Vacation from the Summer Vacation.

Today, I did kind of a dumb thing. Want to hear about it?

Linking up with the lovely Kate at Five Minute Friday today. The theme is:

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Kate’s graphic is so… peaceful. It’s all cute and pink. Look at it. Preshus widdle flowery thing.

So, hey, if you added a bunch of germs and despair and a thermometer or two, then maybe the image would fit what’s going on over here.

It’s rest time at our house. Enforced rest. Rest, but without permission. The kind that just slams you upside the head and says, “SIT DOWN, WOMAN. THAT’LL DO.”

So, I have mentioned that we have been firmly wedged into a summer schedule that is the King of all Summer Schedules Ever! Like, we WIN at Summer Schedules! Our Summer Schedule is the BIGGEST of them all! Our Summer Schedule could EAT your Summer Schedule for Breakfast! It is SOOOOOO the boss of you!

Perhaps, I am delirious. Fevers will do that to you. (This is called foreshadowing, y’all. Cue the scary music.)

Ok, so it seems the Summer Schedule is now the boss of US.

Strep. Both boys. Same time. Duh duh DUH.

Momsie doesn’t feel so good either, but that’s probably because every time my kids get sick I SWEAR I get the same exact thing at the same exact time so somehow, maybe, someone will bring me a cup of apple juice with a straw. I JUST WANT SOMEONE TO BRING ME SOME JUICE WITH A STRAW, PEOPLE. SOMEDAY.

Is that so much to ask?

“But yes, Momsie,” you ask, “What about the stupid thing? We really want to know about that. No one is ever going to bring you juice with a straw. Move on.”

Ok, I never had a fever. And also, my kids are very thoughtful in that they decided to go for the two for the price of one option on the sickness. But in the midst of all of this we have hit the usual end of June event that is known as:

We are Here Together and I am Sick of you.

So, the kids are like REAAAALLLLY cranky. This morning, Blonde yelled at Red about how he was rolling his toy truck across the room, and then Red responded later by telling Blonde that he was eating his cereal wrong. The two of them are just endlessly picking at them with such tenacity they are like little unhappy termites, chewing away at my sanity.

THE VERY FOUNDATION OF OUR FAMILY IS CRUMBING, Y’ALL. ALL BECAUSE OF MY ANNOYING CHILDREN.

So, the dumb thing.

I shall re-enact it for you:

Scene:

Both children are bickering about how to go to the bathroom. I think. I’m not sure. I don’t care anymore.

Red: MOOOOOOOOOMMMM, Blonde is telling me not to go to the bathroom this wayyyyyyyyyy. (Or something like that. I don’t know. I don’t care anymore.)

Me: (For some reason feeling all Dr. Phil about things) Ok. Listen. This is what we need to do here, guys. I think you need to start coming to me when you guys are having an issue. Just say, ‘Mom, Blonde and I are in an argument. Can you help us resolve it?’ And then EVENTUALLY you will remember how we worked it out and you guys will be able to do this all on your OWN!!! Hows that sound?”

Holy macaroni. So dumb. DUMB. Every five minutes. Now, they are not termites chewing at each other – they are chewing at ME.

I know there are ways to help kids with endless picking and bickering and conflict but right now I am living in a reality television show and not the tasteful ones like Amazing Race. Well, really I think that’s the only tasteful one, and it’s not even that tasteful. This is more like the one where two people are stuck out in the wild stark naked. And yes, that is actually a show. On tv. That people watch.

Anyhow, I am now hiding in my office, which is on the top floor and at the very BACK of the house. You have to go past the cat box to get to it. Also, there is a lock on the door.

I give myself about seven minutes of alone time up here before they find me.

Pray for me.

Enforced rest paired with a Mom fail? Not for the faint of heart. But that’s parenting.

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Date Night

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Tonight we will be enjoying a lovely 2%, vintage 2016, for your dining pleasure. It pairs well with kids.  Note the tie.

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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I am blurry. And furry. It’s how I roll.

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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Cliff Dwellings

Linking up with Five Minute Friday today!

The theme?

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You know, like “Dwell in the house of the Lord?”

Nope. That’s not the kinda “dwell” we’ll be dealing with here today, folks. But, maybe, a little…

Oh never mind, just read! I never promised you the blog would make SENSE, did I?

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When I was a teenager, my parents piled us in their station wagon and we drove through the night to Colorado. For a vacation. For fun, family times.

We did a vacation every year. Most of the time it was to a small cabin down by in the Lake of the Ozarks. There was a lot of fishing and so much swimming in a swimming pool so chlorinated that if we swam at night we glowed on the walk home. That was cool.

Anyhow, this time we were gonna try something new! Colorado! Mountains! Hiking! No catfish!

Needless to say, I hated it. It wasn’t my fault. I was a teenager. I hated everything. That was my job.

Ok, but there was this one part, that involved us going to a park that had cliff dwellings. I don’t remember what tribe, I am sorry to say. It was a lot of climbing around and exploring, and as per my usual lack of enthusiasm, I found it a bit boring. BUT, there was this: Dad made the epic mistake of referring to these wonderful, historic, very important markers of nation’s past and humanity as: (wait for it…)

“Cwiff dwewwings”

I know. You probably had to be there. It’s not very funny, is it? I mean, now after all this time, it isn’t all that amusing.

But to me it still totally cracks me up. My dad and my sister and I, scurrying about all the artifacts, in our best Sylvester the Cat imitation, among all the cwiff dwewwings.

Ok, I tell you that story to tell you this:

I will never forget that vacation. I will never forget the silly laughter. My dad, very John Wayne, very General Patton, has a SUPERB sense of humor (I like to think he got it from me) and I love him. And even though our family vacations were sometimes a bit, uh, like those crucible challenges they put the Navy SEALS through before they can go out and get the bad guys, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Because, when I saw the prompt for this, I was IMMEDIATELY hit up with that memory and also, with such love and warmth.

It’s an honor to have the family that I do. My mom, my dad, my sisters. My brother. It’s an honor to call them family. They are nutball, totally (they don’t get any of that from me. It’s all their fault. They started it.) but I love them.

Now, let me tell you about the time my dad decided to QUIT smoking during a family vacation.

Seared. Into. My Memory.

Dwell: to linger over, emphasize, or ponder in thought, speech, or writing. Dwell on the lovely. Linger over it. Ponder the past. Learn from it, the good and the not so good. I am so grateful.

 

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We go to Colorado every year now. Our children look about as excited as I did, way back when. The tradition continues.

The Wonderfulness That is Children

Did I ever mention to you that I have two kids?

Yep. I do.

 

I give you, Exhibit A:

photoBlonde: AKA, the 6 Year Old.

Short, blonde, rather squinty eyed. Tends to walk like Mick Jagger. Gets annoyed when told that.

Hobbies: long discussions about what is fair or not fair.

 

And exhibit B:

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Red: AKA the 4 year old.

Also known as: sidekick, “he did it,” accomplice, evil brother, nemesis, and Sparky.

Short, red headed, with angelic innocent expression and freckles. Has a future in the dramatic arts.

Hobbies: cat wrangling, eating, singing the same song over and over and over and over and over and over and over.

 

Oh and exhibit C:photo

AKA: the cat. Or Spicoli.  Or, The Dude.

White, furry, extremely mellow.

Hobbies: sleeping and being drug around a lot. Occasionally at the same time.

 

I show you these adorable pictures to tell you this:

They look all cute and stuff, right? Painting away at at their crafty little pumpkins, sweet toddler brows all furrowed with gnat-sized concentration. So preshus.

WELL, IT’S ALL AN ILLUSION, PEOPLE.

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Lately my children have been playing a fun game called:

I AM YOUR BROTHER. THEREFORE,  I WAS PUT HERE TO MAKE YOUR EXISTENCE MUCH HARDER THAN YOUR MOTHER EVER THOUGHT POSSIBLE OR NECESSARY.

They fight. They bicker about who has more juice, toothpaste, cookie apportionment, blankets, stuffed animals, brain cells, mothers who are not yelling. Etcetera.

And by etcetera I also mean: They fight over who is breathing the loudest in the car on the way home from Sam’s CLUB and stoppit just stoppit it’s too louuuuud I canna look out da window while you are doing all dat BREATHING over der.

They bicker about paper towels, flies, fly balls, purple spoons, immigration law, and who’s on first.

 

Yesterday, we called a meeting. It was either that or I was going to pack my things and head to Vegas. There’s no arguing there, I hear. Surely not. A lot of booze and gambling, but surely NO arguing. Right?

 

Anyhow.

I set them both down at our “family meeting” place on the stairwell.  I was on the offensive, and it was imperative go for the jugular from the start:

Momsie: “Boys, hold hands.”

Red and Blonde: “WAT?”

Momsie: “You heard me. Hold HANDS. NOW.”

Red: Starts emitting nervous, high pitched giggles as if he’s a squeaky toy and someone sat on him.

Blonde: Sits in stunned silence. This is very rare. We all relished it for a minute.

MOMSIE: ” I AM NOW SPEAKING IN ALL CAPS BETTER DO IT.”

Red and Blonde then limply hold hands as if their fingers were frosted with Ebola. Blonde made a few retching noises. It was all for show. I think.

I take a deep breath, and start in on Lecture #34556 entitled:

We Will All Love Each Other Because We’re Family So We Have To

Subtitle: I Will Make You Rue the Day.  If You Don’t Get Along, You Will Rue It. RUE it.

Sub -Subtitle: Look it up, minion. R. U. E.

 

Ten minutes in, both boys are scooching around on the stairs in an interpretive dance known as I will get as far away from you as possible, while still holding hands.  Red is still giggling like a nervous woodpecker.

And I draw the lecture in for my grand finale:

Momsie: “And so that’s why we don’t fight. Because, after all, WHAT WOULD JESUS DO? Hmmmmm?”

Blonde: yanks up Red’s offending hand – “I’ma pretty sure Jesus would NOT hold hands!”

Momsie: “Uh, Ok. Why not?”

Red: giggling so hard he puts his head between his knees for breath

Blonde “ACAUSE THERE IS NO WAY JESUS WOULD MAKE DEM ALL HOLD HANDS. IT’S SILLY. DIS IS JUST SILLY.

AND JESUS. IS. NOT. SILLY!”

 

He had a point. Not once does it mention “and lo, Jesus was silly” in the bible.

And in all my Mom wisdom, I sputtered: “Well, Jesus DOES baptize people! THAT’s in the bible! Would you prefer I just douse you in holy water each time you start to fuss at each other?”

Red starts to levitate off the stair he is giggling so hard.

I know. It’s times like these that parenting becomes so utterly frustrating that my ability to reason clearly and in a non-sacrilegious way becomes impossible. So, if you’re visiting one day and my boys start to argue? Don’t freak out if I squirt water on ’em both, and thunder, “Be baptized with LOVE, both of you! Holy Spirit says CUT IT OUT!”

 

As for the cat? I haven’t seen him in a while. I wonder why?

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Daily 4:8

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I have been purging this whole house – boxes and bags of clothes, toys, tortilla makers, old bikinis…

OUT, OUT, darn STUFF! 

I’m Spring Cleaning in a month that cannot decide if it’s Spring or still big, bad Blizzard-time.  This has not deterred me, and I have tackled every room in this house.  My favorite space conquered?  MY room.  Not my bedroom, but my sweet little craft room that is my hideaway spot.  I go there to write and read in the mornings, when it’s not stuffed full of leftover Christmas decorations and old baby blankets that I can’t abandon.

I love the space.  It is ALL mine.  It reminds me to breathe, and be still, and, yes, Simplify (even though it is stuffed full with books and writing and my grandmother’s old hats.  Still, it’s MY stuff.  My precious, toddler un-touched, stuff.)  AND, did I mention, IT HAS A LOCK ON THE DOOR!

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But it is, after all, only things.

It’s not a life.

Here is where I start my mornings:

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And here is how I start my mornings:

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One of the items I found in all my boxes and sacks to sort:  a bag of items from my brother, and his bible.

This is a good life.  🙂

Psalm 143:8

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“Anthem”

The birds they sang
at the break of day
Start again
I heard them say
Don’t dwell on what
has passed away
or what is yet to be.
Ah the wars they will
be fought again
The holy dove
She will be caught again
bought and sold
and bought again
the dove is never free.
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
We asked for signs
the signs were sent:
the birth betrayed
the marriage spent
Yeah the widowhood
of every government —
signs for all to see. I can’t run no more
with that lawless crowd
while the killers in high places
say their prayers out loud.
But they’ve summoned, they’ve summoned up
a thundercloud
and they’re going to hear from me.
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in. You can add up the parts
but you won’t have the sum
You can strike up the march,
there is no drum
Every heart, every heart
to love will come
but like a refugee. Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in. Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
That’s how the light gets in.
That’s how the light gets in.
Leonard Cohen

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My brother died.  I am so sad I feel as if I am cracked open.  I fix snacks for my toddlers, and tickle them and play, and then the next moment I am bending over, hands on knees, bent with grief, because I forgot he is gone.   Grief is like that, everyone tells me.  I’m not very good at it, but as most have said, “The only way out is through.”  So I’m posting this today because, as my sister says, I’m a writer.  This is how I go through.

Here are some things I loved about my brother:

He had a great voice.  His voice was strong and confident.  It rang out.  It said, ‘I am here and I got this.”

He could reduce me, my sisters, our entire kitchen table to tears with laughter.

He imitated Sylvester the Cat with perfect adorable accuracy.

He could torment pretty much anyone with his humor and we could never get mad because he was spot ON.

He was so handsome.  Richard Gere handsome.

He knew the Hustle and could jive to any song from Saturday Night Fever with SOLID skills.

He would lock me in a head hold any time I got near him.  He was very strong!

I think I was his favorite.  (My sisters all thought this.  We are still not sure who it was… so I’ll claim it since I have the blog.)

He loved planes and was fascinated by them – air shows.  I keep finding pictures of air shows.  He was a kid about it.

He would play football with me when we got together for Thanksgiving.  He never said no.

He loved Jesus.

He loved us.

He wanted his life to be a shout, not a whisper.

He was not perfect, not even close.  He was cracked.  And so very tired, I think, when he died.  Now the light shines in.

He was my big brother.  Everyone should be so lucky.