Sunday, October 15, 2017

Howdy Folks from Big Tex....

Here's me and Fireman Dave and our annual selfie with Big Tex.  We also took one in front of the fountain and the Ferris wheel but my eye looked like it was doing something weird so you can't see that one.

And if you've never been to a real barn raising.... you can mark that off your list right now.  Sort of.  Because HERE is a picture of what's happening in our backyard.

This is the out building that Fireman Dave has been working on tirelessly for the boys.  The big plan is to move the old couch, the video games, ... the general loudness out there and re-claim my den for family TV viewing.  When you can't quite make a whole house remodel happen, just do a backyard alternative instead.  That's kind of the Fire-family's budget minded motto.  But it's really not my deal at all, and I'm just watching it happen.  Do I think it the most logical plan?  I'm remaining silent on that.  

In other goings on,   

First, let me say that the Walters family has had a bit of drama of late, more of the don't share on the internet type, but what I've taken away from it is that no matter what is going on with our kids, no matter where, a mom will drop what she is doing, watching, reading or even eating, to take care of that kid.  And yes, Kids 1, 2 and 3, I always will.  God willing.  The love I have for my kids when their hearts are breaking, breaks my own.  But it is in those times that I know my full purpose on this earth has always been for me to be these boys' mom.

But THE absolute joy of my week has been my friend Loyce in Uganda.  And when joy is so big, it has to be shared.  Y'all, I needed a little laugh and smile this week, and without even knowing it Loyce came to my rescue. I bought her a little gift way back in July when Fireman Dave and I went to Fredericksburg, but I waited to send it till I had some other things to send with it.  What I have learned about the international postal system is that it is not cheap, so no you cannot send yourself wrapped as a gift to anyone outside of the United States.  It is also hit or miss on when or whether your mail will actually arrive at its destination.  I mailed a package to Loyce in early August, containing her gift and two letters that I had written over the summer.  When the package didn't arrive by the last week of September, I sent her a separate letter to let her know that I still think she's awesome.  THIS week, the September letter arrived on Tuesday and the August package finally arrived on Wednesday and Loyce got to be surprised at school by our mutual friend and all around amazing person, Vornita, not once but twice.  Here are a few of those pictures.

But Y'all, it gets so much better.  I had already asked Vornita to make sure Loyce had her needs met and even beyond that, I asked for her to get a few special things for her as well.  School tuition and supplies are fun and all, but nothing compared to snacks, new dresses and new shoes.  And today this is what I got pictures of....

Surprise Loyce!! 

I tried to share a video link from Facebook with you.  Gosh I tried, but gosh, I also finally gave up.  It's a video of her getting her new dresses and shoes and she is as silent and expressionless as a statue.  But her classmates and their reactions?  Y'all.  Just Y'all. 

What I've learned about Loyce is that she is a bit on the shy side, a bit camera shy and a tad reserved.  But give a girl a new dress and she becomes a princess.  Then she becomes a superstar - how about a superstar princess?  And that smile?  No I mean, really - THAT SMILE!  How can I love this little girl so much from so far away?  I think it's a God thing.

But as I watched the video of her receiving her new things, my heart felt so much appreciation for what I have and have always had.  She was pretty silent as she opened the package - honestly I'm not sure she has ever had a brand new dress before - but listening to her classmates ooh and aah over a dress made my heart confused about whether it should break or throw a party.  Seeing how excited a child gets over  things that my own boys take for granted  makes me feel so many different things - so much so that sometimes I have to look away.  Maybe that's the biggest problem - that we have the option of looking away.

Right now I'm in a place where I don't want to look away.  I want to see her house and her family and her busy at work making brooms.  I want to see her in her school uniform  and her report card to see her grow both physically and in opportunity to better herself.  I want to keep giving to this little girl so that she can feel a hint of a question in her heart asking why a stranger all the way across the world wants to send her things.  I hope one day she knows that it was because I want her to be reminded that she is of value to me and to the God who made her.   

I think my sweet little pen pal came along at a time when I needed to give out some extra love, and I couldn't think of a cuter little girl to give it to.  God fills in the gaps in our hearts,... I've always thought so - and because of exactly that, I'm thankful for her. 

I've been quite frustrated in the mothering department lately.  Save for a few moments of surprise need by my kids, I've felt like whatever I do or say doesn't really matter all that much anymore.  And I'm not talking about the million times I tell the boys to take out the trash.  I'm talking about the importance of faith and family and looking beyond today to what each of us can do to influence a better tomorrow  - whether that be for ourselves, for each other, or for something greater than ourselves.  But the most pressing topics around here only seem to be - Do we have any chips?  Where are all the towels?  It's been two minutes since I texted Princess C and I might die soon... see how my hand is already twitching from withdrawal?  

Y'all, I know all about how families are destined to grow upward and outward, but my hope was always that when that happened, that the roots of us would stay strong.  Today I'm feeling a little sad about my roots.  So I am extending this to you, ... my thoughts, hopes and prayers for you if you are in a similar place.  And my admiration and respect if you were at one time, and made it through.  I tend to lean to toward to the lonely side of things - it's a Kristi specialty, and being a fire wife where I spend a whole lotta time alone sometimes makes those thoughts echo in my own mind.  

But when I get like this, I write to my blog.  I write to Loyce.  I plan my next adventure.  I'm getting excited about what that might be. 

post script - Did I tell you that Loyce speaks 3 different languages?  And that English is her weakest?  It is.  So we have that communication gap, along with the time gap to learn about each other.  But my commitment is to regularly remind her that she is in my thoughts and that those thoughts are of love for a sweet little girl far away.  If you ever want to join me in writing to her, her family, or would like to help another child, please ask me how.  

Time to let it go, Kristi

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Here are the top things I have learned as a blogger in my years on the job...

1.  I can pour  my heart and soul into a post and feel like the world's greatest person and no one will care.  Really.  No one. 

2. I can sit down and write a post in a matter of minutes, just something off the top of my head... and it will get shared a million times and I stand amazed at how easy it was.  Or not.

3.  Topics people tend to be most interested in on my blog - interpersonal relationships such as that time last week when I was at Kid 3's football game and no one would sit with me.  People also enjoy a good story about Kid 1 and Princess Chatterbox, tales of public school and learning challenges, or in other words, How is Kid 3 doing in math class this year, Kristi?  And I know I will forever get record setting readership if I say that I tripped and fell down or had a fight with Fireman Dave.  Go figure.

So thank you to all of you who shared my last post about our kids attending our neighborhood public school.  It went internet crazy and I've since been contacted by several individuals and organizations that have expressed interest in that post and I feel sort of blogging famous.  At least I did for about 5 minutes.... now I just feel like me again.  Especially considering Kid 3's math grade. 

General Updates..... 

Today I drove through a bucket of nails on our street.  Because you know,... every now and then there's just a random bucket of nails in the street.  So I'm hoping the gods of automotive care are protecting my tires as we speak.  And there is still a sailboat in our driveway.  But now it is being propped up with a Black and Decker work bench because that makes it better.  

Went to Kid 1's game as I do every week... but this time there was rain,  a cricket invasion, and finally a skunk.  It was like the 3 plagues of football revelation so we left when the smell started to permeate my hair. 

In kid news - Kid 1 went to the Homecoming dance last weekend and looked so handsome and had so much fun that he forgot to come home on time.  This, opening an entirely new chapter of the Harlequin romance novel known as Kid 1 and Princess C Take on Their Second Year of Love.

And Kid 2 was feeling a little teenager-ish yesterday and pointed out how I seem to edit all our family photos to make myself look better than I actually do.  Which is really not something a man should ever say to his mother - or to any female on the planet if he ever wants to live a peaceful life.  We are now working on repairing our relationship and hoping to salvage some of the pieces.  

And Kid 3 is playing football for his middle school and giving all the attention he should be giving to math, science and all other subjects requiring his brain, to his athletic improvement.  It looks like it might be another long school year.

Fireman Dave is finishing out the month of September as he started it out... working.  If there was a lifetime achievement award given for number of overtime hours worked in a month, he would win by a mile.  I on the other hand, seem to daily lose the battle of house cleaning, cooking anything that didn't start out frozen and/or in a box, and the keeping of my children.  I did however just purchase the cutest pair of Reebok Classic tennies off of a resale fashion site and I feel like a success in life because of it.  Can't wait to dress cute and look adorable when I fail at all my home and parenting tasks.

And just an fyi...  if you actually know me and have seen me in the past few days.  I had my final dermatology appointment that I gifted myself earlier in the year.  In short,.... on the road to looking fabulous, I have to go through several days of really ugly to get there.  So yes, I feel fine, nothing tragic happened, and Fireman Dave wants me to let everyone know that I feel safe at home.

Y'all, September was hard on us all.  Was it for you, too?  I've pretty much just tried to get through each day and find a place to nap whenever possible.  But I made a decision a few days ago that I hope will change some of the stress of late.  I sent a text to Princess Chatterbox and asked if she would like to get together one day after school or even just sit together at Kid 1's next game.  I knew I had to do that, and the thing is that I've known it for a long time.  I've prayed about it over and over and the answer I always got was a heaviness in my heart about the whole thing.  I think for a while I wanted to blame it all on the youth in the situation, but maybe it just took some time to remember that I was young once too.  Y'all, one time I went over to a boy's house and knocked on the back door.  I chose the back door because I had been over to his house a couple of times before and we always used the back door.  But me being from the part of town I lived in, that whole choice of entrance doors was totally foreign  to me so I just assumed the back door was how everyone went into that house.  His mom wasn't very nice about it all and I could tell in multiple ways that she, at that very moment, had just labeled me as both brazen and ignorant.  I vote ignorant, but that was a long time ago and time to let it go, Kristi.  But she made me feel like I had committed a thousand sins of guest etiquette, and I still remember it.  Anyway, little things like that kept coming back to me.  And the answer was that I should be a help, not a hindrance in the growing of a quality adult.  

So I invited her.  And I told her that anyone who is important to Kid 1 is important to me, and how I really do want to get to know her better.  The olive branch of friendship has been extended, and I hope that it reaches straight into my heart and softens it a bit to make this work.  

Maybe that's the answer to the prayer I wasn't expecting to get.

I heard the Walters family sent their kids to public school and they're all happy and doing fine

Sunday, September 17, 2017

This is the time of the year when school just started so new interest has peeked its worried head out of the protection of the summer, and asked, Where in the world will I send my kid to school next year?  Or my all time fave, Where, oh where, will I send my kid to preschool?  - which totally makes me laugh because the actual answer is to just send them to that little Mother's Day Out program at the local church or the YMCA and have a few hours to yourself, Mama.  

And while you're having a few hours to yourself, look around at all the people you see and ask yourself what preschool they might have attended in their formative years to get them where they are today.  Yes, that's a joke.  Because they probably have no clue where they went, if they went at all. Because y'all, bigger things happened since then - things like life and love and disappointment and tragedy.  Things like friends, and family and family trips.  Things like church and scouts and weekly visits to the library.  Things like neighborhood walks and visits with grandparents and volunteer work - all of which made a bus load of weight more impact on the person than the choice of school so many years ago. 

I was visiting with a neighbor the other day and the conversation turned to our kids - mostly to my prediction that this year, as his oldest enters 3rd grade, every conversation at soccer games, birthday parties and school programs, will turn into the age old question of Where will we send our angel to middle school? And trust that I speak from experience, because we've heard it all, done it all, and visited them all.  I've talked to parents, teachers, school counselors, and read reviews on school ratings websites.  And the best answer I have come up with in the years of getting all three of my kids well into middle school and high school is this - just go ahead and enroll them in that school in your neighborhood.  Because its wonderful. 

But the fact is that you're never going to know how wonderful it is if you're afraid to take that first step.  And if you're too busy talking about which schools are bad to actually just try it.  The school gossip travels through the ages.  You know the talk ... I heard that the Walters family sent their kids to so and so and there was a fight in the hallway.  I heard that the Walters family sent their kids to the local school and there was a drug overdose in the 8th grade hall.  Which is actually true, by the way.  But what about the news that the Walters sent all three of their kids to their local elementary, middle and high schools and they're all happy and doing well...  That's the news that I wish would get spread louder and further than the bad. 

Until parents are ready to view each school opportunity as equal, there will be forever and always the ones that don't stand a chance.  That school that you and your mom friends have all discussed and decided isn't very good?  Well, it won't be very good until a mom like you who cares to give her child the very best of everything gets involved and makes that school shine brighter each year you can contribute.  Our little neighborhood elementary is in great demand these days, but when we enrolled Kid 1 - our now Junior in high school, people acted like we were sending him off to war.  And it took a whole lot of working on fundraisers, PTA meetings and Halloween carnivals to leave that school a better place after Kid 3 finished his turn there 10 years later.  And we left it in the very capable hands of other neighborhood parents who believe that change won't happen till we make it happen. Yay for parent involvement.  

I understand the call of private school, and had that been a financial option for us, I may be telling a whole different story today. I get it.  And I am not anti -private school and I am not anti-YOU.  So don't even say it.  What I am is PRO-KID. And that means every kid getting an equally wonderful chance at an education. 

I can honestly say that I have to smush down the mad every Friday night and Saturday morning when I hear about all the young parents taking their kids to the high school football games - but not the game of the school that their kids should go to according to address.  There's a favorite around here and it wins the popular vote every time.  It also wins the race card because it's the only high school in our district that has less than the 95% minority and 90% economically disadvantaged enrollments of the rest of the district.  And yes, my kids go to one of the 95% minority and 90% economically disadvantaged ones.  And they love it there.  

I can say without doubt that my boys have seen and heard things that I wish I could shelter them from, but I can't.  And never was able to do even before public school.  Their worlds extend beyond the walls of our home and out into the mall, the movies, their friends' houses and everywhere social media has a touch screen connection to their hearts and minds.  But what I know is that they have seen and heard enough to practice their right and wrong decision making skills - skills that they will have to exercise sooner or later no matter what, and I'd rather they do that now while they're still in my care. 

post script- photos in this post were from yesterday's high school Homecoming parade. And it's not corporate sponsored.  Nor is it fancy or big.  But it's ours.  And the kids are so proud, happy and excited.  And to me, that's one heck of a parade. 

post post script - If you're sitting on the school fence but afraid of which side to climb off?  Visit them all.  Visit by surprise, then visit again.  But mostly talk to the parents who have had kids in those schools and value their words over the words of the young moms still afraid of that first day of kindergarten or middle school or high school.    

I can only do so much

Saturday, September 9, 2017

I think I've been in another one of those empty spaces where I've been trying to figure out things.  Which in a variety of different scenarios... could be either good or bad.

I really think I walked away from here for a few weeks because, as I've said so often, I question my place, my purpose,  - my influence, even.  But sometimes its just that its so crazy loud and messy around here that I can't hear myself think.  That and Kid 2 has gotten off to a roaring start in school and has decided, being the new, dedicated student kind of man that he possibly always secretly dreamed of becoming... to start tackling his homework on a daily basis.  But on our laptop... our ONLY laptop.  And then by the time he's done, I'm already asleep.  I tried to watch a movie with him last night and couldn't keep my eyes open past 9. 

So there.  Sometimes bloggers disappear.  If this should happen, please come looking for me, and a special thank you to those who already have.

Let's catch up.

I think I need to put this info out on my permanent record  - for permanent record's sake .... If  I am found passed out in my car at any time in the coming days, it could be for many reasons really, but mostly because my air conditioner went out on my car last week.  The repair shop says they fixed it but I think they forgot about the part where noxious fumes come out of the air vents.  

I had to drive a rental all week, which explains why I've tried to get into at least 3 different cars that didn't belong to me - yesterday's clue.... um, that's not my pink sweater in the passenger seat, and hey, why won't the doors unlock.   But I think it important to note that Fireman Dave got a really good fireman discount when we went to get the car today from the shop... which makes the poisonous fumes seem so much better, in a weird sort of way.

So THIS is happening...  
Hello cute Kid 1!  Friday Night Lights here we go.... Y'all remind me to take my stadium seat with me, though.  Those games are long even for us proud mamas.  

And a short season of Fall baseball for Kid 2.  That's him down front, #3.  

And since I don't have a team pic of Kid 3 yet, though football is coming for him, I'll just share that THIS happened a few weeks ago.  More candles than I even want to count for this sweet boy, but I love that I've gotten to share each day of them.  

Oh, and I bought a couch.  But getting the couch in the house was like pushing an elephant up a hill.  First I had to clear out all the old stuff we had stuffed in here.  Trust the meaning of that word, STUFFED, in this particular usage.  So I tried every online sale site in the land, only to find out that people in general are liars liars pants on fire.  For two weeks I listed my heart out on garage sale site after site, trying to give the stuff away..... and had people actually come to the house and commit to taking it.  But then leave and never come back.  Maybe they found something better... which is totally possible after the Walters have lived on furniture for the past 10 years.  Maybe they just didn't have the heart to tell me to take down all the sale listings because I was embarrassing myself by letting people see how we've been living in here.   Or maybe they just went out for ice cream and forgot to come back.  Anyway, people are people and it turns out they don't really want used furniture off Facebook Marketplace so trust my experienced expertise on this and just put your old couch out for the big trash.  It'll save you a whole lot of trouble and shield you from the myriad of crazy people who pretend shop for old furniture on Facebook.  I ended up giving the entire set to my occasional housekeeper and I love that she had a need.  She is going to take a few more things from me soon as well... once I get organized enough to get it ready to move.

The new couch arrived last week and for perspective purposes, y'all, it happens to be huge. Huge as in... I could invite every blog reader over here to sit on it and we could play musical chairs around it for a very long time since everyone would always find a seat.  Its my first sectional sofa and my biggest regret is that I was overcome by car fumes or something when I chose an almost white fabric.  How do cheetos and koolaid stains look on a white couch?  I hope good. 

Anyway, I loved it like crazy in the store, but now I'm second guessing myself and can't decorate a room to save my life.  I think maybe the couch just needs a little bit of heart and home... code words for Hey boys, invite all your friends over and have everyone sit and do whatever they usually do to break it in really good.  That ought to do it. 

In deeper news, and in answer to the most asked question of late.... What is REALLY going on?  Ummm...  drug overdoses at the middle school level.  Yes it happened at Kid 3's school.   Insecurities and grumpiness at the high school level.  Kid 2 says that every day of 10th grade is longer than Moses lived.  Now that's a long day, especially if it involves algebra and chemistry.  

And of course, the continuing saga of The Young and the Restless . Romeo and Juliet.   I mean Kid 1 and Princess Chatterbox.     Seriously, when I get a text from Kid 1 saying that he is about to be at a church garage sale with Princess C and then going to bathe her grandmother's dogs, I have to stop and ask myself,... what the h -e - double hockey sticks is happening here?  This is a story unto itself and I'll let it stay that way for now. 

We made the parental decision years ago to have the boys attend our local Dallas ISD schools, and tossed aside the norm of the day of moving each and every kid to the suburbs.  We love our neighborhood, and we knew we wanted to invest in the schools in a way that would last beyond the age of our kids.  And to do that, it takes more than charitable contributions and volunteer work, it takes us enrolling our kids in schools that the rest of the world is afraid of .  And when we chose to go the inner city school  route, our hope was that  the values that our kids have been taught would slowly and regularly seep into the fabric of the day - that our kids would be the teachers about family and rules and boundaries and faith.  About persistence, caring and integrity.  About hard work and dedication and mostly about simply doing what is right.  

But I find myself chatting on the phone with Fireman Dave - since he basically lives at the station or at the hurricane shelter these days - and questioning our choice.  Did we empower our kids by sending them into the real world so early?  Or did we sentence them to limited prospects with the potential for certain doom?  

Kid 3 saw some iffy things at the middle school the other day.  But he talked to us both about it and that's good.  Y'all, its better than good.  It is everything when raising a teenager.  And if we can keep that communication going, I don't worry so much about what he's seeing.  I tend to be more thankful that he sees, learns, and moves onward and upward.  

All my boys are learning to deal with a culture that doesn't often look like ours at home.  They tell me daily about the profanity, the gangs, the drugs and general sense of loss that so many of the students get stuck in.  Maybe that's the case for all secondary level schools, but I tend to think its more in the ones where the kids are more often than not, raising themselves, and looking at their peers to figure out how to do it.  I have a big ol' long prayer that I say every day for these boys as they start a new day.  Remind me to share that with you sometime.  I totally know if by heart because it comes straight from it every time. 

And the Kid 1 romance?  Here's where I think I am on this - right now anyway.  It isn't what I would want for him at this age.  But I've decided that I can only do so much.  And that includes setting limits, boundaries, and being consistent with the follow through.  I can tell him that the choices he is making today will affect his forever... but that's just gibberish to a kid.  So really all I can do is say that he needs to stay in line with our rules, no questions asked on that one.  And beyond that, wish him well with his decisions, actions and consequences.  

It's taken a lot of praying for me to be able to say that.  And I'm not done praying.  But I'm the first one to tell you that the power of prayer only goes half way, we have to meet God where we are now, and work with what we've been given.  

I'm trying.
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