Wednesday, December 07, 2011

A Vicious Cycle

I have started this post and have deleted my words over and over.

I am struggling to find them and that is new for me.  I never seem to be at a loss for words.   I might actually be accused of using too many.  Of saying too much. 

Tonight, however, I am at a loss for words and at a loss for action.

Lately I seem to struggle in everything I do.  Daily routines and rituals are becoming harder.  Everything seems to be a chore.  The world, and everyone in it, is plotting against me.

Yeah.  It's THAT bad.

Generally I would tell you that I love my life and that the daily grind is one of my favorite parts.  The day in- day out routines are what I do best.

Lately I am not even doing those well.  I have been short-tempered and easily aggravated.  I can feel the tension seeping into my back over basic things like getting the kids ready for school or (the worst) getting the kids ready for bed. 

Right or wrong, sometimes it seems like those trivial parenting moments are the ones that all of a sudden come crashing down on top of you in a feeling that leaves you fighting for air and questioning whether or not you are getting ANY of this "parenting thing" right. 

I find myself feeling a little perturbed that no one gave me a parenting manual and everyone else seems to  have theirs memorized.  Wasn't the hardest part of parenting supposed to be getting through those initial sleepless nights or making it through the teen years?  I underestimated the energy that is required in sorting through the complex make-up of the personalities of children.  I  also underestimated the energy that is drained from you while molding and shaping children, like pieces of clay, trying to form something that is both useful and beautiful and appreciated by others.

This 8 year old daughter of mine?  I expect far too much from her.  She is passionate and caring.  Witty and mature.  She is self assured and confident. She is an optimist.  She has a sense of humor that keeps me laughing. More often than not she is selfless.  She is incredibly empathetic and seems to always know what is needed from her in the form of words and actions.  She is like her daddy.

Still.  She is 8 years old.  And she is my daughter.  Although she is all those wonderful things, I shouldn't always expect her to be all those wonderful things.  I should accept her being less.  I mean, after all, aren't I?

This 6 year old son of mine?  He is incredibly bright.  He is extremely sensitive.  He is easily distracted and easily disturbed.  He is a worrier.  He is a pessimist.  He is many times selfish with his wants and time.  He is hard on himself.  He expects to be let down and disappointed.  He expects to disappoint.  He is like his mommy.

Still.  He is 6 years old.  And he is my son.  Although he is all of those things, I shouldn't always expect him to be all of those things.  I should expect him to be more.  I mean, after all - at times -aren't I?

This parenting gig is so tricky.  I feel as if I fail my kids daily.  I don't have all the answers.  There are times that I see the error of my ways and don't know how to fix it or if I even can.  I wonder how deeply my ignorance has effected and shaped my kids.  I often depend on Steven to balance the scale, but that isn't always possible when so much of  the day to day life falls on me and my time.

I think that I always believed that as long as my children knew how fiercely and completely I loved them, that the rest would fall into place.  I continue to hope that holds true. 

In the meantime,  I am sure that I will mess them up daily.  In fact, I know that I do.  It isn't intentional but isn't that our job as parents?  We work and work to right the wrongs committed by our parents during our own childhood, desperate not to repeat their mistakes, only to find that we have committed new and different mistakes in the raising of our own children. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

These are the days of my life

When I was saddled with the job of (once again) being in charge of a Halloween party at my children’s school, I thought of her.

She was a good friend in elementary and even then we played school. She, of course, was the teacher.

I thought I wanted to be a teacher.

However, I purposefully didn't sign up to chair ANY school parties this year. I even went so far as to inform their teachers that I am MUCH better at following, than I am at leading.

In reality, I am worried about 3rd graders thinking that I am lame.

Yes. Lame.

(A new word that has arrived at my house thanks to the kids at school.)

Anyway, I thought that maybe the kids would like to play Halloween Bingo.

(As I typed it, I DID think to myself, "What are you? 70?")

Anyway. I need help. From someone. Anyone. You? Her?

My friend has a third grader, was a teacher, and has probably been orchestrating parties in her head since school started back after summer break.

You? Well, that's anyones guess.

For some reason, I figure the kids won't remember my stints of chairing their parties in grades K-2, but 3rd grade scares me.

I was talking about Days of our Lives with my teacher in 3rd grade. This is a sophisticated age.

(Maybe I SHOULD talk about Days with the kids or have Days of our Lives trivia?)




Pretty please?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A peek into B's mind

B, who had been outside since before 8 yesterday morning, was suffering from some pretty serious fatigue. When putting him to bed he fell to pieces because we wouldn't let him sleep in his sleeping bag in our room- which we sometimes do on the weekends. I told him that he needed to sleep in a good bed and get a good nights sleep for school tomorrow. While sobbing he informed me that he was so upset that he would most likely have "bad handwriting on his spelling test".

I don't know where he gets all this drama or his logic....

My money is on Steven.


Sunday, on our way to Farm Fest, Steven and I were talking about the fact that we were most likely going to butcher our chickens. They are old and have all but stopped laying eggs. The kids accepted the news better than I thought they would, knowing we would buy more chicks in the spring.
However, I told Steven that I would like to keep our rooster. We actually hatched him and I think he is really, I stated, as I pled my case, "he is a nice rooster".
B was listening from the back seat and said, "No he isn't!". We explained that THIS rooster was different than the one that attacked him almost a year ago.
"I know!", he said, "This one doesn't attack people but it's mean! He always 'piles up on' the poor chickens!".
All Steven and I could do was laugh and agree. He DOES always seem to 'pile up' on them......

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

I believe.....

(Originally written May 17, 2007.  Post has been updated to add more information as it was learned.)

My grandpa is 88 years old. He is in remarkable health. Up until a few years ago he still mowed yards for people/businesses in town. While mowing he broke vertebre in his back and had to stop mowing to rehabilitate.

My grandma, who had been in the nursing home for almost ten years, passed away in October of 2005. Although she was ten years younger than my grandpa, her life had been filled with pain.

My grandma and grandpa secretly got married in 1950. They ran off to Arkansas and when they came back to Missouri my grandma went back home to her parents, and grandpa back to his home, and both picked up business as usual. It was only when my great-uncle, my grandma's brother, who still lived at home, fell ill and my grandma's family needed help on the farm that my grandma told them that it would be "OK, she and Quentin were married and he would come and help them out".

Thus began their 55 year marriage. My grandpa will still tell you that in those 55 years they never had a fight, but it was hardly what you would consider wedded bliss.

Although I am sure that my knowledge is even somewhat limited, what I know is enough. My grandma was in and out of a mental hospital while my mom was growing up. Recently my mom has explained that grandma experienced constant itching all over her body and that,  combined with the constant trips to an allergy doctor located a state away, in Oklahoma, in hopes of finding an explanation, at times, drove her close to the edge, and caused her eventual admittance(s).  Dora, a close friend of the family, helped to raise my mom and her 2 brothers and a younger sister. My grandpa even then stayed close to my grandma's side.

She had what everyone believed to be a nervous condition. On more than one occasion she pleaded with the doctors to find out what was wrong with her. But they thought they already knew..... she was just crazy.

Dora told me personally the night of my grandma's visitation that she remembered as vividly as if it were yesterday, my grandma standing in her kitchen with her hands on her head saying "There is something growing in my head and I KNOW it."

The day she pleaded her case to a small-town country doctor was the day that the tables finally turned in my grandma's direction. Somebody finally believed her. He pulled some strings, made some calls, and sent her to St. Louis to have more tests done. This was a rarity in this day and time. Technology was limited, as were finances.

It was confirmed what my grandma had known all along. She had a brain tumor. Surgery would have to be done. I am sure that at the time it was anyone's guess as to how it would turn out. It was, after all, 1976. Things weren't as streamlined as they are today.

My mom, very pregnant with me, along with my father and the rest of the family went to St. Louis to wait for her to come out of surgery.

Although it wasn't talked about much I am sure that my grandma was in the highest spirits as she came out of surgery - regardless of the outlook.

That is just how she was.

My grandpa still says that in the 55 years that he spent with her, "she never complained about anything." These days THAT is the rarity. I know that I, myself, belly ache over the simplest of things, yet my grandma, misdiagnosed, put in a mental hospital and ultimately enduring brain surgery, never complained. In fact, the only things that I remember as a child that gave clues to the magnitude of her plight were the wigs that she still owned, the fact that she couldn't bend her head back to look up without blacking out, and that no matter how sad the situation, Grandma couldn't cry. She apparently was no longer able to.

No wonder they never fought. Who could fight with a woman such as that?

Especially when you were as much in love as they were.

Fast forward 18 years. Grandma started being less sure on her feet. At 67 years of age, she was still relatively young. She knew something wasn't right.

Tests revealed, once again, what she already knew. The brain tumor had returned and was growing. Even with time and technology on her side, the odds of the surgery being successful were slim to none.

She decided to embrace the time that she had left and enjoy as much of it as she could. She gradually began falling more, getting up in the middle of the night and stumbling with grandpa waking to find her where she had fallen.

The worry of it all was getting to him, physically making him sick.

She began to forget more and more.....and she became nearly impossible for grandpa to take care of. My grandma had said all along, "There are places that will take care of me when you can't, and I will not move in with my children and hinder their lives. Do not worry about it."

And she meant it.

She wasn't playing a pity card.

Grandpa's doctor finally told him straight up, "If you don't do something, you will end up in a hospital yourself, or worse. Then you wouldn't be able to be there for Pauline."

My mom told me once that the hardest thing she ever did was to break the news to grandma, along side her sister and grandpa, that grandpa was no longer able to care for her anymore and that she would be moving to the nursing home. Upon hearing these words, mom said that she patted their heads as they cried at her feet, and that she knew that if grandma were able, she would have cried too.

For a couple of years grandpa would get grandma and they would go places together, he'd take her out to eat, and some weekends she would come home and stay with him.

Over time, she worsened and didn't want to, as well as wasn't able to, leave the nursing home.

My grandpa went to see her almost every day. Many days he went more than once. He helped to feed her, give her drinks, and most of all, encouragement.

Since her passing in October of 2005, grandpa has been at a loss. He seems to have more free time in the day than he would like.....of course, missing the trips to the nursing home.

Some days he is up and going strong making it hard to believe that he is 88. Other days you can see a lifetime of emotion sneaking up on him......making him, and his steps, a little slower.

A couple of months ago he told my mom something I knew he thought that she wouldn't believe.

He told her that while sleeping one night he woke up and rolled over in bed. There before him was my grandma, in a chair that sits by their bed, watching him sleep. He said he couldn't believe it and when he blinked his eyes she was gone......"I wish I had never blinked.", he told my mom.

"I was awake as I am now and she was there......I wasn't dreaming".

I believe him.

I believe him as I believed my Grandma S.

We are never alone. God, and all of those who went before us, are with us always.

Lyrics to: I Believe- Diamond Rio

Every now and then, soft as breath upon my skin,
I feel you come back again.
And it’s like you haven’t been
gone a moment from my side,
Like the tears were never cried,
Like the hands of time were pulling you and me.
And with all my heart I’m sure, we’re closer than we ever were,
I don’t have to hear or see, I’ve got all the proof I need.
There are more than angels watching over me.
I believe, Oh, I believe.

Now when you die your life goes on,
It doesn’t end here when you’re gone.
Every soul is filled with light,
it never ends and if I’m right,
Our love can even reach across eternity.
I believe, Oh I believe.

Forever you’re a part of me,
forever in the heart of me,
I will hold you even longer if I can.
Oh the people, who don’t see the most,
say that I believe in ghosts.
If that makes me crazy, then I am......
Cause, I believe.
Oh I believe.
There are more than angels watching over me.
I believe, Oh I believe.

Every now and then soft as breath upon my skin,
I feel you come back again
And I believe.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

An Old Soul That's Young At Heart

B has been referred to (so many times that I have lost track) as an old soul.

And he is.

As an example, the other night, while driving home, I mentioned to the kids that the moon was really pretty.  B looked at it, then said to me and his sister, "That is a harvest moon."  I got home, tucked the kids into bed and walked into the dining room to share with Steven that B had stated that he thought the moon was a harvest moon.  We both laughed at a 6 year old even knowing the term "Harvest Moon" and chalked it up, yet again, to the 80 year old living inside our 6 year old son.  However, an hour later, while watching the evening news, our mouths flew open as we heard the meteorologist comment on the harvest moon that was gracing our night sky that very evening.

Also, the other day, while Steven and I were talking about a tree that was dying in the yard, B interceded and commented that "bag worms are really bad this year".

These things make him funny, and unique, and interesting and concerned beyond his years.  I am gifted daily with bits and pieces of information from my child that continues to reveal to me who he is.  And who he is going to be.

I knew he was different than most kids early on. 

His interests were not the same as theirs.

He wanted to know how, and why, things worked.  He wanted to offer up ideas as to how it would be better.  He wanted to do so many things that I can't even offer a clear view of him with my written words.

However, much like many boys (and girls) his age, he was captivated by the movie Cars. 

However, what he took away from the movie seemed to be somewhat different.

First, he was immediately drawn to Route 66 and any historical information pertaining to it.  As young as 3, he would sit contentedly watching a PBS documentary about the "mother road".  He listened intently and took note of the changes in society and the mindset of individuals that brought about this stretch of highway, and also the changes and mindset that was, eventually, its demise.  He spoke with great concern about these with us.

At age 4, not surprisingly, on the heels of his sister's room receiving a makeover, B begged for his room to be changed too.  Route 66, of course, would be the theme.  Gone was the cowboy decor that he had since birth and in it's place a different era would set up shop.

Of course, what is a Route 66 room without a BIG Route 66 sign?

Although trying to figure out how to make this happen was almost the death of me, I ended up getting a sheet of 4 x 4, 1/4" sheet of wood and used a projector to transfer the image onto the wood by tracing it with a marker.  My mom cut it out for me with a jigsaw. 

And then I started painting.

And then, with my son as the foreman, I tried to get the sign as old and "rusty" looking as I could.  Although I stopped short of it looking "rusty enough", B could tell that his momma was close to throwing in the towel and he finally agreed that it was "OK".

Of course, road signs were necessary.  B actually found two at my mom and dad's that had been drug out of the gravel bed after being washed down the river during a time of flooding.  They were beat up, missing some paint and beginning to rust.  In short, for him, they were perfect.

We hauled them home and realized that objects in the bedroom are much larger than they appear in the rearview mirror.

Although he had his heart set on using real, old signs, I won the argument that they would not work when I expressed the fear that if they fell down off of the wall they might smash him in his bed.

Sure.  It was a scare tactic.  But it was also true.

So we settled for smaller signs that we found on ebay.

When we opened their packages, B just looked at them and then at me and stated that I needed to make them look old.

He wanted nothing to do with bright and shiny.

Since bright and shiny was not an option in B's book, the replica gas pumps were perfect.

Also perfect?  The clock.

As the room started coming together, it was more and more obvious that it was a much better representation of B than the cowboy room was.  We wanted to add memories to the room.  Memories of us traveling a portion of Route 66 that we hadn't traveled before.

So we added pictures.

And we also included pictures of portions of Route 66 that we travel nearly every single day, but since B's interest, now looked at with renewed appreciation.

We have encouraged this interest of B's and have watched him soak up the history that he has learned at museums, in books, and on film - there are many lessons to be learned from the past.

Interestingly enough, I believe that B latched onto the lesson inadvertantly taught by, ahem, Mater, and has embraced that fully.

He didn't walk away with a desire to have a car like Lightning McQueen, but instead fell deeply in love with our 1973 rusted out Ford feed truck.

Actually, and more specifically, he fell in love with anything that was rusted, old, or terribly in need of some TLC.  He sees what they were, and what they could be.

He sees these things as perfect.  And desirable.  And under appreciated.

In fact, he even had me take his picture while he sat on the hood of the rusted out truck and exclaimed, "I LOVE this truck!".

I'd like to say that I appreciate the beauty of this ole' truck too, but I'd be lying.

But I can say, without reservation, that a million times a day I appreciate the beauty of the little guy sitting on the hood.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Bad boys, bad boys....

Last night as we sat around the table, Steven was thinking about the conversation he had just had, moments before, with my sister.

A person from my husband's past had sent Sarah with a message for my husband.

The message was, "No hard feelings....?" along with the sentiment that he thought that Steven was a really great guy-despite their history.  He was, after all, just doing his job.

Apparently the conversation with my sister fueled Steven's need to take the opportunity to "share" (ahem) with our children.

As he turned on his storytelling voice, the kids' ears perked up, sure that this would be worth every ounce of their attention.

They weren't wrong.

"Kids, I have a story to tell you."

"You know how on the Dukes of Hazzard... (OK.  I am pressing the "pause" button now.  Before I continue I would like to say that I think that every half-way decent parent knows that general parenting guidelines, or life lessons, are probably NOT found on  The Dukes of Hazzard.   Or are they?  Anyway. Rewind.)

You know how on the Dukes of Hazzard the Duke boys are always running from the cops?  Well, one time, I ran from the cops too."

The kids eyes were wide and L's held a twinkle that made me think that she was admiring her father even more and B's mind was racing wondering if somehow, someway, this would trickle down and go on his record.

Steven continued on....

"You see, once when I was 16 or 17..."

I cleared my throat, looked at the kids and dryly gave them the facts... "He was 21 or 22."

"Oh?  Really?"

"Oh, OK.  So once when I was 21 or 22 I was riding my four-wheeler from my house where I lived with my parents, to your Mi Mi and Pa Pa's house where your mama lived.  We were dating and it was only about 2 miles away so I rode my four-wheeler down to see her.  I did it all the time...."

B said, "yeah...cause it's in the country!".

Steven looked at him and laughed and said, "Exactly.  It's the country.  And I rode my four-wheeler all the time.  It's just what I did."

At that moment I felt the need to interject the fact that, ".....but it WAS, and is, against the law..."

Steven looked at me and said, "yes.  It was against the law.  But I always rode my four wheeler on the highway. However, just the week before I had rode it to a conservation area and was confronted by another cop-like person who rattled off all the tickets that he could give me.  He didn't, but he said if I was caught again, it was inevitable.

Soooo.....when I was heading to you see your mama and I met a Highway Patrolman and he hit his lights, I got spooked.  I decided that I would gun it.  Admittedly, not the smartest thing I could have chose to do.  But I did.  And once you commit, there is no backing down."

I cleared my throat again, making my entrance back into the conversation known, as I stated, "Kids.  You can ALWAYS back down if it means doing the right thing...."

Steven hesitated not wanting to have his children "weaken" once they had committed....even if it was committing to running from the law.

Meeting my gaze he caved to the moral obligation of parenting and conceded, "Yeah, I should've just stopped.  I felt I had gone too far...."  However, the twinkle was still in his eyes.

"You see kids, my plan was to take off and go down beside Pa Pa's barn and follow the road down to the river, through the woods and on my way....without a cop on my trail.  However......Pa Pa had shut the gate and although I might've had time to unlock it, my body had adrenaline racing through it and all I could think was, 'I've gone this far......'"

"Right there, I decided to bail off the four wheeler and take off running- for the woods.  The patrolman came, searched the barns and woods looking for me, (I swear Steven's chest swelled when he then said:) but he couldn't find me.  He then left a card with your Mi Mi and mama saying that I'd better call in 30 minutes or I would be in even bigger trouble."

"Your Mi Mi was mad...your aunt Sissy (age 9) told the cop a replay of how I had slid into the driveway because I was going 'sooo fast' and your mama was embarrassed."

"So, I went back home and called him.  He wrote me a lot of tickets but when I went to pay for them the court clerk threw many of them out because they were all so closely related."

He looked at me and smiled sheepishly.  "I bet my parents were proud." Honestly, I couldn't help laughing.  Years had a way of taking away some of the embarrassment and admittedly, a little admiration had taken it's place. 

Not that I condone breaking the law. 

We all know I am a rule follower.

But the ability to throw caution to the wind? Wow.  I think it's safe to say that is a trait I will NEVER develop, but have learned to admire.

The kids were taking it all in and then L stated, as if realizing for the first time, "we still ride on the highway" to which B replied, "Yeah....because we live in the country."  To him it was a no-brainer.  Law or no law.

I spent several minutes with the kids schooling them on the importance of laws and law enforcement.  I tried to steer clear of explaining why it was OK for us to break that law, and not others...  No parenting award for me but I was hoping to somewhat redeem myself as a parent with all the talk of lessons learned and mistakes made. 

Knowing the part of him that was a father always took precedent over the part of him that would most likely "run" again, given the opportunity, Steven even encouraged them to always do the right thing and not follow in his footsteps.

I was hoping that just maybe a lesson had been taught and that giving the kids this glimpse of their father at 21 would end up being a learning experience where Steven could honestly say, "Been there.  Done that.  Kids, learn from my mistakes."

I began to rise to clear the table, believeing that maybe I had been successful in turning 'storytime' into an opportunity to drive home the point that no matter what the situation, you always can 'turn around' and do the right thing.  Changing your course is always an option.  Steven himself was proof of that.

However, I hadn't even grabbed my first plate when Steven matter-of-factly stated,

"However, if sometime you do decide to run, ditch your vehicle and then call the cops and report it stolen."


I think I have my work cut out for me.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I wanna hold your hand....

Today was the first day of 1st and 3rd grade for B and L.

You would think that after a while these feelings that get lodged in my throat would subside and I would be accustomed to the changing tide of the school year.

You would think.

Instead, last night I left Open House with a heaviness settling inside of me.  It seemed like I had just gotten used to the idea of my baby being in Kindergarten.  Now I had to deal with him being in 1st grade and L being in the "upper hall".

My husband weighed in guessing that the change in the bus pickup and drop off time was what had thrown me for a loop.

"You don't like change...." he stated.

He is right.

But not about the bus times.

This morning, after dropping the kids off at school, my cell phone rang.

His familiar voice was there asking a question he already knew the answer to.  "Hey!  How'd it go?"

I tried to verbalize my feelings diplomatically and matter-of-factly.

I tried.

"I feel like that our children belong to us before they start school.  Birthdays are a reminder of their age, but each day resembles that of the other- no strings, no obligations, no school....Each day is so similiar that you almost believe that every day yet to come will also be the same.  And that absence of change I am OK with.  Then the kids start school and the days look much different.  I feel like each grade progression is a flaunting of the fact that soon, and very soon, my children will go on their way....without me."

Without realizing it was coming I felt the facts disappear behind my very raw feelings and I had to immediately shut off the words for fear that more emotion, as evidenced my tears and jagged breaths, would spew forth.

Steven in his own wisdom spoke of cherishing each moment, each stage, even each grade and make memories every day that will last long after the children are grown.

I knew he was right but all the talk of memories spoke of a time forgotten, left behind, and a time being recalled.  I don't want to recall times with my children and the innocence they bring to my life. I want to live it.  The thought of not living it physically pains me.

Ironically, I acknowledge that worrying about it keeps me from fully living it while they are still here, standing before me.

Why is it my mind knows what my heart can't even bear to speak of?

Maybe he is right and the time will come when we will be happy to see them leave. 

Actually, I don't think he really even believes that.

Maybe what he really means is that there will come a time when we will be happy to see them visit....


Saturday, July 30, 2011

To be more like him....

Yesterday Steven celebrated his 38th birthday.

Although these pictures are a few years old, I still see him the exact same way:


I am so glad that he chose me to grow old with.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Road - Part 2 of ?

Sixth grade was probably the height of my awkwardness.  At least physically.

I remember that I seemed to be uncomfortable in my own skin.  Almost like it was too big, or too small.

Either way, I felt suffocated and weighed down all at the same time.

Yearbook pictures were never fun.  Ever.  I always wondered why my parents even ordered any.

I remember, even at the age of 11, the moment that I had to face looking at myself in a picture.

It was a sickening feeling.

I felt the envelope in my hand and looked down at my image peering back at me through the cellophane window.  I was standing in the door of the library opening the envelope and trying to desperately to turn the picture upside down so that it would not be viewable to others.

Before I had successfully made the rotation, I remember a classmate coming up to me in the hallway wanting to see them.  We weren't that good of friends and she was everything I wasn't:  tall, lean, incredibly athletic, long, smooth, straight hair, big eyes, and clear skin.

"Nah!" I laughed.  "They're terrible.  Really."

"They can't be that bad", she claimed.

My nervous laughter was followed by, "No. Really. They are."

She laughed and kept putting on the pressure. 

(I didn't blame her.  Pictures are pictures.  Really there aren't bad pictures as much as bad moments captured.  Unflattering moments.  But generally, almost without fail, you do look like yourself in the photo.

Maybe you in a less than stellar moment, but you nonetheless.)

Always being one to please and never good at deflecting pressure or standing on my own, I ended up flipping the picture over for her to see.

I knew the truth.

I didn't need her to tell me.

Part of me expected the usual, "'s not that bad."

(That is always what the pretty people say.)

As her eyes scanned the photo and the peered directly into mine, even with all my self-loathing, I was unprepared for what she said.

"Kim, really.  Just think about it.  You're young.  I probably won't look good when I'm older.  It's like the ugly duckling.  You know how it grew into something beautiful.  You might, too."

She was sincere.  She truly was.  I knew when looking into her face that she was trying to be nice, in her way.  A little bit of truth mixed with a tad of encouragement.

She meant well.

At least I think she did.

I looked at her and laughed as I always did and said, "Yeah... I am sure one day I'll be beautiful.  Sure.  Can't you tell?"  as I motioned for her to take me in.  All of me.

As I shrugged my shoulders, the laughter coming out of my mouth was still the self-depreciating kind, but I noticed it hurt a little more than usual.

As I turned to go to class I didn't turn back to look at her....

.....I just continued to walk.

The Road - Part 1 of ?

For some of us it starts in school.

We want to wear clothes like everyone else does.

Be in the class with the cool kids.

Surround ourselves with a wall of friends.

Fit in and NOT be singled out.

At least, that's how it started for me.

Insecurity ran through the heart of me.

I remember a time in 5th grade when a cool girl had a cool pen and was showing it to her friend seated next to me.

"Can I see it?" I asked.

The girl looked at me.  We had been "friends" and had shared a few laughs as I knew how to get them; build everyone else up and put myself down.

It was funny.

It worked.

And I made myself the punchline before someone else did.

As she looked at me and to the other friend and then at her new cool pen, her gaze came back to me as she said, "No".

Although I had mentally prepared for this rejection - I always did - I hadn't physically prepared for the invisible fist that landed in my gut, knocking the air from my lungs.

She continued..."Your hands are dirty."

I turned my hands up and looked at my palms.  They weren't dirty.  But my callouses were stained.

Stained from helping with chores and playing outside. 

I immediately was self-conscience of the callouses. 

Cool girls had new pens, not callouses.

I watched as the girl, and her other friend, huddled together and oohing and awwing over the wonderful workings and cool design of the new pen.

When the bell finally rang I moved my feet and continued on my journey.

I am still on that journey....

Monday, July 25, 2011

I don't think Ma and Pa did it this way...

Friday night Steven and the kids picked me up from work and we went out to eat.  While eating the kids noticed our close proximity to the park and started thinking back to all the fun that they had on other occasions when they had went with Loriell and Sissy.....

They pleaded with us to let them go.

And since it was Friday night, and despite the fact that it was 5 p.m. and 100 degrees outside, we went.

They had fun running around, up and down the playground equipment.  Steven even moved once from his position in the shade to push the kids on the tire swing.

I, still being dressed in my black dress pants and high heels, decided that moving from the shade was not an option.

After arriving home, L and I jumped in the pool and enjoyed the time talking about girl stuff.  Daddy came out to the pool and mentioned to me in hushed tones that he had contemplated taking L on a trail ride the next morning and wondered what I thought.

I knew that L had been asking her daddy to go on a trail ride all summer. 

Almost every day.

There was no way I could say no.

So when Steven told her that he was going to take her on a trail ride, just less than an hour from our home and they would get up and leave just shortly after 5 a.m., she was over the moon with excitement.  

Only few moments later she exited the pool, stating that she needed to get to bed and get a good nights sleep.

It was 7:00 p.m..

Although when they had spoke of going on a trail ride before, I imagined them travelling farther and camping overnight,  L couldn't have cared less. 

She didn't care where they went, just that they were going.

Isn't that like most kids?

It is us adults that tend to place high expectations on things.  Kids are generally happy just to have the experience and the time spent with their parents.

In fact L was so excited about the experience that she was up at 4:30 a.m. just patiently waiting for the alarm to go off to wake her daddy.  It was a weekend, after all, and Steven had been getting up and 3:30 to 4:00 a.m. all week and wanted to "sleep in" until 5.

However, once he got up it didn't take them long to get out the door.

I grabbed a couple of quick pictures before they left trying not to cringe because L was wearing jeans that were about 3 inches too short.

She didn't care.  She wasn't going to make a fashion statement....she was going to have fun.

(And, like she, and B, told me a few days ago, "We don't live in New York City".)

She posed for me to take another shot or two and I purposefully cropped the bottom of her legs to avoid the obviousness of her too small clothing.

After the second shot or so, she felt like something was up.  "Mama?  Did you get my whole body and how I have my foot out like this?  I think it looks cute."

And so, I went ahead, and took the whole shot.  And it was cute.

And when you're wearing denim on denim, I am not sure anyone really notices your "too short jeans" anywayPlus, it isn't like we live in New York City.

(Think Pace Picante Sauce commercial and hear, "New! York! City!")

I sent L with her camera and told her to make sure to get some shots for me.

And then I told her to be safe approximately 1000 times because she and her daddy are a pair. 

A pair of risk takers.

And while I went back in the house and started my morning with visions of snakes causing the horses to spook, or a rare bear making itself known, or runaway horses, L and her daddy were having the time of their lives.

And they were eating.

Yes.  Let's not forget eating.

L wanted to put to use her saddle bags that she got from Mi Mi and Pa Pa for her birthday and had brought them in the house for me to pack and while she and her daddy were getting the horses loaded.

Steven said they made it about 30 minutes into the ride before L decided it was time to stop and eat. 

As a rule, the girl could care less about eating.

But eating is so much more fun when done on a trail ride and when you are eating food that you are carrying in your saddle bags.

Such an important responsibility....the carrying of the food.

I think that once they were done, and started loading up for the day, she had already started planning their next well as what food she would pack in her saddle bags.

I knew that B and I should take advantage of this time and go on a date of our own.  B chose the location of our last date back in the spring and "took me" to Incredible Pizza.

This time, I chose the location.

I knew that he had been wanting to go to the nearby Route 66 museum. 

You see, B loves all things "old-timey" and he especially loves Route 66, even sitting and watching documentaries about it on our local public television station.

This is probably not typical for a 6 year old, but it IS fitting for B.

When we walked through the doors he ran to a whitewall tire and said, "Momma, take a picture!"  I was glad that I had stuck my small camera in my purse because I wouldn't have wanted to miss capturing the excitement that he had, running from one display to the next.

Around every corner he would say, "Look at that!" or "Look at this!".  He read some of the information to me and other times I would read it to him.

He would always say..."Oh, I want one of those sometime...." 

...and one of those.

After we left, we stopped by Subway to eat some sandwiches of our own since I failed to pack us any.

It was there in that Subway booth that we debated the qualities of old, antique man-powered push mowers and how he believed that they did a better job cutting the grass.

(I am not sure how he would know.)

(And, of course, he wanted one of those sometime too.)

That night we were all exhausted from our day's activities that we ordered pizza, rented a couple of movies and called it a night.


The next morning we went and ate breakfast at Mi Mi and Pa Pa's.....

and watched a Little House on the Prairie marathon.....

and took turns standing on our heads.....

(This is my 56 year old father.....)

(This is my 56 year old mother.....)

(L perfecting her stand...)
(And B doing a head twist (?) )


Your family doesn't do that?


I like to think that we keep the "fun" in dysfunctional. 

Which is also why we capped off the night with another weenie roast in 100 degree temps.

"Fun", I tell you.

It's the name of the game.