August Birthdays. Because I’m Timely.

The very biggest news that I have to report is simply this:

(And please envision me standing upon a mountaintop, cupping my hands around my mouth and shouting it out for all the people below to hear.)

We.  Have.  Slept.

Sister’s husband is off hunting, so we had Sister and her three kids over for dinner on Friday night.  I feel like I should also announce that I cooked a pot roast with potatoes and carrots in the crockpot, with a balsamic vinegar glaze, and it was divine.  I feel like the Pioneer Woman will probably be asking me to make a guest appearance on her cooking show with that recipe, so I’d better start looking for a cute pair of cowboy boots right now.  The kids were all running wild through our house after dinner, and Sister said, “Why don’t I take Thing 2 home with us, so he can have a sleepover with his cousins?”

Hubs and I both widened our eyes and asked, “Where do we sign the permission slip?”

The kids were so excited to set off on their campout adventure, as they planned who would sleep where, and how they’d build blanket forts, and then Thing 2 announced that he was going to start a campfire on the living room floor, which sort of reigned the list of THINGS WE ARE ABOUT TO DO in completely.  We packed a little backpack for him to take, with his toothbrush and his jammies, and off he went.  He went with excitement and enthusiasm, and that little pack of cousins was laughing with joy.

And then that little stinker slept ELEVEN STRAIGHT HOURS for Sister on Friday night.

I didn’t even care that he’d pulled off one of his very best night’s of sleep in his entire life for my sister, because I HAD ALSO SLEPT.  Whereas other parents might have slipped into black cocktail dresses and Ralph Lauren polos, so they could sneak off to a little pub for drinks when their five-year-old was off having fun at a sleepover at his cousins’ house, Hubs and I did the exact opposite.

We went to bed, and we slept like rocks in a dark cave, until the boy’s bedroom alarm blasted off at 6 AM on Saturday, because SOMEONE HAD TO BE AT WORK AT THE GOLF COURSE BY 6:30.

Because OF COURSE HE DID.

Hubs and I didn’t even mind getting up that early, because DID I MENTION ALL THE SLEEPING?!  We had an early morning coffee date together, and then we lounged around the house in our pajama pants and our top knots.

Oh, I kid.  Hubs wore jeans with his top knot.

I did some laundry.  Hubs worked from home on a failing computer system for a bit.

We were refreshed.

And then Sister asked if Thing 2 could just spend the day with them, because she was husbandless, and the kids were having a fantastic time together, and they had no plans to get out of their pajamas all day.  I asked where the next set of permission slips should be signed.

And then Hubs and I took the boy to a movie and out to dinner.

And then… Sister called and said, “He wants to spend the night again, and it’s fine with me.”

Hubs and I were both asleep by 9:00 on Saturday night, and I won’t even lie to you:  We slept in until 8:00 Sunday morning.  We woke up and didn’t even know ourselves any more.

WHO WERE THESE WELL-RESTED ADULTS IN OUR HOUSE?!

We went to church, where Sister announced that our little man had slept another eleven hours straight for her.  I considered just having him move in with her.  Did she actually WANT four children?  Thing 2 came back home with us after church.  His days of partying with his cousins were over, so Hubs took him swimming.  And then I took him to the playground with one of his good friends.

And then that child went to bed in his own room last night and slept eleven more hours.

In other words, people, our little family has had more sleep in the last three nights than we have had in the last three months combined.  If I could stand at a podium on a stage with a microphone right now, my speech would simply go, “I’d like to thank Jesus for making this all possible, and for granting us the desires of our hearts, which was simply SLEEP.”

And THAT was our weekend, y’all.

But…

… back in August, before school started, we had some birthdays in the family.  I feel like I’ve slacked tremendously on the blog in the past six weeks, and I still haven’t posted on those birthdays.

(Please envision me hanging my head in shame.)

The boy turned seventeen during that first week of August, and we had a few gifts for him.

Namely, golf clubs.  We bought him some brand name clubs, where a single club is equal to a year’s tuition at Yale.  Hubs and I debated whether to spend the money or not, because we could have given him a COLLEGE TUITION, for crying out loud.  But… give him a college tuition, and he can go on to work after graduation.  But give him clubs, and teach the boy to golf, and he can go on to win the PGA Championship and throw dollar bills all over the place.

More specifically, he could throw dollar bills down on the counter at a major department store and buy his mama a Coach purse.

Or even a new Suburban with heated seats.

So, clubs it was.  Mam and Pa got him a couple of irons, while Hubs and I bought him a driver.  Grammy and Papa gave him money to buy another club with.  He was over the moon excited!

And then Keith and Carrie (Keith being Sister’s husband’s brother, who grew up next door to us; please try to keep up.) gave the boy the VERY UGLIEST GIFT in the history of gift giving.

Indeed.

It was the ugliest gift given since the wise men began the gift-giving tradition, by riding in on camels and offering myrrh to Baby Jesus.

Behold!  The Sasquatch golf club cover!

Mr. Sasquatch now spends his life sitting around, keeping the boy’s new club from being scratched up.  I thought he was the most hideous thing I’d ever seen, and I was EMBARRASSED when the boy and his friends headed out with the new clubs AND the Sasquatch, to golf at the prestigious golf course in town.

I said, “What will the people THINK out there?!”

The boy’s friends replied, “That thing is so cool, they’re all going to think, ‘Where’d a kid get something that awesome?’  I should offer to trade him my Rolex for for that ‘Squatch!'”

They actually ARGUED over who got to lug the Sasquatch around that day, which clearly means that Keith and Carrie scored even more brownie points for their gift-giving talents.

We didn’t throw a party for the first time in the history of the boy’s birthdays.  Hubs and I sent our seventeen-year-old and his buddies to the golf course, where they golfed the day away and ate steaks and pasta at the clubhouse for lunch.  Since the boy proclaimed it to be one of his best birthdays ever, we took the win.

Then, Cousin K turned twelve at the end of August.  Sister and her husband rented the outdoor pool in Small Town, USA one evening, so that they could throw him a proper twelfth birthday party.

The kids swam and they swam… and they swam.

They laughed.

They jumped off the diving board, they dove off the diving board, they flipped off the diving board, and they all went down the water slide at least seventy-two times each.  Thing 2 himself jumped off the diving board thirteen thousand times, and he went down the slide by himself another twenty-seven thousand, four hundred and eight times.

Of course Cousin L was at the swim party, to celebrate the fact that her little brother was turning twelve.

Poor Cousin L.  At fourteen, she’s so incredibly… how do I say this in English?

SHY.

She’s shy and withdrawn, and she can barely stand to have her picture snapped with a camera.  She basically has nothing but a flat, boring personality.

She could use some prayer.

Oh, I kid, y’all.

Cousin L is the life of every party, and she makes us all laugh until our sides hurt.

I’m still trying to recover from her demonstration of a Southern Baptist Church preacher on a healing mission this weekend.  I laughed so hard, I cried and couldn’t breathe, as she used her best Southern drawl to call me to the alter for some healing.

Cousin K wanted birthday donuts, instead of a birthday cake, so Sister delivered.

The parents all sat at picnic tables while the kids swam, and we talked and we talked, and then we talked some more.

And then we all ate donuts, too, because none of us wanted to be left out in celebrating a good twelfth birthday party.

And by all of us… I mean everyone except for Hubs and poor me, who were still in the thick of a Whole30 at the end of August, which meant we could only SMELL the maple-frosted donuts and gripe about our decision to embark on a no-sugar, no-gluten diet during the August party times.

We all hung out at the pool until the sun set and the kids were shivering.  They were cold, but they were happy and zipping around on donut highs.

I’m no expert, but I do know a good party when I attend one.

And this one was AWESOME.

Except for the fact that no one played any ’80s music over the pool speakers.  That’s basically the only improvement I would have made.  How can you even have a pool party without Bananarama singing Cruel Summer or Don Henley belting out the lyrics to The Boys of Summer?

Happy Monday evening, y’all.

Hi. My Name Is Jedi Mama, And I Used To Blog Here

People, listen…

Life has been so hectic and chaotic and filled with genuine struggles lately, that blog posts became the very furthest thing from my mind this week.  Oh, I kid.  Geometry theorems have been the very furthest thing from my mind over the past week, but blogging ran the race for a silver finish.  Lest you think that life at the Jedi Manor is all frosted cupcakes, roses and winning lightsaber battles, let me just assure you that this has been the week we like to call The Seventh Circle of Hell.  Kindergarten, you see, is quite exhausting.  And by quite exhausting, I mean that we crossed the threshold labeled, “I am now just too tired to sleep.”

I may have mentioned that our five-year-old has some sleep issues once or seventeen times.  Of course, I’m defining sleep issues as HE JUST DOESN’T STINKING SLEEP.  And… the more he doesn’t sleep… the more tired he gets… because that’s something that even the non-rocket inventors understand… and then the more he cannot sleep.

Remember those geometry proofs?  Where you didn’t think that you’d ever explain it all, because THIS IS THE PROOF WITH  NO EXPLANATION, SURELY, even though your teacher assured you that it was completely doable and ruined your sophomore year?  That’s how we roll around here.  There doesn’t seem to be any formula for solving our inability to get the five-year-old to sleep, and the more tired he gets, the less likely he is to actually sleep, which is exactly as backwards as math sometimes presents itself.

(If I’m rambling, forgive me; I’ve now been awake enough hours to have driven to Hong Kong and back, including the time it would take to load my antique Suburban onto a ship for part of the trip.)

(I’m also making allowances for the time I would have been sitting in a roadside garage, after having been towed there and having somebody in a greasy set of coveralls named Mervin have a look beneath the hood.  My Suburban isn’t famous for her ability to stay on the road right now, and I’m not famous for taking Hubs’ constant suggestions that we UNLOAD IT AND GET ME SOMETHING DECENT TO DRIVE ALREADY!  Hubs means well, but CAR PAYMENT.  I just don’t want one.)

Where was I?

Right.

We aren’t sleeping.

If you’ve ever dealt with a child who doesn’t sleep and won the battle to stand atop the mountain named Victory, then I want to hear your suggestions.  Unless, of course, your suggestion is ADD WHISKEY TO A BOTTLE OF WARM MILK, LIKE MY GREAT GRANDMOTHER DID FOR GRANDPAPPY.  I think showing up to kindergarten hung over might stir a pot of EVEN MORE TROUBLE for me.

In other news, we’ve had more soccer.  The little man does love him some soccer, and he’s finally figured out what the white lines on the field mean, and that he should really do his level best not to kick the ball across those white lines, so that the referee blows the whistle and hollers, “OUT OF BOUNDS!  YELLOW THROW-IN!”  He’s learned to turn a ball around and head toward his own team’s goal, too, when he hears the crowd start to holler, “Wrong way!”  He’s getting the hang of this soccer business, and is filled with gusto to kick the ball straight into the net.

He has become a little scoring machine.

And he can kick a goal on four hours’ of sleep, which the rest of his teammates might struggle to do.

We also found out that Thing 2 is horrendously allergic to gluten.  I had suspected it for a while, because he complained of constant tummy aches and suffered through bathroom sessions of tears and had enough gas to make pigs hold Kleenexes to their snouts as they waddled straight out of the room.  I kept limiting his gluten, but we never cut it out all the way.  I couldn’t figure out if I was just riding the ALL THIS GLUTEN-FREE BUSINESS IS THE NEW TREND train, or whether we had some legitimate issues with all the wheat in our lives.  So, we wrote a check for the blood work that needed to be done, and it came back with Thing 2’s gluten reaction in the bright red, CIRCLE OF FIRE zone, which shot straight off the graph and the top of the paper.

And then he tested allergic to cow’s milk and casein, which surprised me COMPLETELY.  I wasn’t expecting that, at all, people.  Not at all.

But, if I wasn’t expecting a cow’s milk allergy, then you can be assured I also wasn’t expecting the fact that he’s also allergic to catfish.

Yes, catfish!  Which, by the way, he has never tasted in his entire life, because what Yankee really wants to eat a bottom-dweller?  There’s just not enough cornmeal in America to disguise that taste.

Now, add to this the small facts that Thing 2 basically hates ALL THE MEAT OF ALL THE KINDS, as well as ALL THE VEGETABLES, IN ALL THE FLAVORS, and you have a recipe for the perfect storm of WHAT IN THE NAME OF IRON MAN’S MOTHER DO WE FEED THIS CHILD?!?!

Gluten-free crackers, as the box promises?  Well, that would be fantastic, but the ingredients usually include something called MILK.  Gluten-free pizza?  Well, yes… the crust actually does taste great, but… CHEESE and also TEARS OVER ALL THE MEAT.  The pizza shops look at you funny when you say, “Could I get a gluten-free pizza crust covered in sauce… and nothing else?”  We did that.  And then we covered it with dairy-free cheese and baked it all up in the oven, only to hear Thing 2 announce, “This cheese is disgusting!  I’m going to scrape it into the garbage!”

So, my biggest challenge lately is cooking for this small boy…. and doing it with zero sleep.

Iron Man has absolutely nothing on my own super powers.  Basically, I’m resorting to setting an entire watermelon and a spoon in front of him at the table, and saying, “Your dinner is served!”

And THAT, folks, about catches you up on all that is happening over here at the Jedi Manor.  The boy is still thriving and spouting off the answers to calculus problems at the dinner table, which stun me.  He also said the other day, “I hope my physics class gets a little more challenging, because I want to learn some stuff.”

Clearly, I contributed exactly zero-point-zero rungs to his DNA ladder.

BUT!  The boy sleeps, so I’m keeping him.  And I’m keeping the little man, too, because eventually he is GOING TO SLEEP…

… because eventually Jesus is going to get very tired of hearing me pound on His door every single day, shouting, “Jesus!  Jesus!  Are you home?!  He needs to sleep!  He needs to sleep!  HE NEEDS TO SLEEP!”  And I know that eventually Jesus is going to come out with His gold-plated can of WD-40 and say, “Behold, my lamb.  I will now oil the squeaky wheel so I can watch the Denver Broncos play without any interruptions.”

Y’all have a good weekend.

 

 

When You Don’t Win At Sleep Training

Well, I am feeling much better this evening, and that has absolutely EVERYTHING to do with the small fact that Thing 2 slept for eleven and a half hours straight last night.  Clearly, the Lord lifted our feet out of the pit of sleeplessness and set us on the high places, right next to the parents who are getting good sleep.  Hubs and I were finally in the club with those parents, and we high-fived with them and bragged about ELEVEN AND ONE HALF HOURS!!

Hubs and I, you see, always thought we were professional sleep trainers, when it came to babies.  The boy slept through the night at three and a half months (MONTHS!!) of age, and he never, ever quit.  Oh, sometimes he threw us off our game and puked with strep throat in the middle of the night, but… OTHER THAN THAT… the boy slept.  He slept through windstorms, the vacuum cleaner, cutting molars, ringing phones, loud TVs and thunder, because Hubs and I knew exactly what we were doing.  LOOK AT US!  WE ARE QUITE SKILLED AT TEACHING BABIES TO SLEEP ALL NIGHT LONG!!  We had always kept the lights off during those middle-of-the-night feedings, and we had whispered to him softly, because this was NIGHTTIME, when folks don’t turn on lights or talk or make noise.

We had a SLEEP TEACHING PLAN, and boom!

The boy was fourteen weeks old, and he slept like a champ… forever and ever, amen.

My sister struggled with her son, who came along when the boy was five.  He enjoyed getting up in the middle of the night for the first eighteen months of his life.  Hubs and I just shook our head, tsk-tsk-ed, and told Sister, “If you would just do exactly like we told you, he would have been sleeping straight through the night by now.”

Excuse us, Jesus; we were selfish, prideful, “first-time-at-parenting” sinners.  We didn’t know.

When Thing 2 arrived, he didn’t sleep.  He didn’t sleep at all, starting with the first night Hubs and I brought him home from the hospital, and he only got worse from there.  For the first five months of his life, he never slept more than ninety minutes in any given run… daytime and nighttime.  I remember driving down a fairly busy and major avenue in Small Town, USA, parking at the local take-and-bake pizza shop, and thinking to myself in that parking lot, “Which route did I take to get here?  Did I come from the center of town?  Or did I come by Starbucks and turn left to get here for pizza?”

I had no idea.

It was a clear indication that HELLO, GLADYS!  MAYBE YOU ARE ACTUALLY TOO TIRED TO DRIVE THE CAR WITH THE BABY IN IT.  PERHAPS A TAXI HOME WOULD BE THE BEST OPTION.

But, Hubs and I were convinced that all the sleep would get better, better, BETT-UH, because it couldn’t possibly get any worse.  Besides!  We were sleep-training professionals, adorned with gold medals from winning first place with the boy’s sleep habits.

Today, Thing 2 is officially five and a half years old.

Years, people!  He is really and truly FIVE AND A HALF YEARS OLD TODAY.  He’s adorable and funny…

… and he still does not sleep through the night consistently.  We have no idea how we got here.  How do you make it to five and a half and NOT sleep through the night?!  Plus?  He can hear a dragonfly sneeze in the neighbors’ garden and wake up.  Never mind thunderstorms and a car door slamming outside after dark… our younger son will hear every TEENSY noise in his sleeping brain, and he will pop out of bed like a jack-in-the-box on speed pills bought off the street.

If I ever raised an eyebrow at you over the years, when you confided in me that your child wouldn’t sleep… if I ever thought inside of my head, “If I had her kid for a week, he’d be sleeping all night long before I gave him back”… if I ever said, “If you just did what WE did with the boy’s sleep training”… then I heartily, with everything I have, apologize.  I apologize and repent, from the deepest depths of my soul.

I have learned that some children sleep…

… and some do not.

I own one of each.

And this issue of whether a child sleeps or doesn’t sleep has absolutely nothing to do with parents being fantastic and glorious and grand.  It has a whole lot to do with IS THIS A SLEEPING KID OR A NON-SLEEPING KID?!

I understand now.

And Hubs and I are just holding on, hoping that when the teenage years strike us with our second son, that he will finally LEARN TO LOVE THE SLEEPING.

So, with that said… with my humble apologies for ever thinking that I was so awesome at getting kids to sleep up until March of 2012… I’ll leave you with this.

It’s from Ann Voskamp’s Instagram post this morning.  God gave us Ann Voskamp, because someone has to be so filled with the Spirit, she can give the rest of us great insight and wisdom.  I thought her words were perfect today, so I’m copying and pasting, which might be a copyright infringement, but I’m going to roll with it anyway.

Getting a jail cell all to myself for violating copyright laws might actually mean that I can SLEEP ALL NIGHT, ALL THE TIME.

Here it is… Ann Voskamp’s Happy Mama Manifesto, which is spot-on PERFECT for days that begin at 2:00 AM, when your younger child just GETS UP and REFUSES TO SLEEP and STARTS HIS DAY and FORCES YOURS TO START AS WELL.

1. Today, even if everything goes wrong, love is always right. There is ridiculous hope in this.

2. Today, the only thing that has to be written in stone is when to pray. We will just pray at set times & make our home a house of prayer. What else really matters?

3. Today, there are no emergencies. Life is a GIFT — not an emergency! Only amateurs hurry. So: Say yes to one game every day and laugh loud. No empty-nest mama looks around and wishes she did one more load of laundry.

4. Today, when stress mounts, I pray to dismount it with gratitude. My stress management plan will be simple: all stress will have an intervention of giving thanks for one thing out loud. I can only feel one feeling at a time, and I choose to give thanks at all times.

5. Today, I will pray to speak words that make souls stronger. Grace is the only non-toxic air.

6. Today, I will pray to just be: Consistently consistent. Make rhythms, live routines, wear good habits. Do the same thing at the same time every day — and you kinda change your life.

7. Today, THIS: The moment when I am most repelled by a child’s behavior, that is my sign to draw the very closest to that child.

8. Today, I will hug each of my children as many times as I serve them meals — because children’s hearts feed on touch. I’ll look for as many opportunities to touch my children today as possible — the taller they are, the more so.
Whenever I want to throw hands up, I’ll throw them around someone instead. Holding someone always helps holds things together.

9. Love is a roof.

Be a shelter, a safe place, just be a roof for your people today.

10. Today, I will laugh! And I will create a culture of JOY! The only life worth living is a scandalous one: scandalous love, offensive mercy, foolish faith. Let joy live loud in your soul.

Y’all have a good Tuesday evening.  May your dinners be lovely, may your homes be loud with laughter, and may your children SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT tonight.

The First Soccer Game Of The Season

Do you know who got the soccer ball at the mid-field line in tonight’s game…

… dribbled it around three opposing players…

… lined up a shot from the left side of the field…

… and scored a goal…

… for THE OTHER TEAM?

That’s right!

THIS GUY DID!

And his mama cheered for the goal he made for the blue team just as loudly as she would have cheered for a point he’d added to the scoreboard for the orange team!

I love this kid!

Kindergarten And 11th Grade

Well… Hubs and I sent these two little darlings off to school today.

I thought that I was going to have some tears this morning… and I even got up plenty early enough to curl my hair like all the young girls are doing on You Tube these days, so that I had beach waves with texture and volume.  I figured I needed to look my level best today, with the waterproof mascara (that I loathe so much) fully in place.

(Listen, Waterproof Mascara!  I hate you when I forget to wash you off before bedtime and then get to deal with you the next morning in the shower!)

This junior-in-high-school business has me all weak in the knees, because DO YOU KNOW WHERE WE WILL BE AT THIS TIME NEXT YEAR?  That’s right.  We will be labeling the back-to-school pictures as HIS LAST FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL, and I will be eating Ben and Jerry’s ice cream straight from the carton and staying in bed that day, as my SENIOR goes off to high school.  The first day of junior year had a mass of emotions swirling all over me today, because I can smell the end, and I don’t like it.

And then we added the first day of kindergarten on top of that, which comes with its very own need of waterproof mascara.  The first day of kindergarten can bring an ugly cry on instantly.

So yes.  Our babies started kindergarten and the 11th grade this morning.

And… just like that… I didn’t cry, even though I expected to.  I think it’s because I’ve reached an age when our friends are posting pictures on Facebook labeled as I JUST DROPPED HER OFF AT COLLEGE, and I realized that maybe it’s not quite time to bawl my eyeballs straight out of their sockets yet, even though I’m having a hard time accepting that the boy now goes to school with other boys who are sporting full beards.

And Thing 2 already THINKS he’s seventeen, so he was more than ready to head out the door this morning and get on with higher education and learning to read.

I asked the boy if he wanted me to run up to the high school and snap a few pictures of him there, as well as a few with his homeroom teacher, but he chose to play his PASS card.

I couldn’t understand why.

I hugged his neck tight and kissed his cheek and sent him off in his own car, to classes like Physics and Calculus, because his days of being fascinated with me reading The Boxcar Children out loud to him are over.

And that left us with Thing 2.  We took that little peanut to his new elementary school, and he was perfectly fine with me taking his picture fifty-four times before I left the building.

His teacher is one of our favorite people of EVER.

She was the boy’s kindergarten teacher.

She’s one of our dear and beloved friends.

Simply put, she’s amazing.  And she loves our little Thing 2, as much as she loves the boy.

I could hardly wait to get my hands on Thing 2 this afternoon, to hear how his day went.

Our conversation went exactly like this:

ME:  “How was your day?

THING 2:  “Well… if you make bad choices at school, you get to sit at a desk with your head down and miss free time.

Yes.  That about sums up our second child.

The boy said that “school was school,” and that he likes some classes and doesn’t care much for others.  Thankfully, HE didn’t spend any time sitting at a desk with his head down today.

The force is strong in that little one.

But… I found myself with an entire hour of free time this morning, between the kindergarten drop-off and my first PE class of the day starting up.  I came home, and I had a cup of coffee that never needed to be reheated.  I drank it in peace, and never once was I interrupted by anyone shouting, “So… the bathroom sink is flooding!” or “Hey!  I have a Nerf dart stuck in my nose!”

So… I think it’s going to be a fine school year.

The Eve Of School Year 2017-2018

Today was our very last day of summer vacation.

In other words, it’s a stinking SCHOOL NIGHT tonight, for the first time in three entire months, which requires EARLY BEDTIMES and questions of DID ANYONE IN THIS HOUSE WASH UNDERWEAR THIS WEEK, SO THAT Y’ALL HAVE SOME FRESH ONES TO WEAR?  I don’t even know why I bother asking that question out loud, because if I didn’t wash underwear, ain’t nobody washed underwear.

The boys have gotten fresh haircuts this weekend.  We have been to the grocery store to buy lunch items that won’t kill a five-year-old dead, like the possibilities of what might turn up on a hot lunch tray will.  Thing 2’s lunchbox is ready to go, and the boy has a solid game plan in place to leave the school tomorrow for quick and dirty fast food with friends.

I have groceries for two back-to-back nights of crockpot dinners, while I return to my gym and a multitude of PE classes tomorrow.  My lesson plans are done.  My own clothes are ironed for tomorrow already.

I feel like I’m at the top of my back-to-school game plan.  I expect it’ll last about four entire days, before we’re all in a slump again and counting the days until Thanksgiving vacation.

AND MY BABIES WILL START KINDERGARTEN AND 11th GRADE TOMORROW.  I have no idea how we’ve even gotten to this point, because they were both just wearing footie pajamas and slurping on their binkies yesterday.  All I know is… I potty trained them… blinked once… and now they’re five and seventeen.

We kicked this weekend off on Friday night with a going-away party for one of Hubs’ colleagues.  The party was at the golf course, and Hubs’ office had it catered with elaborate hors d’oeuvres and an open bar.  We circulated and talked with good, GOOD friends all night long, while we heaped our plates tall with fancy appetizers.  I whispered to Hubs at one point, “It’s exactly like Ellie Mae Clampet has come to town!  I’ve never had asparagus or bruschetta this elaborate and delicious before!”  It was true.  I had no idea what the limit on bruschetta was… or how many times polite society would allow you to reappear at that particular silver platter of appetizers… but I managed to snag approximately twenty-one of the crunchy bread and tomato things before I decided to quit with all the gluttony and switch to the Italian sausages, wrapped in some kind of homemade bread that was served on gigantic wooden spears and dipped in the finest tomato sauce I’d ever experienced.  And then I went for the cucumbers piped full of cream cheese and nuts.  And then there were the chocolate strawberries and the miniature quesadillas… with the salsa that was made from peppers grown in Hell.  The first bite turned my lips to ash, and poor Ellie Mae, who was basically in tears of pain, had to excuse herself to the bathroom, where she could shove her entire face beneath a faucet of running water to cool things off a bit.

Although Mam watched Thing 2 on Friday night, the boy showed up at the golf course with us, where he politely asked if he could join the men in smoking Cuban cigars and drinking whiskey on the back patio.  I asked him to show me his driver’s license, and then I shook my head NO!  NOT ON YOUR LIFE!  OVER MAMA’S DEAD BODY!!  DON’T EVER SMOKE ANYTHING, CIGARS INCLUDED, OR MAMA WILL GROUND YOU FROM COLLEGE AND ADULTHOOD!!!

I think I made myself pretty clear.

I spent the better part of the evening sitting on the golf course’s front patio with a couple of my closest girlfriends, talking and talking AND TALKING, and it was wonderful.  We stayed out way too late, and we only came home when the bruschetta was gone.

So… you know… we were home at 9:45.

The boy played some golf this weekend, and by played some golf, I mean that the boy played in three different tournaments.  He played in a high school JV tournament on Thursday, a high school varsity tournament on Friday, and a city-wide tournament on  Saturday, that raised funds for a memorial scholarship.  He golfed his worst game in an entire year at the JV tournament, and came home grouchy and snarly.  He went back out for varsity on Friday, and came home cheering, as he declared he’d “golfed wonderfully.”  And then he and a friend got 4th place in the city-wide tournament Saturday, and managed to win themselves each $95 in cold, hard cash.

After three tournaments in three days… after walking eighteen holes of golf three times… after working in the evenings until the golf course closed, after each of those tournaments… the boy came home on Saturday night, happy with his $95 in cash… and he fell asleep on his bed fifteen minutes later.  He was fully dressed, and he was still holding his phone in his hand.

In other words, I think that big kid had himself some REAL EXHAUSTED.

The rest of our weekend was full of all kinds of BUSY BUSY BUSY, too.

I took Thing 2 shopping for school supplies on Thursday, because time marches on, and eventually the baby of the family has to start kindergarten, or the authorities will question you and your husband for keeping him home.  We bought him some new sneakers for his kindergarten PE class, which was an event in itself.  He had to try them ALL on, and then he had to run through the store in each pair, to determine which pair was THE FASTEST.

Heaven forbid that we purchased a slow pair of shoes for gym class.

We bought the fastest pair (because OF COURSE WE DID), and then we hauled those sneakers and a bag of school supplies up to his kindergarten classroom, so that he could pack his little cubby full.

I may have cried a little bit over seeing his name on a real KINDERGARTEN CUBBY.  His teacher may have had to say, “Pull it together, Gladys.  You’re just dropping supplies off today!”

On Friday morning, Thing 2 made his own bed.  He hollered, “Mom!  I’m helping with the housework!  I made my bed, so don’t touch it and mess it up!”

I think he nailed Bed Making 101.  He’s basically ready for college now.

Thing 2 also spent some time on Friday with Grammy and Papa, which meant that he spent some time in their little pond.  He cannot be at Grammy and Papa’s house without diving in.

We went to the cutest wedding ever on Saturday night, and we even hauled Thing 2 along.  It’s because Hubs and I enjoy living on the edge, where we take the Tasmanian Devil into polite society and expect the wedding cake to remain upright at all times.

The wedding was beautiful and sweet, and it basically reminded us that Hubs and I are no longer twenty-four years old.

Thing 2 played with Cousin H on Sunday.  They played Spider-Man and Spider-Girl.  They fought crime and shot imaginary webs all over the house, and Thing 2 tried to teach little H how to climb a door frame, like he is capable of doing.

God bless little boys.

This morning, Thing 2 took the hose off of his toy vacuum cleaner, and then he shoved it down into the twenty-gallon fish tank in his bedroom.  I have no idea HOW he managed it, but he must’ve used the toy vacuum cleaner hose AS A STRAW.  He must’ve taken a long pull on that hose, as he got a good suction going, and… QUICK AS A WINK… that hose turned into something similar to a garden hose attached to an outdoor faucet, that was turned to FULL POWER.

Water was siphoned out of that fish tank at an alarming rate, and it simply began to pour straight to the bedroom floor.  By the time I arrived on the crime scene, we were wading through about four full gallons of water on my hardwoods.  The devastation was starting to look like Texas, in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

I don’t have any pictures of the flooded bedroom, because it’s hard to remember to pull your camera out to snap a memory when you’re swearing badly enough to make gang members blush.

We still have a pile of wet bath towels that need to be laundered, but we survived the flood and rebuilt.

And then, while I was making my second cup of coffee of the morning… which was full of cream and sugar, because I CLEANED UP A FLOOD, AND FOUR GALLONS OF WATER ON A HARDWOOD FLOOR IS REALLY QUITE A LOT OF GALLONS… Thing 2 came running out of his bedroom, looking like this:

He was jogging all over the house, with a big chunk of masking tape across his forehead.  As he jogged by me, he yelled, “I’m just getting some exercise with my sweatband!”

And THAT, people, is why we are ready to start school first thing tomorrow morning.

Plus… we’ve had our annual NIGHT BEFORE SCHOOL STARTS picnic with our good friends.  It happens on the eve of the new school year, every year.  Every year since our high school junior and senior were starting 1st and 2nd grades.  We are sticklers for tradition, and besides… we ENJOY our beloved friends.  We picnicked in the park with 200 wasps, who wanted to eat our cheeseburgers, and we listened to Thing 2 scream like he was a banshee on fire.  “BEES!!  BEES!!  BEES!!”

Thing 2 has himself a bee phobia, but he’s cute, so we excuse him.

We need Valium tablets to survive him screaming about the BEES!!BEES!!BEES!!, but we excuse him.

And there they all are!  Our high school junior.  Our kindergartner.  Our high school senior.  Our 5th grader.  Our high school freshman.

They were all just wearing diapers and crawling last week.

Y’all have a good Monday night, and may this school year be one of growth and promise and hope for everyone.

Pray for Texas, as they continue to be hammered by Harvey… and pray for my heart tomorrow, as I send my babies off to their kindergarten and junior-in-high-school-already years.

Ocho

Thing 2 lost his EIGHTH TOOTH while he was eating a bowl of gluten-free, no-added-sugar, no-GMOs cold cereal with organic almond milk for breakfast this morning.

And he’s five.

He’s not even officially five and a half yet.  He’s still just a plain old, solid FIVE.  He had his teeth cleaned at the dentist’s office this summer, and his pediatric dentist said, “He is, by far, the most advanced mouth that I have ever had in my practice.  I’ve NEVER had a five year old who has lost so many teeth naturally… nor have I had a five year old who has so many grownup teeth already in place.”

I thought this should qualify us for a dental discount, but apparently all we get is bragging rights, at full price.

The big problem comes in this:  Thing 2 is BEGGING to play hockey this winter.  Whenever we drive by the ice rink (which is currently CLOSED FOR THE SEASON), he asks me, “When can I skate again?  Can you promise not to forget to sign me up for hockey?”

The other moms of kindergarten hockey players this winter will sit back, with their hands behind their heads and say, “We still just have baby teeth.  If we get one knocked out… no big deal.  Here!  Have some wine!”  Meanwhile, if WE get a tooth knocked out during hockey…

… it’ll be a permanent one.

That’ll require a permanent fix.

With no dental discount.

I hope mouth guards and face cages on helmets live up to their promises.

I also hope that the Tooth Fairy for our district remembers that she’s supposed to flutter in after bedtime tonight.  I hear tale that OUR district’s fairy is somewhat elderly, with a flair for dementia and a tendency to be asleep before 9:30 PM.  I don’t know why we got stuck with such an unreliable fairy.

Y’all have a good Wednesday evening.

Eclipse 2K17

So… apparently there was an eclipse yesterday.

Of course, my astronomy-loving husband knew the eclipse was coming on August 21, 2017 fifteen years ago.  It’s because Hubs always says that if he could re-choose careers, he would have done something with astronomy… like monitoring the Hubble Space Station… or he would have sat in the desert, listening to tapes of audio noise collected from giant satellite dishes, which might give us clues to aliens, building communication devices with outdated Speak ‘N Spells in order to contact Earth.

(His other choice would have been to watch ALL the hockey games and answer the phone when referees called with questions on how to rule a questionable play.)

Nine months ago, Hubs ordered a package of twenty-five eclipse-watching glasses off Amazon.  He paid $24 for all twenty-five of them, and I thought he was insane.  WHY DID WE NEED TWENTY-FIVE PAIRS OF THESE THINGS FOR SOMETHING HAPPENING IN NINE MORE MONTHS?!  And Hubs said, “Because they didn’t sell individual glasses!”  It also has everything to do with the fact that Hubs likes to BUY ALL THE THINGS IN BULK.

If I need a one-pound bag of sugar and I send Hubs to the store for it, he will bring back the forty-pound bag of sugar, because he could save eighteen cents per pound buying it that way.  Never you mind that we don’t have a shelf in our pantry big enough to HOLD the bulk bag.

These eclipse-watching glasses sat in our kitchen drawer, completely ignored, for months.

And then… everyone on Facebook started begging for connections to buy a pair last week, because apparently the World Wide Web had sold out of them.  And that twenty-five pack that Hubs bought for $24 way back when?  Well, we looked, and there were a few of those available off Amazon…

… for $300.

Which is why we handed out our extra ones this week for FREE AMERICAN DOLLARS to our neighbors and friends and family in need, and I had to admit that Hubs had been on top of his eclipse game nine months ago.

Well played, Hubs!

Hubs also announced nine months ago, when he marked my over-sized, old-fashioned kitchen wall calendar with a giant circle on August 21st, that we would be driving to the spot of TOTALITY.  As the day approached, all I could think was, “The traffic!”

Hotel rooms in that ribbon of totality along the US were going for more than a thousand dollars a night.  We knew restaurants would be packed, and DID WE WANT TO BECOME INVOLVED IN THE CHAOS?

Yes.

Yes, Hubs did.

We got up yesterday when it was still dark, even though Thing 2 chose yesterday morning to sleep in.  This is how our lives work, which is really unfair.

We packed enough food for us to become stranded for nineteen entire days, and then we set off on a road trip, after cramming our boys and the cute neighbor boy into the car.

Even though the big boys both LOOK like they’re wide awake in that snapshot and ready for a road trip, I can guarantee you that the exact opposite was true.  Neither one of them had seen the back side of 7 AM all summer, and they were having difficulties performing easy tasks like speaking in coherent sentences when we pulled out of the driveway.

On the flip side, Thing 2 ALWAYS sees the back side of 7 AM.  Heck!  Thing 2 often sees the backside of FIVE AM, so a 7:00 departure time was a walk in the park for him.

We got gas station coffee, because Hubs didn’t want to risk stopping at Starbucks.  It was going to SLOW HIM DOWN, and he was on a STRICT TIME FRAME for traveling.  A Starbucks stop, which I deemed NECESSARY, wasn’t on his eclipse itinerary.  He told me I could grab coffee at the gas station, while he washed our windshield.  I was grumpy that this was my choice, because GAS STATION COFFEE??!!

It turned out to be better than Starbucks!  I’m sorry, Starbucks; it did.  Plus… well… I only paid $1.89 for a 16-ounce cup, which would have set me back twenty dollars at my beloved coffee house.  Hubs looked at me and said, “And… YOU’RE WELCOME.”

With that, we were off.

We drove… and we drove… and then we drove some more.

And then we kept on driving.

And then we drove a bit longer.

We drove long enough that Thing 2 moaned from his seat, “Why is this trip taking so long?  Can we eat lunch now?”

It was 8:20 AM.

And 8:20 AM meant we still had some driving to do, so we kept on with it.

And then we were there.

Hubs’ plan was to avoid the big city, where totality would be achieved, and camp out in the middle of Nowhere, USA, where totality would also be achieved.  The only difference would be that we had absolutely zero internet access.  Oh, I don’t meant that we didn’t have BARS.  We had bars!  What we didn’t have was the actual internet.  Every time we tried to pull up a web page, we all got text boxes that popped up on our phones announcing, “There is no internet connection here.”

It was exactly like being in 1984 again.

It was exactly like being where the Internet had not been invented.

The boy and the cute neighbor boy wanted to know how the nearby houses survived without cell phones.

I had no answers for them, because all I could think was, “There’s no Amazon Prime here!”

Indeed.  We were smack in the middle of the forgotten land, where cell phones were obsolete and where rattlesnakes outnumbered humans, twenty-eight to one.

However… yesterday the population in this little CELL SERVICE DEAD SPOT increased enough to be 22,828 humans to one rattlesnake.  The road was THICK with tourists, who all had the same idea Hubs did, of avoiding the big city and the traffic, but still getting the TOTALITY.

We pulled off the paved road, into the desert, and opened up the cooler.

Yesterday may have been Eclipse 2017 Day…

… but it was also THE DAY MY PARENTS FINALLY LET ME HAVE AN ENTIRE SODA ALL TO MYSELF.  It was something Thing 2 had never experienced before, because his stingy mother believes in the Sugar Prohibition.

This was why Thing 2 decided to skip having actual FOOD for lunch.  He drank an entire Dr. Pepper, and called his meal good.  It was his first WHOLE POP.

I only yelled, “Watch out for rattlesnakes!!!” five hundred thousand times yesterday.  The genetic code for mothering deep inside of me figured that if there was no internet here, then there was no antidote for rattlesnake bites in the form of A REAL HOSPITAL either.

The only child who took me seriously was Thing 2.  He kept demanding that the cute neighbor boy PACK HIM all over the place, so he wouldn’t step on a snake and die.

It looked exactly like our cute neighbor boy was hauling around a pet monkey, as Thing 2 clung to him with a death grip.  Thankfully, that teenager is a good, GOOD egg, and he was happy to let the little howler monkey clutch his neck, in the name of SAFETY.

Eventually, though, Thing 2 did brave the ground, because the big boys showed him REAL LIVE DEAD BONES!  Do you know what my germ-hating self did NOT approve of?  That would be my five-year-old, bringing a dead bone collection to me, that were probably laced with more diseases than even the Lord could count.

Thing 2 got to work, recreating what he assumed was a dinosaur.  He kept saying, “This is a T-Rex skeleton, but the skull is missing.”

And also the femur is seven inches long.  OTHER THAN THOSE TWO THINGS, I agree that it must be a set of T-Rex bones!

After Thing 2 had played archeologist for a while and rubbed his eyes after handling dead bones, until my stomach was sick with worry over rattlesnakes AND germs, the cute neighbor boy yelled, “Hey, Thing 2!  I found a gecko sunning himself on a rock!”

And that was the end of building a dinosaur from scratch.  Thing 2 did his level best to catch a wild lizard, and we give thanks to Jesus that he was too slow to capture the little fellow.  Having a wild gecko immigrate to Small Town, USA illegally, in our car, to come to our hometown and have short humans negotiate for him to live in captivity in their bedroom was not on my bucket list yesterday.

I’m having a hard enough time handling the two house cats we currently keep in captivity here.

Eventually, the big boys threw all of my advice to STAY CLOSE TO THE CAR TO AVOID RATTLESNAKE BITES to the wind, and they trekked across the desert.  The boy was feeling hopped up on success, because two weeks ago, he and a friend KILLED a rattlesnake at the golf course.

Oh, yes!

They did!

They killed a rattlesnake with a nine iron (FOR REALS!), and then the boy sent me pictures of how he’d skinned it, so it looked like a three-foot long, bloody sausage, lying in the back of some teenager’s truck.  And then, as if seeing THAT snapshot arrive on my phone that afternoon wasn’t enough…

… the boy brought the skin home, where he is planning to tan it and mount it on a board to hang  in his bedroom.

Right now, it’s in a bag in MY KITCHEN FREEZER.

Only boy moms have to shudder in revulsion when they try to drag out a box of ice cream from under a rattlesnake skin.

Also?  Well, if the boy ever does mount the snake skin on a board, I am fairly certain that we will have a “small electrical fire in his room while he’s at school, that will burn the board and snake skin to complete ash, but which will, thankfully, not hurt anything else in the entire house.”

Bless.

As the big boys set out through the rattlesnakes and the fire ants and the geckos and scorpions and DEATH-INDUCING WILDLIFE, I rehearsed my speech for the cute neighbor boy’s sweet mama, when I had to DRIVE THREE HUNDRED MILES to reach a cell phone hot spot, to call her and announce that HER KID HAD BEEN EATEN ALIVE.

And you can bet your very last coin that I would not be clubbing a rattlesnake over the head with a nine iron to cut the cute neighbor boy out of his belly, because I would be running in the opposite direction, screaming, “SNAKE!!!SNAKE!!!SNAAAAAAAAKE!!!”

As we all sat around with our spectacular eclipse-watching glasses on, that moon moved right across the sun, until we had reached totality.

Look at me, using a major astronomy term like totality!!

The sky went as dark as nighttime.  As in, it was FULLY, NIGHTTIME KIND OF DARK.  It was like 11 PM kind of dark.  We saw stars!  We saw Venus!  (Or… as Thing 2 pronounces it… BEE-nus!)  The air went downright chilly, as the temperature bottomed out.  And the eerie part was that the world went SILENT.  The birds stopped making their bird noises.  The insects stopped making their bug noises.  There wasn’t a sound to be heard.

Right next to us, a Native American Indian had been pounding away on his drum, providing Thing 2’s excited shrieks over finding a gecko and a pile of dinosaur bones with some background music.  He stopped playing his drum completely when totality hit.

The world was ABSOLUTELY DARK AND UTTERLY SILENT.

It was the eeriest, MOST COOL THING I had ever witnessed.  It was exactly as though Earth said, “I will stand in silence for this amazing thing God has just done.”  The Bible says that even the rocks will cry out their praises for God, but yesterday, those same rocks knew to stand still, in utter silence, as the Earth showed great respect for the show the Lord was putting on.

I looked at Hubs, and he was grinning from ear to ear.  I whispered, “Yes.  THIS was worth the trip.”  Yesterday, Hubs introduced me to the wonders of cheap gas station coffee and the necessity to drive to the area of totality whenever God hands you an eclipse.

My eclipse photography turned out so stellar, Time magazine has already bought the rights to use this picture.  Don’t be jealous of how amazing it turned out to be.

And then, people, we loaded up and we headed for home.

No one got bitten by a rattlesnake.  (Thank you, Jesus!)

No one caught a gecko to bring home.  (Thank you again, Jesus!)

Everyone had been stunned and awed.  (Thank you one more time, Jesus!)

We all got to see exactly how small we are in this universe.  We all got to see exactly how big God really is, and what He can pull off with ease.

See that dirty dust in this snapshot?  Thing 2 was covered in it, and he managed to dump six pounds of it on the back seat in the car, when he pulled his Croc off his foot.  There are no words to express my utter joy over that.

Our trip home took almost twice as long yesterday, because TRAFFIC.  The middle of Nowhere, USA, which has never seen anything even remotely close to TRAFFIC before, was swamped yesterday with cars, trucks, SUVs, campers, motorcycles, tents and trailers.  We trudged home at the pace of a snail, and we arrived just in time to make the big boys twenty minutes late for their high school golf practice.

They literally bailed out of our car and left three seconds later for the golf course, while Hubs and I raced Thing 2 across town for HIS soccer practice.

Which he was also late to.

He’d been trapped in his carseat all day long, bellowing about the injustices of long road trips.  He participated in soccer practice for the first two drills…

… before he quit soccer practice all together and flipped eight million cartwheel / back flip combos, all across the soccer field.  He flipped and he flipped and he flipped, while soccer went on around him.  It was the equivalent of letting a puppy off a leash at a dog park.

And THAT, people, was our Eclipse 2017 experience.  Y’all have a blessed Tuesday.