Just because

A little end of week updates.... just because.  Because writing soothes the soul and calms my nerves and it's a lot better for me than beer.  Which if you know me... you know I don't drink anyway. Just because.  I just thought it was funny to say that.  

This week our interior garage light burst into flames.  And that is a perfect example of why I love having a fireman handy around the house.  But you know how firemen are always so calm and in no rush whatsoever about getting to the emergency ...  while we're all hyperventilating trying to wait out their 3 minute response time?  Even if your leg is dangling by a thread and you're all laid out ready for the funeral .... they just take some big, slow moving fireman steps to your bleeding body and casually ask you all smooth like ... What's going on with you today, ma'am?  Looks like you had a little accident with that chainsaw. 

Totally same response with the flaming garage light.  Fireman Dave stood there and watched it for a bit..... planning his strategy and thinking thoughtfully of how on earth a cool burning light bulb that's not supposed to be a hazard is about to burn down our garage.   (One time years ago in our first house the dishwasher caught on fire a bit while we were in the next room.  And luckily heard the sparks.... Again, another good day to have a fireman close at hand.) 

And y'all I've had some country song stuck in my head for days making me crazy.  Something about tight jeans.  You know when you get a song in there and it won't go away till another takes it place?  Well somebody needs to sing me a new song.

Once my husband had the hiccups for 3 months straight.  Or maybe it was 3 days.  But he was afraid for his life, afraid he would hiccup himself to death... and afraid he would go crazy, and afraid he would never get a girlfriend.  I just totally made up the girlfriend part.

And we finished the first week of school.  With school buses that have no rhyme nor reason at a time schedule, and an 11 year old that threw morning fits like a baby two days out of the five.  And, and I write that in bold letters because this is the biggest end of week news of all....  we have been voted the world's worst and most unfair parents in the entire history of parents.  Because we haven't provided our kids with phones... no let's get right to it.  We haven't given our kids iPhones.  Which apparently every other parent who is not so old and out of touch with life today has given every other kid in the universe.  More on that topic later since I really need to give some thought to the reasons behind our no on the subject.  And mostly why I as a parent am a big believer in the word no

The good news is that we have a lifetime supply of notebook paper and paper towels at our house.  On my table....that someone put on their school supply list for me to buy, but now won't claim as theirs because it's not cool to be seen carrying paper towels into middle school.  

And I know other bloggers give y'all lovely photos that just ring with beauty in your mind.  But not me.  And sometimes I can't spell... and none of y'all tell me. Last post spell check liked the word exited better than my choice of word, excited.  So I was sharing my emotion and then spell check did me wrong with word replacement.  Let's look at the difference....

Kristi exited the building in her high heels and very comely outfit.  
 or this....
Kristi excited the building in her high heels and comely outfit.    

See?  It messed me up.  

And lastly....  if you see me sans wedding ring... that means wedding ringless.... it's because I've lost another stone in the thing and it's snagging all my clothes.  So don't start rumors about poor ring-less Kristi and the troubles I'm so bravely trying to hide.  Oh, I have troubles don't you know... says the worlds most out of touch iPhone-less mother.... but I am still married.  I just don't want my kids to add snaggy clothes to my list of flaws.  Old, out of touch with kids today and wears snaggy clothes.  

(end of the fire story?   It was the light bulb in the light fixture that caught on fire. Foot tall flames to be exact.... Weird.  But he let it burn itself out.  No heroics required.  Just a watchful eye to see that it didn't spread.)  

If you're tardy or absent too much - or if you act bad - mommy and daddy might go to jail. I have no idea if that's true or not.

So day one of school was perfect even down to the home made pop tarts that I made for dinner.  Well, not FOR dinner.  But after dinner, but it was really why the boys ate what I fixed anyway.  Like the chicken crossing the road dilemma.. and the why of it all?  Why do 3 boys eat a ham and potato au gratin casserole with a side of sauteed squash?  To get to the homemade pop tarts on the other side.  Yum.   

This is GI Joe, ready for action.  But not for school  - carrying weapons like that.  But I did find him in the den dressed and ready anyway.  Just like this.  It's kinda the look I get when I force my kids to eat ham and potato au gratin casserole with a side of sauteed squash. 

Because really, something freakish and insane comes over me the first day of school each year and my refrigerator is fully stocked and the meals are planned for the week and all school uniforms are folded and easy to find. And all kids got out of the bed excited and early and didn't miss the bus. 

But day 2 had fits.  And no socks.  And pants without buttons.  And there was missing hair gel.  And everyone was mean to everyone.  And no one helped anyone.  And kid 2 just wanted to go to the bathroom in private but we couldn't, as a family, allow that to happen for him.  There was also toothpaste on the dog and kid 1 wore headphones so he couldn't hear me ask him to take out the trash.   And when I drove up to the throw them out drop off spot at the school, it seemed we had been awake for way too many hours already.  

But this is the reality of it all.  From this day forward... like wedding vows..... my little ones are bound by a commitment, a general expectation, and I think the law... that says they will be in school.   Which is a handy thing to tell them when you're completely dry of other reasons and excuses....  If you're tardy or absent too much - or if you act bad - mommy and daddy might go to jail.  I have no idea if that's true or not. 

We now have an 8th, 7th and 5th grader around these parts.  And the stakes are high as two of them this year have to make decisions about where to attend school next year.  Because that's how we do it here in Big D.  We make it super complicated and the parents crazy worried that our kids will turn out altogether wrong if we send them to our local neighborhood school without first applying everywhere else in town and making them ride buses for an hour each day.  (And when I was in school, back in the day, in Big D, they obviously did nothing to teach me not to use run-on and on and on sentences when writing.)  

But all in all, it's an exciting time.  I told kid 1 that we need to go to lots of high school football games this fall to get the feel of the whole high school thing.  And see where he feels a good fit.  Kid 2, he's staying where he is this year and next so he's riding smoothly along.  He's just happy he hasn't had to start hauling the french horn to and from school each day yet.  I love that, for him, little victories are huge.  

But kid 3, that's where things get a little bumpy.  And I'm sure he's not the only one.  So this is for the kids, really.  And their big people that love the daylights out of them.   

You....... you are so much bigger than all that seems important right now.  You are bigger than your grades and your test scores.  Bigger than the instrument you play or the team you either made or didn't.  Bigger than that adorable cheerleader skirt - which looks darling on you, by the way.  Bigger than the subject you're good at and especially the one you're not.  Bigger than what your teachers think or say or do.  Bigger than the clothes you wear and friends that you choose.  

You are fun and interesting and important....  and making a difference in the life of someone each day that you offer a word or a smile or a helping hand of encouragement.  You are valuable and talented in ways that maybe you've already discovered, and most likely plenty you haven't even thought of yet.

You are bigger than even the biggest moment that lives in your memory - good or bad.  You are bigger than your sport and your car and your buzz cut that's still growing out from the summer.  (And the little bit of skin stuff going on around your middle school years?  You're not the only one.) 

Because you have made a commitment to invest in yourself, you are investing in the lives of all around you.  And that, is huge.  Even if you don't understand it now. 

And when I look at you, I see a kid just getting started on a road that can be a totally planned out path,  or an exciting mystery.  And I see a kid that has so many days and years ahead to do amazing things.  And I see opportunity that I hope my biggest hope that you will recognize and jump on like a comfy bed.

And I am hopeful and thankful and excited for you as you start a new adventure this year.  Because really, it's all an adventure.  All the way to the end.  Keep watching for it. 

The bad news is that I failed in so many categories in about a 5 minute period of time

Ladies, Southern Lady magazine thinks it would be great for all us moms to greet our little ones as they come home from school this fall with a lovely display of cookies in a vintage lunchbox and a cold carafe of milk perched prettily on the porch.  And then we're supposed to write a little welcome home note on a chalkboard and add fresh flowers to a bud vase to round it all out.  It seems Southern Lady has been drinking.

And I remember  - or imagined in the crazy side of my brain - another ladies magazine suggesting that we meet our husbands at the door after a long day at work dressed only in wrapping paper - or maybe it was Saran Wrap - totally not sure.  But 100% sure it's not gonna happen here.  

So I love to read all the tips and tricks and how - to - make - life - wonderful recommendations from people who really, if I hired a private investigator, would probably turn out to have lives not a whole lot different than mine.  And I bet if I snuck in their houses and opened the hall closet, stuff would pour out like a flood of garage sale junk waiting to  be tagged and put out in the yard.   Just like my closet.  

Not long ago kid 3 was convinced he saw man legs hiding behind my clothes in my closet.  So first daddy said he's hoping to never find man legs in mama's closet.  And second, we assured him that any man bigger than a toy action figure couldn't fit anyway.  So never fear, kid 3.  All the clutter in our closets makes us one of the safest houses in town. 

And back to school time for me always gets me excited about new beginnings and new plans and better organization.  And then we go to school for a few weeks and wake up one morning rummaging for matching socks and eating grilled cheese twice a week.  But I try.  And I read about those who at least pretend they do better.   

So last week I had already taken kid 3 to the pediatrician, spent a billion dollars on school supplies and then had the pizza and hot Texas heat lunch combo that made me sleepy.  So the trip to get all 3 boys' haircuts went a little bit like this....

Pretty sure I made the face from the shower scene in the movie Psycho when I looked over and saw what the young Supercuts gal had done to kid 2.  And it crossed my mind to wrestle the scissors from her hands and threaten to cut her bangs super short as payback.   And I may or may not have told her I would pray for her soul since she just marked his first day of 7th grade as a life changing event.  May as well just get him a Look at me and my bad haircut t-shirt and put him on the bus.   And I ended up saying a few words that I should've taken a big breath and re-thought before they came out.     Last I saw her, she was in the back hall of the Supercuts pretending to read a shampoo bottle.  

The good news is that kid 1 and kid 3 turned out good.  And kid 2 isn't really upset at all.  Turns out it was really just me.  Like when a toddler falls down and doesn't know to cry till mama comes running at him acting like his hand fell off. 

The bad news is that I failed in so many categories in about a 5 minute period of time.  And if God were giving out grades, in this instance I think I'm borderline pass fail in the patience with others, gentleness, kindness and even being an all around nice person categories. 

And the good news chapter 2 is that we all get second chances.  Or more if we need them.  We just have to remember that they're there for the taking. 

And as we are one day out from a new school year around here, I wish I was full of words of encouragement and blessing for a great new year.  Because I like a new beginning as much as the next person.  But the last few school years have taken some of the shine off the excitement around here.  Last year we had a downhill ski toward nearly failing 7th grade math.  We had a lonely kid that realized middle school is further away from home than he's ever been.  And we had a kid that has lost faith in the public school system more times than I can count.  And each year we hope that the bug of new beginnings bites him and fills him with the joy of new opportunity.  

So all I can do is wait.  And send them off for a new year of new chances.  And pray for all the exciting ways God can show himself to these boys this year.  

Disclaimer:  There were no Supercuts stylists harmed in the making of this post. 

Let's go to Luckenbach, Texas with Kristi and David, and the boys......

Let's go to Luckenbach, Texas with Waylon and Willie, Kristi and David, and the boys......

Yep, went there.  Twice. 

Husband wants one of these for the house.  He thinks every family should have a wood carved guitar playing armadillo. 

Anyway, we went on a little tour of the Texas Hill Country and one week just doesn't begin to cover it.  Y'all should definitely go.  We just got home. (I never mentioned our trip on here till now.  Just in case there were roving packs of internet bandits waiting for us to leave so they could steal our one TV.   And all my new cute throw pillows.)

And apparently sometime during the trip, kid 1 told his daddy that when he searches for a girl to marry, he's NOT going to to get a girly girl like his mom.  ME.  He says he's gonna go for rough and tough.  And my imagination went wild with that one.  Apparently his hope is a gal who doesn't love her velcro hair curlers and adorable throw pillows so much.   So with THAT putting the pressure on, I constantly have to prove that I can do anything that a rough and tough gal can do.  But while wearing a cute skirt.

So we climbed Enchanted Rock. About 15 miles out of Fredericksburg, Texas, our home base for the week.  The rock is a giant pink granite boulder that rises about 500 feet above ground, 1825 feet above sea level, and covers 640 acres of bloomin hot Texas sunshine and dryness. 

Starting with a winding trail at the bottom and pretty soon turning into just a steep rock climb to the top, it made this mom totally sweaty - and as you can tell from the pictures - forced me into wearing a swim shirt of SPF 50 and an unfortunate green neck bandana.  But with a cute skirt.  

And kid 2 decided about 3/4 of the way up that he was gonna slip and fall to his death so we had a heart to heart pep talk and the whole family finished the climb to see these amazing views.   

Now to get down from there....

Not easy, but so worth it to say you did.  Note that I did not slip on this particular rock.  Totally saved that for another day.... 

And of course on the way down I told kid 1 - look at what your mom just did - and in a cute skirt. (Who's rough and tough now?  Now give me a hair dryer and some iced pomegranate green tea, pronto.)  

Our home base for the trip was a beautifully restored 1930's house in Fredericksburg, a small German town of about 10,000.  And life once again proved that I'm really supposed to be a small town girl.   But only a small town like this one with a great grocery store and lots of boutique shopping.  Shopping is a big part of the experience with lots of antiques and creative things.  And for the men,.... a man chair to be found in every store - to give you a spot to sit cozy while your lady love spends your money.  Husband and kids did a little shopping in the kid friendly stores and would occasionally pop in to see how long I might be looking at dish towels in another.  Kid 1 gave it the old college try and made it about 7 minutes in there with me till he felt he couldn't breathe.  But I'm applauding him for reaching out anyway.  It's all about the give and take in a family as we're trying to teach these boys.  I climb a crazy hot mountain with them, they housewares shop with me. 

Remember the trip to New Orleans where the pool was closed and within 5 minutes the front desk had a complaint call about the noise coming from our room?  And they made us move to the lower floor right next to the front desk so we could be supervised?  Well, we are so much smarter than that now... our house had a pool for the boys and some rocking chairs for me.  Front porch rockers and lawn recliners out back on the patio - a win either direction I chose to go.  The house was actually owned and managed by the next door hotel and the boys quickly discovered and fell in love with their morning donut buffet and all day cookie assortment. 

And kid 3 turned 11 on the trip.  

We celebrated with a day at Krause Springs, a little swimming hole on private property outside Marble Falls.  Listed in Texas Monthly magazine as one of the top 10 in the state.  And the owners kindly let you enjoy it if you act nice.  So the boys jumped off a cliff about 400 times and swung from a tree rope and got good and tired.  I didn't jump off a cliff or swing from the rope but I gave a bit and swam right along in that muddy water till about the 3rd report of a snake sighting.  And there I declared the limits of my love and got out.  And slipped on a rock.  Downhill.  But managed to only bruise my left hind quarter parts.  So if I was meat, my left side would be marked down at the butcher at a considerable discount.   

And finally the part of the trip... where on the way home from dinner mama tells everyone to get out of the car and go stand on the side of an old bridge.  The kids of course ask why and then mom props her way too expensive camera so carefully on the bridge railing and sets the picture timer. Hoping to goodness that a car doesn't drive by and rattle it into the depths below. 

We had some fun.  And some not so fun.  As is to be expected when you put 5 different people together for uninterrupted family time.  But what I kept thinking about on vacation is this.... one particular verse that would pop in and out of my head.  Mostly as I was waking up in the mornings. 

 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee...
 Isaiah 26:3

I think that God is a speaking god who hears and sees our needs and in his time, special orders a reply to answer the deepest of them all.  And mine has been, of late, stress and worry, over so many things I can't even put a name on.  But it shows itself through body aches and back tension and more often than I would like - a meanie mom attitude.  But today as with so many days leading up till now, I struggle primarily with keeping open avenues of communication with my kids.  Mostly kid 1 who is in his prime of pretending he's an orphan.  Or maybe birthed from a more perfect mom than I.  See?  I even have back tension writing that confession.  

And I can read all the advice from moms that have seen and felt the same, but nothing seems to make it okay with me till I, myself, get us back on track.  

And I think that trips away, away from the daily routine and the expected roles we fill for each other, help to bring back the closeness that has day by day slipped away into the black hole of teenager-ness.  I actually hate the black hole of teenager-ness.   

But I keep trying.  And I keep praying.  And I occasionally even swim with snakes.  And I keep kissing and hugging even when his hugs in return have no arms.  Or maybe all I get is a grunt in reply.  And I keep putting myself out there risking hurt feelings and a broken mom heart every time I try to find common ground to keep this relationship going.  Because, and my husband will confirm, I have on more than one occasion declared a cease fire and waved my white flag of surrender and just said, I quit.  I'm out of ammo and have nothing left in my heart to fight this battle. 

And then I hear the voice in my mind with the small words of encouragement that I need to hear one more time.   

Thou will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee.  

And I don't for a minute think that it means to be in a constant state of worship and prayer.  But instead that it's telling me to be in a constant state of expectation and wanting for good that will be coming around that teenager's mountain of surliness at any moment.  It's telling me that there can be peace in the expectant waiting.  

So I try to find peace in knowing that I was given the gift of being this mom, and this wife, and this friend, and this whatever.... because that's as it should be.  And when all else fails, I have to know that whatever little bit I can contribute to the relationship, God can magnify and multiply beyond my wildest dreams. 

I'll keep you posted on our progress.

A big ol polka dotted bird.

So it seems the world is always trying to tell me what to look like and think like and be like.  And to sometimes even be someone else.  Like the traffic ticket that just came in the mail for me saying I ran a red light in another town at 9:24 pm a couple of weeks ago.  In the car that I sold to a man on Craig's List over a month ago.  So if I write about a warrant for my arrest on here anytime soon you'll know why.  Anyway, the traffic camera says it was my car and now I have a Richardson, Texas police record of sorts.  Like kid 1 who climbed the elementary school roof not long ago.  Kindred free spirits. 

And today as I went to work in an adorable outfit that I felt good about, the world,.... one lady in particular,.... made me change my mind and look in the mirror a whole lot closer, as she questioned my looks and confidence all in a few little words.  And made me feel like I wasn't the person I thought I started out being earlier in the day.  Just gonna say it.... people make me mad sometimes.  A lot of times.
I took a picture of this guy recently at a petting zoo.

He was one of a kind.  And his spots (I really didn't ask him)  just may, for him, be a source of pride.  But when I looked at him, I saw him as the only spotted one in the bunch.  And maybe I saw ME. 

Because I have a giant leg bruise from the dishwasher door and the kids have been practicing soccer with a dead bug in the house.  And we ran out of pop tarts -  and that was kinda' the last breakfast choice,  and I considered taking an extra baby aspirin just in case the world brought on a Monday morning heart incident.  And because sometimes I feel like my friend the polka dotted bird in a world full of flawless, unbruised, well stocked pantry birds..... 

I read an article in a local mom magazine... featuring a young 30 something mother who daily eats only grapefruit topped with honey and oatmeal for breakfast, snacks on fresh seasonal fruits and has a perfect go-to salmon recipe she prepares with maple syrup, soy sauce, ginger and garlic.  All this, and she has time for a once a week sugar, coconut oil and lavender essential oil body scrub - that she hand makes herself.  

And I have a bag of frozen chicken thawing in the sink..... with no particular plan.

And I felt my spots grow bigger and bigger.  Loud and colorful in a world telling me to hide anything resembling imperfection.  Telling me that I'm not Pinterest worthy, that I'm not organized enough, and that I can't make the boys' bathroom quit smelling like that.

Kid 1 came home from school one day last year and told me he thinks I packed him the wrong lunch.... because the crusts were cut off his sandwich.  Silly boy.  They forget all the cookie cutter shaped sandwiches of their preschool years - because time has taken its toll and we've become a more primitive people.  Animals really.

And it seems kid 3 has been enjoying my calcium chews.  Chocolate flavor.  And he informed me today that he thinks we should've taken big brother to the mental hospital a long time ago.  And my oldest two recently took required career placement tests at school and the results are in - kid 1 will grow up to be a tow truck driver and kid 2 will be roustabout.  A traveling carnival worker.... like in the old Elvis movie.  And to think we've been saving for college since their births.

Bigger and bigger spots showing again.  But the voice of truth is this - that I'm giving it all I have.

I scrub that toilet till it shines, even if the smell keeps coming back.  And I keep volunteering for things even though my work may not get pinned to someone's page.  And I still keep cooking and cleaning and folding and driving, and reading and washing, and going, ..... and for what?  For them.  And for us.  And for the world that needs these boys to come from this mom and this family, just the way we are.  Because they have jobs to do and things to accomplish and decisions to make and lives to impact.... just by growing and  becoming  - THEM - the sons of an imperfect  polka dotted mom in a world full of unspotted ones.

And really, I'm a really big talker.  I like to speak praise and confidence and self esteem to my kids.    But until my boys see me acting like I mean what I say, they have no reason to listen.  I want them to be secure and confident and mostly, content.  Happy with where they are and who they are.  But I see it every day that a kid of mine thinks he's not as good a soccer player as someone else, or another kid is learning the french horn faster, .... and I see that my words of encouragement for them are empty till I can say good things about my own abilities and accomplishments.  Until I find that confidence that I have never seemed to really grasp, how can I grow it in them?

So here's a goal.... for me mostly, but for their benefit.  To not openly point out that God must've been crazy to give me this job.   To not openly point out that the house isn't perfectly photo shoot ready.  To not openly point out that I wish I could be crafty and creative and extremely fashionable - with flatter abs.  To not openly show that I'm really an insecure girl in a grown up body looking to the world for approval. 

Maybe the voice of truth for my kids comes from a mom that doesn't spend as much time praising her kids so much as she spends her time speaking confidence about herself and others.  And maybe the voice of truth that I need to be praying for me, and for them, is the real truth - the voice of a God that  speaks loudly enough to drown out the noise of the world  - so loud that even the hardest heart can't ignore.

The truth that God sees and knows us - even me, spots and all - and never looks away.    

No matter what the rest of the world sees. 

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