Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Brace yourself--we're on a spending freeze

Hey Peeps—

This morning I came downstairs to find a note on the kitchen table that my daughter had left for the Tooth Fairy.  The note was sitting on top of the little box holding her tooth, and it said, "Dear Tooth Fairy.  I want money". I tried to explain to Faith that in our family, there have been over 30 teeth lost the last 13 years. So sometimes the Tooth Fairy is an idiot and doesn't remember to put the quarter under her pillow anymore.  And to make matters worse, apparently teeth are going for a high price these days, what with the new fancy Tooth Fairy app and the propagating rate of inflation.   After breakfast I saw Billy slip her a dollar.  He's a sucker and clearly doesn't know we are on a spending freeze. 

Speaking of teeth and our current spending freeze, Will is the proud wearer of new braces.  While he pretended to be mad about having to get them, he couldn't stop smiling.  He sat in that orthodontist chair happy as a clam, as I spent all of Jack's "8th Grade Trip to Washington DC" money on Will's braces.  After the braces were glued on, I thought it would be best if I watched him try to eat lunch at home to be sure he didn't choke.  Boy did I regret that.  Normally I don't like watching my kids eat even on a good day, but throw in braces, as well as a huge expander on the roof of a kid's mouth and I dare you to try and watch him eat salami without gagging.  As soon as he was done, I took him back to school where he promptly ran away from me on the playground to show all his friends his new look. 

As I was standing on the playground, forlorn and dejected, wishing Will cared I was there, my sweet daughter Faith came running up to me.  I was so pleased that one of my children needed their mother!  Turns out she just wanted to see Will's new braces, and didn't much care to talk with me about her day.  As I walked alone to my car, I wondered why my children were so well adjusted to their school environment.  I mean it's not like I haven't tried to make them codependent.  And don't even get me started on Billy's poor parenting methods.

But since you asked, let me tell you how Billy woke our oldest son up recently.  He went in to Jack's room as usual and said, "Time to get up pal", and walked out, just like he does every day.  Billy realized his usual tactics were not working, and he was going to have to take it to the next level.  He grabbed a mask off the top of the fridge that has been sitting there for months, and placed it over his face.  This mask is white, and resembles something a hockey player might wear.  And is eerily similar to the kind worn in the Friday the 13th movies from the 1980's.  Because Billy's 45 year old, his eyes aren't perfect, so he put his glasses on over the mask and walked back into Jack's room.  Jack opened his eyes, quite startled, and he yelled, "Dude, what the crap is wrong with you?" 

Once again, I will add another line item to "topics we need to discuss when we can afford to get the kids in therapy".  Poor Jack's list seems to grow longer each day.

Thankfully I've managed to keep myself busy now that the kids are back in school.  Besides having an actual job, I have a few projects to get done.  Just today, Billy and I dropped the kids off at school and headed to our friend Grace's house.  I needed Billy for approximately 2 seconds of heavy lifting, and then his main job was to not annoy me while he wrote apps, or pretended to work. But I'm pretty sure all he did was watch Grace's cable.  While Billy stayed busy, my job was to antique a table, and then seal it with a polyurethane.  I had no idea what I was doing, so it was good to practice on someone else's furniture, rather than my own.  If you see an old farm table, recently antiqued, posted on craigslist, you could probably assume Grace hated it. 

And that's how the month of August is wrapping up over here.  Busy, fast, expensive, and even disturbing surprises first thing in the morning.  There's nothing boring about life with three kids, and even in the midst of the pandemonium and stress, we still manage to make memories.  Some of them will require processing with a professional, and some of them make us laugh till we cry.  But by the grace of God, we will not just muddle through the hard days.  We will participate.  We will contribute.  And we will always thank God for this sweet life.    

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Choosing to enjoy the ride, even if it's going at warp speed

Hey Peeps—

Has anyone ever done a home repair with only one trip to Home Depot?  If you have, I'd really like to know your secrets of success.  Whenever we have anything in the house that needs fixing, Billy has, at a minimum, 3 trips to gather supplies.  Last Saturday our microwave just stopped working.  At eight years old, she decided it was time to cross over to the other side.  She gave her best effort as we tried to pop that second bag of popcorn, but in the end, all she could give us was hot kernels.  The children were thrilled to learn my main method of cooking was down, as it meant several trips to Chick-fil-a this final week of summer.  Who can blame me? Those blasted chicken sandwiches are ridiculously addictive. 

And yes, for those of you who aren't spending over $8000.00 on school supplies this time of year, be aware: summer is over.  We've made several trips to Staples, Target, and other various office supply chains to find that "azure blue, 13 pocket folder, that buttons (no snaps please), waterproof, and is made from 100% recycled organic materials".  I may have exaggerated, but I probably didn't.  Like idiots, we forget to budget for school supplies every year, and then it always hits us: we are idiots.  And you would not believe how lucky we are this particular August.  Will has been diagnosed with a cross bite, and requires braces.  Too bad the microwave is broken, or we could celebrate the good news with some popcorn. 

This Fall marks another beginning.  A fresh start.  A clean slate.  All three of our kids feel the same about school starting…they love to see their friends, and they enjoy many aspects of school, however, getting back into a routine and having homework is just plain depressing.  And being the proactive, take-charge kind of parents we are, this year we've forced our three children to branch out and try some new things.  Each of them are quietly resenting us in their own way, except for Jack.  His resentment is not quiet at all.  More like the sound of a cat trapped in a refrigerator.  And trust me.  It's quite bothersome.  

It all started with our youngest son Will.  He asked to play football this Fall, so we gladly signed him up.  We want our kids to be active, what with all the Chick-fil-a waffle fries, and figured running around a bit would be good for him.  Because Will was expanding his skills, we felt Jack and Faith would also want to do so, rather than be left behind sitting on the couch watching Duck Dynasty.   Driving along one day, we asked, "Hey kids, since Will's trying football, what kind of activity do you think you'd like to do?"  Jack said, "Watch Duck Dynasty".  Faith responded with, "Get a manicure."  Those options weren't really on the table, so instead Jack is playing soccer and Faith will be taking piano lessons this year. 

Will has begun football, and we've learned it's not just a bit of running around.  It's a huge commitment of three nights a week, and having to endure him showing us he's got his "cup" securely placed.  Jack has had one night of soccer practice so far, and if it wasn't for Coach Maurice, he might need to add this to his list of things to talk about with a therapist at a later date.  Jack enjoys socializing more than running laps, and the concepts of soccer have not fully sunk in.  But Coach said he "had great potential" and those words made Jack so excited, I think he may have even said he's not mad at me for making him play.  And sweet Faith, with all her musical potential, is ready to begin her year of piano lessons.  She and I went to our friend Suzanne's house to learn expectations, and by the end of thirty minutes, Faith was grinning from ear to ear.  I feel real good about this one. 

Billy and I are buckling in, and holding on tight for the busy, crazy ride that this year promises to be.  We know we aren't alone, as each one of the kids' friends are all doing at least as much, if not more.  We are parents who want our kids to learn skills, and be active, while finding endeavors that might actually bring them joy along the way.  We know there's more to a day than getting up, going to work, and coming home to watch television.  We aren't asking our kids to become experts, we just want them to practice the adventure of life.  And we'll be sitting on the sidelines at every chance we get, cheering them on to become the best they can.  We'll cry with their defeats, and rejoice with victory.  We will hold their hands and watch them thrive.  And every day, we continue to thank God for the blessing of being a family. 


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Great Outdoors! (except for the rash)

Hey Peeps—

Billy just walked into the bathroom and asked me if I wanted to check him for ticks.  My curt and immediate reply was "No thank you".  He began the age-old argument, "but you're a nurse…"  I explained to him that I'd already done enough nursing care tonight as Will has a nasty rash that needed my attending with a heavy dose of anti-itching crème.  I hesitate to share the exact location with you, for fear of being too graphic, however, I hate keeping you in the dark.  How about all I say is that it's on the back of his body in a place that rhymes with "mutt". 

The aforementioned "conditions" don't normally happen on an every day basis around here,  but when you spend two nights in the great outdoors, you are bound to come home with at least a couple consequences of camping.  Some people love to camp, and some people hate to camp.  We are neither.  But because we live in the great state of Colorado, we are compelled to get out there and enjoy the beauty just like the pioneers did.

This year we decided to try camping somewhere completely new and ended up in Pike National Forrest at Painted Rocks Campground.  The big draw to me was that they said there were many rock formations to climb on and around.  Our kids love to scramble so that was enough to get me to reserve a spot.  The only downside was the potty on site was the NON flushable kind.  Faith and I really hate when we can't flush, so we had to remind ourselves that getting dehydrated just because we didn't want to go into the "bathroom" was not healthy.

We arrived in the early evening, with just enough sunlight to set up camp.  The kids were thrilled at our site location—it was right in the middle of the campground, and if any bears came around, they'd most likely fill up on other campers before coming to eat us.  While Billy set up the tent, the kids began running around like crazy checking the place out.  Will instantly asked to have his pocket knife so he could begin whittling. And for about the next 36 hours, he whittled several sticks into sharp, pointy implements.  If we said it once, we said it a thousand times, "Will, please don't harpoon your siblings". 

Our first night was fun, as our friend Mark came along with a couple Japanese students who are staying in Colorado in an exchange program.  They had never camped before, and so we tried to show them how it's done.  The two students stood by the fire, shivering a bit, as we explained how to make a s'more.  I feel there was more than a language barrier at this point, and most likely we just looked like idiots.  One of them learned the hard way that when you catch your marshmallow on fire, you really need to blow it out rather than fan it back and forth vigorously.  But alls well that ends well, and they seemed to enjoy the American experience.   

The next day we spent a couple hours at Manitou Lake which is only about ½ mile from the campground.  The kids were very excited to use their fishing poles! Billy was in charge of baiting the line, which seemed like a lot of work, so I pretended Spencer (our dog) was being naughty and I had to sit and hold on to his leash to keep him calm.  Will made the first catch, a crayfish, which made us all scream.  Faith caught one too, and oddly enough, it elicited another round of screams.  Once off the hooks, the creepy little spider-like crabs swam back to freedom, while I tried to hide the dry heaves.  After the excitement of the two catches were over, the kids got bored, and Will quickly tangled up his line.  We figured it was better than getting the hook stuck someone's eye, so we chalked it up to a successful outing.  We had a picnic, then a nice leisurely walk around the lake and headed back to the campground to hang out. 

Back at Painted Rocks, almost all the other campers had checked out and gone home.  We were basically alone.  It was so peaceful and quiet.  We grabbed a blanket from the car and spread it on the ground.  Billy laid down and rested his poor broken foot, and I laid down and rested my lazy, tired body.  Will whittled, while Jack and Faith played with legos.  Billy and I slept right there in the middle of the forest, with the breeze and sunshine in perfect balance.  After an hour of pure respite, we woke up.  Billy said he felt like it was a "soul nap".  I felt exactly the same way.  It was the perfect way to celebrate our 17th Anniversary. 

The evening was spent holed up in the tent while we listened to the rain fall.   We laughed and played games, and teased each other and laughed some more.  As the rain slowly eased up, we began to get sleepy, and when Billy gave the word, we all crawled to our respective bags and drifted to sleep.   The memory of this quiet, special day will bring me many smiles.  And maybe a few tears, as I know these days are precious, and only happen when we force ourselves to slow down.  What a gift to be together, surrounded by love, in the warmth of the sun, knowing we aren't alone.  I am blessed.  And God is good.