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.