Family life, Paleo-ish eating and Coping with Chronic Illness

I have noticed that some of the best advice I have received in my life, has come from people who are the slowest to offer it.

Is that a saying?   There has to be people who have said this before me. This thought just recently occurred to me though.  It feels original.

Not to say that chronic advice givers don’t nail it some times.  They do.  Statistically speaking, they are bound to get some stuff right.  Still, it’s those folks sitting quietly, going unnoticed, who know things. Why do you think they’re being so quiet? They’re thinking, silly.  They’re gathering facts and weighing options. Those are the folks you want to ask about which stocks to buy.  Not the folks writing blogs.

And that is just some free advice I’m giving to you about who to ask for advice.  I hope you were listening.

Something is changing at our house.  At first, I thought it was an anomaly; a unique occurrence, not connected to a pattern. I was wrong.  Scott and I are finding ourselves alone more often.

The kids are all teenagers.  Thankfully, these three humans we created, lean towards homebodyishness, like their parents. They could be gone a lot more than they are.  That is true. But, they do have things happening in their lives right now that don’t involve us.  And, that seams kinda mean.

In the last few months, Scott and I have had a couple of days or evenings where no one needs anything from us.  Everyone is gone.  At first, this time felt a little awkward.  We’re getting the hang of it now.

Scott is funny.  He always has been; I feel pretty sure that our common desire for a good laugh was what we liked best about each other back in the very beginning.  It still is.  So, we have that.  Now that we are getting to hang out, and give each other our full attention, we see the silliness never went away.  The silliness just got dusty, and some times forgotten, beneath the weight of parental responsibility.

This past weekend, Scott and I were having a good afternoon. Olivia came home in the evening from her youth group event. She had been gone all day and the night before.  She was overtired.  Olivia is a teenage girl. She’s my bff.  When Olivia is overtired and almost 14, she can get a little cranky.  It’s best to give her space.  I know that.  That’s what I do. Scott really doesn’t care about giving overtired teenagers space.

Olivia came through the door; she wasn’t smiling.   Scott and I were on the couch together. We wanted to know how Olivia’s day had gone.  She wasn’t in the mood to share.  She tried pulling away from our questioning as fast as possible, to the safe retreat of her quiet bedroom.  I was happy to let her go.

Olivia got down the hallway, almost to her bedroom, when Scott made her stop.  He yelled,  “Olivia, I just have one more question”

“What now?!” Olivia responded impatiently.

“Did you get all the SNEW out of your hair before you came home?”

Right there. That’s when Scott and I remembered we are really just two juveniles, masquerading as adults.   I covered my mouth with my hand so Olivia couldn’t hear me laugh.  Scott was doing the “snew” joke on her.  Did you hear me? The “snew” joke is classic.  The snew joke KILLS!!!

“You know,” Scott tried again, “The SNEW!!!  I sure hope you at LEAST got all that SNEW out of your hair before you left.”

Olivia was quiet.  I was giggling.  It felt like I was the middle schooler I once was.  Finding so much humor in something a stern teacher didn’t find funny at all.  Except, this time, Olivia is the stern teacher. Scott and I are the middle schoolers.

“Dad!!!!  I don’t even know what you’re talking about!!!! ”

She heard me laughing, “You guys are so ridiculous!”

The bedroom door slammed.

Quiet.

Well.  Usually the snew joke kills.  It’s supposed to go like this:

Me: Hey, make sure you get the SNEW out of your hair.

You: What’s snew?

Me: I don’t know. What’s new with you?

Then you laugh really hard, because I just got you good.

See? That joke is awesome.  Especially when it’s used to pester overtired teenagers.

Even though Olivia didn’t cooperate,  Scott and I still shared a laugh at his cleverness.   Olivia took a little rest, and she figured out the punch line later.

She still wasn’t impressed.

Here’s a picture of Scott and me taking a selfie outside of a gas station this weekend. We were on our way to a wedding.  That’s kind of juvenile too, right?  We’re really getting good at this stuff:

scott miki selfie

I kept my sunglasses on to hide my juvenile wrinkles.

You know what I don’t find funny?  Humiliation.

I’m going to tell you a story; it is at the expense of my dignity.  I’ve thought this over, and have decided I’m okay with that.  Entertainment is generally my overarching goal.  With that goal in mind,  I believe this story delivers.  The other reason I’m telling you this story is because there’s a moral to learn.  This story offers you a win-win situation.

I lose.

Let’s begin. I had to take our broken computer back to Best Buy.  We really like Best Buy. They’ve been good to us.  When you are waiting to talk with someone on the Geek Squad at Best Buy, they have chairs lined up in a row, so you can sit while you wait. That’s nice. Sometimes the lines are long.

I sat down in a chair, and began waiting patiently for my turn.  While I was sitting, an older man came in the store, and walked over to the repair department. This man had long, gray hair.  I didn’t look at him for long, but when I did look, I could see that his hair was greasy and messy.  I’m pretty sure he had a shirt that was unbuttoned a bit further than necessary, and he was wearing a gold chain.  Oh, and I also could smell him.  It wasn’t a good kind of smell.

I judged him pretty hard.  In some vague/subconscious part of my brain, I had determined he was more than likely a pervert.  Really, do we need more evidence?

I told you.  I lose in this story.

Normally, when I’m in close proximity with strangers,  I give them a smile, and often attempt friendly conversation.  I didn’t do any of that with this guy when he sat down next to me.  Safety first.

My number was finally called by the repair department.  I went and talked to the technician at the counter with my back to the waiting line.  I talked to the technician for quite a while. That’s a key part of this story.  You’ll see why.

Eventually, the technician walked away from the counter to check on something. That is when I felt a tap on my shoulder.  It was the man with the greasy hair.  He wasn’t giving me eye contact.  He leaned his head in toward mine, and quietly whispered, “Ma’am,  your skirt is tucked up into your, you know…”

AHHHHHHH!!!!!!

The long haired man scurried away,  so as not to cause me further embarrassment.  You get it? The man I though was a pervert, now thinks I am a pervert.

I quickly adjusted my skirt.

How could I not know that was happening?  The skirt was way up there folks. Not just a corner of the skirt. The. Whole.Freaking.Back of my skirt.  The WHOLE thing.  It was all tucked into my waistband.

How does this even happen?  I didn’t know that could happen.  I should sue Best Buy. Their chairs are defective.

After the long hair man walked away, I could feel heat radiating off of my red face. When the technician returned to the counter, I started babbling.  I was disoriented.  I couldn’t make sense of our conversation; I was distracted by the urge to die.

I thought the technician would never stop yammering on about the stupid computer.  Which, at that point, I gladly would have traded for an escape hatch.  After nine million hours, the technician finally quit talking, and handed me a receipt.  Our business was done.

The long haired man offered me one more act of kindness when he mercifully avoided looking my way, as I walked by him towards the door. It occurred to me that a mature person would thank this man for the brave thing he did.  Shame kept me silent.

Long haired man probably assumed I was on my way to find my next victims.  He thought I was on my way to “Staples”, next door, where I would streak through the school supplies aisle, scaring all the children.

Pure. Shame.

Do you understand the moral of the story?  It is not obscure,  and it isn’t just about wearing nice, clean underwear, because, you know, you never know.

The moral of this story is that  I judged that long haired guy hard. I was so wrong.

Another way this story delivers is it proves that your day could always be worse. The next time something goes wrong for you, just say, “At least I’m not standing in line at Best Buy in my underwear.”

Right?  That’s worth at least the time it took you to read this.

Mother’s Day weekend. That’s a good time.  I played the Mother’s Day card pretty hard this weekend.  I’m just sorry it’s over.  I like the attention.  I do.  I like the cards and the candy and the extra attentive family members.  I’m not uncomfortable with with the spotlight.

When I get older, I might be one of those mothers who turns family events into an opportunity to have “heart problems”.   Just about the time I feel like the youngins are not paying attention to me, I’ll start to feel light headed and clutch my heart.  The kids will yell, “Grandma’s sick.  Everyone, come help!”

Then, I’ll make a show of deflecting their concern.  “No kids,  I’m fine.  You keep having your fun (ignoring me). Don’t worry about this old lady.” Then, I’ll grab my heart again and head for the floor.

That’s how you handle that.  Ungrateful whippersnappers, forgetting Grandma likes the spotlight.

I received some delightful homemade cards for Mother’s Day; that’s what my family knows I like.  I love a few sincere and authentic  comments from my family, summarizing the role I’m playing in their lives.  You know, like a report card.  Except, I’d better be on the honor roll, or you can keep that report card to yourself.

I had a friend who posted something pretty funny on Facebook on Mother’s Day.  He said something like, “To all the good Moms out there, Happy Mother’s Day.  The rest of you can suck it.  That is all.”

Was that really bad?  It made me laugh.

Seems like he could have given credit to bad kids too.  There are plenty of those running around making our lives miserable.  Some of those kinds of kids don’t even have a bad mamma to blame for all their badness either. Those bad kids found badness all on their own.  I guess they can suck it too.

I don’t know where I am right now, or how to get out of here.

Let’s talk about goodness now.  Let’s talk about my friend, Lisa. If I could have three wishes, at least one of them would be for everyone in this world to have a friend like Lisa.  She’s so cool.

It’s a little weird that Lisa and I are such good friends. We’re different.  As you know, there’s just nothing secret about me.  What do you need to know? I’m happy to share.  My friend Lisa is reserved. Dignified.  In fact, that’s all I”m going to say about her, because I feel like she actually won’t even love that I’m talking about her right now.  Even if what I’m talking about is good.

But, guess what?  Lisa and I are such good friends, that I can say I don’t care if she doesn’t like this shout out. She’s getting it anyway, and I’m super confident our friendship will survive it.

The story is this. One day I asked Lisa what she thought I should do with the landscaping in my front yard.  Lisa’s landscaping is beautiful around her home.  She has a knack for it; landscaping is one of her favorite pastimes.  The thing with Lisa is, if she knows you have a need, she’s not very good at ignoring it.  And to be very, very gut-busting honest, I’ll tell you that I kind of knew that before I had this little landscaping conversation with Lisa.  I’m not that good of a person, really.  But, my mamma was.

Lisa is a lot like my mother-in-law.  You can NOT, NOT, NOT tell these two women that you adore black cherry ice cream, and then expect them NOT to buy you a gallon of black cherry ice cream.  That is how women like this roll. They aim to deliver.

I’ve learned this over the years, and I usually am more polite about NOT expressing my wishes.  I don’t want these ladies to feel obligated.  But I DID throw this landscaping dilemma out to Lisa. I knew better.  Knowing better didn’t stop me.

While I was at work one day, Lisa came over and previewed the pathetic landscaping already in place.  She jotted notes, and made some measurements.  I didn’t even know she did that.

Then, she called me and asked me if I had some time over the weekend.  Yes, indeed, I did.  We spent an afternoon planting what I can only assume will be an outstanding display around our house.  Lisa brought her own tools, plants from her house and she even brought her own water bottle.  She didn’t want to be a bother.

Everyone should have a friend like Lisa.  Have I mentioned that?  I love her.

The other piece of goodness I want to share with you is my nephew, Caleb.  Caleb is my sister, Heidi’s only son.  He is like a brother to Eddie and Zeke. These guys love each other to pieces, and have participated in all sorts of crazy together.  Caleb has spent a lot of time at our house, and he’s another person we’re all crazy about.

Caleb and Zeke are 15-years-old right now.  I’ve never been a 15-year-old boy, but I’ve been doing a little detective work; from the evidence I’ve seen, being a 15-year-old boy is quite pleasant.  And, by pleasant, I mean pleasant in  the way having your teeth drilled withOUT Novocaine might be pleasant.  Or, in the way taking a stroll through 4 feet of snow, in 20 below zero temperatures, barefoot might be pleasant.  You know?  THAT kind of pleasant.

Oh, poor, poor 15-year-old boys.  They’re so sweet in their “Am I a boy, or a man?” phase of life. A mom is ill equipped to answer these questions. That doesn’t help.  Moms just keep praying and praying and loving and loving and buying food and more food.  That’s all we can do, right?

Caleb has this habit of humming and singing.  He does this ALL the time.  Caleb isn’t even aware that he’s humming most of the time.  Heidi was wondering if she should tell Caleb to stop. What if people make fun of him? Something in Heidi told her telling Caleb to stop humming would be a bad idea.  I think it was something in her called good mothering instincts.

Caleb LITERALLY has a song in his heart…like, all the time. Caleb is a great athlete, and, then, he’s also a musician.

I feel like music is to Caleb what wrestling is to Eddie.  More than a hobby or an interest.  I know.  You’re thinking, here she goes with all the dramatics, again.  For real. I’m just telling you what I see.

Sometimes people are born loving things.  These things are etched into the souls of these kind of people, giving them a never ending craving for more of what they love.  I happen to think that this is one of those inexplicable God things. These interests are gifts that could only come from Him.  I feel pretty solid on that, but I know we all got are own ideas.

Thanks, God!

I’m saying all that, because I wanted to share about a minute and half of preciousness with you.  Caleb made his Mom a sweet Mother’s Day gift.  He sang a song for her.  This is Caleb singing melody, harmony, and, oh, that’s him on the guitar too.  Do you have about 100 seconds to hear it?   Aw, you’re such a softy. Thanks for being my friend.

Here’s Caleb:

Most of the stuff I talk about is G-rated, right?  I don’t like x-rated stuff.  I really don’t.  I’m not just saying that to distract you from my secret life either.  I just think perversion is a bit of a bore.  When I’m listening to funny comedians, and they start telling x-rated jokes, I’m out.  Sure, on some level their jokes are offensive, but mostly I just find perverted jokes unfunny.  I’m not passing judgement here, my friend.  I’m just telling you who I am.  I’m not everyone’s cup o’ tea.

I had to tell you all that before I tell you this next thing.  I don’t want you to think I’m perverted.

Reggie and I witnessed another private moment in nature.  I told you a crazy squirrel story one time.  Today’s story is about ducks.

This morning I was walking Reggie near the middle school in our town, and I saw what looked like a pile of ducks in the distance. Only it wasn’t a pile.  It was three ducks.  One female and two male ducks.  As we got closer, I could see that the male ducks were in relentless pursuit of the female duck.  These guys would catch up to the female, and then they would both try to…you know…with her. At the same time.

The female duck kept quacking really, really loudly.  Then, it looked like she’d try to get away from her male companions.  Those male ducks were pretty persistent though.  And, that’s why I wanted to share this story.  I feel like I witnessed a crime.

I don’t speak duck, but I surely wish I did.  I stood there looking at this female duck, wondering if she was asking me for help.  Do you think she was?  It sorta sounded like, “Quack, QUAAAAAK!!!!  Quack, Quack!”  Does that mean, “Help me, I’m being violated!” in duck language?

It’s been bothering me all day.  I didn’t help her.

Usually, Reggie, is pretty high strung and easily provoked into a frenzy on our walks.  If he sees a nice old lady on a bike, he’ll start barking loudly and pulling on the leash.  When he saw this thing, he was dumbfounded. He just stared.

My imagination started firing up, and I thought maybe the female duck looked a little fat.  Was she pregnant?  What kind of sickos were these guys?

Right when I was considering my options, and picturing myself karate chopping these male ducks, I looked up and saw the school janitor.  He was laughing at me.  I decided to keep walking.

The whole thing was uncomfortable.  And, now I can add worrying about female ducks to my list of things to worry about.

I did look back and I saw female duck fly across the road.  Of course, those idiots followed her.  But, remembering that ducks fly, did reassure me a little.  I hope she flew away.  That seems like a better solution than the karate chop thing.

If you ever think that my blog serves no purpose, just remember that duck story; it’s evidence that I’ve got important things to say.  Things that are worth your time.

Here’s something that IS worth your time.  I’m feeling spiritually energized lately.

Do you want to know something? I think that the little baby I had growing in me for the first part of the year was touched by God.  Our baby was touched by God, and God used our baby to touch me.

I can’t explain this well, and that’s why I haven’t tried before now.   When I had a miscarriage, I was so sad, but I was also awakened.  It’s kind of an exciting, thrilling and joyful position I find myself in now; that is something that fills me with gratitude.

I’m still not going to put a whole bunch of words to this thing, because I don’t think it’s time yet.  But, I will say specifically, one thing I am learning is that sometimes you can have a little too much common sense.  Sometimes common sense looks like unbelief, and unbelief looks like apathy, and apathy looks like a nice Christian girl who has all the answers, but lacks passion and conviction.  A girl who thinks the best you can get out of life is making peace with life going wrong.  A girl who believes faith doesn’t actually yield God’s power to answer prayers affirmatively.

I’ve been misled.  My common sense has betrayed me in my life. I’ve missed out on some joy.

I couldn’t be happier about this revelation.  I’m looking forward to believing more courageously right now.  I’m not speaking metaphorically, when I tell you that thinking and talking and thinking about this renewal in my faith makes my heart beat faster, and engages my mind fully.

I’ve got a little group of women together who are ready to explore this thing with me, and I feel God in that too.  I’ll be sure to update you on the good things God will be doing through these women.

God uses my life to teach me.  It’s thrilling. I plan to search for lessons until the very end.

God uses people to teach me too.  I wish I could make sure all those people know how thankful I am for them.  If you’re in my life, consider yourself thanked.  And, may God pour a giant blob of blessings all the heck over you and the people you love for your kindness.  Wow…someone needs to turn that into a song.

Fear

Do you know how to tell when someone you love is overly competitive?  When you notice they’re not sleeping well, and they tell you it’s because they were up praying for the draft.  I’m not making that up.  This really happened at my house.

In case you’re like me, and you don’t know when the draft is, or really WHAT the draft is, I will tell you that I’m talking about the NFL Draft. The draft is about football.   I think the draft is important because the people who run the show get to pick players, which, I guess, has the potential to impact your favorite team’s success. The players help their teams win. And if you’re overly competitive, winning is key.

Does God care about the NFL Draft?

Sometimes I get so deep and philosophical in my writings.  I’m afraid I lose more of the  common people.

This Albert guy says this:

albert einstein

Could someone please make a poster with a head shot of me?  I’d like this quote next  to my face, “Does God care about the draft?  Indeed. He might.”

I’ll tell you, I’m totally putting a leave-on-conditioner in my hair to make my hair silky for my poster. I bet Albert wished he would have known about leave-in-conditioner.  It’s a shame, really.  All that wisdom, sullied by split ends.

Scott and I have been philosophical about our future lately.  What do we want it to look like?  I think it’s important to cast a vision for yourself, don’t you?

In our storage/garage cleaning we found 23-year-old letters that I had written to Scott.  To me, these letters are priceless.  Mostly, because the letters prove to me that I was not as foolish as I remember being.  I mean, sure, I was ignorant in the way a 20-year-old is ignorant of the lessons she will learn from what she has yet to experience.  That, for sure, is true.

Other than that?  I think I had decent instincts for a youngin’.

I will admit the letters were full of the most ridiculous, gushy, cringe-worthy sentiments imaginable.  Here’s a clip, “I’m just sorry there are not enough words in the English language to describe the love I have for you.”…and more goodies like that.

If the kids read these letters, they’d never forgive me.

The good thing about these letters is their optimism.  I was just plain excited about life, and about Scott.   I valued his work ethic, and his kindness.  Good job, little Miki.  Those are the right things to value.

And, as our relationship progressed towards marriage, I actually did some forecasting in my letters.  I told young Scott that even when we had been married a super long time, and nothing was new any more,  we would always enjoy talking to each other, and we would always keep laughing.

I kinda nailed it.

And, here’s another freaky thing.  In one letter, I said that some day when we were older, we would be cleaning, and we would find the letters.  I said the letters would remind us of how much we loved each other, and we would enjoy those happy memories.  And, so we did.

That is my lesson that it pays to think ahead, AND to put into words what you would like to become real.  Scott and I have been playing around with that a little as it pertains to our future from this point.

Next stop:  kids’ college, weddings, retirement???  Really?  Wow, we’re half way through life.  All those people are exactly right.  It goes fast.

Scott was kind of talking through retirement some.  He’s likely to stop coaching before he quits teaching.  He talked that out with me.  He said, “Well, I could teach, and then I guess I’d come home after school and putz a round until you got home from work.”

We were driving in the car when Scott said that.  The car got awfully quiet then.  We were silent until we both started laughing.  I don’t know how to explain why the thought of Scott putzing around is so frightening to me.  First of all, what will Scott putz with? He doesn’t really do hobbies.  I mean, coaching is his hobby, and his job, and, truthfully between coaching, teaching and our family, just about every second of Scott’s day is covered, generally.

Scott is not very imaginative.  I don’t see him building model airplanes, or carving wood or baking homemade muffins.  At least not yet, anyway.  I know crazier things have happened.  But, I am certain that neither of us want to even consider these options at this point, and that’s how I know it isn’t time to retire.  I guess we like working.

The other scary part of imagining Scott’s retirement is the thought of him waiting by the door for me.  That’s not good imagery for either of us.  Reggie’s got that deal covered.

So, we’re trying to cast a vision, but we also know that life will change when it’s ready.  There’s no forcing it.  We can be content to give one hundred percent effort to the tasks at hand, God will let us know when our efforts are no longer needed.  I’m sure of it.

Scott isn’t ready to retire, but he did think he could at least practice a little.  This week he told me he was going to sit out on the patio and do the cross word puzzle.

Come again?

That marks the first time Scott has ever sat on the patio.  Muffin baking is just ahead.

20150429_180409

Attempting Technology

Oh, it feels like too long since we’ve caught up.  And, by caught up, I mean me rambling on about nothing in particular, and assuming anyone cares.  The idea that you’d have to be at least a little narcissist to enjoy blogging does not escape me.  I see it.

For now, it appears, I can’t be stopped.

There are not a lot of big things happening now, which is exactly the way I like it.  Just all the normal chaos.  Like, taking Olivia to school.  This week, on our drive, I was complaining to Olivia about my long  to do list.  I think I’m like most women.  As soon as I buckle up in the car, my brain starts churning through everything I need to remember.  Unfortunately, I’m buckled in; there isn’t anything I can actually do about getting the stuff on that list done. I go through the list anyway; I guess I like keeping myself  in a perpetual state of anxiety.  It’s just fun.

The problem with this silent recitation is that by the time I unbuckle my seat belt, get out of the car and get to work or home, I’ve forgotten the list.  I just don’t have the kind of memory that actually remembers.

I told Olivia that it would be nice if I could capture my thoughts on tape.  You know, like with a tape recorder.  She didn’t know. What’s a tape recorder? She did offer a helpful suggestion from her generation, “There’s gotta be an app for that.”

Indeed.  There is.

list note

This is what the app looks like.

I downloaded this app. I’m sort of test driving this thing.  So, bear with me.  So far, I want to say I love it.   I don’t want to be all greedy and irresponsible, and tell you this thing is changing my life.  I don’t know that yet.  I feel like it might.

This app allows you to dictate the things you have to remember.  Then, you can categorize the items on your list.  Right now I have three categories: Home, Work, Blog.  To me, this is revolutionary.  I have carried around a notebook in the past, but for some reason this isn’t immediate enough.  I have to have the notebook with me, and I have to remember to write stuff down. Then, I have to remember to refer to what I wrote down.  It was an okay system, but I wasn’t the best at implementing it.I always have my phone with me.  So, this app thing is better. 

I haven’t worked out all the kinks yet.  I had a note on my list that said, “Check on our well.”

Gosh, that was driving me crazy.  I kept wondering why I would want to check on our well.  Especially since we don’t have a well.  I was thinking and thinking, begging my brain to deliver some thought I recognized.  Then, while I was thinking, I heard a story on the radio about someone dying, and that was just the thing I needed to remember.  Our WILL!  Check our WILL! As in, last will and testament.  I wrote that note to remind myself to call a lawyer about setting up our will. I don’t need to check the well. The well is probably doing fine.

I guess the voice recognition system on my new app is a little glitchy.

Like, right now I have a nice list going, except for one item.  It says, “Ad carriage ceremony.”

Woah. These things drive me nuts.  I put this thing in there.   What does it mean?  What was I trying to say?   I know there’s a perfectly necessary thing not being done right now that sounds like, “Ad carriage ceremony”. I don’t know what to do about it.

Sad marriage balogna?

Mad porridge territory?

Flat garage homey?

WHAT. IS. IT???

If I was supposed to do something for you that sounds like “Ad carriage ceremony”, I want to tell you I’m really sorry.  Like, if you’re my homey, and I was supposed to flatten your garage, I hope you will forgive me.

I’m also sorry that I need technology to step in and be my brain, but I do.  I’m gonna have to be okay with that, because I don’t see an alternative.

I guess I’m all about technology today.  I also wanted to tell you that I decided Scott and I should have more conversations via texting.  A friend posted this cute story about a husband and wife, and their sweet and funny texts to each other.  I thought that seemed romantic.  This couple had dozens of silly and kind texts to each other about nothing in particular.

I told Scott we were going to start doing that too.  Come to think of it, I don’t remember if he answered.

I couldn’t really imagine how this texting thing was going to happen.  Scott saves texting and phone calls for special occasions.  Like, when he’s on fire, or having a stroke.

If I’m at work, and I see that I have a call from Scott, I always pick up.  That is an emergency.  Scott doesn’t call to chat.  He calls to tell you to get to the hospital, or come bail him out of jail. Really, I should thank him or that.  Talking to Scott on the phone isn’t that pleasant.  I’d rather talk to Reggie.

I know I’m painting Scott in a pretty poor light, and, basically, I get to do that, because It’s my blog, and he doesn’t read it.  But, truth be told, I could be a lot better at texting and talking on the phone myself.  It isn’t my favorite.

This new romantic texting plan is not without it’s challenges.

So far, I’m getting a lot of one word responses from him, and nothing overly clever, or romantic.  Like, I wrote, “Hey sweetie.  I’m on my way home from work.  What are you doing?”

Scott’s reply, “At home.”

Well, you little rascal, you.  What do you think he meant by that?  He’s a clever one.

We’ll keep trying.

Scott is romantic in other ways.  Like the way he bought me a pull up bar for the kitchen.

He really did.

We got a delivery from Amazon, and it was NOT something I ordered.  I thought it must be a mistake.  That’s never happened.  Scott ordered something on impulse.  No discussion, price checking or comparison shopping.  I didn’t know it could happen.

Scott said this pull up bar was going to be awesome.  We could do pull ups any time of the day we wanted, which was super good news for me, because I HATE it when I’m making cookies, and I’m like, “Where’s a freakin’ pull up bar when you need one?!!”

Problem solved.

Scott did show me that the pull up bar is versatile.  He told us we could do some ab work with this thing too.  Let me explain.  Scott hung from the bar, and raised both straightened legs up until they were close to his face.  So, um, try that.

I’m a good sport.  I tried it.  When no one was looking.  Yeah.  That was really funny.  There’s nothing about that exercise that is possible for me.

I will give the kid credit.  I like this ugly contraption.  I have been using it every day.  Two weeks ago I could not do one unassisted pull up.  Now, I can do one.  Just one.  Next week, I am aiming for two.

I have been using the pull up bar every day.  We all have.  I think it might be one of the many things we all tease Scott about, and then secretly call him a genius.

The best part about the pull up bar, is that I get to do pull ups in my work clothes.  I look so awesome doing this, I wanted to show you.  I can tell my kids are so proud when their friends come over, and their mom is doing pull ups (attempting) in heels and a skirt.  I guess I’ve always been on the cool side. Not to brag.

pull up

Braggers Beware

Earlier this year, I was chatting with my Mom.  I remember saying some dumb thing about how I felt so energized.  I told her I was basically an ambitious person, and I just had a lot of things I was excited about doing.

You fool.

Never. And, I mean…NEVER.  Brag about yourself.  Just don’t.  Don’t do it.  Never put even the tiniest inkling of a good thought you have about yourself out there for people to hear.  Not even to your Mom.  It will always come back to hurt you.

About a week after I tried enlightening my Mom to my charms, I started getting sick.  Then, I was pregnant.  Then, I wasn’t.  You know that story.  All that took about 2 and half months to unfold.  For the first three months of this year I was feeling much less than ambitions.  During that time, the bar was set at survival.

I survived.

I am waking up again.  I do this a lot. It’s a pattern. I can’t be the only one.

I really do get excited about things.  Then, I get sidetracked with life’s stuff.  I keep telling God that I am at His service.  I mean it, God.  When things settle down, I’m there.  Count on it.  With bells on.  I’m in your corner…oops, gotta go.  I’ve got a bad cold.

It can’t be easy dealing with me.

I wonder if God can use me in my state of imperfection, in a state of grief, in a state of not knowing all the answers?  I am starting to think He can.  I’m starting to get excited to think that He can.

Gut truth, from my heart. I think I’m here on this planet, occupying this little spec of time,  to be used by God. I think we all are. I don’t really see an end to all the stuff that happens that gets in my way; just when I think I am done with the old stuff, I discover new stuff.

Am I alone here?  Can I get an Amen? C’mon, sister, tell me you got stuff.  If you don’t got stuff, you keep that crap to yourself.  I told you what happens to braggers.

No.  I’m sorry for cussin’ at you. If you have an easy life, I am happy for you.  But, seriously, keep it to yourself.

Now that I’m awake again, I’m picking back up where I left off.  The garage.

The garage is something you need ambition to tackle.  I told you this before, but just to recap I will remind you that everything in our lower level was brought up in one mad dash.    Mostly, it was brought up by the kids.  We had one weekend to empty the basement for the contractors.

Okay, you’re gonna bust me on the details again.  Yes. we knew further ahead than the day before the weekend started that we were going to remodel.  But, but, not really.  We were pecking away at things when we could. We thought we had weeks.  Suddenly, the contractors said they could come early. We didn’t want to pass up that opportunity.

Even though Scott and I weren’t home, we told the kids to grab everything they could, and throw it in the garage.  Kids are very literal.  I think our children stood 40 yards back and practiced their spiral through the garage door with just about everything we own.

Do you want to see it?  You do, don’t you.  Because you’re sick.  You need this.  You want this to make yourself feel better about your sterile and tidy garage.  Fine.  You’re a good friend. So, I’ll show you. Who wants a spotless garage, anyway?  I like mine looking lived-in, by a family of rabid raccoon.

This is what it looked like:

basement

Everything categorized and in logical order. Just the way I like it.

I bet you think I Googled images of homes ripped up by tornadoes. I promise, I didn’t. This pictures is, unfortunately, real.

My neat freak friends and family are feeling a little light headed.  Close your eyes, my friend.  Breath in.  Breath out.  Now, feel the calm settle through your body, as you remember this isn’t your garage; you don’t have to deal with it.

I do.

Hey, you need a hammer?  No problem I think it’s right next to the baby doll, underneath the Christmas lights, between the bed sheets, by the dead squirrel.  I’ll just move this 400 pound tube TV, and I’ll get it for you.

This is why I really needed some energy.  When I was feeling terribly sick, I had one good idea for fixing this problem.  A match.  Just torch the thing.  We’ll deal with the consequences.

Scott is just really funny about arson.  He’s all like, maybe there’s something in there we want.  A fire seems kind of dangerous. I don’t know how you can work from jail. All the usual excuses.  Then, I’m like, fine.  If you’re going to freak out about the details, you think of something.

I am happy to tell you that the garage does NOT look like that any more.  I worked on it all weekend, until my fingers bled. Well, not really, but it felt like it.  I am actually sore from working so hard.  So, I am sure I have at least one internal organ bleeding from all my effort.  You just can’t see it.

I’d post a picture of how the garage looks now,  but that picture would be like a half-way-until-we-get-to-the after-picture. That’s no good. Plus, I want to keep you in suspense.  An after picture will be coming.

We are taking this opportunity to cleanse ourselves of all the junk that spoiled Americans acquire.  It is truly astonishing.  I used to say we were minimalists. Frugal. Non-materialistic.  I told bold face lies.

We ARE materialistic.  Look at all the material evidence in that picture.  I don’t know how it happened.  How did we ever have enough money to buy all of that?  Some of those things are gifts.  But, you get the idea.

Scott and I have had this 22-year battle going over hauling stuff away.  I’m totally okay with it.  He hates it.  His frugal heart just won’t let him.  But, even he realizes we’re drowning here.  He wasn’t keen on the bon fire idea, so we compromised.  We are going to have an epic garage sale, and after that, the rest is going to charity.

Meanwhile, I’m asking myself how I ever let all that stuff in our house.  From now on, I’m playing aggressive defense.  I’ll be in my family’s faces.  When they come through the door with something in their hands, I’ll stay low, shuffle my feet,  and bat that crap right back out the door.  They won’t see me coming.

I am properly motivated.

Do not fill this house back up again.  Do not.  Or, I will kill you.  Seriously.  Is that thing you’re holding something you can take with you to heaven?  Because that’s where you’ll be taking it if you try bringing it in here.

That is all I have to say about hoarding and our garage.

The other thing I wanted to make a comment on was amazing people.  Like all the people that remember to send thank yous, cards, and send kind gifts to other people who are dealing with difficulties.  I’m always in awe of these people.

Scott’s family and cousins are people like this.  Most of them live in Iowa.  There have been times when we pulled in the driveway after going to a wedding in Iowa, and there’s a thank you note from the bride waiting for us in the mailbox.   When that happens, I look at Scott and say, “Your people sure like to show off, don’t they?”

No, I’m kidding.  Those cool folks weren’t really trying to show off.  They’re just so on top of things, they freak me out.  I’m going to have to forgive them for that.

I have a neighbor who has four children.  She just had her fourth baby.  This neighbor is so kind-hearted; I love the way she mothers and takes care of her family.  It’s wholesome.

My neighbor heard about our loss.  She brought over a delicious meal.  Remember when I said she JUST had a baby?  Yeah. So, there’s people like that.  Oh, and I didn’t tell you the part about me never bringing HER a meal when she had her baby.

It’s okay. I’m sure I’ve done something neighborly for her before.  Like, I’ve never had a giant beer party, and kept her up all night with a live band.  Plus, Scott and I have never called the cops on each other during a domestic dispute.  So she hasn’t been woken up by cop sirens and lights…thanks to us.  You’re welcome for THAT, nice neighbor.

I had my neighbor’s Tupperware to return.  The day was sunny and bright; I was in my highest mode of productivity.  I felt so good.  I killed it with the garage. I cleaned the house.  I was on top of my game.

Now, it isn’t unheard of for people to bring dishes to my house, and never see them again.  I’m sorry, but you kinda put yourself out there when you brought that lasagna over here, right?  You gotta at least admit that.  You love to play the odds. In the end, you can only blame yourself.

This time, I washed the neighbor’s Tupperware by hand, AND put that thing in the dishwasher.  I put her other clean dish inside the Tupperware, and then you know what I did?  I wrote a thank you note and put it inside the Tupperware.  I thought to myself that this is what normal people do.  My neighbor doesn’t know I’m having the best day of my life.  She should go buy a lottery ticket, because luck is on her side.

But, then I thought maybe my neighbor is like me, and she has some bad days.  This clean Tupperware thing with a thank you note is kind of showy.  I don’t want to rub it her face about how I have all clean dishes at my house, with time to spare for penning meaningful thank you notes.

So, then, I’m like maybe I should put another note in the Tupperware.  Like, an apology note for the thank-you note.  I’ll  explain that I’m just having a super good day.  I normally wouldn’t be this good, but the boys are all gone at a wrestling meet, so I have extra time, and I don’t have an infant, so I just had extra hours in the day to do this amazing thing.  I’m not really amazing at all.  In fact, usually, I’d keep your Tupperware, and add it to my collection of all my other friends’ Tupperware  in my cupboard. Friends who also thought bringing me a meal was a good idea.

I’d tell her not to let this clean dish and thank you note thing make her feel like she’s not doing a good job running your household.  She is.  She shouldn’t compare herself to me on this one fluke of a day.  This isn’t actually me being me, after all.

I decided not to include the second note.  It seemed like it might just be too much. I don’t know.  Maybe I should have.

I just dropped the Tupperware back off, hoping that my neighbor/friend was having a good day herself, and that she’d forgive me for being prompt, clean and polite.

Some people wonder when I will run out of things to blog about.  Never.  Not with amazing thank you note stories to write. I’ve got an endless supply of this stuff.

thank-you-image

I refuse to send a thank you note that isn’t signed with my hand written calligraphy. That’s just manners 101.

Please?

Eddie turns 18 today.  I fought as hard as I could against this; I guess I didn’t fight hard enough.  Little bugger always has been stubborn.

I had this big, long blog written about Eddie’s coming of age birthday.  The thing just kept getting longer and longer, taking more turns and twists, until I ended in a place that had nothing to do with the start.  I read it over and over, and I thought, “What is this pile of crap?”

I nixed that blog post, and settled for a short and sweet Facebook post for Eddie. We also gave him a basket of food.  Food is what you give a boy who wears rags and who has no appreciation for basically anything you can purchase. For kids like that, the grocery store has everything they have ever dreamed of getting for their Birthday and Christmas.  Merry Christmas, my son.  Here’s a gallon of chocolate milk.

I thought I was done with the whole hulabaloo 18th Birthday extravaganza.   No such luck.  I can’t stop thinking and pondering.  I keep thinking there is just something I need to say.   Really, it a nuisance to be me.

I went back to the drawing board.  I looked at that knotted yarn ball of a blog post I wrote, and I asked myself why I couldn’t just sum it all up simply.  What exactly am I trying to say, anyway?  How about a short version?

I will try that.

The point I most wanted  to make to my son and to myself is this: I have made mistakes.  I’m sorry for them. I want to tell Eddie what those mistakes are.  Just in case there’s the tiniest chance he could learn from them.  I know I sure have.

That’s what I’m going to do.

Dear, little Eddie.  I would like 18 do overs.  If I could go back I would…

1. Understand that I did not invent childbirth.  Moms have been doing it since time began, with a lot less medication. I might add.  I should have been more humble.  I’m glad you were too young to remember all that.

2. Know that people can teach me things.  There is a limit to my knowledge, and you could benefit from me keeping an open mind.  When you were a baby, your doctor mentioned that you might have an allergy to dairy.  Someone else suggested I take you to a chiropractor.  Sounded like witchcraft to me.

I’m exaggerating.  But, I did dismiss those suggestions immediately; I thought I knew all there was to know about how to keep you healthy.  And, well, you saw how that turned out.

3. Know my value was not dependent upon your performance.  When Kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Belmore, told me me you were adorable, but driving her crazy, I should NOT have lost full night’s sleep over her comment.  I was NOT failing as a mom, because you thought it would be fun to make your friends laugh by putting M&M’s up your nose.  That was on you, kid.  All you.

4. Embrace your mistakes.  Expect them.  When you made mistakes, I didn’t need to get so worked up.  Each mistake was an opportunity to teach and to learn.  Oh, so many, many blessed, stinkin’, freakin’ opportunities to learn we had. Right, sweetheart?

5. Eat more kale.  I’m nervous I won’t be able to think of 18 do overs.  I am going to have to make some stuff up.

6. Trust myself.  Wow.  That would have been awesome.  Because, sure, on the one hand I thought I knew everything, on the other hand, I was a nervous wreck.  I wish I could have relaxed and trusted my instincts.  I wasn’t at all sure that I was equipped to raise a human being.

7. Serve others.  Gosh, I’m selfish.  I’m sorry, Eddie.  I don’t like saying it, but if I can’t be unselfish, I might as well be honest.  I have been planning to have us work at a homeless shelter for about, um, let’s see…18 years.

There were lots of things I meant to do to help you get outside yourself.  But, that would have meant I would have had to get outside MYSELF.  BIG.HUGE.REGRET.  Total mistake.  I’m sorry.

8. Teach you how to play the harpsichord. You would have been a natural.  How am I doing?  We almost to 18?

9. Know that struggling makes you stronger.  This was a biggie.  I mistakenly thought my job as a mom was to protect you from struggling of any kind.  Unfortunately, God found a rough way to teach me I was wrong.

I read a story once about a mom with a disabled child.  This wise mom was standing with a neighbor in her back yard.  The Mom’s disabled son was trying to play with his siblings on the swing set.  Her son kept trying to climb the ladder up to the slide. Every time he tried, he would fall down.  Eventually, his skin was bloody from the effort.  The neighbor was thinking that this Mom was awful for not helping her disabled son.  After many, many attempts, this disabled boy eventually made it to the top of the ladder.  Success.  He mastered the climb, and was gleeful on his ride down the slide.   He finally knew freedom. That boy never needed help riding the slide again; he enjoyed confidence in being able to perform this act without help from anyone.  His Mom knew exactly what she was doing.

I will NEVER get that story out of my head, because I NEVER would have been as smart as that Mom.  I would have slung your disabled body on my back and gone down that slide with you until you were 75  years old..  I would not have had the insight to know that allowing you to struggle was a gift I could give you.

Well.  I guess I know it now.  You’re on your own, kid.

10. Choose your friends.  You probably don’t like this one, but I’m not gonna make stuff up.  This one is important.  I guess I don’t need a do over on this exactly, because I was pretty good at it.  I just don’t think I should have wasted time feeling badly about it.  I’d do it again.

Let’s face it, you like shenanigans.  You like other kids who like shenanigans.  You weren’t good for these shenanigan lovin’ kids in large doses, they weren’t good for you.  That’s fact.  You needed to be protected from yourselves.

11. Give you more home perms.  Truly sorry I didn’t do this.  You really coulda been something.

12. Banish fear.  This would have been huge.  I shudder to think of how I have been ruled by fear in my life.  I thank God for the things he’s showing me now.   The confidence I have in Christ’s real power to move and change things in real-time, is growing every day.  God healed you, Eddie.  Do I need more proof? I don’t. There is no place for fear.

13. Embrace natural consequences.  Ever heard of ’em?  No. You haven’t.  I never let them touch you.  Mistake.

14. Pray more.  I prayed a lot.  Wish I would have prayed more.

15. Hug you more.  Hugging you now is like hugging that steel pole in the basement.  I can tell it’s not your favorite. That’s okay. I get it.  But, even if you don’t remember this, I promise you USED to like hugging me.  You liked sitting in my lap, and I was your favorite.  Hard to believe. I know.  I’d like to go back and hug you some more.

16. Raise a herd of emus.  I always knew it.  But, I ignored that little voice.  Please, #18.  Where are you?

17. Root for others.  I mostly did this.  I wish I would have done it more.  I think the healthiest, most awesome kids in the world, are the ones who have parents who root for their kids’ friends.  Parents who don’t privately compete.  Mostly I do that, but sometimes I mess up. Yeah. That’s ugly.

18. Not forget that I was on a temporary assignment.  My job was only to train you.  I was in charge of the dress rehearsal. The part that gets you ready for the real thing…adulthood.  I mistakenly thought I got to do the whole thing.  Oops.

That’s it, kid.  Those are the things I would do over.   A lot of Moms would have different do overs.  Theirs would say things like they wished they would not have cleaned the house so much.   That’s a good one, right?  I wish I would have cleaned less.  I know.  We’re both laughing.. Or, I could have said, I wish I wasn’t such a perfectionist.  This is funny stuff.

“Good enough” has always been my motto.

I hope you don’t think I’m beating myself up over this stuff. I’m not.  Remember?  “Good enough”.  Plus,  mistakes are an opportunity to learn.  But, I can’t exactly learn if I don’t acknowledge my mistakes, right?  That’s what this is about.  Learning.

Watching you and your siblings grow is the single greatest joy of my life.  I look forward to many more years of trying to manage your life, and the life of your wife and kids. Set up an extra room for Mammy, kiddo.

Some lessons take longer to learn than others.

Happy Birthday, son.  I love you.

eddie struggling

Just because this is a cool picture…

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