The Couch

I am a Craiglist aficionado.

Some even go so far as to say I am a Craigslist connoisseur.

No one actually says that. I just wanted to learn to spell it and say it about myself.  I feel really good right now.

Actually, most people that I wish would call me a connoisseur (I think I shaved just a few tenths of a second off my time in spelling that without looking it up) really think I’m obsessive compulsive and need to choose another hobby.

My favorite thing to shop for (and buy) is iPod Nanos. What could be more fun than learning how to snag a cute, sleek piece of technology for $50 or less? I got my 4th grader a nano for $25 once. It was in brand new condition. He listens to books on tape. Also Kidz Bop.

The Kidz Bop thing sort of ruins the empire I’ve attempted to build. I’d feel so much better about it if it weren’t for the ‘z’ and the terrible singing.

Oh well.

Anyway.

Now that we are just weeks from moving into a farmhouse that will not accept some of the furniture I currently own, I am buying and selling used furniture. (The house doesn’t actually turn away furniture, but it’s a little smaller than our current place and a little tiny bit OLDER.)

The latest thing became the couch.

Let me tell you about The Couch of Shame.

Besides stalking the Salvation Army store on Nebraska Avenue, I started stalking furniture ads on Craigslist. I was shopping different things. First I was shopping sleeper sofas, since we’ve never needed one. For some reason, though no human has ever wanted to pull out and sleep on a couch in our house, I made this a requirement. We HAVE to have a sleeper sofa.  A few of my friends asked why. I don’t know. I couldn’t answer that. So I crossed that off the list.

After the sleeping requirement was axed, the next priority became leather. We had to create the Pottery Barn/Southern Living look for $99 or less. That’s no problem if you are a Craigslist Aficionado Connoisseur (CAC).

So the search was on.

After much consulting with the Informinator, we decided a casual distressed-type leather couch would look good in the farmhouse family room. I sent her a few links. Then this one came up:

Beautiful Dark Brown Leather Couch. No scuffs or tears. Pricing it low because I need it gone by this weekend. $145.

Hmm. $145. That sounds great! So I called the guy. Are there really no scuffs and tears? Why are you selling it? Where are you located? When can I see it? Is it really in good shape? No, really. Is it?

It is. He said. It was left in a condo he owns. The woman vacated and couldn’t get the couch down the stairs. He had to take the banister off to get the couch down the stairs. Hmm. OK. I guess.

It sounds GREAT. Let’s do it. I want first right of refusal. I am making a date night out of it. Me and Todd, we’ll frolic all the way to Oldsmar (that’s a 45 minute drive), see our beautiful, no-scuffs, no-tears  leather couch, buy it, frolic into a restaurant, eat food, frolic all the way to Plant City to the farmhouse, unload the couch there, admire its perfection, and frolic home.

That was the plan.

Friday morning, a drizzle set in. It was sometimes a low lying cloud, sometimes a heavy drizzle, and sometimes a full-out rain. Then more drizzle. And more clouds. There was very little good weather that day.

My date called about 4 o’clock.

“Are we still going?” he asked, obviously expecting a very reasonable ‘no.’

Are we still going? Does the pope wear a funny hat? Of course we’re still going?”

“In this weather?” he asked.

“The weather is fine,” I replied. I have a little of my dad in me.

“OK,” he said with hesitation. “But don’t act like this isn’t crazy.”

I did act like it wasn’t crazy. It wasn’t crazy.

Late Friday afternoon, with a too-small tarp and a sail from a sailboat to protect the couch from rain (don’t even ask the questions about that one), we took off to view our new little gem of Lounging Awesomeness.

There was very little light in the condo when we arrived and walked in.  Dude, are you holding a séance? What’s going on? Where’s the altar?  And there it was. The couch, not an altar.  It was nice. I don’t know if I’d go “beautiful” if I were writing the ad. It was nice. I immediately began pawing my impending purchase. And I found a couple of scuffs. They were against the back. I could forgive that.

“It had 4 feet,” the man said, as he was showing it. “But now I can only find three.” Oh good. Perfect. A three-legged couch. Sounds like an old dog named Corky I once knew about.  No problem, Todd said. We could work around the lame leg.

“Would you take less?” Todd said to the false advertiser.

“Wellllll,” he said. “I have at least 2 people wanting to see it tonight or tomorrow, so I’m inclined to say no.” You are inclined to, sir. But will you? Will you say no?  We offered him $125. He did not say no. Then we carried the couch out into the parking lot to load it onto the truck. I say ‘we’ rather loosely, as I didn’t touch the couch during this process. It sat in the parking lot about to be loaded onto the truck and I took one final opportunity to paw it again.

That’s when I found it.

THE TEAR.

There was a half inch rip in the far left cushion of the dark brown, beautiful leather, no-rips-or-scuffs couch. GASP.

Oh no. Now what? We had agreed on terms. We had driven 45 minutes to adopt it. We were hungry. Dark was encroaching. The weather was a shrouded threat just hanging there and waiting to smack us down. We liked the three-legged beauty. It was our special needs couch. But now—now—it had more needs than we realized. It wasn’t just a three-legged couch. It was now a three-legged couch with a small tear and a very thin feeling piece of leather near the tear.

Oh dear.

My date looked at me. I looked at my date. He wanted to just do this and be done with it. I wanted the tear to not exist. This is the Mama’s Boy in me. Always seeking perfection even when it is way beyond impossible.

Oh, ok.

We bought it. And all the way to Plant City, I wore the grimace of buyer’s remorse on my face. Yes, it’s a nice couch. Yes, it was only $125. But we are raising 4 thrashing gorillas. In one wild afternoon, a half-inch rip could become a rip with a half-inch couch.

It concerns me.

We beat it to Plant City without stopping for food. With the clouds hanging low in the sky and mocking us as darkness rolled in, we didn’t feel like we could risk the rain. The only thing worse than a half-inch torn, three-legged couch is a drenched half-inch torn, three-legged couch. If you knew how difficult it was to type all these hyphenated oddities, you’d like this blog more. I’m sorry you can’t appreciate it.

When we arrived at our very dark farmhouse, we backed as close to the front porch as we could.  Now it was MY turn to help unloading the special needs couch. I like to think I’m pretty handy at loading and unloading, carrying, scooting, lifting, and arranging.

I guess I don’t do couches.

We dropped that thing twice.

Hard.

Both were my fault.

Now it was a special-needs, three-legged, half-inch torn couch that was broken in half.

Just kidding.

I got you, didn’t I?

Nothing really happened except that I gasped like a frightened toddler and made up lots of excuses for how slippery leather can be.

After finding just the right piece of scrap wood to be the fourth leg for the special needs couch, we scooted it into place and walked out. But not before we had let 25 mosquitoes into the house and had to swat at the air enough times to need a new application of deodorant. This sounds exaggerated. I assure you—this time—it is not. We were so swarmed by mosquitoes that I sprayed myself with Off inside the house and yelled RUN as we headed to the car.

The mosquito incident prompted a new invention in my head. I am patenting this and if I see it on the market before I myself market it, I will hunt down and sue each and every subscriber to this blog until I have found the thief. There will be 36 people very worried when that happens. My invention is a Mosquito Paddle. It is the size and shape of a Pro Kadima paddle (think oversized ping pong) and is laced with zappers. The entire paddle is battery powered and electrically charged to kill mosquitoes on impact. Instead of swiping at them with your ineffective fist, you can pick up the Mos-Murder Paddle and take them down three or ten at a time. It’s pure genius.

Not having this device quite yet, we ran for the truck and drowned our sorrows in a Sonny’s platter in Exit 11 in  Plant City.

I haven’t been back to see the couch.

I’m going back tomorrow to assess the special needs.

The question is: Do I resell with an honest ad and recover my money and begin a new search? Or do I spend a little and buy a repair kit and risk adding “Bad Leather Patch” to the rap sheet of issues?

If anyone has leather repair experience, I am listening.

I hope it doesn’t feel neglected.

Little does it know, it’ll get more love than it needs soon enough.

I used to consider myself a CAC (Craigslist Aficionado Connoisseur).

Now I just think I’m an idiot.

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Baby Steps

On June 9, 2011, I signed a contract to write an ebook for some very cool guys with a cool idea. I grossly underestimated this project, as did everyone. It was to be 18 chapters, with each chapter being somewhat shortish.

I don’t do shortish.
Have you read my blog?

It’s unfortunate that I can’t do shortish. This time, however, I feel like the length and the development were necessary. This is what I tell myself to get to sleep at night. It works mostly.

I wrote. And I wrote. And I wrote. And I wrote. And I obsessed. And I begged Keri for advice, which she SO kindly and generously gave. I seriously might have died–no, I mean ACTUALLY died–if I hadn’t had her help. OK, maybe not actual death. But something very nearly like it. I don’t know what that would be. Perhaps the funny farm. I looked a couple of them up. They weren’t taking writers with my symptoms.

Do you see why I can’t do shortish? I struggle with tangents. And stream-of-consciousness.

And from mid-June until late September, I did nothing but write. I barely cleaned the house at all. The kids were constantly searching the house for matching socks. Todd did so much cooking. (The kids really, REALLY like his cooking. But that is another post…) I dieted. On this diet, I gained 5.5 pounds. Pretty sure no one’s going to call me to write an ebook on dieting.  At the end of it all, I had 302 pages, 120,195 words, and 5.5 pounds to show for it. And all summer long, I got about 20 hours of sleep.

I do exaggerate the sleep thing, but not so much. It was bad. 3 a.m. was my average bedtime. During summer days when we didn’t have to be anywhere, the kids tried to let me sleep until about 8. On a really lucky day, I slept till 9. But then school started back and the project was still in full swing. I was getting about 3 hours of sleep each night. I’m a 40 year old lady. This begins to wear on 40-year-old ladies.

I told the funny farm people about the no-sleep thing. They still wouldn’t take me. They asked me if I’d ever tried to sleep in a mental health facility. I said no. But I’d like to try, even so. Again, they said no. There aren’t a lot of nice people in the mental health facility. They don’t read ebooks.

None of this is true.
Except the lack of sleep thing. And all the other stuff.

Anyway.

One night in late September–I think it was September 28–I declared that I was not going to bed until I finished my final chapter. It was my FINAL chapter, but it had been dogging me for almost 2 weeks. It was shortening my life. I HAD to finish it. So I plugged away into the night. 3 a.m. rolled around. I drank a Diet Mtn. Dew. 4 a.m. rolled around. 5 a.m. came and I went to take a shower. I was getting groggy. The shower woke me back up. At 6:26 a.m., I finished that chapter. And then I stood up from my desk and made breakfast. It was time to start our day. I had a great day that day. I lived in a fog to some extent, but functioned nicely.

It was the next day that it hit me. I didn’t even bother to call those mean mental health people. I just went to bed at 9. That seemed to do the trick without packing any suitcases.

Looking back, I am so glad it’s over. It was the hardest project I’ve ever done. I know God gave it to me. I also know Satan likes to try to use the blessings in our lives to our disadvantage. I certainly messed a thing or two up while trying to complete this book. Besides gaining 5 pounds (on top of the 12 I was already trying to lose!), and the fact that it looks like the girls’ rooms vomited up mismatched outfits from their closets, I sort of lost sight of a few important things.

I just got tired.

And while I am still super thankful to have had this opportunity, I’m now having to take baby steps back toward the things I left behind. I can’t freak out that there are 117 articles of clothing not in their rightful place. I can’t even freak out that the 117 out-of-place articles of clothing don’t HAVE a rightful place. Don’t even get me started on the 62.5 cabillion things we have to do to move out of this house and into the farmhouse (that’s also another post…). I can’t lose the 5.5 pounds tonight. Or the 17.5 pounds next week. And I can’t become a spiritual tower of strength in the next three days as I beat myself about the head and neck for hardly praying to the One who gave all of this to me. I have told Him “thank you.” And I have told Him, “I’m sorry.” And I meant it.

Getting to the place I want to be will take baby steps. One small thing at a time that moves me in the proper direction.  I am looking at each choice as either a “strengthener” or a “weakener” in this. If it weakens, I try to avoid it. Seems simple, but somehow isn’t all that easy to apply. I am praying a lot. I am spending time in the Word. I’m not really exercising consistently yet, but I’m working on that, too.

A wise person told me this week, “Just do the next thing.”

I think she read that somewhere.

Or maybe she’s just smart like that.

It’s good advice, either way.

I’m going to do the next thing. And 1800 next things from now, I’ll be able to look behind me and see that I’ve been somewhere.

If not, I’ll try the mental health people one more time. Maybe this time, they’ll say yes.

Children are fresh from God. Why do I ever treat them like they stinketh?

Well, I think I’m watching a hamster die. And while, quite frankly, I have wished for this before we move, now I regret my wish. Claire, the more hyper and aggressive of our two  hamster girls, appears to be almost dead. She isn’t right, for sure. My niece is over for the afternoon and came to me with Claire. She was cuddling her and said, “I thought she would wake up, but she didn’t. She’s so sleepy.” Red flag. Claire doesn’t sleep through anything. She’s a wild one. So I touched her and she doesn’t feel warm and cozy like she usually does. She is still breathing, still twitching the whiskers, etc. But she’s either sick or on her way to the other side. Either way, she now has clean bedding and will rest in peace and dignity. My poor niece was already crying over it and it hasn’t happened yet. Sweet soul, that one. She’s 15 months old now (the hamster, not the niece…). Hamsters don’t usually live more than a year. Then again, neither do goldfish, and we had a run-of-the-mil goldfish last for 5.5 years. That’s Methusaleh old.

That’s not what I meant to say, though. I’ve been thinking since reading a really great article. And instead of restating something that was well-said in the beginning, I’m just going to send you to a great blog. I’m a firm believer that functional, loving families exist and people can be close even when they are vastly different. I believe teenagers can be fun AND respectful. I believe siblings can get along and treat each other like friends, not warts and tumors. And I believe that they learn all of this from me and Todd. How we treat each other, other people, and them will shape how they treat each other, other people, and us. I have had quite a few regretful moments. I believe I don’t have to keep having them. I believe change is possible. And I believe Jesus absolutely wants me to get this right; for the children.

I think we’re on the right path. This article hit me like a ton of bricks and shoved me hard in the right direction.  Go read it. It just might change your life.

Civility in the Christian Home

My Mama

To be completely and totally phonetically proper, this name should be spelled MawMaw. Because I’m talking about my grandmother, not referring to my own mother in southern twang. And though it is spelled phonetically wrong, just pronounce it right in your head and I’ll be happy.

We all have people we remember with great emotion. My mama is one of those people for me. She was always around. She was the quintessential grandmother: Sweet. Plump. Polyester pants and clamdiggers (and she called them clamdiggers!). Canvas keds with an old lady rubber sole. Cokes in the refrigerator and full sized candy bars in the candy jar that were offered to us every time we walked through the door. The supply never ran out. Quarters for us for jobs that were too easy.  The Young and the Restless every day at 1:30 and Lawrence Welk on Saturday nights. That part I don’t remember all that fondly. Man, I hated Lawrence Welk. Man.

Whatever you asked of her, the answer was yes. She never, EVER got mad at us. And I loved her for all of it. Even Lawrence Welk. Maybe.

She was determined that she would not lose her mind. She was going to die with her mind fully functioning. I would be skeptical of a person having this kind of control except that she managed to do just that. She died of complications related to cancer far sooner than we were ready to let her go. But I have to believe that she went out on her own terms and I was forced to accept that. I was away at college when I found out she was gone. I went back home, did the funeral thing, went back to school, did the school thing, came home, did the summer thing, finished another year of college, and then got engaged. Somewhere in all of that time, my parents went through a lot of her stuff.  And the night I got engaged and came home with Todd to tell my parents, my mom brought a box down off a shelf in a closet and gave it to me as a present.

I opened it up, all smiles, having no idea what to expect. It was an afghan made by my mama, one crochet square at a time.  And sitting on top of that ivory afghan was a tiny little note in handwriting I will never forget. It said, “For Missy when she marries. With love, Mama.”  I broke down crying. There she was, many months later sending me a note, meeting Todd through a gift. That was one of the greatest gifts I ever got from anyone.

I went through many of her boxes of books and bibles later and found several copies of a couple of different poems. She was all about little poems and quotes. This one has always been sweet to me. And since I found it on my laptop today, I got all sappy and decided to post it. Forgive me. Surely you can let me have this one time…

Bits and Pieces
Bits and pieces, bits and pieces.
People.
People important to you, People unimportant to you cross your life, touch it with love and move on.
There are people who leave you and you breathe a sigh of relief and wonder why you ever came into contact with them.
There are people who leave you, and you breathe a sigh of remorse and wonder why they had to go and leave such a gaping hole.
Children leave parents, friends leave friends. Acquaintances move on. People change homes. People grow apart.
Enemies hate and move on. Friends love and move on.
You think of the many people who have moved in and out of your hazy memory.
You look at those present and wonder.

I believe in God’s master plan in lives. He moves people in and out of each other’s lives, and each leaves his mark on the other. You find you are made up of bits and pieces of all who have ever touched your life. You are more because of them, and would be less if they had not touched you.

Pray that you accept the bits and pieces in humility and wonder,
and never question
and never regret.
Bit’s and pieces,
bits and pieces.
-Anonymous

I know things…

Yeah.
I do.
I know some things. Some of them are useful things. Like, I know that the square root of 81 is 9 and 7 x 8 is 56. I know that a conflagration is a very large fire and that if I ever should encounter one on my person or clothes, I should stop, drop, and roll. I know that my childhood phone number was 904-385-9788 and that my grandmother’s number was 904-386-6262. And I know 800 other obsolete phone numbers and weird number facts that will never benefit me, except in my dreams.

But there are things I don’t know.  I didn’t know how to spell cacophony, until it was one of my son’s spelling words this week. I still don’t know what demography is, which is another of those words. I suppose I could make a guess and say that it is the study of categories, or something dumb like that. I don’t know. I’m not even going to look it up. Pandemic? Is this word going to enter his regular vocabulary? No. It is not.

And I don’t know lyrics. Phone numbers from 30  years ago? I got that. Lyrics I’ve been hearing and singing ALL MY LIFE, I just can’t do it. Seriously, I might mess up Amazing Grace without the song book. Tonight I tried to sing My Favorite Things from Sound of Music to my children at bedtime. This is a great, great song. Fantastic song. But it occurs to me now that it is not for the lyrically challenged. There are more words in that song than there are fleas on a dog.

I started strong: Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens.

But then, out of nowhere, the words “Bright cornucopias and warm woolen mittens” came to me. Bright cornucopias? What IS that even? It’s not a lyric. I still don’t know what goes in that spot of the song, so I kept my bright cornucopia and kept singing.

Another thing I don’t know is how to file taxes in April without filing an extension. And that’s all I’ll say about that one.

Maybe I should try to create my own version that I can’t mess up:

Potty trained babies and eating with chopsticks
Soft, smelly kid toes and boys doing drop kicks
Playing like banshees till bones are in slings,
These are a few of my favorite things.

Finding a refund when taxes are over
Seeing the fourth leaf show up on your clover,
Feeling the squish hugs of toddlers who cling,
These are a few of my favorite things

When the kid wails, when it all fails,
When I’m feeling mad,
I simply remember my favorite things,
And then I don’t feel so bad.

I’d like to say I’ll remember these lyrics tomorrow but I won’t. But I know a whole bunch of old phone numbers, so I can just phone a friend and surely somebody will know what goes in the place of “bright cornucopias.”

I’m going to bed now.