the most boring blog post I've ever written. Maybe.

Recapping spring break - one kid went to Florida with a friend, where he went deep sea fishing and got very, very sea sick.  I did not go to Florida, but instead stayed home for Spring Break, and still got very, very sea sick.  Spring Break is my annual nod toward illness, be it stomach or sinus or some sort of odd virus that people only bitten by a certain type of tiny insect could contract, and only then if they were in Wakanda on a Sunday.  Yes, I saw that movie with the boys.  

The rest of Spring Break was filled with stuff like scheduled eye doctor visits, school baseball games and practices.  And work.  There's that.  Someone also left the refrigerator open all night but no one claims any knowledge or responsibility so we think it was the same no one that left the back door not only unlocked one day the week before, but hanging wide open as an invitation to maniacs everywhere. 

We also did a little household organization and unorthodox moving around of space this week.  And what I always think will be a super fast and easy job turns out to be a bit more complex than originally planned.  Which is why people everywhere need to stop watching fixer upper shows because it's all lies.  Anyway, I've had plans for quite a while to spread out the boys' living quarters from one shared room to a better use of our roomy, yet oddly configured house, .... but was waiting for this to happen first, then that to happen next so that I could make my move.  But just like watching water boil, things never work when you wait on them and rooms seem to get smaller the bigger the kids get.

So for the past 15 years that we've been in our home, all the boys have slept in one bedroom.  We live in a 1950's ranch style with the traditional formal living/dining room up front as you come in the front door.  It's funny how this space has taken on so many different shapes over the years as we just lived in the house.  We've always called it the wood room.  That's what the boys called it when they were little.  It was an empty room with an unfinished wood floor and not a stick of furniture in there and we used it as a toddler gymnasium of sorts till they got too big to ride their tricycles around in circles in there.  Then it morphed into an actual sitting room with an ugly yellow hand me down sleeper sofa from another fireman that housed our nephew on several occasions as he returned home from Iraq and Afghanistan and other of life's adventures.  Then it became the holding spot for the cushy blue chair that I saved from the thrift store, and saw its share of fits and tantrums as we made young boys get off of cell phones to prevent brain and soul rot.

Now these 2 front rooms have become oddly placed bedrooms for Kids 2 and 3.  Sort of like how the Clampetts used their Beverly Hillbilly mansion to raise livestock and fish in the cement pond, the Walters are using the formal spaces of our home to grow up our boys into unique individuals and give them space to grow.  Really we're just using it this way because as much as I love love love our contractor friend and all her brilliant remodel ideas, I happen not to love the thought of car insurance on multiple teen drivers soon, college costs, and really, debt in general.  

So I'm thinking I will never get invited to be featured in Southern Living magazine, but I probably wasn't going to get that opportunity anyway, even before I moved a bed into the dining room.  So there.  I actually have a mental timeline for this maze we call home.  I'm thinking a year of Kid  2 sleeping in the living room and Kid 3 sleeping in the dining room, which he can totally handle since he was the baby that was housed in the laundry room as an infant when he was noisily learning to fall asleep on his own.  (Yes, his crib fit in there nicely.  No, he did not have to sleep on top of the dryer. Yes, I could still hear him from  my bedroom so he was fine.)  Then after about a year when Kid 1 moves onto college, we can re-think our sleeping patterns and re-convene for the next phase of This Old House.  We should've totally bought a three bedroom house to begin with.

Anyway, here are some wise and wonderful thoughts that I've considered lately.... each brought about by differing circumstances, some blog worthy, and  some that just have to be more private for the sake of my family. 

First I think that if you're reading this and you are at all like me and have tried to have a person or persons be your fix, your safety net, your port in the storm, let me say that yes, they can and will be sometimes.  But only for a time.  And that you have to be your own rock to lean on when it comes right down to it.  I'm trying - and yet failing it seems, to pass this idea on to a certain kid or two these days. (and note this isn't a rock comparison between Jesus and us normal people.... it's just a plain ol use of the word rock as something strong.  I happen to believe that our strength comes from the lord, but it is through our own weakness that his strength is made known.  Pretty sure that's in the Bible...)

Second, if you are a parent reading this, I think what I would tell you today is that I get plenty of things wrong.  And I started on that road of wrong from the time of my kids' birth.  But today I know that it mostly all has a way of mixing together - the wrong and the right - to make a kid something kinda special.  And as a mom, that's about all I could ever want.  

And about stress levels - as I sit here and read my public library copy of Southern Living, and I ponder the search for the perfect daffodil -  ....... wHaT  on earth?  Yes, that's a real article in there....  here's a spoiler:  Ain't nothing perfect going on anywhere.  Give up on that and take a breath.  

We've taken on so many projects of late that we can't even keep track, much less, keep up.  An out building project still unfinished in the backyard, a sailboat in the driveway with its own boat club membership, but an unfinished boat slip.  And taking on the high school baseball booster club has turned Fireman Dave into an efficient grilling, concessions selling machine - but at the same time has added to his already heavy work load of fire department shifts, extra medic jobs, and the occasional contractor work with a friend.  So we pretty much play catch up or keep up around here at all times, and that brings on some things that, though living among us, showed up totally uninvited.  And for this I have no wisdom to offer other than to just stop every now and binge watch something mindlessly entertaining on Netflix.  Or write a boring blog post and tell the world about all your day to days that no one really cares about.  

But it's the slowing down and the thinking it out that brings me back to a better perspective.  I'm actually typing this at 4:15 in the morning because my body wanted to slow down, but obviously my mind didn't.  This is where the old, carb loaded Kristi would go for the cinnamon poptarts to soothe me back to sleep.  But the new me - the one that would still kill for a contraband box of those things - is holding strong and trying to channel my energies elsewhere.  

This week we take Kid 1 on a weekend college visit to Aggieland.  And from there, as he expands his knowledge of all things college related, the rest of us will travel on to one of my fave places to spend some down time and ring in another year of being Kristi.  I also get to celebrate from afar the special birthday of my girl, Loyce, in Uganda.  And y'all, I'm so excited to see how this turns out for her.  Very possibly her first ever birthday celebration and let me assure you that I have arranged some chocolate goodness to surprise her all the way from here.  She and I have birthdays one day apart, so we're practically twins, and I promised her that we would party in style this year. I'll share pictures as soon as I get them.  

That's about it for my early morning blogging.  Blessings to you as I know you are treading your own turbulent waters and trying to stay afloat.  I'm with you, I hear you and I see you for all that you are accomplishing and contributing.  And y'all, as hard as it is sometimes, it's worth it to take a look and breathe it all in from this point today.  Because I know it'll be great to look back on from tomorrow.  

a wink and a promise from you know who

Y'all just don't know how many times I've sat down to blog and then did nothing but think about chocolate chip cookies.  And I swear each time I try to come up with something, a little voice in my head says Kristi, please don't tell the story of the rat in the attic again, or that time we had fleas, or that time you went out bra shopping because the boys were all too busy doing their own things that you were lonely and had nothing better to do. 

But then I say to myself, but that's what this whole blog is about... are you crazy and already forgot our unique business model?

Or maybe I've just come to realize that everyone has so much of their own stuff going on that maybe the little ins and outs around here don't add up to much.  But then again, what if it adds up to someone laughing, or saying, Hey, me too!  So today I agreed to sit down for 30 minutes and try to share.

Here's what's been going on as of late.....

1.  I feel like singing one of my favorite Barry Manilow songs, I Made it Through the Rain, right about now  - as I sit here and feel sad for that one lonely day of sunshine that we've had in two weeks.   Here's a clip in case you don't know that one....

I happen to know just about every Barry Manilow song there is, and can sing them with all the feels while holding up a Pick Me sign at a Manilow concert so I can get up there and dance with him during Can't Smile Without You.  Ask Fireman Dave.  He knows.  He tries to hide his excitement each time he takes me to a concert, but I can feel it when he lights up his cell phone and waves it as we sing Mandy.

2.  The kids.  Oh. The. Kids.    The kids have all their things going on ..... and that one that doesn't want me to blog about him anymore - um, what's his name number? - he will be welcomed into the National Honor Society next week and I will stand next to him proudly,  remembering how I ate fish at least once a week while I was pregnant with him.  I read fish makes the baby's brain grow bigger and better and now I would like a National Honor Society honorable mention for my contribution.  He also just squatted the heaviest weight of any player on the football team, something like a million and a half pounds - and being in the body business, I'm kinda just as proud of that as I am of his academics.

Kid 2 waited till the last minute to sign up people to sponsor him in a baseball fund raiser and you just may get a letter or call of desperation asking you to pledge a dime per foot for however far he can hit a baseball.  He is also hitting his school work out of the park this year, and  I am so proud of this kid that I feel like I should stand on my front porch and yell about it.  Also, he's still kind and loving and I like that a whole lot, too.

And Kid 3, bless him, he gets excited every morning now since I discovered Aldi sells frozen pancakes.  He is a simple man with a heart of gold, and a sweet tooth that can fuel a space mission.  He has learned a bit about responsibility of late in the school department - and for today anyway, is showing some real progress in responsibility for his school work.  Stay Tuned.  Maybe I should just promise him a pancake for every grade above a 70 and he'll soar right through to a graduate degree.  Oh.  And he also just got his braces off today and is kinda handsome in an expensive orthodontics sort of way.  

3.  And finally this.  Today.... Today I had not just one lady, but a team of ladies in the locker room ask me how old I am.  I'm beginning to think that many people may have indeed been raised in barns.  

And my answer?  Old enough to have three kids of certain ages.   Y'all discuss and theorize over the rest, but leave me out of it.  I did find it funny that their guesses spanned the range of an entire decade and am thinking on my nightly skin care routine to head off any further guesses at the pass.  

And today let me use my blogging platform to remind the world that asking a woman's age is generally rude, unless you need to make sure she's old enough to buy that cough medicine at Target. 

And now this.....

Here are a few posts that have come out lately on other sites.  All are good, but in differently good ways.

This one is about my sweet friend, Loyce, and Y'all, I just enjoy telling everyone about her. The end.

This one is about something or other and how God is in the mix of all my questions. And it may or may not make you depressed.

And this one hits close to home as it talks about the homeless student population in the Dallas ISD.   

It was written for The Dallas Moms Blog, with the hope of getting some attention shown to the issue, and a bigger hope that people will read it and click on the wish list of needed items in the post.  These items are being purchased for the Drop In Homeless Center at my kids' high school here in Dallas.  And for those of you that already talked to me about contributing, thank you.  Your contribution has purchased backpacks and packaged meals for some hungry souls.

And finally, this is something I've avoided talking about for a while now because I just don't really know how to.  Many of you know that I have been estranged from my mother and brother for several years.  I've actually lost count, but I think we've reached around 6 1/2 years.

And I have to say right up front that I never saw the last six years coming toward me the way that they did, but I can say now, from the other side, that I'm glad that they did.  And it's not like I never doubted my decision, because I promise you that I doubted enough for us all.  But I think that the time apart has allowed me to heal a whole lot of hurts that would've never stood a chance otherwise.

There have been some developments in the case, if you will.  And I'm trying to sit on my thoughts for a bit till they make sense to me, first. 

I will definitely say this, that I am more convinced than ever of personal strength when we need it the most.  And how sometimes though we still, even after a million years, may hear the little voice of ridicule and doubt that was breathed into us from the start - we can manage, with the help of some good strong prayers, and the love of the people that really matter -  to remember the truth about who we are, and whose we are. 

I've needed more than my share of reminders of this, and I cried to Fireman Dave over our shared order of fajitas for one even as late as last week; still questioning the whys of how things just are sometimes.  Y'all, when they have no right to be.  

But then I get up and walk away from that table, and over to the one that sustains and empowers and reminds me that six years went by really fast and a few tears over fajitas is far less than I would've cried had I not been strong enough to stand up for myself. 

And I am reminded this week of this Bible verse  - that I knew for practically ever had to be in there .... and finally found right when I needed it the most.  

For God has not given to us the Spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.  2 Timothy 1:7

Yes sir and ma'am, y'all... read it.  Then read it again and feel the confidence that God has placed in us to be able to control even the most uncontrollable situations.  I'm leaning on this for now as a wink and a promise from you know who.

so there... that was January

I decided that I had very little to contribute to anyone in January, and since my mind was pretty much blank anyway, I thought a few weeks of mental quiet would be good.  

I did go ahead and write a very brain-forced and pathetic post for the church that little to no one liked, but out of Christian duty, a few people made some polite comments to soothe the sting of feeling pitied by thousands of others.

Oh, and I totally knocked out the Amazon series, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, in a matter of days and now have a hole to fill in my entertainment schedule.  I'm taking binge worthy TV recommendations in the comments, please.  Know that I shy away from most British TV that a lot of people like and try to sell me on..... because if you know me and have actually had a person to person conversation, you know that I speak fluent Texan with a very distinct Dallas drawl - and Y'all, I  have a terrible time understanding people with accents.

In kid news, we have one who requests to be removed from my blogging life, so I won't tell you that he got his high school letter jacket and looks kinda' awesome in it.  Another kid made the baseball team and I'm super happy for his good news.  And another kid - can you guess who?  Tried to run his own small business at school  - out of the pockets of his pants - think Snickers bars, all warm from his body heat, but he got caught and had to fold his business after only a few quite successful weeks.  Turns out that the school also has its own sales reps for items other than candy, and when a caring teacher saw my kiddo dealing his chocolaty wares, she thought better of it and spoke to him about his reputation and what may or may not appear to be more than a black market candy company.  I'm thankful for teachers that stand firm in what is right, even if my kid was only doing something a little bit sneaky, and all covered in sweetness while at it, and that she thought enough of him and our family to point out that other people may begin to associate him with something a little more sinister.  Now he's at a loss for income, and if you have any odd jobs for a 14 year old with an entrepreneurial mindset, let me know.

This month we also had our usual share of emotional highs and lows, and a few mean words to go along with them.  I learned a long time ago that the price of being the parent is that we pretty much have to listen to all sorts of craziness because it happens to be in our contract with God.  But  that same contract also states that I have to raise them up in the way that they should go, and sometimes I have to re-think my tactics to get from point A to point B.  So I am reviewing my love and logic parenting skills all over again each week in a group class of like minded teen parents.  You know it's uber importante' if I give up my Sunday nap time to attend a class.

And today I'm sitting here, eating lunch at home, wearing an apron as a bib, and listening to what is probably a giant rat scratching around up in our attic.  But I prefer to think of our house guests as those two little gophers from the Looney Tunes cartoons from forever ago -  the ones with the great manners that should totally teach an etiquette class to my kids and their friends.

What I hear going on up there right now is them serving tea and each politely thanking the other for their gracious hospitality.

And my bib?  Sometimes it just comes to that.

And I'm continually checking email for a reply from a certain school teacher about a certain kid, all tangled up in a certain predicament.  I prefer in this case to not receive a reply, but nervously keep checking anyway out of some sort of built in self defense mechanism.  The kid in question?  Clueless.  No, make that happily clueless.  Like me and the polite gophers.  I actually always thought they were squirrels until I googled it.

Mostly, I guess I've been at sort of a loss on the blog of late  - since it's turned into, in the last few posts anyway, stories of how not to raise your teenagers unless you want to drive yourself off a cliff.  And y'all, no one wants to follow along with that.  Or maybe you do -  because the more juicy the story, or if I say the word naked anywhere in the title or post, my readership soars to infinity and beyond.  Naked Naked Naked.  Um, that was the word I was asked to remove in the last post because it hurt someone's feelings.  I can't win for losing.

But as I tried to think of what really goes on with me day after day - no matter what, where, or when, I have to say that I do my best to say a prayer of thanksgiving for all the exact things that somehow make me lose my mind.  I thank God for the privilege of being called Mom by these three beautiful boys, and thank him that the bumps in the road are giving me the opportunity to choose a path.  Sometimes I choose the wrong path and end up yelling like nobody's business about this, that and everything in between, but the thankfulness comes from realizing the opportunity to be in the mix.  I remember waiting a lifetime to find my official calling.  Trust that as truth, people.  I tried on every type of role I could, every type of face and place and hope for promising tomorrows - and until I became these boys' mom, none of it fit.  

So yes, friends, readers, and even the teen crowd looking for a reason to gossip and fuss - yes.  I am even thankful for you, because you give me the chance to be the mom that my boys need today.  The end.  

And I think until I can get my attitude right at the beginning of every day, I just need to stay in the bed.  That's sort of what January was for me - staying in my blogging bed, and trying to get back to seeing things as blessings instead of burdens.  I'm hoping February is off to a better start, but I'll let you know.  

And let me just throw out another sweet name here - my sweet friend, Loyce, in Uganda, for whom I am truly thankful to know from afar, but love dearly and closely in a way that can only come from a love bigger than my own.  

I wish you could see the videos I received of her yesterday on Facebook from our mutual friend.  Watching her receive her last letter from me, listening to her trying to read it aloud, showing me how her English is improving.  I wish you could see her try to figure out what it was I put in the letter - two sticks of chewing gum.  Her guessing and trying was worth the postage that it cost to send gum all the way across the world.  I am honored and proud to be her friend and I pray for this little one daily that she realize her full potential and grows to be the exceptional young lady that I know she can be.  

So there.  That was January.  

And hey....  a little bird told me that a few of my readers who follow the blog on Bloglovin are having some problems receiving my posts.  If you are, stop the madness right now and keep reading.  I can fix that problem.

And if you are waiting with anxious enthusiasm to receive my posts via Facebook, bad news - you may be waiting till the cows come home.  Seems Facebook is killing most business pages, and has already wiped mine completely out of circulation unless I agree to spend lots of money to promote my posts to you.  I can write wonderful words of quality and wisdom, but I can't guarantee you will ever see them - unless you do THIS.  And it's so easy!

Follow me via email by going to my blog page.

From here, find my Kristi picture - then look right below it.  If you are on a lap top or tablet, you'll probably see me on the right side of the page.  If you are on mobile, scroll down and surprise, there I will be.  Type in your email address in the Follow by Email box... and you will soon get a confirmation email from my service making sure you really meant to do that.  I hope that you will say yes.

Y'all, as much as I doubt my place in the big blogging world at times, it seems that the wonderful and loving God that gives me the gift of online gab never does.  This very week when I tried and tried to get some words on this page and one more time, thought of giving it all up, I had a call from a sweet friend who encouraged and poured her trust into my experience and words.  And I say that with all gratitude and a bucket full of laughter... because any and all words that flow from my typing fingers onto this page could, #1 be very very wrong with a supersized side of inappropriate, but #2, were so heavily prayed over before I ever hit publish.

And I pray regularly that you will find something of value here that I didn't even know you needed.  Then I pray that God will place these words into the view of the people who need to hear them most.  And y'all, he is faithful to do just that.  And in case you didn't know, the greatest gifts you can ever give me and every blogger on the planet is a share.  A share of your time in reading, and a share on social media to put this out there to more people.  Sharing can't make people read it, and it might even make them mad at you for cluttering up their news feed.   - but no one is harmed in the sharing of a blog post, so do it anyway. 

I hope to see you via email soon, so we can be BFF's - blogging friends forever.  

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