An Early Summer iPhone Dump

Hello, good people of the World Wide Web, who continue to open this blog in their browsers, even though I have basically discontinued all forms of writing here.  I always have an excuse for ignoring my office here at Jedi Mama, Inc., and tonight I blame the books.

As in, the REAL BOOKS.  Once upon a time (Did you see what I did there?  Talking about books?  And then I used a story starter for this paragraph?), I used to read and read and also R-E-A-D.  I was a voracious reader, who devoured approximately six books every month, give or take.  And then Thing 2 arrived in my golden years, when all of my friends are at an age where they’re attending book clubs while they sip wine, learning pinochle and taking up full-time knitting in the heat of the afternoon.  Thing 2 keeps us on our toes, because… well… he proved to scientists across the globe that perpetual motion CAN be achieved.  So, while my friends are all sitting in lawn chairs on their decks, knowing that their teenage children can fend for themselves, I’m over here at my house, hollering, “WHY are there foam Nerf darts in my refrigerator?” and “We NEVER stack two chairs atop one another to reach the upper cabinets!”  Keeping Thing 2 alive is a full-time job, so something (mainly, the reading of actual books) had to give.  But… WHOA, NELLY!  Because I am not even kidding you when I say that I have already read two entire books THIS SUMMER, and it’s only June 19th.  I haven’t read two books in the past eight months, unless you count online articles entitled IS MY KID WEIRD BECAUSE HE JUST USED A PURPLE MARKER TO COLOR HIS BARE ARMS, FROM FINGERTIPS TO ELBOWS, SO THAT HE CAN PRETEND HE’S A PURPLE DRAGON, as a book.  I feel like I’m ready to join a book club now, as long as no one minds that I sign up to bring paper plates when we meet each month, because the chances of me having enough time to make roasted figs with prosciutto and goat cheese is a solid, rock-bottom zero.

Anyway.

I just downloaded a heap of snapshots from my iPhone to my Big Mac, and thought I’d give y’all a glimpse into what’s been happening around here lately, based on the sort of pictures I take.

Also, I should warn you that these are not the typical snapshots that appear on Instagram.  I peek into the lives of so many strangers on the Insta, who all have these gorgeously decorated homes, with these gorgeous children, and everything is always just… well… gorgeous.  The reason I can’t achieve perfection in my iPhone pictures, is because I have to say things like “You have bark chips from the playground IN.  YOUR.  UNDIES!!!” and “How on earth does one kid get this much sand in his hair?”  If it’s outside, you can bet your last package of bacon that Thing 2 will be bringing it INSIDE.  Currently, Thing 2 has a Tupperware container on his bedroom dresser, which holds six dead bugs.  Tupperware containers are where Thing 2 puts bugs… to die.  He keeps them as pets and loves them with an enormous heart, but being carried around in an unventilated, plastic container tends to take its toll on an insect.  I also pulled a handful of dried lilacs out of Thing 2’s bedding a few days ago.  I’m to the point in my life now, where I seldom even ask WHY.  But that night I did, and my son replied, “Oh!  So that’s where those went.  I picked them for you, Mom… and then I lost them… but I guess they were in my bed.”

At any rate, the snapshots are certainly not glamorous, but they show our lives CLEARLY.

Our biggest news is that our boys gained two extra cousins this weekend!  Hubs’ brother got married on Saturday, and we enthusiastically welcomed his new wife and her two children into our family, because they’re simply wonderful.  Cousin Z and Cousin T are two of the best teenagers around!

And?  Have I mentioned how much cotton the giant cottonwood trees in our neighborhood put down?  This snapshot is ONE DAY’S WORTH OF COTTON SPILLAGE.  Hubs and the boy can’t breathe while the cotton flies, because SEVERE ALLERGIES.  I have no seasonal allergies to speak of, but I have SEVERE IRRITATION over all the yuck from these trees.  Every single day, that cotton gets wet in sprinklers… or from evening rain showers… and it turns to white, fuzzy slime in my flowerbeds… and on my car… and on my deck… and my patio… and everything else that lives outside.  It’s enough for me to tell Hubs eight times a day, “I am ready to move!”

And… as if the cotton isn’t enough… when the wind blows… the SEEDS are shaken right out of the trees.  It’s always so lovely to come home after a good windstorm and find your driveway covered in a layer of muck that needs to be swept off.

Thing 2 is going through a ninja / spy phase at the moment.  His greatest joy comes each day when he rips off the outfit I’ve dressed him in and changes into his “black-on-black-on-black” ensemble.  He then sneaks around the house, hiding behind furniture and offering karate-style kicks for free.

Also, sometimes kicking ninjas need to ride the train to the next town, so they assemble one in the dining room and pretend to be the engineer.

When Hubs and his co-worker are out of town for business, that co-worker’s wife and I haul the kids out for a nutritious dinner of ground beef and down-home potatoes.

The only thing more nutritious than a dinner like that is a breakfast that involves giant gluten-free monster cookies at the local coffee shop.

Sometimes, Thing 2 uses his imagination, a roll of old Christmas wrapping paper, and twenty-seven miles of Scotch tape to make himself a costume, when he’s NOT being a ninja / spy.

The boy had a band concert the week school wrapped up.  Thing 2 and a friend of his were hauled along to watch their big brothers perform on stage for the crowded auditorium, and I am happy to report that BOTH of these kindergarten kiddos SAT POLITELY FOR NINETY-MINUTES!  Can I get a HALLELUJAH?!

Our local library has enormous tubs of Lego bricks, which the librarian puts out on Friday afternoons.  The kids can build to their little hearts’ content, and then the librarian puts their masterpieces on display in a glass showcase in the front entry.  Thing 2 LOVES to pop in on Fridays for this, to keep his architectural skills sharp.

Cousin W graduated from high school at the tail end of May.  Thing 2 wrote him a paper note and wrapped it in a Happy Meal box.  He was so incredibly proud of his wrap-job, his heart was bursting.  He couldn’t wait to deliver his homemade, home-wrapped present to W.  And Cousin W, who wants to be a teacher because he loves kids so much, showed the same amount of appreciation for that little note in the Happy Meal box as he would have shown for a brand new Maserati in his driveway!  He thanked Thing 2 repeatedly.  He’s gonna make one dang good teacher!

The cute neighbor boy also graduated from high school at the end of May.  For his graduation party, his dad made cotton candy.

I don’t even remember if this snapshot of Thing 2 was him posing with his first cotton candy, his second cotton candy, or his third cotton candy, which was the one his mother cut him off on, because RESPONSIBLE PARENTING.

Hubs’ parents hosted a family barbecue over Memorial Day Weekend.  All the cousins were there, and Thing 2 talked them in to hiding EASTER EGGS, of all things, for him!  He spent the afternoon searching the yard, and having a bawl with his “Easter at the End of May” game.

Hubs took Thing 2 to a building workshop at Home Depot.  Apparently, every kindergarten child we know had the same idea, because it was like a six-year-old reunion down there, amidst the hammers and tiny nails.

In early June, the reason Hubs and I had MAN CHILDREN became clear, as we needed to trim the cottonwood trees lining our driveway.  What we REALLY wanted to do was chop those cottonwoods off at their bases with giant chainsaws, but we settled for taking the limbs that smacked our vehicles on a daily basis out.  And?  GUESS WHERE THE BULK OF OUR MANUAL LABOR CAME FROM?!  That’s right!  FROM THE CHILDREN!

And then, as if cutting and hauling trees wasn’t enough work for one day, I made them help weed the rock beds too.

Thing 2 has been using his dump truck to haul the big stuff around the yard this month.

And in new developments at the Jedi House, the boy brought home an actual trumpet on the last day of school, because he announced that he was going to teach himself to play it over the summer.  I imagine for the normal child, teaching oneself to play a brand new instrument might be kind of hard, but the boy is musical… times one thousand… and he’s almost mastered it.  Hubs played the trumpet for three years, before the music teacher kicked him out of band class forever, for blowing boxelder bugs out of his trumpet, across the classroom.  And, after three years of lessons, Hubs announced, “The boy already plays the trumped a million times better than I ever did, after two days of practicing.”

Of course, the little brother likes to have HIS trumpet lessons, too, so you can imagine how my nerves feel around this house these days.  I believe I texted Hubs at one point and said, “The trumpet playing is going to kill me dead with all it’s off-key, full-volume trumpeting!”

I taught Sunday School at our church for the first two Sundays in June, to a classroom filled with hooligans.

A friend of mine and I met in the park at 8:00 one morning last week for coffee.  While we sipped coffee, I told Thing 2, “Please play on the playground, and STAY.  OUT.  OF.  THAT.  DITCH.  Don’t get in the water and the mud!”  I believe that his outfit that day is a testament to whether he minded me or not.

Thank goodness another friend of mine came through with a king’s load of hand-me-down clothes, from her two boys.  We are all about the hand-me-downs at this house, and my friend Carrie delivers the best castoff clothing in the world!

Thing 2 and I were playing at the park one afternoon, when someone pointed out a mama owl and her two babies, high up in a tree.  We managed to catch a blurry shot of one of the teenage owlets.  Thing 2 was fascinated with them, and BEGGED ME to let him climb the tree and try to grab one for his pet.

Um… just no.

I took my rambunctious six-year-old to the local greenhouse one afternoon last week, and ran into a friend.  While we were talking amidst the perennials, Thing 2 disappeared.  I could HEAR him around the corner, so I wasn’t worried about him…

… until he came back to us, showing us the train he had made.  He’d linked all the wagons for plants together, and was busy turning them into the world’s fastest sidewalk train, as he RACED LIKE DASH INCREDIBLE through the greenhouse.  It was every bit as relaxing and wonderful as you would imagine.

We joined friends in the park one day, for swinging, climbing and grown-up coffee!  My friend and I got two full hours of “talk time over lattes” in, before the kids were even remotely exhausted.

We signed up for baseball, which happens bright and early every Saturday morning.  I don’t know whose idea THAT was!  Oh, wait.  It was mine.  Apparently, I’m trying to turn my hockey-loving son into a baseball-loving son, because traveling for baseball games happens in the sunshine, when there’s no snow.  Traveling for hockey games in the years to come is going to kill me dead, because I don’t actually DO winter travel on icy roads!  When we ask Thing 2 how he liked practice, he always tells us, “I love batting, but I don’t like being in the grass, waiting for a ball to come to me.  That part’s boring.  It isn’t as fun as hockey.”  Clearly, my plan for summer travel over winter travel is not going in my favor.

Thing 2 went to a birthday party a couple of nights ago, for a little fellow from his kindergarten class.  The boys were BEYOND THRILLED to see one another, after two weeks of no school.  Everyone hugged and screeched their enthusiasm at being together again, and then they had an enormous water balloon fight.  The mom said, “Well.  I spent one hour and forty-five minutes filling those water balloons, and they were all gone in four minutes!”  Funny how life works!

And we have a six-year-old who is in love with his summer homework right now!  I bought two 1st grade workbooks, to keep his brain fresh over the summer, and we have been trying to do a few pages in them each day.  Hubs and I just grinned a couple of nights ago when Thing 2 announced, “I just LOVE having homework!  Finally!  I get homework like a high school kid does!!”

And, finally, we’re kind of in to documentaries right now at our house.  Thing 2 is taking a break from nightly cartoons before bedtime (which is about the only time his stingy mom lets him turn the TV on), so that he can watch documentaries, filling him in on such subjects as penguins, dolphins, butterflies, volcanoes and trains.  He was absolutely glued to a train show a couple of nights ago, soaking in every bit of information the narrator gave him.  He then spends the next twenty-four hours, spouting all of his newfound knowledge to anyone who will listen!

And… JUST WHEW!  That should catch y’all up on what’s been happening around here.

And the boy?  Yes… I KNOW!  He barely appears in any of these pictures, because the boy HAS A REAL JOB, and he WORKS REAL HOURS, in exchange for REAL PAYCHECKS, and he REALLY LOVES IT!  He’s working again at the golf course this summer, and he’s averaging about fifty hours and fifty thousand dollars each week!  He’s simply never with us when I whip my iPhone out for a snapshot or nine!

Anyway.

Happy Tuesday night, y’all.

Summer Right Now

Well… we are knee-deep in summer vacation.  Thing 2 asked me the other day, “Is it Saturday today?”  I told him that it wasn’t; it was Tuesday.  He replied, “Well, it FEELS like Saturday!”  And I guess that sums up our lives at the moment:  Every day feels like Saturday, which is really the entire goal of summer break, right?

On the day that I checked out of my PE classes… after having filled out the appropriate checklist of DID YOU CLOSE ALL THE WINDOWS?  DID YOU FILL OUT A REQUISITION FORM FOR NEEDED SUPPLIES IN THE FALL?  DID YOU MAKE A NOTE FOR MAINTENANCE ON REPAIRS OR WORK THAT NEEDS DONE IN YOUR CLASSROOM? and turned it in to our principal… I walked out of the school with a light heart and thought, “This will be the summer when I get all kinds of stuff done at home.”  Oh, I had a mental list going, too.  Closets!  The closets need cleaned.  Actually, the closets at our house needed gutted, fumigated, and reorganized, if you want to know the real truth.  I have a cabinet that Hubs built for me years ago that needs painted.  I have a pantry that needs spiced up with some form of organization that we can stick to and not abandon two weeks after we clean it out.  I have GOBS of boxes and bags of hand-me-down clothes for Thing 2, which need to be sorted through, into piles of IT FITS NOW and IT WILL FIT NEXT YEAR.  I have toy boxes that need lit on fire and burned to the ground, because I am not passionate about 3.2 million toys that sit, completely unused, in them, hogging precious real estate in the little man’s bedroom.  So yes.  I walked out of my last PE class on June 1st and thought, “After our staff party to celebrate summer, I am going to become a machine that sorts out my house.”  I guess you could say this was going to be the summer that I got my affairs in order.

And here I am, two full weeks later, with nary a single thing checked off my list except that one line item that reads TAKE THING 2 TO THE PARK.

So THAT’S happening around here.

And what else is going on at the Jedi Manor?  Not a lot.

Hubs and I did put apps on our phones that actually track the exact amount of time we spend on them each day, because we had each accused the other of being glued to an iPhone screen too long.  We made a bet with prizes for the winner, to see who uses their phone less in June.  I feel like I pick my phone up constantly, to fill every down minute of the day, and I’m horrified about it.  My 1988 self is also shocked, because GO TEASE YOUR BANGS SOME MORE INSTEAD OF OPENING FACEBOOK AGAIN… but also my 1988 self is a little impressed, because she always knew her future self would have a phone like Jane Jetson did.  Anyway.  We have had this app on our phones for an entire week now, and I beat Hubs five out of seven days for the least amount of screen time.  I made a giant point of declaring myself the WEEKLY WINNER OF THE CHICKEN DINNER last night, when Hubs explained, “I use my phone for work, you know.”

Ha!

I looked at Hubs and said, “I also use my phone for work, and look!  I logged in thirty-three minutes on it today, and you logged in an hour and forty-nine minutes.”

Hubs looked at me with his eyebrows raised and said, “You’re using your phone for work, too?”

Because it’s apparent that Hubs has hard feelings about summer vacation, but all I have to say is this:  He could have chosen to go into education as a career choice in college, too, for the payoff of JUNE, JULY and also AUGUST.  I told Hubs, “Yes.  I ALSO use my phone for work.  Just today, I had to text the boy to see if he needed me to bring him some lunch while he was working at the golf course, and I also had to Google MY PACKAGE OF BONELESS CHICKEN BREASTS IS TWO DAYS PAST THE SELL-BY DATE, before I just went with my gut instinct and threw it out, to the tune of $9 in the garbage.”

Hubs said, “Well, I made real calls to real clients and fixed someone’s computer… FROM MY OFFICE, WITH MY PHONE.”

Blah, blah, blah.

In other news, the boy is working approximately fifty hours a week right now at the golf course, and then he golfs eighteen holes when he gets off work, so that translates into WE NEVER SEE HIM.  I know he still lives here, because he leaves wet towels on his bathroom floor, and he occasionally texts me to see if I could please wash his work polos.

Thing 2 has been at Vacation Bible School all this week, with nine million other children.  I was so excited to send him, because I basically had from 9 AM to noon each day this week to KNOCK OUT MY LIST OF CHORES.  What has ended up happening, though, is that I’ve come back home after the VBS drop-off… and heard all the utter SILENCE.

So I knocked out a John Grisham novel this week, which has been sitting in my bookcase, unread, for two years.  Apparently, this was the week where I expanded my brain’s capacity for knowledge by reading, and I do feel decently qualified to be a full-fledged lawyer at the moment, after reading up on a fictional attorney.  Call me, if you need any legal needs met.

And… I have knocked out the Mount Everest of Laundry this week, AND I power washed our front and back patios, the driveway AND the deck, which… let’s face it:  If nothing else gets done in June, there was at least that week when all the laundry was caught up and the outside areas were scrubbed clean for one day, before the cotton started flying again.

(Also?  In case you’re wondering… Hell is going to be covered in cotton that has flown off of trees.  It is going to stick to everything in Hell, and make your life as miserable as it can be here on Earth, when you have a six-year-old who leaves the door open for all the cotton to blow right in every day.  So… you’d better get yourselves right with Jesus, so you can spend eternity without ever knowing the pain of inhaling an airborne bit of cotton fluff straight up your nose.  Hubs and the boy cannot breathe right now, and their eyes are swollen and red, because COTTON ALLERGIES.  I missed out on seasonal allergies altogether, which I feel like I shouldn’t actually brag about, but I fight my own battle with cotton all over my hardwood floors, and cotton that has gotten wet from the sprinklers in my flower beds.  Now THAT is messier than a nose that’s stuffed shut.)

Plus, I paid someone real American dollars to come in and wash all of my windows, because I felt like this was a good use of my money.  Professional window washer have all the right tools, and they can knock out a job in forty-five minutes that would have taken me all the livelong day long and cut into my reading time.  (You know… since I am currently trying to beat Hubs by never using my phone.)  At this very moment, my windows are so clean, they look like they’re not even there, which means I have a completely UNOBSTRUCTED VIEW OF ALL THE COTTON SAILING THROUGH OUR NEIGHBORHOOD.

God bless the cotton-filled cottonwoods, but it’s okay if He wants to strike a few with lightning bolts this month.

And… this is my baby this week, looking like he’s ready for college, instead of just the first grade.

I would post a snapshot of the boy as well, but I haven’t actually seen the boy long enough to take his picture this week.

Anyway.

I think that all the chores will get underway next week… unless I decide another book is calling my name.

Happy summer weekend, y’all.

A June Afternoon At The Lake

Hubs and I both slept in until 7:30 this morning.  I can’t be one hundred percent positive, but I THINK the last time I slept that late was when I was a high school freshman.  Apparently, Thing 2 felt the need to catch up on some rest, which… JUST FINALLY!  I put him into bed at 8:00 last night, and we didn’t hear a peep out of him until 7:30 this morning, which was when I looked at Hubs and yelled out the time.

“It’s 7:30!!”

It was exactly like I do, every time we drive by a pasture of cows.  I have a terrible tendency to yell the obvious.  “Cows!”

By 8:15 this morning, Hubs had gone to work, I was cleaning a kitchen that didn’t get cleaned up after dinner last night, the boy was still sleeping, and Thing 2 had settled into our sofa, like a slug, with the iPad.  I’m one of THOSE moms, who genuinely can’t stand to see kids sit around, playing video games.  I tend to be incredibly stingy with iPad time, when it comes to my six-year-old.  GET OUT AND DO SOMETHING!  For the most part, Thing 2 is happy to do just that, because playing outside is his love language.  But, on the off chance that he can steal some time with the iPad, he is all in and glued to the screen.

At noon today, I finally kicked him off.

That’s right.

Go ahead and judge.

My little man played the iPad from 8:15 to noon.  Math was never my strong subject, but, as best as I can calculate, that would be fifteen minutes shy of a four-hour stint.  Thing 2 doesn’t accumulate four hours on the iPad IN AN ENTIRE MONTH, y’all!  It’s just not a go-to option at our house.

With the house cleaned up and laundry spinning in the washing machine and dinner simmering in the crockpot and the boy at work and Thing 2’s eyes glazed over with blue-light fatigue, I looked at my small kid and said, “Let’s go to the lake!”

He was game.

We did not go with a lot of preparation.  It was the most spontaneous trip of ever.  I put a pair of swim trunks on Thing 2, grabbed his life vest and a shovel, put the sunscreen and two bottles of Gatorade and a towel in the car, and off we went.  We had no snacks, no dry clothes, no lawn chair, no book for Mama to read, and no lake toys to speak of.  And… do y’all know what?  It didn’t matter one bit, because SHOVEL!

Next to the Legos, Thing 2’s real shovel is his favorite toy, and he dug PLENTY OF HOLES at the lake today.

The weather was stunningly gorgeous.

The kind of weather where you sit up a little straighter and say, “God, you really outdid Yourself today.  This breeze!  And this sunshine!  And the fact that it’s 77 degrees!  And the green grass!  And the blue water!”  It was all just lovely.

The only thing that wasn’t overly lovely was the temperature of the lake water, because it just hasn’t had time to warm up enough yet, after the ice melted off of it.  Thing 2 wasn’t into swimming today, but he was in the water the entire time, wading and splashing.  He caught minnows and ladybugs, and he even managed to paddle an inflatable raft he borrowed from a stranger kid he had met just twenty minutes earlier.

In other words, he had the best afternoon ever.

We played at the lake for three entire hours this afternoon, and then we beat the giant thunder and lightning storm home by thirty minutes, which was a total win.

Spaghetti was waiting for us in the crockpot, and THAT felt like a win, too!

Have a good weekend, y’all.

Trains And Planes, But No Automobiles

Well.

Summer vacation is in full swing around here, as evidenced by the fact that we got up bright and early to celebrate Summer Vacation, Day Two.

Except, it wasn’t really bright.  It was just early.  That’s because the sun tends to still be on China’s side of the globe at 1:30 in the morning here.  Thing 2 was ready to get up and build with Legos or go on an adventure, but his mother squashed his summer dreams by insisting that IT WAS THE STINKING MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT.

Seriously?  Do I have the only time-challenged child walking this planet?  Who else has a kid who just wakes up at 1:30 in the morning and then goes back to sleep at 4:30 AM?  Raise your hand; come forward.  Let’s start a support group.  There will be strong coffee, and it’ll be a place where you’re safe to use cuss words.

Anyway.

Hubs took great pleasure in pulling Thing 2’s blankets off of him at 7:45 this morning, as he loudly announced, “Rise and shine!  You’re not gonna sleep in all morning, after partying all night!”  In other words, I think we’re fully prepared to handle the teenage years.

We ended up going to a free event at the local museum this morning.

The boy didn’t work at the golf course today, so we hauled him along with us.  One of my children went in Ralph Lauren and dress loafers, while the other one of my children went in a ratty Spider-Man T-shirt and his light-up cowboy boots, complete with REAL SPURS.

Yes.

REAL SPURS.

I had never actually even been to Small Town’s museum before, but lo!  I saw the AIRPLANE DAY FOR KIDS event advertised, and… since I have a kid who is nuts about airplanes… I signed him up, and off we went.  I had heard the tales that a dozen or so kids go to these little Summer Tuesdays at the Museum, so imagine my surprise when there were forty kids in attendance, who were all dragging a mother along with them.  Apparently, Airplane Day is a big deal around here.

The hostess started the event with a story about airplanes in Small Town, and how our airport came to be built.  In the middle of her book-reading, Thing 2 raised his hand and ever-so-very-much-politely asked, “Excuse me?  Do you see that picture of that giant train on the wall?  How old is it?”

Get distracted much?!

The nice lady told him that she was basically train-illiterate, but that he was welcome to ask at the front desk, so up my son stood.  He hollered across the crowd of children seated on the floor, to me… where I was standing clear in the back, trying to distance myself from him so that others wouldn’t know he was mine… “Hey, Mom!  I need to go to the front desk to find out about that train!”

What was that you asked?  IS OUR LIFE EVER DULL?  No.  No, it is not.

We convinced Thing 2 that this was AIRPLANE DAY, and that TRAIN DAY was actually not happening, so PLEASE!  Hush and listen to the story about how our local airport came to be.  When the story was finished, there was a craft for the kids to do:  BUILD YOUR OWN AIRPLANE.  I had told Thing 2 that we would be building one, because I had read the write-up online about the event.  He was convinced that he’d be using electrical wires and a soldering gun to build a drone that he could control remotely.  I crossed my fingers that he wouldn’t be overly disappointed with the small fact that the planes were being constructed out of wooden clothespins, with balsam wood wings, glue and cheap paint.

The boy helped Thing 2 build the airplane, and then he was off, because he had seen the giant model train encased in glass.

He spent the next thirty minutes staring at that detailed train, which was displayed amidst a model of Small Town’s hills and valleys.  He asked me how we could build one.  He asked me if we could BUY THIS ONE.  He asked me a thousand questions about trains, and then he finally had to go to the front desk and ask more about trains.  I’m not sure that the man working the front desk had ever been put to work quite like he was today, as  Thing 2 grilled him relentlessly about the displays.

The airplanes were forgotten, because… as much as our boy enjoys a plane… TRAINS are his real love language.

So now we’re just home this evening, trying to convince a six-year-old that building a train diorama isn’t one of my life goals, nor is it something on Hubs’ bucket list.

Happy Tuesday, y’all.  May your night be blessed with children who sleep, and no more questions about trains.

The End Of May Is So Close, We Can Almost Touch It

I have crossed the finish line.

I’d like to tell you the finish line was for a triathlon, because LOOK AT ME BIKE AND SWIM AND RUN AND BE AN ATHLETE WITH ABS, but the honest truth is that I crossed the school year’s finish line, and I have walked into summer vacation.

As of 3:00 this afternoon.

And really?  I crossed that line limping and dragging… BECAUSE MAY!  May is when every teacher everywhere says, “Let’s just do this one more thing.”  In the past week, I’ve been to academic ceremonies, golf ceremonies, class picnics, writing ceremonies, band concerts, and kindergarten centers.  This past weekend, we had seven graduation parties on our calendar, plus the actual graduation ceremony and a Memorial Day barbecue.  On the flip side of that, we have no clean jeans, no clean underwear, no groceries in the refrigerator, and we haven’t made a bed at this house in over a week.

Plus… Thing 2 got up at 4:45 yesterday morning…

… and…

… we were completely out of coffee at our house.

It felt every bit as hard as Caroline Ingalls must’ve had it on the prairie, when I grabbed a mug from our kitchen counter… pre-5:00 yesterday morning… and pushed it under the Keurig… only to discover that WE… HAD… NO… COFFEE.  We had half-and-half a-plenty.  We had an abundance of half-and-half, but lo!  There was nary a drop of coffee to put the half-and-half into, and what I wanted to do at that exact moment was bawl my head off, as I dialed my mom’s phone number to mumble, with snot dripping from my nose, “The baby is awake and we have no coffee, Mommy!”

You can bet that a trip was made to the local drive-thru coffee shack, before all the gym classes got underway.  As my little first graders… my very first class of the morning… came scrambling into the gym, I whispered to them, “Please don’t talk to me until I’ve managed to drink half of this cup.  If you do, we’re going to run the mile today, instead of playing END OF THE YEAR DODGEBALL.”

Anyway.

(*big sigh of relief*)

I am planning to wash all of the laundry tomorrow, as I sit here and debate whether to attempt it at home, in a marathon experience, or whether it would be easier just to cart it all to the laundromat and be done in one swoop.  And then I’m getting groceries, because we are at that point in our lives when I open the refrigerator and wonder what I can make for dinner with a bottle of A-1 steak sauce and a carton of expired banana cream yogurt.

Y’all have a good Wednesday evening.  I’m just going to sit over here at my house and grin, because I’m on summer vacation already, but my boys still have two more days left of school!

 

A Breakfast Of Champions

When your mom gives the nod of approval after you’ve asked if you can make your own breakfast, you make a cup of dry Cheerios and pop open a can of lemonade, because HEY!  It’s Memorial Day, and you want your holiday meal to be… well… memorable.

If y’all didn’t enjoy a breakfast with this magnitude of luxury, then I’m sorry.  You really missed out.

And if you have served our country in our military, then the Jedi family would like to clap for you and say thanks.  If we could, we’d have you over for dry Cheerios and canned lemonade, too.

Mighty Warriors

Well, our Monday wasn’t quite as Monday as it could have been, because Hubs, in a brilliant display of compassion for others, went to the grocery store at 8:00 last night.  He came home with a carton of half and half, and suddenly our coffee hopes for Monday morning were going to become a reality, instead of a dream.  He and I may live in the Wild West, but neither one of us has ever learned how to drink our coffee like John Wayne would have done, without the benefit of cream and sugar.  Clearly, we are a disappointment to our state.  My best guess is that John Wayne drank his coffee when it was as black as sin, but listen… if mine isn’t a pale beige with a hint of sugary goodness, I have no interest in it.

Of course, Hubs walked around our kitchen this morning like he was Maverick in Top Gun, who’d managed to shoot enemy fighter jets straight out of the sky, because he’d saved the day with some thick milk.  He’s going to have to step aside for me tonight, though, because LOOK WHO WASHED ALL THE SOCKS TODAY!  I’ve saved the day, too, because none of us are going to be strutting around town like the Flintstones tomorrow, with their calloused feet, bare upon the bedrock.  We have clean socks, and it’s all due to me, thank you very much.

Hubs and I both may need counseling, so that we can resolve the issue of who the better person is here.

Anyway.

I read a devotional one day last week, and it has stuck to me like glue at a kindergarten table during centers does.

I’ve had some things come up in my life.  Actually, they’re not so much things, as they are just plain mountainous volcanoes, that are shooting lava straight up and dumping choking heaps of ash all over my head.  Beth Moore always says that when you come to these kinds of mountains, one of a few different scenarios is going to happen.  Either God is going to make you climb that mountain, which is hard, but totally doable… or He’s going to walk you around that mountain, which, let’s face it, is the easiest route… or He’s going to have you tunnel through the mountain, which is going to involve three times the amount of hard work you were planning on… but one way or the other, you’ll get to the other side of that mountain.

Right now, I feel like I have two mountains of Mt. Everest size, sitting side by side right in front of me, and God has given me a little gardening shovel and a flashlight with no batteries in it, and He’s told me, “Start digging.”  So that’s where I’ve been for a few months here… digging.  And it’s not so much digging, as it is me slamming the point of my tiny shovel into the rock and yelling, “This isn’t fair!  This is not what I signed up for!  THIS IS NOT WHAT I ENVISIONED!!  How come THOSE PEOPLE got a straight path without any bumps in it?  Why do I have to be the one with these two enormous road blocks?  Why am I spending all this time DIGGING?  This is just too dang HARD, God!”  And then I’ve thrown in a few “I hate this” phrases, which were shouted loudly, just to let God know that I am quite serious about my feelings.  You know, in case He had no idea how I felt.

So I’ve been digging my way through two different mountains, which is really hard work.  It’s hard enough to dig through just one mountain, but when you have to keep running back and forth between TWO of them, the exhaustion sets in, and you really just want to pitch your tent right there and quit at the closest base camp.  You want to just say, “I quit,” and turn on Netflix.

And then last week, this devotional came along.  It was about Gideon, when he was threshing his wheat in the winepress, because he was scared to death that the Midianites would come along and find him, if he didn’t hide his work.  It said, “The Israelites have been invaded by the Midianites, and are totally oppressed by them.  In the midst of all this is a man named Gideon, who is threshing wheat in a winepress.  Normally, according to my vast and nonexistent wheat-threshing expertise, he’d thresh his wheat out in the open.  But Gideon was afraid of the Midianites and was hiding in a winepress.  So, while Gideon was hiding out, an angel appeared to him and said, ‘The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.’  Oh, how I love an angel who deals in irony.  Mighty warrior?  Gideon is hiding!  He’s threshing his wheat in fear, and yet the angel calls him a mighty warrior.”  (That’s from the devotional called Everyday Holy — Finding a Big God in the Little Moments.)

And that’s the paragraph that I’ve pretty much tossed over in my mind for days now.  I’ve thought about it while I was in PE, throwing foam balls at little kids.  I’ve thought about it while I was wide awake at 3 AM.  I’ve thought about it while I’ve avoided cooking dinner, and encouraged my family to PLEASE ACCEPT THIS OFFERING OF A TAKE-AND-BAKE PIZZA FOR YOUR EVENING MEAL, BECAUSE I CAN’T EVEN DEAL WITH ALL THE BUSY THAT THE MONTH OF MAY HAS THROWN AT MY FACE.

God, you see, has the ability to see our pasts and our presents and our futures… ALL AT THE SAME TIME.  So when He called Gideon a Mighty Warrior, He was calling him what he would become, because God had already seen what Gideon would become… because God already knew what he would become.  Gideon didn’t think he was equipped to be a mighty warrior.  In fact, he asked God for a sign that He was telling the truth, and he asked for more than one sign!  As far as Gideon was concerned, he was just going to try to trudge through his existence in oppression by hiding out and threshing wheat, so that the Midianites didn’t find it and destroy it.  Gideon was just focused on providing a little food for his people, but God was focused on Gideon rising up as a mighty warrior and taking out the Midianites with three hundred men on his team.  Was Gideon nervous?  You bet.  Here he’d been, hiding and threshing, when suddenly God spoke through an angel and basically told him, “You’re a mighty warrior now, and you’re going into battle.”  He had three hundred men behind him to fight, while the book of Judges says, “It was impossible to count [the Midianites] or their camels.”  There were just too many of them.  Gideon was bringing three hundred men to a battle against 135,000 soldiers, when he had been nothing but a common man twenty minutes earlier.

But God called Gideon by his future name… Mighty Warrior... in the present.

Let’s just type that again.

God called Gideon BY HIS FUTURE NAME… which was Mighty Warrior… and He did it in the PRESENT.  Because God already knew the future.  God had already seen the future, and He knew the victory Gideon had helped lead the Israelites to, because of his willing obedience to the Lord.

And that made me think… How many times has God said to me, while I’m slowly digging away at my enormous mountains, with my tiny garden shovel, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”  First of all, in my all-consuming focus of letting God know exactly how unfair it is, I’ve forgotten that He IS with me.  I’ve forgotten that I am NOT, actually, digging alone.  And second…  Did He just call me a mighty warrior?  And doesn’t being a mighty warrior mean that I’m going to reach the other side of these two mountains, no matter which direction He sends me… WITH VICTORY?!

Even with the unlikely odds of three hundred men to 135,000.

Or with a garden shovel and a flashlight with no batteries.

Apparently, when you’ve been asked by God to dig your way through the tunnels, you can write down, in ink, that it’s going to be long and difficult.  There are going to be broken fingernails, bruises of all kinds, big scrapes, bigger aches and constant pains, cuss words that you regret, tears a-plenty, and nights when you want to quit forever, as you lay down on the ground in a heap of your own pity party, crying your eyeballs straight out.  You’re going to be jealous of the person next to you, who was handed different tools than you were.  Because that girl digging through HER mountain beside you?  Yeah… she got eighteen semi trucks filled with a cargo labeled DYNAMITE.  She also got headlamps that work and those giant lights that road construction crews set up on interstates at night.  You know the ones… they light up the dark like it’s noon, and they all have batteries and backup batteries and generators, too..  She also got a crew of men who are used to manual labor, and who have built tunnels through mountains before, and actually understand how to get it done quickly and efficiently.  She probably also got a food truck, that delivers breakfast burritos every morning, along with hot, BEIGE-COLORED COFFEE, which she sips while she sits on a giant boulder her crew just pulled out of the tunnel.

And that all looks a lot better than your lone gardening shovel and the flashlight that isn’t equipped with working batteries, and the handful of rocky crumbs you just scratched out of the itty bitty hole that you’re supposed to turn into a passageway.  I won’t lie.  It’s hard to take the meager tools the Lord has handed to YOU, while you watch the Lord hand someone else a Craftsman toolbox packed to the brim with equipment and a fleet of trucks, carrying everything else you could ever dream of needing while you work.  It’s hard to remember that God gave the Israelites manna in the desert, which was just enough for their daily needs.  It’s hard to admit that  your daily need is a small shovel, when someone else’s daily need is a thousand pounds of dynamite and a fellow who knows how to run the line for it.

It’s hard to admit that fairness has absolutely nothing to do with our VERY INDIVIDUAL, daily needs.

And that, of course, brings us to WHY God pared Gideon’s army down to three hundred men.  Had Gideon been blessed with an equal amount of fighting men behind him… had Gideon been flanked by 135,000 soldiers as well… he may have taken credit for winning the battle.  Gideon may have said, “I did it!  I conquered those Midianites!”  At the battle’s end, the soldiers would have slapped Gideon on the back, applauded his fantastic leadership skills, and then fought over who would buy their successful captain his first round of a nice aged, stout ale and a loaf of bread smeared thickly with goat’s milk butter.  And where would the people have seen God in all of it?  That’s right.  They wouldn’t have.  There wouldn’t have been a testimony that has lasted for thousands of years on how God fought for His people, using a nervous man named Gideon, who had once hid from his enemies in a winepress while he worked, and three hundred men.

With my gardening shovel and that flashlight that isn’t working, I will have no one else to credit on the other side of these two mountains, except God Himself.

Which is probably exactly what He has intended for me.

And… I can’t lie… I’ve hollered plenty at the Lord lately, “Thanks for leaving me alone on this!”  I’ve told two people in the past month, “God isn’t listening to my prayers right now.”  I honestly didn’t believe that He was; I was, in fact, firmly convinced that He had left me with the instructions to DIG, and then He’d walked away.  I was too busy watching the people next to me, who were using a gas-powered, high-tech tunnel boring machine to rip an opening into their mountain the size of an aircraft carrier, while the rock I was moving fit into a paper Dixie cup, to even think that He might be listening to me, because HOW UNFAIR IS IT THAT THEY’RE USING MODERN-DAY, HOLE-BORING EQUIPMENT FUELED BY GASOLINE, LORD, WHILE I USE THIS HANDHELD SHOVEL THAT’S PRIMARY PURPOSE IS FOR WEEDING FLOWER BEDS?!  But then… because apparently He loves me or something… God answered us in something entirely different this past Friday.

This past Friday, Hubs and I had a decision to make.  It wasn’t a life-changing decision.  It wasn’t a decision that was even all that hard.  It was just a small timeline that we were on, for something COMPLETELY UNRELATED to my mountains, that needed a yes or a no answer ON FRIDAY.  My mom said, “Well, pray about it, and ask God if you should do it or not do it.”

I went home, thinking, “Right.  Ask God, who isn’t listening to me right now.”

But I asked Him, because it’s all I know in life.  When you’ve been raised going to church, you’re raised to keep asking.  So yes… I asked, but I didn’t expect an answer, because I was too busy being envious of someone else’s easy digging while I was doing hard labor, so why would God even CARE TO ANSWER THIS SMALL REQUEST, THAT ISN’T EVEN RELATED TO MY MOUNTAINS?

Except… He did.

On Friday morning, I looked at Hubs over our beige-colored coffee cups and said, “Are we going to spend this money and go for it?  Or not spend this money?”  And Hubs said, “I think we’re going to spend this money.”  And I twitched, because I am not a money spender, and I am not as brave as Hubs is, when it comes to spending money.

Two hours later, God answered in the form of a phone call, as He boldly announced, “And this, Mighty Warrior, is where that money you’re worried about is going to come from!”  I was stunned beyond belief.  I walked around my house on Friday afternoon, exclaiming, “I can’t believe it!  I asked… and there was an answer and a way!”  I told that to God.  I said, “God!  I asked… and You GAVE AN ANSWER AND A WAY!”  I told Hubs later, “We asked… and we got an answer and a means to achieve it!”

I think God did it, because He knew I needed reassuring that He was still there and still listening TO ME, while I keep digging with my simple, outdated tools on my two mountains.  I can no longer say, “But you reassured Gideon with his wet and dry fleeces, and you ignored me!”  Because He didn’t ignore me.

And He has called me a mighty warrior.

And I think He means for me to step out of the tunnel, when I finally break through to the backside of the mountain, into sunlight, while I say, “It was a long, hard-fought battle to dig my way through, but I asked for help, and You sustained me and kept me going; You provided a way through.”

With just a meager shovel and a flashlight that didn’t work.

Because when I stand in the sunlight, I think I’m supposed to yell, “God gave me the most meager tools, so that my testimony would simply say, LOOK WHAT GOD HAS DONE today.”

And then I’m going to have to REALLY apologize for all the bad words I used while I was laboring to dig.

Happy Monday, y’all.  I hope your husbands are those who love you enough to buy real cream at 8 PM, to insure that your morning goes well.  And I hope that you realize that God already knows you’re a mighty warrior… because He already sees you on the other side of your mountain.  So keep digging, Mighty Warrior; keep digging, even if you’re doing it with your bare hands and looking at me, yelling, “Why does SHE get that little gardening shovel, when I just have my ten fingers and no gloves?!”

If you’ve got breakfast burritos and pale coffee, you can borrow my little shovel for a while.

Hello… Again…

That’s exactly the truth.

I came into work here at the offices of Jedi Mama, Inc. tonight, and I went to stand beside the water cooler.  I didn’t even recognize half the staff members there, because I’ve been gone so long, and then folks reminded me that I’m the boss.

Apparently bosses set a bad example for their employees, when they take a week off work, with no explanation… especially when they failed to refill the rack of Keurig cups for everyone before they left.

My apologies.

Anyway.

My friend and I sat in enormous, leather massage chairs this afternoon, while we sipped Starbucks teas and got pedicures, so I really feel like I’m on top of my work game plan now, with a fresh topcoat of Last Dance on my toes.  Last Dance is red and filled with glitter, and I’m not going to lie…

It’s probably the exact color Megan had on HER toes, when she married Prince Harry this weekend.

Speaking of the wedding…

Hubs walked into the living room at 5:30 Saturday morning and said, “Why are you up so early?”  I simply pointed to the TV.  He squinted at it… wrinkled his nose a bit… and asked, “Is this someone’s wedding?”

Honestly, I don’t know how we’ve even managed to stay married for twenty-two years.  But, if I am to be totally truthful here, I DID ask Hubs last night, “What hockey teams are still in the playoffs?”  I feel like the stare he gave me was the exact equivalent of the one I gave HIM on Saturday morning.

Las Vegas and Winnipeg.  Tampa Bay and Washington.  Megan and Harry.

We’ve both been caught up to speed.

And we are completely out of half and half, which means we will have no coffee to start our Monday morning with tomorrow.  I don’t even know how we’re going to deal.

At any rate, the CEO at Jedi Mama is back in her twirly desk chair, making executive decisions, writing checks and asking WHEN the photocopier is going to be fixed.  It’s all business as usual again, so I’ll see y’all around here this week.

Happy Sunday night, everyone.  May your fridges hold the milk of the half and half cow.  Mondays are so much easier when you’ve got that.