Wednesday, May 27, 2015

"Kids Will Blow Dandelion Fuzz...In Summer"

So far, almost everything about the one week of summer break we have had so far has had to jump to Plan B.

It has rained. A lot. After watching my newly-planted grass begin to brown like it's August, the last school bell magically opened the clouds above. Which makes the redneck pool very, very cold. I got in for a second and got hypothermia from the waist down. And the little people who are supposed to swim in it for hours on end swear they will stay in if I go to all the trouble of helping them yank their suits on. (Is there anything more confusing to a five year old, or for that matter a Man, than criss cross bathing suit straps? Neither one can EVER get the suit put on correctly.) But they have no, like no, fat on their little bitty bodies, which in itself is beyond my well-insulated comprehension, and one-by-one, at minutes three, four and five, give up on swimming, dripping their way into the mudroom and warping my hardwoods. 

Oh, and the redneck pool now has a redneck deck built beside it, which I would post a picture of, but it's raining, and I'm not walking out there. Deck building was definitely not my Plan A.

My weekend of resting did not happen. But we had a good weekend. It just wasn't restful. 

The big wrench in our summer so far has been the flu. Who gets the flu in May? Right at the beginning of what is supposed to be an epically awesome summer? Apparently Preston does. This is not anyone's Plan A. And if it goes through our whole family? Well, we might as well write this summer off. I'm praying real hard against that evil. He feels so bad he couldn't even get up to watch American Ninja Warrior with us last night. That show is something else. There's no way to watch it and then not do some pushups afterwards. Maybe if Preston ever gets over the flu we can train and be the first husband/wife team to get through the course. After we start to work out, of course.

Because of the flu we had to cancel on some friends who were coming over, leading to utter despair and me desperately choosing something off our Yellow Summer Sheet to do this morning. It just so happens there was a Groupon yesterday for a pottery painting studio, which is on our Yellow Summer Sheet, so we went and painted some things for Father's Day. (No worries about letting the cat out of the bag. He's too sick to watch ESPN so I know he won't be reading this blog.)

Flu notwithstanding, we have really had a great week; we have played exactly 25 million hands of Dutch Blitz, watched Brave and Cupcake Wars, popped popcorn in an old fashioned popcorn popper outside without the lid, hung curtains in the treehouse, read two books each (except me because East of Eden apparently grows pages), done a dance called the whip, and practiced tons of piano.

It grows thicker every time you touch it.

While I'm thinking about it, Brave is just about the worst movie ever made. This was only the second time we have watched it because the first time we watched it everyone was scared to sleep for a month. So we put it away for awhile and tried again. Nope. Still has a part that runs through one girl's brain. And I HATE the fact that in one scene the men don't have their kilts on. Animation is so realistic today, it feels like actual nudity to me. Why are kids movies like that? What is the point? I can't understand it. We attempted to watch a PG movie a couple weeks back that had the word "damn" within the first 10 minutes (I know because that's all the farther we got into it before Preston shut 'er down.). It also made references to illegal drug use. WHAT IS THE POINT IN A KIDS MOVIE? 

Just this week in my devotions a reference was made to a verse in chapter four of Philippians, so I read the whole chapter, and in it was a verse that had come up in a conversation with other girl moms about shopping for bathing suits this week, so I have had this verse running through my head ever since:

"...whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." Philippians 4:8

We just can't let some of the things that are totally acceptable as "kids movies" get into the girls' heads, because as I said before, one girl in particular is struggling with a very unlovely thing she can't get out of her head, and this is not unique to her. Someday not too far in the future their brains will be more developed, they will be more mature and more able to see these movies, hear these words, watch the scary scene, but not THINK about them incessantly. Until then, we need to fill their heads with honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, praiseworthy things. And I don't think that verse only applies to children. Preston and I recently stopped watching a TV series because it reached our threshold for awfulness. And I'm ashamed to say we watch lots of unlovely things, but this series was just more than I could handle. 

Ok, totally didn't intend to go there.

Back to the summer.

We have not cracked the summer enrichment packets that came home. I am not sure I will ever have the will to. 

And there are some things about this week haven't been great, like the level of the volume in the house with all five of us here, the fact that there are Beados lodged forever in the knots of my rustic hardwood floors, the moon sand these people are playing with right now, (which is everywhere and makes me lose my will to live as I lecture about keeping it on, no ON, not off, ON ON ON the cookie sheet!), all of the construction paper I thought would last the summer has already been used to make paper airplanes that have no chance, none, of ever flying, the forcing of a child to eat her potato salad I knew she didn't like, reminded her she didn't like, explained to her that if I put it on her plate she would have to eat it, put it on her plate, and she didn't like it but then choked it down, and the total banishment to the basement after the wrestling got beyond what I could take. 

The smallest beads. Ever. 

That are sticky when wet. Awesome.

Note to Grandmas: When allowing children to pick a craft at Hobby Lobby, steer away from Moon Sand.


I love SUMMER!

Like Olaf.

Except, unlike Olaf, I know what summer is, and I know the bored, hot, skin-melting, mosquito filled days that are coming, and I cannot wait.

The day when they will return to the care of the teacher is so close already, even only one week in. Kindergarten is bearing down on me like a grizzly on a sleeping hiker (which is why I don't camp). 

So in order to savor it, I will not feel guilty when I send them to the basement and lock the door. When I make them pick green beans. When I force them to sit on the side of the tub and wash their filthy feet amidst their loud exclamations that it will just happen again tomorrow. When I make them complete a book. When I let them eat 87 popices. 

And I will let them make chocolate chip cookies without any help, and I will eat them as though they are ambrosia even when they ineveitably burn them (or overdose on baking powder). I will not mention the mud left streaked in the bathtub. I won't stop the wrestling match. I will do the hardest color by number ever with Lillian. I will (patiently!) help Hope sew the doll she is working on. I will snuggle with Eva the Early Riser at 7 am even though no one else will appear until 8:30 or later. 

And when Plan B becomes Plan A, I. Will. Savor. It. 

Grace for the Bored Days to come,

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Bibliophilia Update

Here are the final selections for the "Brooks Bookworms" (Eva's name) book club I am doing with the girls this summer. (Remember my sick ramblings and determination to make them bibliophiles? Hence the Brooks Bookworms.)

I read a lot of books from a lot of sources, more than I even listed on the side because the list was getting too long, and discovered lots of great reads. I also was able to pick out our next several read-alouds, which makes me feel super ahead of the game. (good for this Type A girl as our summers tend to get really unstructured, what with EVERYONE home and late night swimming, movies, games, and s'mores, during which I am sure to fall way behind the game)

We are starting with Little Pear, by Eleanor Frances Lattimore, Ramona and Her Mother, by Beverly Cleary, and Flora and the Flamingo, by Molly Idle, which I gave to them yesterday along with a clip-on booklight. Ironically enough, (I think ironically - my super smart realtor brother assures me I never use that word correctly) the child who takes all the hits got the one that didn't work. So, being determined to not let this happen, I raced back to Target and exchanged it, only to have the new one not work as well. I said some curse words (in my head) and promised her we would get a different one today. DANG IT!

Another side note - apparently there has been a playground discussion about "bad words" versus "curse words." Bad words are "stupid, shut up, etc." and, according to the wisdom of Elementary School, there is only one "curse word," and it is so bad no one in the history of the world has ever said it. (I am pretty sure I have, but we won't tell the three innocent girls that.)

Lillian is just beginning to read, so I chose some great books that are basically all pictures. She will make up stories to go with the pictures in her new 70 cent spiral notebook (where is the "cent" sign?) with her Dad, and then bring it on our outing and share with me.  

By the way, if any of these books look appealing to you, and you click through the links I provide in the "Brooks Bookworms" list, I get a very small something-something for directing you to a purchasing source. (amazon, of course) If you have a local, independent bookstore, try there first!

Happy Reading!! 


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Rest, Regroup, Reset

Why do I feel so guilty when I say no? I was asked to do/help with/host four different things yesterday, and said no to most of them, and now today feel pretty terrible, because TECHNICALLY, I could do the things, but MENTALLY, I just didn't feel capable.

I think my guilt must have something to do with our inability to just be still and not feel like we must be doing something. We have decided the credo of our life will be to be EXHAUSTED when we meet Jesus - nothing left, all poured out for Him. We miss opportunities alot, or choose unwisely where to spend our energy, but that is the mantra always in our heads - "Exhausted for Jesus." (especially when reading things like Ann Voskamp's recent post - it will rip your heart out, and you need to read it and do something. Come, Lord Jesus! Please, today even!)

So after that, my exhaustion seems so, so, so trivial. But here, in this country, in this era, with these resources, is where I have been planted. 

And I am telling you, these past 3 or 4 weeks have worn me out, worn Preston out, and occasionally even worn out the child who has never, not once in her life, admitted to tiredness. I just know it's worn her out because she falls asleep only asking about thunderstorms 85 times instead of 300. 

And I know for a fact a lot of you have had a May similar to ours what with stories of unloading and putting away dirty dishes, forgetting house guests arriving until the morning they call to tell you what time to expect them for supper, neglecting to send in things you committed to send in, once again sending children to school in the wrong attire, Lego incidents, throw up, pinkeye, separated clavicles, exploding toilets, and extreme outrage over next year's school forms being sent home ALREADY. 

I think being still must be an actual skill. Preston and I do not appear to have it. We need to practice it. Maybe this weekend. We have nothing on the calendar for Saturday or Sunday, and I am determined to keep it that way. We shall see. We are going to be recluses, rest, regroup, and reset for two days. 

This is my plan: (Can you plan rest? Whatever.)

We are going to make a fun doodle of all the things we want to do this summer. 
(Is it resting if we are planning things to do during our non-rest? I started with my things to make a better post picture.)

We are going to swim in the redneck pool with our resident mermaid.

We are going to shoot baskets in the new basketball hoop, the installation of which almost caused us to need a marriage-saving intervention. 

We are going to ride the trails behind our house. (You might be able to glimpse the top of three little girls' heads if you zoom in closely. We have a ball field and then trails for biking/four wheeling/getting ticks/walking/running cut into this field behind our house.)

We are going to catch butterflies.

We are going to work on reading. (per her request when she realized she could read a lot of this book)

We are going to play Dutch Blitz over and over, and I will smoke my children at Scattergories the Card Game (because they need to learn to lose graciously).

I am going to finish East of Eden, because I've been reading it forever but keep falling asleep.

So that's the plan. 

With my favorite people.

Sounds restful to me. 

But still not "still." Hmmm. 

I'm going to be ok with that. 

Grace for the First Weekend of Summer, 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Draaaaaagging to the Finish Line

One week left.

One week from the moment I am typing this, I will go pick up the girls and bring them home with me for almost three months. 

If your last month has been anything like mine, you are draaaaaagging, too. The emails. The texts. The checking of the folders. The reading logs. The uneaten lunches packed in the lunchboxes that are now so gross they could be used as a science experiment. 

It's almost over. 

The last few weeks have been nothing short of chaos. I have started to put every single detail into the Cozi app Preston and I have on our phones. You must get the app. I mean it. It is awesome.

But now it is filled with diatribes like "Lillian needs to wear her tshirt and shorts and bring a change of clothes and have a completely disposable lunch on days x, y, z, and some that will just suddenly occur without warning, and we need to fill out all the field trip forms if we set one pinkie toe off campus, so get a fresh pen because there are so many you will use up all the ink."

And "Hope needs to wear her uniform on a field trip day even though we have field trip tshirts, and although you will remember most other parents won't, and Hope will be one of just a few kids on the field trip dressed correctly, but will be embarrassed because she isn't dressed like the others, and can you come in and watch a, b, c and d and make some food to feed 20 people for a service project and drive on lots and lots of educational field trips?"

And "Eva needs boxes and boxes, and she will talk about taking them until you drag some out and load up the van, and then she will cry over the Rocket Math sheet in the folder because she really wants to pass the last three so she can get a Gigi's Cupcake, and if you could jam that promise back in your mouth you would because it has brought so much drama that it now seems like the worst idea ever."

And all three people need a bag of candy for the end of the year pinata, eight million goldfish and 76 billion pretzels for field day (and can you host PreK's separate field day? The people who were going to are now moving, you know who you are!) and each class needs an all day helper on field day, which ain't going to be me because, as I explain, it wouldn't be fair for me to help one girl's class and not the other, so I just weaseled my way right out of that. 

Oh, and Preston is going to be gone overnight, which is so awful and makes me do ridiculous things like sleep with a golf club and a pocket knife just in case someone picks the one night a year he is gone to rob us, and during this night he is gone the giant dog will drag a deer carcass, a stinky deer carcass, into the front yard and there will be a piano recital, Mother's Day, Mom's birthday, Nephew's birthday, other Nephew's graduation, cheese and African jewelry party (and wine, so I will of course be attending), a school talent show (luckily my kids opted not to participate), playdates, friend's birthday parties, a play we are attending, and a night introducing the church's summer Bible study. 

But it's only one more week. 

My friend sent this picture to me, not as much for the question part as the hilarious answer, which is exactly how I feel this morning (Sorry for the language, not my picture and I have never ever said that word. Ever. Never.)

And I know you are feeling it, too. One of my nearest and dearest stayed up really late the other night to iron patches onto the vest of her daughter who was having a moving up ceremony for the American Heritage Girls. When they arrived to the ceremony they realized she had inverted the Troop's number so whereas she had ironed on 1300, the actual number was 0013. And the child had on the wrong color skirt.  

One mom got a phone call within an hour of dropoff today that her boy was throwing up. The temptation to tell the school it was their problem from 8-3 was great, but she went and got him.

Multiple moms forgot the pinata candy until it was already stuffed.

Twice I encountered moms who were having to make a return trip to school with the correct clothes. 

One of my children forgot her lunchbox, and I may have reacted as if the world was ending at that moment. 


The Teachers who have loved my children this year, and organized these so fun and educational things for them to do, and have seen them throw up, and have comforted their dramatic tears on multiple occasions are my HEROES. I do not say that lightly. Teaching is a life commitment, not an 8-3 commitment. They are more exhausted than we are and probably know the number of hours, not just days, until the end. I would do all this chaotic mess all year long for these Heroes who are giving their lives to our babies. 

And if you have never read this post by Jen Hatmaker, I must insist you do it. Right now. Click away. You will wet your pants laughing. It's my favorite blog post in the history of all blogging.

Grace for the End of The Year,

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The First Guest Post!!

Welcome to the first ever Guest Post! It actually started out as an email, but I cracked up so much I asked my new friend if I could repurpose it and share it with you. Valerie is a bosom friend of a bosom friend and after hanging out with her at Book Club for about five hours total I can confidently tell you she is My People. She writes a fabulous blog over at Pigs 'N Buttons. Please check her out and give her a follow. 

(Also, I changed the name of the grumpy librarian in her story just in case he reads this. Which, given his grumpiness, I feel confident he would not think I am funny at all and would never disdain to read a blog called "Savor the Crazy.")

The tale:

"I have a story for you and finally had five minutes to sit down and share. I've told our mutual friend and she was all, "you have to tell Martha."

I went to the Brentwood Library a few days after our last book club meeting to try to check out Hannah Coulter (which I'm loving) and my choice for June and I struck out, 0-2. So, as I sat at the card catalog computer (whom I call "Dewey" or "Mr. Decimal," if I'm being formal), I thought I'd look up the Mitford books of which you spoke so highly. The only problem is I didn't write down the name or the author, and my memory is worse than Cheech and Chong combined. I knew it started with an "M" and I thought there was a "ford" in there somewhere. So I began my search:

Millford Series?
 >No results found.

 >No results found.

 >No results found.

 >631.2736 "Exciting Silk Floral Arrangements" by Karen Mifford

 >No results found.

At a loss, I turned and looked over my shoulder at the help/circulation desk. There is a man who has worked there for as long as I can remember, which isn't saying much (see aforementioned memory issue), but suffice it to say he's been there since I was a child. His name is Burt and he's whatever the opposite of warm and cuddly is. He's the one who shushes people, kids and adults alike. He monitors people's time on computers and chastizes those who don't follow the book replacement protocol to a tee. He constantly grumbles to himself and seems to be in a constant state of grumpiness. I have volunteered at the library from time to time over the years and, working with him in the office, I found him to be no less grumpy and bothered. I'll put it this way:  if I found myself on fire, I wouldn't ask him where I could find an extinguisher. I would just work it out myself.

The library website didn't have a picture of him, but here are some suitable alternatives:

I was never planning on talking to Burt. In fact, he had a lady cohort in the circulation boat they sit in and I thought I'd try her instead. When I walked over, though, I found her on the phone. I walked around for a minute and came back only to find Burt sitting there scowling and her talking to a lady in person. I started to walk off and just leave when Burt said to my back, "did you need something, m'am?" Oh, fiddlesticks!

"Um...yeah. A friend recommended a book and I'm not sure of the author, or title, or, really, anything. I think it's called the "mmm-ford" series?" I actually fluttered my hand in front of my mouth as I said it and mumbled the name. Bracing myself for a lecture on how one should know book titles and speak up, etcetera, I was shocked when his eyes lit up and his mouth bent itself into a smile.

"Oh!" he exclaimed, "you mean the Mitford Series by Jan Karon! It's one of my favorites! Oh, I was just talking about these books earlier today. Of course you couldn't have known that. Follow me."

As we wound ourselves through the library and into the foreign-to-me fiction section (I'm a NF gal), he turned and asked if I had read any of them. As I was saying, 'uh, no. No, I haven't." he continued about how wonderful this series is, how it's a game changer, how he felt a warmth surging through his body as he thought about it. It got weird there for a moment, I won't lie.

We reached the shelf that holds these books and he lovingly ran his finger along their spines. Then he pulled one, then another, until he was holding all of them. I think I caught him sniffing them at one point. I finally agreed to take just the first one, which seemed to adequately please him. I thanked him for his time and help and started off on my way. He called after me, "um, enjoy those. I think you will."

So, I'm alternating now between this

and Hannah Coulter. So, that's my story. Thanks for the recommendation. I am enjoying meeting the folks of MITFORD."

By the way, our Book Club just finished Hannah Coulter, by Wendell Berry, and we collectively adored it. And if you haven't read the Mitford series by Jan Karon, you MUST, I strongly insist, beginning with At Home in Mitford.