SCREW the SWEEPING –

I grew up in a clean home.  Even today, my mother is one of the most orderly and organized people that I know.  Every thing in her home has a place, and every THING is always in its place.  I have to admit, there are times when I envy her organizational skills, especially now that I have a family of 6 living in a small home.

Still, growing up in a very strategic and controlled environment has taken its toll on me.  I have regrettably, never been one of those mama’s who could just leave the toys out on the living room floor after the kids were done playing.  I don’t go to bed at night with a sink full of dishes, and have slowly, over time graduated to a simple, but diligent routine of cleanliness that I perform every day.

It’s pretty much always the same – and the ‘routine’ of it makes me feel very comfortable.  I drop the kids off at school, clean up breakfast dishes, start dinner, sweep the kitchen, living room, hallway and bathroom, vacuum the throw rugs, dust off things, put laundry in and bleach all the counters and disinfect the bathroom.  This whole cleaning process takes me about an hour, which really isn’t much in the course of a day.

The problem is when I don’t do these things, I feel out of sorts.  Once, I even posted the poem about a ‘messy house being a symbol of family happiness’ on my fridge to remind me that disorder and chaos would be okay.  (It didn’t work!)

I attribute a messy house to environmental chaos.  This probably has a lot to do with my upbringing.  When I am surrounded by environmental chaos, I have a difficult time doing my job (which is creative), relaxing, or being productive in my day.  It’s stupid, I know.  The kids – as they have gotten older have taken to sort of laughing at me, and call me OCD or anal.  “Geez mom, why does it matter if the floors are swept,” they will say in disgust when they seem me searching for the broom.

The other day, after reading a snippet from The Libertarian Homeschooler, shared by a friend on Facebook – it hit me how much my cleanliness was about control.  My environment is the one thing I feel that I CAN control on a daily basis.  The kids are all wild cards, and it is not my desire to control them in any way, but rather to support and love them.  All of the other people in this world are vehicles of their own free will.

The problem is most of the things that we claim to ‘control’ in actuality control us.

The house, the sweeping, the cleaning – is something that I can control.  It is also something that I have taken to defining myself by.  I have subconsciously fell victim to generalizations such as “A good mom has a clean home!”  I worry if the house was a mess, it would look like I am not doing a good job at being a work at home/stay at home mom.

And, the energy and time spent cleaning helps me to blow off steam and generally vent nervous energy that is cooped up in my brain.

However, I decided after reading the snippet, that I had to be able to ‘let go’ of the clean floors and perceptions of environmental chaos so that I could enjoy my life a little more.  So I said, “SCREW THE SWEEPING” and refused to pick up a broom for the entire weekend.  Every time I saw cookie crumbs and pieces of dirt, I resisted my instinct to lift feet and clean underneath them – and instead chose to ignore the incidental messes.

By Sunday evening, the house really wasn’t a mess.  At all. 

The world did not end.  (Much to my surprise!)

I did not need a Xanax to keep my nerves in order.  (Either that or my perception had altered a little).  I didn’t feel jittery or uncomfortable, and realized that taking a break from the so-called and chosen duties of being a stay at home mother was liberating.  I gave up control – and realized that everything was still absolutely okay.  Instead of being resentful that I am always the one cleaning and tidying up, I enjoyed just being with my family and not worrying about the residue that results from 4 pairs of feet LIVING in my home.

Yes, stupid insight from something as trivial as sweeping, I know.   But 15 years as a stay at home mother ALTERS your sense of reality!  And hopefully, now I can learn to focus my attention on things that are more important to me personally.

What Do Bumbo & Momspirational Have in Common? Lessons in Common Sense and Responsibility

We’re both being sued.  :(

Okay, let me clarify.  Momspirational is not being suedAnd I am personally, not really – in the see-you-in-court-and-take-all-your-money sense of being sued, being sued. 

But a crazy lady who lives up the street from me, did have an attorney (Who I think is probably a friend of hers, although I cannot imagine this lady has friends) send me a demand letter for $85.00.

Here’s the scoop?  On July 4th  - just as I was about to leave the house to attend a parade that my children were in, a 60ish old crabby lady came riding down my street on her bike.

Realize that my street has no shoulder, no sidewalks, and is literally caressed with woods on every side of the road.  People drive like 80mph down my street, and there are some pretty bad turns by my house where people have been killed in accidents.  (Probably trying to avoid idiots who ride their bikes on this part of the road)

We happen to live on 67 acres of this land.  And when she rode her bike down the street, my dogs – doing what dogs do….barked.  And barked.  And barked.   (The mean and aggressive dog that I own was barking from inside his dog pen because we have to keep him locked up)

So idiot does what any sensible person does, right?

She leaps off her bike right in front of my house, in my driveway in fact – un-holsters her BEAR spray (Yes,BEARS PRAY) and sprays our huge, but amazingly friendly Great Pyrenees.

Only, the plan backfires, and the spray hits the wind and hits her instead.  She called an ambulance and the police.  The police called animal control.  Meanwhile, Gator (My Great Pyrenees is nowhere to be found), and I am standing in the road with a crazy, and I mean C.R.A.Z.Y person.

So, now months later – she is suing me for $85, for damages to her bike and likely to replace her $62 bottle of BEAR spray.

Okay – no big deal, right?  I am reasonable person – and I will pay crazy her $85, because my dog frightened her and made her spray herself with Bear Spray. I understand that had she not been afraid of my dog, she wouldn’t have sprayed herself with Bear Spray – and subsequently damaged her bike. I also understand that our Great Pyrenees is like 130 pounds and could be perceived as threat.  I get all of that!

My QUESTION IS – Whatever happened to common sense, responsibility and courtesy?

First of all, we only live a few miles apart.  We are ‘neighbors.’ right?

Even while she was OFFENDING me in my own driveway by acting as if my home, where I LIVE with my family, was the scummiest place she has ever laid eyes on, I offered to take her and her ‘alleged’ broken bike home.

I apologized profusely and even tried to offer her advice about better places in the area to ride a bicycle.  Certainly, if you feel the need to troll around with bear spray, you might be on the wrong road, right?  (BTW – No Bears here in western Georgia).

I explained that I personally wouldn’t walk, ride, or run down our road because there are dogs, and deer, and wolves and coyotes everywhere – just waiting to take a bite or scare the hell out of CRAZY people.  (Her response – was that she should be able to ride her bike where she damn pleased)  So watch out for this crazy person on the interstate, where she might likely be riding next.  

I told her on the spot that I would be glad to pay for damages (okay, well not GLAD, but you know the spiel), while she threw her finger in my face – almost touching my nose and actually slinging a little spit -spewing lies and hate.  I composed myself despite the fact that this woman thought she was better than me in nearly every way a human can be better.  

I gave CRAZY my phone number.

So, why doesn’t CRAZY just call me and tell me that she has a receipt and that she wants me to pay her for ‘damages?’  Why get a nasty lawyer, who didn’t even graduate from an accredited law school to send me a letter?  Why not handle herself like an adult and assume FIRST that I will be a responsible and reasonable adult.  Then, if I don’t – hire a lawyer.  And honestly, what lawyer can you retain for damage claims of $85.

Same thing with Bumbo.  I personally loved the Bumbo seats. (No, they aren’t paying me to say this)

My kids never got hurt using one, because I never left them on countertops or near fireplaces, or decided to go in another room and have sex with my husband while my infant was in a Bumbo seat.

Let’s be real – when you got a little baby, the potential for danger is literally everywhere.  Which is precisely why – everything baby comes with the SUPERVISION REQUIRED warning.  Common sense says don’t use a Bumbo in the bathtub – don’t use it as a car-seat, don’t leave your child on a tabletop, or put the Bumbo on the countertop RIGHT next to the stove while you are frying chicken.

Where the heck has common sense and simple decency and RESPONSIBILITY gone?

Do McDonalds and Starbucks; really need to put a disclaimer on hot chocolate and coffee that warns people that the contents are hot?  (You’d be pissed if you ordered hot coffee and it was cold, right?)  Do people who have horses really need a sign that reminds people that horses can be dangerous creatures hanging on their barn?  Does Wal-Mart really need to continue printing “Suffocation hazard” on plastic bags?

Apparently, they do.  Because people are freaking crazy. And the world is full of idiots with no common sense.

I whole heartedly believe in the laws of attraction, and that we somehow get back what we put out there in this world.  So of course I have to wonder what it is about ME – that attracted Crazy.  Being treated like a piece of trash by her and her so-called attorney, really hurt my feelings even though I am joking about it now.  Maybe it was simply another urge from the universe to use my voice rather than always take the ‘high road.’  (I still havent figured it out!)

But I would have NEVER in a million years, treated another human this way.  If my baby toppled over in a Bumbo seat, I would never sue the company.  I would take responsibility and use my common sense.

It’s simple, treat others as you would like to be treated.  Why is that becoming so hard for people to do these days?

This is exactly why as bad as I want to pay CRAZY her $85 in pennies delivered via a 5 gallon bucket filled with manure at the bottom, I won’t do that.  (Even though it would be considered legal tender – I checked)

Anyone got answers for this one?

 

 

Dear Life #6

Dear Kids,

I dont mind sharing the last bite of my steak with you.  I dont mind getting the occassional poop on my hand from wiping your butt.  I dont mind you drinking out of my drink, even though you leave all sorts of floaty things fromyour backwash at the bottom of the cup.  I dont mind sleeping with you, even though you kick me in the ribs and steal the cover.  I dont mind sharing the remote control, especially if doing so will keep you quiet for a few scarce minutes.  I dont mind sharing my candy bar, or the last cookie in the treat cabinet, or all the money that we have to make you happy.

BUT YOU COULD PLEASE STOP USING MY FREAKING TOOTHBRUSH!  THAT’s WHERE THE SHARING PART OF ME ENDS.

Love You,

Mom

Why Do Grits Taste Better with Bacon?

Growing up, I had never heard of grits.  The first time I saw them, introduced by my now husband some 20 years ago at a 3am post-drinking all night visit to Waffle House– I thought the pile of white mush topped with a wave of butter looked like a bowl of baby food gone wrong. 

And I certainly wasn’t going to eat THAT after drinking a mixture of Rum & Coke chased down by beer all night.  I was thinking more along the lines of toast.  Ahem, Dry.

A few days later, we were eating at Waffle House again.  And again, this nice southern blonde haired blue-eyed boy full of charm and an orgasmic southern drawl tried to get me to try grits.  In a bowl.  With my eggs.  (Scrambled with cheese by the way!)

“Do you like bacon,” he asked.  (Umm, is there anyone who doesn’t like bacon?  It’s been called the gateway meat of vegans for God’s sake.  I grew up in Maryland not Indonesia you idiot) (I say Indonesia only because I read once (probably not even true) that most Muslims don’t eat pork because pigs aren’t smart enough to NOT eat their own poop)

“Yes, I like bacon!” 

“”Okay, so grits are wayyyy better with bacon, try it that way,” he prodded.

So, I ordered grits.  And bacon.  I was then taught that I could use the bacon as an actual spoon to eat my grits with so that each and every bite would be flavorfied (yes, I know that is not a word) with mouthwatering bacon and grits. And, let me admit – they were divine.  Ever since, I have been a fan of grits and bacon.

What I realized however is that my husbands urging to get me to try grits with bacon turned out to be a life lesson!  One I have to remind myself of very often.    

You see, most of us (me included) are afraid of the unknown.  We don’t try new things, or break out of our metaphorical boxes because we are aren’t comfortable or it feels different, which equates to fear.  Sure, not the fear that someone-is-going-to-sneak-out-of-the-woods-and murder-you-with-a-knife-fear, but fear nonetheless

Being too comfortable is a BAD place to be.  It makes us complacent.  It keeps us secured in the neat and tidy, seemingly controllable confines of our lives without allowing us to test our limits or our strengths.  In our boxes, we never know really get to explore just how far we can go.  But since we are comfortable there – we dismiss anything that tries to tear down one of our ‘comfort’ walls. 

And while we may feel safe and secure and ordinary – we sure aren’t able to explore the extraordinary from that comfortable place.

Most of us settle into routines and schedules and end up living by a clock because it calms our nerves to know what to expect next.  We already know how we are going to react before the next thing happens – because our lives become circular.  And predictable.  And boring.

When we have families, this ‘level of comfort’ in the form of providing a secure foundation for our children, can become even more confining.  Not just for ourselves, but for our children as well.

I have found in my own life – and in raising my children – that remembering how much better the grits taste with bacon has been a simple way to keep my mind and my life open.

For instance:

My morning workout, that I resisted initiating for so many years because I said I didn’t have the time blah blah blah (lazy) is easier WITH a friend to do it with me.  She is the bacon.

The idea of quitting smoking (the grits) is easier with the realization that by doing so I can fulfill my inner desire to be healthier (the bacon).

My very real fear of traveling on the interstate (the grits) is easier to overcome when I think of reaching my parents house inFloridaand spending time with them (the bacon).

I talked one of my children into joining a group at school (the grits) by explaining to her the benefits it would provide to her in the long run (the bacon).

I convince one of my daughters to continue to practice her fast pitch pitching every stinking day in the yard no matter how boring it may seem to her (the grits) so that she can go to her next tournament and strike out her goal of 9 batters per game (the bacon).

I publish my Blog posts every day, despite the fear that they will be rejected or that not one single person will hit the *like* button on Facebook (the grits), because I dream of being a writer and dream of empowering others (the bacon).

And the list goes on.  You get the point.  The first time I looked at grits – I was hesitant to put anything that looked like that in my mouth.  I was okay with going the rest of my life not tasting grits.  The bacon talked me in to it.  And thank God for the bacon.

No matter what situation in life I am facing, I have found that I can always count on the grits and bacon analogy to get me through.  And I promise, BACON makes everything taste and feel better!

What do Krispy Creme Donuts and Dr. Pepper Have in Common?

***BLOG Disclaimer**** Before you start reading, realize that this post is about the PROGRAM and not the PEOPLE who use food stamps.  I personally in no way feel like I am better than someone else because they use food stamps and I dont.  (If I could, trust me I WOULD).  That being said, if you find yourself extremely offended or defensive, it is probably because something here strikes a cord with you personally.  This is also not a broad generalization about EVERYONE who uses food stamps.

What do Krispy Creme Donuts and Dr. Pepper Have in Common?

Both are items that the Federal government has deemed acceptable for welfare recipients to purchase on food stamps.

I know this, because just this week while I was trying to squeeze shop for a family of 6 (both dinners and school lunches since we don’t qualify for free and reduced lunch at school) on an expendable budget of $40 or less, the shopper in front of me bought exactly those items.  In fact, she bought three of what I would consider brand named apple pies and 2 – 20 ounce sodas which equaled $7.65.  (Of course there was no TAX on these items because she was using government…I mean, working America’s money) 

Now, I am no shopping expert or Krazy Coupon Lady (although I do coupon because I HAVE TO).  But, I am an expert when it comes to providing for my children.  For that same $7.65, this woman could have bought a loaf of bread, a jar of (brand named) peanut butter, at least 3 pounds of bananas and a gallon of water.  Had she used the weekly $1.50 off coupon for Peanut Butter, she could have also purchased a pound of ground beef, or perhaps a bag of the apples that were on sale that day.  Had she combined her purchases with the stores ‘shopping card’ she might have been able to squeeze in a jar of sugar-free grape jelly.  These food choices that I mention would have not ‘just’ provided a one time impulsive inadequate and unhealthy after school snack to her kiddos – but several actual healthy meals.

The latter choices would have been sustainable, responsible choices while grocery shopping with other people’s (meaning yours and mine) money. Let’s face it, if someone takes you out to dinner as a treat – it’s considered RUDE to order the most expensive thing on the menu, right?  Unless of course you are on food stamps.

And let me be VERY clear, my family – my 4 children, live on PB&J sandwiches and bananas for lunch nearly every day.  IT IS GOOD ENOUGH FOR US! Partly, because the $50 a week – $200 a month it would cost to feed my kid’s school lunches every day is not part of our budget.  This, while the people shopping with EBT cards also qualify for free and reduced lunch and don’t have to figure those items into their shopping budget at all.  Can you say win – win for them?

My family has NO problem whatsoever with store brand canned items – in fact, you won’t find any other kind in my pantry, while EBT shoppers can afford whatever the hell they want (at my family’s expense) on the shelves of American grocery stores.

My kids don’t get the luxury of picking out $4.95 cents a pound delicatessen made chicken salad, rotisserie chicken, pre-made sub sandwiches for $5 a piece or fancy  cheesecakes from the gourmet section of the local grocery store because those items are unreasonably priced and don’t fit into our tight grocery budget. ( YES ALL OF THESE ARE APPROVED EBT PURCHASES)  This, while I have watched many – and I mean many food stamp recipients do just that.

My family and I don’t have the privilege to choose ‘convenience’ foods because they are simply easier.  Yet via workingAmerica’s money, the government is CHOOSING to make things convenient, and easy for those shopping on someone else’s dime.

While my friends and I, all of us middle class Americans raising families, spend careful time grocery shopping to look at sales, clip coupons, compare prices in an effort to make our money stretch until the next paycheck many (NOTICE I DID NOT SAY ALL) EBT food stamp shoppers are busy loading cart after cart full of crap foods that most working people cannot afford for their own family.

And honestly, isn’t Michelle Obama’s entire First Lady Campaign about child obesity?  Perhaps considering that 1 in every 7 people, or 46 million people are enrolled in the food stamp program – cutting out certain foods from the program would be an easy way to help control obesity.  After all, I’m sure that Krispy Crème apple pies and Dr. Pepper aren’t part of the obesity solution?  Oh, wait…and guess who gets to pay for the health problems associated with a shitty diet?  You guessed it!  While working America doesn’t go to the doctor because it’s too expensive, these folks get free healthcare as well.

Also, realize that the food stamp program is dubbed SNAP – which stands for supplemental NUTRITION assistance program. 

And if that is not enough to make someone mad – How about these following accounts of food stamp abuse.

  • On this same shopping trip, a woman in front of me checking out (who was at  least 200 pounds overweight) stocked up on 4 cases of Dr. Pepper.  The rest of her cart was filled with brand named cookies like Oreo’s, chips, several frozen pizzas and a family  sized box of Stouffer’s frozen macaroni and cheese.  Stouffer’s macaroni and cheese costs nearly $12 for the family sized portion. Again, I KNOW this because this particular food item is something  that my family gets only on very special occasions – such as a birthday or  on holidays – because it is priced too high to fit into a monthly grocery  budget. In other words, for regular working American taxpayers, it’s a luxury.  But for welfare food stamp recipients, it’s a buy.
  • A friend of mine was behind an EBT shopper who was irate when her purchases resulted in a cash balance for dog food. When the clerk told her dog food was not covered, she instructed  her son to go to the meat department and get 5 pounds of ground beef that  she would ‘cook for the dogs.’  Really!?
  • A gas station/store in town that accepts food stamps charges nearly three times  as much for regular food items than the grocery store RIGHT next-door.  Yet since they accept EBT cards, it’s OKAY to pay $6 for a box of cereal. The government doesn’t care.  Worse, I have seen with my own eyes – that this same store allows people to purchase gas, beer, and cigarettes with their EBT card by ringing it up as food      items instead.  Basically, if a store sells beans, they will take your food stamps.
  • Another friend of mine watched an EBT customer load up on over $80 worth of lobster. LOBSTER!?  When is the last time you cooked lobster for dinner?
  • A good friend of mine who owns a daycare tried to offer a stellar employee a full-time job and a promotion in pay.  After 1 month, the single mom who WANTED TO WORK, had to quit and go back to part-time because the government removed her from the food stamp program and she said, “It just wasnt worth working.”

Where the hell is the logic in this?  Am I mad?  You bet your butt I am and here’s why.  

Last month alone, the government took nearly $1,800 out of my husband’s paycheck.  According to numbers – the vast majority of THAT money went to welfare programs.  While he is out working his tail off for our family – often to the point that we don’t see him till well after dark, these people are waiting around for his handouts and making irresponsible choices with America’s money.  At my family’s expense!  At your family’s expense.

Do you know what MY family could do with that extra $1,800?  We could put money BACK into the economy.  Sure, we could save more – but we also could spend MORE.

Truth is, I realize that one of the things that makes America great is the wealth of opportunity and compassion for the American Dream. America is a place of enabling!  But who pray tell are we enabling by running such a backward non-sensical (and yes, I know that is not a word) food stamp program?  Certainly not the people who deserve it.  I am no closer to publishing my book because the government ‘helped’ us.  My husband isn’t closer to retirement because the government is enabling him.  My children’s school still has scheduled furlough days this year.  My ‘senior’ in-laws and parents, who have worked their entire lives still have to work to make ends meet.  And the list goes on.

I am ALL FOR helping people.  And I also understand quite clearly that there are a great many people on food stamps who DESERVE them, and who do appreciate and depend upon the assistance.  But I also feel that welfare programs, food assistance and government handouts should deploy a strict policy of teaching people how to help themselves as well.

Most importantly, as tax payers – we should not be penalized, or forced to go without food items in order to provide those very things to others.  In many American homes, Krispy Creme Apple pies and sodas are luxuries.  What incentive does the food stamp program provide for those to get off it?  Apparently, none….

This is OUR money America.  OUR MONEY!

PS… I read somewhere that revamping the system would cost taxpayers (shocker) 40 million dollars.  If the WIC program can closely control which foods are distributed, so can food stamps!  Maybe the government should hire some savvy moms to get it done without the political red tape!!!

Crap in a Can

I will admit, there is nothing Mom-Spirational about this post.  In fact, its embarrassing – and is likely one of those events in my children’s lives that will forever screw them up in the heads.  I just hope they don’t talk about it at my funeral, because it would NOT make a good eulogy.

First a little prologue.  I live in a place without school buses.  Like, seriously 20 people (And I am related to some of them) live on my street and its several miles long.  We don’t even have cable.  Or internet.  The closest Wal-Mart is in a shitty little town that smells like mold 17 miles away.  And this same ‘town’ is where my children go to school.  So, I have to drive my kids to school every day, and then go back and pick them up in the afternoons. Every morning, we leave the house at 7am, which  means in order to get coffee in, make 4 school lunches, help with hair and breakfast and remember to put on a bra (Which BTW is apparently optional in the shitty little town) - I have to get up pretty early.  But listen, coffee is important to me  and definitely worth getting up for.

Unfortunately (or fortunately depending how you look at it), coffee is also a bit of a laxative, which is another reason that I get up early.  This way, when the coffee craps hit me, I am still at home.  Normally, I go running into our ONE and only,  bathroom with my pants half way down, while one of my kids is straightening her hair or brushing her teeth and just let it loose.  (This annoys the kids, but I think its funny as hell – payback for all those diapers of theirs that I have changed)

One morning, we were running late.  My morning coffee had percolated just in time for me to grab it and fly out the door. No biggie, I thought – I would drink it on the way.  B.I.G.  M.I.S.T.A.K.E. (Can you see where this is going?)

The coffee craps hit me halfway through our ride to shit town.  And let me tell you, there is absolutely NOWHERE TO STOP and use the bathroom on the way to shit town.  I started sweating. Profusely.  I thought I might throw up. Maybe, I could hold it until I got to Piggly Wiggly which was pretty close to their school I thought for a moment.  But the Piggly Wiggly bathroom is all the way in the back of the store, behind the butcher shop, and I knew by the sweaty palms and stomach cramps that there was no way I would make it  all the way through the store to the bathroom.  Plus, I didn’t have shoes on.  I wasn’t using a public restroom barefoot.  It was one of those moments, where if I farted to let some of the pressure off, I just knew I was going to shart in my pants.

So I pulled over. On the side of the road. (Actually I skidded over as if I was avoiding a squirrel).   The kids were screaming.  One was crying.  “Mama, what are you doing - we are going to be late?”  Another had her hands over her eyes and ears like she had just seen Freddy Kreuger pop out from the drivers seat.  There were woods all around me and I imagined coyotes or bobcats or bears lurking in the woods.  And how pray tell would I hide my ass from passing traffic?  No way I was shitting in the woods.  No flipping way.

Quick Gracie, give me that trashcan,” I hollered with tears in my eyes and sweat my brow, pants already half way down.  I had just bought a trash can for the bathroom the day before and it was still in the car.  (Thank GOD!)

“Mama!!!  NO!”  The girls were disgusted as I climbed in the back seat (tinted windows back there) and quickly crapped in a can.  (Believe me, by this point it DID NOT take long at all!)

I can still to this day, see their faces.  They were mortified.  As they were looking at me and holding their noses while I was seated over a small circular white bathroom trash can crapping my brains out, it struck me.  What in the hell am I going to wipe with?

“Gracie” (she was the only one laughing at this point and not completely hating me – “Hand me that sock!” She looked behind her and handed me the bright yellow softball sock that my daughter had worn to practice the day before.  “MAMA NO WAY, THAT’S MY SOCK” my oldest daughter protested.  I told her not to worry that I would buy her another one.  One of my other kids, (who will apparently be a truancy officer when she grows up) was still worried about being late.  (We werent by the way!)

Then, in what could be the only solution at a time like this, I slid open the van door and gently set out the brand new white trash can filled with crap and the sock I used to wipe with on the side of the road.  I sure as hell was not riding around with it for the rest of the morning.  And we were BACK on our way to school.    The kids didnt even talk to me the rest of the ride.  Except for Gracie, she was 4 and thought this was the funniest thing ever.  “Mama crapped in a can, Mama crapped in a can, Mamaaaa Crapppped in a can” she sang.

For days – every time we passed that spot, the white trashcan was still there.  One morning, we saw a dog sniffing around it.  And about a week later, the inmates were picking up trash on the side of the road in the exact vicinity  By the time I came back by, the can was gone.

But my kids, have NEVER forgotten this moment.  Every time we pass that spot (which is daily) they say, “This is where Mama crapped in a can!”  And their faces fill with the same disgust that I remember from that day. 

Lesson here.  If you must drink coffee in the morning, make sure you have time to use the bathroom before leaving the house.  And definitely avoid the coffee altogether on the first day of your periods.

AND, most importantly…..when you are in the middle of  nowhere on your way to shit town, have a plan in place (or a can) in case the coffee craps hit you.  (And PLEASE carry toilet paper around in your glove box)

Of all this shits I have taken in my life – I have to say that this was the most epic. 

 

“Just as I Am” Choir

I love church signs.  Living in the Bible belt, there are literally two churches on every corner – with creative insignia to boot.  As I tool around my rural town in my schnazzy minivan, I spend a lot of reading the signs.  (They help distract me from the kids fighting in the backseat.)

Some make me laugh, others make me cry, and some quite simply just confuse me.  Like the most recent sign on the church up the road from my home.

It said, “Just as I am Choir – Open to Everyone.” 

At first, I thought it was the name of a singing group.  But since no concert time or date was listed, I realized it couldn’t be that.  It had to be an open invitation for people to come and join the choir so that everyone (and anyone) could participate in singing choir songs.

But seriously, EVERYONE!?  

The truth is that I love to sing; but that I don’t do it well.  I don’t sing in church (only move my lips and hum) (okay dammit I admit it, I don’t actually GO to church) because I am afraid that someone will actually hear me and find out what I already know.  That I am completely tone deaf.

I worry that if I sing out loud; people won’t sit next to me because my awful cooing will be so distracting that the entire section of church near me will bust out laughing.  Then, I would end up the church loner.  New churchgoers would be warned as they walk in the door, “Whatever you do – DON’T sit next to that lady during service.”   

I sing so badly, that I would probably make a million dollars from the bloopers and outtakes of American Idol if I had the guts to actually go and try out.

Still, the thought of actually being invited to sing – to be part of the Just as I am Choir taunted me.

Could I really be accepted in this group Just as I am?  Is it even possible in this day and age of fake boobs and extreme talent and pretentiousness to be accepted just as we are?  Even in church?  I mean seriously, what if the sign was just saying that in order to draw in new members with singing ambition, but really didn’t mean it? What if I got there and they decided they wouldn’t let me sing afterall. (My kids dont even let me sing in front of them!)

The whole thing got me thinking about being Just As I Am!

Truth is, that no one in my life has ever really accepted me completely and 100% Just as I am.

It’s not their fault, it’s mine – because I have never been fearless enough to expose the real, 100%, completely authentic ME.

Admit it, we all change a little (or a lot) to fit in to certain groups, to make good impressions and to keep from making too many waves in a world that strives for calm waters.

None of us are completely honest all the time.  I have never met a single person that actually ALWAYS says what they really think. No one knows our every thought or feeling, and as human beings, we spend a lot of time ‘creating ourselves’ rather than just being ourselves.  

And then it hit me the way insight always does! 

God, already accepts me Just as I Am.  Always has.  Always will.  He has heard me sing in the shower, and in my minivan when I am all alone cruising through town reading church signs.   He is that voice in my head that is constantly encouraging me to be myself, telling me I am already good enough, telling me to sing louder.

If He, being all-knowing can accept me, why do I still struggle to accept myself?  Why am I ashamed to sing?

I believe that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.  I also believe that life is not quite as random as we would like to believe.  The “Just as I am – Everyone Welcome” sign may not have been my calling to actually go and SING in church – but it was EXACTLY what I needed in that moment.

Which was to remember that it is okay to be JUSTAS I AM.  That I am already good enough, and loved – and perfect just as I am.   

And So Are YOU!

The Family Table

Several years ago after the birth of my 4th child, my parents came to visit from Florida and while they were here – bought me a kitchen table.

Up until that point, I had been utilizing old tables several sizes too small for my family that I picked up at yard sales, stained with crayon marks and supposedly washable paints.  We started with 4 chairs, and ended up adding a bench along the way to accomodate my growing family.  When we had guests over, we pulled in cheesy outdoor furniture and sat squished around the table to eat our meals together.  It was quite chaotic to say the least.  But what sort of crazy person has the money to buy actual furniture when they are trying to keep 4 kids fed, right?  (Certainly not me!)

Apparently, my folks – seeing the dinner/table/bench seating/squishy dining fiasco decided enough was enough.  So they sent me to a furniture store and told me to return with a table.  With 8 chairs.  TODAY! 

It didnt matter to them how much delivery was (despite the fact that we had a truck) and my dad wanted it put together by professionals.  (In other words, anyone but me!)  His wish was my command, and I did what I was told and brought home a moderately price BIG table in a beautiful dark wood stain with count ‘em….8 chairs.  I was so incredibly proud of this impromptu gift and overwhelmed with how just much having a TABLE TO FIT MY FAMILY meant to me.

We ate dinner that night the way I remember eating supper as a child.  The way we eat dinner at my grandparents house when we are there for a visit.  Together.  No one was sitting in lawn furniture and the dinner table was so comfortable and suitable that we sat around after the food was inhaled and actually talked and enjoyed ourselves.  Just the way I remembered it.

It hit me then, that eating together as a family, spending time at the FAMILY TABLE,  is something that has always been valued by family even way back when, while  I was growing up.

When I visited my grandmother’s house as a child, everyone sat together at the TABLE.  She lived with just her husband at the time, but still had what seems now like an immense amount of extra orange dining chairs at a massive kitchen table.  And everyone spent more time seated around the table talking, laughing, playing cards, drinking beer, creating memories and of course eating than they did anywhere else in the house.  Together. As a a family.  I imagine that whoever lives in that house today still hears the echoes of laughter and conversation that erupted around my grandmothers kitchen table.

The family dinner, breaking bread, enjoying one another’s company is something that has always taken place at a table in my family.  A big table.

Last weekend, my parents decided to drive 450 miles to come deliver yet another table set, this time with 7 chairs.  This one for our porch outdoors.  They had decided that their outdoor furniture no longer ‘matched’ or suited and had asked me if I wanted their dining set.  And of course I did.  With a massive outdoor porch, I have only had the extra money to buy a bench and two chairs for outdoors - which meant that as a family, we didnt spend a lot of time out there together.

But we do now. 

And, along with having an awesome new outdoor dining table, with plenty of extra chairs for every member of my family - my family has once again returned to my family roots and begun spending time together.  At the table.

Yesterday, I worked outside in the sunshine using my new beautiful table.  Yesterday evening, my family ate dinner out there together.  And afterwards we sipped tea and ate ice cream until the sun went down, and it was time for the kids go to bed.  Afterwards, I sat at the table outside, under the moon and stars with my husband chatting away the Sunday evening. Together.

This morning, I sat at the table with a hot cup of coffee in hand and imagined my parents sitting in the chairs across from me.  For a few minutes, it felt like they were actually right there with me and it made me happy.

This afternoon, the kids came home from school and plopped down to read their school books, do their homework and have snacks at our new family table.  Together.  The best part was because it is a piece of furniture that was actually AT my parents house, and is associated with amazing family memories, laughter and togetherness with the people I love, I felt as though the table is not just a piece of furniture, but the pathway to continuing to pass down to my children an extremely cherished family value in my family.  One of my daughter’s said, “This feels like grandma and grandpa’s house now!”

Togetherness.  At the table. 

Hopefully as the years zoom by, I will be able to provide my own kids with a table for their family when the need arises.  I hope that one day they look back at our kitchen table – probably worn and tattered by then with wobbly chairs;  and are able to relisten to the conversations we had there, hear the echoes of laughter, feel the closeness and love,  and remember just how important our time at the family table together really was.