Monday, August 25, 2014

The 5:30-2:00 Fairytale

Once upon a time...

There was a Senior.
And she was starting her last year of high school, and her mother was really sad about that. But not sad enough to cry.

And then there was a Sophomore.
And she was starting her 2nd year of high school, and her mother was praying, praying, praying that it would be better than the 1st year. Thoughts of last year made her cry. Super hard.

And the Senior and the Sophomore drove off into the morning together, to go to school. In a car with 160,000 miles that the mother lovingly calls "the money-pit turd pile".

And last, but not least, there was a 6th grader.
And she was starting Junior High. And her sisters were mad at her because she gets lots of extra morning sleep time. And her mother was sad. Because she knows all about middle school and the years to come. But she didn't cry. Not yet. She still holds out a little bit of hope for this Baby Child.

And they all went away to school.
And the mother lived happily freakin' ever after. (Until 2:00 pm, when the high school lets out.)

Happy Back-To-School, my friends.
This year, school is going to be our jam.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The End And Beginning Of Lists

I make a Summer List every year. You know this about me. But this summer? I was this close to NOT making one. Because I asked my people, "What should we put on our Summer List this year?" And they all starred at me for a few seconds, then returned to texting on their phones.

So, I almost gave up. So very unlike me. But, I'm getting older which means there is less and less I actually care about. Truly. I can probably use one hand to count the things that really matter enough to me to expend any energy. Puzzles are one of them. I'll let you guess the last 4.

I did make a Summer List sometime in June and slapped it up on the fridge. Much to my surprise, we have accomplished most of it. We took a day last week (because my sister forced me) to tackle quite a few items.

This is the last of the list, my friends. School begins tomorrow morning. I can feel the giddiness starting to seep into my bones already. When the last child steps on the bus, I may just fall right over into hysterics. For totes legit.

Here's the last of our summer....

Every year I attempt to make taffy with my kids. Every stinkin' year. It has never, ever worked out. So, it's become a tradition to see how badly I can fail at this task. One year it was so gooey, Baby Child shook her hands to try and get it off and flung taffy all over the kitchen. I used my outside voice that day.

But this year? Say to the what?! Perfection! It was a low humidity day here on the center of the sun, that's all I have to explain why it worked. So, we pulled taffy and ate a bunch more. It was delightful.

We covered the driveway in chalk. It was seriously fun. And again, I remind you of where we live. The center of the sun. It is just that hot. And Baby Child is wearing jeans. I have no earthly idea why.

And a shaving cream war. Good gracious, this was entertainment at it's finest.

Somewhere during our Tackle-The-Summer-List day, Child #2 decided to see if she could fit herself into the freezer. Once she discovered she was too big, she put the Angel Baby inside.

A few days later, much to my family's joy, they all went boating. Without me. I opted to stay home alone. For an entire 12 hours. Best. Day. Ever!!

And speaking of lists...
Child #1 turns 18 in a few weeks. She has decided to make a list of all the things she will now be allowed to do with her new, legal age.
She has informed me that she can smoke, vote and get a tattoo. Unfortunately, she can no longer "sleep" with anyone that's under the age of 18. ( I've been informed that "sleeping" means fully clothed while holding hands and falling asleep in an open, public place.) There you go.

I hope all your list dreams have come true this summer.
Tomorrow is the real deal. Game on.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Back-to-school shopping. Need I say more? Um, I don't think so. It's like a living, breathing horror show. That you've willingly walked in to. It's like having a baby. You forget how bad, how truly terrible it is until you're smack dab in the middle of it. Then your brain finally clicks in and you wonder what the holy heck you're doing.

This year I've tried to stream-line my sanity as much as possible. Here's how that works-- I look my teenagers in the eye. I bend down close and speak real slow. I also hand them my debit card. "You can buy whatever, and I mean whatever you want, as long as I don't have to be involved."

This system worked like a charm with Child #1. She was responsible, bought what she needed, came home and handed me my card back. Child #2 came home with 2 pairs of jeans that didn't fit because she refused to try them on, and some lotion and perfume. Clearly she is confused on what constitutes "school clothes".

So, I threatened, bribed and screamed for #2 and #3 to accompany me to the mall. I bought salads on the way and discovered one was filled with a giant red, leafy twig. Then we had a smack down in the Dillard's shoe department. If I'm spending $85 on one pair of Sperry's, you would think I'd be allowed to suggest she buy something different than the exact same pair I bought her last year. Painful moments, I tell you.

I think all mothers lose some of their soul every year they school shop. For serious. Oh, and the baby child toured through her class schedule at the middle school. She acted irritated beyond measure that I would actually make her find each classroom. All back-to-school activities are bad for your health.

Don't even get me started on school supplies. That's torture at it's finest. I parked my cart at the end of an isle and let them loose. Child #1 knew exactly what she needed, sorted through it all methodically, and placed her items in the cart.

Child #2 picked up a random notebook and threw it in. Then considered herself finished. So, I inquired, "You have 6 classes. Do you need more than 1 notebook?" She got a confused look on her face and asked, "Huh. Well, do you think I need to take notes in English?" The last time I checked, you most certainly do. Obviously all her previous school years and her note taking skills have eluded her. This does not bode well for the future.

Baby Child sent herself into a near tizzy trying to find every. exact. item. listed. She wouldn't listen to reason or explanation from anyone. The school list was her boss. I'm pretty sure at this point I started to wonder if drinking diesel fuel would be more or less painful than this current situation. You with me?

I'm calling a halt right here, right now. No more back-to-school until Monday when their physical bodies physically enter the school building. Good grief, that's 4 days away. Hang on tight.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Pep Talk You Better Listen To

This is gonna be one of those "so help me..." kind of discussions. M'kay? Because y'all, I feel a lecture comin' on. I'm fixin' to get all up and crazy.

Let's start with this: My sister can be a wacko. For serious. There are times (OK, lots of times) I just want to shake her silly. I have raised her to be a better mother than she lets on sometimes. Good grief, popsicles are a fine food for breakfast. A majority of the time, she's a better mother than I ever will be (which I take all credit for), but then there are days where she just ruins my mothering mojo. Sheesh! And knock it off!

Here's the heart of the problem...She, like so many other mothers out there, are reading the stupid, stupid articles that always pop up at this time of year. "Did you hug your children enough?", "Did you do all that you could before Kindergarten?", "Did you teach them everything they ever, in the history of ever, need to know before the age of 5?"

Let me tell you something. I screamed at my sister yesterday. In my nasty, outside, ugly voice. And I'm going to yell at you too if you start reading any of those articles or even worse, you believe them. No, no, no and no!

We are mothers. That says it all. Those 3 words. All. Of. It.

We are always on-call. This job never, ever stops. We worry and fret and work and work some more. We fine tune what we can, where we can. And we try. For the love, we try so hard. And we lay in bed every single night and worry we aren't doing it right or doing enough. This mothering thing is hard core. Every. Single. Day.

So, don't you dare doubt yourself. I'm not kidding. Don't make me pull out my screaming voice. Don't you spend one solitary minute worrying that you haven't done enough. Because guess what? You've done enough and more. It may not look like the mother next door or the mother who posts beautiful pictures on her blog. Your children are alive at the end of the day. That gives you the awesome mom award. That's just how this gig works.

We have to band together. Us mothers. It's the only way we'll make it. Because this right here, this day and moment and right now? It's the hardest thing we are ever gonna do. So you do your best. Just like you've been doing all along. Every day, without notice or fanfare.

And guess what? That's enough. It's more than enough. Even if your kids, your house, your life isn't perfect. It's not supposed to be. That's where your mother's love kicks in the strongest and coats it all around. In every crevice and shadow and ridge. Your love covers it all. And you have to let it silence the doubt and the worry and even the regret. Let love just work it's magic. It can't fix everything, but it sure can make it right enough.

So, here's your job. Believe in yourself. Starting now. No more doubting. No more wondering about your level of goodness. No gauging your success as a mother. That kind of a scale doesn't even exist.

Know that you are right where you were always meant to be. With the children and the life the Lord hand-picked just for you. Don't waste your time with all the ways your doing it wrong. Open your eyes and take stock of all the ways you are doing it right. Because this is the real deal. Don't wish any of it away.

Believe. And hope. And love.
And open your arms high and wide for these beautiful, imperfect people you mother. They're your gifts. Don't ever doubt it.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Love That's Real

I think most people take the assumption that I don't like my kids. I mean, I complain about them. A lot. And generally, if you think along the lines of logic, that surely equates to dislike. Right?

Uh, no. I adore them. Love them in an eternal kind of way actually. I have stood in lines, starred down school administrators and scoured books and doctors for solutions. As far as logic goes, that's a mother's love that can't be duplicated.

So, it's funny to me that women who complain about their kids are categorized as women who don't like their kids. That's so far from the truth. We're just women who are real. And we give voice to the realness. No sugarcoating.

Because real is funny and heart-wrenching and crazy, all at the same time.

My girl is turning 18 soon and starting her senior year. That's as real as it gets. No complaining here. Just thinking about it hurts my heart. Time is spilling over the edges so fast, I can't move quickly enough to grab it.

But still, she's a teenager. And teenagers are irritating. And weird. When we were at Disneyland, this girl totally coughed up something nasty from her throat and then spit it all into a napkin. The Husband looked right and me and said, "She is so never getting married." It was a fist bump moment. We made a Super Spouse mental pact that we're in this together, because clearly these kids will live with us forever.

Do you remember that I had stacks of teenagers hanging at my house last week? You know, because the-beautiful-best-friend-from-out-of-town was here? You'll never believe what my sister and I did. Well, it probably won't really surprise you, because, you know, it's us.

My sister sang our college (Go Cougs!) fight song and I clapped and cheered the whole way through. For legit. We stood in my kitchen and performed for the teenagers. Oh, and then I got my sister to do her car alarm impression. There is nothing, I mean nothing, more awesome than that. We're just keepin' it real. Sometimes love looks a whole lot like a bunch of crazy.

So, my friends, feel free to complain and love all at the same time. Truth is, they're pretty much packaged together. Real comes as a complicated bundle. Live it like you mean it. And sing your college fight song along the way. Just to keep it classy.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Double Shots

I have some sad news. The Favorite Baby Child is losing her title. I knew it was coming. I've watched it slowly happen. I might cry real tears at some point. I mean, this isn't my first rodeo. But, still. I held a little hope.

I also knew that she needed her 12 year old booster shots. I can nary explain the vehemence this girl feels towards needles. I asked The Husband to stay home today and go with me as backup. He walked away at my request. What a turd.

So I took the 15 year old instead. Not the brightest of ideas. Considering that she decided to demonstrate what shots feel like. And for extra measure, she punched her sister as well. Good times in that little doctor's office.
I will admit I may have threatened #3 that I would break her phone (and maybe her body) if she didn't get it together and calm down. Good grief I could write a parenting manual.

And just for kicks, because summer is so awesome, this is what happens when The Not-So-Favorite Baby Child decides not to take her meds:
Things get real crazy, real fast. And they stay that way. It's off the chain. Why isn't there a reality show that shows what goes on around here? For holy geez, it's nuts. Just 5 minutes ago, this child asked me if I could buy her some liquid nitrogen. For really reals. She told me she would use her own money to pay for it. Uh huh.

And on the flip side, Child #1 is reaching her 18th year of birth in a couple of weeks. She begged and pleaded for her best friend to fly in and spend the week. You already know I'm a parent that tries to buy her children's love, so her wish was granted. It was one amazing, fun-filled week. Lots of laughter. Lots of joy.
It was a curious thing to notice how many more teenage boys started hanging out at my house. Who knew that one beautiful girl from Kentucky could draw such a crowd. Oh, and just so you know, teenagers like to eat. A lot. Imagine their surprise when they realize all I stock up on is candy bars.

Along with my candy obsession, is my decorating/craft obsession. My sister is redoing 2 bedrooms for the twins. So, of course that means that I take over her project and do everything the way I want it done. My way is the best way. Life motto.

Don't you wish you were getting an epic canvas like the Angel Baby? While painting this, one of my own kids asked if I would paint a canvas quote for their room. I simply snorted. Pah-Leeze.

School is just around the corner.
Double wishes all around. I may pull out all my eyelashes before then, but make it I shall. Join me.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Land

We have been to both DisneyWorld and DisneyLand. I could be a champion spokesperson for both. Well, for any Disney vacation of any sort. But, because we consider ourselves Disney Mega-Believers, we simply refer to both locations as The Land and The World. This family is Super Fly when it comes to catch phrases.

Since we moved to Texas 7 years ago, there really hasn't been a chance to see The Land. Especially since I'm allergic to airplane travel. So, this unexpected gift of a trip this summer, was rather extraordinary. It came about in an unusual way and we are grateful for every bit of it.

Every time we step through those magical gates (cue the Disney music!), I learn something new. Here's what I noticed and learned this go-around:

1. The amount of money you plan on spending? Triple it. Actually, just don't think about money at all. I'm a sucker for "Mom, can I have that?" when we're at Disney. It's like all the happiness surrounding me dissolves my brain cells. When we're inside the park, I somehow convince myself we're millionaires with money to burn. It's a phenomena that should be studied.

2. Ladies everywhere, across the land, listen up. Listen close. Leggings are not pants. Nope. No way, no how. Actually let's error on the side of caution and say that leggings should only be worn by girls under the age of 6. M'kay? That long shirt that you somehow believe covers enough before the leggings appear? Nope again. Nada. Don't do it. I think I'm going to go on a campaign against women in leggings. Let me know if you want a sign for your yard.

3. My Child #1 was born to be a princess at Disney. I can feel it in my bones. She can act, perform and sing. This trip I spent hours convincing her to apply. Who needs regular college? Pfft. Here's the only trip-up-- This girl dislikes all (and I mean ALL) people. And she hates being touched. Getting around these obstacles is a bit of a conundrum, yes? I'm working on it.

4. In the past, we've always Disneyed with young kids. We had to tote snacks, bottles, diapers. But now? We got ourselves some genuine teenagers, and it rocks. You can move faster and everyone can decide together where to go and eat. The entire family rides every ride (except scary roller coasters with Todd) together. This older kid thing is the best. And you have super ammunition to take pictures together. You just threaten to take away their phone if they don't cooperate.

5. There are a few downsides to the Disney. They usually appear mid-day when you're really worn out and hot. Here's the deal: Morons appear out of nowhere! Seriously. They walk slow. They congregate in groups THAT STOP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE WALKWAY! And they buy those crazy expensive balloons that are huge and annoying. At one point, Child #1 prayed and prayed and prayed that a taser would appear in her hands. 

6. Here's a secret. Don't share it with anyone. OK? If you have Fast Passes that The Husband tells you are for a certain time, and you arrive at said time only to realize he got the time wrong and now you're too late? You just walk right up to a happy Disney worker and say, "My husband is an idiot and told us the wrong time for the Fast Pass. Can we still ride?" She will pull out her handy-dandy secret envelope and give you a secret ticket that takes you to the front of the line. Ba-Bam. That's how it's done.

7. Do you remember that conversation we just had about leggings? That applies to the stomach region as well. Good grief girls, gals, women! Buy longer shirts. That skin is not attractive.

8. For some reason, Disney produces magical moments. They just happen. Right out of nowhere. 

For the child who refuses to talk to any character, one surprised her. And. She. Actually. Smiled. (This real, genuine smile only happened one other time on our trip, when she bought a new pair of flip flops.)

And a sister gives an unexpected kiss on the cheek.

9. In trip's past, we have had some crazy occurrences. On our last trip to The Land, Child #3 was a tiny thing. She saw Tigger from afar, and ran, full-out like a linebacker, into Tigger. He almost toppled right over and his head fell off. It is the ONLY time I have seen a Disney employee almost lose their cool. Fosters bring the crazy.

But this time? We weren't even noticed by security. That's a miracle I don't think has ever happened before. We might be starting on a good upswing. I doubt it, but here's to hoping.

10. A random note: You awesome moms who speak Spanish? Good gracious, I love it when you yell at your kids. You sound even more mean that I normally do. You've inspired me to get the Rosetta Stone and learn me a new language.

11. For all it's goodness, Disney is exhausting. It's a lot of work and a lot of walking. Someone, somewhere, with money to invest (which isn't me because I drained it all on souvenirs) needs to set up a foot massage shop on Disney's Main Street. For the love of baby minions, that is the greatest idea in the history of forever. Oh, and if you could add a little cozy place to take a quick nap? Holy Moly, you could make bazillions of dollars.

12. The final word-- Disney, I love you. I really, really do. On our first day in the park, Child #1 proclaimed, "I have joy in my heart!" Hello, that's extraordinary. I don't think she's ever felt that much joy in her life, where crowds of people were involved.

Thank you Disney, for letting us spend all our money (we informed Children #2 and #3 they can no longer get braces), and at the same time, spend once-in-a-lifetime moments together as a family. You are the bomb dot com.