Sunday, December 29, 2013

I hope you people miss me. I miss myself. In the last 8 years or so, I have used this space to decompress and to find humor in the challenging realities of life. I don't plan on taking a permanent hiatus, in fact, I never planned on taking a hiatus at all. I am finding life is much more challenging when I'm not writing funny stories about it. I will be back in business soon. In 2014 I plan on writing 4-5 times a week, consistently.

Over the years, people have asked me, "When will you write a book?" about 10 times a week and then it started being "WHY haven't you written a book?" and then it started being kind of abusive with some mild threats and obscenities and so on, and all the time I wasn't writing a book because the people I write about take all of my time, and also because I am on Facebook.

Recently, though, events have transpired to move the "maybe-someday" to "very-possibly-soonish", right when I have hit "too-emotionally-tired-to-write" and all of this causing "holy-moses-why-ain't-i-writing?"

So the Man of God, ever helpful in a managerial sense, is going to be managing me as an author. He has been attempting to manage me for almost 20 years now, but I'm fast, see? But anyway, he will be helping me to write often, which I think means I get to go out of my house and away from the children for whom I prayed.

One of the tricky things about writing about mothering and the shenanigans that make up mothering is... wow, what a sentence. It's clear why anybody would want me to write a book. Anyway, I MEAN it's hard to write about how funny chaos is because chaos takes a lot of time. But if there were less chaos, then I don't know if I'd have anything to say. I might get real boring once my kids get old and easy.

That was just for all you parents of teenagers. It's humor, see? I'm hard to manage.

All this to say, I'm trying to be back. Happy new year, everybody.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

I decided to do one of those whattyacallits today, where I say a list that parallels my age about things I've learned. I've never done this before, and I know more things than this. But these are on my heart or mind today.

1. I don't know as much as I think I do. And you know more than I think. 90% of the time, I will benefit from at least honestly hearing your point of view. Worst case scenario, I walk away knowing where you're coming from.

2. That annoying characteristic in you or them usually lies right at the edge of an exposed nerve. Offer grace, the benefit of the doubt, or the kindest correction you can. It's what you would want.

3. If your heartfelt position makes you lose your temper or call names, it's not coming from a crystal clear place. Maybe dial it back and do some self-examination. At least, make yourself wait a day before you respond to that email or comment.

4. You will never regret choosing kindness.

5. You will always regret leaving the cookies at the store.

6. Children love to be respected. Honor them by genuinely listening to their outlandish suggestions about space travel or whatever. Someday they might be pitching crazy ideas to a lot bigger audience.

7. Don't get a cat.

8. Your parents will not live forever. Talk to them now.

9. Try some new stuff. Worst case scenario, you die trying new stuff. That's better than "She died eating Ramen in front of a Seinfeld rerun."

10. Invest in friendships. People are so amazingly lovable.

11. If taking a shower will make you late, don't take a shower. Be on time, stinky.

12. When you are terribly, terribly disappointed in yourself, remember, it will get better. Learn from the mistake and remind yourself you don't have to stay at the low point.

13. If I feel depressed, I try not to wear dark clothes and keep the blinds drawn. Put some light and music in your physical world and it will help a little. Also comb your hair.

14. If you feel depressed, try serving someone else. Find a soup kitchen, chaperone your child's field trip, buy a gift for another person. It's amazing what looking outward can do.

15. Thrift stores have cheap clothes. Buy them, wash them, wear them. Now you have more money.

16. If your goals are making you miserable, rethink your goals. If you still need those goals, rethink your approach.

17. Never assume you know everything about someone. Assume there is GOLD.

18. Thankfulness is a weapon. Use it.

19. People probably already know how you feel about their lifestyle. If they want to change, they know you can help them. It's important they know, in the meantime, that you love them regardless.

20. Off brand cereal is basically the same.

21. Don't be cocky. If you don't like the music, or the movie, or the practice, or the sentiment, that doesn't mean everyone who does is ignorant. It means they like something different than you, and they probably have good reasons.

22. Funny people are not in denial. We just see life through a humorous lens.

23. Sometimes people are dead wrong. "The Eiffel Tower is in Rome," they say, confidently. You don't have to fix that. It's totally okay to just let people be wrong sometimes.

24. It's okay to say no. You can't do everything for everyone, and if you try to, you might hate everyone a little bit. Just say it nicely.

25. Always leave a tip.

26. Love means saying you're sorry. Say it.

27. Study the 5 love languages. There might be more, it might be more complicated, but they're a good start at learning people.

28. If somebody in your life makes you feel bad about yourself, find the nugget of truth in what they say and work on that. If they keep making you feel bad about yourself, maybe hang out with somebody else.

29. Take great comfort in the competence of God. So many things are not our job, they're His. And He's not freaking out at all!

30. Take comfort in the all-knowingness of God. He already knows your pain and your struggle. You can be honest with Him. He's not intimidated by your overwhelming humanity.

31. Sometimes, in the very darkest place, remind yourself, it will not be like this forever. This is a moment, a day, a season. Someday you will laugh again.

32. If you find something you love, and your friends don't get it, don't worry. You can love things by yourself, you're an individual and you might even have great taste.

33. On the other hand, if you "fall in love" with a human being and all your friends and family hate them, listen. You might be totally compromised by pheromones.

34. Don't let shame drive you from church. He came for the sick. Find a church that will help you heal.

35. Don't waste your life being cynical. Find beauty, it's everywhere.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

One of the things about getting married before your growth plates close is, you don't have much grownup training. My parents spent the 2 years before we got married really hammering these messages into the 2 of us a) finish high school b) keep your pants on and c) have a job. We did all of that, more or less, but we never really had time to learn etiquette or whatever and as a result, we only know how to have the Christian equivalent of frat parties. "Let's have this couple over for dinner," he says, and I panic, because a sit-down meal with one other grownup couple is entirely different than queso and Cokes for 30.

Since the remodel, though, our house is so pretty for entertaining, and I have had a couple of ladies' events here. And that is how I almost killed my whole city.

See, sometimes kids puke for no reason. I have multiple kids and you never know if this is a real thing or what. So my daughter puked and she was kinda droopy for a day or two but everybody else was fine, and so I thought, no need to move the baby shower this weekend, everybody is well again.

The women came in, all of them adult women with earrings and presents and things. My friends decorated and coordinated the food, because, again, unless it's rice and beans for dozens, I freeze up. It was a lovely shower for my friend Marisol, who is adopting a baby in January. (side note: you should go donate something, anything to Mari and Efrain's adoption fund. I'll wait.)

Welcome back! Thanks. Like I was saying, it was great. People ate the snacks, they chatted, I did not discover any horrifying ex-diaper or rotten apple in a trafficked area, etc. We all were grownup ladies and we had a lovely time and then they all went home. Yay me, I thought.

And then the puking started. By me. It wasn't too bad, if you enjoy having your innards ripped out by demons for 12 hours. The MOG held down the fort and tried to offer comfort, because he enjoys comfort when he is ill, but I convinced him that nothing would comfort me more than being left alone to die in a pool of my own body fluids. Then he got sick. And then all of the grownup ladies got sick. And some of my children, and their children, and maybe the Pope.

I stood on the cliff above my city, watching their writhing and wailing, and I knew: I did this.

I was the forerunner, so I warned them. Eventually they started a Facebook group with unflattering pictures of themselves, not in the throes of illness,  necessarily, but soon afterward. Thanksgivings were canceled. Tragedy, chaos and natural remedies abounded. I was awash in guilt, which was a nice change from being awash in puke. It was a strange kind of horrific community building.

Everyone is in recovery now, as far as I can tell. I'm still pretty iffy, but I am determined to carry on. When all this is over, I'm having all you people over for chips and queso.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

i remember
waiting for you
so foreign
so emotional
for my joy
to be their loss

and then they handed
you to me
and i was lost
to loving you

you fill
my days with laughter
you keep
me running, always
you are
my son, forever

Happy Birthday Tristan.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

There is a myth that children move quickly. The reality is, children only move quickly when they don't want you to catch them. The rest of the time they move at a glacial pace, and they slow down even more when there is a line of people waiting on you, waiting on them. None of that is what I am talking about, but no one is paying me to write this blog and I can be all non-sequitur if I feel like it. If any of you want to pay me, I'm listening. 

When I picked up my children from school today, they crawled into the car at a leisurely pace, offering bits of video game trivia and the usual riddles-I'm-not-allowed-to-guess-correctly. And then Brynn handed me an adorable little craft she made. "It's for you!" she said excitedly, "because you're FORTY-ONE!" 

I choked a little. "I'm 41?" I asked, "Do you think I'm 41?" 
"Well," she countered, "aren't you?"
"No! I'm..."
Toby chimes in, "She won't be 41 for a few DAYS, Brynn."
"Will you be 41 on your birthday, Mom?" she asks.
"I'll be 41 in... seven birthdays," I answer, weakly, because that seems very soon. As I go back over the calculations, I realize it is six birthdays. I don't tell them. 

We head down the road toward home. 
"How old are you, Mom?" she asks me, not realizing I am aging as we speak
"I'm 35." 
"35. 35," she counts, gaining speed. "and then you'll be 36, then 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44! Then you will be 44!" 

I'll be in my room, guys. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

(Disclaimer: this is a serious one. I never write things like this based on one thought, and it probably wasn't anything you did that inspired me. It's life, all of us.)

One of my favorite things about having this space to communicate is the fellowship of shared experiences. It took me years of writing down the details of my day before I realized that we all share so much. Like Solomon said, there's nothing new under the sun. I often think Solomon might have been a lot happier if he had limited himself to a reasonable number of wives. Was he asking for trouble? I'll let Lamentations answer that question.

We are the same. We're unique and individual and God's special snowflakes or whatever, but also we are very much the same, despite our cultural differences and languages and ages, we're all so, so human, and we all want to a) be loved and b) be great. And all of us, every one of us, is failing in some way.

And social media is a gift, it's a tool that allows us to see into each other's lives, and to have a glimpse of the sorrows and the joys and even the mundaneness that is part of the story. Sometimes, though, we take a tiny peek into someone else's window to the world and we make a judgment call. I think about this occasionally, when I set goals and fail them in front of the internet, when I go through the small known and unknown hypocrisies that are part of trying to be great and be loved.

Wouldn't it be great if we could learn to love each other, to celebrate each other, to take our shared brokenness and offer grace. What if we saw each others failures and offered a hand? What if we gave the benefit of the doubt? You and I, we're the same. We want the same things. Even when our day-to-day or political or religious goals are worlds apart, we are both so human. I choose to believe that none of you are monsters or robots, just humans, striving for better humanity.

So if someone posts a picture of a cake, maybe they aren't bragging. Maybe they just tried really hard to make a cake. Tell them good job, or, if it's me, tell me good effort and I bet it tastes great. Someone posts a selfie, maybe they are lonely and reaching for community, or maybe they are having a good hair day, so, TELL THEM. We are all finding ways to touch each other, to find that shared thread that makes us not alone. It's not our job to police motives, just give grace and recognize we all need each other.

And if we fall, when we fall, maybe TwitYourFace is not the place to address it. Let's take Matthew 18 face to face.

Maybe in this new world, this technological age, it's less important that everyone do it right and more important that we love each other. Grace.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

We go to the airport sometimes, because my husband is always running off. He says he goes places to preach and sing, but I've always suspected he has a second family, with a chunky wife who really keeps a clean and quiet house. Every time he comes home, he is so surprised to find that a) I am so thin b) our children are so, so loud and c) no, I did not notice that sandwich under the couch. d) seriously, I never saw it. None of this is the point, try to pay attention. The point is I frequently drive to the airport.

Typically, when I have a plan, it's an overeager plan that makes me arrive somewhere a half-hour early and then my kids have to say "Is that daddy?" to every bald African-American man that walks by for a long, long time. Do they think their dad is black? I don't know, because I don't see any way to have that conversation without giving them Loud Conversational Ammo.

This time, I was all casual, like, I'm a grown woman who drives to the airport all the time and besides, I have a GPS, so I only gave myself 45 minutes. "FORTY-FIVE minutes??" you say, "I can make it to the airport in TEN minutes," and to that I say, "Shut it, Richy." I was making good time, too, barreling down 71 North at 45 miles an hour, because that's a freeway speed limit, when I got a text from the man himself. He evidently was tracking my progress via GPS, as he is prone to do when he's being a super-creeper. "At your current rate," it read, "you will be 20 minutes early FYI".

I'm a grown woman, I thought, and I know how to get to the airport, thank you very much, and maybe I would have texted that except I was driving and also everyone was trying to kill me with their cars and also my children were trying to kill me via sonic energy. I'm a grown woman, I thought, with 20 minutes to kill and I should swing by Starbucks and get a hot chocolate. So I mapped to a nearby Starbucks and then I drove there, except it got really confusing and then it didn't have a drive-thru so I was about to map back to the airport when I got a text from the Head Creeper, who had landed 20 minutes early. Because of course he did.

I fired up the ol GPS, which had died unexpectedly. (Isn't that the way of death?) and I drove off into the scary dark night. "THIS IS NOT THE WAY I REMEMBER AND I FEEL WIERD IN MY FACE AND I'M HUNGRY AND HE IS LOOOOOKING AT ME AND IS THAT DADDY AND DID YOU SEE THAT DOG? THAT DOG THAT DOG THAT DOG? MOM ? MOM? MOM? MOM?"

"Listen, guys," I said, clutching the steering wheel to try to gain some feeling of control, "I really don't want to yell at you. But Mommy is kind of lost and the GPS is sliding around and I DADGUMMIT..." as the GPS slid under the console. "Mommy is kind of stressed. I AM REALLY STRESSED and your best bet for not getting yelled at is to"

There was a moment of silence as they processed.

"Knock knock..."

I wandered like the Israelites, y'all. I drove all over the place trying to find the freeway, but it had been taken away as a punishment for my very dark thoughts. All the while, the GPS would start up for a moment, give one direction, like "Veer left in 2 miles" and then it would die again and I would think dark thoughts and then it would say, "prepare to make a u-" and then it would die again and everybody would say, "Did you hear that? Did you hear that? A U-what? What does it mean? Are we in another state? Is that daddy? What did the ocean say to the shore?"

"Mom? What did the ocean say to the... never mind."

We made it. 30 minutes late and some change, due to parking at the wrong part of the terminal, because of course I did. I collapsed in the passenger seat and tried to go to a happy place, which ended up being McDonald's, after a lot of strong marital discussion. "Why didn't you just use your phone GPS?" you ask, and to that, I say.... oh, yeah.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

I coulda ate a hundred, maybe. Or three, anyway.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

I think the time was around 3 pm. I had stolen away to my room for a lunch break, as I am prone to do when I want to eat my Ramen noodles alone in the lap of luxury. The screaming started sometime around the first bite, as it is prone to do. I gave some thought to ignoring it entirely, but let me tell you a couple of rules of parenting: If ONE child is screaming, it's probably okay to eat your lunch. If NO children are screaming, do not eat. Go immediately and find out why. If MANY children are screaming, it has a 50% chance of being a real thing and you can probably snag a bite or two but then run once you get near the children, just in case there are news media in your yard. 

It was the cat. The stupid, stupid cat was stuck in a tree. Now, listen, I'm kind of a cat person, in that cats might be the animal I hate the least. I like their furry aloofness and their comfy rainy-day approach to life. I enjoy seeing a glorified throw pillow stroll casually from one sleeping location to the next. I am not, however, one of you, who love your pet and put her in the Christmas card and care deeply if she lives or dies. 

We are a little more like: 

But we have these dadgum kids, and I love them. So it was my job to get the cat out of the tree, or at least to make a college try. Luckily, I had an enormous amount of moral support from the Man of God, who was late for a wedding and yelled "Good luck!" as he peeled out of the driveway, and also I had almost unlimited advice from the peanut gallery. "Just GET HER DOOOOWWWN," they wailed. "GO UP IN THE TREEEEEEE and GET HERRRR!" 

You guys might not realize this, but I am height challenged. I can't even reach the dishes in my own cupboard. Also I am completely uncoordinated and have not climbed a tree since the first grade, and also I am terrified of heights. Also I don't love this cat. So I hauled ladders around, but none of them were tall enough, and so then I thought, I bet I can get her to jump to the roof. I tried to sneak upstairs but was immediately detected and then 3 of 4 children all watched in fascination as I opened the window from their room to the roof and leaned out. I could FEEL Tristan getting ideas. 

Since I have extremely helpful children, Toby took possession of my phone for documentation and the other children leaned heavily on my back, ensuring that we would plunge to our deaths together. Toby will have video of me falling out the window, I thought to myself. It was a dark place. Plus the stupid, stupid cat would not jump to the roof 2 feet below the branch, so the plan was abandoned. 

Next I went to the alarm panel and set our very loudest and most frightening notification for that window, because, come on. 

Then I went back outside where everyone was gathered, cheering Misa to "JUMP!" which, luckily, she is too stupid to understand. I found another ladder, covered in black widows and brown recluses and terror, but I couldn't get it to open, because I don't speak Home Depot. "Just open it!" the helpful children cried, "Just click that thingy and open it and get up the tree and save the cat RIGHT NOW!!" 

Finally I thought, well, I haven't died yet, so here's one more way, and I leaned the ladder against the tree and climbed the ladder, again, mostly concerned with not dying in front of my children for the sake of a cat. As you will see in Toby's documentary, I saved her, only to be clawed ferociously across my wrist as a thank-you. 

In the end, we still have a cat and Tristan has discovered several interesting possibilities for fun and excitement. Send pills. 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

I'm afraid of plenty of things. "There is no fear in love!" says you, super spiritual guy, and I'm all like "But I don't LOVE birds," and checkmate. I am, in fact, afraid of birds. They are so creepy with their bony little claws and their sharp beaks and beady little eyes, like demons of nature wrapped in soft little feathery jackets. I am also afraid of rodents who appear in MY HOME without warning, and I'm afraid of heights and fish that I cannot see and dogs, except the really dumb slobbery ones because they're not going to eat me.

So, yeah, I have fears. But I think there's a built-in fear buffer when you've faced some hard things, because there is a reality that bad things might happen, so you almost can't plan based on those kind of risks. I feel like I operate on a denial system of sorts, and that is how I happened to be on a committee of two, planning a cruise directly after the Italian cruise disaster. "What could go wrong?" I ask myself. "I've already been through this..."

The cruise was perfect. I went with 21 other women, (with NINETY-ONE children between us, but we did not bring the children). It wasn't until the middle of the first night on the boat that I started thinking about how bad it would be if the boat went down. I was also very concerned about snoring, because I've had the same roommate for 17 years and he says I snore. Ultimately, the boat did not sink and I do snore.

I'll write more about the cruise, because it was deeply refreshing and also an introspective window that I do not normally see through, even though I talk about myself and mine on social media all the time. There's just something about hours without interruption that brings great perspective.

Speaking of perspective, women are much larger up close. I am not talking about my friends, of course.  I am talking about all of the other women, who seem relatively fit when clothed but then when you get face level with the vast majority of their skin, you discover the limits of Lycra. Also the limits of decency.

I ate all the things, sang karaoke, spent hours on a beach and got the most marvelous sunburn. And "I" didn't twerk, but some people did. More about that later, too.

Monday, October 14, 2013

I didn't do a lot of extracurricular activities as a kid. I went to school and I did my time with all the academics and then I did the required amount of time with getting my arms broken in games of Red Rover and trying very, very hard to be invisible during dodgeball. I think I succeeded at being pretty invisible because everybody always forgot to pick me until everyone else was picked. Many a hot Texas afternoon was spent kicking holes in the packed dirt, waiting for everyone to finish sporting so I could go back to class. As a conservative, I am against all this nanny-state business. But if there were some legislation for a waiver out of violent sports for skinny little bookworms, I would halfheartedly sign an online petition for that, in political solidarity.

It's not that my childhood was totally devoid of show business. We did do Psalty plays with alarming regularity, although I was usually cast as a sheep or one of a large group of angels. Piney Woods, I still think you missed it. I could have been a STAR. At home, though, it was all music and theatre. If the NSA had been around back then, they probably would have been even more confused, because we rarely stuck with one character or accent for long, with my favorite being a stern and imperious Russian woman, who did not tolerate fools or meatloaf. Our family Christmases to this day include Cossack dancing and spontaneous stand-up comedy acts...

my first high school role: British maid
So in 10th grade, I went to public school and spent my first 2 days trying not to cry or get punched and then on day 3, I saw a sign for drama auditions and found my tribe, a melting pot of small-town fundamentalists and deviants in varying mixtures. I loved acting. My dad also had a drama troupe at our local church, and we did hilarious corny skits with a message, somewhere. In the end, it came down to college and acting or teen marriage and youth ministry, and (spoiler alert) I picked the latter. I have never regretted that. Well, I have regretted the marriage and the youth ministry at certain emotionally charged moments, but that fades pretty quickly.

This very long self-centered intro was supposed to be about my children being in a play, and somehow it is all about me. Maybe that's just because it's gotta be about me somewhere. I think I'm kidding.

Anyway, Toby and Brynn got to be in a play. They were awesome. What I would like is for all of my children, and I am talking about my children, not the soap opera, is for them to be super creative and musical and artistic and fulfilled, but maybe not actors who move to Hollywood or New York or anything. And also I don't really want them to be actors who only do low-budget Christian movies about the end times. Or even high budget. (Looking at YOU, Nic Cage). I don't know what I want. You guys are stressing me out with all these questions. Now I have to figure out if maybe they should be nice safe accountants or insurance salesmen or something.

Hey! In other news, I'm going on a cruise. I won't be drinking booze, because it tastes like fuel ooze. Sorry, I just got accidentally rhymed and then it got all freestyle up in this hizzouse. That's it, that's all I have to say. More about the cruise tomorrow.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

This might be the longest break I've taken from writing in almost 8 years. I didn't do it on purpose, I just quit talking. I mean, really, I've still been talking on my Facebook an inappropriate amount of times a day. But this is my brain space and it is mysteriously quiet. I'm trying to make money, that's one part of it. I'm working half-days to pay for my vacation and various "extras" for my little people, and that does take brain juice and more importantly, time. But still. I miss writing and I miss the interaction of writing for you. So I'm back.

I'll be 35 here in a week, and that has me thinking a lot about what I'm going to be when I grow up. I'll tell you one thing, I will be a mom. I am SUCH a mom. Interesting thought: the more I ponder everything I want to do with my life, the younger I feel. Somehow I have switched over in the last few months from feeling like I'm having my third-life-crisis to feeling like I'm just getting started.

Stay tuned, this life is going to be interesting. Maybe.

In very, very sad news, the swimsuit that I ordered from China is not going to work. According to the website, I am what is called an Asian Large, and I didn't like the sound of that but I bought it anyway because I still needed a swimsuit. But it doesn't fit right and I could say I'll just sew it but we both know that would go so terribly wrong. So now I need another swimsuit. If you think this is a first world problem, you're right. Maybe since you're so smart you could find me a swimsuit that doesn't make me wonder if my mirror is bent like a funhouse mirror.

It's been an interesting couple of weeks. We saw family, went to CiderFest and on a 2.5 day getaway, and we saw Tristan's birthfamily. And we, the mister and I, talked and talked and tried to get a grip on the future, that slippery future. But all of that's another day. Asian Large, signing off.

Friday, September 20, 2013

The ol' MOG doesn't travel as much, these days. Used to be he'd take off for 2 or 3 weeks and I'd hold down the fort, but now he leaves for weekends here and there. One thing is the same, though: if the house is going to break or crime is to be committed, it will be while he is not in the same state. Fugitives running through the backyard, helicopters over my skylight? He must be out of town. So yesterday, he went to the airport, and within a couple of hours, I discovered that we had no running water.

You know when you're going to figure out the water is turned off? Not before you change the world's most violently hateful diaper. Oh no, it will be after. In that moment, listening to the faucet hiss, a faint memory comes to my mind, a memory of a water bill, sealed and "filed" on Richy's desk, in a pile of sealed bills. Maybe even a couple of water bills, I don't know. Obviously we are very responsible people. Or we are just people who pay our bills online and then forget to open the envelopes... It's a good thing I can't see your judgy face right now, because I would definitely act like I didn't notice and then hold it against you for like, an hour. Anyway, yes. We, mature and responsible adults, were now victims of the system.

As I was scrubbing my skin off with baby wipes, I got a call from R2's school. He was very upset and needed a ride home. I gathered my young, which took approximately 1000 years, and called the water company on the way. "Ma'am," the agent said semi-patiently, "you are never going to have running water again, unless you can bring 150000 golden doubloons and place them in the veeery center of the dragon's mouth." In the background, Tristan set up an impressive show of vocal force in requesting that I play "ba ba ba ba ba ba ann" immediately, and Toby and Brynn did not disappoint with their loud queries about how exactly one's water is cut off, and why and why didn't we just pay the bill and why couldn't we stop for McDonald's right now. I, being a responsible and involved parent, made many, many SHUT IT hand motions and also throat-cutting gestures. "How long will it take to turn on?" I asked, like a noob. "Weeeeellll," she said, "they could possibly turn it on when your youngest child becomes of marriageable age, but you'd have to get here before noon."

It was almost 11. The thing was, I didn't have enough problems, so I had to get some more. There wasn't enough money in the bank to pay the full amount. I had a check from the MOG that would more than cover it, but it wouldn't clear until the next day, if deposited. So I thought, hey, I'll cash it and then take my bounty to the mouth of the beast. Except it was in his name. So I wrote my name. But they said it was "altered" and I think I narrowly escaped imprisonment. I hope that you hear a steady soundtrack of crying and extremely loud personal questions in the background as you read this, and also Barbara Ann on repeat, because that's how it sounded. Only louder. The teller took pity on me and told me that I could probably fake out the ATM and get the money, so I did. Now if I ever get a meth addiction, Imma take that route and skip the whole altering-checks-scam.

I took my handfuls of filthy lucre and headed to the 1 of 2 places in this entire city to pay. As we piled out of the car, I noticed that all of my children looked like they had been recently cast in the Broadway production of "Annie" with the dirt smudges and greasy hair and mismatched shoes and R2 with his bruised head and survival gear. Right. I took all the ragamuffins inside, where a very nice police officer sat with them and learned every secret I ever had. And then it was paid and we celebrated with cheeseburgers, because the water was coming back.

Except it didn't. I called back at 2:45. "Ohhh," the agent said, "You have to report your payment to the troll at the drawbridge." "But, um," I try to say nicely, "Didn't I pay the troll directly? Is the troll's computer not connected to yours? Is there a secret manual for this kind of thing? And can I please haz water?" "The thing is," she told me, "that they quit at 4, and it is preeeeety close to 4." I talked to a supervisor about how close exactly 4 is to 2:45, and they said they'd put me on an emergency list and someone might come sometime. In the meantime, we had a steady stream of dialogue, the children and I, about all the ways we use water, including the toilets. Lot of discussion about the toilet.

We made a grocery run for about 45 minutes and missed the guy. "The CUSS?" I might have said, and called the agent again. "Oh yeah, she said, "You have to be there."It was at this point that Toby warned me to watch my language, very, very concerned about my use of "freaking".

"Because the water on switch is inside my house?" I asked. "Because of why? Can he come back?" "No, he can never, ever come back. You have passed the point of no return." But then they said maybe he'd come before midnight, or maybe not, because life, who knows? Life is what happens when you're making other plans, and we have to dance like nobody's watching, footprints in the sand, something like that.

And then a great thunderstorm came. Because of course it did. And of course the roof leaked. I had a pioneer idea: I will capture this indoor rain and flush the toilets! So I did, and also I filled up the bathtub using all of my tupperwares and the gutter spouts. And the water never came back on. And then we ran out of bottled water, because nothing makes a child thirstier than knowing there is a finite supply of water. So Tristan woke up at midnight and screamed for 20 minutes while I climbed under furniture and found discarded partial bottles and gave them to him.

Toby woke up at 2 am and drank a Coke and played video games, and I let him. I was dancing like nobody was watching, or sleeping, anyway.

Took one more phone call and a goat sacrifice on the highest point of my roof, but at 10 am the water came back on. Looks like somebody's living right, y'all.  Lordy.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Sometimes I try to think about my bucket list, but the accountability is so stressful. "Write a book" I put on my not-bucket-list, and all the sudden everybody is cornering me with switchblades in alleyways, asking where their book is, the one that I told them I would write. Listen, I should write one. I'll get it to you, I just need a little more time. Don't shank me.

I've got this internal meter in my head, without your help, anyway, that's always asking, "If you died tonight, would you see Jesus?" No wait, that's not the question, I know that one. It's more like "If you died tonight, would everybody be like, oh, man, she had so much potential but she never did jack squat," and it'd be a sermon illustration about carping the dang diem and my kids would have all this pressure to finish all my bucket list because I never did any of it, because I was busy with Facebook. That's so grim! you say. Tell me about it. That's why I only watch comedies, because inside my head it's like some kinda psychoanalytical hipster drama with sad whale music playing a lot of the time. Except the jokes, I do have a lot of jokes in there too. In another compartment. Also recipes.

There's lots of things I want to do, but they're all jumbled up together in the someday category. Get current plates on the car and lose 10 pounds and skydive and buy some more coffee creamer and travel Europe but not with hiking, with cars and trolleys and swanky hotels, not hostels and mountain biking because vacations should not involve sweating, things like this. Also get the cat fixed.

In the meantime, in the now when I have all these little kids and no money to speak of, I am trying to figure out how to be present and joyful and content, even content with myself. That internal dialogue is so unpleasant sometimes, I want to figure out how to improve without the mental self-flagellation.

So maybe I can make a daily bucket list, of sorts. Stuff like,

  • try to see my kids without a screen between us; 
  • be patient, even if I'm late to every single thing on my list; 
  • be nice to myself, there's enough grace for me for this day; 
  • quit thinking so much about my legacy and more about today

And then, if I can get the hang of that kind of thinking, maybe then I'll be ready to get a tattoo and pay the water bill. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

I documented pieces of Tristan's day today. I didn't get much of the morning because my brain doesn't think of ideas till lunchtime. Well, it thinks of some ideas, but mostly just ideas about eating things. Let me preface this by saying, Tristan is a rascal. 

No nap, no patience. Waiting in line for T&B is too.much. 

I neither authorized nor endorsed this activity, in fact, I hid the cat carrier after this incident. Also after I photographed it. 
Nap-a? Not for-a me, stereotypical Italian accent baby-guy

Haven't you ever said, "Let's just put a box on our head and climb out the window"?

Chicken nuggets and fries on a paper plate. #parenting
Dipping chicken nuggets in your water? #tristan

Bathtub serenade

Sleepy but holding strong
He didn't have a nap today, which is why he's already sound asleep. Hang on for a second while I laugh myself into a hysterical fit. There, done. He's still going strong. Don't misunderstand me, I LOVE TWO. It's just funny, that's all. Good night. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Recently I revolutionized the fitness industry with this groundbreaking post, which will no doubt be a bestselling book series within the month. My sister is some kind of fitness guru, and she was just speechless with awe after reading my take. I'd like to follow that up now with some more advice, because this thing might be a cash cow, and I am full of it ideas.

Let me talk to you about dieting. Maybe you've tried the all-watermelon-rind and grapefruit diet, or the Ramadan diet where you pray five times a day and only eat after sundown, or the Kate Moss diet where you do cocaine and don't eat, I mean, haven't we all? The shared element with all diets is hunger. "No, no," you say, "Cabbage totally fills me up!" and to that I say, "Thanks, but I do not wish to take the unbelievable opportunity to make thousands of dollars a day selling cabbage from my home," as you shake your head at me in disbelief.

1. The Rule of Buttoning
If your jeans fit, you're good. Even if it seems like there's kind of a lot of extra skin hanging out over the edge like some kind of rubbery Niagra Falls over a denim dam, if they zip and button or snap or if the elastic holds, they fit. Diet unnecessary. Well done.

2. Start Day
Diets can only begin on Mondays or on the 1st of a month. Maybe it's Wednesday when you think of it, but that week is already half over and frankly, you have already really blown it. Might as well wrap it up with a binge and then take the week by the horns. Later. If you forget about the diet and have 4 doughnuts and a chocolate milk for breakfast the next Monday, don't beat yourself up. You have plenty of time to pick it back up, the next  week, assuming your arteries can take a chill pill. Like nitroglycerin, for example. Monday. Or November. No judging, judging causes cellulite.

3. Cheat Day
Many diets have a built-in escape valve where, for one glorious day of 7, you're permitted to eat more of the things you have already been sneaking during the week. Some trainers say to go crazy on your cheat day and just overdo it, because then you'll be like, "Ohhhh, I hate guacamole now, I never want to eat it again," but we both know you would have to die from guacamole to shut it down, and even then you know you'd be like, "Hey, Jesus! Point me toward the avocados." I like to ascribe to a system my sisters call "Chronic Reward Syndrome" which means every good deed is rewardable. Ate lettuce? Go you! Have a cookie. You earned it. Like that. So it's more like cheat moments, which probably add up to less than a day when it's all tabulated, assuming you're a tabulator.

4. The Salad Rule
It's very simple. Salad is healthy. Everyone should eat more salad. The magic thing about salad is it remains healthy, no matter what you add to it. Velveeta? Bacon? Fried chicken? Fried Twinkies? Hall pass! Have your salad and then go pull on your stretchy pants and pat yourself on the back rolls.

5. Dessert
Eat dessert in bed very, very late at night. Your metabolism has all night to deal with it.

6. Analysis
If your diet starts to stress you out, might be time to pursue other options. Like cabbage, for example. Hit me up for information about the unbelievable health benefits of cabbage and how YOU can benefit!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

When the laundry is made clean, then the people are blinded. "Where are my socks?" they ask, even though their very socks are before them, in the basket or even in a designated sock drawer. "Where is my shirt?" the people ask, because they are unwilling to turn their faces, even to turn their faces to the left and see where their shirts have been placed. And when I say to you, "Right there" and I point, you do not incline your eyes to where I am pointing but look wildly at the ceiling.

When the laundry is made dirty, I, the mom, merciful unless I'm annoyed, wise and faithful, carry the ketchup-laden clothing down 2 flights of stairs and make great mounds of filthy garments, and then I wash those garments, because I am altogether wonderful, although I smell like pee-clothes, and then I dry those clothes and then I carry the clothes up 2 flights of stairs and fold them and put them in baskets, for your drawers are full of clothes you won't wear and I am too tired from answering questions to sort them. And when I have done this thing and I should find favor in your sight, then you decide that every sort of evil should be done. And you upend the baskets and use them for a cat cage or wear them as a robot head and you take the towels and wear them as capes and all your folded clothes are utterly downcast. And though I chide you, you hear me not, you are as the deaf. 

And though you have done much evil, I would forgive it all if you would not then wear the clean clothes outside for a challenge involving spraying an entire can of sunscreen on your brother and then after you have emptied the can, then his anger rages against you and he then pushes you into the dirt and then, indeed, you come inside and sit on the couch and mourn and use 4 towels to dry yourself. And when your father comes home and his weeping is heard in all the land because he cannot find a towel to use one time and then throw on the bathroom floor, then my own rage burns against your father.

I, the mom, hungry and only relatively sane, am going to throw away all of your clothes and make you go to school naked. Or maybe I'll just wash them again. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Well, well, well. That intro reminds me of an awesome graphic, brb.

Unattributed b/c I can't find a source
I know. You're welcome. But try to focus, what I was actually starting to do was announce 2 awesome things. 1: The Man of God and I are going to do a video show, on the youtube. We'll tell you more information when we have it planned out. Super excited about it, and this week we decided to test the audio and tell a little story, just to determine if we have any chemistry and also if our mics work. Good news for our 4 children and you: we do and they do. So here's our little pre-show show, and stay tuned for the real thing, starting once-a-week broadcasting in approximately October.

And 2, in bigger news, Richy's new album is out and we're really excited to share it with you guys, both because it pays our bills and also because I think it's really good and it will bless you. Or you'll enjoy it, to put it less churchy. This album has been almost a year in the making, recorded during R2's illness and then completed in pieces during his recovery. I think it's beautiful. Go listen to the clips and buy it, and review it if you enjoy it. If you hate it, just try to keep it on the down-low. 

 photo stacks_image_183.jpg

You can buy it on iTunes  or Amazon, or Google Play, or any of the other internet places music is sold. And maybe I'm biased, but I think you should.  (Not available in physical form yet, we'll order those a little later)
Whale, whale, whale. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Many of you know I recently made a foray into fitness. It lasted for a few weeks, as many of my forays do. Someday I really hope to be super inspiring as the person who does something great and finishes. But if that something great is fitness, I won't be done until I'm dead and your accolades will mean nothing to me then. Unless I fake my death, but I'm not going to do that. (wink)

The thing with me is, I am fairly weak at multi-tasking. I am always multi-tasking but that really just means I'm doing a crappy job on like 5 things and totally obsessing about 1 thing. So the thing right now is making some cash, some sweet moolah because everything costs money, even free things. I have acquired 3 or 4 part-time jobs working from home, and I like all of them, bonus. So fitness has taken a back seat, and by back seat, I mean it has fallen out of the truck bed several sharp turns back and will probably not be found until it comes limping down the driveway minus an ear.

So in the interim, I will share some fitness tips for the rest of us.

1. Get some fat jeans. The trick here is to obtain some jeans with some room up in the abdominal area, maybe even a maternity panel, but fairly fitted legs. Not skinny jeans, because having some junk in the trunk but little teeny ankles just makes you look like a bobblehead. Maybe slightly flared. Adjust the waist to your comfort level, above or below your "extra skin collection". You might feel a little winded after this one, make sure to drink some water, or Coke, and then cool down by sitting on the couch and surfing your Facebook.

1b. Rock that updo. Or fingernails or makeup or something. "Look how pretty her nails are!" they say, "She must be super skinny and fit!"

2. Count everything as cardio. "Walking to refrigerator" "Chewing and chewing and chewing" "Yelling at kids" "Thinking sarcastic things while driving" "Operating car" "Trying to find something to wear" "Crying on the floor in a chubby little fetal position". Looks to me like you have EARNED your 1200 calories. Which brings me to my next point.

3. Make your calories count. Eat delicious stuff. "I am worn out from all that cardio," you say, putting your waistband in the approved zone. "I need to protein up with some cheese! And maybe some milk and cookies, because I do not want to go into starvation mode." Good call. Starvation mode is the enemy. Also the enemy: hunger. You need calories to do more cardio, like going up the stairs to bed. Don't forget to stay hydrated with liquid things, like any kind of drinks.

Maybe with some ice water
4. Balance: if you eat something totes delish, then drink something nasty like water, because, balance. Or if you have a vegetable on your plate, like tater tots, then totally have that Coke, because, balance. If you have a diet drink, then everything else you eat doesn't count.  If you run on your treadmill for like 45 seconds and then walk for like 5 minutes and then remember that you have to stop because it's the worst, then you deserve a nice break and cool-off for a few hours. Balance.

5. Social media: if you do work out, the internet has to be notified or else it doesn't burn any calories at all. Extra calorie bonus points for posting a sweaty selfie from the gym or mapping your run. Likes= fatburning.

I'm here to help, guys.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

When I think about my kids and jobs and money and everything, I just really want them to be amazing at whatever they love, so they don't have to do something else all the time so they can do what they love when they're supposed to be sleeping. I guess I should care about college and stuff, and maybe I will when they're older. Right now I just wish somebody else knew how to cook. I do have a chore chart in progress, and I am delighted about Toby's obvious cleaning skills and concerned about Brynn's total panic and breakdown any time she is faced with any chore. (That is going to earn her a very gripy husband, if my story is any kind of indicator) 

Toby writes Brynn's goal, because she is busy playing
They are not ambitious, my offspring. Brynn persists in saying she is never moving out. "I'll just get married and have babies and live at your house, Mom. Can I live with you forever, Mom?" and I say, "Of course you can," because they need more things to talk about in therapy someday. She has a strong desire to work at McDonald's and is sure that she will shock me someday by being my cashier and I will not have even known  that she had a job at McDonald's. So that's kind of like a goal. 

"When I grow up," Toby processes from the back seat, "I will be a bachelor. And I will have a lot of bachelor friends and they will come over and we will play video games." I catch his eye in the rearview mirror, knowing how potential this scenario might be. "Where will you live?" I ask. "Well." he thinks about it, "I could live with you, but in my own area... but I think I will get a house and share it with bachelors and we will have a long black couch and play video games. And if we run out of tater tots, I will just buy some more." Isn't that we all want, really? Just to be able to buy more tater tots whenever we want? 

I don't know, guys. I think it will probably all be okay, because I'm an optimist. Plus, Tristan is totally an athlete, so maybe he'll be able to finance us all someday, when we are all living in the same house with all our babies and cheeseburgers and bachelor friends. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

When you have an abnormal kid, normal kids always seem weird, with their normalness. Not that any kid is normal, per se. Most kids are weird. All of mine are, anyway. To quote a saying I read once, they don't get it from nobody strange. Apple. Tree. Those of you who are worrying about me saying normalness instead of normality and then using a double negative in the same paragraph, chill. I do what I want.

But when you've had a sick kid, you're always kinda looking squinty-eyed at the normal kid, being normal, just to make sure that they are just pretending to be a crazy and not, in fact, having a seizure. So anytime I get a phone call about a "normal" kid, I'm half waiting for the Bad News. Because, clearly, I am a woman of great faith. Today I got a call about my only daughter, and the Bad News was that she was very, very sad and wanted me. That's the kinda Bad News I like. Zero problem.

The thing with parenting is, I have no idea. I. Have. No. Idea. So every day, whenever it is Parenting Time, which is always, I try very hard to do the easiest thing that is also not terrible parenting. Terrible parenting is so variable, though, really, because I should get a medal for never punching a kid, but instead I am giving myself a Terrible Parent rating for a thousand other things that a methhead would consider overachieving. Do you see what I'm saying? The chart is bonkers.

So when my 6 year said she was too sad to stay at school, I was torn between telling her to quit being a nancy with all the starving children in the world and wars and climate crises and such, and the other part of me was totally back at 6 years old, spending the night at a friends house and waking up at midnight shattered and brokenhearted and crying until my dad picked me up with crazy hair and a scrunchy annoyed face. That side won, obviously. You should have seen me that time (with every kid) that I tried cry-it-out for like 2 minutes. Super Nanny would have slapped my face, or taken all of my stars off my chart or something. Taken away my white rocks, put my favorite toy in jail. Something.

Maybe I will read this blog someday when all of my children are career criminals or dentists or something and I will say, this is where I went wrong, I should have made them tougher. For now, though, I am mostly trying to communicate that I don't want them to be sad because I am here and I'm their mom, for goodness sake. So I gathered the other 2 and drove to the school where she was very cheerful to see me and to go home with her brothers, as long as she still got to eat her Lunchable. She came home for about a half hour, ate her snack and watched Barney and then decided that she wanted to go back to school. So I took her.

Because I have no idea. Maybe that will be the title of my parenting bestseller.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Most of you have followed our story and laughed and cried and PRAYED with us as R2 got very sick and then had a rapid recovery. I'm far from hyperspiritual, but this was definitely miraculous. The ministry we work for made a video testimony, and it's awesome so you should watch it.

Also, remember that the camera adds 10 pounds and makes you look super tired and it might make you blink kind of weird. Also see if you can spot the TEXAS REPRESENT. But mostly just listen to the story of the way God brought us through the valley of the shadow of death.

Friday, August 9, 2013

It's not like I want to install a hidden camera in my child's backpack or shirt or something. But now that I think about it, that is maybe the best idea I've ever had. I could make JILLIONS off all you hoverparents. I am not what you would call a hoverparent, because you can't be a hoverparent if there are multiple times a day when you don't exactly know where your children are. And when you find them eating popcorn from inside the couch, you let it go because hey, free snack!- then you lose any hoverparent credential. Still, now that they go to school, I am finding a desire to know what happens, because no one will ever tell me. 

It's not like this is a new phenomenon to me. Nobody ever tells me anything, except whenever I go out with my friends and they tell me episiotomy details, which no one ever wants, ever. My husband (of 17 years as of tomorrow) used to spend weeks traveling the country with his worship band and seeing all the sights and meeting people and then he'd come home and have 2 pictures of a squirrel and a thousand stories, deep, deep down inside that I will never know. He'll spend 2 hours on an urgent phone call and sum it up in 6 words. Captain Vague, I call him.

So they come by it honest. The thing is, I've had most of them sitting directly on my bladder, chewing gum in my ear, for their entire lives, and then just recently they've started having experiences without me and as far as I can tell, nothing ever happens. I drop them off at VBS or school and it's okay, they guess, but that's all I'm gonna get. "Did you make friends?" I ask, like some desperate mother of a teenage junkie on a Lifetime movie, "Did you learn anything? Did you eat your snack? Did you go to the bathroom? Was it fun? Was it scary? Did anybody say something mean to you? Did you talk to the ice cream man?" and so on, while they respond in single words and then get back to telling me about how Mario and Luigi are so different.

I roll with it. I can tell they are happy and learning and they tell me all kinds of stuff I don't care about but at least they're talking, and I'm okay. Until today, when they auditioned for a play and all of the sudden I feel like some kind of overtanned stage mom in a track suit with my child's name embroidered on it. "How did it go?" I ask, trying to not be super eager. "Did you sing? Was it fun? Did you say any lines? Did they say anything to you? Was it fun? How do you feel about it? Are you excited? Where are you going?" Captain Vague's children hold up admirably under the barrage. "It was good," they answer.

I'M GONNA BE ALL RIGHT, GUYS. I'm just going to need a minute, or an informant. Or some medication.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

"In the 22nd century," Toby tells me, "we will probably have time travel working. If I'm alive, I'm gonna go back to Year One. First I'm gonna watch creation happening, and then I'll tell Adam and Eve it's a trick."

"Wait," I say, just for clarification. "What's the trick?"

He looks at me with pity in his eyes, "The snake? The devil? It's a trick. I'll tell them and that'll change everything."

"Oh, right, that."

"But how should I tell them? And what will the devil say?"

Just another day of theological advice-giving to the future time-travelling resetter-of-mankind. I need a nap.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

you're breaking all the rules

my parenting absolutes are in shambles
and as you climb into my bed for the fourth time tonight
I think
maybe you're the last baby

not because you're wild
and unrestrained
but just time and probability
maybe you're the last baby

and I'm letting you drink Coke
and I never let you cry
and my heart is knit to you
so unbearably tightly because
maybe you're the last baby

I don't make custom meals, I say
I don't reward tantrums
I'll never have a pet
As I sneak you a sandwich
because you don't like the food
and you cry till you get chips
and then feed the chips to the cat

last baby
you're rocking my world
I'm exhausted and out of ideas
and deeper in love than I ever knew

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

It's not like I go around all the time thinking how smart I am. I don't. Most of the time I am thinking about food. Like mashed potatoes, for example, or cheese enchiladas or glazed donuts from Shipley's in my hometown. Not all together, mind you. Well, it could work as some kind of 3 course deal. Food (rim shot) for thought.

That's usually it. Food, then other stuff. But I know I'm smart, because I can read good. Also, I got jokes. The point is, I don't think about it, I just navigate life at my own speed and I rarely run into obstacles with my mind, although I hit things with my car on a frequent basis. So not with my mind, until you start throwing numbers at me. Then everything gets all slo-mo and melty like an acid trip in a made-for-TV movie, and all of the sudden I'm brought low, just another casualty of taking some speed and racing the train, and you know how that goes. No carful of teens has ever outraced a train, in the history of acid and made-for-TV movies. Sometimes there's one survivor, but she will never be the same, so don't take acid, kids. MATH. That's what I'm talking about.

Today I was trying to do math for one of my jobs, which is working for my husband's nonprofit, and I think I simultaneously quit, got fired, and filed for divorce. It was not pretty. Because math. In high school, I was getting high A's in every subject and pretty much phoning it in so I could graduate and marry the Worst Boss Ever, except all of the math-related classes. In Geometry, I had to go to the Tiger Den, a nice quiet room with tutors and padded walls, so I could do my test without breaking down in tears. I came for extra tutoring at lunch and did every assignment and passed with a 70. Because math. 

If you don't have this problem, then you're probably like some people I know who live in my house, and you're probably all like, "Just take that hypotenuse and put it over that inverted fraction and then click enter," and I WILL QUIT YOUR COMPANY, TOO. Give me words.

The point is, math is the worst. If you like it, that's because you are one of the called who is required to understand it. I bet you can't spell. Can't we all just get along?

Monday, August 5, 2013

Well, the Best Summer Ever is over. Until next year, anyway. I dropped Toby and Brynn off at their school today and later I have to go register R2 for public school again, assuming I can find his immunization records. Seriously. Does anybody really expect me to keep shot records? He's 14. What is this, the Middle Ages? Do I carry around a rucksack with scrolls in it? Maybe I could just get his records tattooed on his arm, so I could just look totally nuts instead of slightly negligent. Nuts, but with shot records, booyah. (This might mark the first and last time I have ever used booyah on my blog)

(If this blog was a car, I would be all over the map. It would have to be some kind of ATV and I would just randomly drive it off cliffs and then try to reverse to my original point. No regrets, though, except maybe that booyah.)

So, Best Summer Ever. I think it went well. There were days and weeks when we did nothing but video games and movies, and by we, I mean them, but I think most of our weeks had genuinely interesting and fun outings. Ultimately, I feel like I soaked up these months and tried to make memories with my kids and it was worth all the nervous sweating and hair loss and vomiting. I'll probably be fine. Eventually. In the sweet by and by. 

So these 2 started 1st and 2nd grade today, in theory. In reality their school doesn't stick to a strict grade level system, which I love, but it makes them look confused when the cashier asks them what grade they're in and then my false guilt syndrome kicks in and I want to explain that they do go to school and we don't spend our days cooking meth in our basement, but something tells me that explaining that would do more harm than good and then I'd have to explain meth production to Toby, who would memorize it and then bring it up in random conversations with strangers and librarians, and there is just no way it would end well. "Look, mom!" he'd say loudly in the swanky Target, "Sudafed! Is that the kind used for methamphetamine production?"

You might remember that they just started school for the first time in January, when R2 was sick and I had to stop homeschooling, and I had emotional breakdowns and angst and guilt and everything, and I cried all the way home from their first drop-off. I was not emotional this year. In fact, I didn't walk in with them or anything. "Have a good life!" I might have yelled, as I peeled rubber out of the parking lot. I have a general sort-of ache about them growing away from me, but the ache is less as I celebrate every new phase. Well. Almost every phase. I'm not crazy about the new experimentation with sass-talk. It's just a brief experimentation, mind you, because I respond to sass-talk with Texas Justice, and Texas Justice has a way of curing sass, or at least pointing it in the right direction. 

So. That's a wrap. Time for the Best School Year Ever.

Bonus Momfinger Cameo!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Hey, bloggerati! Watch this promo video for the MOG's new album. I'm gonna talk more about this when the album "drops", which is how people who make albums say when the tape comes out. When the "tape comes out" is how people over 50 talk about when the album drops. So I think we're all on the same page. Anyway, you're gonna want to know about this, and I am super proud of it. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

I don't think I have a lot of pet peeves. Maybe the MOG would argue, but that's just because he is the recipient of the few pet peeves I do have, like other people using my toothbrush when theirs is in a suitcase, or people who eat ham and cheese sandwiches in bed. I'm easy like Sunday morning most of the time. At least I  think so. But there are a few things that get under my skin, and they mostly have to do with what I expected life to be like in TWO THOUSAND THIRTEEN.

I was a kid in the 80's, and I got sold a bill of good about the 2000s that was straight up bull hockey. So I have a few complaints to the makers of the future. Let me begin by saying the iPhone is one of the best things to ever happen to mankind and I heartily applaud its inclusion into the future. I do think an iPhone glove would be practical since I always have to hold it in my hand, like some kind of caveman. But basically I just love my phone so much that it would get really tricky if I had to make a Sophie's choice.  I kid. I would almost definitely choose my loved ones.

Some things that I think need to catch up:

Panhandlers and people selling cookies outside Walmart. Let's start by saying I need you to clarify your goal. If your sign just says "Happy Fourth" as you sit by the road in your tattered flannel with your ZZ Top beard fluttering in the wind, I am not likely to hand you some cash, because maybe you're just a free spirit, offering cheer to passersby, and who am I to judge? But also I might not give you cash anyway, because I don't carry cash, because this is Two Thousand Thirteen. Should we equip the homeless with credit card machines and/or Squares or a Paypal account? I don't think that's the thing. But it would be convenient. So maybe not the homeless. But people selling cookies outside Walmart to raise money for "The Holy Blind Mother Charity Ball" or whatever. Also garage sales and everyone else in the world. GET A SQUARE. This is the future, guys.

I had a short rant about vending machines but then I found out that many of them now accept debit cards. My apologies, vending machines. Not all of you require round pieces of metal currency like the Middle Ages. "Alms for the candy, guvn'r?"

Ironing. No. I won't do it, this is the future.

Grocery shopping: I'm not on board with food pellets, I like chewing recognizable food and tasting it and stuff. But the process of acquiring the food hasn't changed much since the Old West. I still have to take the covered wagon to the general store and walk around and put 100lb bags of cornmeal and salt pork over the saddle. I do get to pay with a debit card. So that part would get me burnt at the stake, or to be historically consistent, strung up. Or maybe I'd just have to live way out in the woods and give berries to young women looking for a love potion. Regardless, I wish I could just order groceries on my phone and somebody would bring them over here. I need a ranch hand.

Mail. Specifically government agencies and other inefficient businesses that want you to write things on paper and put them in an enclosure and put a sticker on them and then a truck comes to your house and picks up your paper and drives it somewhere else where it maybe flies on a plane and then another human sorts it, puts it on another truck and a week later, your birthday card, so thoughtful when you mailed it on your mother-in-law's birthday, is a week late. I know it gives jobs to like a billion people, and jobs are great. I totally approve of jobs. It's just I don't care for multi-step, multi-day processes, because, clearly, I have entitlement issues. Maybe because I was SUPPOSED TO HAVE A HOVERCAR AND A ROBOT BUTLER BY NOW AND I'M STILL HAVING TO MAIL CHECKS PLACES LIKE IT'S 1980.

I apologize for internet-yelling. It's just for humor emphasis. Let me close by saying again how much I love my iPhone. It is the wind beneath my wings. It makes me happy when skies are gray. It's my Endless Love. At least until there's an upgrade.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

"I'll just turn in early," I told myself, 2 and a half hours before I turned in. The lure of the "second day" is just too much, with its relatively uninterrupted reading and eating food in its entirety, instead of breaking it into 5 pieces and handing it around to people who smell funny and talk really, really loud. So last night was no exception, with the ceremonial slooooow eating of chocolate and reading of substandard fiction.

This morning, they woke, as they always do, exactly 2 hours before I want to be alive. Today Tristan appeared in my room in the buff, au naturel, in his birthday suit, if you catch my drift. "Well," I thought. "He probably won't pee." and then I pulled him up to sleep between us. Moments later Toby came in gagging and falling over because Tristan had left a poopy diaper in his room. So. Time to wake up, I thought.

How I feel.

So I started the VBS prep process, which includes finding so many clothes for so many people. "You should do it the night before!" says you, Susy Helpful, "and also, you should eat wheatgrass!" I won't give you any suggestions in reply, Susy Helpful, because I am walking out my salvation in fear and trembling. Matching clothes, I think. Or at least complementary. Clean. Clean clothes, that mostly fit and don't have any noticeable stains. Man, I think. They're gonna give my kids vouchers for the food pantry or something. "Eat your cereal," I say 1000 times, but no one does because it has almonds and there's mutiny afoot. "Put on your shoes," I say 15,000 times, as Tristan, wearing only a diaper, runs frantic tracks around the house pushing a baby stroller. "Put on your shoes," I say, 12,000 more times, when suddenly I am accosted by a Very Terrible Smell.

An investigation is launched, in which I try to track down the inevitable feces while everyone else screams and gags and does not put on their shoes. Because I clearly have lived a wicked life, I found the offending substance, with my bare foot. And then I learned the Very Terrible Truth. Somehow, and it can only be by demons and devils, fecal matter had left a diaper and landed on the floor. And then, a small pink stroller had driven through it. Over and over and over. In a circle, through the entire downstairs. Over and over again.

"Well," maybe you're saying, "What would Jesus do?" and I'm warning you, Susy. You are on thin ice. Whatever it is Jesus would have done, I did not do that. There was some praying, but it was mostly focused on pleasegoddon'tletmepukepleasegod. The man of God, given the screeching options of wash-the-house or take-kids-to-church, made a quick exit with 2 of my children, who I really hope are wearing pants.

 I'll tell you one thing. That stroller is gone. I washed the humans. I mopped the floor 4 times. I scrubbed and vacuumed the rug. I threw away washcloths and diapers and the mop head and then I put the trash bag out of the house. Bottle of Febreze: empty. Hands, scrubbed raw. But I am not washing that stroller. It is dead to me. 

If anyone is looking for me today, I will be in my big chair in the corner, rocking and humming.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Sometimes I let myself think about a world where we don't have any screens in our house. No movies, no Wii, no Facebook. It's usually when I get to the no Facebook part that I break out in hives. The fact is, I created this monster. I introduced them to technology to give myself some space, and now it runs all of us. If we're indoors, then we're looking at screens. All of us. And we are usually indoors. "Well," I rationalize, "this is the way we communicate with the outside world. Just like the housewives of the 40's, hanging out on party lines, right?" "And besides," I tell myself, "my kids are learning how to be Steve Jobs, so..." The fact is, even if both of those things are potentially true, we are consuming for the vast majority of our screen time, and producing very little. 

I miss the pre-social-network days a little bit. I was more lonely, I'm sure, because I don't talk on the phone and few people in my season of life get to do a lot of hanging out with pals, but I know I was more connected to my kids. 

I read these articles, these people who unplugged for a year or months, and I am straight up jealous. I try to imagine what it would be like to do an outing with my kids or a group of friends and not Instagram it, to see a movie and not tell anyone what I thought about it. I wonder what it would be like to not feel the not unpleasant, but nagging obligation, to update my status and let my friends know where I am and what I'm doing. I try to think about how I'd pass my time, and if I'd feel isolated and go nuts. What if I just lived my life by myself, by myself with the people that are with me, I think. It sounds horrifying, lonely and so tempting. It also seems impossible. I live hundreds or thousands of miles away from my family and my lifelong friends, wouldn't I miss knowing the minute details of their lives? Right now I still feel connected to lots of people, because I know those details. What would it be like to lose that connection? "Well," you say, "you could always call them." That's a nice idea, but I've lived with myself my whole life and I know, I'm not going to call them. We'll just slip away from each other. I can't lie to myself about that, it would make a difference.

And the practical things, like mapping restaurants and running businesses and answering emails, how would that fit into an unplugged life? What if my kids are budding app developers and computer gurus of the future, won't they need computers for that? If you came here for answers, I apologize. I've only got questions, and your answers won't work for us. It's a case-by-case thing. 

So I try to make compromises, schedules, just less media, instead of none. Still, the reality that we could almost walk away from it all is there, in the back of my mind. I'm trying to think of a way to dial it way, way back, to turn our attention to art and music and books, and to only use technology for producing, for loving Jesus and people, for using our gifts and talents. I don't know yet how that's going to work, I'm just saying it's in the ol' mind percolator. Stay tuned. 
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