Blurb about the ‘burb

Yup.  I bought a 1968 GMC Suburban.  For me to drive.  On purpose.

So far, it seems to generally generate one of a few reactions:

“Ha!  That is freakin’ awesome!”  (my thoughts exactly!)

A half smirk with shaking of the head and a bit of a laugh

“Whhhhhhy on earth would you do that??”

I decided to take a few minutes and address the third reaction.

First off, you should know that long before meeting/dating/marrying/reproducing with my wrench turning muscle car loving husband *I* liked old cars all on my own.  I used to pick up all the old car sales magazines at the truck stop to browse through during dead times when I worked at Ozarkland before I turned 16.  But at the time I didn’t know a carburetor from a clutch, so it is probably for the best I didn’t start off with a “project”.

Then I spent a good portion of my junior and senior year driving what friends affectionately dubbed “the Shaggin’ Wagon” (note: to the best of my knowledge no actual shaggin’ occurred in said wagon).  It was a 1963 Ford Falcon station wagon.  Lots of character and a personality of its own to be sure.  Duct taping up the falling headliner just meant I could decorate it as I saw fit.  The non-functional radio wasn’t an issue, as the CD player had been stolen out of my previous ride, so I was accustomed to hauling around a boom box.  The  dash lights not working didn’t bother me either… I just kept a lighter on the dash for when I felt the need to check my speed.  It isn’t like the thing would actually go OVER the speed limit anyway!  There was one little thing that bothered me about the car though… it hated gas.  No matter how slowly you tried to pump it in, it would spit a portion back at you.  Eau de gasoline was my signature fragrance for a while.  That in itself would have been workable… if the gas gauge worked.  It did not.  I ran out of gas.  A lot.  And while I hesitate to share this next part because I am having some issues coming to term with the fact that I am getting “older”… hardly anyone had cell phones at the time.  So that was a little annoying.  All in all though, I loved that car!

It was somewhere in the midst of all that fun that I started dating Keith.  He wasted no time in dragging me off to car shows and such.  While it wasn’t exactly my idea of a great time, I didn’t mind and he taught me a lot.  Now, a erm, few years later, our kids LOVE going to car shows more than most kids love going to the movies.

So what does all of that have to do with why on earth I am excited about driving a ’68 Suburban?  Background people.  Establishing history.  Patterns of behavior.  I seem to have a history of doing things (things that I have researched greatly and become completely confident in my decisions about) that make most people scratch their heads.  Remember that time I had a baby in my bedroom?  On purpose.  Yeah.

Anyway, a little over a year ago Keith and I began discussing the fact that I was about due for a new vehicle.  I was content with another minivan.  Keith wanted an SUV.  We had a stalemate the likes of our current government.  However, we realized that negotiation and compromise are needed in a stalemate (US government, you hear that??)  So, I wanted a van because of the space and the price.  Keith wanted an SUV because they are easier to work on.  He loathed working on minivans.  LOATHES.  So, we needed something cheap, with lots of space and easy to work on.

*tada*

1968 Suburban.

Well, I would have been ok with anywhere from a 1967-72 really.  After spending a year looking into many, bidding on several and losing lots of them, I finally FINALLY got my suburban!

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So.Freaking.Cool.  (those trucks behind it??  Make me an offer!!)

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Check out this custom interior!!
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It has all sorts of custom features!

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Seriously, check out these valve stems!

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Now, as anxious as I am to ditch the van (poor thing, it has had a hard life.  It is getting tired), it is going to be a while.  For one thing, I am not first in line in the shed.  Keith has another project to finish before he even starts on mine.  Then, while she is in much better condition than many we looked at, there is still much work to be done.  By the way- I need a 3/4 middle and a third row seat!!  Also looking to replace the 400 small block with a 327.  And while I have learned the difference between the carb and the clutch, I really don’t know what I just said- I actually know what it means in that I could define it, but don’t really understand it.  Anyway, that is Keith’s department.  I just want it to look good and not be obnoxiously loud.

Since my handsome mechanic has said it will be at least a YEAR before it is done, I thought I would give you guys an idea of what the finished product will look like…

DSCN0746

Ha.  I kid.  I like the stock look.  They were perfect just the way they were made!  Keith has a few other ideas, so we will yet again have to negotiate and compromise (Congress, hear that?).  But in the end it will *hopefully* be something along these lines:

Keith wants red, Eli likes the “smurf suburbans”, Henry wants a “school bus one” and I prefer the green (Isabelle just wants me to be “normal”.  Ha.  Fat chance Darlin‘)… but way may just roll with the orange.  You will have to stay tuned to find out!

211730_11616577_1970_Chevrolet_Suburban http://www.autogaleria.hu - 1972_Chevrolet_Suburban_For_Sale_Front_resize Suburban_71_C20_1

**All images (except my baby) courtesy of Google.  Please don’t sue me for copyright infringement.  I am totally jealous of your rides!

September 11th is here yet again.

In the days leading up to it, my Facebook feed started to flood with pictures, memories, stories.  Memorials, tributes and pledges to never forget.  Yet try as I might, I have been struggling to come up with words fitting to express my feelings about the day.  At least not in the text of a Facebook post…

Like everyone else, I remember that beautiful early fall morning well.  I was touring homes with a group of fellow Realtors.  I remember the first house we came to, with the owner out mowing her lawn.  She had no idea the world had been changed forever while she cut her grass.  We went in and she turned on her television.  We all stood there in silent disbelief.  I remember the fear and anxiety knowing that my boss, who is like family to me, was in the NYC area and was to be touring Manhattan at some point during the trip but I didn’t know when.

I also remember the days that followed.  I remember a countryside bathed in red white and blue.  I remember stories of heroism, compassion and patriotism.  I remember hundreds of members of my small town walking united, flags waving, down the main street and to a chapel symbolic of strength and resilience to remember those lost and to pray for the ones left behind.

Words will never be able to fully express what was taken that day.  Too many lives lost, and countless forever altered.  Our country was shaken to its very core.  Our sense of safety and security savagely stripped away.   The heavy sadness and numbness of the days that followed resurfaces every year.

Yet, as immensely boundless and bottomless are those losses, we were given something quite amazing in the midst of the tragedy.  There was a reawakening of the American spirit that had not been seen in generations.  We were again, if only briefly, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.  The citizens of this great country braided themselves together into a beautiful tapestry of red white and blue.  Wounded, but not defeated.  Determined and resilient.  The chaos of daily life became trivial as we came together to pray for those that were lost, the survivors, the rescue workers, New York City, the Pentagon, the ill fated flights and our entire nation.  The politics, the partisan, all of the divisiveness didn’t matter.  We were Americans.  INDIVISIBLE.

That great American spirit now?  It is too busy bickering about to be bothered with patriotism.  It has been unemployed and can’t find work.  It is working 2 jobs to make ends meet.  It is caught up in the latest divisive politics.  It is anxious about our course of action with Syria.  It is trying to figure out how to balance work, kids, LIFE.

Here we are, 12 years after what seems like yesterday.  Another beautiful early fall morning.  Our nation is more fractured and divided than ever before.  Yet, for this one day, it seems we all go back.  We rewind time.  We come together as one nation, indivisible.

We will never forget.

“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed.” says the Lord, who has compassion on you. – Isaiah 54:10

Grocery shopping, a family affair!

They pushed me.  Right on over the edge.

You know those three spunky, rambunctious little monsters that dominate much of my writing?  A mere six days ago they very nearly had me in need of being committed.  I am quite accustomed to thriving under a certain level of craziness.  But even I have my breaking point.  Being the little hellions they are, my spawn busted thru that breaking point like the finish line on a 50 yard dash.

*I feel the need to put a disclaimer here- we all managed to survive, and no children or animals were injured in the creation of this post.

I have to admit, I am mostly to blame for what transpired.  It was about 5pm on Saturday.  The big two had attended birthday parties, no naps.  Henry had a brief nap.  Naps are very important in our house.  For all of us.  My darling husband was off cutting trees to bits with a chainsaw and the kids and I were all a bit antsy.  So, in my infinite wisdom what do I do??  I suggest a trip to the grocery store, followed by ice cream if there is decent behavior.

Really?  REALLY?!?  If anyone had, up until this point, questioned it when I claim I am a crazy person that should seal the deal for you.

But everyone was in a good mood and excited to get out of the house, so off we went!

We have a nice ride to the store, but before we get in it starts.  No one wants in the cart.  Now, we have a system and the ‘ol Wal-Marts.  Isabelle and Henry in one cart, Eli in another.  I push one and pull one.  Keeps them separated and leads to less fighting and a much better experience overall.  It also draws all sorts of comments, but it *is* the easiest way.  But not that day.  We were in a much smaller store (Aldi’s- I LOVE Aldi’s!!) plus their carts are bigger.  Two was not an option.

Henry started crying as I loaded him into the cart.  Then as I pushed Isabelle in on top of him, she squished his hand and wailing ensued.  We made it thru the door and a kind gentleman told me how brave I was bringing them all (over Henry’s crying).  I told him he may change his mind before we could get out of there and think I was the dumbest person he had ever met.  If only I had known how right I was!

We made it literally 3 steps before Isabelle and Eli started asking for pretzels, chips, cookies, crackers, chocolate, wine, and anything else that was in the first 10 foot section of the store.  Henry was too busy crying to bother looking around.  Isabelle was asking to get out of the cart- in the most whiney voice imaginable.  Eli was putting random things in the cart.  I wanted to just leave it all- kids included- and go home.

But I am no quitter!  We soldiered on.  It was pretty much how I envision Hell.  Eli was pulling the cart when I tried to push, Isabelle kept pestering both of her brothers, Henry was STILL crying (except he would forget every few minutes and get quiet… then he would realize he stopped and start up again, louder).  I was questioning the appropriateness of cracking open the bottle of wine in the cart in the middle of the store, knowing that hitting any of the lovely children upside the head with it would be undoubtedly INappropriate.

We run out of room for Isabelle AND Henry in the cart, and Henry is STILL crying, so Isabelle is out.  Which turns into a push and pull the cart contest between her and Eli.  My shins and Achilles tendon claimed the loss.  In the war haze I have completely forgotten everything I can intending to purchase and the list was lost several aisles before when I set it down to snatch a run away kid.  I tried to keep other shoppers safe from my oft runaway cart.  I tried to get Henry to STOP.CRYING.  I tried to keep Eli from scraping the ice on the inside of the cooler to taste.  I tried to get Isabelle to stop sobbing that I am the meanest, most unfair mom in the whole entire world when I made her stay on the opposite end of the cart as Eli.  I tried to control myself enough to not pelt my children with produce.  I was only successful in the last category.  Even that was very touch and go.

Usually the chaos, destruction and “fun” are met with a smile (ok, just occasionally on the smile) and a sigh.  But usually the chaos and destruction are reserved for our own home.  I was furious with the behavior of my children.  I was embarrassed.  I don’t want to have “those” kids or be “that” mom!  As I trudged to the check out I was completely and utterly defeated.

The checker was super sweet and smiled as she zoomed thru the items I put on the belt, many of which I was seeing for the first time.  I was quite beyond caring though.  We managed to get out of the store and I even buckled them all into their carseats, as much as I was tempted to leave at least a couple behind.  Henry, for the record, was still crying.  Then- GET THIS- Isabelle asks if she gets her ice cream!?!?!?!!!!!!  Yeah, it seemed like days ago, but we had talked about ice cream after the store.  I half choked, half snorted a pretty resounding NO.  That instantly gave way to the sobbing, hyperventilating tears that only a 6 year old girl can manage.  I rolled my eyes, shut the van door (a teeny bit harder than necessary) and drove thru the parking lot to the adjoining McDonalds.

Now, if you think for one nanosecond I was getting those little brats anything, you don’t know me at all!  Nope, I pulled the super mature move of getting me myself and I a big fat ice cream cone to enjoy while they cried.  I cranked the radio to drown out the sobbing behind me and pretended the last hour had all been a bad dream.  A really really bad dream.  Nightmare.

As I finished my treat and my blood pressure returned to near normal levels, I thought I should try to talk to the little gremlins, to see if they had returned to the cute friendly state.  As we chatted Eli began making an obnoxious noise.  Mothers of boys, you know exactly what I mean.  They will repeatedly, almost unconsciously, make these incredibly annoying, nails on the chalk board type noises.  Kind of like a vocal ADHD.  I asked him nicely to stop then went back to my conversation with Isabelle (who was back on the whole tirade about how I am the most unfair mom on the planet).  When I heard it again like two seconds later, I sternly told him to stop.  Two seconds later I yelled at him to stop.  Two seconds later my blood boiling, I screamed at him to stop.

He did it again.

Then…

he…

giggled…

 

O.M.G.  I can feel my blood pressure rising just typing it.  I think he really must have thought it would be hilariously cool to actually witness my head exploding.

I could seriously barely see to drive.  But I did not pull over.  Probably because I was afraid for HIM if I were to pull over.  I had been pushed over the edge.  Through my teeth I told him he was going to bed the minute we got home.  Do not pass go, do not collect $200.  HE.WAS.DONE.  I am pretty sure there was sobbing after that, I was too busy praying Keith would be home by the time I got there to have any clue what was transpiring behind me.

It is a good 20min drive from the store back home.  It seemed like hours.  But PRAISE GOD! I pull into the drive and see my wonderful husband.  I calmly get out of the vehicle, look him in the eye and say, “They are yours for the night.  I am DONE.” and I walked inside and locked myself in my room.

Over-reaction?  Hormones?  (I am NOT pregnant people, I still have hormones!) Does it really matter?  We all have our breaking point.  And no two are the same.  I had hit mine, like a freaking brick wall.

Even the next morning, as we all got ready for church I was still very much on edge.  My nerves were still frayed and raw.

We managed to get to church about 5 minutes late, which is actually quite early for us.  As the music began I took a deep breath and I could feel the tension melt away.  I looked down at Isabelle coloring the Hello Kitty Rock Star.  Then over at Eli, stacking his Hot Wheels high on a trailer to see how many he could haul at once.  I smiled.  Even at the height of emotion yesterday, I had, of course, still loved them so deeply and completely.  But in this moment, I actually liked them again!  Then they bowed their little heads to pray, and I could hear them saying the Lord’s Prayer as best they could and my heart melted a bit.  My soul was refreshed!

(Henry, as you may have noticed, was absent from the above description.  After sharing a Hot Wheel with his brother by hitting him upside the head with it, he and Daddy left the sanctuary)

Now, in the 30 minutes between church service and Sunday School, they worked hard to pick at the newly formed scab over my nerves.  That was pretty evident to all in my Sunday School class!  But, they didn’t manage to send me back over the edge.  God, being a far more patient and insightful parent than myself, had given me a Heaven sent dose of calm.  It lasted *almost* til nap time!

Because I was the grumpiest of the bunch, I went down for my nap first.  Naps are seriously my favorite hobby in the whole world.  I spent a little time before dozing off asking God to help me- help me not flip my lid, help me not stroke out and help me remember why I actually like hanging out with my kids.

When I woke up, all was right with the world.  Naps are amazing like that!  There were still plates with the remnants of lunch on the table.  Walking barefoot thru the living room risked your life in a literal lego land mine.   The kitchen sink was overflowing with dirty dishes.  The laundry hampers overflowing with dirty clothes.  But you know what else was overflowing?  My heart.

I have been so incredibly and lavishly blessed in life.  I usually don’t lose sight of that.  But we all have our breaking points.  Sometimes, methinks, that letting ourselves break is what allows is to become stronger, better.

Let it go… My Thoughts on Parenting.

Let me preface this post by saying that I am only qualified to give parenting “advice” in that I am completely aware of my shortcomings and failures as a wife, mother, and well, as a person in general.  Trust me, my 6-year-old would be the first to agree.  She tells me at least once a week about how I am ruining her life.  I have come to realize though, that the acceptance of that imperfection is key to letting go of all the guilt, insecurities and other crap that so often comes with parenting.

Rewind about 9 (? I am totally guessing) years.  I attended a sales conference in St Louis with a couple of my co-workers.  There was this slick speaker.  No clue what his name was, but there was a part of his message that really stuck.  But it wasn’t really his message… he stole the words of Deepak Chopra, but sounding far more like Apu from the Simpsons he encouraged us to “Let it go”.  Make sure you say it in your head with the accent!  Now, it was shared in a business context quite specific to my line of work.  However, it was catchy and my co-workers and I quickly added it to our inside joke vernacular, which after almost 14 years has almost become a language of its own.

I am not sure when it actually clicked outside of the work world for me, but it can be so profound.

Just let it go people.

The stress.  The guilt.  The insecurities.  They serve no purpose in your life.  They are just dragging you down and keeping you from enjoying the bounty of blessings you have been given.

THERE IS NO PERFECT PARENT (*ahem*, earthly, anyway).  So let go of that idea right flippin now.  Give it up.  Ain’t gonna happen.  All you are going to accomplish in trying is making yourself, and likely everyone around you, miserable.  The reality is your kids WILL have issues.  They will probably blame you for those issues.  There will be things you cannot shield and protect them from.  Their heart will break, which will break yours.  Then they will be bratty and selfish and mean and you will wonder what the heck you did for them to think that is ok.  Then you will hear them parrot your words and then you will hear yourself parrot your parents’ words and then you will need to find a drink ASAP.

That Pinterest perfection stress?  LET IT GO.  First off, it is the internet.  You have heard that famous quote from Abe Lincoln, right?  “Don’t believe everything you read on the internet.”  What is important to YOU?  To your family?  Just focus on that and deal with the other crap when- if- you have time.  Completely organic, home cooked meals everyday?  Kudos to you!  Really, that is awesome.  Me?  I love Halloween.  If me making costumes means the kids eat McDs and frozen pizzas a few nights, I am good with that.  If there are two loads of dirty dishes waiting for a spot in the dishwasher so we can play board games or wrestle around, so be it.  I have forgotten picture day, snacks for the week, money for offering, pick up from preschool, the list goes on and on… and I am only 6 years into this parenting gig.  But guess what?  My kids are still happy to see me!  Sure, it may just be because I didn’t forget them.  *W*.  Let go of the stress of perfection.

Really, what better way for you kids to know that it is ok to screw up from time to time than to see that you make mistakes as well?  If you flip your lid and yell at them when you shouldn’t have, apologize.  Tell them that you are working hard to do better- and follow through.  Ask them to forgive you and LET IT GO.  Life happens and sometimes, as much as you would like to move Heaven and Earth to be at every ball game, school award ceremony and teeth cleaning YOU CANNOT DO IT ALL.  Your kid WILL survive.  Don’t harbor that guilt.  Seriously, that will be far too much baggage to lug by the time kids are grown.

Then there are those icky little insecurities… a few things to keep in mind here.  1) Children are evil masterminds and they WILL find your insecurities and exploit them.  It is like Sesame Street is covert CIA training.  But remember, you are the adult.  No name calling.  Also, just do what is right for your family.  Do not let other people’s (usually unsolicited) opinions impact what you feel is best for YOUR family.  Do what you want.  After a while everyone just assumes you are crazy and doesn’t bother questioning you anymore.  The other thing is, in picking up on your insecurities, you kids can, and often will, take them on as their own.  I make a point to NOT let my daughter see me crying about my muffin top and stretch marks.  Or the bye-bye skin on my triceps.  Or the cellulite on my thighs.  Or the little wrinkles that are forming around my eyes.  There are less superficial insecurities, but for the sake of my vanity, we will leave it at my childbearing ravaged body.  We have already covered that we aren’t perfect, and we aren’t going to be.  So, for their sake and yours LET IT GO.

My prayer in all of this is that all of the struggling parents out there, all of those thinking about being parents, all of those just barely hanging on, can let go.  Parenthood is the most amazing, challenging, rewarding, frustrating, soul quenching experience.  Don’t get so caught up in what you think it should be or what you want it to be that you cannot enjoy all that it is.

Well, THAT was unexpected.

I was recently fortunate enough to have an evening with just my darling daughter Isabelle.  She had been struggling with behavior at school (erm, ever seen Mean Girls??) but has made drastic improvements in the last month or so.  Yes, I am aware that there was a 2 week break in that month… and she was sick for a good week as well.  Whatever, I take what I can get.

Anyway, every few months we get a catalogue from the seizure inducing, so bright your eyes will bleed tween super store Justice.  Isabelle shrieks with delight and spends the next few days memorizing the sequin filled pages and deciding on the over priced made in China trinket she cannot live without.  This time it was a glorified beanie baby named Darling.  One of the creepy ones with the big bug eyes.  The upside to this is, that for a week or so at least, Isabelle is willing to do any chore I can come up with in hopes of earning a few quarters to make her little dream come true.

So, she raised the money and we made a date for a Mommy-Daughter night.  I picked her up from school and we headed to the mall.  She directed me thru Target, past the pretzel place and to her “favorite store in the whole world”.  We got the fried rice she requested for dinner, sitting at the little table like she always wants to do.  After dinner and gum from the candy machine, Isabelle and I stopped into Claire’s so she could fawn over all the jewelry and purses and polish.

When we left the mall it was my turn for a treat!  We were going grocery shopping!  What?  Not your idea of a treat?  Trust me, an opportunity to go with one child rather than three in tow is very much a treat.  We made our way through the store, chatting and just enjoying one another’s company.  I just had a couple of things left to grab…

And then it happened.

My baby grew up all at once.

I grabbed a box of tampons.  While I have been pregnant a good portion of Isabelle’s life, it was not a first time occurence.  But this time was different.  She has asked a few times what they were/what they were for and I was easily able to change the subject or just tell her “big people stuff” and that was that.  Not so this time.  She saw them talking about it on tv and wanted to know what it was all about.

Seriously??  She is barely SIX. 

I should totally have at the very least a few years before having to deal with this.  Gah.

We were almost to the checkout, so I told her we would talk about it once we were on the road.  Yes, I was buying myself time.  I could tell by the look in her eye she wouldn’t forget.  Of course, she started peppering me with questions about the groceries, if she could have gum, candy bar, lip gloss, and everything else they oh-so-convieniently place by the check out so by the time we were settled in for the ride home I still had not been able to think about how exactly to explain menstruation to my six-year-old.

What comes to mind?  Why chickens of course.  Why not?  They are so human like.

Our conversation:

“So Mom, are you going to tell me about periods now??”

Do I really have to???  I am not one that will lie about things, or make it some big scary secret.  But there is such a thing as age appropriateness.  Not exactly sure how that fits into a six-year-old and menstruation though.

“Sure honey.  So, you know how chickens lay eggs right?  And some eggs make baby chickens and some don’t, they are just regular eggs?”

apprehensively, “Yeahhhh”

“Well, women make eggs too.  Actually, all girls have a bunch of itty bitty eggs inside them.  But they are so tiny we can’t see them.  When you become a woman a long time from now, about every month your body has to either get rid a of a few eggs, or make a baby.  So if your body doesn’t make the eggs into a baby, they come out as old blood from your vagina.  It is completely normal, all women do it about every month.  It doesn’t hurt, it is just your body doing what it is supposed to do.”

Holy crap.  I am not looking forward to being woke up at 2am because she is having a nightmare about laying bloody eggs.  That may not have been the *best* explanation…

Isabelle, “Oh.  Ok.”

To the parents of Isabelle’s friends: I also told her this isn’t really something we talk about with other people, that her questions should come to me.  If her friends bring it up, they are supposed to talk to their moms.

And that was the end of it.  Well, other than her asking if she and her brothers were once eggs.

Thank God- seriously, PRAISE THE LORD- she didn’t ask how the eggs become babies.

Change in Catch Phrase.

Pretty much anyone that knows me, um, at all, knows of my serious diet coke addiction.For the past several years, my relationship with diet coke had been very much a Brokeback Mountain “I wish I knew how to quit you” type love affair (minus the whole infidelity and secrecy bit).

But in some BIG news in the Big Bad B household, that has changed to a Barenaked Ladies “It’s been one week since I looked at you” kinda thing!  Today is actually day NINE if you are the counting type.

Yes folks, it is true.  Call it the Cokepocalypse, the end of days.  Whatever.  THIS IS HAPPENING.

Truth of the matter is, I had thought about giving up my beloved for some time.  I was also harassed relentlessly about it (*ahemASHLEY*), but it was never enough to actually take that next step and DO IT.  I had cut back many times, only to yo-yo back to drinking more of the Nectar of the Gods than ever before.

I have read many articles (usually posted to my Facebook wall by a caring “friend”!) about the dangers of diet coke, but I was a serious crack whore jonesin hard for my next fix.  Imagining my life without it was harder than imagining my life without my children (what?  They are brats sometimes.  Imagining a few moments of peace doesn’t make me a bad mom.  If it does, so be it.  Being perfect just means you haven’t screwed up yet anyway).

So, how did I finally do it?  What was my catalyst?

I GOT THE FLU!

Yup.  I skipped the flu shot and got the bug.  Kinda thought I might die, and thought it would be a welcome relief.  As I started feeling semi-human again, the thought of diet coke was rather repulsive (which made me think I really had died and was now a zombie or something).  It dawned on my after about 4 days that this was my chance!  I had a head start.  I felt like crap for the most part anyway, so I could blame the flu for the lethargy, headaches and grumpiness.

Today is day nine.  Other than the evening of day seven, it really hasn’t been bad.  That night, I ate like a sumo wrestler and popped multiple Excedrin and took a couple of sips of a regular ‘ol Pepsi.  I really thought I was triggering a massive migraine, but the five kids in the house may have made matters considerably worse.  Anyway, it passed and I did NOT crack open the ice-cold can waiting for me in my fridge (which I really need to deal with).  I think that was my hump.  And I kicked its ass!  Or the Excedrin did.  Whatever.

I am finding that the hard part is the habit.  The cup, the availability, the runs to get it.  I feel lost!  Also, I am not going to lie… I am taking baby steps.  I am allowing myself a diet Sprite every few days.  I am drinking tea with small bits of Splenda, from which I will wean myself.  Getting off the artificial sweeteners is my ultimate goal (that would fit into that New Year’s resolution post I never made about eating more whole foods, preferably those that come from my own little piece of the world…).

I will prevail!

RIP my beloved.

Um, of course I have a picture of my beloved.

Um, of course I have a picture of my beloved.

2012 Year in Review!

Forget the awards and pomp and circumstance, no bragging in this post.

(because who are we kidding?? unless there is an award for craziness, we are probably not in the running anyhow)

So here it is folks, the best of 2012. A year in my life. Obviously God knows I love a good laugh. Enjoy!

JANUARY

I didn’t document much in January, so just enjoy the pictures.

Willy Wonka!  Isabelle's favorite movie... on the stage!IMG_2048IMG_2216223

FEBRUARY:

IMG_1993Not a fan of conversation hearts...008IMG_2221

3rd:

While the conversation I heard between Isabelle and Eli on the way home would probably be concerning to many, I found it quite sweet. (and I could not tell you how this started…) E: Nobody gonna take Hen-Ben from us Sis. I punch ’em in the face and you step on their toes and then we run. K, Sis? I: Yeah! We’ll shoot ’em if they try! E: Or run over ’em with a monster truck. We could CRUSH them! I: OR!! Or we could bang them on the truck and cut their legs off like Daddy does the frogs! No one is gonna take our little Chubby Bubbie from us! E: YEAH! Thas right Sis! Soooo… at least they are working together, right? And looking out for their baby brother.

12th:

Eli: (pretending to be a cow) MOOOOOOO! (as he hops on the couch)

Me: Cows can’t jump!

Eli: Uh-huh. Cows can jump. They can jump over the moon! Just not our cows. They stay in the fence.

25th:

Eli just told his sister HE is supposed to have the remote because Daddy is at work so HE is the man of the house so he gets Daddy’s chair and the remote.

29th:

You know, they say to tell your children you love them and to tell them often. I am just not so sure it is working at our house.

Me: Isabelle, I love you! Isabelle: God loves me MORE!

Me: Eli, I love you! Eli: I love DADDY!

Me: Henry, I love you! Henry: No.*sigh*

MARCH:

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2nd:

Ha! I seem to have rubbed off on Isabelle.We are watching the original Little Rascals and she flipped out and exclaimed, “OH.MY.GOOOOOSH! They are gonna be in SOOOO much trouble! They aren’t even using carseats!”

Nice to know the brainwashing methods are working🙂

8th:

Eli yells, “Here coooomes Shooter!” as he runs to the bathroom this morning. As he started tending to his business he informs me “That’s what I call my pee-pee Mommy, I named it Shooter.”O.M.G.Maybe girls aren’t as bad as I thought??!?

14th:

Eli has this innate ability to melt my heart, especially if he has been particularly frustrating.”Mom, you are a peanut. Like, you are peanut butter. And Daddy is jelly. Yeah. Cuz you guys go together and peanut butter and jelly go together too, right?”

20th:

Well, I have a nice new dent in the ‘ol van. No, I didn’t hit anything or anyone! It was courtesy of Eli. And his 4-wheeler. He thought it was funny til we told him the money to fix it was coming from his Monster Truck fund. Then he cried.

No, we won’t really take the money from his savings🙂

30th:

Eli: Just boys in Daddy’s chair! Yup, just us boys! Boys drool and girls rule! Right Dad?

Dad: Noo! That’s not right!

Eli: Yup. Uh-huh. Boys drool. Wait! I know! Boys can drool AND rule! That be good idea, right?Spot on Little Man.

APRIL:

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3rd:

Here I thought the girl drama was going to do me in!I just busted Eli coloring when he was supposed to be sleeping. When I took his colors and paper away he pouted, “You ruined my life Mom! You ruined my life!” Oy.

10th:

Keith just got Eli all situated in his jammies. Before he could sit back down Eli rips off his jammie top and says,”I can’t sleep in a shirt! Then the mean guys won’t see my muscles. I don’t want them to get me in my sleep, so I can’t sleep in a shirt so the mean guys will see my muscles and get SCARED!”

As he points to his shoulder…

MAY:

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11th:

So the kids are pretending to be cows. Eli is particularly annoying when he does this because he headbutts. After having her fill of it Isabelle tells her daddy they need to take him to the sale barn. She is quiet for a minute, then Eli moos again.She exclaims “Or I have a better idea! Let’s butcher him!”

Not sure whether to laugh or consult a child psychologist!

14th:

Isabelle and I pull into the driveway and Eli throws open the new storm door and exclaims “Mom! Daddy put your damn door in!”

Guess it didn’t go so well…

23rd:

Henry had a little piece of chocolate after finishing his lunch. Of course it got all over his hands, which he does not like. I told him to go grab a wipe and he took off. It was a few seconds later I realized I could see the wipes, but not Henry.

About that time I heard the toilet flush. I run in there and Henry has a big grin and shows me his “clean” hands. I groaned as I asked what I already knew- if he had washed his hands in the toilet…He stuck his chest out with pride and exclaimed, “YUP! YAAAAAY!” and then gave himself a round of applause.Thank goodness for naptime.

26th: (Isabelle)

“Moooo-om! I can’t wear a braid. I will look like a DORK!”

“with a braid?”

“UGH! With THESE shorts?!?? Yes!”

JUNE:

Why yes, that is a pile of poop.  But more importantly, note the perfectly manicured fingernails.  Each a teeny tiny watermelon.  Only took like 45 minutes for 10 little fingers.IMG_2453Summer fun!I would suggest more qualified help if you offer up housekeeping services.  IMG_3056

12th:

Isabelle: Mom, can I stay the night with Aunt Lala?Me: I won’t be home til late so call your dad and ask him.

Isabelle: OK!!! He will say yes, it will be easier for him!

Only 5 and she’s got it figured out lol

24th:

Isabelle is all decked out in her soccer gear- shirt, shorts, socks and even shin guards.Are we headed to a game?

Nope, she hasn’t played in over a year. She just thinks it looks cool.

26th:

Eli just brought in a big zucchini from the garden and told me, “I love that one Mom! I been dreamin ’bout a ba-kini that big for a long long time!”

29th:

Isabelle: I talk a lot in my head. Even more than I talk out loud. Sometimes I tell my head to be quiet, but it doesn’t always work.

JULY:

IMG_2962IMG_2992IMG_2975IMG_2977Her lucky lure

Ohhh, our first family camping trip!

8th:

Well, putting up the tent in the rain and the park ranger making us put out our fire (which we were using to cook our dinner) couldn’t ruin our first night! We knew there was an open fire ban, but it said charcoal was ok… So we used charcoal in the fire pit. Looks like we get to go buy a grill tomorrow🙂

9th:

Not gonna complain about downpours on a camping trip in the middle of a drought. Nope, not gonna do it.Keith on the other hand, is getting the charcoal out of the rain at 2am. And he is a bit more of a grump in general. So he might.

9th:

Johnny Cash, Ring of Fire, just came on the radio. Isabelle said “oh, oh! Mom turn it up! I LOVE this song!”Take that Justin Bieber! (for the record, her current favorite song- “Boy Named Sue”)

Still the 9th:

Today’s fishing was mostly a bust. The only thing hooked was Eli’s neck. By himself.Just a poke really. After some dramatic tears he was fine.

You can read the full camping story here

25th:

Eli needs NINE minutes to pee. I HAVE to give him nine minutes. He HAS to go pee so he doesn’t pee in his bed. It’s a looong way for his pee to go from his tummy down down down all the way out. And he just drinked a whole cup of milk. It has to turn to pee still.

He needs nine minutes. Or seven.

29th:

Eli finally came up with the ultimate insult for his father today.Keith had been harassing him (once, like a year ago Keith was trying to get Eli to button up a shirt, so he told him he had to button it or all the girls would see his chest hair. Eli of course takes it a bit too serious and will not leave the house without the very top button of any collared shirt done up tightly. We have been trying to break him of it for some time and this morning had resorted to name calling… dork mainly.)

When Eli had enough he proudly retorted to his father, “Oh yeah, well you are a JOHN DEERE WORKER!” which was followed by the most maniacal laugh I have ever heard escape a child.

31st:

Eli: Mom, what is that? Is that a bra?Me: Yes, it is.

Eli: What is a bra for?

Me: To hold boobs.

Eli: Whhhhy?? Oh! So they don’t rattle right?

Pretty much little man.

AUGUST:

My precious little punk.IMG_2526IMG_3037IMG_3046

5th:

Me: Eli, you are such a little brown-noser.

Eli: Yeah, I fall on it sometimes. It gets scabs.

11th:

Keith: Henry, you need to go potty?

Henry: yeah! I pee outside!

That IS preferable to the floor.

21st:

This morning: Isabelle sobbing because she doesn’t want to ride the bus… Me dragging her to the road and bribing her so I don’t have to throw her on and run.  No tears over the bus til Sept 15th costs me an mp3 player to listen to on the bus.  Pull up to Eli’s school and unbuckle. Second day.

“ugh! Mo-om! I can walk MYSELF in! You will membarass me! I am not a BABY!”

And before I can get Henry unbuckled Mr. Big Stuff is headed to the road where there is heavy equipment working rather than the school.

THAT would be why he gets walked in lol

22nd:

Gem of the day, so far…

Eli: Mom, the sun is made of fire, right? How does it just float and stay up in the sky?

Me: Well, God put it there to keep all the people warm and give us light when He made the universe.

Eli: But Mom! There are only two people in the universe. He-Man and Voltron. Yeah. And He-Man, he is the master of the universe.

Me: What about God?

Eli: God just makes people. He puts them in Mommy’s bellies and lives in our hearts and stuff. But He-Man! He is the Master of the Universe! *waving my white flag*

23rd:

2am wake up call last night. Smoke detectors? No. Sick kid? Nope (thank God). Cow out? Huh-uh.

Eli punching the bed and yelling, “Voltron is SO AGGRAVATING!!” And then he was gone.

If Keith hadn’t heard it too I would have sworn it was a dream! Especially when he was in his bed and the tv was off this morning.

The kids were having a hard time getting ready a few mornings ago, and Keith told them they wouldn’t be able to have the tv on in the morning if they didn’t shape up. Eli told Keith he would just watch tv before morning. Guess he wasn’t kidding. If only Voltron hadn’t foiled his evil plan! (I am assuming he couldn’t get Netflix to load)

SEPTEMBER:

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14th:

We have been trying to find out if Eli is making friends at school. His response is usually along the lines of “no, I don’t need any”So this morning I took a different approach. I asked if there were any really cool kids in his class.

“Um, just me. That’s all.”

*sigh* at least he doesn’t have low self-esteem.

20th:

So Henry had a massive meltdown this morning. He didn’t want to go to Grandma’s. He wanted to cut hay! When Daddy told him that hay season was over and he would have to wait until next year he dissolved into a puddle of tears!

24th:

Me: ELI! GO.TO.BED.Eli: But I REEEEEEEEEEEEEEALLY wanna pickle! I neeeeeed a pickle. Pretty please!!

Keith: How ’bout a knuckle sandwich?

Eli: Can I get a pickle on it??

OCTOBER:

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4th:

New word for the day: Freakenstein.As in “Mom, you’re so crazy! You are a FREAK! Freakenstein !! Yeah! Mom you are Freakenstein hahaha!”

Three guesses as to which kid I was dealing with…

Also the 4th:

Isabelle keeps calling Eli “Clive Davis” and he is not happy about it.???

These kids are weird.

7th:

Getting to know Henry while we drive…

Me: Henry, what is your favorite food?

H: MacNonnos!

Me: Lovely. What do you like to eat at McDonalds?

H: Hamberer. An gas allll!

Me: That’s all huh? What is your favorite drink?

H: coffee!!!!

Me: Oy. Really? So, Hen, what’s your favorite tv show?

H: MIGHTY MACHINEEEES!

Me: what is your favorite mighty machine?

H: backhoeee!

Me: hmm. Who is your favorite person?

H: *blank stare*

Me: ok, who is your favorite sissy?

H: E-III!

Priceless.

20th:

Your Eli for the day:

E: MOM! MOM! *crying* Mom, Isabelle needs to be in trouble!

Me: It’s between you two. Figure it out.

E: MOM! BUT MOM!! Do you know what she did?!?!

Me: Nope. Don’t want to know. You two figure it out. (the bickering has been a constant lately, I am a bit over it at this point… and this was like 6:30 this morning)

E: MOM! I HAVE TO TELL YOU! YOU HAAAAAVE TO LISTEN!

Me: Ugh, what? E: MOM, SHE GOT IN MY MIND!

Me: *raising eyebrow, intrigued*

E: She did! She got in my mind and told me I wanted pancakes, but I don’t!

Me: *rolls over and puts pillow over head*

20th:

The kids and I just went thru Taco Bell for lunch and much to our surprise, our meal had been paid for by the person in front of us!  I have done this a few times, but I had never been on the receiving end.  It made me cry!  The guy left a note, saying that people talk about doing this on the Christian radio station he listens to (JOY FM) and he wanted to join in! Let me tell you, this had a REALLY big impact on the kids!  We talked about it and showing God’s love to others, even strangers, the whole way home.  Isabelle even wanted to pray for the stranger.  The kids can’t wait for a chance to pay it forward themselves!  So I am going to challenge all of you to find a way to do something nice, no strings attached, for someone else today, anonymously.  You never know how far-reaching the effects will be!

Thank you, kind stranger🙂

23rd:

Henry just locked Eli out of the house.  Eli was standing outside yelling to let him in.

Henry yelled back, “I CANT HEAR YOU!”

And totally followed it with an evil little laugh…

26th:

I have never seen Eli giggle so hard in my life.The cause?

A hot tub.

And sitting in front of the jet.

Making his shorts blow up.

27th:

We pull up to Grant’s Farm, Eli asks, “is that Grant driving the tractor??”

30th:

Your morning dose of Eli:

Totally randomly, as I was not completely awake and not talking yet…

“Mom! This (waving his as around). All of this! Yeah, it is God and Jesus’ train table!”

“ha! Really?”

“yeah! We are like the little toys and they help us find the right way.”

Then he annoyed the crap out of me with ABCs (or parts of them) the rest of the drive to school.

NOVEMBER:

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5th:

Asking the kids about the election on the way home (had my 9yo nephew Brayden in tow). I ask who they would vote for and why:Bray: I pick Mitt Ramennoodle over Barracoli Obama because broccoli is gross. And he spent $15 trillion dollars on nothing.

Isabelle: I pick whoever you pick Mommy! Can I have a piece of candy?

Eli: He-Man!

Henry, raising his arms with his imaginary sword: I HAVE DA POWWWA!

Seems representative of the population at large.

7th:

I almost forgot this little gem from Eli (of course) this morning!Butt-naked, he was cleaning up his “parts” with a wipe.

“Yup. Just like cleaning a cow’s udders before ya milk ’em!”

Ah, yeah… kinda?

10th:

Isabelle: MOM!! Mom, that car just went to the red light and kept going and going and going!Eli: yeah, papa Ronnie does that!

Busted!! Haha!

19th:

Eli, directing his siblings to the dinner table, “Ok guys. I get the New Holland plate. Henry, you get International and Sissy you get the John Deere turd plate.”  Apparently colors have alternate names in our house.

DECEMBER:

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11th:

Well Eli has added to his Christmas list yet again.The REAL Bigfoot 14.

Oh and a grape-vine pruner and a mechanical grape harvester, and some grape vines to use them on plus a trailer to hold all the grapes.

As long as we make wine, I may be good with this!

17th:

Two kids down, Eli to go.I told him he is next and gets a dollar if he throws up in a bowl, trash can or toilet when he gets sick.

He asked for a bowl to carry today.

21st:

For some reason the kids are talking about what KEITH should be for Halloween. Eli says he fixes diesels so he should be Optimus Prime. Isabelle says no, he gets mad and goes crazy. He should be the Hulk!

23rd:

Things you never think you will say:NO Henry! No skating in your chocolate milk!

Never a dull moment. Ever.

25th:

I LOOOOOOVE Jesus’ birthday!Oh yeah, and Jesus too!!

Eli, Christmas 2012

Merry Christmas everyone! May you all feel the love of baby Jesus on his birthday🙂

25th again:

Eli: Mom, how do cows wipe the poop off their bottoms?

Dad(thank goodness): they use their tails.

Eli: Oh. Then how do they get the poop off their tails?

Dad: When it rains.

Eli: Oh. Then they poop again and have to wait for the rain again?

Dad: pretty much.

Eli: Unless it snows, then they have to wait for it to melt off huh?

And there you have it!  Consider this your (late) Christmas card!

I am looking forward to another crazy, fun-filled year! May you all be blessed beyond measure in 2013. We’ll be here to provide you with a few laughs along the way! I can only imagine what the next year will bring as Henry catches on to (and surpasses)more and more of his siblings’ antics.

Happy 2013!!

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***as I type this Eli is yelling at me from the toilet. To come wipe him. Because he already washed his hands once today.  He REALLY doesn’t want to do it again.

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