How to Turn a Nightmare into a Source of Hilarity

To turn a nightmare into a source of hilarity, just add Joey.

Both my boys are so clever (said the unbiased mother.) They are frequently making little comments that crack me up. Yesterday was no exception.

Joey is a 16-year-old fly-under-the-radar kind of guy. I’m guessing his favorite super-power would be invisibility. Expressing emotion to Joey means making direct eye contact. If Joey responds to a question with more than a one-word answer, he’s being “chatty.”

So, when Joey speaks, I listen.

I have this recurring “nightmare” in my house. It is, what some may call, an Arizona Room. A previous owner decided to enclose the back patio and turn it into something like a family room plus a small bedroom. Of course, there is no central heating or cooling, so there are very few weeks in the year that either room is comfortable. I poured a cement slab out back then tried to attach a patio cover, but it was suggested to me that the room isn’t up to code…the support beam isn’t big enough. The floor slopes away from the rest of the house because they used the existing patio slab as the base floor.

However, I do like having the extra room.

I have fixed it up little-by-little, over the past few years (before I suspected the code issue.) I started with putting on a new roof then moved on to inside aesthetics. One indoor improvement I made was to hang a curtain rod and curtain on the sliding glass door. It really dressed up the room…until it rained. Every time it rained, the curtain rod fell down. I finally realized the roof was leaking and the drywall was getting wet under the paint. It took 6 months to get the roofing company back out to repair their work. I rehung the curtain. Then it rained again. The curtain rod fell down again. Sigh.

In a desperate effort to keep the door covered through the hot and cold weather, I set a 6′ bookshelf in front of the door, and I balance the curtain rod on top. I continue to call the roofing company to fix the leak and patch the ruined drywall, but nearly a year later, I’m still using a bookshelf to hold up the curtain rod.

Yesterday, I finally got the bright idea to hang the curtain rod again. I figured I could at least have it looking decent while it’s not raining. I recruited Joey to screw in the bracket. He tightened the screws down, but the bracket wouldn’t tighten down. The drywall is too damaged to even hold a small piece of metal.

Totally disappointed and frustrated at the roofing company who, after nearly a year, hasn’t corrected the problems, and the other possibly unresolvable issues with the room, I resigned myself to having a permanent bookshelf in front of the sliding glass door.

Joey removed the dangling bracket from the wall. Then, matching my contempt for the poor construction, and in his most deadpan voice, he announced, “This room is made of mud and sticks…only there are no sticks.”

Thanks to Joey, now I laugh at the nightmare. 🙂

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It’s Over!

Well, John. I tried. I went on my second date. Ok, ok. I went to my follow-up appointment with the back doctor. He doesn’t want to see me again. 😦 It was an amiable parting, though.

However, the outcome is the same: No one requesting my presence. No physical contact. No prospects.

Unless someone else slams into my car on the freeway, I suppose there is no chance to rekindle our relationship. It’s probably time to move on. Perhaps a pipe will burst in my house, and I’ll meet a nice plumber. Or my kitchen will catch on fire, and I’ll meet a compassionate fireman. I could try speeding in hopes of meeting someone in law enforcement. I could take my cat to the vet, my car to the mechanic, or my son to the pediatrician.

Or, perhaps, I could return to my wonderfully boring, single life! That seems safest. 🙂

Am I Lying to Myself?

My hairstylist recently made me aware that I may be lying to myself…at least a little bit.

I haven’t dated in quite a few years. My life is very busy with 2 teenagers in marching band, a full-time job, trying to start a job, and dabbling in book promotion. I have been telling myself that I don’t have time to date. Plus, if I did, any time I spend with someone else would be time I could spend with my kids. How could I choose someone else over my children??

Then my hair gets too long and too gray and suddenly I am faced with John, who likes to tell it like it is. He challenged my reasons for not dating. In the midst of the conversation I realized that perhaps the reason I haven’t considered dating in all these years is because I’m a man-hater!! I realized that I’m just downright AFRAID of what type of man I might run in to.

Well, I decided, salon therapy has some value and should be taken seriously. The result is that now I’m looking at the men around me and considering them as potential dates. If I find myself noting only reasons I could never go out with them, then I chastise myself and think about some of their positive attributes. These thoughts are freaking me out!! How could I ever let a man get close to me??

Well, a week passed. I continued to try to train myself to be open to the possibility of dating. Then a couple people I know wanted me to meet this particular guy. I agreed and set up a time.

When I arrived, I had no expectations. Well…to be honest, my expectation was that it would be a brief, uncomfortable meeting, and then it would be over, and I could return to my life as usual.

I was surprised when I first saw him. He was attractive and polite. Younger than I expected. I felt extremely self-conscious, yet I endured. He was intelligent and took interest in me. It was a nice change for me to spend time with someone who wanted to know about me. He touched me in a kind manner, which was surprisingly enjoyable.

Perhaps men aren’t as bad as I made them out to be. Perhaps I WOULD enjoy a personal relationship with one of them.

I’m going to see this one again. Of course, he’s the back specialist I was referred to, so I’ve got another appointment in 3 weeks. Maybe I’ll shave my legs.

Time Well Spent

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If you know me or read my “About” page, you know I’m a single parent trying to do well by my children.

I was 28 when I had my first son. I felt “older” than many first-time parents and appreciated the extra time to mature before being thrust into such a significant undertaking.

Although maturity served me well in parenting, it didn’t seem to have an effect on my marriage which ended a couple years after my second son was born.

As a single parent with 2 very young sons, I had to figure out ways to complete every task with little ones in tow. One of those tasks I needed to attend to occured every few weeks: getting my hair cut (and colored…which is what made this an IMPORTANT task.)

I brought my boys along every time and sat them on the bench with their small toy. They played quietly the whole time…2 hours!! EVERY time I visited the salon, someone would look at my kids in wonder and ask me, “What do you do?”

I always felt they were hoping for a secret trick like, “I dangle a goldfish cracker on a string in front of them and repeat, ‘You will behave.'”

If you’re a parent, you know it’s never a simple answer. So, I began looking around at parents who were struggling in certain situations, and then I would write about it.

I kept writing until I felt I had a pretty complete answer to the question, ‘What do you do?”

Those answers are compiled into a concise little parenting book that’s designed to encourage and support frazzled, well-intentioned parents with no time for salons or home-cooked meals but in need of a chuckle.

National Writer’s Press recently published my book titled, Raising Amazing Grace…and Tyler, and Megan. You can find it on Amazon in paperback or Kindle version.

http://tiny.cc/l7hrqw

I am always happy to answer questions or chat about specific issues you may be facing.

Keep in mind, you may want to be a perfect parent, but a parent who makes mistakes can teach his/her children much richer lessons!

Trust

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Being a single parent, I have grown into the type of person who feels she has to do everything herself. After 13 years of being responsible for everything in my home, I just don’t automatically think, “Who can take care of this for me?” My knee-jerk reaction is, “How am I going to take care of this?”

So, when my son told me he doesn’t believe in God, I did my knee-jerk thing: How am I going to fix this? Then I piled onto that, “I screwed up! I’m sad! I’m betrayed! I’m scared!” But, I finally settled on, “This is not mine to fix.”

With the daily miracles God heaps on me, you would think my knee-jerk reaction would be to trust Him. The fact that I have food in my refrigerator, I am able to pay EVERY bill every month, I have 2 kind, respectful and healthy children, I have friends, an education, a job, a house, a family who cares about me, TWO working vehicles, and a healthy mind and body are miraculous to me. God provides and protects every day.

My faith and salvation don’t come from me or my parents or a pastor, friend, relative, or motivational speaker. It comes from God. He chose me.

Also, Jesus died for each of us. He wants to save us. I want my son saved. If I ask him to save my son, he will do it. My request is within his will. Our salvation is from above, not from around. Thank GOD!!!

I’m not even close to being a perfect parent. The statement from my son is more evidence of that. Thankfully God IS perfect. I just need to rely on him…I NEED to rely on him.

Although I act like I’m supposed to take care of everything myself, I can’t do it. This is just a reminder to me that everything I do is because God allows it. I need to stop acting like God and submit to him. Instead of saying, “How am I going to take care of this?” I need to start saying, “How do you want to use me, God?”

And one more thing, God….please allow my son to see you!!!!!

I Can’t Get Enough Moments

Our family was deeply effected by a recently tragedy in our community. A family of 5 was found dead in the desert of Arizona. Apparently a murder-suicide.

Two of the 3 children were in marching band and the other various band programs with Jess. Joey had recently begun rehearsing and attending parties with the marching band percussion section, of which the son who died was a member.

The community and the school has done a tremendous job of providing support to the students and families who are suffering this loss. The band program and band families in particular have gone out of their way to ensure the kids have a healthy environment in which to mourn their loss and simply feel normal.

One such event transpired on a warm Thursday night. It started as an idea the percussion students had and grew into an invitation for all current and past band members. A number of parents purchased 100 white helium balloons. The students and families gathered on the football field with the balloons and Sharpies. Those who had something to say to their friend wrote a message on a balloon. The band directors said a few heart-felt words then everyone released their balloons silently together into the night sky.

After the balloons ascended out of sight, the drum line played the favorite cadence of their missing member. We all followed them off the field in respectful silence.

These past few weeks have been a heavy burden and blessing. As a parent, we want to protect our children from pain. But, we know, we MUST teach our children how to keep moving forward in the midst of pain and suffering. And, if we are really on the ball, we’ll teach our kids how to reach out to others to receive comfort and to give it.

The blessing for me has been the opportunity to talk to my kids about hard things: unexplainable things, what are normal feelings in the face of unexpected loss, how to help others…it’s also been an opportunity for each of us to realize that material things don’t bring happiness. (This was an upper-middle class family.) Peace and joy stem from relationships with people and the way we choose to look at things. It is a gift from God…as are my children.

Events like this are a startling reminder that I need to cherish every moment I have with my children. I don’t know how many moments I will have. I do know it never feels like enough.

Elephant Crossing. Look Out for Road Pumpkins.

I can’t put into words how blessed I feel by the children God has placed in my life. My boys have such a fantastic sense of humor with precision delivery. Joey says something that cracks me up just about every day. Probably the only days he doesn’t make me laugh would be the days I don’t see him. And even then, he might send me a text message that makes snot fly out of my nose.

This morning I was driving Joey to school. We live in a metropolitan area. Paved streets lined with sidewalks, carefully planned landscaping, tract housing where you have to know the house number to find your own house, complex system of electrical wires overhead, and bumper-to-bumper traffic full of single-occupant vehicles. It is rare to see pedestrians as everyone in our part of the city owns 1.3 vehicles per family member. It is also rare to see dirt. Although we live in the desert, the landscape engineers have meticulously camouflaged anything that resembles dirt with colored rock, palm trees, and bougainvillea.

So, as I said, I was driving Joey to school. His school is situated in a neighborhood with horse property. Strangely, amidst the cars, sidewalks, and landscaping, we sometimes see a horse walking along the sidewalk next to the bustling motorists. Today, as I sat at a red light preparing to turn right, I didn’t see a horse, but I saw “evidence” of a horse.

The sidewalk next to us was liberally peppered with horse droppings. Knowing Joey could appreciate this, I pointed it out to him.

In his typical deadpan delivery, he began peppering me with hilarity. As usual, the lack of oxygen to my brain from laughing so hard caused me to forget much of what he said. But the one line that stuck with me was, “Elephant crossing. Look out for road pumpkins.”

Today he is feeling a little under the weather. He stayed home sick yesterday, but went to school today. When I picked him up from school he immediately told me he should have stayed home another day. He wasn’t feeling well at all.

So we worked out the plans for the evening. We all had previously been invited to dinner tonight by some friends. Joey and I decided he would stay home from the dinner, heat up left-overs, and do his homework. Joey also tacked on, “And feel sorry for myself.” 🙂

I texted him while we were out to see how he was doing. His reply, “I’m done with homework and dinner and working on feeling sorry for myself.”

The saying is, Laughter is the best medicine. No wonder I’m never sick!

Five Minute Friday: Beyond

I have to credit www.thegypsymama.com for the idea of Five Minute Fridays. As if I needed another reason to love Fridays. The rules are simple: Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking. The prompt for today is: Beyond.

~ Let the egg timer begin ~

Beyond. Beyond divorce. Beyond the pain and fear. Life. New and free. The unknown was scary. But, beyond the end of the road, God stood, waiting for me when others walked away. They missed the miracle. He took my hand and led me beyond the broken and disappointed. He comforts me. He provides for me. He leads me. He loves me.

I stepped out in fear beyond a world I knew. Beyond the heavy burden. He took my burden, lifted my children, and led me to peace, joy, and forgiveness. God hates divorce. Yet he met me there at the end of the road and walked with me beyond my failures into his grace.

What Steve Jobs Can Teach You and Me

I was planning to write on a different topic today, but, as I was making my way to my WordPress account, I was moved by the number of articles on the internet related to Steve Jobs and his death. I know his innovation has shaped our world, but creative thinking alone doesn’t move mountains just as intelligence alone doesn’t make one a straight-A student.

In one of the many articles, I came across a Steve Jobs quote. It’s from his commencement speech at Stanford University in 2005. Here it is:

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything—all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure—these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma—which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.”

How is this relevant to a bunch of weary parents?

Imagine living every day as if it were your last! Instead of hitting the snooze and rushing through my morning routine, I would jump out of bed eager to serve my family. I would hang on every word my kids say. I would gush over all their wonderful qualities and tell them how proud I am. I would thank God for every moment we had together. I would send them off to school with a kiss and a smile and, “I love you!” because I want them to remember me positively.

Living life as if today is my last day would help me spend my time on the things that are important and lasting and less time on the things that are meaningless and perishable. To me, the important things are people and relationships. I would spend my time building them up.

So, in case today is my last day, I better get moving! I have a legacy to work on and I may only have a few hours. Steve Jobs left behind a legacy of innovation. When I die, I want to leave behind a legacy of love. I want my love for others to live on in my kids, my family, and my friends. If today is my last day, then this is my number one priority. Ciao!

Breaking News!

When I was a kid, we got 3 channels on TV. If the TV was on at 5:00pm, the news was on. That was the only choice! In the morning before school: News. On sick days or over summer vacation, noon news broke up the daily soap operas.

My mom was a news fiend! You could hear the news in our house more than you could hear conversation.

How thrilled I was, as an adult, when I could afford cable TV! I could turn on the TV at any hour of the day or night and find something to watch BESIDES news. I have goosebumps just writing about it!!

Just as sitcoms have changed and become blatantly sexual and vulgar, the news has changed as well. As a kid, I would hear stories every once in a while about a horrible death, but there was NO shocking video. Today, our tiresome news media travels FAR and WIDE in search of the most disturbing stories possible.

I was listening to the radio the other day when they took 90 seconds of my drive time to break away from the relaxing music and “update me on important events going on around the world.” Then they proceeded to inform me that a man accidentally impaled himself on some large garden shears and lived to tell about it. They went into GRAPHIC detail describing which part of the tool went into which part of his body. It WASN’T a local story. It WASN’T about a hero who rescued him. It was simply to gross me out!! This was a few weeks ago and I’m still having dry heaves.

It shouldn’t surprise you to find out that our children are effected by these stories as well. I have a 10-year-old client who is desperately afraid to be alone in any room of her house. She is convinced that someone is going to break in.

Come to find out, her mom watches the news every morning and evening. This kid is being inundated by gross and terrifying stories of gloom. It’s no wonder she is afraid! She sees it so often, it seems like these things are happening all around her.

So, what to do if we want to be current-event-saavy? I’m sure you can provide ideas. Here are a few of mine…

1. Get your news in writing: Subscribe to the newspaper. Read the news headlines on Yahoo. Read your local newspaper on the internet. Login to CNN.com or NBC.com or any news.com.

2. Watch news videos online with your kids. This allows you to select the news items that are significant to you and your family and allows your kids to learn and be aware of important issues in a kid-friendly manner.

3. If you’re a glutton for punishment and NEED your fix of blood and guts that only television can provide, watch the news after the kids are ASLEEP. Not simply after they’re in bed, but after they’ve drifted off to a world full of cotton candy and puppies.  Besides the tantalizing freedom of watching shows OTHER THAN news, the plethora of channels available to us today allows us to watch news at any time of the day or night. Yeah for all you news junkies!

Let’s let the news in our children’s worlds be about the good things going on, or the interesting things. There are lots of good stories out there. How about stories about people pitching in to help the flood victims in Virginia? A school bans makeup and mirrors to combat vanity. This could make for good discussion.

It’s not all bad news out there! Let’s give our kids the good news!