When you are outnumbered, by all means take a large trek

So last Monday was a big day for my crew.

We flew from Austin into Denver, rented a van, and drove 4 hours into the upper northwest corner of Colorado.

I have never flown with four children and no other adult before. I have to admit that the whole experience had me tied up in minor knots. They were not big, scary, go-ask-your-mom-to-help-you-untangle-them knots. But they were knots, nonetheless. Knots that had me questioning, “what if someone needs a bathroom visit at the exact wrong moment?” or “What if Mama’s Boy totally melts down on the plane and I can’t rein him back in?” or “What if my eyeball becomes excessively dry and won’t produce natural tears and I badly need a pharmacy and can’t get to one?” I actually wasn’t really that nervous about my eyeballs, but I did have some crazy questions going through my head.

I viewed yesterday in Phases. Phase 1 was: Get through security. The only thing that happened in that phase was that Snug was determined to remove her shoes even after she’d been told she didn’t need to. No big deal. I gave her the Stink Eye over that. I do that a lot in lieu of punishment. That’s why she keeps messing with me. I do not have control over the situation, clearly.

Phase 2 was: Lunch in the airport. This was a slightly larger hassle than security because 4 plates of pizza and 4 fountain drinks were being added to the carry-ons we already were toting. Even so, there were no train wrecks.

About 10 minutes before we boarded, Mama’s Boy was expressing some rather intense anxiety. He really, really doesn’t like the take-off. So I gave him a half dose of benedryl. He chewed it up. Forty-five seconds later, he said, “It’s not working!” And yet, 30 minutes into the flight he was saying it was “pretty much the best flight he’s ever had.”

Phase 3 was: The flight. This one had me very alert, because I needed to be ready to board after the A group in order to grab 5 seats together. We managed a bathroom visit and the boarding with no issue. But it’s a good thing we boarded when we did, because the flight was packed and we had to sit in the extreme back of the plane to sit together. Even then, we couldn’t really sit totally together. We had a lot of parameters to work within. AG badly wanted a window seat. Mama’s Boy was having flight phobia issues and pretty much had to be next to me.  Beloved wanted the window. So we had on one side of the aisle, Beloved, Mama’s Boy, and me. Across the aisle we had Snug, empty seat, and AG. I tried to talk AG into taking that middle seat so the chain of family would be unbroken, but he was miserable without his view. Both AG and his baby sister  were comfortable with a stranger filling that middle seat and I could reach across the aisle and hold the little one’s hand. So we were off.

I was anxious about who would fill that middle seat between my bookend children. As it turned out, a young pilot flying on stand-by had to sit there. I am pretty sure he briefly considered “painful and sudden death” over sitting there, but he never said so. There was just no other place to go. He was very gracious about it and I was personally comforted by his presence, but I did worry about him just a tad. He definitely got the short end of the stick on that exchange. Snugglepants dropped her Spirit magazine at least 7 times during the flight. And after picking up after her all 7 times, he put in some earplugs and tried to go to sleep. We thought he was asleep enough to pass DS games across him, but he intercepted us each time. Again, he was cool about it. And then–in a split spontaneous second–AG decided he needed to get out to go to the bathroom. The pilot was asleep and J’s tray table was down. These were two rather sizable obstacles. We couldn’t lift the tray table, because the baby was still using it. So he decided to go over the pilot’s feet and under the tray table.This was, at best, terribly horribly awkward. The pilot startled awake just as AG was launching the tray table into the air with his back and snagged the open cup of Sprite. He could not, however, save the cheese nips. Those went flying.

Oh dear, sir. Was this your fear in sitting with us? So sorry.

Phase 4: The rental car. All I can really say about this is that it took too long, cost too much, and I spent 10 minutes driving up and back and up again on airport frontage roads. After I finally made it to the interstate, we did pretty well. The terrain was stunning. We stopped at a little town called Idaho Springs to eat dinner at a McDonalds. Apparently, everyone in this town escaped from the movie set Deliverance and spoke with thick Russian and German accents. I looked over my shoulder 47 times. I feel lucky to be blogging about it, for sure.

About 2 hours into the trip, Mama’s Boy announced, “Mama, you were right. This is a wonderful adventure.” Ahh. That made it all worthwhile. My deodorant was failing me, but my kids were happy.

Ten minutes later, he slapped his own forehead and shouted out, “What in the world are we even DOING? This is nothing but a long car ride!”

I’m pretty sure he hears voices in his head.

I hear them, too.

But we made it. It was both a long car ride AND a wonderful adventure. And except for a discolored ankle and a debilitating loss on the Quidditch field, I have no scars.

Pride goeth before a fall

They say what goes around comes around and that pride goes before a fall. The first one was probably said by some dude named Bill. The second one was a Holy Spirit thing, so that one is definitely true. I haven’t ever considered, though, that the fall could be so literal.

This time it was.

A plateful of literal falling, with a side dish of the metaphorical kind. Life would be nothing without metaphors, right?

Anyway, the day’s plan was to drive an hour and a half into the mountains and hang out at the ancient, charming family cabin. It comes complete with a sparkling mountain stream, a shed full of bikes to ride, and lots of sticks to form into bows, arrows, swords, and hiking sticks.

It also had one other amenity that I did not expect.

I was down at the river helping to oversee the children’s activities of mud pie baking, wading up to the waist in full-out blue jeans, and rock skipping. Not far into this, both of my girls expressed the need to use some facilities. One of them was content to use the natural facilities outdoors. The other was not. So I had to traipse back up the path to the cabin to help her find an actual bathroom. Upon finishing all of that, we walked out the back door to the porch and were met face to face with…..

….a BEAR! A full sized mama bear. And boy was I freaked out!

That did not happen. Tell me you did not buy into that.

We were actually met face to face with my oldest boy and a 14-year-old cousin of the people we are staying with out here.

“Hello, boys!” I said, as I was about to push past them to walk back to the river.

“Hi mama,” AG said, somewhat sheepishly. The other boy spoke next.

“Hey, will you play Quidditch with us? We have 3 players and we need one more.”

What? Is he talking to me? Am I awake right now?

“What?” I asked, questioning my very bad ears. “Quidditch? How do you play that?”

I mean, I’ve read a few Harry Potter books and I know what Quidditch is. But technically, it’s played with flying balls and broomsticks, so forgive me for being a little dense as to how it converts to a Colorado backyard. I felt it was a fair question.

“Come on,” he said. “We’ll show you.”  I walked around the bend and there in the middle of a green grassy lawn were two chairs, both with posts and quidditch hoops duct taped to them. Well, there you have it. A quidditch–place. Court? Field? Diamond? Not even sure the terminology. Either way, there it was. And there were the other three players just looking at me.

The teenage cousin spent 5 minutes telling me the rules. I was a chaser. My 9-year-old teammate was a seeker. Chaser meant that I got to run like a drunk gazelle trying to throw a basketball through these homemade hoops. Seeker meant that my buddy got to crawl around on his hands and knees in the grass looking for a golf ball spray painted gold. Grandma had hidden the golden snitch and man, was she good at hiding things.

Well, hmm. If you have ever known me, there are two things you already know: (1) I’m kind of an idiot. I love stupid things and I love exciting things. Sometimes I don’t know which is which. (2) I’m just a teeny, tiny bit competitive.

I didn’t go into that game wanting to sprain my ankle. I didn’t go into it feeling any danger or risk. But I did go into it wanting to win. How cool would it be for a 41-year-old lady to beat a teenager? Cool, indeed.

I was a chaser. And chase I did.

I scored on that fella quite a few times. And while I was doubled over, dry heaving, he scored on me. It was tied at 60 to 60, with the golden snitch still missing, when I got the ball back. It was mine. The goal was in sight. Find the snitch, boy, we can win it all!

And then…then, something happened. I wish I knew what. Right in the middle of a sprint for the goal, my ankle turned against me. And in one split second, I went down like a hogtied manatee. Thwummmmmp. Down on my right ankle. Down on my right wrist. The ball went flying, but did not sail through my goal thingie. It landed firmly in the hands of my worthy opponent.

My leg was pinned underneath me and I was, at that moment, in terrific pain. It was intense. I was surrounded by people I hardly knew: a 14 year old who was waiting to beat me, a grandma I had just met, a great aunt with a cane, and a talking parrot named Little Bit. Even the parrot was shocked at this turn of events.

When the searing pain of the initial injury died down, I took my shoe off to look and it was swollen. After a few minutes of deciding whether I would walk away, or limp away with a cane, my opponent spoke up.

“Um, hey. Is it okay if I just score on you now?”

Sigh.

“Yeah, sure. Go ahead,” I muttered. “Sorry, Chesley,” I said to my seeker. The game was pretty much over. Soon after that, my son found the golden snitch and it officially ended. I got up using the cane of an older, but now healthier, woman, and hobbled in to ice my ankle.

In the meantime, my friend was stuck at the river with-like-8000 children. There’s no telling what they were doing, but my 8-old-old was wet to the waist in jeans and thrashing around like someone who is intent upon drowning. The others had to be carried back to the cabin. I think she was ready to roast me over hot coals by the time she saw me sitting on the back porch. I’m sure I looked like a lemonade-sipping primadonna, but I was really just trying to hold it together. I was sweaty, sore, had just lost a quidditch match for crying stinking out loud, and felt like I had thrown the day and all my people under the bus. The last thing we needed was me to be a dead-weight with a borrowed cane.

I don’t know if it was the pain or the sweating or the humiliating loss on the quidditch field, but I actually cried a little bit. I think it was half pain, half embarrassment. I really did feel like an idiot. But I don’t think anyone knew I was acting like a 4 year old, because I had on shades. Now the worldwide web knows, though, so I guess I didn’t save any face after all.

The rest of the day was me nursing my ankle and watching things unfold around me that I could not help with. The snitch-hiding grandma led me into the family room, sat me in the nicest chair in the house, brought me ice and sat down with me to talk. This was, strangely enough, almost worth an embarrassing ankle sprain. This woman might be one of the nicest, funniest, most pleasant and nurturing people I have ever met. I was instantly at ease.

She told me she was sorry I had sprained my ankle, but she was glad I had said yes to the game. She said, “If you hadn’t said yes, you’d be feeling a lot better right now, but you wouldn’t be near as much fun.”

I told that to my friend while she was spreading peanut butter on her 16th piece of bread.

She scowled at me.

She doesn’t know what quidditch is.

We haven’t spoken since.

Not really.

To Baron Wetty of the Skate-off Fiasco I say this: My fall was both more deserved and uglier than yours. However, it was not caught on tape. Then again, you don’t have a cankle. So, this round goes to you!

It wasn’t Barbies

I honestly didn’t get the Coke joke. Please someone explain it to the mentally deficient, because I missed that.

Your answers gave me a laugh, which I needed. Red rover was a good guess, but it wasn’t that. It wasn’t from chasing and slaughtering a chicken, but that image cracked me up and that was a great guess.

The story will follow soon.

No one will enjoy it more than the recently fallen Baron Wetty. She deserves mocking rights and I freely give them

Postcards from the edge

I have a few travel stories to tell. Unfortunately, after typing a lengthy expose of the obstacles involved in trekking with four children, I lost half the blog due to a login issue. Right now I’m just too tired to recreate it. Part 1 has been saved as a draft. I’ll post it if and when it seems decent enough to do so. For now, I’ll send some postcards and leave you with a few thoughts.

No chickens were harmed in the writing of this blog. Or otherwise. Yet.

If you are offended by boys toting toy weapons, do not scroll down to the pictures.

Mama’s Boy still refuses to trust me on matters that require any adjustment. Nothing much has changed there.

I am really enjoying the total lack of traffic. And cars. And car related sounds.

The deer and antelope play here.

Sorry. It’ll be stuck in your head indefinitely. It has been in mine.

What I learned from a pair of jeans…

What I learned from a pair of jeans…

Posted on July 19, 2012

Tonight I went to Kohl’s with my mother-in-law. She went with me to save me 20% and to keep me from committing a crime against eyes across America.

I’ve been lying to myself about what size jeans I wear. The truth is, I haven’t worn any REAL jeans in like 8 months. Maybe a year (the lies blur the dates for me). If you were around last summer when my blog went limp and dead, you might know that I spent the summer writing the text for an iPad app which is a choose your own adventure style book thingie. (You can get it on iTunes if you want to support the arts…or the arts wannabes. Search on ebook Time Machine and it will come up. Time Machine: Age of the Emperors. It’s not as weird as it sounds.)  During that summer, I was up to all hours every night, working on some pretty stiff deadlines. Looking back, I have no idea how I did it. I guess I did it with God’s help, the help from 1000 other people, and quite a few 3 a.m. pop tarts.

Which brings me back to the jeans.

If you sit at your desk long enough and eat enough pop tarts, you will part company with your jeans.

I did.

And then I began lying to myself about what was actually going on.

Tonight, I found the truth. Even after working out like a dog for 5 days and eating like a Jenny Craig poster child, I still haven’t lost enough to go shopping. And my jeans still don’t fit. Nor do most of the pairs I tried on at Kohl’s tonight.

I did find some that fit reasonably well. They did not take 20 pounds off me, as I had hoped, or make me look like an Olympic hopeful. Rumor has it there’s no shortcut for that.

They did teach me a thing or two about self-deception, though. You can tell yourself anything you want about what size you wear. But if that isn’t actually your size, you won’t have a fighting chance of stuffing those lies into a pair of Levi’s. I tried it.

And then I left the pack of lies on the floor of the fitting room and went home with a larger sized truth.

I wish I could say that I feel really honest and noble. But I kinda just feel like I own bigger jeans.

 

western waving

This is a quick wave from a wheat farm out west. Our travels have been crazy, lengthy, and blessed. God has gone with us every phase. This post is from my phone, and i have much to say when i get the  network password.

Today I will kill and pluck and fry a chicken. I will do it because it is an adventure. It is like the bungee jumping of a farm. The chicken is the jumper. I am the cord. It can’t end well. certainly not for the chicken. Probably not for me either.