My travel companions and I thoroughly enjoyed our time in the Volunteer state, even though we're not sure what it looks like there. You see, for us the visit was all about family. We lovelovelove my sister and her family and haven't ever lived closer to them than a full three-day drive. Now they're just nine hours away!!
No, we do not travel by shopping cart, but yes, it is a good workout for Checkered.
Apart from having every.single.thing in common with their cousins, my boys are mighty fond of their uncle. It doesn't take too many war video games to begin believing that the military is where all the heroes are. Thank goodness, there's one in our family.
Uncle Hero helped one young man acquire the proper uniform and assisted him in the perfection of a salute.
It was unfortunate that my young soldier learned too late that his uncle out-ranks him by 14 levels.
Tears gathered in all our eyes as our brief reunion ended and we headed west. Thank - you, Army, for bringing our relatives closer to us.
Next on the vacation agenda: an IRL blogger meeting and a wedding (but not a wedding with a blogger - lest anyone be concerned.)
Thinking the yard looked a bit untamed, I gave the boys pruning shears and set them loose on the landscaping. They worked hard enough to fill the yard waste trash container. They also cut away most of the new blooms on the rose bushes, chopped down all my wild flowers, and trampled my struggling hibiscus.
The yard does look less cluttered and the boys are proud of their work. We had ice cream to celebrate.
We were at a World War II reenactment fair when my beautiful boy noticed someone carrying around an Air Force backpack. Oh how he wanted that backpack! To earn one though, a person had to do 20 pull-up's/chin-up's. But, said the recruiter in charge, it was his last backpack so the fee was now 30 pull-up's/chin-up's. We all stared and made grumpy faces, and the recruiter said, "Okay, 25."
So Checkered, newly thin and always protective of our sometimes fragile boy, began.
1,2, 3,4,5,6,7,8,9, 10, 11, 12.. 13... 14....15. That was it. There was a caveat though: Checkered had done a set of 10 prior to the set of 15. Doesn't that equal 25?
My kids and I have now reached the point in the summer where we have to ask each other, "What day is it?" We have done a great job reassuring ourselves that we will make great retirees. Here's a glance at the week past:
On Saturday I looked at every listing on Craigslist under the search, "boat" but I promise I didn't do it while my middle boy and I were on a date to see "Seussical" where two of his "older" female friends were performing. Who knew that a 10 year old could generate such generous hugs from gorgeous teens?
On Sunday I decided that our air conditioner was broken and decreed that we would not be using it any longer. Checkered and I agreed that we don't need another boat. Later on Sunday I wore this shoe on my left foot
and this shoe on my right foot. Yes, they have different sole heights.
While at a meeting at church, I realized my mistake and opted to spend the rest of the meeting bare-footed - which probably generated more attention than the mismatched shoes would have.
On Monday (and after sweltering through a miserably humid night) Checkered changed the temperature setting on our a/c and I learned that it wasn't broken at all. I had sweated for nothing. Our beautiful boy worked up the courage (after several YEARS) to run through the water fountain thingies at the mall. That took immense courage for him. I also checked the boats on Craigslist about 13 times.
On Tuesday I read the beautiful book, Redeeming Love, by Francine Rivers. I can't remember who told me to read Ms. Rivers' books, but thank-you! I also read about a woman who dabs a little lemon juice behind her ears, so I tried it but not a single person or bumble bee noticed my new scent. I may have checked Craigslist again.
On Wednesday I wished Checkered well on his trip with our Boy Scout and wondered how surprised he might be if I cleaned our room while he was gone, but then I took a little peek at Craigslist instead. I also shared in the joy as another of our children was recognized for his academic excellence. That just happened to take place on the field at the Detroit Tigers' game.
On Thursday I received a call from a nurse who said our insurance company had hired her to help parents like me co-manage our children's asthma. I thanked her and asked what she would be doing for us. She replied that she would be sending us a welcome packet of info about children and that she would be following-up with a call NEXT JUNE.
I also sent our daughter on her way with her church youth group. I do wonder if her blue cowgirl hat will even be in one piece by the time they arrive in Wyoming, but more than that, I wonder why I don't know of any blogs from Wyoming? I checked the Craigslist posts for boats from my phone, so that doesn't really count.
That brings us to today. I am well aware that it is Friday. (Thank goodness for all the Friday memes, otherwise I might not have known.) Thus far I have put on matching shoes and can only imagine what other great things are in store for me! Want to know how everyone else spent the last week? Go here :)
We went to another wedding this past week-end. This time it was a 30-something couple -- neither of whom I would have picked for the other -- and who appear to be exceptionally well-matched. That should give you some understanding of my matchmaking skills.
This wedding made me think of a wedding I was part of a long, long time ago. That marriage paired the daughter of a small-church pastor and the son of a politically-connected family. The church was absolutely full that day, and afterward, in a very traditional move, the entire bridal party were requested to stand in the receiving line. Do you remember those? Everyone there dutifully filed through the line and shook each bridesmaid's hand and each groomsman's hand before even getting to the stars of that day's show - the bride and groom. Interestingly enough, each guest seemed to feel it necessary to tell me - a lowly bride's maid - how he or she was connected to the couple. There were a very few college friends, a very few people who seemed to curry favor with the groom's family, and a few parishioners. What I never anticipated was how many were there because of the bride's mom. It wasn't that she held social power or was a maven of high society. As person after person after person came through the line that day, he or she would tell us how the bride's mom had introduced her to Jesus. "She loved me when I most needed it." "She showed me that Jesus loves me!" "She was the first person who taught me about the love of Christ." That receiving line and those testimonies went on for nearly an hour.
Now I wonder what the guests at my daughter's wedding might say about me?
...and yet another post where the strike-through font is king!
...I'd buy a plane ticket to more quickly get to my leisurely overnight stops in Nashville, Dallas, Colorado, Mt. Rushmore, Minneapolis, and Green Bay. Since I don't have a million dollars, we have begun packing the pop-up. I will admit to about 10 minutes of excitement recently regarding the trip.
...I'd buy a personal trainer since Checkered, my newest walking partner, forces allows agrees with me to stop at Starbucks when we walk. Can you say tall mocha non-fat frappuccino? I can.
...I'd buy some sort of hybrid toilet which would send industrial flushes when complete strangers my child needs them. Then again, I am working my biceps and triceps with all the plunging I am forced to do each week.
...I'd buy some enthusiasm like the elderly woman at Kohl's changing room who pulled down her shirt to show me her ta-ta's yesterday. She was a breast cancer survivor and challenged me to tell her which one was real :) I couldn't.
...I'd buy Aging Mommy a little guest house in my yard. Then she would be available to guide me through my reorganization attempts. We'd start with the leftover schol supplies from last year (crayons/colored pencils) which are too old (and missing too many components) to reuse this year and too good to throw out. We could combine them with our house-based school supplies, but that box is FULL. So what do I do?
...I'd buy my own in-house medical specialist who would tell me why my daughter has had two upper abdominal pain attacks lasting 2-3 hours and which are not helped by pain relievers. Each attack has resulted in throwing up and a sore stomach the next day.
...I'd buy a painter to come finish my bathroom remodel which I loudly proclaimed would be finished by April 2009 2010 20??
...I'd buy more friends like the ones who took my son for a week's vacation. He didn't even miss us, and that is just the way is should be! Now we'll see how he does at Boy Scout camp in a tent with a much stricter environment. I suspect he won't be missing us there either :)
and lastly, ...I'd buy the video surveillance tape of my daughter in a convenience store this week. She was frustrated that her youngest brother wouldn't answer her and wouldn't come when she told him that it was time to leave. So ... like loving sisters everywhere, she grabbed his arm and squeezed gently. Sadly, it wasn't her brother after all, but an elderly Asian woman.
These ellipses, strike-throughs, and non-parallel thoughts brought to you by:
(Soon to be my IRL friend!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
On the last day of the last month she called. Happy for a reason to stop the lawnmower and sit awhile, I took her call and settled in for a long chat about kids, marriage, work, neighbors, and all those other things women have to say. At the 45 minute mark of the conversation, my ears burning from the heat of my phone, I began to make my conversation-ending summation when she asked:
"Why don't you ever call me?"
My answer was completely truthful! I'm not a phone talker. I rarely call anyone. I'm an emailer and texter and face-to-face talker. And I sounded entirely defensive and completely unbelievable.
As I struggled to find a way to leave the conversation without sounding even less sincere, she asked one last question:
"I tell you my problems. Why don't you tell me yours?"
The only thing I could think of as an answer was, "Because I really don't want to."
But since I couldn't really say that and because I couldn't think of any other reason, I blamed Checkered for needing the phone and I hung up.
I married when I was 31 - long after most of my friends married. While they were setting up house and driving back and forth to the obstetrician, I was traveling, dating, earning three graduate degrees, dating some more, working some life-changing jobs, living in three different regions of the U.S., dating even more, and having a wonderful decade of 20-something -ness.
When I was 33, Checkered and I became parents for the first time. We were instantly and completely in love with our beautiful daughter. During her first sixth months of life, as she repeatedly told us that she wasn't then and never would be a sleeper, and while I walked millions of miles with my miserably colicky baby, I told her all about my 20's. I told her how I had really known who I was by the time I met her daddy. I told her how I had done so much that by my 30's there was no restlessness in me. I told her that no one should ever marry until he or she crosses the 30 threshold. No one.
Now I'm not in my 30's anymore and I'm watching as several of our contemporaries send the last of their children off to college. I watch as they take early retirements. I watch as they begin second careers and welcome grandkids.
And it makes me think.
This past week-end we went to the wedding of a 20 year old bride and groom. They have no college degrees, no career paths in place, no real marketable skills yet, and neither has ventured much beyond their parents' homes. But they are sincere. They are in love. They are fine people.
As we walked out of the ceremony, my 15 year old daughter (who now sleeps through the night) said,
My name is Pepper and I am a valued member of the Flag family. I've been with them for two years and know them better than they think. To prove how knowledgeable I am, I'll take you through a quick tour of their week.
Their mailbox is frequently open after the mail has been delivered, but the neighbors' mailboxes aren't. The bills are still in there. The catelogues are still there. So it remains a mystery.
This is Checkered's favorite after-work place. He will eventually nod off for a few minutes and awake completely refreshed. I would show you Caution's favorite after-work place, but it involves far fewer clothes and much more ice cream. Don't get any ideas here that might embarrass me.
This is their itenary for their vacation. Checkered is exceptionally organized. The trip is a gazillion miles over two weeks. Have you made your lunch date with Caution yet when she speeds through your city? Caution canNOT wait to sleep in that pop-up all those nights, but she'll survive. Maybe.
These are the school supplies Caution's son bought yesterday. Michigan schools don't begin until September 7, but we all know that if the kids wait until after the vacation, the supplies will be well picked-over.
This is the linen closet that Caution conquered yesterday. She has been living in horror at the memory of her MIL dying and some relatives coming by the house and criticizing the condition of the MIL's linen closet. Caution was shocked to find crib sheets in the back of her closet. Yes, her baby is 8 years old now.
This is the el cheapo corn hole game they picked up at Walmart. Some day they will get a serious tournament corn hole set like they played in Kentucky. I'm getting sick of those bean bags flying around here, but Caution is absolutely addicted to the game.
Now, please excuse me. I had a bath today and am absolutely exhausted from the emotional trauma of it all.
P.S. Caution is just about out of blogging ideas and thinks she may just blog through all Mrs. 4444's clever memes.
What is a teen supposed to do when her parents say, "Get in the car! It's time to leave." BUT, but, but her laundry is still very, very wet?
She has her dad string clothes line up in the back of the truck ... where it will swing and sway and bake for the next six hours until the family has finally arrived at the grandparents' Kentucky home.
Unfortunately, it will also create something of a greenhouse effect and the clothing will arrive ever so mildewy and moldy.
The last time it happened, the problem was a long dance with insomnia. After a few hundred restless tosses and turns, I walked into the darkened bathroom in search of my best friend, generic Tylenol PM. I took one and returned to bed where I tossed and turned for a few more hours.
The next morning discovered that I had not taken anything resembling Tylenol PM. But I was home, so there was no real problem.
This past Saturday night, because I am prone to repeating any ill-timed mistake, it happened again. This time the problem was acid reflux and I prowled around the darkened bathroom closet in search of a remedy. When, after an hour, the first pill didn't work, I took a second. It wasn't until the next morning that I saw the bottle and realized what I had taken two of and what was headed my way on Sunday morning:
Let me just tell you, our church service is a newly shortened 1 hour and 10 minutes and it surely felt like the longest 1 hour and 10 minutes of my life.