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Friday, January 30, 2015

The Way Of Things


I lost my mojo for a bit. It happens to me sometimes. Life and her calculations get a little too real. And it throws me. Which means my words get all swallowed up and away. It's like my brain needs room to breathe through all the dailyness and there's nothing left over to write about. It's just the way of things.

I feel like I'm back. At least, I think I am.
My writer's brain has turned back on. And that usually means I'm ready to speak up and out again. Hopefully it's here to stay.


There's an ugly side to parenting. One that no one really talks about. The hard stuff. That's the reason my mojo took a hike. Because I felt surrounded by the ugly, hard stuff. And it took everything in me to just process the basic parts of truth. Nothing drastic. Just yucky. So much so, that I felt weighed down. Literally.

There are so many vast differences to parenting toddlers versus teenagers. Pros and cons to both. But nothing, and I mean nothing, prepares you for the emotional toll of raising 12-18 year olds. There aren't words that can describe what it's like to find out your child has been lying to you. Or that they've made choices far away from what you've established as acceptable. No words at all.

But that's the entry fee to living with teenagers. That's the ugly part no one really likes to discuss. The hard and heavy. Every single parent will walk this way. The way that takes your self esteem into a nose dive. Because not only are these people hard to decode, they're brutal on your sanity.

Every day their words chip away at your worth. Sure we know to thicken our skin and stand a little taller. But come on. After so long, those words start to sink into your skin and convince your mind that you're a failure. It's an easy trap to fall into. One that teenagers guide you right to. They're the perfect escorts. And sometimes, when we just can't help it, we wallow there.

But we just can't park it and stay. For ourselves. And for them. Because, really. Look at these kids. They're extraordinary. They truly are. They are courageous and brave and tenacious. All the things we want them to be. Are they flawed? Very. But so are we. Do they make mistakes? All the time. But so do I. Maybe the key to it all is finding the way to raise ourselves taller than our poor decisions. To stand stronger than our words convey. Both ours and theirs.

For all the ugly, heavy choices these children force me to see, there is always, always, this beautiful flip side. It shows up eventually. Sometimes you just have to wait it out and hold on for dear life until it does. Because this is beauty. This right here. These people right now. In the good. And the bad. And everything in between. This ordinary beauty makes it all worth living. Blessings found amongst the rubble.

For today, let's see the beauty. Hidden between the ugly, the heavy and the hard. Let's see it. If you're in the middle of it all, and really, who isn't? Hold on. It's the only way. The best way. And while you're holding, take the time to look around. The beauty is there. Look past harsh words and eye rolls and bad choices. It's. Right. There. Goodness at it's finest. Ours for the taking.

Enjoy it all.
Even when it's hard.
Grace at it's best.

Have a lovely weekend, friends.



Monday, January 12, 2015

The Hashtags


I live with a narcissistic view that you love seeing how I decorate my mantel. You probably don't, but I've convinced myself you do.


This one is the calm after the Christmas storm. Some of it I made eons ago. Some is from the Goodwill (my fave place). And the giant leaves are from a field trip I took with Child #3 when she was in 4th grade. Oh, and then there's 'fudge'. It's our family nickname. Long story.

One of these days I'm going to get it together and hire out my mantel skills. Is that even a thing? Would you let me come over and rearrange all your crap into adorable display sets? I've really gotta think about that. #sadecorates

***

The Candy Porn people are at it again.


This showed up in the mail the other day. And I was furious. What gives them the right to just willy nilly send this stuff out? I mean, how graphic can you be?! #forthelove.

Isn't there some kind of government regulation on this kind of advertising? It's just not OK. It's too tempting. I may or may not have tried licking the pages. Just in case they sugar coat the glossy images.

***

Child #1 is so stinkin' close to going to college. You know this, right? And you know how my heart gets tight just thinking about it? It's true, it does. But here's the flip side-- I worry she won't be able to function in society. Truth. She only knows how to "technically" make buttered noodles. And for the last month, she's been telling us that, "Cash is just too hard to use." Say huh?

This is the drill: She brings us her cash, we deposit the same amount of money into her account. Now she only has to use her debit card.

Cash is too hard to use.
#gimmeafreakinbreak and #imaloserparent

***

I'm making stuff.
Because making stuff is my jam.


I think they're going to get strung across a window. Not totally sure yet.
Do you want me to make you one too?
#hotstuff

***

And last, but not least, I give you a link. Click here.

You have to read it. You simply must.
Well, if you love Downton Abbey, you must.
And if you don't love it, you're crazy. Because Downton Abbey makes all the things better. For always. #impathetic


Happy Monday ya'll.


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Lessons From The Treadmill


First up. I love you people. Truly. Who knew ya'll had such strong feelings about the Walmart. Your comments touched my softy heart. I feel like we're a united front. Am I going to change where I shop? Nope. I just love that I can complain to you, and you back me up. We're now BFF's.

On to other things...

I've started walking on my treadmill. It's been 3 days. I loathe it. And by loathe, I mean full blown hate. Exercise is evil. It ranks right up there with glitter. It's just bad. But my 'After 40' body is just not nice to me. I really don't get it. I mean, once you've survived to 40, shouldn't you get some kind of reward? Like, eating lots of cake without consequences? It's a cruel joke, I tell you. If you're currently living in a 'Before 40' body, live it up.


My treadmill faces this picture that hangs on the wall. It's what I've stared at for the last 3 days. Child #1 painted it 14 years ago. Isn't it awesome? I do wonder why we don't have any arms. Oh, and she painted herself really big and her sisters really small. So sweet.

I've realized several things as I've looked at this painting. First off, my mom was right (darn it!). Time does go by too quickly. When I had little ones, I never believed that saying. But now that my oldest is applying to college, I totally get it.

It's tempting to wish the time back, just so I could do it all differently. That's a rather natural way to think. But not very realistic. Because, aren't we all just doing the best that we can? In any given moment? I know I am. I bet you are too.

I think the problem rests on the fact that we so often feel like our best just isn't good enough. We look back, or even around at our present, and all we can see are the things we're doing wrong. We forget to notice all that we're doing right.

Because doing your best, with what you know and where you are, is really the only true way. It's not perfect because it's not supposed to be. Do we get it wrong? All the time. It's the way of things. It's what propels us to keep on trying. Right?

My 'After 40' body may not be kind to me, but my 'After 40' mind sure is. It's learned a lot. And it's a lot less likely to cast judgement than it used to be. It's also made me realize we got this. We really do. One day at a time. One family drawing after another.

This year, let's be kind to ourselves. Let's not wish it all away or wonder about a do-over. Let's do our best. With where we are. And who we are. And these imperfect people that we love perfectly.

That sounds like the very best kind of year.
(Without the treadmill.)


Monday, January 5, 2015

A Note To Walmart


Dear Walmart,

You and me are going to have a sit down 'Come to Jesus'. Right now. Because you need truth speaking. Right this holy, hot second.

You're a big, dumb store. Truly. But, guess what? You're the cheapest prices around, so I still enter your big, dumb doors. Every stinkin' Monday. And today I've reached my limit of tolerance. For reals. I'm so mad at you, I'm putting you in a time out. You actually deserve worse, but that's all I've got.

Here's the thing. I don't think you understand the enormity of what it takes to grocery shop for a family. It's grueling. And exhausting. And you know what? I still have to take this $200 worth of crap and load it in my car, then unload it into my house, and then put it all away. Just so my people can eat it all clean out. Are you getting the picture? This is hard work and you're making it even harder.

Because, right now, I wanna know why on earth you have 48 check out lanes available in your store, but only 2 are open. Two! Every time I pull my overloaded cart up to this check out section, I want to throw a full-blown tantrum. Like, total screaming fit. Why, Walmart? Why do you never, ever, ever have more lanes open?

And can we talk about the pricing guns? Why do all the managers carry them? I've never actually seen them used. Just carried. And let me tell you, today, while waiting for 482 minutes in the check out lane, I almost grabbed one of those guns to knock myself out and end the agony. This is what you do to us mothers, you big, dumb store.

I can't even address the state of your customer service area. Honestly. Why does it always look like a run-down garage sale over there? Why? And again, you have one teller working that area, and a line that wraps down through the store. It's so stupid. Surely this isn't new information. Right? Do you act this way on purpose? Is this the price we pay to shop your isles?

Listen, and listen close. You've gotta get your act together. I'm not messin' around. You have got to make a mother's job easier. Lighten her load, if you will. Stop crowding all your isles with big containers of socks. Open more check out lanes! And for the love, no one, and I mean no one, buys those mayonaisse jars that are the size of a puppy. Good grief.

Amen.
I'll see you next Monday.
Expect a tantrum.




Sunday, January 4, 2015

An Update


Really. It's been a while. Yes? Because, it's the holidays. You know? The Husband took time off and friends came to visit. And let's not forget the epic clean up required of all things Christmas. So yes, it's been a while.

Here's an update. In all it's random glory.

1. Christmas was awesome. Of course. I'm a big believer in more is more. I spoil these children of mine. Truly spoil them. And I love it.

2. On Christmas Eve, Child #1 let us know that every year since she was 6, she comes down in the middle of the night and touches each of her presents. She said she can't fall asleep until she takes a peek to make sure Santa arrived. So, if I'm calculating correctly, she's been sneaking downstairs for the last 12 years! What a weirdo.

3. Speaking of Child #1, she got a double ear infection. Like, massive. Even the doctor looked alarmed at the state of her inner ears. One was completely plugged up and blocked out all hearing. For the last week, every time you talk to her, she just stares at you like you're an idiot. Then she finally turns her head and says, "You have to talk to me in my good ear." It's crazy.

4. We took our friends to our favorite Safari. The Husband got molested by this llama. It's his own fault, he wouldn't share the bucket of food. I think the animal may have even nibbled on his hand.

5. Speaking of The Husband, over the holidays, he got an email invite to join a dating site for Senior Citizens.

Stop. Right now. Let's repeat.

A dating site for Senior Citizens!
No matter how you look at it, that's ridiculously hilarious.

6. The new year arrived. We partied and we ate. We even attempted fireworks. But The Husband put one in upside down and it almost took out several humans nearby. We wrapped things up after that. I was in bed before 11:00 pm.

7. And now it's 2015. If you know me well, you know how I feel about odd numbers. They're terrible. They make me feel all off-center and unbalanced. So, I don't know what to expect for this year to come.

It's the season for picking a word of the year and making goals, but I have yet to do any of it. I'm rather proud that Christmas is put away and the pine needles have all been vacuumed up. I haven't really wrapped my head around the 'New Year/New You' kind of theme. I'll get there. Or, maybe I won't. I haven't decided yet. Let's take it slow together, shall we?

Here's to a year where we slow down and enjoy what's around us.
Cheers!


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Normal Kind Of Gift


I'm an unconventional mom. I know this about myself. I just don't parent in a normal way. Well, not in a traditional way. My parenting style is way too relaxed to be main stream. I'm not strict about much. Maybe 3 things total. If my kids text me from school asking for lunch, I take it. 98% of the time. I rarely make my kids do chores and our dinner conversations would make you blush. And that's not an exaggeration.

I just feel like we sway to a different beat over here. If I wanted to, I could try to change that rhythm. I've threatened my kids oodles of times that I'm going to really amp up this mother role and really get to it. Those words are usually met with eye rolls. Because, really? They know me. I know me. This is the way we flow. All wonky and off-kilter.

But I have this deep soul kind of hunger to be normal. At least every now and then. My mind knows its just too much of a stretch, but I wish for it anyway. But then, I stop, just stop, and look around. And I realize that normal is a pipe dream. For anyone. Normal starts and stops within these walls, with these people I adore. Normal takes my unconventional parenting and turns it into enough and just right.


It's the season of Christmas cards. My honest to goodness fave. It's like presents in the mailbox. It's all our friends and family showing their best, normal selves. And all those normals start to pile up until it makes your own family feel a little less than. Because, look at everyone's accomplishments! And their dressed up beauty! And let's not even mention all the Christmas home tours on the web and Pinterest. There's no way my house matches up with any of that. I can't even keep it clean.

I don't know what it is about this time of year. It's a recipe for the good and the ugly all bundled together. There is so much wonder and there are also heaps of stress and guilt. It's like we can't have one without the other. Maybe we're supposed to wade through all the difficult stuff so the important stuff shines that much brighter. It's a weird combination.

So, here's what I have to relearn every year, right around this same time-- We're all normal, and extraordinary, and good. We're just doing it in our own way, in our own time. We are fighting to keep it real and plowing our own path tightly holding hands with these people we love. We're in it together. All the way. For always.


That's what the holidays are all about. That path. The one we're on with our families. The one that looks different for each of us. The one that brings the greatest joy as we build it together. One normal step at a time.

Enjoy it. Take the time to see it. Above the gifts and the cards and the stress, really see it. Take your people close and let them feel your love. That's magic transformed. The kind of magic that a baby in a manger gifted to us all. Let's share it with those that matter most.

Merry Christmas, everyone.


Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Christmas Spirit


First off, there will be no sass coming from anyone when you see the sucky quality of these pictures. You'll just have to deal. OK? One is at night and the other is at 5:30 am, in my kitchen. With my phone. You see? No sass.


Ugly sweater day at school also coincided with their choir tours to the elementary schools. Is it just me, or does Child #1 look like the snowman is coming forth from her stomach? And I can't decide if the sweaters are just ugly-ugly, or ugly-awesome.

Who knows, maybe those elementary school kids got a little frightened during the performance. Because, come on! It's like a Christmas Elf barfed on some shirts and they clothed their bodies with them.

And does anyone else notice that Child #2 is now taller than her sister? Oh boy, that's a deal.


My sister, oh my sister {sigh}...Let my Baby Child stand on top of her car. One twin is buckled properly in her seat and the other is shooting out of the sunroof. Ah, seriously? This is epic trouble. I think. Maybe? She "claims" she didn't know it was all happening. Yah, right.


Live wild and free this weekend.
And if you're feeling especially crazy, hot glue a bunch of Christmas crap to a sweater, and then wear it to church. For. Reals.