Tag Archives: fun

Before You Go—a Tribute to a Life Well Lived

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Before You Go—a Tribute to a Life Well Lived

Loving big means letting go hurts—it hurts a lot.  A little over 15 years ago, Santa brought our son a little poppet we named Cooper.  He was tiny; smaller than a can of soda pop.  Small things don’t usually fare well in our house.   Frankly, we are rough on furniture, walls, and flooring.  Our clan isn’t outfitted for fragile of any sort.  If the first few weeks as a member of our family was any indication of his chances of surviving the rambunctious chaos he was adopted into, odds were heavily stacked that the poor little guy was doomed.  Right out of the gate Sophi stepped on him, resulting in a seizure and a long lethargic night.  This incident was followed shortly by an emergency vet visit for a collapsed trachea.  He was accidentally dropped, inadvertently kicked and he took a serious tumble down the stairs, which left him terrified to descend the stairs.  Fortunately, Evan provided intense bologna therapy.  The therapy worked, although he suffered with the bloat for several days.

Cooper is over 100 years old in human years and the last year we have watched as his health has declined significantly.  This week the magnitude that our resilient little buddy was undoubtedly living out his last days settled in like an uninvited guest.   Kevin took him to the vet on Monday and I threatened him sternly not to return without him and returning with him in a tiny urn wasn’t acceptable.  I wasn’t ready.  I am not ready.  Instead he returned with our faithful little guy with his breathing labored and his desire to eat or drink diminished to almost null.  He was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and a severely enlarged heart.   Kevin had a little bag of medicine and I eagerly asked if it would help.  Kevin said it might help, but I knew he was just trying to soften the rough edges of reality.  The bag wasn’t big enough to hold much hope.

The medicine did make him feel better for a little over a day.  He ate, he went outside and he even growled at Evan.  I was beginning to believe the little bag contained more hope that I had first thought.  But his rally didn’t last long.  I had to leave town to accompany my mom for a surgical procedure and I got the call that Cooper wasn’t doing well again.  He was having trouble breathing and refused to eat or drink.  I felt my heart break a little bit more.  Before I left I held him, petted him, told him countless times how much I love him and gave him a zillion pooch smooches, it didn’t seem enough.  I wasn’t ready.  I am not ready.

I know that he is a dog.  I do.  I mean deep down in my logical mind I know he is a dog, but in my heart and in our lives, he is so much more.   I might not make it back home in time to tell him goodbye.  I am hoping that Kevin will read this to him so he knows how much space his tiny 8 pounds takes up in my heart.  I want him to know that he was never just a dog to us and I hope that being part of our rowdy crew has given him a fraction of the joy he has given us.

This is for you Cooper:

Thank you for being so resilient and forgiving the accidental bumps and bobbles and more than one kick off the bed in the middle of the night.

Thank you for being the hero in all of our wild (though mostly imaginary) adventures together.  You are the only dog I know who has been on Dancing with the Stars, worked deep cover missions for the FBI, and made friends with a pigeon that smoked cigarettes.

Thank you for believing in Big Foot.  One day the world will know we are right.

Thank you for accompanying me to the bathroom each and every time I go.  This speaks volumes about your loyalty and let’s face it, your tolerance for unpleasant circumstances.

Thank you for limping around for an entire evening after Evan “shot” you with a banana.

Thank you for pretending like you liked the legwarmers I put in your stocking.  

Thank you for letting me vent to you and never judging my craziness.  You are a rock.

Thank you for taking such good care of your beaver.  That is one lucky beaver.

Thank you for tolerating you little sister.  I know she has driven you crazy over the years with her demanding so much attention and usually getting it.  You have always been the main man.  Your patience with sharing us with her is to be commended.

Thank you for being my buddy.

Thank you for making me belly laugh with you nonsense.

Thank you for letting me give you really bad haircuts.

Thank you for claiming that tiny space between us in the bed.  I know it is going to be like a cavern when you are gone.

Thank you for not tolerating Evan’s antics.  Your intolerance for his SLOW WALK and MEAN FACE never faltered.

Thank you for letting me call you Mr. Conniption, even when you thought it was stupid.

Thank you for letting me put you in a Rubbermaid container strapped to the handlebars to go on bike rides.  That literally must have been terrifying for you.

Thanks for swimming with us at the lake, even though water isn’t your thing.

Thank you for letting us be your people…your imperfect quirky people.

Thank you for hanging on so long and so hard, because I wasn’t ready.  I am not ready.  You are my soldier.

Before you go, just know you gave us your best life.  I shouldn’t ask for more.  You have been…are…and always will be so loved.

I wasn’t ready.

I am not ready.

But when you are ready, I will be brave for you my faithful friend.  Thank you for a life well lived.

The Security Breach at Breakfast

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The Security Breach at Breakfast

There was a time not so long ago that the avoidance of national and world news by my sister, Kim, was viewed by me as bordering on irresponsible. I would ask her opinions on a crisis, mass murder, or natural disaster and she would respond with, “I have no idea what you are talking about and I don’t want to know. So, shut up.” Recently, I have started to envy her ability to close herself off from the world that seems to be unraveling. It seems to be open season on human beings killing one another has had me considering looking for real estate under one of the secluded rocks she likes to hide under. The world is a scary place.

One would think that with all the headlines screaming violence, I would be extra vigilant in protecting myself, my family, and my home from the volatile world. In many ways I am. I have educated myself on gun and personal safety and I have obtained my Conceal and Carry permit. I have purchased a firearm I am comfortable carrying, handling, and shooting. While traveling, I try to be aware of my surroundings and not put myself in vulnerable situations. But Sunday morning, when a homeless young man showed up on my porch asking for a drink of water, my heart overrode my brain and I invited him inside for breakfast.

He couldn’t have been more than 20 and he had a heavy pack and a long road ahead of him. It wasn’t just hot; it was MISSOURI sticky-sweaty-humid-as-hell hot. When I went outside and handed him a couple bottles of water he was very grateful and thankful for my offering and as I watched this kid turn back toward the highway, it never crossed my mind that this shaggy-haired tattooed kid with more than one piercing was a serial killer or an axe murder. All I saw was a kid who probably needed something in his belly and so I called after him, “Hey, are you hungry?”

After offering him a seat at the table, I made him a plate of biscuits and gravy, something to drink, salt and pepper, etc. His only request was a napkin which he placed in his lap. While he ate, I asked him where he was headed and if he had any family in the area. I didn’t want to pry. It was obvious this kid had a story, but it isn’t my story to tell. He ate. He said very little.

Things really got interesting when I went to the bedroom to give my husband, Kevin, a heads that I was feeding a wayward stranger breakfast. He was not overcome by the warm fuzzy feeling of helping out our fellow man. In fact, I believe the emotion I identified reflected in Kevin at that moment was: completely pissed off. We had a rare and heated exchange in whisper voices:

Kevin: What in the hell were you thinking?

Me: I don’t know. What was I supposed to do, let him starve?

Kevin: NOT invite him inside the house would be a reasonable thing to do.

Me: I had to invite him in so he could eat biscuits and gravy.

Kevin: You know better!!! I can’t believe you.

Me: ….

 

In all my arguments with Kevin I end up sounding like a toddler, especially when confined to whispers. It is hard to really sell a good point in ‘whisper voice’. Kevin went into full protector mode talking briefly with the young man and seeing him on his way, all the while keeping our .38 in his pocket. He made sure the kid made his way down the highway and proceeded with the following: Complete perimeter check, locked and secured all doors, reviewed the security modus operandi with the kids for locking cars and doors, emphasizing the point that someone had breached security protocol and so we were all going to have to be EXTRA vigilant for the next few weeks (followed by an accusing stare at me for my reckless behavior).

I went about my day justifying in my own mind what I failed to articulate to my husband. Later that afternoon, I asked if he was still angry at me for inviting a potential murderer, terrorist, puppy kicker inside for breakfast. He assured me he was not mad, but I had to promise not to do it again. I was compelled to try and justify my actions and I probably should have just made my promise and kept my mouth shut.

Me: Kevin, I traveled thousands of miles around the world to feed hungry children in Africa! Do you think I could just let a kid starve on my front porch?

Kevin: Of course not, you invite him in and feed him biscuits and gravy. We will see what a good idea it is when he comes back and kills us in our sleep and steals all our shit.

Me: …..heavy sigh.

Kevin is right the world is a scary place and I could have very well invited danger into our home. I appreciate his ability to protect us and keep us safe. I do hope that in some small fashion he finds a way to appreciate the innate flaw in me that allows my heart override my head in some situations. The truth is, I am so caught up in my own crazy life I neglect so many opportunities to make a difference in the lives of others. My focus has gotten so blurred that it has become easier to see only what I don’t have and I have become blind and complacent to the abundance of my blessings. I hear the news, read the headlines, and I become consumed by all the things that separate us. I needed a reminder of the one thing we have in common; at the end of the day, we are all just human beings.

heartPerhaps the good Lord sent that young man to my door to remind me that I need to look for opportunities to lift up others around me. Perhaps, it was God himself coming to the door as a scruffy homeless kid to see if I would give him a drink or turn him away. Truly If nothing else, I can rest easy knowing that had I been chopped up by the biscuit eating guest, I would probably go to heaven (the way I am quick to anger, cuss like a sailor, struggle with envy and pride and occasional slothfulness I need all the help I can get)….AND if it was God testing us, I fed him biscuits and gravy and Kevin covertly held a gun on him while he ate them (I am still winning). We make a great team– I can try and save the world and he can try to save me from the world…and myself…and coyotes….and spiders…and BigFoot… I think this text he sent me says it all:

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The Maddening Voice of Maggie the Nav-Hag

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The Maddening Voice of Maggie the Nav-Hag

Jeep1My Maggie is hard not to love, although sometimes she is hard for me to handle. She is strong, beautiful, and almost as much fun with her top on as she is with her top off. From the moment I saw her, I loved her. She is my Jeep and she is special.   Last week, my husband had a navigation system installed into Maggie. This brought about some changes. Not only can Mags and I find our way back from any adventures we may take, but now she can talk!

I have little patience for technical configurations which require a great deal of detail and/or time, so I hit the highlights. The only setup option I gave careful attention to was the voice selection. A female voice was the obvious choice. Maggie is a badass, but exclusively in the feminine sense. Listening to each accent and language choice, I settled on a soft voice with a pleasing British accent. (Please apply a soft female voice with a pleasing British accent to Maggie’s dialogue in the remainder of this story).

The next day, I decided to drive Maggie to work in St. Louis, a jaunt I usually reserve for the smaller economical and nameless Chevy Cruze.   I didn’t want to have to listen to Maggie’s directions the entire trip, so I dialed in just a short portion of the journey, so I could test out her new vocal capabilities. Just as I had anticipated, thing were off to a splendid start:

Maggie: In two miles, please turn left.

Me: Why thank you Maggie, you are very helpful.

Maggie: Please turn right and continue on this route for 26 miles.

Me:   You got it, Mags, whatever you say.

 

After her test run was complete, I settled in for the remainder of my drive to work. As I merged onto the four-lane highway, I set the cruise control to my customary 6 miles over the posted speed limit and hit the music shuffle on my phone. The music suddenly cutout and Maggie piped up in her pleasing British accent:

Maggie: You are over the speed limit.

Me: Excuse me, Maggie, did you say something.

 

Silence. I continue driving.

Maggie: You are exceeding the speed limit, please decrease your speed.

Me: Okay, Maggie. I appreciate your concern. Thank you.

 

I continue driving and several miles pass.

Maggie: You are over the speed limit.

Me: Seriously, Maggie, I know. It’s fine, really.

 

I turn the music up, reduce the cruise to 4 over the speed limit and continue driving. Surely she wouldn’t bitch at me for going four miles over the speed limit.

Maggie: You are over the speed limit.

Me: OMG, Maggie. You are really pissing me off. Shut up!!

 

Maggie: You are exceeding the speed limit. Please reduce your speed.

Me: I swear to God, Maggie, I am going to rip your throat out if you do not shut up!!!

 

I wasn’t familiar enough with the controls to reprogram her while I was driving, and so we continued down the highway; Maggie relentlessly nagging me about my speed in her soft voice with the pleasing British accent and me stubbornly refusing to comply with her polite suggestions. Eventually, I reverted to arguing with her in an unpleasant and hostile British accent:

 

Maggie: You are over the speed limit.

Me: And YOU, Maggie, are a daft cow.

Maggie: You are exceeding the speed limit. Please reduce your speed.

Me: Ahhhhhhh! Bloody hell!!!

 

After my trip with the Maggie the Nav-Hag, it occurred to me that I am the sort of person that might benefit had God thought to equip me with an automatic audible warning system. A backup system for when my mouth is over-riding my ass or my sound judgment system fails. Even the backup system probably wouldn’t have made much of a difference when I was younger. I am also pretty sure that it would not have been at all effective when I was in full ‘mama-bear’ mode NOTE: Mama Bear Mode is known as a state of being when one perceives that someone is being unfair or hurtful to one’s offspring, and mama-bear claws come out, fangs are bared and attack is imminent. However, I think I am at a certain age where it might compliment my developing restraint.FullSizeRender

There will always be situations which will try my patience and cause me to question the motives and authenticity of others. It seems that when human beings completely miss opportunities to positively impact the lives of others and go out of their way to tear individuals down, I find my checks and balances system failing. An internal audible warning system may be just what I need so save me from beating the proverbial dead horse; Maggie’s soothing voice in a pleasant British accent intervening in my head:

Maggie: You are exceeding the emotional limit. Please calm down.

Maggie: Your emotional reaction to his/her/their actions will not impact the current situation. Proceed with caution.

Maggie: Navigating the intentions of others is impossible. People have to be willing to change course.

Maggie: Please proceed to the route… stay the course… focus on the positive… repair the damage… be kind… be fair… be honest… be genuine… and SIT YOUR BLODDY ARSE DOWN AND BEHAVE!!

 

This really does seem like a novel idea to keep me in check. Perhaps if this was a standard feature we were all equipped with, life wouldn’t be quite so messy. I haven’t reprogrammed Maggie to keep her gob shut about my driving. It isn’t so bad having a reminder when I am not acting in my best interest or the interest of others. Besides, it is just a matter of time before Kevin Thurman, silences Maggie for good. He has two speeds, stop and fast; Ride or die, Mags. Ride or die.

Boom! Batman Pudding

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Boom!  Batman Pudding

My sister, Kim, is crafty and by crafty I mean she is good at doing domesticated things that result in a tangible product that is pretty, yummy or awesome (I didn’t want to give a false sense she is the ‘shrewd’ version of crafty). She can sit for hours and crochet afghans and she makes elaborate scrapbooks that are magazine worthy (craft magazine worthy, not like Vogue or Cosmo). She can also cook like Paula Dean, pull colors together in a room like a DYI expert and extract the perfect necklace from her closet to give my maxi-dress that little extra bit of snazzy to deflect its clearance rack from Target origin.

I am not crafty. I have tried to scrapbook and was put on tape-runner probation, from which I have never been released and the best compliment I ever got on one of my pages was, “That’s quirky.” I crocheted a potholder once at Vacation Bible School and it was supposed to be a square. Mine was the only lopsided oval-shaped potholder on display. My mom actually laughed at it and I was at that tender age when I needed her to lie to me and tell me it was beautiful (it was truly horrible). There was also the latch-hook kit that I managed to sit still long enough to put one whole row of brown little strings in, only to discover that I had “latched” it to the carpeting in the living room. With my deficit in such matters, I often look to my sister for direction in the domestic hurdles I face. She is the expert.

A few weeks ago, I decided to make banana pudding, only to realize I had no idea how to make it. I texted her and asked her how to make banana pudding. She sent back this message: bananas, vanilla pudding, vanilla wafers, and Cool Whip. That was it. I needed clarification and I inquired: so do I just mix it all up together in a bowl? She patiently sent me the step-by-step directions and I followed them to the letter. I sent her a picture of the finished product with a text that was supposed to read ‘banana pudding—nailed it.’ However, it was an autocorrected text that read: ‘Batman Pudding—Nailed it!’ and Batman pudding was born.

 

kimSometimes Kim isn’t patient with me. Sometimes Betty Crocker just flips her spatula. Once, we were driving home from our parents’ house and she says, “You better get gas.” I confidently blew her off and say, “Nah…I could go to St. Louis and back on this much gas.” Fast forward past three gas stations and onto the interstate—my car starts sputtering and dies. I say, “Oh my God something is wrong with my car!” (Wait for it….wait for it….) “THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU CAR YOUR (BLEEPING STUPID BLEEPING IDIOT!! YOU’RE OUT OF BLEEPING GAS!!!” It was dark. We were on the side of the highway and she jumps out of the car and starts walking back toward the last exit. Here is a brief overview of our walk back to the gas station:

ME: Kim, I am sorry.

Kim: Shut up.

Me: Wait for me. Just wait.

Kim: I said shut up.

Me: Just let me walk by you. I am scared.

Kim: You walk at least 10 feet behind me. You don’t deserve to walk by me.

Me: Kim?

Kim: Shut the BLEEP up!

Me: We should look at this as adventure.

Kim: DO NOT MAKE ME KILL YOU ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD!!!!

 

Kim had knee surgery last week and I went to her house to help out. I tried to help her with her exercises, tried to help her practice hopping on one leg (her good one) and I attempted to do a puppet show for her to help lift her spirits, which was not received well. She finally asked me to make her some Batman Pudding and I went home to whip up a batch. Two days later, I finally got around to making her some Batman pudding. I assembled the ingredients and went to work. I even took special care to crush up vanilla wafers to sprinkle on top. I tucked it away in the fridge and turned around to fine the bunch of bananas still sitting untouched on the counter. I hadn’t put a single banana in the Batman pudding. Batman pudding—instantly reduced to Robin Pudding. It’s just like me to turn an ordinary dessert into a superhero-dessert and then immediately downgrade it to a bland but trusty sidekick dessert.

 

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The people in my life have adapted well to my idiosyncrasies. I am the source of much frustration, anger and many heavy sighs to the people who choose to keep me in their lives. It is, however, with these same people I share much love, laughter and loyalty and I am blessed beyond measure to have so much joy channeled into my life. It is with relief that I have reached a season of my life where I have learned to be comfortable with myself and it is with immense gratitude that the people so dear to me allow me to do so. I am well aware that I drive folks bananas, which may come in handy if I ever make you Batman pudding!

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A Full Moon on Family Cove

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A Full Moon on Family Cove
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Leslie and Grace

There is a place where everyone at the Lake of the Ozarks goes to party. It is simply called ‘Party Cove’. It is a place of ill repute, where drinking is in excess, clothes are minimal and pretty much any form of debauchery goes. It goes without saying, that our ‘Party Cove’ days are essentially behind us. While vacationing at the Lake, we choose to frequent more a family friendly environment. It is simply called ‘Family Cove’.

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Me, Kevin, Garret, and Bobby

Our friends, Bobby and Leslie, have a house on the Lake of the Ozarks. We have been fortunate that they frequently extend an invitation to our family to share in the summer fun at the lake. We ride jet skis, paddle boat, swim, fish, and just soak up the sun. On one of our summer trips to the lake, we all piled into the boat and headed for an afternoon of relaxing in Family Cove.
Upon arriving at the cove, Bobby and Leslie recognized several other boaters. As is customary, the lines were tossed and the boats tethered together so make one huge floating vessel. There were several people in the cove whom I also knew, but most I did not. Boating folks are a very friendly bunch and it was quickly apparent that we were all welcome to join in the fun. There were several people already bobbing in the water on floatation devices, sunglasses on, and beers in hand. The kids were jumping from the decks of boats into the water, the life jackets bringing them quickly to the surface. Good, clean, fun in the sun; until it got ugly.

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Kevin, Tracy, Leslie, and Me

We had only been there just a few minutes and we had just tied up to the other boats. Most of our crew had already gotten into the water and were making their way to the others gathered in the front of boats. I, being extremely self-conscious of my swimsuit body, had hung back, waiting for an opportunity to slide into the water without being seen. I should probably point out that my hesitation and my body image issues had no doubt got the attention of that bitch, Karma. Based on the series of events about to unfold, I would have been better off doing a cannon ball off the bow of the boat into the unsuspecting crowd of lake people.
I had decided the coast was clear to enter the water and I headed for the back of the boat. Bobby and another guy I didn’t know were the only two people I could see and I decided to slip down the ladder and into the lake. My plan went off without a hitch…EXCEPT FOR THE FACT THAT IT TURNED INTO A FAMILY COVE SIDE SHOW!! My plan was to step onto the ladder facing out and sit on the first wrung and slide into the water. As I launched my entry, my swimsuit bottoms got hooked onto the ladder. I must have started to panic, because my feet slipped out from under me and I could hear and feel my swim suit rip. I wiggled and squirmed and I could not get myself free.
There I was–just hanging there. I was suspended from the ladder, face down and bare ass up, hanging by what remained of my bikini bottoms. Bobby was the first to be alerted to my unfortunate situation and he swam over and asked, “Karri, what are you doing?” (like I was purposefully hanging there with my ass in the air).  He was trying not to laugh, but I can only imagine what he was witnessing. It was funny.
“I’m stuck,” I told him, still just hanging there on the ladder with absolutely every shred of dignity dripping into the great expanse of the lake. Being a good sport (and probably eager to get this half-naked freak flag off his boat) , Bobby and his friend came to my rescue and they managed to hoist me up enough to untangle me from my snare and I slipped into the water.
My swim suit bottoms were in shreds and I had to tie the pieces together in the crotch and spent the entire afternoon in the water for fear of additional exposure. It was all so completely ridiculous and humiliating that there was nothing I could do but just laugh, because it was also hilarious. I was teased relentlessly: “She was only at Family Cove for five minutes and was showing her ass” and “Hey, Karri, if you were going to swing off the back of the boat without your bottoms on, you should have gone to Party Cove”.
Just like the girl with the little bitty teeny-weeny yellow polka dot bikini, I eventually had to come out of the water. I put my legs through the arm holes of a life jacket, and Kevin lifted me up into the boat, where I was able to find adequate cover. I think I was fortunate that not very many people actually witnessed my full moon over Family Cove (that is what I tell myself anyway).

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It’s hard to take myself too seriously after being suspended from the back of a boat with my rear end bared to the world. Body image is something I have struggled with my whole life and I know there have been many times I have let my hangups hinder me from enjoying life to its fullest. I am a product of the airbrushed generation and it has been difficult for me to accept the many imperfections that are me–physically and otherwise. The older I get, the more ripples, bulges, sags and bags there are to contend with each and every day. But the older I get, the more I realize that I only get this one life to live. I can either hide in the boat and miss out on making memories or I can hang over the water by my drawers and laugh ’til it hurts. One life–one chance–there is no time to spend hiding in the boat. Life is meant to be lived (but with my bottoms ON).

Watch for Falling Rock

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It was an ordinary road sign; A warning of caution for the possibility of ‘Falling rockRock’. For me, it was memory triggered—a story from long ago that resonates with the little girl I once was. It was a time when my heart was curious, untainted and not yet scarred cynical by the jarring of life’s potholes.

Before I was old enough to attend school and many summers of my youth, my grandparents took me camping. We would wind through the foothills and mountains of the Ozarks to lakes with names such as Wappapello, Bull Shoals, and Table Rock. We would ride in the cab of my Grandpa’s yellow Chevy pickup truck down the endless twists, turns, and hills of the two-lane highways. The windows would always be down and there was a worn spot in the floorboard where I could see the highway passing beneath us. There was always a pouch of Red Man tobacco in the side pocket of the door and a tin can just beneath Grandpa’s seat, which he used as a spittoon. The smell of the tobacco in the foil pouch is something so ingrained into my childhood that just typing the words creates an olfactory memory so strong it makes my heart ache. For me, getting there was a huge part of the adventure.

My grandparents, however, probably remember it a little differently. In fact, here are some endearing things I remember my grandma saying during our ‘adventures’: “You move around more than a worm in hot ashes.”

“If you don’t sit still, I am going to sit you out on the side of the road and I might not even pick you up on our way back through.”

And the number one thing that my dear sweet grandma liked to say to me is:

“You are worse than black chicken $hit. Has anyone ever told you that, because it’s true!” (Why yes, Grandma. I believe you told me that at mile-marker one-thirty-two. Right before you threatened to put me on the side of the road).

 

Evidently, I liked to chatter. Evidently, I chattered a great deal.   Grandpa would also eventually tire of my endless prattle and intervene right before grandma traded me to a band of gypsies for a one eared billy goat (her idea not mine). Grandpa’s most genius and long-standing method of stifling me on a road trip was telling me the legend of ‘Falling Rock.”

 

Grandpa: Poncho, can you read? (Grandpa called me poncho because I always wore a little blue poncho. It was the seventies.)

Me: Grandpa, I am five years old. Of course I can read.

Grandpa: Well, tell me what this sign says up here.gpa

Me: It says, “Watch for Falling Rock”

Grandpa: Do you know why that sign is there?

Me: I don’t know. Because rocks might fall out of the sky and land on us.

Grandpa: Don’t tell me you have never heard the story of Falling Rock.

Me: Tell me.

Grandpa: Are you sure you have never heard it? I thought everyone knew about Falling Rock.

Me: No! I haven’t! Tell me, Grandpa. Please!

Grandpa: Many years ago, there was a brave Indian Chief. He had a large tribe. He never had a son. He only had one daughter. He named her Falling Rock and she was the Indian Princess and was loved and adored by the entire tribe. The Indian chief loved her more than he loved anything in the whole wide world. Falling Rock loved to explore the streams and caves around her village, but one day when she was about….how old are you, Poncho.

Me: Grandpa, I am five years old.

Grandpa: Yes, she was just about your age. Five years old, maybe six at the time…well she wandered too far from camp and she got lost. The Indian Chief and the tribe and even other tribes in the land searched high and low for Falling Rock, but she was nowhere to be found. The Indian Chief spent the rest of his life searching for her and he put up these signs along the road to remind people to keep an eye out for his lost Indian princess.

Me: He is still looking for her?

Grandpa: Well, the chief died of a broken heart, but his tribe is still around here and they promised they would never quit looking for her. Do you think you could keep an eye out for her while we drive??

Me: Yes!!! I will watch for her.

Grandpa: You have to watch very closely and pay attention. She could be anywhere along here.

 

And so it was…I dutifully scanned the tree lines, the ditches, and passing barns for the little Indian Princess. This was our routine and we continued this way as we would wind down the Missouri highways. I held onto this notion of a lost Indian princess long past the point my logical mind knew better. It was something I believed in longer than Santa or the Easter Bunny. It was time and space and sights and smells that I longed to keep alive. Maybe that’s why I kept searching for her for so long. It wasn’t about finding the lost Indian girl, it was about preserving something fleeting that I knew was eventually going to pass.

It was an ordinary road sign.   Sometimes the ordinary things fill in the spaces of my heart in extraordinary ways.

What Lies Between the Hectic

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What Lies Between the Hectic

I am guilty. I live life too fast, take on too much and try to cram way too much activity into an incredibly small space of time. My mom used to say I went at everything half-cocked and half-assed, which is more or less true.
This weekend was an action-packed full-throttle weekend. Now it’s Monday and I am tired, my laundry situation is critical, and I am bummed because I missed two of my favorite little guys’ birthday party. However, I did manage to attend one day of a two day track meet, coach four basketball games, watch at least six more basketball games, cook one decent meal, discard another perfectly good meal by accident (sorry, Kim) and remembered to buy dog food and people food at the store yesterday evening.
I need balance. I have never had it. I am an unbalanced individual. My children are unbalanced. Most of our meals are unbalanced. My husband, Kevin, is the only thing consistently centered and balanced in our household. We are like a bunch of spastic little electrons spinning around him. He is our nucleus.
There are kids, dogs, cats, laundry, sports, and chaos happening all the time and there is always at least one person claiming to be on the verge of starvation at all times. I look around at other families at the youth sporting events and envy the collective manner in which they seem to have it all together. I imagine their dinners with foods from all the food groups, all the laundry folded and tucked away, and everyone waking in the mornings to the smell of bacon frying. It’s a far cry from my reality. In my world, pizza is counted as a healthy choice, even if it has zero veggies on it. The Thurman’s battle over the last clean towel before anyone would actually put of load in the washer and we usually start the mornings, with: “Oh $hit! (fill in the blank with any of the following:
a. We over slept
b. There is no more hot water.
c. The dog threw up on my pillow.
d. Does anyone know where my (track shoes, backpack, phone, hairbrush, etc.) is?

socksThis is NO LIE. Sophi has gone to school, not once, but TWICE without wearing shoes! She realized it when she was almost to school, but Kevin was getting onto Evan for one thing or another and so she chose to stay quiet. She hops out of the car in her socks, walks into school, and has the school secretary call me at work. The secretary said she had worked at the school for thirty years and had kids forget all kinds of things, but this was the first time she had ever encountered a kid who forgot to put on her shoes! (We Thurman’s like to set the bar really high). Sophi explained the situation, “Well, I put my shoes by the door and I grab them when I go out the door. Sometimes my ‘go’ gets ahead of my ‘grab’.”
Riley, my oldest, called to say she was coming home from college yesterday for an impromptu visit. This kicked me into ‘Mom mode’ and I went to the store to get people food (and dog food) and threw together a meal that included almost all of the food groups. Right before I finally closed by eyes last night (actually, it was early this morning before I got to close my eyes), I reflected on the best parts of my weekend. I concluded these were the best parts:
ariley• Snuggling with Riley and watching a movie long after I should have been asleep.
• Seeing my crew of young girls come together as a team and win will grace and lose with grace.
• Laughing at my son, Evan, as he entertained us with his unique and totally inappropriate sense of humor.
• Celebrating Kevin coaching Sophi’s team to a sweet tournament victory.magic
• After calling Kevin a maniac for tickling me until I screamed, he calmly asked me to give him a definition of a ‘maniac’. After my in-depth definition of a ‘maniac’, we lay there in silence for a few seconds. Realizing that I had just described myself to the letter, we both burst into laughter.
sophevanLike so many families, we are constantly on the go. We often let our ‘go’ get ahead of our ‘grab’. Sometimes, it seems like life is lived at a frantic pace, but I know better. There are those things found in the moments between the hectic that really count. The snuggles, laughter, love and smiles are the moments that matter. More time is something I wish for, but I have found I don’t really need more time; I just need to carve out more moments between the hectic.