Friday, July 14, 2017

The New Baby...

My dad has played guitar since the "old man across the street" taught him You Are My Sunshine when daddy was five which means the kiddo has grown up watching and listening to daddy play. When the kiddo's first electric guitar showed up under Pops and Grandma's Christmas tree seven years ago, I knew we were on a path. While he's inherited one of his Pops favorite acoustics, Pops came over Monday and confirmed that the kiddo has finally outgrown his old Christmas gift. I loved the look on his face as he watched his Pops play today. And then again when we surprised him with a trip to the guitar store. Needless to say we brought home a new baby. #thesearethedays #priceless #LesPaul

Today lunch (translate that to a reason to eat carrot cake) was the only way I could get the kiddo to give it a rest and stop playing guitar long enough for me to re-up the Advil. Seriously, I’ve lost track of how many hours he’s played since Monday but spitballing it gets me close to forty. I love to listen to him, I really do. But I also work from home so that means my office floor is vibrating since the main area of his new studio in our basement is right beneath my space on the main level. On a positive note, there's only been one song he's learned that I really don't like (Paranoia by Black Sabbath, which he assures me he only likes because it's in one of the Ironman movies). Other tunes he’s learned this week include the theme song to Sons of Anarchy, the love song (my term) from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, and Crossfire by Stevie Ray Vaughn as well as a few from the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac and Bob Seeger. He’s tossed in some Brad Paisley and Taylor for good measure and last night I even heard him playing the main riff from Staying Alive. 

Then there’s his main focus, which is any and everything by John Mayer. Like. All. John. All. The. Time. We’ve watched every minute of John’s Any Given Thursday (Live from Oak Mountain, 2002) concert and his Where The Light Is (Live in LA, 2007) concert as well as his VH1 Storytellers session (2009), which leads me to this thought… I sincerely hope John's mom had to listen to as much Clapton (John’s idol) as I am Mayer (the kiddos idol). #InYourAtmosphere  #CakeForLunch

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Music Wars...

You may have heard me mention that every so often, the kiddo and I end up in a music battle.  We take our tunes very seriously in these parts and while we share similar tastes, there are days the mood hits and one of us just can’t help goading the other about a particular song choice.  Such was the case this morning.  I had the tunes cranked while making my bed; a chore I DETEST and would never do it if the hubster didn’t appreciate it.  Talk about Felix and Oscar!  As a result, on days I make the bed, I usually turn up the music to ease the pain. 

The kiddo couldn’t resist commenting on Natalie La Rose’s Dance with Somebody as he stepped in to my room and snagged the speaker, promptly redirecting the Bluetooth to play something called Lean On by Major Lazer.  “That song is so last summer,” he offered to my Natalie choice.

“And this song is so awful,” I countered a minute later as I looked over at him as if to say 'find some taste' and regained control of the speaker, only to hit him with DJ Snake and the Biebs crooning Let Me Love You.

“You don’t play fair,” he smiled as he started to bop before grabbing the other side of the comforter I was wrestling in an effort to help.  “You and I both know no one can resist the Biebs.”

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The World Gets to Me...

Some days I can take the things that happen around me in stride.  I can rationalize that I’m here and such and such is happening over there, or that a given hardship befalls someone else but me and mine are fine so life must go on...

But on other days…  On days like today…  I’ve just got to be honest--the world gets to me.

When I hear about a mother who throws her infant from the 10th story of a 26-story apartment fire, the world gets to me.

When I see a picture of grown men praying on a baseball field, the world gets to me.

Have you ever held a wholly innocent and helpless infant in your arms?  Now close your eyes and try to imagine being in a situation so desperate you’d throw that baby out a window because you knew to the core of your being your last breath could be counted on one hand and the window was the last hope for life before death prevailed. 

Have you ever reached across the aisle and come together to support the greater good?  Now imagine diving on top of people you spend an inordinate amount of time trying to best in the nine to five realm in an effort to shield them from the gunfire whizzing past.  Imagine praying for the people you were trying to discredit and crush in yesterday’s meeting.

The sad truth is that we live in a world where it’s becoming all too common to only expect the best of humanity to emerge when tragedy knocks down a given door.  This isn’t the world I grew up in and it’s not the world I want the kiddo to inherit.  The same kiddo who wants to make it to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. one day and might very well get to play in that baseball game along the way. 

The world gets to me on days like today because it shouldn’t take headlines to remind us of how we ought to love, and hope, and protect, and pray for one another.  We greatly cheapen ourselves when we only allow our best to show up in the face of the horrific.  By only reacting to tragedy, we rob ourselves the opportunity to make a difference in the everyday.

I want the people in my life to love me like the mom in the window; enough to help me see a way when I lose hope. 

I want the people in my life to love me like the congressional baseball players; enough to hit their knees and call out to God for me even though we disagree and they’d rather write me off.

If you’ve got friends and family you aren’t encouraging today but you’re weeping over the headlines, I don’t want to make you mad but I am calling you out because you’re missing it.

Somebody needs someone to be bold for them today.  Somebody needs someone to call out on their behalf today.  And whether there's a headline for it or not, somebody in your circle needs something only you can provide for them today.  Don’t miss it.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Maybe I did. Maybe I didn't...

In the middle of our walk between art galleries today at a local museum, the kiddo stopped and turned and stood in awe for several moments.  “Do you know these two?” he finally asked quietly.

Maybe I did.  Maybe I didn’t.  What I knew didn’t matter at the moment.  “Why don’t you tell me about them,” I replied instead of answering.

“This is King George III and his wife, Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg,” he began, and our discussion didn’t end until sometime after I’d learned more about European history and art than I thought I’d ever know and our lunch had moved into dessert and coffee nearly two hours later. 

These are the days he gets to be the tour guide and I get to hang back and soak in all he’s learning.  These are the days I get to listen and stand in awe of all he’s becoming.  These are the days I want to remember.  

Friday, May 26, 2017

What I really meant to say...

I'm a bit of a weepy mess this afternoon but before you feel bad for me, I'm giving you permission to laugh at me.  I know it sounds ridiculous.  I've said the words out loud about a dozen times now, wondering if they’d somehow mean more or less if I heard them in my tone of voice rather than in my head.  I only have two more days to drive carpool and while this should make me jump for joy, I know my life will never be the same.

So let me back up and bring you in on where all of this began.  I've been wondering how to break it to my son that I want to drive him to school on the first day in August.  Do I have a good reason? Not really.  He’ll have his license.  He has a car.  He’ll have driven nine thousand miles over the summer in various lighting and weather conditions because we’re going to live in his car until I feel confident he knows enough to pull out of the driveway on his own.  But I have a few bits of mom logic bouncing around my brain that I’m prepared to toss about when I plead my case. The first day is always frenetic and I’ve been in the high school parking lot on enough day ones to know the student parking area looks like a toddler took a warehouse full of matchbox cars and threw them everywhere.
The view from the from of the line.

So I got brave yesterday and floated this notion by the kiddo.  There I stood, fully anchored in reality yet hopeful, as he grinned at me from ear to ear.  “Mom. No way. I'm looking forward to driving myself.”

I know this.  The kiddo and I are close and we talk about things like this.  I know he's excited.  So I joked and laughed and played it cool and said typical mom things that came to mind like who will hold your coffee while you're getting all of your stuff out of the car and you can’t eat and drive so you’re going to have to add ten minutes to your morning routine.  I have jobs in the morning.  I'm the breakfast maker and the coffee holder so I thought these were valid talking points. But what I really meant to say were heart things like who will tell you to do great and have a great day and that they love you before you head into the fray?  Who will be waiting with a smile to pick you up and listen as you download your day?  I ended up going with the simple truth.  “I’ll miss running through our checklist.”

You see, my kiddo is an Aspie.  And while his Aspie is extremely mild, like a dash of pepper on a beautifully frosted slice of cake, routine runs the game.  I never knew when he was diagnosed at the tender of age of five, when we learned that his routines were a God-wired part of him and not just learned behavior, that these same routines I often loathed would become so ingrained in me that I would have a harder time breaking some of them than he would.

It was then my son said the sweetest, most heartbreaking thing I've ever heard leave his lips.  “I know, mom.  Haven't you noticed I've been giving you less and less information during our afternoon run down? I didn't want to hurt your feelings but I know I have to start doing the rundown for myself so I've been trying to keep my conversations with you fairly brief.

Oh sweetheart, I wanted to shout.  I’ve noticed.  Of course I have.  The logical part of me has known what he was doing since he changed up our routine shortly after spring break but my heart didn't want to admit it.

“So what if I just ride with you?” I asked.  No, I’m not above a backdoor approach to getting my way.

“Sure,” he offers quickly.  He’s been driving me around town for months so this isn’t anything new.  But then he catches me.  “Wait a minute,” he smiles.  “If you ride with me that means you either take my car and come back after school or you sit in the parking lot for seven hours.  Nice try, but no deal, mom.”

So the kiddo is on to me.  Okay.  That’s fine.  I get it.  I’ve seriously got to up my game.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The B's have it...

If you know me well (or if you've been to my home office), you know I have a fascination with the letter B. My office is covered with B's and that's how I like it. In fact, many special people in my life have given me B's over the years and every time I look around my space, I smile.  

I even had a B coaster on my desk. Until today.  

The truth is, I never really liked the coaster because it's not quite my style. Actually, it's not my font. The day I bought it I remember bemoaning the fact that the other 25 letters of the alphabet had fun fonts like Papyrus and Georgia and Bradley Handwriting while B got Comic Sans, outlined and italicized. Oh, the horror! But still, I didn't have a B coaster so home it came. But I broke rank today when I saw this...

I have so much to be thankful for I don't know where to begin but I'm never above being reminded.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Cotton Management...

If you know me at all, you've likely heard my description of our laundry room.  At any given moment it looks like Tommy Bahama and Ralph Lauren are having an affair with the Brooks Brothers!  The men in this house don't understand the meaning of wash and wear.  It much more closely resembles wash on delicate for 33 minutes and dry for 13 minutes before hanging for 4 hours then drying for 13 more minutes to wrinkle release around here.  My guys have great taste in clothing and while they always look good, I'm beginning to think I need an advanced degree in cotton management just to wash their clothes!  Couple that with the fact that if you've taken a trip to the mall recently, you know mens clothing isn't cheap.  Words like sale and clearance don't translate across the mens aisles like they do for women.  
A few weeks ago I added a small dry erase board near the dryer to remind me how many items need to be removed at the damp dry buzzer (lest they shrink, fade, wrinkle, get too hot--the list is endless)! And this is the note that met me mid week when I least expected it, smack dab in the middle of the ordinariness of motherhood. 
The best job I've ever had is also the hardest, most challenging, often frustrating, highly rewarding, extremely thought provoking, utterly overwhelming, at times disappointing, extremely nerve racking, most heart pounding job I've ever had. There are days I want to scream. There are days I cry. There are days I laugh. Then this shows up and reminds me there are days I kn
ow to my core why I do what I do, and why I love it so much...

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

I think it's the trees...

There are many misconceptions about the type A personality.  Take me for instance.  I'm a hard charging type A but I'm far more introverted than people realize.  I can turn it “on” and go almost indefinitely.  Until I stop.  And then it's like my husband always jokes; I have two speeds--sixth gear and off.  No idle.  No second gear.  No moderation.

The end of the school year always brings out the extremes in my personality, this brakes/gas thing I have going as my family likes to say.  My calendar is in maximum overdrive and I'm good with that until I'm not.  Sometimes I’m blessed with a warning light when my tank is running low.  Today was one of those days.

As I was standing at the office supply store watching thirty five pounds of paper I purged from my life bite it at the hands of the cross cutter, it dawned on me that I'm tired.  It's been a long week and I've had multiple things vying for my attention every day. Between that and the rain crashing into the windows at night making me think someone is throwing marbles against the glass and the lightning putting on a laser show that wreaks havoc on my photo sensitivity, I haven't been sleeping well.  Poor sleep is a wicked tonic to throw in to the too busy cocktail.  So this afternoon I tossed my schedule to the wind and drove to the spot where I go when I need to let the world disappear.

My spot isn't far from home but it's incredibly special.  It's a place I’ve found myself at various points when I need to cry, laugh, celebrate, pray, mourn, or just stand in awe.  One time I even went for the sole purpose of screaming out loud.  Today I just wanted to sit and be quiet and my spot is perfect for that.  My world has been so noisy as of late sometimes I honestly can’t hear myself think.  Today I needed time to not worry about anything or feel anxious about anything or wonder about my calendar or the laundry or the grocery list or AP finals or the schedule for junior year or my time commitments or even the type of person I've let myself become over the last year.  I’m constantly checking a list and analyzing my scorecard and for a few minutes today I needed to not think.  To not grade myself as a wife, and a mom, and a daughter, and a sister.  As a friend, a coworker, an artist, a boss, a student, or even as a volunteer.

While it would be easy to look at my spot and think it has something to do with nature, that’s not it.  While I’m aware of the birds and the squirrels and the creek when I let myself pay attention to those things, I'm also able to tune all of that out and just be when I step off the path.  The truth is, I think it’s the trees.  There are times I need to get out of my habitat and in to someone else's.  Not being able to see the trees for the forest slows me down.

I was only off the clock for eight minutes today but they were a quality eight minutes and it was just what I needed to reset myself for a busy afternoon and evening.

What have you done for yourself today?  Do you have a spot or a thing you do to help yourself reset?  If not, you're missing out and you might want to brainstorm this a bit.  I hear a lot of people say their spot is the ocean or a beach or the lake or mountains and while those places are wonderful for a big getaway, a far off location can't be the quick respite our souls so desperately need.  Think of it like this--you need a place nearby when the warning lights go off.
You deserve to give yourself a minute to reset in the middle of this manic, overloaded, fast lane life you're living.  In fact, push the limit and take eight.  And yes, it was really eight. I'm a type A.  I counted.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Best Grandma Ever...

When I was 15 the cold war was still alive and well and it seems like everywhere I turned for a time, someone was talking about mutual assured destruction and the red menace and Russia, Russia, Russia! Maybe some of you 70’s and 80’s babies can relate…
Fast-forward 32 years and here we are again. War. Nuclear tests. Countermeasures. North Korea. MOAB. Everywhere we turn it seems war or talk of war surrounds us and I know first hand when you’re 15 that can be a tricky thing to process. Such is the way with the kiddo. He’s a history nerd to the max which means he knows more about history than some of us have forgotten and he’s a crack debater which means he’s up to the minute on current affairs. Ugh. These are dark days we find ourselves in. So where do the words of comfort come from? 
For me it was my grandma, the queen of the world. When I was shaky or confused about anything, including good ole Gorbachev back in the day, my grandma would sit with me and we’d talk it through. She always had just the right words to share; a little history, a little hope, a lot of faith.
And so it goes with me when the kiddo wants to talk about current events these days. I do my best to remember back to the times I sat with my grandma and listened to her gentle words of assurance. And I’m sure to mix in a little history, a little hope, and a lot of faith, with a big hug or two thrown in for good measure.  #BestGrandmaEVER

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Huffing and Growling...

People are disruptive...

I heard this phrase a couple of weeks ago and I have to tell you, it strikes a cord with me.  As it applies in my life, it’s true--people can be hideously disruptive. I would have said I do a bang-up job of grumbling under my breath when I’m interrupted and hiding the fact that I’m not the world’s most flexible person.  But alas, it’s been brought to my attention by a few people who love me most that I don’t always hide my emotions very well when I’m interrupted.  Could that be true of me?

If you know me, you know I’m an overachieving type A that craves deadlines and organization and you also probably know I’m pretty insightful, especially when it comes to knowing myself.  For example, I know I don’t have the gift of hospitality.  Have you ever been to my house for dinner?  See?  Not a speck of hospitality in sight.  Why is this, you ask?  1. I don’t like to cook.  2. I don’t want my house to get messed up.  Which is to say yes, I'm aware I’m a neat freak who trends toward pretty strong OCD tendencies.  Feel free to laugh when I say that one of the things I enjoy most is engaging in conversation and strengthening friendships over a good meal.  Out.  In a restaurant.  When you call me you might be planning a cookout but when I call you, you can bet we’re eating out!

So how does all of this relate to people?  I would have said my scorecard on friendship earned high marks.  I pride myself on quickly responding to emails and texts when anyone in my inner circle needs a hand, an ear, a ride, a dollar, a friend or when they just want to chat or vent.  I try to make myself available at any hour to those I’m blessed to share my life with and thankfully, they gladly do the same for me.  But I had no idea I was sometimes doing so with such a huff in my tone.  With all of this insight I pride myself on having, how could I have missed that?

I was clueless that I huffed when my mom called last week to ask my opinion on something and politely asked what I was doing.  “Working!” She recalls me saying in a rush.  I also had no idea that I threw my hand out and growled over the weekend when the hubster interrupted a block of creative writing time I’d set aside.  Yep.  He said the actual quote was “I need five more minutes to wrap up before I can help you.”  Wow!  Where’s that application for Wife-of-the-Year?  Will someone grab it for me, please?

To me, friendship shows up first and foremost by offering the gift of time to the people I adore and the last thing I want to do is offer that time with a scowl on my face and a growl lacing my voice.  That isn’t a reflection of my heart and it’s not the kind of person I want to be.

This month I’m embracing the truth about myself.  I huff and I growl a lot and I’m determined to stop.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Learn, Adapt, Adjust...

I’m certain I was full of good intentions and boundless energy a mere 31 days ago--ready and willing to embrace the new year with gusto.  Yet as January has dragged on, I feel like it's pulled me right along with it.
  • My brother wasn’t supposed to have his life turned upside down by depression.
  • My nephew wasn’t supposed to be riddled with panic attacks.
  • My husband wasn’t supposed to be saddled with eighty-hour work weeks for a second year in a row.
  • My son’s dog wasn’t supposed to die. 
I was watching television last night and I saw an ad for a new show, The Wheel, and honest to goodness I laughed out loud.  It looks like contestants get dropped off in a hostile environment and just when they figure out how to survive the Sahara, Rainforest, Swamp, Tundra…  the wheel spins and off they go to the next extreme locale; underprepared and ill-equipped, forced to learn, adapt and adjust.  Hmm.  I hate to break it to Hollywood but I don’t think we needed a tv show for that.  Around here we’re beginning to call that type of adventure a day in the life.

What I’ve learned in the first 31 days of this new year is that life doesn’t stop to check our calendar or measure the margin in our schedule or take in to account that sometimes we just need a break.  And a nap.  The wheel spins when it spins and we have two choices...  We can jump or we can hang on for the ride.

January has been a roller coaster ride that has pushed and pulled and reshaped our family in ways we’re still discovering but we’re holding on to each other, and those we love, and we’re moving forward together.  And we're praying for a calmer February.

“When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate.  And when life is bitter, say thank you and grow.”  Shauna Niequist, Bittersweet (Zondervan Press)

Friday, January 6, 2017

It's not about the coffee...

I make my son coffee every morning.  Always a bold blend.  Always black.  Always in a to-go cup so he can enjoy it as he starts his day.  It’s a little thing I like doing for him and it’s my part of our morning routine.  But our routine was thrown off this particular morning as we loaded a holiday seasons’ worth of recyclables into the truck so I could make my yearly pilgrimage to the recycling center.  I’d already maxed out my trash containers and borrowed a friends recycling bin.  My cardboard was out of hand and it had to be dealt with so today was the day.

Coffee was the collateral damage.

Half way to school we realized the kiddos’ coffee was still sitting on the counter.  We considered it, but quickly agreed we were too far to turn back.  “There’s a café at school,” the kiddo said.  “I’ll grab something there.”  Great, I though to myself.  A totally workable plan B.

Turns out the café doesn’t have coffee.  Or tea.  Or hot chocolate or juice, which leaves me wondering exactly what the word café is meant to showcase.  Turns out they have water.

The kiddo and I shared a laugh via text and I encouraged him to go with the water, reminding him that studies show that kids that take three drinks of water before a test score up to 25% higher on average.  Apparently we’re a dehydrated world I typed to which he replied our brains are wheezing for a bit of the h2o and we should get right on drinking up.  He seldom fails to make me smile.

“Sorry about your luck, buddy.  Is there else I can do for you today?”  I asked, one hundred percent sincere in my question, which is one I ask both of my guys on a fairly routine basis.
“Could you maybe bring me coffee?”
I could do that.  If I altered my schedule by twenty minutes I could take my son coffee.  Not because I had to but because I offered.  Because coffee makes the world go round and this kiddo is my world.

So our high school has a water bar.  Cool

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

My Peeps...

I'm surrounded by incredible people with gorgeous souls. Whether it's the clerk at the drive through who smiles when she sees me because she knows I'm going to hold up the line just a second longer while I take a sip and double check that my iced tea is unsweet.   Or maybe it's my precious friend that leaves a fun treat in my mailbox just because.  Or maybe it's my bestie and my sister and brother in law, peeps I love that are graciously taking exercise equipment off my hands without once reminding me that I could stand to use the pieces I'm offloading. My peeps make life that much sweeter and I adore them.  #blessedbeyondmeasure