This Post Brings BORING To A Brand New Level

I got up this morning at 5:00, because… well... OWLS.  Namely, the owl who sits in a tree outside our bedroom window, and hoots a long-winded story to his two fraternity brothers in nearby trees.  Hubs finds their hooting conversation calming and relaxing.  I find it creepy, which means there will be no more sleeping until they wrap up their lying, exaggerated stories about HOW BIG THAT RABBIT WAS and move on.

Which is how I found myself falling back asleep at 6:15 this morning.  I didn’t mean to.  I simply hadn’t gotten up, after listening to the owls, and then suddenly the clock was bonging 6 AM from the living room, and I must’ve laid there a few minutes more, and then BOOM!  It was precisely 6:34, and Thing 2 was hollering for breakfast.  I sat up, looking worse than Anna, when she wakes up in the Frozen movie.  I was disoriented, and desperately trying to remember what day of the week it was.  I’d been dreaming and drooling on my pillow, and WELCOME TO PARENTING WITH YOUNG CHILDREN IN THE HOUSE ON A WEEKEND MORNING.

I got up with the baby… made him a delicious, homemade waffle (which is to say, I toasted a frozen, gluten-free waffle and slapped some peanut butter on it, and then set a peeled banana right beside it)… made myself a cup of coffee, and immediately planned out everything I could get done before Hubs woke up.  I could wash Thing 2’s bedding, unload the dishwasher, and do some of my Bible study homework.

And then I sat down in the living room and played Candy Crush for forty-five minutes, while I slowly blinked and soothed myself with the thought that Thing 2 will sleep in when he’s fifteen.

We did make it to church this morning.

And we made it to the take-and-bake pizza parlor, because… well… we are out of the necessary grocery items to make homemade food… and we made it to the matinee to see Murder on the Orient Express, while Thing 2 played at Mam and Pa’s house.

In other words… HELLO, VERY LAZY SUNDAY.

And THAT is why I’m going to bed tonight with approximately six miles of bright orange Hot Wheels plastic track circling my living room, dirty dishes in my kitchen sink, and three-point-nine million Lego bricks scattered across our floors.

I guess every now and then we just need a Sunday where we do nothing, except pass eight levels on Candy Crush and chop up a semi-homemade pizza.

Happy Sunday night, y’all.  It’s 8:15 and past my bedtime.

 

Honors Society

It’s not very often, it seems, that Hubs and I get that big kid of ours all to ourselves, but we managed to pull it off this morning, when the boy was inducted into the National Honors Society.

At 7:30 in the morning.

Which necessitated a 7:00 departure time from the house, so that I could drop Thing 2 off with a darling friend of mine, who was ready to load him into her mini van and drive him straight to his classroom’s front doors, when she took her own kids to school.

Thankfully, the morning ran perfectly smooth, and I didn’t have to bark at the boy to, “GET OUT OF THE SHOWER NOW!  FOR THE LOVE!!  WE SHOULD HAVE LEFT ALREADY, AND YOU’RE STILL SHOWERING!!” until 7:01 AM.

I don’t understand boys and their NON-need to roll out of bed any earlier than six minutes before they must leave to go somewhere.  What is that even LIKE?  What does it feel like to wash your hair, comb it back, throw a T-shirt and jeans on, brush your teeth and just… WALK OUT of the house?  What about all the blow-drying and the curling and the ironing and the mascara and the flossing and the lip gloss and the perfume squirting and finding just the right necklace to match the outfit?  What about going back to the bathroom… SOMETIMES TWICE… just to see if you unplugged the curling iron?  WHAT ABOUT THAT STUFF?!

Hubs and I high-tailed it out our front door at 7:02 this morning, dropped Thing 2 off, and then raced across town to the high school…

… to find out that the boy had beaten us there by at least three full minutes.  This was the same boy who was still in the shower at 7:01.

Bless those male teenagers and their ability to press POWER PLAY on their morning routine when they suddenly find themselves in a hurry.

Hubs and I sat in the auditorium, beside one another, without any need to say things like, “Would you get up off the floor?” or “Sit up in your seat!” or “Quit kicking the seat in front of you!  That man in that chair is going to turn around and roar, and then I’m going to laugh, because you’ll have earned it!”  No, ma’am.  Hubs and I got to sit through an entire program, like the real adults we have become.

Of course we had a little bit of pride when the boy walked across the stage to receive his candle.  It also goes without saying that I took another series of STELLAR snapshots, under questionable auditorium lights.  Honestly?  I think I have a genuine LEARNING DISABILITY when it comes to my camera, because WHY??!!  Why can I not figure out aperture settings and speed settings?  I feel like it’s too much like sophomore geometry, and it makes my brain bleed.

Anyway.

By 8:00 this morning, Mr. Smarty Pants was all inducted into Small Town High School’s Honor Society.

His dad and I are pretty pleased with that boy.  He’s a good egg.  He’s a SMART egg… and a good one, too.  Our plan is to keep him.

The Weekend Of The Birthday Bust

First of all, yesterday was Hubs’ birthday.

It will go down as the biggest birthday BUST in the history of birthday busts.  It has everything to do with the fact that Hubs brought home a sinus infection last weekend.  And he went to the doctor, who put him on major antibiotics.  And… seeing as how Hubs still feels perfectly miserable and still cannot breathe out of his nose, we’re going to guess that Hubs was VIRAL.  And now he’s taken antibiotics that have done nothing except destroy all of his gut for no good reason.

On Friday, I took Thing 2 to practice hockey.  He likes to go to the little drop-in sessions, where kids of all ages can just zip out onto the ice with their hockey sticks and smack three hundred pucks around.

This is what Friday afternoon looked like, when Thing 2’s mama embarrassed him in front of everyone by yanking him straight off the ice when he used his stick to slash a thirteen-year-old goalie across the leg, when that thirteen-year-old goalie blocked Thing 2’s shot on the net:

While Thing 2 was sitting in the makeshift penalty box, I suddenly realized that I couldn’t breathe well.

And my sinuses began feeling like I’d eaten too many peppermint candies and walked outside into the cold air.  They started to sting, and I started to sneeze.  And then the chills hit me, right there at the ice rink.  It’s cold in there already, but these were the chills of MAMA SUDDENLY AIN’T FEELIN’ SO GOOD.

I sent Hubs the picture of Thing 2 sitting on the bench, and texted him that his son was receiving a ten minute major penalty for slashing.  Hubs texted right back to say that slashing only earns two minutes in penalties, and to let the baby off the bench.  And then Hubs said something about how the goalie probably needed smacked with the stick, anyway, which is VERY helpful parenting.  Thing 2’s two-minute slashing penalty was finished, and I let him go back out onto the ice, while I scrunched myself down in my heavy coat on the bleachers and pretended that this WAS NOTHING.

It definitely wasn’t a sinus infection coming on.

Except… yes.  Yes, it really WAS a sinus infection coming on, like a freight train whipping down the tracks.  I ended up pulling Thing 2 off the ice again, so that Mama could go home.

And THAT, people, is how I found myself in bed at 5:30 on Friday evening.  I was still in denial about the whole BEING SICK issue, but I decided that maybe BABYING myself a little bit, by having Hubs order pizzas for dinner while I put on my pajamas and tucked myself in bed, would make everything okay.

I woke up on Saturday morning feeling horrible.  So horrible, in fact, that I decided to be proactive and go to the walk-in clinic IMMEDIATELY.  I had a fever and the chills, I couldn’t breathe at all, and the glands in my neck were the size of apples.

The doctor took one look at me and said, “Yeah… let’s get you started on a huge dose of antibiotics right now, and how about a shot of steroids in your behind?”

Yes… and also yes.

I came home and told Hubs that I had a prescription… and a shot.  He yelled, “No one offered ME a shot of steroids in my rear end to reduce sinus swelling!  THAT ISN’T EVEN FAIR!”

Sometimes the queen really does get the best treatment.

I got back in bed on Saturday, and never got back out.

I stayed in bed on Sunday, too.

All day.

I was so miserable on Sunday, which was Hubs’ birthday, all I could do was whisper, “Happy birthday.  My head is throbbing from sinus pressure!”

So Hubs and his own plugged up sinuses… which were nowhere near as awful as MY OWN plugged up sinuses and swollen glands this weekend, so don’t even believe him if he tries to tell you we were on level playing fields… manned the castled and maintained order by throwing food at the children and watching a lot of televised hockey and football.

He spent his birthday in his pajamas all weekend, watching TV.

Now that I think about it, maybe this was THE BEST birthday weekend he’s ever had.

This morning, I woke up and realized that the steroids had kicked in, and that the antibiotics were working, working, WORKING, and that I had been BACTERIAL.  I am nearly recovered.  To celebrate, I spent the entire day doing nine loads of laundry.

Admitting that I needed to actually DO nine loads of laundry is almost as embarrassing as having your mom pull you off the ice when you smack a goalie, who has just blocked your best slapshot.  My people were out of important clothing items, like jeans and socks.  The boy announced this morning, “I’m wearing dirty jeans and my most unfavorite pair of socks, because it’s all I had.”  Listen.  I could be on my deathbed, and these poor menfolk would still be helpless near the washing machine.

Also?  While I was in bed all weekend, both of our boys still walked straight past their dad to bring very important things to my bedside.  Thing 2 brought three different granola bars, on three different occasions, for me to open… NEVER YOU MIND THAT I WAS NAPPING, SON.  The boy brought questions of all kinds to my bedside, like, “Where do we keep the masking tape?”  There are only so many things a Dad can do, and apparently ripping open snack wrappers and opening a kitchen drawer to find the tape are things our boys believe he’s incapable of.

No matter.

Hubs did a beautiful job of holding down the fort all weekend.  He encouraged imaginative play, too, which is why my living room looked like this:

Come to think of it, no wonder the boy couldn’t find the masking tape on Sunday.  Thing 2 had used an entire roll of it.

But, people… I am better.  I am SO much better.  The laundry is done, like it ain’t been done in months, which means that I have EMPTY laundry baskets, after facing a mountain of dirty clothes that was overwhelming.  The menfolk have clean jeans and clean socks, once again.  I also got steaks to grill for Hubs’ birthday dinner tonight, because we like him.  And we appreciate him.  So we celebrated him with grilled beef.

(And don’t worry about his actual birthday dinner, because Hubs’ sweet mama brought him a home cooked dinner and dropped off at our house last night, so that he didn’t have to eat leftover pizza and granola bars to celebrate.  She loves him, too.  And we just let her drop the food and run, because ain’t nobody got time to fall down with these germs!)

Anyway.

That was our weekend.

And listen.  Y’all.  Do you pray?  If you do… then pray for my dad.  He and my mom have driven halfway across the continent now to be at a major hospital, so that he can have his kidneys looked at.  Cancer is the thing I hate the very most right now.  He’ll have some tests run, and surgery… and we would absolutely COVET AND CHERISH your prayers for him.  Because my dad is one special kind of guy, and we love him ENORMOUSLY MUCH.

Thank you.

Halloween 2017

If you want to know how my day has gone today, let me tell you this:

We have parent-teacher conferences at Thing 2’s elementary school today and tomorrow.  The PTO asked parents to bring in homemade desserts, for the teachers to enjoy as they stayed late tonight, meeting with parents, and came back all day tomorrow to meet with even more parents of their students.  Last week, I gladly signed up to help out.  I bought all the ingredients to make a cake, even though my middle name isn’t BETTY CROCKER.  And then I promptly FORGOT ALL ABOUT IT, until the little helpful alarm I’d set on my iPhone blared like a fire engine in the darkest hour of the night, alerting me to ‘DROP OFF CAKE AT THING 2’S SCHOOL.’

Yes.  That would be the cake that I forgot to bake.

After signing up to bring in homemade treats.

Which is why I bought a cheesecake, in a plastic, throw-away tub, and dropped off at the school, with my head hung in shame.  I’m sure the PTO will put up a paper sign next to it that reads, “THING 2’S MAMA FORGOT TO BAKE Y’ALL SOMETHING, SO, TEACHERS…  PLEASE, ENJOY THIS STORE-BOUGHT CHEESECAKE.”

I’m sure the phrase STORE-BOUGHT will be circled and highlighted in orange.

What can they expect, though, from the mother of a kindergarten kingpin who keeps bringing home the school cafeteria’s spoons in his lunchbox?

In other news, another Halloween has come and gone.  In an era when our friends are done trick-or-treating, because they’ve finally raised their kids to ages of GO FORTH, AND HAUL IN THE CANDY TREATS ON YOUR OWN, CHILDREN, we still have a five-year-old, who cannot navigate the streets himself, because he can’t remember to look both ways.  In other words, Hubs and I will have to get evening passes from the nursing home in a few years, to push our walkers alongside our son on Halloweens to come.

We’re still the bosses of trick-or-treating for a few more years yet.

The boys carved pumpkins on Monday night, which was the night before Halloween.  It’s because we are completely TIMELY, and never wait until the very last second to do anything.  I believe the word you’re looking for is ORGANIZED.  Which is exactly the reason I bought a cheesecake for the school’s teachers.

On the eve of Halloween, I decided that I’d better grab the monkey by the tail, to help my children build memories of that time we all carved pumpkins together when Thing 2 was five.  I stopped at the grocery store at 4 PM.  That would be the grocery store that had boxes the size of full-grown elephants sitting outside last week, heaped to overflowing with pumpkins that were just right for slicing up into jack-o’-lanterns.

Those boxes were gone.  And do you know how many full-sized pumpkins were left at that grocery store?

The answer is NONE PUMPKINS.

None.  Pumpkins.

But lo!  That store had these itty bitty guys, and I thought to myself, “Well, I think pumpkin carving just got a whole lot easier this year.”  I was pleased with my good fortune, and I bought two small pumpkins for the boys.  And?  Do you know what?  Gutting those gourds was the simplest gutting we’ve ever had.  They were a snap to carve up, and we made a memory in less than thirty minutes, which is a little something I like to call HOLIDAY WIN FOR THE PARENTS.

The next morning, Thing 2 was up early, asking if it was time yet.

Not, “Is it time for school yet?” but “Is it time to trick-or-treat yet?”  Because that’s really a question that all kids like to ask their parents at 6:15 in the morning.

After breakfast, we donned the new Peter Pan costume.

I had to laugh, because one of my good friends asked me if I made that costume.  Clearly, she can’t be THAT GOOD of a friend, because… if she were… she would know that my artistic talent and spiritual gift behind a sewing machine are both DEAD ZERO.  The reason that Amazon Prime exists is to take the pressure off mothers who have talents elsewhere, and NOT in the costume-making department.

Thing 2 was Peter Pan, in his store-bought costume (I’m detecting a theme, here.), but 98% of the people he encountered on Halloween told him what an adorable Robin Hood he was.

And then there was the boy’s costume.

When the boy walked out of his bedroom, dressed for the day, Hubs burst out laughing.  I was left with one eyebrow raised, because WHAT IN THE WORLD WAS THAT COSTUME?

I later learned that he was some hillbilly from a show about guys who live in a trailer park.  And then I was informed, “But, Mom, it’s not really a show you’d approve of.”

Which is why our Netflix password is now going to be changed.  Mama hasn’t ever seen this show called Trailer Park Boys, nor has she even HEARD OF IT, but she ain’t down with poor TV show choices.

And, people… I sent that boy to school dressed like that.  I can only imagine what teachers thought of our family’s reputation.

I rearranged a couple of PE classes on Tuesday, so that I could sneak out of my school and go to Thing 2’s school for his Halloween party.  We had good punch and better treats, and there were all kinds of games.  At one point, my little Peter Pan was sporting a red Kool-Aide mustache.  He slammed his empty punch cup down on his desk and said, “This is the best Halloween party I’ve ever been to!”

Which was… you know… GREAT, seeing as how it was basically THE ONLY Halloween party he’d ever been to!

I’m sure the room mother who planned that party also remembered to bake a homemade dessert for the teachers today.  And her kid has probably never brought home stolen silverware from the lunchroom, either.

By 4:00, we were at swimming lessons, because only Small Town’s local rec center would say, “I think Halloween afternoon would be a TERRIFIC TIME to start a new session of swim lessons!”  Halloween isn’t already crazy, at all.  Swimming, it was!

Ten minutes into his class, Thing 2 grabbed his ear in the pool and screamed.

Now… lest you think this was a NORMAL scream, let me assure you that it was not.  It was the scream of a banshee on fire.  It was the scream of any girl in any low-budget horror movie who pulls back the shower curtain to find a masked guy with an axe in his hand.  It was the scream Sully and Mike and the rest of the Monsters, Inc. crew dreamed of.

And that scream echoed off the walls of that indoor pool, so that nobody could get away from it.

And my kid was the source.

Now… lest you think that this scream STOPPED, please think again.  This scream went on and on AND ON, and our child wasn’t going to stop for anything, as he clutched his ears and let the universe know that HE HAD HIMSELF SOME SERIOUS EAR PAIN.

And THAT, people, is how I came to drag a soaking wet child out of a swimming pool, who was screaming loudly enough to shatter the glass windows in the entire rec center, dried him off, and drove him straight up to his pediatrician’s office.

RAGING.  EAR.  INFECTION.

Of which we knew nothing about.

Because we’d had no other symptoms.

But apparently swimming pool water and raging ear infections don’t blend well together.

Thing 2 tearfully announced at the doctor’s office that all bets were off for Halloween.  He wanted to go home, and he wanted to go to bed, and he was NOT trick-or-treating.  Our beloved pediatrician gave him a giant dose of Motrin, prescribed antibiotics for him, and told us to try to have a good Halloween, as she covered his coat in stickers he was too sick to pick out himself at the end of his appointment.

Twenty-two minutes later, the Motrin kicked in, and it was TRICK-OR-TREATING OR BUST.  Thing 2 was feeling normal again.  The night was BACK ON.

We met our friends, as planned, at 5:30.  Thing 2 and his best buddy, Vivi, tore up the neighborhood.  They walked sixty-two miles, ringing doorbells and banging on doors and begging for free candy, while Vivi’s parents, Hubs, the boy and I all trailed behind them.

Afterward, Thing 2 and Vivi did the traditional Candy Dump, to see who had better stuff, and to initiate and carry out Candy Trades.

Let me just tell you this:  A Candy Trade happened, in which a box of Frozen tattoos was offered in exchange for a packet of Skittles.  The whole thing went sour, there were tears, and the WAY PAST YOUR BEDTIME time was noted by all parents caught in the middle of the Trade That Went Bad.

And THAT ended Halloween 2017.  We brought our Peter Pan home, brushed the sugar out of his teeth, read him two bedtime stories, and he was sound asleep by 8:20.

Which, in the grand scheme of things, was yet another Holiday Win for the Parents!

 

Art With Naffan

Sometimes, you hit the jackpot on neighbors.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  SOMETIMES… in some neighborhoods… you might miss the jackpot mark altogether, and you end up with someone on your street, who mixes her Halloween decorations on her front door with a giant Christmas wreath on her mailbox, and who spends the majority of her time standing around in her yard, yelling at invisible people and dancing in her driveway, while the stereo on her car blasts music from the ’80s.  She may jump out of the bushes and scare the children, wear her Mary Kay blush in heavy, fluorescent pink circles around her eyeballs, instead of on her cheeks, and forget to put her pants on when she goes outside to stand with the dog while he potties.

We can only presume that he’s a bulldog, and that he’s using your yard as his bathroom.

But then there are those LUCKY PEOPLE who move into a house on the cul de sac, and realize that their neighbors are genuinely WONDERFUL people.  They’re always home when you need to borrow a stick of butter.  They share their essential oils with you, invite you to their driveway for impromptu pizza parties, offer to pray for you when you need it the most, and never fail to let your teenage son raid their stash of costumes for every high school dress-up day that rolls around.

When we built our house nine years ago, we quickly learned that we were one of those lucky families who hit the Great Neighbors Jackpot.  Because the family that lives next door to our house?  They love Jesus and they love us, and we love them in return.

Their youngest son is the boy’s best friend.

Their middle son, who just recently graduated from college, is Thing 2’s best friend.  Never mind the age difference, because Thing 2 certainly doesn’t.  It has never occurred to him as WEIRD to have a BFF who is currently in his early twenties.

That middle son’s name is Nathan, and he’s an artist.  He even has a real art degree from a real college.  AND… he has a heart for kids, so he never complains about his best friend being a five-year-old.

Back in late August… the week before school started… when all the trees still had their leaves and the grass was green… Nathan invited Thing 2 to come over for an art project.  It goes without saying that this invitation was exactly as exciting as CHRISTMAS MORNING to our younger son.  He only asked me thirty-seven times every ten minutes… all day long… if it was TIME TO PAINT WITH NAFFAN YET.

I told him that he would paint with Naffan at 6:00 that evening.  It was basically impossible to steer his young mind to other things throughout that day, because WHY IS THIS DAY MOVING SO SLOWLY?  WHY CAN’T PAINTING TIME WITH NAFFAN BE RIGHT NOW?!

I’m not sure that Nathan has ever had an art student who showed more enthusiasm for a project than Thing 2 did that evening.  He was ON FIRE to attend his private art lesson…

… which was outside in the yard.  Nathan has lived next door to Thing 2 long enough to understand that the yard is really THE ONLY PLACE to give that five-year-old painting lessons.  Because the mess of an indoor class with Thing 2?  I shiver, just thinking about it.

This is my favorite snapshot from that evening.  I love the raw excitement on Thing 2’s face, as he painted with his best friend.

Nathan let Thing 2 mix as many colors together as he wanted.  Real artists are like that.  They know that you have to mix some colors that don’t match sometimes, even though my Type A personality really just likes to keep all the colors separate.  That trait of mine… combined with the fact that I cannot — UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES — handle glitter is why I didn’t become an art teacher.

Oh.  And because I have exactly zero-point-negative-eight pieces of artistic talent on my DNA strands.  THAT was the other reason I didn’t get an art degree of my own.

We also signed up for the EXTENDED art class that night, which included after-class entertainment.  I hear it was just a private invitation to neighbors only, so I’m sorry if you don’t receive this first class treatment in your art class.

The boys hauled out Nathan’s old four-wheel-drive tricycle from years gone by…

… and then that college graduate introduced our boy to the beauty of GENUINE WATER BALLOONS.  Apparently, artists don’t mind the yard being litter with fourteen trillion pieces of popped balloons quite like a mother does.

I imagine Nathan doesn’t mind a decent glitter mess, either.

There was also a rousing game of Frisbee, which turned into LOOK, NAFFAN!  I CAN FILL THE FRISBEE WITH WATER AND DOUSE MYSELF WITH IT!

That little art class was a smashing success.

Then…

… fast forward to two weeks ago.

The boy has always had a giant Star Wars mural on his bedroom wall, which our friend, Trina, painted.  Trina is a fantastic artist.  She did the mural for the boy when he was an eight-year-old, and I adore it.  Shortly after Trina painted it, she moved across the continent to basically STINKING CANADA.  This helps insure that her coming back to Small Town, USA to paint a second mural for Thing 2 was never going to become a reality.

We had to live with the fact that our second son would always live without a great mural on his bedroom wall, too.  In my heart, I believed that it would just be too difficult to find anyone who could pull off a mural as well as the one Trina had done, and I didn’t want to hire someone to simply slop out a sub-par, mediocre mural.  We decided that Thing 2’s bedroom would be mural-less…

… until that Nathan boy graduated from college, because lo!  I looked at him after that art lesson and knew in my heart that he was absolutely the right artist to pull off a second mural at our house.  I knew that he could do one that was every single bit as fantastic as what Trina had painted for us, years ago.

So, over the course of three days… while I was at work and Bible study and fetching groceries… Nathan climbed on a step stool in Thing 2’s bedroom and pulled off a Calvin and Hobbes mural.

The boy was a Star Wars fanatic when he was eight years old, so it was a no-brainer when it came time to decide on WHAT to paint on his bedroom wall.  Star Wars ages well with a boy, because honestly?  Do boys even EVER outgrow Star Wars??!!  No.  No, they do not.  A Star Wars mural would stand the test of time, so it was perfect.  And Thing 2?  Although he adores trains and monster trucks, I wanted something DIFFERENT for him.  I wanted something that he wouldn’t mind having on his bedroom wall when he’s fourteen.  Somehow, Thomas the Train wasn’t filling that bill for us.

And then Hubs and I both knew… straight down in the bottoms of our hearts… what it would be.

Calvin and Hobbes.

Because Thing 2 IS Calvin.

Hubs and I almost regret the simple fact that we didn’t actually NAME HIM Calvin, after the famous comic strips.

Behold!

I didn’t get any snapshots of the painting in progress, because Nathan painted while we weren’t home.  But the few times we saw him working on it, he made it look downright, stinking EASY.  Do you know what I make look easy?  Eating pizza.  I can’t make painting something look easy AT ALL.  I would have been nothing but a hot mess on that step ladder.  I would have had more paint on the floor than on the mural, and I would have been crying enormous tears of I CAN’T DO THIS!  I CANNOT PAINT THIS THING AT ALL, as I prayed for Jesus’ return before my clients wanted that thing finished.

It’s not quite as big as the Star Wars mural is, which is exactly what I wanted.  Calvin and Hobbes is about five or six feet tall, and it fits the room’s scale perfectly.

I couldn’t possibly be any happier with it, because I have all the FEEL GOOD FEELS over that second mural.  It depicts Thing 2’s personality perfectly:  full of life and orneriness, and he will always be the one to take the hills at a break-your-neck-in-half speed in a wagon… without a helmet.

Bless.

So… that’s a shout-out to our neighbor boy, Naffan.  We really did hit the neighbor jackpot when we moved in next door to his sweet family.

Y’all have a happy Monday evening.

Hey, There…

Before I go any further, I should just warn you that I have been both awake AND functioning since 3:30 this morning, but I seem to be fading quickly now.  This is evidenced by the small fact that Thing 2 and I were watching a movie on TV together, because LET’S DO SOMETHING THAT DOESN’T REQUIRE A LOT OF BRAIN POWER, and I blacked out on the sofa and discovered that I had completely missed a forty-minute segment, while I NAPPED.  I snapped to attention, looked at Thing 2, and basically yelled, “ARE YOU STILL AWAKE?”

Because what we don’t want happening is Thing 2 dozing off for forty entire minutes in the late afternoon.  That is a recipe for a dish the five-year-old likes to call, “I’m Not Tired At Bedtime.”  I find it usually pairs nicely with a mixed drink called “Your Mama Is Going Crazy.”

But… as much as I’m complaining right now about our 3:30 AM wake-up call today, it was the first time in forty-four consecutive nights that Thing 2 has gotten up.  I believe consecutive is what you call IN A ROW, and we’ve had forty-four of those suckers.  By my calculations, this is either a random hiccup on the highway of YES, OUR FIVE YEAR OLD FINALLY SLEEPS ALL NIGHT, or it’s a sharp U-Turn on that same highway, where we go back to the starting gates and quit sleeping again.

These are shaky times, people.  We’re signing up for all the church prayer chains.

All of that to say… I’m a touch tired, so please forgive me if the words are more jumbled than usual.

How have y’all been?  Because apparently I have not been around to check in here at the Jedi Mama headquarters, which has absolutely everything to do with the simple fact that HOW DO MOMS DO IT?  We had something going on every single night after school last week, and by the time we’d come home and cooked a nutritious dinner of Cheerios and bananas, it was time to brush the teeth and put the pajamas on and read the bedtime stories.

And that wasn’t just for me, as Thing 2 had to be put to bed, too.

So this is going to be quick tonight, because Hubs is about to pull the hamburgers off his Traeger grill, and my Ore-Ida French fries are nearly ready to set off the oven timer, indicating that they’re finished.

In other words, we are yet again eating a fancy dinner, but since I’m pairing it with BROCCOLI, PEOPLE, I feel like we are meeting the majority of the food groups.

Last week…

… our church gave out Bibles to all the kindergarten kiddos.  They were called up on stage, where Thing 2 completely refrained from taking the mic and leading the congregation in another round of a worship song.  He sat politely on the stage with the rest of the kindergarten crowd, showing us that  miracles really DO happen, and he was OVERWHELMED with excitement to get his very own BIG BOY Bible.

Little Cousin H was also there to receive a Bible, and she proudly posed with Thing 2.

I feel like it was a nice touch when I stepped back to take another picture of them, and realized that I’d had them STAND TOGETHER, NOW, AND LOOK HAPPY, right in front of the women’s bathroom.

It’s just further evidence that I really have no spiritual calling on becoming a professional photographer.

I would have included the boy in these pictures, but… as usual… he was working.

Thing 2 also had REAL TEENAGE BABYSITTERS last Friday night, while his parents went out on a date.  Once a month, Hubs and I have Supper Club with two other couples.  We all get sitters, and we all meet somewhere for dinner.  We’re nearly two full years into our Supper Club group.  The only rule to Supper Club is that if a toy is served with a kid’s meal, we cannot eat there.  Other than that, Supper Club has no rules.  It’s just a time for us to get together with good friends, to catch up, and to laugh ourselves silly.

Because all of our boys’ grandparents live right here, we never hire REAL TEENAGE BABYSITTERS.  We’ve learned that grandmas love to babysit, and they do it for free American dollars.  But this time, we hired Cousin L and her BFF to come over to our house and chase Thing 2 around in circles until he was dizzy.

The only problem is that I think HE chased THEM around in circles, until THEY were dizzy, but they all insisted that they’d had a good time.  Our house hadn’t burned down, flooded or filled itself with poisonous gases while they were all here, so we chalked that up as a Babysitting Win.

We also heaved big sighs last weekend and got after the leaf issue here.  Since we live smack in the middle of the Hundred Acre Wood, we tend to have thousands of TRILLIONS of leaves, come fall.

Thousands.

Of trillions.

We rake leaves; we mow leaves; we blow leaves; we cuss the leaves. The only one who is totally on board with the hard work it takes to get them all picked up is Thing 2.  He’ll work until his fingers bleed, because Thing 2 actually ENJOYS manual labor.  I’m hoping that this characteristic of his stays until he graduates from high school, because what Hubs and I need is someone who is quite passionately HAPPY about hard work around here.

I would have taken a picture of the boy working hard at raking leaves, too, but he was working at the golf course.

Again.

(And yes.  Thing 2 wore a paintball mask, because the dust was bugging him.)

The rest of last week slid by in a blur of hockey practice, Bible studies, youth group, swim lessons, laundry, grocery-fetching and having our carpets professionally shampooed for the very first time.

(By the way, I am a fan of that!)

This weekend, we laid very low, because… well... the cold front came in.  It has rained and drizzled and spit snow at us all day.  Add that to the simple fact that Hubs was diagnosed Saturday morning at the walk-in clinic with a sinus infection AND double ear infections, and you can see that our weekend hasn’t included anything more than…

… hockey.

Thing 2 is thrilled that our ice rink is up and running for the season again, because he finds a lot of satisfaction in skating fast, sweating much, and slapping a puck against the boards so that he can hear the BIG BOOM sound, while the kids are all out on the ice practicing.

I would have taken a picture of the boy this weekend, but he was working.

BUT!

The boy worked his last shift at the golf course today.  He sat in the clubhouse, while it rained and drizzled… while no one golfed today… and then he came home early and declared that the golf course is closed for the season!

And his mama said all the hallelujahs!

We are no longer going to set alarms for o’-dark-thirty on Saturday and Sunday mornings, so that the boy can be at work by 6:00 AM.  We are no longer going to have just three of us at our dinner table for big bowls of Fruit Loops, while the boy works and closes up the clubhouse for the night.

No, ma’am.  We are back to being a family of four at the dinner table.

However, Thing 2 will still see to it that we are up early on the weekends.  You can take THAT to the bank.

Y’all have a good Sunday evening.

He Reads!

I’m just going to leave this right here, because it’s too cute NOT to.

OUR BABY IS READING!  He is reading to his big brother!

Of course, the boy looks about as thrilled as he’d be, if he was sitting in the dentist’s office, waiting for a root canal to start.  And Thing 2 was rushed, because the boy had a GIANT, hardcover Lego book for them to look at when the kindergarten “homework” was done.  Thing 2 was plowing through his reading, so he could finish the READING TO HIS BROTHER part of the evening and move straight to the LEGO-LOOKING WITH HIS BROTHER.  Of course, maybe he was rushing through it so quickly because the book’s plot was absolutely riveting and engrossing.

And now they’re both sprawled out on the floor, looking at three million different things that can be created with… say… a forty-gallon Rubbermaid tub full of various Lego bricks.

If a family JUST HAPPENED TO HAVE such a tub.

Which I guarantee you… we do.  It guarantees that we will NEVER have a shortage of bricks to step on with a bare foot around here.

Being A Nurse May Not Be My Spiritual Gift

Well.

I set up my base camp on the sofa last night, in a place where I believed the germs weren’t completely clogging the air.  Hubs took over our bedroom and bathroom, much like an unruly house guest, if unruly house guests are the type that drop their laptop, their coffee mug from the morning, their Tupperware lunch container, their coat, their car keys, their office keys, and a flash drive on the floor, between the bedroom door and the bathroom toilet.  Clearly, this was a sign that things were about to explode like Mount Vesuvius, when Hubs sprinted through our front door last night, because he normally treats his laptop with a little more gentleness and love.  After all, if that screen cracks, there will be no more late-night Hulu and Netflix marathons of Parks and Recreation.

I had no desire to go into the land of the contaminated, so I put Thing 2 to bed, checked to make sure the boy was at least knee-deep in his chest-deep pile of homework, and I fluffed up the sofa pillows and threw down a fuzzy blanket, while I tried to figure out a way that I could mist Germ-X out of the essential oils diffuser all night long.

Come, thou blessed sanitizers.

But, I believe the verse is in the book of Psalms that says, “Puking may endure for the night, but joy and health come in the morning.”  Hubs was up at 7:00 this morning, claiming, “I blame you for my last vicious attack of barfing, when you told me that I’d missed out on smothered pork chops and gravy for supper.  My guts couldn’t take any food talk last night.”

And that was the exact moment when I quit checking on him, to see if he needed anything, in my best impression of a nurse who gags any time she sees someone’s snot.  Hubs went back to sleep after that announcement this morning, as I stood up and frantically applauded all single parents who are doing this parenting gig alone.  (Dear Single Parents, I applaud you!  You are undervalued, and you all need a beach vacation, where someone fluffs your towels and makes your bed every day for a week!)  Suddenly, the tasks that Hubs and I divide and conquer every morning ALL fell upon me, and what I forgot — WHAT!!  I COMPLETELY!!  FORGOT!! — was that I would be taking Thing 2 to school, because Hubs was out for the count, as he lost to the stomach flu.

I don’t do the kindergarten drop off, because Hubs takes that job on his way to work.  So, imagine my surprise when it dawned on me at 7:40 this morning… WHO SHALL BE GETTING THIS CHILD TO HIS CLASSROOM?!  This same child who hasn’t even eaten breakfast yet, because when I told him to go get his clothes on, he misunderstood me and thought I told him to sit on his bedroom floor and build a barge out of Legos, while wearing nothing but a pair of Batman undies.  THAT was the one who needed to eat breakfast at 7:40 and then have his mother (who was sporting the unwashed hair that wasn’t going to get washed, and which was going to just be called TUESDAY’S ALL-DAY HAIR) still pack him a lunch, so that he wasn’t poisoned with gluten or dairy in the school’s cafeteria.

I am happy to report that we made it, and that we made it at 7:56.  A bowl of oatmeal basically requires very little chewing which translates into very little time.  Being a two-minute drive away from the school also helps on rushed mornings.

Bless.

And then… I took myself to work, because I had seven elementary PE classes on my immediate horizon, so it was an absolute delight when the school nurse called me at 11:30 today to announce that Thing 2 was coughing like a seal, and what would I like her to do for him?

And so it begins.

It does seem like all the yuck is hitting us extremely early this year, especially when one considers that the temperature today was a balmy 79.

But… the little Catholic school where I teach PE sent four kids home today.   Four kids, from four different grades, and all four puked on the school premises. One of them walked into my PE class, and… instead of changing her shoes from sandals to sneakers… ran through the gym doors and disappeared.  She raced by me in a streak, and I ended up finding her in the girls’ bathroom, clutching the side of a toilet and throwing up her breakfast, as she cried for her mom.

And then Thing 2 sneezed on my arm, in the most glorious sneeze to erupt since the early 1400s.

In other words, my germ free base camp is probably not even necessary again tonight, because I have been exposed.

But… one day last week… when everyone was still healthy and there was nary a cough or a barf to be heard in our home… Thing 2 went on a field trip to the fire station.  Sister went with him, because that field trip shook down on a Tuesday, when I was stuck in a soccer unit in PE.  Thankfully, Sister sent me snapshots, because Sister is kind and good.

She let me know that Thing 2 was picked to be the fellow who pretends he has a broken leg, so that the paramedics can show the class exactly what they do in the back of that ambulance.  Naturally, our five-year-old came home and announced that he was going to be a fire fighter when he grows up.  He let us know that he’ll spend his days sliding down the pole, putting fires out, and using those “giant car scissors to cut people out of cars when they wreck.”

I imagine he’ll also be a better nurse than I am.

If he doesn’t gag when he sees snot, he’s already way ahead of his mama.

Happy Tuesday, y’all.   Happy Tuesday.

Ready… Set… STOMACH FLU!

Well.

It is upon us.

How long have we been in the Fall season?  And the temperatures haven’t even really dropped, because LO!  Today was gorgeous, and we played outside in shorts and our shirt sleeves and marveled over the fact that THIS!  THIS will be the weather that heaven has, with all it’s crispness and juicy apples and warm days, where the sun beats upon you, in a totally non-threatening way that makes you want to sit in an ice bath.  This is more of a kiss from the sun, with a warm hug.  Thing 2 and I played at the park this afternoon, after I picked him up from kindergarten, with some friends, and the boys ran and ran, while the moms sat on the park bench and sighed over and over, “Isn’t this just THE VERY BEST weather?”  There’s nary a hint of any winter yet, and there’s nothing left over from our scorching summer, and things were going so VERY well.

Until… you know… 4:30 this afternoon, when Hubs came running in our front door like Usain Bolt, pursuing another Olympic gold medal for sprinting, because SWEET MAMA!  MOVE OUT OF THE WAY!

Hubs was on a mission, and that mission was to get himself to our bathroom, where he IMMEDIATELY, without any haste whatsoever, BARFED UP INTERNAL ORGANS AND EVERYTHING HE’S EATEN FOR THE PAST SIX DAYS.

And… THAT ESCALATED VERY QUICKLY.

He moaned, “I’m freezing!  I’m shaking!  I’ve been sick since noon, but I’ve been too busy at work today to come home, but now I’m dying.”  Which is how he found himself tucked into bed by 5:00 this evening.

So… yes!  Come, Thou Wintertime Illnesses!  Let us start you all very early in the season.

If you don’t mind, I’ll be heading off to spray things with Clorox now, and wrap a dishtowel around my face… exactly like a surgical mask… as I prepare to go in and check on Hubs again…