Enough is Enough?

This will be the post that gets an ugly anonymous comment. (All real bloggers get them.) I can feel it.  I have to write it.  It is not about a blog or  bloggers who link to a couple of memes I am aware of that have to do with what I am about to say.  I think the internet has room for all different beliefs.  I think they are on trend rather than responsible for the basis of the trend in thinking.

What I have to share today is fueled by my real life experience.

Women  tend to get hung up in the idea of not being adequate to the task before them.  Tasks.  We have to do like the cologne ad from the 70s…”bring home the bacon, fry it up in the pan, and never let him forget he’s a man.”

Actually, the ad was based on a remake of a song (the writer’s grandchildren will probably emerge and sue me. They can have all the money I’ve made off the blog. I’ll dig through the bottom of my purse.)

I digress.

We get hung up.

When we’re small, the only expectations we have to deal with are those of our parents; we don’t have any for ourselves, yet.  As we grow, we add those of teachers and peers.  At some point, we begin to feel expectations for ourselves, but they’re freighted with what others expect of us.  As we become adults, we hope to be productive citizens, adding the expectations of employers, employees, a spouse and the culture to the load we bear.

I’ve been seeing and hearing a whisper on the wind of something I believe will become a movement.  It’s on coffee mugs and tote bags.  Blogs and Devotional books…

YOU ARE ENOUGH.

I think what this is attempting to say is, “Do what you can and don’t worry about the rest”.

Maybe, “Don’t carry around others’ expectations,”…which are both good things.  If that’s what you’re trying to say, say it.

If I’m enough, I wouldn’t need anyone else.  Isolation makes people lose perspective.  We’ve seen it in a lot of different ways, from our crazy uncle to people who shoot guns into crowds.

This kind of thinking is arrogant.  “I am all I need.”  Bit of a slap in the face to those who support you and take up your slack.

We need others.  Husband or wife, kids, faith community, neighbors (ever locked yourself out of your own house? At night?).

It’s difficult to reconcile self-sufficiency with scripture.  Jesus Christ, Himself, had helpers.

What would we do without each other?  I don’t know what I would’ve done without my blog friends over the last three years.  I don’t know what I’d do without my IRL friend, CMK; she’s like an older sister who felt like mom spoiled me too much.  Sometimes, that’s just what I need.

Today,  I need a physical therapist, a grocer and a curriculum publisher.  Yesterday, I needed a doctor, a pharmacist, and the gal hanging out the drive-thru at the Taco Bell.  Tomorrow, I will go out of the house at 9:30 p.m. with the gals, to help decorate for a wedding for a gal who doesn’t have family to help her.  Last week, we shopped the thrift store that benefits the battered women’s shelter.  A dress we donated was in the display, while my daughter located Hilfiger khakis for $8.

If I’m enough, how come It Takes A Village?

I’m not enough.  If I was, I wouldn’t need Jesus.  I wouldn’t need to go out for girl’s night out.  Or to go to a blog conference or to church or homeschool co-op.

I am so terribly grateful to be less than I need.

 

Grounded. Together.

If you’re new here, and I hope at least 50 or more of you are, my blog is to record things I want my children to know.  Now that my face is actually blue, I need a transcript, so when they say, “WHY DIDN”T YOU TELL ME!!!”  I can say, “See, Honey, I tried.

Another function of the blog is to give a gentle heads-up to the parent of young children.  A significantly filtered look into the future.  An opportunity to prepare, but not enough information to scare.

Or whatever.

This is the first time the girls are completely grounded.  There have been times we’ve removed certain privileges, but never an across the board “cultural lockdown.”

Here is why.

There’s this wise-sounding piece of parenting advice that reminds parents not to punish themselves.

That is wrong and deceptive.

First, that ship sailed when the pee hit the stick.

Second, If you aren’t willing to be inconvenienced to make an impression on your child’s heart and mind, you will visit judgement upon your future self in the form of the kind of sludge I am shoveling now.  It shows what is most important…the child’s character or getting to girls’ night.

–leave Target and take her “I’ll-by-gosh-have-this-Barbie-or-know-the-reason-why” tantrum throwing butt to the car.  Text your husband to bring you a magazine and a hot black coffee and whatever was on your list.

–cancel the play date, skip the birthday party: tell the mom, “Sorry.”  If she asks why, she’s rude.  You can’t make it.

–call the coach and tell him you are missing practice.  Yeah, I said it.  Another day, I’ll climb on my soapbox about young athletes thinking they’re above the law.  Not today.

I count on the above activities as a break from being the organ grinder’s monkey who has to perform if they drop a penny in my cup.  Maybe because it’s summer, I hear an endless, “CanI?CanI?CanI?CanI?CanI?CanI?” (Recently, I told them to stop asking coming to me for permission to do things(that call for a ruling) and look around for things they already know they have permission to do.)  They’re hip-deep in pre-qualified, socio-cognitively rich, entertainment options.

I digress.

I was on inconveniencing yourself.

Do it, now.  Just a few startled looks from now, that child will believe you when you talk.

Don’t be like me.

They are just wrapping up week one of a 35 day “cultural lockdown” (it’s the new grounding [Not really, I made it up and hope it catches on]).  I COULD NOT BE MORE GRATEFUL THAT THE ISSUE IS WHAT IT IS. While I am not glad to have “Flaming-Trousered Prevaricators”, I could be dealing with worse.

Currently, I haven’t been alone except to bathe (and then only 77% of the time) in a week.  We started school this week. I did it because if we had more to do we would not have had so much time to come up with stupid ideas (or join our sister on the crew of the SS ‘Ignorificance’).

They are ‘killing me softly’.

Being grounded when you’re a kid, you’re not observing yourself.  I’m watching them, and can tell they don’t get that they took the risk and, by extension, chose whatever happened when they got caught.  They don’t see “this hurts me more than it hurts them” and may cause my death if I don’t get some time away from them.  They don’t see the whole point is that they’re missing things they’d like to do.  And I don’t care.

But I do.

No, I don’t.

It all depends on when you want to put in the time.  You can do it early.  Or later on.

Most things in life are like that.

So we’re all just…grounded.  Together.

 

 

 

 

Riding the Short Bus to Heaven

I’ve resigned myself to the fact that the lessons babies learn in Sunday school are just coming to me in middle age.  I’m 45 years old and may have opened the book on learning to receive God’s love in the way that He expresses it.

This weekend, we got together again with friends from our church in the other city.  3 families.  6 adults. 16 kids. I dreaded it , because I knew it wouldn’t be enough time. Ray, whose house we were at, voiced similar thoughts about getting together making him remember. It was a phenomenal time and place.  The relationships are proof that God is at work and it all really happened.

We went to the church.  Participated in worship in three languages.  And in the quiet of the celebration, I realized it is so prideful of me to worry about being understood. I am so busy wishing for more than what God has given, that I don’t experience the fullness of what He has given.  And that, my friends, is sin.

If I worry about what is not happening or the scarcity of time or the fear of this being the last time we’ll see each other.  Or what you’ll think of our house or kids or the chins I’ve acquired since we last met.  I miss out on the growing more “What-Makes-This-Great” memories.  The thrill that your kids have grown up so beautiful and wishing you ‘Happy 21st  Anniversary’ and how precious and nourishing this time is for my daughters.  And discovering that, when I was attending your son’s birth, my son had, just 4 days earlier, come to the orphanage in China.  The thrill of simply standing in line at Wal-Mart together.  The necessary goodness of sharing late into the night.

Living in the past and the future misses today.  Wanting more than is given leaves me continually hungry without being filled, and continually consuming without ever feasting.  It is a subtle rejection of the manifold richness of abundance of God’s deliberate personal outpouring of love to us.

I don’t merit anything in the Kingdom.  It is all favor.  While I wish for more time and more money and a BLT that will make me lose pounds and inches, I rebelliously overlook the FACT that He has privileged us more than most.

It has taken me longer than the average grade school child.  But now, I know.

Thanks. Again.  Good Friends.

 

 

Good Morning. Ish.

Good Morning.  I guess no matter where you are on earth… Monday morning is a beginning.  I suppose there may be a tribal people living on the top of a mountain in South America who begin their week on Thursday, but more than likely, they are not reading this.

Already digressing and it’s not even 8.

Technically, this is the second to the last week of the school year. Tennessee school year runs from July 1 to July 30.  We didn’t do it.  We failed.  And all three of us get to experience the consequences.  We are taking Algebra again.  Maybe Science.  Next year is going to be a Son of a Gun.  I am not apologizing to them.  They are supers.  We should have been done in March.  As it is.  They will be completing two Maths next year and possibly two Sciences.  HA.  With a 4.0.

I have been listening to Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother on cd from the library.  Far from being awful to me,  I find her to be a mom with an inspirational life.  Mistakes? Obviously.  Wrong for expecting kids to achieve what they are able to?  No.  Humble?  Now, yes.  Telling anyone else what to do? No.

It’s a shame her 13 year-old wore her down.  Even the girls were in the back seat yelling, “She’s 13. Don’t listen to her!”  They should know.

I fully expect these same children to be writing fan letters to that little girl by Columbus Day.

As I alluded to in yesterday’s post.  Complacency or something worse has blinded me to the gradual wearing away of standards in school, behavior, appearance, speech, dress, home keeping, fiinancial management and spiritual life.  Little by little, I have said,”Why does it have to be done, “one way or the other”?” Until nothing is being done any way.  And I’ve tried to make everyone but myself responsible.

So with my head still pounding, I will call the doctor, then the director of the independent study program.

I can pay bills.  Yay. I don’t anticipate that this will get old anytime soon.  We have gotten through all the birthdays and celebrations and are now 9see above0 going on a very strict budget for the purpose of financial recovery. We are also going to  change banks.  After six years of struggle.  I have spared you the banking drama.  It has now become cost effective to move. And it’s consistent with our new financial attitude…

The local homeschool fest is this week.  I guess I am going. Meh.  I need a few things. I have to squeeze it in Friday, before…

I am hoping to drive over to Nashville this weekend to meet with friends.  I guess.  I am so homesick and it won’t be enough.  I know what will happen.  We will be so hungry and thirsty for fellowship when we leave.  We’ll dream about moving [again] for weeks afterward.

Good Monday Morning to you.  Where ever you are.  Enjoy you fresh new week.  What are you going to do with it?

 

 

There’s Always an Extra Blessing to Obedience…Darn It.

When I wrote that post on Tuesday, I already had a phone date with Cousin.  I also told her in the email I would call our Aunt.  Both conversations went really well.  Bottom line?  I come from good people.  I told Aunt what happened with my dad, which she didn’t know.  The cousin truly didn’t know anything.  We mainly just caught up.  It was wonderful.  I found out Dad’s pretty sick, but if I lived down the street I probably wouldn’t have found out any sooner.  That’s just how my people are.

So yesterday,  I can’t concentrate on getting anything done with school mostly finished.  It is not energizing to wait around watching 14 year-olds NOT do Algebra.

No matter what the tabloids say.

When they gave up, I did.  And after they had stood around in the backyard strategically out of sight, for about half an hour, I leaned out the back door and said, “Clean my house and I’ll take you to [the amusement park].  Ha Ha.  It took them, like, 20 minutes.  The place sparkled.

The down side?  Now I know they are able to do it that fast.

Okay, so it’s weird.

We get there and start walking around.  I wait by myself while the kids ride something I can’t ride.  And this feeling comes over me.  God is going to show me something at the park.

Typing this, I feel foolish.  Like people who refer to God speaking to them like Larry King talks to Alec Baldwin.

But it was what it was and I thought, “That’d be nice.”  And more or less went on with my on park job of waiting while children ride rides(no, I like it.  I people watch.).

At the entrance to the third ride, my kids freak.  They ran in all different directions.  I couldn’t get there attention to say where to meet or find out who was going where.  It was partly the area of the approach, but mostly like herding bouncy, highly energetic cats.  Or puppies.

I digress.

They kind of freaked.  And I am standing there trying to holler names and find out where everyone is trying to go and one of them says, “That lady just called your name.”

I spun around.  What lady?  An adult who knows me?  That my kids don’t recognize?

“Maggie, Is it you?”

It was me.  It was her.

We stood in the exact middle of the exit.  Holding each other and rocking back and forth.

We were friends before kids.

Both of us were new to the church, stayed home even though we had no kids, and needed a friend our age in town.  I was from Oklahoma and had worked as a nanny for two years.  She was from Brazil.  Her husband was in law school and she was alone a good bit.

I was at the hospital when her first baby was born…the girls were 13 months old.  His feet were bigger than theirs that day.

All the children gathered around for 3.5 seconds for an introduction, looking all the time like,”Is this going to keep me from going to the next ride?”

It was okay…we started talking.  Just like before.

It began to rain.

She had to go.

She told her son, “She was my only friend, then.”

I sat in awe of her as simply amazing.  Then, as in a moment, yesterday.

The rain poured down and the kids ran on ahead and I pondered.

I noticed a group whose t-shirt had a Bible verse on it.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

I thought, “Yeah, I need to start doing that.”

But then I realized… What if it was seeking his Kingdom to seek peace with relatives and He added family?  What if obedience, like Algebra or housecleaning, is soooooo hard, yet it doesn’t take very long and look at the results?   The downside?  Now I know I can do it.

Work for two.

Gets one free.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fifty Shades of… Cake?

Um, yeah.  I won’t be reading those books.  Let’s just say, that I’d bet dollars to donuts that none of the characters in the steamy little series is the least little bit like me or like I want to be.

However.

There’s this cake recipe that the midwestern church ladies make.  They don’t say the name in mixed comp’ny.   When they do say it, they blush and giggle.

It’s called…Better-Than-Sex-Cake.

There are actually two cakes I’ve been offered under this name.  One has Cool Whip and crushed pineapple.  The other is chocolate.

I’ve had sex and I’ve had cake.  I can only conclude that the poor old gal who named this cake hadn’t.  Or what she’d been offered had been a product of the least possible competence and effort.

Cake!  I’m talking about cake.

So the reason I bring this up is I’ve been thinking lately that since the vittles around here have improved mightily in the last 2 months, there are a few foods that I consider BetterThanBetterThanSexCake.  I probably should add a disclaimer than I don’t typically choose cake if cookies or cinnamon rolls are available.  And I don’t compare desserts with…

Never. Mind.

THE ACCIDENTAL GUIDE TO FOODS THAT ARE BETTER THAN CAKE.

1) Hamburgers. Grilled at home over charcoal. You know I’m right.

2) Bacon. We still have several pounds.  This isn’t number one, because there is just a freaking limit.

3) Fried rice.  When I am making ordering it, I think, “Ah. Whatever.  I guess rice.”  When I taste it, I am all like,”Dang, that is just good!!!”

4) Peach Pie. From. Scratch.

5) Tea. Unsweet, Iced, Withlemononasunnydayridingaroundwiththewindowsdownandnochildreninthecar.

6) Pioneer Woman’s Cinnamon Rolls. Believe the hype.

7) My Spaghetti Sauce.  Over angel hair pasta.

8) Real Homemade Mashed Potatoes.

9) Oatmeal Cookies.  Great-grandma’s recipe.

10) Taco Salad.  My recipe at home.

I am still pro-cake and pro-sex.  I am, however, anti-allowing-virgins-to-name-desserts.

photo: food network

What sounds good tonight?

It’s Monday and I am SOOO MissElaineous!

 

 

It Wasn’t a Threat; It was a Promise

You know when I said I was tempted to cut my hair?  Spring Fever?  Phone?  All that?

Believe me.  I hauled off.

Mickey didn’t get a phone.  I got these.

 

I don’t know if it counts that I bought them from the phone guy’s mom.  I know I have been living in a cave, but do you have any idea how much phones cost?  For shame.  I am right here at home if you need to reach me.

I took the girls out and we painted the town taupe, like we do.

Then something just came over me.  I started up the street, that passes for the main drag here in town, and stopped at every salon that wasn’t a chain.  Do you take walk-ins?  How much is a haircut?  When I found one that answered both questions, I bit.  Y’all, I paid the same as I paid when I was in high school, and they brought me iced tea while I waited.  ICED TEA.

So, tea already in hand, I called the kids in and sat down to wait.

In five or less, I was in the chair looking like this:

before

 

 

The previous week, I had visited the beauty college that has been providing all our services for the last few years.  It took two hours to cut Mickey’s hair.  The evening of the choir concert, it took two full hours to straighten the girls’ hair.  I can do it at home in an hour and a half with shampoo and dry.  They took two on dry hair.  I needed the cut, but realized I just don’t have to do that anymore.  A gal gets to have a hairdresser to call her own.  That is what I was searching for.

In something less than the 2 hours I am pretty sure it would have taken at the cosmetology school, I came away with this:

super ugly pic of me; great pic of my hair

 

It was shorter than I planned, but by the time I realized what was happening, I already liked it.  And I knew as I sipped the last drop of tea, I would be back

…in 4 to 6 weeks.

F-5: The Finger of God

image: trailer addict

If you follow me on Twitter, you know we watched Twister last night.  For those of you who are not from Tornado Alley, I should clarify that it is to weather forecasting what Star Wars is to manned space exploration.  Just. About. Nothing.

 

Except gorgeous.  Not only does Helen Hunt’s hair NEVER look bad for one second, and there are so, so, many beautiful views of the prairie.  The film takes place in the middle of where I lived from birth to age 27.  Mountains and beaches mean nothing to me, compared to the beauty and power of a storm rolling across the prairie.

While talking with my friend, yesterday, I came to the realization that pretty much everything about life has changed.  I am still married and still have my kids. We are still healthy. We still live in the same place.

But.

The bills are paid.

I don’t lay awake worrying.

Neither does he.

Mickey has new shoes.

So do I.

So do the kids.

Shoes, y’all.

Mickey even got some socks.

We replaced this pump on the HVAC unit.  With no fear.  No resentment.

There is discussion of joining a pool this summer. (???)

He hadn’t been at the new job too many days, when he became combative when I expressed the slightest difference from his thinking.  He’d been effing miserable, but it had been more of a “we’reallinthistogetherIamsorrythissuckssomuchtoobeatdowntocare” thing.  This was different.

We kinda worked through that.

Then, last week, we were both out of balance.  Feeling a dread we couldn’t identify the source of.  A little bicker-y.  Then it dawned on me.

It was the end of the pay period.  Our bodies were accustomed to going around in fear and anxiety, but this time there was no reason to panic.

Our bodies.

Our minds.

Our relationship.

The second half of the pay period (or half our lives, whichever you please).  For years.

Once I pointed this out to him, things have settled a bit.

Did I mention?  The bills are paid.

The last shot of the movie Twister is supposed to be an aerial view of the path of the storm.  I haven’t ever seen a real one, so that’s what I have to go on.

It’s like that.  Scoured and razed and fresh and alive to see it.

And kiss before we go back to living the dream.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just Two Little Words

A few weeks ago, my mentor lost her mother-in-law.  While she was out of town, I attended a birth in her place.

The lovely couple I had the privilege to serve were from another country.  They spoke beautiful-lilting-better-grammar-than-I-do-in-my-mother-tongue, and lyrical sounding Spanish.

Calm and beautiful people who were “ready-to-have-this-baby”.

Early in the evening, one said to the other, “Don’t complain.”

Wait. What?

1) I didn’t hear any complaint.

2) The hearer didn’t get his/her back up in offense.

In that moment, I learned a lesson I didn’t think I’d forget, but before long, the other spouse said it to the one who’d said it the first time,

“Don’t complain.”

It had become profound to me.  I didn’t recognize the complaint the second time either, but the partner did.  At this point, though we’d known each other 2 or 3 hours, I knew I had learned a life lesson.

But it wasn’t until this week, that I put it all together.

At our post-partum visit, he said it to her again, quipping, “Don’t complain; don’t complain. {laughs} Be more like me.” It was light hearted humor and she received the message with grace.

I hadn’t heard a complaint this time either, but suddenly I realized…

She had on of the shortest delivery times of anyone I had ever seen. (I met her in the lobby at the hospital .7 mi. from my house at 7:00p.m. and was in my bed going to sleep before midnight).

She was happy with her spouse, her baby, her life.

She had prepared herself for birth with information, nutrition, exercise and emotional support of friends and family.

She is a person, described by my mentor,”who tries to be calm and surround herself with calmness”.

Don’t complain.

There is no chance I will ever forget.

 

 

What’s for Dinner?

Tomorrow is Thankfulness Day.  Because, by the time I can sit down to the computer, I will be Thankful that the concert is over and that the Christmas season is underway.  Oh, I will rock the Gratitude.  Like the Pilgrims rocked Plymouth.

I digress, sort of.

This time last year, I was clattering away on an “anonymous” blog.  I thought at the time that I didn’t care for what anonymity did for my attitude. Recently, I looked back at some of the Thanksgiving posts and they made me laugh.  I am re-posting.  Or whatever.

Overall, my idea was to share what I did for Thanksgiving for the person who didn’t have a current tradition.  The recipes are probably practically useless because I don’t really have them written down any place.  I just freestyle and we eat.  One year, I left the broccoli out of the broccoli casserole.

So without further ado:

ACCIDENTALLY BY DESIGN HONORS A DEAD BLOG WHOSE NAME WAS LESS SEO THAN IF I HAD NAMED IT LADY GAGA

OR

THANKSGIVING WITH A SIDE OF JET LAGGED, PTSD, GRIEF

OR

NOT BAD FOR ALL YOU GOT GOING THIS YEAR

THANKSGIVING
…that special holiday when the pilgrims ate brie en croute.
Really?
One of my mini(many)-addictions is magazines.  Yet, November is just a ‘no-go’ on magazines, because every magazine publishes ‘new‘ recipes for Thanksgiving.
Really?
Oh, and don’t let’s forget… The-Last-Turkey-Recipe-You-Will-Ever-Need.
Really?
Can I just say?…
You don’t need a recipe for turkey(the directions are printed on the wrapper)!
Why, oh why, do we need new recipes for sides?  I know some people don’t have a Thanksgiving tradition or at least not one they want to repeat.  But why would we blame the food?  There is a menu for this holiday.  We don’t need new.  Thanksgiving isn’t about new.  It is specifically about what has gone before.  We know that the pilgrims didn’t have feta OR turkey gravy from a jar.
My connection to my far away family’s tradition is that I duplicate the menu every year.  The aunts didn’t do it on their own.  They haven’t yet.  We also have new traditions.  We get together with friends who are like family.  I am no longer doing it alone.  My daughters have taken over the preparation of their favorite dishes.
I love Thanksgiving: the Holiday.  I invite you to share my family’s traditions. Remember back when the Pilgrim’s hung out with their unlikely new friends, the Indians and everyone had a clean plate?
As for Thanksgiving: the Practice– I am not as accomplished at that.  But I know this…
You don’t need a recipe for Thanksgiving.
You just get on down on them knees.
Fold them hands, like so.
Drop your chin to your chest.
Close your eyes.
Open your mouth and whisper,
“Thanks.”
Tomorrow: What exactly is the menu, and if you are so ordinary, why are you a food snob?  And…Homemade Noodles for regular folk.
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