Tag Archives: humor

Brakes? You Mean the Coward Petal

Recently the Regas family took up the gauntlet and forged their way down I-35 to the Texas Hill Country where we live.  And to kick off the weekend, we adults went out to dinner to relax and catch up.  Once seated and settled in, our conversations started drifting into memories and stories.  And Amanda and my’s trip to Colorado last summer came up.  Have you ever told a funny story about someone and then it backfired?  And not backfire like “oh you didn’t hear the punchline” but backfire like “hey I was telling this story and now why are all of you acting like I’m the weird one?”  If so, I feel your pain.

Before we arrived in the mountains last summer, we informally created a mental to-do list of activities that varied from our daily routine.  And one of the items on my list was MOUNTAIN BIKING!  Who doesn’t love a bike, right?  And who wouldn’t want to put a bike on a slanted slab of earth?  This just made sense to me and had adventure written all over it.  I feel like all our faithful readers are currently on my side while reading along right now too.  Amanda was game too until we started hiking the first day.

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Amanda:  Hey Katie, remember how you said you want to go mountain biking?

Me:  YES!!!!!!  It is going to be so FUN!!!

Amanda:  Well, I’m just not sure I can do that.  In fact, I’m quite sure I’m not going to be able to do that.

Me:  WHAT?  Why?

Amanda:  Katie. You see the path we are on right now?  These bike paths are not meant for bikes. A human cannot keep two tires on this path. I have been myself my entire life. I can tell you with complete certainty what is going to happen. I am going to go off the path, tip over and roll.

Me:  NOOOO YOU WON’T.  You’ll be fine!  You’ll see!!!

Amanda:  Um, no.  Really.  And also, if I fall, I’m quite sure I’m not going to stop rolling until I get to the bottom of the mountain.

Me:  NOOOO YOU WON’T.

Amanda:  I’m just telling you, NOT HAPPENING.

Me:  That’s CRAZY.  You’ll be fine!!

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We never did ride those bikes.  I still laugh at the thought of her honestly thinking that if she fell she would roll all the way down to the base of a mountain.  And so I told this story at dinner, fully expecting both husbands to laugh along with me at silly Amanda.  Except they did not.  And one person in particular abandoned the Team Katie ship.…..my husband.  

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Trey:  OH MY GOSH.  Katie is unbelievable, right?  I swear she does this every trip. Did she ever tell you about when she made ME go mountain biking?

Amanda:  NOOOOOOO!!!  WHAT??  KATIE YOU DID NOT TELL ME THIS.

Katie: *eyes start darting around, feel shift in convo coming*  Huh?

Trey:  OH YEAH!  On our 10th anniversary when we were in Colorado, she made me mountain bike.  And she had gotten way far ahead of me as we were riding down the mountain.  She finally decided to stop and wait on me.  And when I got there, she’s all, “What took you so long?  Why do you have grass stuck in your helmet?  Are your shorts ripped?  IS YOUR SHIRT RIPPED?  LET’S GO!”  And I told her, “Woman, I TRIED TO TELL YOU THAT MY BACK BRAKES FELT LIKE THEY WERE OFF.  WELL THEY ARE.  THEY DO NOT WORK, I JUST FLIPPED OVER THE HANDLEBARS!  I AM DONE RIDING BIKES!”

Katie:  *honestly, how necessary are back brakes while riding down a mountain?  Internal eye roll for Mr. Drama.*

Trey:  AND THEN, we got to the bottom of the mountain.  I tried to find a bus to take us back to the bike rental place to return that dang bike.  And Katie says, “NO WAY!  LET’S RIDE OUR BIKES BACK TO THE RENTAL PLACE!  IT ISN’T THAT FAR!”

Amanda:  Wait, were you at the part of the mountain BELOW the flags?  BECAUSE THAT IS A STRAIGHT UPHILL RIDE!

Trey:  OH YES WE WERE.

Katie:  *I feel like they might not be supporting me currently and I am not liking their party pooper attitudes.  Begin sipping water and make no eye contact.*

Trey:  IT WAS TERRIBLE. And I PAID to have the experience of flipping over my handlebars, shredding my clothes and then getting to bike straight up a mountain.

Amanda:  OH MY GOSH THAT IS AWWWFUL!!!  Have you ever noticed that she totally forces you into doing things under the premise of “it’s an adventure!!!”

Katie:  Hi G.R.  Aren’t the rolls good here?

Trey:  OH YES SHE DOES.  Last trip we were on…..our entire family was EXHAUSTED by the end of the day.  What does Katie do?  Says, “Hey guys, so if you want to just stay here, that’s fine.  BUT I AM GOING BACK OUT TO WALK AROUND DISNEYLANNNND!!!!!  WHO WANTS TO COME WITH ME????”  The kids looked at her like she was on crack.

Katie:  I did NOT force anyone to come!!!

Trey:  You are correct.  You did not.  But WHO spends an entire day out and about and then decides at 9PM that they want to squeeze in two more hours?  Even if they’re alone?

Amanda: Okay, so let me tell you another story. We went to Austin and she insisted on riding the city bikes. Which would have been fine, there are beautiful parks in Austin…but we rode them in a bike lane on South Congress, during peak bar time. In the dark. And I was in a skirt. And honestly, being in the skirt was the least of my problems. I kept screaming at her and she just kept yelling over her shoulder, “You are fine! Totally safe.”

Katie:  *but it was bikes!  Bikes are fun!  Day or night!  Fold napkin in lap.*

Trey:  OH, she ALWAYS DOES THIS!  I am JUST realizing it!

Trey and Amanda:  *slow head turns towards me*

Katie:  You guys, you’re telling me that you don’t love to do all these things all day on vacation?

Trey:  I believe the key word missing here is “moderation.”

Katie:  I USE MODERATION!!!!

Amanda:  No.  No you don’t.  I mean….it isn’t a BAD thing!  But you are now outed!!

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The conversation was all in good fun and we all were laughing the entire time.  But it also got me thinking and asking questions.  Maybe we are all built with a different natural type of internal decompression mode.  Maybe some people look for new places, new experiences and a go-go-go attitude when away from their daily lives.  Maybe others crave familiarity and traditions as a way to recharge.  Maybe some like to be in control and make lots of plans while others prefer to show up and figure it out.  Maybe some are a mix.  

Do you tend to lean towards one end?  The truth is, I DO love to explore new places and be outdoors and be moving all the time.  Also, come to think of it, maybe the reason I got put in an immobilization boot for 6 weeks last spring wasn’t just my foot’s fault for giving out on me?

In my mind, a day of doing what you can normally do at home on vacation is a day that STINKS!  Vacation is for trying new things and being in new environments!  I love to end a day feeling like I DID something and have a tired body.  And this doesn’t just have to mean riding a bike…although I think it’s becoming obvious that I may have a repressed obsession with bikes.  But I love to be out and about whether on a mountain or in the ocean or at a park or visiting a museum or checking out different cities and cultures.  It feeds my soul.

My husband tends to be a person of familiarity.  But until recently, I never believed that’s what he actually WANTED to be doing.  He has repeatedly told me how he wants to go see the same places over and over again, yet I’ve interpreted it as, “Ok honey, I get it (add in a wink, wink).  You want to be boring, but secretly….I just know you want to do all the things!  And I’m just the person to help you!”  It must be so fun to be married to me.

And could it be that one set of tendencies is not better than another?  In so many areas of life, balance is key.  Exploration is important because it busts us out of our ordinary environments of home.  We get to see what small fish we are in a big world.  But familiarity provides predictability and allows our senses to relax.  The high-alert part of us gets to take a break.  All of these ways of being are critical to living a full life.   And doing a little give-and-take to honor everyone’s tendencies when we are with friends and spouses is a way of showing respect to each other.  And so, I’m going to try be more self-aware of not only my wishes, but others’ also.  And, I’m also going to work on my poker face.  Because after 16 years of marriage, my manipulative biker ways were finally exposed, which means I must figure out new plans to entice him into barreling down a mountain at breakneck speed on a bike with bad brakes. Some people just need a little encouragement. (I’m looking at you Trey and Amanda.)

Homemade Tortillas: A Magnificent Beat Down

Last week my plan to make tacos was thwarted when our pantry revealed that we existed in a house without tortillas, like a bunch of wild animals. And I thought, “You know, I always hear making tortillas is easy, healthier and better tasting.” When I found Masa mix in the cupboard  my fate was sealed. I would make my own tortillas. A decision that would elicit one of the most magnificent beat downs of my entire life.

I have a difficult time baking with a floury substance of any kind, which pretty much rules out…all baking. I follow every direction (that holds my attention) and the result can best described as “flour bread”. It is not delicious. The good news is that flour is not nutritionally sound, so my inability to cook with it is admirable and makes me a bit of an accidental health nut. I maintain my healthy low-flour lifestyle by purchasing our many bread items and only eating my friend’s tasty homemade stuff. But I do role model health to others by not cooking with flour. They’ll get it.

I mixed the masa, water and salt as instructed and of course it was too dry. So I added water. They suggested adding a teaspoon, but let’s be real. When you are thirsty does a teaspoon of water quench it? No. So why are we putting that expectation on dough? I gave it a blast from the faucet and moved on.

It was encouraging to see the tortilla instructions involved a simple five step process. Five steps = using one hand’s worth of fingers to keep track.

Although. This could explain a lot. A rather unfortunate door mishap took place when I was ten years old, leaving me to do life with 9 and ¾ fingers. Is it entirely possible that the compromised ring finger on my left hand cost me my tortillas? Yes. But, to quote every brilliant preschool teacher, “you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.” Can I play most instruments? No. But I can count to 9 and ¾ on my fingers, and that is something.

Divide the dough into 16-18 balls.

This kind of thing sends me straight into a tailspin. How can I be certain I am creating the kind of balls that will lead me to my 16-18 dough ball goal? What if I have to combine balls, or worse, separate some balls because I only made 10-12 balls? WHAT THEN? Do I go back and adjust all of them, or do I just change the last 6-8 balls? It’s too much for one person! Also: Balls.

Cover with a damp cloth to keep them soft.

This whole thing may have gone to crap, but I nailed this step. Nothing more to say. My balls were all tucked in, happily resting under a damp paper towel.
Using a tortilla press, place a ball between two sheets of plastic and clamp to form a tortilla 5 to 6 inches in diameter.

Who brings diameters into an already intense and dicey situation!? Rude. Now my geometry PTSD was all a flurry.  I was suddenly flashing back to my 10th grade Geometry parent/teacher conference as relayed to me by my mother.

Mom: What is Amanda’s current grade in Geometry? She seems stressed. 

Mr. Imming: Um. I don’t know what to say about Amanda’s grade. All she does is take notes in class. She’s listening. No one tries harder. But, you both need to prepare yourselves because… it’s not good.

Now we know that my math skills were just skewed because I count on 9 ¾ fingers.

As my personal high school geometry trauma became my focus, I failed to absorb the instruction to place the ball between two sheets of plastic. If I am being honest, it is only now while typing out the directions that I did notice this tidbit of info.  

This step also included “tortilla clamping”, which sounded rather cathartic after everything I had been through.

I used up a great deal of time stressing about the 16-18 balls and looking up “diameter”, so I could not afford to dawdle on clamping. I made the decision that “use a tortilla press” was just a phrase, and that it was best to smush the dough like hell with my hand. I suppose they presumed a person lacking a tortilla press would at least think to use a rolling-pin to roll out the dough. Hindsight being 20/20, I feel like that may have been the way to go.

So I smushed like hell. As I looked at my work I thought…it’s so weird this jagged mess will become a perfect circle when I cook it in the pan. Spoiler alert: It did not.

Heat griddle or skillet to medium-high heat, cook the tortillas flipping them every 20-30 seconds.

What the…they need to be flipped every 20-30 seconds?

**Stage 5 Clinger Alert**

Talk about needy! Goodnight! I had hungry children, dogs circling my ankles, a husband stuck at the O’Hare airport, and zero time for dough that wanted me to treat it like a vulnerable snowflake. So, I flipped sometimes. And truly, I think their calculations are off because the flipping seemed to be the harbinger of the devastating crumbling that ensued. I can forgive and forget, I just hope going forward they alter their directions to adopt the line “Flip sometimes, but not really if they are crumbly.”   

The first two tortillas did not survive, but I just figured they were preparing the pan. I do not think “pan preparing” is an actual thing, but it brought me solace. I had eighteen tortilla dough balls, so I did not stress until 8 were completely ruined and only ten remained.

And then hard truths needed to be confronted. Even though I had created the perfect host environment for dough balls by preparing a pan, statistically these 10 were not likely to survive. Here is where I ordered pizza. But I also held on, open to receiving a tortilla miracle. I talked to myself about perseverance, bravery and how these tortillas may take my life, but they will never take my freedom. I was not giving up! Ever. So, I ruined one more and yelled, “I AM OUT!” I had pizza on the way and I was not going to obsess over clean eating at the cost of my self-esteem. They say self-esteem helps you more than clean eating. I don’t actually know if they say that, but neither do you.

My older daughter came down the stairs and found me covered in masa mix and brokenness and asked, “Mom, what is happening?” I told her, “I made homemade tortillas, so we are going to eat this pizza.” She has told that story to approximately 400 people.

I know you want a happy ending to this story. And there is one because we ate pizza.

Next time I’ll teach you how to make this meatloaf. My husband had a craving. Anything involving the word “loaf” is not okay, but the heart wants what it wants, so I made it for him.

Pro tip: Do not stress over timing. The meatloaf will let you know it is ready when black smoke pours out. Simply pop it out, and enjoy.
So good.

If you enjoyed my tortilla debacle, might I suggest my Pinterest Amnesia post?  Here you go….Pinterest Amnesia

How to Grow a Giant Dog On a Simple Diet of Socks, Shoes and Underwear

One day last week was National Puppy Day. We missed it because we have puppies. You can not take your eyes off them or they chew on your iPad. So, we will celebrate now with a puppy update. 

Remember how Amanda and I convinced our husbands that getting puppies was an excellent idea?  Well, per usual, WE WERE RIGHT!!! Our husbands are #blessed.

These little munchkins are now 4 ½ months old.  And also, they aren’t munchkin sized.  Millie packed on 10 pounds last month to bump up to 24 pounds, while Phoebe weighs in at a more petite 20 pounds.   Their vets keep saying scary things like..“Yikes. Did you know she would be such a large dog?” We can not remember anymore what we thought. And since we were told they’d most likely be under 60 pounds, I’m pretty sure this means one thing.  In my family, we grow super-sized dogs no matter the predicted weight.  We are the real life family version of Clifford the Big Red Dog times two.  It’s our special gift.

Our families and friends have been noting how much these dogs favor certain celebrities and fictional characters.

And so, without further adieu, here’s what we came up with.  This little sweet thing….

…she may have been born a canine but she sure resembles a certain ursine.

Hello little Muppet!  Phoebe Fozzie Bear Regas!

And Millie has been narrowed down to two doppleganger possibilities.  Please feel free to voice your thoughts on this riveting topic.

I’m glad her paws are little….I’m sure she’s done growing…
  1. Doc from Back to the Future 
  2. A Fraggle Rock

And one more thing, just to be open and honest.  When we said these puppies have been a great decision, they have.  But let’s not confuse this with meaning “easy and perfect.”  Dull moments don’t exist.  Our couch, along with any surface that’s above her eye level, is stacked with shoes, socks, underwear that she tends to nonchalantly walk by with in her mouth.

Some people have throw pillows on the couch, we have shoes we’d like to not be devoured by the pup.
Millie’s drywall snack

Oh, and Millie tends to get carsick.  I learned this when she puked three times in the car while going to pick up kids from carpool.  And then she threw up again in the car the next day.  But I’m not sure if that was due to the motion or if the sock she ate and vomited back up onto my lap was to blame.  That was a pleasant time.   And apparently, we have a spot on our wall that looks and tastes delicious….goodbye drywall.

Thanks Mills.  Our vet is under strict instruction to look for and locate her internal obedience button and push it when she gets spayed soon.  I’m just certain there has got to be an answer for her shenanigans that don’t include me having to be trained on getting her to obey.

And The Phoebes, well she is perfect. Except that these are the glasses Amanda’s husband used to wear when he wanted to see the world. He left himself vulnerable by allowing his body to sleep and you can’t let your guard down like that. It’s fine. Amanda talks a lot and can just describe things to him. Good practice for the elderly years.

Just as humans like salty and sweet together, Phoebe’s well-developed palate enjoys combining the crunch of glasses with the smoosh of soft socks.

And so, on this Monday, SFB wishes you a happy start to your week.  May your drywall stay intact, socks stay on feet, glasses be uncrunched, and underwear not have the crotch ripped out of them. God bless.

Target Part One: My Bad Check

 

 

 

Like any sane person, I love Target.

Throughout all life’s chapters, Target has provided. Target equipped us with shelving systems and shower baskets for college. In our 20s it is where we created nonsensical wedding registries, believing marriage would require a horseshoe game and 17 candle holders. After the wedding Target was where we returned with gift cards and purchased the laundry baskets we truly needed. Perhaps most importantly, after we had babies Target provided a safe space to be with other adult humans while clutching our infants, our coffee, and the last bits of our sanity. And when those sweet babies pooped up their backs straight to their necks, we conveniently bought Kleenex for our postpartum tears and wipes for the baby’s butt.

Sadly, when it comes to Target I struggle with the dark underbelly of self-sabotage. Twice now, I have nearly ruined Target for myself entirely. Today I will share the first humiliating story.

One morning in my early 20s, I woke up to the phone ringing.  It was Target. Target was a male using an accusatory tone with me.

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Is this Amanda?  

Yes

We need you to come down to Target as soon as possible.

Okay, why?

There is a problem with the check you wrote.

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Now, while it was true that I had a terrifying social worker’s salary, I did not bounce checks.

I was able to head to the store immediately because instead of changing and looking like a person that did not bounce checks, I opted to wear my pajama pants.  With my stomach churning, I drove to the store, obsessing over what might have happened.

After arriving, I offered up proof that I am a trustworthy rule follower with a rock solid checking account by promptly reporting to the customer service area as instructed over the phone. The customer service employee’s face perked up at my name, revealing that everyone had been talking about me. Confident this was their error, I grew irritated. I gathered my pride and glared back at them. 

Then, I felt my pride melt away when they showed me how I had signed my check.

Which looked like this:

 

 

I so enjoy that I included my middle initial. Because I don’t always rip off major retail stores, but when I do I like to be an elegant lady.

My mind reeled back to the moment I wrote the check. I recalled being heavily distracted by unabashedly judging a mother whose young children were throwing fits (several years later I had my children, who not only threw tantrums in checkout lines, they also did things like announcing the color of my underwear to cashiers). In my distraction, I signed my last name “Target.” Which Target described as being “criminal” and “uncashable.”

I looked from my check back to the satisfied eye of the Target employee and whispered, “Yes. Well. That is certainly not correct.” And then it was unanimously agreed upon that I would pay with cash before leaving the store.

You could argue the employee who accepted my check should have noticed, and that’s fine. I am the type of person who signs personal checks Amanda A. Target, so I do not get to comment on the actions of others.

My next Target debacle involves an extremely questionable accidental theft that occurred during the last year. And I can not be entirely sure about the statute of limitations, so we will just let that tale simmer a bit longer. Because you can’t live this kind of suburban mom thug life and not fear the po po.

Decluttering: A Post to Make You Feel Better About Your Home

This summer I will both turn 40 and celebrate a 15 year wedding anniversary. And I am finding this phase of life to be a pretty beautiful spot, although sometimes the minivan still smarts a bit. And with what is clearly a midlife crisis slapping me straight across the face these milestones hitting, I now feel a strong inclination to shed excess physical and mental clutter from my family’s life. And I have learned the mental and physical do overlap in numerous ways. During this next stretch in life, I want to place more focus on what’s valuable and essential, and less on any literal or mental junk standing in the way of achieving that goal. The mental clutter, let’s just say I am working on it. But today I will talk about the physical decluttering.  

As with most things, I considered easier alternatives. I stood in the doorway of cluttered rooms and prayed for the rapture. But I feared God might facepalm after glimpsing at this abundance of crap and say “OMG, Amanda.” As it turns out, decluttering is like any area of life in which you seek transformation. You have to do the work. It’s annoying.

Starting the process felt much less overwhelming after I began following the work of The Minimalists, who believe decluttering improves life on every level. I have tried, on a beginner’s level, to adopt a minimalistic approach for decluttering our home. In case you are wondering, minimalistic approach is fancy suburban lingo for “tossing junk out.” It challenges people to keep only what is needed and life-giving.  And additionally, minimalism encourages putting more thought into purchases with the goal of buying fewer, better things. Our parents just called this process “getting rid of stuff.” But we like All Of The Meaning.

Let me walk you through some of what I’ve experienced thus far. It will be fun. You can screenshot my pictures and send them to friends along with the screaming emoji in place of text because it will say everything that needs to be said. I like helping you with your friendships.

 

First of all, you learn interesting facts about yourself when you declutter. For instance, apparently, the part of my brain meant for organizing was being used to obsess over cinnamon.

I think we can now picture the trailer for my Hoarders episode…

The camera pans around a room littered with ground cinnamon spice bottles stacked straight up to the rafters (I don’t really know what rafters are). Finally, the camera comes to rest on me, sitting on a couch clutching cinnamon sticks. Then it will cut to a therapist reminding me that spices will never bring me love, but his words will be drowned out by the meows of all my cats named Cinnamon.

 

Tupperware has proven to be an integral part of my personal non-minimalistic hell. Nevertheless, I conquered my Goliath with grace and dignity. My husband, inspired by my “can do” attitude, captured this moment.

#ShutUpTupperwareIHateYouSoHard  

PS: I did not know we had a wok. That’s kind of fun

 

And here is the Regas family sock basket. It is the actual worst.

Fix it, Jesus.

One of our goals with this blog is to provide our daughters with something they can read in the future that will normalize their feelings since few people voice their personal truths due to their desire to appear perfect. So, eventually, they will read every word we write.  

I tell you this not to be deep, but so you understand why I can’t use all the freaking four letter words to talk about this sock basket and the pain it brings me. But just know in your heart, the swears I’ve invented because of these socks would make grown men flee from locker rooms. %&*$!

 

Children add unique challenges to organizing. And little girls seem particularly drawn towards collections of toys where each one is the size of a pinky nail.

Shopkins creator, you SOB. Whoops, forgot about our daughters already.

 

Remember Monica’s secret closet on Friends? Hi, this is mine.

Apparently, glue is hot on cinnamon’s tail in a race to my Hoarder’s episode.

 

My question is not just why did I hold onto these things…but how? I can not keep track of my children’s birth certificates. I lost my engagement ring. I know I had gerbils as a kid, but I am nervous because I don’t remember them dying. 

In all seriousness, having less stuff and more order has already brought an increased sense of peace and calm to my life. When I fix the clutter, it has such an impact on my mental state. This impact is a huge deal because inside my brain lives a pinball machine. Stuff shoots around and sets off other stuff that shoots around, and there are lots of flashing lights and music. Decluttering cuts the noise.

The process of purging has proven to be cathartic as letting go can be profound. We need to hold onto our past, but probably loosen the grip a little. Some of the physical stuff can go. Going through this process is certainly more intense than paring down your drinkware. But it helps you work through things, which is a gift.

My house remains full of junk that must go. Becoming Aminimalanda will always be a work in progress. My most recent efforts have included participating in the Black Shutters White House 40 Bags in 40 days declutter challenge. I was a little uncertain we would have enough stuff to fill bags for 40 days because I have been working on decluttering for a while. But I think as we reflect on the few pictures I have shared, you won’t be surprised to know I have found plenty more to purge.

So, check out the 40 Day Challenge, it’s a good place to start. I have not done it perfectly. I had to fill five bags today to make up for lost time. No one died. Maybe the gerbils if they were in there. And take a look at  Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things by The Minimalists.

And also, please watch this video by JP Sears. And then all of his others. We need to avoid taking ourselves too seriously.

Being a Minimalist – Ultra Spiritual Life episode 55

 

Christmas Lights: Someone Help Us

The night after Thanksgiving we decided to check out Christmas lights. The location was 45 minutes away but drew us in with its unique setting: four million lights placed along a 2-mile path through a park.  

What you are about to read is the story of our 2 hour and 45-minute voyage, just to start that 2-mile path. It is a tale of struggle and survival, and ultimately overcoming insurmountable odds to experience the magic of Christmas. As narrated in my head.

……………………………………….

Man, it took 45 minutes to get here!  But that’s totally fine. The memory will be worth it. First Christmas outing of the season! Going to be awesome. I guess we just sit in this line for a minute.  Turning on Christmas music. Yay!

………………………………………..

We have been waiting awhile. None of these cars are moving. It’s fine. I have pretzels. I’ll pull them out if this takes much longer

………………………………………..

Passing the time by playing “Guess the Character.” My six year old just gave clues to describe Dumbo by saying “He’s a boy. He has a very long front tail”, and I was able to restrain myself from giggling. I handled it like a boss. (That’s what she said.)

………………………………………..

Mother. It just dawned on me that porta potties line this road. They knew about the waiting. Dear God. They knew. What have we done?

………………………………………..

Evie has cried, laughed, whined and cried again. All within the last minute.

………………………………………..

We live here now. It’s fine. We will combine Christmas cards and change of address cards. It’s cute when people do that.

………………………………………..

The tone in the car keeps vacillating between joy and Hunger Games

………………………………………..

To use this time wisely, I have mentally devised the perfect house staff. Tony Macelli as our nanny, friend, and confidant, Sookie St. James for the chef, Mr. Belvedere as our butler.

Our driver: David Hasselhoff and the Knight Rider car, KITT

………………………………………..

My family has begun turning on one another. As matriarch, I remain steadfast. I will now role model a positive attitude amidst the negativity

………………………………………..

It will be a cold day in hell before I tell these fools about the pretzels I’m packing.

………………………………………..

If one more version of Jingle Bell Rock comes on, as God is my witness, I will lob this iPhone and its Christmas Pandora station straight at that Snoopy inflatable.  

………………………………………..

Mary gave birth in a barn without an epidural after traversing afar on a donkey while in labor. I can wait in this line.

………………………………………..

I hate Santa.

………………………………………..

My husband just pointed at one lit up house in an otherwise empty subdivision and tried to convince the girls it was the light show. I swear I saw them considering the option of going along with his deception

………………………………………..

I have started choosing people to do life with if we need to form alliances.

My picks:

1: Cargo Van family is my top choice because I am imagining the Von Trapps. The Von Trapps make a fun song out of everyday occurrences and clothes out of anything. They also escape their enemies like a boss. This family will make us matching alliance bandanas from their car seat fabric. 

2: The Christmas group traveling in the Hummer limo because I am not that strong, so I will need a place to rest while the others do whatever happens in an alliance. Plus it probably has a fridge with snacks. No alliance is complete without snacks.

3: The bearded guy in the car with the smashed-up side. We are going to need that kind of grit.

………………………………………..

Santa Baby is on. Again. We get it. You’re seductive

………………………………………..

Common law marriage has now kicked in for anyone sitting in this line that brought a date.  

………………………………………..

Police lights are coming up behind us! A rescue effort! It’s a Christmas miracle!

………………………………………..

The worst has happened. It turns out the police came to create a second lane. People who have not been waiting at all are being allowed to merge in and form a new line. This act has defeated and shattered my husband. Rocked him to his core. He can only whisper “This doesn’t make any sense. None of it makes sense.”

………………………………………..

Christmas music hurts my feelings. Everything is hard. I miss my old life

………………………………………..

This line is moving! Our cars are moving! Sweet mother of all that is holy and pure. We are moving! I will never take not being in line for granted again. I am going to start living my life differently. More generously. You never know when you will be stuck in standstill traffic. We must live every day like this might happen again.

Aw, man these lights are beautiful. Just look at our happy kids. All four of us will always remember the quality family time we set aside tonight to foster family bonding. We nailed this. I love this family. Christmas is the best. 

We are so doing this again next year.

Pinterest Amnesia

I cannot craft. Everything about crafting trips me up. I bought a glue gun a few years ago and nearly lost an eye, and that doesn’t even make sense. Here is what I have to offer craft wise: I will make a batch of margaritas for your crafting party.

Even after eleventeen thousand disastrous crafting ventures, I keep trying. It reminds me of the phenomenon referred to as labor amnesia where one “forgets” the pain of labor. People believe this occurs so we can muster up enough courage to procreate again. I find this idea alarming. If we can forget that we have expelled an entire human out of our body, we probably don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of keeping track of them afterward. However, I do believe in Pinterest amnesia. Pinterest amnesia is a very real (it’s not real) coping mechanism. One that allows us to bury the trauma associated with past Pinterest fails. The shame and regret experienced when Mod Podge ruins our projects and our lives are swallowed up, erased from memory. Allowing us to continue looking at our Pinterest boards with hope. 

Pinterest amnesia is how my  friend Lori can make something like this and still soldier on to pin another day:

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Her goal was to teach her children the symbolism behind candy canes. And yes, maybe she missed the mark. But if anyone ever needs to know what a tapeworm strangling some licorice looks like, Lori has provided a visual. Thank you, Lori.

Because I have The Pinterest Amnesia, I attempted these three crafts/recipes. Which, by the way, most of you could nail, and I highly recommend. Even though things went wrong during the process, they still ended up kind of cute. Except for that middle one. The way I flubbed that one was to completely forget about it until my 6-year old daughter asked where it was on Thanksgiving. She then teared up after I gave her the news. I gave her a dollar for her therapy jar and sent her on her way.

Edible Thanksgiving Turkey Place Card or Centerpiece from firstyearblog.com
Edible Thanksgiving Turkey Place Card or Centerpiece from firstyearblog.com
Turkey Fruit Platter from The First Year Blog
Turkey Fruit Platter from The First Year Blog
Pilgrim Hat Cookies from Sippycupmom.com
Pilgrim Hat Cookies from Sippycupmom.com

We started with the turkey place card holder made with pears. We hit our first glitch straightaway during the first step. I struggled to get the first pear to submit to me and stand up after being halved. After consulting the directions, it came to light that I had not yet read any of the directions. I was not supposed to cut the pear in half because a halved pear cannot balance. I sacrificed the pear for no reason. So we brought in a green apple to act as runner-up to the pear, who was unable to fulfill his role. But there is always a silver lining. We got to watch G.R. confront his texture issues whilst trying to eat a grainy pear.

Then, we faced a grim reality. None of the pears were capable of balancing. The author of the craft had warned of this dilemma and encouraged checking the pears balance potential before purchase, which tells me Walmart grocery pick up is not yet available in her area. I tend to live on the wild side of suburban life, so I let the grocery pick up associate choose my pears. And you know what? I am not even going to call Walmart to complain about the instability of the pears they sell because it is the holiday season. I choose grace. We are over-comers in this house, so we stoically jammed toothpicks up the pears hindquarters to prop them up.

Things went further south because I had gone rogue, deciding against purchasing candy eyes. We already had google eyes in our craft bin, so I decided to practice frugality and save the 98 cents. That left wiggle room to afford the $4,683 worth of fruit the crafts required. Unfortunately, I had failed to factor in the humongous size of the google eyes we owned.

Our turkeys look like they attended a riot just after being tested for glaucoma.

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Or maybe they are still reeling from taking a toothpick up the badonk. That seems fair.

But you know what? Making them was fun. We laughed. We spent time together. The kids tried the dried fruit and liked it, allowing me to give a moving soliloquy on the merits of just freaking trying things because you might freaking like them. Yes, my daughters bounced between 14 different emotions during the process, but that’s how everyone acts during the holidays, so I just found them to be festive. And I think crafts are nice during the holidays because they bring me to my knees, a convenient position in which to pray, and that keeps my focus on the actual reason for the season. It’s all beautifully connected.

Someday I will say to our girls, “Remember all the fun we had making those turkey pears? Let’s do that with your kids!” And hopefully, my daughters will look back on the experience fondly and agree wholeheartedly, only recalling when it is too late to turn back how our fingers transformed into bloody stumps from sliding dried fruit on sharp toothpicks. But it will be okay. Because they will be in charge and I am going to laugh at them.

The holidays can feel strikingly similar to navigating a Pinterest craft. A lot of emotional highs and lows. Continually jumping back and forth between having perspective and losing sight of it. Attempting perfection and then being humbled when it is not achieved. One day you might step outside and note that all your neighbor’s homes are lit up like a magical winter wonderland, and then turn and look at the Halloween pumpkins that still adorn your porch. That happened to my friend (me). Hopefully, in the end, we will carry the positive snippets away and forget the rest. We can call that holiday amnesia.

Stay tuned for Christmas crafts. I will make stuff like this fancy replica of a Christmas poke cake. Try to guess which one is mine.

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Happy holidays!

 

Altering Our Technique

Is it appropriate to send flowers to the Walgreens immunization-trained health care professional that saw my youngest two children? I really do hope her hearing returns by 2017.  We experienced a “minor” (MAJOR) freak out there a few days ago.  

The day started off lovely.  My little two slept in a bit because they had doctor appointments that morning and taking them to school for only an hour before having to pick them up seemed, well….like so much effort, especially for this non-morning person Mama.  We high-fived the extra hour of sleep instead.  We went to meet a new pediatrician.  Over a year has passed since moving to a new Texas town, so it was time to officially fill out all the paperwork in all the land and switch over all the doctors.  This also meant that my hand felt the beginning stages of carpal tunnel.  

Anyways, I was a good mom.  I prepared the children.  I set appropriate expectations.  Being that they are 7 and 9 I figured they could handle this.  I told them they would be getting a flu shot.  That went over fine because, you know…..they had always chosen to snort the live virus and forego the eensy teeny tiny needle.  So then I over prepared the children by telling them that the flu mist wasn’t available and that the only option was the shot.  They knew of this information approximately a week before the visit.

Maybe finding Reese in the fetal position in her bed crying the night before the appointment should have been my first clue that my “good momming” was not going to have the outcome I had hoped.  I comforted her.  I assured her that even though so-and-so told her that the shot absolutely is the worst pain EVER and lasted for WEEKS that this was not true and the ear piercings she experienced months before were WAY worse than this shot.  Of course, she replied, “MOM!  IT WAS SO PAINFUL TO PIERCE MY EARS!  THIS DOES NOT HELP!”  Look, I tried.  I am not always the human form of a big bowl of mac-and-cheese comfort food.

But no worries, because Landry the 7-year-old, had been announcing to the entire family as many times as possible, “YOU GUYS….HOW IS IT THAT I AM THE BABY OF THE FAMILY AND I AM THE ONLY ONE NOT FREAKED OUT ABOUT THIS?”  I don’t know, but YOU GO little caboose.

We arrived.  We received the call to go back, they weighed, they measured height, they swiped forehead temperatures, the children were winning this appointment by answering the nurses questions about their ages and where they attended school and then she left the room.  And then, like a storm that comes from out of nowhere, I looked and Reese went down!  Tears flowed freely and her voice exponentially upped some levels.  And then….mmm hmmm…..my youngest folded like a wet napkin and she joined the newly formed Choir of Agony led by Reese.  As you can imagine, I knew at that moment that I was not going to be awarded Mom of the Day by this physician’s practice.

However, hope returned!  The nurse returned to deliver the news that they were totally out of flu shots!  There was NO WAY they would even be getting a shot…..until the shipment arrived and I brought them back after school.  I said, “Girlies!  Great news!  NO SHOTS!!! YAYYY!!!!  You can stop crying because you aren’t getting them now!”  Sweet relief.  Except they started crying harder and let me know that they were going to think about the shot allllll dayyyyyyy because they just knew I’d bring them back for the arm amputation that afternoon.  They finally did simmer down and finish out the appointment like only semi traumatized kids.

So when we left, I dug into my mental mom bag.  I altered my technique.  

Me:  Hey girls, before I drop you off at school, I need to go to Walgreens.  LET’S GO!

Girls:  YAY!!!  NO SCHOOL YET!!!

Landry:  Why are you in the line for the medicine person Mommy?

Me:  I have to ask them a question.  Hey, you two, have a seat over there in that little kind of office section.

Landry:  Why are we still sitting here?  And I heard you tell them my birthday, why were you doing that?

Reese: Can I play Pokemon Go?  ←- much easier child to deal with when oblivious to impending situation.

Me:  Hey look in this magazine, did you see these funky shoes?  AREN’T THOSE CRAZY????

Shot Lady:  Landry….Reese…..come on back!

*******TENSION EXUDING FROM CHILDREN*******

Girls:  WHY ARE WE IN HERE?  MOM…..ARE YOU MAKING US GET THE SHOT NOWWWW???????

I cannot appropriately express with typed words the level of screams, the attempted hiding in corners while assuming the fetal position, the amount of tears and the flashing of future therapy sessions in my mind that occurred over the next 3 minutes.  It was ugly.  There was no reasoning.  There were no words to ease this blaring meltdown.  The technician quickly felt the interior of her brain suddenly go from “happy morning” to “ferocious migraine”….sorry bout that.  And three minutes later…

Reese: MOMMMM!!!!!  IT’S GOING TO BE THE WORRRSTTTT PAINNNNNN EE…

*****shot goes in***

Reese: ver.  (starts laughing) Hey!  That didn’t even hurt.  OH MY GOSH THAT DIDN’T EVEN HURT!  HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!  Cool Bandaid!

Landry:  NOOOO! IT WILLLLL HURRRRTTTT M….

****shot goes in****

Landry: ..e.  HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!  THAT WAS SO EASY AND I BARELY FELT ANYTHING!!! SO FUNNY, RIGHT REESE?!

We exited to an entire line of adults standing at the pharmacy line staring at us.  They were expecting at least 1,000 kids smushed in the room to leave with the noise level we exhibited and were waiting to see painful, gaping, open wounds which would justify the screams.  When they saw the girls, almost all of them started sympathetically chuckling and telling the girls that they did a good job.   

We left.  I took them to an early lunch.  They were so light on their feet as we went for food.  Weights had been lifted off their shoulders and they told me they were SO GLAD they didn’t wait until after school to go back to the doctor because they had been so overcome with worry.  They started giggling so hard they snorted reliving their past hour and half.  Deep belly laughs were heard all throughout that sandwich shop as they felt the sweet relief of their fears not coming to fruition.

It got me to thinking, how many times do we, as adults, mentally freak out over thoughts we build up in our mind?  Fear can be such a jerk.  It can overtake our emotions like a flood and hijack our rational thoughts.  

So often, we assume and prepare for the worst possible impending wound, when in actuality we might have a minor poke coming our way.  Or just maybe that “wound” could even be FOR US….to protect us or end up being a blessing.  

So today I encourage you to think of parts of your life where fear might be holding you back.  Maybe your brain is whispering things like “what if.”  I use to suffer from the “what ifs” quite often.  I’ve gotten better about it through talking with Trey.  He always has the same response to this anxiety and fear filled question.  It goes like this…

Me:  Trey, but WHAT IF this ends up happening?  

Trey:  What if?

Me:  Trey, but WHAT IF people think ____?

Trey:  What if?

Me:  Trey, but WHAT IF I ruin ____?

Trey:  What if?

And he’s right.  His response is so simple, yet always so true.  WHAT IF?  What if we fail?  What if people think blahhhh about us or our choices?  

The Bible has something to say about us and our choices when we make them with intentions and desire to honor and glorify God.  Things like:

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1)

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

Does He promise things will go smoothly?  Nope.  Does He promise everything will work out just how we want?  Nope.  But you will never be alone.  You are infinitely loved.  There is no mental freak out that He cannot handle or behavior that surprises Him.  He is our steady in the chaos.

Sometimes we have to fight our fears.  We have to lean towards the uncomfortable rather than letting fear paralyze us and hold us back.  We have to alter our technique.

My girls did.  Albeit, they did it while sitting on my lap and me so “gently” holding them down and whispering in their ear that it was going to be okay.  They were stuck with me helping them….sorry about that girls.  But we all have God….the ultimate comforter.

And do you know who else should get to experience God being the ultimate comforter to these little ladies next year?  Trey.  As his wife, I am deeply invested in his spiritual life and will not let him miss out on a religious experience. So, next year, it will be flu church for the entire family.

Have a great day everyone.  We can do hard things.  

Back Off Bears

Last June, Katie and I took a trip to Colorado to launch our blog. Our husbands, excited and supportive of us, pushed us to use the time to write and plan while free of children and responsibilities. So we zip lined, ate, drank, hiked, ate, rafted, and drank all week and started our blog 6 months later. These things can’t be rushed we explained.

While we were on the mountain I was absolutely convinced we were going to be eaten by bears. It really seemed likely. Rather, given our collective life experiences and general personality traits it felt entirely unavoidable. And the best advice people have for bear confrontations is to look tall and speak loudly. This is useless, I am always 5’4. On my tiptoes I can aim for a questionable 5’5, but I will never “look tall”. That’s not even a thing. But I am quite loud, and in this situation that becomes a coveted life skill, which is kind of nice and flattering. But flattery was going to get me nowhere, so I just accepted that this was how I was going to die.

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As we walked through the mountains I was on high alert. But time passed and I began thinking: what is this strange feeling? I don’t recognize this sensation. I figured out I was relaxed. Immediately I knew this meant an attack was imminent, probably underway. I had grown complacent. I needed to step it up, scan the periphery. So I scanned and looked for a black bear.. or a grizzly bear.  For all I knew, it could have been a Berenstain Bear, because I had no actual clue what I was looking for, but I was certain that when our eyes locked it would become clear to both of us. All of my senses were heightened while my eyes darted around.

Which was unfortunate, because the exact moment that I realized I had dropped bear duty (I’m not fixing that sentence because it’s just such a glorious happy accident) and decided to buckle down, Katie gasped. Loudly.

She gasped in a way that one should ONLY gasp if one of the following is occurring:

1) You have caught on fire.

2) You just gathered yourself after tripping badonk over noggin on top of a bear cub, only to stand up and find the mother “looking tall” and looming over you while making a Chewbacca noise.

3) You realized the guy you didn’t fully understand in India circa 1999, but said yes to anyway, is now putting a monkey on your head and taking a picture, which is apparently a thing they do to idiot tourists, and then when you’re all “Listen, I do not need a monkey on my head, nor did I ask for one,” they fight you on it. Then you are out money because you know you can’t explain what happened to the Indian police, who have now been alerted, and while you know the police understand what happened, there is a vibe of solidarity amidst the monkey guy and the police forged upon the fact that they both agree you are an idiot. And traveling to foreign countries to help forge common bonds among people is nice, so you pay the money. And your friend does get the picture, so even though you have a monkey disease now, you also have a picture marking the moment you learned that you can get a passport and go on a religion class field trip to India, but it does not make you worldly. And your life is now divided into the part before the monkey was on your head and your new life afterward.

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(Note: Let’s talk about my people pleasing tendencies another time, shown above through my forced smile.)

So, Katie gasped and I swear to you on all that is holy and pure and right in this world, the adrenaline surge that swept through my body could have powered a small city.  During those  seconds I made plans to befriend the bear, and for my funeral and became excited about how I would finally be on the cover of People. When I thought about my funeral I knew exactly which friends would be laughing over how I had died, and I contemplated how much I liked them for that fact alone. I also knew that I wanted The Fray to sing “Be Still”. And I’m not going to lie, it’s a bit of a let down that I didn’t die so The Fray won’t be singing at my funeral, but I take solace in knowing that even had I died, The Fray do not know me and would definitely not have sung at my funeral. Thank God for small favors.

So I looked over at Katie, ready to face my fate. And she was gazing happily at a deer that had frolicked upon us. Or an elk, or a caribou, or a marmot, one can not really know. Here is what I do know, it was not a bear and we did not die.

The End.

Hi. We made a blog. We think. We aren’t totally sure.

Here is the deal. We don’t know what we are doing.

We are both in the midst of sorting out a plethora of things during this phase of life. But also, we have not one clue what we are doing with this blog.

We just spent 20 minutes on FaceTime trying to log on to our own website. A website we created months ago. And during the entirety of that conversation, which was basically us randomly shouting out things we thought might be the password, we could not actually see each other because FaceTime was broken.  And I think we all know that FaceTime was not broken.

But I like to think Maya Angelou was going through something similar when she said, “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” That tells me Maya Angelou believes that  one day we will have options for our profile picture, because we will know how to change it.  With the late Maya Angelou being so supportive of our little blog, we know we’ve got this.

So we start this thing today because if we wait until we know what we are doing, it will never ever happen. Hopefully you will join us as we sort out life and this blog. Life can be hard, but based on what we have seen blog wise so far, we may actually figure that out first and that will be exciting and handy for everyone, so there will be no losers.

If you happen to already have life figured out, please know this: We think you are amazing. But please do not follow us because no offense, and we mean this in the very best way, you are a liar. It would be impossible to sit and read our blog anyway with your  pants on fire.

Everyone else hop on. It is either going to go fantastically well or be a spectacular failure, you will not want to miss it either way.
(One thing we have figured out…Insta and Facebook pages. Because sharing ridiculous memes is an absolute priority. Join both by clicking on the buttons to the right. )