Tag Archives: lighthearted

Rules! Rules! Rules!

The car door opened courtesy of tiny familiar hands that I love so much.  I arrived at the carpool line extra early excitedly waiting to get the run down.  My two little elementary school ladies stepped inside the vehicle and I began the peppering of questions.  The first day of school was officially over.  I maturely squealed, “MY GIRLS!!!!  HIIIII!!!  HOW WAS YOUR DAYYYYYY?”  

They left my house 8 hours earlier completely prepared for greatness.  They sported unstained clothing THAT I IRONED, brushed teeth, combed and styled hair, healthy lunches with handwritten notes, full water bottles, filled out mandatory forms, and they received a hug and kiss from both parents.  For some, this is the norm.  In our home, this lasts maybe five days before I start justifying the smacking of the snooze button.  I tell myself that 5 more minutes will not cause us to rush too much (lies) and that frozen pb&j’s do contain protein and thaw by lunch.  And as for the iron, well, it makes a better collector of dust most days than a releaser of wrinkles.  But on the first day, I like to give the teachers false hope that these children belong to parents that will sign all the notes all year long and read all the newsletters sent home.  I usually wait until October to begin the tour of disappointment.  

So, when the response I received from my elementary school daughter started off with an incredibly deep and dramatic inhale, along with an even longer and louder exhale, complete with eyes rolled to the tippy top of her lids, I braced myself for the response.  She said, “UGGGGHHHHH!!!!  IT WAS AWWWWFUL!!!!”  I asked her why and she immediately responded with one word, three times over, “RULES!! RULES!! RULES!!!!”

She went on to explain to me that her entire day was made up learning rules.  In her opinion, school is a place for reading, learning and tests, NOT spending days going over RULES.  At this point, I asked her to smile for my phone so I could show her daddy her thoughts on the first day.  She did not smile. I might need to work on my compassion-when-kids-are-venting button.

Not only did she learn rules in her classroom, she learned rules in the cafeteria, and there were rules on the playground, and the library was not even open yet but if it had been you can bet there would have been rules there too.  Plus they had to write about rules, read about rules, repeat the rules, and she might have even come home with a new tattoo on her back that said, “RULES.”  Fine, no physical tattoo was made but a mental one was ingrained into her soul obviously.

Honestly, I do not blame her.  And I do not blame the teachers.  Clear cut expectations are so important.  Can you even imagine if the teachers had to explain these rules to every child individually?  We would have no teachers. I do not even like asking my dogs to “sit” and “stay” more than once because…..well…..all the verbalizing is just draining. So, to me, it seems logical that the first week of school would be a time for group rule smackdowns.  How many times can one adult explain the process of dumping lunch trays?  At some point, I would not blame these teachers if they just zombie walked out of the building.  They would be blankly walking with their arms straight out, eyes bulging, and repeating in a monotone voice “please tilt your tray this way and tap it on the end of the trash can in order to dump all the food you just stirred in a circle 5,000 times and mixed with the jello and vegetable medley mush.  Then please stack it on top of the last tray that our classroom friend dumped.”  Teacher’s mental survival depends upon all our little offspring knowing what to do.  

And I don’t blame my girl either.  No one likes to sit and hear how their daily discipline is going up 1,000% after summer.  And it isn’t because she is from a generation of electronic kids that have no respect or attention span.  I’m tired of hearing that from people.  I, personally, have seen scores upon scores of kids intentionally practicing kindness in this generation.  And know what group of people plays a big role in positive character development?  TEACHERS.  But to sit and listen to this information does not mean it is enjoyable.  

I, for one, have no desire to sit and convince her to love the rules.  Let’s be honest, they really aren’t fun sometimes.  In the Old Testament, the term “law” is the translated word for the Hebrew term, Torah, or “instruction.”  The people of Israel needed guidance from God.  Humans have always needed instruction.  And instruction is good.  One way God provided it was through the Mosaic Law.   It guided people morally, socially and ceremonially by having over 600 commands that covered all aspects of life.  And it gave Israel the recipe for ways to receive blessings. My point is that laws and rules have been around FOR A LONG TIME.  And my daughter is not the first person to have that feeling of “me no likey.”

Someday, she will grow up and will not have to sit and almost suffocate from listening to adults read rules out loud.  However, I do hope teachers and this family can burn certain instructions into her brain and heart for daily living.  I want her to respect others and herself, to listen before she speaks, to be able to learn and speak truth and to love others well, to make sure her binder gets signed every time she needs to go potty….  And I hope she practices applying grace to herself and to others.  Because that’s what Christ did for us. Once God sent Jesus to this earth, Christians were no longer bound to the Mosaic Law.  And thank goodness because over 600 commands are impossible to keep.  We now have the Holy Spirit in us as believers.  And we are recipients of grace by no doing of our own.  And this is great news…..for believers, for children who hate rules, for teachers who are faithfully serving children (THANK YOU JESUS), for parents who are trying their hardest to raise their family, and possibly for dog owners that find their new pair of shoes with teeth marks all in them.

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.

*************************************************************************

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!!

********************************************************************

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!!

***********************************************************************

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.

—————————————————

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

 

Millie and Phoebe

When we work on the blog together, we tend to become distracted.  This is probably shocking news to no one.  And this could also be the reason our blog finally came together once Katie moved 5 hours away. During one particular “business meeting,”  when we were probably discussing the basics of computer application programming interface, we somehow found ourselves looking up Goldendoodle puppies. We decided Amanda needed a Goldendoodle named Wrigley to pay homage to G.R.’s long time love of the Chicago Cubs (that might have been a ploy to get him to go along with puppy). And over time, we’ve joked about that cute imaginary puppy that would likely never actually exist.  Until…..

A few weeks ago, one of our dear friends discovered some puppies were born. And the puppies were going to be ready for their new homes around Christmas. And there were only two girl puppies left. And if we wanted them, quick decisions were necessary because we weren’t the only people that thought these puppies were cute.  And our friend started dropping texts to Trey and then SOMEHOW those got passed along to G.R….NATURALLY.  And next thing we knew…..all of us adults completely lost our minds and said yes to getting SISTER PUPPIES!

And then we all met up, picked up our puppies and we’ve lived in complete bliss ever since.  JUST KIDDING!

In actuality, the day after Christmas the Smith and Regas families met up in Ranger, Texas to pick up our new Goldendoodle puppies, Millie and Phoebe. Or as we sometimes refer to them, Chaos and Homewrecker. Actually, both girls are super sweet and affectionate.  And both immediately requested a picture together with their new fathers.

Trey and G.R. are thrilled to be adding more girls to their homes! They hope these girls will have strong personalities and lots of feelings.
The fool in this picture smugly believed she just scored the world’s most mellow dog. That’s cute.

Wanting to set appropriate expectations about their new lives right away we took them directly to a Dairy Queen by a gas station and ate on the ground next to a garbage can while clutching them. We should mention, this was after we got kicked out of the DQ for bringing in dogs. The DQ owners apparently don’t understand we have a blog with upwards of 20 followers.

Moments later things went bananas when bees swarmed our children and Amanda learned she was sitting on gum.

We’ve now had the pups in our homes for a week and a half or so.  Personalities have emerged.  The dogs have some quirks. Which, of course they do. Because why would we have normal animals?  We compared puppy notes recently

According to Amanda:

Phoebe enjoys savoring the bitter spray purchased to make her stop chewing on all of the things ever. She longs to eat anything doused with this and now opens her mouth so it can be sprayed directly into her mouth. Now I can only hope the salt from my tears will act as a future chewing repellant after she eats our baseboards.

Phoebe also prefers to sleep in ways that seem horrible and assure the need for an expensive spinal surgery within three years.

And the report from Katie…

Millie, well she holds the title as the first dog or first anything for that matter, that has inspired me to pick up a new morning habit of coffee.  That’s right, I never felt the need to drink it in college, or while teaching, or while raising three small children, or caring for multiple other pets.  But Millie, she didn’t place a high level of importance on the day/night cycle for a bit.  And no matter how close or far away we put her at night, she used that gifted voice to let us know she wasn’t happy about the attempted force of sleep.  Of course, with her stellar puppy-like ability to fall into a peaceful dead-to-the-world slumber during the day, she did not lack for beauty rest.  Just look at her….

In the past week and a half, I “may” have held a family vote one night at dinner to see if any Smiths thought we had made the world’s biggest mistake. Luckily it was a unanimous no. And I’ve possibly thanked my husband for telling me that our family was complete after three children because being up at night for just one week brought back repressed memories of what it was like to have newborn babies in the house and feeling like I’d never run on a schedule or sleep again.  

Thankfully, Smith family life has finally clicked with this sweet little lady, and she’s fallen right in line.  Except when she has the puppy crazies and her head looks like it might spin off her body from the twisting to chew anything on her puppy teeth.  She is quite enamored with her VERY big brother, Tucker.  And Charlie the cat is completely obsessed with her.  Or thinks she’s prey….TBD.

Hey puppy, you see my paw? Watch how it whacks you over and over again!
“Hey Tucker, I love you.” -Millie

Just look at Mosby telling Amanda his initial thoughts on the new family addition.

Stop trying to shame me, Mosby.

And so, it’s entirely possible that The Adventures of Phoebe and Millie will be making quite a few appearances on Sprained Funny Bone. I mean, who doesn’t love cute puppy pics? And we know these puppies are going to be trouble. And what frustrates us with these teensy monsters will be your ticket to mock us. So join us at @sprainedfunnyboneoninsta on Insta, because you are not going to want to miss this hot mess.

 

PUPPIES!!!

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.

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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!

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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

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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.)

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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?

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

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

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

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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

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

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

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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.  

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

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I hate Santa.

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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

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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.

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

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

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

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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.”

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

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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.

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.