The Blizzard of ’18

Sometimes, I wish the Bible was a little more detailed in the stories it holds.

For instance, I want to know…

Did Noah’s wife, bless her heart, wake up on the twenty-fourth day of NOTHING BUT RAIN, RAIN EVERYWHERE, LOOK AT ALL THIS RAIN, and say, “Noah!  I don’t think I’m going to survive this cruise, unless one of our three sons has a degree in chemistry or pharmacy, and can grind something up into a little Valium cocktail for me.”

And Moses’ wife?  Did Zipporah walk out of her tent one morning and exclaim, “I don’t think I can take another day of all THIS SAND and all THIS WANDERING!  I haven’t been to a Target in YEARS, Moses!  Years!  And I can’t get my shoes to wear out, even though they went out of style sixteen years ago.”

Because honestly?  I am to the point of being OVER WINTER.  This is the winter when it simply WILL NOT QUIT SNOWING!  For.  The.  Stinking.  Love!!!  STOP SNOWING ALREADY!!  Small Town, USA could have single-handedly hosted the winter Olympics this month, and we wouldn’t have needed to manufacture a single fake snowflake with machines for the ski runs.

At any rate, it snowed again last night.  And it snowed again today.  Actually, last night’s snow kind of blended right in with today’s snow, so they may have just become one CONTINUOUS snow.  And then, in the middle of all the snowing, the wind picked up and decided to whip the snow around.  Now, this might cause Texans to stop and say, “Is wind a bad thing in a blizzard?”  Yes, Texas.  Wind blows snow and causes it to drift.  And if you remember your math skills from high school, wind velocity against snow accumulation does A LOT of drifting, the higher those numbers go.  It’s all basic math… like when you look at your handful of twelve quarters and wonder if you have enough to buy yourself something small at Starbucks.

Anyway.

We dug Hubs’ car out of our driveway this morning, and we went to church, with the fourteen other people in our congregation who were determined that neither snow nor snow could keep them from hearing the Lord’s message this morning.  And then we went to the grocery store, because… much like Noah’s wife probably did before the rain began... I felt the need to secure a few groceries, so that there would be coffee creamer and popcorn, if we found ourselves reliving The Great Blizzard that once stranded Laura Ingalls and her teacher at the one-roomed school house overnight, until Pa could come and rescue them.

And then we came home to hunker down.  The TV and the fireplace became our best friends, because what else do you do on a day like today?

I’ll tell you what else you do:  You endure the smell of frying rabbit in your kitchen, as it swirls all over the house and nearly chokes you out.

Yes.  I said the words FRYING and RABBIT.  I know Texas stands in agreement with us here.  When your husband owns a computer company and a gang of rabbits (that would make the gangs of LA look tame) chews up all the wires in his giant air conditioning unit, which cools all of his servers, and causes SIX THOUSAND ENTIRE AMERICAN DOLLARS WORTH OF DAMAGE THAT HAS TO BE REPLACED, your husband ends up buying his company’s armed security guard a small game license and then releases said security guard outside.

And then said security guard gives your teenage son the fruits of his labor.

And then your teenage son soaks it in a brine, dips it in egg, coats it in flour, and fries it up.

And then you sort of want to gag and go to Target (only you can’t, because SNOW, SNOW, SNOW), because escaping the smell of frying bunny becomes more important to you than surviving all the winter’s fury once was.

So.  Apparently some of us are having fried rabbit as a side dish to our upcoming dinner of marinated, grilled steaks and mashed potatoes this evening.  Because listen, Texas:  SNOW DOES NOT KEEP US FROM FIRING UP THE BARBECUES AROUND HERE!  If that were the case, no one would be able to grill anything from September to May.

And while the fireplace was running and the bunny was sizzling in hot oil, Thing 2 shimmied himself into his snowpants and boots… and out he went.

He played until his toes were numb in his boots.  He played until he could no longer feel his fingers in his mittens.  He played until snot poured out of his nose and his teeth were chattering, and then he came inside, happy and content and ready to build a Lego spaceship beside the fireplace.

And THAT, y’all, has been our day.

Olympic Commentary

2018 may be the year of the dog, according to the Chinese calendar.  It may be the year of the good tacos y’all learned to make, or the year of all the snow that simply REFUSES to stop falling in Small Town.

It’s also turning out to be the year of inconsistent blogging.  You’re welcome for that.  I feel like I’ve freed you from the tedious task of reading too many posts filled with long-winded sentences about absolutely nothing important.

Anyway.

I have a tater tot casserole in the oven, as we speak.  We feel like nothing shouts out, “FANCY GOURMET DINNER” quite like a can of cream of mushroom soup poured over some browned ground beef, under a layer of processed tater tots.  So… this has to be a quick post… something I can write before the tater tots burn to ash and we make a phone call to the local pizzeria.

Nothing exciting has been going on (unless you count shoveling snow for the seventy-second time in a single winter as exciting).  We have simply been doing life… been doing the hard things… been doing the grocery runs… been doing the laundry… been contemplating the broken garage door, because I may have already mentioned that we are FANCY PEOPLE who eat FANCY DINNERS and live with a FANCY BROKEN GARAGE DOOR… been unloading and reloading the dishwasher… been asking, “Is your homework done?” every single night, like real adults who are on top of their parenting games.

And… we’ve been watching the Olympics, because OF COURSE WE HAVE.

During the opening ceremonies, Thing 2 told us, “I thought that the Olympics were supposed to be cool, but so far, it’s been a lot of dumb dancing.  I’m just going to build with Legos instead of watching this.”

Last night, Thing 2 was watching figure skating with me.  One of the competitors was spinning fast enough on the ice to make me wish I’d brought my bottle of Dramamine tablets in from the bathroom cabinet.  I asked Thing 2, “Do you wish you could skate like this guy can?”  Without missing a beat, he replied, “No.  This guy is embarrassing me, because he skates like a girl.  I think only girls should spin and jump like that.  But, I sure like his sparkly turquoise shirt; I’d wear THAT, because it’s my favorite color!”

And that’s what our second-born son thought of figure skating.

We were watching ski jumping, too, when Thing 2 looked at me and said, “Can kids be in the Olympics?”  I replied, “Sure.  If they’re good enough.”  He said, “Well, I’m good enough.  Can you take me there so I can race these guys?”  I said, “Um… you’ve never actually BEEN ON SKIS before, and you think you’re going to jump on them?”  Thing 2 said, “Yes.  I’ve watched this enough now to know how to do it.”

I wish his confidence wasn’t lacking so much.

I’m off, people.  It’s time to microwave a bag of frozen broccoli, so that I have a lovely, FANCY side dish for the tater tot casserole.

Y’all have a good Monday evening.

Catching More Than The Break We Wanted

I feel like IF ANYTHING is going to sum up my life right now, it is this:

I think this has everything to do with the fact that I helped with centers in Thing 2’s classroom Monday morning, and I felt like I needed to put his teacher’s INDUSTRIAL SIZED bottle of Germ-X in a holster around my waist.  I’d kneel beside a table to help sound out the word MAMMAL with one child, feel the fallout of a sneeze drift down to settle over me, like a barely-wet blanket, and then it was all PUMP, PUMP, PUMP with such a frantic effort, I could have led a kingdom of neurotic hypochondriacs with an empowering speech from my castle’s balcony.

Because on Monday, both of my boys were still holding onto their health, with a robustness and bright-eyed glow that put their classmates to shame.  If there was ever a time when I wanted to seal them both up in a protective plastic bubble and launch them back into the flu-sporting community, it was then.

Their health continued through yesterday.  I fed them delicious leftovers and even deliciouser Ramen noodles for dinner last night, because listen:  If I am going to spend the effort sauteing and measuring and mixing and wiping the sweat off my brow over a frying pan, then we are going to eat what’s left of my hard work the next night.  The queen has issued the proclamation; let it be as she has said.  However, some of the boys in the kingdom decided that, while Mama was at Bible study, they would supplement their leftover roast and potatoes and carrots with a nice bowl of Ramen noodles.  Whatever.  I cannot win all the parenting battles, and Ramen noodles is one I won’t fight.  I know that I should, because CHEMICALS and ZERO NUTRITION, but I just feel like if my child wants to eat a sheet of cardboard sprayed with all the ingredients found in a can of aerosol hairspray, then who am I to stop him, when he’s six months shy of being eighteen and an eligible voting member of our country?

All was well.

Thing 2 went to bed.  His elderly mother went to bed.  His elderly father (who is still clutching his youth tightly in his fist and claiming that he’s capable of staying up all night) stayed up to watch hockey on TV.  The boy was doing homework.

I had, in fact, just talked to the boy about his homework before I crawled into bed, because he asked me to look at one of his math problems.  One of his CALCULUS math problems.  It might as well have been written in Hebrew or Chinese or whatever language they speak on Jupiter, for all I understood of it.

And then… at precisely 9:30, the boy was hunkered down over his bathroom toilet, throwing up like he was trying to qualify for the Olympics, and his fever was shooting out the top of his head with a reading of 101.

So apparently… here we go again.

Well… Hello There!

Well.

For the six of you who check in here regularly (With one-third of my reading population being my parents!) (And look how I did that math in my head, because apparently we WILL use high school math past graduation!) (And yes, back-to-back parentheses can also be a genuine THING after you’ve walked across the stage and accepted a diploma from the principal, while you shook his hand.), thanks for sticking the dry spell here at Jedi Mama Incorporated out.

Sometimes life hits us hard.  Sometimes it brings the flu and the congestion.  Sometimes it brings other things, that stir you around in circles like a heap of CRAZY.  Sometimes you wonder HOW other people appear to be so normal, with such normal day-to-day activities, while you are at home, trying to hose down seven different fires with the same extinguisher.  Sometimes you think drug addicts drying up in a jail cell, while they convulse and scratch their skin, have less problems than you do.

That’s pretty much where we’ve been for the past couple of weeks.  I have the windows opened today, to a ten-degree morning, and I am airing out the germs.  This might not be a real thing in Florida or Texas, but listen:  We Yankees can take some ten-degree morning air slipping inside our homes through open windows, if it means the germs will be killed dead and the oxygen will be a little less stale indoors, so that the flu and the sinus infections and the coughs, coughs, OH SWEET MERCY, THE COUGHS, will just evaporate and go away.  My dishwasher is running, washing up the three hundred, twenty-seven dirty dishes that were filling our sink when we all went to bed last night.  My kitchen counters are scrubbed down and currently spotless.  The washing machine is running, like it’s chasing an Olympic medal down today.  Dinner is already in the crockpot, so I know there will be something for us to face tonight, instead of the dollar menu at McDonald’s.  Alexa is playing classical music for me, straight from her little speaker, and THAT (combined with DINNER IS ALREADY COOKING ITSELF) makes me feel like a genuine adult who is maybe getting my life back together for a couple of hours.

Plus?  Well, Thing 2 slept from 8:30 last night until 7:33 this morning, so let’s all stand up and slow clap our appreciation.  I know Hubs and I high-fived one another at 7:33 this morning, calling the victory out for what it was!  I may or may not have slipped some Red #40, Blue #1 and Yellow #6 into his lunchbox today, in the shape of Skittles, to say, “Thank you for those eleven uninterrupted hours, Son.”  All those dyes were put right in there, next to the gluten-free, white-meat-from-free-range-chickens-who-were-never-given-antibiotcs chicken nuggets, the organic Honeycrisp apple, the gluten-free pretzels, the carrots that he will not touch, and the organic almond milk, so I think I’m still winning at school lunches.

Anyway.

I aged over my blogging break, which is to say… I celebrated another birthday.  A darling friend of mine organized a lunch on Saturday afternoon, where eight of us friends met at a cafe in the city for BLT sandwiches, cranberry and chicken salads, and real cheeseburgers.  We ate and laughed; we laughed and ate.  And then we all decided to walk the four blocks to the movie theater, where we saw Jumanji, because our other choices were POST 9/11 WAR MOVIE, CIVIL WAR MOVIE THAT MAY OR MAY NOT INVOLVE STOMACH CLENCHING NATIVE AMERICAN TORTURE, TEENAGE BOY MOVIE INVOLVING BICEPS AND GUNS, or HUGH JACKMAN AS PT BARNUM, which we had all already seen and loved, with a love that raced straight up to the moon and right back.  (Have you seen The Greatest Showman?  If not, you’ve deprived yourself.  GO.  Go now, and don’t waste any  more time getting to the theater to see it.  It’s my new favorite movie, filled with hope and inspiration!)   We had so many movie choices to veto last Saturday, that Jumanji was the last choice.  We debated seeing it.  Was it a show that eight moms could enjoy together?  On the one hand… THE ROCK.  On the other hand… VIDEO GAME THEME.  But, we persevered, and we went.  We ordered popcorn with butter, because calories on birthdays don’t count, so you can definitely chase a BLT immediately with a bag of corn.  And listen, people:  WE LAUGHED OUR HEADS OFF!  Is Jumanji going to win any awards?  No.  No, it is not.  But is it a good place to escape to, for a couple of hours on a Saturday afternoon?  YES!  We all left the theater, telling one another, “I JUST DE-FANGED A SNAKE!”

Anyway.

The rest of my birthday was quiet, because FOLKS WERE SICK.  Influenza ’18 has not been kind to those I love.  Hubs fixed me a delicious dinner of leftover pizza, straight out of our refrigerator, and we ended the night watching Parks and Recreation on the iPad.

All in all, it was a good birthday.  I’ll probably use my gift cards to shop for new hearing aide batteries and new tennis balls for the bottom of my walker, because I hear that’s what all the elderly folks are buying these days.

And now, with eight entire minutes left before the timer on my phone goes off, screaming out CHANGE YOUR LAUNDRY LOADS!!  YOUR DRYER IS DONE!!, I’m off to do just that.  The avalanche forecasts on Mt. Everest have never been as bad as those on my laundry pile this week.  Today is the day that I cut that mountain down to size and conquer it.

And that’s the reality of LIFE, people.  Sometimes mountains rear up smack in front of us.  They’re big and they’re scary.  The trails over them look impassable.  The trails around them look blocked in and full of guerillas and ambushes.  And that pretty much just leaves the tunnels through those mountains, if you’re determined to get to the other side.  And I’m not going to lie.  Those tunnels THROUGH are usually filled with flesh-eating cannibals, scorpions, total darkness and the sounds of crying babies that never get picked up coming over loud speakers.  (I know.  What a reference.  But is there really ANYTHING more bothersome to a mama than hearing a baby cry, when no one is picking him up?!  I can’t take that sound… I’m a picker-upper, when it comes to those little people and their tears.)  I know that I kept asking God for the past couple of weeks to FIX IT and MAKE IT BETTER and LORD, I AM DONE.  I wanted to go back in time, to BEFORE, when the road was smooth and flat and the mountain wasn’t there, and LOOK AT ME DRIVE THIS CONVERTIBLE AT HIGH SPEED, WITH THE TOP DOWN, WHILE I HOLD MY STARBUCKS CUP AND SMILE, WITH MY TRENDY AVIATOR SUNGLASSES ON!  I wanted the mountaintop experiences that I’ve had before, and I wanted to be on the top of that big hill… not underneath of that giant mountain, crawling on my belly through the worms, hoping daylight would eventually show up.

Do you know who else wanted to stay on the top of a mountain?  Oh, just a guy in the Bible.

After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them.”  (Mark 9:2-3)

What happened after this transfiguration?  Well, Peter, bless his heart, wanted to just build some shelters and STAY THERE, because WHO WOULDN’T WANT TO STAY ON TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN WHEN JESUS WAS RIGHT THERE AND GLOWING?  I think we ALL want to build shelters on top of the mountain and stay put, when things are good and Jesus is right there, glowing with His power.

But what we need to remember is that Jesus is NO LESS WITH US when we are crawling under the mountain.  No, we probably don’t want to set up shelters there in the dark, with the worms and the snakes and the BUGS!  BUGS EVERYWHERE!  GETTING IN YOUR SLEEPING BAGS!  But… I guess that’s where our faith comes in.  Is our faith strong enough to remember that REACHING THE BACKSIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN… when we walk out of that tunnel and stand straight up into fresh air… will all be worth it?  In Joshua 10, Joshua and his men fight a battle, and it’s a big one.  They marched all night BEFORE their battle, so HELLO, EXHAUSTION.  Because do you know what I want to do RIGHT BEFORE I get thrown into a major battle?  Well, I’d really love to just MARCH ALL NIGHT LONG… and THEN fight.  Except… the exact opposite of that.  What I really want to do is just sleep all night and COMPLETELY AVOID having to fight at all.  But Joshua and his men marched all night long, and then they went into battle.

And the battle lasted so long, Joshua had to ask that the sun stand still, so that THEY COULD HAVE MORE DAYLIGHT TO KEEP FIGHTING.  By my calculations, these men had been marching and fighting, nonstop, for the better part of a twenty-four hour period.  They needed more daylight, and God gave it to them, because God stopped the moon from coming up, and He kept that sun right where it was at.

And Joshua and his men won.  They witnessed God sending hailstones from the sky, which struck the heads of their enemies… but not them.  They witnessed God fighting WITH THEM.  They witnessed a few extra hours of daylight, because Joshua had simply ASKED.  FOR.  IT!!

Beth Moore once said in a Bible study that you can bet those men were probably exhausted before their battle even started, and they were exhausted during the battle, but she was guessing that not a single one of them would ever say, “Gee!  I wish I hadn’t been IN that battle!”  Because Beth Moore said that they probably fought that battle and walked away, speaking of God’s goodness and His power and His willingness to fight on their side for the rest of their lives.

So… how did this blog post get onto such serious subject matter?  I have no idea.  Writers are always told, “Write what you know.”  What I know is nonsense and poor grammar.  I don’t know how to write a devotional to encourage anyone, but listen:  I’ve been in the tunnel here for the past two weeks, and I’m trying to remember that when I crawl out of it, I’ll be able to speak of God’s goodness and His willingness to help me… a mere mom in a small town who can never get her hair to look good in a messy bun... fight, for the rest of my life.

Y’all have a good weekend.  I’m going to spend it with Hubs and our boys… and probably our extended families, too… as long as they can show me proof that their influenza days are OVER, because AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR HAVING INFLUENZA TWICE IN ONE SEASON!

My Day… My Week… They’re Kind Of The Same

In case you’re wondering how my day has gone… HOW MY ENTIRE WEEK HAS GONE… let me show you this:

That mess of spilled coffee-flavored-milk on my kitchen floor happened when I grabbed my STILL-HOT cup of coffee… that I was STILL DRINKING… and turned it upside down to load into the dishwasher.  Apparently, the one mug you SHOULDN’T load into the dishwasher with the rest of the dirty dishes is the mug you’re currently sipping from.

This picture does no justice to the mess.  98% of the mess was hidden under the dishwasher’s door, and was revealed to me in a moment of YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME, when I flipped the door up to clean up the small-ish mess.  The small-ish mess in the picture I snapped, to send to Hubs, turned out to be a genuine catastrophic mess, so… you know… Bye-bye, brand new roll of Bounty paper towels!

Now, if you’ll add to this the small fact that we have had a REAL LIVE FLYING FLY in our house… in JANUARY!!!… which has driven both Cat 1 and Cat 2 to the very bring of insanity, as he seems to be a fly on steroids, capable of dodging cats all the livelong day… and you’ll soon realize that I don’t have all of my ducks in a line this week.

I don’t even have my ducks all in the same pond this week.

My ducks are all walking sideways, after enjoying a nice fermented cranberry mash that the farmer’s wife threw out to the coop.

Have a good weekend, y’all.  May your immune systems stay strong, and may you avoid this influenza that is circulating, because I am living proof that it will flatten you down.  And… may all of your coffee cups stay out of the dishwasher, until you’re good and ready for them to actually BE THERE.

 

Flu-zee

Apparently, spending nearly all of last weekend in my pajamas was a premonition.

On Monday morning, I became a productive member of society, who is a joy to be around and who no longer needed to be criticized as being a lazy, good-for-all-the-nothing.  I showered and curled my hair.  I sent my children to school and made a couple of beds.  I did a couple loads of laundry, and made a grocery list that was heavy on fruits and vegetables and salmon because #januarygoals.  And all morning long, I kept telling myself, “Hmm.  I am catching a chest cold.”  This was all good and wonderful, because FOR THE RIGHTEOUS LOVE!  I’ve already had a solid three colds already this winter, and WHEN DOES THE HEALTHY PEACE SETTLE IN?  Isn’t it time to let my field lay fallow for a year of rest?  I picked Thing 2 up from school, and we went into Walmart, where we really did buy all the fruits and vegetables, even though my five-year-old suggested candy and Legos and bubblegum.  I stayed strong.

By the time I had hauled in all my grocery sacks, I realized that I was chilled straight to my bones, which was to be expected because it was below zero on Monday.  Welcome, Winter.  Welcome, with your freezing temperatures and your dadgum illnesses.  I put my groceries away, made hot tea, and sat in front of our fireplace, because I still chalk a gas fireplace up as the biggest marriage win of my entire married life.  Hubs wanted a real fireplace, with real logs.  I begged him for a gas fireplace, with fake logs and a remote control.  He held strong.  I pleaded.  He finally conceded, because he was building a garage that was three times the normal garage size.  Neither one of us has ever regretted the fact that we can walk inside our house, push a button, and have a roaring fire in one second.  There’s no need to go all Charles Ingalls and make one from a felled tree, that takes a sweet forever.

By 5:00 on Monday, I was asking Alexa what the symptoms of influenza were.  In her computerized voice, she let me know that all of the flu symptoms were the same symptoms I had.  Especially since I’d just clocked myself as the possessor of a genuine 101.8 degree fever.

By 5:15, I was at the walk-in clinic.  I have no medical background beyond Grey’s Anatomy and ER, but I was fairly certain that the interns of Seattle Grace Hospital would have wanted me to start Tamiflu quickly, if I was an influenza victim.

Which, as it turns out, I was.

Which is why all of our grocery budget for the rest of January went to my local pharmacy, to secure flu-fighters.  Which is why expensive salmon is now being traded for the dollar menu at McDonald’s, because #brokejanuary.

I have basically been in pajamas every since Monday night.  I have sat in the big chair in the living room, under a blanket, with a straw in a can of 7-Up and a cat on my lap all week.  If not for the feel-bad DIAGNOSIS, that had me alternating between freezing to the point of hypothermia, and sweating like a pink pig at an August fair, when the Tylenol kicked my fever aside for four hours, I’d call THAT #januarygoals.

Sledding, Sledding And More Sledding

If there was ever a weekend when my goals were met, it was this one.

The boy went to a basketball game at the high school on Friday night, while I put Thing 2 to bed at 7:30.  And then I was in bed myself at 7:53 on that Friday evening.  I told Hubs, “Don’t hate me because I’m in bed already.”  He answered me, from his post at the foot of the bed, where he was wrapped from head to toe in a fluffy, FLUFFY blanket, hanging his head over the bed’s footboard and watching a documentary on DID HITLER REALLY DIE WHEN THE HISTORY BOOKS CLAIM HE DID, and said, “Don’t hate me because I’m tucked into my fuzzy blanket for the night.”

We have become a sad sort of people, but if this is wrong, then I don’t want to be right.

On Saturday, I stayed in my pajamas until 1:00 in the afternoon.  Lest you think I was completely slothful, please note that I did two loads of laundry, ran the dishwasher, made all the beds, picked up 32,000 Lego bricks, and dealt with a giant pile of cat barf, in between sitting in the living room, reading a book.  I did eventually put on real clothes and curl my hair up with the hot rollers, because Hubs and I were meeting two other couples for dinner at a local bar and grill.  We ate thick burgers, talked nonstop and laughed our heads off, and let me tell you this:  We were out so late, we nearly shut that bar down on Saturday night.

So, you know, we were totally home by 8:15.

This morning, we went to church in real clothes, and then we came back home, where I put my pajamas back on.  In other words, I spent the entire weekend alternating between my nighttime pajamas and my clean, daytime pajamas.

Hashtag, WeekendGoals.

But, back a couple of weeks ago, we DID wear the real clothes… under the big coats and snowpants… and we went sledding with friends.  When Small Town, USA gets some snow, we like to take advantage of it.  Mostly, I prefer to take advantage of it by turning my gas fireplace on and making another mug of chai tea, but whatever.  Occasionally we have to be civilized socialites and make an appearance in polite society… in jeans and real shirts.

One afternoon, we went sledding with Vivian and her mom.  And by sledding, I mean that Vivian’s sweet mama and I sat on a snowy picnic table at the top of the hill, drinking piping-hot, coffee-flavored-milk, while we tried to keep our rear ends from freezing.  We talked our heads off, solved half of the world’s problems, and had a wonderful time while our little people slid up and down the hill… over and over and over again.

Even though the mamas were a wee bit chilled to their bones, our children were worn out, and THAT was the entire purpose of our sledding excursion.

Come, thou Bedtime… we are ready for you.

A couple of days later, Small Town’s temperatures took a turn for the worse.  The mercury in the local thermometers plummeted straight to the bottom, and struggled to get to the FIVE DEGREES mark.  On top of that, the wind decided to blow.  For those of you from Miami and San Antonio, this is a mathematical equation known as a WINDCHILL.  It’s something we Yankees have.  When the wind is blowing X miles per hour, and the temperature is Y-freezing-degrees, then the FEELS LIKE temperature turns into NEGATIVE SEVEN.

So OF COURSE that was the day my friend Amber texted and said, “Are you up for sledding this afternoon?”

We are not wimps up here in the North.  We can endure FEELS LIKE MINUS SEVEN, and… as it turned out… we endured it for ALMOST AN ENTIRE HOUR!  Now, I could barely push the button on my camera, and we mamas struggled to talk, as our teeth were chattering like crazy, but our little adrenaline junkies were actually HOT and some of them ASKED TO UNZIP THEIR COATS.

Let’s see your kids do that, Miami!

Clearly, it was another day of wearing the children out good and proper, as this was an even bigger hill for them to climb up.

We had a few wipe outs that day, too.

Our children are trained in sledding etiquette to TUCK AND ROLL, and we mamas never even bat an eyeball at their crashes.

Eventually, I had no feeling left in my hands or my face, Amber couldn’t feel any part of her legs past her knees, and Theresa was daydreaming about a cup of coffee big enough to be called a soup bowl, so we rounded up our kids, forced them to all smile for the camera at once, and called it an afternoon.

A few days later, the mercury AND the windchill were back up into the double digits, so we went sledding with Thing 2’s buddy, Evie.  The day was practically a SPRINGTIME day, compared to our last outing with the sleds.

Evie’s mama suggested that we go to the LOOOONG hill, which is also called Mount Wearthemout.  Christmas vacation is not a time to scrimp on physical activity!  For every You Tube video those children had watched on OTHER CHILDREN unwrapping THEIR Christmas gifts and demoing them for a video audience, they had to climb Mount Wearthemout six times.

I should just say right here that Evie is a fashion queen, who gives Princess Kate’s wardrobe choices a run for the money.  Her mother claims that she will go through seven clothing changes each morning, before she decides on an outfit for kindergarten, and lo!  A day on the sledding slopes is NO TIME to dress ugly.  Evie came bedecked in her winter finery.  Meanwhile, Thing 2 simply said, “I’m wearing what my mom made me put on before we left.  If it wasn’t for her, I would’ve shown up here in a pair of gym shorts and a T-shirt that was three sizes too big for me… and I’d also be wearing my light-up cowboy boots with socks that came up to my knees.”

I’m fairly certain that Evie quickly caught on to the purpose of Mount Wearthemout, as she lamented the fact that this hill didn’t have a chairlift to take them back to the top.  Her little engine was chanting, “I think I can!  I think I can!  I think I can!” as she kept pulling that sled back uphill.

I won’t lie.  An afternoon spent sledding does a remarkable thing to a child, come bedtime.  All that fresh, cold air and all that uphill hiking are just what the doctor ordered.

Unless, of course, he ordered that you simply spend an entire weekend indoors, in your pajamas.

Happy Sunday, y’all.

We Are Back To The Grind After Christmas Break

Well, nothing shouts out WELCOME BACK TO SCHOOL AFTER TWO FULL WEEKS  OF CHRISTMAS VACATION quite like THE WIND IN THIS BLIZZARD HAS PUSHED THE WINDCHILL TO MINUS EIGHT, SO WE WILL BE HAVING INDOOR RECESS FOR EVERYONE.

If you have no idea what a gym filled to capacity with kindergarten kids, 1st grade kids, 2nd grade kids, 3rd grade kids and 4th grade kids, all at once, looks like, then you may have been slightly wiser in choosing your career than I was.  When a 4th grader lobs a basketball across the width of a gym, in a no-bounce pass to a classmate, and there are thirty children between him and that classmate, and the ball knocks a 6-year-old in the head and flattens him, suddenly a job in accounting sounds very reasonable.

Except, after reading an online news article today entitled THIRTY-FIVE TERMS PEOPLE OVER FORTY DON’T UNDERSTAND, I now know I should just have typed out “v reasonable,” because that’s how the cool kids are doing it these days.  I had no idea, y’all.  V is the new VERY.  I’m clearly late to the party, but I have every intention of using this term properly now, so that I can move back to being a cool kid.

“Hush!  No snacks right now.  Dinner will be v soon!”

“How much did I spend at Target online, honey?  Not v much.  Not v much at all!”

“I’m gonna need some v creamy coffee, v quick-like, if you want me to keep my v good mood rolling.”

Anyway.

Suffice it to say that two long days of back-to-back PE classes pretty much wore me out this week, because I was just coming off a vacation where I simply made another cup of coffee, regardless of the time of day, and sat down to read a stack of Christmas cards whenever I felt a little run down over the past two weeks.  That wasn’t possible this week in the gym, seeing as how all the Christmas cards are over now, and it’s just back to another eleven straight months of glossy Walmart ads, credit card statements, and envelopes telling me YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY ISN’T GOING TO PAY ANYTHING TO THIS DOCTOR, SO TOOT THE PARTY HORN REAL LOUD LIKE, BECAUSE THIS ENTIRE BILL IS ALL YOURS in our mailbox.  I am always plum excited to take the Christmas tree down and vacuum up the pine needles, as we embrace all the newness and hope and raw possibility that January brings, but I am NEVER excited to see the end of the Christmas cards rolling into our home.

But… it is what it is.

Back during Christmas break, when times were easier and no one had a gym full of fifty-eight kids at once for recess, my aunt and uncle mailed our family some Christmas steaks from two states over.  Hubs and the boy were downright thrilled over this package that was dumped by the Fed Ex man on our doorstep, because MEAT.  Thing 2 was excited about the package because it came with dry ice in the bottom of the Styrofoam cooler.  I knew that we were INDEED dealing with REAL DRY ICE, when I reached inside to grab the insulated package, only to find that it was, in fact, NOT insulated.  There I was, holding an enormous chunk of dry ice in my bare hand, with nothing but a paper-thin layer of cheap plastic between us.  The blisters on my finger were a big indication of how much fun this was, because the folks who write guidelines for handling dry ice aren’t messing around when they type out in total caps lock, WEAR YOUR SKI MITTENS FOR THIS.

Thing 2 had only HEARD about dry ice, from his older brother, and he was thrilled to FINALLY be able to participate in playing with the stuff and get THAT checked off his life’s bucket list.  He was a touch leery about it though, once he realized that I’d nearly frost-bitten my right index finger to the point of death.

The boy was hauled out of bed by a screeching Thing 2 (“Get up, Bubbie!  We have dry ice!  Get out of bed!  It’s almost noon, and I need your help to use it!”), and he got the ball rolling, in his bathrobe and bedhead, which was his daily outfit of choice over break.

Once Thing 2 realized that, HEY!  THIS ISN’T AS DANGEROUS AS THE ADULTS IN MY LIFE HAVE LED ME TO BELIEVE, he was all set to play with the stuff for the next ENTIRE HOUR.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Thing 2 had fun, especially if the slopped water all over my kitchen floors were any indication.

I’d even go so far as to say he had V BIG FUN!

Y’all have a v good weekend, now.

The Night Of The Christmas Concerts

Thing 2 has Ear Infection Number Six Million, Seventeen Hundred and Ninety-Four.  It’s every bit as grand as you can imagine, if you can imagine a kindergarten boy who walks around with his head tipped sideways, so that his ear rests on his shoulder, in a hunchback sort of way.  And, even though he is still up and running wild and causing all sorts of delicious mayhem around the house, every now and then he must pause, drop to the floor and howl out his discomfort, like a coyote whose foot is caught in a steel trap.

This is all fine and dandy during the daytime hours, but then last night, I put him to bed at 7:45, because MAMA NEEDS TO BREATHE FROM ALL THE COYOTE HOWLING and LORD, BLESS YOU.  I was in my own bed at 7:59 on a Saturday night, exactly like my twenty year old self was afraid would happen in my old age.  I am an utter disappointment to my twenty-year-old self.  And then Thing 2 got out of bed one hundred times between 7:59 and 11:55 PM.  Lord, have the mercy!  He finally conked out cold, with a fuzzy slipper sock pressed up against his ear, at FIVE MINUTES BEFORE CINDRELLA’S CLOCK CHIMED THE MIDNIGHT HOUR, and I was wide awake, wound up on the adrenaline of ARE YOU EVER GOING TO FALL ASLEEP AND STAY IN YOUR BED AND LET YOUR OVERLY-WORKED MOTHER CRAWL BENEATH HER OWN QUILT?  Of course, I also felt EXTREMELY SAD for the little man, because DADGUM IT ALL!  Ear infections are wicked, nasty awful.

No matter.

I’m learning that being a mother basically means you are constantly tired, and then you complain to your other mother friends about how tired you are, and then you listen while they complain about how tired they are, and then you all drink heavily-creamed coffee and pretend that you’ve got a game plan for dinner, when, in fact, it’s probably just going to be Round Seventeen of Fruity Pebbles Night, because of ALL THE TIRED.  And also because Fruity Pebbles are GLUTEN-FREE, and the children will eat them!

Anyway.

Way back LAST YEAR, when the December calendar page was marked all over and covered with BE HERE AT THIS TIME and BE THERE AT THAT TIME, BECAUSE THIS IS THE CRAZY MONTH OF DECEMBER, the boys had their school Christmas programs… AND!!!!… they both fell on the exact same Tuesday night, because of WHEN IT RAINS, IT POURS.  Thing 2’s elementary school’s program was at 6:00, while the boy’s band concert was at 7:00.  We shuffled our cards and dealt ourselves a hand that involved telling Thing 2’s music teacher, “Thank you for letting the kindergarten kiddos sing first.  We will listen to them, and then we are pulling our kid out and ditching the rest of your gorgeously choreographed program, to race across town and find seats in the high school’s miniature auditorium for our second program of the evening.  Thank you for understanding that Thing 2 will have to miss the ending song that has every kid in your school on the stage, at the exact same time.”

We pulled it off, people.  It made for a very crazy, out-of-breath sort of night, but LAND’S SAKE!  We did it!  Hubs and I, and Mam and Pa and Grammy and Papa and Aunt Pink (who was in town for Christmas) and Sister and Cousin L, all flew around together, as we spent the night concert-hopping.

The boys got all dressed up beforehand.  The boy’s band instructor requires her band members to wear black-on-black this year, which means the boy must have a black shirt, black slacks, black tie, black socks, and black shoes.  It’s a total BLACKOUT.  Any dress code violation results in being dismissed from the stage and finding out that you’ve basically flunked band and will never become a successful college graduate, and you may end up living in a van down by the river.

After I had ironed the boy’s outfit, I began rummaging around in Thing 2’s closet, when he promptly came into his bedroom, threw himself onto the floor in a manner that would have made Scarlet O’Hara herself stand up and applaud, and bawled, “I don’t want to wear clothes like Bubbie is wearing!”  Because… heaven forbid that Thing 2 should dress up!  His idea of dressing up involves putting on a fresh pair of sweatpants out of his dresser, that don’t have a hole in one knee, and adding a clean Under Armour T-shirt that doesn’t have half of his lunch spread out, clear down the front of it.  He’ll even add his light-up cowboy boots to the ensemble, if he must REALLY dress up.

Thankfully, Thing 2’s elementary school’s music teacher is a dear, DEAR friend, and her requirement for the program is simple: “Show up looking nice.”  And while some kids did come in their bow ties and their dress slacks and their polished shoes and their gorgeous ringlet curls and gigantic hair bows, I was able to get my younger son into a pair of khakis and a freshly-washed Under Armour polo without any tears.

I marked it down on the calendar as a PARENTING VICTORY.

Dear Under Armour, thank you for making shirts with collars and saving our lives.  Your company is the wind beneath my wings.  The end.

I don’t think there’s ANYTHING that warms a parent’s heart more than seeing a group of kindergartners walk out onto the stage of an auditorium to line up and sing the Christmas songs they’ve spent all fall rehearsing with their beloved music teacher.

Our kid made sure to check out the lights, even though no other classmate felt the need to examine them.

He also found Hubs’ parents on the opposite side of the auditorium, and THAT required an enthusiastic wave.

The auditorium, which is ENORMOUSLY ENORMOUS, was packed to the gills and had entered the point of STANDING ROOM ONLY, as the crowd broke the long list of fire codes in seventeen places.  We gave up our seats to some elderly great grandparents, who had come to watch the program, and we stood along the wall on the opposite side of the place as Hubs’ parents, where I could get my camera lens pointed right at Thing 2.

When the little tots were finished with their songs, OUR SON felt the need to raise his hands in a victory salute… and then…

… he took a bow…

… by himself.

He is never one to waste an opportunity on the stage, as he’ll always go for the applause he feels like he’s earned.  I just wish that he was easier to spot in a crowd.  (*insert maniacal mad scientist laugh here*)

This second son of ours does not lack the self confidence.

After the kindergartners had exited the stage, Hubs and I chased Thing 2 down, so that we could grab him and head off to the boy’s band concert.  I did manage to get a picture of him with his teacher, though.  This girl deserves every ounce of praise, as she is truly using the spiritual gift God gave her and teaching a room packed with kindergartners.  She is full of patience and wisdom, grace and love, kindness and joy, and we cannot imagine a world in which Thing 2 wouldn’t have her for his own teacher.  She is a blessing to us.  She is, in fact, AN ENORMOUS BLESSING to us, straight from Jesus, Himself.

We rushed out of Thing 2’s concert in a whirl of heavy winter coats, as we navigated icy sidewalks in a rush, to zip straight over to the high school for the band’s performance.

The boy is musical.  I know that I’ve mentioned it eleventy-hundred times on here before, but he gets ZERO of that musical talent from his parents.  He defeated the odds of having a mom and a dad who can’t carry a tune in a bucket, and who don’t understand the difference between sharps and flats.  He rose up above his non-musical heritage, and he can play the HECK out of the clarinet and the piano and the saxophone.

The boy is also what is commonly called a PHOTO AVOIDER.  When he sees me in the audience, pointing a telephoto lens from a Canon straight at him, he ALWAYS looks the other way and pretends that he has no idea who that woman in the audience is.

I’m sure the Lord will forgive him for this offense.

BUT!  Lo!  That Tuesday night, my firstborn saw me with that camera from his spot on the stage, and he SMILED STRAIGHT AT ME!  I was so stunned at this opportunity, that I nearly missed the shot for the photo he was blessing me with!

He’s a handsome little punk, for sure.

The high school kids did a marvelous job with their band concert, and we rolled home about 8:45 that night.

We had done the impossible, as we pulled off two Christmas programs on the same night.  THAT is a Parenting Victory, for sure!

Happy Sunday, everyone.

Christmas Day 2018

We are now the proud owners of an Instapot, because LET’S BE BANDWAGON FANS AND JOIN THE NEW KITCHEN APPLIANCE CRAZE.

Except we’re a little late to the party, because I have friends who have been Instapotting (Can I use it as a verb?!) for months now.  Hubs came home one evening this past summer and announced that one of the guys in his office had made them all Instapot oatmeal, and it was THE BEST — Lo!  THE VERY BEST!! — oatmeal he’d ever had.  This probably has everything to do with the fact that he’s had nothing but instant Quaker oatmeal with maple and brown sugar and the occasional sugared-up dinosaur egg since he married me, twenty-two years ago, and he has forgotten what the real oatmeal of his youth tasted like.  I am all about the instant breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Hubs insisted that this oatmeal was the real deal, and that it involved REAL APPLES, HONEY!  REAL APPLES, AND NOT THE DEHYDRATED APPLE FLECKS YOU PASS OFF TO THE CHILDREN IN THEIR MORNING OATMEAL PACKETS!  And then this fellow at work continued to ruin my life — the life that finds no joy in cooking dinner, because it involves COOKING — as Hubs would come home and say, “Randy made jalapeno macaroni and cheese in his Instapot for us!  Randy made more oatmeal for us!  Randy made sausage soup in his Instapot for us at the office!  RANDY BOILED WATER IN HIS INSTAPOT AND WE ALL CLAPPED, BECAUSE RANDY IS AN INSTAPOT MASTER!”

So Mrs. Claus, who was tired of hearing how successful lunches at the office were going, told her elves, “Make an Instapot happen.”  And, just like that, come Christmas morning there was one sitting beneath our dehydrated, drier-than-the-sand-in-the-Sahara tree.

And now Hubs is the master of those steel-cut, raw oats, that are mixed with the real apples (And not those moistureless apple specks!) and the real cinnamon!  And Hubs is the master of sausage and potato soup!  And Hubs made us a delicious shepherd’s pie!  And Hubs cooked potatoes in precisely four minutes, which we turned into one fantastic potato salad!  And Hubs made Thai food in the Instapot!  So basically, Hubs is happy with his Instapot, and I am happy that Hubs is trying all these new recipes, as I sit back and pretend I have no idea how to operate a dangerous piece of pressure-cooking kitchen equipment, so please… continue with all the cooking, Husband.

In other words, this Instapot is the gift that has just kept on giving… to ME!  Especially since I am typing this blog post RIGHT NOW, AS WE SPEAK, while I’m eating a bowl of piping hot, leftover sausage and potato soup!

Shall we wrap up Christmas now?  Because it’s already January 3rd, and who even cares any longer what happened on our Christmas Day?

After we’d stripped our fire-hazard tree of all its lovely decor before 9 AM (which is surely an American record) and hauled it out to the curb, with absolutely zero remorse, we vacuumed up the 400 gajillion-bazillion pine needles and then loaded ourselves into the car and drove across town to Mam and Pa’s house, for breakfast.  Mam didn’t make the world’s best oatmeal, but what she did make were the world’s best cinnamon rolls, scrambled eggs and sausage patties.

And then she turned the children loose on the gifts beneath her tree.

Thing 2 could not EVEN BELIEVE that Mam and Pa knew he wanted a light-up race track, with the cars that have working headlights!  Apparently, he had forgotten that he’d only asked for that track six thousand times between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

We have had the configuration for every NASCAR course in America built out on our living room floor since Christmas morning, and those little cars-with-the-real-working-headlights are still racing strong.

Apparently, Cousin K had also forgotten that HE had asked for a candy-making machine six thousand times over the last month, too, because he was so surprised to find one beneath Mam and Pa’s tree!

This was also the gift that keeps on giving, because kids who are thrilled with a candy-making machine will MAKE THE CANDY, and then they want everyone to TRY THE CANDY, because they want to hear you proclaim them to be the best chocolate master since Willy Wonka himself.

Cousin L got a REAL ring, from a REAL jewelry store, and her six-year-old sister decided that she must be married now.

The boy got a fancy silver ID bracelet from that same jewelry store.  It has his name engraved on the front of it, in case he forgets how to spell it.  It also has a sweet message from Pa and Mam engraved on the back, and he loves it.

The Oonies were incredibly popular with the kindergarten crowd.  SO POPULAR, in fact, that Mam ended up with more Oonies balloons floating around her house than she could possibly count in a day, as those tots created all kinds of inflatable animals and creatures and argued relentlessly over WHOSE TURN IT WAS TO PUMP THE NEXT OONIE FULL OF AIR IN THE MAGIC MACHINE!

And here they all are.  All five of them.  I know I’m prejudiced, but I do think they’re all darling.

After we were thoroughly stuffed with breakfast and had hung out at Mam and Pa’s house all morning, we loaded ourselves up and drove twenty miles out to Grammy and Papa’s house, for more gifts and dinner.

It’s our yearly tradition to make the rapscallions on this side of the family plunk themselves on Grammy’s sofa for a group photo BEFORE they can touch a single gift.  We have done this their entire lives, and they all know that NO ONE RIPS THE WRAPPING PAPER UNTIL THE PHOTO IS DONE.  Every single year, Grammy frames one of these group shots, and then she adds it to her collection of framed Christmas pictures, which she lines up on a shelf in her house.

Sadly, big Cousin H was not able to come home for Christmas this year, as he is now twenty-two years old, a college graduate and the owner of a REAL LIVE CAREER, WITH A REAL LIVE PAYCHECK, AND A REAL LIVE HOUSE.  Since he just started this job in AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT STATE, without consulting any of his aunts to see whether or not they actually approved of him moving away for THE OPPORTUNITY OF  HIS LIFETIME, he couldn’t get the time off to drive home for Christmas.

Never you mind that.  His little sister (Cousin R) received in the mail for her December birthday a lovely gift from her big brother.  It was a fuzzy blanket, with his picture emblazoned across the front of it, and he MADE SURE he was OVERLY ATTRACTIVE in that snapshot!  He wore out-dated, floral Bermuda shorts and a sleeveless shirt, with boots and then he posed with his rifle.

I don’t understand why Ralph Lauren didn’t snap him up for the runways, after seeing that outfit.  Cousin R brought the giant blanket with her, and we put Cousin H in the picture!  My only regret is that I don’t have a snapshot that will let you see the floral shorts and the boots with that camo top and gun.

The teenagers were all delightfully good about giving me ONE super cute, smiling snapshot from each of them, before they cut me off.  But listen!  I had just gotten a new PORTRAIT camera lens for my camera from Mam and Pa, and I was in desperate need of PRACTICING with it!

Of course, I’m prejudiced, but I think the cousins on this side of the family are every bit as cute as my sister’s kids are, too.

God blessed us richly with the cousins.

And those cousins gave Thing 2 a hat that pretty much sums up his life.  It’s from the Nashville Predators, and it will become this little boy’s new nickname.  SMASH sums him up PERFECTLY.

Grammy and Papa seem to know the boy well, as they supplied him with a new watch AND a couple of new irons for his golf club set.

Aunt Pink got the girls long, fleece, footie pajamas…

… to match HERS!

And then Grammy and Papa had Thing 2 cover his eyes, as they wheeled (Yes!  WHEELED!) in HIS gift.

He was one happy little stinker, especially when Cousin M kept loading his dump truck up with wads of wrapping paper and discarded boxes for him to haul.

I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a house where a full-sized dump truck is being driven by a five-year-old, but it’s pretty dang exciting.  People were scrambling the rest of the night to grab furniture that was toppling over, as Thing 2 floored the gas pedal and JUST DROVE.  He was happy to fill the bed of his dump truck with WHATEVER the big kids gave him to haul, and he only begged us a thousand different times to take it outside in the two-foot snow drifts, so that he could drive it on the highway and get some real work done.

He also asked Papa if his truck had come with a blade to put on the front of it, so he could actually plow folks’ driveways.  Thing 2 is ALL ABOUT DOING REAL WORK.  Hubs and I hope that he keeps this desire to work hard at manual labor when he’s sixteen and can actually dig sprinkler trenches by hand for us when we need one.  Sadly, Papa did not add a blade attachment to the gift package, which is a shame, considering that Thing 2 is embarrassed by Hubs’ SMALL snowblower and was DESPERATE to use his dump truck to clear driveways this winter.

This truck has also been the gift that keeps on giving, as Thing 2 has used it in our driveway, to haul snow away, which he loads by the shovelfuls into the bed.

And THAT, y’all, was our Christmas.

We waddled home, after eating well, and put our boys to bed.

Y’all have a good Wednesday evening.