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

I’ve always thought that the 4th of July marked the half-way point for summer.  I guess I was wrong, because the 4th is next week, and there’s no way summer is half way gone. I’ll not be having it, laddy boy.

I’ve been reading historical fiction this summer.  I’ve been hanging out in Scotland.  Do ye know of the book “The Outlanders”?   Dinna mind me new Scottish accent, lasses.  Canna be helped.  Tis a very good book indeed.

Wow.  I’m like a sponge.  I just read books like this and then I know a whole new language.  Crazy how my mind works. It isn’t average.

I feel so freakin’ sentimental lately.  Blahh!  I hate it.  My eyes well up over nothing.  It’s all this time racing past me.  I try to grab hold of some of it, and make it stay in place; I can’t manage it.

Writing helps.  Writing is a way to memorialize simple moments in my life that would otherwise be lived and quickly forgotten.  I like to remember ordinary things.  Ordinary things are my favorite.

Pictures help too.  I recently read an article about all the things you should do with your family when your child is a senior.  One of the suggestions was taking a family portrait.  I haven’t been good about formal pictures with our family.  We’ve only taken a couple.

Here’s one of our first family pictures.  Scott always teases me about this picture.  We were in my sister and brother-in-law’s wedding. Things sort of came together for me that day; I looked pretty fancy.  It bugs Scott that I don’t have one of the kids on my lap in this picture.  He says he thinks I grabbed Zeke by the ear and pulled him out of the way so the kid wouldn’t block the camera’s view of me.

family pic

Beat it, Zeke!

C’mon, Scott.  You know I’m not like that.  But, let’s be honest.  You think one little kid is gonna stop the camera from capturing all that beauty?

I don’t know where Scott comes up these crazy ideas.

Just to keep me humble, our next family picture captured my real essence.  In that photo, I looked like wet dog with a side of hairball.  That whole picture taking experience was a fiasco.  I won’t bore you with the story now.  But, just in case you think I’m exaggerating, I’ve got proof.  It was misting/raining that day.  My hair was down, all nice and pretty.  By the time we took our picture, the only thing I could do was put all those wet strings plastered to my head into a pony tail.  What I know now is that it really doesn’t matter what I looked like.  I just want to remember what all the other nice people in this photo looked like then:

family pic

5 Years ago. Eddie has his head on my shoulder, AWWW!!!!

This article I read said that now is the time for the family portrait.  Once your senior graduates, the family dynamic will never be the same.  Capture the moment while you can. So, we did.

I called a professional photographer.  I had this discussion with her about scheduling an appointment around wrestling tournaments.  I explained to the photographer that it was likely my boys would have a black eye, or some other facial trauma, if we didn’t pick the right day. She pretended like we were having a normal conversation.

I had to call the photographer the day before our pictures.  I told her the boys did  not have any facial bruising.  Eddie just had a smallish scab on his nose.  Oh, and Eddie was on crutches.  Eddie tore a hip muscle in wrestling practice.  The photographer thought photshopping crutches out of the picture might be a challenge.

We had the pictures taken anyway.  We worked around the crutches. Picture taking can be fun.  I was really well behaved.  I didn’t shove any children out of my spotlight.

Right now, the five people in my family have fewer opportunities than ever to be all in the same place at the same time.  When we are together, I sure enjoy it.  We talk and laugh a wee bit more than y’ may believe.  Oops. There I go again.  Being bilingual is a harder than you think.  I keep having to remind myself to use English.

Eddie hurt his hip three days before our pictures.  We hadn’t talked about his injury much.   Eddie gets a bad wrap sometimes from all the members in our family.  I mean, most of the time he deserves it.  The kid can eat a new bag of chocolate chips in an hour.  But, Eddies’s got some things going for him too.  One thing we all know about Eddie is that he can take a hit.  Eddie does not complain. He doesn’t ask for help.   He doesn’t bring up his troubles in conversation.  He doesn’t do anything other than lay low, and wait for things to get better.  I guess Eddie has had a lot of practice at that.

On the way home from picture taking we were finally finding the time to ask Eddie about his injury.  It happened during wrestling practice.  Eddie felt a pop in his hip.  The guy he was wrestling put Eddie on his back and said, “Fight back, Eddie!”

Eddie said, “I can’t.”  Then, Eddie army crawled over to the wall and waited for practice to end.

Eddie’s wrestling practice is a 45 minute drive from our house.  Eddie said he left practice without being able to put any weight on his leg.  It was night time, and raining pretty hard.  He hopped on one leg out to the van.   He lost balance in the parking lot, and tried putting weight on his injured leg.  He dropped to the ground with the effort, and found himself laying in a large puddle. Eddie was close enough to the van to crawl the rest of the way.  He got to the passenger side door, opened it, and crawled over the passenger seat to the driver’s side.  He drove home using his left foot.

Eddie casually shared this story on our way home from picture taking.  I thought this was a crappy story.  Why didn’t he call us from practice so we could come and get him?  Why didn’t he tell us this story sooner?

We were real sorry to hear about what happened to Eddie, but we were enjoying being together while we heard it.  There’s something good about having teenagers.  With teenagers, there are moments when they are at their best, and you are at your best, and your realize you might have actually created your very best friends for life.  Great idea, God. Thank you!  We had several moments during the evening where we could not stop laughing.

Later in the night, Scott was trying to text a fellow coach using the voice command option on his phone. Scott was just rambling into the phone to test the technology.  He wanted to see how it worked.   At the same time he was doing that, we were laying around asking ourselves if Reggie farted.  I asked Scott if he farted, and so he spoke into his phone and said something like, “They think I farted.  I didn’t.”

I yelled into the phone, “You farted.  You stink.”

Then, Zeke yelled, “Send.”

Did you know that if you tell your voice command text to send, it will send?  Scott told us the message sent.  The message to his peer said, “Hey coach, do you know what time practice is and they think I farted.  I didn’t. You farted you stink.”

At first we didn’t believe him that it sent.  Then, he showed us.  Oh my Gosh.  You couldn’t stop us then.  We were gasping for air, we were laughing so hard, and so long.

Scott had the last laugh though.  He told us the message didn’t really send to the coach. Scott is smarter than that.  He was practicing voice texting by sending the message to Zeke’s phone.  We should have known better.  Scott was awfully calm for just having sent an important text to a respected peer about whether or not he farted.

I just have one more important thing to tell you.  I’m giving long skirts a try.  I know I’m a little late to the party. But, I’ve never been accused of being a trend setter.  I’m okay with this.

I just haven’t been on board with the long dress/skirt thing, because I felt like I would look less hip, and more like a member of the Duggar family.

I bought this long black skirt.  I think I like it.  I sort of vacillate between feeling like I’m fashion forward, and thinking I look like I should be offering Holy Communion. No disrespect.  Priests dress totally right for their line of work.

At any rate, I like this long skirt because I think there’s little chance all that fabric could get caught in the waist band without me noticing.  If you read my blogs, you feel me on this.  If not, I won’t be opening that wound.  I’m only just now beginning to heal.

long skirt

Looks pretty good, right?

You know I don’t like to be mean, right? I hate hurt feelings. I avoid hurt feelings almost always.  Except sometimes.  Like now.  I can’t help it.  I just wanted to say this one thing, and then I’m done.  I’m sorry if it hurts feelings, but sometimes there are things begging to be said.

This one thing I wanted to say was about politics and Facebook.  Right, I know.  You’re already annoyed.  Just hold on a sec.  I’ll be quick about it.  I just wanted to gently point out that there a few things on the interwebs that aren’t actually true.  I’m sorry if you didn’t know it.

Be careful, okay?

There’s more.  The thing is this.  Sometimes, I see viral political posts with inflammatory titles.  Sometimes I click on these posts; usually for entertainment.  Once you are somewhat fluent in interweb-speak, you can identify real news from propaganda.  I worry for folks who can’t tell the difference.

The other day, there was this really outrageous political story posted; the poster was very mad about this political thing.  I looked up the website from where the story originated; it is a fake news website, and I don’t mean “The Onion” either.  Most people know “The Onion” is satirical.   I mean a website that was created to make you think it was a real news website. Only, it isn’t  It’s fake news, written by people who are fake reporters who have the job of coming up with fake stories.  Yep. Real job.

For further entertainment, I looked at the comments below the story.  People were really mad about this thing that never happened.  Some people devoted entire paragraphs loaded with misspelled words and grammatical errors, expressing their anger over this thing that never happened.  It made me feel sorry for humans.  We’re so easily manipulated.

I have to admit, some of the angriest posts with the poorest English had me clicking on the author to get a better look.  Outspoken, angry people with poor grammar intrigue me.  Those kind of people should teach classes on how to improve your self esteem.  I mean, good for them.  They’ve never spent a minute of their lives doubting themselves.

I’m done with that subject.

This week Scott and I celebrate 22 years of freakin’ wedded bliss, baby!  Every day is a honeymoon in our house.  Every day I’m surprised with another love sonnet, a bedroom covered in rose petals, or a lovely serenade.  Wait.  That isn’t what your marriage is like?  Gosh.  Sorry about that.   Maybe you should take some marriage classes or something.

Well.  I might be misrepresenting things just a little.  Things might possibly be a bit less romantic than I described.  But, still, pretty good.  I mean, Scott and I texted each other about a half dozen times this week.   All the texts were about our schedules, but, I think that counts.  AND…we both know our anniversary is this week.  That is also something kind of unusual. We usually remember our anniversary AFTER it happens.  That’s kind of dreamy, right?

Did I tell you that Reggie had surgery this week?  He did.  He had surgery, and he also had 4 teeth pulled.  Reggie has to wear the Elizabethan Collar for the next two weeks.  Otherwise known as the dog cone of shame.

cone of shame

One night this week, Scott mentioned how busy we’ve been; he said he might like to talk to me again some time this summer.  I told him I was thinking the same thing.  I miss him.  I feel like we are living parallel lives that rarely intersect.  We are using all of our mental and physical resources to manage our careers, children and home.  We wouldn’t dream of making ourselves, or our relationship a priority. That would be selfish, right?

Scott and I got into bed that night.   I strained my head to look at Scott over Reggie’s cone of shame as Reggie laid in the middle of the bed; I thought, I just don’t know what comes between us.  How does it happen?

I have been thinking that there are other married people with relatively happy marriages, and busy teenagers, who are like us.  Couples who take their obligations seriously, who are happy to devote their days to serving all the people in their lives. It wouldn’t occur to these couples to schedule their lives around their relationship with their spouse, because they know that is the one relationship that will always be there.  Because all marriages last forever, right?

Maybe some of us need to rethink how we do things?

I don’t know about rose petals, sonnets and serenades, but I’m going to try to turn this ship around.  Here’s my love poem to Scott.  Happy 22nd Anniversary, my love!

I Like You

I like your hair.  I like your eyes.

I like your jokes, and how you’re a cute guy.

I like the way you try your best.

I like the way you rarely rest.

I like knowing you cannot lie.

But when my butt looks big, I’d like you to try.

I like the gentle way you are a Dad.

I like knowing our kids’ pain makes you sad.

I like the way you never brag.

I like when you deny I look like an ol’ hag.

I like the way you like to have fun.

Baseball, ping pong, or going for a run.

I like that you are kind and not angry.

But, mostly, I like that you chose me.

And THAT, my friends, is how you make Emily Dickinson look like an amateur.

scott and miki

I am way ahead of the sun this morning.  I woke up even earlier than usual.  My heart is full.  I have to write.  Not writing this morning would be like waking up with a terrible thirst, and not taking a drink.  Unnatural.

Yesterday was Olivia’s 8th grade promotion.  I had a pretty decent headache yesterday evening.  I think my head hurt,  because my heart couldn’t hold all my feelings.  Some of my feelings landed in my head.  Yesterday was a great day.  A wonderful day.  A tearful day.

I didn’t shed tears because Olivia is going to high school.  I shed tears because of Olivia’s friend, Emily.  Emily and Olivia have been very good friends since 4th grade.  Emily is funny.  She has a quiet voice. When you listen closely, you hear Emily’s witty remarks. Emily loves her dogs. She loves her family, and Emily REALLY loves sports.  I’ve tried talking to Emily during a football game. That’s a one way deal. Emily didn’t hear me. She was completely engrossed in the game. Emily is a loyal friend.   Emily has Noonan Syndrome.

Emily is in 8th grade.  Over the years, Emily has had many serious surgeries.  Last year, Emily had heart surgery.  This year, Emily was experiencing almost constant pain.  The Doctors told Emily that they could help eliminate some of her pain by fusing two parts of her spine.  That’s what they did.

Emily’s surgery was the day before 8th grade promotion.  Olivia and I were feeling some grief about Emily missing this milestone.  I do not know what it’s like to have a daughter with Noonan Syndrome. I can’t.  I do know how it feels to be a parent watching your child’s friends enjoy life, passing through joyous milestones, and feeling like your child is forgotten and left behind.

Eddie spent about 80 percent of his elementary and middle school years at home.  While his friends were on field trips and playing baseball, Eddie was probably at another doctor’s appointment, or curled in the fetal position, waiting for a break from his pain.  I’m not feeling sad about this now.  We have had so much sympathy from kind people over the years.  Really.  More sympathy than anyone deserves.  I know you’re a big softy, but please don’t be tempted to feel sorry for us now.  Eddie is feeling GREAT.

I’m just recalling this memory,  because our experiences have made our family unable to NOT share the grief of another family walking through something similar.  Our own story is why every time I felt love and happiness for all the sweet 8th grade kids promoting to 9th grade yesterday, I simultaneously fought back tears for Emily.  While all those precious soon-to-be-ninth graders were celebrating their success, Emily was attempting to raise her head 60 percent, and  successfully dangle her feet off the side of the hospital bed. Accomplishing this was going to be Emily’s reason to celebrate.

Emily’s Mom, Traci, Olivia and I wanted Emily to participate in 8th grade promotion.  We came up with a good idea:

emily grad 4

Traci told us Emily wasn’t up to watching the video yet, but Traci said watching it brought joy to Traci’s heart.  Oh man, now I’m being a big baby, and crying again. I’m feeling grateful God gave me exactly what I asked him for this time.

After graduation, I was taking Olivia and some of her friends somewhere.  The girls were laughing and being funny.  I liked listening to them talk.  Some of the girls said they cried when they hugged their teachers goodbye.  They were sad to say goodbye to these teacher-friends, and to all their happy memories. I was feeling soft and gushy about Emily, and now this.  My heart was overwhelmed with gratitude.  My daughter actually loved middle school.  I know middle school can go so wrong, and that’s why I’m humbled with the emotion of it all.

When my kids were in grade school, I heard some terrifying stories about middle school.  Those stories had me seriously contemplate home school.  I remember one woman telling me about her middle school aged granddaughter who was cornered in the hallway by some girls. The girls smeared katsup all over this woman’s granddaughter, because the girls were mad at her.  This woman also told me that another mean bully took a scissors, and cut a chunk of her granddaughter’s hair.  See?  I wasn’t lying.  These stories are actually nightmares happening in real life.

Our boys got to middle school, and things were fine for them.   I would usually drop the boys off first in the morning,  and then take Olivia to the elementary school.  I remember Olivia taking a look at the “big” middle schoolers milling around the front door in the morning, and she said, “I don’t EVER want to be in middle school.  Those kids look scary.”

I worried for Olivia.

Eventually, there was no changing it.  It was Olivia’s turn for middle school.  The whole thing just went down great.  Really, I’m overcome with it.  I was trying to break it all down in my mind.  I want to know what made the middle school experience such a happy one for Olivia.  If I could do that, then maybe I could share that information with some other young ones approaching the middle school gauntlet; they also might survive with great memories and no scars.  I want that for everyone.

I’ll try.

Here is an incomplete list of how to love middle school, based on the opinions of a mom blogger. Take these tips for what they’re worth:

1. Shun popularity.  When Olivia was in grade school, I remember talking with a mom of one of Olivia’s friends.  The Mom innocently talked about the “popular girls” in Olivia’s class.  I so rarely find a reason to disagree with anyone.  So rarely, that I remember the times it has happened.  I (hope) kindly told this mom that I didn’t think using the word “popular” with kids was super healthy.   I told her that I thought even one moment invested in evaluating who was popular and who wasn’t, was one moment too many.

Lucky for me, Olivia feared “popularity”.  What she saw of it on Disney and in her own world looked exhausting to her.  She wasn’t at all interested in managing it.

2. Participate.  Try everything that interests you. Olivia tried, band, choir, student council, track, cross country, basketball, volleyball, dance and piano.  She would have liked to try more, but a girls gotta sleep.

3. Embrace Disappointment.   This is the thing.  This is the thing that makes me want to hug my daughter tightly, and tell her how much I like her.  Olivia ran to be an officer for Student Council. She didn’t make it.  Olivia didn’t make the “A” team in volleyball or basketball in 6th grade, 7th grade or 8th grade.  Olivia tried out for every solo in every choir concert, for 3 years.  She never got one.  Olivia made it as an “alternate” for one concert.  She memorized the song, and practiced it many times.  Just in case.

Olivia made it into the talent show in 6th and 8th grade, but she  didn’t make it in 7th grade. That year, her teacher told her she could be a narrator for the talent show instead.  Olivia said yes to that.  Olivia spent many hours learning her narrator part. We thought she rocked it.

Olivia never won a race in track.  Olivia stayed organized, studied and did her homework. Olivia never got straight “A’s”.

I think Olivia is a talented and smart young girl.  I think perseverance and optimism are two of her finest attributes.  A few middle school kids are going to excel at almost everything they try.  Those kind of kids amaze me.  Most of us aren’t like that.

Middle school kids should walk into middle school understanding that it is the trying that is the point.  It is the trying that makes us stronger, smarter, more resilient and better for the next time.  Not being the best should NEVER be a reason to not try again.I don’t ever remember telling Olivia this before middle school. Some how she learned it on her own. Then she taught me.

4. Be a good friend.  Friendship is key.  Really.  Not just in middle school.  The best way to attract high quality friends, is to be a high quality friend.  High quality friends are good listeners.  They root for you, and build you up. High quality friends admit when they’re wrong.  They aren’t afraid to apologize, and they’re quick to forgive.   High quality friends make you feel comfortable and accepted.  Olivia had high quality friends.

5. Like who you are.  You are precious. Be excited about who you are and what interests you.  You’re not an accident. You’re here for a purpose, and to make a difference. Finding your purpose can be your own fun adventure.

6. Faith helps.  Olivia went to youth group, and attended many fun youth group activies.  At youth group Olivia connected with other kids and adults who were excited about their faith.  These faith-filled people built into Olivia’s life, and encouraged her to embrace her own relationship with Faith. Olivia chose to believe God loves her, and He cares about what’s happening in her day.  Faith helps middle schoolers.

I have more tips in me, but I’ve already kept you too long.  Plus, my attention span is shorter than a middle schooler’s.  I stopped listening to myself  after the video.

I don’t know if these tips will help.  I know sometimes the best laid plans can’t overcome a down trodden school system, mean spirited bullies or addiction.  But we can keep trying, right?  Because sometimes trying IS the point.

Do you like garage sales?  I don’t.  Well. I take that back.  I do like one thing about garage sales.

When they’re over.

I told you that we were planning to have a garage sale, right?  We had 10 years worth of stuff we lifted and carried into the garage when we refinished the basement.  All winter that pile of stuff has been harassing me.  I knew dealing with this stuff would claim whole days of my life.  It did.

Setting up for a garage sale is like having to study for a huge test in a subject that doesn’t interest you.  You can always think of something more important to do.  But, then, one day you realize the test is in the morning.  There isn’t time to procrastinate any more.  It’s scary.

Have I told you that I don’t know how to burn the midnight oil?  I don’t. I can’t.  It isn’t possible for me.  I’m not one of those “type A” women who can’t fall asleep until all the shoes are in order by the front door.  If things aren’t done by 8 pm, they’ll stay undone. I CAN, however, get up pretty darn early the next day, and do my best to sort things out then.

I came home from work the night before the garage sale; I knew there was only so much I could get done after a full day’s work.  I did my best, but it was hardly enough.  I slept hard that night, and I woke at 4 the next morning.  Waking up early is so much less painful for me than staying up late.

I started arranging items and putting price tags on things.  It was still dark.  I started to feel like there was no way I was going to be done with the work by the time the garage sale was set to begin. Then, I started thinking about my favorite person I married.  The one who doesn’t like to throw things away. The one who had the great idea to have a garage sale. The one who was still sleeping, all nice and cozy in his bed.  I started thinking some things that weren’t so kind about my favorite person sleeping in his cozy little bed.

After a while, Scott came out to join me. That poor guy,  he never saw it coming.  I hit him with a crap storm of my panic.  No need to share all the sordid details.  Let’s just say some cuss words might have happened, and some garage sale inventory may have been kicked. Across the garage.  Yep.  Really, it was a pretty  impressive display.  I wish the cameras would have been rolling.  That kind of fury comes around only so often.

Scott didn’t take it too personally.  He did some metaphoric and literal heavy lifting for me for a while, and I realized that’s all I needed to calm down.  I just needed some help.  Once I got that, I became me again.  I told Scott I was sorry.  He kinda laughed.  When I apologized, Scott just said, “You took the bait.”

I asked, “What do you mean?”

He said, “You were angry, and you took the bait.”

We didn’t have time to talk about it more.  I thought about it though.  I have all sorts of problems.  I do.  I can honestly tell you that anger issues are not at the top of the list.  Anger is sort of a once-in-a-blue-moon deal for me.  I never thought of anger as a temptation. But, I guess it’s possible.

Anger tempts you to act like a crazy person.  To yell, to swear at your husband, and to kick your daughter’s build-a-bear across the garage.  Some people know how to be angry, to take a deep breath and resist the urge to act foolish.  That is hard.

The actual garage sale itself was painless.  The weather was fine, and I like  chatting with people.  There were a steady stream of characters to chat with for two days.  I think we made about 8 cents an hour.  So, in the end, a perfectly good use of our time.  Can’t wait to do it again.  When I’m dead.

92-year-old, Luke, wins for garage sale customer of the weekend.  Luke took short little steps, and he used his cane.  He was sharp.  He knows the garage sale business, boy.   It took him just a short time to zone in on the items that actually did hold the most value.  He surprised me.

I didn’t know how he was going to get that stuff in his little car.  We managed together.  Luke gave me some tips on pricing things.  He told me which things we had held the highest value, and how to price those items accordingly.   Luke came back the next day too.   It might have been just to talk though.  I think we’re friends now.  He makes an impression.

I don’t plan to have another garage sale in the next 100 years or so.  That’s a shame, because I learned a couple of things, and I won’t be able to use what I learned.  Can I share them with you?  Maybe you like having garage sales, and this information will help you.  Always looking out for you.

On Friday, you get a lot of folks who are strolling through garage sales, because that’s what they do.  It’s sort of a hobby. A lot of those folks are retired, and garage sales are just something to do. Sometimes they find something.   More often, they don’t.  It’s nice chatting with those folks, but don’t expect them to buy all your junk.

Saturday is a different deal all together.  Saturday garage sale shoppers mean business.  By Saturday of our garage sale, I was super tired. I  thought we might open up for a couple, three hours, and be done.  That wasn’t what happened.  I think on Saturday, you’ve got a lot of people out who work hard all week.  They have some money, but they don’t have a lot of time.  They garage sale like they mean it.  They come in and grab what they want, throw their money down, and they’re on their way.  Saturdays are great garage sale days.  I mean, that’s just anecdotal, but that’s how it happened for us.

Another good outcome of our garage sale was getting to work with Scott.  Waiting on people together, and watching him check folks out and bag their items was something I enjoyed.   He has some solid customer service skills.  I even thought about giving him a raise, to 10 cents an hour.  He’s that good.

scott bagging

dad cashier

This guy was the cashier on Friday. I know. He looks shady.

It’s early Saturday morning.  Everyone is sleeping. Except me. These moments are my favorite.  Everyone safe and sound, within arm’s reach.  Everyone has their sweet yaps closed, and their precious feet still, and unable to undo anything I just did.  I love them all so.

I told you yesterday that I have been too busy to blog. So, this is what you get for that.  It’s raining blogs now.

My brain is an interesting thing.  When I cannot find time to write, it does not mean that all those random thoughts disappeared.  It means those thoughts are dammed up.  Caught in a tangled pile that is mounting higher and higher somewhere in the space behind my eyeballs and the back of my skull.  I have to do something to relieve the pressure.  Some of those thoughts have to get out.

I thought you should know why I’m rapid fire blogging yesterday, and today.  Especially if you’re nice enough to be reading here.  I owe both of you a thanks for that.

Graduation.

Is your Facebook feed filled with graduation?  Eddie technically should be graduating this year.  So our friends’ children are at that age.  These graduate parents are so brave.  I don’t know how they’re managing.  These pictures of these kids with caps and gowns, pretending to be moving towards adulthood, when I know for sure they were JUST in kindergarten, are killin’ me.  It’s so, so bittersweet.  I haven’t seen any pictures  of  a moms with red, puffy eyes and tears streaming down her face.  See?  Brave.

How many times were we told as young parents how fast things go?  I thought I heard these prophesies.  I heard. I just didn’t understand.

We can’t control time.  I really hate that.

In our storage cleaning we found some pictures I had forgotten about.  I immediately went out and bought frames for these pictures; I didn’t want to lose the pictures again, or spill Gatorade on them, or sit on them, or accidentally rip them in half. These are  things that happen a lot in my life.

These pictures are priceless.  I’m not using the world  loosely either.  I promise.  I mean priceless, like there is not a price you could even think of to pry these pictures from my possession.  Not that you’d want them, but you get the point.

The pictures are of the last summer before my nephew, Ryan, died.  We went go-karting with him.  There’s even more to the pictures than that though.  I would guess whoever in my family was with us remembers this scene.

Eddie was always undersized for his age.  Mostly, it didn’t bother him, but sometimes it did.  Especially, when he was supposed to be a certain height to ride a scary roller coaster, or a go kart.  Eddie had more than enough courage to take on the scary rides when he was aged two. It just took Eddie’s body a bit longer than normal to catch up to his heart.

This go karting thing came along about the time Eddie’s health was creating an even  rougher patch for him than usual.  Back when we were trying to figure out how to get Eddie excited about living a life we knew was so much different than the one he wanted.

Eddie was feeling pretty healthy on this go karting night; he couldn’t wait to race his cousins.  When we got to the track, we learned Eddie wasn’t tall enough to ride on his own.  Definitely old enough.  Just not tall enough.

Eddie was SO sad.  I mean, like REALLY sad, and it showed.  He cried.  None of us were used to seeing Eddie cry.  I couldn’t remember the last time it happened.  Eddie thought he was just crying about the go karts.  I knew it was more.  Aw, Eddie.  If I could make life fair for you, I totally would.

I remember my family all just feeling so, so badly for Eddie.  And, that’s how family helps when you’re sad.  We were all wishing we’d never thought of the stupid go karting idea.  I wanted to take Eddie’s sadness away.  I kept saying things that I hoped would help.  Sometimes there is not one thing a mom can say to make it all better.

Ryan found Eddie.  He told Eddie that riding together in the go karts was twice as much fun as going on your own. Especially when the two of them together would smoke their aunts and uncles.  I don’t know exactly what else Ryan said.  I only know that Eddie started smiling again.  Eddie and Ryan rode together, and the picture  tells the rest of the story.  We really, really loved Ryan.  We still love Ryan.

ed and ryan

ryan and zeke

Zeke was also thrilled to ride with Ryan.

I hope all my friends with graduates take a crap ton of pictures.  We have to try to record these priceless moments.  I can’t believe how quickly they go.

That’s all the sentiment I have in me today.  The other thing I  need to hash over with you is Scott and Reggie.  I’ve been a little worried about them.  Reggie hasn’t worked his way into Scott’s heart like he has the rest of the family.  I don’t know if it’s because Reggie thinks he’s my boyfriend (stalker), or because of Reggie’s relentless barking and shedding, but Scott just does not look at Reggie with the soft eyes the rest of us do.

One thing Scott seems offended by is Reggie’s intelligence.  The other day, Reggie was barking at a moving leaf outside of our front window.  We told Reggie to stop.  Reggie kept barking.  Scott looked at me with frustration.  He said, “There’s no reasoning with Reggie.”

I said, “That’s completely true.  Reggie is a dog.”

Scott would like to say to Reggie, “Hey bud, that’s just a leaf you’re barking at there.  A leaf won’t do our family any harm.  No need to set off the alarm bells. Why don’t you save all the excitement for intruders.  What do ya think?”

Scott wants Reggie to respond with, “You’re right, man.  I don’t know what I was thinking.  Sometimes I just get a little out of my head, and over protective of you guys.  It’s only because I love you.  You know that, right?”

Then, they hug it out.

Reggie isn’t like that though.

Credit to Scott.  Scott actually IS smart.  Scott has recently made it his mission to make Reggie behave better.  We all think it might even be working.  Last night, Reggie was doing something he shouldn’t, and Scott told him, “No!”.  Reggie listened. Then, Scott rewarded Reggie with a carrot.

I complimented Scott on his efforts. I told him we all think it’s paying off.  Scott explained that he just had to learn what motivates Reggie.  Food. That’s it.  That’s all Reggie wants.

Scott told me that he really wished Reggie wanted to be good for the sake of being good, but he just didn’t get the feeling that was who Reggie is.  I told Scott I just hoped he could forgive Reggie for his selfishness; despite Reggie’s underdeveloped conscience,  I had high hopes he could still go on in life to do good things.  I don’t know if Scott believes me.

reggie unevolved

Speed Blogging

I have to make this short.  We had thing on top of thing this week. So, I haven’t had time to arrange all my thoughts into a pretty little blog.  That’s sad, because I usually blog at least once a week.  I have no one asking for this from me. So, it’s just a lot of pressure.  I can’t expect you to understand.

In the absence of time, I’m going to just catch you up on nonsense that I’m pretty sure you’d rather not do without.

One thing we had happening this week was fall sports sign up.  Eddie wrestles in the fall.  He wrestles in the winter, spring and summer too. He wasn’t at the sign up event to actually sign up for anything official. The Athletic Director asked some athletes, including Eddie,  to come to the sign up and give the Freshmen a pep talk about being good, and following the athletic code:  No drinking, no smoking, no taking drugs.  No crude social media remarks, and NO taking pictures of yourself naked and posting them on the interwebs.  Sounds to me like a lot of micromanaging from the adults.  Can’t kids just have fun any more? Heliparents.  That’s what that is.

When we got home from sign up, Eddie told me he thought he might want to go out for Soccer in the fall.  That’s lucky for the school’s soccer team.  Eddie wasn’t too shabby at soccer the last time he played.  In Kindergarten.

I asked Eddie what in the world would make him want to play soccer.  He said, “Didn’t you see the soccer coach?”  I did, actually.  I sort of remembered the coach had longish hair, a big smile and wore baggy, I’m-definitely-not-trying-too-hard-to-impress-you clothes.   Being nice, and dressing off point, is all you need to do to win Eddie’s heart.

This conversation made me understand that somehow we have raised a son who will not give his trust over easily to a guy with gel in his hair, wearing a  polo shirt, or a fancy business suit.  Just show up to do business with Eddie in a pony tail and a flannel.  That’s how he’ll know you’re worth his time.

We learned something interesting during sports sign up night. The Athletic Director told us that the Olympic Training Center put out information on substance abuse and training. Did you know that one night of partying wipes out 14 days of training? I didn’t know that.  But, it explains a lot.   Let’s just say that one time I drank in college might have been the only thing stopping me from Olympic Gold.  At least now I know why.

Drunkenness.  I don’t get it.

I wish teenagers read my blog.  I’d like to tell all of them that the reason adults don’t let them drink alcohol is because teenagers don’t understand moderation (for the sake of the argument, let’s pretend adults do). Don’t get drunk, silly.  Drunk people make drunk decisions that seem like super good ideas, that turn out to be super bad ideas when they wake up the next day.

One and done.  Or, none and done works too, actually. Try it.  When you’re an adult.

When I’m giving my drunkenness speech to teenagers, I’ll bring evidence.

Exhibit A:

This guy got drunk and told himself he for SURE would get the job, if only he could wear a vest made of beard.  Here’s his mug shot.  He must have run into some trouble on the way to the interview.

outrageous-mug-shots

Eddie would hire this guy to handle his stock portfolio.

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.

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