Throw Back Thursday, Netflix StreamTeam, and The Dude

IMG_3816It is a very tough life to be a cat around our house.

The above is Steve. AKA  The Dude.* Also, his rapper name is Big Fat Furry, if you wanted to know.

He has various jobs around the home. Things like:

1. Excessive lolling.

2. Eating. A lot.

3. More lolling.

4. Flopping down right in your path in the kitchen while are trying to cook, so you trip over his expansive furry tummy and end up excessively apologizing to HIM for being in YOUR way.

5. Wedging his fat arse into boxes too small for that furry action.

6. Doing stuff like this:

IMG_3792That’s a gift bag. And some ugly linoleum. But, he stayed in there forever. I think he thought he was, um, camouflaged. Poor dear.

Actually, he does kinda match the floor, doesn’t he? So, he’s brilliant!

Anyhow. We love Steve. We also love the other cat we own, a little female furry ball of neuroses we call Bob, but she refused to take a picture for this post. “It’s not in my contract,” she told me, as she slunk off.

It’s ok, Steve was more than happy to pose. Diva.

Steve the cat seems to have a lot of similarities to another favorite cat in our family: Screenshot 2015-06-24 08.23.39When I was a kid, my sister and I LOVED Garfield. I had Garfield posters.I think I had a Garfield Trapper Keeper. I also had Garfield shoe laces. It was all very very important to be All Garfield, All The Time.

And now I get to share Garfield’s biting sarcasm and love of lasagna with my kids.

Only drawback: I now have had lasagna as a request for dinner on numerous occasions, and no amount of spaghetti will do it. Do you know how complicated lasagna is? It’s got layers, y’all. The only layered food I can really master is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. And even that gets tricky. Peanut butter first? Or jelly?

Anyhow.

Garfield and Friends is available on Netflix and we love him so. We love his disdain and his love of sleeping. (I REALLY appreciate his love of sleeping now because, sleep is so awesome. And children take it away. So I live vicariously now through an orange cartoon cat.)

We also love Odie, who reminds me of a similarly goofy creature in our house:

IMG_3833Thank you Netflix.

And thank you, Stouffer’s, for making frozen lasagna. You both have saved the day!

As a Netflix Streamteam blogger, Netflix asks me to watch their fabulousness and them chatter about it. It's a great gig.

As a Netflix Streamteam blogger, Netflix asks me to watch their fabulousness and them chatter about it. It’s a great gig.

* If you didn’t catch it, The Dude is a reference to The Big Lebowski. This wonderfulness is also available on Netflix. But, the lawyer would like me to add that it is NOT for children’s viewing. There is a bunch of sarcasm and lolling about in it, though, so  Steve would like it. I would just have to cover his furry ears during the saucy language.

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Kitty earmuffs. Of course.

Red Fail Give

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Recently, I had a really, Really Good Idea.

At this point in my life, I have had to pare down my really, Really Good Ideas because having them, like, ALL the time is just so exhausting.  I needed to step down and give other people around me a chance to be brilliant once in a while. It’s my civic duty.

So, I aim for one Really Good Idea a week.

Anyhow: My idea was to start a Writers’ Group! Yes! A Writers’ Group, with people in it! And we write and stuff! It will be super cool! (Circa 1998, students… you know I’m breaking my ! here, dontcha? I’m trying to be ironic. Course, if you have to point out the irony, then, maybe, it’s not irony. Whatever.)

The Writers’ Group was my Really Good Idea!

Here’s why:

1. People actually CAME. This filled me with awe.

2. Also this: I was “in charge” and still, people asked to come BACK!

3. And finally: I gave out homework and they DID it. I KNOW.

So… here’s the assignment.

I had them write down a color. And then a place. And then, they selected a word from my Word Jar… and then… they wrote. And, since I realized I had left the group without my own three words, this morning I decided to grab two words from my handy dandy Jar and added my own color.

And oh… how God has a sense of humor on this one.

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Red.

Fail.

Give.

I am trying on my red shoes. They are a deep red, shiny, and pointy, and they make me stand up straight when I put them on. I have lipstick that is the same color, the color of a heavy velvet curtain at a theater, or of a pomegranate.

I decide to swipe on the lipstick too. It’s a mistake. Now, I am staring at my reflection in our hall mirror with the shoes, the bright slash of lipstick, and a new dress. My hair is all tangled in a braid that is two days old and a six-year-old is hiding behind the folds of the dress, pretending it is his curtain. He makes his debut with a foam sword and a shout of “Come and get me, Bucko!” and swashbuckles away, but his swordplay has me all out of balance.

I teeter.

It is also possible I don’t wear heels much anymore, so even standing still seems to be a challenge. I sigh and push the braid back. At this point, how will walking go?

I am going to fail.

I take a breath and contemplate the lipstick. It’s too much. And then stare down at the shoes in all their pointy audacity.

“Ok, it’s either you or the lipstick, ” I mutter. “One of you has to go. I look like I’m trying to be Taylor Swift.”

Nobody should try to look like Taylor Swift unless they are Taylor Swift. ESPECIALLY if that nobody is over, erm, forty years old.

At the end of this week, I am flying far away, to San Francisco, to a Really Big Event for The Book.

And all I keep thinking is:

I am going to fail. Somehow, I’ll forget how to get on a plane or how to drive to the airport or how to talk to people. Add the shoes with their pointyness to all of this and it’s just a recipe for disaster. People do not wear red shoes unless they’re in control of the red shoes. I don’t think I can do this.

I mean… WHO do I think I am?

Well. It seems… I am an author.

And I have something to give. And God asked me to give it.

So, I’m going. And I might fail. I might spill coffee on my dress or forget how to use the flight app on my phone or forget to tip the taxi guy…

But God won’t fail. Nor will He fail me.

He got me this far. He can get me to San Francisco.

Even in high heels. He can split oceans in two, after all.  He can help me walk in tippy shoes.

san-franc

Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD is the one who goes before you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:8

My book, Bottled: How to Survive Early Recovery with Kids, published by Central Recovery Press, comes out in September.
Yes, miracles never cease.

Again, There is NO Crying in T-Ball.

I think that if you are going to train to be a Navy Seal then:

1. Good for you. It’s a noble profession, taking care of all of us. I am grateful.
2. Your training should include coaching T-ball.
We had our second game last night. The difference between our first and our second game was quite HUGE. For example: yes, we are still fighting over the ball in the outfield, BUT, there was no crying this time.
Because, as you know, there is no crying in baseball.

There is, however:
1. Dirt sculptures. One child made a bust of Abraham Lincoln. I swear.
2. A total disregard for short-term memory
3. Random Michael Jackson moves at the pitcher’s mound
4. Obsessive compulsive disorder when it comes to getting the ball FIRST. Even if you hit it.
5. One kid actually hit the ball off the T towards the BACKSTOP. I have never seen that before. Bit of a plot twist.
6. Some moments of wonder and grace.

Last night, a kiddo from the other team hit the ball. One of our Purple cats, ran up, corralled the ball into his glove, and proceeded to run it to first, and lo, kid was OUT.
I nearly cried. It was magical.

(Disclaimer: the kid wasn’t REALLY out. In T-Ball we have “Rules.” Like: We let them stay on base in T-ball. We also let them try to hit like waaaay more than three times, for obvious reasons, and sometimes, we even let them go use the potty right in the middle of an inning. We operate by necessity. I mean, YOU tell a five-year old he he’s out at first. Try it. Go ahead. It will eat your soul.)

Course, then that kid almost took my husband’s head off with the ball when he threw it home, but the ARM on that kid! And it just woulda been a mild concussion, at that. No problem. The hubster has had, like, twenty of them already, so he would have been fine…

He tells me they were all sports related.

Huh. I just realized – all those concussions…

Sure explains a lot.

Anyhow.

Our team? We are so ready for the championship.
There is a championship, right? Right?

Because, also this:

The last kid in the lineup gets to run through the bases because, well, it’s kinda sad to make him just stand on first and change out the inning. All anti-climatic and stuff. Everybody knows five year olds want drama. So, the last kid, who I SWEAR IS CHARLIE BROWN Y’ALL I AM NOT KIDDING, is now kinda convinced he is the best player ever because he at this game he is the HOME RUN KING.

He hit a wobbly grounder to second, and proceeded to circle the bases, arms raised high, nodding to his fans, very cocky, very Lorenzo Cain. I think he even tried to slide into home. Not sure, because he ran so slowly the other team was already to bat and I couldn’t see for sure… but I do think he tried it. It is possible his slide ended about two feet BEFORE the plate,

But seriously, IT WAS STILL VERY VERY COOL.

We are going all the way people!

A9OS8This cat is not an actual player on our team. That would be weird, wouldn’t it?

But, he sure has great form.

What a Wonderful World

Linking up with Five Minute Friday today. The theme is:

Screenshot 2015-06-12 11.25.29

So this summer my boys and I have been having “Science Club!” every Monday and Friday. I call it “Science Club!” with a ! because it’s very exciting! We are having a club! About sciencey stuff! We might do assperiments! Because, its’ Science Club!

No waning of enthusiasm here, I promise. Just a bit of snark because my boys can’t pronounce “experiments.”

I share the teaching gig with my friend Kate – she is our pastor’s wife, so she is SUPER spiritual and, like, OUT OF THE PARK, on the ball with apologetics, and basically, she has a bit of a holy glow about her.

(Yes, that was a bit more snark, but she really does know her bible. It comes with the job, pastor’s wife, I think. She doesn’t actually glow, though.)

Anyhow. Today is Science Club! in two hours. And I am supposed to teach:

venusmar1_1

Very Exciting Stuff!!

And as I’m sitting here, with my coffee (third cup), and my tired brain, this is all I can come up with:

I want to have ’em watch Bananarama’s “I’m Your Venus” video, and have them dance around.

BOOM. *drops mic*

Best. Teacher. Everrrrr.

hqdefaultCropped shirts! Excessive blonde highlights! Awesome. Oh, and also this:

hqdefault-1Completely appropriate for a group of small boys, right? It’s LEARNING, y’all. It’s Science Club!

Ok, so, no Bananarama. Sigh. 80’s music does have a solid place in teaching my children, true. But not today.

In truth, this Science Club! business has been more for me than for them. It’s given me some patterns to our week. And, lo, it has taught me things like this:

One day on Mercury (sunrise to sunrise) is longer than one year on Mercury (one orbit around the Sun). Mercurian Year: A year on Mercury takes 87.97 Earth days; it takes 87.97 Earth days for Mercury to orbit the sun once.

And yes, I quoted that from Wikipedia. I had to, because…

Wait, WHAT? Say that again?

Yep, I learned stuff like that. Stuff that makes me tilt my head all to the side like a confused puppy and then sum it all up with, “So… Mercury is weird, right?”

This whole planet thing? It’s all so beyond me. It’s all so huge. The sun, y’all, is HUGE. ONE of its sun-spots is bigger than our planet. Did you know that?

Oh… it’s all so huge. I know some of this – I remember learning it. But it’s good to be reminded.

We are small. He is BIG. He made it all. He is forever and forever. Amen.

Oh what a world. What a world!

c8742f6570a3bda21104a6c1ab892fa5.1000x664x1“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”  William Shakespeare

There is no crying in T-ball.

 

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For the most part, I do happen to function normally.

But every once in a while, I take leave of my senses. It’s like a vacation.

So, recently, I was humming along, all normal and ignorance is bluss stuff, and then, I thought, “Hey! Why don’t my husband and I coach T-ball this summer!”

I know, right? NUTBALL. Just like that, BOOM. My senses just up and left the building.

It started out ok. We have a team of ten five-year-olds, and their cuteness kinda makes me stop every once in a while, put my hands on my knees, and take a breath. Also, I am completely out of shape, so there’s that.

It’s a good thing they’re cute. Because y’all, they are no Lorenzo Cain.

Ok, but the truth of it is, the kids have heart. They are all Bad News Bears and totally into the hustle and the love of the game. One kid who looks EXACTLY like Charlie Brown hit the ball, fielded it himself, and then proceeded to slide into home base (completely foregoing those pesky second and third bases because who needs ’em?) with straight-up flair.

“You, kid,” I said, as I stood over him and his cloud of dust, “You, kid, have got heart.”

We are not short on heart. We are, however, a bit short on stellar coaching skills.

When I first informed the husband about this, he, of course, was all, “Yes! Sure! Let’s coach T-ball! Great idea!” Have I mentioned, he’s a golden retriever husband? Everything in his life engenders tail wagging and a lot of happy panting.

That sounded rather saucy. Anyhow. It’s not that kinda blog.

So, I threw the ball at the husband, and he gleefully galloped out and retrieved it, all thrilled with life. We’re gonna coach T-ball! This will be a blast! Family time! Togetherness!

And then, he left me. He left the togetherness.

And our team. He left us.

The husband left us to do this nutball thing called Bike Across Kansas. It’s when a bunch of people get together and ride their bikes across Kansas. If you wanna read about adventures with this last year, click here.  I kinda think all this is crazy, but hey, he wasn’t the one to volunteer us to coach T-ball.

I did hope that maybe this year they would bike across the upper eastern corner of Kansas because, if you know your geography… making it across our state wasn’t gonna end anytime soon.

So he’s… in Kansas. On a bike. For a while.

And lo, I am now the coach of T-ball. All by myself.

This is the part of the blog where you need to cue the scary music in your head.

You know the movie, Jaws? You remember at the beginning where all those inebriated tan kids are sitting around the campfire, and it’s all so mellow and kinda… groovy? And then, WHAMMO, that poor blonde girl becomes a shish kebab for Jaws and the movie kinda takes a difficult turn?

Well, that’s how it was at our last T-ball practice. Except there was no skinny dipping or bad 70’s hair or, well, a gigantic man-eating shark.

But other than that, it was the SAME. I mean it!

So, anyhow. Practice.

Started out just fine. We did some stretching… did a few jumping jacks (which is hilarious, by the way. Five year olds often look like jack rabbits on crack when they do these), and then we ran bases. We even ran them in the correct order! It was awesome!

We were a well-oiled machine, people. Poetry in motion. It was all very The Natural home run scene, I tell you.

Until I decided to actually get balls into play.

You see, up until then we had been using imaginary balls. Imaginary bats. It was PERFECTION.

As we all know, real balls do cause trouble. And again, I know it’s not that kinda blog.

So – I put a ball on the T… and stepped back, and then watched as all of my five-year olds lost their little minds. Bases were stolen. No, I mean LITERALLY stolen. Balls were fought over. One kid had a solid hit to center field that no one really saw at all. No one. Not one of them. AS IT FLEW OVER THEIR HEADS THEY DID NOT SEE IT. Some of the kids totally shut down and just started picking flowers. There’s a lot of flowers in the outfield, so it was really quite absorbing.

I too considered picking flowers in the outfield.

In case you didn’t know, “Picking flowers in the outfield,” is grown-up code for “Taking leave of my senses.” Which, neatly and oh-so English teachery takes us back to the introduction of this post!

Wow! Full circle! Perhaps I haven’t lost my mind after all!

One can always hope.

 

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Our first game is tonight. Stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No Gift Returns

Linking up with Five Minute Friday today. The theme is:

Screenshot 2015-06-05 07.08.25We have a really great tradition at our house. At about four pm, we all kinda fall apart.

It’s typical. I feel pretty adult-y until then. We go on bike rides. I feed the cat. We weed the garden (read: I weed, the boys end up looking like they just went to the spa for a mud facial). It’s all pretty normal. “Look at me!” I think, as we buy healthy food at the store, “We are at the store! And we bought kale! That’s what big people do!” And I even pay for the groceries myself. I drive home. It’s all so very grownup.

And then, it turns four. And that’s when the monsters come out.

Yesterday, that was when my sons had some milk and graham crackers (so, not a healthy-ish choice, I know. Graham crackers are on the cusp. Sorta healthy, cuz they’re brown? Perhaps the crackers are a symbol. The graham crackers are a sign that the adultish-ness is starting to break down.) And then, my sweet cherubs spilled their milk. And THEN, they proceeded to try and clean it up. The horror.

Yes, I realize you might be thinking, “Wow! They tried to clean it up! That’s awesome! What responsible little darlings!” Yea, sure.

Have you ever seen a five and a six-year-old attempt to clean up something?

One small one grabs my decorative towel and proceeds to grind it into one spot on the table, thus pushing all the milk onto the floor beneath the refrigerator, where it will soon fester and make my house smell like something died. Along with my soul.

Then, the other one takes a wash rag, and with one corner of it, proceeds to hover it over the gigantic pile of milk on the table and proceeds to wave it weakly about with the focus of a newborn.

“OH MY GRAVY,” Momsie says, “THE DECORATIVE TOWELS. HOW COULD YOU. JUST LET ME” and starts to grimly scrub up wayward milk with the martyrd gloom of Joan of Arc. If Joan of Arc had to clean the kitchen, with two small boys circling her at all times, she would fuss about decorative towels too. I am sure of it.

And then, both children slink away; their job is done.

They have Momsie fully trained.

So, as I’m trying to clean all this, I move the table away from the wall. When I do that, I notice a whole other subset of grime and despair that is lining my walls. Which then makes me see the ucky dust all over the floorboards. Which then leads me to the fact that there dust balls (balls? how?) all over my WALLS. And I want to cry a little. It’s like Sisyphus and his whole family set up camp in my kitchen. I want to cry a little.

f0e2ab11de5657835cdb621b00834259But then, I spied it.

An earring. An amethyst earring that I had lost ages ago. An amethyst earring I bought for myself back when I was in college, from a time long (LONG) ago but fondly remembered. There it was, sparkly and sitting amongst all the disgustingness that is my floor, as pretty as you please. If the milk hadn’t spilled, I wouldn’t have found it…

But you know that. I bet you, dear reader, can tell me already what the lesson is:

Look for the good. There are gifts everywhere. Even in spilled milk. Yep. It’s an easy lesson. God wants you to look for the good in it all.

Well, and also; DON’T PUT DECORATIVE TOWELS ANYWHERE WHEN YOU HAVE SMALL CHILDREN. WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?

And now I’m gonna go pour a pitcher of Kool-Aid in my living room to see what I can find there. Maybe a hundred dollars?

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Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Colossians 3:23

When Life Hands You Lemons, Try Not To Throw Them at Someone

Last night I had a bit of a tantrum.

It involved:

  1. Rules.
  2. The children that keep breaking them.
  3. Children in general
  4. My children, specifically
  5. Marriage
  6. Husbands, in theory
  7. The husband sitting at our dinner table – so not in theory anymore.*
  8. You know, pretty much all the nonnegotiables in my life. Like the stuff I’m stuck with. FOREVERRRRRRR.

I’m very grateful for my family. I am. Last night I forgot that. It’s just… they are adorable and wonderful,

But holy nuclear family we are always ALL AROUND EACH OTHER.

Last night’s conversation, in all its brilliance, went like this:

Blonde: What is this?

Momsie: Dinner. Eat, minion.

Red: I don’t like the green stuff.

Dad: I think it’s yummy! (False bravado, here.)

Blonde and Red: withering stares at Dad. Well, not Red.  He can’t master the wither. Bless his heart.

Momsie:  Justeatitsgoodforyou. (Growling, here.)

Dad: So, how was your day?

No one responds since he didn’t address anyone specifically, and we are all a bit lost when it comes to polite dinner conversation.

Momsie: Blonde, how WAS your day? (Pointedly, here, with much foreshadowing that there needs to be a sweet and gentle answer of joy.)

Blonde: I think the green stuff in here is gonna kill me. (Totally dropping the ball on the sweet and gentle bit.)

Momsie: THATSITIHAVEHADITWHATWHYCANTWEJUSTUGGGGHHH.

Dad: I think the green stuff if YUMMY!

Blonde: My day was yucky. Just like the green stuff.

Momsie: It’s not like I’m feeding you NAPALM. NOW JUST EAT IT.

Red: Napalm! This is the only word I will remember from this conversation! And someday, I’ll tell my Sunday School teacher my mommy feeds us napalm! Napalm! YOU CAN COUNT ON IT!

I think I need a safe room.

Especially at 6 pm. Really, really need a room then. A small one, is all I ask. With some throw pillows. Maybe a scented candle. Padded walls.

So… a friend of mine just recently gifted me with this bit of furry perfection:

Photo on 5-28-15 at 9.16 PM I apologize for the grainy picture. I was too distracted by chocolate to really worry about quality photography. I wanted to eat, y’all, not work on focus.

You know, actually, I think that pretty much sums my day to day existence. Eating. Not much focus.

Anyhow. Grumpy cat is my sweet muse.

In fact, he is staring at me right now as I post this bit of nonsense about how I am grumpy at times.

We all get grumpy. Yes. We even say things we regret. So this morning, I told said, “Sorry I was grumpy.” Blonde eyed his breakfast and said, “I love this! And I forgive you, mommah.”

Red said: “Is dis the napalm? It has raisins in it!!”

* Yes. I know. You’re probably thinking – the husband bit? He was never all that annoying? He tried to stick up for the green stuff… and he was sweet and positive and all that. I know.

I really had no reason to be annoyed at the husband. It’s POSSIBLE I was just annoyed at the world and air and anyone breathing air in my vicinity.

It’s possible… I was mad at the husband… simply because he was sitting there.

Yep! That’s marriage!

But you know? He kissed me goodnight as I drifted off to sleep, and this morning, he kissed me awake. And he was still breathing air and all. And he forgave me, even though I didn’t ask it of him.

And that, my friends, is marriage.

And a really good man.

No napalm here.

No napalm here.