Y'all stand back because she's gonna blow

It's one week till Christmas, and in the event you happen to be a crazy house burglar, just lettin you know that we have zero presents under the tree.  Y'all, I've tried, but can't think of a thing the boys need except an extra big helping of good sense.  But oh how to wrap that up in a pretty package with a bow.....

So... blogging.... oh blogging I have missed you this past month.  First I was super sick after our Thanksgiving trip, thinking I left half my brain in the air on that flight home.  The dizziness pretty much rattled me beyond recognition with this bout of vertigo and I had to take motion sickness medicine just to go to work.  And then, still, there probably wasn't all that much greatness happening. 

And in kid news, we have at least one that is failing generally everything this six weeks in school, but still holding out hope for a search and rescue mission from some sort of school super hero that might save the day.  There's another kid in severe anxiety and distress over some other things, and another kid that is just about to be the death of his mother.  I won't identify any of the above, but really... each is so capable of all of it that it doesn't really matter. 

And then this....

Y'all, I stood in the pouring rain last night, late, filling the empty tank with gas at a shady 7-11 on the corner of Dark and Scary, after leaving Kid 3 at the hospital for the night.  And I stood there hoping that if anyone talked to me that it would be a true angel from Heaven because I so needed that right then, but if it wasn't, that I was wearing some pretty dangerous boots and a sucky and exhausted attitude so I figured I would be at the advantage.  

Kid 3 came home from school Friday with a sore arm, and a fever,... all of which turned into a larger scare than I had planned for the busiest shopping weekend of the season.  And let me just put this out there because you already know it to be true... the law of fire wives states that if anything will break, explode or die, it will be while the fireman is on shift saving everyone else but his own family.  I've lived  it for 18 years and counting......

So I called the pediatrician Saturday morning and they sent us packing straight to the emergency room since whatever was happening was happening right on Kid 3's elbow joint, an obvious thoroughfare for all sorts of evil and disease.  So 8 hours later, and some prompt medicating, they admitted the kid for the night to continue IV antibiotics, treating it as a worst case scenario, mrsa staph infection.  Now everyone can say yuck all together , and join with Kid 1 in his despair over catching something.  Nope.  It doesn't work like that and we're all fine, but God bless him, they got right in there and stopped a whole lot of bad from getting worse.  

Now Fireman Dave and I are taking bets as to which will be most costly - the giving of life at Kid 3's birth - which took us a full year to pay off - or the saving of his life this time.  Probably another good year of investing in the financial future of the hospital on this one, too.   But Kid 3 - you are worth gold and rubies and even me standing in a dark and scary spot in the dead of night to be on your care team.  

And I have to add this because.  Just because I want everyone's sympathy, just as I did yesterday at the hospital, texting everyone I knew who would ooh and ahh over me and Kid 3 starving to death in the ER.  I had left him at the hospital in the very capable hands of the nurses for the night so I could go home and supervise a very sneaky Kid 1 and his sidekick, Kid 2.  Which turned out to be good for an entirely different reason that we should totally discuss later, and I had occasion to put the fear of God in the oldest over this, that and another - then swelled with pride at all I had managed to accomplish in one day.  

Anyway, I woke up at 3AM to find a flooded laundry room and a backed up kitchen sink, and longed for the days of being a kid and having a parent to do all the hard stuff.  Turns out the main pipe between the kitchen sink, the dishwasher and the washing machine is old and fussy and needs to be cleaned out more often than not.  So when I started the last laundry load before bed, it all went to town and left a hellacious surprise in the house.  But since Fireman Dave is working a 48 hour shift during all the excitement, I called him to be of assistance and he came home and did his side job as plumber as quick as a flash, then went back to being everyone else's hero till tomorrow.  

But I think this is where I reached my full capacity of emotions for the day.....it wasn't the sickly waiting room, the crowds, the masses of illness packaged up in rough and rude people.  It was the long waiting, the time, and the thinking of what could've happened with Kid 3 had we not gotten to this infection as quickly as we did.  And it was that the hospital that we went to happens to be the one where my dad was when he died. 

 And as I tried to tell Kid 3 about that last visit there with my dad, long before Kid 3 was even born, I felt such an amazing sense of this..... THIS.... Y'all stand back because she's gonna blow.  

I remembered being there with him that day, rushing up there with an 18 month old and a 4 month old, trying to get there fast before they turned off the machines.  And I got there in time to stand by his bed and tell him not to worry about something in particular.  At that time, Kid 2 was having his own share of health problems at just about 4 months old, and we were challenged to the top trying to figure it out.  But I remember telling my dad not to worry, that the very next day I was bringing the baby to that very hospital for a specialist appointment that I just knew was going to be our answer.  And it turned out to be.  

And for just a minute, I was the comfort in a long line of him being that for me.  I just think that yesterday - hospitals and scares and having to face some challenges -  brought me to a spot that needed to be looked at from this new perspective.  The perspective that it's totally okay to cry for a while.  Then I have to put on my tough girl boots and do what needs to be done.  Granted, I've been doing my fair share of stress eating the Christmas fudge, too,  so I'm not fully empowered.  But maybe just a little. 

Today I am thankful for challenges that make me aware.  For obstacles that give me motivation to climb.  And for walls that dare to be pushed down.  I am thankful for doctors and nurses and caring friends who put up with my texts for attention since I no longer have a parent to be my guide.  And I'm thankful to write a story with a happy ending.  

Merry Christmas to you and you and you.  I'll be back in the new year with some new fun and juicy topics.  Yep.  There's some good ones. 

post script - Kid 3 got to come home from the hospital today.  He has a lifetime of medication in his future, but his wonderful teacher/basketball coach stopped by the house with Krispy Kreme donuts and all his cares were erased.  As for me, I'm thinking a long Christmas nap.  

I hate your blanket and it's hiding my football greatness!!!!

I just finished scrolling through everyone's happy Thanksgiving posts while I sit here for the first time, up right, in my bed with a bad horrible case of vertigo.  Vertigo of the post migraine, post airplane flight type.  Make that a post migraine during an airplane flight type.  It was bad.  I did get a bonus bottle of water from the flight attendant since we told her I needed to take medication - STAT.  And the guy next to me used my special health emergency to request an extra package of cookies for the road. 

So anyway, I've mostly been laying down with a heated tube sock full of rice across my head.  Which sounds weird, maybe, but years ago the boys made these stuffed socks as crafts at Vacation Bible School or somewhere and they have been the #1 best gift I have ever received.  I loved my new diamond ring and all a few years back, but diamonds don't cure headaches so they get ranked lower on the list. 

But we had a nice trip to North Carolina, all the family minus Kid 1.  I would've loved to bring him too, but knowing what I know now about his responsibility rating as a near adult, and coming home to find a sick dog complete with household smells, it was probably a good time of separation for us all. 

I actually took my laptop on the trip and started this post days ago, with thoughts of thanks and giving trying to work their way out of me.  But then I  hung up the phone with Kid 1 fussing at him for this thing or that, and realized that it's nearly a crime to be wasting a beautiful beach worrying about what I can't take care of with my toes buried in the sand.   So I chose to beach it instead of write about it.   

Leaving a kid home this week was just weird for me.  But since his football team made the state playoffs -  for the first time in 32 years -  we gave him the choice of what would mean the most to him over his holiday break - stay home so he can attend daily practice and get to to play in round 2 of the biggest game of his high school life.... or come with us on vacation.  Of course he chose football - I totally expected that -  and we left him in the care of his buddy, Kid 4's family, but also with the strict expectation that he come home twice a day to take care of the dog. 

But on or about day 3 of the trip and having had time to monitor his comings and goings via secret neighbor spies and various other parental tactics, seems we set our hopes too high.  Which means that my sweet Rita had to hold her horses on the the way to the bathroom until Kid 1 could squeeze her into his holiday plans.  Really, to save time and energy, refer back to paragraph 3 where I refer to his responsibility rating. 

So I ended up calling a friend and passing along the dog duty, and when Kid 1 came home to find out that he had been discovered and discarded, more than a Happy Thanksgiving was shared between us on the phone.  And as much as I hated to leave it like that, I hate more for a 17 year old boy to give his word to me on something and show that he has yet to learn how to keep it.

So I flipped back and forth this Thanksgiving, being both thankful for the opportunity to parent, and being sad that I may be a total flop at the whole thing.  I went between being happy that I got to spend special time with Kids 2 and 3 and enjoy a beautiful week at the beach, to feeling lost because we weren't all together the way I had hoped.  Together is hard to come by these days, football and girlfriend, and whatever else sounding better all the time over time with the family.  Maybe we gave him such a calm sense of security as a young child that he feels totally okay with running away full speed ahead and trusting that he can come back whenever he decides.    Maybe I should've have lost him in the grocery store a few times when he was little so he would appreciate us more. Or maybe it's none of these - and just is, just because.

Maybe some of you saw the picture I shared earlier of post game fun with Kid 1. This is right after they won round 1 of playoffs.  Looks very sweet and celebratory if I do say so myself.   But here's the rest of the story.....  And yes, seriously, I need a spray tan on my legs.  I know.  Gift cards accepted and welcomed to help with that.  

Y'all, when the team won their first playoff game last Saturday, I was honestly thrilled for them - for about 5 minutes, because then this happened....  First you need to know that it was about 20 degrees below zero out there and for whatever reason, I decided to wear a mini dress and adorable boots, of course in team spirit colors.  And I looked super cute till about 15 seconds after this picture.  And let me say that I have never been more thankful for a blanket in my life than the one in this picture - the one that not only did I use to block out the 90 mph winds, but to hold my skirt down if I even tried to stand up.  So in these pictures, I wear my stadium blanket as a stadium toga, because it was basically the only clothes I had on all day.

So right after the game we made our way down to the field because other parents already had.  And here's more truth than I wish I ever had to share -  but I hesitated because I wondered if we would be welcomed by Kid 1 in his celebration.  And I think this little doubt is a good indication that there is already a natural fault line forming in the world of Walters. 

Then we posed for these pictures  ... And if I may paraphrase the conversation going on between pics 1 - 4, it went something like this:

Family:   We crazy love you and want to be near you - give us some of your attention please Kid 1 !!


So as you can see in pic 2, Kid 1 grabbed the blanket, tossed it in pic 3, and left me streaking across the football field for cover on my bottom half in pic 4.  

I still love you Kid 1, but holy moly, those cotillion classes and millions of prayers obviously haven't kicked in yet.

And then we went to eat, and I went home and cried.  True.  I cried the happy tears of a mom that is proud that her son is happy and involved and all that jazz, mixed with the tears of a mom feeling left out of her son's life, dare I say even feeling like an intruder, seeing our lives even more divided.

So I say this today because I've spent some time looking around at a lot of Thanksgiving posts.  I've followed plans and preparations and saw pictures of the big day.  But I just know in my heart that there are others out there like me -  who don't crazy love the holidays.  And some of us, the every days, near as much as we would like our pictures to tell.    And I share our football fiasco pictures to show you that even though there are some good ones that are worthy of a good story, it's often the good ones that don't tell the whole story.

But I ended up loving this week, and needed it and had been counting the days till it came.  And I loved the time with Kids 2 and 3 and got more time with them than a mom could ever deserve.  And pretty sure they enjoyed it too, except for that time when we ambushed them and made them get haircuts at the Great Clips in small town North Carolina the night before Thanksgiving - just so I could finally give thanks that I could see my children's eyes again out from under the disguises that they had been wearing.

But on Thanksgiving day, after my less than loving talk with Kid 1, and being bit by my in-laws' old dog, I was teetering on the brink of sad and despair - enough so that I consoled myself with macaroni and cheese of the full carb variety - and had to curb my emotions at the big bonfire.  And as I stood out there looking into the fire and burning old tax returns .... because, why the heck not? - I swear it was like a Moses moment.  Like that time the burning bush got his attention, but without the deep voice of God.

I watched that fire and stood there and prayed.  Not long, and not loud, and definitely not pretty.  But God doesn't care about any of that which should be on all our thankful lists.  And I decided that I'm giving a whole lot of power to one  kid -  and not enough to me.  And that I'm letting the worry and stress over that same kid take away the joy that I should have in my time with the other brothers. 

AND, Y'all, I decided that maybe this sadness that I battle on and off has a whole lot more to do with me than it does with Kid 1 or anyone else.  And that burning bush looked right at me and reminded me that I've been dealt a whole lot of hurt and fear and rejection in my time, and that because of it, I can feel those things coming at me from miles before they're ever actually in sight.  And that maybe all that anxiety I feel about watching Kid 1 grow and explore is reminding me all too much of what it felt like to be rejected by my own family at an even younger age - and how maybe I'm confusing my own hurt with his need to grow.

So I'm working on that.  And yes, I admit that I overreacted a tad when I got home to find the smells of doggie irritable bowel syndrome in my house.  And for that, Kid 1,  I apologize.  I actually think I would've left it there for Daddy to clean up, so I applaud your efforts.  But that aside, I'm going to try on some different ways of communicating in times of trouble.  Silence, and thoughtful pauses may be a good place to start. 

And as for me right now, I keep hearing in my head the most beautiful verse, ... 

She is clothed in strength and dignity, 
and laughs without fear of the future.  

Did the burning bush whisper that to me?  No.  Don't be silly - I think I already knew it.  But y'all, I also know me.  Me of the stubborn, choose not to listen sort.   
But gosh I wish I had known a million years ago that I could just pick up some dignity while out and about living through some challenges.  That would've been over the top awesome.  

And honestly, I think I've got the laughing part just about figured out, from years of choosing it over crying - but the part about choosing not to fear?  Why didn't someone tell me about that sooner?

post script:  The team lost their second round of playoff games to a Goliath of a suburban team - a team of literal giants says Kid 1 -  well fed and trained in far fancier facilities, and coached by the best of private lessons their entire lives.  But our little inner city, public school team?  Yes sir and God bless them one and all.  They stood up to their giant, despite the odds, and came out with a better knowledge of what's out there beyond their little playing field.  And the fact they accomplished something that no one in over 30 years has at their school, that's a big plus along with a really great trophy.  

And Kid 1 said he didn't have time to miss us because his freedom was just so much fun.  I'm sure it was, but hope it was even more than that when he looks back on it.  

And as for our trip?  We had great weather and great company.  We enjoyed the beach, saw some movies, walked to the beach store for some things we didn't need but tasted all the better because, and we fished.  Fishing seems to be our Thanksgiving go to of late, and I can't help but think of my dad every time I pick up a fishing pole.  I'm thankful for that.  But mostly we were given the gift of family for Thanksgiving, and that's all I need on my list.   

And though she be but little, she is fierce

" And though she be but little, she is fierce..."   

So seriously, when you write a blog it's kinda like standing out in front of the mall with a sign that says,  Here's a peek into my life, and oh, yeah... please feel free to send me nasty comments, replies and try to start trouble.  Yet I go on.  And that's exactly why I began this post by quoting Shakespeare - Because you know that's SO me, right?  

Y'all, so much has happened in the last week or so and I'll get to the bigger pieces in a bit, but first, let's just say a big ol' congratulations to Kid 1, and the rest of the Bryan Adams High School Varsity football team for being District 12-5A Champions.  Yes, you heard me right.  District 12-5A Champions.  And since this hasn't happened since 1985, I think an even bigger congratulations is in order.

And would they argue with me calling this one cute?  How about sweet?  Argue away Kid 1 and Kid 4, because this is all that plus more.  Go ahead and happy dance your way to the trophy and a giant dose of satisfaction for some hard work and a job well done.  

And I'm applying for the title of Most Hard Football Stadium Seats Sat Upon in one season between Kids 1 and 3's games.  Now I move to the basketball gym and me not knowing what on earth is going on in that game.  I just watch to make sure Kid 3 doesn't get any teeth knocked out because that happened - really - to Kid 2 before.  

And then this weekend we did this.....   

Kid 1 getting in some highway driving time taking the family to his very first college tour.  Yes, we're starting early but he is a Junior this year and with big heart eyes for only the game of football and Princess Chatterbox, I think it wise that we expand his view a bit and force him to notice a little bit of opportunity beyond his Friday night plans.  So we drove to Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas for the university's open house event and had a great family day together.  Meaning that no one got into a fist fight, we ate fast food, and Kids 2 and 3 slipped ever so stealthily into the college football game without buying tickets.  Should I be bragging about that skill of theirs or should I be ashamed?  I'm actually torn on that one.  

And last Wednesday I was honored to be invited to a Fall menu tasting event at the original La Madeleine Cafe here in Dallas.  And by honored, I mean excited, surprised and ready to ditch my low carb-ness for the sake of being part of a super fun and tasty media event.  So when I said earlier that blogging has some highs and lows to it?  Being invited to things like this is definitely a high.  But trust that my picture of the food comes nowhere near how good it really looked and how I wanted to eat every dessert on the table.  

 Here is the invitation I received because, well,  Yay for holiday fun things.  May there be more for us all to come!

Fa la la la la la Madeleine!

You're invited to a holiday menu tasting at our original bakery-café on Mockingbird Lane. Hosted by la Madeleine’s VP of Culinary, Susan Dederen, be the first to try new and returning holiday recipes.
  • French Lentil & Kale Soupe: A savory roasted vegetable stock soupe with lentils, potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, kale, onions and celery with a unique blend of spices and herbs.
  • Turkey, Cranberry & Feta Salade: Diced smoked turkey, cranberries, pecans, feta, grape tomatoes and field greens tossed in balsamic vinaigrette.
  • Turkey Cranberry Melt: Sliced, smoked turkey with cranberry sauce, stuffing, provolone melted on a Cranberry Orange Ciabatta roll.
  • Holiday Café Sampler: The Holiday Café Sampler features the Turkey & Cranberry Friand with Gruyère cheese sauce and served with a cup of soupe and petite salade.
You will also get to enjoy a taste of our homemade holiday pâtisseries, including the Pot au Crème Parfait, Pumpkin Pie, Pecan Tart, Christmas Tree Linzer Cookies, Poinsetta and Christmas Tree Iced Cookies, Gingerbread Crème Brûlée and a holiday favorite the Bûche de Noël.

So I went and lunched and then wanted to tell the world to go out and try La Madeleine which is probably exactly why they invited me.  So Y'all, go try La Madeleine and tell them Kristi said thanks for a good time.  

So I think that's pretty much the fun stuff.  I should probably mention that Fireman Dave almost fell off the roof of the he-shed he's building in the backyard, but hung on like Spider Man instead until he could reach the ladder with his foot.  I guess they teach you Spider Man skills at the fire academy.  But the good news of this bit - o - news is that the he-shed actually has a roof now and is beginning to look a whole lot like something out there.  It is truly a labor of love that is going on for months dependent on work schedules and the weather.  I think it looks like we're building our very own church out  in the yard.  Bring a steeple and join us for prayer meeting at Walters Baptist next time you're in the area.  

And speaking of churches.  Here's what I was going to share with you mostly this week.  Y'all know I write for a few other blogs, right?  You can find me here almost weekly and this is my own home on the web.  I also write for The Dallas Moms Blog which is awesome for young moms trying to not pull their hair out raising kids.  And then I write for Wilshire.  And this is where we come to the great divide of sorts.  Wilshire is a Baptist church.  But don't start shaking your head and nodding in disbelief just yet.  We are not THAT kind of Baptist.  We're the other kind.  A church that is both kind enough and brave enough to voice some pretty hot topics in the land of Christian do's and dont's. And I am beyond thankful each week when they let me do a bit of the talking. 

So this past week I wrote THIS.  Go ahead and click on it when you get a chance then come right back here to find out about the continuing saga of Facebook comments.  Go ahead.  I'll wait for you.  

So the post was about guns.  And this may be where the water divides you and me along the river of humanity.  But I'm willing to cross that line to get to you if you promise to cross half way to meet me.  Or you might just decide that this whole Kristi blog thing isn't for you anymore.  I totally get it and respect the heck out of you for standing up for your beliefs.  But I will stand up for mine at the same time, and in this post for the church, I felt like I needed to speak up about how easy access to guns is affecting us in ways that maybe we haven't thought of.  Y'all, this is simply a post about a mom trying to guide her son through a difficult time.  That's all.  But I had comments wanting to make it so personal over their guns that I had to stop and wonder if speaking up was the right thing to do.  

And I've decided that YesYes it wasYes it is.  And Yes it will be.  It hurts me to see people who put more value on the possession of a weapon than the value of a life.  And y'all, this young man that Kid 3 has been grieving over the last few weeks was a precious life lost.  And the fact that so many other young people were influenced by it? Go ahead and start counting the numbers that will be lost in the future - maybe to more gun violence, maybe to violence in general.  Maybe from desperation and lack of choices to get out of the endless cycle of gangs and violence. 

Maybe I care so much about this one because I was a middle school teacher years ago.  And y'all, I loved loved loved those kids like they were my own.  And I saw each day how many of them felt they had no power other than what was placed easily before them.  And sadly, if that power came from a gun or negative affiliations, then it was still power.  I wanted then, and I want now for these kids to find power in themselves, in their teachers, in their families, churches, and especially in their educations.  

So yes, when I wrote that post for Wilshire, there were a lot of things going through my head.  They're still there.  And as I've told my loudest critic so far.... I hope and will continue to hope that the voices of thousands of moms will band together to yell the same thing enough times, and loud enough that we can bring about some important changes.

Here's what 18 years has made.....

So much fun to fit into one weekend and I don't even know how to describe it but through pictures.

First, let me say that though I love my job, I also love a good day off.  And I took that day last Friday so I could go to Kid 1's game.  Which was at a totally weird time - -at 11AM on a Friday morning.  And about a thousand miles away from where they usually play.  But it was the kids' State Fair day so there was no school and I guess that's why the daytime game.  I guess if you don't get the high schoolers early on a day off, maybe you won't get them at all.

So here we are - Kid 1's cheering section, complete with family from North Carolina and a cousin from Austin.  I think he was the only player with those kinds of visitors - so please, Kid 1, never tell us that you were ostracized, neglected, and unloved.

And that day at the game we experienced three of the four seasons of weather, missing only an ice storm for good measure.  But it rained and got cold, then hot, then some more rain with on and off again gale force winds.  This picture was during one of the bigger gusts.  I think my hair was about to blow off but I got to love on my boy for a second post game so vanity aside, I'll take it.  I think this is the time I should use a hashtag something like #MamaLovesNumber50

Then we made our way to the State Fair of Texas.  Was this my second or third visit this year?  I don't remember.  But seriously, who can ever get enough of Big Tex?

And on Saturday we had a family wedding - Fireman Dave's niece -  and that was fun, too.  And here are some cousins at the wedding.  Three belong to me.  Can you spot them? 

I do have to tell you that when the couple had napkins engraved with the words "mischief and merriment," they really meant the mischief part because whether they knew it or not, they had a trick cake... a cake that turned lips and teeth black, the color of the frosting.  Fireman Dave may or may not have been the only one besides a two year old to fall for it, but thank goodness for some abrasive paper towels in the bathroom to work his face back to normal.  I do not have pictures of this and for that he is thankful.  However....

I think this picture was taken before cake. 

Oh, and a couple of weeks ago we celebrated 18 years of marital bliss  marriage. So in honor of that I thought I'd throw out some TRUE or FALSE questions....

1. Romance and flowers and saying things like teen girls dream of saying to boys and I don't really know why,...... such as, You Complete Me...... is the key to long lasting relationships.

I say False, though Fireman Dave did surprise me with some pretty fancy flowers this time around. I think in the movies the girl would be wearing something cute or maybe even quirky... I'm thinking something  involving a skirt and a slightly mismatched sweater with some worn, but well thought out boots.  Oh, and she would also have the perfect look of surprise in her eyes upon floral gifting and receiving.  I happen to get that look of surprise and joy each and every time I come home to find the laundry already folded.  But that day, to highlight that romantic floral gesture, I was wearing a wet sports bra, and had come home late because I stopped to eat lunch with a friend.  But when I found the flowers on the dining room table, I still loved them.  And y'all, my husband's floral arranging skills never disappoint.

2. Dramatic dates and share  worthy pictures taken to mark every occasion are the key to long lasting relationships.

I say maybe because I would never turn down a good date if I were indeed offered one - but a giant no on the pictures and share worthy need for attention.  But y'all, for this anniversary, Fireman Dave was working.  And yes, we are still a 2 car family with three licensed drivers and a learner in the house - so for our date, I went by the fire station, picked him up and we did the station grocery shopping at the ALDI  in less than 30 minutes.  Sort of like speed dating, but with food choices.  It was super fun and I got some things for myself while I was there. He tried to trick me into choosing the ice cream flavor that they guys would like with lunch and I declined, stating that I still want to be the one that people like when she shows up for holidays and such.  That and I can't handle insults and criticism. 

3. 24 hour and day 7 day a week togetherness is the key to long lasting relationships.

I say a GIANT NO to that one. No, make that a giant NOOOOOOOO!!!!!! Everyone knows that I adore our every third day apart and having the entire bed to myself plus the house full of just me and the dog for a bit while the boys are at school. I enjoy together, but not glued together. That goes for everyone. 

4. Having everything in common makes for long lasting relationships.

Maybe. Maybe not. I wouldn't know since Fireman Dave and I have only certain things in common... our top two being Mexican food and our children. Other than that, the list is pretty spotty, but we each value the other's list for what it is.

So I thought I would go on a bit about what makes a relationship work for long periods of time.  But then I couldn't get the words out. Number one  - because I'm certainly not an expert on relationships of any kind.  Especially marriage so don't even look for those clues in here.  And Number two - my mind has been on other things.  

This past Friday evening while we were still at the Fair, Kid 3 found out that one of his friends from school had been shot and killed.  This was a 15 year old boy.  I wrote a post about it for another publication, and you can read it HERE.  But let me just say that I have tried to explain life and death and heaven and hell to a 14 year old boy in the last week.  And I've tried to do more listening to see if I could hear the sounds of grief getting quieter as the days passed.  And now will be the time to start introducing the idea of choices and consequences, in the context of life and death decisions, and how we decide to do that as parents can surely make or break the lines of communication.  So for now, I am just kind of sitting on those thoughts and words till I can get them right.

I talked to a friend at the gym today who is having some parenting issues of his own.  And I found myself just freely speaking out my thoughts about it  - like I know what I'm talking about.  Then I decided that it may be easier to parent someone else's kids through a tough time given the whole objectivity and impartial evaluation of the facts sort of thing.  Really I probably just need to not talk so much.

post script - to be truthful, we did go out to eat the night before our actual anniversary date, and tried a new Tex Mex restaurant in our very own neighborhood which is all by itself exciting and I might have to contain my enthusiasm for chips and salsa since it is so dangerously close to home now. And for the occasion I got to put on some cute clothes and throw the low carb plan out the window in order to celebrate 18 years.

Here's what 18 years has made..... 

Howdy Folks from Big Tex....

Here's me and Fireman Dave and our annual selfie with Big Tex.  We also took one in front of the fountain and the Ferris wheel but my eye looked like it was doing something weird so you can't see that one.

And if you've never been to a real barn raising.... you can mark that off your list right now.  Sort of.  Because HERE is a picture of what's happening in our backyard.

This is the out building that Fireman Dave has been working on tirelessly for the boys.  The big plan is to move the old couch, the video games, ... the general loudness out there and re-claim my den for family TV viewing.  When you can't quite make a whole house remodel happen, just do a backyard alternative instead.  That's kind of the Fire-family's budget minded motto.  But it's really not my deal at all, and I'm just watching it happen.  Do I think it the most logical plan?  I'm remaining silent on that.  

In other goings on,   

First, let me say that the Walters family has had a bit of drama of late, more of the don't share on the internet type, but what I've taken away from it is that no matter what is going on with our kids, no matter where, a mom will drop what she is doing, watching, reading or even eating, to take care of that kid.  And yes, Kids 1, 2 and 3, I always will.  God willing.  The love I have for my kids when their hearts are breaking, breaks my own.  But it is in those times that I know my full purpose on this earth has always been for me to be these boys' mom.

But THE absolute joy of my week has been my friend Loyce in Uganda.  And when joy is so big, it has to be shared.  Y'all, I needed a little laugh and smile this week, and without even knowing it Loyce came to my rescue. I bought her a little gift way back in July when Fireman Dave and I went to Fredericksburg, but I waited to send it till I had some other things to send with it.  What I have learned about the international postal system is that it is not cheap, so no you cannot send yourself wrapped as a gift to anyone outside of the United States.  It is also hit or miss on when or whether your mail will actually arrive at its destination.  I mailed a package to Loyce in early August, containing her gift and two letters that I had written over the summer.  When the package didn't arrive by the last week of September, I sent her a separate letter to let her know that I still think she's awesome.  THIS week, the September letter arrived on Tuesday and the August package finally arrived on Wednesday and Loyce got to be surprised at school by our mutual friend and all around amazing person, Vornita, not once but twice.  Here are a few of those pictures.

But Y'all, it gets so much better.  I had already asked Vornita to make sure Loyce had her needs met and even beyond that, I asked for her to get a few special things for her as well.  School tuition and supplies are fun and all, but nothing compared to snacks, new dresses and new shoes.  And today this is what I got pictures of....

Surprise Loyce!! 

I tried to share a video link from Facebook with you.  Gosh I tried, but gosh, I also finally gave up.  It's a video of her getting her new dresses and shoes and she is as silent and expressionless as a statue.  But her classmates and their reactions?  Y'all.  Just Y'all. 

What I've learned about Loyce is that she is a bit on the shy side, a bit camera shy and a tad reserved.  But give a girl a new dress and she becomes a princess.  Then she becomes a superstar - how about a superstar princess?  And that smile?  No I mean, really - THAT SMILE!  How can I love this little girl so much from so far away?  I think it's a God thing.

But as I watched the video of her receiving her new things, my heart felt so much appreciation for what I have and have always had.  She was pretty silent as she opened the package - honestly I'm not sure she has ever had a brand new dress before - but listening to her classmates ooh and aah over a dress made my heart confused about whether it should break or throw a party.  Seeing how excited a child gets over  things that my own boys take for granted  makes me feel so many different things - so much so that sometimes I have to look away.  Maybe that's the biggest problem - that we have the option of looking away.

Right now I'm in a place where I don't want to look away.  I want to see her house and her family and her busy at work making brooms.  I want to see her in her school uniform  and her report card to see her grow both physically and in opportunity to better herself.  I want to keep giving to this little girl so that she can feel a hint of a question in her heart asking why a stranger all the way across the world wants to send her things.  I hope one day she knows that it was because I want her to be reminded that she is of value to me and to the God who made her.   

I think my sweet little pen pal came along at a time when I needed to give out some extra love, and I couldn't think of a cuter little girl to give it to.  God fills in the gaps in our hearts,... I've always thought so - and because of exactly that, I'm thankful for her. 

I've been quite frustrated in the mothering department lately.  Save for a few moments of surprise need by my kids, I've felt like whatever I do or say doesn't really matter all that much anymore.  And I'm not talking about the million times I tell the boys to take out the trash.  I'm talking about the importance of faith and family and looking beyond today to what each of us can do to influence a better tomorrow  - whether that be for ourselves, for each other, or for something greater than ourselves.  But the most pressing topics around here only seem to be - Do we have any chips?  Where are all the towels?  It's been two minutes since I texted Princess C and I might die soon... see how my hand is already twitching from withdrawal?  

Y'all, I know all about how families are destined to grow upward and outward, but my hope was always that when that happened, that the roots of us would stay strong.  Today I'm feeling a little sad about my roots.  So I am extending this to you, ... my thoughts, hopes and prayers for you if you are in a similar place.  And my admiration and respect if you were at one time, and made it through.  I tend to lean to toward to the lonely side of things - it's a Kristi specialty, and being a fire wife where I spend a whole lotta time alone sometimes makes those thoughts echo in my own mind.  

But when I get like this, I write to my blog.  I write to Loyce.  I plan my next adventure.  I'm getting excited about what that might be. 

post script - Did I tell you that Loyce speaks 3 different languages?  And that English is her weakest?  It is.  So we have that communication gap, along with the time gap to learn about each other.  But my commitment is to regularly remind her that she is in my thoughts and that those thoughts are of love for a sweet little girl far away.  If you ever want to join me in writing to her, her family, or would like to help another child, please ask me how.  

Time to let it go, Kristi

Here are the top things I have learned as a blogger in my years on the job...

1.  I can pour  my heart and soul into a post and feel like the world's greatest person and no one will care.  Really.  No one. 

2. I can sit down and write a post in a matter of minutes, just something off the top of my head... and it will get shared a million times and I stand amazed at how easy it was.  Or not.

3.  Topics people tend to be most interested in on my blog - interpersonal relationships such as that time last week when I was at Kid 3's football game and no one would sit with me.  People also enjoy a good story about Kid 1 and Princess Chatterbox, tales of public school and learning challenges, or in other words, How is Kid 3 doing in math class this year, Kristi?  And I know I will forever get record setting readership if I say that I tripped and fell down or had a fight with Fireman Dave.  Go figure.

So thank you to all of you who shared my last post about our kids attending our neighborhood public school.  It went internet crazy and I've since been contacted by several individuals and organizations that have expressed interest in that post and I feel sort of blogging famous.  At least I did for about 5 minutes.... now I just feel like me again.  Especially considering Kid 3's math grade. 

General Updates..... 

Today I drove through a bucket of nails on our street.  Because you know,... every now and then there's just a random bucket of nails in the street.  So I'm hoping the gods of automotive care are protecting my tires as we speak.  And there is still a sailboat in our driveway.  But now it is being propped up with a Black and Decker work bench because that makes it better.  

Went to Kid 1's game as I do every week... but this time there was rain,  a cricket invasion, and finally a skunk.  It was like the 3 plagues of football revelation so we left when the smell started to permeate my hair. 

In kid news - Kid 1 went to the Homecoming dance last weekend and looked so handsome and had so much fun that he forgot to come home on time.  This, opening an entirely new chapter of the Harlequin romance novel known as Kid 1 and Princess C Take on Their Second Year of Love.

And Kid 2 was feeling a little teenager-ish yesterday and pointed out how I seem to edit all our family photos to make myself look better than I actually do.  Which is really not something a man should ever say to his mother - or to any female on the planet if he ever wants to live a peaceful life.  We are now working on repairing our relationship and hoping to salvage some of the pieces.  

And Kid 3 is playing football for his middle school and giving all the attention he should be giving to math, science and all other subjects requiring his brain, to his athletic improvement.  It looks like it might be another long school year.

Fireman Dave is finishing out the month of September as he started it out... working.  If there was a lifetime achievement award given for number of overtime hours worked in a month, he would win by a mile.  I on the other hand, seem to daily lose the battle of house cleaning, cooking anything that didn't start out frozen and/or in a box, and the keeping of my children.  I did however just purchase the cutest pair of Reebok Classic tennies off of a resale fashion site and I feel like a success in life because of it.  Can't wait to dress cute and look adorable when I fail at all my home and parenting tasks.

And just an fyi...  if you actually know me and have seen me in the past few days.  I had my final dermatology appointment that I gifted myself earlier in the year.  In short,.... on the road to looking fabulous, I have to go through several days of really ugly to get there.  So yes, I feel fine, nothing tragic happened, and Fireman Dave wants me to let everyone know that I feel safe at home.

Y'all, September was hard on us all.  Was it for you, too?  I've pretty much just tried to get through each day and find a place to nap whenever possible.  But I made a decision a few days ago that I hope will change some of the stress of late.  I sent a text to Princess Chatterbox and asked if she would like to get together one day after school or even just sit together at Kid 1's next game.  I knew I had to do that, and the thing is that I've known it for a long time.  I've prayed about it over and over and the answer I always got was a heaviness in my heart about the whole thing.  I think for a while I wanted to blame it all on the youth in the situation, but maybe it just took some time to remember that I was young once too.  Y'all, one time I went over to a boy's house and knocked on the back door.  I chose the back door because I had been over to his house a couple of times before and we always used the back door.  But me being from the part of town I lived in, that whole choice of entrance doors was totally foreign  to me so I just assumed the back door was how everyone went into that house.  His mom wasn't very nice about it all and I could tell in multiple ways that she, at that very moment, had just labeled me as both brazen and ignorant.  I vote ignorant, but that was a long time ago and time to let it go, Kristi.  But she made me feel like I had committed a thousand sins of guest etiquette, and I still remember it.  Anyway, little things like that kept coming back to me.  And the answer was that I should be a help, not a hindrance in the growing of a quality adult.  

So I invited her.  And I told her that anyone who is important to Kid 1 is important to me, and how I really do want to get to know her better.  The olive branch of friendship has been extended, and I hope that it reaches straight into my heart and softens it a bit to make this work.  

Maybe that's the answer to the prayer I wasn't expecting to get.

I heard the Walters family sent their kids to public school and they're all happy and doing fine

This is the time of the year when school just started so new interest has peeked its worried head out of the protection of the summer, and asked, Where in the world will I send my kid to school next year?  Or my all time fave, Where, oh where, will I send my kid to preschool?  - which totally makes me laugh because the actual answer is to just send them to that little Mother's Day Out program at the local church or the YMCA and have a few hours to yourself, Mama.  

And while you're having a few hours to yourself, look around at all the people you see and ask yourself what preschool they might have attended in their formative years to get them where they are today.  Yes, that's a joke.  Because they probably have no clue where they went, if they went at all. Because y'all, bigger things happened since then - things like life and love and disappointment and tragedy.  Things like friends, and family and family trips.  Things like church and scouts and weekly visits to the library.  Things like neighborhood walks and visits with grandparents and volunteer work - all of which made a bus load of weight more impact on the person than the choice of school so many years ago. 

I was visiting with a neighbor the other day and the conversation turned to our kids - mostly to my prediction that this year, as his oldest enters 3rd grade, every conversation at soccer games, birthday parties and school programs, will turn into the age old question of Where will we send our angel to middle school? And trust that I speak from experience, because we've heard it all, done it all, and visited them all.  I've talked to parents, teachers, school counselors, and read reviews on school ratings websites.  And the best answer I have come up with in the years of getting all three of my kids well into middle school and high school is this - just go ahead and enroll them in that school in your neighborhood.  Because its wonderful. 

But the fact is that you're never going to know how wonderful it is if you're afraid to take that first step.  And if you're too busy talking about which schools are bad to actually just try it.  The school gossip travels through the ages.  You know the talk ... I heard that the Walters family sent their kids to so and so and there was a fight in the hallway.  I heard that the Walters family sent their kids to the local school and there was a drug overdose in the 8th grade hall.  Which is actually true, by the way.  But what about the news that the Walters sent all three of their kids to their local elementary, middle and high schools and they're all happy and doing well...  That's the news that I wish would get spread louder and further than the bad. 

Until parents are ready to view each school opportunity as equal, there will be forever and always the ones that don't stand a chance.  That school that you and your mom friends have all discussed and decided isn't very good?  Well, it won't be very good until a mom like you who cares to give her child the very best of everything gets involved and makes that school shine brighter each year you can contribute.  Our little neighborhood elementary is in great demand these days, but when we enrolled Kid 1 - our now Junior in high school, people acted like we were sending him off to war.  And it took a whole lot of working on fundraisers, PTA meetings and Halloween carnivals to leave that school a better place after Kid 3 finished his turn there 10 years later.  And we left it in the very capable hands of other neighborhood parents who believe that change won't happen till we make it happen. Yay for parent involvement.  

I understand the call of private school, and had that been a financial option for us, I may be telling a whole different story today. I get it.  And I am not anti -private school and I am not anti-YOU.  So don't even say it.  What I am is PRO-KID. And that means every kid getting an equally wonderful chance at an education. 

I can honestly say that I have to smush down the mad every Friday night and Saturday morning when I hear about all the young parents taking their kids to the high school football games - but not the game of the school that their kids should go to according to address.  There's a favorite around here and it wins the popular vote every time.  It also wins the race card because it's the only high school in our district that has less than the 95% minority and 90% economically disadvantaged enrollments of the rest of the district.  And yes, my kids go to one of the 95% minority and 90% economically disadvantaged ones.  And they love it there.  

I can say without doubt that my boys have seen and heard things that I wish I could shelter them from, but I can't.  And never was able to do even before public school.  Their worlds extend beyond the walls of our home and out into the mall, the movies, their friends' houses and everywhere social media has a touch screen connection to their hearts and minds.  But what I know is that they have seen and heard enough to practice their right and wrong decision making skills - skills that they will have to exercise sooner or later no matter what, and I'd rather they do that now while they're still in my care. 

post script- photos in this post were from yesterday's high school Homecoming parade. And it's not corporate sponsored.  Nor is it fancy or big.  But it's ours.  And the kids are so proud, happy and excited.  And to me, that's one heck of a parade. 

post post script - If you're sitting on the school fence but afraid of which side to climb off?  Visit them all.  Visit by surprise, then visit again.  But mostly talk to the parents who have had kids in those schools and value their words over the words of the young moms still afraid of that first day of kindergarten or middle school or high school.    
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