Working man

“I don’t see him…I don’t see him!” Baby girl jumps up and down trying to see over the counter to spy her big brother. 

“He works in the back. We can’t see him,” answered her big sis. But she too was craning her neck to spy a familiar face. I noticed she had her phone primed and ready to take a picture. 

“May I serve you?” Asked the counter help. 

“We looking for my brother,” normally shy baby girl said. 

I gave his name and to my horror he turns to go back toward the kitchen. “No! No! No!” I tried to say,”he’s working…we don’t want to bother him…”

“He’s on breading tonight. You can’t see him from there. COLTON,” he yells. 

I was mortified and knew my fella would be too. It was his 4th shift. Hardly had broken in his lovely black crew shoes and here I was visiting. 

Sure enough Colton stops out from the back. He’s in his black cap, black collared shirt, black slacks and about 2 inches of flour over every inch of his shirt. The look in his face was priceless. Or not. He looked, as predicted, mortified. “Mom,” he sort of said. 

“Hey bubba,” said his favorite young person. He spoke to her. 

“He’s doing really great,” said the man at the register. I glanced at his name tag and said,”oh, you are Luke. So nice to meet you! Colton’s said some really nice things about you,” the man laughed. “Did he tell you I had him circulating air in the freezer last night?” He was chuckling. 

I answered, “he mentioned being hazed.” 

“He was a good sport about it,” he assured me. “He’s a hard worker.” 

“That’s nice to hear. Now go back to work,” he gives he his 1/2 grin reserved only for me and turns to go back to the kitchen. Before I could stop myself I did a total mom thing and yelled,”be sure to wash your hands!” This time the groan and “mooooommmmmm” were audible (and justified).  

I pointed out my dinner and we ate. When it was time to leave baby girl was sad,”I don’t want to leave my Colton Henry here.” We explained work to her again. She didn’t understand-again. She slipped her hand in mine and sighed. “Mama-didn’t my bubba look so handsome!” My heart went ba-da at the adoration my girl had for her big brother. I gave her little hand a squeeze and assured her that he was. 

  

Today she likes me!

I am the first to call out my 13 year old with her antics. Mid eye roll, hair flip or arguments she’s been known to sigh and say, “You are sooooooooooooooo going to blog about this aren’t you?” to which I always respond, “Oh you bet your sweet bitty I am.” I am convinced that my blogging has saved her life on more than one occasion. The outlet has served her well because there were many a times when the eye roll, hair flip, dramatic sigh or elongated vowel sounds have pushed me well past my breaking point.  

Her grandmother nailed the situation perfectly with a shirt that read, “I never argue, I just explain why I am right.” 

aint that the truth

We bicker and fight and spew like…well…like stubborn mother and headstrong teen daughter. My father made the mistake of telling her she was acting just like I did at that age and now she manages to throw, “you are just mad because I am acting just like you” into the argument. She’s the dumbest, smartest person I’ve ever met in my life because the moment she elects to use this particular taunt are never, ever the time nor the place to do so. Timing is everything and hers just stinks most of the time. 

 

While I have no shame about pointing out her considerable ‘tude I don’t often brag on her pure sweetness. And, to quote the bag boy who gazed down at her swaddled from head to toe in pink when she was a wee one, that’s pure sweetness right there. My mother and I laughed uproariously at the time because sweet was NOT a word I’d use to describe her as a baby. But the truth is that she does have the sweetest heart. She does, in her own way, go out of her way to make me feel loved and appreciated. She’s most decidedly the one I want picking out my nursing home. It is my big girl that worries about me when everyone has places to be but me. It’s my girl that always asks about my day. She’s the one that saved her money to buy me a Christmas present that she thought, rightfully so, I would love. It’s this magnificent creature who never fails to thank me for taking her places or for letting her go and do and see things. She’s a slob but she is also the only one that makes an attempt to pick up the place when I work late. Granted, it’s usually her stuff strewn about but it’s the effort I am praising here so let me move on. My big girl is quick to want but quick to offer to pay for things herself. She’s aware that money isn’t always in abundance and is acutely aware of what she ask for. I am going to pat myself on the back and credit myself with this particular victory. Read about that here: $100

 

Mothering a 13 year old is like having front row seats to Jekyll and Hyde nightly. It’s also not a job for the faint of heart. One minute you are the stupidest person alive and the next you are brilliant. And just when you think you know what’s going on WHOOP! It changes. The very compliment that one days makes her smile will reduce her to tears the next. One minute she’s sauntering around in a bikini looking like a sports illustrated model (to her brothers horror) and the next she’s wrapped up in mickey mouse pajamas with fuzzy socks sucking on a popsicle. One minute she’s poised and mature and statuesque and the next she’s impish and childlike and innocent. Literally in minutes she can change from one to the other. She can argue like an experienced ADA and WIN on one subject but in the very next breath whine, “…but I can’t put away the milk because I don’t know where it gooooooooeeessssssss….” Teenage girls are 13 going on 26 or they are 13 acting 3. You never know what you are going to get. It’s exasperating and exhausting yet rewarding and amazing all wrapped up on one very cute, bewildering package.

 

To her credit she hit 13 about the same time I hit 45. Nothing good happens at 45. Her hormones are gearing up and are in high gear. Mine are winding down and giving up. Everything that is started to perk on her is starting to sag on me. She’s got her whole life ahead of her and I am at the age where I have more time in the rear view mirror then in the windshield. She’s beautiful and I am obviously past my prime. She’s amping up and I am shifting down. It’s life’s little joke to throw 2 beings so similar yet in such vastly different places in life together and not expect fireworks. 

 

Having been allowed to do everything she wanted over the weekend we’ve had a pretty good few days. Nary a morning knock-down-drag-out. I haven’t taken away her phone…and it’s TUESDAY. Neither of us has burst into tears and retreated to their room and it’s TUESDAY! We’ve managed actual conversations. We’ve had dialogue. She didn’t finish her chore but at least she started it. I managed to not pop my top and she managed to apologize for not being responsible and doing her chore first. Victory I tell you. I rewarded her by not freaking out and gave her the time to make it right. And she did. I am not delusional enough to think this peace will last but I am smart enough to enjoy it while it’s happening. 

 

So today when I got an email from the middle school asking for volunteers for her end of year party I didn’t want to risk ruining our positive momentum. I texted her, tentatively, that volunteers were needed and should I help or not. I am not much of a joiner but my mom guilt was kicking in so I was half-heartedly thinking I should help but was expecting to get a “HECK NO” response that would have allowed me to recuse myself with no guilt. To my complete and utter surprise she immediately texted me back with a YAY. This wasn’t a ‘let me test the waters to see how mom wants me to answer before I answer the way I want to answer’ sort of text. This was definitive and positive and straight up. Before she could change her mind or I changed mine I signed up. Tickets and check-in…figured I could scope things out without infringing on her too much with that job. Plus it seemed the lesser of the evils. Policing 6th, 7th and 8th graders on inflatables seemed horrifying. Concessions made my head hurt and I couldn’t even begin to comprehend what DAD PATROL consisted of. Tickets and check in seemed safe on many fronts. A few clicks and I was committed. I texted her back that I had signed up and was rewarded with a….wait for it…YAY! 

   

I am way more tickled over her response then I have a right to be over her response. I feel like Sally Field in her famous, “you like me, you really like me” speech.    

ordinary days

It was a glorious southern weekend. With the laze of a southern drawl spring was giving way to summer in the gentlest of fashions.  
I had maxed out my vacation time and had to/got to unexpectedly take Friday off. I rewarded myself with a little pampering. I also rewarded my big fella (who makes it possible for me to work overtime) with a radio for his truck.  My fella left me happy (which makes me happy) to spend some time with a girl that’s a friend but not a girlfriend.  Big girl had a slumber party so she was off somewhere being 13. The baby girl and I puttered around together Friday afternoon happy to not be in a hurry to be anywhere or doing anything for once. “Mama how old do I haff to be ‘for I no have to hold your hand no more?” baby girl asked at one point. I told her 13. She nodded. That’s the age of her sister so she gets the answer 13 to a lot of her questions. I am pretty sure she was hinting for me to let go of her hand as we strolled along window shopping but I wasn’t interested in doing so. My 2 bigs were away being big kids and I wanted to enjoy my little one as long as I could. So I did.
Saturday dawned gloriously. I warned my fella of the family day itinerary which included: a tasting festival, an antique festival, a 5K charity race for my work and chauffeuring my big girl to 2 parties. To his credit he didn’t complain…too much…though at one point he did mutter, “I am going to make a freaking awesome husband!”  A point to which I agreed. Happy wife-happy life I told him. And days like this will make your wife happy! He gave me his trade mark lopsided grin and started the car. 
The tasting fair was awesome…we got to sample wares from Georgia vendors under white tents in the cool breeze. We bought some goodies and had fun trying new foods. Okay I had fun trying new foods. They had fun trying foods they already like. It was us, being us, on a gorgeous day. 

The ride to the antique fair was fun…having 2 teenagers in the car makes for lively conversation. I can’t think of a topic we didn’t touch on. The antique festival was a slice of heaven for me; unique vendors with treasure after treasure after treasure. As happy as I was it was also hard…a snippet of a song or a glimpse of little ones riding on their daddy’s shoulders or couples excitedly looking over furniture that made me acutely aware that my little family was incomplete. The idea of a complete family clouded my day…just a little…not a lot.  The idea of going home and grilling out while lazing in the backyard nibbled at me a bit. But just a bit. 

Big girl bravely -albeit nervously-went to her party where POPULAR people would be…GASP. Big boy was a trooper and headed off to the race with his remaining girls. He sputtered and spewed when I signed him up for the fun run with us but it was a weak ruckus.  He put on a company t-shirt like a good sport. In the end he sashayed the mile with a co-workers daughter and made the most out of the situation.  

My chunk-a-munk was so excited. She clung to my hand, willingly, since there were strangers about trying to talk to her.  Just before the “race” began we moved to the starting area. She stretched every limb, every muscle while waiting on the race to begin.  She pulled up her knees, flexed her feet, made windmills to stretch her shoulders and touched her toes. She stretched her hips and did a few deep knee bends. Anyone watching her would have thought she was competing in her first marathon with the energy she devoted to getting prepared. 

 When the race began she walked a bit and then impishly looked up at me to say, “Let’s run! Just to dat tree” so we did. Her bubba yelled, “Thought we were just walking MOM!” but he had a smile in his voice. We jogged 10 steps before she proclaimed “Whew!” and slowed down. (Thank goodness) We walked a bit and then she said, “Again,” before bouncing up and running a bit more in her ‘go fast’ shoes. I let her control the pace and even managed to jog a bit beside her when she wanted to. It wasn’t pretty but I didn’t care. Her little face was flushed with the heat. Freckles dotted her little nose. Little curls sprouted beside her ears where the tendrils had slipped from her pony tail. And her grin-oh her grin- Her big, semi-toothless grin that was so happy and so joyous that held me captive.  
We finished, her and me, hand in hand. The little green ‘medal’ around her neck could have been Olympic gold it made her so proud. Several minutes later her brother sauntered into view. She took off  running to greet him. “Ta’mon bubba! You can do it,” she shouted. He must have encouraged her to show him how it was done because she took off as fast as she could. Her little hands curled into fist in determination. Her pony tail danced atop her head while her little feet ran. She crossed the finish line (again) smiling as broadly as she did the first time with her big brother, arms high in the international sign of victory, cheering her on in the background. My friend snapped the picture at that moment. I love it.  

  

A picture is worth a thousand words and this one is no exception. The essence of our weekend is so perfectly captured in one second in time. It just a snapshot but here is what I saw: a happy little girl being uncharacteristically fearless, a cool-freedom-hungry teen being totally engaged in a moment to make his sister happy and I saw us making new memories at a place that used to have old ones. The picture speaks even of my big girl though she is absent in the shot. Despite some recent bullying and nasty behavior she was at a party of a girl she really likes with the very girls that were causing the drama. She almost didn’t go because she isn’t popular enough to hang with the “it” crowd. In the end she changed her mind and toughened up. So, though she’s not in the picture,  I know where she is and I know what bravery it took for her to get there. So her NOT being in the picture speaks loudly to me. I was there. Being introverted and appalled at my current physique I could have stayed home.  I wanted to hide at home. The day held a tinge of sadness for me and I could have given into that and kept away…but I didn’t. I was there. I was out of my comfort zone and THERE.  
We finished our little race and hung around a bit for shaved ices and gatorades. Little girl even worked up to courage to, alone, go down the inflatables. Big boy didn’t rush us though I know he wanted to. We leisurely made our way from the race to the pool to pick up party girl. Who, miracles of miracles, spotted us and hopped right out of the pool, thanked her hostess and made her way to the car SMILING the whole time. No belly aching because we were a few minutes early. No admonishments for parking where everyone could see us. She just said ‘thanks for letting me go…I had a GREAT time’ and then, willingly, told us about the party.
Much later that night my big girl was gone again to spend the night with yet another friend. Big boy was in his faux man cave (the actual closet he sleeps in) and baby girl was tucked up tight beside me in my bed. Yes. My bed. “I luff you mama,” she said around the thumb that she was sucking. Her hair tickled my nose as I kissed her on top of the head and assured her that I loved her too. It was the perfect end to a great day…not a perfect day…but close to perfect.  
I am thankful to have the picture of my little gal crossing the finish line with my big boy in the background because this ordinary day would be too easy to forget. But with the picture I will remember. I’ll remember my little incomplete family making memories and being together. I’ll remember my proud little gal and my sweet fella cheering her on. I’ll remember my strong girl not giving into ugly souls. I’ll remember. Ordinary days are so easily forgotten but good ordinary days are the days that make us who we are. How grateful am I for this wonderfully ordinary day I shared with my littles ones this weekend.  

DDIY

There are acceptable times for the sentiment I can make that!  Then there are times when I should just say no. No. No-I can’t make that. No. I shouldn’t do that myself. Just no. 

I don’t listen to reason. 

Re-doing my kitchen is one of those times. I should have said NO. 

I didn’t. 

I had a need to re-do, re-create and re-store. It was a near anniversary of a pretty awful time in my life. I didn’t have control over any of that. I suppose self-consciously I wanted to be able to control something…I wanted to make something new and bright and shiny. 

My kitchen was the perfect victim. 

Instead, with little to no thought I jumped right in and went full bore into the do-it-yourself-project from hell. If I ever decide to get a tattoo DDIY is in the running as an option. Maybe then I’ll remember that I really suck at painting. Really. Suck. 

Big girl had a non-date Saturday. I dropped her off at 1p and picked her up at 2p. Up until 2:05 I’d planned to spend the day watching spring football. At 2:06 the girl and I decided to not go to that game and to be productive instead. 

At 4p we had paint, supplies and were knee deep in Behr. Goodbye yellow and the  kitschy apron border. Hello coastal blue. 

  
The only bright spot of this project was that my big girl and I rocked it and didn’t have a single cross word. At one point she said,”It would be fine with me if you wanted to brag about your favorite child and our re-do.” Funny girl. I told her she was definitely my favorite child to create and craft with. And I meant it. We actually has fun. 

So we got some paint on the ceiling. So the border wouldn’t come all the way off the wall. So we got some of the floor. If you don’t count all that the first part of the project went fine. 

Problem happened at 8a when, after 5 hours sleep, I made the grave mistake of stalking pintrest and reading pins that proclaimed painting cabinets to be easy and so with it. 

Lies. All lies. 

At noon we were at Lowesz at 2 we were cracking open the gray chalk paint. At 2:18 I knew I didn’t have the sense God gave a goat. The chalk paint was drying and needed HELP. So I began the whtewashjng texhnique. At 2:23 I thought what the hell am I doing????  It was awful. Bad. Streaky. Blotchy. My daughters 3 feet hair strands were stuck in at least 3 doors. There were globs and white parts that wouldn’t buff. 

At 2:47 I am wondering…do I keep going or do I admit defeat and hire this out?  At this point 1/2 were done and 1/2 were not. Neither 1/2 looked good. The question was which 1/2 sucked to least??? 
At 3:06 I made a frantic call to my son with specific instructions on what to get.  I don’t know exactly why I thought dark antique wax would: a) be smart b) make a difference c) be something I could do ’cause it wasn’t smart, it made the bad so much worse and evidently dark waxing stain is something you really need to understand before trying to use. 

At 3:48 I threw more money at the project from hell when the fella came home with $50 more in supplies. 

At 5:30 I made the 4th trip to the store convinced that new cabinet hardware would be the miracle I needed and make everything okay. At 6:19 I knew that new hardware would not save the day. At 6:30 I said to hell with it and barked orders to the fella to just put everything back where it goes. 

When it doubt accessorize. 

   
    
 DO NOT DO IT YOURSELF should really be my new motto. 

We can make that

Like my mama used to say that me…”We can make that.”

1/2 Out of necessity and 1/2 out of a desire to make my big girl happy this weekend was about a project.  I set about giving my girl a dressing/make-up area. The hours in the bathroom in the morning were causing some dissension in the ranks as the big boy and big girl both need to get ready at the same time-in the same space.  Poor fella was starting to eye that trees as a possible solution in the mornings as she occupied the upstairs bathroom and I occupied mine downstairs. He had 5 minutes tips each morning of actual bathroom time.

Boy child got to go to the beach for spring break. Girl child got her own teen area. It became a famili affair. My mom gave her a desk that was in my room when I finally got my own room at 16. The girl and I—-without fighting –miracle of miracles—dabbed some paint and hot glued some flowers and viola-it’s perfect. Small enough to fit into the nook and special because he grandmother gave it to her.

Next came the decorating. The now teen girl is itching to re-do her room with a a beach theme. She’s got a looooonnngggg way to go before I commit to that. Shes a bit of a slob and I refuse to redo a space she can’t take care of. But I digress. I did conced to letting her decorate her new little area to her hearts content. That included shells and a beach blue and peach that’s she color of sunset.
First thing she falls in love with-a $70 sea shell wreath. Uh no. Even at 1/2 off I couldn’t justify it. I found myself saying, “we can make that,” just like my mom used to say to me. $13 and a mountain of hot glue later she had a wreath. A wreath I am happy to say she is thrilled with.
She fell in line with a picture that read HELLO SWEET BEAUTFIL GIRL. It was especially meaningful to her because that’s what her grandfather says to her everytime he sees her. She also wanted a gold foiled lip picture. I loved how excited she was for this project. I don’t always make her happy…this seemed like a good chance.
The lips I bought. No way was I even attempting that! I have my limits. So we compromised. The lips we got. The painting..yep…I told her “we can make that”. $13 later she gets to eake up with a sweet affirmation that makes her think of her daddy bob and reminds her she is loved.
Full length mirror-check. Hot glue and some cheap silk flowers it’s re-created into less of an eye sore. No more standing in the counter to see how cute the bottom half of her outfit is. Now she can see the whole thing and I don’t have footprints on the counter. Win-win.
A little paint and her baby sisters markered s’s that were all over the  white bookshelf disappeared-luckily. I like my baby girl and I wasn’t so sure she would be around long after her older sister spied the pre-school handiwork all over everything.

 

a space of her own

My girl now has a little space to proudly call her own. She is happy with her space and for once, is happy with me. She’s proud of the space and is even a little proud of me for delivering in my promises is we can make that. I like making my girl proud. I like knowing that one day she will say to her girl what my mama said to me: we can make that! 

Victorious

My son worked all high school swim season to break a minute in the 100 back. He started the season at 1:03:00. He ended at 1:01:00. Not enough. State cut for that back was 1:00:00. 

High school Swim season without an individual cut for my fella. He made the state team in 2 relay teams but the individual cut alluded him.

But he kept working. He kept training. He started training for next year AT THE LAST MEET. 

Today, a month later, we are at the Northeast Divisionsal meet with the year round swim team. He swims in the 15-18 bracket. The size difference between my fella and these older-year round swimmers is vast. We came with little expectations. He came to be part of his SHOC team and I came to support him. 

This competition is fierce. So is my fella. Saturday I sat in the bleachers and thought now we do this because he loves it and that is enough. He swam proud, he swam his races strong. There were no finals and we were both okay. 

Sunday we are back for 2 races. 100 back was first. He was in the 3rd heat. 

59:86. 

He got out of that pool smiling. I watched him hug an assistant coach. I wanted him track down his head coach and chest bump him. My friend fist bumped and congratulated me. It was a nice moment. 

To my surprise an even nicer moment happened a few minutes later. I was watching the pool when I felt something drip on me. I turned and there stood my boy. Soaking wet and panting. He wrapped his trembling arms around me and hugged me tight. And he didn’t let go. He kept hugging me. And kept hugging me. In front of other parents he hugged me with all his might. And when he finally let go he hugged his bff’s mom. 

59:86 didn’t qualify him for finals but that’s okay. He met his goal. He learned that hard work pays. That’s all I want for him-to be proud of himself because I am proud of him every day. Today he’s proud and he shared the moment with me. 

Today we are both victorious! 

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