Human Highlights: The Final Installment

Human Highlights is a Sunday tradition at Commode To Joy. It’s a friendly reminder to forgive your human moments, celebrate the highlights, and enjoy.


Human Moment: I’m ending Human Highlights; this is the final installment of the series.

I started it exactly nine months ago, November 13th. At its inception, I didn’t have any idea how long it would run. It felt like the thing to do, so I did it. And, as promised, every Sunday for the past nine months, I’ve posted an installment.

Fitting that it’s run for nine months – like a human gestation period.

I’ll spare you pregnancy/birthing metaphors.

You’re welcome.

It’s been fun, and it’s time to say goodbye. Not the ugly cry kind of goodbye, but the pleasant kind that makes room for new opportunities.


Highlight: There is a group of moms who lives in my neighborhood/nearby that gets together regularly for playdates. We’ve been meeting for a while now, though my and Miller’s attendance is sketchy at best.

This past week, a special gathering was scheduled for one of our moms/families who is moving out of state. Given the occasion, and that kids and a teacher-mom are still on summer break, we had a huge turnout; only one mother/daughter couldn’t attend.

We started inside with toys, then crafts and snacks before going outside for pictures and more play. Conversation bounces between moms as we weave through rooms looking out for one another’s kids.

There’s something to be said for the women whom you go through mothering with.


The moms representing sixteen children.

Right now, this is my mom group. It’ll change as our children go to different schools or take up different activities.

Knowing that this stage is temporary, that our kids’ interests are and will be transitory, makes this photo all the more special.

When Miller is bigger than I am, off to college, full-grown, perhaps parenting, this picture will take me back…

to potty training and sleep schedules…

to regularly discussing when and where we’d be sending our children to preschools…

to Kim who first organized these gatherings and Ellen who always wears dresses and Holly whom we hugged goodbye.

It’ll take me back to the days when two hours of neighborhood play was a highlight, not just of my day or my week, but of this phase of life.


Enjoyment: Saying our own temporary goodbye to the Midwest as we board a plane for a Portland vacation.


As one journey ends, another begins. Thanks for the reads, for sharing in my Human Highlights, and for sharing yours as well.


What are your Human Highlights from the week? Leave one of your moments in the comments below.

Human Highlights: From A-Hole to Awe-Inspired, All In A Week’s Time

Human Highlights is a Sunday tradition at Commode To Joy. It’s a friendly reminder to forgive your human moments, celebrate the highlights, and enjoy.


Human Moment: Up to this installment, all of my Human Moments have been mistakes that I make – such as not applying enough sunscreen – or incidents that happen to me – like getting hit in the face with poop water. Not once have I written an account of me consciously choosing a human reaction.

That’s because I don’t like feeling like an asshole, so I rarely engage in circumstances or conversations that push me to that point. Friday, however, was a rare exception. I opted for a-hole status.

Miller and I went to the hospital to meet Mark for dinner. Rather than going to our usual entrance, we parked by the cafeteria. (This momma was hungry; I didn’t want to waste time walking the hallways.)

The door to the cafeteria was locked – odd, considering they were serving food for another hour and a half. Seeing a woman sitting at an inside table next to a window, I walked over and tapped on the glass gesturing to the door. She looked at me, shook her head no, and resumed eating all the while avoiding eye contact.

You’ve got to be kidding me.

Fortunately, someone else saw me and Miller standing outside and let us in.

Once inside, with a direct line of sight to the woman still sitting by the windows, I extended my arm pointing directly at her, thus breaking two of the earliest rules I remember my mom enforcing – Jamie, stop staring; Jamie no pointing!

My loud chest voice caught her attention. She looked at me as I said dryly, “Thanks for your help.” I maintained eye contact and kept my finger aloft until she shook her head and returned to her plate of food.

I made my point. I called her out on her point blank refusal to help another person.

Did it make me feel like an a-hole? Yes. I had that shaky rattly feeling in my core for the next fifteen minutes at least.

Will it change her or her obstinance? Doubtful.

Did we both display human reactions to one situation? Absolutely. And that’s what I kept telling myself as I let the fumes dissipate. We’re allowed to be humans in all aspects. It’s part of the experience. Let it be, and let it go.


Highlight: Seeing the huge response to Mindy’s Story this week was the highest of Highlights for me.

Her story is so powerful that I expected people to be inspired. What I didn’t see coming was the huge wave of support that Mindy received in return, from both acquaintances and strangers alike.

Thanks to your reads and shares, Mindy’s Light Series feature was read in Australia, Canada, China, India, Ireland, Italy, Pakistan, Romania, Sweden, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.

Thanks to your comments and messages, you’ve become a part of her healing journey.

Me & Mindy

Meeting for our first interview – June 23, 2017


Enjoyment: We snuck into neighboring fields while at an adoption party.

The sky, the fields, the hills, the boy. Makes the incident at the hospital cafeteria seem inconsequential. Because it is. Because moments like this – not the highs, not the lows, but the everyday occurrences? These moments make the larger fabric of our lives. The gal at the cafeteria was just one coarse thread.

This moment is what I’ll remember for years to come. This is what matters.

Summer Run

What are your Human Highlights from the week? Leave one of your moments in the comments below.

Human Highlights: It’s Miller Time

Human Highlights is a Sunday tradition at Commode To Joy. It’s a friendly reminder to forgive your human moments, celebrate the highlights, and enjoy.


Let me be upfront and say if you think this post will be about beer, you’re sorely mistaken. It’s about my son, whose name happens to be Miller. No I didn’t name him after booze, though I do think it’d be hilarious to hear him announced as “Iiiiiiit’s Miller Time!” in a sports auditorium some day. I digress. Back to Human Highlights.

Human Moment: Last night I went to bed wondering about my Human Moment for the week. I can’t think of anything. Not one thing. I didn’t say an obscenity that Miller repeated. I didn’t make a traffic flub. I didn’t even fart out of turn in public. What on earth will I type about? 

3:50 a.m. – that’s what time Miller came by my bedside. “Mommy! You’re home!”

It’s not often that we’re out late enough for a sitter to put Miller to bed. Last night we stayed out later than his bedtime. I got to bed just shortly after my usual. Thank. God. That damned 3:50 wake up time, on the other hand? Now that’s ungodly.

I know it’s old old old old news to hear a parent talk about sleep, or lack thereof, with a little one. Lame, boring, we’ve heard it already, next! I also know that this time is precious and he’ll be grown soon and I won’t always be able to snuggle him in the wee hours of the morning without it being weird and inappropriate.

But listen, on a scale of one to perky, I’m somewhere in the range of curmudgeon.

By 5:15 I gave up on the prospect of sleep, and we got up. Miller was hungry so I microwaved some frozen pancakes (mom of the year, I know I know). I went back to the kitchen to make some scrambled eggs and toast for myself…and then I spotted the frozen pizza.

Miller’s breakfast was ready in 47 seconds plus the time it took to add butter and syrup; mine was ready 22 seconds. I’m totally winning right now. Or, at least, I’m not losing as badly as I was at 3:50.

Now to sit and wait for Mark to wake up so I can go back to bed, because you better believe I’m tapping out just as soon as I can.


Highlight: Saturday morning I text one of my closest friends inviting her and her boys to join us at the park. Her oldest son is Miller’s age. Weather was sunny and upper 70’s with a slight breeze (aka idyllic). Conversation was fantastic (duh). And, our boys are good friends (something we can’t force and are thrilled about).

Tire Pile

Tire Trove


Enjoyment: Friday morning Miller asked how to write his name, so I talked him through it. To say that I’m proud is an understatement. Even my Sunday morning bleary eyes finds this to be adorable. After almost three hours of being awake, I’m actually grinning.


Three-year-old penmanship.

What are your Human Highlights from the week? Leave one of your moments in the comments below.

Human Highlights: A Good Hobby

Human Highlights is a Sunday tradition at Commode To Joy. It’s a friendly reminder to forgive your human moments, celebrate the highlights, and enjoy.


Human Moment: Hunger woke me up at 4 am last Monday morning, and then it kept me from falling back to sleep. By 5:00 I gave up, got up, and fixed a very early morning breakfast. I ate, worked on an upcoming installment, and then went back to bed.

Typically, once I fall back asleep (after being up in the early hours of the morning like this) it’s a sound, deep sleep. Monday was no exception.

Miller woke me at 6:50. I invited him into bed so I could keep sleeping and gave him the iPad.

He watched videos of railway crossings. I slept.

He asked occasional questions. Too out of it to form words, I offered grunts as acknowledgment.

He played games, working puzzles and cooking “food”. I slept more.

He was perfectly content, chilling beside me when finally, at 8:25, I woke up.

For as often as kids disrupt sleep – as in, I’m 33 and still occasionally wake my mom of a morning with a call or text – sometimes, somehow, they know when you really need rest and graciously allow it.


Highlight: I have some exciting Commode To Joy projects I’ve been working on including a new series and a collaborative project. I’ve made progress with both this week and am getting ever closer to being publish-ready. Additionally, I’ve been in contact with a web designer, so in the next month or so, CTJ will have a whole new look.

Image result for happy dance gif

Elaine’s happy dance is identical to mine.


All women, whether working full-time, working a side hustle, or working as a stay-at-home-mom need a hobby – something that’s purely yours. When work sucks, life gets hard, or unwanted surprises come knocking, a good hobby can offer much relief. It gives you something to look forward to, engages your mind (or hands or body depending on the hobby), and temporarily removes all other labels – mom, wife, coworker, boss, friend – so that you’re just you.

I’ve missed me the past several weeks. My focus and energy have been sketchy. This week? I’m back. I have energy to fuel my projects. These projects in turn add excitement to my day sustaining me while I mother (and wife and house keep and errand run, etc…).


Enjoyment: Back to Monday. By 9:00 am I made a cup of coffee and carried it down along with my laptop to work on an aforementioned installment. I hadn’t even opened my computer when the doorbell rang. So finally, a few minutes after nine, we got up for the day.


Midmorning makings of a great day.

What are your Human Highlights from the week? Leave one of your moments in the comments below.

Human Highlights: Sentimentality

Human Highlights is a Sunday tradition at Commode To Joy. It’s a friendly reminder to forgive your human moments, celebrate the highlights, and enjoy.


Human Moment: Have you ever grieved someone who’s still alive?

Yesterday, one of my cousins included a picture of my beloved Grandma Alice in a group message. When I saw it, two simultaneous thoughts crossed my mind.

Let me first say that there are two types of thought – the kind you can control/correct/rewrite and the kind you can’t. The latter of the two is reactive, springing up instantaneously, oftentimes making the thinker agree, disagree, or be thankful that no-one else can hear it.

My two simultaneous thoughts would be best kept to myself, so naturally, I’m sharing. When I saw Grandma’s picture, I thought “It’s beautiful,” and “obituary picture.” My heart swelled with love for my grandma and then it shattered because I’ll have to say goodbye to her someday.

This is not the first time I’ve cried knowing that I won’t always be able to pick up the phone calling her for advice. I won’t always be able to drive down her country road knowing that she’s sitting on the other side of the big living room window watching my approach. I won’t always be able to meet her for lunch or take her out for her birthday or receive birthday cards addressed in her textbook-worthy cursive.

I can’t hardly type this without crying yet again.

Grief. It’s not a welcome friend, but it is a known acquaintance. And though its appearance changes from year to year and from person to person (or pet), its presence is undeniable.


Highlight: Fourth of July is my favorite holiday. Watching fireworks is my favorite Fourth festivity.

It’s become tradition to take our boat on the lake and watch the show from the water. It offers the best views in town while avoiding the crowd.

On the water, other boaters are around you, but you each have your own space. A boat marks perimeters more than a lawn chair or a blanket.

From this boat-sized bubble, I look around knowing that cars are parked to the side of the 36/121 bridge, that people are sitting outside of Nelson Park, the Beach House, and across the lawn from St. Mary’s. An impressive amount of people turns out for this annual event.

There’s something awe-inspiring about seeing so many people gather and sit still for the sake of pleasure and enjoyment (and perhaps some nostalgia too).

“And the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.” At some point each year I hear Francis Scott Key’s apropos lines while watching fireworks. And then, because I’m such a sentimentalist, I tear up.

This twenty-minute show is my highlight, not just of the week, but of the entire year.


Enjoyment: I saw Potter Monday.


July 2017

I adopted him from a local shelter in 2009. He was my everything, and I his, and then I had a kid.

Potter was okay toward Miller – do I have an affinity for English surnames or what? – but, and this is a big but, he was not okay with me being a mom.

When he resigned to the fact that I could not dote upon him in mass heaps as I had previously, he broke up with me. His green eyes that once looked at me with affection, well, let’s just say he didn’t need fingers to flip me off.

The short version of this story is that I found Potter a new home with a father/daughter whom we knew through CrossFit. She has since become one of our go-to babysitters. This past Monday, we took a field trip to her house so Miller could “meet” Potter. (Miller was four months old when Potter moved in with his new family.)

Potter & Miller

June 2014

Pot hasn’t changed much – he’s still fat and sassy. Whereas he used to act out against me, Monday he acted out against Miller, batting at him with warning meows. I made a great decision finding that boy a new home.

If you’re curious, he still loves me.

Potter Kisses

Kitty Cat Kisses

What are your Human Highlights from the week? Leave one of your moments in the comments below.