Four Things. Because I Couldn’t Think Of Five Things.

I just have a few things for you tonight, so I’m going to pitch them out in a numbered list.

Numbered lists make my soul happy, because OCD, ANYONE?

1.  I think that I MAY have gotten about three hours’ worth of sleep last night.

The boy went to a birthday party which involved an outdoor movie and the kind of healthy BBQ fixings and snacks that make a mother like me hang her head in pure shame at my total negligence in this Life Area.  I don’t think any trans-fats or chemicals of any kind were made in the preparation of this meal, when I seem to think no party buffet is complete without a bag of fluorescent orange Cheet-O’s and Hawaiian punch-flavored drink mixes, that are supercharged with artificial dyes and that glow in the dark from their toxicity.  The boy got home a little after midnight last night, because he’s fourteen and seems to think he’s ready for the college lifestyle.  (It’s also because we adore the family who hosted the outdoor movie birthday party, and trust them completely with our son.)  I stayed up, waiting for him, because DFS would have raised an eyebrow at us, had BOTH of our fourteen-year-old’s parents been passed out cold with ALL THE SLEEP when he was dropped off.

This is the point in my life when I would like to crawl into a DeLorean time machine, set it for 1989, and tell my younger parents, “You know what?  I don’t think I’ll stay out late tonight.  I think I’ll actually be home around 8:00, so y’all can just go to bed early, like elderly people enjoy doing.  I don’t want to keep you up too much longer after Wheel of Fortune wraps up, waiting for me to come home.”

Because trying to stay up and wait for your teenager to walk through the front door?  IT’S EXHAUSTING, PEOPLE!  I haven’t deliberately stayed up until midnight since Prom.

Twenty-six seconds after the boy walked into our house, I was sound asleep on our sofa.

I woke up at 1:00 this morning, and migrated to my bed.

I woke up at 1:45 this morning, because Hubs was in our bathroom, rummaging around for Excedrin to fight a migraine off.  He was exactly as quiet as a drunken circus monkey, who was enthusiastically clapping his brass symbols together and singing an off-key rendition of “I’ve Got Friends In Low Places.”

I went back to the sofa at 2:00.

I woke up at 3:00, because Thing 2 opened his bedroom door and hollered out, “Hey, Mommy?  What are you doin’?”

It’s called SLEEPING, son.  It’s what  normal people try to do when it’s dark outside.

I tucked the toddler back into his bed and listened to him sing songs to himself until 4:00 this morning, which is when I finally fell asleep.

And then I woke up at 5:15… for the day… because OF COURSE I DID, seeing as how Thing 2 slept until 7:00, after his middle-of-the-night partying.

2.  I went out to dinner last night with the best batch of girls.  We all left our husbands and our children behind, and we sat down at a table decorated with fresh-cut flowers, candles, and real linen napkins that are washed in a Whirlpool, instead of being thrown into the garbage can, like everyone does at Burger King.  We laughed our heads off, until we couldn’t breathe.  We talked about what a crack-shot Melanie would be with a shotgun.  We sympathized with Katie, as we learned that her husband decided to “eat better” last week, and he dropped ten pounds in seven days, because NO ESTROGEN TO GET IN THE WAY, and WHY DID GOD MAKE THINGS LIKE THAT HAPPEN?

I ordered an $11 chicken curry salad with coconut curry dressing, on the side.

I’ve never been more thankful for the words ON THE SIDE before in my life, because do you know what I learned last night?  Coconut curry dressing tastes like lies and sin and death.  I know, deep in my heart, that I’m a real princess, and that I probably SHOULD enjoy gourmet food, like fancy salad dressings made from island coconuts, but listen:  I ended up asking for a tin cup full of Ranch, and BLESS MY HEART.  I thoroughly enjoyed my dinner after that.

#Hillbilly

Except then I tasted Heather’s meal, because she ordered something called Potato Gnocchi, which I can’t even pronounce correctly.  The sample from Heather’s plate made me want to carry my own salad back to the kitchen and say, “I’d really rather have what Heather’s having.”

Afterward, I ordered the Salted Caramel Vanilla Cake, and listen, y’all:  I wanted to bury my face in that cake and marry it.  It was THAT GOOD.

3.  The other night, Hubs and the boy went out with our friend Sam and his daughter, M, so that they could all fly radio-controlled airplanes together.  It was the Witching Hour, which is that hour before bedtime, when the toddler is restless and cranky and whiny, so I stayed behind, with enormous plans to put him in bed early.

I sent my camera with Hubs, and said, “Please snap some pictures tonight.”

Yeah.

Hubs took THREE pictures.

Three.

As in, one… two… three… all done.

I take thirty pictures, just to WARM MY CAMERA UP, before the real picture-taking begins.  The last time I took just three photos at any event was when 35 mm film was involved.

IMG_7779 IMG_7780 IMG_7781If you’d like to nominate Hubs for his incredible photojournalist skills… or submit one of these photographs to National Geographic, for their publishing consideration… please feel free to do so.

Also, y’all should totally check out M’s blog.  She’s a 6th grader (A SIXTH GRADER!!!), who has her own blog, because… well… she’s a rockstar when it comes to writing and telling stories.  Her blog can be found BY CLICKING RIGHT HERE.

4.  Do you know how there are homeless people who live in their cars?

My Suburban has reached that level of cleanliness.

And that’s going to about do it for tonight.  Y’all get some sleep and enjoy your weekend.

Kitchen Bar Stool: 1. Toddler: 0.

Of course, the moral of the story is that sometimes… when your mama has already told you SEVENTY-TWELVE THOUSAND TIMES that climbing on the bar stool, in order to reach things you shouldn’t be reaching, is actually A BAD IDEA… you should MAYBE  LISTEN TO HER.

Because sometimes the stool will buck you off, and you will end up with a super sweet shiner.

IMG_7783 IMG_7784 IMG_7782 IMG_7788 IMG_7787 IMG_7792 IMG_7793 IMG_7790 IMG_7799Of course, Thing 2 just thinks he looks TOUGHER with a black eye.

Y’all have a good Wednesday evening.

Turtle: It’s What’s For Dinner

Warning:  This blog post contains a single, disturbing image.

I felt like you should know.

In case you’re… like… a vegetarian or something.

Because THIS happened at our house for dinner one night this past week:

IMG_7149That would be one of the turtles that Hubs and the boy grilled up on the Traeger.  I’m not sure that anything sings the songs of love to the male soul quite like a giant hamburger patty wrapped in bacon, with some hot dog accessories shoved in around the edges for good measure.

I also felt like we had reached a new dinner low, because this is pretty much the stuff people in the swamps eat.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I hear our family physician calling in our cholesterol medication to the pharmacy.

Y’all have a good Tuesday night.

The Ribs Are Always Tastier On The Other Side Of The Dirt Road

Y’all.

We only have one more week of summer vacation, before it’s time to head back to school and actually use that new calculator with the algebraic function keys that was on our school supply list.

(Thank you, Advanced 8th Grade Math, Otherwise Known As Algebra I.  Whereas the school supply list for REGULAR MATH included two dirt-cheap notebooks, with your choice of fluffy kittens or Iron Man on the fronts, and a  #2 pencil, you were very specific in stating that the boy would need two five-subject notebooks, to the tune of SIX AMERICAN DOLLARS EACH, as well as a two-inch, three-ring binder, which is roughly the size of the binder NASA has to hold ALL of the printed documentation of the moon landing, a calculator with function keys and mechanical pencils.  August will go down as THE MONTH DADDY WORKED 40 HOURS A WEEK TO PAY FOR ALGEBRA STUFF, and let’s not even talk about how that Godzilla-sized binder is going to fit in a backpack.  It should have come with a built-in handle and wheels, and I have no idea HOW it’ll be lugged home every night.)

The honest answer is that it’s time to send the boy back to school, even in my mind.  Yes, I’ve enjoyed having him home all summer, because I can issue orders like, YOU FOLLOW BEHIND MY VACUUMING WITH THE MOP, and it happens.  And now I have to go back to doing my own mopping during the day, but listen.  Our summer break is officially at the point where the camp counselor has just run out of fun activities to do, and she’s left her group of children alone in the cabin to READ or WRITE A LETTER HOME or WHATEVER, because all the excitement of SCAVENGER HUNTS! and HORSEBACK RIDING! and ROCK CLIMBING! and FRIENDSHIP BRACELET-MAKING! and POTTERY! and CANOEING! and ARCHERY! that was so real at the beginning of the summer has tapered off to JUST NOTHING LEFT OF THE ENTHUSIASM, and all the counselor really wants now is a hot shower, any type of real jewelry that doesn’t involve cheap string and beads from the Walmart craft aisle, and a cold bottle of Zima with a Jolly Rancher watermelon candy poked down into it.

(I speak from the experience.  I worked as a camp counselor for too many years.)

(Also?  I think that last full paragraph was actually pretty much one long-winded sentence, but whatever.)

We really do need to get back into the groove of getting out of bed before 11 AM and eating something other than ham sandwiches for dinner, because it was 97 degrees at the park this afternoon and no one felt like turning on the stove.

(And I should clarify that it’s only the boy who is sleeping in until 11:00 in the mornings, because Hubs and I have Thing 2, and he rises in time to actually wake the rooster up.)

Anyway.

As a last push to milk this summer break for every ounce of fun it has in it, Hubs and the boys and I drove over the river and through the woods, and up the mountain and down the mountain this last weekend, to a giant PROFESSIONAL BARBECUE COOK-OFF.  I don’t think I’ve tried to hide the fact that Hubs wants to grill meat for gold medals and accolades and applause and three-foot-long, cardboard checks written out to the tune of twenty-five grand, which are presented to him by blondes in red-and-white-checkered aprons.  Hubs is a slave to BBQ shows on the Food Network.  He researches marinades and smoke times and wood pellet flavors, and we’ve reached a point in our lives where we can no longer enjoy a steak at any restaurant, because Hubs just grills them better at home.

So, when our friend Melanie said, “Yeah… there’s this pro BBQ going on,” we were in.

I believe Hubs’ exact words were, “I just want to go over there and SMELL IT ALL.”

Obviously, we are very classy.

And obviously the pro BBQ was very classy, too, because there was a car show going on, which you had to walk through in order to get to the food tents and the giant barbecues that are bigger than some single-wide trailers, and THIS was there:

IMG_2713THAT, people, is some kind of antique muscle car, with a very clean engine, and THREE tigers on top.  (I think I was supposed to notice something more than CLEAN ENGINE beneath the hood, but all those hoses and wires and fan belts confuse me, and make my brain cramp.)  Those tigers are not the low-grade stuffed animals, either, because they came straight from the upper rack at the carnival booth.  They clearly scream out, “OUR OWNER HAS A SWEET RIDE WITH NO REAL MUFFLER IN PLACE, AND HE CAN THROW A DART AT A BALLOON AND POP ONE, FIFTY-TWO TIMES IN A ROW.  WE’RE UPPER-DECK ANIMALS, AND HE WON OUR ENTIRE FAMILY OF THREE.”

And then Hubs paid ten dollars in cold, hard, backed-with-all-the-gold cash to secure this little cup of loveliness:

IMG_2718That is what is commonly called THE BBQ SUNDAE.  Lest you think that it’s a tiny cup of ice cream and toppings, let me set you straight.  It’s pulled pork, smashed in between layers of mashed potatoes, covered in barbecue sauce, and topped with bacon bits and a cherry tomato.

I’m fairly certain that these will be served at the next presidential inauguration ball.

Hubs made the rounds of all the food tents, and, after taking samples, declared himself more of a Barbecue King than anyone else there…

… until he crossed the dirt road with Darrell and Sister’s Husband and entered into the PROFESSIONAL BBQ COOK-OFF SIDE.  Lo!  He had just been on the amateur side of things, sampling sundaes covered in bacon pieces.  On the other side of the dirt road, he found a rack of ribs that he wanted to marry.  He came back with grease and sauce and flavor all over his chin and beard, and he was HAPPY.  He had met the big boys, who grill for real prize money.

Meanwhile, Sister and Melanie and I stayed on the amateur side of things, while the husbands were gone, where the shade was happening and where sodas were $3 each.  It was all about supply and demand, really.  When it’s 412 degrees outside, you become dehydrated and will shell out nearly any amount of money for a giant cup filled with seven pounds of ice and two ounces of Pepsi.

When Hubs came back to our simpler side of the dirt road, we had to break the news to him:  We had gone into debt by $726 because we were baking in the August temperatures, and we needed fluids.

AND… don’t judge us.

Because?  Have you ever had a toddler with as much energy as Thing 2 has?  Or the ability to dart into traffic and crowds like he’s a bolt of greased lightning?

Hubs and the boy and I were quite determined to still have Thing 2 at the end of the weekend, because we do adore that child tremendously, so we…

… ah…

… well…

used a leash.

Yes.  We used a leash, even though Hubs cringed in horror and declared that he couldn’t go through with it, because A TODDLER ON A LEASH??  It’s just wrong.  And I used to be there with him, but now I can’t throw rocks, because GLASS HOUSE, Y’ALL.

Glass.  Stinking.  House.

Except… That leash freed up our hands, and we could lower our vigilant attention just a touch, and holy sweet mother of WOW!  It just worked!

IMG_2714 IMG_2717 IMG_2735 IMG_2726Thing 2 felt like he had some freedom with that stuffed owl strapped to his back, and we felt like WE had some freedom, too, because I wasn’t chasing him nonstop in the desert-like heat.

We did, however, have to make the older kids rephrase their questions of, “Can I walk Thing 2 now?”  Because HE’S NOT A POODLE!  So the statement of the day became, “I’m going on a run with Thing 2 now!”

IMG_2721 IMG_2722 IMG_2733That pack of kids plum wore our toddler out!

Hubs and Cousin H also had a little discussion on how he could grill any chunk of beef or pork handed to him better than anyone on the amateur side of the dirt road could do.

Little H went along with him.  She’s still missing some molars required for eating brisket, so she just nodded in agreement to everything her uncle said, while she waited for someone to make the next $3 soda run.

IMG_2732 IMG_2730By the end of the day, Thing 2 was tired.

He’d been on forty-eleven runs with different big kids, while they held his leash.  He’d eaten one single bite of chicken all day, because WHO HAS TIME TO STOP MOVING TO ACTUALLY EAT AT THIS EVENT?  He had consumed his weight in Pepsi and ice cubes.  He had lost entire buckets of sweat.  He had thrown rocks and sticks, and he’d had a very fine day.

He snuggled up with Taylor, when a nap felt like it was unavoidable, even for him.

IMG_2738And then boom!

IMG_2711And that was our weekend, folks.

(I apologize for the blurrier-than-normal snapshots tonight, but I used the iPhone this weekend.  And my iPhone pretty much needs an exorcism, because it’s packing attitude and stubbornness these days.)

The End Of The Birthday Celebrations

So this post is going to be quick tonight, because I’ve already typed a lot of words this week.  And because I’ve already slammed a lot of snapshots into the blog this week.  And because I’m reading a book that I want to finish, because I have another book waiting in the wings; it’s the next one up for my reading pleasure, and I think it’s going to be better than the one I’m reading now.

I wish that my OCD would let me just stop reading a book and give it away without finding out how it ends, when I don’t like it, but no.  I always push through bad writing, poor character development, and BIG HEAP OF BAD BORING, just so I can find out if it ends well.

(Yes, it’s hard being me.)

Anyway, we wrapped up the boy’s birthday last weekend with dinner at his grandparents’ house, in Small Mountain Town, last Saturday night.

(And really?  Does anyone even still care what we did last weekend?  Because COME ON, ALREADY!  That was an entire week ago, and we’re on to new things.)

Hubs’ mama made one of the boy’s favorite dinners, which is grilled steak, watermelon and corn on the cob.  His other favorite dinner is cheese pizza.  And his other favorite dinner is a double quarter pounder from McDonald’s, even though… when I was pregnant with him… I vowed to NEVER, EVER feed my baby fast food.  Like… ever.

Whatever.

Life gets lived, and sometimes dinners just have to be quick and dirty.

The boy got to open his presents right away at Grammy and Papa’s house, because his gift was huge.  And it was sitting beneath a sheet in the front yard.  And that’s a lot of PATIENCE and ENDURANCE for a fourteen-year-old boy to take, when he has to look across the grass all night at his gift, wondering what is hiding beneath the sheet, because there wasn’t actually enough wrapping paper at Walmart to get ‘er wrapped up.

Plus, we have Thing 2.  We knew that the green bed sheet wrapping paper was going to be coming off sooner, rather than later, with THAT toddler.

(And?  Have I ever mentioned how much Thing 2 LOVES presents?  Oh, sweet mercy!  That baby lives for wrapped gifts.  He thinks every present he ever sees belongs to him, and he wants to OPEN IT, OPEN IT,  OPEN IT!  So… he pretty much unwrapped all of his Bubbie’s birthday gifts this year himself.)

IMG_7639 IMG_7640 IMG_7641 IMG_7643 IMG_7644The boy got a remote-controlled airplane from Grammy and Papa, because he’s been wanting one, since our last trip to the eye doctor.

Last month, we went to see Sam (our good friend and Eye Doctor Extraordinaire), because the boy wanted contacts.  He had been talking about contacts for a while, saying that HE’D SURE LIKE TO TRY THEM SOMETIME, and DID HE REALLY NEED TO TOUCH HIS EYEBALL TO PUT CONTACTS IN?

After the contacts were in place and Sam was asking the boy if he could JUST READ THE BOTTOM LINE THERE (which is as common a phrase as an IT guy’s one of “Did you try rebooting your computer?”), the eye doctor and the thirteen-year-old patient entered into a lively discussion on remote-controlled airplanes, computerized flight simulators, ultralights, and broken helicopters.

As much as I’ve always enjoyed Sam and his adorable wife and daughters and their family’s friendship, I don’t think it should come as any surprise that we’re now switching eye doctors.  My teenager has been running around our house for weeks now, hollering out that YOU DON’T EVEN NEED A PILOT’S LICENSE FOR AN ULTRALIGHT, BECAUSE SAM SAID SO!  What Sam seemed to forget is that he has four DAUGHTERS, and daughters, when they hear long-winded stories of HOW I FLEW AN ULTRALIGHT ALL OVER SMALL TOWN COUNTY AND FILMED THE ENTIRE THING FROM MY CAMERA, WHICH WAS DANGLING ON A CORD UNDER THE PLANE, tend to say, “That’s nice, Dad.”  And then they’re done.  They’re done, because there are cute shoes to buy, and WHO CARES IF DAD IS ACTING LIKE ORVILLE AND WILBUR WRIGHT AGAIN?  But… when Sam mentions “just 5 gallons of fuel” and “no formal pilot training whatsoever” and “you can take off from an alfalfa field” to a thirteen-year-old boy, he is suddenly all ears.  The thought of flying alone in the big, open sky will consume him all day long, because he doesn’t give a green pickle about cute new shoes, and he will remind you three hundred and fourteen more times that his BIRTHDAY IS IN FOUR WEEKS, MOM!!  JUST FOUR.  MORE.  WEEKS!!!

And MY VERY OWN ULTRALIGHT was added to the all-important Wish List of Gifts, thanks to that crazy eye doctor of ours, especially after Sam dropped off a computerized flight simulator for the boy to JUST GO AHEAD AND PRACTICE WITH AT HOME.

So.  There was an enormous desire for a birthday airplane after we got contacts from Sam, and Grammy and Papa came through with a remote-controlled one, because Mama was voting a solid NO on an ultralight.

And then!

Grammy and Papa, along with some help from Hubs and Hubs’ sister, Aunt Pink, built the boy a fantastic, industrial-style desk and lamp!

IMG_7645 IMG_7646 IMG_7648 IMG_7649BOOM!

Go ahead and pin THAT on the Pinterest, because it just happened!

IMG_7656 IMG_7657 IMG_7660 IMG_7661 IMG_7664The desk and lamp are both made out of plumbing pipes, and the boy ADORES them!  Plus, he scored a real desk chair with rolling wheels, which totally trumped his THIS CHAIR USED TO BE PART OF MY PARENTS’ DINING ROOM SET, BUT NOW IT’S MY DESK CHAIR IN MY BEDROOM chair.

We are incredibly fancy at our house when it comes to desk seating.

Seriously, though… the desk and lamp are amazing, but I’m going to need a Valium prescription, to get me through all the times that Thing 2 swipes the rolling chair out of Bubbie’s room and pushes it all over our house.

IMG_7690After dinner, the boy and Enzo (who came with us) brought Papa’s DEER-WINGING BB GUNS out, so that they could do a little target practice.

(Because the deer in Small Mountain Town?  Yeah… there are more deer there than people in China.  It’s why all of Grammy’s flowerbeds are surrounded by giant cages of wire.)

IMG_7671 IMG_7673 IMG_7676 IMG_7677 IMG_7678 IMG_7680There were also tractor rides, because Thing 2′s love language is the “tractor mower.”  I think Enzo put another hundred thousand miles on Papa’s riding lawn mower on Saturday evening, just driving our toddler around the yard at his bossy demand of TRACTOR RIDE!  TRACTOR RIDE NOW!

IMG_7740 IMG_7742 IMG_7666 IMG_7735 IMG_7739 IMG_7730Mmm.

Here’s that cute guy who once had a mullet.  I’m still crazy about him, even though he has decided to grow a beard, Duck Dynasty style.  Please feel free to text Hubs’ cell phone, and use the hashtag of #BeardShouldGoByeBye.

I’ve never really been a fan of the mountain man look, but I’m a fan of Hubs, and so I shall grit my teeth and get through this fashion trend of his, exactly like our parents had to get through the parachute pants that we all wore in the ’80s.

IMG_7682 IMG_7687 IMG_7685Hubs’ sister had a big, purple balloon on Saturday night, which Thing 2 was enamored with.  She’d blow it up… and then let the air squeal out of it, over and over and OV-AH, and Thing 2 howled with hysterical laughter every.  single.  time.

It never got old.

(Also?  Well… those are Oreo cookies on his face, because MCDONALD’S QUARTER POUNDERS… OREOS… Mother of the Year!)

IMG_7691 IMG_7692 IMG_7693 IMG_7696 IMG_7703 IMG_7704 IMG_7705 IMG_7698 IMG_7711 IMG_7706 IMG_7713And then, the highlight of MY evening was HOMEMADE ICE CREAM!

Grammy and Papa do it the old fashioned way.  There are none of those new-age, high-tech ELECTRIC ice cream makers for them.  Nope.  They make ice cream the way God and folks from the 1800s intended for it to be made…

… with the old hand-turned crank.

IMG_7723 IMG_7727 IMG_7729 IMG_7732 IMG_7734And that is a wrap on Birthday Fest ’14.  Even though we drug it out for as long as was humanly possible, all good things must come to an end.

Y’all have a very merry weekend.

Saying Goodbye

On August 13, 1993, I broke my nose.

The reason that I remember the date so well is because it was a FRIDAY THE 13th.  I was playing first base for our co-ed softball team.  A guy batted a line drive straight to our short stop, who was Sister’s Husband.  Only in 1993, he wasn’t Sister’s HUSBAND, because he was just Sister’s Boyfriend.  He snagged that line drive in his glove, and he threw it LIKE A ROCKET to me, over on first.

Now don’t go thinking that I took that ball to the face, because that’s not what happened.  Had I taken Sister’s Husband’s Boyfriend’s throw to my nose, I would be dead.  That ball was ON FIRE when it was thrown, because we were in the semi-final championship game, and we were a team that didn’t mess around with our scores.  We took our softball seriously, and guys on our team knew that they could THROW LIKE A MAJOR LEAGUE BALL PLAYER to me.

The throw from short stop was just a bit off.  To catch it, I was going to have to pull my foot off the bag by two full steps.  This was not a problem.  I grew up playing softball every year of my life, and I’ll just go ahead and state the facts:  I could have gone to the Olympics there!  If someone could throw the ball anywhere close to me… I could catch it.  And I caught that ball, two steps away from first base, on August 13th, 1993.

I was right beside the runner, so I swung my glove out at him to tag him, before he made it to the base.  He was as determined to remain SAFE as I was to have him OUT, so he sucked in his gut to avoid the tag (I was swinging for his belly, with the ball in my glove), and he threw both of his arms up in the air to get them out of the way…

… and that’s when he accidentally threw his elbow right into my face.

It knocked me out cold for a couple of minutes.

When I came to, I was sitting on my knees in the dirt, bent over, while my nose bled like a garden hose.  There was no drip-drip-dripping of blood involved; my nose was pouring gallons of blood out of both nostrils in a steady flow, like Hoover Dam had been broken.  The bridge of my nose had snapped; my nose was sitting beneath my left eyeball.  Our team pitcher was an EMT, and he’d secured a bag of ice from the concession stand and was totally ON DUTY when I regained consciousness, a couple of minutes after being knocked out.  I heard him explaining to my parents, who were kneeling there in the dirt with me, while he nearly suffocated me with a plastic bag full of ice that he was holding to my face, that I was going to need to head on up to the ER, because BROKEN, BROKEN, BROKEN.

And also BROKEN.

Apparently the fact that my nose was completely sitting under one eye was the dead giveaway.

I went to the ER with my parents… I bled all over the backseat of their car… and an X-ray confirmed that my nose was no longer situated in the center of my face, and YOU’RE GOING TO NEED SURGERY TO FIX THIS ONE.

A little while later, over half of our softball team showed up at the hospital, just to check on me.  They had won the game; we were advancing to the championship game, which we would go on to win.  (I had to watch that game from the bleachers.)  AND… someone brought my glove to the ER to return to me.  The ball that I’d caught from Sister’s Boyfriend-at-the-Time was still in it, and they announced that, once the game resumed, the umpire had called the runner OUT, because YES!!  I had indeed tagged the man before I was plowed in the face with his elbow.

I’m sure it was on ESPN’s highlights that night as THE PLAY OF THE DAY.

Anyway.

The broken nose wasn’t what I had planned on having, because girls just don’t consider themselves to be cute when they have two BLACK-AS-SIN eyes and a nose that isn’t where it should be.  Plus, my left eye swelled up bigger than the softball itself and was completely swollen shut for days.

I looked like I’d fought a train.

But… two days after my PLAY OF THE DAY, a really handsome boy with a fantastic mullet called to check on me.  I knew WHO he was, but I didn’t know him at all, as we’d never talked to one another.  He’d been in the stands that night, watching the semi-final game, and apparently he thought that I was cute… BEFORE MY FACE SWELLED AND CHANGED AND NEEDED PLASTIC SURGERY.  He introduced himself to me… I vaguely knew who he was… and he told me that he had just seen the accident, and he was calling to check on me.  I was actually supposed to play on HIS fall softball team, that would start right after the championship game that ended the summer season.  I had to tell him on the phone that I wouldn’t be playing on his team after all, because, “Gee… the doctor told me that I couldn’t run for six weeks, because I could jar my nose out of place again.”

And listen.  A girl doesn’t have to be told twice WHAT NOT TO DO when the alternative is having her nose misaligned after surgery has put it right smack back into place.  There was NO WAY I was going to be doing any running; I would have, in fact, SLOWLY WALKED AWAY FROM attacking zombies, for fear of ruining the position of my recently-corrected nose once again.

Eventually, that cute boy with the mullet worked up the courage that he had lacked in the middle of August of 1993.  He called me back.  He invited me to see a movie with him, and I went.  And then I decided that HOLY SNOT, BATMAN!  HE IS CUTE!  AND ALSO VERY SWEET!  And… I think I might love him.

So I married him.

And I’m still head over heels in love with him, twenty-one years after my PLAY OF THE DAY.

Today is August 13, 2014.

Today, the boy said good-bye to his very best friend.

August 13th seems to be a day of hardships for us.

The boy and Enzo have been close, CLOSE friends since they met the summer after kindergarten, and Enzo left today with his family.  His dad took a job, two entire states away from us here in Small Town, USA.  They loaded up a moving truck… they packed their vehicle to the gills… and my son had to say goodbye to his closest friend.

Yes.  There were tears; I may have cried more than anyone else did.  It’s hard to see your child hurting, and it’s going to be difficult to adjust to a life without Enzo here, just around the corner and up the hill from us.  That boy has grown up at our house… he has been inside of our house every single week, at some point, for the past seven years.  I feel like he was my third son, and I know that Enzo’s mama (Evelyn) feels the same way about the boy.  They have stayed the night with one another so often, Evelyn and I always joked that we should build them their own bedrooms at both houses!

I’ll never forget the time when the boy was a 4th grader, when he told me, “Mom, I really love you a lot.  I mean… A LOT!  But… if I didn’t have YOU for a mom… I would want Miss Evelyn to be my mom.”

Well, then!

Our family has known that this day was coming for several months.  Enzo’s dad took a job, two states over, quite some time ago.  He has been out there working for the past school year, while Evelyn stayed behind and let her boys finish that school year here, with their friends.  We have known for months and months that when the 7th grade ended… when summer break hit… Evelyn and Mark would sell their house here, in Small Town, and their family would all move.  They’re the kind of family who sticks together, just like we do, and this past year has been hard on Enzo and his little brother, having their dad so far away all the time.

I understand how important it is for them to go.

But that doesn’t make today… August 13th… any easier for us.

IMG_6450 IMG_7417 IMG_9291 IMG_8025 IMG_7994 IMG_1977 IMG_1678 IMG_2125 IMG_2183 IMG_8437 IMG_0096 IMG_1208 IMG_4694 IMG_4537 IMG_5095 IMG_5132 IMG_8420 IMG_9062 IMG_7174 IMG_7172 IMG_4209 IMG_0881 IMG_1473 IMG_5195 IMG_5437 IMG_6747 IMG_7395 IMG_7508 IMG_8087 IMG_9351 IMG_9360 IMG_9721 IMG_3975 IMG_2935Saying goodbye to a close friend when he moves is hard.

It’s DADGUM DANG hard.

But we believe that Jesus loves these two boys more than their mamas love them, which is A LOT.  We believe that Jesus has good things in store for both of these boys.  We believe that Enzo is going to thrive and make new friends in his new town; we believe that the boy will remain secure in his wolf pack of buddies right here, in Small Town.  We believe that Jesus will take care of both Enzo and the boy, and that He’ll bring a peace to their hearts over this matter, even though today was so hard on them.

Breaking my nose on August 13th, 1993 wasn’t what I WANTED, but it brought about some good, in the form of me meeting Hubs.  We believe that this August 13th will bring about some good, too.  No, it’s not what we wanted.  We didn’t want Enzo’s family to move away at all.  As of this afternoon, things have changed HUGE for us, because we have this hole in our house, that was always filled by Enzo.  Enzo has always been there for the boy to hang out with.  They haven’t gone more than a week without seeing one another in seven years.  They do movies together and overnights together.  They play on the same soccer teams and the same baseball teams.  They have just done flat-out everything together for seven years.

I snapped these pictures of them today…

IMG_7769 IMG_7775 IMG_7777These boys are still as cute as they were back in the first grade, and I love both of their stinking guts to pieces!!

But the bottom line to all of this is just that sometimes what we DON’T WANT works out to be the biggest blessing Jesus can give to us.  His arm is not too short to reach down from the heavens, touch the tops of both of these boys’ heads, and bless them profoundly.

Happy Wednesday, y’all.

A Little Birthday Party

Have I mentioned that the 8th grade starts for us, in TWO WEEKS, MINUS ONE DAY?  The boy and I aren’t terribly excited about this.  I think it has to do with the fact that the boy will have to, once again, resort to an alarm clock waking him up at an unholy hour in the morning, and I’m going to be at home without the luxury of saying, “Could you take your little brother outside for a few minutes, while I fold this load of laundry?”

Oh.  And then I will be back in the gym, teaching PE, and informing Johnny that throwing our tennis shoes at Joey is not something that we actually DO in my class, while I remind Jane that UN-inviting Jill from her birthday party is not extending kindness toward others, instead of being at the park, with good friends and their kids and a cup of love from Starbucks, which is where I PREFER TO BE.

So… we’re just trying to soak up these next couple of weeks, and keep the good times rolling, before we’re back to PLEASE HURRY, BECAUSE YOUR BELL RINGS IN FIFTEEN MINUTES, AND I’D LIKE TO GET YOU TO SCHOOL ON TIME, WITH YOUR TEETH ACTUALLY BRUSHED.

(This is where Katie and Natalie and Ellen and Theresa all tell me, “Um… HOMESCHOOLING!  We start school in our pajamas, and brush our teeth over recess break.”  The thing is… the boy has no desire to be homeschooled, because he’s uber-social and needs forty-eleven children to talk to, all day long, and because his mama can no longer figure out ANY of the math equations he brings home, without a tall glass of wine beside her and the Google.)

Anyway.

We kept the good times rolling on the boy’s birthday, because… after a round of Birthday Golf in the morning… the boy had a little get-together that evening.  The thing about boys is that THEY’RE SIMPLE.

They are.

A pile of squirt guns, the garden hose, a Rubbermaid tub, and nine pizzas will make them feel as good as if they’d just won the lottery.

IMG_7417(Also?  Can we discuss the little potted tree up above there, in that picture?)

(I have two potted trees… one on each side of our front door, because symmetry soothes my OCD.  I’ve had them for four years, and they’ve thrived and been these little, lush trees that embodied good health and screamed, “THE LADY WHO LIVES HERE KNOWS HOW TO GARDEN!”  And then during the last week of July, those two potted trees, in an apparent suicide pact, BOTH up and turned rust-colored.  I tried every form of tree-CPR that I knew… extra water… extra vitamins… extra love… and they completely ignored my nursing care.  And then they died.  I’ve been meaning to take their beloved carcasses out of the pots and replace them with something less dramatic, like mums, but I haven’t gotten to it yet.)

(I apologize if the carnage of dead trees in pots makes your stomach churn.  Perhaps this blog post should have come with a warning of DISTURBING IMAGES before you started.)

IMG_7420 IMG_7419 IMG_7421 My patio was completely destroyed with mud and muck and mayhem, but it was all in the name of good, wet fun.

Thing 2 joined right in, because our toddler THINKS he’s a teenager.  All of his best friends are teenage boys, and he can never quite understand why HE can’t play on the junior high soccer team, scribble in the Algebra textbook, or attend the 9:00 movie at the theater.  But… when one of the boys hands him a squirt gun, he’s good to go.  He’s a force to be reckoned with, and he’ll fight to the bloody death in the battle with all the big boys.

IMG_7462 IMG_7418 IMG_7425 IMG_7422 IMG_7423 IMG_7424The battle raged on outside for quite some time.  Ambushes happened in the front yard… and the backyard… and in the neighbor’s yard, because the fight wasn’t localized to just one piece of property.  Through it all, I tried to stay right on the patio with my camera, because it was just too dangerous to be anywhere else.

IMG_7420 IMG_7421 IMG_7427 IMG_7428 IMG_7430 IMG_7434 IMG_7432 IMG_7438 IMG_7442 IMG_7444 IMG_7449 IMG_7450 IMG_7451 IMG_7453And?

Can anyone else quote the movie, Date Night, with Michael Scott?  I’d call him by his real name, but he’ll always be Michael Scott, from The Office, to me.  I even forget that Steve Carell HAS a real name.

Hubs and I loved the scene in the movie where Phil and Claire Foster are on a date, and they get held up by some thugs in the alley behind the restaurant.  One of the bad guys points a gun at Phil, and Phil yells out, “OH, MY GOSH, NO!  HE TURNED IT SIDEWAYS!!  KILL SHOT!  THAT’S A KILL SHOT!!

I think that Ben might’ve had a kill shot going on last Friday night, because HE TURNED THE GUN SIDEWAYS!

IMG_7448

IMG_7454 IMG_7457 IMG_7431 IMG_7459 IMG_7461 IMG_7465 IMG_7466 IMG_7470 IMG_7463 IMG_7471 IMG_7473 IMG_7474 IMG_7475 IMG_7476 IMG_7479 IMG_7478 IMG_7482 IMG_7483 IMG_7486 IMG_7489 IMG_7491 IMG_7490 IMG_7494 IMG_7495 IMG_7503 IMG_7504 IMG_7496 IMG_7498 IMG_7499 IMG_7500 IMG_7528 IMG_7531 IMG_7533

IMG_7510 IMG_7519 IMG_7514 IMG_7542 IMG_7521After all the teenage boys were soaking wet… and dripping water from their shirts, their shorts, their shoes and their hair…

… they all walked through my house, and left a better trail behind them than Hansel and Gretel could ever have hoped to do with mere bread crumbs.

I fed everyone pizza on the back deck, because pizza is a boy’s love language.

IMG_7547 IMG_7550 IMG_7544 IMG_7545 IMG_7546And then I filled up Thing 2′s water table, so that he and little Cousin H could have some playtime there.  It’s the least I could do, since I ended up hauling our toddler OUT OF the line of fire.

He may THINK he’s thirteen years old, but he’s short… and he gets mowed down when there’s a pack of big boys running zigzag patterns around him, even though he has the spirit of warfare inside his heart, and will fight to the bloody death with them all in a gunfight.

The water table was Mama’s compromise from removing him from the front lines of war.

IMG_7565 IMG_7567 IMG_7568 IMG_7569 IMG_7584 IMG_7587The boy ended up getting more presents on Friday night, because that’s what seems to happen at birthday parties.

IMG_7592 IMG_7594 IMG_7596 IMG_7598 IMG_7599 IMG_7600 IMG_7603 IMG_7606 IMG_7608 IMG_7617 IMG_7611And then… I would just like to point out how differently a junior high girls behaves in front of a camera than a junior high boys does.

This is Cousin L.  She’s sweet and beautiful, and when the camera comes out… she smiles her best Sunday grin.

IMG_7624In contrast, Enzo withholds his best Sunday grin, because he must strike a dramatic pose that looks like he’s just been shot by jungle people, in the neck with a poisonous dart.

IMG_7621The rest of the boys behave exactly the same way…

IMG_7618 IMG_7619 IMG_7623 IMG_7620 IMG_7622We ended up having chocolate birthday DONUTS at the boy’s party, because… well… he thinks a good donut trumps a cake any day of the week.

We also seemed to have an eating contest going on that involved boys hollering out, “I just ate six pieces of pizza!  I think I’m the winner,” while someone else yelled, “Nope!!  I ate seven pieces AND three donuts!!”

I should have sent them all home with Tums as party favors.

IMG_7575While the big boys were commanded to gather their artillery, which was scattered from one end of my yard to Egypt and back, Thing 2 sweet talked his uncle into playing cars on the deck for a bit.

IMG_7637 IMG_7636Afterward, I had one party guest ask me, “Is there any pizza left?  I ONLY got five pieces and two donuts.”

Yes.  Yes, we had some pizza left, because Mama understands how quickly the pizza slices disappear when they’re set before a pack of junior high boys.

I just couldn’t believe that there were still hunger pains after ONLY five slices of pepperoni pizza and two chocolate donuts.

(DEAR PARENTS OF THESE BOYS, I APOLOGIZE FOR THE CAVEMAN-LIKE EATING THAT TOOK PLACE ON MY DECK LAST FRIDAY EVENING.  THESE WERE CHEAP, CHEAP PIZZAS, AND I CAN ONLY IMAGINE THE GUT ACHES THEY CAUSED, AFTER YOUR BOYS CAME HOME.)

And then… just like that… the boy’s little birthday party wrapped itself up, because moms and dads were picking boys up.

Afterward, the boy gave me a spontaneous hug and said, “Mom, thanks for all the golfing and the party.  This has been one of my best birthdays ever.”

I love that kid.

Y’all have a merry Tuesday night… and stay tuned.  I still have MORE pictures from MORE birthday festivities to come.  We’re the celebration that doesn’t know when to stop.

Birthday Golf

I’m one of those spoiled little princesses who gets my nails done every two weeks.

Oh… I didn’t used to be this way.  No, ma’am.  I was one of those girls whose fingernails were an eyesore… who tried to curl her fingers tightly around the pen whenever she wrote out a check at Walmart, because she was afraid the cashier would notice and remark on how UGLY her nails actually were.

And then I got a gift certificate to a posh little salon, with a fantastic cowgirl who does nails exactly the way Jesus intended for them to look, and boom!

Hooked!

I’m a slave to the acrylics now, and I have reworked our budget over the past three years to include heat and groceries and air conditioning and running water and nails.

And then this morning, while I was making my bed, I shoved my hand between the mattress and the headboard to pull the fitted sheet tight, and I bent the fingernail on my middle finger backwards… snapped it off… and the pain nearly made me call 911.  I can’t imagine that an unmedicated amputation in the middle of the ghetto, by someone who earned his doctor degree by watching old episodes of Gray’s Anatomy, would have hurt any more.

So if you see typos of any kind in this post, just know that I’m beating the keyboard with one less finger right now.

So.

We had Birthday Weekend at our house, because we’ve never been able to reign the festivities in and keep our celebrations to a single day.  Birthday Fest ’14 kind of spread itself over the entire weekend here, and that was fine.  We finished on Sunday night with a kind of exhaustion that is usually reserved for people who strap an adult gorilla onto their backs and walk from one end of the Sahara Desert to the other.

On Thursday night, the boy’s buddies, Enzo and Ben, joined us at our house for a little overnighter.  It’s because Hubs and I asked the boy what he wanted to do on his birthday, and you can only imagine what he said:

GOLF.

Because apparently golf makes every day better, and it makes birthdays spectacular.

So, we got an early morning tee time, and we were set to embark on eighteen entire holes with the boy, Ben and Enzo.  The boy’s wish was also that we would rent carts, because RIDING IN STYLE on your birthday trumps WALKING IN THE HEAT WITH YOUR GOLF BAG ON YOUR SHOULDERS.

That was the plan.

On Thursday evening, our neighbor boy, Andrew, joined the fun, and some kind of gun war erupted in our yard, because boys smile at the thought of pegging one another with plastic BBs.  And smacking one another over the head with homemade, wooden clubs.  And swinging bristle-less broomsticks at one another.

I’ve never understood why they can’t just enjoy a good evening indoors, trying out new lip glosses with one another and talking about their favorite cheesecake recipes.

IMG_7167 IMG_7168 IMG_7177Hubs and I fed everyone a nutritious dinner of hot dogs hot off the Traeger grill.

And chips.

And APPLES!  Don’t forget the apples that I made them eat!

IMG_7180By late Thursday night, everything was ready for the FOURTEENTH BIRTHDAY the following morning.

And by everything, I mean that the presents were wrapped with ribbon and care.

IMG_7166Thing 2 and Hubs and I went to bed, and we left the three teenagers in our basement family room.  They were well armed with bags of leftover potato chips, MORE APPLES, the TV and the PlayStation.  I’m not sure that they could have possibly needed anything else.

On Friday morning, after two full, blissful hours’ worth of sleep, the boy was up and smiling.

HE WAS OFFICIALLY FOURTEEN YEARS OLD!

We had presents and pancakes.

(And if it looks like the boy is wearing the same T-shirt on Friday morning that he wore on Thursday evening, it’s because the boy is wearing the same T-shirt.  Teenage boys go to bed at night in whatever they wore that day.  There is no need for pajamas, when you have perfectly good clothes on.)

(Another thing that I don’t understand about the male tribe.)

IMG_7187 IMG_7188 IMG_7189 IMG_7193 IMG_7191 IMG_7197 IMG_7198 IMG_7201 IMG_7203 IMG_7206 IMG_7208 IMG_7209 IMG_7212And then, after forcing all three of the teenagers to shower with real soap and shampoo…

… we were off.

Hubs and I went because we were the adults with legitimate driver’s licenses who could legally rent golf carts.  The boys assured us that they would be USING US for the sole purpose of securing carts, and that they — however underage they might be — would be doing the driving, so please SIT TO THE SIDE OF THE CART AND DON’T COMMENT IF I TEND TO TIP IT A LITTLE ON THE HILLS.

IMG_7219And yes.

Ben opted for his traditional cowboy attire for eighteen holes of golf, and I loved it.  That kid can rope a steer, ride a bull, castrate a calf, jump fences on horses, and drive a feed truck, and he’s only thirteen.  He’s amazing.

We only had two carts, and three underage drivers.

There was all manner of arguing about WHO WOULD DRIVE WHEN, let me tell you.

IMG_7221 IMG_7232 IMG_7234These eighteen holes of golf turned out to be one of the highlights of my summer.

I can’t remember when I last laughed as hard as I did on Friday, out on the golf course.  In fact, we all pretty much had side aches from ALL.  THE.  LAUGHING.

IMG_7380 IMG_7381 IMG_7378And since it was BIRTHDAY GOLF, the boys threw all the real rules under the bus.

They had do-overs.

They had double do-overs.

They picked balls up out of the weeds and tossed them onto the greens.

It was one giant, hysterical CHEAT SHOW.

IMG_7220 IMG_7230 IMG_7233 IMG_7228 IMG_7236 IMG_7237 IMG_7238 IMG_7243 IMG_7239 IMG_7241 IMG_7242 IMG_7245 IMG_7244 IMG_7248 IMG_7254 IMG_7256 IMG_7259 IMG_7260 IMG_7261 IMG_7266 IMG_7268 IMG_7270 IMG_7271 IMG_7274 IMG_7275 IMG_7277 IMG_7278 IMG_7283 IMG_7285 IMG_7286 IMG_7287 IMG_7289 IMG_7291 IMG_7294 IMG_7297 IMG_7295 IMG_7302 IMG_7304 IMG_7308 IMG_7310 IMG_7314 IMG_7318 IMG_7320 IMG_7324 IMG_7330 IMG_7331 IMG_7333Eventually, their pancake breakfasts wore off, because they are teenage boys.

Five enormous pancakes will only last forty-four minutes, before they are digested completely.  This will leave a young boy ravenous, to the point that he believes death by starvation is about to happen.

So, Hubs and I ordered them cheeseburgers, which the nice gal from the clubhouse grill delivered to them on the eleventh hole.

IMG_7335 IMG_7340 IMG_7337 IMG_7338After refueling with burgers and fries, they were off once again…

… arguing over whose turn it was to drive a cart…

… and back to their game of Birthday Golf, with very few rules.

And!

I have photographic evidence that they did indeed finish golfing the entire course, because I made those three boys pose with the flag after every hole was completed.

(Remember when the boy and Cousin B did that last year, when we golfed eighteen holes together?  It was a fun tradition to keep up, since I had to be a caddy again for the entire golf course.)

See?

IMG_7240 IMG_7246 IMG_7263 IMG_7276 IMG_7280 IMG_7307 IMG_7321 IMG_7323 IMG_7325 IMG_7332 IMG_7345 IMG_7347 IMG_7351 IMG_7354 IMG_7376 IMG_7386 IMG_7407 IMG_7412Some four hours later, we were finished.

The golf carts were returned.

Our sides hurt from gut-busting laughter.

And the boys were complaining that the cheeseburgers were SMALL CHEESEBURGERS… like cheeseburgers meant for a TODDLER MEAL… and they were starving again…

Raising boys takes a lot of food.

IMG_7413 IMG_7414Honestly, the boy’s 14th birthday and our round of Birthday Golf will go down in my memory as one of THE VERY BEST DAYS I’ve ever had.

Especially since Enzo and I sang “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” in our golf cart, at the top of our lungs, with harmony and sound effects.

It was pretty much a musical.

So I’ll leave y’all here.  Round Two of Birthday Fest ’14 will have to be blogged about tomorrow, because AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT RIGHT NOW!

Y’all have a fantastic Monday.

(The boy is a bit sad today, because he’s looking the first day of the 8th grade square in the eyeballs… TWO WEEKS FROM TODAY, PEOPLE!)

Fourteen

Dear Boy,

When you wake up tomorrow morning, you will be fourteen years old.

IMG_1162 IMG_2344 IMG_1867

FOURTEEN!!!

Except… technically… you won’t be fourteen until 4:57 tomorrow afternoon, which is the time you made your grand entrance into this world, but that’s something you’ll argue with me on.  You’ll stand firm and claim fourteen when you first jump out of bed tomorrow, so I’ll let you have it.

IMG_7226 IMG_1862I don’t even know where to begin with this letter this year, because I’m an emotional wreck.  Somehow, fourteen sounds much closer to COLLEGE FRESHMAN LIVING AWAY FROM HOME than it does to THIS IS MY CUTE LITTLE GUY WHO DOESN’T LIKE POTATOES.  It’s so easy for me to get worked up about this, because fourteen is closing in on your high school graduation so quickly, and if I’ve learned one thing over the years of being your mom, it’s that time flies really, REALLY quickly.  I know that I’m going to blink and reopen my eyes to see you packing your suitcase with all of your comfy Under Armour T-shirts, and your baggy gym shorts, and  your antique typewriter that was made sometime when Abraham Lincoln was in office, and your state-of-the-art laptop, and you’ll be heading off for a dorm room.

My heart breaks right now just thinking about you leaving home, because I love having you around.  Summer vacation is always one of my favorite times of the year, because you’re just HERE.  There are days when you’re off to school that I sometimes find a little catch in my heart, because you’re GONE, and I find myself wishing that the day would just hurry up already, so that I can have you and your stinky gym clothes pile into the Suburban and tell me all about your day.

(Is that a trait of a helicopter mom?)

IMG_1155Right now, you want to be an anesthesiologist when you’re all grown up, which is a long word to spell, and all I can say is, “Wow!”  That’s a big career, with lots of schooling before it, but if anyone can ace through all of those science and math classes, it’ll be you.

Of course, Daddy and Mama are going to have to sell kidneys and the house to pay for all of those undergraduate and med school years, so when you come back home for Christmas, you’ll get to sleep in our tent…  And eat Ramen noodles and water and air for dinner.  But we will be there to cheer you on throughout whatever degree you pursue in college.   You know that your parents are your biggest fans in this world, and Mama will cheer and clap like a lunatic as you progress through life.

(Because goodness knows that I can’t cheer and clap like a lunatic at golf tournaments.  I have to BE VERY QUIET and clap with ladylike manners on the golf course, because apparently LOUD ENTHUSIASM can destroy a gentleman’s shot, and that’ll earn you the stink eye.)

IMG_6427 IMG_6429I’ve been going through old snapshots a lot this summer, as we put together a little photo book project, and I wanted to sob over some of those pictures.  There was my kindergarten boy, with his first missing tooth!  There was my second grade boy, building a gingerbread house!  There was my fourth grade boy, in the throes of a squirt gun fight with his buddies!  With every picture we went through, I missed my little boy more and more, and I began to think that I’d give almost anything to just have another day with you as a four-year-old… or another day with you as a seven-year-old.  I wanted another day to hear your six-year-old voice tell me all about a game you played in school.  More than anything, I want to hold you, one more time, as a little toddler, with your freshly shampooed hair.  I want to breathe in your baby lotion smell, and I want to rock you to sleep again.  I want to rock you, and snuggle you close, and hold you all night long.

Just once more.

But, regardless of how much I miss the little boy that you WERE, I am flat-out loving this teenager that you now ARE.

IMG_7235 IMG_6435 IMG_6327 IMG_6129We’ve had a few rough spots this summer, as you’re trying to find out how you fit into this life as a teenage boy, but I think we’ve come through those spots beautifully.  Your heart is huge, and you can’t stand to disappoint anyone, so you always end up apologizing for rolling your eyes at me and hugging me huge.

You’re a good egg, Boy!

(Even if you still like snakes.)

(Have I ever told you how much I HATE snakes?!)

IMG_6148You’re learning all about real life now, and how tough some decisions can be.  As much as I wanted to protect you from it, junior high opened your eyes to bigger issues in this world than you’ve ever noticed before.  You’ve seen kids hurting over different things, and you never fail to stand up for people when you need to.

I love that trait in you.

IMG_2548 IMG_2552 IMG_2712One of the stories that I will cherish in my heart forever is when you saw some kids grab the backpack of an autistic boy at school, while he was wearing it.  They unzipped it in a flash, grabbed all of his books out of it, and threw everything to the sidewalk outside, right before they walked off, laughing at their accomplishments and high-fiving one another.  You told me that tons of other kids were around, and only you and Ciara knew what Jesus would have done in that instant.  The two of you started grabbing books and papers, before they were blown away in the breeze, and you helped get everything back into this boy’s book bag, while everyone else just stood around and watched.  You zipped his backpack up again, and you stood with him… with you on one side of him and Ciara on the other side of him… until his mom came to pick him up from school.  You were so upset, asking me over and over how kids could be so mean to someone who already had a difficult life because of a diagnosis and disabilities he hadn’t asked for.

My heart nearly burst with pride that afternoon, when you told me about it.  I was so incredibly proud of you for choosing what was right, when you were in the middle of so many other kids who made the choice to ignore what had happened.

I’m fully convinced that when the decisions in life get even harder, you’ll always make the right choices, even if you’re standing smack in the middle of a society and culture that is making the choice to ignore what is right.

IMG_1091 IMG_0299You’re just growing up so nicely.

You continue to stun your daddy and me with how smart you are.  I look at some of the math problems that you’re doing in your advanced math class at school, and I marvel at your ability to solve the crazy things IN YOUR HEAD!  You floor me with some of the math and engineering-type things you think about, and your ability to understand such intricate science things makes my head spin in crazy circles.

You’re an amazingly bright boy.

I should have known that you’d turn out this wicked smart, when you read the word DIP on that road sign when you had just barely turned four.

That brain of yours, paired with your kind and compassionate heart, is going to take you places in this world.

IMG_0274 IMG_0276 IMG_0303 IMG_0347I still have no idea HOW you’ve reached the age of fourteen, because wasn’t it just yesterday that I gave birth to you?  Wasn’t it just yesterday that Daddy and I were staring into the adorable face of this little premature baby, as he labored to breathe and learned to work that ventilator?

Wasn’t it just yesterday that I was in the WORST BATTLE OF MY ENTIRE LIFE, as I potty trained you?!

I won’t lie.  Potty training you was one of the biggest nightmares of my life, because you were incredibly stubborn, and you didn’t want to sit on that giant toilet for anything.  I remember just giving up on potty training altogether and bawling one night to your dad that it was NEVER going to happen, and how I was QUITTING the effort of trying to teach you.  And I DID quit trying.  I put a diaper on you again the following morning, which you protested.

Three days later, you had completely potty trained yourself.  All it took was for me to let you have your independence and try it on your own.

Now, thoughts of how it’s time to start working on potty training with your little brother make me want to shake with fear.  I don’t know if I have it in me to tackle another Diaper Warrior and convince him it’s actually a GOOD THING and a VERY SAFE THING to use the big potty, and that the big potty is NOT SCARY.  I think my battle with you over this might’ve ruined me on training other toddlers for life.

IMG_1303 IMG_8794But… we made it through potty training, you and I.  We’ve made it through a lot over the past fourteen years.

We made it through the swine flu in the third grade, when you were so sick, I was scared to death I’d lose you.  That’s the sickest you’ve EVER been in your life, and we kept hearing on the news how people were DYING from swine flu that fall, and I was a bit freaked out.  I sat up with you at night, just to keep checking to see if my little nine-year-old boy was still breathing, and to wash your fevered body with cold washcloths and to beg Jesus to let you recover quickly.

We made it through you giving up your pacifiers, which — honestly! — no one ever thought you’d do.

We made it through a preemie birth and NICU and a baby who needed to be on a ventilator to breathe.

IMG_8802 IMG_8885You’re also an amazing big brother.

We still can’t believe that we have Thing 2 in our lives, all because you prayed a prayer for him, and because you were faithful and believed Jesus’ promise that a baby was coming.

Daddy and I love how the two of you chase one another around the house at the speed of light and tackle one another, until Thing 2 splits his gut open wide with hysterical giggles.  We love how you sit through episodes of Barney that you can’t stand to watch, because it’s what your brother wants to do, and because you want to do what he wants to do.

We love the example that you’re setting for your brother, on how to be a great kid.

IMG_0039 IMG_0059I absolutely love the age that you are now.

Yes, I miss you as a little boy; I do.  But you’re turning into this fabulous teenager who understands people, and who seeks to please people, and who knows how to stand up for people.

You make us laugh every day with your witty comments, even though you make me want to yank my own hair out by the fistfuls sometimes, when you refuse to read a book or when you sigh and complain about trying clothes on in a dressing room, like you’re being sent to a death chamber, or when you leave twenty-six pounds of dirty laundry scattered all over your bathroom floor.

IMG_4050 IMG_5844 IMG_5847

IMG_7131 IMG_6963I’m pretty sure that Age Fourteen and the 8th Grade are going to be a continuation of fun times, as we watch you grow and mature.

And as we watch you eat Fruity Pebbles cereal out of my mixing bowls, because a regular bowl just isn’t big enough.  And as we watch you eat seven tacos in a single sitting.  I didn’t grow up with brothers, and I honestly had no idea that a teenage boy could EAT like you do.

And then be hungry again, forty-seven minutes later.

IMG_4809Happy birthday, Boy.

We are still head-over-our-heels in love with you.  You make your mama smile every single day of my life.

I love you with all of my heart… with every breath I have… and so does your daddy.  (And I’m fairly certain that your grandparents and your aunts and uncles and all of your cousins do, too.)

And we love that goofy little brother of yours just as much.  Jesus sure knew what he was doing when He handpicked our two boys for us.  Cheers to our family of four, and cheers to fourteen!

Love,

Mama and Daddy

Survivor

I think Olivia Newton John probably, at one time, sang a song that could have been my theme song for today.

I took the boy school clothes shopping in Bigger Town, USA (some two hours up the road from us, because listen:  Small Town, USA is only famous for our online shopping, because we don’t have real stores here), and I survived.

I.  Survived.

It cost me a crab leg dinner.

As in, the boy wanted crab legs, and I wanted to get through all the HERE, TRY THIS PAIR OF JEANS ON without a string of vocal complaints that would make me wish I smoked, so that I’d have something to do with my hands while I waited outside the fitting rooms and quietly beat my own head against the wall.  So I said, “Try all your clothes on without complaining a single time today,” and he said, “Buy me a pound and a half of crab legs,” and somehow, we came out with a contract that worked beautifully.  It was exactly like the United Nations had intervened, and we had an agreement that was favorable to both parties.

The only real problem is that my son is scrawny.  He has no gut, he has no hips… he has nothing to hold a pair of jeans up.  And the size 16 jeans are getting a wee bit short in the legs, because that’s what happens when you eat Fruity Pebbles in your mama’s mixing bowl every morning — you grow.  And then the size 18 jeans are SO ENORMOUSLY HUGE, he looks like a rodeo clown, and what’s a mama do?

I long for some other mother with a scrawny boy to say, “I’m going to manufacture jeans in a size 17.”  I’d do it myself, but HA HA HA HA!!!  Because I do not sew.  Nor can I thread a sewing machine.

The same holds true with the windpants.  The boy has basically turned a cold shoulder on jeans, and he’s demanding athletic pants.  This is all fine and dandy with me, as long as we have nice jeans for church and those school functions, like Christmas concerts, where other people point fingers at the stage and whisper, “Who’s the kid in the Under Armour sweats and the tie?”  But… as far as sizes go there… the boy’s legs are getting too long for a youth XL, so I had him try a Size Small from the mens’ section, and then I threw my head back and laughed so hard, I nearly ruptured my appendix and four ribs.

I think the boy will be a college sophomore before the men’s small athletic pants actually fit him.

So basically, I think the boy is going to wear a pair of shorts all winter long.

No matter.  We bought new shoes today (Under Armour sneakers, that will apparently make him run fast, although he rolled his eyes at me when I said that, because HE’S NOT SEVEN ANY LONGER, MOM!) and some new shirts and plenty o’ socks, because every pair of socks the boy currently owns is a holey pair.

And, for the cost of a crab leg dinner at a fancy little restaurant in Bigger Town, USA, I came home a survivor.

And now, I have to take myself to bed, because the elderly can only pack so much fun into a day before their dentures fall out with exhaustion and they need to lie down on the sofa beneath an afghan.

But… I have a few snapshots from last week, which I’d better throw into the blog tonight, before we suddenly realize that it’s NEXT WEEK ALREADY, and no one really cares what happened last Monday.

But look!

We went to the park… AGAIN… last week, because it’s what we do.  The park is a good outlet for Thing 2 to run off his THIS IS A SQUIRREL ON A MOUNTAIN DEW BINGE energy.

This snapshot is kind of blurry, and Thing 2′s nose is showing off a bit of dried snot, but it makes my heart happy.

IMG_7086My friends, Jodi and Heather, joined us at the park, and they brought their kids, because that’s what moms DO at parks… We bring our kids.  It’s because we want to wear them out so they’ll sleep all night long.

IMG_7081IMG_7079 IMG_7080 IMG_7090 IMG_7098 IMG_7099 IMG_7101This is Vivian.

I kind of have a big crush on her beautiful blue eyes.

IMG_7075 IMG_7077 IMG_7091 IMG_7087And then the boy and our good, family friend, McKinley, went golfing this past weekend, because THAT is what the boy does…

… HE GOLFS.

The boy would golf every day of the week, if he could drive himself out there, and WHY CAN’T THIRTEEN-YEAR-OLDS DRIVE, MOM, WHEN THEY CAN PASS BOTH THE WRITTEN AND THE DRIVING PARTS TO THE TEST?  ISN’T THAT A PREJUDICED LAW, IF I CAN PASS BOTH PARTS TO THE TEST, EVEN THOUGH I’M ONLY THIRTEEN?  SHOULD I SUE?

That’s the argument that’s currently being introduced for discussion at our house.

I know that golf snapshots all start to look the same after a while, but I love watching my boy smack the golf ball from here to Venus.

IMG_7107 IMG_7109 IMG_7110 IMG_7113 IMG_7116 IMG_7117 IMG_7112 IMG_7141 IMG_7131 IMG_7137 IMG_7120 IMG_7123 IMG_7125 IMG_7128 IMG_7126 IMG_7134And that’s going to do it tonight, y’all.

Crab legs or not… I have EARNED an early bedtime tonight, because have I every mentioned how much fun it is to go school clothes shopping with the boy?

Actually, we had a good time today, because he was trapped in the car with me for two full hours up and two full hours back home, and we had some fantastic conversations that I wouldn’t trade for the world.

#BestDateDayWithMyBigBoy

Y’all have a relaxing Wednesday evening.