The End Of The Camp Week

Well, as all good things must do do, the boy’s week at summer camp wrapped itself up.  He had to pack his bags, wave goodbye to cabin living, and come down off the mountain, back to reality.

The thing about teenage boys is that they don’t really care about communal living, like their mothers apparently do.  Boys can share a campground bathroom with fifty other campers and not even blink an eye over it.  They can also wear the same campfire-smoke infused sweatshirt all week, and still think they’re cool.

(Hubs wants to patent a cologne that smells like campfire smoke, gun powder and bacon.)

(Apparently, Hubs doesn’t want any womenfolk around him.)

(When Hubs’ cologne debuts in drugstores across the nation, I will pass out small spray bottles of Febreeze to girls everywhere.)

The boy had a blast at camp.  That probably has everything to do with the fact that they played Capture the Flag in the dark, in the woods.  It’s every teenage boy’s dream to simulate a rescue mission under war-like circumstances, and church camp is certainly the safe spot to carry that out at.  They also had paintball WITH BOWS AND ARROWS, y’all.  I’d never heard of it, but apparently the marshmallow-like tips on the arrows were coated in paint, and when you got hit, the mark showed brightly for everyone to know about it.  The kids and counselors set up barricades and wove their ways through them, trying to shoot arrows at their enemies and eliminate the other team with big splotches of red paint on T-shirts.

I’m sure all the mamas loved this.

Dear Tide With Color-Safe Bleach, you are the wind beneath my wings, as I raise two boys.

The kids also hiked and fished; they swam and canoed; they zip-lined and rock-climbed.  They played an endless string of team-building games, had more water fights than they could count, and ate home cooked meals, three times a day, which included a hefty dose of bacon in the mornings.  And somewhere, in between all that FUN, they had Bible studies and fell into deep talks about Jesus and what He can do for a fellow.

When Hubs and I picked the boy up, the camp had a little program for the parents.  The kids all had Bible verses to recite and their cabin’s motto to say.  There was a fantastic slideshow that counselors stayed up all night to create, with video footage they’d taken all week on a Go-Pro camera.

The boy’s cabin did their little presentation for the parent program…

IMG_1017 IMG_1021 IMG_1020… and let us know the Bible verses that they had memorized for the week.

(The boy looks so much like my dad in those pictures up there, it’s unreal.  He has ALWAYS looked like my dad, but, the older he gets, the more and more he looks like his beloved Pa.)

(Also?  Those are his good jeans.  They came home smelling like campfire smoke and bacon.)

If you’re wondering why the boy and his buddy, T, are both wearing dressier polo shirts, I can tell you.

1.  The boy would wear a collared shirt EVERY!! SINGLE!! DAY!! of his teenage life, if his mother could keep them all washed and dried and hanging in his closet.

2.  There’s always a rather fancy banquet dinner every year, on the last night of camp.  The kids are all asked to dress up for it.  And, as the boy is very prone to do, he simply SLEPT IN HIS CLOTHES all night long, and chose to sleep in on the last morning before pickup, rather than hop in the shower.

Bless.

Amazingly enough, the boy’s stuff was ALL TOGETHER and accounted for.  I feel like this is a major parenting victory for me, and, people, I’ll take it!  It has been almost sixteen years of asking him, “Where’s your stuff?  Why don’t you keep all your stuff together, in the same spot, all the time?”  And then it’s been almost sixteen years of me picking up odds and ends out of various Lost and Founds around town, that belong to us.  But this year?  NOTHING OF THE BOY’S WAS IN THE LOST AND FOUND.  I feel like that called for confetti and the sound of a champagne cork popping.

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”  That’s a bit of Biblical truth, which I never thought we would see happen.  I figured that promise was simply for all the Israelite children, as they managed to wander in the desert their entire lives, without losing one of their sandals, or the belt to their best robe.  I didn’t figure it was a promise for US to achieve, because WE SPREAD OUR STUFF OUT, FAR AND WIDE, EVERYWHERE WE WENT.  ALWAYS.  It took ALMOST SIXTEEN YEARS, y’all, but if you’re a mother of a younger boy, struggling with this right now (“Where is your sweatshirt?  Where is your left sneaker?  Why is 44% of your belongings in the Lost and Found?!  Do you TRY to make me crazy?!!“), I’m here to encourage  you that things will come around, if you just stay the course!

IMG_1025Campers come to this camp from all over the area… from different towns and different counties and different states… and LOOK!  A CANADIAN FRIEND!!

Here’s some of our little group from Small Town, USA on the last day of camp.

IMG_1030 IMG_1033They were all exhausted.

They were all ridiculously happy.

They all had unwashed hair.

The boys smelled like campfire smoke.

And bacon.

The girls smelled slightly better.

And they were all standing on the truth that they are wholly loved by Jesus, each and every one of them.

Although I wasn’t overly thrilled with the week’s worth of dirty laundry that the boy brought home (Mud!  Mildew!  Paintball marks!  Spaghetti sauce!), at least he arrived home with everything he took with him.  And… man alive!  Was his mama ever happy to have him back home!

Snake Gazin’, Alligator Huggin’ And Tortoise Lovin’

I’m not saying that it’s hot right now, but THIS is a snapshot that I took inside my Suburban this afternoon:

IMG_7285Now, granted… it had been parked and we were just taking off, so… yadda, yadda, yadda… I’m sure the heat got to build up a touch in there.  I think it has to do with those laws of physics that say THE INSIDE OF A PARKED VEHICLE IN SMALL TOWN, USA IN JULY WILL HEAT TO THE TEMPERATURE OF HELL VERY QUICKLY.  All I know is that we singed our eyebrows when we opened the doors today, and Thing 2 gasped, “Start the conditioning!  Start the conditioning!”  He wasn’t talking about the conditioning necessary to train your body to survive in 113-degree heat, either.  No, ma’am.  He was talking about the AIR conditioning, which he already knows will help take the edge off this brutal summer.

Once the conditioning was going as fast as my elderly, wheezing, 2001 Suburban could manage, without her having a full-on stroke in her carburetor, we set off to run our errands, driving just like this:

629ce22ff582cc6b72b86afb0ad9630fPlease give me grace when it’s ten degrees out this winter, with an icy crosswind, and I’m shivering and moaning about being so cold.

Before we get started, you should also know that Hubs and Thing 2 found a teensy little frog in our front yard yesterday.  This is the second frog that we’ve seen in the yard this summer, which makes NO SENSE, because we have no nearby water source that is within a days’ hop for a frog the size of a quarter.  Plus… well… it’s been KILLER HOT, which we’ve already established.  Those two factors do not usually mean HERE ARE THE FROGS!  But, they found a second frog in our grass, which Thing 2 wasted no time in catching.

And then we had a frog in our house.

And then I had boys begging to keep him as a pet.

The end consensus was that he could be a DAY PET, which meant HERE IS A CUP OF WATER, AND YOU CAN SIT IN IT, KERMIT, UNTIL THIS EVENING, WHEN HUBS WILL DRIVE YOU TO THE CREEK, SO YOUR SKIN DOESN’T FEEL ALL LIZARD-LIKE.  We felt like we had rescued him from certain BAKING outdoors.

Within twenty minutes of having our day pet, he was loose in the boy’s bedroom and classified as OFFICIALLY LOST.

Twenty minutes after that, he was rediscovered, and returned to his glass jar.  This time, a makeshift lid was created for him, because Kermit possessed some big jumping skills for his tiny size.

Then, cue the setting of the sun, and OH, LOOK!  WE STILL HAVE A TINY FROG IN A JAR WITH A NON-OXYGEN-SUPPORTING LID SYSTEM, ON MY KITCHEN COUNTER!  So Hubs declared that he would take the frog to the creek in the morning (which is today).  The boy rigged up a lid that could generate some oxygen being sucked into the glass, and BOOM.

We went to bed.

And then we woke up to an empty glass.

Kermit, in a suicidal attempt at freedom, is formally listed as missing.  We have searched, but the square footage is too large, and the hiding spots are too many.  Kermit was pronounced deceased, without any evidence of the body, at 8:30 this morning, because we have taken biology.  We all know what happens to tiny amphibians when they are away from water too long and their skin dries out.

I believe you call it Death.

So there I was, at 8:30 this morning, GRIEVING over a frog who had the misfortune to come into our home and lose his life.   Granted, HE was the one who chose to escape, but I still feel very sad in the depths of my heart that he either (1) was eaten by a cat in his escape, or (2) dried out somewhere, but I still feel HORRIBLY for him.  What a cruel end to face in this life.

Anyway and so on and so forth…

Last weekend (because TIMELY, Y’ALL!  I am SO INCREDIBLY TIMELY!), we took a little trip to see some Christian concerts and practice our wilderness survival skills in a miniature campground cabin, which was forty-six miles away from the VERY PUBLIC, VERY COMMUNAL bathrooms and showers.

(Also?  As a side note, you should know that I am now humming Johnny Horton’s epic musical opus, The Battle of New Orleans.  It has everything to do with the sentence I typed up there, bearing the words, “we took a little trip.”  I’ve completed the entire sentence in my head by humming quietly to myself, “along with Colonel Jackson, down the mighty Mississipp’.  We took a little bacon and we took a little beans, and we caught the bloody British in the town of New Orleans.“)

(It has everything to do with my maturity level.)

(And probably a lot to do with my wandering mind.)

What we learned from that trip is simply that I am not cut out for surviving in a campground where I must share showers and hike to the bathroom, with a preschooler.  I’d like to SAY that I was able to channel my old college self, who could survive in the wilderness WITHOUT FLUSHING TOILETS for a week, but I cannot.

(And my old college self… well, although she really could have and really DID survive on backpacking trips, with just a sleeping bag and bacon and beans and the wild west as her front yard for days on end, she actually physically ached for her small, spiral curling iron and two cans of Aqua Net hairspray.  Flat hair in my college days was not an acceptable mane of glory.)

(Different times.  Different times.)

I came home from our weekend and had to talk to Jesus.  Specifically, I had to acknowledge before Him that communal living in a campground, where you take a shower in a small, fiberglass shower stall covered with RED hairs, when you are not, in fact, a REDHEAD, is more than likely BETTER LIVING than 90% of the world experiences.  And don’t quote me on the percentages, because that would involve math skills and research, and I don’t do those things on summer vacation.  It’s a GUESS, people.  It’s a guess that 90% of the world’s population has zero access to showers that are cleaned once a day with disease-killing chemicals, which also have clean, running water, and LOOK!  TOILETS THAT FLUSH!  I had to tell Jesus that I KNOW I’ve become quite pampered, because of my love for my own bathroom, with no red hairs clinging to the shower walls.  But the honest truth is, I felt like a dirty, sweaty, hot mess all weekend.

And I forgot flip flops, so I’m sure a giant case of Athlete’s  Foot is incubating between my toes right now, and that it’ll sprout up at a very inconvenient time, reminding me that I showered BAREFOOTED after the red head did.

No matter.

The weekend was so much fun.  We were surrounded by good friends the entire time.  I’ll do it again next year, but next summer… well… can we all just say the words HOLIDAY INN together?

Before we headed for home last Sunday, we took the boys to a giant reptile oasis, which I like to refer to as THE SNAKE PIT.

I saw a sign not long ago that sums up how I feel about snakes.  It said, “There are only three kinds of snakes I can’t stand.  Live snakes, dead snakes, and sticks that look like snakes.”  I feel like I should have penned in the word AMEN at the end of that sign, because I do not do the snakes with grace and finesse, y’all.  I’m more of a SCREECH AND JUMP AND RUN sort of girl.

But the boys in my life?  Well, they are fascinated with the biting belly crawlers.  It also seems like THE MORE POISONOUS the snake is… the MORE FASCINATED with them my boys are.

IMG_0718 IMG_0719 IMG_0720 IMG_0710We went through the make-believe, tropical rain forest.  At one point, I was admiring some parrots above me.  I could hear Thing 2 exclaiming, “He’s so cute!  I love him!”  When I returned my attention from the bright green birds to my preschooler, he was walking off, holding a tortoise the size of a salad plate.

He assumed that this tortoise he had caught was HIS to take home and keep forever and ever.

There were some tears when he learned that picking the tortoise up was actually called BREAKING THE RULES, and that keeping the tortoise was actually PUNISHABLE BY FINES, BECAUSE OF SOMETHING CALLED STEALING.

(And listen.  We know how the frog ended up at our house.  I wouldn’t wish that on a tortoise, although I am guessing an escaped tortoise would’ve had more survival luck at our house than Kermit did.)

IMG_0697I believe this is EXACTLY how Thing 2 helped himself to a tortoise:

IMG_0698 IMG_0701IMG_0705 IMG_0707 IMG_0714Eventually, we found ourselves back outside, at an alligator show.

IMG_0726 IMG_0725Now.

Do you know what I NEVER DO?  I never, ever, not at all, not even for a small space of time, engage in any political debates or big controversies on my blog or social media.

Never.

I’m not going to argue political beliefs with you or engage you in a battle about something that has happened in the news, where we don’t share the same opinions.

But, I’m going to today.

Do you remember in the news not so long ago, when the four year old boy fell into the gorilla enclosure at the zoo?  It sickened me to read over and over how many people BLAMED HIS MOTHER for not keeping an eye on him.  They belittled her and pegged the cause of that gorilla’s death to her, like it was a scarlet letter and she had gravely sinned.  I saw the video footage of that gorilla, dragging the boy around in the water, and you can’t convince me that he was being “parental” or “protective” with that boy, as critics were screaming out.

That gorilla was simply DRAGGING THAT CHILD.  And what’s difficult for a small, four-year-old boy to actually… you know… SURVIVE… is being dragged around by a full-grown, male gorilla.  Cue those laws of physics again.

Look at the picture of our Thing 2 sitting in front of the fencing at the alligator show again.  Here it is, one more time:

IMG_0725That’s chain link fencing, that’s four feet tall, right behind him.  Then there’s approximately two feet, give or take, of space, followed by another section of four-foot-tall fencing, with bigger squares.  THAT fence curls over slightly at the top.

Because I’m his mother, I know how strong Thing 2 is.  He has the upper body strength of a marine.  He has the balance of a mountain goat.  He has the speed of a ninja.  I know that Thing 2 could get into that alligator pen, with very little trouble.  He would need sixty to ninety SECONDS to climb the outside chain link fence, pull himself across the gap, to the bent over section on the second fence, and then boom!  He’d drop into the enclosure like he was a Navy SEAL, arriving unexpectedly.  Have you ever looked away from your child for sixty to ninety seconds?  Maybe to consult the flyer you were handed, to find out WHEN the snake show started next?  Maybe to look at the map of the complex, to see WHERE the snake show was going to take place?  Maybe you bent over to tie your shoes and straighten your socks and dig for Chapstick in your purse?  I can guarantee (GUARANTEE!!) that while you were doing that, my son could get into that alligator pen.

And there’s no animal on this planet whose life is more valuable than a child’s.

As much as I love animals… as much as I GRIEVED for the tiny little frog who escaped our glass jar last night and ended up MIA and very probably DEAD today… I would have shot that gorilla point-blank myself, to save that little boy; I don’t care HOW much of an endangered species he was.

So, people, make sure you give a tired mama a break in your criticism.  Extend grace to her, as she deals with a traumatic experience, in which her son is LUCKY TO BE ALIVE.

*Jedi Mama now steps down off of her soap box, which she rarely stands on.*

Sorry.  Where were we?

The alligator show was hilarious.  The college-aged boy who wrestled the gator and fed the pack was funny and engaging, and he made us laugh until we cried.  I kept thinking through the entire show that his mother, somewhere, must be very proud of how he turned out — how funny he turned out to be, how confident he grew up to be, and how patiently he interacted with the little kids after the show, who had dozens of questions for him.  I kept hoping that his mother had seen him do an alligator show; I imagine she probably grinned with pride from one of her ears, clear across her face to the other ear, after he told her a thousand times, “MA!  THE ALLIGATORS WON’T EAT ME!  I KNOW WHAT I’M DOING!”

Afterward, that young man brought a baby alligator around for the crowd to pet.  Thing 2 waited for his turn like a champ.  He was determined to wait there ALL THE LIVELONG DAY, if he had to, to pet that little thing.  When it was finally his turn… when the big boy stretched the baby ‘gator over the fencing so Thing 2 could pat his head… Thing 2 simply grabbed him up in a giant, alligator hug!

It took the guy by surprise, as he nearly lost the baby alligator to Thing 2’s clutches!

IMG_0732Afterward, there were big tortoises.

These ones were entirely too big to be picked up by Thing 2, regardless of his marine-like strength.

For that, we gave thanks.

Our preschooler was in love with those giant beasts.  He sat with them forever, patting them and telling them how awesome they were.  He built up their egos and self confidence quite nicely!

IMG_0740 IMG_0743 IMG_0744

Oh, look!  Aren’t THESE THINGS cute?!  How I love them both!

IMG_0738And then… well… we set off for home.  We had a four-hour drive ahead of us, and there was more unpacking and repacking to do, so that we could get the boy to a week-long church camp the following day.

Our backseat looked like this again… as the boys shared earbuds to watch a DVD together.

IMG_7264And then, at one point, I glanced back at them to see that they were HOLDING HANDS!

Be.  Still.  My.  Heart.

IMG_7268I think they kind of like one another.

Y’all have a happy Monday.

Parade Watchin’, Cabin Livin’ And Concert Attendin’

The rodeo was in town last weekend.

That’s kind of a big deal in Small Town, because we are all about cheering on the bull riders, clapping like lunatics for our barrel racers, and having a VERY LEGITIMATE excuse to buy ourselves cute new boots to wear.

The rodeo comes with a carnival and seventy different outdoor barbecues and dancing in the streets and a big parade.  We know how to give a hearty welcome to all the cowboys and cowgirls coming into town to compete.

On Friday morning, we had our annual parade.  I’m fairly certain that the only folks who DON’T attend the parade in Small Town are our mailmen.  God blesses them, because the mail won’t deliver itself.  Everyone else in town is downtown, in the heart of the city, lining the streets and trying to find the guy pushing the big cart filled with cotton candy.  Hubs has often said, “If you ever wanted to rob the banks, Parade Friday would be the day to do it, because every single person in town is focused on watching the floats.”  Sometimes, it scares me where Hubs’ mind dwells.  Premeditation of bank robberies has never occurred to me.

Obviously.

Because we’re still broke.

Our parade crew showed up with a whole lot of enthusiasm this year.

IMG_7138They had stretched and gone through a warmup routine of jumping jacks, pushups and downward dog yoga poses, so that they were in competition form for getting ALL THE CANDY that would be thrown from the floats.

IMG_7150 IMG_7155Frozen popsicles are always a hit on Parade Friday, because Parade Friday almost always comes with a temperature of 100 degrees.  The Candy Catchers know the importance of replacing lost fluids from sweat and staying hydrated for their candy grabbing missions.

IMG_7166This year, I made the Brave Mom decision to attend the parade with no extra loot.

Stroller?  No.  Bag full of supplies, like sunscreen, baby wipes, water bottles, extra camera batteries, and protein-packed snacks?  Nope.  Lawn chair?  Nuh-uh.  We simply showed up at the parade, empty handed.  We are FOUR, people.  We are potty trained.  I felt like this was the year that parking sixty-two miles away from our designated parade-watching spot and hiking in was going to be a breeze, because I wasn’t hauling in enough stuff to set up a fully-operational base camp for two hours.

My first regret for making this decision came when I realized that Thing 2 is more than likely the TOP DOG CANDY CATCHER in Small Town.  There is no child that he won’t successfully shove aside in order to be the first one to reach a mini package of plain M&Ms in the street.  In a very short time, we had collected thirty POUNDS of candy pieces…

… and I had exactly zero spots to put them.

My second regret came when Thing 2 devoured his banana-flavored, frozen popsicle in record time, and dripped yellow slop all over his hands, face, neck, shirt, legs, knees, and shoes.  With his skill set, he probably dripped sticky yellow slop on all the kids NEXT to him, as well.

We had ZERO baby wipes with us.

Thing 2 was pretty jazzed about all the farm equipment making its way down the parade route.

Farming machinery is his love language.

IMG_7168 IMG_7170IMG_7159And then… as soon as the parade was over…

… we ran home to pack up a suitcase and hit the open road.

We hopped over to the neighboring state with a big pack of friends, in a four-hour car ride, to catch a weekend filled with outdoor Christian concerts.

Our backseat looked like this for four hours…

IMG_7179If we’re ever at odds for what to buy Thing 2 for Christmas, I’m going to suggest a fancy, automatic hand dryer, like we found in a gas station bathroom along the way.  Thing 2 and his good buddy, Vivi, made it their life mission to dry their hands, over and over and OV-AH.

IMG_7181Now.

The very biggest thing that you need to know about last weekend is that we stayed at a campground.

Oh, yes!  We TOTALLY DID!  We rented cabins with several friends of ours, so that we formed a little neighborhood.  Everyone had a nice, ten-foot-by-ten-foot cabin, and then we were pointed to the BATH HOUSE, forty-six miles across the campgrounds from our neighborhood.

But, upon arrival, we were optimists with half-full glasses.  We were capable of living like this in college, and WE ARE STILL VERY YOUNG PEOPLE, so bring on the challenge of CAMPGROUND LIVING WITH YOUNG CHILDREN!

Challenge accepted!!

If we thought Thing 2’s life was complete with a fancy, automatic hand dryer in a public restroom, you should have seen how excited he was over a TOP BUNK!

IMG_7183We unloaded our stuff, met our friends, Tyler and Heather, at a nearby Sonic for dinner, and then off we went to the opening night of concerts.

IMG_7185Our preschoolers lasted fairly well at these performances, but early-morning wake-up times, the excitement of an enormous parade, the crash off a sugar-high from parade candy, a four-hour car ride, sitting through dinner, and then being asked to BEHAVE APPROPRIATELY at the outdoor concerts, while band after band played, was a bit much to ask.

We went back to our lineup of neighborhood cabins at the campground, and tucked our little peanuts into their top bunks at 10 PM.

And then we told ourselves that walking forty-six miles across camp, time after time after TIME was still SO MUCH FUN!  And LOOK AT ALL THIS EXERCISE WE’RE GETTING, JUST TO USE THE POTTIES!

On Saturday morning, Thing 2 got up at 5:45 in the morning, and announced, “I have to poop!”  Do you know what you CANNOT do at 5:45 in the morning, when you’re roughing it at a campground and your child feels the urge?  You cannot JUST SEND HIM ALONE.  So… off we went.  And as long as we were going at 5:45 in the morning, we might as well haul our towels and shampoo across the grounds and shower, while we were at it.

I forgot flip flops.

Thing 2 and I shared a three-foot-by-three-foot shower stall with a wet floor.  It was decorated with red hair.

Neither one of us is a redhead.

The humidity was so awful when we emerged, I was sweating like a pig at an August fair, thirty seconds after I’d showered, and I could practically feel the threat of athlete’s foot growing.

I began to realize that I was no longer in college, and that perhaps I wasn’t cut out for a communal bath house after all.

And with that thought, we followed the little peanuts to breakfast.

IMG_7187We followed the little peanuts to the campground’s playground, too.

IMG_7188After that, Heather announced that they wanted to go see this GIANT DINOSAUR ON TOP OF THE HILL.  That’s all they knew about it.  We had looked up from our dinner at the Sonic the night before, and behold!  There was a giant dinosaur in the distance, sitting atop a massive hill.

We had no idea how to get to the top of that faraway hill.

Thankfully, when we asked Siri to find us a giant dinosaur, she came through.

Boom!

IMG_7195What you can’t necessarily see from this picture is that the stairs leading up to this dinosaur looked like this:

0c5c939910ddebcc4b5bcfeed48c1163And also like this:

image006And like this:

4In other words, we looked at one another and realized that we were going to feel the sting of CALF BURN, if we had any intentions of seeing the giant dinosaur up close.

So…

… up we went, and everyone’s Fit Bits caught fire from all the steps we put them through.

I think this is where I go on record and proclaim that the view was SO WORTH the anguish of getting there, but whatever.  My calves throbbed, just so we could pet a concrete dinosaur that was several stories high.

IMG_7191 IMG_7192IMG_7198 IMG_7203 IMG_7200 IMG_7205The descent went a lot faster than the upward climb did.  We had to hold onto the handrails, so that we didn’t just completely FALL DOWN the side of the mountain in a big blur.

And then we took the kids to the most wonderful park I’ve ever been to, as far as little peanuts are concerned.  The park was huge.  It was filled with fountains and gift shops, train rides and popcorn stands, and every manner of attractions for the kids to climb all over.

Of course, our crew wanted to ride the train around the park first, so we stepped up to the train station and bought our tickets.

IMG_7207 IMG_7209 IMG_7210 IMG_7212One of our boys was a bit LESS ENTHUSIASTIC about the train than the other boy was.

IMG_7213 IMG_7214 IMG_7215 IMG_7216And then we just turned the little people loose, and followed them from exhibit to exhibit.

IMG_7218Thing 2’s favorite attraction was the real train car.  He immediately realized that “it was broke,” because it “didn’t go anywhere,” so he took it upon himself to “work on the engine.”

I’d laugh, but my kid SERIOUSLY BELIEVED he was offering his great mechanic services to getting this train up and running around the park.  We couldn’t convince him that it was just a train to play on for anything.

So… we hung out while the mechanic did what he could, for almost 45 straight minutes.

IMG_7221 IMG_7224 IMG_7225He finally decided he was going to have to ORDER PARTS, so we abandoned the “broken train” for other areas in the park.

IMG_7222 IMG_7227 IMG_7232 IMG_7229 IMG_7234 IMG_7236Heather, Hubs and I posed for a snapshot, right before the king’s ball took place…

IMG_7233… and then we loaded up the kids and hit the outdoor concerts again.

Someone said there were approximately 22,000 people there.

I believed him.

Which meant I went into WATCH THING 2 LIKE A HAWK, LIKE A HAWK, LIKE A HAWK!!!!! mode.

IMG_7241 IMG_7244 IMG_7254Y’all, these snapshots that I took with my phone are only from OUR TINY AREA in the giant park.

There was still another stage set up on the far side of the park.

And there were millions of folks behind us and to all sides of us, who didn’t make it into these pictures.

Suffice it to say that YES!  I think there very well was a crowd of 22,000 people there, and THANK YOU, JESUS!  I didn’t lose my boy in that crowd when the sun set and everything went dark.

Thing 2 loves to dance, so he pretty much looked like THIS all night long:

We also discovered on Saturday night that Thing 2’s musical abilities are not just limited to the guitar.  Apparently, he’s a drummer, too.

And the kid can set aside his mad drumming skills to raise his hands in the tenderest worship around.

Although we enjoyed ALL of the concerts, Building 429 put on a fantastic show.  Thing 2 was overwhelmed with awe at their smoke machines; he couldn’t stop dancing for anything when they took the stage.

Everyone had a fantastic time.

IMG_7265 IMG_7266And then, in the middle of 22,000 people exiting a park in the dark, we grabbed our lawn chairs and found our car, and we ended up back at our little campground cabins.

IMG_7238At 11:00 PM, Thing 2 announced that he had to poop again.

At 11:15 PM, I announced that I was officially FINISHED with roughing it at a campground, when the bathroom was in a different zip code.

And then we all went to bed.

Stay tuned for Part Two of our Concert Adventures…

Carnival 2016

Once a summer, the carnival comes to town.  It’s always THE HOTTEST four days of the year.  I can’t prove anything for a judge and jury, but I have my suspicions that the folks who transport all those rides on giant trucks, from one town to another, look at the weather forecast for Small Town, USA, and when they see that the temps are going to sail straight past one hundred degrees without stopping, they put us down in ink on their calendar.

“103 degrees predicted for THIS day?  Yes!  Schedule Small Town then!”

This year, though, must’ve been the seventh year, when the fields were to lie fallow and everyone was to be given rest, because the temperatures stayed in the mid-eighties while the carnival was in town.

The mid-eighties, people!!

We went on Wednesday night, when it was 81 degrees, WITH A BREEZE!

A breeze, y’all!

A breeze!!

The wonderful thing was that it was even a COOL breeze, that made us all stop and say, “Isn’t the carnival NICE this year?”  We never say that, because traveling carnivals, by definition, are dirty and hot and loud, and all the blinking lights sometimes make me feel like a seizure is coming on.  But this year, we put our hands together for a Praise Clap to the Lord, because we were at 81 WITH THAT COOL BREEZE.

It was a Jubilee year.

Hubs and I took our boys to the carnival, because it’s what parents DO.  It’s not what we WANT to do.  There comes a point in the life of an adult when she steps back and says, “JUST WATCHING carnivals gives me motion sickness, the smell of fried funnel cakes and fried Twinkies and fried globs of butter and fried Indian tacos makes me nauseated, the dirt is everywhere, the kids whine for this ride and that ride and EVERY RIDE, and the heat is the equivalent of living on the equator.  The equator… of the sun.”  But we end up taking the children anyway, because good parents make memories for their kids.

I’ve learned that kids NEVER remember the creepy guy operating the Tilt-A-Whirl, or the fact that they had to jump over a pile of vomit, or that it was 104 degrees of straight, burning heat.  The kids just remember THE THRILL OF THE RIDES.

It has become VERY CLEAR to me why my own parents always drug their feet back in the ’70s, when Sister and I begged to go.

(Yes.  I just said THE ’70s.  It was a time when OSHA didn’t even care that the creepy guy operating the Tilt-A-Whirl just used a bottle of warm water to wash away the vomit from the seats.  Clorox?  What’s that?)

(Different times.)

On Wednesday, we went.  We joined forces with Sister’s family, subtracted one of our kids and added another kid, and we laid on the carnival grenade.

IMG_0515Cousin L chose youth group over the carnival on Wednesday night, because she’s mature.  She knows the Lord will always be a better friend than a three-minute roller coaster ride.

We picked up our friend, Avery, because Avery is still convinced that CARNIVALS ARE FUN!  THEY ARE JUST SO MUCH FUN!  LOOK AT ALL THE FUN TO BE HAD AT THE CARNIVAL!!  Sadly, she’s going to grow up and sing another song, about WHY, CARNIVAL?  WHY ARE YOU SO AWFUL?

IMG_0525IMG_0526 IMG_0516 IMG_0519The carnival is also called THE EVENING OF HIGHWAY ROBBERY.

Here’s a snapshot of The Littles, getting their $99.3 million bracelets, for the “Unlimited Ride Package.”

IMG_0521The Unlimited Ride Package did not cover Unlimited Games.  No, ma’am.  Games were $5 a hit, on top of the lifetime savings you just dumped out on the bracelets.

Being the loving parents that we are, Hubs and I softly informed Thing 2, “There will be NO GAMES!  You have an expensive bracelet; you don’t get expensive games, too!  We have to pay the utility bill somehow this month!

IMG_0522They were pretty proud of their Unlimited Rides Bracelets, and flashed them at every entrance gate.

It was very reminiscent of some other folks we know, named Wayne and Garth.

giphyThe Littles did great, waiting patiently in line for their turns on each of the rides.  It may have something to do with the fact that I whispered, “If you can’t wait nicely for your turn, we’ll go home.

Ain’t no kid wanna risk having that card thrown down in front of him.

IMG_0523 IMG_0524 IMG_0527And then…

… they finally got to ride!

IMG_0529 IMG_0531 IMG_0532 IMG_0534 IMG_0535 IMG_0540 IMG_0528 IMG_0544 IMG_0547 IMG_0550 IMG_0553The spinning bears created a little hesitancy at first.

I’m sure it had absolutely nothing to do with Avery telling Thing 2 and Cousin H, “Back in 1983, when it was 105 degrees outside, the bright yellow spinning bear started up, and a little boy MELTED inside.  He melted… and he was never seen again.

IMG_0554 IMG_0556Sister and I yelled from the sidelines, “But it’s only 81 tonight, and there’s a breeze!  Y’all have GOT THIS!

This is how Hubs watched some of the rides that the kids went on:

IMG_0561If my memory serves me correctly, it’s exactly how my dad looked in 1979, when he leaned against the fence around the bumper cars, thinking that he’d just spent a week’s worth of grocery money on rides.  I even remember my dad telling Sister and me one year that carnivals were not that cool.

I thought he was speaking blasphemy, because FORGET Barnum and Bailey’s circus; the carnival was the greatest show on earth!!

The boy hung out with Hubs.

You’d never know they were related.

IMG_0560Sister and I kept telling them to reign in their excitement.

IMG_0569 IMG_0568 IMG_0584 IMG_0573 IMG_0578Cousin H once said, “Thing 2, is the speed limit REALLY 95 on this road?  I’m glad I didn’t waste time using the hot rollers this morning, since we have the top down.”

IMG_0579Thing 2 once said, “My dad always says, DRIVE IT LIKE YOU STOLE IT, and that’s what I intend to do!

IMG_0576Thing 2, I TOLD YOU that we should’ve turned left at the Sinclair!  I told you!  I told you twenty-four times!  But no!  You kept assuring me we needed to keep going straight… at 95 miles an hour… and here we are… LOST.  And my hair’s a mess from blowing in the wind, Thing 2!

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IMG_0587 IMG_0589 IMG_0590Hey, K?  What did you put down for the seventh question on our Algebra 2 test this morning?  You know, the one that said, ‘A circuit has a current of (8 + 7i) amps, and another circuit has a current of (5 − 3i) amps. What is the difference between the currents of the two circuits?’  I thought that one was kind of hard.”

I said it was (3 + 10i) amps, Avery.

IMG_0586You did?  You said it was (3 + 10i) amps?  Oh, my goodness!  I think I wrote down that it was (3 – 10i) amps.  Oh, I can’t even remember!  I think I said MINUS, K!!  Which one did I write down??!!  I can’t remember!”

IMG_0591Well, whatever the answer was, I’m not going to worry about it.  I’m just going to practice my parade wave for the pageant.

IMG_0596 IMG_0590 IMG_0601In the middle of all the carnival ride snapshots, I had to pop one of our friend, Jen.

Jen was rocking the messy bun like she was the queen of ALL the beauty pageants.  Sister and I had to ask for a verbal tutorial, because we stood in awe of Jen’s Hair Perfection.  Even after she explained it with hand motions — “Just make two ponytails and whip this part here and this part there, and wrap, and shove a bobby pin here, and I use two bobby pins here, and then… well… it’s a giant mess, so you just spray the snot out of it and scrunch it a bit, and then add some more bobby pins… and you’re done.  It only takes 20 seconds to do this style!” — I’m still stumped.  The Lord gives spiritual gifts of all kinds, and mine is NOT the ability to do great hair.

IMG_0603We ran into lots of friends at the carnival, so naturally we stopped to hug some of them.

IMG_0607The dragon roller coaster was The Littles’ favorite ride, so we kept getting back in line for that one, over and over and over again…

IMG_0611 IMG_0608 IMG_0609 IMG_0612 IMG_0613 IMG_0622 IMG_0621They also loved the giant slide with the obstacle course.

IMG_0623 IMG_0629 IMG_0632 IMG_0634 IMG_0633 IMG_0637 IMG_0642 IMG_0643 IMG_0647 IMG_0649 IMG_0644The kids also slid down the other giant slide.

IMG_0655 IMG_0660 IMG_0662They rode the Tilt-A-Whirl…

IMG_0664 IMG_0663… and the carousel.

Mount up, men!  Tonight, WE RIDE!!!

IMG_0674 IMG_0681The kiddos also got to see a fellow jump out of an airplane and parachute into the nearby rodeo arena.

IMG_0667 IMG_0671We ran into Cousin R and Cousin M at the carnival, too.  They were there WITHOUT ADULTS, because they’re both thirteen and not four.  They had Unlimited Rides Bracelets, and they were prepared to use them until the midnight hour.  It’s because of that WITHOUT PARENTS part.  Thirteen year olds have the stamina and the stomach to last all night at the carnival.  They totally trump adults in that department.

Cousin R sent snapshots to my phone throughout the night, while they rode THE BIG KID rides that Thing 2 was (Thankfully!!) too short for.

IMG_7110 IMG_7112 IMG_7116I even got a video, showing how much Cousin M loved one of the rides.

What you need to know about this video is that Cousin R has never met Motion Sickness a single time in her life.  She laughs in the faces of all the rides that flip her upside down and spin her at break-your-neck-plum-in-half speeds.  You should also know that I LOVE how Cousin M’s hair flops all over the place, because I think his long hair is the cutest style of EVER.

And then you should know that if I had been on this ride, I would never have been as brave as M was; I never would have survived the ride as gracefully as he did.  I would’ve puked all over both of them, and then I would’ve needed the emergency room as soon as the ride was over for something commonly referred to as ANTI-NAUSEA MEDICATION, IN INJECTION AND IV FORMAT.

After we had spent two solid hours at the carnival with the little kids, Hubs and Sister and I called it a night.  We took everyone home, because the mamas each needed a glass of Recovery Wine, and Thing 2 had managed to get axle grease all over him somehow.  He had to be showered and disinfected.

And yes.  He left an enormous river of mud in the shower, he was so dirty.

And THAT, y’all, is how Carnival 2016 shook down.  We survived it.

Hello, Muddah… Hello, Faddah… Here I Am At… Camp Grenada…

If you want to know how our weekend went, let me tell you about this morning.

This morning, Thing 2 got out of bed at 5:30.  This isn’t abnormal at all, because Thing 2 embraces the early morning hours.  He’s up, he wants coffee, and he’s ready to do a soldier’s workout regimen.  I vaguely remember being somewhat surprised that he was up at 5:30 this morning, because BUSY WEEKEND.

And saying BUSY WEEKEND doesn’t even touch it.

I told Thing 2, “Get the iPad, and go lay on your bed.  You can watch a movie.”

What I was hoping for was fifteen extra minutes of lying in bed, while I gave myself a pep talk about YOU CAN DO THIS!  IT’S MONDAY, AND IT’S BEEN A BUSY WEEKEND, BUT YOU’VE GOT THIS, GIRLFRIEND!  THERE’S COFFEE IN THE KITCHEN!

I was pep-talking myself like crazy, encouraging myself to get up and wash my face, and get myself and my mug to the Keurig.

And that was the last thought I had until 7:15 this morning…

… WHEN I WOKE BACK UP.

People!  I went back to sleep for almost two entire hours, while Thing 2 was AWAKE.  This is like saying, “I invited a fraternity of curious, young raccoons into my house, and then I left them home alone, while I went shopping.”

Also?  Well… I don’t normally GO back to sleep.  I have this disease called ONCE I’M AWAKE, I’M AWAKE.

(And I wonder where Thing 2 gets it.)

In other words, the weekend WORE ME PLUM OUT.

I jumped out of bed at 7:15 this morning and threw open the door to Thing 2’s bedroom.  He was still in there.  He had 73,000 miles of train track laid out on his bedroom floor.  The westward expansion of the railroad had nothing on what he had built this morning.  Every toy car and train engine he owned was on the bedroom floor, waiting for their turn to roll down miles and miles of train tracks.  The iPad was still running a movie on his bed.  He looked at me — looked at me standing there in my pajamas, with my disheveled hair and my blinking, panicked eyes — and he said, “Good morning, Mom!  I’m just playing with toys while you sleep.”

Apparently, he was playing with every toy he owns, based on the state of his bedroom, but we survived almost two hours of Thing 2 being unattended.  I’m chalking THAT up as a major parenting victory.

Our weekend was fun, people.  It was fun and lovely, and filled with every manner of friends and good times, but we were exhausted when we got back home.  I went to bed at 7:45 last night, exactly like I was a 91 year old farm wife who needed to milk the cows at 3 AM.

Anyway.

There will be pictures of our weekend activities later this week, but tonight I’ll just show you this:

IMG_0754After quickly unpacking suitcases last night and washing the boy’s sleeping bag after we’d used it all weekend, I helped pack him back up, and then I hauled him and his buddy up the mountain to camp.

And when I say that I helped pack the boy up, what I mean is I PACKED HIM.  People, I packed the boy’s suitcase for camp.  I did it.  Do you know why?  Because the boy enjoys Ralph Lauren polo shirts and golf slacks now, and he would have packed those things for himself, for a week of camping in the dirt and the bugs and the mud and the weeds and the fish guts and the campfire smoke.  I know that I have spent years wishing for such a time, because when the boy was younger, he refused to even SHOWER at camp.  I think he wore the same pair of shorts and the same T-shirt all week long, regardless of all the encouragement to SHOWER ALREADY!  FOR THE LOVE!!  PLEASE TAKE A SHOWER!! from his college-aged counselors.

But now?  Well, being fifteen has its perks.

Mainly, the boy showers on a regular basis these days, without being told.  He SHOWERS… sometimes two times a day, even.  He uses deodorant.  He cares what his hair looks like.  He cares if his clothes match.  He uses cologne.

And he enjoys dressing like he has an afternoon meeting in Manhattan, before he boards a private jet, bound for a weekend on Nantucket.

So… I packed a big stack of gym shorts and another taller stack of ratty T-shirts for his camp adventures this week.  I packed him boxers and old socks, so that I can just throw them in the trash this coming weekend, when they return back home, looking like brown death from all the miles of dirt they were forced to hike through.

In other words, I pretty much forced the boy into looking like a ratty commoner this week.  Jesus will understand.  Jesus just cares that the boy shows up at church camp this week.

Of course, I made the pack of Small Town, USA kids stand together for a picture, because group shots make me incredibly happy.

IMG_0748(See those jeans the boy is wearing?  They are one of three pairs of jeans that he owns that currently FIT HIM, because he’s still growing.  [SWEET MERCY!!  Do boys ever GROW!!]  They’re his dressy jeans.  They cost more than dinner at a fancy restaurant.  I pretty much told him that he’ll be grounded until he’s twenty-seven years old, if those jeans come home with holes in them.)

(I don’t think I scared him at all with that threat.)

IMG_0756 IMG_0759No matter.

Even if those jeans come home ripped and stained and burned from campfire ashes, it’ll be worth it, if he draws a little closer to Jesus this week at camp.

Y’all have a merry Monday.

Driving Miss Daisy

“I just LOVE leisurely drives, Thing 2! I love seeing all the sunflowers in bloom, and… oh, look! Mrs. Jones’ rosebush is gorgeous today! And the mountains, Thing 2! Aren’t they just breath-taking?”

“Well… son of a yellow-bellied, sissy lizard! I just smashed a skunk! That’s gonna stink up the old Ford’s upholstery. And my State Farm guy better not give me any grief this time. That was a suicidal skunk. It wasn’t like the mailbox last week…”

IMG_0584

In The Words Of The Eurythmics, Here Comes The Rain Again…

We have reached July.

Clearly, I like to state the obvious, thirteen days late.  It’s just that we’ve come to the high point of the summer, when every single time I look out our dining room windows, I notice that the purple petunias on our deck are gasping for water and trying to lie down on their deathbeds.  I’ve gone into CPR mode, because I refuse to sign the DO NOT RESUSCITATE paperwork on the flowers until the end of August.  Right now, I still shout, “CODE RED!  CODE RED!!!” as I run to the kitchen for the crash cart and a pitcher of cold water.

We’re finally at the mid-summer point, when it’s often just too hot to even breathe outside.  It takes me about four minutes in the heat to start acting like the petunias.

I’m seldom dramatic.

So, when the sky clouds up a bit and the breeze starts to blow something cooler than what happens when you open the oven door at 350, I gather the troops and shout out, “Everyone outside!  This won’t last!”

Last Friday night was such a time.

The boy had a friend staying the night, so we texted Hubs at 4:45 and announced, “We are going golfing.  ALL of us.  Feel free to meet us at the golf course when you get off work.”

Hubs simply fired back, “What about dinner?”

Yes.

WHAT ABOUT PROM, BLAINE??!

(I’m sorry.  Sometimes the Pretty In Pink quotes roll right out of me, and I’m helpless to stop them.)

Hubs, you see, hadn’t eaten lunch.  Hubs was very excited about coming home from work to find dinner already prepped, prepared and waiting on him.  Hubs was hoping it would be something involving MUCH MEAT on his supper plate.  What Hubs wasn’t expecting to hear were the words, “Postponing dinner for golfing in the cooler weather.”

Please lift Hubs up in prayer however you see fit.  Sometimes his life is very hard.

In the end, Hubs met us at the golf course.  We got carts, and off we went, with one growling stomach, who wished someone had cared enough to pack him a sandwich as a pre-dinner primer.  But, with lovely July skies like THIS, we had to take advantage of what God handed us as a break from all the heat.

IMG_0465The big boys drove the carts, AS THEY DO.  I will confess that they may or may not have played polo on the carts with their golf clubs, but I’m not about to post photographic evidence of their crimes, because orange jumpsuits aren’t the boy’s best color.

IMG_0444Thing 2 had his miniature pencil, to keep score.

What you need to know about Thing 2 is that he can only count to twenty, so everyone maxed out at a score of TWO-OH.

In other words, everyone hit their personal best on Friday.

IMG_0511All three boys teed off, and we set out.

IMG_0425 IMG_0426 IMG_0430 IMG_0432 IMG_0434 IMG_0436The wind started to pick up a bit, and I sang GLORY, GLORY, HALLELUJAH because SWEET MERCY, THE BLESSED BREEZE!

IMG_0441 IMG_0440 IMG_0448 IMG_0456 IMG_0457 IMG_0458 IMG_0459 Thing 2 has a difficult time golfing without sticking his tongue out.

It cracks me up, every time.

IMG_0460 IMG_0461 IMG_0464 IMG_0468 IMG_0471 IMG_0472 IMG_0475 IMG_0476 IMG_0477 IMG_0484By the fifth hole, the skies took a turn for the worse.

IMG_0491 IMG_0509And then, quick as a wink, we found ourselves in the middle of a land hurricane, without any way to board up the sides of the golf carts to stay safe and dry.  The trees started leaning sideways, and it wasn’t from dehydration, like my dramatic petunias tend to do.

IMG_0502The boys all finished out Hole Five…

IMG_0497 IMG_0500 IMG_0489… and we called it a night.

The big boys raced our golf clubs back to the clubhouse…

giphy… and we barely made it into our Suburban before the torrential downpour started.

Back at home, the petunias grinned from ear to ear, as they soaked up every last drop.  Hubs grilled pork chops, while I used the microwave to make baked potatoes, exactly as Caroline Ingalls used to do it.  I threw a quick salad together, and boom!

Starving Hubs was every bit as happy as the petunias on the deck were.

Happy Wednesday night, y’all.

 

The Fighting Orange Tigers Snarl Their Way To Victory

I think that I may have mentioned once, or even nineteen times, that Thing 2 is a mover and a shaker, so I doubt that it comes as any surprise to y’all that watching him play soccer is pretty much a kick.

(I know, I know.  It was a solid pun.)

Our preschooler has already asked if he can move to Spain, where they take THE FUTBOL a little more seriously, with practices that are a little more rigorous.  He can’t understand why the mom who volunteers to coach the Fighting Orange Tigers doesn’t have the team in the weight room, LIFTING, at 5:00 in the mornings.

He also doesn’t understand why no one is fueling up with protein shakes before games, like he is.

What I don’t understand is why we are having a soccer season in the hottest part of the year here in Small Town.  There is really nothing that can compare to sitting on metal bleachers when it’s 99 degrees outside, cheering for the Fighting Orange Tigers, while sweat trickles into places it shouldn’t trickle.

This last week, we played Gavin’s team.  Besides being just as handsome as a kid can be, Gavin is one of Thing 2’s good buddies; we adore Gavin and his family.  Plus, that llittle fellow goes to the school where I teach, so I get to have him twice a week for Pre-K PE.  This is all well and good, until I realized during our game that Gavin seriously learned some crazy-mad soccer skills during our soccer unit this spring in gym class…

… and then he used those skills to score a goal against the Fighting Orange Tigers on Thursday evening.

IMG_0348I guess this fall, I’ll have to work at teaching Gavin’s kindergarten class how to pick dandelions during soccer games, as I emphasize JUST HOW IMPORTANT IT IS to keep our soccer fields weed-free.

The Fighting Orange Tigers brought their varsity game to the field this time around, and won by a score of something like 14 to 2.  It’s because we have a secret weapon named THE LITTLE GIRL IN THE BLONDE BRAIDS.

Seriously.

She’s a soccer rock star, and she scored TWELVE GOALS, BY HERSELF last Thursday evening.

Yes.  That’s right.  She’s five, and she likes to kick and stretch.  And then BOOM!  Her kicks end up in the net.

She’s also very good at letting Thing 2 know when he heads for THE OTHER TEAM’S NET on a breakaway, because Thing 2’s motto is, “Run the ball fast and hard, straight for whichever net is closest.”

I feel like I should add an AMEN right there.

The Fighting Orange Tigers took the field and evaluated their opponents before the ref blew the starting whistle.

See that kid standing over there?  Yeah… that’s Gavin.  We’re going to have to double-team him.  He’s going to be our primary threat, because my mom helped him amp up his game in PE.  I hear he’s real good, and that he’s looking at a soccer scholarship at  Duke.”

IMG_0336Gavin seemed unaware that he was being labeled as THE ONE WE NEED TO WORRY ABOUT, BECAUSE THAT KID CAN SCORE GOALS.

He was just busy on HIS END of the field, wondering if they could pull their goalie, trade him for another offensive player on the field, and then put every white-shirted player they had in front of THE LITTLE GIRL IN THE BLONDE BRAIDS.

IMG_0366In the end, it really didn’t matter how Gavin’s team prepped themselves to play defense against that little pumpkin.  We were just glad she was wearing an ORANGE jersey, because she slammed twelve balls into the net before the final whistle blew.

IMG_0370IMG_0371 IMG_0329 IMG_0331 IMG_0332 IMG_0344 IMG_0349 IMG_0348Sometimes Thing 2 gets excited about stuff.

Hey, Ma!  This boy on my team said that his mom brought Rice Krispie treats for snacks after the game!  And he said they have SPRINKLES on them, Ma!

IMG_0338We may have also been warned by the referee that pushing in soccer earns red cards.

We may have also earned a red card.

Except, at this level, I think they call it, “Sit out for two minutes and think about how pushing does not incite feelings of rainbows and love and pretty glitter in the hearts of others.”

IMG_0339 IMG_0377And this next shot?

Well… LOOK!  Look at how the momentum of the fall is puffing Thing 2’s cheeks full of air, and how his eyes have the crazed look in them that says, “I will rise from this fall and come back stronger than ever!”

IMG_0342Thing 2 worked to get himself a couple of different breakaways in the game…

IMG_0378 IMG_0379 IMG_0380 IMG_0381 IMG_0382 IMG_0383… which he kicked straight out of bounds.

IMG_0353 IMG_0360 IMG_0354 IMG_0363 IMG_0367IMG_0395 IMG_0397 IMG_0400 IMG_0404 IMG_0411He may also have cut the little girl in the blonde braids off once, and swiped the ball away from her, because… seriously!

Twelve goals in one game is enough for anyone.

IMG_0402I think she simply shrugged, smiled, and said, “I could’ve made it 15 to 2, if you hadn’t stolen the ball away from ONE OF YOUR OWN TEAMMATES, ya Punk!”

In the end, the game was a ton of fun, and it’s not just because we were the team who got to draft the little girl with the blonde braids.  Without her, we would’ve tied, two to two.  I think the National Women’s Soccer League had scouts sweating on the metal bleachers, watching her.  Don’t be surprised if you see her in the Olympics next month.  I heard she’s going to be a walk-on.

Thing 2 will be a bit disappointed, because he’s fairly certain the Olympic coaches require weight lifting at 5 AM, like he’s been pushing for in the Pre-K Rec League.

Y’all have a good Tuesday evening.

 

Our Quick Trip

We went to Walmart today, because we were out of everything.

Seriously.  The only things left in our refrigerator were the light bulb and some plastic shelving.  And yet, interestingly enough, I still found myself opening the refrigerator door umpteen and six more times this morning, looking for something for breakfast that wasn’t creamless coffee.

Open the door.

It’s empty.

Close the door.

Ten minutes later, open the door.

It’s still empty.

Close the door.

Apparently I believed that one of the times I’d open that door and find every manner of already-made, strawberries-and-pecans-and-spinach-oh-my!!-salad, and chicken salad for sandwiches, and real half-and-half for my coffee, and a roast that only needed to be thrown into a crockpot to produce a meal worthy enough for the Pioneer Woman.  It didn’t work out that way.  Sadly, it worked out exactly the way where I have to go to Walmart, fight the crazy crowds, and buy my own ingredients to make real meals around here, because no one is ever fully satisfied with Orville Redenbacher’s microwavable goodness for supper.

Our entire family went.

We filled up an entire cart.

And then we had the slowest checker known to mankind.  At one point, she was picking a One-Dollar-Off-Right-Now coupon off of my bottle of shampoo, while she kept mumbling, “I’ve trimmed my nails too short, and can’t get this.”  And yet PERSISTENCE is her middle name, so she continued.

Scratch with the fingernail.

Nothing.

Scratch with the fingernail.

Nothing.

Pick at the corner.

Nothing.

Pick at the corner.

Nothing.

Finally, Hubs announced, “It’s okay!  Leave it!  We don’t want to use that coupon!”

She smiled at Hubs so sweetly and said, “But this is genuinely a fantastic coupon!  It’s an ENTIRE DOLLAR OFF!  I’ll keep trying.”

Pick.

Nothing.

Pick.

Nothing.

And then, when I had completely given up hope of being back home with our groceries before our milk turned chunky and sour, the shampoo bottle gave up its hold on the coupon.  It was scanned.  Our bill was reduced by an entire buck.

And it only took twelve extra minutes.

That’s the kind of fun we had today, but it’s all because we’ve just returned from a whirlwind trip to Major Thriving Metropolis, where we visited friends and shopped at outlet malls and played games and sipped coffee in the early morning while we talked and laughed…

… and then we came home to an empty fridge.

Since Major Thriving Metropolis is more than six hours away from us, some of our passengers looked like THIS on the way down:

IMG_7049This was actually a blessing, because DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY QUESTIONS A FOUR-YEAR-OLD CAN ASK WHEN HE’S STRAPPED INTO A CARSEAT FOR HOURS AND HOURS?

The answer is MORE THAN INFINITY QUESTIONS.

More than INFINITY, people!!!

We spent some time with our friends, John and Peggy, at their new house.  Peggy made a cabbage salad that has forever changed my life, because OH, MY WORD!  It was so good, I heaped my plate full again, and regretted it instantly.  I thought my stomach might explode, but I couldn’t get enough of it.

And then we went outside to Peg’s beautifully landscaped backyard to play corn hole with Peggy and John, and Greg and Jenna.  This is a photograph of Hubs and I playing:

670px-Keep-Score-for-a-Cornhole-Game-Step-6My ponytail was completely ON POINT, as I celebrated a mane of great beauty this weekend.

I was a corn hole beginner… as in, I had never, ever, not-even-once played it before.  The object is to throw beanbags at a sloped board, with some great hopes of dropping a bag straight into the hole.

Apparently, that’s how you earn the most points, but listen:  It was summer vacation, so I couldn’t be troubled with doing all the math necessary to calculate who was winning and who wasn’t.  All  you need to know is that I THOUGHT my Olympic-level softball skills would come in quite handy, launching me straight to the gold medal podium, but Jenna and I managed to lose to Hubs and Greg, by a score of 4 to 21.

Who knew that being a trained, softball professional is not the same as being a corn hole winner?

It’s our opinion that Hubs and Greg deflated their beanbags, in a New England Patriots sort of way, which caused the bags to land quite accurately in the holes.  A full investigation is scheduled, which may eliminate them from Professional Corn Hole tournaments for the next season.

Peggy is also a Corn Hole Champion.  We suspect that she’s been secretly practicing the game in her basement, when the Corn Hole Civilians aren’t looking.

In other words, everyone could slide those beanbags straight to Big Points Glory…

… except me…

… and also Jenna.

I suspect that neither one of us is going to be a first-pick in the Corn Hole Draft.

Anyway.

What you really need to know is that I adore Peggy, and her spiritual gift is making folks feel welcome at her house.  The sheets on the bed smelled like sunshine and fresh bleach; the bath towels were so fluffy, spas that cater to the rich and famous had nothing on them.  Add to this the fact that John kept taking Thing 2 by the hand to head out to watch airplanes land at a nearby military base, leaving me some downtime with Peg, and you have the perfect little getaway.

After that, we got to spend some time with my friend, Carrie.  Carrie’s spiritual gift is also making people feel loved and welcome in her presence.  She’s bubbly and fun; she tells the best stories and glows with happiness.  She hugged us tight and showed us what fantastic hamburgers in Major Thriving Metropolis look like.

It also doesn’t hurt that Keith and Carrie’s boys are… well… THE CUTEST things (next to my own children).

They also have similar methods involved with dressing themselves.  I’d like to present the next snapshot as Exhibit A.

IMG_7050Thing 2 wears cowboy boots with his gym shorts, while Kellan wears one orange sock and one black sock.

We believe them to be two of the most eligible bachelors this side of the Mississippi River, but their future wives may have to stage a fashion intervention for them.

IMG_7055 IMG_7057The honest truth is that these are THE ONLY snapshots I took on our quick trip.

I know!!

It’s like I don’t even know myself!!  Who was that girl that took NO PICTURES this weekend?!

Our trip was ENTIRELY too short and quick.  Carrie and Peggy are two girls I thoroughly enjoy.  I’m forever finding myself wishing I could buy a house on Peg’s street or in Carrie’s cul de sac, so that we wouldn’t have to hug goodbye at the end of the weekend.

But, the hugs happened.

And then Carrie filled the back of our vehicle with boxes of hand-me-down clothes for Thing 2, which was exactly like Christmas in July.  Carrie dresses her boys so adorably, that I always count my blessings that… SO FAR… Thing 2 has remained one full size behind Kellan.  Sadly, I think the Incredible Hulk is about to surpass Kellan soon.  Five-year-old Kellan is lean and built for winning long distance races.  Four-year-old Thing 2 is built for throwing someone’s sofa onto his back while he helps them move, as he asks, “This goes up to your new apartment?  On the seventh floor?  I’ll take the stairs with it.”

We headed for home yesterday evening, while it was only 103 degrees outside.  We had hours of driving in front of us.  Carrie made sure to text THESE pictures to me:

IMG_7064 IMG_7069They JUST KEPT SWIMMING, JUST KEPT SWIMMING, while we JUST KEPT DRIVING, JUST KEPT DRIVING.

The return pictures I sent to her looked exactly like this one:

IMG_7063SOMEONE was a touch worn out last night.

We had one incredibly fun, long weekend, but I won’t lie.  There’s just something very dear to my heart when we finally pulled into our driveway, when we were HOME.

Home is a very good place to be…

… but it’s precious when you have friends who make you feel like you’re at home when you’re with them, too.

I think it’s how Hubs felt, when he realized that I was buying groceries today.  Apparently, making someone feel at home goes hand-in-hand with having something other than air in the house for them to eat.

Happy Monday, people.