Privilege

Linking up with Five Minute Friday today! The theme?

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I’ve been working a lot on gratitude lately.

Do you know what? The thing with gratitude is, if you work it, it really works!

Say that fast five times, I dare you.

Gratitude is a conversation with yourself and God about how blessed you are. Here are some other things I am learning about gratitude:

  1. It’s just like a three pointer – you really can practice it and improve. Or, if you’re like me, you can practice it and get real close to the basket but feel better about it.
  2. It should be a daily thing.
  3. It should be an hourly thing.
  4. It’s really a minute by minute thing. You get the idea.

I think gratitude is my simplest way to worship. And privilege is right in there. I mean “privilege” in a good way, not in the “I’m taking over the world” kind of way.

It’s a privilege – to walk down the street every morning and teach my kids about writing and thinking (hopefully at the same time). It’s something I don’t take lightly. It has strings attached, little 18 year old souls that need more than just teaching. It’s a privilege to be with them and learn who they are and learn their stories.

It’s a privilege to relate with my husband. Notice I didn’t just say, “HAVE a husband” because we’re past that now. I have him. I done had him over ten years ago – snared like a 6 foot rabbit in a trap. A rabbit that was in looooove.

He’s still in love, and it’s a privilege to keep walking that path with him – the one where we figure out how to stay in love and work on it and screw up and keep working and on and on. Marriage, y’all. It’s hard core.

It’s a privilege to have these two boys. Red and Blonde. Don’t even get me started. They are just the sweetest, most intelligent, perfect adorable nuggets of humanity. While, at the same time, they are also frustrating and sometimes they have me at: “I don’t even know what to say here. Go to your room. Stay there for two years.”

It’s a privilege. This whole life is that. I was granted special permission by Christ, about twenty years ago, to have a life with him IN it.

And, it’s also totally not, because he never said anything like, “Well, I’m only going to offer out this relationship to a few folks. The special, super elite ones – with the good hair and a really great grasp on the the Old Testament.”

And thank goodness because I am very often 0 for 2 on the hair and the bible thing.

It’s a privilege to talk to Him every day. I ask him stuff and complain and then remember to thank him and keep on talking, and he actually listens.

I have a lot of blessings in my life – I am a healthy, financially ok, employed, white woman with a lot of perks that a lot of people in our world don’t even get to consider.

Realizing this, I am privileged. Blessed. Made alive with hope and wonder with the daily business that is faith.

Amen.

 

 

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Date Night – TBT!

Here’s a little Throw Back Thursday from February of last year. As the Day O Love approaches, I am already hunting down the tippy plastic cups… it’s a great tradition.

Formal dress required. Even on the cats.

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Date Night

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Last Saturday night romance was in the air. It was intense, y’all. It was like we were on the Titanic and I was all Queen of the World, and then I got to make out with Leonardo DiCaprio, not long before I disallowed him room on my totally huge raft in the freezing North Atlantic. Very romantic. And yet, our evening was warmer.

Also, I would never make out with Leo. Nope. I am married, y’all. My husband completes me.

Of course, Leo didn’t grace us with our presence, but we had this blurry pic of another dinner guest:

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There were roses. There were chocolates. Earlier that day, the husband let me take a nap, which is the universal, married I Hope I Get Lucky Valentine. But that is another post for another day.

There were also two small boys who had reservations with us for a night of fine dining. I  informed them that they had to come to dinner in ties. And they reacted as if I had asked them to lop off both arms, and then try to attach their ties.

They were informed, in a heavy French accent (I had to take on an accent. It freaks them out and I get to pretend I’m Catherine Deneuve.) “No tie? No food. Zees is Chez Momsie. Dress code, mes bebes.” They sighed heavily, with American accents, clipped their ties onto their Star Wars t-shirts, and showed up at 6:30 pm on the dot. Right on time.

We had a very swanky affair at our house on Valentines Day, and a tradition was born. I printed out menus (thank you, bad clip art!) Macaroni and cheese was offered as an appetizer. I poured the sparkling cider into tiny tippy glasses and no one spilled anything.

 

It was a Valentines miracle.

We ate strawberries and whip cream, the really fancy kind that you squirt out of a can. I offered table-side service for this, as I offered a shot of the stuff in the mouth to each patron. This was a real showstopper.

And we talked about why we loved each other.

“I love Blonde because he shows me how to play Legos,” says Red. He’s grinning like a maniac. This is all mushy and stuff, which is kind of right up his alley. His smile nearly lifts him out of the chair. He lifts his fizzy little glass with panache. “AND I LOVE THIS FANCY DRINK!” he yells. Evidently he thinks we are all in the other room when he speaks, because the bubbles in the drink had evidently made him quite giddy.

Blonde, the wisened 7 year old, has a bit of a tougher time with the mushy business. He is, in all walks of life, less forthcoming with the mush.

“I love Red because…” We all lean in a little.

“Because he is my brother.”

And there it is. The greatest law there is. We love because we are family. We love because we simply have no choice. We are for each other.

My boys are growing older and finding their own friends, their own ways they want to spend an afternoon. They are, however, still pretty inseparable. And what I have told them, almost weekly, is that they, as brothers, must have each other’s backs. They are the ones going to be left when the friends leave, when the family goes, when we get dementia and go into the home, your brother will be the only one left.

(I didn’t really go into the last part with them as I didn’t really want to stop and have to explain ‘dementia’ because depressing. Also, the one other time I sprang this word on them they kept thinking that I was saying, ‘Philadelphia.” Confusing.)

(As a side note to the side note: This whole dementia thing? Really possible because we had kids late in life and when they graduate from high school I’ll be using a walker and won’t be able to see or hear the thing because I will be OLD, y’all. I WAS AROUND BEFORE EMAIL. That old.)

But I digress.

We spent the rest of the evening looking up the bible verses that the husband had put on their Star Wars Valentines. The husband is super spiritual that way. I just shot whip cream at ’em. But he wins in the Jesus department.

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And then we all tried to massacre each other with a really cut throat game of Go Fish.

And that, my friends, is what I call the most romantic evening I have had in a long time.

I am wondering if it competes with Leo’s?

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Surrender

Linking up with my favorite place today – Five Minute Friday.

Today’s theme?

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When I first decided to walk with Jesus, instead of just waving to him from across the room, I had a few life-changing things that happened.

Ok, that’s a totally wrong. All the life-changing things happened. Like, all OVER the place. But one of  the most immediately obvious was my taste in music.

Dana, Before Walking With Jesus: Christian music on the radio? Isn’t that just Carmen and Amy Grant? It’s dork-city.

Dana After Walking With Jesus: Christian music on the radio? It must be on, all the time, twenty-four seven, dorky or no. I am praising my saviourrrrr all the day lonnnnnnnnnnng!

Still don’t like Amy Grant music though. Sorry, Amy. You are a wonderful person.

Jars of Clay, Chris Tomlin, Watermark, Phil Keaggy… I loved them. Still do. I think I even bought a few of those WOW! ALL CHRISTIAN! cd’s because I needed a bit of variety and their plastic covers were so bright and dorky. I found out something. Walking with Jesus meant I could finally stop trying to be so darn cool about everything and embrace my inner dork, and you know what? The DORK IS STRONG WITH THIS ONE.

And so, one day, I found Sara Groves.

And her music cracked me open, and then put me back together, on a daily basis. I own every one of her albums. We played her song, “Fly” as “our song” at our wedding. I reference her song, “Toy Packaging” every Christmas for those who need to know the struggle is real, with the toy packaging.

I just love her. She is my best-friend musician that I have never met. She writes songs about marriage, and fights with husbands, and family, and the bible, and all of it is threaded throughout with a voice that is strong in faith but still has a lot of questions.

This is me. I have a strong-ish faith. But I have a lot of questions. Like, a LOT.

Long ago, before marriage, before recovery (I am a sober momma, because me and wine broke up long ago and that’s a whole other story), before children, before a lot of things, my heart was broken into a million pieces by life and love that was lost. I am pretty sure that’s a thing that has happened to all of us – heartache so profound it threatens to scoop us up and throw us out with the trash. It’s that hard.

I would lay on my bed, feeling tears drip warm down the sides of my face and pool up by my ears, too tired to wipe them away. Sometimes my dog Norman would jump up there with me and snuffle the tears away. He was such a good pupper.

And I would listen to Sara’s song, Remember Surrender. 

You see, I was walking with Jesus, yes. But I was still hurting. And this song seemed to understand that. And with each listen, I got a little better.

Just so you know, there were ther things helped me get better:

Reading the bible. (Walking with Jesus now, duh)

Prayer. (Double duh)

Reading just about anything by Melody Beattie.

Going on long runs with Norman even when I didn’t want to (He always did, so he would drag me. We made it work).

Talking to friends. DUH.

Crying with those friends. And then praying some more. (Quadruple duh. And thank you, friends, for always listening. And always offering to pray with me. And gripping onto my hands hard while you did so, so hard that it almost kinda hurt but in a good way. I’m looking at you, Katie.)

And so, I would like to share this song with you today. If you walk with Jesus, but your heart is still sore and sad, and you just want something so badly, but it can’t be yours… Listen and get a little better.

This version has some pics with the video. They’re a little dorky. But, as you know, I like the dorky.

Slow Is Smooth and Smooth is… Still Slow.

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I think the military owns that saying, the “Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast” one?

I think they came up with it when they were training the army people to carry big exploding things over bunkers and not drop them on their foot or trip over a shoelace, which is totally something I would do.

You can thank me now, that I never joined the military. You’re welcome, America.

Anyhow.

One of the greatest paradoxes of mankind is a child’s inability to move fast under request, when five minutes ago they were skidding up and down the hall in their underwear and socks, shouting, “I’M COMING FOR YOU, AND YOUR TORTILLAS!”

I know. I really have no idea, either.

Let me break down this paradox for you:

If child is left to own devices: running, shouting, skidding, flying, sometimes the splits, and also loud thudding will occur regularly.

If child is asked to “hurry up” : the sloth cometh.

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This book was a favorite at our house.                              For some reason, that other classic, “Hurry, Hurry, Hurry!” Yelled the Mom, was not as popular.

 

This morning before school, I watched Red push one arm through the sleeve of a jacket. My eyebrow started to twitch. I had to leave the room because it was like watching a sloth try to put one arm through a jacket, which is pretty hard because sloths have those weird claw hands that don’t fit through jackets very well.

I went into the kitchen. Poured a cup of coffee. Added cream. Rinsed off my spoon and put it in the dishwasher, like a boss. Took a breath.

Walked back into the living room. And there was Red, still trying to put THE SAME arm through THE SAME SLEEVE.

The other eye started twitching, so now I have a matching set. And then, there was the talking:

Punctual: “Red, it’s 7:58, you need to take it up a notch here.”

Organized: “Red, why don’t you put on your coat before your backpack?”

Wheedling: “Red, perhaps shoes are a good idea now.”

Military: “RED MOVE. JUST MOVE NOW. MOVE OUT. GO. GO GO GO.”

I know. It’s a sickness. The words just come out of my mouth, all slippery and desperate, because watching my son try to move from one end of the room to the other IS GOING TO KILL ME.

You’ll find me, one day, dead on the floor. Laid out. Done. And all because my son did something like this:

Puts one arm through sleeve (FINALLY THANK YOU SWEET FATHER AND JESUS TOO) and then, he proceeds to bend down and start patting the STUPID DOG ON THE HEAD BECAUSE NOW IS THE TIME TO BOND WITH THE DOG. NOW? NOW. NOW IS THE TIME.

He bent down, with me looming over him like an angry clock, and it was like he had never even noticed we had a dog before. “Oh! Hi Hosmer? Who’s a good doggie? Who is a good pupper? Rub you behind your ear?”

Only one sleeve on, no shoes, and a really sketchy understanding of how to put one foot in front of the other, and he wants to go all Bless the Beasts and the Children on me.

Well, I tell you.

I finally resorted to physically herding (pushing) both boys towards the door. They were chattering away and then, at one point, Blonde STOPPED to TURN to RED to TELL HIM SOMETHING. Like, all of a sudden he was practicing polite cocktail party chit-chat, only it was about Minecraft chickens. Which is a thing. Don’t ask.

I would have none of it. I just wedged myself behind them and kept moving them along, the Mom Barge, saying things like, “Move out. Press on. Westward ho!” and that sort of thing. It was very motivational.

Last I saw, they were both wandering in a serpentine pattern, in the general direction of the school. The serpentine is nice, because they’ll be protected from any sort of siege. Safety first.

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The animals have turned against me.

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Ok, in this post she’s going to try and convince you that I am a weird cat. Just look at me, folks. I’m as right as furry rain. Whatever that means. And, I am cute, no?

 

So, I don’t pay much attention to the trash cans in this house. The reason for this is twofold:

  1. My children are in charge of taking out the trash. We really have a lead on something exciting here, folks. Our children can do the chores that we once had to do! It’s like free labor, if you discount all the whining and really crap jobs they do at any sort of cleaning, but I’ll take it.
  2. Who really wants to ponder a trash can? What? You don’t have enough stimulation from the Netflixes?

Anyhow. As I was upstairs today, making the beds, I did notice the trash can. I noticed that it was looking rather… shredded?

And then, I noticed our cat, Vader, (also referred to as Willie, Sir William, Vader-Tator, and Grandmaster Cat in previous posts. Keep up, y’all. In our house we like to make sure everyone is on rotation with their naming) as he sidled over to the trash can.

And then, he proceeded to START EATING IT.

That’s right. He was eating the trash can.

HE WAS EATING THE TRASH CAN.

What, wee grey cat? What is your problem? Do I not go to the Petco and buy you large crinkly expensive bags of super-healthy food pebbles? Ever since the gigantic white cat had his brush with death we have gone totally upscale on our food options here. Basically, it’s “So long college fund, kids! Gotta feed the kitties!” That sort of thing.

Vader, do you suddenly need more fiber in your diet?

Is it a “My Weird Addiction” kind of thing? Do you need Dr. Phil?

I can’t imagine a trash can tastes good. Perhaps, however, it’s a step up from the mortgage-breaker brown stuff that I feed you every morning.

And then, Vader made eye contact with me. His mouth was still sort of attached to the trashcan. It’s just like that time my husband caught me gnawing on his precious super sharp cheddar that he tries to hide from me. I hadn’t even bothered to slice off a piece of cheese. I was gnawing on it like an angry hamster, and I froze as his eyes locked onto mine. We then argued about sharp cheddar and how it should not be gnawed.

It had been a long day.

Anyhow, back to the cat/trash can thing. Vader stopped, mid chew. And then, he extracted himself from trash can, and sauntered off. All casual, like, “Well, that was a great trash can snack. Thanks Byeeeee!”

So, that’s it then. This little bit of daily weirdness was brought to you by an ungrateful furball and my inability to get it on film.

EXCEPT IT WAS SO NOT OVER.

BECAUSE THEN STEVE, THE WHITE WHALE CAT, THEN WALKED OVER AND STARTED TO EAT THE TRASH CAN TOO.

What is wrong with everyone? I don’t understand out world at all.

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Dog: Can you not?

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 Dog: And I get yelled at for the licking.

 

 

Intentional

Linking up with my Friday peeps today at Five Minute Friday.

The theme?

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This should be a post about how every day I am practicing intentionality in my parenting.

But instead I would rather talk about my cats.

For the past few days, I have been under the weather.

Note: This phrase bothers me. What does it mean? Is the weather a big blanket? Is it the boss of me? Do I need to ask it to move over?

Anyhow. I have had this weird sickness that keeps rotating slowly through all of my body systems like a wrecking ball. And whoa, now I’ve got Miley Cyrus in this post which really proves the point that I am a bit woozy.

 

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I have had a lot of time to ponder things.

In my job, couches, and blankets, and weather-related idioms are common. I write, and therefore sitting down is kind of part of the deal.

But, the trouble here is that my brain has been wrapped in the funk of sickness, and my writing has been sort of like this:

Article 1 on my desktop:

Children hard and parents don’t like them.

Different article:

Once there was a woman. And.

Another attempt at any other article, take your pick:

It was a dark and stormy night. And?

 

And so on. When I am well, and all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed*, writing from home still doesn’t have a solid structure to it. Most days I get up, work out, read a little bible because I need the Lord after working out, drink forty cups of coffee, and then boom, I sit and write. And write some more. Plus, more writing. Then, I really mix it up and I re-read what I wrote, hate it, edit, and then write some more.

Mix this all up with fun household chores and me saying, “Do you need to go outside?” to my dog about five million times, and you get the idea.

The past few days? With the sickness? I get up.

Yes, that’s all. Sometimes I drink one cup of coffee, but since one of those systems that has been affected by this horrible bug is my digestive one… coffee tends to bounce around in there and cause problems.

I have never felt the sting of wasted time more acutely than when I started writing “for real” with my first book, Bottled. Every day was in my head, just me and my words, and found out something rather daunting: I am totally lazy. I am just not very good at a structured schedule.

This is fine and all, because I allowed inspiration to drive me, so writing at 11 pm while both boys are smushed up against me, mouth-breathing, in one bed because they had a bad dream, together, simultanously, and I have no boundaries? That was a writing thing.

Also, writing a blog post while I cook dinner that is brilliant and funny and is all just in my head? Also a thing. And I mean the blog post, not the dinner. The dinner was mediocre at best.

Writing an article that is due tomorrow, tomorrow? Totally a thing.

When I got sick, the deadlines didn’t offer me some Tylenol and left me totally alone. Also, I had no inspiration because I am sick, dude. My inspiration was shoved up under the weather, along with most of my excretory system. This was unpleasant.

And so, I give you this:cute-melted-animals-9-58beb620da23d__700.jpg

This is not actually my cat. This is some preshus cuddums I found on the internets. I wasn’t able to use a picture of any of my cats being totally lazy. They’re all sleeping upstairs and I’m too tired to walk up there.

So, did you know? Cats embrace laziness.

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They don’t care. If they need a nap – they find an impossible location and it’s ON.

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What have I learned from this? What is the furry take-away?

Dude. If you are sick, be sick. Rest. Email your editors ask for an extra day. Drink hot tea and sleep in cute, furry poses that make people squeal, “Ohhh! Preshus!” and lunge for their cameras so they can post you on the instagrams.

No. No, I don’t suggest the pictures part. Me and my wack-job bodily functions have not been all that photogenic lately.

Intentionality is intentionality, even when your intention is to do absolutely nothing but drink clear fluids for three days. It’s ok.

But.

This illness has made me miss the days when I actually had the brain capacity to write.I won’t waste that. My intention is to make those days count. It’s a great reminder.  Perhaps that’s why we get the flu – to remind us about how, once, we were well, and how grateful we were for those days, when we could walk down the hall in a straight line without feeling like we’re floating, in a dead fish kind of way.

So I woke up this morning and I felt… better. Like, not totally over the weather, but just…next to it. Like, the weather and I were giving a side hug. And thus, this post. It’s not a Pulitzer, but I’ll take it. A woman who writes about cats on a regular basis is not a Pulitzer woman. She’s just funny, sometimes, and writes things that hopefully make people smile.

And that has always been my intention.

Oh, and also this. The best explanation of intention that I know.

Quotes-to-Help-Overcome-Addiction-Intention-POSTER.png*Note: this phrase also bothers me. What does it mean? 

Phil Rosenthal Is Going to Save the World.

There are people in this world who just need to be watched.

I mean this in a good way. Not in a, “I see you there,” kinda way. That kind of watching is reserved for my children, and it takes a lot of energy.

The good kind of watching is easier. It brings joy. It engenders laughter.

Also, total bonus points if street food is involved.

And so, I give you this guy:

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Phil Rosenthal is a Really Famous Writer. He was the creator and producer of Everybody Loves Raymond, a sitcom that I STILL watch on a weekly basis because it provides marital counseling for me and my Ray + Husband. My Rusband, if you will. We watch together and I smirk and elbow Rusband, repeatedly,  because I am Debra.

Seriously. My life is simply a series of events in which I think, “What would Debra do?”

Ok, so, Phil writes stuff.

But also?

Phil eats stuff. And, we watch him while he does this. And my God, people, it fixes everything.

Here’s what I mean. Phil travels around the world. He eats things that are often bizarre and also wonderful and sometimes terrifying. While he does this, he asks a ton of questions. He doesn’t say “No, thank you, I’m full,” or “I’ll pass; I can’t tell what it is,” or “I can’t; it’s looking at me.” He has conversations over raw fish and pork bellies and some meal a guy made for him on what looks like a TV tray at the side of a bedraggled city road.

He doesn’t just eat. He inhales. 

It’s an extremely simple formula. Ask. Eat. Talk. Eat some more. Talk. Repeat.

I want my family to watch this show. I think my church needs to, as well. Also, the President, and Congress, and all those shouting folks on Wall Street. And anybody in the medical profession.

And also people who make things, or run things, or run people who make things.

And anybody who works in customer support or sales. They deserve it.

And children. Not because they need it, but because they would just totally get Phil.

In my Momsie kind of world, if one part of the world was mad at another part of the world, a press conference would be held, and it would go like this:

Official-looking serious person: Ladies, gentlemen, just hold you questions please…

Reporters: We have questions! How are we gonna fix this? What do we doooooo?

Official-looking serious person: It’s simple, really. Let me introduce you to Phil             Rosenthal. And yes, he really is going to save us all.

 

 

Ok, the best way I can explain the magic that is Phil is to tell you about Raymond. Stay with me here. This isn’t a needless tangent; it’s a trip to Italy.

In an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond, Ray and his family are on a family vacation to the land of their ancestors. It’s a glorious trip, full of rich sights and sounds, and everybody is so excited and entranced, because Italy has special powers like that.

Everybody except Raymond.

Ray is not having any of it. He hates traveling, and then there’s his family, and, well, it’s kinda hot. And he’s tired. He doesn’t really fit in. He’s wearing shorts and white sneakers, for Pete’s sake.

And then, Phil wrote this scene where Ray, tired and grumpy, finds food.

Pizza. He finds pizza. Of course.

 

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And it’s really really good pizza. Duh. Italy.

And you can see it on Ray’s face. He gets it. With one bite, he feels the sun, and leans against a wall, and in comes Italy. And he feels at home.

Can a slice of pizza save the world? Maybe. It did for Raymond.

So, in Somebody Feed Phil, our beloved hero travels the world and yet he brings us home. He teaches us joy and good manners, and inquisitiveness, and bravery. He instructs us that goofiness is good, and that humor is the great leveler.

He is kind. He is funny. And he manages to do all of this while still barely hanging onto the barest rudiment of foreign languages and societal protocols.

And, if Phil can do it, so can we.

It’s diplomacy, with appetizers.

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As a Netflix StreamTeam blogger, I get to watch the wonderfulness that is Netflix, and then chatter about it on Momsie. It’s a great gig.