Thursday, March 27, 2014

Just a Turn of Luck

Have I mentioned it's Spring Break?

It is still Spring Break.

Yesterday Drew and I had a day all to ourselves. I've missed some other days with him this week because I've been subbing. We talked about spending some time together and what exactly the budget would allow. Which, let's be honest, is not much. Please see: underemployed.

Luckily, my kids are easily entertained, pretty grateful with small gestures, and I'm real good at stretching a dollar, y'all.

I mean, like, really good.

I don't like to brag, but making do with what I have is a skill I have long held. I can do it with clothes, food, crafts. Whatever the situation calls for. This has worked well for me in my life. I have spent many seasons of my 37 years needing to stretch the dollar.

So. We put a plan together. We would go to our very favorite store: McKay Used Books. Like I had to even say it. I'm so thrilled my kids have developed a deep love for the store I love. Which, side note? My boy kid has fallen in love with reading!!!!!!!! I can't even describe my elation! I hold it close because if I were to even hint at the thrill I have seeing him lay on his bed and read, he'd quit in a hot minute. He is devouring chapter books and will sometimes choose to read over locking his eyes on a screen of some sort.

Back to the plan. We gathered up some books and headed to McKay's to see what we could get for our haul. This would determine our plan for the remainder of the day. We were hoping for big money, no whammies.

Well.

This is when our luck started to go sour. The system at McKay's was down and they were not able to process any orders. I'm sorry, what? I have been going to McKay's for 20 years, since it was a tiny hole in the wall, slightly shady establishment on Kingston Pike. Never, in all my years of going there, have I heard of this happening. Drew and I just looked at each other. What were we doing to do now?

Drew had a gift card to Sweet CeCe's burning a hole in his pocket and determined that fro yo for breakfast sounded like a great idea. (He also said, "Mom, I'm just going to get one topping so I can buy something for you, too." This boy. You have no idea) We pulled up to Sweet CeCe's and it was closed. Apparently, not enough folks want fro yo for breakfast. Now what??

We decided to go next door to TJ Maxx where I tortured Drew by looking at purses and shoes. Then I decided this was turning into the very worst mom/kid day ever for him. He asked if we could go to Game Stop. While I would rather gouge out my eye, I told him of course we could. We decided to walk, which was one of the best decisions of the day. Crossing the very busy road at a dead sprint hand in hand turned out to be the most exciting event of the day! (As the day went on our crossing got more and more treacherous each time he told the story. No idea where he gets it)

After I almost fell asleep standing up in Game Stop we headed home to have some lunch and bide our time before the yogurt shop opened. We had grilled cheese sandwiches and watched sports. It was the least I could do.

We finally ate that fro yo and his pride at buying me a treat was just about more than this mom heart could take.

We only had a little time left before we had to pick up Emily from school so we headed to a playground that is sort of on the way. We swung on swings side by side. And then we decided to get out his baseball gear and toss the ball around a little. Only, his baseball bag was not in the car for the first time in about 3 weeks. Seriously. We were not having the best luck. And how there was not a random ball in the back of my car is beyond me. Had we needed most anything else, we could've found it. The back of my car is home to a wide assortment of stuff on a regular basis.

In a last ditch effort at fun, we ran across the parking lot to a new store where everything is less than five dollars and bought a ball. We invented a game and spent the next hour smacking a little foam ball around a big field. It was awesome.

I know for sure my kids will not remember most of the stuff I buy them. I do hope they remember some of the fun things we did together. I'm serious about making memories. And while we cursed our luck yesterday, I think in the long run the day will seem pretty lucky after all.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

It Wiggles!!

We are in the midst of a two week Spring Break. TWO WEEKS. Here's the thing. I am not bummed out about spending extra time with my kiddos. The problem is, two weeks is too short to establish a new routine, but it's too long to just languish in the relaxing. You know? We are, without a doubt, routine people. I guess my kids are probably that way because I'm that way and they've spent most of their waking lives under my direction. Whatever the reason-nature or nurture-we all run better with a plan in place.

Last week I hosted Spring Break Camp for my friends and neighbors who perhaps needed just a tiny break from all the quality time. But even that didn't go as planned. I had a stomach issue (I say issue because I'm still not clear on what it was...) and had to cancel one day. Add to that the WEATHER (snow and freezing temps) and it has made for a less than stellar situation all the way around.

I've been trying to embrace the haphazardness of it all and just go with it.

Yesterday, I got a text from my brother (did I mention he's back in NASHVILLE?? He is. I'm totally pumped. I've already seen him more in a two week span that I did in the six months previous. Holla!) asking if we could meet up for an extension cord drop. Emily had dance class in the neck of the woods where he works, so we planned to meet after her class.

We met Uncle Sam at McDonald's. The kids had a beverage and then headed to the indoor playground. This was a great plan. They could do what they do best-run and make mayhem. Sam and I could do what we do best-sit and flap our jaws. All was well until Drew came running out of the playground fish tank letting me know that Emily was crying.

I should let you know that this is not an unusual occurrence. I did not run in panic to find her because if I did that every time Drew reported she was crying I'd have a torn ACL. But, there was another Mom in there, so I felt Mom shame and went to check on her.

Y'all. She was having a full blown panic attack. When you're a mom you know the difference between your child's cries. Emily has quite the repertoire. This was her whole-body-shaking like she'd just seen a mascot cry and it does not bode well for anyone involved in the situation.

She was waaaaaaay up in the play structure. Like at the tippy top. When I finally got her to calm down enough to talk to me, I asked her what the problem was. She wailed like an ambulance siren, "IT WIGGLES!!!!!!!!!" Say what now?

It took me a solid two minutes to figure out what in the world she was talking about. Finally, she moved a little and I could see that the "pod" she was in sort of tilted a little when you crawled through it. Sort of like a teeter-totter. I have no idea why. To add to the thrill? Anyway.

I thought for sure if I sent Drew to rescue her she would pull it together. Nothing doing. It was me going to get her, or she's living in the wiggly pod. For.the.love.

Never have I been more thankful for my leggings, which is saying something because I love them like a part of my body. If by some weird chance I had managed to put real clothes on that day, there's a good chance I'd be going to visit Emily at the Green Hills McDonalds!

I'm going to be brutally honest. Those are some snug spaces in that play structure. I was nervous. Of course the other Mom was watching all of this unfold. I know what she was thinking. I know because it's exactly what I would be thinking if the leggings were on the other person. "Whew. Thank goodness that's not me."

I finally made the climb to Emily after one wrong turn, and found her shaking and stuck to the spot she was in. I basically had to reach in and lift her out of the pod, which is no small feat when you're sitting down.

About that time my brother walked into the play area. He was due back at work and brought my stuff to me. He had a look on his face that can best be described as, "What in the actual heck is happening here?" I wish I could say I've never seen this look on him before. However, his nieces and nephews pull shenanigans that blow his mind on a regular basis.

I retrieved Emily and made the announcement that we were leaving. My children acted indignant. Are you serious? Did they miss the fact that I just shimmied my way through the play structure. Emily insisted that she would be brave if she could traverse the structure on Drew's lap. And bless his heart, he let her. He would basically rip off his right arm and give it to her if it meant she wouldn't throw a fit. We're working on that.

So, the moral of this story is, if you plan to hang out with me and my children, prepare yourself for absolutely anything.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Yoo Hoo!

It's the world's worst blogger, checking in to say I'm alive and breathing.

My last post was two days before Mom's birthday. Last year I walked into my season of grief with a plan. This year I wanted to pretend it wasn't happening.

Two years. It's been two years since my Mom left earth. I somehow thought I'd be "farther along" the grief trail by now. Maybe I didn't need a plan because I had already been through all the "firsts".

I case you're wondering, grief is not a trail. It's like a weird fog that creeps in without you really noticing. You only notice it once it's totally clouded your view. It can come any time. There is no time limit.

I know. I know no one really wants to hear about the grief. It's uncomfortable. Even though I have experienced deep grief, sometimes the grief of others makes me uncomfortable. I feel like one of my gifts is encouragement. I want to use my words to help others feel better. When my words fall short, I get uncomfortable.

So, I get it.

But, all I can do is pretend it didn't happen or tell you about it. Lucky for you, I'm telling you about it. The good news is, you don't have to look me in the eye. :) You can read and feel uncomfortable all by yourself!

The pattern of grief for me begins in December. December is when my mom got her diagnosis, and really, it was that day, not the day of her death, when everything changed. The weirdest part is, my BODY remembers. Even when my conscious mind is not paying attention, my physical body begins to grieve. Are you weirded out yet?? And, it seems that each time it's going to take me at least a week to figure out what's going on.

By the way, December is a really unfortunate time to be struggling. Around here it is brutally busy and there is no time to be under grief's fog. As Anne Lamott says, "Sometimes grief can look a lot like narcolepsy." (I could hear some of you getting heart palpitations at my mention of Lamott. Relax. I have not subscribed to her beliefs. I just like people who tell the brutal truth.)

The good news is, I have these two amazing kids who make it impossible for me to stay in bed for three months. I have these two kids who are seriously awesome. And hilarious. And tender-hearted. Someday when they're old enough not to be weirded out, I'll thank them for bringing me through times like this.

Outwardly, I kept going for those three months. My conscious continued to try and ignore the situation. My body continued to let none of us forget.

Y'all. Missing her does not get one tiny bit easier.

I don't like to admit that I still really struggle with every tiny bit of it. My poor sisters have to rehash the same doubt filled conversation with me about once every six months. But, it's where I am.

Some of you are racing to your prescription pad to write me a prescription for some nerve pills! Believe me, I'm keeping close tabs on the medication needed line!

Last week, God and I had a moment of grace and the fog lifted for now. I'm looking forward to a time out in the light!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Nothing New Under the Partly Cloudy Sky

You see what I did there? The actual saying goes, "Nothing new under the sun". But since we haven't seen the actual sun in nigh on 50 days or so, I went in another direction.

There's nothing like over-explaining a lame joke to make it more lame...

I'm going to be honest. I don't really have anything to say. I decided to write down some words because I'm trying to do things to avoid losing my sanity. I hate winter with my whole heart. I have to work hardest during the winter to just be a normal person. Please note, I have to work fairly hard at this when it's not winter. You can imagine why I'm exhausted. Every spring I feel extremely proud if I have any friends left. I've mentioned that I'm a hard person to be friends with. It's waaaaay worse in winter.

Can we pause and let me just tell you that if one of my children gets up out of the bed again tonight, this post will never get published because I will have thrown my computer through the window? Which would be counterproductive in so many ways. I would have no computer and I have serious doubts about whether my children would be in bed. However, they might be scared of me just enough that they wouldn't cross me again for at least fifteen minutes...

I was away over the weekend, leading a retreat for the staff at the preschool. Before you imagine me being a fancy retreat leader, let me say that this is a group of about 15 ladies, most of whom are my dear friends. My former boss indulges me and allows me to share whatever I've been learning or whatever I think might be uplifting to the group. When she asked me to do it this time, I told her no. Please note this is not a woman you say the actual word "no" to. But, I told her I was in a pretty rough spot spiritually. I had nothing uplifting to say. In fact, everyone's spiritual life would probably take two steps back if she let me say anything. I was sad about it, because teaching is my ticket to go on the retreat. Since I'm no longer an actual staff member, I shouldn't be allowed to go. But, because I taught last winter when I was on staff, she asked me back in the fall. And then she asked me again. I don't know. She's a glutton for punishment. Anyway, she literally would not take no for an answer and said, "Well, seeing as it's not up to you, but up to the Lord, I think you are supposed to do this regardless of what state you're in. This will force you into the Word. It will be good for you. So, I'll put you down."

See what I mean? You don't say no. And, as usual she was right.

I definitely want to share what we talked about over the weekend. It's going in the file with the Dominican stories. I have to really muster it up to write about those things. In the meantime, re-entry was fairly brutal. Clearly, my kids were saving up all the angst for my return. Kids do this to moms, you know. You go away and then when you come back you get a little bit punished for the going away. Like they think if things are rotten enough, maybe you'll never go away again. Maybe you'll just sew yourself to them and never leave their side. Maybe you'll get a sweatshirt with three head holes so you can just walk around all together, all the time. I'm kidding. I'm sure they don't really think that...right??

Real life. If you can find HIM there, you can find HIM anywhere!!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

B-I-N-G-O

When you're a parent, there are some things that you know for sure you're supposed to do. Sometimes those things sound fun. And then you actually do them. In the doing of the things, you realize sometimes you're supposed to do them because it is helping your children become better little people. The goal then becomes my not becoming a worse person in the process!

The sentiments above are how I feel about playing games with my kids.

You can think me a witch. If you do it's because you don't have kids, or you have tiny kids. I know. I was the same. I couldn't wait for my kids to get old enough to play games. I LOVE games. And, I don't want to ruin it for you. But maybe if I give you a little glimpse into reality, you'll be, shall we say, prepared, for your own game playing days.

The thing about playing games with your kids is that it is the most interminably SLOW process ever in the whole world. Not only does it just take kids longer to do everything, they have very small attention spans. Being able to wait a whole round until their next turn is like you and me sitting through an hour long lecture on deep space.

For Christmas my aunt got us a Bingo set. I was SUPER excited about it because it has the cage and the handle and you turn it and the ball comes out the bottom. I know!! It's OK that you're jealous, because who doesn't want their own Bingo cage?

I was excited about this game, because it is really a simple concept. There's not counting of spaces, there's no strategy to teach, very straight forward. I had high hopes that this game would not make me lose my mind.

As the holy scripture says, "Hope deferred makes the heart sick." My hopes have been deferred.

First, when we pull out the Bingo, there is the fighting over who gets to spin the cage. I'll be honest and tell you that it is tempting for me to declare myself the all-time spinner. I fancy myself like the lotto girl who comes on after the local news. If only my Bingo cage were bigger...

After we decide who the spinner will be, we have to make sure the spinner can actually make the cage spit out the balls. Sometimes I have to hold the base of the cage because the spinning gets too vigorous. Sometimes the spinner will spin the cage in the wrong direction, seemingly deaf to my calm requests that they spin it the other direction. They only catch on when fire shoots out my ears and I scream, "Turn it the other way!!!!!!!!!!!" "Oh yeah," is usually the response uttered. I mean. I just...

Finally, when the spinner finally gets the ball out of the cage, one of the younger of us may have some trouble reading the higher numbers. Which is fine, because said family member is young. What is not fine is the refusal of this person to have help. Also, this same person might fall into fits of laughter in between the reading of every.number. Sometimes both of my children will just completely stop what they are doing and just stare at me! WHAT???? Spin the dadgum cage!!!!!!!! And, of course, the grand finale comes when the loser throws a complete fit as the winner prances around the family room. What? I get excited when I win!

You can imagine that I'm very fun to play a game with.

I wonder how my kids would describe this same game. Probably something like, "Yeah, Mom, she's a nightmare to play a game with. She sooooo impatient. Just chillax already." Just kidding. My kids don't say chillax. I was trying to project into the future and give them a teenage voice. But I suppose teenagers won't be saying chillax by then. It'll be something just as delightful. I can't wait to throw the word around just to annoy them!

I'm counting on the fact that all these hours I'm logging playing games with my kid is like character building double duty. We're working on them, and we're definitely working on me.

If only I could figure out a way to work wine into our game...

Monday, February 3, 2014

When the Weekend is Too Long and Not Long Enough

Saturday started with a broken bowl.

One of my real life, grown-up bowls that I picked out before I got married. One of the bowls that I can no longer find because dish companies like to make ladies lose their minds. And buy whole new sets of dishes, but can anybody really do that?

I did not yell. Or freak out. Because the child who dropped it? They knew. And they were really, very sorry for what happened. When I feel like someone really understands why I'm upset, I really am very mild in my reactions. There's a whole treasure trove there just waiting for some professional to dig into!

Saturday is my one and only true day off. Because I work on Sundays and have to be at work at the ever lovin' crack of dawn, Saturday is my only day that I'm not running the gauntlet. Except, by the nature of life, sometimes Saturdays have their own gauntlet. Activities and what not that require I leave the house and be dressed presentable. Ish.

By the time the Broncos got drilled in the Super Bowl last night, I was ready for a weekend do-over. Just one more day. I needed just one more day. And by some miracle I got it! There was an impending millimeter of ice forecast, so school was cancelled! BONUS DAY!

And, people, it has not disappointed. My kids have played together the entire day. No fighting, no tattling, no exasperation. I have had the pleasure of sitting and listening to them play while I manage to be productive. Ish. Earlier today we had our very own NBA draft. I overhead Drew giving an "interview" before he was drafted. I couldn't hear everything he said, but I for sure heard him say, "Oh yes, I was born ready." ARE YOU KIDDING ME?? And then he proceeded to call out the top ten draft picks complete with made up names and the universities they attended. I'm so glad he didn't know I was listening. It was the most entertainment I've had in days!!

Later, Emily came downstairs carrying a few pairs of her shoes. She put them in the shoe basket and told me she was playing shoe store upstairs. A few minutes went by and she called me upstairs. She had actually been cleaning her room. She was thrilled with herself that she had played a trick on me!

I'm really not trying to brag. This does not happen everyday. Or even close. Somedays your good bowls get broken and you scrape oatmeal up off your kitchen floor. Somedays you wonder if your kids will really ever love one another. Somedays you wonder why you didn't move to Colorado and work in a coffee house.

But somedays, you get a day full of grace. Somedays you sit really still, knowing that if you breathe or try to sneak an Oreo, the whole bubble will burst.

Today I'll be sitting here, holding my breath, thankful for the two rascals I get to call mine.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Art of the Matter

Y'all.

I have been rendered useless by Polar Vortex II.  Not only is it ridiculously cold, but apparently Nashville is under some sort of snow repellent force field. If it's going to be this freaking cold, I'd at least like to go sledding.

I went to visit a friend yesterday that I haven't seen in far too long. You would think the occasion would call for real pants. Nope. I sent her a text that said, "I'm dressed like a hobo" because I was. I was also wearing the same fleece jacket for about the twelfth day in a row. I am so tired of FREEZING.

I think my children might be suffering from a touch of the SAD as well. Especially Drew. I think the fact that he has been able to play outside two days out of the last, like, 20 is starting to make him moody. He said these actual words today as he stomped off in a huff, "Nobody even cares about my life!" Sun? Please come back? And not just your faker self who looks shiny but emits no heat. I mean real, burn your skin potential sun. ASAP.

When Drew is not suffering from SAD, he does a remarkable job at handling life. Especially for a kid who is highly sensitive. Life comes at him through his senses at 100 miles per hour all day, everyday. This was really tough when he was younger, but he has learned a lot of good coping skills and is a champ at taking things in stride. I'm SUPER proud of him.

But sometimes, as we all do, he has days when things just seem too big. And one of his major hates in life is art class. I know. Is that not the saddest thing ever? Who, at seven years old, hates art class? I'll tell you who. Seven year olds with art teachers who are too intense for their own good.

Drew had this same art teacher last year, and many tears were shed. When I talked to his kindergarten teacher about it I said, "Seriously?? Shouldn't kindergarten art class be the happiest place on earth??" Don't worry. She totally gets me. I can say things like this to her. I never talked to the art teacher about it, because, frankly, I'm not really a talk to the teacher kind of mom. I'm still trying to decide where the line is on that. My mom was very much of the camp where she tried to help us see how we could persevere in the situation. I can't remember a single time that she contacted a teacher when we cried foul.

Lately, Drew has been a stressed out mess about art. ART. In FIRST GRADE. I mean, I can't even. So, every Tuesday he dreads school. We have started praying about art on Monday night and Tuesday morning. Yesterday, we prayed on the way to school. I prayed that the teacher would be in a happy mood. Apparently, he's a yeller. When I finished Drew said, "Why did you pray he would be in a happy mood?" I said, "Well, maybe if he's in a happy mood he won't yell." To which Drew said, "Well that will never happen." Optimism runs in the family.

I took the moment to tell him that you never know what God might do. I think he was skeptical.

So, yesterday afternoon when he got in the car I said, "Sooo, how was your day?" He smiled huge and said, "GREAT!" Well. I did not see that coming. "How was art?" I asked, tentatively. He laughed (!) and said, "We had a sub!! And she passed out candy!"

Sometimes we ask God to do something we don't really believe He'll do. And sometimes He doesn't do it.

Sometimes He does immeasurably more that we've asked.