Wednesday, August 31, 2011

coming home again: priorities

One of the downsides of roadtrips is coming back. I mean, coming home is great, and once you've thoroughly checked your bed for spiders and your coffeemaker for mold, you get to settle right in... but the toll on your car and your house can be pretty overwhelming.

I have the habit of detailing and vacuuming my van as soon as we get home, carrying in suitcases and toys and books and immediately putting everything in its place. I do laundry the first day home, and by 24 hours, the clothes, car and house are spotless.

I'm totally lying. I don't do any of that stuff. In fact, that paragraph makes me laugh a lot. I bet my sister Leah does every.one.of.those.things.

When we roll in from a trip, we bring the essentials inside the house: laptops, children, and baby wipes. The rest of our belongings are extracted on an as-needed basis. Some things never come back. And once we bring the suitcase in, it sits in the corner until the Spirit moves me, or the MOG runs out of unmentionables.

So the laundry, it is great and insurmountable, and I go into this catatonic state where there are SO MANY things to do that I freeze up, like the AC when it's working too hard, and I just sit around, thinking about all the things I need to do. And eventually, I think of something specific, and I do that thing, and then I'm all worn out and need to take a nice long break, maybe resting my head on the pile of clean laundry that is a whole 'nother problem.

The new development, since I've gotten all crafty and whatnot, is the projects I take on in the middle of the chaos. Right now I am giving serious thought to spray-painting some pumpkins for my front yard, but we don't have any clean towels. So. What to do? Hush, men. It's not that easy to decide.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

getaway

A rule of blogging is, you should never talk about blogging on your blog. I ignore that rule, along with many grammatical and other writing rules, because, hey! this is my blog, on the internet, and I can say whatever I want, except stuff that alarms my mama.

But anyway, about slacking off around here: sorry about that. The MOG was traveling for like a month and I had all these kids sucking my brain juices. He's back now for a little while and maybe inspiration will strike me, like a bolt of lightning filled with wit and whimsy.

Speaking of the MOG: as you know, we celebrated 15 years of marriage a couple of weeks ago. And by celebrated, I mean we said happy anniversary on the phone. The real celebration ended up being this weekend, when he came back from his tour and whisked me away to a 24 hour vacation.

mako shark
It was great. Sometimes you forget about being husband and wife when you're busy being parents, or rockstars for Jesus or whatever. So we walked around and shopped a little and we talked and held hands, and I ate shark for dinner (Captain Cautious had a burger, scoff). And it was perfect weather, and there was a guy singing country songs on the patio at the restaurant, and it was all good. 

I highly recommend that you eat shark and listen to live music with your sweetie, sometime, on a rooftop when it's 80 degrees.

I make plans for what I will do, someday when I am fabulously wealthy. Those plans usually are stuff like buying jeans that no one else has worn, and eating a lot of guacamole. Now I have a new thing to add to the list: weekend getaways.

Friday, August 26, 2011

on why Buzz should marry young

Last night Toby wore his Buzz Lightyear costume to Walmart and then reminded me he "had an appointment" to sleep in my bed. It was a good night for him. I looked at him and thought, "How many more times will he ask to be a superhero at the grocery store? How many more nights will he sleep in my bed?" and my heart started collapsing, so I said okay.

This morning I woke up and he was all sprawled out with his little boy legs and arms thrown around, books half-read everywhere, and I had the thought: "Someday he will be married, and somebody else will watch him when he sleeps." 

So during breakfast, I thought, "I hope he gets married really young, so he doesn't nap with some girl who's not his wife. Young marriage is a good thing. Less temptation. We got married young, it's been good. It was God's timing for us..."

Later, he was climbing over my back, using the couches as some kind of launching pad, and I was folding clothes for him to flip into. Well, that's not why I was folding them, but it's how it was working out. And I thought, "Yes, marriage is good. Just get married when he's a teen, like we did, and he'll go straight from being in our home to leaving and cleaving. I think that's good. I think that's how I feel." 

All morning and through lunch, I debated myself. "But so many young married couples struggle, emotionally and financially. I don't want them living with us! He needs to be a man." I'm feeling kind of annoyed, by this point, about irresponsibility and the burden these kids put on themselves.

While I was out for my break, browsing  at the library, "I just don't want him to be one of these Peter Pans, 30 and still playing video games and delivering pizzas, never settling down. And I'm washing his laundry. He needs to have money, and a place. Okay, he shouldn't marry young." And that was that. Decision complete.

Maybe I need a hobby.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I done it to myself.

Every night, around midnight, I have this thought: "I have STUPID for brains." Then I just keep doing what I'm doing, which is trying to read a book I have been putting off while people were still talking on Facebook. Then, at 6 or something, Tristan wakes up and I am metaphorically kicking myself in the metaphorical head. 

But I keep.doing.it. Because my "second day" is so precious, when I can eat food without excessive amounts of feedback, like, "Mmm. I never had a chip before. What does it taste like?" (lurk, lurk, lurk)  Or I can read articles on news sites without Toby suddenly shocking me by asking, "What the hell?" and just as I am preparing to pull a Phineas and stab him through, I realize he is reading comments that say precisely that. On the Huffington Post. Over my shoulder. Whew. Or I can watch youtubes of whatever without having stern looking toddlers around, saying in a dissaproving voice, "That man said STUPID. Does he love God, mama?" Stuff like that. 

I just sit in my bed with my Oreos and my earbuds, and I am a free woman. So it's hard to shut that down for something lame like sleeping. 

Don't get me wrong, if you're feeling all like Judgy McJudgerson. I love my kids. Love hanging out with them, answering their questions, scooping stuff out of their mouths while they're trying to choke or whatever. They are my joy. But I also love looking at them sleeping. A LOT. 


This recharging dynamic is so crucial, though. Maybe someday soon, I will go to sleep at 10. I will shut my computer down, read some improving chapter and then lights out. Or not. Probably not. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

pow'r, pow'r, Superhero pow'r

"Believe in yourself and be filled with the power of Po..." Toby reads from a candy wrapper while strapped in his booster seat. 

I am concerned. I absolutely want Toby to believe in himself, both that he exists, and that he is smart and capable. The power of Po, though... that part worries me a little. 

I decide to have a Fundy Homeschool Moment. 

"Did you know, Toby," I say, looking in the rearview mirror, "that you can be filled with the power of God, and you can do all kinds of things God can do? Like heal people, or walk on water..."

The feedback was immediate. 
Toby processes: "If I could walk on water, I could go in the deep end anytime I want." 

Brynn jumps in "Jesus could- Jesus had magical flip flops so He can walk on the water." 

Toby scoffs. "No, Brynn, He didn't have magic flip-flops, water-walking is one of His powers."

Brief scuffling about Jesus, resolved without bloodshed. See, Crusaders? See how easy that was?

Toby keeps thinking about it. "Can God fly?" he asks. I explain He could, if He wanted to. 

I try to redirect to the more typical examples of God's superhero powers, like healing the sick, changing the weather, you know, easy stuff. Toby is unfazed. 

"Could God get Himself out of a hole, if He got stuck?" I doubt the likelihood of God getting stuck in a hole, but Toby argues, if He can do anything... I concede. 

"So, if I have the power of God, I can fly." he concludes. I act like I'm listening to my GPS.

"If I am filled with the power of God," he mutters to himself, "I can get an IronMan suit." 

The next generation of young ministers might do some amazing things. I'll be over here, pretending to read. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

first day of yawn

This is the part of the show where a dedicated blogger would sit down and write diligently, of deep topics. I, on the other hand, am *this* close to dumping this entry and finishing my novel. And by novel, I mean, the one I am reading, because I haven't ever really started writing a novel. I'm planning on being a late bloomer. I'm shooting for not hitting my prime posthumously.

Today is the first day of school for a lot of kids. R2 went back last week, and then today I have to pick him up early and take him to a psychologist visit. Do you know what it's like to take a nonverbal kid to a psychologist?

"How does he feel about going back to school?"

"Uh... well, he was flapping in the morning, so uh, that's probably good. There was some jumping, too, by the bus. I'd say he's happy. Or frustrated. Or constipated."

"Hmmm."

So there's that. I will have the whole crew with me today, and expect some new notes for our family file. "Mom seems stressed. Cannot seem to remember children's names. 5 year old wearing shirt and pants backwards. Baby has black knees and dirt under fingernails." Stuff like that.

I am starting homeschool with Toby and Brynn soon, real soon. I just need to figure out what to teach them. We've covered stuff like aliens, the new earth, human anatomy, ("If I poke a hole in my subcutaneous layer, I will DIE"-toby) and gravity, but I think they need to know how to write letters. Add, subtract, stuff like that. I'll get to it, get off my back.

But just now, there's a lovely rain and a fairly weak Christian fiction novel to get through. T&B are currently cutting holes in various items with safety scissors. That's probably educational, right?

Friday, August 19, 2011

the pukeman cometh

First, you should go catch up on the podcasts from The Spirit of Adoption Show. Our friend Randy discusses some of the common questions and misconceptions about adoption in a clear and concise way- take some time to listen now or load 'em onto your iPod or (snicker) Zune or whatever and listen on your drives. Excellent stuff.

In other news, Brynn spent the afternoon yesterday alternating between a) lying on the couch with white lips and a raging fever, and b) puking in a bucket. I would think it was the mystery "marble" causing some kind of infection, but Toby did this last week, on the host home's carpet, so it's just some kinda late-blooming virus.


When it comes to them getting sick, I don't fight it. I mean, I practice basic hygiene, but I just figure God has my number, and the puke train is coming for me, despite my slow-motion horrified run. Besides, when a sick little person wants to be held so they can give you snotty kisses and cough in your mouth, or to come get in your bed so they can put their hot little feet on your face, what are you gonna say? I just plan my sick time for while they're sleeping.

Her fever is gone today, although she still claims to be too tired to climb the stairs to her room for naptime. Sometimes I think I'm getting taken for a ride...


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Take THAT, open road.

I drove over 700 miles yesterday, by myself. Well, technically there were 5 of us. But I was the only grownup and I am still the tallest. (barely)

See? Tallest. 
My plan was to leave at 7 am, and unlike my counterpart, I am generally on time. In fact, I am almost always early, sitting in a parking lot, annoyed at myself for leaving obsessively early. But I woke up and waffled back and forth about skipping out on R2's school reentry and staying an extra day, or heading back. Finally, I said, "This is uh... This is ridiculous, ok I'll go, I'll go, I'll go, I'll go, I'll go. What - I'LL GO."


Once we got on the road, I was great. I had my babies and my iPod and we were flying across the state. It was an amazingly smooth day, really. I have a strict policy of neglect on roadtrips, and so the kids entertain themselves and find stuff to eat and are relatively calm. I weighed several pottying options, and finally decided the only timely choice would be letting the 2 potty trained ones urinate on the great state of Texas. We stopped 3 times at gas stations and another 3 times on the roadside.  That concludes your Urinary Update. My point is, we didn't stop much. We ate drive thru food and I'd toss around a few snacks when we braked. 


Essential stop: Woody's
Pretty much, though, we trucked at 5 miles over the speed limit, and it rocked. Several times, as I was chillin with my boys Jon Foreman, Jonny Lang, and Rush Limbaugh, I just felt so happy, to be in a van with my kids and a whole day to drive. 


I would have made it in a Clark record of 12 hours, but 20 minutes from home, we got caught in a construction zone and added 30 minutes to our drive. While we were stuck there, in the hell between exits, parking cones and very, very bright lights, Tristan decided that he was finally done with the carseat, and bottles for that matter, and took up screeching as a hobby. One of my children needed to go to the bathroom, and grew increasingly frantic as we sat still behind half of Lenexa's citizens. Finally, the panic set in. "I.can't.HOLD.IT. I'm peeeeeeeeing!!!" And that was that.


So we made it home in 12 hours and 45 minutes, and were at home for about 2 hours when Brynn "put a marble" up her nose. Silly me, with my fanciful ideas about sleeping. I googled what to do with a marble up your nose, and the advice ranged from "Blow your nose", to "You will most surely die. " So I called my medical friends and then determined, somewhere around 11 pm, that it was not a marble at all, but a tiny, tiny bead, and there was no cause for concern. Brynn, reassured, fell asleep quickly. Toby and Tristan chose to make a later night of it and entertained me with jokes and stories, against my will. 


It was a good trip, but I'm glad to be home. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

15 years


15 years ago today, I remember driving away from the church in our little  tan Corolla, high on wedding cake and love, hooting with laughter that we got away with it. 17 and 18 years old, legally married and on our first solo roadtrip.

A thousand times, 10,000 times since then, we've hit the road and we still cheer every time. With a van full of teenagers, or band members, or friends from across the country, or, more recently, people in diapers, there's always a moment where we catch eyes and feel this little shock of glee that we get to do this. Together.

And now, more often, the van pulls out without me, and I stand on the porch with a baby on my hip, blown away that we get to do this. We get to live this full life together.

Last night, we sat at a table with our fellow Radiants and our kids, Tejano music blaring, and I made the joke, "15 years and what do I have to show for it?" and we all laughed, because there is so, so much to show for it.

15 years of laughter and tears, together. 15 years of learning life, together. 15 years of fruitful ministry. 15 years, for richer and poorer, mostly poorer. 15 years of awesome.

Isn't it amazing, Richy? We get to do this.

Monday, August 8, 2011

the response

This weekend I got to sing in a stadium and had dinner a couple of yards away from Governor Perry, and today I have done a lot of yelling, "Go! Go to the bathroom! Run! Go NOW!" . This is the life.

The Response was great. It wasn't a political event, it was a prayer meeting, and I know because I was backstage, where the people putting it together were praying. If Governor Perry runs for President, I'll need to know more about him, but for now I am just very grateful that a political leader called a prayer meeting and we got to come to Texas and be a part of it. Reliant Stadium gave us a headcount of 44,000 and we saw a couple of dozen protestors, although if you read the Chronicle, I think they pretty much have those numbers reversed.

You can look around the interwebs and find pictures of my sister and her husband, blonde and distinct looking, praying on the front row. The camera loves 'em.

It was a beautiful day and I am really, really glad I got to go.

Friday, August 5, 2011

where ARE my kids?

When you are used to a certain lifestyle, it is a challenge to change. That's probably why so many prisoners go BACK to prison, and why I make beep-boop sounds while pushing a shopping cart without children in it.

I am adjusting to not having my posse around. Don't get me wrong, I like it. I went swimming in the middle of the day yesterday, and I stayed up super late being loud. I slept all night long. Don't get me wrong again, I like my kids and I want them back... eventually.

But yeah, I'm looking around nervously in parking lots for fugitive toddlers, scoping out what on my plate is a choking hazard, shushing people who are not waking up a baby. Every now and then I have this panic, where I realize I have not been watching my kids and they could be anywhere. Sometimes I have that feeling in my normal life, and it usually means Toby has hacked into the FBI database and is looking at pictures of homicidal clowns, or that Brynn is hiding behind the shower curtain, eating a tube of toothpaste. It's rarely good, that moment.

And I'm tired, super tired from the travel and consistently staying up too late, but here I am at 10 in the morning, drinking hot chai without (much) concern of someone spontaneously doing a BATMAN FLIP into my shoulder and raining tea on all surrounding.

I will be thrilled to get back to mommying, but first I'm going to enjoy the rest of my break.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

texas update day 1

We've arrived in Texas, and I had bacon wrapped jalapeƱos last night (this morning? discuss.) around midnight. Prior to that, we spent 14 hours in a minivan with 4 little kids. The thing is, our kids are amazing travelers. I'm starting to think that maybe we're actually onto something with the mild neglect we practice while driving. I was thinking maybe we just had children genetically predisposed to travel, but Tristan is not genetically related, and he also rocked it. So. I think maybe we'll get a book deal, or something.

So today I dropped them off with Viking Granny for the whole weekend and now I'm running with the band, just like the old days. Except I never rode in such a fancy awesome van. Also, Hannah is pregnant, which is NOT like the old days.

Hey! If you're in Texas you should come to the Response, a day of prayer and fasting at Reliant Stadium. It was called by a political leader but the event is non-political. Your hometown boys and Han will be leading worship before the event from 8-9:20. So go to http://Theresponseusa.com and register (it's free, but you'll have to pay for parking). It's AN historic occasion, and you don't want to miss it.

And now I have to devote my energies to procuring chips and salsa, quickly. Peace out.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

the condition of my condition

As a child, I was a bit of a hypochondriac. In retrospect, I was probably normal, but in my family you weren't allowed to get sick. "Throw up a lung, and you can stay home from school," my dad used to say. So I whined a fair-to-middling amount and then I grew up and grew out of it, I guess. 

Still, life takes its toll. I now suffer from many parenthood ailments, like the following:

Mommy-neck: that strange crick in your neck and shoulder from sleeping very, very still, with a newborn in your armpit region. It takes about a year to clear up, unless you develop bedsharing elbow, which can carry on for years. 

Morning illness: not to be confused with morning sickness, this is that sensation of near-death you feel every morning, and if you are male, it will probably get you out of making that 5 am bottle. Mysteriously, by 9 am, you will be cured. 

Wrong-side-of-the-bed-itis: This is a tragic illness, where you wake up slightly irritated. You should go back to bed, because it never gets better. You will break a coffee cup, and your children will cut the couch with safety scissors, and your spouse will decide it is the opportune moment to offer some helpful input regarding a) your housekeeping or b) your hips. Back to bed with you. 

doorgut injuries: You ram the hamper into the doorknob, it rams you in the gut. Mild profanities and bruising follow. This can also occur when attempting to pry the bathroom door open and retrieve a wet and stinky hiding "potty-trained" child. The door is slammed back into position, despite a fair portion of your body blocking it. 

Namesophrenia: in which your eyes can clearly see the child you are addressing, but your mind and mouth run through a baby name book before settling on the correct one, i.e. "Rich-bry-tris-TOBIAS!"

and many more, but currently I am suffering from a good old fashioned pain in the neck, whom I love very, very much, and so I will shut this down and go Windex the floor or something. 



Also: new Radiant van! Check it out!



Monday, August 1, 2011

hey, you're ruining your kid...

The MOG was scheduled for a nervous breakdown last night, but we decided to go on a date instead. We called Liz, and she came and sat with our technically sleeping children. You should ask her out, if you're single, you love God and you're not a psycho.

We went to the movies and saw Captain America. Little-known fact: I like superhero movies. My entertainment diet, for the most part, includes things with Sandra Bullock, or Meg Ryan or one of the other blondes, but give me a decent superhero story and I'm all about it. It's gotta be clear, though. I want upstanding good guy heroes. None of this is-he-good-or-not angst, I have enough of that with real people. So I was stoked, and then Richy accidentally wore his Captain America shirt, which made us look like superfans, which reminded me of the time he and his brothers dressed up like Jedis and Darth Maul and went to the Star Wars opening. In retrospect, we were all both ultra-dorks and also super cool.

Anyways. We drive to the ends of the earth because my GPS has not been updated in 2 years due to a lost cord, and so there are whole cities it doesn't know about. By the time I have the popcorn and am sitting down, there's already some guys talking in another language, surrounded by snow. *action movie essential

So here, in the 4th paragraph, is my point. I am chowing pretty hard on the popcorn and Reeses, because I'm married to a man and I have to fight for my rights, and also, I am watching the unfolding of events, which are now in 1942, so it takes a while before I glance over and notice a 2 year old in the seat next to me. Do not be alarmed, it was not my own stowaway 2 year old, I don't even HAVE one of those right now. But be alarmed because there is blood splattering and buildings exploding and a BABY watching.

The movie, like all superhero movies, has a truly scary bad guy and a pretty high body count, because a) war and b) scary bad guy and c) good guy has to lose a couple pals, you know. So by halfway through the movie, I am constantly checking the baby to see if she's freaking out. She's not. She's sitting patiently, staring at the screen. At the climax of the movie, I'm watching with my fingers over my eyes, which is how I roll when I'm concerned there may be gore, and she's finally crawling over her dad to her mom.


And I'm not even anti-kids being grownup places. When I'm nursing a baby, they go everywhere with me. And I take my kids out to eat, etc, and expect them to behave appropriately. If they don't, we bail. But come on, surely anyone would realize there are places you shouldn't have a kid with you. I don't feel like I'm old enough to pull the mom aside and say, "Honey, this movie is too scary for that baby..." like my mom might, if she went to movies more than .5 times a decade. Sigh.

I'm going to blog more about this, but I have to think some more.

Anyways, I think it was a good night out for the MOG, who is flying to Texas today, picking up the new van, and driving straight back, so we can leave again in a couple of days. About that nervous breakdown...

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