September 2015 archive

Truly Messed

I posted a picture of my son and I to Instagram today. Today is the fourth day of Sukkot, a Jewish celebration of joy and all that we’re blessed to have, so I volunteered at his school to walk him to Temple and celebrate.
I stopped at the grocery store on the way out, getting ready to drive to the courthouse to get some documents our lender needed. The anxiety was creeping up into my stomach, through my lungs, and up/out my shoulders. In fact, the past few months in general have felt like at any moment I could lapse into panic attack. And no one wants to do that so close to the eggs.

When I posted the picture, I wrote about how blessed I feel. How God blessed me with a life wherein I can still visit my son in school on a Wednesday morning.

But that’s not what autocorrect chose for my caption. No, autocorrect chose this:

God messed me with a life that allows me to volunteer in my son’s classroom on a Wednesday morning.

Messed.

And I laughed. Out loud. Alone. Because it’s true. God messed me with this life. Not messed WITH me. He MESSED me:
I asked Him for a life partner and He gave me one in the middle of my divorce. I asked Him for strength and I thought He gave me The 21 Day Fix, but instead He gave me a broken leg and the fortitude to grow my own strength from that. I asked Him for a place Abraham and I could live without sharing a room, and Bear asked me to marry him. I asked Him for a house, and God created this big old mess, at the end of which will hopefully be a a place we get to share as a family. Every purchase, every credit mistake, every issue we have within our financial past and present has risen to the surface for the scrutinization of people who don’t know us (because if they knew us, there would be no question). It is a MESS.
God messed us.

Because sometimes God’s message is in our mistakes.

Sometimes he leads us in the right direction by pointing out our mistakes; sometimes with a painful, glaring spotlight so that we have no choice but to accept our own shortcomings and learn from them. Because if God had needed Bear and I to be financial planners in order to fulfill our destinies, he wouldn’t have left that out of our DNA…
God teaches WITH THE MESS and IN THE MESS. He’s not just there when we need something and he’s not just there when he’s given us something we aaaaaaaaalways wanted. He’s there with the mess, in the mess, sometimes CREATING the mess so that we can learn something we never would have chosen to learn. I would NEVER have chosen to learn how the credit system works, how lenders work, and what it’s like to buy a home. I would have rented forever. The day our plumbing broke in our rental house, I heard SO loudly and SO clearly that we were supposed to buy something even thought I reallyreallyreallyreally didn’t want to. And while some magic has happened as I surrendered to that inner knowing, it’s not all beans and butterflies. I’m still nearing panic attack DANGEROUSLY close to the eggs while I think about how little control over everyone who gets to decide how this whole house thing goes down I have.
No. I’m not handling it all well. But I’m writing and I’m praying and I’m listening to Pastor Furtick (and Bishop Jakes and Pastor Gray and Pastor Stanley, Lord help me…) and singing little motivational songs to myself and doing my DAMNEDEST to trust that we will be blessed with a big, MESSY move my Christmas.
He messed me. He pressed me. He stressed me. He distressed me. He NEVERTHELESSed me! And still, I know, He blessed me.

#iamtrulymessed

I Grabbed Lunch, Let the Dogs Out, Bought a House… (Part 2)

“Oh right, the loan. No problem,” Ruben said as he opened up a screen on his computer and began typing. “You started working with Ken over at Main Lending before, didn’t you?”
“Yes, I did…”
“Cool. I’ll get you a pre-approval letter…”
“BUT WE DIDN’T FINISH THE PROCESS! They were still…”
“It’s fine, relax.” Ruben acted like I’d told him I’d forgotten my lunch money…not a loan for the house we were about to put an offer on.
I watched Ruben click away at the keys, writing emails, filling in the blanks on proposal paperwork, and all I could do was stare at a tree outside his window and wonder if I could technically jump to it from the window if these were the kind of windows that opened.
“Done. Sign here and we’ll have Bear e-sign right here from his phone.”
“You can do that?”
“You can do that.” Ruben had an answer for every obstacle. Even the ones that I didn’t know existed. “Now. We wait. They have until Monday.”

For three months I’ve been working on a loan pre-approval and seeking out the perfect house. Three. Months. And in one day…nay one HOUR…the perfect house appeared and the loan was magically approved. I guess that when things are supposed to be set in motion, if you just allow them to unfold…they will. Sometimes all at once. All in one day.

I returned to the cornhole tournament and showed Bear pictures of the house I’d just attempted to purchase without a home loan or any freaking idea what I’m doing. “Oh. I remember that one,” he said. That was the big reaction. He remembered the house I’d just purchased for us. Huzzah.
“We can go see it tomorrow morning before church.”
“Ok. Great. I’m sure it’s great.”
We finished up the tournament together and then packed up the truck while saying goodbye to our friends. One friend in particular stuck around, reminding us that he has all kinds of contacts within the construction world if we needed something done to the new house (which we would). It was such a lovely, settling conversation. Not only was the house a possibility, but we would have help to fix the issues we knew it had.

And then…my phone rang.
“Good news. They accepted your offer.”

tornado-2006-420x240You need to take a breath?
Maybe review?
We choose a house.
We decide to put an offer on a house.
We call the seller to set up a meeting.
The seller of said-house gets a KIDNEY infection and has to postpone the meeting.
Two hours later, I see another house online.
I visit house the house in person 15 hours later…without Bear.
I somehow get approved for a home loan and put in an offer all within the next hour.
Three hours later…the offer is accepted.
Now we kind of own a home.

I’ll be honest with you. I haven’t set my phone down since Ruben called to say we got the should-you-rent-or-buy-househouse. Inspections. Lenders. Banks. Family members (for money, not to celebrate). I’ve literally sold 3 things on Craigslist since Saturday in order to pump up our savings. I have NO idea how we are going to do this, but I had no idea that I could get a loan pre-approval AND a house in one day, either. It’s both the scariest and most exciting thing ever. I mean…a home. That’s ours. Where our boys can play and our life can just…be. When I think about this all being said and done, I melt into my chair. How glorious it will feel to put my pots and pans somewhere. How amazing to have a closet. How wondrous to know that the lawn I am mowing is MINE. Pick your own weeds, batty, I’m picking MY weeds now!!!
No one I’ve talked to has said this would be an easy process. It’s hard. And it costs money. But I’m thinking if we can hold on for the next 2 months, we might…just might…have a home.

I Grabbed Lunch, Let the Dogs Out, Bought a House… (Part 1)

It was a normal Saturday for us, y’all. Bear was running a cornhole tournament. I was helping him and planning to run home to let the dogs out midday. It was also the day our real estate agent (who we will call Ruben) was going to call and make an offer on a house…THE house…the one we wanted so much.
We’ve been looking at houses for about 3 months. We haven’t gotten too serious, but we also have taken steps to securing a loan (you know, when the first lender told us we didn’t have enough debt…). And then we found this house. An awesome one. We didn’t QUITE have the loan figured out yet, but we knew we had to make an offer. Ruben said we’d figure the money out later.
We wrote up the offer on Friday afternoon and Friday night, Ruben called. “Well, I spoke with the seller and…you won’t believe this. She has a kidney infection. She can’t meet until at least Monday, maybe Tuesday.”
“So no offer?” I asked.
“Not yet. It’s ok, though. Keep looking through the MLS listings in case something pops up between now and then.”
I did as he suggested and found a house that looked nice as I sat on my couch late Friday night watching Into the Woods. I emailed him the listing.
“Looks nice,” Ruben texted. “Want to try and see it tomorrow?”
“Sure. I have to let the dogs out around lunch and this is near the house. Maybe 1pm?”
“I’ll be there,” he wrote.
I left the cornhole tournament the next day, Saturday, near lunchtime to look at the potential house and let the dogs out. Bear was up to his eyeballs running the tournament so I didn’t figure I’d bother him with pictures or details until later that afternoon. If we liked it, I’d show him Sunday.
Except then Ruben and I walked into the house…
“Woooooooah. Wow,” Ruben said.
“Holy wow…”
“This place is…this is nice. Look at, WOAH. Look at this. What am I looking at? What is this?!” Ruben flung open the curtains to a lanai the length of the house.
“Oh look at the…”
“This is incredible, wow…”
“I don’t believe this is…LOOK AT THIS!”
“Woooooooow.”
We didn’t stop for 15 straight minutes. Until, Ruben turned to me with a serious face. “You need to put in an offer.”
“Ok, well, Bear can be here before church in the morning…” I started.
“No. Now. Someone is going to snatch this house up. I know the listing agent. I’ll call him. But we need to put in an offer. Now.”
“Yeah, see, no. I can’t do that. I have to talk to Bear…”
“I get it. I get that. But you’re not going to find this house again. You want this house. I promise,” Ruben said.
I should back up. Ruben and I have been friends for about 7 years. He is a SEASONED real estate agent who has built a successful business from scratch. I’d trust him to buy us a house without us ever seeing it. He knows the market. He knows the system. He knew we had to get this house.
“I guarantee you this house is being shown all day. This neighborhood, this side of town…this place will go today,” Ruben interrupted my thoughts.
I peered out the window in silence. Another real estate agent pulled up. And a car behind that one. I saw the real estate agent’s face…
“Yeah. Ok…” I said.

IMG_3238

Dont worry. The dogs were fine. They didnt even care.

We drove to Ruben’s office, which happened to be across the street, and he began writing up the offer. I sat, alone, on the same side of the desk that Bear and I occupied together the afternoon before where we drew up an offer for a TOTALLY DIFFERENT HOUSE. One that didn’t even compare to this one. Ruben rattled off details while I stared at my phone, wondering how exactly I should text Bear that I was making an offer on a house that he’d never seen. “You know the other thing? There aren’t hundreds of houses on the market in your price range. This is not a buyer’s market. When you find a house that’s underpriced and move-in ready, you have to take it right now.”
Now sufficiently terrified that we’d lose the house and never find another one, and more than sufficiently in love with it, I texted Bear:
“I know this is crazy, but I have to make an offer on this house today.”
Ruben called the listing agent as I waited for a response. “Hey, Jerald, this is Ruben over the Best Realty Group Ever Realty (names changed to protect the innocent). This house you have over on Queen’s Landing…you have any offers in on it right now? I’ve got a very good friend ready to make an offer…”
“What?!” Bear texted back.
“Can I call you really quick?” I texted.
“I’m running a tournament.” I could tell he was frustrated and confused and more than anything, quite WTF with me.
“Oh you do have an offer?” I heard Ruben say. “Ok, anything about the house I need to know?”
“I swear, babe, if you trust me this is a good choice. Remember, this is not a commitment. If you hate it, we don’t have to buy it.”
“Right, so have they accepted any offers before?” Ruben continued…
“Ok. If you say you love it and you know I will, too, I trust you. Do it.” Bear texted.
“You’ll have our paperwork here in a few, Jerald. Thanks.” Ruben hung up. I looked at him.
“Let’s do this,” I said…
“Wait a minute! We don’t have a loan!”

 

I Have Nothing in Common with my 5-year-old Son or Just Take a Shot

My son loves legos. LOVES legos.
He loves building cars. He loves Jake and the Neverland Pirates. He loves running through the house after our dogs. He loves Octonauts. He loves puzzles. He loves his mini farm.
He loves talking. Loudly. All the time. About everything he observes and thinks.
EV-ER-Y-THING.

He has been begging me all week to “play with him”. Most days I can’t figure out what this means. I help him build things. We run around in the yard. We read books. We write things. We color. I’VE BUILT 12,000 LEGO CARS/TRUCKS/CITIES. But that’s not enough. He still wants me to PLAY.

WHAT THE HELL DOES “PLAY” MEAN?!?!

You know why I don’t know what play means? Because we have nothing in common. His idea of playing is my idea of slow death by boredom and “this makes no sense.” I am so tired of hearing about legos and he couldn’t care less about Oprah, and so it’s hard to understand how to interact with each other without one of us being miserable. And it’s frustrating when your child is old enough to do things but you don’t share anything in common you want to do together.
So I told him yesterday morning that if he had a good day at school I would take him to putt-putt golf. Because putt-putt golf is a game. A game you PLAY. I hoped and prayed this would satiate his need to play because I don’t know what else he wants and I’m so tired of all his boring games.
He had a good day at school. AND SO! Putt-putt.
You’ve never heard a child more ecstatic about anything. It was like I told him that he was going to Disney World to live there for free for the rest of his life. We were only going to do one of the golf courses, but we did both. Why? Because his leaping and celebrating with every putt made this kind of play actually…enjoyable.

This isn't hole #7, but you get it.

This isn’t hole #7, but you get it.

At the hole #7 on the blue course, Abe was faced with three long, green alleyways through which he could aim his golf ball at the hole. I watched him stare at his options, taking practice swings along side of the ball to try making his decision easier. And then he said something that made me stop and think. He said, “Let me see which one I get.”
Now, I hate to turn everything my son says into some transcendent experience, but it’s what I do. I realized he wasn’t staring at the different paths his golf ball could take and saying, “I gotta aim for this one because it’s more likely to get my golf ball closer to the hole.” No, he was actually saying, “I’m going to take a shot and see where this goes.”
In short, he shot first and asked questions later.
There’s a point during life when that changes. You stop taking a shot to see what it might land you and you start calculating: If I take this shot, then this might happen. If I take this shot, then the other might happen. Which is the shot with the least chance of pain/disappointment/failure? That’s the one I’ll take!
But before that, we were actually gifted with a glorious “Let’s see!” attitude towards life. Yes, it gets Abe in trouble sometimes. “Let’s see what happens when I write on the dining room table with this pen.” (Mommy gets mad, that’s what you see.) You ever notice, though, that the “let’s see” attitude is only cool as an adult like, right before you go on a roller coaster ride?!
Abe had no fear of failing. No fear of getting bummed out. Not even a real concern for getting the ball near the hole. His entire focus was on hitting the ball and then finding out what happens.
And so, Bear and I are going to put in an offer on a house tomorrow. We’re offering significantly less than the seller is asking because of some awesome professional help we’ve gotten guiding us in the right direction. I’ve been avoiding taking real action on this house we love so well because…what if we fail? Get rejected? Wish forever that we would have gotten the house?! Abe’s comment on hole #7 was a reminder that we just need to take the shot…and see what happens.

Abe and I went to a glorious dinner at the Whole Foods hot bar and I told Abe he would have a few minutes by the time we got home before we needed to start getting cleaned up for bed. “Mom. Putt putt golf is so fun. I hope we get to do it again someday,” he told me in the car.
“We will! We definitely will! I had a great time with you, too, Abe.”
“Yeah, mom. I had a great time with you, too.”
We pulled into the driveway and Abe asked, “How much time do I have before shower?”
“About 20 minutes.”
“Ok, mom. Hey, mom?”
“Yeah babe?”
“Can you play with me?”

You get to make up a noise that you think sounds close to the noise I made…

 

Dad, Eat-Pray-Love-Style

I recently reconnected with my older sister. There’s no dramatic story to it other than time, age, and experiences led us in different directions for a while, so relax. Our dad died when I was 7 and she was already an adult. Not a lot in common at that time. I was raised as an only child because all my siblings (6…yes, 6) were adults when he died (and I was a hell of a surprise to my parents a little later in their child-bearing years). So as my sis and I began to tell stories and chuckle about our family, I realized she had a whole slew of experiences I didn’t know about; memories I didn’t have. Hearing about my own life, my own connections to my dad was…startling.
I laid in bed trying to explain it to Bear. “It’s like, my dad, this man that made me, he had all these feelings and thoughts…and I never knew any of them. He had quirks, he had idiosyncrasies, and hearing someone else describe them is, well…weird. Not knowing your own dad is weird.”

My sister sent me some pictures of me, mom, dad, and my oldest sister’s daughter (which makes her my niece, who is actually older than me, if that gives you any indication of how big of a surprise I was).

"...how you're holding dad's hand...So connected...and I believe still!" she noted when she sent it.

“…how you’re holding dad’s hand…So connected…and I believe still!” she noted when she sent it.

The thing about losing a parent (or anyone really close to you) when you’re only 7-years-old is that no one has told you yet that you can’t continue speaking to that person. I continued talking to my dad as though he were still alive for years. It wasn’t until my late teens that people told me that was weird, but by then it was normal so I just never stopped. (Yeah. Totally still connected to my dad. Talk to him everyday. What? He answers.)

I’m an adult (sort of) and just now learning about who and what my father was; who and what my family was, really. I’m finding out about the relationships my siblings had with my dad, with my mom, with each other. I’m learning that the world wasn’t all rosey the way I remember it. People who didn’t get to give my dad that one last “I love you” like they would have liked still regret it to this day. I am so blessed that I don’t have to live with any of that because, at 7, I just didn’t even know how to be much more than sad my dad wasn’t going to make it to The Nutcracker that year with me. What a tumultuous time it was for everyone…and I’m just now understanding it. I’m gaining this adult perspective on my childhood and frankly, it’s fascinating to find out bit by bit what MY life was like.

It makes me want to reach out to more family members on my dad’s side and ask them: Hey! What was my dad like? Tell me about his life from your perspective. Tell me about conversations you had or funny experiences, like did HIS tire ever blow out on a family road trip?! I know him so well as my dad, but I don’t get the luxury of knowing him as an adult like most people get to do with their own parents. I mean my curiosity is reaching like “I’m going to find out about him and then write a book Eat-Pray-Love-Style” kind of stuff. And what a weird thing to have to do research on…a book about your dad!

There are two things I know for sure about him, though. He was either joyful beyond measure, or eyeballs-popping-out-of-his-head angry. All he had to do was pop an eyeball and I’d stop what I was doing. But more often, he was happy. Staining dining room chairs in the basement, building me a Barbie closet, taking me for ice cream, sitting in my room for a few minutes after dinner just to tell me he liked having dinner with me… I think after he had me, he’d softened. A LOT. He’d been through enough life that he didn’t sweat the small stuff anymore and was focused on sitting at the table with my mom after dinner, enjoying a bottle of wine and eating leftover edges of pita bread. He is a reminder to me not to eat the small stuff, and to eat the middles first.

If you do happen to be related to me and you’re reading this blog, I’d love to know a story you have about my dad. And even if you’re not related, I’d be glad to learn about your dad.

 

 

 

Speculating, and Other Ways to Make Friends (A Rant)

Maybe it’s my own filter, but I’ve been noticing a lot of people around me deep in the practice of speculation.
That’s right. Speculation.
In a soft, sweet way, it’s like guessing.
In a mean, jagged way, it’s more like judging.
I’ve watched people speculate about the lives of others, and it bothers me. I’ve watched them mostly do it while NOT in the company of the person on whom they were speculating. And, of course, it’s never positive speculation. No one is ever speculating that he’s late because he’s grabbing flowers; they assume he’s late because he’s a jerk who doesn’t care about anyone else’s time.
It confounds me. It’s like the world’s worst, meanest game. And so I spent a minute this past week trying to think of why anyone would assume negative things about someone else. I’ve come up with a few conclusions:

  1. People are kind of out of ideas for small talk and so they pick a person not in the room and make judgements aloud about why they do what they do.
  2. People are miserable with themselves and so they pick a person not in the room and make judgements aloud about why they do what they do.

Actually, THAT’S IT. It was only two conclusions because I can’t think of a single good reason to sit around discussing the goings-on of someone else’s life unless it’s to wish them well. Are you so miserable in your own life that you can’t even deal with it and so you GUESS mean stuff about other people’s lives?!

And then I heard my son speculate. My 5-year-old son. And it sounded like this:
“Maybe she took that toy from him because she wanted to clean it for him.”

Now, maybe it’s because my 5-year-old isn’t old enough to have low self-esteem that would cause someone to mean-speculate. Maybe he doesn’t even have enough life experience to even consider speaking ill of someone else. Either way, I know a lot of people (including me) who could learn from him.

Ever heard the phrase “assume the best?”
You can.
You can do it all the time.
It costs you nothing, it doesn’t change the outcome of a situation good or bad, and it offers peace instead of anxiety. And the bonus? IT COMES NATURALLY. Abraham is living proof that assuming the best about people and situations is our first, in-born method of seeing the world. Positivity. Somewhere, we begin to choose to assume the worst. We figure people are lying, we figure they’re against us, we figure they’re not doing what they say they’re doing. And why? To prepare ourselves for the worst?! (Does THAT really help us avoid the pain of the worst case scenario? It doesn’t.) Also, assuming the worst makes you a person no one wants to be around.

And by the way. Bear was late to our first date.
Because he was getting me roses.

4de7309f01049e27116e70be40992db6

Oooof. Harsh. But harsh truth. Oof.

 

 

 
Assume the best. Everything else is a waste of energy.

#endrant

Pause.

I realized a few years ago that meditation and prayer are REALLY good ideas. Everyday. For at least 5 minutes. Pause. Get quiet. Re-center. Pray.

It’s also REALLY unattainable for most people.

Because when I tell people to sit down for 10 minutes in the morning to meditate, I know they’ll do it for 2 weeks and then lose track.
If I tell them to write a prayer everyday, they’ll do it for a few months! And that’s it.
I tell them to start a gratitude journal and they never even buy the paper.
Why?
Because that’s what I do.

The truth is that when you’ve got an on again off again relationship with God (or the universe or your inner knowing or spirit), you have an on again off again relationship with life. You make room for the soccer games and a shower and the volunteering and your job and your spouse, etc. etc. etc. But without a daily ritual, you truly can’t commit to anything as a whole person. And that’s a tall order.
You know what I do?

I drink coffee.

coffee-cup-01I don’t just drink coffee like a Starbucks or a quick cup out the door. I sit with my coffee. I saver it quietly and sometimes in the dark, even if just for the first few sips.Usually my cup of coffee leads to a writing a few pages in my journal, but sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it’s just the coffee. Even Abe knows to let me have a little bit of coffee before making requests when he sees me pour my cup. THAT is my meditation. That is my mindfulness, my prayer, my moment to start the day with God. Does my prayer begin with a caffeine addiction? That’s very possible. But none of those people in the bible were perfect. They found God in some pret-ty dicey circumstances. So my little need for a jolt of electricity in the morning doesn’t seem so bad.

Where this throws people off, and me for a long time, is that this isn’t a spiritual act. It’s not religious. Paul didn’t send instant coffee packets to the Corinthians with his letters. I’ve never met a meditation guru who suggested you start with a mocha-frappe latte. It’s a ritual, a daily reminder for me to get quiet and pause. Pray, clear my mind, re-center, breathe. It’s how I do it. It’s what works for me. And you’re actually allowed to choose YOUR method for pausing everyday, even if for 5 minutes, to get quiet and just be.

Some people do it in a quiet car. Some people do it in the gym. Some people do it while stirring a pot of pasta. But for me, a five minute pause doesn’t have to be accompanied by Deepak Chopra’s voice or an episode of Super Soul Sunday. There is no one way. You get to choose something you love everyday. It has to be a way that works for you. Otherwise, what’s the point?

 

At least you’re not Job.

I had a bad day. A really bad day. One filled with anxiety and frustration and a lot of fear of the unknown. What’s to come? What’s will happen? Will everything be OK?! By the end, I was just feeling completely depleted and sad.
When I’m in that place of fear, I reach out to my friends. And I have two kinds of friends (as I think we all do). One kind is the “everything will be ok” kind. They either pray with you or they pray for you or they offer up a practical look at things that prove with actual facts that everything will be ok. They are the ones who bring cupcakes to cheer you up, or a good bottle or wine, or even a crappy bottle of wine. Their positivity is absolutely uplifting. And I like those kinds of friends tremendously.
The other kind of friend is the devil’s advocate friend. If you’re royally pissed off at someone and you call devil’s advocate friend to vent, devil’s advocate friend will tell you why you should consider the other person’s point of view. Devil’s advocate friend might even try to prove you wrong in the situation. Devil’s advocate friend is a very good, well-trusted friend because they hold up a mirror in your life when you need it most and say, “Baby. Snap out of it.” I like these friends a lot, too.

Today, I texted my devil’s advocate friend: Ivy.
I shared with her all the unknown and potentially life-changing issues I face right now. I told her, “Ivy. I’m so sad right now. I just can’t get it together today.”
And do you know what Ivy said to me?
She said, “Well, hey, at least you’re not Job.”

At least you’re not Job.

“At least I’m not JOB?! That’s what I should be grateful for today?!”
“YES! I mean, he went through it all!”
She then sent me a little picture of a dancing minion.

For those of you who don’t know, Job was a good and loyal man who honored God in all that he did. He had lots of kids and farm animals and a lovely wife and life was going really well for Job. He was super appreciative of God.
Then one day, Satan was like, “I’ll bet I can get him to stop believing in God.” So Satan sent these guys down to kill all of Job’s donkeys, all of his sheep, all of his camels, and all of his children. And you know what Job did?
He said, “What came from God goes back to God.” HE KEPT WORSHIPPING GOD! Even in the midst of all this pain and misery and fear and sadness and loss.
I mean, who does that?
So, then of course, in time Job was blessed with exponential riches and a gabillion farm animals and more children and grand children and great-grand children and he lived another 140 years.

In fairness, no one has come to kill my animals nor children. And I kinda wanted to smack Ivy and say, “I’m not Job. I’m not Jesus. I’m a girl with ISSUES.” But I got her devil’s-advocatey point. No one’s dead. No one’s dying. No one’s even got a cold. The ground is shaky but I’ve got both legs. I probably ought to focus on the things for which I’m grateful for even a PERCENTAGE of the amount of time I spend freaking out.
“ERIN I KNOW ON THE OTHER SIDE THERE IS SOMETHING SO MUCH MORE THAN WHAT YOU ARE LOOKING AT NOW,” she wrote in all caps a few moments later.
“You should stick with being the devil’s advocate,” I told her.
She sent another dancing minion.
She’s a really good friend.

My point is that maybe today you need the devil’s advocate instead of the cupcakes and sweet hugs and the good wine. Maybe you need to stop the madness for even just a MOMENT and say thank you for what’s good, even if all that’s good is that no one has a cold right now. You don’t have to walk around all grateful all the time when things are falling apart. But you might consider a quick, “Thanks for the health.”

 

 

Anyway you all know where this is going… (Part 2)

BOP.
Sssssssssssss.
Beep…beep…beep…
I lifted my head off my pillow in the passenger seat and looked over at Bear, who was driving. A large, yellow, flashing set of words on the dashboard caught my gaze. In my half-asleep state, I could decide if we’d switched to a submarine while I was napping or if something was wrong with the truck.
“Are. You. &$#^ing. Kidding. Me.”
That’s all he said. And he said it quietly. Almost defeated, but mostly like one false move and he’d knock you out no matter who you were.
He began pulling over to the side of the road. I looked at the dashboard clock.
5:00am.
“What is it?”
“Our tire blew out…” he said staring straight ahead of him into the darkness of I-95 in southern Georgia.
I’d like to stop this blog and bring your attention to my last blog when I casually mentioned new tires. The new tires we’d purchased three days before. For this trip. So there would be no issue with the 600-mile drive. Especially not two hours into the trip.
We both sat in the truck for a moment listening to the slow beep.
“Mom?” Abe woke up. “Why did we stop?” Of course, Abe woke up.
“We need to change a tire, Abe.”
“Why?”
This is not a good time for whys.
“Mom?”
“Because the truck needs a new tire.”
Before he could ask more questions, I got out after Bear did and I met him at the back of the truck.
“What do we do?”
He continued staring at the back of the truck for several more quiet seconds before answering, “I change a tire. And I pray my spare is real and not a donut.”
“If it’s a donut, we can’t go. Those are only good for like 100 miles.”
It was funny because why would I think he didn’t know that?
“I need to get the jack kit.” It took the owner’s manual, waking Cubby up to move him off his seat, and eventually displacing both kids from the back seat entirely to eventually find the jack kit. Bear went to work pulling the spare out from under the truck while I went to work…holding my cell phone light for him.

Shhh. Don't tell him I took this. He thinks I'm just holding the light.

Shhh. Don’t tell him I took this. He thinks I’m just holding the light.

Praise God the spare was a real tire. Getting the jack up under the car and lifting the truck up to an acceptable height was like watching Olympic needle point; it was painfully slow but INCREDIBLY anxiety-provoking. When Bear removed the brand new tire, we found the little hole where the road shrapnel took it’s short, short life. I thanked the new tire for it’s service (in my head, obviously, because saying anything out loud besides “yes” and “right here” might have sent Bear running into traffic) and helped Bear to put the spare tire on by…holding my cell phone light for him.
I’d like to stop this blog again to mention that I think the amount of cars that passed two people on the side of the road at 5:00am trying to change a tire in the dark is DESPICABLE. Seriously.
“Mooooom?” Abe was opening the truck door.
“BACK INSIDE. BACK INSIDE. THIS IS DANGEROUS.”
“But I’m scaaaaared.”
“I know, babe. It’s ok. Just try to take deep breaths.”
“Is it the middle of the night, mom?”
“Yeah. Pretty much.”
“Why are all these big trucks awake??”
“I’m not sure, sweetie, but we need to keep the door closed for your safety.”
I returned to Bear and tried out a quiet, “Great job, sweetie.” It didn’t land so I just continued being quiet and holding the light.
It took a little less than 40 minutes for Bear to change the tire and get us road-ready. It took us approximately 7 hours to put the jack kit back together. Those things make NO sense. Why on EARTH would you insist the owner of said kit play a full-on game of Level 11 Tetris to put the damn thing back together? DON’T YOU KNOW WHOEVER IS PUTTING IT BACK TOGETHER JUST CHANGED A FREAKING TIRE?!
We spent a few moments getting the boys back into their seats and strapped back in. Of course, by this point it was 6:00am. That’s way too close to normal wake-up time for the kids to go back to sleep. This means, in total, we got a total of one hour…one hour of sleeping quietness on our 8, now 9-hour trip.

11951008_10154187896389829_2010456672_nI will tell you the rest of our vacation was full of water sports and steak. Like, just so much steak it’s probably already caused my cholesterol to go up 20 points. And 30 minutes into our drive home 4 days later…
“Are. You. &$#^ing. Kidding. Me.”

Service. Engine. Light.

Luckily, the truck manual suggested if the light wasn’t blinking, the issue wasn’t an emergency. And we decided that was just going to have to be true, because we were going home.

Anyway you all know where this is going… (Part 1)

About two months ago, my amazing sister-in-law suggested that the boys and me head up to their house on the TVA Lakes for Labor Day weekend, sort of a late birthday celebration for me. I IMMEDIATELY said yes because my brother and his wife are the two coolest people I know. For realz, the coolest. Like, they say the “f” word sometimes right in front of other people!

Then about a month ago I decided that I was too overwhelmed and there was no way I could handle Abe’s birthday, my birthday, and then a road trip to Tennessee where they live. Because one of my favorite things to do is cancel plans…
This is one of the many reasons why Bear is in my life. He scoffed at the mere suggestion we might not go.

Last week I celebrated my 34th birthday and then began FEVERISHLY packing for Bear, Abe, and Bear’s Son, who I guess at this point we’ll call Cubby (he’s 11). I would pack Wednesday and Thursday and we would get on the road VERY early in the morning on Friday while the boys were still asleep. I thought of EVERYTHING. Band aids. Extra socks. Sunscreen. Life jackets. New tires put on the truck. I made lists of what would be packed Thursday evening and what we would need out until the moment we left. Sticky notes were everywhere. Neighbors were alerted. Dogs were cared for. Lawn was mowed. This thing would go off without a HITCH.

Anyway you all know where this is going…

11947510_10205827758506857_841555474573426308_nWednesday evening, I received a text message of an x-ray. The x-ray was of Cubby’s arm. And IN Cubby’s arm was…a BB. From a BB-gun. Because his older brother had shot him at point-blank range by accident while they were doing homework at Cubby’s mom’s house. We were meant to pick him up Thursday but instead, Bear met them at the ER Wednesday night where a lovely doctor removed the BB from Cubby’s arm, applied two stitches, and sent him home in socks with little packets of antibiotic ointment.
This meant that Thursday, Cubby would be home with me since he was up too late to go back to school. And on that Thursday, a day I was going to finish up a few projects and leisurely pack 1100 sandwiches so no one suggested we stop at McDonald’s, I got word that a huge glitch in the website of one of my jobs meant that I’d not been receiving emails. So Cubby had to go to work with Bear and I had over 100 emails to sift through, answer, and forward to the appropriate places. In between trips to the pharmacy to get emergency antibiotics/waterproof bandaids for Cubby and the grocery store to pick up last minute HEALTHY road snacks, I apologized profusely to many, many people for the delay in my response to their very-important needs.

Eventually, though, we got through the day and both boys were in their beds Thursday night. All the bags were packed. Eight sandwiches, two bags of snacks, and four water bottles were ready. Bear loaded the truck, and everything was set for a 4:00am departure. This meant 3 hours of sleeping kids during an 8-hour drive, which is the equivalent to your dash board turning into a million dollar Vegas slot machine that pays out through the AC vents with every acceleration…Priceless.
Until about 5am…