The Dance Upon The Baby Oil

If your family is looking for a fun way to spend an evening, strengthening relationships and bonding like crazy, may we recommend deliberately, AND ON PURPOSE WITH PREMEDITATION, pouring half of a bottle of lavender-scented baby oil onto the tiles of your bathroom floor?

The similarity to ice skating is incredible; it’s also a lot like greasing up the bottom of your sled with a cup of Valvoline at the top of Mount Everest, which certainly spells out FUN FOR ALL, while you try to brake the beast before you reach the bottom.  The amount of aerobic activity you’ll gain from this event is right up there with running the Boston Marathon or swimming the breast stroke from Manhattan to England.  Your arms will flail like windmills, and your quads will feel the burn from all the effort involved in staying upright, so go ahead and have that extra slice of homemade chocolate cake after dinner.  Go ahead and have that extra bottle of wine after dinner, too!  After all, you incinerated all those calories in the bathroom earlier!

Plus?  Well, the scent of lavender that fills the air is famous for calming young children right before bedtime.  The lavender aroma will put your young puppies right to sleep, with smiles upon their faces.

For cleanup, the list of what you’ll need is simple.  You just need forty entire minutes, three gallons of Dawn dish soap, a Shark steam mop, and all the cuss words you can remember.

I’m sorry that we don’t have any actual pictures of our family, participating in POUR THE BABY OIL ON THE BATHROOM FLOOR.  The black cloud of stress hanging out above my head didn’t match my shirt, so I declined the photo opportunity, but rest assured… #GoodTimes… #FamilyTogetherness… #FeelThatBigBurn… #ReadyForHockeySeason… #MamaIsReadyForWine…

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Paintball 2016

Well… today was one of those days when I felt like the Army.

I accomplished more before breakfast than the civilian world was going to accomplish all day long.  Of course, I didn’t get around to actually eating my breakfast until 9:30 this morning, but STILL.  We have clean towels.  We have clean jeans.  We have clean socks.  We have floors that are relatively clean again, after Thing 2 has traipsed in and out of the house, bringing in freshly-picked lilacs from the neighbors’ bush, which he quickly disassembled.

Ain’t no mess like a bouquet of lilacs, that has been meticulously taken apart and spread like a grain offering onto the coffee table by a four-year-old.  I just hope that the aroma was as pleasing to the Lord as it was to us.  At least the mess smelled fantastic.

Plus?  Well, I put dinner in the crockpot this morning, which always makes me feel like Betty “Wonder Woman” Crocker.  I don’t know what it is about the crockpot, but your entire day can be a total bust, as far as productivity goes, and yet… when the menfolk are hungry, long about 6 PM, after they’ve been working like Egyptian, brick-making slaves in Biblical times, you can take the glass lid off that crockpot and immediately lay a feast before them.  The beauty is that it’s real food, too, and not a box of Lucky Charms that you’ve laid out, right beside the jug of milk.


Last night, our church put on a paintball war for all the kids, who are ten and older, and their parents.  I think it goes without saying that the boy was ALL OVER THAT, because crawling through the brush and the stickers and the thorns and the weeds and the ticks and the snakes and the spiderwebs, just to shoot someone with a bright orange paintball, is a boy’s love language.  I daresay that our big boy could (Gasp!) skip a meal, if it meant that he could shoot paintball guns a little longer.  And the dads?  Well.  They’re just taller boys with grayer beards and mortgages; shooting their own children with paintball guns is something they take very seriously.

The downside of this is that the church rules were very firm:  AGES TEN AND OLDER.  Apparently… INSURANCE, SAFETY, COMMON SENSE, LET’S-NOT-GET-SUED, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH.  Try explaining all of those enormous words to a four-year-old, who is hanging out with a pack of high school freshman, as they suit up in protective eye wear and load guns with tiny orange balls.  It did not go over well.  Thing 2 kept shouting out, “But I’m ten!  I’m really ten now!”  Except… Hubs and I have the birth certificate which states that he’s still just four.

Also?  I’m not sure whether the rules were established to keep preschoolers from getting hurt, or whether they were set up to keep folks from getting shot at by Thing 2, who takes war as seriously as Rambo does.

I snapped my camera like a boss last night and took approximately three-point-four million photographs.  After our beloved pediatrician saw the snapshot of Thing 2 balancing precariously upon a bar stool that was on top of a chair earlier this week, she let me know that I had a gift for war photography, so… yeah.  I took that gift of war photography straight into the battlefield last night.

Before the actual shooting got started, I attempted to get a snapshot of the boy and his good buddy, Eli, together, but THIS is what fifteen year old boys do whenever their mama comes around with the camera:

IMG_9282 IMG_9283If they don’t turn their backs on you… well… they deliberately and ON PURPOSE close their eyes.

May their birthdays and the gifts they receive go well for them AFTER THAT.

And y’all wonder why the boy hardly has any photos on the blog these days.  THIS, people!  THIS is why!  He avoids my camera like a contagious plague.

Our youth pastor explained all the rules to all the kids.  Eye gear…  All of the time.  One hit kills, even if it’s just a flesh wound to the arm, and you think you could still remain in combat after getting a tourniquet and a morphine injection from the medic.  If you got hit last night, you were out.  There would be no going across the river, pretending that you were in the deepest jungles of Vietnam, even though, YES!  SOME OF YOU COULD PROBABLY PULL THAT ACT OFF, EVEN THOUGH THE RIVER IS UP AND RUNNING FAST RIGHT NOW FROM SPRING RUNOFF.  Remember… this is CHURCH PAINTBALL; we’re not trying to film The Hurt Locker here.

The kids and dads all listened closely, because none of them wanted to be the one disqualified for Rule Infringement.

IMG_9306 IMG_9345 IMG_9347And then there was a little short guy, who was also diligently listening to the rules and taking note of boundaries, because he still believed that he was going to pull off the fib of being ten.

IMG_9348The equipment was passed out.

Kids suited up, in teams of six, and were given their areas to occupy.  The timer was set for ten-minute games… six-on-six.  At the end of ten minutes, whichever team had the most soldiers still engaging in active combat and the fewest sitting out in body bags, was declared the winner.

IMG_9353 IMG_9354 IMG_9313 IMG_9366 IMG_9378 IMG_9379Dads suited up, too, as they did a lot of smack-talking about WINNING THIS ENTIRE WAR!

There isn’t anything more competitive than a dad going up against his teenage kid in paintball.

(Unless it’s Thing 2, going up against ANYONE in paintball.)

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IMG_9380Some teenage girls didn’t get the message that these were SPRING-LOADED paintball guns, and NOT NOT NOT the CO2 guns.  This would be a RATHER GENTLE kind of Baptist war.  Some girls came dressed to survive taking a direct hit at two paces from a CO2-powered assault rifle.

In war, nothing can be left to chance.

IMG_9356And then… well… everyone dispersed into the brush, because COVER!  COVER!  USE THE GROUND COVER!!  The choppers can’t see you from the air that way!

IMG_9402 IMG_9521 IMG_9381 IMG_9384 IMG_9390 IMG_9396 IMG_9397 IMG_9403 IMG_9405 IMG_9395 IMG_9510 IMG_9511 IMG_9517 IMG_9518 IMG_9519

IMG_9311  IMG_9322 IMG_9324IMG_9367 IMG_9453 IMG_9603

IMG_9326 IMG_9343 These snapshots make it look like I was there, in the thick of all the battles.

This is NOT the case.

I, too, misunderstood that these were spring-loaded, GENTLE guns, and not the high-powered, assault monsters the boy and his friends usually play with.  Although Hubs was completely on board with getting into the action, even under the fire of something similar to a large-caliber rifle that can bring down 22,000-pound dragons from the sky, I was not.

It was the GIRL in me.

I have SEEN the bruises that the boy comes home with after paintball fights with his friends.  No, thank you.  I’ll sit on the sidelines.  Besides, taking a spiderweb to the hair in the middle of a thorny bush is not my idea of a good time.  It doesn’t involve air conditioning or good hygiene.

The honest answer is that I sat up on the top of the bank and used a telephoto lens.  I’m happy to report that I never ended up with ANY orange paint splattered all over me.

When kids weren’t in battle… when it wasn’t their team’s turn to fight someone else… there were grilled hot dogs to eat and marshmallows to cook and S’mores to make and pick-up soccer games to get into and Frisbee matches going on.

Thing 2 looked exactly like THIS all night long:

IMG_9278I gave up even trying to count how many marshmallows he’d eaten, after his fifteenth one.

Don’t judge me.

I was the one taking his sugar-filled body home to bed.  My failure to keep him from eating three entire bags of huge marshmallows was all on my shoulders, and I was going to reap the bedtime issues involved there.

Also?  I’m fairly certain we have the only child, in the history of all the children, who HATES hot dogs.  It’s true.  Thing 2 hates hot dogs like they were an organic, foreign berry that would poison him.  He’ll just take an empty bun, some chips and a Styrofoam cup filled with bright-red food dye, please.

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IMG_9594 IMG_9581The soccer games going on were fast-paced and lively.  Thing 2 immediately got himself involved there, because the soccer games had ZERO AGE RESTRICTIONS.  Plus?  Well,  Thing 2 considers himself to be something of a David Beckham or a Lionel Messi.  When he starts kicking a ball, he won’t quit until he’s managed to score fifty-seven goals all by himself.

IMG_9428 IMG_9423 soccer_collage_one IMG_9529 IMG_9537And then?

It was pretty much time to call it a night, because YOUTH BEDTIMES.  Parents were coming to collect their little soldiers, to take them home for showers with plenty of soap.  The fire was being put out, and the marshmallows (those six that Thing 2 didn’t get to) were being wrapped back up in plastic bags.  Folding chairs were being taken inside.  The last call for hot dogs went out.

IMG_9565IMG_9569And YES.

The paintball table was momentarily left unattended, so guess who — QUICK AS A FLASH!!! — suited up?

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IMG_9597 IMG_9600 IMG_9601He sported his face shield and carried an empty paintball gun around for quite some time, and HE.  WAS.  CONTENT.

As far as Thing 2 was concerned, he’d finally been to war, and he had as many war stories to tell as all the fifteen-year-olds in my Suburban on the way home had to share.

His entire WEEK was complete.

The May Rodeo

13217171_1012656785515381_1609544775209477571_oIt’s May.

And do you know what I’m doing in PE?

A rodeo.

Yes, a RO… DE… O.

It involves bringing in things like stick horses and lassos and stuffed, sheep-like animals, that aren’t really sheep.  The thing about third graders is that they can use their imaginations.

“See this stuffed Simba from The Lion King?  Well, today… he’s a sheep.”  The third grade brain giggles… and accepts it.

The rodeo involves making posters and having children sign up for the events that they’d like to participate in, and then timing all the participants in all of the events, and making sure that the kids sitting on the side of the bull pen aren’t so bored that they begin throwing stray basketballs into the arena and tripping the barrel rider.  A broken leg on a stick horse never pans out well, and then I have to call parents and explain that we put Black Beauty down in PE.  Bored kids on the edge of the bull pen are not something that you will survive easily, so you’re constantly giving them odd jobs to do at the fairgrounds, just to keep them busy.

“Listen… Simba the sheep, who’s not really a sheep… had a little digestive issue back there, so it would be mighty swell if you could shovel out the pen.”

And then there are the medals, because I have no idea how to make belt buckles, and it isn’t something that you can easily find on Pinterest.  Apparently, no one is really all that interested in MAKING belt buckles at their dining room tables as an afternoon craft project.  Our little, private Catholic school has zero-point-zero dollars in the budget for PE Rodeo Belt Buckles, but listen:  I can buy metal washers from Home Depot, spray paint them gold, silver and bronze, string them up on ribbons, and we can stand like the winners at Olympic events, on tall chairs and medium chairs and short chairs, while everyone hums the National Anthem.

My rodeo winners in the past have all worn their DIY gold, silver and bronze medals around their necks all the live-long day at school, with pride.  There’s just something magical for a third grader to stroll through the lunch room, with her gold and silver medals clanging against one another ’round her neck, while all the kindergarten children “ooh” and “ahh” and proclaim that they cannot WAIT to be a big kid and get to do a rodeo in gym class.  Also?  Well those little 3rd graders have no idea that their PE teacher stayed up into the wee hours of the morning, inhaling toxic fumes from the silver can of spray paint, so that their second-place finish could be distinguished for all to see from the third-place finisher.

We spend a lot of time in my gym during our two-week-long rodeo saying things like, “Yee-haw” and “Giddy-Up” and “I’ve Got Something Sticky On My Cowboy Boot.”

The rodeo is a lot of work, y’all, but it’s a lot of fun, too.  It’s a lot of work… and my biggest regret is that I never remember to call food trucks, to see if the funnel-cake makers and the corn dog makers can park out front.

And this year… for the first time… I’m doing my rodeo in May, because my March Madness tournaments back in… well… MARCH, ran long, because OH, MY GOODNESS!!!  FINISH THIS GAME ALREADY!!!  My March Madness unit, with the giant brackets drawn up on the wall, so that we could LEARN HOW TO DOUBLE-ELIMINATE SOMEONE, turned into March Hysteria, because our games to twenty-four points took sixteen years to get a winner.

And that is why May became the month of the rodeo.

I won’t lie.  May PE USUALLY looks exactly like a bunch of dodgeball games, followed by some “recess cleverly disguised as PE outside in the sunshine,” during which I evaluate every child’s ability to swing, cross the monkey bars, illegally tackle someone in soccer on the grassy field, when we are a “no-tackling during recess” kind of school, and listen to complaints of, “It was my turn to be King in Four Square, and he cut in front of me.”

THAT is how May PE is supposed to be.  By May, every teacher in every school has already given everything she has, and all she can think about inside her head during class is, “Seriously?  I just went to the grocery store yesterday, and I know I forgot to buy grated cheddar, which is what I need to make that casserole for dinner tonight.  Oh, well.  I guess it’s the Nacho Bell Grande from Taco Bell for the family.”

Next year, I think we’ll start the rodeo in August, when everyone is fresh and eager and still ironing their clothes before bed each night.

10 Out Of 10 Pediatricians Do Not Recommend This

It’s true.

The entire board of pediatrics, straight across, displayed the THUMBS DOWN signal.  They also frowned while they did this.  And then they wanted to know WHO IS THE SUPERVISING ADULT ON DUTY?  LET US BRING THE CHARGES AGAINST HER!

The orthopedic surgeons, smelling a brand new beach house with an open floor plan and an infinity pool overlooking the bay, turned their thumbs toward the heavens… and then they applauded, because it looks like family vacations might just get a little fancier for them.

IMG_6248While Hubs was at work… while the boy was on the other side of the state, playing in a golf tournament… while I had the hair dryer running and the hot rollers heating, in an effort to look a little less like I live beneath a bridge…

… Thing 2 employed his engineering skills and built the Leaning Tower of Pisa, when he was supposed to be watching the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles keep the sewers safe on the iPad.

(Don’t judge.  Apparently our cartoon choices are every bit as lovely as our unsupervised acrobatic skills.)

(It’s like we live in a van… down by the river.)

When I’d wrapped the cord around my hair dryer (exactly like the manufacturer warns you NOT to do) and put it back in the bathroom drawer, I wandered out into the kitchen, because the Ninja Turtles had no audience.  They were busy protecting the sewers, and no one was watching them pull it off.

It’s because that Audience of One was very busy climbing and announcing, “Hey!  Hey, Ma?  Did you know there’s chocolate AND bubble gum in this cupboard?!!”

I won’t beat around the bush.  I sort of clutched my hand over my heart and screeched out warnings to DO NOT MOVE!  DO NOT MOVE!!  Because isn’t that what you’re supposed to do for every person teetering on the edge of a cliff or a tall building?  Screech at them, which sends them into a state of horrible startlement, causing them to teeter precariously, right before they fall?


And then…

… I left my preschool son, JUST AS HE WAS, for another 3 seconds, while I yanked out my iPhone and frantically took a picture, because LISTEN, HUBS!  THIS IS WHY THE FLOORS NEVER GET VACUUMED AROUND HERE!  I’M TOO BUSY SAVING LIVES ALL DAY TO WORRY ABOUT THE HARDWOODS!

And then… THEN!!!… I rescued my son, who really didn’t need rescuing, because he had his balancing act completely under control and was at the top of his varsity game.  He made the mountain goats look incompetent with what he was successfully pulling off.

“I got this, Ma.”

(*insert goat noise here*)

When his feet were safely on the floor (The dirty floor… the floor that never gets swept or vacuumed, because Wonder Woman is too busy saving civilians with her golden lasso.), I immediately launched into my homeschool lesson on physics.

Specifically, we talked about gravity, and how it tends to pull you quickly toward the earth, and then we talked about wobbly structures that are engineered by young monkeys with degrees obtained for six box tops off of the backs of cereal boxes, and how such structures tend to collapse under the weight of… say… a forty-two-pound child who has just found the equivalent of the Holy Grail, because of the value he places on Lindor Milk Chocolate Truffles and sugar-free Bubble Yum.  I explained things like broken heads and blood loss and IV insertions.  We talked about insurance deductibles, Mama’s weak heart, panic attacks in adults, and how some engineers lack common sense, as they continue to build higher and higher, without rebar.

We took the bar stool off the chair; we pushed them both back to where they belong.

And then Mama called some friends to ask, “At what hour of the day can you drink wine, before anyone judges you?  I’m asking for a friend.”

The Weekend Of The Sloth

I’ve been sitting here at the computer now for way too long, switching back and forth between Pinterest and the news.  I need new dinner recipes for next week, because our lives have come to the point where I am sick of making tacos and chicken for dinner every other night.  Seriously.  We have some form of tacos ALL.  OF.  THE.  TIME.  Taco casserole.  Taco slop in the crockpot.  Taco pie.  Real tacos.

(Except I have friends who are from big, Mexican families, and they insist that what I make in my kitchen with store-bought, flour tortillas and a can of Rosarita’s refried beans are not real tacos.)

We also eat a lot of chicken, because the chicken is so versatile.  Shake ‘N Bake it.  Have your husband grill it.  Chunk it and make soup.  It’s all very lovely, especially when your preschool son asks, “Mom?  Where does chicken meat come from?” and you are forced to tell him, “Well, when a chicken has lived a long and blessed life, and when she’s very elderly, she may go for a walk with the farmer.”  Except I couldn’t bring myself to reveal the truth of the matter in all its gross glory, so I just said, “The grocery store.”  Since Thing 2 is four, he bought it.

I have also been reading the news tonight, so that I can feel very intelligent in all current event discussions this week.  However, the intelligence part never fully pans out for me where the news is concerned, because listen:  Unless the current event is Diego, trying to get the lost, spotted leopard back home to his mama, I really haven’t heard of it.

Through all this flipping back and forth between Pinterest and the news, I keep ending back here, on the blank screen that was tonight’s blog post, hoping that — by chance — some writing fairies had shown up and waved their magical wands to create actual words on the page.

Sadly, the writing fairies are a lot like the cleaning fairies, in that they seldom decide to show up.


How was your weekend?

Ours, apparently, is over, which is the real drag about Sunday evenings.

On Friday, Thing 2 and I had THE LAZIEST DAY known to mankind.  I don’t mean to brag, but I passed six levels in a row on Candy Crush, while Thing 2 built a monstrously huge spaceship out of Lego bricks.

And then he dropped the spaceship onto our hardwood floors, where it exploded like a supernova.  Words alone cannot do justice to the tears we suffered through, until I promised to help him pick up the pieces and rebuild the ship from ground zero.

There’s a reason why I didn’t become an engineer.

It’s called SPACESHIP CONSTRUCTION.  I was told no fewer than eighty-six times that I wasn’t doing it right.  Basically, I was informed that I was incompetent for the job, and that I should collect my personal items and my last paycheck and head on home, which was fine by me.

I ended up working on my Bible study homework, while it rained outside, and while Thing 2 used the nuts and bolts from the exploded Lego spaceship to build an abstract combine harvester.

Bless him.  I imagine THAT’S why I was struggling with my spaceship labors.  I had the wrong blueprints.  I was building stuff for NASA, when what I was supposed to be building was farm equipment.  Clearly, one is going to have a jet propulsion unit, while the other just needs a good, working smokestack and some big tires, for getting out of mud holes with.

I’m fairly certain that, after being fired from my construction job, the only other productive thing that I did on Friday was get the boy to golf practice and then get him back home again afterwards.

And then I pulled a take-and-bake pizza out of the oven, which Hubs had started while I was picking the boy up from practice at the golf course, so there was that.

In other words, I cooked dinner.  Take-and-bake pizzas qualify as home-cooked meals.

Sloths have done more work on weekdays than I managed to accomplish on Friday.

On Saturday, there was laundry.

And more laundry.

And another load of laundry, because there was no laundry on Friday.

There was also a dishwasher to fill up to the brim on Saturday, because the poor machine didn’t get run on Friday, either.

Hubs and I took Thing 2 out to play on Saturday morning for a while, even though it was freezing cold.  This is what you call, STRIVING FOR THAT GLITTERY, PARENTS OF THE YEAR AWARD.

We also dropped the boy off at the golf course again, because he’d decided to golf a quick nine holes in the wind and cold.

On Saturday afternoon, Thing 2 swiped a saucepan from my kitchen drawer, filled it up in the bathroom sink…

… and promptly dropped the entire thing onto the bathroom floor, when he realized that it was a titch too heavy for him to pick up.

The flood recovery team was immediately summoned into action, and we called our State Farm agent.  It was all very relaxing.

Saturday was a bit more productive than Friday was.  Hubs and I ended up staying awake until 11:00 last night, watching a movie together, and listen:  The last time I stayed up on purpose until 11:00 was Prom of ’88.  I had forgotten that an 11 PM actually existed.

I knew at 10:45 last night that I was going to regret my decision to plunge forward and finish out the movie, because we own a preschooler who is an early riser.

Sure enough.

Thing 2 was up at 5:20 this morning, ready to take on the world and have himself a six-course breakfast that started with Cheez-Its and ended with a chocolate-dipped granola bar.

I spent most of this morning getting the boy ready to leave town for three days for a high school golf tournament.  I helped him iron golf shorts and golf pants and golf shirts, and then watched as he basically wadded them all up into a ball, which he shoved to the bottom of his suitcase.

It was one of those parenting moments where you have stars in your eyes, over all the proudness you’re feeling.

I then proceeded to inform my kid, over and over and over, that he should NOT LEAVE HIS NORTH FACE COAT IN THE HOTEL ROOM, WHEN THE FORECASTED HIGH FOR TOMORROW IS 44 DEGREES.  I told him, over and over and over, that it will be a bit freezy on the golf course, if his wind-proof, waterproof, down-filled, fully-lined, costs-as-much-as-a-mobile-home coat is sitting in his suitcase at the hotel.  And then I told him other important life skills, like, “Check the shower before you leave the hotel on Tuesday, and grab your shampoo and conditioner!”

Seriously?  The world would fall apart without moms and their advice, and no boy would ever arrive home after traveling with his shampoo bottle.

The boy rode the bus to the complete opposite side of our state today.  The team was practicing at the golf course tonight, and teeing off in the tournament tomorrow morning at 8:00.  He’s golfing varsity these days, and Hubs and I are kind of stinking proud of him, even though all the senior boys in our state turn in far lower scores than he does.  We just tell him, “They’re SENIORS, Son.  And SENIORS have bigger biceps than FRESHMEN, which means they hit the ball further on the golf course.”

Thing 2 overheard me say this.  He flexed his muscles and yelled, “Well, I have even bigger muscles than they do, Mom!  My muscles are WAY BIGGER than seniors!”

Later this afternoon, with the boy riding on a bus with his friends on the golf team, Hubs and Thing 2 and I had lunch with some close friends of ours, at their house.  They have twin nine-year-old boys, who entertained our preschooler for four entire hours outside.

Four hours.


Four hours of non-stop running, jumping, swinging, hopping, truck-pushing, squirt gun fighting, sandbox digging and hide-and-seeking.

While all of that was going on, Hubs and I sat inside and had real, ADULT conversations with our friends.  It was like a Christmas Miracle, in May, had taken place, as we all realized that we were left behind at a lunch table…


Another drink?  Yes!  I think I will!

Thing 2 fell asleep in the Suburban at 4:30 this afternoon, which was horrifying.  A 4:30 nap is the sleep-killer for nighttime, so Hubs and I shook him awake, and kept him busy until 6:30, which was when he called Mam on the phone.  In his sweet, tender voice, he asked his grandma, “Mam?  Will you please come to my house and rock me to sleep?”

Mam was powerless to say no.  She arrived before 7:00, and that kiddo was sleeping soundly by 7:20.

And THAT, y’all, was our weekend, in fourteen hundred words.

Carry on and enjoy what’s left of your Sunday evenings.


Cooking Up A Storm

I am not a fan of all the cooking.

It’s because I can always find SOMETHING that I enjoy far more than I enjoy standing at the kitchen counter, dicing, slicing, sauteing, filleting, shucking, caramelizing, browning, whisking, julienneing, and garnishing.

154I said julienneing and garnishing.

I’ve never julienned in my life, and my idea of garnishing is adding a Bounty paper towel as a napkin beside the plate.

The problem with my dislike of cooking is that my boys love eating.  And they come home at the end of the day ravenous, like they’ve been on a pilgrimage, walking through the hot desert for forty years and fasting for the entire time.  When we pick the boy up from golf practice each evening at 6:00, he begs us to “just whip through a fast food drive-thru for a little pre-supper snack.”  He always insists that he won’t eat much, so that he doesn’t ruin  his appetite for dinner… all he’ll take is everything on the left-hand side of the drive-up menu.

And Thing 2?  He may be short and four, but he needs 249,000 calories a day to keep from LOSING WEIGHT, what with his high activity level.  By noon, our preschooler has already eaten four different breakfasts and two high-protein snacks.  It goes without saying that he’s starving at 6 PM, too.

So, I am constantly opening up Pinterest on my computer and typing in the phrase, “DINNER RECIPES THAT REQUIRE ZERO COOKING AND ZERO PREP TIME AND ZERO DIRTY DISHES TO CLEAN UP.”

Every single time, I get the recipe for ice cubes.

Sadly, my menfolk think ice cubes should only be a side dish to a grilled steak and baked potato, and served in a large cup, filled with Dr. Pepper.

I’m always looking for an easy dinner recipe, that can fill a bottomless pit, times three, and which packs a few essentials, like protein, iron, antioxidants and flavor.  If the recipe also requires very few pots and pans and spatulas to clean  up afterward, then I’m golden and feel as though I’ve received the favor of the Lord.  A delicious dinner with an easy cleanup keeps me from captaining the Hot Mess Express.

Tonight was not that dinner.

IMG_6216Oh, our dinner was DELICIOUS… don’t get me wrong.  But you be the judge by that snapshot as to whether or not the cleanup was a breeze.

I made Green Chile Potato Soup.  When a friend texted me this afternoon and asked what was for dinner at OUR house, because she was looking for dinner ideas for HER house, I typed the recipe’s name on my iPhone.

Siri and her sidekick, Auto Correct, who both hate me, changed my return text to “Green CHILDREN Potato Soup.”

We both used this emoji liberally in our followup text messages:


I did all of the initial work this morning, and then my crockpot finished the easy part throughout the day.  Honestly, Siri treats me with continual disrespect, but my crockpot shows me the dignity and reverence that I deserve.  She’s constantly stepping up and saying, “Listen.  You get me loaded.  I’ll take over, and I promise… Dinner will be ready by 5:30 this evening.”

The sad part is that… even with the beloved crockpot slaving away on her shift… I usually end up facing a kitchen that looks like a fraternity of drunken chimpanzees on cold medication attempted to make a Beef Wellington.

But, after the Green CHILDREN Potato Soup started to simmer, I rolled up my sleeves, handed Thing 2 a tub of Legos, and went to work on resurrecting my kitchen.

IMG_6217I texted Hubs and said, “Prepare yourself.  I have it on good authority that the maid is going to ask about a raise today.”

It’s because when said maid finished shining up the kitchen… her home office was covered in Lego bricks.

IMG_6218I think that THESE are quite appropriate to end our day with:

7be18063c023a44cd618a1989d85ff01 3cfaabf681a8a2db6df61c1a18604e66Y’all have a fantastic weekend.

May your kitchens be clean.  May your home offices be clean.  May your ENTIRE HOUSES be clean.  And may you still have the energy to sip an end-of-the-day Lime-A-Rita, while you watch one episode of Fixer Upper (out of the three hundred that you have hoarded on your DVR, because how many mothers of preschoolers have time for TV???) before you fall asleep.

Our Rock Star

Thing 2 is shy and quiet and very reserved.

He also has extreme stage fright, where he freezes in the spotlight and is unable to even hum the song he was meant to sing.

giphyHas everyone who knows our small boy recovered from their laughter yet?

Because the honest truth is that Thing 2 is exactly the opposite of that description up there.  Thing 2 is loud.  He’s very loud.  He knows no strangers.  He talks to everyone he meets.  He lacks an indoor voice.  He has more rhythm than an entire college dance team.

And when it comes to the opportunity to be on stage, Thing 2 plunges forward and puts on a sold-out show, that leaves his audience knowing that the ticket prices were worth every penny.

On Sunday afternoon, that little man managed to get onto the small stage in our church’s youth room.  He had some songs that he’d learned in his Sunday school class inside of him, and they were pounding at the door of his heart to be released.

A performer’s gotta perform, y’all.

My most favorite part of this little video is that Thing 2 belts out his precious songs to Jesus, and then… without even batting an eye… he thanks the clapping crowd for their applause and immediately announces that his next number will be AC/DC’s song, Rock or Bust.

In other words, he moves straight from contemporary Christian praise songs, straight into classic, hard rock.

Don’t judge; he welcomes all musical genres on his stage.

My other favorite thing about this video is that apparently our boy lays things at the “thief of Jesus,” instead of at the “feet of Jesus.”  We’ll work on fixing that one.


Y’all have a good Wednesday night.

Mother’s Day 2016

Let me just be blunt.

None of y’all had a Mother’s Day as lovely as I did.  I’m sorry, but it’s true, even though yesterday morning didn’t start out being filled with spring lilacs and glitter.

Yesterday morning, after having already been up with Thing 2 TWICE in the middle of the night (Thank you, Potty Training.  You have now convinced my preschool son that he needs to pee every morning, ’round about 2 AM.), I got up early with him…

… while Hubs stayed in bed.

Oh, lest you think he’s a savage beast, I’ll let you know that Hubs only slept on for twenty more minutes, but STILL.  Isn’t it the mama who’s supposed to sleep late on Mother’s Day morning?  Because twenty extra minutes of sleep, to the mother of a preschooler, is the equivalent of a college kid waking up at 1:30 in the afternoon.

When Hubs finally got out of bed, he mumbled, “Happy Mother’s Day,” and got on with the whole coffee-making process, which would fire up his brain and let him carry on civil conversations with real humans throughout the day.

There were no flowers.

There was no box of chocolates.

There were no tender hugs.

There were no diamond bracelets.

(Because?  On an entirely different note, Hubs read a news article out loud to me last week about how someone found one of the ten largest diamonds in the history of diamond-finding, and they sold it, for something like three hundred jagillion-badillion American dollars.  I asked Hubs, “Had you found that diamond, would YOU have sold it?  Or kept it?”  Without batting an eye, Hubs replied, “Sold it!  For sure!  I have absolutely no need of a diamond!”)

(He said that with a straight face, while I was sitting in a chair, two feet away from him.)

(Goodbye, diamond bracelets.  It was nice thinking of you, but Hubs prefers the cash.)


Earlier last week, Thing 2 had heard an advertisement on the radio for Mother’s Day.  He asked what Mother’s Day was all about, so I told him.  Then he asked WHEN Mother’s Day would be, and I told him that it was on Sunday, the day we go to church.  That was last Thursday, people!  So yesterday morning, when he first popped out of bed, Thing 2 asked me, “What are we doing today?”  I told him that we were going to church, and then he grinned and yelled, “Happy Mother’s Day, Mommy!”

He moved himself straight into the territory of BEING MY FAVORITE with that one for a few minutes.

But yes.  Coffee-making continued.  Coffee-sipping followed.  And still there was no indication that this Mother’s Day would be any different than… say… any other Sunday in the history of plain-Jane Sundays.

The boy got out of bed, showered, and shuffled to the kitchen for cereal.

I greeted him with a big smile and a heartfelt hug, and he greeted me with, “Who drank all the milk?  I have none for the Fruity Pebbles!”


We went to church.

To say that I went with a thankful heart would be lying to Jesus, so I’ll just be brutally honest:  I went to church filled with some bitterness and some growling, grouching attitude.  As we walked down the hallway, Sister and three other friends, who were all standing together, hollered out, “Happy Mother’s Day!” to me.  I turned, and in one of my finer moments replied, RIGHT IN FRONT OF HUBS AND THE BOY, “Yes!  Yes, it’s MOTHER’S DAY!  MOTHER’S DAY!!!  WHICH IS FOR MOTHER’S, AND IT’S THE TIME WHEN YOU TELL YOUR MOTHER HOW MUCH YOU LOVE HER!!!!”  The boy gave me a lopsided grin, and immediately disappeared into his Sunday school classroom, without saying a single word.

Hubs gave me a grin, and immediately walked off with Thing 2, to deposit him in HIS Sunday school classroom.

And I took my grouchiness straight to the sanctuary, where our pastor preached a perfectly wonderful sermon that was meant for me and my angry little heart to hear.  I did a little talking to Jesus quietly in my head, and Jesus softly replied, “It’s okay, and I still love you; now just finish your day with a better heart.”

And then church was over.

And then Hubs and the boy and a couple other husbands and their children were suddenly pulling out bags of potato chips and packages of hot dogs and big jugs of juice in our church youth room.


And then our darling friend, Ciara, who is fifteen and probably more mature than I am, was cutting up vegetables for a veggie tray.

I asked, “Are we eating lunch out here?  What are y’all doing?”


And then suddenly, here were Sister and all of our close girlfriends, and lots of dads and lots of kids, and every mama in there was slightly puzzled, because WHY ARE Y’ALL BOILING HOT DOGS ON THE CHURCH STOVE?!

And then one of the dads passed out movie tickets to our little band of moms and announced, “We have pre-paid movie tickets for you, and we’ve made a brunch reservation for you at a swanky restaurant downtown.  You’re all to go together, have lunch together, see a movie together, and have some girl time.  While you’re doing that, all of us dads are going to keep the kids here at the church.  We’re having hot dogs, chips and veggies for lunch, and we have games for everyone to play all afternoon.”


And then it sounded like a nuclear explosion had just occurred, as six mamas all began jumping up and down, shouting out, “OH, MY GOODNESS!  OH, WOW!!!  THIS IS SO COOL!!!!  THIS IS THE BEST THING OF EVER!!!!”  We all bounced around and hugged like we had just won the lottery, which… let’s face it… we pretty much had.


Six dads got together, and with the help of fifteen-year-old  Ciara, who added a touch of feminine wisdom to the event planning, and the boy, who was in on it, too, they booked us a pre-paid afternoon out.  It included brunch and a movie and us girls just being together, without needing to tell any young children to SIT UP AND EAT YOUR DINNER, or STOP PESTERING YOUR BROTHER, or DON’T POUR THE SALT ALL OVER THE TABLE, or QUIT HANGING UPSIDE DOWN OFF YOUR CHAIR AND JUST EAT, ALREADY!   FOR THE LOVE!!!  They had lunch all organized for the kiddos, and an afternoon itinerary that included playground time and baseball time and running games and scheduled potty breaks.

And some of us girls had arrived at church earlier yesterday morning, feeling neglected and beaten down because THEY HAD ALL FORGOTTEN MOTHER’S DAY.

So… we went out.

It was one of the most fun things I’ve done in a long, long time.

We had mimosas, people.  Do you know what they don’t serve at restaurants with playlands, which are the only restaurants we frequent these days?  That would be the mimosas!  We had linen napkins and real crystal goblets for the water.  We had fancy dinner plates that were worthy of pictures.  And we talked and laughed, and laughed and talked, and sampled everyone’s meals, and laughed and talked some more.

IMG_2538We got to see the movie Mother’s Day, which was hysterical.  We laughed and bawled our heads off, because we were all emotional from the orange juice and champagne and the fact that our husbands had surprised us so well.

And all the while, the dads held things down at the church, while the kids ran wild in and out of the building.

We decided that THAT needed to be made into a movie, entitled Six Dads and Nineteen Kids (Because YES!  Nineteen kids between our six families!), until someone suggested that such a movie had already been made…

… Daddy Day Care.

People, it was absolutely the perfect Mother’s Day, and we’re all still in shock that six men managed to pull all the event planning off without a single one of us moms knowing.

In other words, ENORMOUS SURPRISE.


And, as Hubs later announced, “I stayed at the church with nineteen children and ate BOILED HOT DOGS.  Boiled.  Hot dogs.  I haven’t had a boiled hot dog since I was seven, but we didn’t have a grill.”

The sacrifice on the dads’ part was plentiful.

After the movie wrapped up, our little group of six mamas felt refreshed and renewed.  We were all ready to tackle another week of little bottoms needing wiped after using the potty, and teenagers needing rides EVERYWHERE, and dinners needing made EVERY SINGLE NIGHT, and laundry piling up, and groceries needing fetched, and bathroom sinks flooding when the Matchbox cars were washed, and children arguing, and floors needing mopped.

That’s what our husbands gave to us:


And Jesus gave us all forgiveness for feeling so grouchy first thing yesterday morning, when we all believed that our Mother’s Day had been forgotten.

Our Musical Duo

Well, I think we can say that Thing 2’s AC/DC-Rocking Spring Tour 2016 has been cancelled.  This morning, I opened his closet door, and behold!  There before me, on the floor, were one thousand, three hundred, twenty-nine Matchbox cars.  This became an issue on the table, because Mama distinctly, and with careful enunciation, announced last night that those cars should be placed in the giant, made-to-look-just-like-a-tire, zippered, car-storing bag, but… alas.  The bag stood empty this morning, shoved toward the back of our son’s closet, while all of the cars had been slid into one enormous heap, in the front of the closet, and boom!

Doors shut!  Ma will never be the wiser.

Except I have finally learned that YES, VIRGINIA!  Mothers will find everything out eventually, because there comes a time in a young man’s life, when his mother will have to get him a shirt to wear from the hangers in his closet, which he cannot reach without standing on a stool.  That moment happened early this morning, when it was time to dress the child for preschool.

And there were the Matchbox cars.

All of them.

In a heap.

I asked, “What happened to putting these in the bag last night?”  Thing 2 replied, “I think Bubbie did that.”

Do you know how many times the boy (aka, Bubbie) has cleaned Thing 2’s bedroom?

Never times.  It’s difficult enough getting the boy to clean his OWN room.

So, the consequences have fallen, and we will NOT be needing the tour bus with our name emblazoned in glittery, metallic paint on the side, because Mama shut the tour down.  However, for his fan club, his mother (who is also his agent) has released a video of a very recent concert.

Two weeks ago (which indicates that I’m failing as a mother for not blogging about it sooner and recording it in the online history of our family for future generations), the kids’ Sunday School classes put on a little concert for our congregation, with some songs that they had learned.

I cannot lie.

I was a bit apprehensive to put Thing 2 on stage, in front of the entire congregation, and all the God-fearing, Jesus-loving elderly women, with Bibles that are falling apart and callouses on their knees from constant prayer, because how would they react when our child grabbed himself a microphone, AS HE HAS DONE IN THE PAST, and put on a show that Taylor Swift could never compete with?

This is what we commonly refer to as THE PRAISE TEAM INCIDENT, when Thing 2 actually stormed the stage while our Praise Team led songs at Vacation Bible School last summer:


He was SUPPOSED TO BE in the audience, singing with all the other children, as well-behaved, Christian kids do, but our boy saw an opportunity to perform, and he saw an available mic, and there was no stopping him.  He took the stage by force, and mixed in with the band.

So clearly you can see why my nerves felt like I’d made my espresso with a Red Bull instead of water, when Thing 2’s Sunday School teacher said, “Yes!  Put him on stage with the kids!  I can hardly wait!”

Against our better judgement, Hubs and I did.  We sent him to perform, and then we sat down in the congregation and hoped we weren’t about to get a viral video entitled WHEN THINGS EXPLODE BADLY ON STAGE.

IMG_6139 IMG_6140 IMG_6141And then we needn’t have worried at all, because Thing 2 totally nailed his performance.

Oh!  There were a few seconds in there when we all gasped audibly, as Thing 2 LEFT HIS SPOT and worked his way through the choir.  I know that my hand flew to cover my mouth, in my shock and worry, because all I could think was HE IS GOING FOR THE DRUMS AT THE BACK OF THE STAGE!  HE IS GOING TO DRUM THIS ONE UP HUGE!!!

But he didn’t.  He just saw his good buddy, Josh, who is a few years older than Thing 2 is, standing behind him, and he told us after the concert, “I just wanted to stand with Josh to sing.”


We dodged a grenade there.

So without further ado, here is part of the simple concert that we pulled off so well this time around:

After the concert was finished, our dear friend Abbey, who is Josh’s mother and who was also singing on stage for VBS the night Thing 2 charged up there with a microphone, stopped us and said, “Oh, man!  I thought for sure we were going to have some drums in that song this morning!  I couldn’t watch anyone else EXCEPT Thing 2 when he left his spot up front!”

Abbey and I know him well, and our minds both went to the same spot.  For our beloved  elderly members of our church’s congregation, I’m so glad that Thing 2 didn’t gain access to the drums and show them what he’s learned from old Def Leppard concert videos.

On another musical note (Did you like that transition pun?!), the boy also had a concert a couple of weeks ago.  The boy, though, is very well behaved on stage, and he would never make a crazy-mad dash for a drum set, when it wasn’t called for in his concert script.  He doesn’t have the concert FLAIR that his younger brother has.

IMG_9125The boy’s high school band director is VERY STRICT with what the kids wear during concerts.  Black shoes.  Black socks.  Black pants or skirts.  White shirt.  Black tie.  THERE WILL BE ZERO EXCEPTIONS, OR YOUR REPORT CARD WILL SUFFER.

And that’s why Mama had a whole lot of ironing to do that night, because who wants to lose their 4.0 GPA over the wrong socks?  White shirts and black pants have to be pressed and creased, PER THE BAND TEACHER, so I stood at my ironing board like I was June Cleaver, getting my HOUSEWIFE on.

I think my big kid cleaned up pretty nicely.  His mama thinks he’s more handsome than any other teenage boy this side of the Mississippi River.

Getting pictures of the boy during a band concert is impossible.  As soon as they start playing, the giant, black music stands are pulled forward, and that’s all you see.  You no longer see their faces, as you get to gaze upon the backside of a metal stand that’s very busy holding their music, while simultaneously blocking their cute faces from the crowd.

The trick is that you have to snag a few snapshots with your camera BEFORE the music starts.

IMG_9130 IMG_9137And then keep your fingers crossed that you can get another picture while they’re exiting the stage when the concert finishes.

IMG_9142Apparently, Hubs and I are raising musical prodigies, when we have zero-point-zero musical talent ourselves.  Thankfully, we know when to clap and whistle at a concert’s end, so we cheer our boys on in their musical endeavors like mad people.

We’re pretty stinking proud of both of them.

Have a happy weekend, y’all.