Thursday, August 30, 2012

My Wonderfully Weird Husband #9

Good to the Last Drop

When a scientist is researching an animal, one of the best ways to learn about said animal is to study its eating habits. 

I have been researching this animal I call husband for many years now.  Below are my findings:

  • Subject has a seemingly endless appetite.  I have witnessed him consume a “Crave Case,” that’s 30 White Castle Burgers, along with two orders of fries and a chocolate milkshake. I have also witnessed him being asked to leave a certain All-You-Can-Eat Pizza Buffet for attempting to stage an eating competition.  One day, I observed the subject competing in an actual Cold Stone Ice Cream eating competition.  He placed third (and still maintains that he was robbed since he was the only one who used a spoon and had virtually no melted ice cream at his station).  As the 3rd place winner, he received at $10 gift card to Cold Stone.  When asked what he wanted to do next, he held up the card, smiled and said, “Let’s get some ice cream!”

    The bottomless pit gets even bigger if there is a sporting event involved
  • Subject can consume a tremendous amount of food in a day (enough to feed a small family), but has also been observed going many hours without any food at all.  He has been known to prompt others around him to fast in order to raise awareness for hunger in our world.

  • Subject pretends to have a sophisticated palate, but forgets that I have seen him eat bologna right out of the fridge, lots of meals from Quick Trip, our local gas station, and many, many, many foods served on a stick.

  • Subject enjoys odd food.  He has traveled far and wide to eat things like fried pig brain sandwiches, chocolate covered bacon, alligator, baby octopus, ostrich, and cow tongue.

  • Subject eats with odd methodology.  For example, while most can choose one freezie pop from the freezer to enjoy, this particular subject must have one of each color.  Likewise, he often feels compelled to eat foods in strange combinations.  He always has Doritos, Slim Jims, and Big Red.  And of course, Moon Pies and RC Cola

  • Subject will eat anything if dared, including, but not limited to crickets, dog food, and worms.

    Enjoying dog food...

  • Subject participates often in emotional eating – like a woman.  When stressed, angry, or sad, he often utters, “I need junk food.”  Ben and Jerry’s takes quite a hit on a bad day.

    Pizza at Giordano's in Chicago
  • Subject will willingly participate in the odd diets of his mate.  He has given up meat, sugar, carbs, soda and processed food many times over the years.

  • Subject associated certain foods with a feeling of “home.”  He has been known to shed one lone tear while enjoying a bag of Grippos or sipping an Ale 8 1.

    Ale 8 1 - Getting the last drop of Kentucky
  • Subject consumes more calories between the hours of midnight and 6:00 a.m. than he does during the day.  I have woken up on many occasions to find chip, candy and cookie wrappers covering the night stand.  The worst discovery, by far, is the “crunchy cup” – the mess left behind when the subject crushes up oreos, fills an entire glass with the crumbs, covers it all with milk, and eats it with a spoon.

Conclusion: Wonderfully Weird Fact about Jay #9: He has CRAZY eating habits!

Ever wonder what happened to Jiminy Cricket?


Oh, P.S.  My sweet friend Meranda has started a very cute blog detailing all the reasons she is one singular sensation.  Check her out!

Monday, August 27, 2012

My Wonderfully Weird Husband (#10)

I love my husband.  He is handsome, and kind, and romantic.  He is a wonderful man.

But that’s not what this blog is about.

He is also a total weirdo.

I may not have realized the full extent of his oddness when I first married him.  I was but a child, after all, but over the years, I’ve come to see him for what he is.  A certified lunatic.  Albeit, a hot one.

I could go on for countless posts about the maniacal inner-workings of Jay’s twisted mind, but instead, I’m limiting myself to the top 10 weirdest things about Jay.  And to be fair, I’m allowing him a chance to offer a rebuttal as well as reveal any of my quirks (like I have any!) as a guest blogger next week. 

So here you go:

TOP 10 WEIRD THINGS ABOUT JAY - #10 à He has incredibly odd things in his pockets.

I told Jay many years ago that since I had such faith in him as a grown man, I would not be checking his pockets before I did the laundry.  I would, instead, assume that all clothing that found its way into the hamper, or lay dormant on the bedroom floor for more than 12 hours, would indeed be ready for the wash – pockets empty.  This bold statement has come back to bite me perhaps more than anything else I’ve ever said.  I have managed to ruin an entire load of laundry with an ink pen left in one of Jay’s pockets.  I’ve cost us a couple hundred dollars when I opened the dryer to find crumbled petty cash receipts.  I have also, on more than one occasion, washed Jay’s entire wallet.

So, I admit, that I have begun to, on occasion, give Jay’s pockets a quick feel before starting the laundry.  I have found some crazy things.

And usually, since my love-the-planet honey often wears his jeans and hoodies multiple times before washing, sometimes with several weeks or even months between wears, he usually can’t remember why his pockets are filled with nutty things – which really just makes it all funnier.

Here are a few things I’ve found recently:
A pair of red dice
A tiny blue string doll
A handful of sunflower seeds
A compass
Nail clippers
Small pieces of a shoelace
A red ribbon
20 safety pins

This weekend, Jay put on a jacket he hadn’t worn for sometime.  The following things were found in the pockets –

A sprite bottle cap
An ER visitor’s pass
4 TOMS stickers
A plastic fork
A dozen rubber surgical gloves

Any guesses what MacGyver was using all that for?

Oh – and just a helpful hint for the day –

Flight of the Bumble Bee

“You should always be honest,” my grandma would say to me.  “Or you’ll get lie bumps on your tongue.”

A perfect example of irony!

When I was younger, I always said that I would never lie to my kids (Okay, with the exception of Santa, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, wishes, and other things that bring a little magic to childhood), but I’m sad to say that I’ve resorted to the motherly lie on more than one hundred occasions. 

You know what I mean:

Don’t make that face – you’re face will stick that way! (Not true.  But you look really rude when you scrunch your face up and roll your eyes at people. Okay, I’ll try to stop to doing it too).

If you sit too close to the TV, you’ll go blind (Nope.  But I can’t see through your head, so if you’d back away a little, we could all enjoy Good Luck, Charlie).

It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game (Okay, it’s a little bit about whether you win or lose.  That’s why there’s a giant scoreboard above the game that reveals the winner.  It’s important for you to learn to participate, play fair, and to not be a sore loser though. Winning is just the icing on the cake.  And… um… cake is still good with no icing, right?)

Sticks and stones will break your bones, but words will never hurt you (Truth: Words can hurt you.  When people make fun of you, that hurt that you feel is real.  It’s just harder to bandage).

Sometimes we lie to Micah because there are just things he can’t (and shouldn’t) understand yet. For example, there’s a certain gentlemen’s establishment we pass on the way to the office.  Micah thinks it’s a restaurant that is never, ever open.  (How else do you explain the “Leggs and Eggs Buffet” sign?)

Sometimes we lie to Micah to keep him safe.  I’ve told him that if he doesn’t look both ways before he crosses the street, he’ll get arrested.  I’ve told him that I can look online and see everything he’s watched on television – just in case he ever gets ahold of the remote while I’m not in the room! 

Mostly though, we lie to Micah because we’ve done everything we can to reason with him and it hasn’t worked.  So for our own sanity, we go to the lie.

It happened this weekend.

I have mentioned before how very brave Micah is.  He rarely listens to any of my words of caution.  He runs full speed without looking ahead.  He jumps, dives, and flips into water.  He’ll ride every roller coaster his limited size will allow.  No dare is too daring for the Amazing Micah.

He’s also pretty acclimated to the great outdoors.  This summer he spent two whole weeks away at camp.  Early this summer, we went on a camping trip for a full week (yeah, that was me standing at an outdoor outlet, using my car window as a mirror while I flat ironed my hair), and Micah didn’t seem to be phased by anything in “the wild.”  He took his shirt off the moment we arrived at our campsite and proudly declared that he would not put a shirt back on until it was time to leave (and he didn’t!).  He went on a seven mile canoe trip, he swam in a lake, he walked barefoot around our campsite, he even (gasp!) used a port-a-potty, and often.  He, for the first time in his life, caught fire flies.

That is why I was so ill prepared for what took place this weekend. We were half way through our time at family camp, and were speeding in our golf cart toward all the fun that Micah had been waiting for the entire time: inflatable slides and obstacle courses, a GIANT swimming pool with GIANT water slides, putt-putt golf, and a canteen full of a free junk food and slushies. 

Suddenly, though, Micah started to scream.  And not an I’m-a-crazy-hyper-child scream or a wee-this-is-awesome scream, but a scream of absolute terror.  A bee had landed on the golf cart.  This kid, who has most certainly seen a bee before, totally lost it.  We shooed the bee away, but he just started freaking out.  As we arrived at our would-be fun destination, Micah was weeping giant crocodile tears.  He screeched every time his eyes caught any object that flew by – butterflies, dragonflies, regular ole’ flies, and even leaves in the wind.  His eyes darted around like a psycho.  He begged us to carry him.  People were staring.  Micah, who usually dries up the tears the moment any non-family member looks at him, couldn’t even pull it together when his friends walked by. 

We didn’t know what to do.  We tried to reason with him.  We assured him that it was very unlikely that he would be stung by a bee.  I shared that I’d never, in my entire life, been stung by a bee.  Jay told him that even if he did get stung, it wasn’t that big of a deal, and that he was tough.  Still, he was near hysterical.  We had to go back to our cottage and spray him down with bug spray (which I’m pretty sure does nothing to repel bees), and though it calmed him enough to go participate with the other kids, he never really let it go. 
He finally had some fun

It’s been two days, and still, tonight, he refused to go outside, and even in the house, has been peeking into rooms to do a bee-check before he would enter.  I’ve never seen him this way.  Finally tonight, Jay went to the lie.  And it was actually pretty brilliant… if it works.

As Micah was (still nervously) getting ready for bed tonight, Jay came upstairs with a bottle of raw honey that we’d gotten at the farmer’s market.  He explained to Micah that he had Googled how to keep bees away and discovered that if you eat honey (exactly one teaspoon a day for 3 days), bees will smell the honey and assume you are one of them.  You’ll be friends and they won’t sting you.  Micah considered this for a second, then seemed to buy it!  He took the honey like a champ and went to bed like normal. 

So buddy, tonight I’m praying for a little extra grace for the fibs we sometimes tell, and I’m definitely praying that you will NOT be stung by a bee, at least until this new fear subsides.  And just so the truth is out there for someday years from now when you discover that your mother use to share the details of your life with the world – here ya go:

All the times I’ve told you that GameStop was closed – it wasn’t.  But I didn’t want to go there.

The bunny who is always in our front yard is just a bunny.  He’s not “reporting” your behavior to anyone.

Spinach doesn’t make you stronger.  And it’s awful.  I’m sorry I made you eat it.

Wee Willie Winky is fake. He doesn’t care what time you go to bed. 

When the bad storms come and I say I'm not scared, I'm lying.  But I want to be brave for you.

And we’ve never been out of cookies, no matter how many times I’ve said that. 

I’ve told you a lot of fibs (and you’ll do that to your kids too), but one thing has always been true – I love you more than the world!

Okay, readers, let's hear it!  What little white lies have you told your kids?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

It's a Nice Place to Visit, but I Wouldn't Want to Live There. Actually, It's a Terrible Place to Visit.

On June 7, 1997, at approximately 9:00 a.m., I loaded everything I owned (which consisted of 3 boxes of clothes, 3 boxes of books, and a bag of make-up) and moved out of my childhood home. I kissed my siblings, hugged my mother, boo-hoo’d just a little, then climbed into Jay’s red Chevy Blazer, took a deep breath, and excitedly drove into the next chapter of my life.  It had been a mere 14 hours since I had graduated high school. 

We had planned out the next few months pretty well.  We would drop off our stuff at Jay’s parents’ home, and head to Camp Paradise Valley, where we’d spend the summer working as camp counselors.  At summer’s end, we’d come “home” to Louisville.  Jay’s parents had invited me to stay with them for a couple of months after the summer, so that Jay and I could be together as we planned the finishing touches of our wedding.  I had a job offer to work at the local church.  Jay worked as…..

Are you ready for it?….

No, seriously – it’s so funny….

You’re gonna love it…..

A professional clown!  (What?  No one’s surprised?).

Anyway, immediately following our honeymoon, we knew we’d be packing up again and moving six hours away where we were offered jobs as church helpers in Tennessee, where we planned to work for two years before heading off to seminary in Atlanta, GA.  The people who had initially offered us the job and set up our accommodations were transferred just before our impending arrival, but we were thrilled to hear that the incoming bosses were eager to follow through with the plan. 

We were ecstatic to finally have a home of our own, and to start our ministry together.

We’d had several whispered conversations (ah, newlywed pillow talk) about what we thought our new place might be like.  All we knew for sure was that there was an apartment on the second level of the church, and it would be our new home. 

It was a crisp November morning when my new in-laws pulled up to the large brick building that housed the church to drop us off to start our new life. The building was old, a lot little run-down, and surrounded by people, obviously homeless, just hanging out.  This, of course, terrified my mother-in-law.  Jay seemed incredibly excited, introducing himself and shaking hands with our new “neighbors” before we even went inside.  We walked through the glass front door – “No security system!” my Mom-in-law pointed out – and were greeted by our new boss just inside the lobby.  We were lead through the downstairs of the church.  We toured the caseworker’s office, the receptionist area, the bookkeeper’s office, the pastor’s office, the kitchen and the big room – which was set up with chairs and converted into a chapel on Sunday mornings.  The respective churches that Jay and I were used to were very different than this place, but the decrepit building did little to squash our excitement.  Though honestly, in the back of my mind, I was thinking, “Please let our apartment be nice!”

Finally, we headed upstairs.  Let me just paint the picture (since I haven’t been able to find actual pictures of this place in years).

The walls were an odd shade – somewhere between a light gray and a sea-foam green.  There was a faint smell of mildew in the air.  As we stepped into the dark hallway from the stairwell, I saw an office to my left.  As we turned, I noticed the long hallway, lined with doors.  Sunday School classrooms and offices I correctly assumed.  On my right, I noticed a laundry room, and another room that appeared to be an old bathroom.  On the left, the first door, missing its doorknob, was our apartment.

We took a deep breath and walked inside.  To the left was a small living room.  It had concrete walls and indoor/outdoor carpet that missed the wall by nearly a foot on all sides.  There were loose strings hanging from the edge of the carpet all the way around (I cannot tell you how many times I had to cut those strings loose from my vacuum cleaner!). There was also a giant cut-out in the living room wall, where a receptionist might sit if this were used as an office. To the right was a “kitchen.”  A “kitchen” in that it had a refrigerator and a deep, industrial sink.  No oven.  No stove. 

The first bedroom we came to was used as a storage room for miscellaneous stuff in the church.  We opened the door and discovered you could step into the room about two feet before you were met with a pile that literally went floor to ceiling.  Once we were settled in, Jay could often be found sitting atop the giant pile, shouting things like, “Hey, I found sleeping bags and canteens!  We could plan a camping trip with the youth!”  Charming. 

Less charming when we discovered boxes of leftover Christmas candy completely chewed up, then later heard scratching coming from deep within the pile.

The second bedroom was our room.  It mirrored the living room. 

Between both bedrooms there was a bathroom.  The door would only open about ½ way before hitting the bathroom sink.  About six feet past the sink, there was a toilet…. And that was it.  Jay and I looked at each other puzzled, but never fear!  It was explained that there was a shower for us outside the apartment in the old bathroom between the Sunday School rooms.  And there was!  A metal shower, held together by duct tape.  On the floor were green and black tiles that just floated in the standing water that surrounded the shower (what?!? Does everyone not shower in rain boots?).  I would later discover that the standing water dripped through the floor/ceiling and every third shower, the water would trickle into the fire alarm system, and a couple of fire trucks would show up!  We got used to it, but apparently, we were the only ones!  When my dear friends from high school came to visit our very grown up apartment, they both decided to forgo a morning shower!

We, quite literally, had to peel Jay’s near-hysterical mom away from us so that we could send his parents on their way.  My mom-in-law kept mumbling something about how “Jay’s little wife” shouldn’t live here. 

We didn’t care.  We were so in love and just wanted to start our life together. We stayed up all night, hammering nails into those concrete walls (breaking three of every four nails!) to hang up our little pictures.  We made it a home. 

That home was quite an adventure.  I remember the four-year-old son of the church cleaning lady, who would often greet us by peeking through the hole where the door knob should have been and declaring, “I see you!”  Awesome for newlyweds! 

I remember that we had no heat in the apartment.  Not great for winter in Tennessee.  So we went and purchased one space heater.  The funniest thing was that we had to put it in the bathroom for like 20 minutes before you could use it.  Brrrr!

I remember Jay and me blowing way too much money on an artificial Christmas tree that ended up being too big for the apartment (we kept it anyway, sans the tree topper). 

We only ended up living there for less than three months for this reason:  It was our two month anniversary and to commemorate the very special occasion, I was cooking us dinner.  I was making Hamburger Helper (swanky, I know!).  The main dish was being cooked in an electric skillet, green beans were in the microwave, and corn was on the hot plate.  Suddenly, everything went dark. 

We blew every single fuse upstairs.  No one had a clue how to fix it, so Jay did all he knew to do.  He took our very limited funds to the dollar store, and bought nine brown extension cords.  He linked them together and ran them into a downstairs office.  On our end, we had three outlets, so we plugged in the three most important things.  Our heater.  Our TV.  And our Christmas tree lights.

When the electricity was finally fixed, it was determined that the upstairs of the church was not suitable for living.  Jay and I went apartment hunting and when we looked at the very first place, we spotted a stove AND a bathtub.  Sold!

That first place was such a dump, but every time I think about it, I long for those days again.  There’s never been another time in life quite like it.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

My Day Off, and How LifeTime TV Is Ruining My Son's Life

Yesterday I stayed home from the office.  I try to do this every couple of weeks to ensure that my house will not spin completely out of control.  Our office is technically closed on Fridays so sometimes I use that day to get things done at home, but more often than not, Fridays are used for travel or I spend the day at the office working on a project or completing all the things I procrastinated on during the week.  This week I used my Friday to help build a house for Habitat for Humanity.  Which was awesome, but did very little to address the fact that no one in my family had clean underwear, so I took a day yesterday.  (Yes, I’m aware that there are days between Friday and Monday.  Thank goodness for all the holiday underwear that stays shoved back in your drawers!  Those were life-savers!)
Make it work!

Micah's new homework nook

I had a very productive day.  I de-funked the downstairs – that was me singing “We want  de-funk!”  I made beds. I did (and put away!) 6 loads of laundry.  I put together a little homework nook for Micah.  I called in a warranty for our Keurig coffee maker that hasn’t been working for 8 months (a new one will be here in 3 to 7 days!). It was a good day… until one thing started to creep in.  Something I typically try to avoid for my own sanity….

Lifetime Television.

I rarely ever watch this channel (save for a little Project Runway, and okay, the occasional Dance Moms marathon) but for some reason, it ruled the television yesterday.  All of the programming seemed to revolve around one topic – kidnapping. 

LifeTime, you're making me crazy!

As I watching the third or fourth abduction-related show in horror, Jay turned to me and said, “Remember that one time?”  

He didn’t have to say another word.  I knew exactly what he was talking about.

It was several years ago.  Jay and I were just getting up one morning. I sat up in bed, rubbing my eyes as Jay mumbled something about going to wake Micah up.  I was sitting there, staring into space (by the way, this is how I spend the first ten minutes of every  single morning), when Jay came back into our room and said, “Is Micah in here?”

I was jolted awake by the question.  At that time, Micah was very predictable.  We would go to his room between 6:30 and 7:00 and start the half-hour long process to get him out of bed – that boy takes forever to wake up!  No clue where he gets it.  He was never up before us.  

Micah (at two years old) - deciding whether to laugh or cry.
Yeah, that's MY boy!

I scanned the bedroom, even looking under the covers to make sure he hadn’t crawled into bed with us in the middle of the night.  I darted out of bed as Jay disappeared back into the rest of the house, calling Micah’s name.  I checked our bathroom, our shower, and under the bed.  I started to totally freak out as I heard Jay’s voice become more and more panicked.  

I ran through the house, rechecking all of the rooms Jay had already been through.  I sprinted through the laundry room, the kitchen, the dining room, the foyer, the living room, the guest room, the guest bathroom, the playroom, and Micah’s room... all multiple times. I heard Jay open the back door and run outside.  I went to the garage, yelling for Micah, climbing over boxes and lawn equipment.  When I came back into the house, I realized that I was bawling.  I grabbed the phone and held it to my chest as I waited for Jay to come back in and tell me what to do.  I was near hysterical as the most terrible thoughts went through my head.  I couldn’t catch my breath.  I felt like time stood still – in reality, about six minutes had passed since we first woke up!

Suddenly, I saw his eyes peak around the corner.  “Mommy?”  I looked at him and just dissolved in tears.  Jay ran back in the house to see me holding our two year old and crying like a lunatic. 

Apparently he’d gotten up to use the “big boy potty” in our bathroom, heard us wake up, and hid way back in our closet to be silly.  As he heard our loud, “freak-out” voices, he thought he was in trouble so he stayed put!  As I wiped my tears and tried my best to calm everyone down, I made Micah promise to never hide from me again.  A promise he most certainly has NOT kept over the years, but no incident has ever scared me like that since.

Lately, Micah has been begging to walk home from the bus stop alone like several other kids do.  It’s about two blocks away from our house and involves crossing the street twice (and passing by an unknown number of would-be kidnappers).  Should I tell him that Lifetime has ruined the chance that I will ever let him do it?

What about you, reader?  Have your kids given you any crazy scares?

My totally-not-a-baby-anymore baby.
I may just hold him close a little longer though.

(This is a great time to announce that I’ve made a pledge to rid my life of unnecessary worry!  But more on that later…)

Friday, August 17, 2012

Hold Me Back! I'm One Crazy Momma!

I’m a pretty gentle creature.

I'm kind of like this dude

If you’re stuck in traffic, you want me passing by – I will ALWAYS let you out.

It’s difficult for me to correct or criticize someone – even when it’s warranted.  

I’m not allowed outside when we have a yard sale – “Oh, that tool has a $10 price tag?  Sure, you can have it for a quarter.”

I never have the heart to send back my food if it’s sub-par or even if it’s not what I ordered at all.

I often apologize when things are not my fault.  Example: I went shopping on Black Friday, and a crazy person on the hunt for an Xbox 360 nearly ripped my fingers off when he slammed into my cart, then turned to go around me, hitting a huge stack of Paper Jamz guitars which all collapsed unto my head.  Through my tears, I mumbled, “I’m sorry.  Excuse me.”
The other Black Friday shoppers.  Obviously more aggressive
than I am.

I’m a wimp.

Something changes in me though when it comes to Micah.  If I feel like he is threatened, or made fun of, or hurt, my heartbeat speeds up, my blood boils, the hair on the back of my neck stands up.

I feel… braver.

Maybe not braver…. Meaner

I want to jump in where I shouldn’t - apparently you’re supposed to let kids sort out their own problems.  Which is why I didn’t pick up some random 8 year old and throw him into the woods when he bit my son’s finger at camp – why are we always getting bitten in our family?

Micah at camp - not with any kids who bit him!

I often react harshly to my husband when I feel he is being too hard on Micah – even when I would have punished him the same way (Doesn’t he know that MOM knows best?).

I am still carrying around a pretty big grudge against Micah’s teacher from last year.  He made her a model of the Titanic out of paper one night, and when he proudly presented it to her the next day, hoping she’d put it on her shelf with other projects she’d be given, she said she didn’t want it.  Yeah, she’s dead to me.

Showing off the Titanic he made - :(

I know it’s a part of life, but I hate to see him hurt or embarrassed.  There’s a part of me that’s secretly (though once you blog it, I’m pretty sure it’s not a secret anymore) glad that he has shown little interest in sports.  I’m fairly certain one strike-out would wreck me. 

All of this to say, we made the decision at the end of the last school year to have Micah repeat first grade.  Though his grades and scores were well within passing range, his teacher just felt like his maturity level wasn’t where it should have been – he had trouble focusing and working independently – and she was right.  We still believe (and pray!) that this was the right decision.  I think this year will be a huge confidence builder for him as far as school work goes (even though I, admittedly, think slightly hateful thoughts when I encounter kids who can barely read, do simple math or write their names, yet moved on to second grade without any problem. I have to remind myself that it’s about what’s best for Micah, not about comparing him to other children).

He's one of a kind!

I’m still extraordinarily bothered when he says things like, “I failed first grade” – language we have NEVER used with him.  Or when he says, “I’m supposed to be in second.”  I try to explain, “you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be.”

Today (First Grade: The Sequel, Day 2), as we waited at the bus stop, Micah saw a couple of classmates from last year, and they asked him what class he was in, what building, etc.  Micah answered.  I don’t think the kids even made the connection that he was doing first grade over, but I could tell that he was ashamed, and that broke my heart.  I wanted to scoop him up and just hug any hurt away – of course, I’m not allowed to kiss or hug him at the bus stop, so I did not.  
Keep that smile!

I want so badly to protect him from this world.  I never want anyone to make him feel stupid or inferior.  I know it will be easier when we pass up this “growth year,” and he moves on to second grade, but I know there will always be something… some pain I can’t shield him from, some battle I can’t fight for him.  But I hope he’ll know that I’m in his corner, always.  

And ready to jump in if need be.

Silly boy - I think he'll be just fine!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Boo! (Did I scare you?)

Blogger is so kind to show you how people might accidentally happen upon your blog.

Apparently, Google sends you to me if you type in "scary pictures of old women."

Not cool, Google.  Not cool. 

Actual picture a scary old woman

Acutal picture of me.  Not quite as scary.  Not quite as old.

P.S. - Michelle, dear winner of my contest, I haven't forgotten about you!  Your box is ready and will be sent out tomorrow!  Yippee!


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A Letter to Micah on His First Day of School...

Dear Micah,

Tomorrow is the first day of school… summer went by way too fast!  There was so much I was hoping we could do, but the time just ran out.  I’ll always remember this summer though – this was the summer you turned into a camping maniac – two whole weeks at sleep-away camp plus an awesome camping trip with dad and me! 

Tonight, as you nervously (just like your mom!) fiddled with your new school supplies and adjusted your backpack straps, I couldn’t help but think of all the things I hope that you will learn throughout the years, only some of which will be taught in the class room.

I hope you learn to make friends easily.  Since I know that your future will include moving every few years, I worry about you often being “the new kid.”  I hope you’ll let that great personality shine through for everyone to see.  I know right now you talk a big talk to impress your friends, but who you really are is pretty awesome.  I hope you’ll learn that.

I hope that you learn to always keep trying.  When things don’t come easily for you (like tying shoes and riding a bike without training wheels – seriously, you are SO my son!), don’t give up!  You will get it!

I hope you learn to listen to and respect others, even when you don’t agree with what they’re saying.  Everyone deserves to be heard, dear son.  I hope you’ll find your own voice too.  What you have to say is important!

I hope you will keep your adventuresome spirit.  Even though it nearly gives me a heart attack when you do a front flip into water that is waaaaay over your head, it also makes me very proud of you.  I love to see you climb, and jump, and skate, and try new foods.  You have your dad’s spirit in that way.  Don’t lose that.  Don’t let falling sometimes stop you from seeking new and exciting experiences.

I hope you learn to love to read.  I know you hate it right now, but I’m praying that will change in time.  There are great stories out there that can take you places you’d never go otherwise.  So I’ll keep pushing you, and you’ll keep being mad at me, but someday, you’ll find a story that will move, amaze, inspire, or scare you, and it will have all been worth it.

I pray you’ll learn about Jesus.  I hope that you’ll eventually understand what it means to follow him, to live for him, and to find a love that will never let you go.  I pray with my whole heart that I will be a good example to you of what it means to be a follower of God.  May my life look the same, whether hundreds of eyes are looking at me, or just two beautiful brown ones so that you will never be confused or misled.

I hope that you will stay sensitive, but develop a thick skin.  Is that even possible?  I want you to care about people enough that you’ll take up for them and be their friend when no one else will, but I pray you don’t get your feelings hurt too easily.  (I am a wimp.  I still remember a little girl in 2nd grade telling people that they couldn’t be her friend if they were my friend.  That’s right – I remember you, you meanie!  But I forgive you… mostly).

I want you to understand the comfort and safety of home.  I hope you remember that no matter what you face out there in the world – the harshness that can sometimes come your way, here, at your home, with your family, there is a warm, soft place to land.  I hope you’ll always be open to talk to us and let us in on your life. 

Lastly, I pray you’ll stay seven years old forever.  I want you to be my own little Peter Pan, and never grow up and have to worry about grown-up things.  I know this one can’t really come true, so for just a moment, I will close my eyes and try super hard to remember you just as you are right this second, because these days are fleeting, and you’re growing up so fast. 

I love you to the moon and back.


Monday, August 13, 2012

Back to Life... Back to Reality

Kiss My Grits!
I had an amazing time this past week.  I was given the opportunity to attend a conference at a beautiful mountain resort in Colorado Springs. It was serene, breath-taking, tranquil.  I would wake up every morning and just take in all the beauty of God’s creation.  I would head down to the actual castle where I would enjoy a wonderful hearty breakfast (seriously, I’ve never had grits before this, but I finally understand why Flo was always telling us to kiss them – by the way, I’m no where near old enough to have ever see that show!).  

Throughout the day, I would participate in worship, hear inspirational speakers, enjoy fellowship with people who actually seemed happy to see me, feel challenged and motivated, and eat delicious food that I neither had to cook nor clean up after. Every day, I just spent a little time by myself, quiet, connecting with God. Then, to top it all off, I would come back to my room to see that someone had made my bed.  Pretty heavenly.

It was beautiful there!

On top of the world

Then I came home.

Instead of the breath-taking views, I am fighting the breath-taking heat – Tulsa’s average temperature is only 30 degrees hotter than Colorado’s!  Instead of a lovely breakfast in a lovely castle, I popped a piece of strawberry/tangerine chewing gum on my way out the door.  Instead of leisurely reading and soaking in God’s creation, I’m met with impending (and some past due!) deadlines. And guess what?  No one made my bed this morning.  In fact, having left my two guys to their own devices for 9 days – an unmade bed is the least of my worries.  This morning, I was tripping over newspapers, shoes, clothes and toys (and okay, MY suitcases – that one is my fault) as I attempted to get ready for the day.  I made the huge mistake of taking a peak in the fridge – Ewww! (thus the gum for breakfast), and I’m pretty sure the house is void of unnecessary things like milk, paper towels, and laundry detergent.  That, and I’m pretty sure they’ve been splitting one roll of toilet paper between the three bathrooms!

*To be fair, instead of doing anything I asked him to do this week, my dear husband spent some time doing disaster relief work, and used his evenings to make sure our son enjoyed his last week of summer – they went to the movies, the zoo, and the Center of the Universe.*

I guess the middle of nowhere can get lonely

And don’t get me wrong – I want to be where my guys are.  Nothing in the mountains compares to the smile of my little boy and the arms of my big man, but truthfully, I’d like to scoop them up and take them back there with me (provided they agree to pick their dirty clothes up!).  I miss the mountain. 

Seriously, look at this view!

I’m typically a valley kind of girl.  I can be sarcastic and cynical.  I’m used to feeling overwhelmed and tired.  It never surprises me when we all get the stomach flu following a great vacation.  When I get a really great haircut, I expect that after I wash it, I’ll never be able to replicate what the stylist did and end up hating it.  During a particularly exciting Sunday morning, I’m fairly certain that the church van will get a flat tire.  And every time my birthday comes around, I’m waiting for someone to die (not because I’m dark and twisted, but because it happens every single year.  On March 27th, take cover!).  I'm used to the rain on my parade.  I’ve come to expect it.  For every mountain, there’s a valley.

This time, though, I’m holding desperately to the mountain – literally, in fact.  I brought home several mountain rocks, thinking that if I could touch them, just feel them, I would remember.  I really want to continue to feel the inspiration and calm I experienced there.  I don’t want to lose it.  I don’t want the serenity to fade into stress, the awe into anxiety.

And maybe it won’t.

Then again, maybe I’m deluded from the altitude since as soon as we pulled off the interstate in Tulsa after our 12 hour drive, not 30 seconds from my home, someone ran a red light and hit us!

Sigh.  Home sweet home.

YOUR TURN, READERS – What do you do to keep joy in your very busy lives?  Give me some tips!