If you don't want to read about praying for the new school year, dont read this post.

It was in that moment, as I stood out in the front yard watering the plants, and my biggest and grumpiest kid walked out on the porch and declared, I'M TAKING MY PHONE BACK, after it had been confiscated due to lack of motion and physical activity on the part of said kid for the better portion of the day..... that I asked myself, What would Jesus do?  What WOULD Jesus do if a 15 year old just tried to buck the entire family hierarchical system of discipline and respect by demanding his own selfish way in matters?  Jesus would do as I did and say, Talk to your father... who happened to be driving up in the driveway from the grocery store.

Speaking of whom... Fireman  Dave is currently working his annual overtime job/ RAVE party-goer in downtown Dallas, because it's back to school time and we learned long ago that even public school expenses eat us out of house and home.  So there he is, down there in the heat of the day saving drunk and naked people from themselves.  It's a living.  Years ago he also got to be the personal paramedic for Jennifer Lopez, when she was pregnant and performing here in town, as well as being the paramedic in a presidential motorcade a while back.  I wonder which job he liked best.  My bet is on the backstage view of Jennifer Lopez, but it's simply a guess.  

Back to school for us means one kid starting high school, and the little one of the family starting middle school.  Which it seems so cliche' to say, but gosh it's true... Where did the time go?  It wasn't a blink of an eye ago that I was sitting in carpool line for morning preschool listening to a Kenny Chesney song about how fast time flies.  Kenny is such a speaker of the truth singing his country ballads all while wearing incredibly tight jeans.

New this week.... Kid 1 got recruited onto the JV football team, much to my surprise.  It was a day like any other.... imagine birds singing sweetly and my three hooligans lazing about on the couch eating tortilla chips.... when we went by the high school to pick up Kid 1's class schedule for the year.  And stopping by the gym to ask if the schedule looked all okay for Kid 1 to be on the wrestling team... a band of bold speaking coaches looked at Kid 1 and said,  Have you ever thought about football, son? 
And his eyes lit up like stars in the sky and we were quickly ushered into the inner sanctum of the mens locker room where the coaches office sits.  And I was secretly shaking my head no inside and trying to send Kid 1 a mental mind message of how I have no interest in feeding him with a spoon the rest of his life if he gets terribly injured playing football.  Then I was asked if I could get him a sports physical asap, fill out both a Concussion Awareness and Death by Sudden Cardiac Arrest form, and have the kid back for his first practice in 2 hours.

So I said yes.  Of course I said yes to the tall coaches looking at me wondering what kind of mom they were dealing with.  The kind of mom that looks fear in the eye and lets her kid learn his lessons the football tackled sort of way?  Or the kind of mom that wants her kid to play the flute in orchestra,well insulated by the giant brass instruments all around?   I said yes to letting the kid make an independent choice and got him back for practice in 2 hours, ready to go.  

And I sat in the stands last night watching him play in his first scrimmage game and took videos to show his dad when he got home.  It turns out that's the kind of mom I am.  Who knew?  (I am also the kind of mom who sits on the opposing team's side because it's cooler and shadier over there.  But I totally supported our team from my area of cool comfort the entire time.)

But as school starts and I feel overwhelmed by all the potential for change and all the growing up that's headed our way, I think that all I can do is pray.   I can pray for my kids.  I can pray for their teachers, and their friends, and for safe travels each day on the road to growing up.  I can and have, more times than I can count, prayed for the parents of the kids that my boys will meet that will keep them friendly company in these giant growing up years - that those parents are raising their kids to love and be loved by the God that made up the original definition of that word.  And yes, I pray for the young ladies that will undoubtedly influence, one way or another, the choices my boys make.

What I pray differs greatly, depending on the day.  One day at the gym I was talking to a friend who had with her, the happiest toddler in the land.  And I told her just that.  Her response, however was, Depends on the day.  Which then the little guy parroted mom and said happily, Depends on the day!

And my heart melted and I felt a certain kinship with that three year old because we totally think just alike.  Because on one day I pray for everything I can think of and sometimes it even comes out in pretty words.  Some mornings on the way to work I pray for all the bad people to stay the heck away from my sweet angels.  But then I get a call from a teacher and I find myself praying for God to turn these hellions of mine back into the angels that they had me all fooled into thinking they were.  

And some days I can't pray at all.  The words just don't come, no matter how hard I try.  So on those days, God already knows, I just ask him to do it for me.  To read my mind and cover my heart with all the goodness he has to offer.  And then I turn on the radio, drive to work, and trust that from that moment on, that God, the maker and sustainer of a list of things so long I can't even begin to name, ... can handle his own affairs.  So I trust that he'll pop the right person in the path of danger to avert any crisis.  I trust that teachers and friends and other parents will show up, miraculously, at just the right time when another voice is needed to speak to or for my kids.  And I trust that all will come home safe.  And mostly I trust that we will be given chance after chance to try again if today doesn't go as planned.

Because for me, much of this summer has, and some hasn't, gone as planned.  Tomorrow will be the annual day of cutie pie back to school pictures posted all across the land.  And I'll read about the separation anxiety and the sadness of the ending of a summer together.  But I can't tell a lie, y'all.  I'm ready this time around for it to get started.  I'm ready to get back to a routine that creates normalcy around our house.  I'm ready for time apart so that I can better appreciate our times together.   

I'm struggling with one kid in particular right now.  Sometimes two.  On occasion, three, but mostly one or two.  Depends on the day.... don't ya know..... Which may or may not fill my daily quota of weight laid in the hands of the good lord for a morning drive to work.  

And I feel a need to get a fresh start.  I'm not sure all the techniques I'll try - or for that matter, that anything I try would even work.  But trying won't kill me.  Not trying actually might.  

I commented recently to a work acquaintance about some vacation pictures he shared.  I commented that his trip stood out to me because it was a trip to visit his grown son.  And what I told him is that my greatest hope is that I'm growing strong relationships with my kids that will last well into the days when they're grown and gone.  And that my biggest fear is that I'm not.  Depends on the day.  

So I am trusting lots of things for now, and for tomorrow as we set out on our new paths.  I'm trusting that the day made by God for the special occasion of a new start, will be ordained for His glory.  And really, I think my simple prayer will be that it all turns out just fine.     

post script... thinking back on the day Kid 1 announced he was taking back his phone, and how I had a choice to make with my response,  .... Giving that some thought after the fact, I think if I were completely honest, there are plenty of times I've been just like that demanding 15 year old.  Bucking the entire system of discipline and respect to my heavenly father.  And what does Jesus do?  He says, Talk to your father

This way please, for a tour of Texas... Walters style

Just got home from what we're calling a vacation.  But y'all, it was just hot and exhausting.  Lesson learned.  If you already live in Texas and it's 107 degrees at your house, don't go further south in Texas where it's 108.   It was simply a week full of roller coaster emotions and way too much living out of a suitcase.

Here we are sweating it out at the Alamo.  My theory being that the Texas heat is what prompted the battle in the first place.  I am however, not a historian.  

This way please, for a tour of Texas... Walters style.  

Day one...Is that a prostitute or Dolly Parton?

Trying to get the house travel ready, and verifying all our safety precautions.... Husband actually told me, yes he did.... that I did away with all the low watt light bulbs.  Of course I did, honey, in a giant light bulb conspiracy because those low energy kind make me look bad.  He gets totally travel stressed on the morning we actually leave. 

And I have no idea what we said after that conversation, but then we ate a quick breakfast before leaving where kid 3 told me in all seriousness, You have something in your hair.  Oh, it's bacon.  And again, of course. 

And we made it about an hour out of town when we decided we needed a quart of oil and half a dozen chocolate glazed donuts at the Carl's Corner truck stop.  Apparently as did a young girl that I thought was a prostitute, but wearing very expensive shoes.  She also reminded me very much of Dolly Parton but much more tanned.  And because I happen to be awful, I followed the gal out into the parking lot and gave a little head nod to husband to look so we could talk about her later.  But Fireman Dave pointed out that he doesn't believe the young lady to be a working girl at all, but instead a young Baylor University student on her way to school in a cute little BU green dress and 100 pounds of mascara.  And I was shocked.  Shocked I say.  Because I thought she was about 20 years older than that, and even more shocked at the level of commitment she has undertaken to maintain that hair color.  Then I went deep into myself, looking inward at the girl I once was with the same tanned and platinum blonde facade, and felt like I had let myself go all to hell standing there holding a half dozen donuts in a truck stop.  But promising myself from that moment on that I will commit to more eyeliner.

And then we sat forever in traffic headed toward Austin long enough to cover such topics as:
1.  I terribly need a pedicure
2.  Husband doesn't care for fake eyelashes.

And we ended day one in Austin, Texas sharing a hotel with the Meldelsonn family Bat Mizvah which was not nearly as rowdy as an anniversary trip husband and I took one year where we shared space with a drunk wedding guest singing Super Freak outside our bedroom door.  Our kids also upset a mother of two little princesses in the pool and I feel sure we were put on a watch list from that point on.  Her littles wanted to be delicate in the water and our clowns wanted to play Dive Bomb the Piece of Mulch.  And as I believe was often said in the wild, wild west, This town's not big enough for the both of us.... so mulch diving prevailed and the mad mom gave us the evil eye on the way out. 

Day 2 - Kristi sunbathes topless.  For all of 10 seconds. 

We went to the Barton Springs pool which the boys said was much colder than the 5AM polar bear plunge they went on at scout camp earlier in the year, so I chose a non swimmers stance of sitting on a blanket and people watching for a couple of hours.  And I sat there and listened to a teenage girl talk about how her grandfather wants to donate his body to science.  But only at Harvard because they apparently do better work with cadavers there.  Then I watched a girl strip down to topless and do a few rounds like this.... swim naked in the freezing water for a minute, get out and write in her journal while still naked.  Swim some more, write some more, and occasionally sunbathe topless to warm up.

And I thought it odd that she was the only person in the entire place going topless and took the great leap of faith to discuss this with Fireman Dave -  who then made me mad in about one eighth of a second.  Acting like I was prudish old Aunt Alice come to the big city and not understanding the ways of the modern world.  So I declared topless as the order of the day for us all, but only for a few seconds - long enough to prove a point and make husband embarrassed that he brought me there that day.  And for the record,  in case you plan to go there soon... our sweet niece in Austin checked the rules.  You may, by all means, sunbathe topless to your heart's content.  I, however, have done it already and can now mark that off my to do list.  

Days 3 and 4 - the Hyatt Regency Hill Country resort. Where Fireman Dave says he felt poor the whole time.  But I could nap by their quiet and shaded adults only pool every day for the rest of my life given the opportunity.  That pretty much sums it up.

Day 5 - Homeless in San Antonio

This is the day of the trip where we left the gorgeous Hyatt Regency resort where you can get a $200 massage and the squirrels sit happily in squirrel sized lawn chairs eating corn.

And we landed in San Antonio in what looked like the set of the old TV show Roseanne.  

Complete with cigarette smells masked by antiseptic cleaner.  The boys just said it smelled like public library.  I just wanted to use my sinus rinse asap.  

We were put on the 7th floor with a small balcony overlooking the side wall of the hotel next door and a sliver of the San Antonio Riverwalk if you turned your head just a hair down and to the left.  But the mom in me screamed danger as well as something or other about us ending up on the news as I watched my 3 fellas out there seeing who could lean over the furthest before mama said no. 

So the saying, If mama aint happy, aint nobody happy was applied.  

And here we are sitting in the room that nearly made me cry as husband called all around San Antonio looking for another place to stay.  The boys were mad at me  because despite the sad state of affairs on the upper hotel floors, the lobby lured young men in and off the streets with the promise of a free hot buffet each evening from 5-8.  And my kids never met a chicken strip they didn't like.  

So we ended up back at another Hyatt in town in a tiny room with all 5 of us trying to relax and share a teeny bathroom.  The bathroom being so small that if the toilet seat were down, the door wouldn't close.  A man definitely designed that one.   

I used to have a framed photo in my kitchen that said Love grows in small houses.  And I agree to an extent.  Depends on what you're calling small.  I think some people around where we live would think our house fits into the smallish category.  Maybe so.  But I tend to think it teaches us to look at each other, to talk to each other and to get along with each other.  Or in the case of sometimes,  to go the the furthest point away in our confined area and shut a door.  And I think that's okay, too.  

And despite it all I needed the time away from work.  I'm ready to go back with a new attitude and start doing what I love again.  And we're one week away from some big changes around here.  Kid 1 is starting high school and kid 3 is starting middle school.  Kid 2 is still in middle school for one more year but he's been on a big growth spurt this summer.  I hardly recognize him.  

So last week we spent our days traveling together and staying in places that I think we've really outgrown.  And with all the growing and changing going on around here, I've had worries that we're on the way to outgrowing us.  But back to the idea of love growing in small spaces....  We got home Friday night and settled back into our natural roles and places like we never left.  Which is the beauty of home.  

post script.... we did fun stuff too!  

We shared this gigantic cinnamon roll at the Pioneer Baking company restaurant in San Antonio and that alone brought my mood up immensely. 

And we went to the historic Gruene dance hall and I dreamed that Willie Nelson would walk in and sing just to me.  If I were to ever think of marrying an 82 year old man, Willie would definitely be the one.  

And I watched the kids swim and play, celebrated Kid 3 turning 12.... and I slept close to everyone I love each night.  The end.  

(oh...here's how to play Dive Bomb the Mulch in the pool... one kid throws in a piece of mulch taken from a nearby landscaped area that probably has a sign saying do not touch.  Then the other two have to jump into the pool and on top of each other scrambling to see who will be the first to grab it and not drown.  And while playing you should make as much noise and the biggest splashes that you can.  Also you should have an adult nearby ready to call 911 in the event of whatever.)

I had a chance to see Geraldo Rivera naked, ... Just another summer day

So much for a summer break.  The kids are driving me crazy and I have to tell somebody.  How about a round of applause for my courage in speaking the truth in a world full of fake people on Facebook who still claim to love their kids in August?  

So for me, this is really a week in review, of the pirates and thieves among us.  As there were no angels within a 100 mile radius.  Our cast of characters for the week....  3 bored boys, one paramedic husband ready to institutionalize his wife if she steps one more step toward the edge of this summertime cliff, Mr. Abdominals - the perfect pool lifeguard, and a naked Geraldo Rivera.  

But before I forget, if you got a phone call last week from someone claiming to be Kid 1 stuck in a Dominican Republic jail, you can put your bail money right back into the bank.  As he is safe and secure here on the couch doing absolutely nothing at all.  

I've likened the tween and teen years as the second round of toddlerhood.  Where the kids have to be busy at all times or there's trouble waiting around the next bend.  They also need regular feedings and a sippy cup of water to take with them everywhere. 

Once I read a blog from a mom who titled it something like, What Your Teenage Son Needs from You.  And I hated her from her first word.  It reminded me of those magazine covers that always have a number in them.  Like .... 300 Ways to Cook Chicken.   And to be fair, and reading as a mom of a teen or two myself, I read a bit of her post but hated her even more as it went along.  

Because I think she has one kid.  Which in and of itself is not a crime in any way.  So don't go leaving me nasty comments please.  I sometimes lay down at night and have peaceful dreams of how much money we would save on food if we were a one kid family.  However, as a mom of 3 boys, I had some issues with the author's happiness, her sunny outlook on life, and her description of the teenage boy years as the best time of her mom life.  I also took issue with her description of teenage boys as the funniest, most enjoyable people to be around.  Because, as I see it, she was #1... obviously drunk or #2... she gives her kid personality altering drugs.

So when I said I was really enjoying my kids this summer, I was telling the truth.  On that particular day.  And right up until last Wednesday when I walked in from a doctor appointment with Kid 1 to find husband asleep and Kids 2 and 3 playing video games.  And the house looking like that old TV Show Sanford and Son where they lived at a junk yard.

And if you ask the boys, and definitely husband, they would probably say that I lost it.  Kid 2 went into a closet that he called the safe house.  And husband just kinda nodded a fixed gaze yes or no - depending on the question.  Such as... 

me:  Am I wrong here? 
husband:  No honey you are 100% right as always.  

me:  Am I overreacting at the laziness of character that is shining so bright I may need to put on my Prada's to protect my eyes?  

husband:  No, honey.  You are spot on in diagnosing all our family problems and giving them a name. And amazing.  Did I mention that you are also amazing? 

So then I just started throwing things away.  My theory being that if I find it on the floor or shoved under a couch cushion, I consider it garbage.

And Kid 3 has screamed and moaned about his school summer reading project.  To the point that it started to sound like those backyard chickens our neighbors have and we mostly tune that out.  Kid 1 dropped his phone and broke the screen, then looked at me like I am indeed made of money.  And kid 2 was the only helpful one that particular day when he told me my dress was tucked inside my panties on my left hind quarter. 

And they ate an entire cake in one day.

Even the dog has had it UP. TO. HERE with it all and has notified me that if the boys don't go back to school soon and very soon, she will be looking for a new home.   Me too. 

Yes, those are drums you hear in the background.  The drumming sound of the natives in their habitat.  

And since we've just about run out of things to do, we're basically just wandering Dallas in the heat trying to use up time till we can watch a movie then go to bed. 

We went to Steel City Pops which is kinda fun in a hot summer day popsicle eating kind of way.  But for those of us that grew up in the age of the ice cream truck rolling down your street every day, it lacked a certain charm.  But it was good and within 5 minutes I had a strawberry stain on my dress.  

We also went to a downtown antique store - a glorified junk shop combo of vintage things and stuff people just don't want anymore.  And the first thing I saw was a stack of Playgirl magazines.  Which are like Playboy magazines but filled with naked men.  And I know this because in high school my friend Jenny brought one to school and read it in class hidden under her desk.  I, however, did not read the entire thing back then, and now wish I had as it may have had some very well written articles in there.  But the book on the top of the stack at the antique store had Geraldo Rivera on the cover and I didn't really want to see him naked.  So I passed up the opportunity.  Also because my kids were with me.   

I also tried on what I thought was a super cute 70ish long prairie skirt with a patchwork pattern.  But husband made a snarly face and made me feel ashamed.  Possibly even more than I would have had I bought the entire stack of Playgirl magazines for home use.   

And of course we spend our fair share of time at the pool after I get home from work in the afternoons.  There's this young man lifeguard, college age.  Let's call him Mr. Abs.  Because that's the very first thing you'll notice about him.  Then you might notice his perfect sun kissed hair, his dark tan and finally his outward charm and confidence.  Then couple that with the fact that he is good with kids and you might think I have a crush on Mr. Abs.  But I absolutely do not.  I actually prefer my young college age men a little less than perfect.  Says Mrs. Robinson.

So Mr. Abs will sun himself, then save a life, then sun himself some more.  Then he may catch a young girl running dangerously on the deck of the pool and gently remind her that though he believes her to be an excellent runner, he cares for her safety and she must walk so she won't get hurt.  Then he will sit around and laugh with the other life guards, buy children a popsicle after a successful swim lesson, then help put on a life jacket for a wee little ones while smiling charmingly at the mom.   

Enter the pirates and thieves.... as they wrestled in the water with a toy torpedo possibly stolen from a child younger and weaker than they.  And when kid 1 dove into kid 3's head under water, kid 3 punched him in the face.  At which time kid 1 bit kid 3's hand and left a 2 day bite mark.  Please do not tell the assistant principal at our school as he and I have already had enough discussion over the difference between play and violence.  So Mr. Abs steps in to remind my boys that rough housing in the pool may become dangerous and that he cannot allow such nonsense.  Though I imagine he told them that though he believes they would make excellent cage fighters one day, he can't condone that behavior in his pool.  

So the boys got out, came over to my lounge chair - where I was trying to read a book and be carefree for one hour - and told on each other.  The we went home.  The end.  

But not really.  I then ask myself if my boys will ever use their good looks, charm and exceptional abdominals for the good of mankind.  And I answer myself again and again, ... I have no idea.  

But the fact that I make it to the end of another day with stories to tell and hope for more like it is promise enough for me.  I can imagine the God of all wonders sitting in front of the Walters Cam and watching our day to day.... and watching me and my reactions.  Some better than others.  And I hear him saying to me, Kristi.... This is a test.  This is only a test.  And today you passed.  Now rest up, ..... I can't wait for tomorrow. 

"Well done, my good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things." (Matthew 25:21)

post script.... yes I still love my kids.  Even in August. 

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