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Let’s Get Caught Up, Shall We?

I have so much to tell you about this Summer.  About my art show and all the people who came.  It was not unlike attending my own funeral (in the nicest way).  People drove in from far out-of-town.  Friends and neighbors and acquaintances all poured from the woodwork in support of my nutty midlife crisis.  It was beyond lovely.

And I ought to spend 5 paragraphs at least thanking Dave who not only told everyone he met for the last 6 months about his crazy-wife-the-artist-and-here’s-her-business-card.  But then he listened to me fret about the vulnerability of showcasing my pieces. “What if they laugh at me?” What if no one comes?”  He never once rolled his eyes.  And then he showed up the day of the show and helped to set up so that I wouldn’t have to get hot and sweaty and “ruin my hairdo”.   He showed up that day and all the days before.  I suppose that’s marriage.  Showing up.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about this stage of my life.  I’m newly forty, happily married with two kids who like me most of the time.  I think people in my particular life phase can get complacent because things are pretty easy.  The kids can shower and dress themselves.  Heck, they even empty the dishwasher and put away their clothes most days.  But I’m hearing rumblings from fellow parents with kids a bit older than mine (William is 10) that things are about to get hard.  And then, to reinforce this message, I hear a program on NPR that says that the most stressful time in most people’s lives is the period where they’re parenting teenagers.  It’s the time period where couples most often get divorced. (What?!)

I imagine it’s like the adorable, fluffy puppy you’ve grown to love suddenly starts biting you.  Except with kids, a shock collar is not an option.

I’ll admit, I’m terrified.  Not “worried”, not “concerned” – terrified about what’s to come.  I did not navigate my teen years with anything resembling grace.  How can I possibly guide someone else?

So, I did what I always do in these situations:  I bought 3 books.  The first “Parenting Your Adolescent” arrived today.  Hopefully, it will be full of comforting answers.

Meanwhile, Paige (who just turned 6 but has the maturity of most 30 year olds), leaned over during lunch WITH MY INLAWS last Sunday and politely said “Momma, I know babies are spawned after people get married, but how does the baby get in there? And how does it get out?”. First of all: SPAWNED? Has she been watching alien movies or something? Also, OMG WE’RE IN A RESTAURANT WITH YOUR GRANDPARENTS. I said “you know what babe? It’s kind of a long story, let me tell you after lunch”, AND SHE FORGOT to ask me after lunch.  Praise Jesus and all the wise men.

So I’ve ordered ANOTHER BOOK about sex and babies and how to talk to someone who is 6 years old about these things.  Please bow your head with me and pray that it arrives before Paige remembers to ask me about it again.  I know to “speak in plain words” and “don’t give elaborate information”. Beyond that, I’m clueless.

These are the things I worry about lately.  Not turning 40 and getting wrinkles and suddenly not being able to see (although, DUDE, I suddenly cannot SEE… pass the reading glasses!), no, I’m worrying about how to navigate the treacherous road of The Sex Talk with my wee first grader.  And I’m worried about how to stay married to my husband while (stressfully) parenting teenagers.  Even though my kids won’t be teenagers for several more years.

So there.  We’re caught up on me.  How are YOU?


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Tumbling

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A few weeks ago Paige started her summer gymnastics program.  She participated last summer, but I made the decision to pull back from activities for her first year in school so as not to overwhelm her (and me, if I’m being really honest).

The gymnastics studio is made is such a way that the parents can spy on the wee ones through a one-way mirror.  It’s brilliant except that the mirror is small and thus, we mothers jockey for prime viewing position guarding our toes for surely they’ll be stepped on a time or two by over-zealous parents.

I watched Paige stand next to her peers as they all did simultaneous cartwheels.  Well, the *other* girls did cartwheels.  Paige? Paige did what can only be described as “falling with style”.  Imagine a boulder breaking loose from very tall cliff.  That.  That is what Paige did.

I watched and worried.  It was clear that missing a school year of gymnastics had left her at a real disadvantage.  She was drastically behind the other girls.  I watched her face for signs of frustration.  She’s very observant, and I assumed that any minute she’d realize how dismal her performance was and burst into tears.  She’s a burst into tears kind of kid.

But she managed to get through her first class without an emotional outburst.  I hustled her into the car and thought I’d probe her about her feelings while we were driving.  It was quiet, we were alone, and sometimes I can get more out of her when we’re not face to face.

So, I glued on my most chipper mommy-voice and asked how she liked gymnastics.  Paige was quiet for a beat, then she inhaled deeply and said:

“Momma, I think I’m probably going to be in the Olympics”.

Aside from being hilarious, this one interaction showed me how very different this child is from her mother.  I think I’ve always been full of doubt.  God, what I wouldn’t give for one moment where I was convinced that anything was possible regardless of ability.  Dang, Paige.  You go girl.  You go be in the Olympics, kid.


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I Blame the Moon for All of It

Hello blog! I missed you!

This week we’ve had something called a blood moon.  Sounds like title to a Dean Koontz book doesn’t it? But it’s not.  It’s a lunar eclipse!  One where the sun’s light shining through the earths atmosphere reflects off the moon creating an orange-red color on the full moon.

I find things like lunar eclipses interesting.  Mainly because I’m convinced that they make humans act wacko.  No, I am not one of the many who declared the blood moon to be a sign of the End Times, I just think lunar events make people act weird in general.

Which is why I wasn’t all that surprised on Tuesday evening when a man exposed himself to me in the parking lot of Lowes.

Yes.  You read that right.

I was pulling into the parking lot via the “back way” (I take a neighborhood street to get there and thus, avoid the traffic on the main roadway).  As I was circling around the parking lot in my car I glanced over in time to see a man getting out of his 2 door sedan.  At least I *thought* he was getting out.  He was turned sideways with both his feet planted on the ground, as if he were getting ready to hoist himself up out of the car.

But then I noticed that he was petting a small animal in his lap.  Except, yeah, that wasn’t a squirrel or a kitten.  He was, well, how do I put this delicately? Let’s say it this way: had it BEEN a squirrel, he would have been REALLY petting it.  Like, I would have had to call animal control or something.  Because: SQUIRREL ABUSE!

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that I clutched my pearls and shrieked.  Then I called the police and reported him.

And then I went on about my day while quietly blaming the moon.

 

ps: Susan’s reply when I texted about all this: “Wow, he really gets off on home improvement”.

 


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Dog Day

So, after 14 years, my doggie died last November (Thanksgiving weekend! With a house full of guests! Woo!).  After 14 years of having a little animal in my home, it has been quite an adjustment to live without him.  I still (still!) look for him when I walk into the house after being away.  And every time it gives me a little pang of sadness.

Dave never did like our dog much.  When he looked at him all he saw were vet bills, unneccessary fur, and land mines of poo in the backyard.  He had a point about the fur.  Parker shed like it was his job.

So when it came time to start thinking about a new dog, I had some serious parameters.  First and foremost: Dave has to like him.  No point in having an animal under our roof if one of us despises it.  In addition, I’ve determined that I cannot have another dog that sheds.  The fur on everything just about kills me.

After doing tons of research, we determined that a “Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier” is something that might appeal to us.  And it just so happens that our friends own a rescued Wheaten and they were kind enough to let us borrow him for the day.  It was like a doggie test drive!

Rumble

“Hullo. I am adorable”

And gosh, he was great.  Everyone loved him, even Dave.  We returned Rumble (a dog named Rumble! Cute!) to his owners this evening and all of us agreed that he was the perfect dog.

So that settles it, right?  We’ll rescue a Wheaten and live happily ever after!

Well, except that I came home and immediately vacuumed, and then mopped every inch of my floors.  What I realized today while Rumble was here is: Dogs? Are kind of disgusting.  I suppose after 14 years you get used to them, but now that I’ve lived without one for a few months I’ve gotten used to clean floors!  Dogs walk around in all kinds of ick and then track it into the house, ya’ll.  And their fur is like a swiffer picking up all sorts of debris and dragging it inside.  Leaves, sticks, BUGS.  And don’t even get me started on the licking-of-parts.  Ew.  And then there’s the water bowl slobber trail.

Having a dog makes me a manic house cleaner.  And since Parker died I’ve slacked off.  I only vacuum occasionally now (I had to vacuum every day with Parker or the dust bunnies morphed into dust PONIES).

I suppose I could let this dogs-are-filthy epiphany dissuade me from owning another animal, but anyone who has ever loved a dog will understand when I simply justify things by telling myself that a dog will make me a better housekeeper!

Because not having a dog is not an option.  Duh.

 

 

 


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Why is it so Hard to be a Cool Mom?

It’s spring break.  Which, for us, means extra togetherness with no exciting trips or events planned.  Since my kids only attend school on Monday and Wednesday we tend to take trips during the off-season and avoid crowds.  Thus, spring break is simply a long string of days filled with extra television watching and trampoline jumping.   Maybe an occasional playdate thrown in to break up the monotony.

This morning I woke up and decided, completely on a whim, that I would take the children to a brand new YMCA about 30 minutes away.  It’s got some sort of water park inside complete with a lazy river and a multi-story slide.  Since I’m not a member of the Y, I called to inquire about a day pass.  The lady on the phone said it would be $20 and that the pool was open and not busy.  Score!

And this is where things got hard.  First, I had to explain the plans to the children.  Since we rarely do ANYTHING on a whim, it took a full 10 minutes to explain what it was we were doing and why we were doing it.  My simple “We’re going swimming in a neato indoor pool with a SLIDE” was not nearly enough information. Here is a sample of the questions I was peppered with:

  1. where is the pool? (why does it matter? are they concerned about gas mileage? they have no sense of time or direction so why do they care?)
  2. who will be there? (I have no idea. How would I possibly know the names and occupations of anyone who may be in attendance at a pool we’ve never visited?)
  3. will it be crowded? (by the time we get there? probably)
  4. will the water be cold?
  5. will other children “be splashy”?
  6. do I get to wear my goggles?
  7. will there be things to eat there?
  8. what if I get hungry?
  9. what if I get thirsty?
  10. do I have to wear shoes

I want you to know that I handled these questions with aplomb, all while chivvying them toward their swimsuits and towels.  We managed to make it out the door in less than 15 minutes, which left us the half-hour drive in which to speak about every possible scenario we might encounter at the Mystery Pool.

By the time we arrived I was patting myself on the back for not losing my temper because OMG IT’S JUST A POOOOL HOW HARD CAN THIS BE TO UNDERSTAND??

Deep breath.

When we walked in, the dude at the registration desk (who was not happy to be at work today and wanted me to know it) looked at me with a deadpan stare and said “You do know the pool closes at 10am right?”.  It was 9:25am.

I should just end the story there so you can laugh at my pain, but LO IT GETS WORSE.  I decide that I will pay the $20 to swim for 30 minutes because I have endured the Ortloff Inquisition to get here and BY GOD WE’RE GOING TO SWIM.  Deadpan Dude says we’re welcome to come back at 6:15pm and swim for another 90 minutes at no charge. (How kind!).

We speed-walk to the pool and are immediately approached by a chipper lifeguard to tells me that no child is allowed into the pool until he/she passes a swim test.  And hey! There’s a swim test going on right now! So I rip clothing from my children and shove them into the water.  William passes.  Paige fails (and dear heavens, nearly drowns for trying).

9:36am: Paige cries for a good 5 minutes about having to wear a life jacket.  I am told I must be in the water and arms-length from her at all times.  I wasn’t planning on swimming.  I take one for the team and get in.  Paige is still sobbing.

9:45am: Paige has pulled herself together.  Follow William and Paige up the 3 flights of stairs to the top of the water slide only to be told that children in life jackets cannot slide.

9:50am: Follow Paige down 3 flights of stairs, past dripping children in line, all while she sobs and sobs.

9:52am: Get in lazy river with Paige where she immediately declares this is the BEST THING EVAR. (!)

10:00am: Whistles blow announcing the pool is closed.  Paige sobs again.

10:05-10:17am: Wait, shivering, for a “wet change only” dressing room so that we can remove our bathing suits.  Try to assure children “we’ll be warm in juuuust a minute”.

10:25am: Drive half hour home, change clothes, tell children they can watch a cartoon, crawl back in bed and wonder why I got up at all this morning.  Ponder if it’s worth it to drive back at 6:15 for more torture swimming.

 


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How I Became an Accidental Artist

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Six months ago I’d never painted anything on a canvas.  Ever.  Now? I’m an artist.  An artist who sells paintings for actual American dollars.  No one is more surprised than me. I’ve been wanting to tell you how this happened.  How I accidentally, and without really trying, became an artist.  But gosh, the story doesn’t read well.  Because I want you to hear the wonder and excitement and THRILL in my voice.  And you can’t.  So, you’ll just have to read this and imagine that I’m sitting in front of you with my hands clasped tightly together under my chin.  And imagine my voice being all breathy and my eyes really, really big.  Also, I’m smiling.  I cannot for the life of me stop smiling.

Let us begin.

On November 8th I was scheduled to attend the 40th birthday celebration for one of my life-long friends.  My maid of honor for life.  The celebration was in Dallas and Dave and I had a whole weekend planned.  Just the two of us.

And then my kid got the flu.  On November the 8th.  Which is really early for flu season, but my kid is the valedictorian of the flu.  In fact? This particular bout with the flu marked his THIRD time to get it in 2013.  Yes! Like I said, valedictorian of the flu.

So we couldn’t go.  And whoa there were tears.  By me.  So, on a whim, I bought myself some paint and a pack of 5 canvases at the craft store and decided I would paint my friend a Meaningful Painting.  One that she would keep forever and would tell people that her dearest Rita painted it for her.  (I’m nothing if not dramatic).

And so I painted.  And? It was spectacularly awful.  Like, seriously hideous, y’all.

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So I tried again.  This time was a wee smidge better.  So I instagrammed a photo of the painting.

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And here’s where The Weird began to happen.  People wanted that painting! A friend called that very day and asked if I’d do a larger piece for her dining room.  And do you know what? I said SURE as if I KNEW ANYTHING ABOUT PAINTING.

Because I am insane.

And then? A few weeks later, I ran into another mom from school in a store I never go to.  She said she was an interior designer and asked if I would do some paintings for an upcoming show.  AND I SAID YES AGAIN.  AS IF I WERE AN ARTIST OR SOMETHING.

The show was December 1st and I sold 4 big paintings.  And then MORE people heard about me and MORE people saw paintings on Instagram and then MORE people wanted paintings.

Pretty soon, STRANGERS were wanting paintings. WHAT IN THE WORLD??

So, on December 26th, 2013 I opened a little etsy shop.  I sold my first painting within minutes (thanks Stephenie!).

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Since then, I’ve had to figure out postage (I have a FedEx account now… I am totally Big Time!) and I’ve made friends with the dude at the local box supply store (turns out, the “baby crib mattress” box is excellent for shipping paintings).  I’ve created a make-shift logo and printed business cards and stationery and pretty mailing labels.  I even opened a separate checking account.

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In short, I’ve accidentally started a business.

I’ve never had more fun in my entire life.  Ever.  And it’s all thanks to Instagram.  Or Jesus.  Probably more Jesus.

ps: until I get a real-live gallery website, follow me on Instagram to see examples of my work.

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