Monday, April 29, 2013

April Laundry

One of my favorite rules of childhood: it does not matter how long you have actually worn a garment, nor what kind of activity you have engaged in while wearing said garment; once the article of clothing has touched your skin and been removed, it is automatically dirty and should be discarded into the laundry hamper.  Note: all horizontal surfaces in bedrooms and bathrooms can be used for a hamper at any time.  Exception: if you have an "accident," it is perfectly acceptable (indeed, preferable) to hide the offensively odorous garment in a tight corner of your closet or drawer.  Moms like finding those presents.

I just finished folding the weekend's accumulation of laundry.  The strange assortment in each family member's size does tell the diverse (if unremarkable) tale of our April weather. Sweatshirts and long pants, t-shirts and short pants, churchy clothes, fishing clothes; we wore it all in two days.  Plus pajamas and as many pairs of socks as we could find.
This afternoon, when Dad the permissive returned from work, the kids went swimming.
It was not warm enough, but it satisfied some need buried within them.  Plus now they know where their swimsuits are when the temperatures hit the 80's... tomorrow.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Coffee Stains and Setbacks

Yesterday was the final day of baseball try-outs for my oldest son.  There were 47 eligible boys for 13 spots.

As Dad and Mom, we had tried to discourage him from signing up for the team that required try-outs. Auditions are for musicals.  Let's just stick with the league that lets everyone play. Or, (my advice) let's just audition for a musicals.
But this is what he wanted. As much as I want to shield him from all of life's setbacks, I cannot. Better he face a few with his parents close at hand so he knows that we've got his back.

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This was my status update as I waited in the car with the four younger siblings for our trying athlete.  The drama was mine, not my son's; the anxiety of waiting was getting to me.  Between my smart device and the rowdies in the backseat (the van was a-rockin') I should have been diverted from the events on the field.
But I was all too aware of what was occurring out in the windy sunshine.
I snapped the lid off my drive-through coffee, to better slurp up the whipped cream. Carelessly replacing the lid, I flipped the little drink door up and lifted it to my lips.  Coffee seeped out of the Styrofoam and all over my sweatshirt. Oh Sweet Mocha! See what organized sports make me do?
When I saw the herd of boys huddling in the outfield I knew the who-MADE-IT talk was commencing. I gave up trying to distract myself, and watched for the pack to dismiss.  Thanks to my now-stained clothing, I couldn't even get out of my car like the other moms and wait nearer the chain-link fence.
Instead, I warned the clamoring, tactless siblings not to ask or say anything to him about baseball.
He came, running lightly to the car, a small smile on his lips. I let myself hope that he was one of the chosen.

"Well?" He barely had the door open before I asked.
But now I could see that the smile was not only small but very tight; a taut lower lip around clamped teeth. A small shake of his head, "I didn't make it. It's ok. I'll still play city league."
And suddenly I was trying not to hate those 13 other boys.  They're not bad kids; their mothers are my friends. In fact, some of those mothers are my best friends. I can't hate their kids. But in the moment, I was sad for my son and I wanted to be a little angry; I wanted to hate something.
Maybe I just hate baseball.
My son really meant what he said: he is ok. There were no tears, just a bit of silence. He knows that his parents love him immensely no matter what his talents are.  Plus, his brother and sisters (for once) kept their mouths shut and offered no commentary. I looked in the rear-view mirror and saw one of the sisters rest her head on his shoulder.  "We had a strawberry lemonade. We had to share it. And we get to watch Little House on the Prairie when we get home."  Just catching him up on all that he missed in the last hour.  Suddenly everything returned to normal.  Questions about dinner(yes), ice cream (no), and movies (maybe) filled the spaces and soothed out the rough disappointment.
I know that I cannot shelter my children from sadness. To do so would be a disservice to them. How will they grow and experience grace if everything is easy?  Isn't it in difficulties that I have seen the greatest strength of my own life?  Would I deny them that?  This athletic-related drama is a very small distress; life continues. He is ok, and I am ok.
This morning, I don't hate anyone. I'm not even sad or angry or wanting to hate anyone (especially not those other boys). I don't even hate baseball. But until they allow random bursts of singing and dancing in the outfield, I still think musicals are way better.  Way WAY better.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Reverse Pshychology Optimism and Pictures that Make Me Sad (in a Happy way)

I started scribbling some notes for a blog post I wanted to write on the back of my grocery list. I went to the store and then threw my reminders away because I forgot they were there. I do remember that I was contemplating expectations.  Expectations are the worst, mama.

You expect that when you buy the lotion with the "subtle" self-tanner in it, it will gently ease the glaring white of your legs away without obvious streaks and an observable sock line. If it says "avoid feet and knees" what do you do about those pale areas?  And just how long do I have to let this dry on my skin before I can put clothes on? My little kids may be comfortable with naked, but I am not.

You expect that when you spend Saturday cleaning the living areas of the house, Sunday playing with children outside, Monday washing laundry, Tuesday chauffeuring children between learning activities and sporting events that Wednesday will find you with your feet propped up in the middle of beauteous order.  When do they find the time to destroy so much of our environment? Can I have a little bit of Earth Day's sympathetic feelings?

You expect that making a monthly menu will ensure that you always have a dinner plan. How am I supposed to decide what kind of soup and sandwiches to make on "Soup & Sandwich Night"? Can this involve a can opener without my mama guilt going into overdrive?

You expect that after one friend tells you that shaving one's arms is the easiest thing ever another friend will calmly speak reason into your heart. Or at the very least, maybe there would be a little twinge of hesitation saying "this isn't going to turn out well."

A Later Note:
I started writing this yesterday, but was pulled away before I could finish and click "Publish." Go figure.  Maybe I should just start expecting the worst in every situation and then I can be pleasantly surprised when my expectations are not met. It's reverse psychology optimism.
Except this didn't work out with my dinner conundrum.  "Soup & Sandwich Night" turned into hot dogs and baked beans served on paper plates. Pretty much the losingest supper ever. Meh. It kept me from overeating.

Let's finish on a happy note. Look at these pictures from earlier this week:
I love this picture, except it makes my baby look like a toddler.

What? She's not a baby any more? These pictures were supposed to make me happy, not remind me how fast my little Chilibeans are growing up.

This Chilibean is really into making "serious" faces when I try to snap her picture. Sometimes she just looks stoned. She doesn't understand that phrase, so we just left it at she just looks "too grown up."
This little Chilibean is not grown up.  Because I am a grown up (although just barely) and it was a LOOOOOONG time ago that I could do this.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Olympic Mama

So my friend shared this video on facebook today. And even though I have seen it before (probably during the Olympics) I watched it again. And even though I cried before (probably during the Olympics) I cried again. And, of course, even though I have thought about my mom before (more recently than the Olympics, I'm glad to say) I thought about my mom again.
I remembered how she woke up before dawn each morning to shake me awake, prepare my breakfast and rush me off to before-school practice. She is the reason I'm a phenomenal Olympic athlete today.
Just kidding.
You can all go back to breathing again.
But I did compete in our own back yard Olympics last summer. Photographic evidence:
Thanks, mom.
I owe all my lack of gold medals to you.

My mom did wake up early every morning but I'm not sure about the before dawn stuff, I think the sunrise was at a more reasonable hour back then so it was probably easier to beat the sun out of bed. No matter how early she started her day, I don't think she shook any of us awake, I remember waking up of my own accord. I'll have to ask some of my siblings; that's a good way to get eight different truths about the matter of our childhood wake up times.  
Anyway, she didn't really rush us through life, the way so many of us rush our children along. My mom didn't push achievements too much either. My mom let me be a kid.
Yet, my mom taught me so much. Literally. She was my teacher for school as well as the regular mom stuff. My mom is still teaching me. Thankfully, no more math.

Tonight I hugged a friend, several years younger than I, beside the casket of her mother.  I can't imagine the emptiness of that loss.  Even if we grow taller than our mom, we don't outgrow them, do we?

My kids and their {pretend} athletic mom (she wears yoga pants).
June 2013

Sunday, April 21, 2013

"The Brain that is Scattered" Or, "Bird. Cat. Dog. A Triangle of Violence"

Note: The following words and pictures are completely unrelated one to the other.  I had the pictures uploaded several months ago and I hate to waste the drama they represent.  I have something else on my mind that I want to talk about, and the pictures don't seem to need words to tell their story, so feel free to comment on either the pictures of animal violence or on my rambley thoughts.

Can you see what Little Kitty has in her mouth?

I have been thinking about passion lately. 
No, not the trashy novel kind of passion - although contextually that's great. 
I've been thinking about life passion.  As in, motivation for life. Purpose.

This is not Little Kitty! This is Mighty Hunter Kitty. And she has catched herself a mighty fine lunch.

Most of my friends are like me - spread pretty thinly (although I must say that I feel pretty thickly spread in most of my jeans) across a variety of life ventures. We're raising kids; working jobs (paid and unpaid); trying to contribute in the church, in the community; wanting to pretty-up our homes; managing households. We are pulled in many directions, and there are so many things to talk about!
The talking thing doesn't seem to be a problem for me, or for most of my friends.

Friendly Dolly, the Wunder-Hund, wants to share Little Kitty's lunch.

But some of my friends, although they live a similarly well-packed life, don't seem to talk about more than one subject. I seem to have a minimum of three topics going at once.  Yet with these women, it's obvious that they have one thing on which their attention is focused.  I'm not implying that they neglect the other aspects of life, but they don't talk about that other stuff.  Whatever their "thing" is - home education, health food, fitness, marketing, adoption, music, children, home decor, social justice, Bible study, bee keeping - that is what comes out of their mouth.
Sometimes it even feels like they only have time for a chat if you can stick to dialogue about their preferred theme.
Sometimes it feels like they just need you to listen.
Sometimes it feels as if they are Marys choosing the good part and I'm the Martha rushing around needlessly.
Sometimes I just feel guilty around them.

Little Kitty looks away. If she doesn't see the hungry dog, surely no one will expect her to share.

So I have been considering "what I talk about" and "what fills my days."

Dolly feels ignored and gives a look that pleads for an intervention of justice.

What fills my days? Homeschooling. Not my passion. (Did I just type that aloud? Oh no! Now all my homeschooling buddies hate me.) Let me clarify: my children are one of my passions. Or five of my passions. Definitely. But I do not feel deeply about homeschooling, one way or another.  We've tried it out this year and we may or may not continue it in the future.  Regardless of our education choices, we will still be parenting our youngsters, whether we leave the teaching of long division to someone else or tackle all their academic pursuits ourselves. This sounds a lot like a separate exploratory post waiting to happen. Stay tuned.

Once Dolly has been called away, Little Kitty descends to eat her lunch away from paparazzi.

Anyway. What else do I do?
Cooking.  Well, I do like to eat.  But, I don't know that I can talk about food prep so much with food in my mouth all the time.
Reading. Yes. I could talk about reading. But really, someday I'd like to tell my own stories in between reading other peoples' tales. And then maybe we can talk about both.
Housework. Most assuredly not my passion, as many visitors can attest.
Family. Mmm-hmmm. Both my little family and our big extensions of ancestry -  I like to spend time with family and on family history.  Yet, while talking about family (problems, anecdotes, history, etc...) is fun, it can certainly lead to some sticky situations if the family finds out you have been talking about them.  Some stuff should just stay in the family, know what I mean? [Please go back and reread that last sentence in your best Mafia Voice.]
Hobbies. Well, they are fun and all, but they're just hobbies - not all-consuming obsession.
Church/Community. In general, I love the time I spend devoted to this area, but... well... talking about other people is just not a good idea. Although gossip is delicious, it's poison. You wouldn't eat chocolate-dipped d-Con would you?

Pesky dog Wunder-Hund won't come in the house. Little Kitty goes further out on a lunch-friendly limb.  The paparazzi went back to Math lessons.

Are you waiting for me to mention God in all this? Well, I pray that my devotion to Him would permeate every aspect of my life.  All of it: the marriage, the kids, the relationships with other people out there, the vegetable garden, the random jogging... even the scantly-done housework.  And I am asking Him to direct me if He wants me to have a "thing" - a particular subject or passion to fill all the extra spaces in my days (all that time in between the raising kids and loving the people and the eating parts) and to preoccupy my conversation.  Until that's clear to me, I guess I'll remain round-bodied, thinly-spread and scatter-brained.  
I beg pardon and grace from those of you who are more/better focused than I; I do care about many things, and I know The One that is necessary.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Witchy Womens

So the other day I made the mistake of showing my children this clip:

What can I say? I was looking for "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and this happened.
I didn't think much of it.
Until I heard this:
And that was bad enough.
Until I heard my baby:

What have I done? And why do I think it is so funny? And do I ever wash my children's faces?