Tag Archives: parenting

What Lies Between the Hectic

Standard
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.

I am Weak and the Devil Knows It

Standard
I am Weak and the Devil Knows It

 

I have hang-ups.  In the category of food, I have MANY hang-ups.   Saturday morning I awoke and abruptly decided to quit drinking soda.  This proclamation came out of the blue and with zero planning or forethought (which is how most of my ideas originate).  I have been drinking diet soda for as long as I can remember.  My mom gets her feathers ruffled when I tease her that she weaned me off of the bottle and straight to Diet Rite cola.  Truthfully, I don’t think it was quite that early, but I developed a taste for saccharine at a very young age.  Eventually, my palate matured and aspartame became my cola sweetener of choice.   So many things have changed over the years, but my addiction to caffeine, aspartame and the carbonated sensation has remained solid; unwavering.    As Day 4 of my pilgrimage toward a life without soda comes to a close, I am exploring tactics in which to successfully avoid falling off the wagon.  The following are some of the tactics I have used in the past to compensate for my food “hang-ups”:

1.  I lie.  This is a tactic I use to scare the people preparing my food into making it exactly as I order it.  I resorted to being a big fat liar after ordering things specifically, only to dig in and find a mouthful of what I find repulsive.  I am now regularly ‘allergic’ to mayonnaise, ranch dressing, blue cheese, olives, and sour cream.  I am always one bite away from a potential anaphylactic episode.

2I fib.  I fib about my hunger status.  My hunger could be so intense that my large intestine starts to feed on my small intestine, but if the baked potato is drowning in sour cream, I am suddenly stuffed! 

3.  I use my imagination.  There are certain foods that I insist  the devil himself cooks in the kitchens of hell (sinful bastard).   These include, but are not limited to: donuts and Mini Cadbury Eggs.  The devil knows my weaknesses and he tempts me with confections.  He is also solely responsible for hotdogs.

cadbury2My husband went with the guys to the St. Louis Bilikens basketball game and brought home a box of donuts from John’s Donuts.  ‘John’ must be short for ‘Satan’ because I just looked in the box and knew that he had had a hand in these baked goods.  As we were leaving for school and work the next morning, I told Sophi, “I cannot believe your dad brought those donuts home. Why can’t he just go to a strip club like other guys?”  Sophi looked at me and said, “You are kidding right?”  I laughed and said, “OF COURSE I am kidding” (I was kind of not kidding).

I have no other explanation for the Mini Cadbury Eggs addiction, other than cute little bunnies have been kidnapped and forced into the depths of hell to crank out these little wicked delights.  For the sake of these little bunny slaves, I try to abstain from partaking in the pastel nuggets of deliciousness.  However, about two years ago the Easter season brought an end to their availability and I panicked.  I bought two huge bags off of eBay.  The wages of sin is death.  It was almost death by Cadbury Mini Eggs for me.  I am a sinner.cadbury

There is no doubt that hotdogs are made in hell.  Not because I love them or find them delicious. In fact, the opposite is true.  I find them repulsive.  They are so utterly vile they must originate in hell.  That is the only logical explanation.

And so it is that I have completely digressed from the theme of this post.  It may be a side-effect from not having diet soda.  Most likely, it is a side-effect of being me.   Keep me in your prayers, as I am not only a freak about food, a liar, a fibber, and a believer in the notion that Satan is pursing me through confectionery enticements, I am now alone in the world without my one vice.  Should you happen upon a trail of crumbled donuts and empty Cadbury Mini-Egg Wrappers, bring me a cold diet Pepsi.  Falling off the wagon usually makes me really thirsty.diet

Consider this Can of Worms Open

Standard

acanofwormsThere are times when certain things get stuck in my craw and I can’t  manage to cough them up or swallow them down and so it becomes a festering burn.  The school basketball season is winding down and we are on the cusp of the traveling season.  A great deal of my time these past few months has been devoted to spectating youth basketball games and the next few months will comprise much of the same.  I love the game, I love the kids playing the game, but I despise some of the crap that comes out of the mouths of others.

I haven’t always resisted the urge to tell someone to sit down and shut the hell up (sometimes things bypass my craw altogether), but I have been working on tempering my kneejerk reactions to the ridiculousness of others.  Admittedly, I have engaged in verbal sparring with psycho parents from opposing teams.  Thus, I am, by all accounts from some opposing teams, a psycho parent.  I have made great strides in this department and am learning to be as docile as a kitten.  What I have witnessed recently, though, isn’t from the opponent’s sixth man.  The negative shots are being taken at our own team, by our fans (insert heavy sigh here).

Nobody hates to lose more than I do.  I had my Old Maid cards shredded by my parents for marking them when I was just four years old.  I have learned a lot since I was four.  I still have a lot to learn, but I know these things to be true:

  • I am not the one playing.  My child is.  I need to let her play (run, foul, lose, win….)
  • I am not the coach.  Let him/her do the job.  I wouldn’t want him/her to show up at my workplace and scream at me about what a shitty job I am doing.
  • I can see when my kid screws up.  I can see when other kids screw up.  I wouldn’t find it gratifying or necessary to verbally announce a botched play by another player.  I don’t need other spectators to recap her blunders either.
  • I am not raising a professional athlete.  I am raising a child.  It’s a game.  It would be short-sighted for me to view it any other way.
  • Encouragement cannot be an afterthought.  It must be at the center of everything I project from the stands.  Yelling, “Oh, my God, Sophi.  Get your head in the game!” cannot be cancelled out by a follow-up attempt at a platitude.
  • Coaches and referees are not perfect.  They screw up.  We all do.  If there is a coach who is unfair or incompetent (and there are coaches who are both), it is an issue that won’t  be resolved from yelling the obvious from the stands.  Just like athletes, coaches will earn the respect he/she deserves.  The cream will rise to the top.
  • My child needs to get direction from the coach during competition.  If a player is looking in the stands for direction during a game, the cohesiveness of the team is being compromised.  I can help her fine tune her fundamentals in the driveway.

11-11-11 011

When Sophi was little, she placed third in the Elk’s Hoop Shoot contest.  She got a little trophy that I placed on her dresser.  A few weeks later, I found it buried in the bottom of her closet.  I asked why it was shoved in her closet.  She looked at me and said, “Because it was last place.”   There were only three girls in the contest.

Kids know the score.

Sophi having a rough meet at Championships

Sophi having a rough meet at Championships

As my child grows up, she will win and she will lose.  She will love and she will have her heart broken.  She will have disappointment and elation.  She will know success and she will know failure.  She will probably be betrayed by someone she trusts and she may learn to trust someone she thought she couldn’t. There will be those along her path who genuinely want to assist her in attaining success and there will be others who do not see her a worthy investment of time or effort.  I pray that she sees the value of cultivating the talents and strengths of others and always knows at the end of the day that encouraging one another in word and deed is the mark of a true champion.    I hope as the seasons of her life pass,  when she sees me on the sidelines, she will know that no matter what the scoreboard says, I will always be her biggest fan.

This is How We Roll

Standard
This is How We Roll

There are so many things I do that irritate my family. I sing and dance in the mornings…I can’t really sing or dance, but it doesn’t keep me from trying. My son has informed me on more than one occasion that he doesn’t like to ‘chit-chat’ in the mornings, so I am pretty certain that my song and dance routines put him over the edge. The other things I do which drive my family crazy include, but are not limited to:

  • I consistently send text message without getting right to the point.  Evidently, I should refrain from textual speak like I am initiating a conversation.  I have been instructed on several occasions to just “JUST SAY WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY!”

message4

message3

  • I concoct grand adventures the dogs supposedly go on when we are gone or sleeping.  Cooper, our Yorkie, has worked Intel for the FBI and also has been on Dancing with the Stars.  They must now know what it’s like to have an imagination stuck in overdrive.
  • I watch Finding Bigfoot
  • I tend to give them unconventional advice and useless information. (Please ignore my incorrect language usage)

message5

message2

  • I accidently break the rules (important ones).  Like bringing ammunition to school in a gym bag.

message1

It wouldn’t exactly be fair for me to take credit for all that is annoying.  These little darlings have a few little quirks that get under my skin as well.

  •  Nine out of ten text messages Evan sends me are on the subject of food or that he is officially starving.
  • Sophi doesn’t put a lid on makeup, toothpaste or deodorant.  (OMG this drives me nuts).
  • Riley always looks like a million bucks but leaves a DISASTER behind while getting ready (category 4 hurricane, this one is).
  • None of my children believe in the possibility of Bigfoot.
  • They all say, “We can tell when Dad goes to the store because he buys good food” (donuts, chips, candy, cookie dough….)
  • The NUMBER ONE thing that is maddening beyond words:

roll

I wouldn’t trade them for the world.  It isn’t perfect, it’s just how we roll.

 

 

 

 

 

The Broken Swan this Side of Heaven

Standard

20140223-195005.jpg

My family had to say goodbye to a fantastic lady today. After 95 years, my grandmother, Violet Stephens, ended her journey on this earth. This special lady left this world just as a person of her caliber should have—surrounded by people who loved and adored her. I wasn’t there when she passed, but I did love and adore her. I was fortunate that she spent the last year living in the nursing facility where I work. So, I got to see her and hug her and kiss her anytime I want. She was precious.

The truth is, she wasn’t even my biological grandma. I was a step. Sometimes that can be complicated. I was 13 years old when I became her grandchild and there was little else more complicated than I was at that age (except for maybe ages 15-19). It wasn’t complicated for Grandma. She just lumped my sister and me in with the rest of them and loved us like she had been there when they cut our cords. I would like to say it was because we were so special, but that wasn’t is at all. It was because she was special.

Grandma was a gentile sprit and kind nearly to a fault. She was the type of person who would go out of her way for other people and wouldn’t expect anything in return. She was someone I didn’t want to disappoint, because she was just such a doll. Once, when my sister and I were spending the night with her and my grandpa, she brought us a flashlight. She said, “Girls, I am giving you this flashlight so you won’t get lost if you have to get up in the night to use the bathroom.” I can’t really capture how endearing this gesture was. The bathroom was literally three steps outside the room where we were sleeping. The house was tiny and cozy and there was exactly zero chance of us getting lost. She was precious.

There was something I should have told Grandma and I didn’t. This isn’t like me at all, because I am pretty forthcoming about my plethora of blunders. I was sixteen and attending a family gathering at Grandma’s. Nearly everyone had congregated in the backyard and I had made my way to the sit on the front step. I was sitting next to a concrete planter that was fashioned into the shape of a swan. It was full of blooming red flowers and I casually reached up and put my hand around the beak of the swan. A good-sized portion of the beak broke off into my hand. Looking back, I know that Grandma would have just brushed it aside had I taken the beak to her and told her what had happened. But I didn’t. I did what I sometimes do in sticky situations–I improvised. I used the gum I was chewing to stick the beak back into place. I am normally not a good secret keeper, but I kept this one for a long time.

Twenty-six years have passed and as of yesterday, that swan with the bum beak was still sitting in front of Grandma’s house. I came clean to my sisters and my step-dad a few years ago and they have all teased me about telling Grandma I broke her swan planter. They never told either. I should have told her. It wouldn’t have mattered to her. It mattered to me.

A few months ago Grandma became very sick and we had to take her to the hospital. I went and sat with her until my aunts and uncles could get there. She was weak and barely able to stay awake or talk. Several times she opened her eyes and I would smile and say, “Hi there, Sleeping Beauty.” Each time that day she said the same thing to me: You aren’t my real grandchild. You aren’t my great-grandchild. You are a really great grandchild. She had never said that to me before that day and never said it to me again. I should have told her then I broke her swan.

At her funeral, my mom (who is a dynamic speaker) shared that my Grandma had left a note to her and my step-dad on a visit to their home about fifteen years ago. It was also something Grandma hadn’t spoken to them about before or since she left it. It was a request to have the following poem read at her funeral:

“Miss Me But Let Me Go”

When I come to the end of the road
And the sun has set for me
I want no rites in a gloom-filled room
Why cry for a soul set free?

Miss me a little-but not too long
And not with your head bowed low
Remember the love that we once shared
Miss me-but let me go

For this is a journey that we all must take
And each must go alone.
It’s all part of the Master’s plan
A step on the road to home

When you are lonely and sick of heart
Go to the friends we know
And bury your sorrows in doing good deeds
Miss me but let me go.

Author: Anonymous

My Grandma didn’t have many worldly possessions. She didn’t need many. She was content in her family, faith and community. I am a step. Sometimes that gets complicated, but I have decided to ask for the broken swan. I think it would look lovely on my porch with the flowers blooming and a broken beak. Moreover, it will serve to remind me to strive to be more like her. Maybe I can choose to focus on the good in people, to serve others more and to put God and family first. I get that wrong a lot of the time. She got it right. If I am entrusted with the planter, I hope Grandma knows it will be the most treasured broken swan this side of heaven.

20140223-195021.jpg

Parenting is NOT Like Pie-It isn’t Easy and Not Everyone Gets the Same Size Slice

Standard
Parenting is NOT Like Pie-It isn’t Easy and Not Everyone Gets the Same Size Slice

Today was one of those days, when I question my parental aptitude. It was a day of kidpiesecond-guessing my maternal competency and sorting through my stacks of ‘should’ve, could’ve wish-I-would haves’. There were many years that I would allow guilt (perceived or genuinely earned) to consume me. I would sling that heavy bastard on my back and lug him around with me. Several years ago I decided on a lifestyle change. With a steady diet of personal reflection and regular exercises in what can I learn from this, I have trimmed down the guilt-weight. With that being said, there are days like today when Guilt knocks me down and his stupid friend, Doubt, sits on my chest and I can hardly breathe.

My three children are so completely different from one another; it is almost a stretch to think they share any of the same genetic material. When my oldest, Riley, was born I could sit her in her highchair and clean the entire kitchen and she would entertain herself with little toys or finger foods. I could put Evan in his highchair and he would beat on it, throw things, or rock it so hard it would almost tip over. Sophi would stay in her highchair for about 2.7 seconds. Even when buckled in, she would Houdini her way out and be out of sight before I could turn around. From the naked mole rat stage to their current stages of development, they have been utterly dissimilar.

So when one child feels slighted by the attention, treatment, or overall parental nurturing, it is like a stake to my heart. I immediately feel compelled to justify my parental portions. Mentally I start making note of the pieces of my love, discipline, and attention. I become totally aware that there are absolutely no ‘do-overs’ in this life and there is a good chance that I need a flippin’ do-over. The pieces of my pie are not cut and served in three identical portions. I screwed up serving my parenalt pie. Doubt is sitting squarely upon my chest.

I have been trying to get a good foot-hold on this parenting gig for over 22 years now. The mistakes I have made are many and being double-teamed today by Guilt and his fool-ass friend, Doubt, is a crappy way to start my week. There is a lot of week that I have to get through and there is a lot of fight left in my imperfect mom-self. It is time to pick myself up and dust myself off and own this Mom-thing. So, I might go down, but I am going down cutting this pie the best way I know how.

What I want my children to know:

1. I am so far from perfect that if you could buy parents, you would probably find me at the Ninety-Nine Cent Store. My love for you is not flawed. It is the best thing about me.

2. The decisions I make about your siblings is independent of the decisions I kidsmake about you. I wouldn’t put diesel fuel in a car that runs on unleaded. It doesn’t work.

3. You didn’t come with a manual. I have done my very best to make you feel loved, safe, and adored. You are loved, safe, and adored.

4. Life is not fair. It is never going to be. I have not treated you equally. I have, however, loved you equally. It is the only perfect portion I have to offer. I will never waiver on loving you each with every fiber of my being. This will be true forever.

5. I am not perfect. You are not perfect. Your siblings are not perfect. Life starts to make sense when we can look past one another’s imperfections and focus on the ‘good stuff’. Sometimes you have to look for the ‘good stuff’.

6. My days are numbered. I cannot live forever. Love one another. Forgive one another. Keep one another safe. If I can leave one legacy, it would be for you to always share the love I have given you with one another. Life is too short to fight over pie.

A Swing and a Miss

Standard

 

There are very few parents capable of balancing the role of parent-coach.  In fact, I have been on a sojourn the last several years on learning how to be a supportive, positive, and less intense sports parent (I have come a long way).  My husband, Kevin, has coached my daughter’s competitive basketball team since she was in the fourth grade.  He is exceptional.  He knows the game, he knows his players and he knows how to treat our daughter, Sophi, like she is just another player on the team. Where I tend to be a little hotheaded, critical, and slightly maniacal, Kevin is patient, calm, and rational.

Over the years, he is shaped and molded his group of girls into a winning and basketball2fundamentally sound ball club and he has done so without acting a fool.  He doesn’t yell at the referees, he doesn’t throw his clipboard (although he did throw his pen ONCE), and he doesn’t engage his parents in negative banter about players, playing time or performance. He has only been issued one technical foul.  As part of my journey towards psycho sports parent transformation, I have learned to refrain from these once regular behaviors:

  • Calling or texting Kevin during a game to tell him my ideas for plays or defensive strategy.  He no longer takes my calls during games.
  • Yelling at referees when they are complete idiots.  I have developed a respect for the folks in stripes, even the blind ones with fluff where their gray matter should be.
  • Confronting offensive parents/coaches/coaches wives from the other teams.
  • I have changed my spirited cheering from Seriously?!; You have GOT to be kidding me!; If that is a walk, I can dunk;  Damn it, Sophi, Get in the Game; to the uplifting encouraging words of: Defense, ladies; Nice job; Get big defense; and Niiiiiiiiice!

Note: The inside of my mouth is often bleeding by the third quarter from biting my tongue, but I am a work in progress.

The finesse in which Kevin coaches is what makes the recent series of events blog-worthy.  basketball4Sophi had a rough game last week.  It was the school team, which means Coach Kevin was in the stands with the rest of the parents and spectators.  It was a home game and a decent size crowd for a girls’ game.  She struggled.  She managed to get a few shots off and pull down several rebounds but the rest of her game was quite messy.  She came off the court fully aware of the mistakes she had made and was probably already trying to forget the game in its entirety.  But Coach Kevin took a detour from his usual supportive route and recounted nearly every mishap.  The ride home from the game was tense.

Kevin’s recap of the game consisted of a verbal highlight reel of her blunders and bobbles.  Sophi and I rode in silence, both stunned by this critical recap from the usual docile daddy-coach.  I felt compelled to say something, but usually when I feel compelled to say something it turns out to be something inappropriate.  So, while Kevin ranted, I texted Sophi instead:

Me:      The hardest thing in the world besides losing someone you love is taking criticism. Don’t let this defeat you.  Build on it.  He is doing it because he loves you and  he believes in you.  It’s what drives him.  It’s like getting a shot when you are little. The shot hurts a little but not as bad as getting polio.

Sophi:     OK. You don’t make any sense.  What does my bad game have to do with polio?

Me:      Polio is bad.  Your game was bad.

Sophi: Wow

 A swing and a miss for Mom.basketball3

The week continued.  Sophi was quiet and withdrawn, Kevin stoic and silent.  The weather was grey and cold and as the snow accumulated, so did the snow days for the kids.  I came home one evening and inquired how Sophi’s snow day had been.  She replied, “Well, Dad did call me this morning and apologize for being so hard on me about the game.  It started out promising but his apology went off the rails.”  When I pressed her for details she complied:

Dad:    Hey, Sophi.  I just wanted to call and say I am sorry for being so     hard on you about the game the other night.

Sophi:  Ok, thanks, Dad.

Dad:      I really didn’t mean it was the worst basketball game I have ever seen you play in your entire life, I meant it was the worst one this season.

Sophi:    Okaaaaay….

Dad:       But, really, why did you have to throw the ball away???  Your passes were sloppy.  There were so many people there watching.  It was embarrassing.

Sophi:    (Thinking to herself) You have got to be kidding me???  This is his apology?

Dad:       So, anyway, I just wanted to call and say I am sorry and tell you that I love you.

A Swing and a miss for Dad.

After Sophi’s highlight reel of the apology, we were both laughing and shaking our heads.  We didn’t know exactly how to process this side of Kevin the Coach.  Sophi was laughing, but her walls were still up.  She wasn’t ready to forgive his trampling on her wounded ego.   The standoff continued.  After nearly a week of eye-rolling (Sophi) and stubborn silence (Kevin), I demanded reconciliation.  Kevin set out to make things right with his girl and according to him they had a ‘great talk’.   Considering the debacle he had made of the apology, I wasn’t exactly ready to take his word for it.  However, Sophi did confirm that he had made successful amends and was now back in his starring role of ‘Best Dad in the World’.

photo 4I wonder how much of Kevin’s deviation from his positive daddy/coach role was even about the basketball game.  His little girl is growing up.  The two of them have always been exceptionally close.  Lately, her attention has been further divided by her friends, her phone, dances, and her need to always be on the go.  Recently, a handsome young 17 year-old fellow has also emerged onto the scene (heavy sigh).  Perhaps, Kevin was consumed solely by Sophi’s less than stellar performance on the court, but it would be my wager that there was a host of other things fueling his frustration.  I am her parent too.  I feel the weight of the how fleeting these days actually are.  I, too, wonder how it is that more often I find myself left out of the huddle and forced into the stands as a spectator in her world.  I think as parents we all swing and miss sometimes.  We lose sight of what is really important.  When I take the time to reflect on all the laughter and love we have shared as parents and I look at the remarkable young lady Sophi is growing into, I have resolved myself to accept that my role is changing.  I sincerely hope Kevin recognizes his role in Sophi’s life is also changing, but is as vital as ever.  Girls never outgrow needing their daddies.  He might have an occasional ‘swing and a miss”, but when it comes to being a great dad, he hit that one out of the park!

 

 

The Ledgend of Big Kevin’s Green Hairbrush

Standard
The Ledgend of Big Kevin’s Green Hairbrush

I love my pillow, my Mineral Area Football League T-shirt, my blue sweats of unknown origin, and a white blanket that I lovingly call my ‘stink blanket’, but not because it stinks (please do not mistakenly refer to it as my stinky blanket, because I consider that highly offensive). Due to my propensity for being slightly quirky, my emotional attachment to a few inanimate objects will surprise exactly zero percent of people. However, revealing the odd relationship my logical, sensible, meat-and-potatoes husband has with his beloved hairbrush is perhaps another matter altogether.

For two decades I have shared my life with this strong, silent, giant of a man. We have hadahairbrush4 many ups and downs, laughter and tears, good times and bad but through it all one thing has remained constant—his green hairbrush. This simple grooming tool has stood the test of time and while its value to Big Kevin remains a mystery to our family, it is something we certainly all have learned to respect (sort of).

When the kids started getting to an age where they were able to get themselves ready in the mornings, trouble started brewing. Inevitably, one of them would carry the brush off to another bathroom and Kevin could be heard yelling, “Where is my hairbrush?!” There wasn’t exactly a shortage of hairbrushes in the house, so we all sort of blew him off at first. “Just use a different one,” we would rebut. He wouldn’t hear of it, “I DON’T WANT TO USE A DIFFERENT ONE! I WANT TO USE MY HAIRBRUSH!” Inevitably, he would go to the store and buy half-dozen hairbrushes and proclaim that anyone in the house could use any hairbrush, except his green one. Life would be good for a while, but then one of us would slipup and use his brush and forget to return it to its proper location and we would all be scrambling and blaming one another for the infraction.

ahairbrush3My oldest daughter, Riley, was blessed with an amazing mane of hair. She also sheds like a Sasquatch in full molt. She would often use Kevin’s brush to flat-iron her hair and leave wads of long strawberry blonde hair tangled in the bristles. “SOMEONE HAS BEEN USING MY HAIRBRUSH,” he would accuse as he extracted the hairs. We all know he hates for us to use it, yet like moths to the flame…

Let me clarify. Kevin is not a Type-A personality who has to have everything in its place like some sort of Sleeping with the Enemy character. I take his tools and don’t put them back. He can have his underwear and socks crammed in the same drawer and if the glasses are put in the cabinet up-side down, right-side-up or a combination of both, he absolutely does not care. This is what makes this random hairbrush OCD so baffling (and funny) to all of us. I have used his toothbrush on many occasions with not so much as a grunt or a growl from him. But the hairbrush–it’s sacred.

One evening several years ago, after the hairbrush had been tracked back to one of the kids’ bathrooms and Kevin reiterated the off-limits hairbrush rule for everyone for the six-hundred and thirty-sixth time, Evan told Kevin, “You are like Larry the Cucumber with that stupid hairbrush.” He produced a YouTube video of Larry the Cucumber singing a dreadful song about losing his hairbrush. It was epic and quickly became Kevin’s theme song for times his brush went missing.  (You can watch Larry sing in the Hairbrush Song by clicking the link below):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LtHr7gluh08

This hairbrush is ragged.  Its once shiny green color is chipped and faded.  It has been burnt with a hot flat-iron (for which I have no comment), and the bristles are worn and frazzled.  It has been left behind and retrieved home.  Our family has fought about it, laughed about it, sang silly songs about it and spent countless hours looking for this old green hairbrush.  As our 19th wedding anniversary approaches, I realize how I am not so uahairbrush1nlike this raggedy old brush.  I am scarred, sagging, wrinkled, and frazzled, but Big Kevin is still hanging in there with me!  I know that I am not the shiny young thing he married so many years ago, but I know he still loves me.  I don’t understand why the man loves his stupid green hairbrush and there are many days I don’t understand why he loves someone as fallible as me.  All I know is that I am extremely grateful that he can value something seemingly so insignificant and I am also pretty okay with him hanging onto that silly hairbrush!

How My Teeth Ended Up at the Bottom of the Pool

Standard
How My Teeth Ended Up at the Bottom of the Pool

Many children go through an awkward stage. My awkward stage was of the extended variety. First of all, I was the fat sister. When shopping for jeans, I had to get ‘husky’ fit, whereas my dainty little sister had to get ‘super slims’ or something equally offensive to the husky sister. In addition to my childhood chub-factor, I had great teeth, that is, if I had I been a child of the woodchuck variety. In fact, my mom used to remind me to brush my teeth by saying, “Don’t forget to brush your bucky-beavers.” Is there really any wonder my self-esteem spontaneously combusted before I even reached puberty? By the innocent age of 10, my self-image amounted to one of a grossly obese bucked-tooth rodent. Nothing says fun for a bucktooth chubby girl like putting on a bathing suit and going to the public swimming pool. What can I say? Even fat bucktooth girls like to have fun, so when my friend, Nikki, (yes, I had friends) invited me to go, I went.Keeping the teeth behind the lips.

Nikki’s mom accompanied us to the public swimming pool and we got down to kids-in-the-summer-at-the-pool business. Splashing and swimming on the shallow end of the pool was fine, if you were a baby, but Nikki and I weren’t babies! Heck no! We were ten and we had to pass the ‘swim test’. The swim test consisted of swimming back and forth the 25- yard width of the pool under the watchful eye of the teenage lifeguards. Completing this feat without drowning granted us admittance into the kingdom of the exclusive (insert dramatic pause here)…the deep end. This was the time before we wore helmets or seatbeltsand we could play outside after dark. This was the age of a public pool having a low dive and a high dive!! A legally sanctioned ‘danger zone’ of sorts and we had a ball. We plunged from the high dive and flipped and flopped from the low dive. We did back dives, front flips, cannon balls and can openers; unaware that injury was just around the corner.

After my turn of going off the low dive, I had circumvented the ladder exit and opted to get out of the pool by stepping onto the gutter and hoisting my chubby butt out of the pool. Note: I can only speculate on two reasons for me to have chosen this way out of the pool. I was either too darn lazy to swim the rest of the way to the ladder or I was trying get ahead of other kids in the line for the diving board. Either way, I always tend to deviate from the customary route in life. It rarely ends well. This was no exception. As I was climbing out of the pool, my hand slipped and I fell back into the water, but not before catching my ‘bucky-beavers’ on the concrete lip of the swimming pool. I managed to climb out of the pool and I thought I had paint from the pool on my teeth because they felt weird on my tongue. However, when I opened my mouth to tell the super-cute head life guard, Jimmy, that I was okay, the wind hit the wet exposed nerves where my teeth had broken off and instead I howled like banshee! It was white hot blinding pain.atooth3

I am not really sure how Nikki’s mom was alerted to my dental dilemma, but I remember she was there telling me to keep my towel over my mouth. Before getting into her car so she could rush me to my dentist, I looked at my teeth in the reflection in the car window. Holy Mother of God, my bucky-beavers had been reduced to the jagged nubs of an aging opossum! I was hideously more hideous than I had ever been! I sort of started to panic and I wailed behind my clamped mouth, which held the stalactites that were once my teeth. Dr. Jackson, however, remained calm and despite my wet, wiggling, bawling self, managed to build me back a brand new set of ‘bucky-beavers’! Dr. Jackson—dentist to some, miracle worker to one.

 

My mother had arrived at the dentist office to bear witness to my latest adventure. Her relief to the restoration of my bucky beauties was nearly palpable, which lends credit to the old saying about not knowing what you have until it’s at the bottom of the public atooth2swimming pool. I was told I could eat or drink just like normal but I should avoid drinks like tea and grape juice, because they might stain the bonded parts of my teeth. My mom fixed chicken for dinner and as I bit into a chicken leg, one of the bonded teeth broke off and the saga started all over again (only I wasn’t in a bathing suit). Mom doctored me with Tylenol and pity and the next day Dr. Jackson rebuilt my tooth again and this time it was for good.

I am happy to report that I still have the bonded teeth that Dr. Jackson built for me when I was 10 years old. They have endured three sets of braces, several retainers, and a couple rounds of bleaching. Looking at pictures of my ten-year-old self for this blog post, I realized that I wasn’t fat. In fact, I wasn’t even a chubby kid. It is curious what things my childhood brain absorbed and molded into my reality. It is completely amazing to me the impact that buying into one bogus belief created a persona, which I have struggled nearly my entire lifetime to overcome. Leave it to me to try and shatter the stigma of being a fat kid, when I was never even actually a fat kid! Trust me; I didn’t need to invent reasons to be self-conscious. If your teeth stick out of your head far enough to catch on the lip of a swimming pool, that’s probably reason enough!

20 Questions-Quid Quo Pro

Standard
20 Questions-Quid Quo Pro

aquidI am freakishly weird and somehow I still manage to live a relatively mundane life.  Through my blog posts, I have shared real-life stories that usually emphasize my ‘quirky factor’ or my inclination to screw thing up.  I think it is time for us to get to know each other better.  I will answer a series of “getting to know you” questions.  Here’s the twist!  I want you to answer them too!  Take some time.  Answer one, a few, or all of them!  You can respond in the comments section on my blog, through an email, or you can really put yourself out there and post it on FACEBOOK!  I am so pumped to read your answers!

Question #1:  What is the first thing you do in the morning?

The first thing I do every morning is take my two spoiled adorable canines, Cooper and Piper, outside.  Priorities…it’s what’s for breakfast.

Question #2:  What is your biggest addiction?

My phone is my biggest addiction.  It’s my friend.  Sad, lonely truth such as it is

Question #3:  What is your favorite TV channel?

It is a draw between Discovery ID and Animal Planet.  I am warped in what holds my interest.  Mainly women flipping their $hit and killing someone and/or the pursuit of the elusive, albeit REAL, Bigfoot.  It’s the little things.

Question #4: What is the thing you are the most afraid of?

This would have to be losing one of my children.  I am not sure have the emotional fabric to rise above this one.

Question #5:  What celebrity annoys you the most?

This answer is an oxymoron.  The Kardashians are at the top of my list of annoying celebrities.  With that being said, I do not consider them worthy of the ‘celebrity’ descriptor.

Question #6:  If you were running for office, what would your campaign slogan be?

Vote Thurman! American Can Do Better…But Why Break Tradition?

Question #7:  What product would you refuse to promote?

I am fresh off watching Black Fish, a documentary about the ghastly inside workings of Sea World.  I have never been caught up in the Magical Kingdom of Disney and some of you will probably feel compelled to pray for the impending damnation of my soul for my stance against the iconic American theme park.  I didn’t say I would throw blood in Shamu’s tank or chain myself to the killer whale statue with dynamite strapped to my torso, but the revelations in Black Fish take me out of the running for endorsing or patronizing Sea World.

Question #8: If you could change one thing about your looks, what would it be?

The problem with this question is the narrow parameters!  The limit of ‘one’ forces me to select changing my height.  I would love to be taller and hopefully adding a few inches would cause several of my other unsightly flaws to straighten themselves out.

Question #9:  If you were a super hero, what would your powers be?

I am going to use the fact that the question is posed in the plural sense that I get to choose more than one!  Of course, I would be able to fly.  I would also have the power of invisibility.  Sometimes I randomly tell people at work and my family that I am invisible, with the hope that the power of wishful thinking will make it so.  Despite my best mental efforts, I am always plainly visible (insert heavy sigh here).

Question #10:  How many books have you read this year?

Three

Question #11:  Do you have any food hang-ups?

I have so many food hang-ups that even I have to recognize my ridiculousness.  I don’t normally eat white foods.  I hate sour cream, all salad dressings, cream cheese, mushrooms, fish, and beans (except green ones). I do like milk, but I cannot drink milk out of the same glass after someone (even someone I love with all my heart).  Diet Pepsi must be at optimum drinking temperature.  This category should probably be a stand-alone blog post.

Question #12:  Turn on your music shuffle, what are the first six songs that play?

                Kryptonite-3 Doors Down

Ain’t Nobody’s Problem-Lumineers

Send Me on My Way-Rusted Root

Walk in the Rain-Passenger

Linkin Park-Numb

Johnny Cash-Folsom Prison Blues

 Question # 13:  What was the last lie you told?

The last lie I told is also the one I tell the most frequently:  “I am almost ready.  I just need to brush my teeth.”  This actually means that I am about 15 solid minutes from being close to ready.  It is the cross I bear.

Question #14:  Do you have a collection of anything?

I collect coins.  Not the valuable rare variety, but the kind you throw in the bottom of your purse or in the ashtray of your car.  Loose change is not safe around me.  I swipe it off the kitchen counters, out of pockets in the laundry, and if left unattended on bedroom dressers.  I have a jar that counts the coins as I put them into it and I am a freak about filling up my jar!

Question #15:  Do you have any nicknames?

 My grandpa called me Poncho because I wore a blue poncho all the time.  Siri calls me “Sweetie” and I try and make Kevin    call me that as well.  It’s harder to get Kevin to stick with that one.  Siri seems to have no problem with it.

Question #16:  What is the last thing you purchased?

I went to the store before work and I purchased:  A fresh baby spinach salad with cranberries, Low-fat granola, orange juice (not from concentrate), Benadryl, and toothpaste.

Question #17:  What is a saying you say a lot?

                “I have absolutely no more shits to give.”

Question #18:  What is your favorite word?

                Catawampus

Question #19:  What is the worst injury that you ever had?

                A broken heart.

Question #20.  What is the first thing you would do if you only had one month to live?

I would help Kevin find a new wife.  She would have to meet the basic requirements of being funny, healthy, kind, smart, and love sports and my kids.  She also couldn’t be smokin’ hot. Basically, I would be looking for a 9 on the inside and a 5 or 6 on the outside. I am a human being, not a cell phone. I am not going to let him upgrade from a Nokia flip phone to an iPhone 5C!

Copy, paste, share, reply, tweet, email or post your own answers.  Blog it out people!!

https://heavysighsandsmiles.com/

karri.thurman@gmail.com