I think burlesque dancing may be easier

Last Saturday I was scheduled to take my very first ever burlesque dance class,  but then Kid 3 reminded me about his afternoon basketball game and said he wanted his whole family to watch him play.  And I cherished one of his last remaining moments of sweetness before the temperamental teens set in, so I chose my sweet boy over learning to walk like a show girl and dancing behind giant feathers.   Definitely another day, though. 

I'm obviously in a period of needing to learn new things.  Because on the way to the basketball game I stopped into the fabric store and decided to buy my very first sewing machine.  Because I've always had dreams of making things beautiful.  Maybe even making some beautiful things one day.  However, I spent the better part of my morning trying to thread a bobbin, and have decided that learning to burlesque may be easier. 

So that's kinda the whole story of my last two weeks.  Right now I'm very worried about our dog.  We're not really sure how old she is because no one could confirm that when we adopted her.  But she's not feeling well and making her mama very sad about the whole thing.  We've also had a sick kid, a parent/teacher conference, a totally separate and distinct angry teacher phone call, a teacher note home, a doctor check up, an orthodontist visit, and y'all .. I'm back to not sleeping all that great again.   That being said, I have to be careful not to post something stupid or inappropriate on here in a state of sleep deprived poor judgement.  

Which... speaking of....

Last week I had a writing due for another blog.   And not many people liked it.  Maybe because it was a very last minute effort and borderline awful.  Or maybe because, even though it was very last minute and almost definitely awful, it spoke truth.  Truth about insecurities that I know I feel at times, but maybe that a whole lot of other people do, too.  Maybe that's what made it awful.  Or maybe it just was.  If you were one of the handful of people who gave me your token Facebook like on that particular site and post, I love you, I love you, I love you. 

The post went something like this..... short version....

It was about how I went to work one morning wearing a brand new outfit that looked fine and dandy in front of my mirror at home.  But somehow between the time I left home and when I spotted myself in the mirror at the gym, I decided I needed to purchase a rear back up camera for my behind.  When did they install trick mirrors at the Y? 

Anyway, my outfit was pink and gray which showed sweat like crazy.  And the pants were too short and the whole outfit, just to say it like it was... made me look like I ate at the Kip's Big Boy all you can eat buffet right before class.   I felt bad about it.  And I felt bad in it.  But I was stuck that way for two of the most unattractive hours of my career.  Stuck that way feeling terrible about myself and trying to read the minds of all my people possibly sizing me up and wondering where not to shop for workout clothes. 

Now.  The whole point of me ever in my right mind sharing that story with the general public was to express how critical I can be of myself.  And trust me,  I've won awards in the area of being mean to Kristi. 

And though I would love to practice what I preach all the time about seeing myself through God's loving eyes, sometimes I just don't. 

And for me it's always been the random comment or criticism - or what I hear as criticism... that brings out my biggest fear.  Fear that someone else may see the things wrong with me that I already see.  And in case you are inexperienced in this, let me just say that all things appear larger than you might imagine when dressed in pink spandex.       

So I ended my writing with this... that I know how lucky I am.  That I know how strong and capable I am.  And how thankful I am for every single minute of it.  But that I am also able to admit that a certain weakness that has been in me for a lifetime comes from such a deep and buried place that I'm not sure it will ever be completely gone. 

Kid 2 has been hearing words of influence all around him this school year.  And in several areas he has conquered the world, but one of the hardest for him has been the influence of others about which high school to attend next year.  And y'all, I'm talking about kids saying some really negative and mean spirited things.   

We have a transfer system in our school district that allows a student to transfer to a different school for hardship reasons or to attend a program that his home school doesn't offer.  We've really encouraged him to give an open minded look at our own high school in the neighborhood - a close look with his own eyes mixed with the good experiences of his big brother, Kid 1, who is having a great first year there.  We've encouraged him to try to tune out the negative perceptions and long held beliefs about this place - especially from those who have never even been inside the school.  And thankfully he has.  He had a wonderful half day visit to the high school this week and came out of there feeling pretty good about things.   

And I'm hoping he can go back to his friends and become the influence, not the influenced.  All I've ever wanted for my kids is the opportunity to learn in a safe and loving environment.  And for me to not have all my kids at three different schools for another year.  Of course there's that. 

So I've seen Kid 2 fight the opinions of self and others quite a bit recently, in his own 14 year old way.  And I have to wonder if I've done well with these years of mothering my boys - or have I wasted a lot of them being negative and critical about myself and even worse, letting them hear it?  

Parenting is big mix of a lot of things.  And I'm still learning each day.  And I know I've messed up a few things with them and with myself.  But in the big math equation of it all, I hope the right things are greater than the wrong.  

Once again, though, I think burlesque dancing may be easier.

Now take off your pants

Y'all I seriously almost wrote you an entire post about the dark blonde low lights in my hair.  But fate intervened and I found better and far more practical news to share.   But just know that if you're blog hopping around this week and looking for a little enlightenment of the spiritual sort or otherwise.... you and you alone can decide if you actually found any here or not. 

To add closure to what I know you desperately want to know... yes I did wash all my slipcovers on the den furniture and got them put back on in record time - a.k.a bedtime/time for the dog to sleep on them.  I also, armed with a staple gun and some fabric stuff... padded the arms of the couch so now they look like new.  However, though the couch smells at least 10 times better than it did, and has shapely sculpted arms, once it was all put back together and I witnessed the combined weight of Fireman Dave and Kid 1 sitting on it... I decided we desperately need a new couch.  Washing and refreshing does not bring a couch back to it's previous life no matter what Pinterest says. 

Now if it's family movie night at your house and you have all kinds of sweet plans involving cozy blankets and fresh baked brownies, but you let your significant other pick the movie, you might be able to scare your teenage boys enough to make them beg to sleep in your bed that night.  Fireman Dave chose a movie called The Visit.  You should watch it.  Just keep a light on while you do.  Also if you get up in the night, right as everyone is trying to go to sleep,  and crawl on your hands and knees into your kids bedroom really quiet, re-creating a scene from the movie, they'll both love you and hate you all at the same time.  But I promise you'll laugh harder than you have in a very long time.

And today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day and I have nothing to say about that -  Other than telling you about that time that I was a freshman in college and this older fella asked me to some sort of MLK Day discussion and rally.  

Does this young girl look like she attends very many events involving picket signs?  Anyway, I said no and he never called me again.  I think he took my rejection as a statement of societal proportions when in reality it was just a statement of my zero interest in anything involving discussing and rallying.  He just had me all wrong.  

And finally, - how to have a family reunion in the Tuesday Morning store.  It can be done; It really happened;  And it was a good surprise for me to see someone that I've always loved.

I ran into the Tuesday Morning store by my house looking for the match to a rug that I saw at a different store location.  I didn't find the rug but I found my cousin Sherrie.  We have the same great grandparents and Melton was the name of our noble ancestry.  At family reunions, we had our own version of a playground rhyme that went something like this....

We are the Melton girls, 
We wear our hair in curls
We wear our dungarees above our knees.
We wear our Daddy's shirts,
We are the biggest flirts.
We are the Melton girls...

Totally cute in a 1970's young girl wearing knee socks and cut off jeans sort of way.  I loved our summer reunions and the holidays where we had such a giant group of togetherness and everyone got all dressed up in long dresses and fell asleep to the sounds of the older people talking all night long.  

I thought my older cousins were the best.  Until I let a couple of them cut my hair one time on a family camp out and I lost all respect for their ability to tell the truth as well their ability to make it in the hair business.  But that was ages ago and time has gone by so quickly -  and I wish I had done a better job of keeping up those relationships. 

It's even been harder these last few years as I've had to be away from any of that part of my family in order to stay away from a couple of  bad apples in the bunch.   So needless to say, Sherrie and I had a lot of catching up to do and we did it right there in the Tuesday Morning store for about one and a half hours of nonstop talk.  We shut the place down, wished for refreshments along the way, and had, about half way through our visit, parked ourselves in the store's patio furniture display so we could be a little more comfortable.  The store lady finally asked us to leave about 30 minutes after closing time so she could go home.  It was really an act of kindness for her to allow us to stay that long, and I really mean that.  She said we looked like we needed that time, so she gave it to us.  Y'all.  There is just goodness all around if we take time to notice it. 

In our visit we mostly talked about all the crazy people we know... most of whom are related to us.  That took up a whole chunk of the visit.. and if you know any of my people, I know you completely understand why.  

And she told me about being at a family wedding rehearsal at the arboretum.  And how she was kinda watching from the sidelines with the fiance' of her niece, who is just, as I understand it, trying to find his way in this family.  So it seems Sherrie told this young man that she really would like to sit down on a particular rock nearbybut it's really covered in moss so,.... can you, young and unsuspecting fiance' of said niece,  please take off your shirt so I can sit on it? 

And he politely told her that he was, regretfully,  not wearing any other layers so he was both surprised and unprepared for that request.  But she told him that he's in Texas now and everybody runs around without a shirt in nice places like the Dallas Arboretum. Oh so like a woman to scramble the truth to fit her needs.  I should know. 

Then I told her she should've told him to take off his pants.  Just for laughs because that honestly sounds hilarious to me.  Welcome to the family.  Now take off your pants.  

Y'all, I was thinking about all that this morning.  About how often I've let things get past me out of obligation or fear.  Maybe even habit.  How I've accepted requests or demands because I feel like I can't say no.  I think there was a time when I didn't know how to say no.   But I do now.  The angels in heaven are rejoicing over that exact statement.  

I think some of us just don't practice our No's enough.  Especially with someone in authority or power or influence.  Or maybe even family.  Or at work.  Maybe it's a friend that makes you feel like you need to say yes all the time... when you really feel in your heart that you need to say no.  

And maybe most of the time it's all okay - till they ask you to take your proverbial pants off.  And then.  THEN, you have to decide if you're willing to give that much. 

I described myself to my cousin last night as peacefulNotice I didn't say at peace.  I think that's different.  I felt for the longest time, an obligation to go and see and do and respond and talk and sit and be present in places where I didn't feel at home.  And I didn't know how to change it.  

So life did it for me.  In a not so pretty way.  But I have to remind myself of the fact that God didn't call me to be timid in this life.  He called me to be bold in what I believe and in what I know.  He called me to be a person that stands firm in protecting my faith and my family, a person that doesn't back down at the threat of conflict.  

And, might I add, He spent a lifetime whispering that call in my ear, my mind, my heart....  Knocking me down time and again to finally get me strong enough to stand up and answer.   

I've shared this verse with you before.  For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind.  2 Timothy 1:7 

I really like that one.  Y'all it says it right there.  We were never meant to live fearful lives.  We were never meant to be afraid to make the right choices for ourselves and our families.

Saturday Night Wrestling - Or as my dad called it, rasslin

This week... will. go. down. in. history...

As the week I aged a good ten years trying to convince Kid 3 that he wouldn't die at cotillion class. Here he is right before class.  So sad to have a mother care about your manners and ability to function in society in somewhat of a classy manner.   

It was pretty much like trying to put a suit on a monkey. 

I also last week had an impromptu stomach virus which began suddenly after my second class of the morning last Tuesday and right before the third.  And I had to call and cancel that third class as I was held prisoner by my stomach in the gym bathroom and afraid for my life to move.   I eventually made it home and proceeded to feel sorry for myself for the next 24 hours. 

When I went back to work a couple days after, I was admiring my profile in the mirror and remarking to myself how incredibly flat my tummy region appeared all tucked into my spandex.  And I have to honestly ask myself if the slenderizing effects of a good bout of sickness is worth the  I just did a million crunches appearance ... but the jury's still out on that one.  It's still a little too fresh in my memory to make that call.

I also woke up today and decided that it would be a good day to strip all the slipcovers from the den furniture and wash them.  All while I got three kids ready for school, myself ready for work, went and taught 3 classes and fielded a phone call from a school nurse and an angry middle school teacher.   

Here's the state of affairs in my den right now.  

I think I'm going to re-plump the arms of the couch with some fabric batting and a staple gun when I get it all stripped down later today.  Because I'm crazy.   

If you look at a couple of these pics in this post you'll see a neatly folded pile of blankets and pillows in the background.  That actually comes with two stories. 

The first being that Saturday night I was beside myself with worry about Kid 3's football banquet being held at a local BBQ restaurant and knowing that the smell of smoke and meat together doesn't set well with my allergies or my tendency toward vegetarianism.  Fireman Dave was at work saving the world/ cooking a gourmet meal for the fellas, so he was no use to me in my dilemma.  So I ended up making what could've been a questionable choice and decided to send Kid 1 and his friend to act as chaperones at the banquet.  It cost me about $30 for the favor which bought them each an all a teen boy can eat meat plate and endless tunes on the juke box.  And all came out alive and well at the end of the night with Kid 3 reporting that the banquet was awesome and Kid 1 and friend full of pride that they were both responsible and got to eat something different than I had planned for dinner at home.

So I owed Kid 3 a return favor and he chose a sleepover with the other BBQ chaperone.  That's what the pile of blankets was about, part 1.  Long day, long story, but picture me at home, single parenting for the night, 4 boys with full tummies and energy to spare, and lots of laundry because the BBQ restaurant made them all smell like a fire pit so I had to wash everything before I let them near the furniture.  Which already smelled of boy and dog and is why I am boiling the slipcovers today.  

I also demanded showers from all, including our guest, so I could breathe the rest of the night.  Then they played Xbox for a while but the bottomless caffeinated drinks set in and the energy was exploding in the room so they held a full fledged wrestling match in the den floor as I tried to go to sleep.  And when I went in to ask what on earth was happening I saw all the furniture had been moved to make room for the Sportatorium's Saturday Night Wrestling.  Or as my dad called it, rasslin.   Any of y'all Dallas people remember that?

Story #2 about those blankets....

The sleepover came and went and the house showed the results of the party.  Now granted, I woke in not such a great mood and church didn't really sway that because, well, Sunday.  Sunday for us is worse than a school morning and we argue with the boys to be ready for church on time and they're not -  and then I get all mad and picture them living out eternity in damnation and I get upset.  Pretty much a regular Sunday event around here.  

So when we pulled in the driveway after church, and Fireman Dave being in tune to my feelings like the wonderful husband that he is, he had me stay in the car and took the boys inside to assign them each jobs of cleaning  up the wreckage so I wouldn't burst into tears while loading another load into the washing machine.   THAT is the only reason those blankets got folded.  Money may or may not have exchanged hands in the deal.  

But husband took me to Starbucks for a few minutes, long enough for me to get tears in my eyes worrying again about the quality of my parenting.  And a little about the qualify of my wifing.  Is that a word?  I apparently forgot to greet Fireman Dave lovingly at the door after his shift ended that morning because I was asleep following the late night rasslin going on in my den.  I think there are marriage books about not doing exactly THAT in order to ensure a long union.

But I have to admit that I've been doing a little rasslin of my own lately.  Asking myself if my kids are all that they can be.  Or maybe all that they should be.  And when I listen closely to those words, they just sound mean no matter how I look at it.  Maybe I'm mean for even letting those ideas come into my head.  But I sat in church Sunday morning and in the newsletter, read an article about a teen who is captain of this and star of that, and how she excels in sports, academics and life in general.  Oh, and she loves Jesus and probably volunteers all her free time visiting sick children.  

So as husband and I sat at Starbucks and I let all the frustrations flow out loud enough for the guy sitting next to us to want to move, I  heard the wisdom of my husband as I have so many times before.  And I really mean that.  Sometimes he has a certain perspective on things that makes me take a look at my own, pointing out the hundred holes in my theories.  The man has an innate wisdom which comes from someplace that I apparently forgot to visit.  

He reminded me again that the boys are a work in progress.  And that we have to finally admit that we aren't in control of everything concerning our kids;  That we have to accept that our boys are their own people and will have to make mistakes and learn lessons along the way as we did... And that maybe it's time I step back and become the encourager as they go about things on their own.  

And I thought I was doing well with that the past couple of days till the angry teacher phone call this afternoon.   I'm thinking 2 days of practice isn't long enough to change my old habits.  I'll keep working on it, Fireman Dave.  I'll also try to be nicer to you when you get home from work. 

Y'all, I answered the phone yesterday on another mis-dialed call from my mother.  The first time I've even heard her voice in a very long time.  I almost didn't answer when I saw who it was on caller ID, but I worried it may be an emergency.  And we exchanged a few seconds of small talk as she realized she called the wrong person, and I waited.  I waited for more, maybe.  Maybe an apology. Maybe an invitation.  Maybe something that would lead me to believe that I matter enough to say more than a few misplaced words on a wrong number call.  

It's been a challenging week.  But I know people who have been challenged with more. I've gotta keep it all in perspective.  

post script.... I ran across this picture on Facebook that I'm not sure I've ever seen before.  
This is a thousand years ago in the living room of the house I grew up in.  It's the youth group of the church husband and I both attended.  Seated on the piano bench is the very young Fireman Dave. (in the dark blue shirt)  Seated next to him, a few feet over at the table, is me. (the one with very short dark blonde hair -  and too busy talking to be doing what I was probably supposed to be doing.)   Just shows again how things have a way of working out. 

We live large around here at the holidays

New Years for me....

It's always the same thing.  The time of the year where the smell of the old towels and bath mats makes me sick and sends me running to the nearest store for their New Years Day white sale extravaganza to replace everything.  

It's also the time of year that I drive my kids crazy by making them work at things that they never even knew existed.  Like moving their beds to sweep all the past year's collection of odds and ends out from behind it.  And then they grumble that life is just too hard and that no one else's mom makes them do stuff like this.  And I tell them that they should've asked for a new mother for Christmas.   

We then go through the house and get rid of anything that hasn't moved in a while assuming that it is no longer wanted or loved.  We throw away old clothes, expired spices and medications, and this time around for the first time in about 10 years, the boys nasty #$$ toilet seat was replaced but I made Kid 1 do it so he would truly appreciate all that I do regularly to keep this place sanitary.  Also because Fireman Dave was at work and because if you remember, I only clean the boys' bathroom in the dark so I can't see what I'm touching and I couldn't use tools and such in the dark for said toilet seat replacement.  

We live large around here at the holidays as you can tell.  

And Christmas came and went with a little disappointment on my part.  I think I don't understand it anymore.  Here's a quick summary of Christmas break around here so far.  You can totally sing it if you like but it might make you hate Christmas. 

On the first day of Christmas, yada yada yada.... 800 boys in a tent in my backyard

On the second day of Christmas...... 2 Kids that probably failed this semester of math

Third day... Kid 3 online shopping for crazy expensive shoes that he's never getting for Christmas

Fourth.... One billion dollars paid to the dentist for Kid 1 and Kid 3's cavity fillings

Fifth - Kid 2 asking for an insanely priced i-phone...that he is also never getting for Christmas

Sixth - 6 boys playing all day video games in my den

Seven - Seven pounds of candy that the dog ate out of the stocking she ripped apart with her teeth

Eighth - another trip to the dentist to replace Kid 1's filling that fell out

Ninth - the realization that Kid 2 only had one gift under the tree

Tenth - a giant electronic piano keyboard for Kid 2 to make up for only having one gift under the tree

11th - one pan of fudge dropped on the kitchen floor

and finally, the 12th day of Christmas - lots of scary storms and sad people everywhere.   

I told husband that next year we should go with no gifts.  He says I say that every year.  But I really mean it this time.  I was saying to someone in the gym bathroom last week that I just don't understand Christmas anymore.  And another lady looked at me like she was about to tell me the story of good news and tidings of great joy, but I stopped her.  I already know that part, y'all.  I know the Jesus part of the story.  I just don't see him anywhere in the rush of people trying to get into the mall.  Or the traffic the entire month of December.  Or the increase in sales emails I get trying to get me to shop more and more and more.  I can't shop for Jesus.  

Though I was at Hobby Lobby back in November and the gal in front of me bought a new Christmas tree and a large sized nativity scene.  So the cashier said over the intercom, Al.. I need a 8 foot tree and a baby Jesus at the front of the store please.  So yes, technically we can shop for Jesus at Christmas, but not the way I'm trying to find him.  

 I'm trying to find him in time spent with family. I'm trying to find him not only in our traditional attendance of the Christmas Eve service at our church, but in my kids' desire to attend the Christmas Eve service at church.  I'm trying to find him in voluntary acts of giving and kindness and maybe raking leaves for our neighbor with some health problems.  I'm looking for him in the ways people act toward each other, not just around the holidays, but every day.  I'm looking for him not in our decorations and lights and baking and giving, but somewhere that I seem to be missing these past years.  

Today is Epiphany Sunday, the Sunday before the actual date of Epiphany.  Epiphany being the 12th day of Christmas, like in the song,  - the 12th day after Christmas when we recognize the arrival of the three wise men visiting the baby Jesus..  

I forget things like this because I'm too busy insanely putting away all the Christmas decorations to get my house back in order.  But it was that visit by the 3 Kings, the wise men, that set some important events in place.  It was that visit that made King Herod lose his mind looking for his new rival.  And it was this news that there was a new king in town that made King Herod realize his worst fear, was the fear of change.  His fear of being replaced was big enough, but the thought of giving up his royal lifestyle made him willing to kill to protect it.  (If you've never read any particulars on the history of King Herod, let me just summarize for you.  He was quite a character, leaning more toward the vile and offensive side of life than what we would normally consider royal behavior.  Look him up, the man was a mess.)  

I may or may not be a direct descendant twice removed from that mean ol' King, though, since I obviously carry a similar fear of change.   I don't look at each new year with new resolutions.  I tend to consider January 1st of the new year simply the next day after December 31.  Nothing more.  I don't like to look back and reflect on what I've accomplished or lost.  And I don't like guessing what the days ahead may bring.  I find that stuff scary.  

To me that's the biggest challenge of faith.  

post script... I am a big believer, however, in eating my New Year's black eyed peas just in case.  

post post script... these are all pictures of Christmas day at the fire station.  The boys love it.  I sometimes love it.  Husband always loves it when we come see him.         
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