Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Dry Parts of the Shore

Sometimes if feels like the tide just won't stop coming.
So we sigh, and pick up our buckets, and shift a little up the shore,
only to have the waves soon reach our toes again.
The tide that threatens to pull us out if we stay frozen.

I'll never forget the first time I got swept.

The doctor said my blood clot was large.
The biggest he'd ever seen.
But, I had a newborn baby.
But, I was only 36.
But, I really wasn't ready...

They said it could be fatal, and suddenly their eyes looked at me different.
As I called my family to tell them they needed to come,
I looked at a picture of my four daughters.
Before long, as they whisked me away to the hospital, I prayed,
"Please, God. Let me be back to raise them."

At that time, while I was terror stricken,
the doctors implanted a metal filter in my main vein leading to my lungs to prevent any clots from breaking off and traveling there to kill me.
I remember being awake as they threaded a tiny metal basket down through my neck, through my heart, down into my abdomen.
A safety net, they told me.

Until I formed another clot above it,

And that clot became fear in the form of my own body.

The months after that were beyond harrowing.

I was scared to be alone in case I collapsed and the kids were left alone.
I was scared to drive, for fear that they clot would travel, and kill me, and I'd cause an accident in the process.
I was literally scared to move.

I had talks with the girls about how much I loved them.
They needed to always know.
Talks with Justin about if he was faced with raising them alone.
Please be gentle. Please surround them with loving women. Please remind them of me.

Fitting everything you want to say in is even harder than it sounds.

Constant appointments, several ambulance rides, blood tests, genetics testing,
all to later find that the reason I'd gotten the clot in the first place was because of a cluster of events including a genetic condition called Factor V Leiden.
My body, once triggered to clot, would have a difficult time shutting off that process.
A chain effect.

But, even though that was the most terrible time in my life,
through God's grace, I recovered.
Slowly, and timidly. Nervous to put my toes back in the water.

The girls grew. I was grateful to be there to watch it, and never took it for granted.
Time marched on, but never far from the "What ifs" of if it ever happened again.

The fear has stifled. Imprisoned. Taunted.
It has whispered to me in dark rooms, and been my alarm clock many mornings.

I had just started getting counseling for what my therapist thought was PTSD from it, when suddenly, a month ago, completely out of the blue and four years almost to the day,
I felt that familiar pain again, and the panic returned.
Surely it was just anxiety. Surely I just needed to breathe deeper.
Calm my thoughts.
But, unable to let it go, I called the doctor, and almost collapsed when after an ultrasound they told me I had a clot once again.
The room spun, I rung my hands, I can barely remember leaving that place.
HOW could this be my path again?
God, didn't I suffer enough?

And the waves were up to my waist.

Fear had returned with his ugly face to whisper, "See. I told you so. You'll never be able to get away. I own you."

But as fear tried once again to take over, God's voice reminded me that what Satan lays out for evil, God re-weaves for good.

Now I've had weeks of tests, blood work, and appointments.
Back to the same seat in the clinic waiting room that still somehow feels warm from when I left.

The doctor, in order to verify there was no further clotting up higher, ordered a CT scan. He said "just to be sure."
I went, and I shook,
and tears dripped into my ears as I lay there on my back being prepped.
I prayed in that tube staring up at the light painted to look like a beautiful sky.
As if a painted cherry blossom and a cloud was going to calm me.

I was done soon enough, and I went home.
And then I waited.
And waited.
And waited.
A week went by with no word.
Surely that was good news, right?
Surely they would have contacted me by now if something was there they weren't expecting.

By this Friday I was praying a prayer of thanks as I pulled into my mom's group at church.
Thankful for the grace of each new day. Thankful for what was obviously good.
But then I got the message.

The CT scan results had not showed any further clotting, but incidentally
had seen fluid around my heart.
A note said I needed to call my cardiologist right away.
The message said, "Try not to worry."
It should have also said, "Definitely do NOT Google."
But of course I did,
and the findings were so SCARY that the water around me looked like mud.

There are many reasons one could develop fluid around their heart, and many different levels.
You could have a small effusion, caused by a virus, or illness,
You could have a medium sized one caused from trauma or autoimmune issue, or, in the worst scenario, you could have a large effusion that could be life threatening, and often had a very high mortality rate, caused from cancer, or bleeding from the heart.
Surely mine was a small, then, I told myself.
I felt OK.
They would have called me to come in right away if it were more serious, right?

I spent my weekend in on/off fear. Crying often. Laughing some. Thinking constantly.
The waves slowly moving up further, and
Now around my neck.

This morning before I could even call her, the phone rang.
It was my cardiologist.
Her voice sounded serious as she laid out the next steps to diagnose the whys of this new finding.
I'd need an echocardiogram and some blood work to start.
Once they figured out the reason and actual amount of fluid, they would know how to treat it.
She said she had seen the report, but would need to know more before she could know how to move forward.
And then I asked it.
Even though I didn't want to.
I asked "What size are we talking? I've been looking online."
And she said the thing I didn't even think could be.

"Well, it looks like it's large."

And now I was underneath.
The undertow was so strong.
Heels pitched above my head.

She said words after that I barely heard, other than to go to the ER if I wanted to expedite things and not wait any more days to begin being treated.

So I went.
Barely able to move my eyes side to side.
I knew from my reading that sometimes the large effusions are caused by Warfarin, which I'm on for the clot. That often in that case the fluid they are seeing is blood. That it makes it very complicated to even know how to treat because the blood thinners make the fluid dangerous to drain because you could bleed out, but to go off of my blood thinners at this point could cause wide spread clotting from the Factor V,
which could also kill me.

From the minute I got to the hospital it was clear my doctor had called ahead. I was taken in quickly, and by a half an hour later, I had had an EKG, an IV started, 11 tubes of blood taken, blood pressure cuff placed, history gone over, and a chest x-ray done.
The nurse entered and said that what they were concerned about was an enzyme indicating impending heart failure.
That I would most likely be admitted soon.
The doctor came in and repeated what the nurse had said, with the addition of indicating I'd most likely be undergoing a trans-esophageal echo, which would require sedation and was an in-patient procedure.

*Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death*

I asked to please use the bathroom, and when I closed myself in, I stood and begged God. I begged for a miracle. And then I heard it:

"Be anxious for nothing, but in all things with prayer and thanksgiving, make your requests known to God."

I was forgetting the thanksgiving.
Because isn't that just what Satan loves? To draw our eyes, and hearts away from the good that we've been granted to pull us into something that stifles?
To call from the dark bushes, "Hey! Look over here!"
With thanksgiving....
Thankful that they'd at least caught this. Thankful for a quick moving diagnosis. Thankful I knew that no matter what was about to come,
He held all of my days in HIs hands and nothing could separate me from them.

I went back to the room where my mom waited, looking concerned.
I asked her if she'd pray specifically for complete healing.
Specifically, I said,
for the issue to disappear.
Those were the words.

And then something happened.

Five minutes later,
The doctor appeared with something in his hands.
"Do you want the good news, or the bad news?" He said.
"Not the bad," I replied, covered in tape, and tubes, and monitors.
"I really don't want the bad news at all."

"Well, that's good," he said. "Because there isn't really any."

I held my breath.
What was he about to say?

He said he didn't really know how, but there appeared to have been... a typo?
That it looked like the report had eluded to a large pericardial effusion, but that for some reason there was no mention of it in the conclusion portion of the report he was seeing.
He said it should have been highlighted as the number one thing, but it wasn't even mentioned.
He thought this was strange when reading it,
so he had asked to have the scans sent to him, and he had called in the hospital radiologist to help him review them.
He said that after looking at the scans carefully, they both agreed that not only was the effusion not large,
but there was NO evidence of ANY fluid around my heart, and my heart was perfectly healthy.
I could hear the second hand tick. Silence. Could this even BE?!

Furthermore, he said, there was also no evidence of additional clotting, and my filter was still in place. I was free to go home.

A gasp above the surface.

I cried in that moment like a crazy person.
Sobbing. Laughing. Laugh sobbing.
And that went on for over an hour, as the doctor, and nurses, and techs came in to say they just couldn't believe it, and congratulations.
I heard him calling my doctors with the news.

And suddenly I was laying on the shore.
Clothes wet. Face down.
But alive, and grateful that sometimes when the tide is pushing in, it's bringing you back in with it.

Because He asks us to trust and keep our eyes fixed, and He will quiet the storm.
Because "Never fails" actually means NEVER.

God did a miracle for me today.

In my physical heart, and in the heart at my core.
The one from where my real life stems.

Two doctors had seen that report and been alarmed enough to have me admitted.

But suddenly,
There was nothing there.
The beautiful sky I was looking up at was the real one.

Because He perfects all that which concerns us.
Because the promise is that though we walk through the fire,
we will not be burned.

I lift my eyes up to the mountains.
Where does my help come from?
It comes from the maker of heaven and earth.
The maker of
hearts, and blood, and bodies.
From the maker of futures.
The maker of a plan for me,
And the one who sets my feet over and over on solid ground.

I don't know what is planned for me because of the strength I've gained through these things.
I don't know the people I'll meet who might need to hear that I've been there, too, and made it out alive, and they will too.

I don't know what lies over the dunes and out into the world beyond this ocean of trial.

What I do know is that
my faith was strengthened today after seeing that I have faced fear, and possible death multiple times,
and each time have been spared,
and ever moved up to the dry parts of the shore.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Spanx for Nothing

If I got paid every time someone told me how lucky I am to have a husband that does housework,
I'd be a VERY rich woman.

And I am lucky. I know I am. I've seen the look in they eyes of women whose husbands never help around the house,
and it's a lonely, desperate look.

Every time I describe the dusting, and the vacuuming, and the dish doing he does,
the woman I'm talking to inevitably gets a far distant, dreamy look and I question if they're even actually hearing a word I'm saying,
or if I should actually be finding a cold shower to push them into fully clothed while I call some sort of hotline.

And it IS nice.
Most of the time it does have it's merits.

I actually cannot even remember the last time I washed an entire sink full of dishes.

And he does fold t-shirts in the most perfect little square pouch-like bundles you ever did see.
He should probably do a tutorial.

But there are times it is not so nice.
Like when he finds things men aren't supposed to find.

Take tonight, for example,
at the end of a very long, exhausting day I lay my head back relaxing in a nice hot bath with a good book when in he came holding the laundry basket.

And all was well and good, with me reading and him silently folding until, in my peripheral vision, I saw him dig through and find something that he then held in his hand and turned over again and again.

I saw him glance at me for a second, and then he started towards me.

Oh gosh
I thought.
What is it NOW? He already asked me about Chloe's blue tank top with the baseball sized stain...

"Babe," He began with a slow, questioning tone that I have learned leads to nothing good.

"What ARE these?"

I turned, already annoyed to be having my bath time interrupted by all his LAUNDERING.

And this is when he produced the object of his wonder.


The Spanx I may have just bought for my high school reunion.
The Spanx that at least four other women were grabbing at at the same time in the store because, after all, it IS reunion season.

The Spanx that were actually none of his chore-doing business.

Now, if you ALSO don't know what Spanx are,
They are basically girdles for the 21st century.


The most gloriously, wonderful thing that you never want any person seeing.

"They're Spanx," I said.
"Just put them with my underwear."
I turned away feigning nonchalance, while I attempted to stop his questions, and move him towards my dresser with my mind.

But he DIDN'T put them with my underwear.

He just stood there.

Turning them over and over in his hand.
Looking at the tag.
Stretching them.
Flicking at the legs.
Holding them up to the light.
A look of true mystery on his face.

It was as if he'd found them on an archaeological dig.

I wanted to tell him to just, for the love of God, put them DOWN and stop trying to even figure them out.

Spanx are not a thing one even NEEDS to figure out, actually.
They just are.
Veritable partners with things like Time, and Space.


They're kind of like the butterfly wings of clothing.
They're beautiful.
They're smooth looking.
But you're not supposed to touch them lest they never fly again.

And through all of these thoughts of MINE, he was STILL holding them up.
And not just anywhere, but in the mirror, so that I could see not one, but TWO images of him investigating my woman secret.
It was torture.

I couldn't tell if he was trying to find the right way to fold them, or find the right way to try them on himself.

"They're like bicycle shorts," I offered. "For people who pretty much never actually ride a bike."

"But what are they FOR?" He pressed.

I'll tell you what they're NOT for:

They're not for stretching, and flipping, and poking,
and they're DEFINITELY not for you STILL to be holding and asking me about.


So you see?

Some women wish their husbands would learn to fold a piece of laundry,
Some women wish they'd unlearn it.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Red Rover


What a month for friends.

For the unwavering.
For the steadfast.
For the childhood one.
For the one you just met.
For the one next to you under the pop of the fireworks.

In the last few weeks my calendar has been full with plans, based on my own urgency to really CONNECT.
I've sought out true bond like a bee seeks nectar.
Crucial to life,
Crucial to legacy.
So much is changing these days. So much seems fleeting. I feel like grabbing at the solid things.

So I chose to grab at friends.

I've opened my door to welcome someone in still dressed in my pajamas.
And I've opened my door to go out with someone decked to the nines.

It's been a constant rotating door.

My old green couch is now sagging heavily in places from all of the sitting, and sharing life.

One friend giving me the feeling that I needed to lower her a life boat.
One friend giving me the feeling that we were rowing a boat together with the current of purpose, and a Greater Plan.

There were conversations about lost love, lost jobs, lost family bond, and lost babies.
Tears, laughter, and way, WAY too much caffeine.

We dove in to life head first with lukewarm coffees in hand, and dried mystery stains on our shoulders.

And as they all cycled through, I started to feel like this week was a turning point in my life.
I stood there slathering peanut butter beside them all,
(Because, somehow, there was ALWAYS peanut butter.)
And as I looked sideways at them,

Somehow it was something MORE than JUST making lunch.

It was LIFE.

it became everything.

Someone who also hears the shrieks, and fills the bowls, and wipes the butts,
but yet is somehow still, behind their eyes, the THEM they always were.

Somewhere beneath a whole lot of under-eye concealer, and a slightly dragged down look was the friend I'd danced with to a car stereo at the beach.
A friend I'd snuck out with.
A friend who knew things about me in a way no one else did.

Who had seen the THEN,
and still chose the NOW.

A co-laborer.
A person with whom to link arms

And RUN.

Red Rover, Red Rover. Send your true self on over.

Even when we weren't really able to talk for all of the pleas for goggles, and cheese-its, and someone to help wipe.

Even without one single word.

There we stood.

Side by side.

And that's something.

Because there's something about locking eyes with someone whose eyes bulge like yours.
Your own mirrored, crazy reflection.
There's a re-fueling that happens in that moment.

There's something about admitting that you don't have it all together.

Something about actually officially naming your couch
"The Couch Where People Don't Have it All Together."
Cross-stitched pillow as a label.

And what a beauty that none of them are the same.

Human snowflakes.

Because I know I need every kind.

I need the one whose face I've seen across from mine through every mountain, and valley of life.
The one who
I'd always call.

I need the wild-eyed one that lets me know I'm not alone.
The one who I count to three, and leap with.

I need the grounded one, that reminds me to breathe.
The one I thank later.

I need the one that lets her kids eat off the floor sometimes because...Well - I need REALITY.
The one I identify with.

I need the one with more kids than me that makes me feel calm.
The one I look up to.

I need the one with no kids that makes me remember myself.
The one that lives at the core of me.

Because then, what I remember is that I was a friend first.

Before all the noise, and goggles, and cheese-its, and wiping.

A friend.

To them.
To my husband.
To myself.

And that is such a beautiful thing to be.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Sand and Fog

We went to the beach tonight.
Spur of the moment.
Shoes, and towels flung quickly into the car.
We hadn't even checked the weather.

And when we got there, it was cold, and windy, and gray.
The fog rolled in, and the tide was out,
and all around smelled of the scent of ocean fish.

The girls looked hesitant as they climbed from the van.
Visibly upset at how it was all turning out.
Why were we here if they couldn't even go in the water?
What good was the beach without putting at least your feet in?

And as Tessa cried about how she just REALLY thought we were going in the water,
I had a chance to talk to her about how life really goes.

That sometimes you take a chance on things.

Sometimes you go into something knowing that maybe there will be sun,
but maybe there will be nothing but gray, thick fog, and foamy waves.

And how, still,
you take a chance.

Because it's all worth experiencing.

The beauty of the sun AND the chill of your entire horizon covered in fog.

The beauty of not being able to see everything clearly.

The beauty of really not always knowing what to expect.

Then, like magic, as we ran down dunes, and walked along the sand together-
As they found sandcastles left behind by other beach goers to dismantle -
As they tossed driftwood, and dug their toes in to the cold, wet world around them,
I could see their view of our adventure begin to shift.

That maybe beaches weren't just for bathing suits, and sunscreen, and wet feet.
Maybe beaches are also for running, and huddling, and for breaths so cold they almost aren't breaths, but that fill your lungs with something more than air if you close your eyes and

We were able to enjoy it, not for what it was just in that moment,
but for what we knew it to be.
We may not have been able to see out to the edge of the cliffs, or to the boats in the distance,
but we knew they were there, because we have seen them again and again, and if we know anything, we know that just because you cannot see something in the moment you want to see it, does not negate its existence.
Those things lived in our memories, and so - just as we were there - So were they.

When we arrived,
our faces were skeptical.
We wondered if we'd even stay.
THIS is not what we planned.
But by the time we left, our cheeks were red from wind, and laughter.
We stopped for hot chocolate by the kite store.
We ran into a friend.

And Tessa, done crying,
said, "I'm really glad you're my parents," softly to us in the car.

"We love you, too."

A few minutes ago,
kids and husband long in bed,
and house quiet except for the snore of a dog,
I stepped into the bathroom to find the entire floor covered in leftover sand that hitchhiked home in the cuffs of Paige's jeans.
Yet, rather than sweep it up,
I rubbed my feet around in it awhile,
and I smiled.

Because sometimes things are not just as simple as they seem.
Sometimes sand is not just sand.

Sometimes that sand is a lesson that you can miss so many things that are about to come your way,
if all you see

is the fog.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Duct Tape Derby

Good grief.
Has it been almost a year since I've blogged?
So much has happened, I can't even relay it all.

Therefore, we will start with what was clearly one of the biggest life events in the last several months -
The time Chloe and Tessa entered a pinewood slot car race.

I know.

Contestants in this race were responsible for showing up to a workshop weeks in advance,
where they would cut and carve their cars from wooden blocks. They would then paint them to their liking, take them home and embellish them, work as a family, and return them several weeks later to be weighed, and checked for rule compliance.

When we showed up for the car-building workshop, it was clear it was going to be all my craft-loving hands could do to keep from completely taking over the car making.
I was thinking sleek, and meticulous.
They were thinking....
Well.....I don't really know WHAT they were thinking.
But like all things lately, they wanted to do it themselves.
*Controlling mom eye roll*

My mind said,
Chloe?! What color even IS that? Don't you want to mix it more?
Tessa?! That's more of a skid mark than a racing stripe. Here. Let me fix it.
But I held back and let them do it.
After all, this was an event "for the kids."

I was capable of sitting on my hands and letting them be in the crafter's driver's seat.
I mean,
I may have needed a brown paper bag to breathe into when Tessa chose to put weird little STICKERS all over hers, but I bit my tongue and just told her she was doing good work.
*bag breathing*
*bag breathing*

After the cars were assembled and the main bodies had been painted,
we were instructed to take them home and work on them more as a family.
I pictured smiling families gathered around the glue gun.
And the intentions were there.
Really, they were.

Cut to two weeks later as those cars sat completely neglected on the kitchen counter by the salt shaker where they had been sitting unmoved the entire time.

The night we were to turn them in and have them weighed, we almost forgot to even bring them.
That's how not tuned in to these chunks of wood we were.
But we took them still.
Covered in dust and coffee grounds, like every OTHER thing we turn in,
we took them.

And immediately upon walking in the door, we regretted it.

As the other cars came into view, our steps toward the check-in desk got slower, and shorter.
From moment one, it was clear that this was SERIOUS business for some people.
These people weren't happily painting cars. There were people still SANDING.
Some had crafted their cars to look like Converse shoes, Coke bottles, Batmobiles.
One guy's looked like it should be in the Smithsonian, it was so amazing.
He said he'd worked for 40 hours on it.

Who even HAS 40 hours?
It would take me 8 months to compile enough free time to equal 40 hours.

I walked to the check-in desk and meekly presented the girls' cars as they stood clinging to my side with big saucer eyes.
We had no idea it would be like THIS.

As the lady took the cars to weigh them, she looked up at me above her glasses and gave me a sheepish pity smile.
And I know those, because it's the same type of smile I get when I tell people I have four kids and they're all girls.

They were grossly underweight. Starving, no doubt for paint and attentive human touch.

"Did you maybe want to take them home real quick and add some weight somehow?" She asked.
"How would we do that?" I asked her.
"Well some people have inserted lead into the wood..." she offered.
Where does one get molten LEAD to insert?
They're lucky ours even had wheels.

"Could I, like, glue some QUARTERS ON or something?" I asked.
"Sure," she replied, shifty-eyed.
I might be paranoid, but I *think* she *may* have hit "record" on something.
"I guess that could work."

She didn't look like a believer.

So I did take those suckers home. That very minute. I bit my lip, and I gathered my change, and I searched high and low for the flipping glue gun, with which to attach said quarters.
Of course it was nowhere.
Justin was no help when I asked, either. He just kissed me goodnight, shrugged his shoulders and went to bed.
This was it.
The weight of their slot car fate rested on me now.
So what did I do, you ask?
I did what anyone wise does in a pinch.

I duck taped those puppies.

I duck taped six quarters to the bottom side of each of their cars, and I wrote their names over top in black sharpie like a boss.
Names that looked like an ape wrote them.

Then I returned to the check in location.

This time their weight was perfect.
The only problem was, with the quarters attached to the undersides, the cars wouldn't clear the slots. They wouldn't even roll.
Not one inch.

NOW what?
The deadline for check in was three minutes away.
Without time for another option,
Without wanting to chuck the whole idea and just leave with two downtrodden girls,
With Alena gape-mouthed by my side,
I ripped that duck tape off of the bottoms of the cars with all the quarters attached and reattached that monkey scratch duck tape to the tops of their cars,
transforming them both completely.
And not for the better.

As if they weren't ghetto enough.

"You're not REALLY doing that, are you?!" Alena hissed.
"Yes. Yes I am," I answered.

Now, not only were they barely sanded, and very oddly painted, but they were literally COVERED completely in lumpy quarter bearing duct tape.
And to make it worse, they couldn't even discreetly enter these beauties, because that duct tape bore their names so boldly, you could have seen them from space.




We checked those cars in, and slunk away in shame with our faces covered like we thought we were the Jackson kids.

Chloe tugged at my arm and asked,
"Mama, Why don't anyone ELSE'S cars have their names over the whole outside?"


"Just KEEP WALKING, Chloe !"

Don't look back lest you turn into a pillar of salt.

Today was the race.

But rather than do what seems like the obvious choice -
To not show up ever ever again in case someone realized the horror we'd created;

We went.

We went,
and we raced,
and would you EVEN believe it -

Tessa's truck -
That weird green truck with the yellow smears barely peeking out under quarters and duct tape with her name like a billboard TIED FOR FIRST in her division.

That duct tape car was faster than the four she raced against combined.

You should have seen our faces.

Utter disbelief.

Next year, I think we will probably do things a little bit differently,
But for now we will hold onto our duct tape derby cars,

And we'll hold them up high.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


I heard the wailing from a long way off.
It was coming towards me.
Of COURSE it was coming towards me.
I held my breath, waiting to see what it was going to be THIS time.

Tessa materialized.
Face splotchy.
Look of devastation.

I was actually surprised it was her. It wasn't usually her.
She is usually more of a Tear Causer than a Tear Haver.

"Honey, What's the matter?" I asked.

"Chloe *choke* called me.............. *sob*'FAMINALLY," she sobbed.

Had I heard her right?
What had she said?
I must not have made it out correctly.

"She called you WHAT?" I asked again.
"FAMINALLY," she said.
"She called me 'FAMINALLY"
*shaking sobs with hands covering face*

At this exact moment,
a large bid swept down and swooped me up in its talons, carrying me over hills and oceans to its nest on a rocky cliff,
where I helped raise it's giant babies as if I were one of them, and I learned to ride them with saddles that I made myself out of woven blades of grass.

Not really.

But that's the exact type of thing I imagine happening sometimes after something like that is said.

Something so confusing and absurd that nothing that followed could ever surprise me.

"Honey. 'Faminally' isn't even a THING. It doesn't mean anything. If it doesn't exist, then being it can't be offensive." I weakly soothed.

"But....But....It SOUNDS mean and I don't like being called things that sound mean."

"OK," I said, "I'll talk to her about not calling you 'Faminally' ever ever again."

At this moment Chloe appeared from behind the wall.
Apparently she'd been there listening the whole time.
Her one eyeball discreetly peeking out from behind the baby gate as it tended often to do.

She, too, looked distraught.

"Chloe, Did you call Tessa 'Faminally?"
I could hardly believe I'd uttered the words.
I did all I could do to keep my tone as stern and serious as one can when probing their child about if they called their sibling a made up thing that sounded mean.

"I only called her that because she threw a lego at my ear. It hit me, and it hurt, and I called her 'Faminally.' I tried to say I was sorry, but she was already running down here to tell on me."

"Tessa," I asked, "Why did you throw a lego at Chloe's ear in the first place?"

"Because," she responded, "She told me that she hoped that one day I went completely bald because I'd look so funny if I was bald and she'd laugh and laugh and be happy forever, so I threw a lego at her head."

At this point I was really almost at a loss for where to go with the whole thing.
For one minute I felt it strangely appropriate to make them wear hats made of foil and perform in a Dressage competition.
It would have made about as much sense as anything else going on.

They were both in tears, clearly tormented by jabs about baldness and made up names.
I had to stay strong. I was already committed.

These are the moments in parenthood they never tell you about.
I'd love to see a chapter on FAMINALLY in a Dr. Spock book.
I had to be the solid ground,
even though what I REALLY wanted to do was call them BOTH "Faminally" and rock in the corner by the Calico Critter houses.

Chloe chimed in.
"I only told her that because she was telling me that she's happy when I feel anxious."
"No!" Tessa said.
"I meant that I am usually happy, and she's usually anxious. I'm not happy ABOUT her being anxious. I'm just happy WHILE she's anxious."

This was going nowhere.
Time to bring it to a close, no matter how amusing.

Sometimes I really wish I had a gavel.

"Alright, Girls. I want you to turn and face each other."

*Tessa faces Chloe*
*Chloe faces the dog*

"Chloe. You need to face TESSA."

*Chloe faces a SHOULDER towards Tessa*


Now we have full facing,
although neither one will look at the other directly.
It's as if their eyeballs literally REPELL each other.

The crimes have been too severe for LOOKING.

Tessa is now rubbing her eyes so hard that I am positive that when she removes her hands from them,
there will be nothing left but big deep weeping holes above her nose.

Chloe's mouth is open slightly and sort of oddly.

"I want you two to look at each other now and to realize the hurt that you have caused each other by your words. Words hurt. Sometimes even more than hitting does. You don't want to cause pain to your sister, do you? You don't want to be the one to make her cry...."

This is when I notice that Chloe has gone from just PLAIN open mouthed staring to slightly wall-eyed staring that is aimed at somewhere over Tessa's left shoulder.
She basically looks exactly like THIS:

"Chloe? You're not even looking at Tessa's face. I want you to look at each other. Why are you staring off into the ozone?"

"I'm not! I tried to look, but you were talking so long and when I stare for a long time like that, my eyes go all funny and I can't make it stop."

*giggles from Tessa*

*Look of forgiveness and also admiration for being funny*

I gave up.
I think even *I* went slightly wall-eyed.

"Oh for Heaven's sake. Hug each other, go play, and both of you -
STOP BEING so darned......FAMINALLY."

Monday, June 16, 2014

No Cereal

At one point today, I found myself sitting dead center on the living room floor almost in awe of the chaos.
The dog spun by,
Toys were everywhere,
And Paige was busy dunking our brand new home phone into the pool;
An act that has us down one handset.

I was focusing on the carpet asking myself what the 10 pieces of plastic shrapnel were from, and was that BLOOD on them,
when from the front room I heard Tessa gruffly whisper,
"I don't know. I guess we have to do it back there. Go ask Mama."

In came Chloe.

When Chloe comes in
especially with this particular look,
it usually means one of two things:
She's either about to ask if she can sleep in your bed that night because of some sudden-onset malady,
or about to tell some egregious act that Tessa committed and continue looking at you that exact way until you do something about it.
And that something had better be good and punish-y.

I was relieved when I was predicting wrong, because frankly, I'm tired of her in my bed,
but that happy feeling only lasted a moment.

CHLOE: "Mama, how do you spell 'CEREAL?"

My brain drifted before I answered.

Hmmmm. Cereal. Could we just do THAT for dinner? I HATE having to think of what we're having for dinner. We could, like, do a cereal BUFFET...
Tacos? No. We had that a couple nights ago....
I'm so tired of chicken...

ME: "Oh. It's C.E.R.E.A.L."

She looked confused.

ME: "Why? Why are you asking?" I questioned.

CHLOE: "Because on the table in the front room it says 'No Cereal,' and I'm wondering about it."

ME: "What do you mean on the table it says 'No Cereal?' You mean, like a NOTE is on the table?"

CHLOE: "No. And we didn't write it. I promise. We didn't."

From the front room a panicked sounding Tessa, ever the self-defender yelled,
"We did NOT write this. Really. Really we did NOT do it. I didn't do it. I know I did NOT do THIS!"

The only thing I could think was that Justin, in his recent prescription steroid induced cleaning/organizing frenzy had written some sort of psychotic Dad Note demanding that no more cereal be eaten in the front room ever ever again.

And I was no stranger to the Dad Note.
Growing up, ours was always taped to the television before sunrise with packaging tape. (Why did we never have NORMAL tape?)
It was always some list of things to do that day that always included some bizarre sounding task like "Mend the hole the Emu made."
Bizarre if you didn't grow up in my house.

I wouldn't put it past Justin, either. He was as prone to a weird Dad Note as the rest of them.

He was always declaring that no more food was ever ever ever to be eaten in the van/bedroom/front room/back yard/garage ever ever ever again.
He declared these types of things at the end of an hour of freeing See's lollipops from car interior,
or after an hour of being elbow deep in some dark crevasse that housed shells or husks or pits.
He declared,
then the eating resumed within a max of two days.

Strange I hadn't seen any note.

He had definitely looked at me sideways when I allowed the girls to eat fudgecicles in there the other day as they jumped couch to couch like tribesmen.

It caused beads of sweat to congregate on his upper lip if anyone took milk ANYWHERE without a lid besides three steps from the refrigerator.

Milk in the CAR?!
You might as well just disembowel him Braveheart style.

Maybe he'd just had enough of soggy mystery items stuck to various armrests, and had written Rules for the Front Room and posted them.

Strange that he hadn't mentioned it, though...
He loves mentioning rules...

"Where is the note laying?" I asked.

CHLOE: "It's not LAYING anywhere, Mama. There's no note on paper. It's actually written ON the table. On the actual table someone wrote it."

Even in a crevasse digging rage, Justin would not have written on the furniture. Unless it was the roids. I was a little worried about the roids...

"In, like, PEN?!" I asked.
Oh man.
This was NOT going to go over well.
Now there was writing on the furniture?!
Justin would need cognitive therapy.

Paige had written on the back of the couch with a sharpie a few months ago and that had caused him to try to ban the very color the ink was made of.
No amount of strategic vase placement was going to cover up the words "NO CEREAL" written on our coffee table forever.

ME: "Did one of you guys do it? Did you guys write on the table?!"

CHLOE: "Mama! No. It's written on the bottom of the table. Tessa turned the table over (We won't even ask why THAT happened)
and that's when we saw the note.

There's also another part about 'No style.'
Tessa says we can't do our Barbie's hair on the table anymore."

ME: "No STYLE?......."



ME: "Chloe........ Does it say 'S-E-R-I-A-L NO.' and 'STYLE NO."

CHLOE: "Yeah. That's what I said. No Cereal."