August Blizzards And Prank Teams

So Thing 2 bounded out of bed at precisely 2:23 this morning, with the enthusiasm and energy of a golden Labrador puppy.  He ran to our deck doors and flipped the outdoor lights on, as he shouted out, “Look!  It’s snowing outside!  It’s totally snowing!  This is so awesome!”

And do you know what wasn’t awesome?

Besides the fact that it was 2:23 in the morning?

It wasn’t awesome to a five-year-old to discover that the magic of the season’s first snowfall was, in fact, NOT HAPPENING.  He was so distraught, as he kept hollering, “It was JUST snowing!  Where is the snow now?!  WHERE DID THE SNOW GO???”  And that was the moment when I told him about dreams, and how dreams aren’t real, and GO BACK TO BED ALREADY, before Mama loses her mind.

Except, the disappointment of missing out on an August blizzard irked him good and proper, and he asked for coffee and oatmeal.

LIKE HIS MOTHER WOULD GIVE HIM COFFEE AT 2:23 AM.

FOR THE LOVE, PEOPLE!!

I finally got that precious child back to bed at 5:45 this morning, at which time I promptly blacked out in HIS brand-spanking-new, full-sized bed, right beside him.  I regained consciousness sometime around 7:15 this morning, and do you know what got me out of bed?

The fact that I could have real coffee, as God intended for it to be made:  Straight out of the Keurig, piping hot, and laced with a whole lotta cream and a little bit of sugar.  That second Whole30 of mine could not possibly have ended at a better time, as I held that cup of coffee this morning like it was a newborn baby.  I snuggled it in my hands and kissed the rim of my cup, like I was kissing newborn hair that smelled of Johnson’s and Johnson’s baby wash, and I sipped it with so much appreciation, I practically needed to stand up and slow clap for it.

No matter what Whole30 finishers tell you about LEARNING TO LOVE THE BLACK COFFEE, it is all completely untrue.  Black coffee is awful.  Black coffee with coconut milk is mediocre.  Black coffee with unsweetened almond milk is one step above boiling mud puddle water and pouring it into a mug.

So that’s how we got OUR day started.

The rest of today was basically a blur, because I shuffled around the house, doing odd jobs… just to stay awake.  I was afraid if I sat down, I’d slip into a coma and no one would hear from me for days.  Meanwhile, Thing 2 managed to sleep until 9 AM, because HE.  WAS.  QUITE.  TIRED.  I LET HIM sleep until 9 AM, because I am not brave enough to poke a hibernating bear in the side.   While he slept, I made beds, loaded the dishwasher, folded dry clothes, washed dirty clothes, swept the kitchen floor, and picked up stray Matchbox cars and Nerf gun darts.

And then, somewhere around mid-morning, I took Thing 2 out to the high school’s track, where he promptly ran a half mile to burn up some energy he was experiencing.  Apparently, that nap between 5:45 and 9:00 this morning translated into SECOND WIND and HOLD MY SIPPY CUP, MA, AND WATCH THIS!  As he came around the track, finishing up his second lap and approaching the half mile finish line, I cheered like a lunatic for him, because our second son appreciates wild applause.  Also, I cheered because I had to wake myself up, as I think I’d sort of drifted off into a hypnotic sleep there at the track, standing up on my feet.

He crossed that finish line… half of a mile marathon under his belt… and promptly tripped, wiped out, and took half the hide off of his elbow.

So… you know… THAT went well.  The only thing that could make our morning better was the fact that I got to take the Suburban in for an oil change, where Thing 2 and his bloody elbow and I sat in the waiting room, that smells like Valvoline and sweat.

I think y’all will agree that I actually DESERVED the second cup of cream-filled coffee that I had this afternoon, when we got home.

In other news, our church put on a little VBS program for the kids last week.  And when I say little VBS program, I really mean that our Baptist church puts on a fun-filled week of Bible learning and games that could literally take home the WORLDWIDE GOLD MEDAL in VBS Olympics.

Not that I’m bragging or anything, because my job was strictly registering kids and checking them in each evening with a smile and a howdy, as they showed up.  My contribution was the smallest of small, so I’m not allowed to brag.  Just know in your heart that there is no better week of VBS than what our children’s ministries team throws down.

And THIS?

Well, that is our younger son, PRAYING.

Be still, my heart.  It’s what VBS is all about.

Thing 2 got to hang out with some really fun kids all week…

… as they learned more about Jesus and played Squirt Bottle Tag.  They also did crafts one night with GLITTER.

I’m still suffering from PTSD, while Thing 2’s bedroom rug continues to sparkle like a disco ball every single time I turn the light on.  Once glitter comes into your house, it’s there until Jesus’ return.  It’s use at a church-sanctioned VBS program should be ruled SINFUL.

Every year during VBS, the boy and one of his friends (a girl he has known since kindergarten) end up pulling pranks on one another.  They live for this week, as it becomes known as Vacation Bible School and Prank Pulling Week.

They dream up elaborate stunts to pull.

They’re willing to spend money to accomplish their pranks.

They are giddy with secrecy and the success of their tricks.

No prank is considered too small, but the boy usually goes with the motto, PRANK BIG, OR GO HOME.

This summer, his friend created a team of pranksters that would have made the Navy SEALS sit up and say, “She has assembled some top-notch prank pullersThis is a team to be taken seriously.”  Her biggest asset became a fourteen-year-old cousin, who shall remain nameless (COUSIN L.  IT WAS COUSIN L, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!!!), who knew how to break into our house when no one was home.  She knows the code to the keypad on our front door.

She engaged in BREAKING AND ENTERING… a felony, if you will… in the name of VBS and PPW.

Imagine my surprise when Hubs and I came home from an afternoon out… while the boy was working at the golf course… ALL OF WHICH COUSIN L KNEW, BECAUSE COUSIN L HAD DONE HER DETECTIVE WORK BEFORE SHE COMMITTED THE CRIME OF PUNCHING IN OUR DOOR CODE TO USHER OTHER GIRLS, DRESSED IN BLACK SKI MASKS, INSIDE OUR HOME… to find the boy’s bedroom looking like this:

In case you’re wondering, one thousand, six hundred sticky notes were used (FOR REALS, according to this assembled team of teenage criminals, who had added them all up and kept track), while two hundred balloons were blown up with a pump and tied.  I think the amount of pink and purple streamers used could have circled the globe five times… and THEN gone to the moon and back… twice.

The boy’s bed was wrapped in Saran Wrap.  It was wrapped so well, it resembled new toys in boxes on Christmas morning, that require screwdrivers and hacksaws to open.

Hubs and I silently waited until the boy came home from work at 9:30 that night.  What could we do?  Alert him to the fact that we had been burglarized and the only thing destroyed was his room???

So… that was VBS and PPW.

And that’s going to do it for tonight, y’all.  In case you didn’t read between the lines, I’m a touch… OH!  How do you say this in English?!… EXHAUSTED tonight.

Y’all have a good weekend.  May your sleep be good and your coffee be better.

The Unexpected Blog Break Is Now Finished

I know that I have apparently been AWOL from my office here at Jedi Mama, Incorporated, but… you know… LIFE.

And a lot of that life right now involves the fact that we have transitioned Thing 2 from being rocked to sleep, to just crawling into his brand-spanking-new bed and going to sleep on his own.  I mean, we felt like it was time, seeing as how he’s practically old enough to drive and all.  The thing is, that second son of ours has just been a downright ROTTEN and also QUITE HORRIBLE sleeper, but he always went to sleep so easily when he was rocked.  And OH, MY WORD!  How many mothers in their right minds would say, “You know… I really regret the years I spent rocking my child to sleep.”

That’s right.

None.

So that baby and I rocked… and we rocked and rocked, and then he became a toddler, and we kept on with the rocking, and then the preschool years struck, and… well... we were still rocking him to sleep, but here we are, on the brink of kindergarten, so it was time.

(Was that one giant run-on sentence up there?   I’m sure a retired English professor just read that and slid right out of her rocking chair, with THE STROKE and all, because she couldn’t hack it apart with a red pen.)

Anyway.

My evenings have suddenly become downright EASY, because we brush those pearly white teeth and we put on some pajamas, and then we read a story or sixteen (depending on how many times Thing 2 bats his eyelashes at me and says the words PRETTY PLEASE), and then I just close the door and walk out of his bedroom, and boom!

I.  Am.  Free.

The real truth is that YES, I do already miss rocking my last baby to sleep every single night, BECAUSE LOOK AT THE END OF THIS ROCKING ERA; IT IS OVER, and rubbing the top of his head while we snuggled, but then the selfish, worldly part of me shuts his bedroom door and yells, “I HAVE THE ENTIRE EVENING AHEAD OF ME YET!”

And my entire evenings now last about thirty-three minutes before I go to bed, as opposed to the eleven entire minutes I had wide open for free time after our rocking chair gigs were up.

All that to say… I HAVE BEEN QUITE STINGY WITH MY FREE EVENING TIME.  HUBS AND I HAVE BEEN BINGE-WATCHING PARKS AND RECREATION, INSTEAD OF ME GOING INTO THE OFFICE AND WRITING A BLOG POST.

I do apologize and all.

And also?

Well… today is Day 30 of my second Whole30.

I have already bought a carton of fresh half and half for tomorrow morning’s coffee, and… basically… I can hardly wait to wake up already!  I love the Whole30.  I love the way I feel on it, but I have not learned to enjoy coffee without real cream and sugar at all.  So, hands down, I’m having a cup of COFFEE AND CREAM… AND CREAM AND CREAM AND ALSO MORE CREAM… AND A SPRINKLING OF SUGAR tomorrow.

And that’s about it for tonight, y’all.  Hubs has engaged Thing 2 in a full-out Nerf gun war at the moment, which involves the two of them sliding on their backs across the hardwood floors, to dodge a spray of foam bullets, exactly like Jason Bourne would do, as they hide around door frames and crawl behind sofas.  Thing 2 just crawled over my kitchen island and RAN across the counter top, before he launched himself through the air, stuck the landing CLEAR IN THE LIVING ROOM, BECAUSE HE HAD JUMPED OVER THE ENTIRE KITCHEN, and then streaked out, to avoid getting himself shot with one of Hubs’ well-aimed darts.

We take the gunfights seriously around here.

It is time for me to go referee this battle, before it really gets out of hand.

Y’all have a merry Wednesday evening.

 

Seventeen-Point-Oh!

On Tuesday, the boy celebrated another birthday.  I was a little emotional, because the boy turned seventeen.

And seventeen?

Well, the truth of the matter is that seventeen is only three hundred and sixty-five days away from LEGALIZED ADULTHOOD.  Legalized adulthood is the thing that clamps down on my heart and squeezes… like a gorilla hanging onto a banana.  I have no idea how we managed to get so far along the age spectrum with that big boy of ours, because I swear he was just toddling around in footie pajamas, with a binky hanging out of his mouth, nine minutes ago.

Nine.  Minutes.  Ago.

But… here we are… at seventeen.

The boy has always been one of those good eggs, who throws joy to those around him, wherever he goes.  He is happy and confident; he is polite and social.  His heart overflows with kindness and generosity and love for his family and friends.  He has always been such a good kid, and this summer has shown us exactly what he’s made of, as he’s tackled the working world full-on.  That boy has been working fifty hours a week, all summer long, and he does it cheerfully, with enthusiasm.  Whenever we pop out to the golf course, countless adults will stop me or Hubs, to tell us how much they enjoy having the boy behind the counter at the clubhouse.  They always let us know what a fine young man he is.  A little pack of white-haired great-grandmothers, who still golf, bring him homemade cookies and pat his hand and tell him what a treasure he is.

Little do they know that he sometimes doesn’t mow the yard when he’s supposed to, and he has a tendency to kick his dirty clothes under his bed, where they rot before I find them.

The boy embodies all that is good.

He has also shown his monthly budget to his parents, in which he puts 50% of his paychecks into his savings account, 20% into his wallet for FUN MONEY, and then uses the rest to make his car payment and buy gas.  In other words, Hubs and I fear that we are probably not his real parents, because where on earth did THAT rung come from on his DNA ladder?  When Hubs and I find an extra five dollar bill in a coat pocket, we wave it enthusiastically and shout, “Who wants to go to Starbucks?!”  Hubs and I have no fear that the boy will one day be wealthy enough to see to it that we have the best nursing home money can buy.  It’ll be a place that serves fresh, organic green peas, locally raised and harvested, instead of the canned variety.  However, with him being a BOY and all, I do worry that he’ll never think to tell the nursing assistants at the home that they should remember to DILIGENTLY pluck the wiry chin hairs that seem to sprout over night on me.  Even though I will be eating the good peas, in my dementia, I may also have a full beard that I’m not even aware of.

A daughter would think of these things, but my fear is that a son will not.

Anyway.

We rang that boy’s seventeenth birthday in loudly, with cheering and enthusiasm, and I don’t think he had any real idea how tender his mama’s heart was, as she realized exactly how close he is to being a real, live MAN.  He opened presents (GOLF CLUBS!  IMAGINE THAT!  AND POLO SHIRTS FOR GOLFING!  ANOTHER BIG SURPRISE!), and then Hubs and I sent him off with a couple of his best friends to play a round of golf.  They put in nine quick holes, and then they ordered steaks and fancy pastas and burgers at the clubhouse for lunch together.

And then that kid went to golf practice for Small Town High School, because apparently there is never any such thing as TOO MUCH GOLFING IN ONE DAY.

His mama managed to steal him away for some quick seventeen-year-old pictures and a birthday frappuccino (CARAMEL!  EXTRA CARAMEL!  IT’S HIS BIRTHDAY!), before we picked his little brother up from an evening spent at VBS.  We came home, and there were his friends at our back door, bearing a homemade ice cream cake that I couldn’t have.

The Whole30 is going to kill me dead in deprivation.

We sat around that ice cream cake, sang a rousing rendition of HAPPY BIRTHDAY to him, and laughed our heads off with teenagers.  We laughed so hard, I ended up needing to dab my eyes and hold my side.

Teenagers are wonderful people.

And OUR teenager is one of the most wonderful ones I’ve ever met.  We thank Jesus all the time for believing in us… for believing that WE were exactly the right parents for this kid.

And the answer is yes.  These snapshots really DO… SORT OF… IF YOU TILT YOUR HEAD JUST RIGHT… look like SENIOR PICTURES, but I will wash your mouths out with soap for even suggesting that.

THESE ARE JUNIOR, JUNIOR, JUNIOR PICTURES!!  They’re just pictures of a seventeen year old boy, who is about to begin his JUNIOR YEAR of high school in a couple of weeks.  (Also?  The evening light was GORGEOUS AND FANTASTIC.  A real photographer could’ve captured it in her pictures, but I am not a real photographer; I ruined the gorgeous light completely.  Blesses.)

I still have an entire year before I have to blow the top of my head off with anxiety about THIS IS MY BABY’S SENIOR YEAR OF HIGH SCHOOL.  I’m going to relish this junior year with a whole lot of love and enthusiasm and joy.

And maybe with a few stern words about MOW THAT YARD ON THE DAYS YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO MOW THAT YARD, AND DADGUM IT!!  PULL ALL THOSE DIRTY SHIRTS OUT FROM BENEATH YOUR BED SO THAT THEY CAN BE WASHED AND QUIT ROTTING AND STINKING UP OUR HOME!!

Just Catching Up With Y’all

I feel like I’m basically one of the cool kids tonight, who brought my varsity game to the kitchen.  We have had a BUSY day of running here and there and everywhere, and our church’s week of Vacation Bible School starts tonight.  I’m working the registration table, because our church apparently isn’t concerned with what kind of person they stick at the welcome desk.  She will be the first person these incoming children see tonight, and she is me.

I have to be at my welcoming station by 5:15 this evening, with a pen in my hand and a smile on my face, and my first thought was, “How will dinner work?”

Apparently, I am worried about priorities, as I should be.

It’s because when you’re floating the boat of a Whole30, you sometimes encounter icebergs that you have to steer around.  Those icebergs go by the name of SOMETHING BIG IS HAPPENING TONIGHT AT THE DINNER HOUR, SO DON’T THINK YOU CAN JUST GRAB A TACO ROLLED UP IN A PAPER WRAPPER FROM THE LOCAL FAST FOOD JOINT, BECAUSE YOU… CANNOT… EAT… IT.  When you’re floating on the Whole30, you must be prepared with a dinner plan, or you’ll be stuck with an apple and the idea that eating the kids’ S’mores at VBS (and not telling anyone) isn’t really THAT BIG OF A SIN.

But tonight, the varsity player inside of me was warmed up, stretched out, and ready to shoot balls from the half-court line.  I put dinner in the oven at 4:00, exactly like I’m eighty-seven years old and concerned that I might miss The Wheel of Fortune.

In other words, WINNER, WINNER… CHICKEN DINNER.

In other news, our weekend is over, as they tend to be on Mondays.

On Saturday, the little private Catholic school where I teach put on a golf tournament to raise money for school programs.  Tournament players not only got to play eighteen holes of golf, they also got to play poker.  Teachers manned the tee boxes at each hole and dealt cards, exactly like we were running a finely-tuned, well-oiled Vegas casino.  Draws were made at each hole, cards were recorded, and the aces ended up winning at the clubhouse when it was all over.

This would have made for a very fine Saturday, except IT POURED RAIN at the golf course.  AND THEN THE WIND BLEW.  And then the temperature never managed to get above a soggy sixty-one degrees.  Because we’ve been living on the edge of the sun’s equator all summer and tanning up like bacon in an oven, I showed up at the tournament in a T-shirt.  It took me exactly twelve minutes to realize that I was under-dressed and miserable, and the hair that I had curled at 6 AM for the 7 AM tournament was soaked clear through.

All the heartfelt blesses.

But this is Small Town, where the rain doesn’t frighten us, so the tournament was a go.  Our second grade teacher and I hunkered down at the twelfth hole, dealing cards like a couple of sharks, while we wiped rain out of our faces.  It was very glamorous.  Eventually, tournament players took pity on us, and they left us with oversized sweatshirts.  We offered to trade four aces for a space heater, but this was a Catholic school tournament, where cheating would tarnish our souls.  Eventually, my hands were so cold, I couldn’t even shuffle the cards any longer, and we resorted to spreading them out on the folding table in front of golfers, and swirling them around with our bare hands.

And that’s pretty much how I spent my entire Saturday.  I’ve never been so happy to see a clubhouse at a golf course before in my entire life, as we made it back there by 2:00.  The giant barbecue was on, burgers were being flipped, and there was HOT COFFEE INSIDE.

I didn’t even mind that I had to drink it straight-up black, because DANG YOU, WHOLE30!  We milled around, inside the clubhouse, talking to parents and tournament players and other teachers for a solid hour, as we thawed out and everyone spent money on hot beverages and golf course sweatshirts.

On Sunday, we went to church, and then we came home to paint a bed.

Yes.

We came home from church…

… to paint a bed.

Thing 2 started climbing out of his crib at the tender age of fifteen months.  He was an early-climbing monkey, who wouldn’t stay put for anything.  He would climb to the top of the railing on the side of his crib, perch there like a vulture surveying the dinner options below him, and then he would JUMP.

He did this over and over, for the better part of three days, before I realized that my baby was QUITE SERIOUS about the jumping.  Hubs and I figured that we had probably better seek a bed alternative, due to the fact that we were going to have a baby with a broken collarbone, while DFS breathed heavily down our necks.

Into the toddler bed he went.  It’s a tall ten inches off the ground, so the escape jump was downsized drastically.

Thing 2 has been a rotten sleeper for most of his life, but… over the course of the past year… he has started sleeping better than ever.  NOT FANTASTIC.  I didn’t say that he was sleeping FANTASTIC.  I said he was sleeping BETTER.  But SLEEPING BETTER translates into FANTASTIC for us, because our little boy has slept horridly since the day he was born.  When he started sleeping better, I became terrified of moving him out of his toddler bed, into a bigger bed.

I thought it would be exactly like poking a sleeping bear during hibernation.

I figured that all the sleeping would cease to exist again.

So… we left Thing 2 in that toddler bed.  And now he’s five, and he’s basically one inch away from being longer than the bed actually is.  He sleeps in a ball, on that little crib mattress, and we can’t fight it any longer.

Thing 2 needs a new bed.

So Hubs pulled out his saw and his drill, and he built him one.

And now I’m painting it.  Painting with an energetic five-year-old in the house who JUST WANTS TO HELP, is a very rewarding part of parenting.  So… you know… it didn’t go well yesterday, and we ended up with paint on things we didn’t actually want paint on.

Clearly, I will be painting at night now, like I’m a college girl studying for finals until the wee hours, while my baby sleeps in the fetal position in his tiny, TINY bed.

And… to wrap things up… let me just tell you about our trip to the grocery store this weekend.

We passed a college-aged guy, with an entire sleeve of tattoos.  They covered one of his arms, from his wrist to his shoulder.  While he was picking out a box of cat litter right next to us, Thing 2 leaned out of the cart and said, “Hey!  I really like those coloring book pictures all over your arm!”

And then, as we were pushing our heaped-to-the-sky cart out the doors, a lovely elderly woman was coming in.  Thing 2 looked at her and hollered from our cart, “Hey!  E-X-I-T spells OUT!  You’re coming in the OUT DOOR!  Go back, Lady!  Go back and come in the right door!”

He brings joy and enthusiasm and utter embarrassment to the grocery store, every single time we go.

Y’all have a good Monday evening!

 

Playground Time

I know that Jesus never appreciates a bragger, but let me just throw this out there:

ALL OF MY LAUNDRY IS DONE.

All of it.  At the same time.  Our hampers for dirty clothes hold nothing but echos.  Basically, I feel like the very best version of myself, after this accomplishment today.

And the other thing?

Well, PRACTICE or not, this little two-week session of kindergarten fun from 8:00 AM to noon is wearing my little boy PLUM DADGUM, ALL-THE-WAY OUT.  Add swimming lessons to it and grocery-fetching and summer movie matinees, along with a little park play sprinkled on the top for seasoning, and we have basically had all the ingredients for a perfect meltdown storm each night.

On Monday evening, Thing 2 noticed that I had broiled tomatoes along with some chicken and sausages and asparagus, and he had to throw himself to the floor, where he cried ENORMOUS, EXHAUSTED TEARS and proclaimed his utter dislike of ALL THINGS TOMATO for nearly ten minutes.  Never you mind that I had already prepared HIS dinner plate, which was already sitting at his spot at the dining room table, completely devoid of roasted tomatoes.

Last night, he laid on our bedroom floor, sobbing out his utter hatred for Legos, even though he really loves Legos, every bit as much as he loves pink suckers.  In between his howling sobs, I finally got him to tell me that he couldn’t find “the long gray piece that goes on the back of my Lego car.”  It was lost.  Life as Thing 2 knew it was over, because the car would not be complete without that long gray piece, acting as a spoiler.

That long gray piece was in Thing 2’s hand.  It had been in his right hand the entire time.  He was clutching it with a death grip and wailing about how he couldn’t find it.  Ultimately, this makes me feel better about the state of my own elderly brain, when I spent ten minutes searching for my sunglasses, which were perched on top of my head.

There just ain’t no tired like the first few weeks of Kindergarten tired.

But… last weekend… before we started wearing our little boy out by sending him to a practice session of kindergarten, where he would learn all the joys of recess… we met a little friend of his from church at the park.

Twice.

It has absolutely everything to do with the fact that five-year-old Evie is THE ONLY CHILD we have ever come across who sleeps worse than Thing 2 does.  Having the worst sleeper in the entire history of the world is not a contest that any mama wants to win, but here we are:  Evie’s mother has taken home the gold-plated, Grand Champion trophy, and Hubs and I are standing there, clutching the silver tower of second place.

Please pray for our families, as the Spirit leads you.  Small children who are rotten sleepers were never on our lists of goals, when it came to parenting.

So… treating our children to some time to play together at the park last weekend was scheduled, and neither of them realized that the mission really had a secret title:  OPERATION WEAR THEM OUT, UNTIL THEY CAN NO LONGER FORM COHERENT SENTENCES, SO THEY’LL SLEEP PAST 4:30 IN THE MORNING.

I’m happy to report…

… that the missions were pure successes.

Our first playground adventure of the weekend involved a lot of monkey bar work.  I clapped like a happy lunatic for Thing 2, as he worked his way back and forth between the bars, over and over.  He has mastered the monkey bars and his palms bear the blisters to prove it.  He also enjoys an audience while he practices his American Ninja Warrior skills that is willing to offer up the loud applause.  His only regret is that there’s no gas-powered cannon to shoot T-shirts out of, when he reaches the last bar, like the high school football players get to celebrate touchdowns with.

He also did a little zip-lining.

This playground attraction is brilliant, because it is PURE FUN.  And after a small boy rides the zip-line…

… he must grab it… and pull it clear back to the starting platform.

This means that if he’d like to ride it one thousand times (And believe me!  Thing 2 wishes to ride it exactly that much!), then he must haul it back that amount of times, too.

Evie showed up at the park and wanted to skip the zip-line entirely.  Thing 2 didn’t understand her zip-line avoidance at all, because IT’S A ZIP-LINE, EVIE!  IT’S BASICALLY LIKE THE CARNIVAL!  And then we suspect that Evie whispered into Thing 2’s ear, “It’s also exhausting, because you have to pull that rope back so many times.  Do you WANT to wear yourself out and fall asleep easily tonight?”

And that’s when Thing 2 decided he was going to go on strike against his favorite piece of playground equipment in the history of the world, too.

They both decided to pile into THE SPINNING THING.

What is this piece even called?  No one knows, so we all call it THE SPINNING THING, because it spins.  Clearly, we are all destined to be Nobel Prize winners, with our shocking levels of intelligence.

I’m pretty sure that at one point Evie yelled, “Thing 2!  Get INSIDE the spinning thing!  You’re making me nervous with how you keep hanging off of it!  Don’t you see that it’s almost like the merry-go-rounds from the 1970s, that safety panels all across America have had taken OUT of parks?  You’re going to kill yourself dead!”

We heard Thing 2 holler back, “Your concern over my safety touches my heart, Evie!  But listen!  The West wasn’t won by boys who stayed inside the wagons!  It’s more fun hanging off the side while we spin at the speed of light.  Plus, I kind of enjoy that look on my mom’s face, where she’s trying to decide whether her heart is stopping from fright or whether she’ll survive my childhood!”

Eventually, Evie decided that she might actually throw up, if she stayed on the spinning thing any longer, while Thing 2 propelled it faster than a NASCAR on a straight-of-way.  She had to get off and let her equilibrium settle a touch.

Those two kids gave the playground everything they had.

They played for three entire hours, until they were filthy and covered in sweat and dirt.  Their shoes were filled with bark chips, while their hearts were filled with joy.

They both slept like normal children that night, so the mamas decided to shoot for Park Time, Round Two, in a secret hope of repeating the good night’s rest for everyone involved.

Bikes were brought to the playground the next day, and those two rapscallions each rode eighty-four miles, around and around the sidewalks, until Thing 2 lost his biking privileges for riding into the parking lot, unattended, one too many times.

His arguments of BUT, MA!  THE WEST WASN’T WON BY BOYS WHO CIRCLED THE SIDEWALKS THE WHOLE TIME fell on his mother’s deaf ears, and the bike was parked.

Hanging off the spinning thing is one thing… but bicycling like a rock fired from a slingshot, into a parking lot where REAL CARS TEND TO DRIVE, is another thing completely.

Don’t worry.

He recovered from the consequence of losing his bike for a while.  He went back to the zip-line and rode it until his biceps burned with all the strength it took to pull that heavy rope and seat back to the launching platform.

And then we went home.

And then the children slept all night long.

And that’s how we chalked last weekend up as a total Parenting Victory.  It felt almost as good as my Laundry Victory feels today, and ALL THE SLEEPING is continuing, because PRACTICE KINDERGARTEN IS TOUGHER THAN THREE HOURS AT THE PARK!

Bless!

 

Have I Mentioned That It’s Been Hot?

It’s approximately four hundred and three degrees outside right now.  Apparently, the sun is on a mission to vaporize rock on the earth, and it doesn’t care about human casualties, melting in the process.  I know that in another five months, I’m going to be griping about ALL THE SNOW and ALL THE FROSTBITE, so I should hush myself now, but I just can’t help it.

It’s hot, and I’m pretty much to the point of LET’S NOT DO ANY EVENT THAT REQUIRES MORE NATURE EXPOSURE THAN YOU’D GET, RUNNING FROM THE AIR-CONDITIONED HOUSE TO THE AIR-CONDITIONED CAR AND THEN TO THE AIR-CONDITIONED PLACE YOU WANT TO GO.

This morning, I had Hubs do the Practice Kindergarten drop-off.  I felt that if Thing 2 is practicing recess and practicing lining up and practicing not shoving on the playground, then Hubs should really practice taking him there, which gives me more time to drink coffee in the morning.  Not that drinking coffee any more even really matters, because the Whole30 has sucked the joys of coffee right out of my life, like a five-year-old, getting the last bits of milkshake with a straw.  If you can’t have cream, there’s really not a point in having coffee.

Since Hubs did the drop-off this morning on his way to work, I took a look at my calendar and realized that I had nowhere to go today, until swimming lessons at 4:00.  Since those are indoors, where the humidity is 4,000%, I decided that I had NO REAL REASON TO DO MY HAIR.  So… I air-dried my mane.  It turned out a little on the THIS IS NOT VERY STELLAR OR RUNWAY WORTHY side, so I French braided the whole mess, to be done with it.  Please don’t assume that I can actually manipulate my fingers in a manner that twists hair into lovely French braids, because I CAN… NOT.  It’s why the good Lord gave me boys.  He knew that the ability to do good hair is simply not my gig, so he gave me little people with very short hair to raise.

My French braid turned out to look exactly like I had been inside a building that the demolition crew had decided to tear down… with dynamite.  After looking in the mirror this morning, I decided that the only thing missing was some Sheetrock dust all over it, to complete the look of I HUNKERED DOWN IN THE ROOT CELLAR WHEN THE BLAST HAPPENED, AND THEN CRAWLED THROUGH THE DEBRIS TO FIND THE NEAREST TACO STAND.

No matter.

I wasn’t going anywhere.

I made beds, started a load of laundry, emptied clean dishes out of the dishwasher and loaded dirty ones in, and swept the kitchen floor.

And then my mom called, to ask if I wanted to go shopping with her in the city, for some new shirts and shoes.

And then my cousin called, to say she was driving through Small Town, USA.  She asked if I wanted to meet her and her children at a park to play for a bit, before she loaded them back into her mini van to continue their journey home to Rival Town.

So yes.  I took my I SURVIVED THE EXPLOSION hairdo, and I went out into the public today.  It was every bit as glamorous as you’d imagine.

My cousin has four children.  She has three of the most adorable redheaded boys y’all have ever seen, and then her daughter has a luxurious mane of blonde hair.

Anyway.

The two older kids are at different camps this week, so my cousin just had the two wee ones with her at the park.  Thing 2 gave them a good run… through the grass, down the slide, jump over the swings, climb this pole, jump off this piece of playground equipment, and THERE!  You should be ready for a nap in the car, for the last leg of your journey home!  While all of that was happening, my cousin and I sat on a bench in the shade, where we tried to pretend that the mercury wasn’t sitting at 96 in the thermometers.  We talked and talked AND TALKED SOME MORE.

That girl is a treasure!

My great aunt was my cousin’s grandmother.

Did you keep up with that?  Basically, her dad and my dad are first cousins.  I’m not very good at all the branches on a family tree, so I’m not sure how many TWICE REMOVEDS have to be said before you get to OUR relationship… so I simply say she’s my cousin.

And she is.

We called my great aunt (who was my cousin’s grandma) “Auntie B” for our entire lives, and she was a dear woman, with a strong, STRONG sense of family.  She wore bright red lipstick, she worked like a horse, her house was immaculate at all times, she never had a weed in her yard, she always, ALWAYS had a pint of ice cream in her 1960 Montgomery Ward’s deep freeze, in case anyone stopped by for a visit, and she made it her life’s mission to gather the family once a year for a family reunion, where she snapped group pictures of everyone.  Those pictures went into albums, where she would handwrite everyone’s names and the dates.

Auntie B passed away this past spring, and we all miss her horribly, but I feel like my cousin and I honored her fully today, as we scrunched our littlest people together, for a quick group snapshot.

And by quick snapshot, I mean that I took exactly seventeen pictures with my camera, and these are the only two where AT LEAST TWO OUT OF THREE CHILDREN ARE LOOKING AT THE CAMERA… AT THE SAME TIME.

And that pretty much sums up why I don’t make a living as a photographer.

We didn’t get to play very long with our favorite little redheads, before we had to rush out and get Thing 2 to swimming lessons.

The humidity on the side of that indoor pool was exactly the 4,000% that I had predicted.  I dripped the kind of sweat that’s usually reserved for crossing the Sahara Desert at high noon, and began seeing mirages of roadside stands selling iced coffee… with cream and cream and cream and also cream.

Doggone-it, Whole30!  Your dietary restrictions make me hate hot AND cold coffee!

Y’all have a good Tuesday evening.  May your air conditioners be working this evening, and may your diets allow you to have ice cream cones for dinner.

Dress Rehearsals And Birdies

Apparently, Small Town now has a little program that is basically an introduction to kindergarten.  PRACTICE kindergarten, if you will.  It’s kind of the dress rehearsal for the real deal, which will start at the end of next month.  Kids can sign up and pile into their kindergarten classroom for two weeks of fun and games and stories and ABCs, while their mothers leave them behind, with tears streaming down their faces, as they think to themselves, “And this is just the PRACTICE for the MORE REAL TEARS, which will come again in 29 days.”

That about sums it up.

Hubs and I decided to put Thing 2 in the dress rehearsal, because if there’s one thing that small boy of ours can use, it’s practicing how we behave at school.  We took him to the school this morning at 8:00, and we watched as his teacher showed the small batch of kids how to check into their classroom, by moving their name from the I’M AT HOME board to the I’M AT SCHOOL board.  Thing 2 slapped his name card from one magnetic board to the other and asked, “When do we go outside to play?”

He seldom wastes time getting to the real feelings in his heart.

(He decided to throw back a glass of drinkable, packed-with-probiotics yogurt exactly like he was at a frat party, slugging shots back, approximately three minutes before we had to leave this morning.  That’s why his shirt bears the scrubbing administrations of his mother.)

(Bless.)

(And bless again, because I need it.)

When I picked the little rascal up at noon, his teacher explained, “Well…

I had no idea raising the boy how parents felt when a teacher looked at them and said, “Well…”  The “well” that trails off at the end, so that you know more is coming, and maybe you’d better just hold up your hand, and ask the teacher to press PAUSE for thirty seconds, while you pull a plastic wine glass and stainless steel flask full of Chardonnay out of your purse.

You should always be fortified with aged grapes for any conversation that starts with “Well…”  I never knew this when the boy was little, because teachers never had to approach me with the look that said, “Are you packing wine?  You might want a little about now.

Thing 2’s teacher let us know that they had suffered through a space of time this morning where Thing 2 didn’t want to follow directions or listen.  I wanted to pour a glass of wine for her from my purse, pull her down on the bench outside the school beside me and say, “You don’t say?  He didn’t want to follow directions?  I can’t imagine that MY SECOND CHILD displayed that behavior.”

Instead, I swallowed my pride down, and said, “OH, SWEET HOLY  MOTHER OF IRONMAN!  THIS IS ONLY THE FIRST DAY!!!”  And then I asked if the school nurse kept little Valium tablets in a bottle next to the band-aides and cotton balls, because WHAT IS DAY FIFTY-FOUR OF REAL KINDERGARTEN GOING TO LOOK LIKE?  And also, WILL WE EVEN MAKE IT TO DAY FIFTY-FOUR OF REAL KINDERGARTEN, WITHOUT MAMA NEEDING THE SMELLING SALTS AND A MEMBERSHIP TO A HOT YOGA CLUB?

His teacher hurriedly went on to explain that she had SOLVED the problem by whipping out the behavior chart, lined with clothespins.  The chart was broken into different colored sections, and as the kids demonstrated remarkable behavior, worthy of being knighted with a sword touched to each shoulder by the Queen herself, they moved their clips up.  And for those rapscallions who chose to ignore the LET’S PICK UP THE CRAYONS NOW suggestion completely, their clips could migrate in a SOUTHERN DIRECTION, toward Hell itself.

Thing 2’s teacher today said, “I let the other kids all move their clips up a space for following directions so well, and explained that I had prizes for getting their clips to go upward, and that turned our entire morning around.”

Clearly, this wasn’t her first rodeo in the classroom.  She’s one in-tune, fully-present, I’VE-DONE-THIS-BEFORE-WITH-WORSE-KIDS-AND-WE-HAVE-ALL-LIVED kind of wonderful teacher.

Apparently, Mr. Competitive wasn’t going to be left out of a competition where prizes could be earned.

She told us later that he had gone to the bathroom, and he came out to announce to the entire class, “Well, I peed standing up in there, and I got it all straight into the water like a big boy, without any of it getting on the floor, even though my dad sometimes gets pee on the floor.”

Thing 2’s teacher, who used to be our next door neighbor, said, “I laughed so hard, I cried.  I couldn’t breathe, with all the laughing!  All I could envision was your bathroom floors needing a good mopping, because Hubs can’t aim well.”

People!  Listen!  Of the three members of the male tribe living here, HUBS is the one I have the LEAST amount of problems with, when it comes to aiming for the big bowl of water.

Thing 2 got to move his clip up for doing such an outstanding job in the bathroom.

And he earned a prize today.

He came home at noon to report, “I liked recess the best, but we’re not supposed to push and shove out there, or we have to move that wooden clip down to the spots that don’t earn any prizes.  And we got to see the library today, but we’re not allowed to read any books in there, because all the books are just for decoration in that place.”

And that’s how our dress rehearsal for kindergarten panned out today!

Meanwhile…

… since Thing 2 was occupied PRACTICING real kindergarten all morning, and since the boy FINALLY had a moment where he wasn’t working or golfing with friends, I asked if he’d like to hang out with his mama.

I was thinking COFFEE SHOP and SWEET CONVERSATIONS WITH MY FIRSTBORN, WHO WOULD HAVE EARNED A PRIZE FOR FOLLOWING DIRECTIONS AT THE AGE OF FIVE AND NOT FOR CLEAN PEEING.  And that’s when the boy said, “Sure!  Wanna watch me golf?!”

Of course I did.  We loaded up, and I rode along in the golf cart with that handsome teenager, while he smacked a ball around and told me that he wished summer vacation could go on forever, and that he wouldn’t have to go back to a life of homework and waking up before 7 AM.

This is how a boy looks when he pulls off one of the best shots of his life and sinks a golf ball quickly, as he shouts out, “Birdie, baby!!  BIRDIE!!!”

The boy and I talked and laughed and had a fantastic morning together.

I always say that I miss the boy as a LITTLE BOY, but having a teenager is really the bomb.  He’s funny!  He’s funny and he’s charming and I absolutely LOVED watching numerous men and women at the golf course call him by name, pat him on the shoulder, and make remarks about what a wonderful kid he is.

He is!

That big boy of ours IS a wonderful kid.

And the honest truth is that his little brother is a wonderful kid, too.  He’s every bit as sweet and fantastic, and their mama loves them both, with every fiber inside her heart.

Plus, Thing 2 is a prize-winning, Peeing Champion now.  We have a Peeing Champion AND a Birdie Champion in the family tonight.

Y’all have a good Monday.

Pond Swimming

I don’t know what it is that makes me feel like I have this “being an adult” gig completely under control when I have dinner simmering away in the crockpot, but man!  I’m telling you!  Not even Wonder Woman herself could have held a candle to my competence yesterday.  I had a roast, with potatoes and carrots and onions, all done up with Whole30 spices and fragrances and COMPLIANCE, in the crockpot yesterday, and nothing could stop me.  I was a whirlwind of activity, as I made beds and plowed through the laundry like a mom, who’s eating a bag of Hershey’s miniature candy bars in her bedroom closet, before the kids find her and want their cut of the Special Darks.  I was thriving yesterday on GETTING IT DONE.  The kitchen sparkled, the throw pillows were, for once, in their places, because I put them there three hundred and nine times, after boys had flopped onto the sofa and thrown those pillows straight to the floor.  Bathrooms were clean, bookcases were straightened, because LOOK AT ME, WITH DINNER ALREADY COOKING!  I took Thing 2 to the summer movie matinee, which was Lego Batman.  Every kid in our town invited every cousin they have, who lives out of town, to attend.  The theater was bursting at the seams with kids, my own child was standing in his seat, begging for a real pop (because last week, I bought him A WATER, which apparently traumatized his childhood enough that he’ll need counseling as an adult), and the movie BROKE in the first thirty seconds.  A nice teenage boy, who is employed by the theater, clearly got the short straw, or lost with a paper to someone else’s scissors, because he had to come into the doorway of that circus of an auditorium, to bellow over the monkeys with cymbals and cowbells and popcorn, “The movie will be up and running in five to ten minutes, but we will offer a refund to anyone who would like it!”

And then he took his leave, after a flying strawberry Twizzler hit him in the cheek.

I simply sat in my folding theater seat with a grin on my face, because NO PROBLEM!  I’VE ALREADY GOT DINNER COVERED!

And then there was today.

I basically had zero game plan for dinner until it was dinner time, which is no way to live when you’re on the Whole30.  Life on the Whole30 is all about being prepared and organized and UTTERLY READY to throw a meal down with no notice, because otherwise, you may resort to slathering peanut butter on white bread in the privacy of your own pantry, to ward off the munchies.

On days like that, beds don’t even get made, because listen:  How can I focus on pulling up a quilt and fluffing all the pillows, when I DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M COOKING FOR DINNER IN EIGHT MORE HOURS?!

That’s right.  I can’t focus, which is why the Jedi Manor ran itself like a frat party thrown by half-baked chimpanzees with party horns today.  Every Matchbox car we own has been on the floor all day long, right beside the living room’s throw pillows.

Anyway.

Back on Monday night, I had my act together, too.  I had thrown together a Whole30-compliant potato salad, that was held together with fake mayonnaise and hopes and dreams.  It was delicious.  We loaded that up into my giant, CARRY ALL THE THINGS, canvas tote bag, with pistachios and Rx Bars and fruit, and we met our friends at their pond, for a Whole30 picnic.  Deb brought compliant, sliced sausages and cashews and paper plates, and juice boxes for small boys, who turn their noses up at a Whole30.  We threw everything together and had a perfectly lovely picnic, as long as no one mentioned the fact that THERE IS NO WINE HERE, BECAUSE WHOLE30 WON’T LET YOU HAVE IT.

There were also no cookies, no chocolate cake and no gourmet cheese from a little shop in France to spread on crackers, because sometimes the Whole30 just wants to ruin your picnicking life, until there’s no heartbeat.

Deb brought her big, college boys.  Hubs and I brought our slightly younger boys.  And then the big boys (and one perfectly lovely, perfectly sweet girlfriend) all entertained the five-year-old, while the grownups pretended that our water bottles were full of Chardonnay, while we threw our heads back and laughed and told stories and laughed some more.

A pond picnic was exactly what we needed this week, as it restored our souls and pumped our hearts a little wider with the love of good friends.

Thing 2 was in the water before the lid was even popped off the enormous bowl of potato salad.

The good-looking lifeguards were vigilant and attentive.  They taught Thing 2 to “swim like a puppy” and never complained about chasing an orange Frisbee that was WILDLY THROWN across the pond by a five-year-old arm.

It didn’t take long for Thing 2 to assume the role of leadership in the situation, as he began showing the big kids how to dive.

He has been in swimming lessons all summer, and he has perfected his diving skills.  He is, in fact, ready for the Olympics in diving… if you ask him.

That spunky little boy as perfected the spin dive…

… AND the almighty belly flop.

I think he did sixteen thousand, nine hundred and four variations of those two dives on Monday night.  Of course, we kept cheering him on, because he’s the cutest Olympian diver we’ve ever seen…

… and also because swimming back to the dock tends to WEAR A CHILD OUT.

It’s a well-known fact that worn-out children are also children WHO SLEEP.

Amen.

Eventually, the lure of the creek couldn’t be ignored, as every boy wants to explore creek beds to see if pirates have been through, dropping gold coins or swords by accident.

Thing 2 recruited his oldest college buddy to hike the creek with him  It was exactly like A River Runs Through It, but with more action, more running in the water, more haphazardly-thrown Frisbees and zero fly fishing.

They didn’t find any gold doubloons in the creek, so Thing 2 went back to his job as a diving coach.

He had T up on the dock, practicing his form, as Thing 2 shouted, “No, no, NO!  Put your hands ABOVE your head, T!  Put them above your head, clap your hands together, and then just dive in!

I’m happy to report that T finally mastered his teacher’s bossy dive instructions, so Thing 2 signed all the forms to pass T to the next level.

After two entire hours of swimming, diving and searching for treasure that may have fallen off a pirate ship pushing its way through a tiny creek bed, the sun ended up setting.  This disappointed Thing 2 greatly, because it meant that POND SWIMMING WAS ENDING and that BEDTIME WAS UPON HIM.

The utter sadness of a small boy, who has been pushed out of a beloved pond by the sunset and the promise of bed cannot be matched.

Hubs and I brought our boys home.  The little one got a shower and brushed his teeth, and then he slept, from 9:15 that evening…

until 7:40 Tuesday morning.

In other words, Deb and her boys will be escorting us pond swimming every single night now, until that pond freezes over, because we had a TOTAL SLEEP VICTORY!

All the blesses.

Y’all have a good weekend.

 

4:28 AM. It’s Like Being In Boot Camp.

Because some days, Thing 2 gets out of bed at 4:28 AM.

And that’s the same day you’ve promised to take him to the summer movie matinee at the theater in your hometown, where there will be 78.3 million children, standing up in their seats, hollering for “more popcorn… and a REAL POP this time, and not a cup of water like last week!”

Wait.

That might have just been one kid this afternoon.

I have no idea who his mother is, but I hope she bought him a 7-Up this time around.

Wait.

She did.

I actually know her.

She was doing a pretty good job at parenting, even though I suspected she was a little… HOW DO YOU SAY THIS IN ENGLISH?… tired.

That Time Mama Decided We Needed To Move

Last night, the boy came upstairs to interrupt me and Hubs, while we were watching Parks and Recreation on the iPad in bed.

“So… I was feeding and watering the cats in the laundry room, and there’s a GIANT wolf spider in there.  I was wondering if I could lend moral support to one of YOU two, while one of YOU two kills it.  It’s very possibly the biggest spider I’ve ever seen.”

Now.

I’m no mathematician, but out of YOU TWO, one of us is the hunter and one of us does the laundry, so take five guesses on which one is which one.  I immediately yelled, “Not it!”

Hubs didn’t even bat an eye.  He said, “I like spiders.  They kill bugs.  Leave him be.”

The boy sighed and said, “Okay, but he’s the size of a spider you’d see in the Great Pyramids.  The kind of spider who probably makes a web big enough to catch pythons and wraps them in silk and eats them.  The kind of spider who’d have his name on the cast list of an Indiana Jones movie, because he’s that BIG of a character.”

Of course, when I went to look, because WHERE ARE THE HUNTERS IN MY HOUSE, AND WHY AREN’T THEY DOING THIS HORRID JOB, AND WHY DOES THE MOTHER ALWAYS GET STUCK TRYING TO BEAT ARACHNIDS TO DEATH WITH A BROOM?!, the beast was missing in action.

We have to move now, unless one of the cats lets me know she has bagged an eight-legged trophy.

I did a load of laundry today, and you can bet that I was on HIGH ALERT, with my shoes ON and ready to KICK, but I saw nothing.  I’m sure it’s because Charlotte is now in my walls, climbing from the laundry room to my bedroom, where she’ll come out a heat vent and surprise me at 3:00 in the morning with a growl.

All the blessings.

In other news, Thing 2 slept in until 7:40 (!!!!!!!) this morning, because he had a BUSY day yesterday, and we finally wore him down to RAW EXHAUSTION.

AND…  it was 75 degrees in Small Town, USA today, because we had THE FAVOR OF OUR LORD.

Those two things alone almost make up for the fact that I have a wolf spider loose inside the walls of this house.

Y’all have a good Tuesday evening.  If there’s no blog post tomorrow night, you can check the news reports to see if anyone was attacked by a giant spider in town.