Today I reminded my husband how expensive I am. And I know he silently considered finding a new wife

So not much going on in the last couple of days.... no life lessons to be gleaned.  No broken teeth, bones or anything caught on fire.  But possible pink eye  - not ME - a kid.  Not sure yet, though - might be something else equally as awful.  Just don't kiss any of my kids till we get diagnosis on Friday. 

Yesterday's news... 

I sat at a busy intersection and waited for a horse and rider to cross the road.  This is Texas, y'all.

And last night the boys learned my secret desire to be a back up singer as husband I watched old episodes of the music show, Midnight Special, and gave the kids a full concert on the couch.  And they begged us to stop and change the channel.  Then acted disgusted and embarrassed yet thankful that we were in the privacy of our own home.  So I obviously know every song from 1977.  My best performance was the background parts to Lou Rawls easy listening song , You're gonna miss my lovin'...  long 70's flowy dress and all.  Love.

Fast forward to today.... reminded my husband how expensive I am.  And I know he silently considered finding a new wife with good vision.   I could see it in his eyes.   My Lasik surgery from 8 years ago has worn off and if I've seen you from a distance in the last year or so and smiled at you.... you can assume I didn't know who you were and I was just being polite.

So I'm back in contacts after 8 years and I can see you and the leaves on the trees.  But then I had to get a back up pair of glasses and new sunglasses.  Which David thinks the $10 drugstore kind are lovely and tried to get me to consider..... but that's just a no.  I would rather eat peanut butter for every meal the rest of my life and splurge on fancy eyes than be less than I can be.  Fantastically accessorized.  

But hours into the search, frustration and exhaustion took over and at an all time blood sugar low I got mad at husband and the sales guy and we walked out of lens crafters and bought a cookie.  To calm my nerves and the monster growing inside.  And I learned that these awesomely wonderful shades I've been sporting for the last while make me look like a fly.  Thank you man in lens crafters who empowered my husband to agree.  There is obvious strength in numbers.

So they talked me into a smaller pair of frames with just enough bling on the sides to please, but not quite so starlet powered.  I also recently learned that my husband, though he claims to have loved me since he was 11, had a thing for a girl named Emily in 9th grade - who came back from summer break having lost both weight and her glasses.  He still stands by his lifetime of love for me, but says 15 year old boys can spread themselves pretty thin in that regard.

Anyway, the grand total was almost a million dollars for the exam and contacts - the ONE pair in my eyes now.  So I'm gonna love them like my own children.  Then another billion for glasses and sunglasses.  And David  started heavy breathing like he was going to scream or die and I reminded him that I love him for all the wonderful care he provides for his family - and that now I will no longer look like a fly.  So honey, it's all for the good.

How's your week so far? 

Because God and everybody knows that after a good fight, no one wants to share the same double bed

a family weekend...  


5 of us sharing a small hotel room.... and one bathroom and 2 beds..... 

I slept with a 10 year old's knee in my hip all night, daddy slept in a chair, and the other 2 got in a fight.  REALLY, a fight.  And one tried to sleep in the closet with his jeans as a blanket.  Because God and everybody knows that after a good fight, no one wants to share the same bed.

Good times....  And we got the cousin married off.  And it was lovely.  And we danced and had pretty weather and gathered some memories, new moves and stories.

(and that's a borrowed car, y'all.... for the bride and groom, not us,  because we're just us.  But every one of my men had to have a photo session with it..) 

And as with any family get together of extended proportions.... come trying times.  And this weekend I saw the good of togetherness, and I saw the stress of forced togetherness.  I saw the excitement of wanting to be together.  And I saw the worry over how we were going to be together.  And it happens to all of us, I think, at some time.  Every single one of us  - and if it hasn't yet for you, just wait.  

So I stood in the country club bathroom and listened to my sweet niece talk about ... things.  And I've heard the same stories, albeit different perspectives, from others.  And all I could do was offer a listening ear.  Because I'm not much good for anything else.  Their issues aren't mine.  Their hurts aren't mine.  And any attempt I try to make it part of me, it's just gonna end in complete disastrous destruction.    So I cut out of the macarena and spent time in the ladies room with someone I love... and I tried to love.  By listening.    And I spent other parts of the weekend with others that I love... and again I tried to love.  By not talking, not judging, not involving, not fixing, and not discussing.  But just being who I am... a person kinda on the outside looking in - with no agenda other than loving on people I love. 

And by offering a safe place to talk, hopefully I did what I set out to do.  Love on the ones I love.  

The one wise-ish thing I actually said, I think... was that one day all of us may have our tables turned.  May get our turn at the hurt.  So we need to watch and listen with loving observation now.  With quiet pauses before we speak. 

Wishing you all joy this weekend

And I waited till the very last minute to see if my kids have clothes to wear to their cousin's wedding today.  Still not sure, but will definitely post pics of whatever we all end up looking like.  

And also waited till the very last minute to buy the girl a gift.  And I chose the heaviest of all things in the Target but I think she'll like it.  And her 20 page bridal registry print - out blew out of the cart all over the parking lot on the way to the car.  So I chased down every last page so as not to litter east Dallas. 

And I saw a man balancing his baby on the handle bars of a bicycle.  Just sayin.  People are crazy.  Which is totally what keeps firemen in business.  

So our weekend will be filled with Saturday school for all my children who are math challenged.  Baseball practice for the sports inclined and a family weekend of togetherness and a wedding to celebrate a young lady's happy day.  Oh, and cotillion class graduation where I will get to dance with a very dapper 12 year old - maybe the fox trot and a little disco or something.  But looking forward to my date.  

Wishing you all joy this weekend.  May your days be filled with learning, math or otherwise.  May the wind blow for you, not against.  And hoping you don't have to chase trash all over the place.

May all your burdens be light.  May your days be filled with family, friends, fun and maybe some dancing.  May love fill the air all around you and your days be remembered for the special occasions that they are.  

Have a good one, friends. 

Voodoo dolls, teachers, and endless prayers.....

I taught middle school for a while.  Then I had kids and decided enough was enough and never went back.  I had a student one day run out of my room screaming I hate you - about a million times.  Apparently he hated me... And came back one day with a voodoo doll that he said was me.  

 And I told this story to my oldest recently as we discussed some struggles in school - Right after I hung up the phone with his math teacher.  And Ethan says he just can't pay attention, and it's boring, and he hates it.  And now he's probably wondering where he can get a voodoo doll.  Now that I've planted that idea.  

But the point of our talk was that we have responsibilities not only to others - such as our teachers and parents - but to ourselves.  A responsibility to make the most of an opportunity when we get the chance.  And we talked about how sometimes an opportunity looks more like torture than a good thing, but that sometimes our kid brains don't always tell us the complete truth.  And that's true for our adult brains as well.  I think I told Ethan that his teenager brain is currently operating at about the size of a squirrel's, and I actually don't know that to be fact.   But it sounded good and it fit in with the talk.  And my kids super love shooting squirrels in the backyard.  And they constantly remind me of the day we saw a hawk swoop down and pick up a half dead squirrel in the road.  And I screamed.  Like a girl. 

In the last few days we've had lessons in integrity, humility, responsibility, honesty, and all other things that kids forget how to do.  But to them it's just talk talk talk....

So I found this scripture to be particularly good at touching on the topics we don't really know how to pray for.  Heck, I pray for my kids safety each day.  For protection of their bodies, minds and hearts.  For the influences of others to be leaning toward the good and away from the bad. But I can't see everything.  And time has already proven that I will never know everything about my kids anymore.  And I can't even begin to anticipate what comes next.  

So I really like this passage.... praying for them to know how big God's desire is not only for their day to day activities, but for their hearts.  For their futures and dreams and plans.  Because at this point 7th grade math is leaving lots of time for spur of the moment day dreams during class as I understand.  But praying for a view beyond the immediate.  For the life that is yet to come and at the same time, giving thanks to God for all that he WILL do.  Because we just can't know.  

(Maybe pray this in the times when you just can't find other words to speak what's in your heart.  And insert your loved ones' names and see what  a great prayer it becomes.)

 Ephesians 1:16-19 

(Ethan, Chris and Sam)...  I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be open in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. 

A test of me - post Valentine's Day sugar high and all...

So Valentine's Day came and went.... ate a lot of candy.  We all did.  And I saw a sky writer try to leave a message for someone over our neighborhood that day ... and the wind was blowing so hard it ended up looking like the word GOAT.  And I can only imagine the disappointment of the sweet couple staring at the sky waiting on love to appear in the clouds. And some guy demanding his hard earned money back - or another fly over.  

David and I were at the kids' middle school the other day, involved parents that we are.  Selling Valentine teddy bears.  And the 12 year old gave us a cool little head nod and went and ate lunch.  Then he ventured closer later - like we might bite.  But at least he did.  Big brother walked right by.  Acting like he had never seen us before.  And I felt like a stranger in a foreign land - not speaking or understanding the language of the modern teen - with no guide to assist.  Because he snubbed us.  And later he told me that it was the most embarrassing day of his life seeing his parents at his lunch time with a table full of teddy bears.  (Just trying to spread some Valentine love to the kiddos. And earn some much needed $$$ for the PTA.  My sister in law told me about a time she picked up her kids from school wearing a gorilla costume.  Give that some thought.)

But it really seems to me the world goes crazy at Valentines day.  The traffic at lunch time that day was insane... and I guessed it was every man in town trying to find a last minute gift for his lady love before she figured out he hadn't done it yet.  So carry on, men, and God speed to you everywhere. 

I've actually never been a big lover of Valentines Day.  Give me some candy and I'll definitely eat it.  Give me some flowers and they'll be the star of my kitchen table.  But give me real, day to day love -  every single day of the year - and you'll have my heart.  I'm pretty easy that way.  

My gift for the day of love?  My fella straightened the house while I was at work and then took me out to lunch.  He said some sweet words to me, bought me a big piece of chocolate cake for dessert and promised he would wash the car later.  THAT is totally my kind of gift.  (And I got a new dishwasher right before Christmas that covers gifts for all the major holidays for an entire year.)  Sure signs of love. 

I heard a sermon not long ago on the love verses -  love is patient, kind, never fails.... the verses that people so often use in weddings.  But this lesson was different.  It wasn't a test of love to see if it passes to move forward.  It was, instead, a test of me  - my thoughts, intentions and actions - to see if I am a loving person.  A wholly new perspective during this season of candy hearts all around.  

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 

So here's the test.....

Am I loving to those around me?  Am I patient with those in my life?  Am I selfish, angry too often, and way too good at remembering wrongs?  Maybe, maybe, maybe, maybe, and all the above. 

If I were to answer all of those test questions honestly, it would show that I can be selfish, super great at reminding people of past arguments and mistakes, short tempered, mistrusting, and scared of not being loved.  And pretty high maintenance.  

And in thinking about the whole idea of love.... the idea of praying for my family is right in the center.  And that includes just as much praying for me.  Not praying to be loved.  But praying to make me loving.  Praying that I can pass the test.  That I can meet the needs of my family even if that means waiting a while for me.  Even if that means that the selfish part of me has to be hidden and restrained. 

Because she is definitely in there.

And I tried to give thought to words that could possibly honor a life lost in service to others

The sun finally showed itself to us again today.  So I sat outside, blanket on my legs, journal at the ready in case I somehow got inspired.  And I tried to give thought to words that could possibly honor a life lost in service to others.  I came up short, but remembered this....  Not my own words, of course, but oh so beautiful to share.

“The world might stop in ten minutes; meanwhile, we are to go on doing our duty. The great thing is to be found at one's post as a child of God, living each day as though it were our last, but planning as though our world might last a hundred years.”― C.S. Lewis

And so today I simply offer a prayer.

Amazing God, keeper of our stories and writer of our days, we thank you for your gifts and blessings far too great to name.  For those seen and unseen, for those past and those yet to come.  You are the source of all good, from our every breath to the sunlight that lights our way. 

Today I am mindful of surprise endings and of new beginnings; Of broken hearts in need of your loving touch, but hearts too heavy to receive.  I am mindful of worry and a renewed sense of caution.  And my heart hurts for those surrounded by doubt and left alone with fear. 

We thank you for opportunity, though it is at times disguised as something entirely different.  Help us to look to you for help in the times we usually rely on routine and history to lead us.  Allow us the knowledge of your presence on this day as we navigate a world apart from you. 

Thank you God for time together and memories made.  You are our peace in the hurry, our quiet in the noise, and our promise of hope even in darkness. 

We praise you that you continually provide and give freely of your love, even in the times we deserve it the least.  God, you are present in our details, and we can know with all confidence that the times of our lives matter to you.  That you rejoice in our joys, and cry with us in our hurt.

We ask your abundant peace when the comfort of our days has been stripped away.  Calm our hearts and minds as we daily try to find our places.  

For your week... may God surround you with his love wherever you may be. 


That's where the firemen are - always out there taking care of us

Every night for as long as my boys could talk they've asked me if daddy's going to be home tomorrow.  And I answer yes.  Or maybe, no, he'll be at work.  And sometimes I think they ask that because they like daddy more than me. But maybe they're just wondering ... Is daddy really going to come home tomorrow?

And I always say yes.  And we always pray for daddy and all the other firemen out there taking care of us.  Because that's where the firemen are.  Always out there taking care of us. 

(And just to note... my husband wishes I didn't call him daddy so much.  Like my sweet old Aunt Vera who would yell across the room to my even older Uncle Clem, who was missing a thumb from an unfortunate cotton gin accident, ..... DADDY?  Do  you want cornbread or biscuits with supper?)

The sad news around here is that we lost another firefighter last night.  Too many in such a short amount of time.  And Fireman Dave's heart is broken.  This particular loss being a friend and coworker who apparently shared, along with other things far more fire-manly important I'm sure, the love of another woman's brownies.  Heard all about it more than once. (made with coconut oil I hear, which made the brownies noteworthy and this wife a little baked goods jealous.)

And after hearing the line of duty death news, again and again it seems lately, my mind goes directly to the wife and kids left behind.  Because most of us don't know much other than being a fireman's wife.  

Fireman Dave said that back in rookie school the instructor told them to look around.... look around at the faces in that roomTHESE are the only ones who will ever understand what you do.  Because they do it too.  And these guys need the support of each other as the years go on to deal with some of the things they see and do.  And no, Chicago Fire isn't really accurate.  It's TV.  

Years ago when we were still new to this business... I asked a friend about some things - a friend, also married to a fireman, and extremely encouraging in every way.  I asked her how I'm not supposed to worry and be afraid every time my husband goes to work.  And her answer was simple, really.... a husband isn't ours to hold on to.  He is a gift of this particular moment in life.  Shared for the moments we have together, the best way we can.  And if that goes away tomorrow, then make sure we did good with what we had.  Good answer, wise woman.  

And I really don't spend a lot of time thinking about the possible dangers of the day.  I can't. If I did I wouldn't get anything else done.  And I'd go crazy with possibility. 

So I do my thing and he does his, and I keep telling the boys that daddy will be home tomorrow.  Then we pray.  That's how we do it. 

Facebook friends are not really my friends. Yes, I really just said that.

How do I say this?  Facebook friends are not really my friends.  Not the friends that help me with my kids and bring me food when I'm sick and other sweet kinds of stuff.  Facebook friends.... are contacts mostly.  Mostly people I've know over the years, most I've lost touch with, and the original reconnection on Facebook was fun and sweet to see where life has led.  But then it stops. 

But the newsfeed continues.  And so much of the time it's stuff I don't really want to know.  This morning my cousin posted a video of a man catching his wife cheating.  Nice.  So I reported to Facebook that I didn't want to see that story.  And I've done that several times recently, actually.  Because I'm mean that way.  And my time is valuable and I don't want it filled with garbage.  Would I invite you over to my house for a visit and ask you to pull out the cheating wife video?  Probably not. Would you come to my house and show inappropriate pictures of yourself to me and my kids?  Because I've seen a few of those too.  So when that happens, I tend to report it and maybe unfriend. Once again, because I'm mean that way.  

But not only am I the protector of my kids hearts and minds with their books, tv, movies, friends,.... I am also the keeper of my own.  And all that stuff just floating around on my computer makes me sad.  (And really, my kids don't even have FB accounts or their own personal email accounts or phones or anything really -  they'll be happy to tell you.)  Because the wide open gate to the world is already big enough without opening up all these extra little doors.

I, in fact, have a very tiny facebook friend list.  Because I'm kinda picky about who I want to share my life with.  And when I post something out there - it goes out there.  Like a big ol' newsflash of Kristi's business.  Just like on this blog.  So what's the difference? 

I seem to be willing to post lots of info about my angels, pirates, and thieves on here.  Because I see this site as my online journal.  And I invite you in to read along at your discretion.  By your choice and at your will.  

And I'll tell you about my kids and occasionally my husband, but not a whole lot there.... he did mop up spilled milk for me the other day because he's sweet that way.  But I wont invite you into our marriage or our discussions or our private walls.  Because though I blog oh so philosophically at times about life and family and our general mayhem - it's all pointed in one direction on here.  Toward the God who made me for this.  This - mothering, marrying, writing, driving a mom car and cleaning everything in site.  I hope for this blog to be a gathering place, to tell my story and share the ins and outs of it all so that maybe one person can benefit.  Maybe.  The rest of the story?  I get to keep to myself.

And this weekend I saw the most beautiful example of holding love up close where it belongs.  In a safe and private place to be held and valued by those that truly have the capacity to enjoy and care.  Not spread to the masses.  A friend, um, Facebook friend, got married.  And Facebook had no idea. I had no idea.  I never even knew she was engaged.  And I love that.  Because we knew each other in high school, and not since.  And now we have an online connection through Facebook.  Not a friendship.  So Facebook can call it whatever they want.  Just don't be fooled.  

But what I love is that this gal kept the relationship to herself and her close friends and family.  She didn't flood our news feed with wedding plans and screams of excitement.  Because really, only those that love and hold a friend close can truly share in the joy.  So she didn't waste that God given gift of joy by trying to spread it too thin.  She didn't try to become the center of her online friends' attention.  Because in this beautiful time of her life she had all the attention she needed.  Family, friends and those that were there for her in the walk through the difficulties of life that led her to this wonderful day.  

And I am so very pleased at her news.  And more pleased to see such an example of grace and beauty in a world screaming for our attention. 

We are so much more than what we see only with our eyes

Zebra Question by Shel Silverstein...

I asked the zebra
Are you black with white stripes?
Or white with black stripes?
And the zebra asked me,
Are you good with bad habits?
Or are you bad with good habits?
Are you noisy with quiet times?
Or are you quiet with noisy times?
Are you happy with some sad days?
Or are you sad with some happy days?
Are you neat with some sloppy ways?
Or are you sloppy with some neat ways?
And on and on and on and on
And on and on he went.
I'll never ask a zebra
About stripes

I love this poem.  And it came to my mind after this last week with school drama and a world of I don't cares going on in my kids' minds and hearts.  And yes, I'm speaking half with disappointment and the other half with hope.  Kinda like the half and half zebra from the poem.  Because I am indeed both.  Very disappointed in the school stuff right now - but at the same time, hopeful for the turn around I've seen after we addressed it. 

And I find that kids have either/or kinds of brains.  They hate math so they do icky work at it.... but I try to explain to them that they are more than welcome to hate it - but they still have to do it - and there are better things on the other side.  Just climb the big ugly math mountain and see what's waiting.  Opportunity.  

But I've also decided that kids don't really see the difference between opportunity and anything else that parents make them do.  So parents have to be the eye openers.  The walking, talking road map to the land beyond the drama of things on their list of kid things to accomplish and get through.  

But it doesn't stop there.  As the strangely wise zebra suggests in the poem... we are so much more than what we see only with our eyes. 

We have desires of our hearts that may be so deep that we haven't really found them yet. And those desires were individually planted and painted by God.  Written in our hearts.  For me, and for them, and for you.  And it takes courage and perseverance and strength of conviction to hear it, feel it and follow it.  

Praying for my boys to see beyond the immediate and into their futures.  Because God has already promised it.

For your days ahead... may you feel the hope planted in you by a God that sees the whole picture, every page of your story.  

Jeremiah 29:11-13

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

I often find myself hiding in the bathroom

The last few days I've been thinking again how interestingly difficult this whole parenting thing is.  And I think this is the 100th or maybe the 1000th post related to difficult parenting so we should probably throw a party or something.

A few days ago my teen came into my room and laid on the bed next to me.  And stared at the ceiling for a while... so I did, too.  And when he finally talked he said he has seriously considered leaving and traveling the world.  He's 13.  So I reminded him of the episode of Andy Griffith where Opie plans to run away from home and join the Navy because everyone thinks he got a good report card but he really didn't.  But Andy talks him out of it and imparts some parental wisdom.  So I tried to do the same, and quickly proved I'm not as good a parent as Sheriff Andy Taylor.  


Apparently there's just not enough to do around here, he says.  And he wants his own room.  And as the days have passed I've heard how epic it would be to get his ears pierced.   And I've heard the words, check it - way too many times.  I read an article today called Do Teenagers Still Have Brains? But I still have lots of reading left to do.  And I think Ethan looks an awful lot like Fonzie from Happy Days in this picture.

And there were pillow fights in the den.  So that completely takes the mystery out of why our couch is looking like it does. It was play time in between smallish periods of essay writing.  Chris says he works better this way - the work a little, play a little method of doing homework.

And a teacher called and wanted to talk to me after school.    And another teacher contacted me over the weekend via email.  Different circumstances, different kid.  But same mom.  Me.  And then it happened again.  Because bad things, like movie stars dying, always happen in 3's.  This time I heard from the middle school math teacher and we discussed at length the lack of ambition of the kid in question. 

Frustration.  With some fear mixed in. 

Frustration that makes me admit that parenting is hard.  So just short of giving up, I often find myself hiding in the bathroom.  And wondering if the world is really going to hell out there or if it just sounds like that.   

I read somewhere that we have to practice or perform a task for 10,000 hours to develop a level of mastery.  So if I've been a mom for 13 years, times 365 days a year, times 24 hours a day.... I should be an expert parent 10X over.  I've accumulated well over 115,000 hours of mom time.  And still each day brings surprises, challenges, and a certain humility that comes with any job that is still - new.

Because as a parent, no matter the amount of scheduling we attempt, and confidence we try to portray to the world, newness still shows up.  With each new grade level, with each new friend, with each new hobby or sport,... with each new age of each child - comes an ever changing environment requiring quick thinking, fast reflexes and lots of calming deep breathing exercises.

ou have to do something for 10,000 hours before you achieve any level of mastery.

And 115,000 hours later I still don't feel like an expert in the field of motherhood.  So I look to others for guidance, opinions, experience.  I look to other parents to support me in my parenting and fill in the blanks where maybe I missed a spot.  That goes for teachers, too.  Because there's an awful lot of parenting going on in the classroom every day.  

And maybe other parents let their kids do more than what ours do.  Fun stuff as my kids tell me.  Apparently every other kid in America gets to stay up later, and they have awesome phones and they go everywhere and eat out all the time..... and I'm okay with that. I tell my boys that I'm not all those other kids' mom.  I'm theirs. 

And maybe one day my kids will run off and join a video game cult for other deprived kids like themselves... and then we'll know that our parenting technique failed.  But until then... here I am... every now and then coming out from hiding in the bathroom..... still collecting hours of experience to become a master at the practice of  motherhood. 

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