbabies we enjoy are treasures to be savored. I don’t want to waste a second of such a gift.”
She also posted a link about the crisis of heroin today and its link to OxyContin. Here it is in case you are interested in reading it:

Karen’s words touched me today and were a great reminder. I have never forgotten Jimmy and the beauty of a young man that he was- I still think of him often. The ugly of his death does not define the beauty of all that was his life.

I know all of our children are in various stages of ages and we are on a journey molding them and watching them grow. Our children will do things and have things inflicted upon them that we would NEVER write as part of their life path. They will at times, and on different levels, pull us through heartache and struggles, or one could say, we will help pull them through and out of heartaches and struggles. It is not a tug of war that necessarily has an equal balance. But friends, as most of you know, there is beauty in the ashes. Sometimes we will feel like a spectator on the sideline watching them as they grow, unable to place a cartoon character band-aid on their scrape. Sometimes their wounds are not mere scrapes but gaping gouges strewn across the mapping of their heart.
Remember there will be times when we feel like they rebel against us- even hate us, but their true issue is not with us. It is their wrestling and working out their relationship with our great God who we stand for and love. And love is where I will leave this letter. Friends, love really does, it-

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love sees past the temporary. It sees past the long hair, the nose piercings, the angry rants, the hurtful words, the poor choices. It sees past the appearance of things, the derailment of our plans to their plans, our hopes to sometimes their desires, our need to control and our deepest fears. It sees past the good choices they choose to make for their lives. The choices that make us proud and keep us awake in the night, crying out  “Please just keep them safe!”

 Love sees the heart.

It sees the heart of a person, the heart of our child. It sees past the child to our God who loves them even more than we possibly could. Love sees and trust that He who created them has a plan for them, a plan of hope and one to prosper.

So whatever struggle you may have in life, whatever fears, whatever triumphs,  release them to God. He’s got this, He really does. Breathe in deeply, look around, soak in the beauty of the big and little moments, do not waste a minute- savor them. See the love and beauty ; see the treasures.

   One of my treasures, my birthday girl, koala Phoebe 😊

Love and the Delayed Flight

Sitting at the airport last evening waiting to pick up our daughter Lilly gave David and I an opportunity to people watch. Lilly’s travel plans had been delayed all day due to inclement weather occurring in the connection city for her flight home. We arrived at the airport on time but found ourselves waiting about an extra hour.

We spent about 15 minutes idling in the car curbside until we realized her flight was delayed. We were parked in front of a woman in her late 50s to early 60s. She had a big quilt wrapped around her and no less than five bags of large luggage. A game of guess her story ensued between David and I. As we were in the middle of our elaborate tales for her life, a car pulled in front of us, narrowly missing the front driver’s side of our vehicle. His haphazard driving focused all our attention on him.

A man with a wedding ring in his 60s got out of the car, popped his trunk lid, walked toward the blanket waiting lady and began picking up her bags. She pulled herself up wearily from the bench, grabbed a small bag and began to what appeared be a painful and difficult walk to their car. She mustered the energy to make the journey for another bag one more time before landing in the passenger front seat. He finished loading, slid into the driver’s seat and pulled off. Not ONCE did this pair make eye contact or utter ONE WORD to one another.

David and I sat in a stupor. Make- believe of their story and lives and who they might be no longer had the same appeal. I mean before he arrived, she was a wonderful Grandmom who had travelled far off to help a daughter with a new born bundle of joy as her son-in-law was stationed in another country fighting for the good ole USA. Or she was a tired, selfless daughter who had travelled to care for an aging parent. But the sadness, the emptiness in their lack of exchange only conjured up stories of deep pain-too deep to even fathom. “Guess my life” was over for them.

David popped in the airport to check Lilly’s flight and we decided to park and wait inside. I have been struggling through sinus/allergy issues for weeks after a virus so I schlepped into the airport and plopped down on a cozy leather couch. After parking the car, David joined me. He offered his arm around me for a shoulder to lean into and between discussing the bands and solo artist from the fantastic music playing from the cafe speaker, our “game” began again. 

It didn’t have the same gusto and flair. We were silenced and saddened by the couple from the curb. We couldn’t begin to guess exactly what was going on in their lives, let alone really know the nature of their relationship. Life can be hard, we know it personally, we’ve weathered it together through tough seasons. But I have to be honest, as I sat curled up next to my life mate, relaxing in the wait, our silly game gave us both a subtle reminder. Let’s never stop touching, let’s never stop looking, let’s never stop talking. Let’s always remember we are a gift for one another and it is in the mundane moments we betray or I should say, display our affections.

Make sure you stop from the dishes, or the bills, your devices, from this post, to look up and really make eye contact and SAY goodbye or hello! Better yet throw in a hug and a kiss. These small little acts may be the very foundation that one day journey your relationship through hard times. I really DON’T know their story and pain, but I KNOW I don’t ever want to feel the interchange they portrayed.

Show your love today and show it often.

The Burp Heard Round the World

My husband and I had gone out a few weeks ago to dinner. It was one of
those, ” I have got to get out of this house” nights. Since our evening out
began as more of a fleeing the scene then a carefully orchestrated evening
out, we had no idea where we were going. We are committed to supporting
local businesses and so we settled on a non-chain Chinese restaurant. We were greeted by an eight- year-old hostess-yes you read that correctly- who took us to our table in an empty dining room. We enjoyed a quiet, unexceptional meal except for the occasional duet performed by a man at another table and myself as we both sang along, far to loudly, to the hits of the 70s and 80s playing through the speakers. I was in need of a night of reckless abandon and also my ears were clogged from the typical, fall, sinus problems that plague many a Cincinnatian. That was my excuse, I have no idea why he was singing so loud.

Bellies full, we all exited our karaoke haven at the same time and
discussed, who did sing that one song? As he and I began to hum the words,
our counterparts grabbed hold of our respective hands and led us into our
vehicles as if gently ushering us into a padded wagon. Hey, some weeks are
just long ones. David and I began to sing songs and reminisce down memory lane. And that’s when it happened. The mother of all burps. It just simply slid out as a reached to hit a note. It was as if all the gas my body could hold, was building up to rush from my digestive system through my esophagus and out of my mouth to replace the words of my song with a deafening belch.

David looked and me and very calmly asked, ” What would happen if you didn’t do that?”

” Do what?”

” If you didn’t allow that sound to come out of your mouth?”

I was a bit incredulous at this point, ” Oh. You mean the burp? I’m not sure
I follow.”

“Well you do that often and I just wondered if it doesn’t feel good or
something? I mean what would happen if you didn’t let it out?”

I was trying to decide if he was sincere or being passive-aggressive and so
I just answered him honestly, ” I have no choice in the matter. It came
without warning. There was no time to batten down the hatches. It was just


Now feeling slightly hurt and wanting to justify myself and reclaim my
desire to be placed in a proper lady category, words tumbled from me, ” I
don’t mean to do. I would stifle them if I could, although my mom told me
Dr. OZ says holding gas in is unhealthy. It just comes out. I don’t know,
gas just leaks out of me. I guess my elasticity is weak all over. You know I
HAVE birthed nine babies for you. I imagine that has wreaked havoc on my

“I know you have honey and I appreciate it. I just wondered if holding it in
brought you some sort of distress.”

I believe it was my sweet husband’s subtle way of trying to help me find
ways to control my problem with gaseous fumes. But what can a girl do? No
one tells you that you grow older and your body can’t always contain itself.
That sometimes you might burp and “pass gas” simultaneously as if you are
participating in a 21-gun salute.

As I lifted myself off my seat cushion to exit the car, my mouth said, “Well I’ll try harder, it just happens,” but my body had its own idea of a
revolt as my bottom released the toot heard round the world.

The Mousse in My Hair

So yesterday I went to get my hair cut. It’s not something I do often. I make promises to myself when I look in the mirror that I am going to go more regularly, and then I don’t. I settle for the ” lived-in” look I guess I get busy with other adventures in life.

After my styling extravaganza, my youngest three and I went shopping at Whole Foods. We were waiting for Lilly to finish a store meeting ( she works there) and I needed to pick up some yummies for a tea party we were hosting and a lunch later in the week.

As we unloaded our groceries, I enforced an edict that we were going to rest for a full hour while we ate lunch and then we would prepare for our company. I settled down to my lunch of guacamole, blue corn chips and quinoa sushi ( my mind was divided on the international flavor my taste buds would enjoy) and began to peruse Facebook and emails. And then I smelled the smell.

” Hey kids, I smell something, do you?”

One of my cherubs answered, ” It’s quiet time Mommy, are we supposed to answer you? No talking, remember?”

” Yes, I remember. Do you smell anything?”

I began to describe the illusive scent. “Maybe very strong water. I can’t place the smell. Someone get down on their hands and knees and see if it is coming out of the heating grate. “That’s it, good job, take a deep breath.” No I was not trying to accidentally cause my offspring to become asphyxiated. No luck with the smell.

Then I blamed the dog. I wrangled her between my legs, trying to smell her breath and fur. She ran from me with a crazed look in her eyes, or was the crazed look in mine? Anyway, I recruited Lilly to snag her and subject her to the smell test.” Smell her good, it might be pee. She could have gotten into the toilet again, and if someone didn’t flush…”

“She smells fine. It’s not her. There ,there sweet girl, it’s okay, Lexie,” Lilly reassured her.

I placed my nose further in the air, and begin to sniff feverishly. “This is making me crazy! I smell an odd odor. Almost like a hyper-chlorinated water, but that doesn’t make sense. Wait, it actually smells like sugar cookies. Hey, do we have any left from decorating the tree? I could go for one now.”

And then it hit me. The smell was coming from me. It’s my hair . I began to sniff and snort with such a passion, I think Lilly worried I would hyperventilate. “It’s my hair. It must be the mousse.”

I was ecstatic the mystery was solved. Lilly was humorously puzzled, ” Let me get this straight. You went from thinking it was a gas leak, to pee on the dog’s snout, to over- chlorinated water seeping from somewhere to sugar cookies and it’s mousse in your hair?”

“Yes, ” I replied sheepishly.

And then I found myself unsettled by that thought. “Would you sniff my hair for me?”

Lilly obliged and I am happy to report my hair merely smelled like shampoo. Moments later as we unpacked a borrowed tea set a friend lent us, we realized the odiferous scent was the lingering odor of fabric softener trapped in the bag.

I know certain faculties are the first thing to go as you age, but my olfactory system is working just fine. Now my brain, that may be a whole different story.


I was looking through a website recently and I saw a shirt that was imprinted, ” No one else can play your part.” It would be easy to pass over and not give it a second thought, but the statement is so simple, yet profound.


We all play a part every day. We wear our various “hats”. And those roles are different for each of us, yet similar in so many ways. Sure if we wanted to be cynical, we could break down what every one around us does and conclude that we really aren’t that special. Millions of other people do the same job we do and we could be easily replaced. Why, maybe even a trained monkey could do our part.


Life can be hard. We recently took a field trip to a local TV station. Our professional and informative guide repeatedly stressed the importance of letting our children watch the news. She campaigned at every turn that it was necessary to stay informed in the world. She conceded that yes, some of the news is unpleasant, but it was still imperative to be educated about the world around us. It’s easy to want to crawl under the proverbial rock and tune out the vile and sadistic acts that occur to us and around us and not see the beauty. This big world of ours abounds in beauty-new treasures and discoveries waiting to be noticed or uncovered amidst the bleakness of this fallen world we live in.


I think of the bullied. The afraid. The assaulted. The lonely. The isolated. I think of the child having sand thrown in his face on the playground for the forty-first time. The teen being rejected in the lunch room just begging with his eyes for a safe place to sit. I think of the mom standing on the fringe of the circle of women, just trying to find a way to make a new friend. I think of the steady, reliable employee, beaten down one more time because he has integrity and won’t compromise it for his job, so he’s passed over- not part of the network. Eliminated.


My daughter Phoebe recently turned 16. Just say the number 16 and for some reason most of us become nostalgic. Many become giddy with great excitement at the thought of hearing someone turned 16. I’m not going to write a paragraph with a list of the reasons why it appears a magical age, but I will say, in large part it seems like an age when a person is on the precipice of adulthood with all the hopes and dreams and ideals a heart and mind can hold.


Sometimes though life throws us curveballs. We find ourselves stepping through doors and walking down roads we never wanted to step foot on. This is a broken world and it is not a matter of if hardships come our way, it is a promised matter of WHEN hardships come our way. And then we have new roles to play.


And our part may be a role we don’t want to play. We’re tired. We’re hurt. We’re weary. Our hearts have been assaulted to the deepest level of our beings. And for all of us, what brings this sadness to a level of crushing burden is different for each one of us, but it is important to press on, because…


Look around you. Many of us keep our most heart-wrenching tales buried neatly in the deepest pages of our storybooks. Meanwhile people are questioning and making statements to themselves. Could someone else play my role better? No one else understands how I’m feeling. I don’t want to play this part I’ve been given-it’s too hard. Maybe no one will notice if I just stop existing. I am too ashamed my life isn’t perfect. This isn’t what I signed up for in life.


Well news flash, none of us signed up. We are born. And with your birth, you begin a journey. A Creator who knew you before you were formed is with you every step of the way. It may not always feel like it, but you have not been abandoned. You were uniquely created to play your part.


So whether you are struggling or you know someone who is, remember this.


You are loved. You are special. You are important. You are not the sum total of your experiences. You may feel that way, but there is so much more to you then what has happened to you. It may feel like you are stuck and there is no way out and this is who you are going to be the rest of your life. Hardships and burdens are trying to overpower you and define you, but that is NOT who you are and all you can be. Life is a journey. There will be many roles to play and with each new season you play a part.


So go out there and play it. Don’t think for a moment someone else could and don’t doubt that you can play it. Resolve to play it well. You have a choice of who you will be and you have the ability to choose grace to rain down on you as you make your way. Today is a new day and remember…