There’s a recurring theme this Thanksgiving

Thankfulness, sure. Yes. Gratitude. Let me just come back to that one when I’m not so distracted by the pies.

Pie. That’s the theme this Thanksgiving.

First, there was the uproar I caused by telling the world that I hate all pies. Many of you are now searching for my birth mother, because you are certain I could not be their daughter or his sister or your cousin. Others are asking around for a good nutritionist or some sort of Pie Therapy Center. I assure you that I have not suffered and the fact that I don’t eat pie hasn’t caused me any irreversible ills. Then, again, how do I know, right? Maybe I’d be Mary Poppins or Jo Frost if only I’d grown up eating pie. Or maybe I’d be the lady to someday be forklifted from a second story parlor because all she does is sit and eat…pie.

Whatever the case, I am not fond of it. It’s too squishy. And slimy. All pies are either squishy or slimy. I don’t need squishy and slimy in my life so much.

Early in the week, the pie topic became a heavy discussion point. The first pie was purchased by my own husband and was a pumpkin pie. After that, a pecan pie entered the building. Seriously? Please, just give this an honest look.

I mean it. Just wipe your slate clean for a moment and look at it like you are looking for the first time. That’s a bunch of brown, crusty bugs that someone baked into a pie. Or a genetic experiment. That is not edible. If you want to argue this point, may I suggest a free theme on WordPress. You can write your own blog called TheLifeofPie…or ThePiePiper…or…StickThisInYourPieandSmokeIt.

Anyway.

All of the above–Pumpkin Pie #1 and The Nasty Tree Bark Pie–are part of Pie Phase 1. Phase 2 involved two informed parties and four innocent bystanders. We were coming out of Wreck It Ralph yesterday, which my kids liked and most of the adults in the group did not, and heading toward the van. We thought we were going home. Within moments, there was a folded invitation of some sort that was whipped out in the front seat like a treasure map, some discussion about directions, and we were off! A wild pie chase ensued that captured the next 45 minutes. As it turned out, some real estate lady was giving away free pies and apparently pie lovers are incapable of turning away free pie even if that pie is located in another county. Wow. Who knew? I’m trying to think of something I love enough to pursue like that. Maybe a trunk load of Trefoils, compliments of the Girl Scouts I love so much. Mmm. Trefoils.

So that was Pumpkin Pie #2 and Pie Phase #2.

Pie Phase #3 was this little guy.

I know it’s not pretty. There’s no lattice work and, quite honestly, the outer part of the crust looks like a smashed-together series of tumors. But I made it and it’s MY cherry pie. I won’t be eating it, but my boy asked for it and I wasn’t going to deny him that.

So I guess I didn’t tell the WHOLE truth. I like my own pie. This one cherry pie recipe. No other cherry pies. Just this one. And I like it. Let’s move on.

Next door, there is a mince meat pie being made by Telley. Mince Meat pie? Could they have come up with a more disgusting name for something? That’s like Hairy Guts Cake or Squished Liver Custard. Why mince meat? Was this like Iceland? Someone named it Iceland so people wouldn’t know it was gorgeous and nobody would visit?

And Uncle Egg is bringing…2 pies.

Let’s do that math just real quick here. 4 pies already here at the house + 1 mince meat + 2 mystery pies = 7 pies. With 8 adults, one of whom doesn’t eat pie, all of the other adults can each have their own pie.

Now THAT is something to be thankful for.

Soapboxy, but with an air of truth

This may come off a little preachy. If you aren’t in the mood for such, just skip this today and come back tomorrow when I shall share some of the lessons I’ve learned on the “farm.”

Being at the kids school every day has brought me into contact with all kinds of people. Single people. People dealing with ugly divorces or custody arrangements. Rich people. Poor people. Really insane people. Angry people. Happy people. People with AND without kickball skilz.  I have gotten to know many of them on a more personal level. Some of them have very hard lives and at times, it is painful to hear the stories they tell.

Today, I visited at a congregation also made up of all kinds of people. Most of it was quite positive. But there was one row of about 10 young people…either late high school or early college…that almost sucked the joy out of everything good. They were unfortunately directly in front of us and as hard as I tried, I couldn’t tune them totally out. I honestly have no idea why they were even there. One guy gave it up altogether, slumped down in the pew and went to sleep. Another guy hunkered down and played an hour of Angry Birds. Three people compared whether or not they were all double jointed. All of them talked…the WHOLE time. One checked his facebook account. And they almost got a smackety smack from me. Even my kids noticed how disrespectful they were.

And so, on the basis of my recent people watching experiences and getting to know people from all walks of life, here are my assessments. You don’t have to agree. I know I’m not always right. But I’m a 41 year old mom of 4 who knows how to sit quietly in any kind of formal assembly, believes in keeping her word, and still has many of the same friends I had when I was 19. Also, I scoop chicken poo like a champ. Whatever credibility comes with these things is the credibility I have.

Life Lessons according to Missy:

(1)    Honor your commitments. This one actually might NOT make you more peaceful. Sometimes sticking something out—whether it’s a bad game of Duck, Duck, Goose, a job you took, a friendship, a task you said you’d do for someone, or a marriage—is harder in the short run. Sometimes sticking it out is the tougher option. But if you said you’d do it—if you committed to it—then you should do it. Don’t break your end. How many others suffer when we quit? Almost always, others do. Sometimes for a day. Sometimes for many months. Sometimes forever. Many times the other party messes it up or lets go of their end of the rope. Don’t let go first.

(2)    If you aren’t sure you can honor the commitment, don’t make it. You don’t have to say yes. If you say yes, mean it. But then, we’ve been down this road already.

(3)    Choose God. I honestly don’t know how I’d live without Him. I don’t know how people do it. Life can be very heavy and very challenging. Sometimes life can try to kill you. It hasn’t tried to kill me yet, but it has sat down on me a time or two and I’ve been through enough to know that I won’t do it without God. I’m watching some friends live through some pretty bad stuff. Even in the bad stuff, God is with them.

(4)    Choose your spouse wisely.  Choose them before you have their babies. And then work to the bone to make it work. I know there’s tons of extenuating circumstances. I know I don’t know people’s situations. I know it doesn’t always work out. I’m not judging. I’m just saying that if you are still searching for that someone, search carefully.

(5)    A thing is only as good as its investors.

(6)    Just because someone doesn’t believe in it, doesn’t make it unbelievable.

(7)    Your actions—whatever they are and however insignificant they seem to you—impact others. If you pick your nose in the car, you are not invisible. Even window tinting cannot guarantee your safety. People see. If you play thumb wars in church in front of a family trying really hard to get something out of the service, you may be utterly ruining it for them.  Almost never do our actions affect only us. Almost always they ripple out. So consider others. In our own living rooms, I guess it doesn’t matter so much. But in a theater, or school auditorium, or church building, or in line at the grocery store, people see and are either made better or worse by what we do.

So don’t be a dork. 🙂

And that’s all I have to say about that.

Brains that don’t work normally

I have problems processing information through certain filters. Most people have a “that’s insane” filter that I struggle with. Even when a person who DOES have the insanity filter points out my own insanity, I still struggle to accept, or even recognize, what they are saying is insane.

Let’s set that aside for a moment.

I’ve been trying to lose 2oish pounds for 6 years now. Beloved came along and I gained the typical 18-25 pounds. Just as I was killing my gum-chewing habit and getting back on track, I found out there was going to be a fourth child. Beloved was bald headed and 9.5 months old when this news came. So I added the typical 18-25 baby pounds to the never-lost other baby pounds. And now I’ve just grown used to the whole thing.

I’ve had some minor successes over the years. These have become trapped under the more significant failures. I did well while on vacation a few weeks ago. But then I came home and ate Twinkies (stop judging) and Pringles (you love Pringles. You know you do.), as if I was trying to gain 8 pounds for a movie role.

But now, a new day is dawning. A day without Twinkies. A day where the Pringles are reserved for the children only. A day where water is imbibed.

And, a day with a long bike ride. 12 miles. I know that in the world of extreme sports, 12 miles is not a long ride. But when you’ve been living a Twinkie-laced lifestyle, a person with an insanity filter might question starting out at 12 miles. I have been questioned by the Informinator already. Her insanity filter works very well.  She didn’t actually tell me it was crazy. She just asked the question. Are you sure? Should you work up to? Do you know what you’re doing? Yes. No. Yes.

Boo-yah.

If I live through it, I’ll write later. If I don’t live through it, this will be a very awkward final blog.

I love everyone.

You guys are great.

All 18 of you.

Love Jesus. Live right. Wear a helmet.

There’s no such thing as a dumb question.

Unless it is the one Mama’s Boy had to answer on his math homework this afternoon. Let me preface this by saying this: I love our school, our teachers, our administrators, and all things pertaining to all of the above. This post is directed at some dude named Bill that wrote this question on that particular day.

I was wearing rubber boots and standing in four inches of mud with a solo cup full of chicken mash in one hand when Mama’s Boy opened the back door and called out to me. He never just calls out. It is never a calm, stable, “Hey, Mom! When you have a second, I need to ask you something about my homework.” It is never that.

It begins in crisis mode. He goes from, Hmm, let me just read this question silently to myself to ACKWHATINTHEBLOOMINGDAYLIGHTSSHOULDIDONOWTHATICLEARLY WILL NEVERPASSELEMENTARYSCHOOLORHOLDDOWNAREALJOB???

He skips 19 stages to go from Hmm to despair. I can’t seem to talk him out of  all of that. So I diffuse when I can. When the door swung open this afternoon he spewed out an entire paragraph about how horribly hard this one question was before I could even respond to my own name. All I could say was that I’d be in after I liberated the chickens, who had been pent up too long from storms.

I went in. He was grueling over this one question.

To just bring you into the scene, I will post the picture I took of the question.

This is the THINK SOLVE EXPLAIN question. So, let’s look at this together. She cuts the square into two triangles. And Mama’s Boy has to explain how he knows they are two triangles.

There’s only one answer to that.

Because they are.

Because they are triangles. What do you mean, explain how you know? You just know. A triangle is a triangle. Red is red. Keens are awesome. Annie Lennox is the best female pop star of all time.

Well, clearly Mama’s Boy needed more than my boneheaded answer. Cuz. That’s what I said. Just cuz. That’s why. When that wasn’t going to cut it, I turned to the next logical source of information: Google. Let’s get the definition of triangle and explain it that way. How do we know it’s a triangle? Well, because it is a shape comprised of three angles. TRI angle. There, boy. Feel better? Say that.

He was staring at me. Blankly. A long pause passed between us before he finally said,”Why can’t I just write what I was going to write?”

Well, you can. Of course you can. For some reason, I got the impression you were desperately soliciting my help. Perhaps I misunderstood the spewing at the back door. No matter, boy. Go for it.

After that, I put back on my rubber boots and returned to the chickens.

Hours and hours passed and I found myself thinking back to today’s homework scene. I had just sat in on Trivia Night at Gator’s with a group of seriously smart pals and enjoyed a slamming first place victory. And all the brain juice flowing at that table (none of it mine) made me wonder what exactly the boy had said to explain how he knew that Maureen was dealing with two triangles. So when I got home, I pulled out his homework.

Well, duh, Bill. (that’s the dude that wrote this assignment…) Because each side has a big point.

I can’t wait to see what Maureen needs us to explain for her tomorrow.

Random Summer Advice

If you don’t like Skittles, you may not want to borrow your daughter’s Skittles 2-in-1 shampoo. It smells like Skittles. You will be wearing Skittles on your head. The good news is that one chlorine bath takes you right back to your pre-skittled hair. I much prefer the smell of summer bleach.

If you are me, you will attract the strangest people on the beach. They will come to you and sit down by you and engage you in strange, strange conversations. And they will not leave. For 5 days.

Since you are not me, because I am me, this will not likely happen to you. But if you are you, and you like strange people and conversations, you can hang out with me and then it will be like you are me. Except at the end of the day you can go home and be you. And that might be better.

I know how to pack a summer. I packed this one full of awesomeness. I am thankful.

I have learned a whole lot about what’s important in the last few weeks. Sometimes life seems normal and nonchalant. And while it might go smoothly some of the time, it is never something to just be passed through. It’s urgent that I focus on the right things. Always. Because at any given point, the normal nonchalantness might become a thing I don’t recognize. I can’t afford to be shuffling along in my flip-flops watching Spongebob. And not that this solves everything, but I have decided to memorize the book of Colossians. There’s so much good stuff in there about how I need to live and about my Savior. I decided to go backwards. Memorizing from back to front. It’s a little awkward because I’m currently memorizing the last half of chapter 4. It’s all the closing stuff. But I think I’m going to be able to retain it better this way. At any rate, I am determined not to get off track this year.

This is my year. It may not be perfect. It may not be pretty. But for as many days as I have this year, I’m living them. And I’m going to give it my best.

To do this, I will continue memorizing. I have a goal of running in town (remember…people do not run in the country) or hitting the gym while the kids are in school. I’m going to work my tail off at the kids’ school and have loved every minute of that so far. I really never thought I’d be that person, but I am now that person. I’m going to keep the house clean and cook like I’m not a poser.

And also, because it’s important…I will buy some adult shampoo.

Because if you get all the other stuff right, and you smell like a Skittle, you still have a problem.

Back to school

Oh my.
There are a lot of things and situations and injustices and states (Louisiana) that I hate. I am often quite verbal about these things. But there is little that I detest more than the Back-to-School shopping trip. Two columns of supplies for each kid. Three kids. That’s SIX COLUMNS of supplies. To make it MORE challenging, since SIX COLUMNS is not challenging enough, I had to go to a new Walmart for my new country locale.

I programmed into my smart phone GPS that I needed the closest Walmart. It began to route me to it, speaking to me as it went. It was almost like having a flat little companion on my shopping trip with me. But then–a call came in. Someone I hadn’t talked to in awhile. I answered. Now what? I was going to end up lost. And then, as the drops of confused sweat poured off my brow, my phone whispered something to me. In .5 miles, turn left on County Road 579. Aha! She speaks to me softly even when I am speaking softly to someone else. Rock on!

I got a little off track. Back to the Back-to-School shopping. When you walk into a store for this yearly shopping trip, there are bins and folders and sales and paper and scissors and rocks. I’m supposed to get centimeter graph paper, but the package doesn’t say what size it is. Should I be able to eyeball a little block and just KNOW that’s a centimeter? Well, I couldn’t do that, so I located a ruler, which I needed to purchase anyway and measured that sucker. Seemed like a centimeter to me.

I understand the bins and sales and groupings and all of that. But they do not understand that I am buying for 3 or 4 kids in a pop. So if I were Sam Walton or his great nephew, and if I were going to open a store that sold Back-to-School supplies, I would get rid of all the fluorescent lighting and massive amounts of colored bins. So many choices! I would put in a few 25-watt lamps. And I would pipe in some classical guitar music and have a couple of coolers at end caps where back to school shoppers could share a tasty beverage. Occasionally, I would have a nice person wander by to say nice things to the shopper…things like: Hey, good job on all your shopping. Looks like you are really making progress. Or maybe they could compliment the shopper’s outfit or something. Maybe even place a few people in my store who could assist the weary shopper.

But probably if I really, really, really loathe the Back-to-School shopping session (and I do), it’s not likely I’m going to want to open a store that partakes in such. Maybe I should open a massage parlor next door and offer specials to the glazed eyed mothers that exit the school stores with a cart full o’ chaos.

It’s not really called a massage parlor, is it?

I’m skating tomorrow night. You can stick that in your quidditch broom and smoke it.

General stuff

Monday night we returned to Texas at an hour that was horrid even by mountain time standards. The kids were finally asleep in an actual bed by 1:45 a.m. For me, the sleep nazi, this was hard to swallow. However, two of the kids slept until 11 yesterday. The two that did not sleep until 11 were a little more fragile last night. So the girls made a plan that would surely work: go shopping at 4 places. Little kids love that. Especially when they are insanely exhausted.
I regretted that somewhat.
But the thing I regretted most was ever picking up the two headbands in Ross and asking for a price. I’ve seen organ transplants that were less complicated than that whole process. Never again. Ever.
But then I went to Kohl’s, which is an oasis in a Ross-created desert, and got two typical-of-me t-shirts for $2.93. Be impressed. Those two t-shirts together were cheaper than the headband that chipped 6 months off my life.
But no matter, because when we got home and the kids got in bed at 9:50 (yes, I KNOW), little J uttered the words so many mothers long to hear.
“In the morning, I want to go shopping. And I want to buy shoes and shoes and shoes.”
Oh dear.