Go Big or Go Home: Some Thoughts about Family Identity

A few years ago, we got the family together to go to a Slugs and Bugs Concert for kids at our church. The Slugs and Bugs guy was a writer for VeggieTales, and now he goes around singing concerts for kids with cute, catchy tunes and moves. It was one of those events where beforehand, you picture your kids enraptured, zoned into the music, maybe dancing in the aisles and glancing over at you with…


Adventures in Nervous Twitches: Wally Takes the Stage

Last week I got a text from the Children's Pastor at our church. He was presenting a children's sermon at church that Sunday and wanted to interview a few kids during it. He wanted to know if Wally could be one of the kids. Wally would just have to answer a few questions about an experience he had setting up pads for the PADS ministry at our church. I read the text over and took a deep breath. I…


9 Reasons Why I Know We Are Done Having Kids

We have two kids: one boy and one girl. After one kid, my body bounced back to nearly pre-child conditions. After my second, it was similar, except one thing. Where I used to gain all my weight in my cheeks and hips, I now gain all my weight in my uterus. So I am constantly walking around looking like I am just about to make a big announcement. I never wanted to be, but I am now one of those…


Advent Series: On Joy, and the Meet the Otts Family Christmas Card 2015

The Otts are huge fans of Christmas. We are carols-in-early-November sort of people. We are tree-up-before-Thanksgiving crazies. We are Christmas-movie-watching, time-off-work-taking, family-party-going, cookie-and-hot-chocolate-with candy cane devouring elves. I mean it about the family parties—this year we have 6 days in a row of family Christmas parties, and we look forward to it all.


Advent Series: Peace, or Thoughts Inspired by Kung Fu Panda

A few months ago, out of the blue, Wally Ben said, "Mom, what's inner peace?" "Did you hear about that in Sunday School?" I answered. "No, Mom. Kung Fu Panda!" I don't know exactly how to describe inner peace, maybe because I don't often feel it myself. I am constantly thinking hard about something, working out the world's and the Ott's problems. Or I am agonizing over decisions—from the…


Advent Series: On Hope, or Everything Old...

Everything in our house is breaking. Normally I would not mention these things, but since we are just breaking, breaking, breaking to pieces around here: these past few weeks, my socks all have simultaneously gotten holes, WallyV's jeans have started to show their typical wear in the left knee (a problem since he turned two and began to enjoy the habit of crashing as hard as he could to one knee,…


Why Teenagers Have Become My Nightmare

Last night, I went from a full, deep sleep to a full awake—heart pounding, shallow breathing. I laid in bed, mentally pacing, replaying my dream to try to understand why it scared me so much. I am a vivid dreamer. My dreams are not dreams. They are action movies. I'm convinced sometimes that if you could transfer my dreams to films and round out the fragments of stories I get to witness, I would…


My Words on Deaf Ears—A Parent's Plight

A few days ago we had a morning. One of those mornings. If you are a parent, you know exactly what I mean. I had a little work to do after my kids ate breakfast, and before I walked WV to school. I sat at my computer and needed 10 minutes—just only a few itty bitty 10 minutes to finish a project and shut down and then we could go. It just so happened we had 10 minutes before we had to walk out…


Guys, I Watched a Movie at a Friend's House Last Night

I went to watch a movie at a friend's house last night. Let me repeat that, because it is such an unusual and momentous thing. I am 34 years old, a mom of two little ones, and I went to watch a movie at a friend's house last night. If you are in high school or college and you read that, you think, What's the big deal? This is how we have fun. This is how we spend our Wednesdays or Sundays and the…


Why I Shouldn't Be Allowed to Watch My Son Play Soccer

For a moment today, I was in a public place, and I was jumping and screaming and clapping and I thought—what has gotten into me? And I'll tell you what. Park district kindergarten soccer. That's what. Before you think less of me, before you peg me as that mom, let me tell you. No one is considering myself "that mom" more than I am at this time. I never imagined myself to be jumping and screaming…