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

Being Mean. Excuse Denied.

I’ve had some thoughts percolating in my head for a few weeks.  I knew it was only a matter of time before my thoughts poured out my fingertips.  It’s inevitable for me.

Before I dig in, I need to say something.  I need a disclaimer in italics, I guess.  I’m about to get some stuff off my chest.  I want to talk about people who are mean.  I was hashing this subject matter over with Scott.  We talked about how on any given day, our paths could cross with people experiencing depression, grief or despair.  On any given day, we, ourselves, could be experiencing depression, grief or despair.  We ALL have bad days.  People having bad days are NOT mean.  Right? Agreed? 

The trouble with talking about mean people, is that people who aren’t mean might be tempted to to worry that they ARE mean. They are not.  

Here’s a guideline for you that I pulled out of one of my “How to Pretend You’re a Psychiatrist in your Blog” books. (Or, out of my butt. You be the judge.).   I can assure you, if you’re the real deal kind of mean person, you’re not worried about it.  If you’re legit mean, being mean doesn’t worry you.  Being mean makes you proud.  Mean folks wear their, “I don’t take no crap from no one” badge proudly.

I feel pretty sure that authentic mean people wouldn’t find my blog interesting. This thing is pretty soft.

This blog post you’re reading  is designed to help us sort things out.  It’s designed to help us see things clearly, and to help us figure out what to do about people who are mean.  It’s also a bit of therapy for me.  Cause you KNOW how I like to talk it out; you’re sure good to listen.  Let’s continue…

I was remembering one of my favorite movies, “Say Anything”.  I like that movie for a lot of reasons.  One line in the movie is fairly obscure; most people probably don’t remember this line was said.

In the movie, John Cusack is a high school kid.  He lives with his sister who is a single, hard working mom.  These two are siblings in real life too.  That’s unrelated trivia, but interesting. Don’t you think?

say anything

This is what we remember about “Say Anything”.

John Cusack’s older sister is probably overwhelmed, anxious, depressed and a bunch of other things that we become when life craps on us.  So, let’s just give her that.  The other thing John Cusack’s sister is is not nice.  There are more colorful words to describe big sister than “not nice”, but I hate to offend.  Please, use your imagination.

The older sister never has anything positive to say to her little brother.  Little brother can always expect big sister to be short, and to respond with sarcasm.  This kind of thing goes on between the siblings for a few scenes.  Then, little brother finally addresses the situation.  He uses that line  I’ve remembered for the rest of my life.  Little brother says, “Why can’t you just decide to be in a good mood, and then be in a good mood?”

When I watched this movie for the first time, I wanted to stand up and cheer when little brother put my thoughts into words so perfectly.  I was a teenager then.  My life was untouched by depression, anxiety disorders, or any significant trauma.  I was completely naive.   I was a pretty happy young person person;  I thought the whole world, and everyone in it was just grand.  I thought  little brother  had just solved everyone’s problems.

At 43 years, I do know about, or have experienced, depression, anxiety disorders and trauma.  I’m suitably jaded.

But, still, “Why CAN’T you just decide?”

Yep.  Still on board with you, little brother.

I have been thinking about when people have to walk on egg shells.  You know what I mean?  You know how you have to be super careful to say and do all the right things around certain people?  These egg shell people are unpredictable. They’re so easily offended.  Keeping egg shell people happy requires a ton of energy.

I’ve also been thinking this deep thought:  screw eggshells.

I mean it.  Screw them.  I think we should stop walking on them.  And, everyone should just calm the crap down.

I think you need to realize something. Egg shell people are just mean.  I think we should stop fussing over egg shell people, and start having a good time.  That’s what I think.

In, “Say Anything”, the big sister comes to her senses.   Big sister is wore down, drug out and overwrought. But, she loves her brother.  She heard him, and she takes his advice.  She decides to change her response and her words. Then the love flows. Aww. She’s not mean at all.

What if life was always that easy? Sometimes it is.  Most the time, not.

In real life, that scene would probably go down differently.  Little brother would tell big sister to stop being so mean.  Big sister would then punch little brother in the face, and say, “You want mean?  I’ll give you mean.”

Then, little brother would apologize.   And, later, he would go back for second helpings.  The next time though, he’d be more careful.  The next time, he’d be sure to try not to say anything to set his sister off.  After all, she suffers from anxiety, depression and she’s had a rough go.  Little brother knows he should always remember what big sister’s been through, and all the stress she’s under.  That’s why she’s so mean.

BLAACHHHH!!!!

From where I stand in my life right now, here is my advice to little brother:  Pull the shades, bro.  Your sister is mean.

I’ve had little experience with mean people in my life.  I know I’m fortunate.  I do not know any mean people intimately.  The only down side to this is that I cannot be a credible source on the inner workings of a mean person’s mind.  My limited exposure to meanness has only taught me this:  stop wasting your time trying to figure it out. You can’t.

I know YOU are not mean.  I know it.  Stop worrying.  I’m not talking about you.  All of us have bad days.  We all say things we regret.  I know I have a long list of words I’d like to retract in my lifetime.

I think mean people have (at least) two common traits:

  1. Broken relationships.   A lot of them.  A heap of friends and family a mean person no longer speaks to, because, you know, the mean person won’t be mistreated.  And everyone (I mean, EVERYONE) eventually tries to mistreat a mean person. Mean people won’t have it.  Not for a second. Mean people eliminate offenders from their lives with no regrets.  Anyone left standing  is prepared to do what it takes to keep mean person from getting upset.  It’s a small group.
  2. Being easily offended.  Oh for crap’s sake. This one makes me crazy. Would you stop with the being offended stuff?  I have come to the conclusion that few things bother me more than folks who are always offended.  Don’t be so freakin’ fragile, man.  It’s self indulgent.

Have you ever gotten an email, or a phone call from someone apologizing for something they said that they  think may have offended you?  I have.  I just think those people are so precious.  Almost every single time this has happened, I can honestly tell this person I was NOT offended.  In fact, most of the time, I do not even remember the conversation where this “offense” occurred.

I can remember one time about 8 years ago.  Eddie was super sick;  I did not have my full mental strength.  A good friend said something that actually DID hurt my feelings.  You’d have to put me under hypnosis to get me to remember WHAT she said.  I have no idea.  I just remember an offense happened.

My hurt feelings would not have stopped me from hanging out with my friend, for the record.   There is a good chance if that offense kept bugging me, I would have eventually told my friend what was in my head.  It never came to that.

My friend’s  a sensitive gal.  She called me to say that she was thinking about our conversation.  She said she was very sorry, because she felt like what she said was insensitive.

I said, “Too late.  You’ve got one chance with me, woman.  You blew it.”  Then, I circled her name on my list of people to ostracize and/or murder at a later date.

Naw!  I’m kiddin’ ya.  The way I figure it, murder is just to be used in extreme circumstances.  You know, like a last resort.

Apology accepted, you sweet, humble and lovely human.  My friend is not mean.  I am not mean.  That’s how not mean people do business.

I’ve sent plenty of apology emails myself.  In fact, just this week I sent an email to Olivia’s volleyball coach.  I got caught in a conversation at the end of her “beginning of the year” talk.  I didn’t even hear her last line or two.  I was rude.  I was sorry.  I’m always anxious to fess up and apologize when I do people wrong.  Once I apologize, I don’t worry about it much.  I mentally check it off my list.

I used to keep worrying and worrying, until harmony was restored. I  stopped doing that. It took some practice.  I’m pretty good at it now.

Now, I know that I’m only responsible for the stuff that is within my control.  I have no business spending energy on any of the rest of it. Whew.  What a relief to be getting older, and learning stuff that makes life easier.

That’s it. That’s all I got to help you with mean people.  Do what you can, and then pull the shades on that.  Your apologies and efforts will never be enough.  Find a way to extricate yourself physically and/or emotionally.  Who knows? Maybe God will step in and make a miracle happen. That’s what it will take, because you’re not winning that battle on your own, my friend.  It’ll take you down.

I bet you didn’t know that I’m an artist.  It’s true.  I’ve got skills.  We went to ArtSpot this past weekend for my Mom’s birthday.  The deal with that is that no matter how much you suck at art, you’re supposed to come out with a painting that isn’t half bad.

My sister, Heidi, and I were jackin’ around like the old days.  I felt like I had better technique, and seemed a bit more like a serious artist, but she said the same about herself.  Take a look, if you want.  Feel free to tell my sister that she just doesn’t have that secret something that I have. It’s hard to put your finger on it, really.

Of course it’s not her fault.  I’m gifted, and I’m humble enough to know that isn’t anything I did on my own.  My kind of talent comes from above.

I made this picture:

bird pic

I thought it might be going a good direction. When I finished it, I realized it was actually garbage (true artists are never satisfied). So, I wrote on it.

My Mom is good at painting in real life.  She was the teacher’s pet, and made the rest of us look real bad.  Sounds like the perfect birthday gift to me.

Whaza?  That means, “What’s up?”  I made that up.  Well, I’m taking credit for making it up, anyway.  I can’t remember seeing it anywhere.  I like taking credit for making up new words in the English language.  Now that I own teenagers, I am learning teenagers make up new words  all the time.

If you are a teenager, and you have a friend,  or a boyfriend/girlfriend, you call them, “Bae”.  Bet you didn’t know that.   “Bae” is clever.  I think it’s short for “baby”.  Because who wants to waste all that time saying BAYYYYBEEEEE.  Never.  Not when you can just save a half hour by saying, “bae”.  Right?

I know other words kids have made up too:  yolo, subtweet, bra (not the lady kind), and noob.  Are you impressed?  You should be.  That kind of knowledge doesn’t just happen without effort.

I’m going to try to sneak some of my own words into the English language.  Will you help me get it started?  I think I’ll gear my words towards busy women.  We’re the ones who don’t have time to pronounce syllables, right?  I’d like to start with “Gore”. Can you guess what that is?  Let me put it in a sentence.

Hey Kids, “headed to the GORE!”

I know.  You’re stumped.  You have no idea what I’m talking about, do you?  Fine.  I’ll put you out of your misery.  ” GORE” is short for GROCERY STORE.  Get it?  You don’t have to say all those syllables any more.  Just tell the kids you have to go to the GORE, and they’ll be like, “Woah, what the heck is Mom talking about with that new, made up language?  She’s so cool.  She always says words we don’t understand.”  Show them how it feels.

Surprised you didn’t think of this first, aren’t you?

Making up words is a little harder than it might seem.  I might need a touch more practice.

This might be one of the best summers I’ve ever had in my adult life.  I can’t even tell you why exactly.  Then again, Scott says I anoint a lot of things as, “the best”.  It used to confuse him.  How can this be the best cup of coffee you’ve ever had?  I thought you said that about yesterday’s cup?

Some people just like to ruin your fun, don’t they?

I come by this optimism naturally.  My dad sits down to the best meal he’s ever had every night of his life.  I know this kind of thinking can seem disingenuous.  But, personally, this is one of my fav (short for favorite) qualities in my Dad.  That guy can ALWAYS find something to get excited about.

Eddie mows my parent’s lawn.  We have a little joke about Eddie’s visits over there.  We say, “Hey Eddie, how were Grandma and Grandpa?  Was Grandpa in a bad mood again?  Did he treat you badly?”  Then, we laugh, because that’s funny.  Grandpa has lost almost all of his eyesight.  He can’t drive, read or do most of the things he used to do.  But, Grandpa is always in a good mood.  Grandpa still gets excited about most things.  And, Grandpa still thinks Grandma’s leftover meatloaf is the best meal he’s ever had…since the meatloaf he ate yesterday.

Yes. This had been the best summer ever.  Thank you for asking.  We’ve been doing things I enjoy.  Like concerts on the square.

We’ve also been hiking the crap out of Devil’s Lake.  We used to hike with our kids when they were little.  We hiked multiple times a week. We over did it.  When the kids got older they boycotted.

Now the kids are teenagers; they’re coming to their senses.  They’ve been enjoying the lake and hiking with their friends this summer a LOT.  They tell us about these adventures like it’s a new thing they discovered.  Ingrates.

The kids went to the lake the other day with their friends.  Scott and I followed them a bit later; you’ll be surprised to learn that when we got there, all the kids decided they were done.  They wanted to go home.

Well, fine then.  I’ll just go hiking with my bae.

devil's lake miki

We hiked along the base of the bluff at Devil’s Lake. Then, we went up and back down the bluff.  I realized for the first mile Scott and I hiked,  that I was talking incessantly. I decided I wanted to see what would happen if I stopped talking.  It isn’t fair for me to monopolize the conversation all the time.  I thought that Scott needs to have the space to share what’s in his mind too.  I wondered how long it would take.

Scott never started talking.

devil's lake scott

Wait up, Scott. Did you say something?

When we got home Scott asked me, “Did I do something to offend you?”

At some point with people like my Dad and me there’s just the expectation of cheerfulness.  It’s our burden, and we’ll happily carry it.  Just don’t get all up in our grill when we like everything the best.

*Um…editor’s note.  “Bae” is not short for baby.  “Bae” is an acronym.  Before. Anyone. Else.  Feel free to throw this cool word into your next convo (short for conversation).

I can really smell things.  I don’t know what that talent is good for, or how it’s helpful.  It’s true though.  I have always had a good sniffer.

Last night, I was woken up by a smell.  Has that ever happened to you?  Smells wake me up. It’s true.  Toots really wake me up. I feel like that would make a good T-shirt.  “Toots wake me up.”  It’s just cute, and something most people want to read about.

I thought there might be a skunk in our house.  Then, I thought Reggie really needed a bath.  I tried to put a pillow over my face, and then a pillow over Reggie. Nothing stopped that sour, skunk smell.

I reached my hand out to pet Reggie, and instead, set my hand in a puddle. Yep. Reggie peed in our bed.

I yelled, “Reggie PEED!!!”

Scott is fast when he’s disgusted.  He couldn’t get out of that bed fast enough once he heard “pee”.  Thankfully, we made one good decision in our lives; we purchased a heavy duty, water resistant mattress protector when we bought our bed. That’s the good part of the story. The part I’m going to try to think about.  The part I’m going to think about when I’m trying NOT to think about the pee in our bed part.

Poor Reggie.  He looked so shame faced when the lights went on that night.  His eyes drooped, and  he flattened his ears convincingly. I’d forgive him anything when he makes that face. That face doesn’t have quite the same effect on Scott. Scott was fairly unmoved.

I thought Reggie might have a bladder infection.  He doesn’t though.  Do you know why a dog would suddenly decide to pee in your bed, instead of outside?   Help me out.

I think Reggie gets to move into his cozy kennel for a few nights.  The kennel may become his permanent bed.   I gotta admit.  I won’t hate that.  I love Reggie like one of my children. But, our children don’t sleep with us either.  Why does Reggie? Seriously.  I’m asking you.  How does this happen?

We won’t be getting over this pee thing for quite some time. This probably isn’t the last time you’re going to hear about it.  I’ll be working through this for years. It’s called PTSD.

I have the BEST question for you.  Here it is:

What’s it like to be on the other side of you?

What I mean by that is this:  Have you ever asked yourself what it’s like to be the person on the other side of a conversation with you?  How do the words you use, your mannerisms and your general disposition make people feel?

This was the question posed to the group of women I meet with by author, Kay Warren.  Kay Warren wrote this book:

choose-joy (1)

See that title?  “Choose Joy Because Happiness Isn’t Enough”.  Boy, she said a mouthful there.  I need this book.  Especially now that Reggie uses our bed as a toilet.

Kay Warren is smart.  That girl knows how to break it down.

I’m not going to recap now.  I might in the future.  I just wanted to talk about this one question she asked, because I think it’s so good.  I started to ask myself this question, and I wondered why I had never asked myself this question before.  The fact that I haven’t asked myself this question is telling.  Do you know what I mean?  I hear this word being whispered in my ear…aaarrogaance.  See what I did there?  I was trying to draw out the word arrogance, and make it sound like it was being whispered.  Hey!  Are you listening to me?  I’m talking.  Listen to me.  Because l like to talk, and talk and talk…

Blaach!

I’m sorry I haven’t asked myself these questions.  I’m asking now.  I’m going to try to pay better attention.

Kay warren talked about being a good listener, not interrupting, and offering gratitude to people whenever possible.  Yes.  Sign me up.  I want to be that kind of person.

What would happen if everyone just started behaving and communicating in a way that was always mindful of other people’s best interests?  Sounds like a cockamamie idea, Kay Warren.  Yer just askin’ for trouble planting those kinds of fancy ideas in our heads.

I’m in a bit of a rush today, but I’ll give you a full book report when we’re done. Don’t you worry about that. And, you’ll sit quietly and listen without interrupting, right? Because, you heard the lady.

Cheers to a Future…

Hey y’all, give me a little hug around the neck. Ya hear?

Sorry.  “Friday Night Lights.”

I’m heavily influenced by whatever story I am currently following.  Remember when I was Scottish?  I’m a Texan now

I told you, I’m not that good at pacing myself; a pretty standard trait for those of us suffering with some bits and pieces of attention deficit issues. That’s a paradox, right?  People who struggle to apply their attention, actually OVER apply their attention when they’re engaged with something that is of interest to them.  Like “Friday Night Lights”.

Scott said he feels like I’m cheating on him with this show.  I’m always sneaking away to catch a few more minutes with my Friday Night Lights friends.   I half listen to Scott’s stories, because in my head I’m busy trying to solve all my friends’ problems from Dillon, Texas.

Not to worry.  I’m almost done with all these people.  I haven’t been eating and sleeping as much lately; I’ve watched almost 5 seasons in one month.  It’s called commitment.  You might want to try it.  Maybe you could finally make something of yourself.

Other things that have been happening while I’ve been living in Texas are college visits.  Here we are.  It’s time.  Eddie has always seen himself as someone who’s going to college.  When Eddie was in Kindergarten, he would come home from school and immediately put Scott’s videos of the Iowa Hawkeye wrestling tournaments in to the VCR.  I remember thinking that was a little unique for a 5-year-old.  Shouldn’t he be watching “Caillou”?  Eddie couldn’t abide that little Caillou.  Not even for a second.

Poor Eddie. He’s so much like me, I hate to tell him how much. He loves what he likes. Eddie had an insatiable appetite for college wrestling.  He still does.

So, college is certainly on the horizon for Eddie.  Good for him.  Can I be serious for a few lines?  I want to say out loud how much I  appreciate the opportunity to consider possibilities.  I didn’t always believe we’d be here.  Eddie has a future. Eddie has a future.  Eddie has a future.  I’m just going to keep saying it until I believe it.

When Eddie was in grade school, we knew this wonderful family.  This family had a couple of boys who wrestled for the Iowa Hawkeyes.  One of these boys put together a care package for sick little Eddie from the Hawkeye wrestling team.  The package included Hawkeye t-shirts worn by some of the wrestlers, including one t-shirt signed by everyone on the team.  There were also some nice notes in the package, including a short note from  Coach Dan Gable.  If you say you’re a wrestling fan, and you don’t know Dan Gable, you’re busted.  Gable is a wrestling legend;  besides those Olympic gold medals he owns,  he was also the coach of the Iowa Hawkeyes for many years.

This note from Dan Gable gave Eddie a few words of encouragement.  Gable told Eddie that it was good Eddie was getting all this sickness out of the way when he was young, so when Eddie was older he could do all the wrestling he wanted.

This. For sure. This was the best gift Eddie has ever received. Hands down.  No contest.  We framed all of it, and it might be the only Earthly possession Eddie cares about.

I remember reading Gable’s words, and feeling kind of hopeful.  I mean, Gable didn’t know Eddie, or even what was wrong with Eddie.  But, he was Dan Gable. Maybe he knew stuff about the future.  I loved him for pretending he did.

So, the future is now.  Eddie’s looking forward to a college, and, hopefully, more wrestling.  Gable called it.

The first college Eddie wanted to visit was my Alma Mater. I wish this visit had something to do with me; it’s purely coincidence.  Or, I should say, it’s purely about wrestling.

When we were on vacation with Scott’s family last week, we took the opportunity to visit campus.  I have not been to my Alma Mater since I graduated.  It’s funny how quickly you remember things.  I gave my family a tour; I wasn’t half bad.

The kids wanted to know where I stayed on campus.  I told them that their Dad and I were married then.  I lived off campus with their dad while I finished college.  The kids responded to this information with instantaneous disgust.  Especially Olivia.

Olivia is appalled that I did not have the independence nor the dignity to earn a college degree before I chained myself down to a man for the rest of my life.  I told Olivia that while I respect her point of view, I do admit I really liked her Dad a great deal; I think there’s a decent chance things are gonna work out, despite our foolishness.

UNI

Just hangin’ around campus in our Crocs.

zeke uni

Zeke wishes he was as cool as that guy.

la la uni

Her wrestling stance needs some work.

I’ve only got a few minutes to hang out.  I’m sorry.  I am a super important, busy person. You probably wouldn’t understand.

I’m sorta in the middle of binge watching “Friday Night Lights”.  I know.  I know.  It isn’t entirely appropriate.  I’ve got no defense, really.  I just like these people I’m watching, and they’ve become my friends.  I’m a pretty loyal friend, and I don’t think it’s right to ignore people, just because you don’t always agree with them.  So, really, my sticking with these guys is more like a testimony on my part.  It’s ministry.

This show is about a football coach and his family.  The show highlights the crazy that is football in the South.  Stereotypes abound.  Yet, somehow the way these folks talk and act in this show is believable.  In the South, football is king.  If this show is to be believed,  in the South, the high school football coach is held in high regard,  or treated like devil spawn.  Depending on whether or not the football team is having a winning season.

FridayNightLights02

I’m married to a wrestling coach.  I can NOT relate.  We offer trophies to the wrestling fans in our town.  Those four guys deserve to be rewarded for their loyalty.

That’s a cheap lie I made up in an effort to get a laugh.  I want to apologize for the that.

The truth  is, we live in the most awesome small town.  Folks in my town show up for everything kids do.  If you’ve got a teenage accordion choir ready to play a few numbers, you’ve got yourself a full house in my town.  I’m such a fan of the fans in my town.

I didn’t mean to waste your time with the big “Friday Night Lights” recap.  I did just want to say that I like this show. I like watching the coach try to manage his intense desire to win with his solid moral compass.  This internal conflict is poetic to me.  I kinda feel that part of the show.  I might know some guys like this.

The other thing I wanted to do was drum up some sympathy.  I have Jury duty in August.  I know that it is my civic duty.  I’m sorry for complaining. You’re right.  I should consider myself fortunate to serve.

But I don’t WANNNAAA!!!!!

I’m very busy with my career, and frankly, I cannot spare the time.  Plus, what with me being only half way through “Friday Night Lights”, it isn’t like that stuff is going to watch itself.  Right?

I’ve got an idea to make things more simple.  How about if everybody just doesn’t break the law?  For goodness sake.  How do people fit law breaking into their day, anyway? They might want to consider Netflix as a suitable replacement for thievery and murder.  I might suggest this to the criminal’s who’s fate is in my hands.

Yep.  I just decided.  I’m going to ask the Judge if I can share a few words.  I should be able to get the criminal system turned around.  I can’t help it.  I just see a problem, and I have to fix it.

I actually don’t know whether my jury thing will go to trial, or even whether I’ll be approved of as an acceptable juror.  Hope is not lost.  I’ve got ideas. What if I hear voices?

We had a good idea for a vacation this summer.  We thought that after the boys wrestled at Nationals in Fargo, ND, we could finally see Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills.  We’ve talked about taking that trip for years.  Maybe I’ve wanted to see the Black Hills a little too badly.  One time we had to take a detour through a corner of South Dakota, on our way back from Colorado.  On this detour, we passed by a blackish looking hill. I pronounced, “Hey kids.  Those are the Black Hills.”

Usually my family trusts my pronouncements.  My family seemed a little iffy on this one. Eddie asked, “Really?  That’s it?”

I’m like, “We’re in South Dakota. It’s a hill. It’s black.  Those are the Black Hills.  I don’t know what else you want from me, kid.  Now, tell your teachers and your friends that your parents took you to the Black Hills this summer.”

I don’t know why some people have to knit pick the heck out of everything you say.  Can’t they just trust me?

I didn’t realize when we were making all those Black Hills plans this year that Olivia’s missions trip was at the same time as the wrestling tournament. DANG!!!  We just couldn’t see enjoying major sight seeing short a family member.

I hate calendars.  Calendar makers are pessimists.  They like ruining all our fun.The actual plan ended up being Scott and I going to Fargo on our own.  The boys traveled with the team.

Scott and I spent four nights at a hotel, going back and forth to the Fargodome to watch the boys and their Wisconsin teammates.  I really was sad about the family  vacation being messed up, but I’m not gonna lie. Scott and I had some laughs.

I think I told you a while back that Scott and I were a little nervous about how we will survive when our kids don’t need us like they do now.  It’s scary to not be needed.  After our Fargo trip, we feel a little more confident we’ll survive.  We forgot our kids happened because Scott and I like each other.

I think Scott and I had only one difference of opinion on our little vacation.  That problem happened when we were deciding where to eat.  Decision making can cause people like us some problems.   Sometimes you just really need one person in a relationship who can handle the pressure of making a wrong choice…about tacos vs. hamburgers.  Personally, I don’t need the stress.

I wish I would have written down all the times and reasons I was laughing my head off in Fargo.  I can’t remember why now. Just so many, unimportant funny things can happen on any given day.

I do remember one thing that made me laugh until I felt like I had used up all my laughing for life.  Scott has always said he has camera anxiety. I didn’t know that was real.

Personally, I think Scott is a cute guy.  But, I have to agree with him.  I haven’t seen many pictures that accurately represent the way I think he looks in real life.  Scott says it’s because he gets nervous.  As soon as someone brings out a camera, he starts debating in his head what he should do with his smile, posture, eyes.  It’s a lot like deciding about tacos vs. hamburgers.  There’s so much at stake.

Scott and I had some time to kill between the boys’ matches in the Fargodome.  I felt like I could really help Scott figure out how to take carefree, happy pictures.  We did some selfies.  And, I don’t know.  I just don’t know.  It’s not that Scott looks so bad.  It’s just that he looks unrecognizable as a human.  I’m not actually sure how Scott could really look worse, unless he wore a hideous mask. Wait. Nope.  Still not worse.

The harder he tries, the worse it gets.

1,2,3, cheese…

bad pic 1

Oops. Your eyes were closed.

bad pic 2

Dang it.  You closed them again.

bad pic 3

Wait.  Are you trying to do that?  You have to keep your eyes open.

bad pic 4

Wow!  I can see you went to a lot of effort. Don’t do it again.

bad pic 5

Okay, maybe one of your eyes looks okay in this?

bad pic 6

We should stop.  I’m starting to doubt our relationship.

I thought all it took was persistence. Sometimes I’m wrong.

Another thing we enjoyed doing in Fargo was watching freak athletes from 46 different states wrestle their hearts out.  The wrestlers attend a camp a week prior to this week long tournament to train with their teammates from around their state.  Every day, the kids work out at an intense pace for the better part of their waking hours.  The wrestlers are generally trying to get down to their peak fighting weight too.  There is a lot of expenditure; very few deposits.

On top of the body fuel issues, you’ve got kids away from home, sleeping in hotels and hanging out with their buddies.   It’s easy not to sleep well. We decided that just learning to manage your energy for this thing could be a guy’s secret weapon.

At the end of the week Zeke’s eye was swollen shut, and Eddie was on crutches. He injured his hip.  I might be tempted to doubt whether all the boys’ effort is worth the price.  That would be a selfish thought.

I was trying to give Zeke some sympathy about how little he was eating.  He reminded me that most of us eat WAY more than we really need to on any give day.  It’s quite possible to survive on less, he told me.  Then, I told him he must not understand that I have very little tolerance for hunger.  I bet he never thought of that.  Mr. Sillypants.

I haven’t always been the best at embracing difficulties: physical (especially physical), mental, emotional.  I’m more in favor of things that happen without effort, and require little sacrifice.   I can see what is happening with all these wrestlers though.    I can see these kids are learning how to endure temporary discomfort to achieve long term goals.

Immediate gratification is a part of our wonderful, modern and convenient culture.  It isn’t wrong.  I love the drive up window.   It’s just that I have this suspicion that having what we want, whenever we want it, gets us a little out of practice with self denial.  Sometimes self denial is necessary, often helpful when building something meaningful.

I was also thinking that if a kid learns young that hard work, a bit of self denial and a dash of temporary discomfort can help them achieve something quite worthwhile over time, that kid might be well prepared for handling life.  Life isn’t always like the drive up window.

Anyway, it’s too soon to say for sure if I’m right about all this.  But, it helps a mom to believe.

fargodome 1

Summer.  You beautiful thing.  Wisconsin is really showing up this summer.  Cold mornings, and sunny, warm afternoons.  How you like THAT, all you big show off palm tree states?  We got ya on the ropes now, suckas.

It’s clear to me that I’m getting old.  Scott is too.  I know this because we keep having more and more conversations about important things.  Like the Bluebird I saw on the fence during my walk at lunch.  Or, the Cardinals Scott is enjoying watching as they hover over our flower bed.  I think some people wake up one day, and they’re like, “Gadzooks, I’m old!  When did this happen?  I didn’t see this happening.”

I see it happening.

My parents have a little birdhouse on their porch.  My mom has hoped that a bird family would move into this little bird house for a couple of years now.  Guess what?  I have a new step-bird-sister. A little bird gal moved into that house with her husband (I’m assuming these two aren’t living in sin.  They seem like good people), and they had babies.  These creatures carry  little, tiny pieces of food in their mouths, pop through the little house’s door, and disappear to feed, and spend time with their little bird family.  I could watch this family all day.

See?  Old.

One night, while my sister, Heidi, and I were eating pizza on the deck, we were watching these bird parents feed their children.  This feeding thing seemed like so much work.  You’ve got all the hunting for worms going on, and then all the trips back and forth through the little birdhouse door.

We got feeling kinda sorry for our sister-bird and her husband. Heidi said it seemed like a shame that our sister-bird and her husband were wasting their lives with this non stop work. I agreed.  I told Heidi to roll up her piece of pizza and jam it through the little bird house door.  The bird parents would surely thank us for a night off, maybe even the whole week.  That’s how you solve problems in nature.

I heard that it has been scientifically proven that looking at a tree can help with depression.  I understand that.

My niece, Naomi, told me that the famous poet, Walt Whitman, said something similar to this thing about trees a long time ago.  My niece is smart. She likes poetry.  Scott and I slept in Naomi’s bed over the fourth of July.  We saw that Naomi has a Walt Whitman poem written on her ceiling.  After Scott and I got into bed, we looked up at the ceiling and I read the poem out loud.  When I was done reading, Scott and I were quiet and contemplative for a moment.  We meditated on the words that were just spoken.    I asked, “Did you understand that?”

Scott said, “No.  Not a word.”

What are you supposed to do when the children get smarter than the adults?   You fake it. That’s what.  I told Naomi that the poem was beautiful.  I was moved to tears, really.

That wasn’t a total lie.  It’s not like Scott and I  know NOTHING about Walt Whitman.  We do know he was mentioned in, “Breaking Bad.”  We’re not completely ignorant about literature.

Nature is what we have been enjoying this summer. The other thing we are enjoying is kids.  Our siblings’ kids, especially.  I’m so glad we had our basement finished.  I actually have only sat down there a few times.  But we ARE using it to host family, and that makes me smiley and satisfied.

Both of Scott’s brothers have come with their families from the far away land of Iowa to stay with us this summer.  All three of Scott’s siblings have little kids.  Gosh, kids are the best.

I think almost everything kids have to say is funny.  Scott’s brother Tom, and his wife Haley came to visit us before the fourth of July.  Tom and Haley have two little boys, 3 and 18 months.  One morning, I was making breakfast.  I could hear these little guys talking to each other as they walked up our steps.  Preschool conversations. That’s good stuff.

My nephew’s voices filled my heart with happy nostalgia.  I remember how our little guys wrung me dry by nightfall with their relentless energy.   Somehow, by morning, I couldn’t wait to see them again.   It’s a miracle every day.

haley and tom

I’m consciously focusing on simple, life enhancing things this summer: birds, family, kids.  I’ve been feeling a little over exposed to ideas and information lately; I need simple stuff as an antidote.  I’m not sure what is wrong with me.  I used to very much enjoy learning about other people’s opinions.  I am a pretty curious person.  I didn’t know before that other people’s opinions are like everything else: best in moderation.

In some respects, I am fairly impressionable.  I rarely start a discussion intent on proving a point.  I have a ton of questions about many things. The internet has just ruined me.  I feel like I’m trying to hear everyone, and there is so much noise.  I’m not hearing anyone at all.  Instead, I want to recommend to some folks, a special evening of trying to keep their yaps zipped.  Bless their hearts.  Of course.

I’ve become a bitter, old, bird-watching woman.

I told God what was on my heart about this subject.  I asked Him for a word.  He told me two things:

1. Stop listening to people; listen to me; take time to hear My voice. It takes practice.

2. You’re awfully noisy yourself.  You write a blog.

The second part was a little fuzzy.  He was cutting out; I probably heard Him wrong.  He might have actually said, “You should buy another hog.”

I’ll wait for confirmation on that second part.

morning walk

Cold early morning summer walk in Sheboygan, WI.

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