Day 2 Hair

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I’ve been awake now for at least 2 hours in a hotel room in Clarksburg, WV. You see, we started our Thanksgiving celebration last night with Rick’s family. Yes, I did say Thanksgiving; Nov. 7th just seemed most convenient for all this year.

As we returned to the hotel nearing 11pm with 3 tired children, I was already looking forward to my Robust brew that the Hampton offers and was hoping for a fabulous night’s sleep. Continue reading “Day 2 Hair”

Plum et Up

Any of you who know me well or have read even a few of my stories know that I am absolutely, ALWAYS rational, level-headed, and have NEVER been dramatic, or let a crazy idea run wild.  While none of what I just said is probably really true, I will honestly say I have never considered myself a big worrier. Continue reading “Plum et Up”

2 Missing Chapters

I recently boxed up and got rid of all my parenting books. I’m not kidding. All of them. Originally, I had planned on just thinning them out and getting rid of the ones we’ve either “mastered” or were age sensitive, infant/toddler books that deal with sleeping, eating, potty training, and 2-year-old tantrums. Then, something came over me and I decided it would be absolutely freeing to not have one…..single….. parenting book in my house. Continue reading “2 Missing Chapters”

Gag Rag

Every once in a while I think something that makes me wonder, “would any other good and loving parent I know think something like what I just thought?”. I then go on to wonder, if those same parents were asked, would they quickly respond, “Oh, you’re perfectly normal, don’t worry about it!” or would they go on to offer me the name of their favorite crazy pill or counselor. Continue reading “Gag Rag”

Distressed

I realized that my anxiety about when Rick was going to notice the new dent on “my” car that is actually “our” car was getting to me because I had a dream last night about herding 12 hamsters. Every time I moved them from box to box, I’d do my very best to count my furry, moving targets but on occasion however, I only counted 11 and then began worrying that the one that was lost in the house was pregnant! Therefore, I would begin counting them again to make sure I wasn’t possibly choosing to leave 12 unsupervised hamsters to find the one, who may be filled with many, that really wasn’t even missing at all!!! It was exhausting. It is however, during my dreams that I come up with some amazing ideas.

It is flat-out official. As soon as we get my SUV paid off, and I drive it for 5 more years, I won’t stop shopping for my next “new to me car” until I find one with an exterior finish made from reclaimed barn wood. Yes, you hear me correctly. I totally don’t understand why I am the first person to think this wouldn’t be perfect! I mean…ab so lutely perfect!!! No more waxing. No more worrying about bumps, dents, or scrapes. No more having to hear the question, “don’t you turn around when you’re driving backwards”? No more in and out of body shops, having to move car seats to and from rental cars then feeling even more anxious about your driving skills in an unfamiliar vehicle and after a recent mishap.

It does seem like grey shades are all the rage to use in your everyday “spaces”. My car is an everyday space that I’m trying to make a sanctuary because I tried to create one in my bedroom but there was always too much laundry lying around, that I can’t get put away, and it is where I go to swear so my kids can’t hear me. If you’ve read Essential Oils however, you’ll know my odds aren’t that great.

Weathered Gray could be its color name and this could be the sample swatch.
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I’m sure you would still hear, “nice finish” even when your car was covered with a season of road dirt, pollen, or rock salt. No one would know the difference! I of course would want live edge trim around all of my wheel wells. That’s all though; I wouldn’t want to overdo it. And the more beat up the better! Wouldn’t it feel refreshing to tell your husband you did a little distressing today while backing up out of the driveway and hear him excitedly reply, “I can’t wait to get a little 50/50 Tung oil/mineral spirits mix on it and really bring out the grain!” instead of wracking your brain to come up with a logical explanation as to why you took out the neighbors mailbox. You know, “Now our neighbors have the opportunity to replace their mailbox in a more ergonomically safe position for the mail carrier; who is basically asking for a rotator cuff injury, stretching out her passenger door like she does!” “If I didn’t hit it down now, before the holiday season, the influx of catalogs would do her in for sure and we could have a substitute carrier for up to 12 weeks!” “That’s how long it takes to appropriately rehab a shoulder, Rick” “Is that what you want?” “A substitute carrying your mail?” “I didn’t think so.” “You are all welcome!” “All of you!”

I didn’t grow up in a “car family”and as a result I’ve never been a car kinda girl. I’ll never forget buying my first car.  I was 27 and pregnant with my first child, and I’d recently crashed the car that my parents had bought me; that I had been driving since I left for college about 8 years prior. (Just a little tidbit… I used to say car “wreck” but noticed that many people say car “crash”. So before actually putting it in writing I looked it up and decided that from now on, unless I’m driving a boat and hit something, I’m going to say “crash”.) Carrying on…Before I “totaled” a car, I had assumed that “totaled”= a terrible accident with loss of limb and life. I then learned it doesn’t take much to reach the value of an almost 10-year-old car in damage, initially purchased for a college bound student. And that my friends…is exactly why I don’t get worked up and excited when someone says, “did you hear Bonnie totaled her car?” until I know the make, model, and year of Bonnie’s car.

I went on to considered my car crash a fortunate coincidence that helped me obtain a down-payment. It also answered the question, “should I trade my 2 door coupe in on a four door sedan so I can get babies in and out of the back more ladylike on days I’m wearing a skirt?”.

After first deciding how much I could reasonably and easily afford per month, which at that time was $250 per month, not a penny more, I set out to find reliable transit. Following a period of research I decided that a Toyota Camry was the logical and reliable car for me. I found 2 used ones I liked at competing dealers, not more than 10 miles apart. I spent all day one day, back and forth between the two dealers, doing what they call “dealing” and I simply call “wearing down” until your opponent screams “uncle” and closed the dealership that night with a car payment of $250, an extended 100,000 mile, bumper to bumper warranty, and free car washes for a year.

Rick, on the other hand, was (at least before he married me and had children) a “car guy“. He picked out and ordered every single detail on the car he drove when I met him. I really had a hard time understanding it. That car is now 10 years old and filled with goldfish, car seats, and random sucker sticks. There was one night I truly thought we were done and over because I put the tiniest dent in his car door with mine and he simply couldn’t handle it. I’m not kidding, if you stood at exactly the right angle you could tell that the light was being deflected in a slightly different direction, creating a shadow, where my door hit his. Luckily, irrational relationships with cars was not on my “Can’t Stand” list and many more of his great attributes were on my “Must Have” list that Dr. Phil suggested making when searching for a mate. He later told me he forgave me and did okay as long as he didn’t walk on that side of his car.  That same car door could now be used like an old-timey wash board to get out stubborn stains. He has come a long way and I am really proud of him.

I really do think I’m a good driver; well at least average. You just can’t be great at everything and I’ve decided to put my time and energy elsewhere, deciding average is fine for me when comes to driving. When I’m on the main roads I might even get a B-. Other than the fairly minor accident that totaled my car mentioned above I have only ever been in one other accident on real roads. Just one of my 4 tires barely slipped over a West Virginia sized burm, washed out from a big rain, and it felt like the fence reached out and grabbed my car and shook it around a bit before throwing me back on the road making me wonder “what in all creation just happened to me!” and “what is my Dad going to say?”. There was that time though, when little Harrison was about 4 and said something like,  “I think you drove a little too close to that sign Momma.” I replied, “I sure did Honey, didn’t I?” and we kept going with me considering it a car skim and not a crash because it wasn’t violent like the definition says.

I am a terrible “off-road” driver as I like to call it. You know driveways, parking lots, garages. Almost every time my family comes over for dinner they all park in the grass. That is of course, unless they know I’m in for the night. I’ve found sticky notes stuck to my steering wheel reminding me that so-and-so was parked behind me and to not drive backward looking forward. There were also a couple of times that totally were not my fault. 1. When Harrison turned off my 4 point Sensor System that I completely over rely on. Or 2. When the garage door release rope got shut in the back door and was pulled as I backed out slamming a double-wide garage door down on to my car and of course it took me a few feet of driving to determine that the terrible raking sound over my head wasn’t my children behaving normally.

And then… there was last night when I missed the turn off to Dickey’s BBQ because the kids start chanting, “We want Dickey’s! We want Dickey’s” too late for me to whip in between oncoming traffic and I wasn’t in the mood to sheepishly and silently mouth “sorry” while giving a little wave to the people I just cut off. I then pulled off the road and turned into the first driveway I saw. I backed out quickly thinking about the free quarter plate coupon I had in my wallet and wondering if that included sides and ran right into someone’s mailbox. It was at this moment I wished I had a car, whose exterior was finished with reclaimed barn wood. I also had a peaceful moment remembering beating up my old Camry and Rick didn’t have a dog in the fight. Those were good ‘ol days. I was then quickly reminded that when I distress “my” car it’s really “our” car and he’s not into that look.
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Hello??? Mr. Yuk?

A few nights ago I decided it was an utter shame that Haley had a perfectly good (and pretty) chest of drawers in her room that was not being put to use. Therefore, I decided to put all of her laundry, that was sitting in stacks on top of it, inside of it. Very easy… but oh so very hard for me to get done.

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(This was her PawPaw’s when he was a boy. I glammed it up a bit with new knobs and fancy wallpaper in the background.)

Anyhow, I noticed a couple of pieces of white paper in the floor in front of her closet. At first I thought they were candy wrappers from a snack she had sneaked but upon further inspection I discovered that the “candy” wrapper said “Throw away! Do not eat!”

Immediately behind my first response of, “Where is Haley and is she ok?!!”, was, “You have got to be kidding me!” “Couldn’t she have chosen a more convenient time to eat shoe crystals?” “Who knows when another wave of motivation to put away laundry will hit.”

Now don’t get me wrong y’all, if I had found even a half-eaten box of rat d-CON, I’m sure I would have reacted with significantly more urgency and I hope I wouldn’t have had any thoughts about being inconvenienced. However, in the back of my mind I was sure that the Shoe and Drug Administration wouldn’t allow perfectly metered doses of vicious poison to be added to all new boxes of shoes. In addition, I decided that if I don’t have to show my ID and be monitored by the government every time I buy new shoes or a purse, like I do when I buy Sudafed, it couldn’t be that mind alteringly fabulous. This reasoning helped me to relax a bit.

“Haley?” “Can you come here for a minute please?” She walked in and looked at me kind of sheepishly as I stood there holding the torn open and empty package of shoe crystals.
“Did you eat this?” I questioned her.
She continued to look at me kind of blankly and I begin to wonder if she simply needed a few more lessons from her brother on “Pathological Lying and How to have Convincing Facial Expressions” or if the shoe crystals were starting to effect her. (Not to take away from this dramatic scenario but my most recent favorite pathological lie of Harrison’s was when he asked our new neighbors if he could walk their dog because he had been really sad and missing his since she died. Note: We have never owned a dog.)

I grabbed my laptop computer and Googled “will eating a package of shoe crystals kill you”. It was that easy. I had my answer; only seconds after hitting “Enter”. I only wished that putting away laundry was that easy for me.

I did begin to wonder what my mother would have done in this same situation before Google? I remember bringing home a sheet of Mr. Yuk stickers every year in Elementary school minus the two or three I enjoyed placing on my siblings’ backs while walking home from school. Seeing them unaware that they where wearing stickers that implied, “bad, danger, stay away”, NEVER got old. I repeat NEVER. Mom would of course been calling about one of them; I never would have eaten a little package of crystals from a box of new shoes. Duh. (Note to self: Ask mother-in-law about her son’s history of eating shoe crystals.)

I then imagined what it must have been like to call Mr. Yuk…

Hello???

Mr. Yuk???

I found your number on a green sticker on a box of rat d-CON that was of course locked away and stored up high.

Anyway, I just discovered that my daughter ate an entire package of shoe crystals!

Yes, she’s 3.

Height and weight? Let me see… don’t you have a chart in front of you or something that gives the average weight and height of a standard 3 year old? She is my third you know; so much to keep up with. (Enter nervous, embarrassed, and forced chuckle here) Details. Details.

Yes, the package did say, “Throw away! Do not eat!”

She’s 3? You heard me say that right?

Yes I can read! Are you trying to find fault and place blame during this emergency situation? Do you really think that is going to be helpful?

Well I guess you do. Do you know who else can read? Her father! Or does removing the packages of crystals from new shoe boxes and purses fall into the lap of the one who breastfed?

Well, just how settled down should I get considering my daughter might have possibly eaten a full dose of poison but we haven’t quite cleared that up yet because you don’t have an average weight and height chart in front of you!

Do you even have your eyes opened? Or are you still squinting? Huh?

I’m sorry, I’m sorry. Stressful situations make me say whatever I’m thinking and I can’t hold it in.

Let’s start over and get on with this. OK?

No, I’m not trying to rush protocol. I’m just trying to decide if I need to put on my free Bluetooth from US Cellular, so I have both hands available to strap my average sized daughter into her car seat to head to the ER; all while continuing this cool, calm, and collective, conversation verses getting to sit back and look gratefully forward to some mild stomach cramping and a bout or two of diarrhea! That’s all I’m getting to.

Yes! She ate every single crystal!

No! She couldn’t have been hungry! She ate a well-balanced dinner, that I made for her!

Yes, I would consider her father and myself to be of at least average intelligence?

You’re telling me you’ve never torn open one of those little packages and weren’t at least tempted to taste one of those clear, sugary looking crystals!?

Whatever, I can tell you are lying straight to my ear!

Well maybe I am just misunderstanding you. I’m just upset and need I know what to expect and how to respond.

I’m sorry? What did you say? Maybe if you pulled your tongue in when you’re trying to talk to me we wouldn’t be having this so called “misunderstanding”?

You know Mr. Yuk, I’ve had about enough of this. If you’re still looking for someone to blame, I think it’s the society we live in today. We’ve taught our children that a soccer game, with six-minute quarters, requires a snack and a drink. That’s what the problem is! Why would my child, whose IQ I’m sure lies at least 1 standard deviation to the right of normal on a Bell curve, NOT think that the shoe company packed her a snack! Give me a break! If they didn’t want kids to eat it they should have put a picture of some broccoli or okra on it! Talk about tossing it to the side and moving on! 

How bout you just give it up Mr. Yuk? What am I looking at?

So she’ll be fine? Nothing more than a little thirsty?

You know, I don’t know what I’d do without you. I really can’t wait to call you again. Well, at least to just chat it up a bit. It has been very lovely.

You know what? As soon as I get off the phone with you I getting on Pinterest. I’m sure that some organized, hypochondriac mother has designed a flawless form that I could laminate, and magnetically stick to my fridge. Then, bi-yearly I could update all three of my children’s heights and weights after simply wiping it clean effortlessly. That will for sure make my next major medical emergency so much more enjoyable.

So let me say it just one more time, Mr. Yuk, Thank you! You are the best and I’m sure you have very pretty eyes.
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Haley (the shoe crystal eater) and Harrison (the pathological lier and avid balloon hat maker)

Dead Tree Down

Due to my ability to daydream; I live a very exciting life…

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It was mid morning Friday when I heard the doorbell ring. While I usually don’t allow Haley, my 3-year-old, to unlock and answer my front door unsupervised, it was a ring that sounded like my 7-year-old son’s neighborhood partner in crime, who rings the doorbell at approximately 1 time per second for at least 7 seconds…so I let her. Much to my surprise I heard a man’s voice asking to speak to her mother. I promptly left my unloading the dishwasher task to investigate the man’s apparently urgent need accompanying the dramatic ring.

After momentarily catching him off guard, he excitedly went on to report to me that he was getting ready to “fall” a tree into my driveway. He went on to say that while he felt pretty good that he could clear my garage, he thought it was a good idea for me to move my car. I asked him to give me a minute and I’d be right out.  (While I do occasionally drive barefooted and bra-less, I had met the monthly quota that I allow myself.)

Somewhere during our short conversation I was confident that I wasn’t looking into the eyes of a professionally trained and licensed arborist. I was so sure about this, I didn’t even waste my time to go out and look at the side of his truck to see if it said something like “Odd Jobs by Ronnie” and then below that in bold print see his number: 1-800-FNGRS-XD.

Based on his level of excitement I concluded that he must save all his thrilling and dramatically dangerous jobs for Fridays to get him through the tedious odd-job repairs Monday through Thursday, as well as getting him pumped up for the weekend. Kind of like how I save vacuuming til the end. (Vacuum Therapy)

I was actually relived to hear that he was going to fall this tree. I knew exactly which one he was talking about. It was a very tall, at least 150 ft., dead one, that leaned toward our garage and sat in our neighbors’ empty lot. Now that the tree was going to fall in a (semi) controlled manner vs. in a storm, I couldn’t imagine the time I was going to save not having to come up with an insurance quote to replace all our priceless junk, that we couldn’t possibly live without, that we store in there

It was honestly less than 4 minutes later when I heard another dramatic, rapid fire doorbell ring. I let Haley answer this one as well deciding that the odds of a bad guy being on the other side of the door, in the middle of the day, immediately following a man with a chainsaw was low…so I let her. It was a polite young man, whose accent was as thick a concrete near set, who was obviously an assistant of Ronnie’s making the same request of me. My possible conclusions to his prompt follow-up were:

1. He was unaware that Ronnie had just been at my door 3 minutes ago. (This one is hard for me to imagine, because while I have a long front sidewalk and despite the fact that they were both walking at a pace that clearly indicated that they were being paid by the job and obviously not hourly, I can’t imagine them not passing each other on the way to/from my front door and not asking what the other one was doing heading/leaving there.)

2. Ronnie’s young assistant was overly anxious to participate in an activity that required far more geometry and physics than he could have possibly obtained at his tender age to complete this tree falling in a structured, safe environment and he was feeling impatient to see how it was going to turn out, or lastly

3. He wanted to get a look at the nearing middle-aged woman dressed in $9 Walmart sleepwear that his uncle Ronnie had told him about.

While I do tend to wear my clothing on the looser side so I will feel thin, I totally needed a medium in this nightgown instead of the large I was wearing. I thought I was safe taking a $9.00 risk after holding it up to me for size instead of putting me, 3 kids, and a shopping cart in a dressing room with us. (There was no way I was going to leave that full cart unattended and take the risk that some overachieving Walmart employee was going to take it up front to be restocked. NO WAY! I worked hard for that and I wasn’t about to re shop a second time all while trying to read through a scratched out list. NO WAY!) But boy was I wrong. This nightgown hung up on me in a way that made me feel so thin I almost experienced guilt, imagining my loved ones and closest friends being concerned about my thinness.

After moving my car and telling all on site to help themselves to a cold drink out of the freezer in the garage I went inside. (And NO I didn’t mean to say fridge! Our garage frig/freezer is on its last leg and only the freezer side gets cold enough to keep a drink refreshingly cold. DUH! What do you think I am? Occasionally confused??? HUH?)

Haley and I perched by the kitchen window to watch the tree falling take place. I easily spotted the only other woman on site among at least five other chainsaw operators, with at least three of them being underage thrill seekers. She was wearing the brightest colored Chartreuse t-shirt undoubtedly made; I’m sure for the only reason, was that while they are wildly popular now, she couldn’t find a full jumpsuit in that neon color to keep her limbs from blending in with those of the trees.

I’m also assuming that she was Ronnie’s wife because she kept leaning into him and whispering one of 3 things:

1. How to properly fall a tree and how she would do it if she was in charge,

2. Reminding him that if things went terribly wrong she had told him that she didn’t think it was a good idea in the first place, or possibly,

3. How she hadn’t seen him do anything hotter than when she witnessed his last Friday’s odd-job requiring small explosives.

The guess is yours to take.

The truth is I hadn’t experienced so much nervous excitement since watching a 4th of July fireworks display at my parents farm in even more rural West Virginia. I was unsure if my dad, who is still adjusting to retirement, was the ring leader of the event or if it was my brother-in-law, who I’m sure smuggled them across the state line after being asked by my father, (who I’m sure paid for them) to do so. Or maybe… they were cohorts, because they both denied to my mother “when” and “how” they got them and both reassured her that everything would be fine.

From previous years experience, all bystander of the 4th of July me-hem were safely positioned about 100 ft away so we wouldn’t be forced to suddenly jump up and grab our folding chairs and run. We all did conclude that we would miss hearing my mother yell “Oh, Jule-yun” as she grabbed her own chair and began running. (Jule-yun is West Virginian for Julian by the way.) There was a Center City Chicago lawyer on site, who seemed to be excited about helping them out, but I was confident he was unaware of how quickly redneckedness can get out of hand and I was concerned for his safety. (Only a wee bit less than the possibility that he wouldn’t bring my childhood friend and her son into visit me anymore if things went badly.) I was also concerned about my dad who had broken his toe at our family beach trip the week before. There would be no way that he would be able to out-limp an extra-spectacular firework, like happens on occasion, all while dodging cow pies.

The display turned out to be so fabulous that all six children present (and positioned at a safe distance away) began chanting “Disney World, Disney World!!!” over and over again and pumping their fists. At this moment I made a mental note to transfer all monies saved for upcoming Disney trip into my account titled: Susan’s House Remodeling Fund. I was sure that even Walt himself couldn’t top this memory of a lifetime.

Well, the only one I wasn’t worried about in this trees falling event was Ronnie’s wife in Chartreuse. Everyone else dressed in Camo was at risk in my book though. There was a pause of the symphony of chainsaws. It was time for the tree to fall or would it be “the falling” to take place? I figured I could simply say “to be cut down” to avoid confusion, however, I knew we’d have another word choice dilemma once the tree was laying in my driveway… so I let it go and simply looked forward to talking about the tree that was just “felled”?

We heard a huge crack followed by a short silence as the tall, dead tree fell toward the ground. The trunk then seemed to blow up as it landed perfectly in my driveway and a family of squirrel took off running from its pieces. The whole event ended with a roar from the crowd who was:

1. Relieved

2. Impressed by their calculations

3. Ready to fall another tree, or finally

4 All of the above.

I sat down and wiped my brow in relief that only 2 huge shards of dead tree flew into my garage and hit our refrigerator and a 35 year-old hand me down John Deere that was also in perfect working condition. There was only one question left: If this tree had fallen in the woods with none of us around to hear it, would it have made a sound?

At this moment I got out my phone and created a new contact titled “Odd-Jobs by Ronnie”. Ya see, I’m looking for a good plumber and if he can fall a tree with this kind of accuracy he’s the man for me.

NOTE: All of this is mostly true with only occasional input from my imagination. (Except for the squirrel and damaging shards flying into my garage. Those were lies. Both lies.) In addition, I have no clue what’s Ronnie’s real name is but I’m sure my neighbor wouldn’t have hired him if he weren’t legit because he was our insurance agent. I say “was” not because he was tired of investigating possibly frivolous claims, but because he’s retired.

Mixed Emotions

I’m struggling this morning with some mixed emotions. You see, a couple months ago I was exercising with my younger, hipper sister on our family beach trip when she suggested I upgraded my workout wear for something that looked a little less homeless. To clarify, when I say “exercising”, it means walking at a brisk pace with intermittent faster walking that we like to call jogging, that makes us feel better about going out for ice cream later on in the evening.

I don’t think I have really purposely worn workout clothing since I was in high school and would wear biker shorts and a sport bra to the gym. I’m not kidding I can’t believe I did that either. We all did it though. I also remember however, thinking it was cool that my percent body fat was equal to my age, which at that time was 18.

In my mind, I wasn’t interested in wearing workout clothing until I felt I looked good in them. I didn’t want to draw attention to myself. Therefore, I’d usually just throw on an oversized t-shirt, often the one from my High School 15 year reunion, along with an old pair of athletic shorts that doubled as my painting pants and had hints of every wall color in my house on them. It just felt safe… Other than when I was walking alone that is. When I wasn’t pushing my jogging stroller I was regularly concerned that drivers passing by might assume I looked down and out and was walking to get a gas can and might offer me a ride. To avoid the possibility that I might truly get in a car with a stranger to avoid the embarrassment of telling them, “no, I’m just exercising”, I’d pump my arms vigorously and walk in a manner hoping to exude the fact that I had no true destination or goal other than to return to my home after walking around in circles for 45 minutes. In the exact same way, I’d definitely answer “$10” if a passer byer of my yard asked, “how much will you take for that bike?” Just so I wouldn’t have to admit I wasn’t having a yard sale.
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I would like to make one clarification, I do not, I repeat, DO NOT wear my stroller leash on my wrist to try and fool people that I am a runner that intermittently lets go. I simply have very weak ankles and one, even small, acorn could have me down in a flash and I know I would never again be able to happily sing “The West Virginia Hills” without remembering the time I had to watch Haley tackle one alone in her stroller without a driver.
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Laura convinced me otherwise and I went shopping. I took three young critics, whose behavior might make you think they were rabid monkeys, into the handicapped dressing room to try on my new workout wardrobe. Unable to make a decision on my own and not trust my monkey’s opinions, I took several things home to try on for my sister the next time she was in town. It felt like prom all over again. I even consider accessorizing with a new pair of tennis shoes and maybe a headband but then thought that might be pushing my new look too far.

I kept everything she didn’t laugh at and returned the rest.

On Monday I think I took my first walk ever where I matched… and it felt good. I even think my more fitted t-shirt that said, “Just Do It” even helped me push Haley up some tough hills. When the first car passed me I could almost feel them thinking to themselves, “Hey, she’s working out”. I did wonder however, if they questioned if I had under pants on. I then reassured myself that while I didn’t specifically put on any separately, my new shorts had some in them that made it count.

Today was a little different however. I wore some capri length spandex and a flowy tank top that I believe was designed to modestly cover your bum but left the bottom third of mine exposed. I was cool with that though, telling myself that surely “they” wouldn’t make spandex pants in sizes that wouldn’t look good, right?
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Anyhow, I took a quick look at myself in the mirror before heading out and was somehow reminded that I had some raw, boneless, skinless chicken breasts wrapped tightly in Saran Wrap in the freezer from a Family Pack I’d only cooked half of that might be nice for dinner if I could get them thawed out in time. I then refocused and told myself I could think about dinner later; it was time to bounce! “Come on Haley, lets get shakin’, cause time’s a wastin’!”

A Moment Captured

As much as I wish I was… I am NOT a photographer. Not only do I lack the talent, I lack the ability to remember to get out my camera or even my phone, that’s with me all the time, because I’m usually too busy chasing around one of my children to get a shot of another. And then…there are times when the moment is so absolutely beautiful, I wouldn’t dare disturb it.

Every year Rick and I attempt to take Christmas pictures…and almost every other year we get one that’s decent enough to send out to friends and family. I’m well aware that it’s impossible for my children to give us precious, beautiful, natural, smiles when the entire photo shoot has gone so downhill we are yelling at them by the end to “JUST SMILE and it will be over!!!” Or,  “so help me, if you don’t smile I’m going to… not get you that toy I promised I would get you if you JUST SMILED!”

There have been so many times that I’ve wished I had top of the line, miniature cameras sitting right behind the retinas in my eyes. Times I wish I could simply blink my eyes and capture the image that I see before me and want to remember forever. Not just the still image, but all of it! The sound of her playful giggle and how squishy soft her little arms felt or how perfect everything seemed when she fit in my lap…this will help me remember.

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That summer when he lost his first baby tooth and how proud he was to show off the “man tooth” that had replaced it. How he ended each day covered, head to toe, with scents of grass and dirt and little boy sweat that I could smell when he wrapped his arms around me ending yet another day of boyhood, summer, adventures. This will help me remember.

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And the way he smiled when his arm was around his first “best bud ever” and for the man who always found time for him…especially when I really needed a break!!! This will help me remember.

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And then, the one who made me “Momma”… whose eyes haven’t changed since she first called me that. The one that made me realize I’d never see another thing more precious or beautiful than the 3 children God gave me and how no one could ever convince any mother otherwise regarding her own. This will help me remember.

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And this last one of me… I could jokingly say, will never let me forget that I was always having to turn around and go back for something I forgot, but I would regret telling you what this picture taught me, that I hope to always remember. I felt awkward posing alone but followed my directions to “walk a ways down, then turn and look back”. Simple enough I thought. When I turned around suddenly, I of course saw the camera’s eye pointed right at me, but just behind her, I saw several more eyes looking right at me; with mouths gently smiling as well. I had a sudden moment of feeling lost and separated, standing alone, by myself, without those now in front of me; who so often make me who I am and how I identify with myself. I didn’t like that sudden feeling of not knowing me like I had before without them. At that moment, I made a decision, not just to benefit me, but for them as well; I’d never again get so busy being “me” for them that I’d lose sight of and comfort in being “me” alone. I would nurtured and rekindled the woman I am outside of mom and wife or even daughter and sister and do my best to remember that, guilt is a thief that can steal your life from your hands, ultimately leaving you less of yourself to give to them. This will help me remember!

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So thankful for Amanda Reed and others like her, who practice their talents and share them with us, capturing moments I wish I could by blinking my eyes!

Amanda Reed Photography