Wednesday, February 29, 2012

I try to, on occasion, (I never spell that word right on the first try) to draw your attention to worthy causes and crazy people doing awesome stuff. Not like eating live bugs for money on TV, not that kind of crazy people. I don't support bug-eating, although I consider it your God-given American right to eat bugs on television if you want to. But I am talking about a different kind of crazy person, who has a thought, "Hey, maybe I should change the world," and then, instead of chilling with some Netflix and Cap'n Crunch (don't hate) they DO STUFF that changes the world. That kinda crazy.

So now I want you to spend your money to help them do the stuff that we should all be doing. These 2 families have been HUGELY inspirational in my own journey with God.

First: the Lockett family. You guys know I write way too infrequently for Bound4Life's blog, and Matt Lockett is the boss of the B4L operation, unless you read TV title bars, where it usually says he's the secretary or something. He also heads up JHOP DC, a house of prayer in the capital. You should go google all that stuff, because the headlines you're reading on a daily basis about "Bad Year for Planned Parenthood" and stuff like that are, in my opinion, in large part due to the prayers of the Lockett family and their ministries. Here's the deal: they need a new vehicle, as their current 2 are kaput. You can go here and read all about it, and then give.

And the other crazy people I want you to give to are adoption revolutionaries. Randy and Kelsey don't just talk about obeying God, or about adoption, they live it. In addition to adopting 3 daughters, they started an adoption agency and a foundation to support adoption. (We used both Hannah's Dream and The Zoe Foundation when we adopted Tristan!) Here's the next part: they adopted twins a couple of years ago, and are in the process of adopting their twins' biological twin siblings. Don't try to wrap your mind around it, it's crazy. But it's God. They need to raise $15,000 ASAP. You can help. Go and give something, lots of ways to give.

Y'all help out, everyone can give something. And leave a comment and let me know! Let's do stuff!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Took my Irish twins for an outing today. If that strikes you as racist, and you're Irish, I apologize. The rest of you can chill, because the Irish don't care if I use that term. So. Toby and Brynn.

To begin the tale, Brynn cut her hair yesterday. I consider myself lucky that it has taken this long. Somehow she seems to have snipped evenly around the bun I had tucked up on top of her head, resulting in a drastically thinned but still salvageable head of hair. So. I convinced her that if we had to go get a haircut, we might as well throw in an ear piercing as well, and I bought some OTC numbing cream that I thought would numb her lobes enough to make it through. Spoiler alert! did NOT work.

But back then, at lunchtime when I was young, I watched them getting their hair cut simultaneously, and I thought what a cute blog entry this would make. Brynn sitting extremely still, paranoid of scissors around her face, because I have not failed to put the fear of God in her about bad things that WILL SURELY happen if people get poked in the head with scissors and that is why little girls should never ever EVER cut their own hair again, and Toby chatting up his hairdresser, who was very concerned about the weird little kid talking like a 30 year old in her chair. It was cute, see?

Then we got the ears pierced, and spoiler alert: there was so much screaming. but still, a pretty good little outing and no frantic calls from my baby daddy who was working while my baby was hypothetically taking a nap. So we decided to keep going and get the oil changed and 2 tires replaced, at Walmart because that's how I do. Who could have told me that only 2 and a half short hours later, I would be internally begging God to send fire on us all and END this suffering? Oh, you could have? Well, I wouldn't have believed you, back then. A few questions: why isn't there a public bathroom in the TLE? I wouldn't mind sharing it with mechanics. Shoot, I'd take a port-a-potty over trekking half the store SIX times with a panicking kid who then pees a teaspoon of liquid and wants to know what a sanitary napkin is, and if she can spend her quarter on one. SIX times. And the resident genius, reading posters about fuel intake valves and looking questioningly at me, and my poor judgment in not getting those cleaned...

And then, around the 2 hour mark, when there were 20 people standing around waiting on their cars and I saw no end in sight, then they said there were only 2 people in front of me for tires. Did I shake my fist at the heavens? No, because it was being tugged frantically by someone who claimed to be seconds away from peeing in their pants. REALLY. I canceled the new tires. What is more important, living my life, in my home, with my family, or spending my remaining days on earth in the Walmart TLE, buying keychains just to keep my brain alive? I sat down, defeated, because my keys were outside somewhere, with my van, and a guy in coveralls, and our collective destinies were at his mercy.

Many, many years later, we arrived home. When I left here, I was so young, so vibrant, so naive. I remember thinking one could get tires in an hour. Ah, youth.  Goodbye, old me. Goodbye.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Around here, people fall over a lot. Everyone but me, that is. When the kids fall, you can detemine the severity of the injury by how quickly sound emerges. If you hear thudding and crashing and then nothing, that is because they are very injured, or they think they are very injured and are sucking in a gallon of breath before they scream. And the Man of God, he falls up and down the stairs frequently, because a) there is always stuff on the stairs and b) he doesn't look where he's going, because he's in the 3rd heavens. And I hear the partial stair-run, and the crashings down, and the groan, and because I know I should, I always get up and go find the body. I'm not saying he's dramatic. Y'all just draw your own conclusions.

But it's never me, because I made a decision when I was 9 or 10 that I did not want to fall down anymore, ever again. It wasn't easy, given that I am a total klutz, but I eliminated almost all activities that preclude falling, like riding a bike, roller-skating, running, etc. And I have fallen down very few times in the last 20+ years, due to these precautions.

Today I was bested by a cardboard box. Makes me want to become an environmentalist. My husband ordered a new guitar case on the interwebs, and it came in a large cardboard container. Tangent: why would a "heavy duty flight case" need to come in a cardboard box? Couldn't they just slap a stamp on it and let it go? I mean, cardboard. So the kids, they took the box and the paper and bubble wrap or whatever and spread it across the entire living room, and they shut each other inside it and then screamed at each other because it was dark, and they drove it around like a train, and Tristan brought Tupperware from all his hiding places and closed it up in there, and fun was had by all, until I sent them all screaming into "quiet time".

I was just walking. Walking should be safe. Somehow, my foot clipped the carboard curb and down I went, flattening the box and jarring my arm and neck. I hate falling. That moment when you know you're going over and you're watching the ground rush up and you're thinking, "How bad is it going to hurt?" but it's out of your control, so you just scream like a little weenie and then your skeleton meets the floor. "AAAK!" I screeched, like some kind of extinct dinosaur-bird. And then after a second, "Oh, I fell so HARD."

Richy offered support from the office. "Are you all right?" he inquired politely. I did not answer, because in my opinion, that was not an appropriate response. "Do I need to come in there?" he says, while Toby yells down the stairs, "What happened, Mom? What exactly happened??" "Go BACK to quiet time," I said to Toby, and "I don't KNOW if you should come in here..." to the MOG, who was casually taking a tour of the rest of the house. "Where are you?" he finally asked, like my voice wasn't coming from one spot, and one spot only. "I can't find you." "I'm right here." I answered as meanly as possible, and I hope it hurt. "Do I have to give you a map?" and then he was there, smirking at my distress.

I'm fine, by the way. A little jaded, maybe. When he falls up the stairs tonight, I'm going to act like I didn't hear him. Maybe I'll sing, I don't know.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

You know, I'm not so crafty. I mean, I could probably outsmart you, if you want to take it that direction. But I mean I'm not Martha Stewart crafty, and now you're thinking about insider trading. Knock it off, I'm trying to say I'm not great at craft projects like sewing or radish roses or decoupaging folding chairs into priceless works of art. Okay? And I've always been okay with that, until Pinterest came along and started making it look like anybody could do these things. But it's a lie. Maybe I will never build an attic loft out of white cedar beams and rose stems. Maybe I will never make a toy out of a sock. Maybe, for the rest of my life, I will buy everything pre-made at Walmart, like I like conformity. 
Anyway. I decided to make Brynn a rainbow cake for her birthday, because it's so adorable, and how hard could it be? So I bought the ingredients and got some fancy new pans and I read 5 different blogs with instructions and then I failed. So much failing. 
For all you crafty bake-a-cake-like-the-Eiffel-Tower-to-celebrate-Wednesday types who say things like, "How is that massive of a fail even possible?" I'll tell you. I am a terrible baker. I make delicious things that look like they were created in the back of a speeding van with people shooting at me. Have I, on more than one occasion, dubbed it a "Volcano Cake", because it was split down the middle? Have I poured frosting in the crater? I have. More than once. And it was delicious. So I knew I was taking a risk, but Pinterest was all like, hey, relax, a stuffed animal could make this cake

I made it in half layers, thinking it would be a 6 layer cake, but only as tall as a 3 layer cake, because, math. But then the layers were disintegrating upon exiting the pan. I was still hopeful. I'll just cram it together here, I thought, and then when I frost it, it will stick together. But then the next layer came out all Nagasaki too and I realized that 2 destroyed layers placed on top of each other would only make chaos, and I wasn't trying to make chaos, it was supposed to be My Little Pony, which is like the opposite of chaos. Oh, I was trying out some private school cussing. DadGUMMit, I said. But that didn't help at all, and I apologize, Ms. Howell. 
After 3-5 minutes of total despair, I decided that maybe a 2 layer cake would be better than a 6 layer cake, and it could be pink and purple. And I oiled that pan like BP. No cake will ever stick to one of my pans again, I can tell you that. And it came out ok. I mean, I tried making the frosting look like fondant by smoothing it with a paper towel, and all the top frosting came off, but I had lots of jars of frosting, because I have been me for a really long time now. It was cute. Whatever. 
And now I am giving up on being crafty. Except maybe making a spice rack out of magnets and a rug out of t-shirts, because, come on. How hard could it be?

Monday, February 20, 2012

I flew to Texas over the weekend for a family crisis. "Man, " you think. "I'd rather fly AWAY from a crisis." And that's a good point. But I moved 700 miles away from the family crisis center about 4 years ago, and now I primarily have crises in the comfort of my own home, and just get text messages about other crises. But this was a doozy, so home I went. It was good to be home. Sometimes the sad and the happy are all mixed together.

The MOG stayed home with all the Clarklings, his first time to have all 4 for more than like 2 or 3 hours. He did well. I mean, they looked homeless when he picked me up from the airport, but they were happy and healthy, even if maybe they didn't smell so great.

But back to Texas. I was just there for 48 hours, so if you didn't see me, it's because I was like Satan falling from heaven and you missed it. But I ate Mexican food 4 times, mid-crisis, and then post-crisis, I went out with my girls in search of a tattoo.

Now I have wanted a tat for many years. My mama is pretty sure that only bikers and loose women have ink, and I suspect she thinks if I got one it would just be a matter of time before I showed up on the local news with a black eye and a pit bull tattoo on my neck, swearing at a reporter who was trying to take pictures of my meth lab. Also the MOG has opposed me, and I have had to wear him down over a period of 5 years. So he gave me the okay to get one in a discreet location, and after all my mommy friends put their kids to bed and then put their kids back to bed and such, out we went.

It was like 10 pm on a Saturday when we hit the first place, young, silly and alive. The purple haired receptionist? looked up from her laptop for a minute before telling us they weren't doing any more tats, and I'd have to come back tomorrow. We drove on, Crystal calling ahead to parlors in surrounding cities, trying to see if a walk-in could come in and get a small Texas outline on her hip. No, they said, because they were busy tattooing a demon panther onto the entire back of an 18 year old. No, they said, because they were closed. No, they said, because the cashier left, but, how YOU doin? Our last attempt was in a pretty sketchy parking lot, in a place called Ink Injection, which, to me, is an overly literal and unimaginative name. By this point, we were all getting older, and tired, as it was 11 o'clock and the 5 of us have a cumulative 17 children. Speaking of children, teenagers are getting younger these days. The crowd of them waiting looked sullenly at us over their iPhones, wondering who we were snatching out of the jaws of iniquity and taking straight home.

I could have waited. I could have thrown caution to the wind and stayed there until 2 am and paid someone to repeatedly jab a needle into my abdomen, but I gave up. When I told my mom goodbye in the morning, and that I had been unsuccessful, she just said, "Well, thank you Jesus."

He better not have had anything to do with it...

Thursday, February 16, 2012

I'm pretty sure I'm addicted to the internet. Nothing creepy, just basic internet. Social media, news, stuff like that. But I don't want to think about that today because it's a lot to think about, and I'm pretty sure I have to become Amish or Muslim or something. ANOTHER DAY.

So this thing happened, months ago, I saw this punch on Pinterest, this baby shower frothy drink punch that was all blue and had little ducks floating in it, and I thought, hey! I should make that for Han's shower, and so I went looking for the ingredients and failed at life. First, rubber ducks cost a lot, because nowadays they all have internal thermometers and CO2 detectors and internet filters, to protect the children, but all I wanted was a cheap little duckie family to float in the frothy blue punch. I found some online, but the reviews all said "They float upside down!" which was helpful, because who wants duck-butt punch? Not me, that's who. So I went to the dollar store and found bags of little rubber "sea animals" and I thought, this will still work. But nobody sells blue Kool-Aid anymore, I guess, so I bought purple and pink and I was thinking maybe that would work. But the only sherbet was rainbow, so I ended up with a primordial pink punch with kind of sickly sea animals and green and orange sherbet glaciers.

You know what's great about me? I keep trying. Take that, Pinterest.

But I had all these leftover grape Kool-Aid packets that I hid from my children, because maybe they eat chicken nuggets three times a week, but doggone it, they are not having Coke and Kool-Aid. If you grew up in Conroe, you saw all the teen moms with their infants and their baby bottles full of sugar drink, and you judged them. So I have kept that standard. But today, they found it and they raised their voices in unison and begged and I gave in. Somewhere between inhaling a kilo of grape dust and pouring AN ENTIRE CUP OF SUGAR in the pitcher I had the thought that I was doing something insane, but I carried on, and delivered it to Toby and Brynn.

The first sip was like a revelation. Their faces lit up, and I knew they would never dwell in the Garden again. SO DEWICIOUS, Brynn said. SO, SO DEWICIOUS. My turkey vegetable stew, my homemade cornbread, forgotten. There was only Kool-Aid.

Within 3 minutes, Toby had lost his pants and was flying from couch to couch, laughing hysterically, and Brynn was running in manic circles around the house, counting in really questionable Spanish. "Guys!" I kept saying, like one of those weaklings on SuperNanny, "Guys, come on. Come on, guys." "BLAPPPPP ITY OOOOOOOOOEEEEEE AAAAAAAAAAAAHH!" they replied, crashing into the wall and then to the floor, laughing while Tristan stared in amazement.

Eventually, it ended. I found myself in a fetal position in the doorway, clutching a rosary. May this evil never visit our land again, Amen.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Brynn turned 5 yesterday, and I will write about that later, after I have emptied my buckets of tears and rinsed them out for their next use. Also I want to post party pictures and what-not, and the party is this weekend. So.

I will go topical today, and tell the story of my first Boyfriend Valentines Day. I imagine that Valentines is probably supposed to have an apostrophe, but I have been alone with my kids for 10 or 11 days and I don't care about your stinking apostrophe. The MOG comes home today, hallelujah. I put on makeup and Toby keeps asking concernedly, "Now, why are you pretty again?" like he's heard the rumors in my head that I am going to chuck it all and take my minivan to somewhere exotic, like Iowa.

But my first Boyfriend Valentines. I was 16, and I had snagged the MOG and decided that I would marry him. We'd been together since November, so it was a pretty solid lock. He wasn't a great boyfriend. I mean, he was a sweet talker, and he genuinely like/loved me, and stuff. But opening doors, buying gifts, stuff like that, not so much. That did not limit me from having my expectations at the realistic 16 year old level of SKY HIGH. All day long, my girl friends were getting flowers at school, teddy bears, chocolates and such from their college-age drug dealer boyfriends.

As was our custom, the MOG and I met between most classes and passed each other letters, usually apologizing for the multiple fights and makeout sessions the day before and declaring our undying love and burning passion. But no special V-Day missive came my way. I think I made him a card, with giant bubble letters and red hearts and such and then folded it in an origami shape. We had a lot more time before the internet. The whole day passed and nothing. He might have said HVD, you know, but no diamonds, fireworks spelling out my name, etc.

Later that night, we rode silently and sullenly along with my dad as he ran errands. I was sulking for extremely obvious reasons, and he was mad because I was mad, and what was he supposed to do about it, because he was broke after buying a massive collection of Hosanna worship cassettes and a shirt with GOD SIDE in gangsta letters. It was stressful. We rode along while Daddy did various things, and finally he ran into Hastings with Richy, but I did not go in because a) I was boycotting Hastings and b) I hated Richy Clark's guts.

After a while they came back out and Richy climbed in the backseat while my dad awkwardly thrust a Hastings bag at me, containing a pink heart balloon and a candy bar. "From Richy," he said. Now, everybody in the car knew the man was lying. But I rose to the challenge and squealed like the obnoxious teenager I was, and we never acknowledged the truth about that whole exchange for YEARS.

The thing is, we both grew from my dad's awkward kindness. I learned about humbling myself and loving the man I loved, and his imperfections and his efforts. He learned that you HAVE to give a present. It ended up being a very sweet first Boyfriend Valentines.

Friday, February 10, 2012

I had the thought recently that someday there won't be a baby in our house and I'll be doing other stuff. Part of me's like, naaah, that'll never happen because I will keep getting babies. And most of me agrees with that part of me. But another segment of myself is like, no, the babies will grow up and you will be like those moms of teens who go have coffee or something, with nobody crushing crackers on the table or hugging strangers who happen to be standing nearby.

I hate that idea. I mean, I will probably like it then, but right now the thought of my kids growing up fills me with terror. Brynn's going to be 5 in 3 days, and I am already weepy about it. I don't like this. I think I might be the worst mother-in-law ever, like that creepy I'll Love You Forever mom, just sitting quietly by my adult child's bed, watching him sleep. I fear I might have a hard time letting go. Really, I'm a reasonable person, and I'll be fine. But this turning 5 and 6 thing is hard. I can't imagine college, or them getting married or something, how that might feel.

But who am I, anyway? I mean, my whole life has been them, making meals, changing diapers, just parenting. So who will I be when this part is over? And is it okay if I'm not her yet? I'm 33, and I don't feel like I've started my life, or the part of my life that is separate from raising kids. Some people do both, you know, work jobs or ministry or write books or act, and raise kids simultaneously. And maybe I'll do some of that when (if) we get past the physically demanding younger years.

I'm happy just being with my kids, teaching them, feeding them, loving them. I know I am raising world-changers and it's meaningful, that all the mundanities are making a mosaic that will be extraordinary. Sometimes, though, there's this "stuff in the basement", this internal push to change the world, the grownup world, to be an explosive impact, to do something now, and I don't know what to do with that, how to make it all fit together, how to find the discipline to be everything I'm supposed to be. And besides, that wars against my belief that being "just a mom" is enough. Maybe it is, maybe it's not. Maybe it varies.

How do I hold on and let go, trust and protect, shelter and release and grow personally at the same time? What does God think we are, superhuman?

Once I figure it out, I'll let you know. It might be a little while.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

When I write something heavy, I usually feel a little better right away. Sharing the human experience and what-not. Thank you for your support, your prayers and words of kindness really do make the load a little lighter.

To lighten it up for today, I will tell you the tawdry tale of my first kiss.

It was first grade. I, having thin straight brown hair (mama called it dark blonde, but it weren't),  beady little eyes, a prominent chin and a tendency to use big words, was not the girl that the boys chased around the playground. I was their buddy, but even back then I had an understanding that I wasn't one of the "pretty" ones, and I hadn't figured out yet that I was funny, and by funny I mean humorous. But I was 6, you know, and it didn't really matter yet.

But there was one boy that wasn't picky, he was mostly just working his magic on the general female public and waiting unsuccessfully for a positive response. I had my sights set on a 3rd grader and held great disdain for this other boy, who I'll call Ned, to protect the guilty. He persecuted me. I wore a patch for a while, due to a lazy eye, and he was one who led the "Pirate" charge, as well as many other acts of verbal aggression and psychological terror.

Our school was held in an old Baptist church and a series of trailers that had been renovated to be classrooms. On the day in question, I was standing in front of our room, chatting with some other girls and not really paying attention to the group of boys standing nearby, plotting evil in their hearts. Suddenly two of the boys broke from the pack and ran toward me. I must have been a pitiful sight, standing there frozen in  my faded plaid uniform  while all the other girls scattered. A boy I'll call Chuck (because I wouldn't want to call out Chris McFarland in front of the whole internet) held my arms back and yucky old Ned kissed me right on the mouth.

There I was, alone in the universe, shoes planted in the patchy browning grass with my thin arms pinned behind me by another 6 year old, and the slobber of a beastly boy on my lips. I squirmed against my restraints and wrestled one arm free. In a microsecond, my fingers curled tightly around the thin plastic handle of my lunchbox as it slammed into the side of Ned's face with a surprisingly satisfying THWACK.

His cohort fled before the echoes of his panic even came back to us. Teachers materialized out of buildings all around, surrounding poor little Ned with a red square rising from the side of his head, a wide-open screaming mouth, and trembling finger pointed at me, the victim.

They marched us both to the principal's office, he in his pain and his shame and me, head held high in righteous indignation. We both got in trouble, but I do not regret my actions, to this day.

My next kiss was the MOG. I did not hit him with a lunchbox.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

R2 almost died on Friday. It was a bad seizure, and I don't really want to talk about it. Someday, I will be 80 and I will probably go to a convent and sit in silence for 3 days and then cry for 24 hours and then I will be okay. So that might have to wait until I'm 80.

You can't, you know. You can't dwell on it. So we just keep making peanut butter sandwiches and changing diapers and living. And it's good, it's so good, because he's alive and the babies (who are not babies) are healthy and today is a day to be thankful.

So I say thank you and I hold the deepest, saddest part at bay, because today is not a day for crying.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

It’s never seemed right to me, the fact that the Susan G. Komen foundation donates to Planned Parenthood. I mean, even if you want to deny the obvious breast cancer/abortion link AND the birth control/breast cancer link, you can’t ignore the fact that Planned Parenthood doesn’t do mammograms. They don’t provide them. And they don’t do other breast cancer tests or treatment, they refer those out. So why do they need upwards of $600,000 a year from SGK to do basic examination and referral? It’s just always seemed disingenuous to me that the most well known breast cancer research foundation would support that.

So SGK makes a good call, based on their function, to focus monies on other organizations. And immediately the wails go up from Planned Parenthood acolytes, “Women will DIE!” they wail. Heads up ladies, women are dying now. They’re dying in the womb, by the thousands every day. And until yesterday, their dying was partially funded by SGK. 

Let’s get real, Planned Parenthood. If you really cared about women, you’d tell them the truth about abortion and breast cancer, and about abortion and depression and suicide, about abortion and infertility and recurrent miscarriage. You’d let them see an ultrasound, see the truth, weigh the options for themselves like adult women. If you cared about women, you would not surround every true word with two lies.

My grandmother had breast cancer when I was a kid. I remember her going through treatment, a double mastectomy. All of my life, I've been aware of the risk factors. Wouldn't it be something if there was a research foundation dedicated to finding a cure in the most ethical and morally sound way? Sign me up. I've been wanting to buy pink for years. 
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