Not today Satan

Today is technically Mother's Day, 2018.  Technically, I say because holidays around Waltersville aren't always the ones on the calendar.  One of the first things a new fire-wife will learn as she enters into this career with her husband, is that holidays are celebrated according to fire department calendars, not traditional calendars.  Santa has to come early some years, late for others.  Birthday parties happen when they can, and especially when the kids are younger, mostly when daddy can be there to watch his kiddo celebrate.  And today, Mothers Day, around here anyway, is just another day like the rest..  I got up, went to church, and came home to unload the dishwasher, cook some chicken strips and fries for the boys as they basically ignored me and moaned about how hungry they are.  Same old, same old. 

But the true celebration is in the details,  Kid 1 gave a little social media shout out to his Mama that I heard about through the grapevine.  Kid 2 wrote me a heartfelt and very sweet letter that he snuck into my room last night and left for me.  And Kid 3 sent me a Happy Mothers Day text while I was out and about earlier this morning.  Then he gave me some of his famous Kid 3 hugs that I love more than almost anything.  No, make that more than every anything.  And a couple of weeks ago when we had the chance to have the whole family together and we went out to lunch at the Arboretum, I actually declared that to be  my early Mothers Day celebration.  Gotta party when you can, right? 

And then this:  a screenshot from Fireman Dave who obviously sat around the station on this fine day and read his Bible.  Good for you, Fireman Dave.  But he sent me this in between his saving of the world, his watching of a new TV crime drama, and studies in Biblical perspectives on motherhood.  

So then I went and put on my, "This is the best day ever" sweater and took a nap.  

And I guess my final and most important thoughts on this subject are this....  me being the biggest, meanest scroogiest of them all at Christmas, and hater of commercially forced Valentine love - my hope is that I have raised boys that know the importance and value of giving and sharing and appreciating the people they love every day of the year - without having to be reminded by Hallmark or having to condense thankfulness and emotion into one 24 hour period.  I think I have.  

Like I told Kid 2 today, I am the luckiest mom in the world when my kids come and in and tuck me in to bed at night - now that they can outlast me by hours.  I am the luckiest mom in the world when they sit with me on the couch and watch TV, or come into my room and ask about the book I'm reading and tell me about something in their days.  That is mothers day at its finest to me, and I'll not only take it, but I'll keep it. 

Now, onward and upward....

We had this really great wicker chair that I had on our front porch for a few years.  One of my finest and proudest side of the road, big trash finds that I fixed up and called my own.  Then about a month ago the big trash fairy dropped an outdoor love-seat and matching chairs out onto the curb a few blocks down and I grabbed the love-seat, thinking I had the chair part taken care of and wanting to leave plenty of treasure for the other hunters in the hood.  So I put the love-seat on the front porch for a while till I decided that it was causing me undue stress in finding affordable cushions for it, and then I moved it away again.  So I asked Kid 3 to retrieve the original wicker chair from the back yard and move it back to the front for me.  Please and thank you.  And he is so sweet and did exactly that, but somehow missed the front porch part of my request and just cleaned it up and put it out on the curb for someone else to choose and enjoy.  So basically, long story, shortened..... I am in need of some awesome love-seat cushions at an affordable price point, and if you happen to see my chair around somewhere, tell it hello for me. 

And one day I forgot to pick up Kid 2 from school because I thought he was riding home with Kid 1.  Another case of Why do they let me be the Mom?  Anyway, I had Kid 3 at the dentist and was waiting for Kid 2 to arrive for his after school appointment, but only got texts that Kid 1 was nowhere to be found and has never come out of the school.  So by then I was mad and estimating how much a last minute dentist cancellation was gonna cost me.  I had earlier messaged Kid 1 to ask if he could bring his brother to his appointment - and I THOUGHT he said he had no football practice.  So I took that as a yes.  But after my adult temper tantrum, I looked back at the message and saw that he did not say that he had no practice - he said NO, he has practice and can't deliver the goods.  Anyway, by that time I was already driving around the back of the high school, slowly stalking the football practice field in search of my disappointing son, and may or may not had already text - yelled at him that if he didn't answer me immediately I would tweet to the world that Kid 1 Walters needs to call his mother.  

So basically I'm mean and jump to conclusions and mis-read clues and messages that mostly are just an inconvenience, but could in all actuality one day jeopardize life and limb or even an important meeting with a celebrity.  Or something.  I think he forgave me and filed it under the general category of I really need a new mother.  

And to sum it all up, I really just had a week that made me pull out another of  my themed sweaters - but this time, the one that reads, "Not Today Satan."  Fireman Dave laughs at me every time I pull that one out, but I told him he is laughing in the face of faith and basically, how dare he.  Sometimes I just need a little empowerment in times of weakness and if it's in the form of cute clothes, I'm digging it.  

And finally please let me give an update on my mom.  I took Kid 2 and Kid 3 to visit her a few days ago, and all was not well.  And I had to apologize to them for walking them right into the exact environment that I worked so hard to shield them from for the last years.  But maybe it was good for them to see that I had my reasons for putting them in the Mom Protection Program, but I know it was hard to watch.  But it appears that she will be moving into a memory care unit as soon as next week.  

And y'all, I feel like I am in the third, going on fourth round of grieving the loss of my mother.  I think the first was when I was so young and knew even then that I was missing the mom that was supposed to the guardian of my galaxy - a nod to Kid 2's fave movie right there.....  And then again when we reconciled over the birth of my kids and had a functional relationship for many years based on the shared love of these boys, I felt wholly the loss of her when I had to draw that hard line between what was expected and what was good for my family.  

Then she and I met again, by surprise, just a few weeks ago, and I rejoiced with the angels for the opportunity to meet her again, but cried for the loss of who she was - no matter who or what she was.  She didn't know me then.  She didn't know me a few days ago, and I'm not entirely certain she ever did.  And now I'm dreading the grief that is still ahead as we watch her make her final climb toward Heaven. 

And in honest to goodness terms, I think the whole thing just stinks.  And I think it's way unfair and a mean and ugly trick of the universe that has kept me wanting and waiting for a relationship with a mom that wanted the same from me.  Maybe that's what I'm grieving the most.  

Not a lot more to say on that one.  

You've come a long way baby

A few updates....

Rita the dog had a terrible time of it last week when I put her outside for the day because she scares the housekeeper ....  the housekeeper that visits me two times a month because I learned a long time ago that I can't be all things to all people all the time.  Basically, we can't all look good - it's either me or the house, and I choose me. 

Did I ever mention how afraid Miss Rita is of the wind?  So afraid that she tried to climb the fence to escape the wind..... silly dog... and she tore out a claw on her foot.  The patio and back fence looked like a battle scene from a war movie, but all turned out okay because of Fireman Dave and his emergency medical dog skills.  He treated her and casted her all up in bandages and one of the boys' mismatched socks that come out of the dryer with every load.  Because y'all, what can the man not do?

And an update on my library project for my favorite little African village - Y'all, basically I'm on hold till I come up with a better plan.  Seems that I have no lack of ability to collect children's books, and I think that I could figure out a fund raising plan to get them shipped, but the receiving end is presenting a problem.  My friend, Vornita, would happily accept the books and be a joyful community librarian -  however, she has to have a manageable way to get the books from the post office or other shipping location, all the way back to the village.  And here's how she does it when only picking up pen pal letters and small packages - ride a motorcycle taxi - a boda boda - to the nearest, larger taxi stand where she gets on a 15 passenger van for a long ride into Kampala.  Shop, go to the post office, take care of millions of other things then ride the van back to catch another boda boda home - where she carries everything in her lap back to the village while trying to not fall off the bike. 

So herein lies our problem - I could ship tons of smallish boxes of books in order to be size appropriate and avoid insane Ugandan import taxes upon receipt, but be very inconsiderate of shipping costs to make that happen.  Or find a shipping organization to handle it for me in bulk, but then figure out how to hire a heavy lifter day laborer to get the books from point A to point B.  Geez.  I just want the kids to read some good books and have the fun of being able to have unlimited access to checking out and borrowing like my kids grew up doing.  So for now I'm giving it some better thought.  Maybe a collection for my friend to buy some books at the local market - few but decent offerings, often Christian teaching titles, paper back, think grocery and dollar store style books - and be content in knowing we did some sort of good.

I thought I had found the perfect solution in a charitable organization that organizes book drives for African communities and allows anyone who needs service hours to organize their own library to be shipped to a needy place.  Sounded perfect until I called them and they go to some awesome places, but not Uganda.  I'll keep trying.  And if you already donated books, trust that they will arrive to their destination one way or another. 

And more about Uganda..... yesterday I had the fun opportunity of video chatting my girl, Loyce.  I wish I could've live taped it and shown it to you, but seriously, it was all I could do to handle talking and aiming the camera at the same time.  My kids rank me in the oldish to slightly geriatric category in the technology department and sigh in clear disgust disappointment every time I yell for one of them to come turn on the TV for me.  Especially Kid 2, though he tries to hide his ever so frustrated feelings behind a thin veil of compassion and a hug, he thinks his mama is ready for the modern technology nursing home, constantly reminding me of how things are different these days.  I believe he actually used the words, "back in the 1900's," today at lunch.  Um, back in the 1900's I was cute and smart and somewhat talented with a side of amazing.  If they only knew. 

And my video chat with Loyce was fun even though I had to work hard to hear her sweet voice over the sounds of a million curious little villagers and a very loud rooster.  And we talked about what we might want to do if we were visiting each other - me in Uganda, her in Big D.  I think if I was with her today in her hometown of Bulonde village,  I would have her show me the sights - her water well up close and in person and then I'd find out a 13 year old girl is stronger than me when we tried to carry our 20 liter jerry cans full of water back to the house.  Then we'd hang out with her sisters and her mom and I'd tell her mama what a good job she is doing raising all these lovelies.  Then I'd probably get all sorts of embarrassed as I tried to help cook over a coal stove like she does every day and give up and invite her back to my place where we would order in Uber Eats Africa.  And if she was here, I would spoil her like nobody's business - in so many fun ways, but remembering that my ways are not hers, and that she is happy with her life the way it is.  I've had to learn that over time - that I can't change their way of life.  I can't fix the economy, and I can't assume that she misses things that she has never known.  I can only share her contentment and happiness at having what she needs while sprinkling her with a few surprises.   

Our talk was special to me, though much of what I said was lost in translation due to my not so subtle Texas twang.  Remember I told you that she speaks 2 exotic languages, and her third language, limited, yet very proper English?  Well she does.  And I speak Texan.   But we made it through just fine and had a sweet time of it.  I asked her if she likes to read her Bible and she says yes, a little, but mostly enjoys the part about when God created some things.  Yes ma'am that part is so good, but darling, it gets even better... 

So I asked her to learn Proverbs 31:25.  She is clothed in strength and dignity, she laughs without fear of the future.  Y'all, one thing I've learned about Loyce in our time together is that she is full to the top of kind and sweet and loving, but that she is meek of spirit in so many ways.  She looks to her best friend and her sisters for guidance and approval, and she waits to register her actions and responses based on what is expected.  I am praying for this young girl the gift of confidence, and I am working in each correspondence to teach her that she is fearfully and wonderfully made.  That she is completely clothed in the strength the dignity of the God that made her and loves her as his own. 

Then I asked her to write to me something that she would like for me to learn.  Seriously, no promises, but I can try for the sake of love and friendship.  I wish I could upload this video for you, but you can click HERE to see the follow up video I received a bit after our conversation.  This is Loyce reading and soaking into her already sweet heart, the promise of the verse we talked about yesterday. 

Before we ended our conversation, she got to meet Kid 3 and Rita the dog - 2 of my other favorite people.  And we ended with kisses blown from American all the way to Uganda and back.  Who knew blowing kisses was a world wide love language?  Turns out it is. 

And today this happened.  We went to the Arboretum after church and had all three of my sweet babies with me.  We were in the elevator to the parking garage with a tired mom of two little boys who thought they remembered which level the car was parked on.  They didn't, but I totally get it.  I'm forever trying to get into the wrong silver car in packed parking lots.  And the mom was apologetic and asking if Fireman Dave and I have kids..... so I gave her the Vanna White Wheel of Fortune hand sweep across my 3 handsomes standing quietly in the elevator with us - and she was, shall I say, shocked that the three grown "men" in the elevator were indeed our own version of littles. 

I've noticed that about moms of young kids - I remember doing it myself back when - that big kids seem SO BIG and SO GROWN UP, and SO FAR DOWN the ROAD.  Until day by day, they morph and change and become on the outside, as my friend Loyce would say, big people - but on the inside they remain very much your babies.  And yes, I still call each of mine, baby, and pumpkin head and anything and everything else that drips of love and affection.  I plan to keep it up till we're all too old to know each other anymore. 

A few random kids and I had to have some serious parent to son talks this last week.  And I'm talking the  no nonsense, hide your eyes from embarrassment if you want to, kinds of talks.  But the kinds of talks that I am committed to having with my boys to make sure I can deliver them safely to their Godly ordained life destinations.  Or something like that.  Really I just hope to deliver them safely to  adulthood with the ability to live both independently and responsibly, and I'll consider that a prize of this life. 

So we talked about sex and the consequences of.  About sex and the price thereof, and what all of those choices look like from the other side of the teenage years.  We talked about decisions regarding the crap content we fill up our minds with each day via music and TV and social media - and how all brain roads lead directly to the heart and have even bigger prices to pay on that end.  And in plain Kristi/Mom talk, if something you are listening to or viewing or reading or whatever the h-e-double hockey sticks you are doing - contains lyrics, words, or a  script that you can't read out loud in front of me, then it's probably something you shouldn't be dabbling in.  And yes, Kid 2... when that little voice is nagging you to text your mother and ask when she might be home from running Kid 3 to his friend's house so she won't have to listen the that foul language movie you chose on Netflix - then you can be assured that the little voice is pretty much your body's alarm system that something is totally messed up in this situation.  Danger, Will Robinson...... abort mission. 

then and now.....

But then things like this  roll around  - and I can look back at all that has happened and can still happen and call it good.  Much like God did with his own creation, but on a much smaller scale.  Here is a before and after picture at the Dallas Arboretum, almost 17 years ago with Kid 1 with me and Kid 2 on the way. 

Man, we were both babies back then,....  but as the old cigarette ads of my youth claimed, You've come a long way, baby.  Kids 1, 2 and 3, we all have.  Fireman Dave included, of course, but the sentence flowed much smoother written like this.... 

And finally, last weekend I actually had a really tough time of being me when the whole family had things to do and places to go  - except for me.  And then it rained and darn if the the lonely didn't show up -  and I just had a bit of a struggle like no other, and finally ended up starting a new Netflix show and letting the troubles of others replace those of my own.

Y'all know that about me, right?  I'm all good when everything's busy and loud and plans are swirling about... but leave me alone for too long and the dark side appears out of nowhere like that rare eclipse we had around here not too long ago.  But I muddled through, I hung out at the fire station and bothered the guys and ate their food, and basically moved one foot in front of the other till I got to a better Kristi place. 

I've had to learn that sometimes times like this happen, and that 9 times out of 10, these times pass on by to be replaced with something far more favorable and productive. 

All in all, I'm going to channel my inner God voice on it all and call it good. 

surprise births - and surprise family reunions in my driveway

I had the nicest conversation with a woman yesterday. We talked about people we know in common, places we had lived, and for how long.  We talked about volunteering for our kids' school events and activities and why it makes a difference in their educations.  And we talked about our houses, and how she feels like she's been to mine before.

We talked about how her mother had an antique, red pie safe and I told her that I have one, too, in my kitchen.  It was my grandmother's, and it's filled with old dishes and things from my mom, grandmother and sister.  Some things so old and been with me or them for so long I forget its story.

And we talked about our kids.  She asked me again and again how old mine are, and funny thing is that she has grand kids that are about that same age.  And when I told her the names of my kids, she said she has grand kids  with those same names. Small world. 

And I asked her if she knows me.  She said she did - that my name is Kristi and that she just saw me standing in the driveway as she was driving by and decided to stop and visit.   She told me that she has a daughter named Kristi.   But she didn't know it was me.

I knew this day would come sooner or later.  I just didn't know it would be at 1pm on a Wednesday afternoon,  pulling into my driveway, and watching a car pull in right behind us.  Sort of pinning us in - in a weird sort of driveway robbery sort of way - except that most hardened criminals don't drive little Kia wagons and carry little old lady passengers and home health care nurses along with them.

But there was that very funny scene in the movie, Raising Arizona, where Hi Mc Dunnough robs a convenience store when he runs out of diapers for the  kidnapped baby that he gave to his wife as a present  - and using that as my guide, I figure that really, almost anything can happen. 

But we had a lovely time visiting in my driveway, - talking non stop and catching up for what seemed like maybe an hour.  She knew my former piano teacher, almost all my elementary school teachers, and she recognized Fireman Dave immediately as the preacher's son - because he obviously still looks 12 years old in her mind, and was just invited over to be friends with my brother but chose me instead.  And trust that there's a life long story that goes with that one... but y'all, another day, please.

I haven't seen my mom in six years, except for one short visit to the hospital after she called and left a message on my phone saying that she had been kidnapped and was being held hostage and that all of everything was pretty much bad news - and thank heavens for caller ID because I could tell that she was at the hospital and not tied to a chair in a dark basement-like place that I've seen way too many times over the years with Fireman Dave and Kids 1-3 and their love of action adventure/spy movies.  Think mostly James Bond with a side of Mission Impossible.

I actually first heard from/about my mom about a month ago when this happened.  Here's Kid 1 and his Nana. 

The details don't matter all that much, I suppose, but I wrote about it here in case you missed it.   It would be impolite to tell everyone how old my mom is, and trust that if I live this forever long and someone dares to even think it okay to share that info via blog, conversation over afternoon tea, or even in the quietest of whispers a million miles away from my ancient old ears, I will hunt them down and put all my years of athletic training into practice to show them that I am still capable of shutting them down.  And I'll probably show up again later to toilet paper their yard under the cover of darkness.  But anyway, she's not young anymore in mind or body.

But it wasn't long ago that she was one of the youngest grandmothers I've ever known... the kind that liked to get out and drive on the icy roads after an ice storm.  The kind that would drive all the way to Wherever and Back because there was a sale on bras and because of course, they have a Baskin Robbins Ice Cream way out that way, too.   The kind that would take care of my three littles and take them to Mc Donalds', the donut store, and all those picnics in the park.  Yes, they remember.

But her mind was going years ago, and that's sort of what started the whole family feud.  I think Person A got confused over what was real or not, then told Person B about it and Person B happens to be insane.  And not in the dementia diagnosis usage of that word.  I'm talking about the kind of insane that made angry, threatening phone calls to my house again and again. The kind that accused and pointed in all the wrong directions, all while under the influence of something other than healthy foods and Jesus, and broke a relationship that was already hanging on by a thread.

And know for a fact that if I had the power to influence or change any of it even way back when, I would've done it.  But my health and safety and that of my kids had to come first.  And if it meant that me keeping my distance all this time never allowed me to defend myself against what would, I'm sure in the court of all that daytime TV I watched as a young person, be deemed as slander and slight and malice and just plain ugliness - it meant that I had time to heal.  And I had time and space to raise my kids in the values that I see as right and true for our family.

And over these last 6 years, I have walked through not only regret, but through panic and anxiety and a full on emotional tight rope, dealing with things from my childhood that had the nerve to creep up on me even as an adult.  And if I could've separated Person A from Person B and put them in separate rooms and held an intervention for each of them, cleansing their minds of the wrong ideas and their hearts of all the weirdness that came with being part of my family, I would've called in that priest from the Exorcist, and a whole host of super heroes to fight all the bad and restore law and order.  

My superhero of choice?  Thor.  Or maybe just that adorable actor that plays him even if he shows up without his tight leather suit and only those bulging biceps of steel.  I happen to have seen every Thor movie with Kid 2 because he's totally into all things superhero and we both agree that Thor represents them well with his strength, powers and wit.  And I just happen to think he has beautiful blue eyes plus some other things.  Anyway, now I'm all confused and feel like watching The Avengers.

And y'all, I thought our reunion would be under far different circumstances, and end up shedding some light on things like my misery, low self esteem, and life long inner conflict.  The things of my youth.    I thought it would be talk of why - why did you say this?  Why did you say that?  And do that and that and that.... that made me feel like the most unloved kid on the planet. 

But I was wrong.  My lady in the car.... my mother .... listened to me as I told her about how my mom baked the best things ever, how she always had muffins or cookies or something freshly baked for us after school.  And how my kids loved when their Nana baked the same things for them.  And we talked about how my mom worked hard and how I knew how nice the house was going to be when I came in from school and it smelled like Pine Sol.  I love a good Pine Sol clean to this very day.   And we talked about how I learned to volunteer at my kids' schools and be a leader in organizations like PTA and booster clubs because I watched my mom do it all the time.  And how proud I was to be the kid in the class whose mom was the one hosting the Christmas parties, the Valentine parties,....

And she laughed and said how she had more fun than the kids at those parties and carnivals when she used to volunteer at her kids' school ... and I told her that I know her kids are proud of her.  And how they know how much she did for them.  Now granted, intermingled into our conversation she would occasionally trash talk her own daughter Kristi.... and I would think to myself, Good Lord THAT Kristi sounds pretty awful and I bet she's out robbing banks or convincing old people to hand over their wallets right about now....

But maybe one of the most important things we talked about is how hard raising kids can be.  And I told her that at the end of the day, more often than I would like to admit, I have to humble myself to my boys and ask if I can start again.  And I told her that so far anyway, they've always said yes.  Just like when we go to God, day in and day out, admitting again that we didn't get it all quite right this time either... and may I please start again?  Y'all, he always says yes.

It was all a bit confusing.  Talking to her like I was catching up with a neighbor that I hadn't seen in a long time.  And talking to her, trying to tell her that I turned out pretty good, considering.  And trying to get hints of if she thinks so or not.  I may not ever really know, but I'll just put that on the list of almost everything else I don't know.  Right now I'm at about chapter 201 of Things I Don't Understand About Life.

But honestly, I felt no anger.  I teared up a few times trying to get a point or two across, but I think I did okay, given what I had to work with.  I remember being terrified of giving birth to Kid 1 and praying with all that I had for God to sneak up and surprise me when it was time.  I often suggested the grocery check out line as an option.  And y'all, as proof that God listens, I did indeed get surprised over 5 weeks early with that particular birth story.  And I think he knows me well enough by now to know that I am indeed strong, but that I don't really and fully accept that as my only choice, opting far too often for fear, worry and self doubt.  So he stages surprise births  - and surprise family reunions in my driveway.

And he gives opportunities to heal that I have prayed for a million times and then strength to get back up and share that healing with others.  I ended our conversation hugging my new, old friend, and telling her how nice it was to chat, and that her visit brought me joy.

How I feel today about it all is a little teary eyed.  A little torn and a little confused about all that we talked about.  I guess really just a whole mix of sad and relieved and mad about all the time that I've lost with her.   I'm predicting a fair amount of crying in my future, actually.  But it's a step forward.  

post script - no.  my mom was not driving a car.  My brother was driving and my mom didn't get out of the car.  She doesn't walk much more than a shuffle step.  But put that to music and it could be something wonderful... is what I'm thinking.  She has actually been placed on hospice, but knowing the women in my family, I'm not yet convinced that will stick.  God only knows, right?  Anyway, the brother part of the story still has some repairs to be made, but he offered his apologies for his portion, as is in anything - we all have a piece of the pie to share.  

But my prayer is for full healing - of disappointment, of hurt, of betrayals and inconsideration.  And if last Wednesday was any indication of the power of Godly surprises, I'm a bit on the excited side to see how far this goodness can travel.   

a broken tooth, a kid in a banana suit, and our very own ant colony - an Easter story

pre-script.... Today is Easter Sunday, 2018 ...  This is a re-post of something I wrote 4 years ago, and funny how things are still so much the same.  Even the ants are back to spend Easter with us.  Anyway, loving the fact that time travels on, and yet every year, we get the opportunity to spend time thinking about probably the BEST DAY EVER - Easter.  And yes, I actually DID wear my BEST DAY EVER shirt to church on Easter Sunday.  With a long orange skirt and a bohemian attitude.  

y'all, it wouldn't be a holiday without a fire engine picture

So this week brought week 3 of my injured calf muscle.  Still wearing a compression bandage and really wishing I had bought it in black instead of white.  Much more attractive all around than a tight white tube sock.  And kid 3 hurt his knee in football practice and has some selective swelling and pain.  Mostly when he doesn't want to do something.  And I'm seeing a doctor visit in our future for that one.

And the broken tooth from basketball a year ago with kid 2?  It broke again.  So it hurts and he can't eat anything till we get back to the dentist for another repair or maybe an entirely new tooth.  Or whatever.  I'm kinda in a whatever kind of stage right now.  Need a new tooth? Whatever.  Wanna run off and join the circus?  Whatever.

And if you've been following our ant saga, .... dear Lord, we still have them.  And turns out they will travel miles for cake.  I saw one of them taking a crumb of pound cake up the drain pipe all the way on the other side of the house and darn if that's not their entire metropolis.  So Fireman Dave got up on the roof and did some things that'll hopefully do some things - about the ants. 

And  last night I was the mom on duty for a group of 8 kids at a giant neighborhood wide field day event - almost 900 kids involved - where every single kid dressed in orange.  Except for one in my group who wore a banana suit around most of the evening.  Which turned out to be a novel way to keep up with them. 

Hours of fun followed by a sleepover, an early morning football game, baseball practice and a baseball game.  And one kid is out of town on a scout trip making my load a little easier.

So when this afternoon rolled around and I felt a nap calling, I slept in my heavenly bed while the kids watched the ultra violent Transformers movie.  Because we're only 95% good parents around here.  The other 5% goes out the window when I'm sleepy.

But that's family.  Ours anyway.  And sadly, with all that's been going on.... my mind has not wandered toward Easter or holy week or much of anything else really.  Well, I did at one point think about what we might want to eat on Easter.  Probably some more of my pound cake because it's good enough to be  ant approved.  

But y'all it's time.  Time to put aside all the other and get my heart right where it needs to be this holy week.  And God knows, he really really knows, that my heart fluctuates with the wind. 

It's time to walk through the loneliness of my savior's rejection, the hours of doubt, questioning, and hurt -  and get to the point where I can realize just how big a gift I am given - every. single. dang. day. 

And as much as I like to think of God as a loving and merciful god, one all caring and providing of his love and grace even in my least moments, he's also very much a God of justice and of answers and collection of debt.  A God of wrath, for those who deserve it.  And I deserve it.  Because I never did anything not to deserve it.  

So thinking along those lines.... What if God made us answer for our shortcomings?  ... What if he were to pour out his wrath on mankind - in answer for each moment we have fallen short of his wish for us? 

Well... turns out, He did.  And THAT's where the gift was given.

On that day, on the cross, on the bruised and beaten body of Jesus.   Who took my place.  To make peace with all of history and my future so that I am fully able to receive the gift of his grace. 

I am truly thankful this week for the gift of feeling.  The power of memory.  The gift of realization and recognition of my shortcomings.  And most thankful to be welcomed into the arms of someone who has erased it all from view. 

And as I try to focus on the importance of the days ahead, and forget the day to day of being me, ... I'm trying to make thankfulness my goal.  Trying to remember the acceptance that was given to me, undeserved, yet poured out daily again and again.  Because of the season of Easter. 

And may you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.

Ephesians 3:18

the higher the hair the closer to God?

So I threw the party of the season.  The party of the century.  The party of a lifetime this last weekend for my friend, Loyce, as she has  never known her birthday nor given it a thought about celebrating it.  Y'all, I asked about that, too.  I asked if I was disrupting the entire Ugandan cultural system by sending a full on birthday party complete with cute kids in a birthday parade.  The answer was no.  Apparently I did not rock their world in a negative way, but I think I definitely rocked it in a cake and balloons are crazy fun sort of way. 

It's party time!!!!  (this is a really fun link to the video that you may or may not be able to see, darn it all.  It links to the Facebook video of the birthday parade but not sure if I'm technologically savvy enough to actually make it work. But go ahead and imagine some cute African kids singing happy birthday, and carrying a giant cake down a red dirt road  while carrying balloons and dressed in their Sunday best.  I felt you smile all the way from here just thinking about it!)

Here's what I've learned about my Ugandan friends.  They are poor.  Not the kind of poor that I like to tell people that I am because I married a fireman.  When really I know I am one of the richest people in means and in spirit that walks this land, telling everyone that marrying a fireman limits my upward mobility is only sort of stretch of the American imagination, but really I just find it fun to say.  So there.  It's a fire wife joke.  Maybe you have to be one to get it.  

But anyway, my Ugandan friends are the kind of poor that if they have  the choice between putting food on the table and making or buying a birthday cake, food on the table wins, hands down every time.  If they have a choice between food on the table and school tuition and exorbitant fees and costs of uniforms that are required to attend - again, food on the table wins.  And y'all, really?  They just don't often have the choice.  So we have an entire population of people who can't read, write, or even spell their names.  Most don't celebrate birthdays because they just don't know when they were born.  They may know how old their kids are because they started counting at that time, but they may not know how old they are themselves.  

I happen to know when we think Loyce's birthday is because I had  my friend research it and found a list of birthdates in Loyce's family Bible.  It's still sort of a guess, though, because her mom lists her as born on March 23, 2005 and her sister born just 7 days earlier that same year.  Now THAT's either a totally different kind of twin we have there, or someone's confused.  And Lord bless the woman in labor for 7 days, right?  

And I love that Loyce and I almost share a birthday, and I told her a while back to expect great things coming her way.  In fact I told her that we would party together and make birthday ripples across the world with our celebrations.  I'm not at all sure that I made any of my own, but y'all, my girl sure did.

And a giant thanks to my friend, Vornita, who traveled the literal road less traveled on the back of a motorcycle with a cake in her lap to make it all happen.  If you ever had a question or doubt that women are changing this world, let me answer it for you right now.  Yes sir and yes ma'am.  Women are working together and joining forces and talents and planning all sorts of amazing-ness - then just hitting the big GO button and watching things happen.  Then of course we clean up the house and do some dishes and laundry, try to sleep a little, dream of what greatness can be accomplished the next day, and thank God for his generous dose of grace, mercy and she-muscles to carry onward and upward.  

I'm hoping that Loyce sees big things, fun things, and bright things beyond what she knew existed before.  I know I'm seeing all these things through my friendship with her. 

Now then.  For my own birthday we dropped Kid 1 off in College Station for a weekend to be a prospective Aggie, and then went on to Fredericksburg, Texas with the other kiddos and proceeded to enjoy some time off from work, school, baseball concessions and all the other things making us weary these days.  And my plan was to climb Enchanted Rock, my third climb, mostly for the experience, but probably just as much for the whole proof that I'm no less awesome than the day before my birthday.  I got to the top in 21 minutes, with one breather break because I thought I felt some panic coming my way and I totally have to get my act together before I lose it in that situation.  Panic alone is bad.  Panic on a mountain is a beast I don't want to ever face down.  But I was fine, and the view from the top of the rock, if you've never been before, is worth every panting step of the climb.  

And the time sitting up there, looking out at so much of God's beautiful creation is time well spent.  I find it a good reminder that I'm up close and personal to God all the time  - but just the like rule all Texas girls live and breathe by - the higher the hair, the closer to God - so goes that whole mountain top experience.  

It's also so much an eraser for everything else that's on my mind.  Looking down and seeing how small ALL the things are from up there has to be a good comparison to what God wants us to see each and every day.  That due date?  Not so big in God's eyes.  That prior commitment?  Not so grand in the big picture.  And that worry?  Y'all with a God's eye view from above, he's gotta see how it all works out.  

So I like to get up there and spend a while in prayer and ponderment.  Spell check just told me that's not a word, but life tells me that it is.  Ponderment of all the things that seem so crazy important, when nothing compares to the work that we are doing to invest in the ultimate outcome.  I've felt such a pull on my heart of late - the pull of doing more, but not of the mo' busy kind like my million trips to the TJ Maxx for cute workout outfits and summer dresses.  But of the worldly kind.  Of the Loyce kind.  Of the homeless student in DISD kind.  Of the spending time sitting around with Kid 2 catching up on This Is Us - quality time, where he talks and I am all ears.  

I've prayed for quite some time now for what's next.  Not sure I completely know yet, but I think I'm starting to better unravel the code.  I think selfishness is one of the biggest and darkest blinders we can wear, and y'all - my selfishness never seems to go out of style.  I can wear it with makeup or without.  I can wear it with heels or boots, pants, dresses, and 100% without limit.  I can even wear it proudly on my sleeve and call it success.  But can I just as easily wear a badge of courage that says I will stand up and serve the less fortunate?  Can I talk freely with others about the latest idea I have about starting a library in a small Ugandan village because reading has always been a huge part of my life?  Can I find my courage and commitment to ask for help and volunteers and donations to make some real things come from my ideas?  

I hope so.  

And today I am following up with you on some greatness that you already helped with.  And I am asking you to walk with me on an new journey.  That post I shared with you that published on The Dallas Moms Blog - the one asking you to show up for the good of the approximately 3,500 homeless students in  Dallas ISD?  Well -  trust that my readers showed up and showed off in the most spectacular of ways.  There are STILL boxes of Amazon deliveries being delivered from the shopping list I provided for the high school homeless drop in center, and that post has been shared on Facebook over 2000 times.  2000 times times how ever many friends you have equals a whole lot of WOW, y'all.  Just wow.  I have been in touch with the manager of homeless student services in Dallas ISD and plan to do a follow up to grow our efforts even larger.  

And now let me put this one out there.  My mind is skipping around with ideas on how to help a certain little village in Uganda.  Why this one?  Because I happen to have a friend there who is nothing short of amazing -  plus a little girl that I think the world of.  And the fact that there is so much need is blinding me to thoughts other than what I can do to help.  

My friend Vornita has opened a charter school in Bulonde Village, about 20 miles outside of Kampala.  She currently has 76 students enrolled, some have had their tuition paid by an American sponsor, most have not.  And stop whatever you're imagining right now about private schools..... when you think of a private school in Uganda, don't even start to compare it to the states.  Uganda has no public school system in place so any and every school must be started on its own.  There are regulations, but simply no funds to support them.  And these kids and their families have next to nothing.  There are three school terms per year, and for less than the cost of a family dinner at Chili's you can send a child to school for a term.  Yes, that's a big request for some kids you may never know or even see in person.  But you know who does?  God does.  And he has giant plans for each of them, starting first with learning to read so they can break the cycle of poverty.  

The next thing I am asking you to help with is my little library idea.  I'm talking a simple bookshelf in the corner of a classroom across the world to start with.  Shipping is cost prohibitive for large quantities of books, but buying even one book in Kampala can cost even more than a local Ugandan family makes in a year.   So I'm working on some details to get something good going on that works for everyone.  And what I've decided is this - even one book at a time, placed on a shelf, and then shared with a child can make a world of difference.  So today I am asking for new books, used books, paper back or whatever.  I am asking for donations for me to go to Half Price Books and purchase a few kid friendly titles to send with my next package to Africa.  This little light of mine is going to take a long time to bear fruit, but I know with all my heart that it can and will.  

Questions?  More details?  You know where to find me.  I hope you will.  

Y'all, thanks for reading.  Thank you for everything.  For stopping by, for contacting me when you haven't heard from me in a while.  

One year older, another year wiser, right?  Mmmmm...   We'll see about that.    

post script...  Did you miss a post?  Did you know that sometimes I don't share them on Facebook and you can only see them by following me by email or Bloglovin?  Here's one you might have missed and I'm super sad about that.  

the most boring blog post I've ever written. Maybe.

Recapping spring break - one kid went to Florida with a friend, where he went deep sea fishing and got very, very sea sick.  I did not go to Florida, but instead stayed home for Spring Break, and still got very, very sea sick.  Spring Break is my annual nod toward illness, be it stomach or sinus or some sort of odd virus that people only bitten by a certain type of tiny insect could contract, and only then if they were in Wakanda on a Sunday.  Yes, I saw that movie with the boys.  

The rest of Spring Break was filled with stuff like scheduled eye doctor visits, school baseball games and practices.  And work.  There's that.  Someone also left the refrigerator open all night but no one claims any knowledge or responsibility so we think it was the same no one that left the back door not only unlocked one day the week before, but hanging wide open as an invitation to maniacs everywhere. 

We also did a little household organization and unorthodox moving around of space this week.  And what I always think will be a super fast and easy job turns out to be a bit more complex than originally planned.  Which is why people everywhere need to stop watching fixer upper shows because it's all lies.  Anyway, I've had plans for quite a while to spread out the boys' living quarters from one shared room to a better use of our roomy, yet oddly configured house, .... but was waiting for this to happen first, then that to happen next so that I could make my move.  But just like watching water boil, things never work when you wait on them and rooms seem to get smaller the bigger the kids get.

So for the past 15 years that we've been in our home, all the boys have slept in one bedroom.  We live in a 1950's ranch style with the traditional formal living/dining room up front as you come in the front door.  It's funny how this space has taken on so many different shapes over the years as we just lived in the house.  We've always called it the wood room.  That's what the boys called it when they were little.  It was an empty room with an unfinished wood floor and not a stick of furniture in there and we used it as a toddler gymnasium of sorts till they got too big to ride their tricycles around in circles in there.  Then it morphed into an actual sitting room with an ugly yellow hand me down sleeper sofa from another fireman that housed our nephew on several occasions as he returned home from Iraq and Afghanistan and other of life's adventures.  Then it became the holding spot for the cushy blue chair that I saved from the thrift store, and saw its share of fits and tantrums as we made young boys get off of cell phones to prevent brain and soul rot.

Now these 2 front rooms have become oddly placed bedrooms for Kids 2 and 3.  Sort of like how the Clampetts used their Beverly Hillbilly mansion to raise livestock and fish in the cement pond, the Walters are using the formal spaces of our home to grow up our boys into unique individuals and give them space to grow.  Really we're just using it this way because as much as I love love love our contractor friend and all her brilliant remodel ideas, I happen not to love the thought of car insurance on multiple teen drivers soon, college costs, and really, debt in general.  

So I'm thinking I will never get invited to be featured in Southern Living magazine, but I probably wasn't going to get that opportunity anyway, even before I moved a bed into the dining room.  So there.  I actually have a mental timeline for this maze we call home.  I'm thinking a year of Kid  2 sleeping in the living room and Kid 3 sleeping in the dining room, which he can totally handle since he was the baby that was housed in the laundry room as an infant when he was noisily learning to fall asleep on his own.  (Yes, his crib fit in there nicely.  No, he did not have to sleep on top of the dryer. Yes, I could still hear him from  my bedroom so he was fine.)  Then after about a year when Kid 1 moves onto college, we can re-think our sleeping patterns and re-convene for the next phase of This Old House.  We should've totally bought a three bedroom house to begin with.

Anyway, here are some wise and wonderful thoughts that I've considered lately.... each brought about by differing circumstances, some blog worthy, and  some that just have to be more private for the sake of my family. 

First I think that if you're reading this and you are at all like me and have tried to have a person or persons be your fix, your safety net, your port in the storm, let me say that yes, they can and will be sometimes.  But only for a time.  And that you have to be your own rock to lean on when it comes right down to it.  I'm trying - and yet failing it seems, to pass this idea on to a certain kid or two these days. (and note this isn't a rock comparison between Jesus and us normal people.... it's just a plain ol use of the word rock as something strong.  I happen to believe that our strength comes from the lord, but it is through our own weakness that his strength is made known.  Pretty sure that's in the Bible...)

Second, if you are a parent reading this, I think what I would tell you today is that I get plenty of things wrong.  And I started on that road of wrong from the time of my kids' birth.  But today I know that it mostly all has a way of mixing together - the wrong and the right - to make a kid something kinda special.  And as a mom, that's about all I could ever want.  

And about stress levels - as I sit here and read my public library copy of Southern Living, and I ponder the search for the perfect daffodil -  ....... wHaT  on earth?  Yes, that's a real article in there....  here's a spoiler:  Ain't nothing perfect going on anywhere.  Give up on that and take a breath.  

We've taken on so many projects of late that we can't even keep track, much less, keep up.  An out building project still unfinished in the backyard, a sailboat in the driveway with its own boat club membership, but an unfinished boat slip.  And taking on the high school baseball booster club has turned Fireman Dave into an efficient grilling, concessions selling machine - but at the same time has added to his already heavy work load of fire department shifts, extra medic jobs, and the occasional contractor work with a friend.  So we pretty much play catch up or keep up around here at all times, and that brings on some things that, though living among us, showed up totally uninvited.  And for this I have no wisdom to offer other than to just stop every now and binge watch something mindlessly entertaining on Netflix.  Or write a boring blog post and tell the world about all your day to days that no one really cares about.  

But it's the slowing down and the thinking it out that brings me back to a better perspective.  I'm actually typing this at 4:15 in the morning because my body wanted to slow down, but obviously my mind didn't.  This is where the old, carb loaded Kristi would go for the cinnamon poptarts to soothe me back to sleep.  But the new me - the one that would still kill for a contraband box of those things - is holding strong and trying to channel my energies elsewhere.  

This week we take Kid 1 on a weekend college visit to Aggieland.  And from there, as he expands his knowledge of all things college related, the rest of us will travel on to one of my fave places to spend some down time and ring in another year of being Kristi.  I also get to celebrate from afar the special birthday of my girl, Loyce, in Uganda.  And y'all, I'm so excited to see how this turns out for her.  Very possibly her first ever birthday celebration and let me assure you that I have arranged some chocolate goodness to surprise her all the way from here.  She and I have birthdays one day apart, so we're practically twins, and I promised her that we would party in style this year. I'll share pictures as soon as I get them.  

That's about it for my early morning blogging.  Blessings to you as I know you are treading your own turbulent waters and trying to stay afloat.  I'm with you, I hear you and I see you for all that you are accomplishing and contributing.  And y'all, as hard as it is sometimes, it's worth it to take a look and breathe it all in from this point today.  Because I know it'll be great to look back on from tomorrow.  

a wink and a promise from you know who

Y'all just don't know how many times I've sat down to blog and then did nothing but think about chocolate chip cookies.  And I swear each time I try to come up with something, a little voice in my head says Kristi, please don't tell the story of the rat in the attic again, or that time we had fleas, or that time you went out bra shopping because the boys were all too busy doing their own things that you were lonely and had nothing better to do. 

But then I say to myself, but that's what this whole blog is about... are you crazy and already forgot our unique business model?

Or maybe I've just come to realize that everyone has so much of their own stuff going on that maybe the little ins and outs around here don't add up to much.  But then again, what if it adds up to someone laughing, or saying, Hey, me too!  So today I agreed to sit down for 30 minutes and try to share.

Here's what's been going on as of late.....

1.  I feel like singing one of my favorite Barry Manilow songs, I Made it Through the Rain, right about now  - as I sit here and feel sad for that one lonely day of sunshine that we've had in two weeks.   Here's a clip in case you don't know that one....

I happen to know just about every Barry Manilow song there is, and can sing them with all the feels while holding up a Pick Me sign at a Manilow concert so I can get up there and dance with him during Can't Smile Without You.  Ask Fireman Dave.  He knows.  He tries to hide his excitement each time he takes me to a concert, but I can feel it when he lights up his cell phone and waves it as we sing Mandy.

2.  The kids.  Oh. The. Kids.    The kids have all their things going on ..... and that one that doesn't want me to blog about him anymore - um, what's his name number? - he will be welcomed into the National Honor Society next week and I will stand next to him proudly,  remembering how I ate fish at least once a week while I was pregnant with him.  I read fish makes the baby's brain grow bigger and better and now I would like a National Honor Society honorable mention for my contribution.  He also just squatted the heaviest weight of any player on the football team, something like a million and a half pounds - and being in the body business, I'm kinda just as proud of that as I am of his academics.

Kid 2 waited till the last minute to sign up people to sponsor him in a baseball fund raiser and you just may get a letter or call of desperation asking you to pledge a dime per foot for however far he can hit a baseball.  He is also hitting his school work out of the park this year, and  I am so proud of this kid that I feel like I should stand on my front porch and yell about it.  Also, he's still kind and loving and I like that a whole lot, too.

And Kid 3, bless him, he gets excited every morning now since I discovered Aldi sells frozen pancakes.  He is a simple man with a heart of gold, and a sweet tooth that can fuel a space mission.  He has learned a bit about responsibility of late in the school department - and for today anyway, is showing some real progress in responsibility for his school work.  Stay Tuned.  Maybe I should just promise him a pancake for every grade above a 70 and he'll soar right through to a graduate degree.  Oh.  And he also just got his braces off today and is kinda handsome in an expensive orthodontics sort of way.  

3.  And finally this.  Today.... Today I had not just one lady, but a team of ladies in the locker room ask me how old I am.  I'm beginning to think that many people may have indeed been raised in barns.  

And my answer?  Old enough to have three kids of certain ages.   Y'all discuss and theorize over the rest, but leave me out of it.  I did find it funny that their guesses spanned the range of an entire decade and am thinking on my nightly skin care routine to head off any further guesses at the pass.  

And today let me use my blogging platform to remind the world that asking a woman's age is generally rude, unless you need to make sure she's old enough to buy that cough medicine at Target. 

And now this.....

Here are a few posts that have come out lately on other sites.  All are good, but in differently good ways.

This one is about my sweet friend, Loyce, and Y'all, I just enjoy telling everyone about her. The end.

This one is about something or other and how God is in the mix of all my questions. And it may or may not make you depressed.

And this one hits close to home as it talks about the homeless student population in the Dallas ISD.   

It was written for The Dallas Moms Blog, with the hope of getting some attention shown to the issue, and a bigger hope that people will read it and click on the wish list of needed items in the post.  These items are being purchased for the Drop In Homeless Center at my kids' high school here in Dallas.  And for those of you that already talked to me about contributing, thank you.  Your contribution has purchased backpacks and packaged meals for some hungry souls.

And finally, this is something I've avoided talking about for a while now because I just don't really know how to.  Many of you know that I have been estranged from my mother and brother for several years.  I've actually lost count, but I think we've reached around 6 1/2 years.

And I have to say right up front that I never saw the last six years coming toward me the way that they did, but I can say now, from the other side, that I'm glad that they did.  And it's not like I never doubted my decision, because I promise you that I doubted enough for us all.  But I think that the time apart has allowed me to heal a whole lot of hurts that would've never stood a chance otherwise.

There have been some developments in the case, if you will.  And I'm trying to sit on my thoughts for a bit till they make sense to me, first. 

I will definitely say this, that I am more convinced than ever of personal strength when we need it the most.  And how sometimes though we still, even after a million years, may hear the little voice of ridicule and doubt that was breathed into us from the start - we can manage, with the help of some good strong prayers, and the love of the people that really matter -  to remember the truth about who we are, and whose we are. 

I've needed more than my share of reminders of this, and I cried to Fireman Dave over our shared order of fajitas for one even as late as last week; still questioning the whys of how things just are sometimes.  Y'all, when they have no right to be.  

But then I get up and walk away from that table, and over to the one that sustains and empowers and reminds me that six years went by really fast and a few tears over fajitas is far less than I would've cried had I not been strong enough to stand up for myself. 

And I am reminded this week of this Bible verse  - that I knew for practically ever had to be in there .... and finally found right when I needed it the most.  

For God has not given to us the Spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.  2 Timothy 1:7

Yes sir and ma'am, y'all... read it.  Then read it again and feel the confidence that God has placed in us to be able to control even the most uncontrollable situations.  I'm leaning on this for now as a wink and a promise from you know who.

Designed by FlexyCreatives