Monday, December 31, 2012

I have a long-standing tradition of not making New Year's Resolutions. It's probably similar to the way I will only play a board game I'm pretty sure I'll win. Risk management? Fear of humiliation? A deep seated fear of disappointing my inner child? You tell me. Send it to my fake email address: and I promise to never read it, unless later today I'm pretty bored and actually create that address. Anyway, I don't usually make them but I've done lots of new things this year, so maybe I'll give some resolutions a swing.

Imma throw a caveat up in here, though. I have had extensive commitment training. I could probably get a framed diploma in Making Commitments and hang it up on my wall, and then I could travel the nation teaching conferences or something, except that I've gotten totally paranoid and now obsessively avoid making commitments so I won't possibly break them. Listen, therapists, I know. Send me a coupon for some free couch time, I'll tell you all about it. All this to say I am going to make some "resolutions" that are "goals" and not "commitments". Capisce?

First off, I am going to take on this year without fast food idea, even though we're still in a medical crisis with R2 and I don't know exactly how to process crises without cheeseburgers. "Easy!" you cry cheerfully, "Boca burgers at home!" and to you, I make a fart sound. You have brought me to this, to using the word f**t for the first time ever, possibly, in 7 and a half years of blogging. I have a sort of plan that will be an actual typed plan for My Year Without Fast Food, and more about that in 2013, but I'm gonna take it one month at a time and might even totally quit, who knows. The omniscient God, that's who.

Secondly, and connected to that one, I plan to get in some kind of routine with the shopping and the cooking of the foods, real food, moving gradually away from so much processed stuff. Meal plans and what-not.

Third, I'm going to work on routines and consistency all over the place. It might be like a Consistency Expo up in here. This one contains personal and family spiritual growth and schooling and stuff, it's an umbrella.

Fourth: I'm gonna stay on the exercise train, even though my trainer has abandoned me for love, fame and fortune in LA. I might have to experiment with various programs at the YMCA and maybe even become a Silver Sneaker, or even work out on my personal exercise equipment that I have acquired from roadsides and thrift shops. End story, I am gonna be the hottest senior citizen in water aerobics.

Less internet/more kid hugging
Less rock and roll/more worship
Less unbelief/more "help my unbelief"
Less talking to friends/more listening to friends
Less internet/more writing a book
Less isolation/more inviting people over

And a jillion others I have to work through in the ol cabesa. Lots to work on, and I'm not wildly optimistic about nailing most of this. Still, seems like a good range of stuff to swing at, stay tuned.

oh and PS: Thankfulness! I'm working on a daily thankfulness idea.
You people know I'm crafty. Remember the rainbow cake? I know, impressive. It is never more clear that I am an eternal optimist than when I casually approach a craft or baking project. So when Toby expressed desires for a "Mario" party, I was like, "Piece of cake!" or something else like that that translates, "Denial!"

Birthdays are a big deal to me, it's important that my kids feel like they have a special day. It's been a tough couple of months and I am trying desperately not to be in the dark night of the soul, especially on a kid's birthday, so I did what any crafty, engaged parent would do, I went on a party supplier's website and made plans to buy some licensed character schlock the day before my precious child's birthday party. Mario party, check. Except the local one ended up not having any of actual party supplies, just an endcap with a few Mario stickers and notepads and stuff. So I bought some of that and a blue tablecloth, because I don't play Mario and it seemed like blue and red stuff matched with what I have seen out of the corner of my eye while I am neglecting my children. I bought some star balloons because that seemed like a thing and then the cashier girl suggested drawing eyes on them to be like, you know, those stars with eyes in the game or whatever and so we ended up with a blue tablecloth with Mario stickers and pretty cute star balloons. My sister and bro-in-law and their kids were in town for a visit, so that was already a fun party, built in. 

Then a Very Exciting Thing happened: a birthday coupon came in the mail with Toby's name on it. Party: redirected. If there is a free Happy Meal happening somewhere, this kid is not going to pass it up. So his best friend and his sister and cousins piled in the car and we had a Very Exciting Happy Meal Experience, and then we came back and they got to play video games while I effortlessly sculpted these Mario mushroom cupcakes. The top ones are the prototype I got from the interweb, the bottom is my skillful interpretation. I know, it's what I do, thank you. As I was realizing that once I again, I was qualifying for a Pinterest fail blog, Toby walked by and excitedly said, "MOM! Those look perfect!" I tell you what, there are reasons to keep this kinda guy around. 

I think, in the end, he was totally and completely happy with his party, and I am thrilled that we made him feel celebrated. 

So, Toby is seven. I am so thankful for his humor, his flexibility, his alarming intelligence and his kindness. He gets better every year. I'm just gonna need time to slow down a little bit.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Look, I’m trying to write this heartfelt Christmas post but my head is all like glub-glub-glub and sleeeeeerrrrnknt and stuff. According to WebMD, I will be dead within the hour. I think I have a cold, and those are rarely fatal, to my knowledge. Also, I am a woman, and as such, am obligated to carry on. So here I am, traipsing on like a brave soldier, like a Kardashian with a broken ankle, still wearing 6 inch heels. I hope this is inspiring.

Today I went grocery shopping with my cold. Feed a cold, they say. Luckily the MOG was working from home, from our room, actually, where he has temporarily? moved his desk and large books about Ephesians or something, so that he can talk to me while I’m sleeping.
Him: Type type type type type,
Me: sleep sleep slee-
Him: Say things, lots of things
Me: offer barbed input
Him: “No, that’s not it.”
And so on. Anyway, he was in his “office” and so after some brief negotiations involving diapers and sandwiches, I was sent out on a solo mission to retrieve food. The thing about having a cold is that you feel drugged even when you aren’t drugged. I mean, your nose is all slornkty and your brain is all like slo-mo and your legs are all like clob clob clob. You know.

So I drove and all the world I was beholding was new, like, was there always a stop sign there? Where is that road I drive on every day? And then I got to Walmart and I was all like, okay, you brain, okay. Enough of this, time to sharpen up and do some efficient shopping. So what would be the practical first- I’ll just wander over here and then it will come to me, what I am shopping for. Diapers. And Bread. And wipes. U-turn. And Milk. And Kleenex. U-turn. Wandering, wandering, sneeze a little. U-turn. I got the food, I got all the food. I got so much food that 2 separate people made jokes about just coming to my house to eat. Feed a cold.

And then I got a cheeseburger, possibly my last for a year, and I was driving home when I remembered that I was supposed to be working out, right that minute, right when all I was stretching was my stomach capacity. Feed a cold, that’s what they say, and I am dedicated to my health.

Oh, and Christmas was good, too. More about that after the sleerknting is over. 

Friday, December 21, 2012

I've had the opportunity lately to listen to a LOT of Christmas music, and I have formed many opinions. The great thing about opinions is that not a lot of people have them and so it's super important that I share mine. In years past, when we were limited to removable media for Christmas tunes, the MOG used to forbid Christmas music prior to December 1st. So my Amy Grant Christmas and Mannheim Steamroller and whatever else I had back then would stay in my pleather CD case until my priesthood head permitted me to celebrate our Lord's birth. But now I have a phone with the internet and Steve Jobs has made a way for me to celebrate any old time with all of the recorded Christmas music ever known to mankind. SO I DO. The only problem is that having constant access has made start to get a little skeptical and maybe even hostile toward the songs of the season.

Christmas Shoes is on the top of my Carol Dooky List for sure. The only thing that could even make it legal would be if it were based on a true story, because otherwise it's just emotional manipulation, on the holidays. A simple Google search would give me the true story/eye-poking answer, but no, I will not even give it that much dignity. I could sit here right now and try to think of a super sad story with a soldier and a dog and a wreath and a package that is mysteriously mailed after his death and a young widow who finds out she's pregnant and MISTAKEN IDENTITY AND CHRISTMAS EVE and you people would sob till you puke but WHY? why would I do that? That's what  I mean.

Sometimes it just seems like some singer on the b-side of their album of life, if you catch my drift, decides to make a Christmas album, which is great. But then they decide that Christmas would be better with more tin whistles and high-pitched keyboards and acting, with lot's of yahoo's and giddyup horses! and other vocal sound effects, like we really believe Cher is recording this whole thing in a one-horse open sleigh, like she's out in the snow in an all-black mesh catsuit with a Santa hat. Call me a skeptic, but I'm not buying it.

And this Santa Baby number... this is supposed to be kind of... um, sultry, right? I mean, the lyrics indicate that the singer is not a child and that she kinda sees Santa as a sugar daddy, if I'm reading it right, and I AM. Now, let me disclaim here by saying I am a straight female, but still, I think I have a pretty good read on what is perceived as sexy or seductive. (Quit being awkward, I'm acting normal) And the original version, the Eartha Kitt version, pulls that off in a 1950's way. So who had the idea, what slightly inebriated middle aged male in a Marketing department had the idea to redo it with this nasal... holy moly y'all, I was off googling this and it's MADONNA. Irony. Anyway, it's this awful, nasal New Jersey Fran Drescher version and who finds that attractive? Who, in all of humanity? Don't tell me, it's gross.

Speaking of marketing geniuses, how bout "Christmas comes this time each year" as a repeated lyric. Just say it over and over, Beach Boys, because I am constantly asking myself, when IS that pesky Christmas? Is it an annual thing, or what? And WHEN? I don't want to be blindsided by this holiday. Guys. I'm a housewife and I can sit here for 10 seconds and come up with "Christmas is a time of cheer," "Christmastime is finally here," "I can't wait to have a beer,". All better choices.

I'm sure once I publish this I'll think of 80 songs I hate more, like the CARPENTERS with Merry Christmas Darling. There are lots of good ones, but who wants to read about that? Just stay tuned for the episode where I smash my iPhone in a fit of righteous anger and all the children ask what happened to Christmas.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Here's the way it went down. I wrote this whole post about Christmas and I don't know, Karate Kid and... shoot, now I have to go look it up, that's how meaningful it was to me. Oh yeah, I talked about Life kicking you in the guts. Maybe I'll run it tomorrow, that part was pretty good. But ultimately, I was kinda thinking, "This'll do." which is not a ringing endorsement for something I'm putting on the internet.

The thing with putting stuff on the internet is, you never know what will happen. It's unlikely that a post I consider filler will somehow randomly get viral and go all over the webs and be attributed to Abraham Lincoln or something, but it's not impossible. If you hang out on Pinterest, and I do, then you've probably seen something like this graphic over yonder and so then you know what I mean. Anyway, I hesitate to post filler because I'd hate for that to be the thing that I get known for ripping off from Plato.

As I was finishing up, though, I remembered this one Christmas when I went rogue and so I went looking for the link to that story and it was super, ├╝ber weak. So I thought, hey! I could retell that story. And that's how this all came about. 

See, the man that I love, affectionately known as the MOG (man of God), is not really a cheery elf when it comes to holidays. He might have been better before he married me, when we were 7 years old, but I am CRAZY about Christmas and so maybe it's just a counterbalance kinda thing. So every year before the Year of the Fake Tree (last year) there has been the Festive Annual Christmas Tree Fight. Christmas 2007, we were relatively financially constrained, as usual, and I did some internet shenanigans and won a $100 gift card. It was a thing, for anyone who was getting concerned. And, as per usual, I left all the mail in a pile somewhere like the couch or the counter or in the bathtub, to look at later, and as per usual, he came home and threw it all away, in a continual quest for cleanliness next to godliness. THREW IT AWAY. 

Fast forward through -how could you why would you why didn't you just why in the world would you I'll tell you what YOU can do- to him going back to work and me, deciding whether to give up on my $100 or what. Moments later I was buckling all of the children into carseats and climbing into the apartment dumpster. I'm a lofty 5'1 and it was not easy to get up there, and once I was in, I was relieved to find that it smelled awesome in there. Just kidding, it smelled like the sewers of hell. I pushed bags around until I found some trash that looked familiar and I found the card. 

I celebrated loudly from inside the dumpster and then, I must have cleaned up somehow, I don't remember. I then drove victoriously to Walmart and bought a giant tree and brought it home, where I locked babies in rooms and cussed my tree down from the minivan, down the sidewalk and through the door. There was unbelievable amounts of needle carnage all around me, and I was lacerated and sappy, literally sappy, and I was giddy. I then wrestled the 7.5 foot tree into the stand and decorated it with small curious people underfoot, and then we swept all the needles into the parking lot and hid the evidence. 

By the time the Mr. came home from work, I met him at the door with 90% rebellious smirk and 10% Christmas spirit. He was pretty amused and relieved to have had the task ripped from his reluctant and miserly hands. And God blessed us, every one. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

I just can’t wrap my mind around the Sandy Hook massacre, or I won’t. Every time I try to consider, to imagine losing my 5 and 6 year olds in such a violent and horrifying way, something inside me shuts down the thought. Still, I’ve been following on social media and news sites, hoping for some ray of light to dispel the awfulness. I remember thinking in the aftermath of my own loss, “There is no redemption for this.” In the darkness, even the promise of heaven brings little comfort.

We as a nation have been reminded, have been shocked into seeing our children, to remember what they mean, what matters. The President said it beautifully in his address, “The warmth of a small child’s embrace- that is true.” It is a moment of awareness, a spotlight on the little ones. In the face of great evil, we remember the gift of our children, their light and their laughter.

It’s also a revelatory moment for us as a nation, a spotlight on our desensitization. Within moments of the slaughter of 20 first graders, we took to social media with our outrage and our agendas. In a small city in Connecticut, mothers were identifying their dead children through photographs and we were storming the airwaves with calls for more gun control, less gun control, abortion statistics and countless other issues. It wasn’t the time. Ecclesiastes 3:4 says there is a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance. For them, for us, it is a time to mourn. Their humanity demands that we see them.

It is true that we face staggering numbers of aborted children, that the gun discussions and the mental health issues will have to be addressed. But for today, for now, we should simply weep with those who weep.

To seize a moment of national grief for a soapbox is beyond insensitive, it is cruel. We as a pro-life community should be the first to acknowledge the value of a single life. They matter, every one of them.

Our hearts and our prayers are with Connecticut in this time of mourning. May God bring you comfort and peace.

cross-posted from

Saturday, December 15, 2012

"Egads!" maybe you're saying. "Who writes a blog entry at half-past 'leven on a Saturday night?" It's a valid question, and a fairly Britishy one. I'll answer. I do, that's who. Because I CAN.

It was a long day, as days tend to be. For one thing, my mom is in town, helping me with R2 and the general maintenance of the house and feedings of the people, and for some reason, when another grownup is in the house, hysteria strikes the small folks and they start acting like Annoying Kid 1 and Annoying Kid 2 from a Disney screenplay, with the interrupting and the sass talk and running into walls and bleeding and stuff. And these kids, my kids, they're bright. They have calculated almost exactly how annoying they have to be to get given a computer and told to get lost, without crossing over the line to so annoying that we need to find a Mommy Loses Her Cool pamphlet to explain what just happened.

Still, between their shenanigans and the sick one being consistently sick and still bedridden, and Daddy off preaching the gospel to the natives of Texas, I collapse in my bed at 8 pm and try desperately to gain some emotional equilibrium, some balance, some sense of humor. Naturally, civil war breaks out and there will be anywhere from 1-3 screaming people in my room, "just trying to EXPLAIN" why it was beyond their control that their sibling was hit 3 times in the head with The Book of Virtues.

Tonight, the girl child was torturing the baby, as is her custom, and eventually Mommy Lost Her Cool and dramatically dragged the whole crib to her room, where the baby found Mommy's one remaining shred of patience and used it for a trampoline. And here's the thing: I can ignore the whining and the crying and the emptying of the Clean Undies Hamper item by item, but I can't eat anything while the baby is awake, because, come on. So here I am, 11:43, giving serious thought to some crackers and cream cheese, because, for the first time since 7:something a.m., nobody is awake in this house.

7 am will come again, and I will be happy to spend the day with my wonderful little babies, but this silence is so delicious, I think I'll just hang out here in denial and pretend it's daytime. Daytime with a Fudgesicle. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Man. I hate blogging hiatuses. I didn't get a red underline on that, so I'm going with it, but the word hiatuses bothers me. Hiati, that would seem more appropriate. Probably it would just get autocorrected to Haiti all the time, which would mean something entirely different.

The thing is, I've been hiating (I'm out of control) on everything these days, because you can just be going along, life life life, and then some variation of the Big One hits and the world zooms in to a singular focus and that's it, that's the focus and everything else is whatever that word photographers use for blurry background. Something like bouquet. Darnit, now I have to go google that, hang on. Bokeh. I got a red line on that one, but I saw it on the internet so it has to be right.

So I've been zoomed in extremely close on this sick little boy and bless GOD and the MOG that my mama is here because everybody else in the vicinity is fed and clothed and relatively emotionally healthy and we're gonna make it through. But I haven't been doing much of anything, like blogging or cleaning or parenting or exercising, so you, the bloggerati, have been equally neglected.

We talked the docs into letting us go home last weekend because they were scratching their heads and out of tests and we just wanted to scratch our heads at home for a week or so and see if things improved outside of the hospital environment, and I think they have.

He's feeling a little better. Whatever is going on abdominally still seems to be an issue, but we're getting him to eat well and to sit up for his meals, and he seems to be tolerating short walks from his bed to his living room cot, etc. I'm feeling hopeful today that we're on the upswing.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

We're still here, at the swanky metropolitan skyrise known as Children's Mercy. You probably want to know how my son is doing. I tell you, I'd love to know, myself. Sometimes having a nonverbal kid is nice, like when you're on a drive and it's nice and quiet, he's just looking out the window. Other times, lots of times, it stinks. All we know is that he hurts. A lot. Somewhere. Probably his stomach, since he has not wanted to sit up for 2 weeks now. Sometime today or tomorrow they'll do an endoscopy and colonscopy to try to gather more information about the ouchies in his guts. Or if you'd rather, inflammation in his bowel and thickening of the colon. Like I said, ouchies in his guts. So, no new information for you today. He seems about the same as he did when we took him to the ER a week ago last Friday. 

Since I don't have the info you and I actually need, I'll just tell you other things. First I'll give you the hospital fashion report. I wore my favorite jeans last Monday. Every evening I change into pj pants, but besides that I wore those jeans continuously for 6 straight days. I think the nurses were impressed. I took them home and washed them and then accidentally wore skinny jeans back up, which is annoying because I needed my curvy jeans, if you catch my drift. So now I'm rocking skinnies with running shoes, which makes me Steve Jobs. This has been your Hospital Fashion Report.

Now the Hospital Eating Report: I am eating all the things. I usually try to eat before the doctors come around at 9 something, because my kid is not allowed to eat and I would look like a total jerk chowing on french toast sticks while he lays there with his stein of Gatorade, not to mention the slurping and chomping while trying to say things like ventriculoperitoneal. I was slipping away to eat 3 times a day, but he has started crying when I leave the room, which is like a Hallmark Movie to the gut, so now I eat when he's asleep. All the things. Luckily we have a motorized lift in this room, if I happen to gain 500 pounds and need assistance getting from my feet to my Hoveround.

Everybody asks how I'm doing. It's a good question, you guys are full of questions today. I am okay. I'm doing what I always do, which is just doing. I have a life plan of setting aside a couple weeks when I'm 70 to cry and complain loudly. Right now, I feel emotionally pretty level until it gets really quiet and I miss my house and my family and normalcy.

I see the light at the end of the tunnel here with these scopes pending, like we are close to a problem and therefore a solution. Until we actually reach the light, though, I'll be over here, in these jeans, eating all the things.

Monday, December 3, 2012

I'm writing from a 5th floor hospital room with a pretty good view of the skyline. I would much rather be typing in a bedroom piled with questionable smelling laundry and children. R2's been hospitalized for a week now, going through a process of elimination to determine what is causing his pain and unwillingness to sit or stand, or even lay on his left side. For about 10 days now he has been spending his days and nights curled up on his right side, crying when we try to get him to do otherwise. 

The first few days were the scariest, when his pain was the highest and he was refusing to eat or drink. I had a couple of those moments that parents of special needs kids never verbalize, because saying you're afraid that your child might die will make your child more likely to die. I'm no alarmist, so it was alarming to me that I was feeling alarmed. When we came through the first hurdle and he was still in great pain but started eating and interacting, we were so relieved. 

We've had a battery of tests, and in the process have learned that he's doing pretty well, as far as his shunt and his blood and health in general. What we're working with now is some inflammation in his bowels and colon, which they're going to explore further in the coming days. 

It's interesting, because this is not life-and-death holding my breath like our seizure hospitalizations, but because of his pain level and his age and awareness, I don't feel like I can leave his room. I go get food and I bring it up here, I sleep here. I know I'm living in survival mode, moving on auto-pilot, feeling very little emotion and a lot of energy. I miss my life, I miss our normal, but we're getting through. 

Thank you for your prayers and meals and support, it means so much. Looking forward to a day soon when we can decorate the tree and be together, all of us, in one noisy unorganized beautiful place. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

There are moments in life where you have to take a step back and take stock of your life. "Am I happy?" you ask. "Am I bored?" "Do I need more excitement?" These questions generally lead to more questions, and end whenever I tire of them. Sometimes they spur change, other times I convince myself that I am being hormonal or unstable and have a little chocolate instead of taking up knitting potholders for the homeless. But last week, some friends and I had the thought that it would be fun to go to some Thanksgiving sales, technically some kind of Black Thursday, since they were last night and not the morning ones. I jumped at the opportunity. Because, clearly, I need something to do. 

But here's the kicker. We're a week from the end of the month. Do you know what that means? This is the rice and beans week, that's what it means.  This is the toilet-paper-from-Dollar-Tree week, that's what it means. What it means is, even if the store had a sale that was like BUY A TV FOR 5 DOLLARS, I'd be like, "Ehhh...." So I signed on for an all-nighter purely for the fun of it, and also for people watching. Especially for people watching, because people be crazy. Plus, I don't need that much sleep, so the few times that my friends (who do need sleep) have a crazy idea like, let's go see a midnight movie or stand in a stampede lane, I'm like, sign me up! 

We stood in the cold outside Target, in a line of a few hundred. It got progressively colder and I was having some trouble texting because my fingers were stiff. It was SO HARD, y'all, but I am not made of weak stuff, so I persevered. I realize this: most people who stand in line at night outside a Target have a plan, and they wear running shoes and they have a ferocious look in their eyes. If I wanted to, I probably coulda got a couple sermon illustrations out of it, but I was pretty busy talking. When the doors opened, people were running and getting carts and I was wandering aimlessly around and becoming an object of derision. When you are whatever I am, and some woman with a 50 inch television in a cart almost runs you down while you are standing innocently in an aisle, watching people, then you apologize. That was my job, apologizing with my back brain while cataloging humanity with my primary brain. It was super fun, and I'm being serious. I had a blast. 

Later we drove to an outdoor mall and waited in the car whilst people lined up outside various stores. Once it got pretty close to midnight we went and joined our fellow materialistic consumer sheep and totally got free gift cards, which rocked. 

Got home around 2 am, 30 dollars richer. That's what I'm talking about, y'all. I beat the system. Next time, I hope that my ship has come in, so I can beat the system emotionally but totally buy the stuff. Next time! 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I don't think I really have it in me to be the matriarch of a clan anytime soon. Of course, by clan, I mean a large family, with branches extending hither and yon, and not a Klan, which I plan on never being a matriarch of. "Hey!" you say, "You can't end a sentence with OF!" Watch me, grammar nazi, because I just did. (I might get some interesting google hits from this first paragraph.)

I'm mostly talking about holidays, although matriarchs matriarch all year round. But today I'm talking about holidays, because I'm sad and I'm homesick and I think I can cheer myself up by talking about holidays. Now, my mama is good at being a matriarch. You could just google that word but I'll tell you, since you're so busy sitting on the couch. The matriarch is the Mama Boss, that's what. Now, I am the baby of the family, the last of 5 kids. That gives me permanent baby status, even though I have 4 children of my own. Nobody in my family will ever expect me to cook the turkey. Even if some kind of gender specific bomb took out all the other women, my brothers would have one of their girlfriends or groupies cook the turkey, because I am too little. My brothers would bring Dr. Pepper in a Walgreens sack and some girlfriend-type, hopefully a domestic one, would bring a bird and something with green beans.

I don't fight it. Since I started living 700 miles away from all family, a couple of times I have had to be the Boss Lady at a Thanksgiving celebration collection of college students and band members and ex-band members and people who walked by at the right time. There was one year that I tried to cook a turkey, but it stressed me out. So I end up delegating it and then I make ham. It's not as easy as you think, you have to put it in the roasting pan and turn the oven on. It's complicated.

This will be the 3rd year in a row that we aren't going back to Texas for Thanksgiving, and Christmas is iffy (darn you, Dave Ramsey). Luckily, this year we're celebrating with a group of friends, most of whom are either the oldest child or the only child, and I am making pies. It's not the same, but it'll be good. I'm thankful for families that we love, across the miles, and for firstborn friends, who get stuff done.

Monday, November 19, 2012

I don't write about diet and exercise, unless I am mocking it. It's really a hard topic to make amusing. Plus nobody likes to read about somebody doing something hard to improve their life, because that kinda stuff is stressful. At least, I never read that kind of thing. But I'm gonna write about it, I guess. The good news for you is, everything in my life ends up being at least a little bit funny, and so you might still enjoy the ride.

I guess I'm in a phase in life where I feel the need to make some changes, to meet some challenges. I think I'm at a healthy sort of discontent. Which is new, you know, because usually I'm pretty happy with my life and my lazy meandering through existence. I'm all about smelling the roses, as long as those roses are indoors and not affiliated with any dirt or bugs.

Last year I had a little health scare, in which I thought I was dying but had a kidney stone and in the process found out that I had some buildup in my heart, at the age of 33. My initial feeling was terror, and helplessness, like, "Oh, I'm gonna die like my dad. I have 20 years to live and there's nothing I can do about it." Do you know that feeling? I'm trapped in this pace and this diet and these habits and I can't break out.

But I did, I started working out and getting stronger and feeling like maybe I have some control over my life expectancy. That gave me an idea; maybe I'm not as helpless as I feel. Maybe I can be diligent at homeschooling my kids, get consistent with keeping my house clean, even break out of my fast-food habits.

I hesitate to even write about this stuff, because it's so infomercial-y. The good news is, I'm not selling anything. I'm just trying to get a grip on my life and my time.

I'm gonna write about this more in upcoming blogs, but I'm excited about this 12 month challenge I'm putting myself through soon; from December 2012-2013 I will be abstaining from fast food. I plan on blogging once a week about my progress and celebrating every month-milestone. If I were a real documentarian, I'd go to the doctor now and get some stats to compare at the end of 2013, but I don't want to spend the money. I might do it. I might go to some kind of discount clinic and get some deets for comparison's sake. Maybe.

I'm gonna try to make this fun for me and you, so stay tuned.

Friday, November 16, 2012

I live in reality. When you have a 13 year old that is not potty-trained, there is little glamour in life. I’ve heard that it’s common to fantasize about another life, but I really don’t. I just fantasize about my same life with more money.

If I were obscenely wealthy, I would buy things that I need, from the SkyMall catalog.  At least I think I would. I don’t know, because right now, I don’t mean to brag, but I could totally buy name-brand Kleenex if I wanted to. That’s the kinda money we’re talking about. But I don’t, I never buy real Kleenex because I’m going to blow my nose on it and it seems absurd to spend the extra 30 cents or whatever it is. So I might freeze up and have to buy the GreatValuejet instead of the Learjet. I’d be buying all my Prada at the resale store and still trying to reuse baggies, which never works.

But maybe if it just got crazy and I had more money than I could figure out to do with, rooms of money like Scrooge McDuck, I’d totally do deep stuff like saving orphans and buying can openers for the homeless and stuff, but then I’d have to buy some of the very practical items featured in SkyMall.

Like a 6 foot lifelike medieval knight statue. If you don’t want that, we’re through. I’d just put him in the dining room, over in the corner, and not mention him. A bargain at $650.00.

Or these rechargeable heated slippers. For approximately $140 I could have uncomfortably warm heated indoor shoes that one of my children would carry into the backyard and bury with an avocado seed, for a “guacamole tree”.

I’m gonna stop now, because I’m uninspired and also, I have to go buy some groceries. But rest assured, I’m thinking of more stuff that I need.  

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Two years ago today, we spent the day in a hospital with the family that had chosen us to raise their son. We had sat through ultrasounds together, laughed over Chinese food and had met at the hospital late one night the previous week for a false alarm. This was the day, though, we all knew it. It was an emotional day, moving from laughing together to sitting quietly in the tension of the moment.

She had considered an abortion, she told us, but quickly decided she wanted her baby to be adopted instead. They sat with friends and family and looked through adoptive family profiles and unanimously chose us, because, they said, we seemed like real people, like we didn’t have it all together. I will always be grateful for what must be our obvious flaws, because they brought our son to us. :D

We walked the hospital, we ate together, and then once her epidural kicked in, she called for us to come and sit in her room. We made her laugh, we talked about music, about movies, about the baby. When his arrival was imminent, we waited in the hallway, tense, excited, trying to hold lightly to a baby that was ours but not ours, not yet. After an eternity, we heard him cry, and we cried too. He was precious, perfect, and we knew her heart was breaking.

Minutes later they wheeled him out to the NICU for his heart to be monitored, and they took a minute to let us see him. His grandmother asked the nurse to hand him to me, and in a second, in a single second, I was a mommy again and he was my baby. “These are the parents,” she told the staff, in an act of generosity that is beyond my understanding.

The next two days were a whirlwind of emotion, being family together, knowing these were their final hours with him. They had a relinquishment ceremony where they read blessings over Tristan and handed him to us, and we gave her an engraved necklace and a poem I had written, and again, we cried together.

People ask us why they didn’t raise him, and they had their reasons, some that I know and some I never will. I can say with total confidence that it wasn’t for a lack of love. They made a choice and they made it for him, to give him the kind of family they wanted him to have, despite it breaking their hearts. Over the last two years, we’ve met at parks and restaurants, exchanging texts and emails, and they have told us that seeing him with us reassures  them that they made the right choice, that they’re so thankful for us.

Today, my 2 year old woke up singing, and I am thankful. I am unbelievably thankful for a young woman and her loved ones who chose life for this beautiful little one, my singer. Happy birthday, Tristan! You are so loved. 

photo credit Shelley Paulson

Friday, November 9, 2012

I rarely give myself public goals, because, in short, I hate accountability. I'm trying to think of some disclaimer that makes that okay, but really, I hate it. I especially hate failing at my goals, and having an audience makes that so much worse. So I'm not committing to anything here today. I'm just thinking, that's all.

Here's the deal. I eat a disgusting amount of fast food. Not all at once, as I am generally only able to ingest a half-cheeseburger and 1/3 of the box of fries before somebody falls out of the chair or has to go to the bathroom or, worse, already went to the bathroom. But  cumulatively, over a year, a disgusting amount of fast food. Jamie Oliver would be piling cheeseburgers all over my house, that's what I'm saying.

I've been working out for 3-5 days a week for like 6 months now, and I still eat fast food at least twice a week. Calorically, I'm like, hey, who cares, because I'm burning calories like a beast, but nutritionally I'm starting to feel a little hypocritical. Even while I'm thoroughly enjoying the delicious burn of a Coca-Cola, I find myself thinking, "This is poison, I'm drinking poison," which almost interferes with my celebration. Almost. 

I know this stuff is bad for me, and it's bad for my kids. So I'm thinking about trying an experiment: 1 year without fast food. I'm thinking I could still go sometimes, much less often, and get something for the kids, let them play at the indoor playground, but I go cold turkey. In the meantime, I learn how to do social time without fast food, I learn how to cook the majority of our meals at home, and I take steps toward a healthier diet, in general. 

I don't know if I'll do it. If I do, I'll blog about it, that's for sure. How do you do lunch playdates, go on roadtrips, deal with night's you're exhausted and there's no groceries? WHAT ABOUT THE CINNABONS? 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Yeah, they're cornrows. Jealous? 
I'm not really much of a mall-goer. I hate paying full price for anything, and all the stores are dark and loud and, while I hate paying full price for something, paying 3x full price makes me physically ill. I'll be queasy for days if I try to wear some gillion dollar shirt. And you're all like, well, that is because you are old. But I was like this when I was a teenager. Many a Saturday was spent at the mall with my friends, trying to keep the Ronald Reagan quotes to a minimum, and not buying anything.

Not that it showed. I was always extremely fashionable, thanks to our tendency to shop almost exclusively at Goodwill and The Fire Sale. My mom kept the resale industry in business back then, and so I dressed like an upwardly mobile young executive during my "civilian" time. The majority of the time I was wearing a uniform, a plaid pleated skirt and button-down white oxford. I think you've got the picture. All hot, all the time.

I was originally writing this blog about how much I love Cinnabon, I don't even know what has happened. It's like I have no control over this keyboard, which is communicating directly with the awkwardest parts of my brain. In high school, I got this boyfriend, maybe you know him? Back then, he was the highest rated salesman at Service Merchandise, which I don't even think is a thing anymore, and you have to ask yourself, was it because of the name? I mean, what does it say? We sell service? If I remember right, they sold everything, jewelry, home appliances, and electronics, which is where the MOG really shone. He could sell a Laserdisc like nobody's business.

So he had cash and he loved the mall and my parents were pretty sure that nobody got pregnant and dropped out while shopping at the mall, so it was one of our favorite locations for all day dates. He'd buy overpriced stuff and I'd eat Cinnabons. It was great.

Somewhere in between Nirvana and Avril Lavigne, Cinnabon started shutting down. I mourned it like a lost loved one. Sometimes I'd drive an hour to Deerbrook Mall, because I wanted to be mugged while eating a cinnamon roll. Eventually they were only at Schlotzky's and the airport, but they were all wrong. Listen, people, this is important information.

It all comes together, because today, as I was thrift-shop-hopping in search of workout pants that don't make me think of Sally Field, I saw a billboard advertising Cinnabons at Burger King. EXACTLY LIKE AN OPEN VISION OR SOME WONDERFUL HEAVENLY REVELATION. I obeyed. And it was awesome. Kinda makes me want to bust out my Seventy-Sevens album and find those ABC pants.

*this post was not sponsored in any way by Cinnabon, but if they wanted to give it a shot, I'm totally down. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

I try, in general, to avoid conflict. Wait, no I don't. I intervene in conflict every hour of every day of my life, because there are civil wars on a continual basis in my living room. It's a good thing we don't arm children in the United States, because the level of emotion that can be generated by one sibling's elbow being in another sibling's space is excessive, okay? It's intense. Sometimes they get angry enough to sling some serious mud. "You... you... YOU JOKERPANTS!"...pause... CHAOS, EMOTION, FIREWORKS. And then I have to wade in and be all Jimmy Carter, like "Let's talk it out, guys."

Anyway, with the exception of abortion, I don't talk a ton of politics on the ol' blog here, because a) I don't want to hear from all the RON PAUL CONSTITUTION 30 YEARS INTEGRITY CHEMTRAILS crowd, which includes some great friends that I love, and b) because I just don't feel like having debate and negative emotion over here, this is a happy place, unless it's one of those days I talk about death and you all cry.

But everybody knows I'm a conservative and I am staunchly pro-life and I voted for MittRominy and so on. So I really hoped he'd win, for a number of reasons with the primary one being abortion. But he didn't, and that's the electoral process and I love this country and maybe I'm a Pollyanna, but I think we'll be okay. I mean, it was a loss for prolifers, in a major way, but there are still checks and balances and public opinion moving in a prolife direction. I just don't think the end of the world starts today.

I'm still proud to be an American, and I still believe that we're the greatest nation in the world. Maybe I'm wrong, and if the apocalypse happens tomorrow, you can come over here and I'll be all embarrassed and probably dead from chemtrails and you can be like I told you so. Until then, I'm going to try to see the bright side.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

We try to vote in all the smaller elections, you know, City Cupholder and Local Bridge Inspector and stuff. And those are, like all elections, on some Tuesday sometime and it's usually just us and a table full of election officials who look like they've been bussed in from Silver Sneakers over at the YMCA. They are always totally delighted to see us, because it's lonely at the top. And then we vote and Toby reads over my shoulder and comments loudly on my choices, but it doesn't matter because there's no one there.

I knew today would be busier, although I didn't expect lines out the door like some of you had. The little church/gym we vote in is never packed. I had the usual stern Car Talk, "Now. We're going in this place, and there might not be any other kids, it is a quiet place. So I'm gonna need you to turn your hyperness down to 0." Toby makes no promises. Very quickly, I became aware of another, much greater concern.

The voter in front of us was a little person. I don't know the PC term, I'm probably going to offend someone. The guy was less than 3 feet tall and over 60 years old. He was the smallest human adult I have ever seen, and somehow very bald and very hairy. It was one of those moments, where I just stood very, very still and hoped that somehow my very curious and loud children would not notice him. Look, we have a special needs kid in our family. They are totally unphased by people in wheelchairs, with oxygen, the severely disabled, etc. But this, a small grownup, I knew. And then they started in. "Aww," Brynn said in a stage whisper, "so cute!" It was a terrible stage whisper. Or effective, if one wanted to whisper to an audience from a stage. Toby had a couple of questions too, and I tried to just shut it down using only my face. It only took us 5 minutes to get through the line, but it felt like an hour.

Finally we got our ballot and went over to our station, where MittRominy and Burrock Obama were discussed at some length, and Toby expressed some real reservations about Ryan, because this was the first he had heard of the guy, and what if we wanted a different Vice President? And then he had some questions about ballot procedures, because, ideally, he would like to have the President announced before bedtime. I gave a microsecond of thought to throwing in the electoral college and hanging chads and whatnot, but who has time for that? Plus there were a lot of other people voting, and sometimes I get the feeling that not everyone thinks my kids are so hilarious and awesome and situationally appropriate. Crazy, I know.

And then my ballot was rejected because I messed up one circle and I had to get another ballot and there was a lot of talk among the younger crowd about me getting to vote twice, which made me feel even more like I was trying to pull a fast one in a Catholic gym with my diversion team of Clarklings. And the MOG ran into some snag with his registration and had to shuffle around from station to station getting things notarized while Tristan and Brynn climbed the bleachers and made enemies.

But it's done, it's done and now we wait. I was thinking about letting Toby stay up to see the results, but I just don't think I'm smart enough to handle it.

Monday, November 5, 2012

My friend Brooke always has these ideas, like:

and I'm always like, "Ehhhhhhh, let's just go to McDonald's, no, wait, I'm tired. They're so tired and I'm loud. No, that's not it, hang on." And we both have a lot of kids, relatively speaking, and she's fearless and full of ideas. So anyway, she cooked up this trip to an Amish town or village and so we went. It took 2 hours to get there, and Toby passed the time by driving Brynn to the end of her fuse, which is a really short trip. Coincidentally, he arrived at the end of my fuse about the same time, and I pray that time will ease his pain.

We arrived in Yoderville, aka, Jamesport and I had my doubts. I have a hangup about fundamentalist types with calm children, they intimidate me greatly. I don't want to wear a bun and call my husband "Mister Clark" or anything, but sometimes I think those really extreme Southern Baptists and Mennonite and Amish are on to something with parenting. Somehow, and I don't understand it, their kids are capable of being quiet. It's like a Christmas miracle, all the time. My kids aren't even quiet when they're asleep.

And they were loud. For the most part no one gave us a second glance, because they are schooled in looking calm and kind, I suspect. In reality, my kids were probably pretty good, but because of my wannabe-fundamentalist-neurosis, I felt like the before portion of a commercial for ADD medication. I was playing the role of the harried soccermom in a snot-streaked hoodie. They played the youth of America, and they played it flawlessly.

In the grocery market, I kept making eye contact with delicate Amishwomen who were probably somewhere near my age, and they seemed fascinated with my kids, which could have been for a number of reasons. 1) Jamesport is evidently a hotspot among the senior citizen set, and the only kids anywhere were mine and Brooke's. 2) they were all in the basket, like those 8 year olds in the stroller. You know what I mean. There's a time to get the kid out of the stroller. 3) they were being hellacious, trying to reach an agreement on which bag of "Traditional Amish Candy"* to buy while Tristan worked his snatch-n-grab magic on, well, everything and then screamed his grief to the skies when he was thwarted. By the end, I think I was sweating. I'm starting to think I might have an equal intimidation factor when it comes to dour senior citizens.

I enjoyed the scenery and the shops and the food, but next time I might do my homeschool field trip sans homeschoolers. I guess they had a good time, though. On the way home Toby weighed the pros and cons of being Amish and decided to remain Englisch, because of electricity and whatnot.

Side tangent: I think, if I was Amish and I decided to go rogue, I'd do all kinds of robberies and carjackings and whatnot, because no one would suspect an Amish gal. In fact, even if someone said, "I was carjacked by a woman in a kapp! She had a black dress and sensible shoes!", people would assume that it was somebody masquerading as an Amishwoman, or they'd just go combing the countryside for women in that outfit, and I think you get where I'm going here... The trick would be using my carjacking profits in some discreet way, like some kind of offshore bank account that I handled online, through an internet connection I scored somewhere. I can tell myself from experience that this is a unlikely scenario, because I couldn't even get the Edge network out there in God's country, which was devastating, since I had things I needed to Instagram.

*candy corn. not Amish. or traditional.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Part of being a parent is taking your kids to events that are fun for them. I personally like to stay inside my house, but I fear their therapy sessions someday. Actually, I fear their therapy sessions in general, because when does a parent ever walk away scott-free when their offspring is being therapized? Yeah, exactly. Every dadgum psychopath in history might have had a lovely mom, but that's not what the news said. "Psychopath Kept Indoors Excessively As Child," the headline reads. "Ax-Murderer Recounts Being Told 'Life Isn't Fair.'" "'She Never Cut The Crusts Off My Sandwich,' Says The Subway Slasher." I could keep going with these, but the punctuating is getting on my nerves. And regardless, I could totally nail parenting and they'd still blame me someday because who can live up to that kind of Parenting Paragon? WHO? 

So I take them to stuff. Tomorrow we're going to some kind of Amish village, and I will try very hard to extract some laughs from that for you, but I figure it will mostly be sober Yoders, unless I can find somebody in their rumspringa to interview about their dalliances with Englischers and whatnot. Might buy some cheese. Exciting stuff, this.

Now, last night was Halloween, and, being fairly churchy, I opted to take my kids to a Harvest Family Fun and Fall Time Celebration For the Ages Festival, or something. Initially I thought they were required to wear Biblical costumes and, being a rule-keeper of sorts, I tossed around some ideas with the MOG and then settled on Daniel and some friendly lions. My life is a comedy of errors, and piecing together these lions from thrift store costumes and yarn and hot glue and wigs (which I ended up not using) and face paint was challenging, all right? It challenged me. Lucky for me, my kids are still small and they thought they looked GREAT and even wanted to be entered in the costume contest, which we would have only won with the sympathy vote.

We did it. Tristan sat in the stroller as long as he had something extremely sticky to eat, and, considering that I had squeezed him into an abusively small hand-me-down lion suit, it was a good call to not let him try to walk. The other kids did ring toss and clothespin fishing and all the other sorts of things you do at this sort of thing, and I hung out and ate their candy. After 4 or 5 years, we went out to the outdoor part of the festivities and they jumped in bouncy houses and then Brynn found out about the pony rides and I am rapidly learning to do whatever Brynn wants. She almost has me trained. Toby pulled what is probably the best thing he's ever done and waited in line and got hot dogs for us. I'm starting to think these little people might be useful someday. But then, Brynn desperately had to use the potty, and so I ended up scarfing my hot dog in the ladies room. I didn't even think about it until some of the other waiting moms offered their sympathy, "You just gotta eat while you can," they said, averting their eyes as ketchup ran down my arm and into Tristan's hair, blending seamlessly into the clumped face paint and chunks of melted chocolate.

I should wrap this up, because I bet the MOG quit reading several paragraphs ago. "It's too long!" says the guy who watched an entire season of Lost in one day. It was a fun night, it was an exhausting night. I think they had a really great time, and I will continue thinking that until I am confronted in a therapy session 20 years from now.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Toby has a lot of ideas. I remember, as a kid, making criminal mastermind plans with my dad, stuff like "What would be the best way to rip off Margarita's?" which, in retrospect, was shooting for the fence a little, since Margarita's, a longstanding Conroe establishment, probably was barely operating in the black and we would have used our brilliance to abscond with $325 in quarters and 5 dollar bills. Still. If it came down to it and I needed to commit a crime, I think I could be pretty smart about it unless it involved physical coordination. Put me in one of those laser security setups and I'd trip and trigger the alarm in like 1 second, and the Russians would totally murderize me. But none of this is the point.

Today, while we were driving from Walmart to Mcdonald's (because we are America), Toby was calculating how many hours we had before we had to be home to meet R2's bus, and he started thinking out loud. "What if," he said, "We had a robot that was really good at taking care of kids, and it never had to go anywhere or drive or anything." (I was already on board.) "And," he continued, "It could just stay home and keep the house clean, and it would be there to get Richy off the bus, and we could just stay out as long as we wanted..." The whole idea was solid, and if I were an investor, I'd be pulling out checkbooks or portfolios and gold-plated pens and stuff. (Side note: just realized I totally left the groceries in the car. Nuts.)

But I'm not an investor, I'm like a hundred-aire, and that's just because we haven't paid the bills yet. Also, I have some serious concerns about employing a robot force, for a variety of reasons. First, the practical: I have phones and computers and stuff, and on occasion they do stupid stuff and just quit working and I am adrift, googling for a cure and ending up with the Geniuses, who either charge $300 or just connect one wire and try not to imply that I have cauliflower for brains. Now, if I had a robot that was supposed to do even basic stuff, like scrub perma-berry from a NutriGrain bar off the floor, and said robot got a little glitchy, it might be terrible, like what if it used a ray gun on the perma-berry, instead of a scrubber? and now I have a gaping hole in the bathroom floor and all the children are in danger. And then I have to pack up my malfunctioning robot and take it to the Apple Store, and I already have a lot of kids, I don't need a disobedient robot to add to the reasons I get a side-eye in Leawood.

Another concern, and this is a biggy, is my understanding of robot technology, via Hollywood. Don't think I'm uneducated, y'all, I have seen a lot of robot movies, and it's inevitable. You try to make them intuitive enough to get the kid off the bus, and 10 times out of 10 they either start killing people so they can have world domination, or they fall in love, and then start killing people because no one loves them back. Who wants a babysitter/housekeeper that has a taste for world domination? Not this gal.

We got sidetracked in that conversation by some pretty ferocious debates about Mario's origins, but I'm sure if I bring up my concerns, I can get the boy to troubleshoot and maybe ease my fears. Because if I had a robot right now, I would make it go get the rapidly thawing Walmart bags out of my trunk.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Somebody woke up on the wrong side of the bed. And I'm not speaking literally, as the MOG and I established sides in the Early era and only switch when it means he is further away from a newborn baby, for the 18 months or so that I cater to the noob's every whim. I am speaking metaphorically, here, of the wrong side.

Chicken or the egg, you might ask, and I'd be like pipe down, I'm trying to think here. I don't know if I woke up irritated or they woke up screaming, or if we met halfway, in a tangle of blood and fire. Once the spiral starts, it is so hard to slow down, so all morning they screamed and fought and collapsed on the kitchen rug. (side note: we got rugs in the kitchen. since then, emotional collapses have increased by like 75% in that location. I don't ever remember anyone laying on the sticky cold tile, but the rugs are infested with children) So they wailed and I griped and eventually the Man of God came home from something, probably a prayer meeting, heck if I know, and started making judgy eyes at me as I made snappy remarks at the Wailing Wall Triplets, which was well received by me, because I try to be like Jesus.

Things improved at lunch, when we all had our mouths full of food for a while, but then riots broke out in Quiet Time and I had to split the dynamic duo up, which caused not just regret but deep, deep mourning and eventually a mutiny, which I pretended to not notice. And THAT, kids, is a run-on sentence. Better than a fragment.

Clearly, the wisest choice for me at that point was to try to hot glue yarn to a dilapidated lion costume, because crafts are the best choice for women on the edge of themselves. It went fine, if you're into burns and psychotic breaks. In the end, I might have to make cardboard signs to identify their characters. Otherwise, everyone might assume they are Israel and Palestine.

Bedtime is coming soon, very soon, maybe sooner than ever before.

Monday, October 29, 2012

I'm not sure if I'm getting more mature or backsliding. I tend to think I am backsliding and am one Hulu episode away from trading in my Salvation card and being dragged to hell by a teenage boy in a black robe. My eternal perspectives might have been badly skewed by years of involvement in Heaven's Gates Hell's Flames No Punctuation.

My faith is not in question here, at least to me. I still believe Jesus is the only way to heaven and He lived a sinless life and we should shoot for that and all the other stuff in the Apostle's creed, with the exception maybe of the bit about the Catholic church, because I don't know how I feel about the Catholic church and am hesitant to throw my allegiance in there all helter-skelter.

What is in question, at present, is Halloween. I was raised in some Charismania, and we watched videos about covens and demons that came out at night and pedophiles, spending their October days filling peppermints with razor blades and so on. And even as I write this, I'm kinda like, but that stuff is true... So anyway, my parents didn't necessarily worry about all that, but we stayed home on all Hallows Eve and I listened to many a Carman song while waiting for it to be over so I could go to school and eat my friend's candy.

And then I had kids, judgy ones and also, Halloween got hecka creepier, what with the neighbors putting coffins all over their yard and people just decorating with serious grossness, like 4 year olds don't ride in cars and look out windows, and it all just made me mad. So I wish we could skip the whole thing, but I love fall and pumpkins and dressing up, so we participate in a removed way, with "Fall Festivals" at churches and what-not, and I'm kinda like, well, we might as well call it Halloween, or else we could just have it in July or something, but, you know, whatever. CANDY.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Continuing to post some of my favorite older posts on Fridays. This one was inspired by a particularly painful trip to Walmart. 

"Okay, whatever, fine, just get in the van. No, don't pick flowers. Yes I see the dog. Why did you take your shoes off? No, don't switch carseats, the buckles... never mind. WAIT! Stay in your seat while I buckle in your brother. It's too late, you already switched seats. Quit crying or I'm leaving you here. Quit crying, I'm not leaving you here."

Click here to read the rest! 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Some of you know that I have been engaged in the dark night of the soul lately, and by dark night, I mean, the death of my trusty old laptop and, simultaneously, the death of a computer I could type on. It's a uniquely first world lament. Or maybe it's not, maybe some third world countries have laptops and blogs and they, too, would mourn their separation from their literary vehicles. I can't say, because I am not a third world, or even a second world (is that a thing? to be googled) country, and therefore cannot speak for them. Did you miss these wordy intros? Because I might never stop typing.

Anyways. iBlanca died, and we discussed options, like selling our appendixes or some such in order to procure another computer, but then my friend offered their gently used laptop and I accepted her offer with massive amounts of joy, via text message. Lots of smiley faces and exclamation points. So now I am back in business, and I feel an obligation to mankind or at least a couple of you to write a book now, because it was kinda like a near-death experience where I realized what life was like when I couldn't type my blatherings for humanity and so I have to carpe the dang diem and do something worthwhile with this awesome gift, and by gift, I mean the computer, not my writing chops.

It's been about 2 weeks, and I have had many an amusing experience, as I am wont to do. I don't know if I'll try to remember those or just forge ahead to the amusing experiences I am presently enjoying. Oh! And I had a birthday week and a birthday party, and those need to be recorded for posterity, assuming posterity doesn't live in some kind of post-apocalyptic world without electricity and the internet and stuff. I've lived in that kind of world this last 2 weeks, and I definitely don't want posterity to experience the horror. 

Which reminds me: Halloween. And the rambling reminds me of when the MOG used to go on tour for weeks and weeks and I just repeated like 3 phrases for those weeks to tiny humans, "Don't put your mouth on that!" "Why did you pee there?" and "No." but then he'd come home and I would tell him 100,000 words while he tried to sleep. That's what I'm like with you people, I have things to say. And say them I will, in the days to come.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

(hoping to be back up to full blogging speed next week, stay tuned!)

I recently sat down for an interview with the Podqueen, aka Jennifer Roberts. I was a little nervous because I am not as spiritual as I think I should be, but I kinda encouraged myself during our discussion. Of course we need to grow, but there is great comfort in knowing we serve a God who likes to be with us.

Friday, October 12, 2012

I wake up full of ideas. Today, I think, I am gonna get some stuff done. For one thing, my laptop has gone to the valley of the shadow of death, so I am using the kid's computer, and the space bar only works when it feels like it, which is seriously cramping my style, since I make liberal use of spaces.

And another thing, the Man of God and I have birthdays coming up and I am throwing a costume party for us. I say "I" am throwing it, because I can count on his involvement 2 hours prior to the first guest's arrival, where he will come out of a semi-holy stupor and be completely horrified to learn we live in a hovel. So with the computerlessness and the need for costuming, I have work to do.

I took a 2 day break after spending 2 hours typing those paragraphs. Then my favorite mother in law came to town and I have commandeered her computer and am now typing like a sedate madwoman. Anyway, that day, I decided to knock out a series of errands including a grocery run and the fabric store, along with a bunch of other stuff.

Some days you have it. You hit the stores and no one is hungry or distraught, and their braids stay in and they talk kindly to each other and tell Bible verses to the cashier and people stop me and compliment me on their behavior and I take pride in my clearly excellent parenting skills. This was not that day.

I should have seen it coming, with the crying and the morning meltdowns, but I forged ahead, like one of those Lifetime movie ladies who is totally dying and everyone knows it but she's all like, "Next Christmas (*cough*cough), we'll make fruitcake, little Jessie..." I made it through approximately 3 aisles before Tristan decided he had had it with Walmart and shopping carts in general and started screaming, "VITAMIN! VITAMIN!" which meant, clearly, that he wanted candy and would not be thwarted in his efforts to get it. Toby and Brynn, invigorated by the screaming noises, decided to take on some footraces in the tea area, where none of the senior citizens found them cute or interesting. "Guys," I called weakly, "Tristan, hush! Just a minute, just a... guys! watch out for peop- Oh, I am so sorry, I am sorry, guys. COME HERE." 

You think, after parenting this long, I'd know when to call it quits. But no, I just dragged Nutsy McBasketCase and the Manic Twins through the entire store, which was full to the brim with senior citizens, dour ones. I need to figure out which day is the Cheery Senior Sale, and hit that one next time.

After juggling a screeching toddler through the checkout and rescuing the general public from the other 2 for an hour or so in the checkout line, we wailed our way to the car and then straight home on the Scream Express. What about the library? you ask. What about the fabric store, the thrift shop? What about the speed limit? Yeah, what about those things...

gratuitous link to another walmart story here.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

I lost my dad when I was 21. I think I've said before, lost is such an inadequate word in that context, like I just lost track of him. In reality, he was the sun to my world and losing him was losing part of myself. He was larger than life, quirky, brilliant and weird. From him I learned that being called "weird" was just a person's way of trying to fence in what they couldn't understand. "You don't have to be like them," my parents would tell me, when I came home from school in tears because I was so weird. So I learned how to be an alien in this world, how to accept people and their limitations and how to not take myself too seriously. Being weird taught me how everyone is weird, really. There is no normal, because you can't average humanity. We are a maelstrom of ideas and passions and differences, and that's what makes life so interesting.

When he died, everything went a little off balance. I missed his monologues and his constant snark and his defiance of laws he considered optional, like speed limits. I missed being able to roll down the windows in his tiny little car and screaming in the wind until I went hoarse, because he didn't mind. I missed being shocked into laughter, the electricity when he would say something so unexpected that it jolted me. I missed being tiny, with a Daddy as tall as the ceiling and as broad as a tree, with giant tree trunk arms that could have wrapped around me a couple of times. I missed his cowboy boots clomp-clomping through my world, a step behind me, even when I was married and had a baby, right behind me.

It's been a long time now, and I don't miss him every day, not in the same way. One of the great gifts of God is that I still get to see him, in some ways. I stood in an endless checkout line yesterday and listened to Toby explain a computer game in great, great detail for upwards of 20 minutes, without stopping or losing track of his thought, and I thought, I bet Daddy loved listening to me like this. Even if what I was saying was basically filler, I bet he thrilled at the inner workings of my mind, the little hidden places inside there that I needed someone to understand.

Back at home, Toby walked just ahead of me, back into the house, still intent on explaining his world, his creation, and I walked just behind him, my boots clomp-clomping in rhythm with his sentences, and I hope that someday he will remember the way I heard him.

Monday, October 8, 2012

This weekend, the MOG was out somewhere in the wilds of Ohio, ministering the gospel to the savages, and I decided to take the kids to a festival. Think less Lollapalooza and more trade show. Still, I knew there would be bouncy houses and candies galore and general good times could be had.

I started assembling clothes a couple of hours before we had to leave, because I've had these kids for a while now. About half of them can dress themselves now, but if I want to look like we have a house with doors and a roof, then I have to pick the clothes myself. This is how it goes: I lay the clothes on the couch. If I blink, Tristan throws them somewhere. Just somewhere. Let me remind you that I have been at Hades' gate for this fortnight and there is a preciously limited supply of unpeed pants around here. The laundry, it beckons, but I say NO. So I keep assembling and he keeps throwing, and it's like spitting in a tornado, but I can't quit, because I'm the grownup. "Here," I say, "Play with the eggs, or this steak knife." Once he's distracted, I carry on. Step 2 is shoes, and it is here that I lose my salvation on a daily basis. Can anyone explain to me how we only have one of each shoe, except the ones that have been lost for so long that they're too small... we have like 4 of each of those. 45 degrees outside, I muse. So flip-flops are okay, then? Having been the recipient of many a judgy-eye in my day, I decide against them. Just go time-lapse here and imagine the sun rising and falling, leaves changing colors, despots coming to power and then being rescued out of sewers in their undershirts, etc. Let that reel run for about an hour, and by the end of the age, I will have 4 pairs of matching, semi-fitting, seasonally appropriate shoes.

I try to time the donning of the garb, right after the messy food and I always fail, because inevitably someone will snag a little snack out of the trash or decide to make a baby powder shower in the backyard, and so whatever I put them in looks like they went through the sewer with Saddam. When my children remember me, when I am old, it will be me, with a perplexed and disgusted expression, holding their soiled shirt 6 inches from my nose and saying, "What in the.... how?"

Like a conductor, I lead the dressing, "Come here, put this on, that's backwards, it's still backwards, come over here, come here to me, come over where I am, quit crying because I can't reach your buttons from here, that's inside out now, how? come here and those are your brother's pants, they're your brother's pants, I know because they come to your knees... just take them off and come here, you, no, you. Are you dressed? What happened to your shoes? You had your shoes a minute... come over here. Are you poopy? Of course you are. Can anyone hand me the wipes? Where are your shoes? Come. here. now. Okay, forget it, forget everything. Christmas is cancelled. We're never getting a dog. Come. HERE."

Then I have to get them in the car, into car seats, into seat belts, where they inevitably poop and lose a shoe. As we pull out, the car is full of screaming, chaos and noise. This is a dumb idea, I think. This is my dumbest idea ever. Like magic, though, when we pull up to the festival, everyone is awestruck. It's 45 degrees outside, and I can't feel my soul, but I stand outside bouncy houses and collect swag from all the exhibit booths, and they get their faces painted. R2 looks like he's on the verge of a seizure, he's so cold, but he's smiling from ear to ear and so we push it a little more. GIANT DOGS. I'm in a crowd of people with my little crew, breathing in the frigid air and living together. We climb on a tiny train and go around and around the parking lot, getting progressively number in the cold, but they could ride all day, the three of them sharing a seatbelt and me, trying to hold Tristan down. Finally, I make an executive decision that R2 is too cold and we file into China Dragon. It's me and the 4 of them, and we share a couple of plates and thaw, and I'm struck with so much fullness, so much richness.

It was a noisy, cold, chaotic, imperfect perfect day.
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