stop, drop and roll with it.....

So..... we had a smallish kitchen fire and I was blamed for it.  And at the same time, shamed by Kid 2 for making him be the one who mixed up the brownies and stuck them in the oven that went crazy. 

I know this picture doesn't quite do it justice... but here are the brownies after they were removed from the oven -  flaming -  and leaving us wondering why we weren't all suited up in our firefighter family gear.... Fireman Dave tossed them out into the ferns on the front porch, much like that time he had another smallish kitchen fire and went running through the house like he was finishing first place in a race - but in a race where you had to juggle flaming pans of grease while running really fast.

Anyway, I swear it was just the day before that he told me I almost caught my sweater on fire at the stove, and all he did was watch it happen and remind me to stop, drop and roll.  I still think he has plans to hire a cute nanny upon my demise.

But y'all, so much smoke filled the house that the smoke alarms went off and we had all the windows open forever, fans going, and angry people who didn't get to eat any brownies.  And the entire next day while I worked outside the home, Fireman Dave worked on smoke damage cleanup -  washing all the walls with vinegar water, and laundering every slipcover and curtain, until he got tired and quit then went to eat lunch with his brother.  They had barbecue.  The house is better, but still very much smells like someplace you don't really want to be.

But the good news came when husband texted me that I wasn't to blame for the blaze - because the night before it was basically a witch hunt around here - telling me I had pushed the broil button instead of the bake button and making Kid 2 hate me for getting him involved.  And making me worry ever the more about my mind slipping further and further out of reach.

But on clean up day when Fireman Dave tried to mask the smell  with an internet remedy of butter and cinnamon, heated in the oven on a piece of foil at 200 degrees, he proved my mind is as healthy as ever.  Well, actually he only proved that we need a new oven.  But imagine a pat of butter with a streak of orange fire reaching the sky  - and that, my loves is a picture of my worries disappearing.  Until this morning when I said a few questionable things in class....... 

So really this week we learned that we need a new oven, and that it is doubtful that Fireman Dave would save me if I catch my sweater on fire while cooking dinner. 

Once again I type the words, I didn't sleep well last night.  Or the night before.  Maybe that's why I say crazy and confusing things in the microphone at work.... but really, it affects everything I do.  I've been so worried about Kid 1 and his speeding bullet of a relationship with his lady love that I can't help but think I need a super hero on speed dial.  A super hero that runs to the rescue of teens about to make huge mistakes and regret them the rest of their lives. 

And I'm not saying either one of them are bad kids, alone or together, but I am saying that age 16 is too young to be thinking such serious thoughts of a relationship, all the while thinking less and less about his own plans for the future.  He's always been my one to have one really good friend.  One friend at a time, and he's either all in or all out.  This time, the friend is a young lady with designs on his future and a propensity to write lengthy love letters and draw cute hearts. 

To put it plainly, I'm worried.  I'm worried that all I've said and done has gone in one ear and out the other, or maybe it was never heard over the sounds of crunching potato chips.  I'm worried that he can only see today, and not even to the end.  I'm worried that he can only see to the next phone call or text, and is completely blind to opportunity and possibility.  Because it's really so very hard to explain to a kid that there is more than today.  And that today is a tiny spot on the map of his life, and how quickly and easily that tiny spot can change his forever course. 

I feel like I've spent a million years telling my boys that they were each created for a purpose that only he could fulfill.  A purpose and plan that God placed in their hearts and put them in charge of for their lifetimes.  And I can only hope that the whisper, the calling of their purpose and plan is louder than that of anything else that tries to drown it out.  Louder than school and friends and sports, and cell phones.  And louder than a young girlfriend who bases her entire existence on his love.  She deserves more, and so does he. 

So no, I didn't sleep last night.  And I worried.  And the house smelled like burned food.  I need to come to the point where I'm able to say that it's still all good.  Or that it will all eventually be good,  and that God can use anything and everything for our good, when we allow him to do it.  Or in fireman lingo?  ... stop, drop and roll with it......    And then place some faith in what I've invested and taught and trusted all this time as a mom.  Then I have to go to sleep and remind myself that the boys could be doing a whole lot of worse things that I can't even imagine.  

post script:  Now this is funny... maybe only to moms, but still.......

Kids 1, 2 and 4 were out somewhere of mystery, on bikes, ... and I got a phone call from my cousin that doesn't even live in town.  She lives about 2 hours away and hasn't seen me or the boys in forever.  She had bought something off Craigs List or Facebook Garage Sale or something and happened to be in our neighborhood and called to say that she just saw my crazy kids out and about.  Yes,.... of course I asked if they were being naughty or nice. 

But to think that this is a cousin that I never see, haven't seen in years, and that she happened upon three kids on bikes and recognized them as mine - Y'all.... this just proves that moms have eyes everywhere, and that God can  place people in the most unexpected places to keep an eye on our kiddos.  I love this.  And I need to place a whole lot more faith in it. 


Did you ever see the movie, Elephant Man?    I am not an elephant! I am not an animal! I am a human being!  Which is exactly what I would like to tell every single person who sees me outside the gym and acts like it's the first time I've ever taken a shower.  

I'm obviously one inch shy of hideous at work.  

So this past week, as many times before over the years, I ran into some regulars from the gym, but outside in the real world.  This time at the post office. And I walked right past them and said a polite hello - in my cute maxi dress with adorable son by my side.   And it wasn't till I was leaving that they recognized me as... well, ME

Sometimes it's at the grocery store or out somewhere with my family.  And in those times and in real clothes, I'm almost always a stranger.  Incognito, with some painted on eyelashes.  And I even managed to catch a man... is my regular response when they step back and look all shocked that I'm, um... kinda okay. 

But truth be told, none of the messy work look even comes close to bothering me.  Because I love what I do.  And I think it shows.  I hope it shows.  And I hope it shines brighter than any sweat ever could. 

And I honestly think that I would rather be known for the person that I am - all the time - rather than the one represented by an outfit or a certain look.  But I have to ask myself if the qualities that I wish to be known for are

#1)  positive, encouraging and giving - albeit with a side of sarcasm that I couldn't stop even if I tried.  And...

 #2)  are they qualities that could and would be recognized in me no matter what, where or when

This afternoon I decided to write a little post about how I can't write a bigger post this week.  And I decided to write that post sitting here on a rainy afternoon in my pajamas.  Because I can't think of much that makes me happier than my pajamas.  But really because I can't compete with all the social media posts quoting the great lines of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  - Yes, I have a dream, but it's quite insignificant in comparison... and come to think of it, my sleepy time dreams last night were bordering on the weird and disturbing. 

And Lord help us all, I can't even come close to the media attention given to our future president and all the attention, for better or for worse, this week's events will bring.  I've taken to wearing my Me For President t-shirt just in case I need to stand in at the last minute. Y'all, I stand ready with a servant's heart.

But here's what I can give.  I can give a reminder of the hope that is in each one of us when we choose to look for it.  I can make mention of God's forever faithfulness even in the craziest of times.  And I can try my darndest to be an example of what I would like to see in the world. 

Or I can sit back and watch all of Facebook and Instagram try to make sense of it all this week by sharing other people's thoughts, opinions, and sideways derived knowledge.  I vote no on that option because - just no. 

I would rather ask this of you - and especially me, .... sometime this week, give of yourself.  Give your own words that encourage and dispel rumor and false truths.  Stop the ridiculous sharing of memes that are just.... ridiculous, and make you look not your very best.  Stop arguing.  Stop fanning the flames of doubt and anger that are everywhere already,  ready to ignite given the right conditions. 

In fact, just stop.  Stop long enough to ask if what you are about to write or speak or share is adding anything positive to someone's day.  Ask if the first person to hear your words would walk away with a smile and a loving heart because of what you gave them.  Then ask if you have something else of more value to give.  I like to think that I do most of the time, but when all else fails, you know what?  I write about my hair.  Or nothing at all.  I think that's a pretty good recipe to follow. 

Y'all, we are all given the same chance to change a life each day.  And we all start out with the same heart..... And I know that good + strong = a desire to spread joy rather than promoting ignorance and hate.  

This week I hope to be known as the girl who smiles a lot at work and who never leaves the house each morning before saying I love you to my people.  And my dog.  And may I go down in history this week as the blogger that said nice things.  Or said nothing at all.

 And that's about it.

It seems I look a lot like Hillary Clinton..... trying to decide which voices matter

Y'all, this really happened. 

I was at the grocery store last night, soup aisle to be exact, and I scared a man half to death.  Like he saw a ghost, or a scary monster, which made me feel really self conscious because he was looking straight at me.  First he made this little startled jump move, then said, You look like Hillary Clinton.  

So then I asked him if he thought Hillary lived in the neighborhood and shopped at the Kroger.  We became fast friends and he seemed genuinely glad that I wasn't her.  Then he talked about my hair - but didn't mention if he cared for my new bangs or not.  He told me that if I just had a little more on the sides, fluffier was the word he chose, then it would be Hillary hair.  Then he told me that he hopes that I don't have her heart. 

But the thing is that this wasn't the first time someone has said this to me.  A couple of months ago I was at work and a man I hardly know said the same thing.  And years and years ago, the same report came from our older next door neighbor.  Seems to be a running theme - old men don't like Hillary,  and they love to tell me about it.  All because I happen to have short blonde hair. 

Here's where I thought I'd do a side by side comparison:  

Hillary is lovely and accomplished.  I genuinely think so.  But I wear rock star boots and have an awesome ear cartilage piercing.  Yes, we are both strong women, but very, very different.  

I've always been one of those people - the one others like to tell things to.    There was that day, again out shopping, when a cashier told me all about how his knee hurts because back in the day when he went out dancing with his cousin, the cousin brought a heavy set friend who fell on him and he's never been the same since.  And people love to tell me their very private business, often detailing bathroom habits and intimate details of their romantic relationships.  It's a curse of having kind eyes. 

But the ones that rock my world are the people who say things that are both unkind, unthinking, and usually just mean.  A few weeks ago a lady at work asked me how old I am.  I told her I wouldn't say and she didn't like my answer.  Sometime last year  - right in the middle of class, a participant asked me these exact words - What's going on with your tummy?  What was going on with her brain????  And of course there was crazy Miss Vera who told me she could see through my pants and that I wore them that way because I wanted people to look.  Did I mention that she was crazy? 

But I think the absolute worst was the day when a lady came to me after class and pointed out a particular part of me, .... not my kindness or my careful attention to my craft.  Not my experience at what I do or the quality of instruction.  Not to thank me for my time or preparation, but to point out a physical characteristic of mine - and then tell me that I'll want to do something about it.  Her words were this,....and I won't ever forget, because I can't......  Kristi, you're a beautiful girl.  But you'll want to do something about _____________________. 

And I know I didn't cry immediately and I know that it took every prayer I could send up via emergency delivery to keep from it.  And I know I tried to be gracious.  I thanked her for coming to class, and for giving me what she considered to be valuable advice.  And I remember telling her that I've always looked like this, and that she was the first one to ever find it of value to say something about it. 

Then I went home and I cried forever.  And I made an appointment with a medical spa to get an estimate on fixing what I was just told was wrong with me.  The truth is that  I can't even type these words without tears.  Maybe she thought she was giving me caring advice.  Maybe she was being mean.  Maybe she just didn't think about it at all that day, and never has again.  But I have. 

Much like the time a million years ago when I was supposed to sing at my great grandmother's funeral - and it was a disaster.  It really was.  Number one, it was a big mistake to agree to do something like that when already emotional.  But no matter, it didn't work out.... but what I mostly remember about it is that most people were kind.  And if not kind, they were silent.  But one day, years later, instead of insulting me out in the open, my mom insulted me by proxy.  She told me she had a phone call from a cousin and they laughed about who that unfortunate girl was singing trying her best that day. 

Y'all, I can't help but ask what love should do in that situation.  Love would be silent.  Had there really been a phone call and discussion over my misfortune, love would've said, But her heart was beautifully in the right place, and I'm so very proud of her for it.  And love would've built a wall between me and any chance at hurt.  Because love never seeks satisfaction from the discomfort of others. 

I'm not saying that love should've stood between me and the guy at the Kroger yesterday.  But human kindness and respect should.  I can't think of a time that I have ever walked up to a stranger and told her that her tummy is causing me concern, or that she should consult a plastic surgeon.  Or for that matter, that they look anything other than lovely.  I always remember our first trip to D.C. a few years ago.  And walking through the subway platform, a lady stopped to tell me that I looked beautiful in my dress.  Wow.  Those simple words coming from an unexpected place, are still with me today.  What an act of love from a stranger to reach out and affirm another person.  

Y'all, we need each other.  Maybe more now than ever.  There is so much disconnect and sadness everywhere we turn, and the world takes care of that all on it's own.  I don't know if you're much of a Satan believer.... is he real, is he not real?  The Bible says he is.  And I promise you that he takes delight in our pain.  He recognizes our weakness and calls it by name.  Then he uses it to his advantage.  He can take what we think is secret to us - our doubts, our insecurities, our hurts that we've carried for years - and bring them out into the open for all the world to see.  He breathes life into our pain, taking it from a whisper into the only voice we can hear.  Then he laughs and calls it a good day.  

And as much as I know this to be true, and promise myself to be kind to Kristi, it's just so easy to let my weakness become my strength.   Y'all, the careless words of others aren't random.  They are messages sent to dispel our worth.  When right there in our ear all day long, God is whispering love.  You are my beloved, in whom I am pleased.   

I think the hardest part is trying to decide which voices matter. 

Here's my challenge to you.... Wouldn't it just make someone's day to meet a stranger and say to them, Hello new friend, You have nice eyes.  You have great style.  I like your hair or your shoes and can I trade kids with you for just one day because yours are so great!  Wouldn't it even be nicer to just smile at the person next to you in the soup aisle and ask them how they're doing today?  I'm in. 

post script.... I  love you and I love your comments.... but remember that this is a politically neutral site.  I don't want to know how you feel about Hillary so don't even bother to tell me.  I'm happy to discuss the ins and outs of her pantsuits and/or her hair, but I will immediately delete any comments that are not positive.

post post script:  Did you miss my last post?  Here's everything you ever wanted to know about our vacation and our new year.   

Dear 2017, you are already making a poor impression on me

Hi... I'm Kristi and I never have a chance to write on my blog anymore........

This is the time of year that always makes me lose my mind.  It also makes my family wish I lived in Alaska, or even next door where they can't hear me yell at them to pick up all their crap up off the floor.  Holidays are all fine and good  - till they're not, and especially till togetherness makes me feel like I'm drowning in a very small pond  - tightly compacted and filled with useless and assorted junk.  I am also battling on and off again hives and just recovered from a dandy of a yeast infection. Dear 2017, you are already making a poor impression on me.  

I've been locked out of the laptop for almost two weeks now, and will be filing that dilemma under the catch all category of,  I Blame the Teenagers for Everything.  When we finally recovered access to the computer, everything I loved dearly had either been moved or removed, which did nothing to help my already, shall we say, itchy and bitchy attitude.  I think this is where I should say something about faith in all things and how God works for the good of those that trust him.  But God, how I love him dearly, wasn't the one outsmarted by a 16 year old sneaking in after hours and texting the girlfriend via my laptop after he turned in his phone for the night.  That's when Fireman Dave tried to outsmart the kid by changing the computer password, but instead -  he changed history. 

Teenagers are dirty, rotten scoundrels ... and yet, oh so smart - but only in ways that don't count toward life goals and accomplishments.  I believe Kid 1, when approached about the situation at hand, told us we should just come up with more rules - at which point we considered telling him he should just come up with a new home.... But it was Christmas and hearts being full of love and cheer, we let him stay, and went on a 10 day vacation adventure.  

Here are some highlights of the trip....

We decided that two weeks of nothing to do at home could add up to a whole lot of trouble so we followed the advice of a wise woman I know..... who told me the true secret to parenting.  Are you ready?  Start drinking and keep 'em moving.  So we did. 

We pulled the boys out of school a day early to take advantage of fireman friendly airfare prices for our trip.  Which  just means that now the kids have to go back to school and take makeup exams that they missed.  The original plan for the trip was to spend Christmas with family at the beach in North Carolina, but it worked out that we could better afford to fly into Washington DC, spend a bit of time, then rent a car and make the trip to the beach from there.

Here we are in DC - I call this one, the Walters try to take a selfie. 

This was right before we went to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and walked into a shake down by a tiny Asian lady dressed in a winter jumpsuit.  Fireman Dave and Kid 1 totally fell for her sweetness as she took their hands, blessed them with the peace of something or another and slipped a plastic bracelet onto each of their wrists.  Husband just thought she was the nicest lady in town and I was walking as far away as possible.  Every man for himself is my rule in any situation involving panhandlers.  Turns out the blessing of peace cost $10 for adults and $5 for kids..... and Fireman Dave had exactly zero money.  Which is when he started singling me out in the crowd, pointing out to the lady that I was the one with the cash.  Thank you Fireman Dave for getting me involved in the sweetest scam in town.  Anyway, I rescued them from her grip, refusing the high price of her blessing, then paid her $5 and took my men and ran.  Sometimes a woman just has to take charge of a situation.  

We saw the National Christmas tree, the White House all decorated for Christmas and saw a show by the Washington Chorus at The Kennedy Center.  We also became experts at the subway and walked a million miles to and from our hotel and everything we could fit in during two days. 

Here we are at the tree - exactly five minutes before Kid 1 punched Kid 3 in the stomach and I started wishing for some Secret Service men to intervene.  

Then we drove to the beach....

Oh how to describe our Christmas....

Imagine you're watching an episode of the reality show, Survivor.  My sister and brother in law are the the hosts of the show.  Imagine 14 contestants - 10 adults, three teenage boys, and 1 toddler, all dropped on an island, trying to be the last to survive. But the prize isn't a million dollars this time, it is the chance to not get the stomach flu spreading like fire across the island.  Each contestant is armed with only two things - a can of Lysol and a shared bathroom. 

One by one, each person in his or her own way and each compiling his or her long list of miserable symptoms, is taken down by a two year old with diarrhea, as you watch your TV in horror.  You also want to wash your hands as much as possible.   
Back in the summer we took a trip to a civil war battleground and cemetery and saw a house that acted as a makeshift hospital for the sick and wounded.  I think we totally re-created that scene at our family gathering this year. 

Here's our little corner of the world - I stood on the bed to get this shot.  One body on the floor is Kid 2, the other is Kid 3.  Note the nearby bucket and trash bag liner close to each kid.  Kid 1 is right outside my door, closest to the bathroom because, God bless him, the biggest are the hardest to fall.

After the weekend, only 4 of us survived untouched.   I was never more proud to have been a champion of anything in my life. 

Then when we gathered our strength, we drove to Colonial Williamsburg, which was so beautiful.  Fireman Dave and I let the boys stay at the hotel that evening and watch a movie while we returned to have dinner at a tavern that was built in 1766.  Fun music, a man in kilt and a not so great waitress named Bertha made that night memorable in an all new way.  We also visited historic Jamestown and I stood in line for a very long time at the pharmacy at Target in Williamsburg, Virginia.  Because fun always has to be tempered with something to bring you home to reality. 

And on our last day, we toured The United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.  

And if it weren't so darn cold there, I would pack a bag and move there today.  Adorable is my word for that town.  I definitely want to go back when all chances of snow flurries have passed. 

We're home now and I'm back to work and so happy about that.  I love my people - my family people, and my work people.  But rest from both is something I just have to have to keep up with the pace that I demand of myself.  I'm not much for looking at the new year as a new beginning.  I actually feel like if I wasn't already doing something the day before, why on earth would I start just because I flipped a page on the calendar. 

On our last night of the trip, as we camped out in a Washington DC hotel room waiting to get up at 4AM for a flight home, I thought a little about this trip - how I'm the furthest from an adventurer that anyone could ever be.  And how if I had been one of the first people to travel to America and forced to pioneer my way through some of the history I saw on this trip, we would all be doomed.  But I put my trust in Fireman Dave to plan and direct and lead me out of my comfort zone and into opportunity on this vacation.  Kinda' like when my high school boyfriend used to take me to parties that maybe we weren't supposed to go to.  But in both situations, I felt perfectly safe and never considered the alternative. 

Then I thought how wonderfully simple life could be if only I could place such trust in God's plan for my life.  If I could just sit back and say, This is it, and it's goodNow hold my hand and walk me into this party.  How easy things could be if I were to finally accept that this is the door that was opened for me so long ago -  and be content to walk through it and enjoy the possibility. 

All I can say is that I'm willing to try.  

post script:  in hair news, I got my hair trimmed by someone new and she cut me some bangs like I haven't had in many moons.  They're really feathery and wispy and I feel like I could star in a re-make of  Charlie's Angels to be aired on prime-time TV.  

But no pictures please... at least till I purchase a red swimsuit and pose like Farrah Fawcett in all her winged glory.
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