That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown

Sit down, y'all... I feel like talking.  I've actually been trying to post this since last Saturday but I didn't win the battle.  

Today we went on a marathon hunt for my keys.  Which I blamed husband for losing because that's become his middle age thing.  Take my keys and put them exactly where they least belong - and make sure it's somewhere totally odd and unexpected where I'll never think to look.  And make sure and do all this on a busy morning when you leave early for the fire station and Kristi is left to handle the chaos of being about everyone's business in a limited amount of time before she needs to be at work. 

So of course he was first to get the blame today.  He's earned it.  Over and over. 

And I looked in  my purse ...  and kids 1 and 2 looked in my purse.  Which wasn't at all satisfying because husband then felt he had to look in my purse.  Then we hunted my work bag and the shelves by all the doors, and my car, and the dresser, and under the pillows in the front hallway where I've found lost keys before.  And we retraced our steps and remembered that I came home from work yesterday and thankfully never had to leave the house again.  So there.  I couldn't be the one who lost the keys. 

And we spent at least half an hour hunting till kid 1 remembered that kid 3 was the trash man yesterday and since we got garage robbed, and our lives were forever changed, we've had to live like big city victims of crime and put locks on our gates.  So kid 3 used my keys to unlock the alley gate and there we found them.  But at least not hanging in the gate for every east Dallas wanderer to come in and open our Christmas presents while we sleep.  They were actually found on top of our rain collection barrel in the backyard.  Which was a first for lost keys everywhere, but will next time be the first place we look.  

And there was the day this week when I tried to go to work but couldn't because I had a flat tire.  So I called fireman Dave at the station who was able to come home and swap cars with me real quick - with the firm instruction to immediately take his car to the gas station or I may be left stranded in that vehicle as well.  And whatever caused the flat tire made us buy 2 new tires because it turns out that if you fail to regularly rotate your tires per the tire warranty instructions, the tire shop won't fix your flat tire.  Live and learn, if I may quote my husband on that deal.  Which is a whole lot nicer than what I expected him to say.  And later in the day I went by the fire station and traded out cars so I could drive sickly kid 1 to the doctor on my two brand new tires and feel proud.  Good news is that he doesn't have strep or the flu but he has something else we can't quite put a name on and has a cure all prescription for antibiotics.  Merry Christmas.  

And since I was with the sick kid at the doctor, I had to send kid 2 walking to the elementary school to claim kid 3 and be the responsible stand in for me while I sat in the waiting room for 2 hours.  Then later I came home and drove kid 3 to the school spaghetti fundraiser and dropped him off like an orphan while I went to the pharmacy and waited with all the sick people to get kid 1's medicine.  Where I had something gigantic get into my eye and under my contact lens and I cried out of one eye in pain but was determined not to put my fingers in my eye at the pharmacy or I might catch something worse than whatever kid 1 has that brought me there in the first place.  

Then I went back to the elementary school and hunted for kid 3 who was found playing out in the dark of night with some friends and a football and by the time I got home that day, I wondered, for the thousandth time, what the heck.  What had I done to deserve a day like this one.  And then I told the boys goodnight and that I loved them even in all the craziness but Mom is done for the day.   Close my door please and do not enter unless someone is dying.  

And then there was the night I got separated from the family in Dallas Cowboys stadium with no cell phone signal.  In a stadium full of people all wearing the same color there for the high school state championship game - which we attended to support our nephew playing that night.  And lost, alone and hungry, without a dime to my name because I either had to carry everything into the stadium in a Ziploc bag or a tiny coin purse per stadium security rules.  So all I owned in the entire world that night was a tube of carmex, a toothbrush, and a dead cell phone.  

And I waited for husband to come find me - expecting him to draw from clues of all our years together to find the missing treasure .... clue 1, Kristi can be found around nice upholstered furnishings and clue 2, the biggest clue of all - find the most upscale bathrooms in the stadium and Kristi will probably be close by.  (And yes, I did find those.  The ones with real faucet fixtures, marble counter tops and hot water.) 

But he didn't come looking for me and I eventually asked a fella if I could use his phone to call for help.  And y'all, now I know to never to get lost in a desert or a strange country or I'll be on my own to find my way.

And on Christmas Eve the boys were wrestling all over my bed and crashed into me and made me cry like maybe they broke my rib.  But they didn't.  And it turns out it was mostly just a broken heart.   

And this has been my season of Advent.  My season of waiting.  Waiting as we do every year at this time for the light of the world to show himself to us again and remove the darkness that seems to follow us more sometimes than others. Waiting for the real reason for Christmas.   

And it seems I've been waiting day after day for the longest time of late and .... still waiting.  So this isn't my merry Christmas blog post.  This is a real post about real feelings and real things that are okay to feel and say out loud.  

Here's a picture of our happy family making cute cookies together.  

But pictures don't tell how then kid 1 got mad at kid 3 and broke one of the cookies all over kid 3's face then yelled something to the effect of... I'll break your face with a clothes hanger.  Nice.  

So I had 2 kids locked in mom jail forever until they could figure out how to use their words nicely in our home.  Then, I cried through the entire new Little Orphan Annie movie and thought for sure the sun will never come out again tomorrow.   And I cried in the car on the way home and I cried when I asked kid 1 then kid 2 to help with a chore and they argued about how tough life is when you have a mom that has expectations of you.  

And there it was.  The dammed up tears of a lifetime were released and became the flood waters of Christmas sadness.  

And here's what it all comes down to.  My kids have been arguing up a storm lately.  Usually just 2 of the 3 of them at a time, but with no guarantee that the third won't jump in and pick a side to support. 

And too many times it includes name calling, and lots of the word hate.  And parents everywhere have told me that I'm not alone on this island of ugliness, and that things will change as the kids grow up.  

But here you go.... I grew up in a house where things didn't change.  There was yelling and hurt and disappointment.  And people who were supposed to love didn't act very lovely sometimes.  And more than anyone ever should... we heard the word hate.  And y'all, after a kid hears that word for long enough, it becomes much more than a word.  

So I had a difficult time being merry and bright before Christmas this year.  Did you?  I hope not, but you can say it if you did.  Because it happens.  And all the shopping and cooking and gifting won't and can't change a heart that just isn't ready to open up to joy on calendar command.  We can't schedule our joys and our blessings and our hopes any more than we can schedule a hair appointment when we desperately need it the most. 

And I think the holidays bring a big mix of emotions out in some of us.  Especially those of us that tend to keep a little bit of hurt feelings held inside the rest of the year.  Then when Silent Night plays during the candlelight church service or a sweet Disney movie song sends us over the edge, the holiday wishes of merry and bright become more of a demand than a well meaning wish.  

And I truly love this time of year - mixed feelings and all - because I have the choice to make some changes.  The choice to make memories and all new traditions.  And it's a new beginning over and over that never stops coming year after year as a reminder for us... that we can start all new because

Because through what seem to be impenetrable walls at times, Christ breaks through to our world, on schedule, on demand, and on time when we need him the most.  And even the ugliest of words and the hardest of hearts can't resist the love of a baby that came to love us just the way we are.   

That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown. 

post script... And FYI.... water resistant mascara is NOT the same as waterproof.  Don't trust it ladies.  DO NOT TRUST IT.  


I'm going with the less is more theory of decking our halls

So here's how an impromptu friend party came about... and some pictures of our house finally decorated for Christmas.  I'm going with the less is more theory of decking our halls.

Last night I learned that kid 2 and two buddies had organized a gift exchange between the three of them.  With a $20 limit.  Which tells me that one person will spend $20 and another will spend $5 because that, too, fits the $20 spending limit rule.  So the impromptu party was born.

Which involved me dropping 6 kids off at the movies so I could ready the food and decor - meaning I heated the chicken nuggets and put a cloth on the table to catch queso cheese dip drips.  Then brought everyone back here for some play time, snacks and the reason for the season - the giving.  Today's theme - the North Texas Food Bank.  So instead of the planned gift exchange, which was in and of itself, a thoughtful gesture on the part of three sweet friends, the good news is that we already have plenty.  And the fact is that we all have.  We have what we need. We have lots of what we want.  And we have the choice to share some of it with those that don't.  So I had the kids donate what they felt good about to be donated for food donations instead of buying a new video game for a friend. 

And we didn't raise tons for our cause, but we raised enough for young teens and tweens to have a moment to think of someone other than themselves.   And a moment is about how long the thought lasted till they went on to play more football.  But it seems like I'm on a forever quest for learning moments big or small.  So I hope they're all adding up in their hearts for later in life. 

The end. 

So here is the house at Christmas.  Missing the rug in the den, thanks to a dog that had a terrible accident for her dog sitter over the Thanksgiving weekend.  And as of this writing we have no gifts.  But I finally convinced husband to place some Amazon. com orders this week to make sure the kids don't cry on Christmas morning.  So we're definitely on the right path. 

And the mantle.  Simple but I happen to think I may love it.  We're not a fancy people, as you may have guessed.  But we're festive in our hearts where it counts.  It was kid 2's idea to gift wrap the giant print that is normally above our fireplace - the one of the three boys in the back of a vintage red truck - kid 2 calls it the farm boy picture.  And he thought it had no place here at Christmas.  So we just wrapped it all up and put a bow on it and called it cute.

The little Santa is a painted gourd that we've had for years.  A gift from my mother in law and was hand painted by a lady in North Carolina. Love. 

My favorite ornaments on the tree are cut out hand prints of my kiddos when they were babies.  Because when we were just starting out there just wasn't room in the budget of a rookie fireman and a stay at home mom for fancy ornaments.  So I made salt dough, cut out some traced baby hands and now they have an annual home on our tree.  At least till I die.  Because husband isn't in love with them.  And that'll probably be the first thing he throws out -  if and when he marries the Nicaraguan nanny that he hires to care for the children upon my unfortunate demise. 

And once again fireman Dave showed his talents as a home decorator and turned our front porch into a place I want to sit in every night.  I may even have him figure a way to permanently attach these lights for all year use.

Both the porch chairs were trash pile finds.  And I love them all the more because of it.  A can of brown spray paint from Lowe's later and they found their way into our hearts.  

The dining room is finally finished.  And I'm loving the plate display on the wall. But one of the prettiest has already been knocked off and broken in an after dinner rush from the table.  But y'all, stuff like that happens.  So I don't cry over broken whatevers, because there are plenty of broken things around here.  But I still want the boys to live with and around pretty things.  I'm growing future husbands and fathers here and they need to know how to live in families - not just in manly frat house environments.  Amen. 

The front living room is probably the least used spot in the house.  It's the formal living room that came with all 1950's houses and we have thoughts of one day building a Murphy bed into the wall and using it as a bedroom for whatever kid gets along the worst with the other 2.  Or maybe it should go to the best kid and let it be a reward.  We have no clue.  But this is the room where I put my 2 recent thrift store chair purchases. And with each costing less than $50, it just made the room complete.  Now one day I'll hang something on that big blank wall and call it done.  

Not a lot of Christmas going on in the kitchen except that I put out the cute red and green towels.  And as you can see inside my glass cabinets, we are celebrating fully by eating a lot of chips.  And lots of fudge which is stored in the fridge because the ants are wintering in my kitchen again this year. 

And finally, the nativity.  Which I placed in the monogrammed section of our house - my growing collection of W's.  Because I don't know if anyone can say for sure, but it may or may not have been Mary and Joseph Walters named in the Christmas story. 

No Christmas fun in the bathrooms or hallways.  But if I wanted to, I could probably gather all the boys' dirty laundry that they stuff behind the toilet and make a wreath out of it.  

End of tour.  I'll be better prepared next year.  Y'all just wait and see.  

But here's the big deal.....  I resigned my PTA Board post this past week.  And I felt a little bad about leaving in the middle of the school year.  But you know what I felt worse about?  Leaving my kids.  Leaving for meetings and projects and other stuff that my heart just wasn't in.  And I just know there comes a time when no is the right answer.  And if it requires a big no to spend more quality time at home - making a home for the people closest to me, then no it is.  

And we're enjoying not running around crazy to extra events and such.  And enjoying the freedom of having friends over and play time and TV time and us time.  And these are the feelings I want my kids to remember about their Christmases growing up.  Not that we had the best decorations, but that we had ones that were built on tradition.  Not that we had a full schedule of social commitments, but that we had our full time and our full attention to give to each other.  

The end.  Really this time.   

post script... I took the kids' money to the local grocery store, Tom Thumb, who makes giving easy.  They have already packaged bags ready for giving to the North Texas Food Bank with enough food for a family for a day.  And they deliver it for you, too.  So for less than $10 per bag that you can add to your grocery bill, you can feed someone locally.  Good and easy - can't go wrong there.  Try it.  You'll like it.  

For the days when you stare into a boiling pot of chicken and wonder how you got here and why your kids can't do math

You know those days when you stare into a boiling pot of chicken and wonder how you got here and why your kids can't do math?  And those days where you've talked to every teacher about this and that and laid down just about all you're worth to ask for help to keep your kid from failing and ending up a bum on the street?  And those days where you've challenged the 5th grade science teacher on her grading policy and now you think she hates you and might poison your kid's lunch for revenge?  And still after all is said and done, all it really proved, after multiple scientific trials, of course, is that science fair is stupid.

Then you get an email from another teacher asking you to ambush surprise your kid in action in class so you can see what the teacher has to deal with on a daily basis.  And then you e-mail  said teacher in reply saying you both understand and feel his pain because you've lived with it at home for the past XX years.     But how you would prefer he handle his side of the business and let your mind forget about motherhood for those few precious school hours of the day.  Not really.  Because thinking something is not the same as saying it. 

Then you drop off your fireman husband at his fire station for a few minutes to wait for you while you run an errand because he doesn't think it's much fun to return a comforter to Kohl's.  And when you pull out of the station a young policeman follows you all the way to Kohl's when you can't even figure out how he knew where you were going, and he wants to discuss your expired car stickers.  So then you call your husband at the fire station to tell him what he's missing, along with an I told you so, and then hand the phone to the young policeman to have a man to man discussion about car registrations and inspections.  Then you talk with the young policeman about how his wife forgot to get the oil changed in her car and went about 1000  miles over what he would've preferred, and also his plans to go home to Washington to visit family for Christmas and how thankful he is for the time off.  Because it's always nice to get to know your first responders in the neighborhood, and really he was just lovely.  Then you finally go in and return your comforter. 

Then you sit down with your 8th grade son to do some algebra after talking to his teacher and learning that he has done far too much girlfriend hand holding in school as of late rather than math.  And then you find yourself  eating too many chocolate chip cookies for strength of mind and body to add polynomials at way too late an hour on a school night.

And this just says it all.  How I'm feeling these days, how our Christmas season is going, and how we might just be the family that leaves Christmas off the calendar altogether this year. 

We do have half a house of outdoor lights up thus far.  But only on the back side of the house.  So only the trash men can see them  - or maybe our garage burglar if he comes back to do some Christmas shopping at our house. 

So welcome to another round about tour of all things Walters, volume whatever.  Y'all I had a friend point out to me recently how I tend to make light of a lot of things on this blog.  Which is far better than crying about it, I like to think.   And you do know that I would never really sell my kids to the gypsies or give any of them away free to a good home for more than a temporary arrangement, right? 

But this much is true.  I do regularly have to step back and take a neutral view of our family.  This coming from a gal that was raised in a home where people didn't.  No one stepped back and considered.  No one counted to 10 and paused their words.  And no one took the time to look deeper - at each other - than what was seen with the eye.  And I need to do some things differently so we can be a different kind of family.  

Is it working?  I don't know.  But I tend to rely on time and the goodness of grace to soften my eyes to quite a few things.   And a husband who regularly reminds me that the world isn't ending in a blaze of fire brought about by one or more of my kids. 

I can do all things who Christ who is my strength.  Phil 4:13

Right?  We all know that one.

But I think more often than not, we think about it all wrong.  And we use it all wrong.  Because if these really were magic words, I would be a crazy rich super model/ super mom/gourmet cook all in one taller and tanner package.  

But - my non Biblically trained eye and heart at work on this one, of course - I think this isn't a promise to make us more than what we already are.  Because we are already all that God wanted us to be - once we trust him to bring it all into view.   Instead, I think this verse is a promise to make us more for himTo make us more for the glory of God in all that we set out to do.  Not to win a race or a job promotion or a contest of wills with our children.  But to make me the best me that I can be for the jobs that God has put before me.  Specifically for me.

And right now that involves algebra. 

God places the lonely in families - Psalm 68:6

Wednesdays are my usual day off.  And I take them very seriously.  Like that time when I left the house for the first time around 1:30 to go buy some chili cheese Fritos.  (For a salad.  Not for my snack.)  And I had on some fairly unattractive pants and nap time hair.  And compared to the fancily dressed mom  in the dairy section, I felt ashamed.

But not today.  As my plans for laziness and assorted shopping trips was trumped by a surprise request.... when fireman Dave called from the station and said he needed a favor .... and I was guessing a trip to the grocery store or possibly another sinus headache where he needed an emergency decongestant and for me to feel sorry for him. 

But it was so much better than that.  Today I was asked to step in as the surprise/unexpected/ and for the most part, unfamiliar babysitter to the most adorable 6 month old baby girl of another firefighter.  Just for a short time, but long enough for me to fall in baby love all over again.   And it was all glorious and easy babysitting-  except for when the old dog that they forgot to tell me about decided I didn't belong in there holding his baby.  But other than that, it was all sweet and angel like with her and I plan to ask Santa for one just like her for Christmas this year.

But here's what I heard from the angel baby's mom and dad.... from both of them... at two separate times.  They both told me that their  house is a wreck and they hated for me to see it.  Hated for me to see what?  What raising kids and loving and living together really look like?  Because I already know.  Around here all our togetherness is messy with a frosting of dog hair and dirty laundry. 

But here's what I would say to this sweet couple about this, that and all the dirty things that go along with raising a family.  So young parents everywhere listen up.  And even those of us who have passed the toddler toys and motorized swing stage of life, we need to listen, too.  Especially me -  who thinks our house needs to look like a magazine spread in Southern Living at all times  - complete with the smell of fresh baked goods in the air. 

.....I thought I might be bored today.  But then an opportunity appeared and I found myself holding your precious little one who turned out to be sweeter than a piece of chocolate cake.  And we all know there's nothing like the sweetness of a baby to erase everything else that seemed important for a while - and show us that it wasn't nearly so important after all.

And your home is lovely and more than anything, filled with signs of a growing family.  I call it the primary colors stage of life when your home furnishings consist of all things that make sounds and are made of hard plastic or fake stuffed animal fur.  But it's all beautiful in the big picture of making a home and growing children in comfort and love of place.  In safety and knowledge that they belong just as much as that expensive thing that they just knocked off the shelf and thought it might make you mad.  But it didn't. 

And trust?  .... like today when I already knew dad, but not mom  - and the first time we met was in your living room with me holding your baby.  And locking your dog in your  bedroom to save myself.  Today reminded me of the time my oldest got stuck up in the top of the McDonald's play-land and was hysterical beyond all toddler reason.   So I had a choice to make.  There I was down below holding kid 2, just an infant.  And kid 1 losing control stuck inside a hamburger.   It was a confusing time for us all.  And as a new mom I had stranger danger on the mind.  But at that particular moment courage took over and I trusted a sweet lady I had never seen before and I don't think I have since.  A lady who held out her arms for kid 2 and gave me confidence to climb Mt. McDonald's to save a life.  And right then, maybe she saved me.  She showed me that there is good all around and there are people everywhere who want to help.  

And I learned more than anything that day as with hundreds more to come... that I can't do this alone.  I need you and you and you as a community to raise these kids alongside me to get this job done.  

Which brings me thoughts of last week's post of worry and tell-all tales of the rough time I'm having around here now as a mom.  This blog has, it seems, become the National Enquirer of Kristi's life - where you can read all about my doubts, my mistakes and my fears - including but not limited to - fear of mom failure, and mid life weight gain around my middle. 

But Thanksgiving brought a vacation that was much needed.  A trip surrounded by family, who for a few days, took the burden off of me and the worry away from me, and stepped in to show my surly teen some love.  And by doing that, showed me the same.  

And this is my husband's family - technically - as some of y'all know I've been separated from mine for some time.  And there is a constant feeling of loneliness and loss in that area.  But when I looked around the room at those surrounding me on our trip, I knew what is was to be thankful for those little times that bring hope and assurance back close to us.  

And I couldn't help but think about one tiny part of a bigger scripture in the Psalms.  

 Psalm 68:6
God places the lonely in families;
    he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy.......

And this little phrase, in it's sweet simplicity, is a promise that has continually been fulfilled to me over the years by a faithful God who has seen my need to be taken in.

And for that promise, I am thankful

So kid 1 had a friend over not long ago.... all day..... a friend that came with his own music.  That played non stop and before long it all started to sound alike to me.  Remember the episode of I Love Lucy where little Ricky was forever practicing the same beats on his drum and Lucy almost lost her mind?  It was pretty much like that.

And at one point as the same electro pop tune had gone on for at least an hour, and they sang along, I decided that I could either ask nicely for them to turn the volume down and embarrass my son.  Or I could just go on in there and start dancing and see how long they stick around.  And again, embarrass my son. 

And he will be glad to report to you that I actually did neither.  Because.  Just because.  For many  reasons actually. 

When I was teaching middle school, ages ago but not forgotten, I remember every year thinking how awful unpleasant the 8th grade boys were.  And not any kid in particular, but as a general species.  And how my classroom across the hall from the boys bathroom was a big battle of the sexes for me to fight every day.   And how it would just do the world a big favor if at that special time of life, every 14 year old boy could move to a deserted island and live like the savages that they are.  Like in Lord of the Flies. Where kids who had exposure to culture and learning right from wrong basically reverted to a primitive state and ate each other alive.  Or something like that. 

And with that long and drawn out intro... here is my real Thanksgiving post this year.    And not the usual list of things going altogether right.  Which, some are.  Thankfully.  Because God always keeps a hand on us when we feel like we're floating away.  And because in all honesty, I can't sit down and write a tell all post where everything is just peachy.  Because someday some searching heart is going to read this looking for hope in raising teens and find a big fat liar on the loose.  On the loose and on her computer screen acting like she knows how to do everything.  Which I don't.  Kinda like when I tried one time to make my husband's favorite lemon ice box pie and he hurt my feelings after a bite or two and said the crust was mushy.  Or whatever.  Living proof right there that I can't raise a teen or make a pie. 

And I really have no problem flying my giant flag of weakness for everyone to see.  Because when I wave that flag for help... read the words again from a few lines back,..... God always keeps a hand on us when we feel like we're floating away. 

Y'all, yesterday I parked myself in front of husband's fire station and had him meet me outside so I could cry and let someone other than me see the tears. Right then and there, staring parenthood in the face again,  .... and admitting that it just doesn't look like what I planned.

Because being the mom of a teenager trying to find his way either in or out of our bonds of love around here is making for some sad times for me.  Because for a mom that has put everything I know how into the last 14 years to grow a responsible, loving, caring, blooming - into - something - beautiful young man, sometimes it seems things aren't going as planned.

And things could be worse.  I know.  I really do know.  And there is my thankfulness.  Because we aren't dealing with secret lives or hidden behaviors or so many other things parents have to deal with so often.  I think we're mostly dealing with a young man and a family at a crossroads.  Crossing paths somewhere between finding yourself and losing yourself at the same time.  On the road to who you are becoming.

And there's that word again that I know I've used before.  Becoming.  And I guess at the same time -  so am I  - becoming all new as the terrain changes around here.  And I'm trying to figure out how to be a mom to a young man in transition.  Lost somewhere in space and time between being a boy and a young man.  

And I have to turn to grace for this one.  Grace for the tears that I cry as I miss the little boy that used to be mine.  And grace in an all new form as I learn to love the young man that he is becoming. And the beautiful gift of grace that I have the opportunity to make of this time of life what I choose.  Tears and all. 

Knowing that every tear clears the hurt and sadness from my heart, allowing God to erase my own vision of what being a mom is supposed to look like.  While waiting for all the pieces of a bigger plan to come together into the big reveal of a new person.  

 Corinthians 2:9 

But as Scripture says:
“No eye has seen,
    no ear has heard,
        and no mind has imagined
            the things that God has prepared
                for those who love him.”

And for that promise, I am thankful. 

Because my calendar clearly says I have two more weeks to prepare to be thankful

Thanksgiving is next week.  And I had no idea.  I thought it was still two weeks away till I was checking emails and my gym had sent a message about our holiday schedule next week.  And I thought them so very organized to be so ahead of the game.  Then at breakfast my husband said something about next week and I decided he must be wrong, too, because my calendar clearly says I have two more weeks to prepare to be thankful.  

And it snuck up on me because I'm not really one of those November, list everything I'm thankful for on Facebook, kinds of people. Though the list would certainly be long.  And wordy.  

But this week I am so truly thankful for my hairdresser who fixed me right up after a top secret hair disaster.  Top secret because I knew in my eyes,  my mirror and my heart that something up there had gone terribly awry.  Wrong.  Because it was the curse of pride..... when I broke every rule of beauty a couple of weeks ago and bragged out loud about how my new low lights were fabulous.  I just may have used the word fabulous but can't commit either way. 

But pride is wrong and it also apparently washes your new expensive hair color right down the drain and into a new shade of orange that you couldn't imagine till you stood under the fluorescent lights at JC Penney and stared at the dressing room mirror in shock.  

So in short, I was wrong. And I wrote a poem about it... chock full of despair.... but it doesn't rhyme.  It might qualify as a Haiku.  And I need to send this to my middle school English teacher who thought I couldn't do one of those.  Anyway...

Orange is the color of fall leaves.  
And pumpkins
Orange is the color of my favorite dress.
And now my hair.  
Misfortune is my name. 

So I called up the gal that did the color and when she kinda' snapped at me on the phone and asked what I wanted her to do about it in an unfriendly manner, I wondered if orange hair was better than the hands of an insulted hair dresser.  But I went in anyway, yesterday afternoon, and chose grace over insult.  And I chose flattery over complaint.  And we got along just fine.  And I won't say how it all turned out because I now know not to speak too soon, but I left  - not crying - on the way to buy some crazy expensive color safe shampoo.  And also some expensive UV filter hair spray to protect my corrected hair from the sun.  

And that is mostly why I had no idea that Thanksgiving is next week.  

Because I can't celebrate anything at all without the confidence boost of good hair.  

So today I started the holiday preparations which included vacumming the inside of the hall closet and deciding to list some of our excess junk on eBay for the low, low garage sale price of ... about what Thanksgiving dinner will probably cost me. 

But knowing we will all be busy and here and there for the upcoming days, if we miss each other, I want to say it today to make sure you know.  I am thankful for friends, family, and most of all the people who join me on here not because you have to.  But because you choose to share some of your valuable time with me.  I am humbled and honored all at the same time.  So much so that it is sending a glow right to my new hair and making it shine like the lights of a million low lighted suns.  

You do that for me.  Really. 

Parenting is like standing naked at the carwash


Parenting, I've decided, is like standing naked at the car wash with a blank stare of confusion all over your face. 

Because I think it says this in the Bible... there's a time to sow, a time to reap,.. a time to be naked and a time to... NOT.  

And honestly, when you set out for the car wash on any given day, today perhaps,  you didn't go there to be naked and exposed, right?  You went there for good things - a clean car, a fresh start, a new beginning of sorts.  Throw in a free vacuum and I'm a customer for life.  But then, let's say, your son sucks your dress into the car wash vacuum tube quicker than you can say Don't suck my dress up in that vacuum.  And you're left standing there half naked, not in your favorite cozy place, and being looked at with fear from the kid that is certain you're about to kill him.  Right there.  With your bare hands.  Or maybe with the vacuum tube once you get your dress out of it and hands free.

That happened.  Ask anyone because there was indeed an audience.  And had I known I was to perform a burlesque show I would've planned ahead and invested in some feathery type underthings for the occasion.  

This weekend was pretty much parenting hell week.  Kinda' like in college where the kids try to do mean things to you to make sure you really want to be a part of their group.  But nothing can compare to parenting teens, I say.  Absolutely NOTHING.   Because this was the 24 hours I have been worried about for the last 14 years.  All come to life.  With scary fangs.  

In a 24 hour period, 2 kids fought, 1 kid wished death upon another, one snuck something that had already been taken away from him, and then made his getaway on a bike.  And.... one kid lied.  To me.  Which is a death wish, really, in my book.  A close second only to sucking your mom's dress up in the car wash vacuum.  But bad is bad and all stands equal in the eyes of mom who stood in a nearby room Saturday night as dad broke up the fight - headlocks, bodies slamming against walls,  - and cried, what the hell were we thinking

And really I'm not sure the difference between a rascal and a scoundrel.  But I would dare to guess that we have all those areas covered nonetheless.  And my brain is kind of numb from all the volleying back and forth the last couple of days deciding if I would still like to see this mom job through to the end... or run away to a sunny island somewhere.  

But back to the question of the moment... what the heck were we thinking years ago when the doctor said it's a boy, it's another boy, and then for a third time... it's yet again another boy

I guess we were thinking of babies and new beginnings and love.  And after I remove all the rough patches that come with the days of growing up, those first thoughts of starting a family are what remains constant.  There's still love, even more of it, though mixed in with a few threats and a runaway kid or two.  There's  still hope mixed in with disappointment that pours down when trust is broken... and along with it, a heart or two.  

And there is still the promise of a new beginning.  The day after the fight or the lie or the whatever.  Because as we told the boys, as we took away every single thing in this world that they love - there is always a new beginning.  And now I trust you to do your best to find it. 

post script...  And oddly enough... sitting at the park this afternoon with these boys, trying to take in our last warm afternoon for a while, I somehow find them leaning a little toward the side of charming after all, as they do dangerous things on the playground.  And spit. 

A mid week chat

Kid 2 is completely worried that someone is gonna snatch me right up.  Seeing that I've been wedding ring-less for quite some time now. And I am, thankfully in his eyes, completely snatch-able.   His concern is a rightful one, too.  All wrapped up in that no one will know I'm married so I must be totally up for grabs.  And though, as I told him, I have had some previous good luck in the man catching department, I am 90% 95% sure I can control myself at this time.  And of course husband hopes so as well.  But I can make no promises if George Strait comes calling.  Or maybe that young guy that plays Thor in the  superhero movies.   

So to keep myself honest and on the up and up in all areas of life... I am now sporting a beautiful, sterling silver look band from Old Navy.  Because I was standing in line there about to buy a really cute flannel shirt to go with denim leggings and boots and looked over the counter to find the solution to all my problems.  And the fact that I had just left a store in the mall where I ran into a gal that I used to know who quite obviously looked at my bare finger and made an unfortunate gasping sound, but in an understanding kind of way.  Because women are like that.... we can bless your heart with our eyes and smile, while on the inside we're dying to speed text all our lady friends that you're no longer wearing a wedding ring.

Back story on that one.... my ring is still broken.  Snagging everything in sight and I just can't afford to replace everything in sight.  So there.  That's the whole reason.  Yet I feel change coming in the form of good things.  Cooler air, much needed rain, and a hint of mystery about husband that makes me believe that he will do right by his woman.   But until then, I had no idea that such cute costume jewelry existed.  So if you ever want to pretend you're married just for the heck of it, totally go to Old Navy and grab an assortment of fake rings.  Now kid 2 can rest easy that Mom won't be swooped away by some roaming romantic any time soon.   

And on another note... I've obviously reached the I don't care point much sooner in this school year than in others past.  As I totally lost it in the car on the way to pick up our car from the repair shop last night.  Maybe it was the pouring rain bringing rain into my very soul.  But I think it's just the school system in general that does little to support the needs of learning different students and makes steam come out of my ears.  And use the occasional curse word.  

And on to the topic of car repair.  This is for your benefit because I love and appreciate you for spending your valuable time reading my nonsense thoughts on life and love and whatever.  Public service announcement for the good of mankind.... always tell your mechanic before hand to put on those little shoe booties before he steps one foot into your car.  Mine now smells like a gas station.  And hamburgers.  So go ahead and tell him not to eat a burger in your car, too.  You will thank me later.  Life is just too short to be driving around in a car that smells like gas and hamburgers.  

And... last but just as important going on around here this week.... the talks with the children.  We started out having a serious parent discussion with one kid.  Then one thing led to another and before we knew it we had discussed life and future plans with all three kids.  As well as their inability to put away their clothes and collect the trash.  Then one started crying and went out the door barefoot in the cold rain and walked the neighborhood till he felt it safe to come home and not be harassed by his parents again.  Then husband and I congratulated ourselves on our involved parenting and called it good, yet at the same time hoped secretly that the kids don't kill us in our sleep.

So that's about it and it's just Wednesday.  Each day is an adventure of sorts. 

And he's probably tall, rich and handsome now

Today I arrived a little after 11:00 for a ladies lunch - at a lovely house overlooking the country club.  But I didn't get to go in because I rang the doorbell once.  Then again and then maybe a hundred times more for about 2 minutes till I gave up.  And I looked in my friend's beautiful glass front door at all her pretty things, but saw no one.  And I tried to remember if I was really supposed to be there for lunch today.  Or was it a different day?  Or maybe it was today but I got the time wrong.  

So I drove around and came back about 10 minutes later as to be fashionably late.  Still no cars in the drive.  So I left a note on the door telling my friend that her house looked lovely from the porch, how I wished I could get in, and darn if I wasn't confused.  Then as desperate as I was not to be rude, I drove away again and sat in the Whole Foods parking lot for another 10 minutes, determined to eat salad with the ladies who lunch ... and then made my third drive by.  Right along with the Dallas police car that was probably looking for me because it was, after all, the country club, and I kept slowly driving by like a would be burglar.  A would be burglar in a gorgeous orange dress and with flashy new low - lights in my hair. Which maybe all burglars in that neighborhood dress like.  I don't really know.  But I eventually gave up and ended up in a place called the Truck Yard with my husband... which was no country club affair...but good, too.

And while sitting outside there in my lawn chair listening to a catchy country song, I got a text from my friend asking me if I was ever coming over for lunch.  And I told her how desperately I had tried  - and to go check her mailbox for my note for proof of my thousand attempts. 

But then I had this really weird unsettling Kristi like doubt.  That maybe.... maybe all my lady friends were already in there in the loveliness, drinking mimosas and looking out the window at my confusion.   And maybe they planned this get together like the one from the movie Carrie... where Carrie gets all fooled into thinking she's Prom Queen when really all the mean girls have plans to pour pig blood all over her.   And would my friends really pour pig blood all over me in the loveliness of the neighborhood on a gorgeous fall day?  Absolutely not.  Because we're 100% classy ladies.  But it's too close to Halloween not to see the similarities between me and outcast Carrie.  Who was just weird and wanted to be accepted.  And let in.  See the similarities? 
But all this made me think of something I just told my husband the other day.  When I received a Facebook friend request from a high school acquaintance.  And I looked at this guy and tried to decide if he was who I thought maybe he was.  Was he that kid that had a little crush on the high school Kristi of yesteryear?  The one who was carrying a torch for an older woman?  An older woman who did him wrong.  

And though I wasn't the meanest mean person in the game, I played along by allowing meanness to happen.  By looking the other way and not saying no -   because I really knew the right thing to do.  But I didn't do it - just like the watchers in the Carrie movie who let the blood pour all over the dance floor and never said a word.  Shame on them and me.  I let other kids in my class write a little love note to that poor boy asking him to meet me at so and so place, at such and such time  - and if he showed up? We would know our true devotion to one another.  Or something like that.   I shudder to think. 

Anyway, the time for pig's blood rolled around, the kid headed to the meeting spot, and ... no Kristi.  And there was never gonna be a Kristi in that situation.  Because I'm an awful person.  And he's probably tall, rich and handsome now. 

Because back then, I wasn't the person that I am now.  And on that particular day and probably more that will need to come out in therapy at some point, I wasn't the person I knew I should be.  And that I knew I could be.  And on a good day I may maintain a 80-90% ranking of balancing right vs. wrong.  

But lucky for me, and by God's amazing grace, I'm still a work in progress - and can look back on my life and categorize events as not worth repeating, do overs, and dear God please help me forget.  All mixed in with a good dose of luck and plenty of things that turned out right.  Thanks be to God.    

And I love the thought of becoming... not only in the sense that our attitudes and actions either are or aren't becoming on us in the eyes of others - and to the God who is the ultimate spectator of all our events.  But that we are becoming the end product that has been intended all along when we allow ourselves to be made into something new and better with time.  And the most beautiful thought of all to me is how we are always able to become more in his presence and infinite patience.  Even those of us that sometimes need a do-over or two.  

And as husband pointed out to me in one of my down and out parenting moments of late, neither will our kids remain who they are today.   They, too, are becoming who they are intended to be and learning and making mistakes along the way. 

Just like I did.  

And finally at the end of a long day in the wild west, Miss Kitty closes her bedroom door, shuts out the world, and goes to bed at 8:30. And prays for a better day tomorrow.

So I thought to review the last few days we'd do a little role play.  Maybe a play.  Quite possibly a total re-make of the entire Gunsmoke TV series of yesteryear.  

Today playing Miss Kitty is me.  Miss Kristi.  And playing Marshal Dillon is husband.  Marshal David.   

And playing the outlaws in this episode will be my very own outlaws.  Kids 1,2, and 3 playing bad guys that tear the town of Dodge apart.  Not really any different than playing themselves on a daily basis. 

In short, here's how Gunsmoke worked in every episode.... Marshal Matt Dillon is in charge of Dodge City, a town in the wild west where people often have trouble respecting the law.  Miss Kitty is the red haired beauty that owns the saloon, the Long Branch, pretty much the community center for Dodge.  Kinda' like the YMCA but with drinking and gambling.  And Dillon and Kitty have a life-long love thing going on.  Now technically, they don't have any children but there are always a regular cast of wanderers and bad guys that make their way into Dodge.   Much like our home.


So we join Miss Kitty, discouraged and despondent, over her current state of affairs.  There has been conflict and more conflict building for days while Matt Dillon is unavailable on a 48 hour shift at his other job.  And her recent run-in with some bad guys has left her blood pressure elevated and her mascara stressed to the point of smudging.  Because she's been dealing with the worst kind of bad guys, really,... the local kind.  The kind that live close and she can't get rid of them.  And we can't kill them out in the dusty streets of Dodge like on TV.  Because that would just be wrong.  And then it would make the news.  

So Thursday morning Kitty sends an urgent message to Marshal Dillon to come quick.  Things are out of control at the Long Branch, and she fears she can't handle it alone.  But Dillon is tired and has been protecting and serving the citizens of our fair city for 48 hours and is in no mood for unexpected trouble.  

But at Kitty's urging, he hurries over to find..... Kitty looking lovely as always in her fishnet stockings and feather head-thing. 

But also waiting is outlaw 3, who needed the strong arm of the law to set him straight.   

And taking it all in, it looks as if a struggle has recently occurred.  And while Dillon hears Miss Kitty's cries of anguish over such a rough start to her day, he notices outlaw 1 lurking.  Looking for  trouble.  

As Kitty cries, something like, for the love of all things good and holy -  just get ready for school !!!!

And on the outskirts of town, but still close enough to benefit from the misfortune of others, is outlaw 2.  Who comes to Miss Kitty with an offer that she may actually consider.  As she is completely beat down, spiritually overdrawn and helpless at this point.  Outlaw 2 offers to clean up the dust and devastation from the morning's ruckus - for the low, low price of $20.  Now if he will throw in dusting and cleaning the boys' bathroom, Miss Kitty just may have an offer she can't refuse.  

So Dillon, swooping in to save the day decides to remove the offenders from the premises.  And take them to school.  Leaving them with strict warning for no further nonsense. 

And Miss Kitty thanks Marshall Dillon for rushing to her side in time of need and then considers a swift drink or maybe a cinnamon pop tart to drown her obvious sorrow at lack of parenting and/or crowd control.  And Marshall Dillon gets back to work, leaving Kitty in charge of all things big and small closer to home.

But the town of Dodge is only quiet for a few hours till more cries of wrong doing come in.  Involving  outlaw 3.  Who has apparently ransomed his very soul at school for the opportunity to get a few laughs and disturb as many law abiding 5th grade citizens as he can in a short amount of time.  So a call of distress comes to Kitty from the teacher - and she stands, once again, devastated at her lack of control over the situation.  And she braces herself for what is to come for the rest of the episode.  

And finally at the end of a long day in the wild west, Kitty closes her bedroom door, shuts out the world, and goes to bed at 8:30.  

And prays for a better day tomorrow.  And for a renewed sense of hope and purpose that she feels has been lost to the events of the day.  And then with all the strength she can muster, says thank you to a God of hope who has trusted her with not only the day to day affairs of so many, but for the young lives that are in her care.  And then she asks for strength for a new day and eyes to see the good in the boys she loves so much - outlaws though they may be at times. 
Designed by FlexyCreatives