I told him that I wasn’t taking him swimming today.
So… he improvised.
Last Friday night, we went to a fundraiser for a friend here in town who has cancer. It was a spaghetti dinner, with an auction afterward.
I went out to our church early and sliced three million loaves of French bread. And then I used giant, space-age-looking bags filled with orange syrup to make punch. The object was to pour one pitcher of orange syrup out of the foil bags, and add five pitchers of water in the giant coolers.
I poured one pitcher of orange syrup into the cooler and added five pitchers of water like a rock star. I OWNED that job.
And then I poured the second pitcher of orange syrup right down the front of my T-shirt and onto the counter and the floor and the girl standing next to me.
This is exactly how you make good friends in life.
It’s how I roll.
After I’d finally managed to make one and a half giant coolers of punch (instead of two, because WHY ARE WE SUDDENLY SHORT SO MUCH SYRUP???), I was entrusted with the task of cutting up cake to put on dessert plates.
I’m not sure if that was a demotion or not, but my hands were so sticky from the orange syrup that refused to wash off with regular water, I stuck to everything.
That’s just a small glimpse into how life actually IS for me.
And then there’s the boy.
On the sidelines of the auction, there was a raffle going on for a portable Traeger barbecue grill, that was valued at $300. Tickets were five dollars each, and all of the proceeds from this raffle (along with the money earned from the dinner and the other auction items) were going straight to our friend, who could sure benefit from some financial help for medical expenses.
(She could also benefit from your prayers, if you’d like to pray for her. Her name is Kayleen, and she has cancer in a whole lot of places. We’re praying for Jesus to show off and give her the lovely miracle of a clean bill of health.)
It’s no secret that Hubs is a professional griller with his Traeger. We have given up eating steaks at fancy restaurants, which come with real linen napkins and no playlands with dropped French fries on the floor, because Hubs can grill a steak better than anywhere in our neck of the woods can.
I’m not even kidding.
Hubs and I both had chicken fried chicken, with gravy, at a posh little restaurant not long ago, because… well... it’s not even a TREAT for us to order a steak at a spot like that. Because good steaks? Yeah, we get a lot of those at home.
The boy and Hubs decided that it would be awesome to win this portable Traeger through the raffle, because really? ARE TWO TRAEGER GRILLS ON YOUR DECK EVER TOO MUCH? So, the boy… who has been working long days all summer long at the golf course… marched up to the table selling the tickets and bought one for $5.
And then, without batting an eye, that boy of ours, whose heart is lovely and pure and good, said he’d take three more raffle tickets, because he figured if giving five dollars toward Kayleen’s medical expenses was good, giving twenty bucks would be even better. So he bought four raffle tickets, with his very own money.
I can imagine you already know where this is going.
Whereas I was the princess in the kitchen who spilled enough orange syrup down the front of her to make three hundred Styrofoam cups filled with punch, the boy, in his Ralph Lauren shirt and his fancy, BUT VERY UGLY, golf hat, won the Traeger grill, when his ticket was pulled out of the bowl containing three-point-four million OTHER tickets.
Oh, yes. He did. HE WON THE PORTABLE TRAEGER.
Which means we now have a little Traeger community sitting on our deck.
Yes. I just said DANCING TO THE AUCTIONEER.
Our younger son DANCED to the sing-song, fast talk of the auctioneer. At one point, he even ran up to me and said, “I’ve never heard this guy’s song before; I don’t really know how to dance to his music.”
I don’t really know how to dance to the words of an auctioneer either.
And apparently I can’t make orange punch.
My PE schedule for this upcoming school year is set in stone.
Except the exact opposite of that, because let’s face it: The first day of school is going to run next Tuesday, and we’re going to need to make adjustments, because there are ALWAYS adjustments to be made when you’re running the real drill, and not just the ON PAPER drill. The only big glitch that we found in my original schedule is that our principal had the 1st graders coming into my gym at 10:51 in the mornings, while the 2nd graders weren’t leaving until 10:59.
(We’re so precise with the minutes at our little private school!)
(It’s what sets us apart from the common public schools, who say things like “10:45″ and “11:00.”)
Ultimately, this created eight entire minutes where I would have 1st and 2nd grades overlapping, which meant DOUBLE THE CHILDREN running wild, screaming loudly and throwing random basketballs all over the place. There’s not enough sangria in the world to make this something that I could get through, so we adjusted things. Those second graders will still leave at 10:59, but the first graders are now set to arrive at 11:02.
Because every minute matters.
So, my PE classes are now all scheduled beautifully, and let’s face it: I could walk in and teach tomorrow, because I have zero bulletin boards to get ready and zero desks to move back in after my carpets were shampooed over the summer… because I have no carpet. A few motivational posters on the gym walls (“Great Success Takes Time,” and “Be Nice To Everyone,” and “Being Challenged In Life Is Inevitable; Being Defeated Is Optional“), and BOOM.
I’m good to go.
Meanwhile, all the classroom teachers are frantically moving desks and filing cabinets and round tables and extra chairs, all of which have been piled in the school’s hallways during the end-of-the-summer carpet-cleaning-spree, done by our maintenance staff. They’re organizing books and making Word Walls and putting bulletin boards up, and listen:
They could have all chosen to be a PE teacher.
Meanwhile, the soccer balls and rubber playground balls and hula hoops and jump ropes are all neatly stored in my supply closet, where I left them last May, my gym floor has been polished to a shine over the summer, and I’ve got motivational posters on the walls, right beside all the banners that say how much better our school is than yours is, because we won state basketball in this year and that year, and that year, and that year, and these thirty-six years.
In other words, I’m ready.
I always hate to see summer break end, because not knowing what day of the week we’re on is flat-out wonderful, but then…
… I get back into the building with the rest of our staff, who are all fantastically fun people…
… and we laugh like hyenas and argue over who is going to get stuck doing lunch room duty…
… and then suddenly I’m just READY to go back.
Remind me about this in early November, when we’re crossing days off the calendar, in anticipation of WHEN WILL CHRISTMAS BREAK EVEN GET HERE?!
So yes, Summer. You’ve been fun. You’ve given us some great days and some dirty floors, and I have pink streaks growing on the inside of my toilet, because I’ve been too busy doing nothing to take care of them, but it’s now time to get back to a real schedule, with my PE whistle in my hand.
And it helps a whole lot that I just have recess duty, and NO CAFETERIA DUTY!!
Because we may have won a lot of state basketball championships at our school, but we are too small to have permanent playground monitors. No, ma’am. We teachers do all the extra duties ourselves.
And I won’t be slinging the mop over the spilled cartons of milk on the lunchroom floor, so I’m already chalking this year up to a total win.
This is our last week of summer vacation.
And really, my summer vacation is pretty much all the way to the finish line of OVER, because I have back-to-school meetings and CPR training and Meet-The-Teachers Night with a school picnic chaser this week. Basically, TODAY was my last day of summer break, because Tuesday through Friday, I’ll be refreshing myself on chest compressions and how to clean up nosebleeds, and sitting around a lunchroom table with tiny stools, trying to hash out a working schedule for THESE KIDS GO TO PE AT 11:00, WHILE THESE KIDS ARE IN ART, and then WHO IS GOING TO TAKE THIS RECESS DUTY AT 1:45, and CAN YOU PICK THESE KIDS UP FROM MUSIC, BECAUSE THEY GO STRAIGHT FROM SINGING TO YOUR GYM CLASS.
Today was one of those days when I woke up and pretty much knew in the depths of my heart that absolutely nothing substantial was going to get done around the house. I had no ambition to do anything except sit on our deck in the sunshine and read a book. I didn’t even wash my hair today, as I prepared to be a sloth early on. My hair ended up being a messy bun that was held together with a whole lot of dry shampoo, hairspray and broken dreams.
And then I changed the sheets on our bed, did a load of laundry, watered flowers, cleaned out the fridge, scrubbed the kitchen down, and got an entire, heaping cartload of groceries, while I was adorned with A FULL HEAD OF BAD HAIR, because we were down to ketchup and mustard in the refrigerator, along with an overripe tomato.
Without groceries, it would’ve been low-carb, meat-free hamburgers for dinner tonight, as we squirted condiments on bruised slices of a single tomato. The upswing to that, though, would’ve been NO DISHES TO CLEAN UP.
But… back when summer was a little more in full swing without the first day of school breathing like a rabid badger down the backs of our necks (which was a couple of weeks ago), Thing 2 and I hopped over to a friend’s house for some pool time.
The pool time basically involved the kids playing in the swimming pool, while my friend and I sat in lawn chairs, playing lifeguards and sipping red Kool-Aide.
Real, live, bright-red Kool-Aide.
I hadn’t been blessed with a glass of the stuff in DECADES, until my beloved friend whipped it out, over ice, and lo! The unhurried, lazy days of my childhood summers on a banana bike suddenly popped right back up on me.
I grew up on Little House on the Prairie and red Kool-Aide.
Of course I took a few snapshots of Thing 2 splashing around in the pool, because WHY WOULDN’T I?
As in, without an attentive lifeguard on duty, Thing 2 may have drank the entire pool through the snorkel and needed CPR.
(Thankfully, my CPR certificate is still legitimate and not expired, but it’ll be good to refresh that this week in a nice, six-hour workshop.)
… and rolled around in their sandbox.
In other words, half of their sandbox came home with us in my Suburban.
And THAT, along with a cold glass of red Kool-Aide, is really what summer break is all about.
Clear back in June, when summer was fresh and there were no school supplies being pushed at Walmart, Thing 2 had a dentist appointment. He got his teeth cleaned, and he had X-rays, and he earned himself a new toothbrush and a giant balloon that he popped four minutes after we got home.
But… before the balloon-popping happened… the dentist came to visit with me. He said, “Thing 2 has the mouth of a kindergartner.”
I won’t lie. The adrenaline sort of shot through all of my limbs and nearly exploded the top of my head off in horrid EMBARRASSMENT, because I THOUGHT that beloved pediatric dentist was going to finish his sentence by saying, “Thing 2 has the mouth of a sailor.”
Bless our younger son and his ability to throw down some smack talk.
Apparently, Little Man already has permanent teeth that are pushing against the baby teeth, which have caused the roots of the baby teeth to dissolve, in preparation for them to fall out. I was shocked. Our boy is only four years old. The dentist told me that this sometimes happens… that it’s not unheard of for preschoolers to start dropping their baby teeth and having those giant, adult teeth come right in.
That dentist told us, “Expect to lose a tooth… or two… this summer!”
I went home in denial. Suddenly, those baby teeth were so precious! I wasn’t emotionally ready for them to fall out and mark our move into being a big kid. We kept plugging through the weeks of summer, hanging on tightly to those little tiny teeth, until two nights ago, when Thing 2 yelled from his bedroom, “MY TEETH WIGGLE!!”
And there, like a slap across the face, was the grim reality that the baby of our family is growing up. I gently wiggled those front teeth, and yes… they were very, VERY wiggly. Wiggly enough that the Tooth Fairy was probably in her miniature castle, polishing her coins and flexing her wings, in anticipation of braving the mean cat at our house.
So, I did what any mama with a camera would do.
I took Thing 2 out for a little photo shoot, before those baby teeth are gone. And, because the boy was awake at 9:00 in the morning and getting ready to head to work at 10:00, I told him, “Get in the Suburban! You’re having your pictures taken, too!”
THAT was met with a grim stare of, “Seriously, Ma? SERIOUSLY?!”
Teenage boys are ridiculous when it comes to taking pictures, but I’ve found that bribing them with Taco Bell treats works wonders. Thing 2 accepts bribes of bubble gum.
With the bribes in place, we were in business for a quick photo shoot to capture those baby teeth one more time. I know I’m biased, because… well… these boys are MINE… but I THINK these snapshots turned out STINKING CUTE.
Like… stinking, STINKING cute!
I have never sprung for the idea of paying money to see EXACTLY WHERE people are from who stop in at my blog, because there are better things for me to spend my money on.
Starbucks, for instance.
I have a blog counter that is as stripped-down, grade-D, low-quality, and utterly simple as a blog counter can be. In it’s effort to be NOTHING FANCY, it simply tells me WHAT COUNTRY I get hits from here at Jedi Mama.
Do you live in Small Town and read my blog? It will tell me you came from the USA.
Do you live in Rival Town, one hundred miles down the interstate from us? It will tell me you came from the USA.
Do you live on one of the glorious and gorgeous beaches of Nantucket? It will tell me that you came from the USA.
Do you play hockey up north, across the border, and pop in once in a while? My counter will say, CANADA.
And so on, and so forth.
Your identity is always safe, and I’ll never be alerted to stalkers.
BUT… where my counter fails at providing specific locations of readers, it DOES tell me what terms folks plug into the Google to find me.
This morning, someone found us here at Jedi Mama, Incorporated by doing a search for JEDI MIMOSAS.
I may have to find one of those myself, because SURELY such a breakfast drink would help us cope around here… maybe even better than the coffee is helping us cope.
Do you want an example? I mean, in case it’s been a while since you shared a home with a four-year-old?
I usually make Thing 2’s breakfast. I mean, 98 out of every 100 days, his breakfast-making falls on my shoulders. It’s because we are creatures of habit and routine, and the timing of his morning meal coincides with Hubs’ shower.
It’s difficult to make breakfast while you’re lathering, rinsing and repeating.
I feel like I should be clear here, because I am a parenting failure when it comes to breakfast. My boys are NOT living the breakfast dream over here, like I did when I was their age. My mom felt that she was doing her family a disservice without sending us off into the world each morning with homemade pancakes, from-scratch waffles, hot French toast, biscuits, fried eggs, poached eggs, scrambled eggs, boiled eggs, fresh fruit, bacon, sausage patties, sausage links, turkey burger, toast, oatmeal with raisins, bagels with cream cheese, eggs and bacon stuffed into an English muffin, blueberry muffins, apple strudel muffins, banana bread, homemade coffee cake, breakfast burritos, fresh cinnamon rolls, juice and milk. Sister and I had to BEG for mornings free of a seven-course breakfast, when we could have a giant bowl of Froot Loops and dig around in the box for the prized and coveted toy.
Although Thing 2 doesn’t know what kind of gloriously wonderful breakfasts he is missing out on with me as his mother, the boy DOES KNOW. And he informs me all the time that he might just run away to live with Mam and all of her breakfast love.
For breakfasts at our house, our boys have protein shakes, which I blend in the Magic Bullet with ice and organic milk. I feel like this is a solid win of nutritional goodness. I pay enormous dollars for those big tubs of raw protein powder, and I feel like they fuel my boys nicely.
They can also choose cold cereal, oatmeal, fruit or toast.
My boys live lives under primitive circumstances, and are in desperate need.
This morning, our schedule was different, in the sense that Hubs was up and showered before Thing 2 was up, so he ended up making the breakfast, while I was showering.
He asked me what he should make for our preschooler.
I referred him to the same breakfast menu we have had in this house for our entire twenty-one years of marriage.
Protein shake. Cold cereal. Oatmeal. Fruit. Toast.
Hubs made Thing 2 toast. He buttered it, and he cut it into forty-seven tiny squares, just like Thing 2 requests. And then Hubs left for work.
A few minutes later, I noticed that half of Thing 2’s forty-seven tiny squares of toast were sitting on my desk, while the other half of those squares were still on his plate, getting his utmost attention. He was devouring them with gusto and fervor.
“What’s wrong with these pieces of toast on my desk?” I asked.
“Oh… Daddy didn’t butter those right.”
“How did he butter them? They look like they have butter on them. They’re fine.”
“No, they’re NOT fine. The butter is all smeared weird on them. I don’t like butter smeared weird. I don’t want to eat those pieces.”
“But they HAVE butter on them. You LIKE butter now.”
“I don’t like butter that’s smeared weird, and those pieces are full of weird butter. It’s smeared ALL WRONG. I don’t want to eat those pieces.”
“These chunks of toast ARE FINE!”
“They’re not, Mom! They’re NOT fine! Look at how weird they look! I don’t want them! I want new toast with butter that’s not weird.”
Which is exactly why a Jedi Mimosa would have come in quite handy first thing this morning. I may have to add a new breakfast item to the standard menu for the first time in twenty-one years.
Hubs and I have always been Olympic fanatics, because there’s really nothing more relaxing than sitting on the sofa, popping a vein on your neck, as you cheer like wild folks, who were raised by wolves, as Michael Phelps swims his way into victory, or as Kerri Walsh and Misty May make smacking volleyballs across a net in the sand look like a cakewalk.
This year, though, with the Summer Games upon us, we learned that we had lost NBC on our dish.
As in… we had NO NBC ANYWHERE.
Apparently, our dish provider pulled NBC quite some time ago, but we never actually watch the real TV at our house, unless it’s a Broncos game / Avalanche game / Paw Patrol, so we had NO IDEA that we were short one of the important channels. (Long live Netflix and Hulu on the iPad!) We had no idea that we were no longer able to access this network, and HOW WILL WE SURVIVE WITH NO OLYMPICS?! That’s when we realized that we had a channel LIKE NBC, which is not REALLY NBC. We saw that YES! They are covering Olympic games! So we set the DVD to do some serious recording, and this is what we’ve gotten:
Ping Pong matches between Japan and Germany.
Ping pong matches between China and South Korea.
Men’s race walking.
Men’s Greco-Roman wrestling.
Although riveting, it was very hard for me to cheer loudly for ping pong. And race walking, in the words of JP Sears, is just a sport where we see “who can go the fastest, at not really going your fastest. It’s like who can be the best at mediocrity?”
We have missed all of Michael Phelps’ races. We have missed the gymnastics. We haven’t seen Bolt run. We have missed Kerri Walsh Jennings and her new partner, April Ross, in volleyball.
We have basically missed it all.
Except for the
ping pong table tennis.
… we did what everyone who has no connection to the Olympics does.
We cleaned our basement this weekend.
I would post BEFORE and AFTER pictures, but then I would bring shame upon my family. We have long been sitting on a little secret that the back of our basement, which is hidden from the public eye with a CLOSED DOOR, was a hell hole of hoarding.
Can I SAY THAT on my rated-PG blog?
I really have to, because HELL HOLE OF HOARDING is what we had. The back of our basement was covered in boxes of stuff we no longer used. It was covered in clothes the boys had outgrown, toys the boys no longer played with, household items that I no longer cared about, and every manner of scrap lumber, Sheetrock chunks, leftover plumbing pipes, metal duct work odds and ends, pieces of insulation, half-used cans of paint, and every tool that Home Depot sells. There was no rhyme or reason to how all of this stuff was stored in the back of the basement. There was no organization to the mess. It was all just thrown into heaps.
Heaps on the floor.
Heaps that had to be pushed aside if you had any hopes of walking through the basement.
Actually, you couldn’t WALK THROUGH the basement. You could only walk over and under and around heaps.
For years, we have lived with this horrid secret. The boy was under strict orders to NEVER, EVER open the basement door to friends, because they will no longer BE our friends, after they’ve seen the way we store things. Normal people do not want to be friends with HOARDERS.
The back of our basement was an avalanche, waiting to happen, and none of us carried avalanche transceivers around our necks for safety purposes. We had no way for pulsing radio signals to be emitted to rescue crews, to pinpoint our location beneath nine boxes labeled, Boys Size 12 Clothing.
… my mom came over bright and early on Saturday morning, because my mom is a cleaning magician.
Ain’t NO ONE alive who can clean something up like my own mama can.
After we were fully caffeinated with coffee, we just opened the door to the back of our basement, and we dug in, right smack there. We were ruthless. We cleaned our way from the door to the back wall. Everything went. We piled the truck’s bed full four different times and made four different trips to the city landfill.
Yes. I probably SHOULD HAVE had a garage sale and made millions of dollars selling our castoff stuff, but I was out of patience. We were on a mission on Saturday to just GET. IT. DONE. I wasn’t about to start making a garage sale pile. God, forgive me. I just wanted it all out of our house, so that’s exactly what we did.
And then we organized the little tiny bit that we were keeping onto the giant storage shelves.
We swept the bare floor.
The. Bare. Floor.
The floor that we found.
The floor that we haven’t seen since the concrete crew came over and poured it, when we were building this house.
And now, SWEET MERCY AND GLORY BE!!! Hallelujah and praises!!!
We can walk and run in the back of our basement! There’s forty-seven acres of bare concrete floors down there! It’s clean! It’s organized! It’s nothing short of a miracle.
I feel like the weight of the world has been lifted off of my shoulders.
I felt like Hubs and I should have had gold medals draped around our necks, while we stood on the tall platform, listening to our National Anthem. Sadly, no one with our dish coverage would have seen our outstanding Olympic Basement Cleaning 2016 performance.
Apparently, we don’t get NBC any more.