Category Archives: Uncategorized

What in the howl’s moving castle

Alright, people, look.

I’ve kept silent for a long time about this, but no more.

Here it is:

My daughter’s boyfriend saw this boxed set of Studio Ghibli DVD’s and thought it’d be an excellent thing to give to our family, either because he thinks we’re insane or because Mia casually mentioned her childhood obsession with Ponyo.

(Other recognizable movie titles gifted to us include “Kiki’s Delivery Service”, “The Secret World of Arietty”, and “My Neighbor Totoro”.)

And I, never one to waste someone’s thoughtful gesture or hard-earned money, have tried to watch all the movies in the set of 17, here and there when I can, and let me tell you:

…when I say these movies are weird,

THEY ARE THE FREAKING TRIPPIEST WEIRDEST MOST CRAZYASS ANIMATED MOVIES IN CINEMATIC HISTORY.

All I know is that one minute, I’m watching a little girl and her parents go on this chill hike through the countryside and then I look away for a millisecond and the parents are turning into actual pigs, and the girl is running through a city of black ghosts and there’s an old lady on fire who has a giant germaphobic baby hidden in pillows and then this dragon gives her a paper cut that splits her in two immediately before the little girl feeds an elephant-sized slug something that makes it vomit tar all over a dadgum Japanese bathhouse and all hell breaks loose and I’m done, man, I’m just done.

That’s critically acclaimed “Spirited Away” but have you ever heard about “Porco Russo”, a WWII-era bounty-hunting pig-man pilot voiced by none other than Michael Keaton (the man, the myth, the legend)? And, actually, no; I don’t think I will tell you about it because I’m still just so confused.

My latest adventure into the twisted world of Studio Ghibli was “Grave of the Fireflies”–so bear with me, cause I’m still ugly-crying. Imagine a movie telling the story of maybe “Anne Frank” meets “Places in The Heart” and “Tears of the Sun” or whatever movie is about a poor desperate big brother trying to keep his little sister alive during wartime and disease and poverty and famine and she ends up starving to death before his very eyes.

Have you ever seen an animated film that depicts a half-dead toddler girl lying in the grass with flies crawling all over her?

I cannot

I cannot I cannot

I cannot

I am shook, y’all

Shook.

So if you see me in public and I act somewhat “off”, know that it’s not sleepiness or exhaustion or stress or too much activity or babies screaming or any normal thing. I’ve just watched one too many Japanese animated films and I’m scarred beyond repair.

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Happy Meal Nights

This is a day for rejoicing because: twins in high chairs eating noodles and eggs.

You guys, I didn’t think this day would ever come. From the time Indie and Duncan left the NICU guzzling 900 ounces a day of the most expensive formula man has ever seen, to when they were six months old and were consuming 3 times as much; and now, oh, now! There is an end in sight, an inexpensive and easier end full of food that is nothing special. I cooked noodles & eggs and they were eaten in a heartbeat. Sweet Mercy! Suck it, Nutramigen!

It won’t be long before they too, can enjoy Happy Meal Night, which happens only when *someone* forgets to order groceries and everyone has (literally) been screaming (literally) all day, and mom is at her wit’s end so hard that she drives around the block sobbing uncontrollably after dropping Merrick off at basketball, because she can’t bear the thought of taking the screaming babies and toddler back to the house for more screaming while trying to force-feed everyone canned green beans and bananas.

I’m gonna say something here that I swore I would never ever say, because to the woman struggling with one singular cranky baby (cough COLICKY BABY ARBOR cough) it’s just super mean and insensitive –but–here goes: two babies are harder than one.

There. I said it. Twins are way harder than a singleton. What was I thinking all those years when Cheyenne was a baby, or singular little Mia, or low-key Merrick or laid-back Lucy? (I solidly defend my claim that Arbor was as difficult as three sets of wild boar triplets.)

So yeah, Freakin’ Happy Meal Night, y’all, it’s what’s up:

Our days have taken a turn for the anxiety-attack-inducing. I have legitimate concerns for my blood vessels. Listen, I didn’t choose the SAHM life…oh wait, yes I did. But hey, I get through it and nobody’s permanently traumatized, and that’s what matters.

I can hold it down without much of a problem as long as the kids nap regularly and sleep at night; I’m even better if I can manage a run or a bike ride 4-6 times a week.

And I wasn’t gonna bring it up (OH YES I WAS) but I completed 8 miles on my most recent long run; this is usually the part where I get pregnant, so the fact that this weekend I hope to knock out 9 entirely unpregnant miles is exceptional. I’d really dread it if it weren’t for: 1) an hour and a half of peace and quiet, and 2) THESE VIEWS:

My husband is the crazy-coolest and drove beside me in his truck for the last two (dark) miles of my run, illuminating my path with his headlights and keeping me hydrated with ice-cold water he brought along for the occasion. I didn’t ask him to; he just showed up; that’s why I love him. Well, and other reasons.


my part

I skimmed over a bible verse the other day that I should have paid way more attention to.

I should have let it absorb into every fiber of my being, every atom of every molecule of every cell of everything that comes after cell.

Plainly put: I’m a popper-offer. My mouth gets away from me and I don’t even pretend to make an attempt to chase it. This quality can sometimes be mildly entertaining to others but what usually happens is that I make ass out of myself.

This immature tendency I have to be rude AF is something I struggle with.

And you guys? Running my mouth unchecked is a sin. If what I say is helpful but not true, I have sinned. If what I say is true but not necessary and helpful, I have sinned. If I make no moves to right wrongs I have committed, I have sinned. And if I take no steps to prevent myself from getting into these situations, I am no longer struggling with the sin but I am embracing it, bathing in it; spraying it on like perfume.

So here I am right now, telling all you fine people, that I am sorry for this: I made a comment on a social media post last week, and I know now, that, in hindsight, my thoughts would have been better discussed in a less public setting. It was not so much a mad case of Facebook cajones as it was me digging up some very negative feelings on a hot-button issue–and I just fired away, proper protocol be damned.

That wasn’t cool.

For about three hours I pushed aside any doubts I had about my approach to the matter, but it wasn’t until my husband called me out on exactly the sort of passive-aggressive behavior I ideally like to avoid that I became incredibly convicted.

And so if I can commit an offense online, then I should very un-vaguely admit my mistake and apologize online (and in person whenever possible.)

I’m not writing this to be “authentic” or “relatable”; I’m writing this because I did something wrong, and it’s appropriate to feel the weight of that. (And I do.) I stand by what I said 100%, but I realize that maybe—just maybe—sometimes my two cents is more effective when given only to people who are two-cents short.

I am not shy when it comes to engaging in face-to-face conversations; speaking out will never not be a thing that I do, but I will definitely work on my timing and method of delivery.

A young friend of mine once lamented how difficult it was to be in the learning stages of life; I want her to know that the learning stages never end. Striving to do the right thing is a continual process. Look at me—this grown woman messed up, and she has a lot more growing to do.


better sort of

We made it to September, and these twins are nine months old and Arbor is now five and the puppy is rapidly approaching 4 months old, and no one has died. Granted, we are still a little shook from our salmonella ordeal. (Guess who has it now! Hint: she’s been wearing everyone else’s bodily fluids for the past…um…5 years.)

But, all things considered, I’d say we’re thriving.

My half-marathon training has come to a screeeeeeching halt. I’ll be lucky if I can manage a half-mile walk this evening. I fought so hard this past week; I cleaned and I cleaned and I washed my hands eighty billion times a day. I took vitamins and ate superfoods like it was my dang job. But alas, I succumbed and I fell. I am weak and shaky and burpy. I shan’t go into more detail, but if we’re keeping score, I’d say it’s my 0 to salmonella’s 13.

It’s early September in Oklahoma which means sunflowers and bonfires. More cardigan mornings and less 105 degree afternoon runs.

Sometimes my husband and I dream of having a farm with sheep and Scottish Highland cows, and a workshop-art studio combination barn where he makes furniture and I paint it–it’s this time of year especially that makes me wish that dream had come true already. One day y’all.

One day.


having all the fun

It’s been an exciting week in the land of parenting living breathing kids of varying ages with distinct personalities, huh?!!

I feel ever-so-slightly spread thin. Teens and their insane schedules, and hey–fun with underage vaping! Should I trust but verify, or just not trust and not verify, or trust but not verify? And how about that moody, still-adjusting pre-k-er? The two year old who climbs pantry shelves and tortures the dog? The twins who Gollum-crawl all over the place licking the floors? And that low-maintenance 11-year-old ray of sunshine who will turn high-maintenance in 2 seconds flat if I don’t start paying attention to him?

And about licking the floors, Indie has “somehow” contracted actual salmonella, which has had her writhing in fever and stomach-cramping-agony, and bleeding like crazy. It’s been as horrible as it sounds and the worst part is, I have no specific flipping idea how she got it, other than…I don’t know. Maybe jacking with the trash can one day while racing around in her walker? Did perhaps the puppy lick something unsavory and then lick Indie?

Duncan is halfway down too, which is unsurprising, since they slobber all over each other’s belongings and faces. Lucy may have a mild case as well. Or not. Man, I don’t even know. These kids have always been hardcore–and I do mean hardcore–poopers. It is known.

This is all a bit overwhelming, but last night, as I was washing a five-foot tall stack of dirty dishes from dinner, I felt a calmness and a sense of gratitude wash over me, because this IS the life I wished for: a farmhouse in the country and a butt-ton of kids and all their dishes, and a mountain of shoes by the front door and laundry that won’t quit and baby gates blocking everything everywhere all the time, and schedules plastered on the fridge and skateboards on the sidewalk and string cheese wrappers all over the house, topped off with a healthy dose of teen angst and mild rebellion, all while I drink hot bleach and mop up explosive diarrhea and puppy pee for an indeterminate amount of time. I’m living the dream. I really, really am.

Update: Indie is on the mend now: fever-and-bleeding-free.

In other news, I got my hair done and now I am officially addicted to red:

On the running front, I could do better, as in I haven’t moved my legs off the living room floor in a whole seven days. But these past few weeks have slayed me, so I’ll have to kick it into high gear another time. I’m doing that half-marathon in November, so help me–I was just kind of hoping to not slug my way through it.

Either way, I do love a good long run on a gravel road with no one vomiting all over me.


Whippersnapping 101

Sometimes I get rowled up.

It really do be like that.

One might call me “the sword in the darkness”, or the shield that guards the realms of men; the cat with the spoon, or, most accurately, “the lame stay-at-home-and-snitch-mom with no life and nothing better to do than run her mouth and take heat for it.”

The truth is that I am all of those things but mostly I am a lady who doesn’t know what she’s doing half the time but gets super worked up about the general health and well-being of her children. FIGHT ME.

A few days ago, I reposted a little video about the dangers of vaping. I may or may not have also off-handedly mentioned somewhere in the ensuing comment thread that kids are doing it in the locker rooms (and bathrooms and classrooms and hallways and parking lots, according to multiple sources, including daughters, sons, teachers, parents, and students I’ve talked to over the last year or so) (which does hearken back to yesteryear–ah, memories of my own idiot friends smoking real live cigarettes behind the gym, under the bleachers, and on the actual front steps of the school building…but I digress.)

And because I’d hate for people to assume the repost came from nothing more than a raging case of Facebook balls, and also because it’s important to, I don’t know, not vape through 3 juul pods a day at 15 years old, I’m writing.

Man. I think our kids need our help.

To parents, I want you to know that I am no stranger to teenage deviance (read: Caleb & Toni, 1994-2015…ish) (read also: my oldest daughter, who is an untouchable stone-cold Rebel); nor am I under any delusions that my own young children are beyond (at the very least) dabbling in mild-to-wild shenaniganry. I get it. Because teenagers, amirite?

Here are some things I will consider murdering or grounding (I’m undecided) my adolescent offspring for: smoking. Vaping. Doing either of those things on or near school property. Doing either of those things around other people in closed spaces: 1) How inconsiderate of your own health. 2) How inconsiderate of others’ health. 3) How stupid because have you ever heard of getting caught and suspended and kicked off teams? 4) How rude because have you ever heard of others getting punished in the same way simply by being around you while you’re being stupid enough to do it?

Anyway.

But to the younger crowd, I would implore you to take a good long listen from someone who knows how to roll up a fatty

of fellowship and fun

and from someone who loves you because you’ll always be the cute little sweeties I knew with backpacks that reached down to your calves, and braces and double-inverted French braids and acne and knobby knees and elbows and bright eyes, contagious giggles, and big dreams; and because you’re the future of our community, and I know for a fact you are stronger, smarter, and more capable of making better decisions than I ever did at your age.

Lesson #1:

If you throw a raging party complete with drugs and alcohol way out in the country by a creek, half a mile from any house but still manage to thump your bass so loud that it rattles the windows of the house HALF A MILE AWAY and wakes up the old crotchedy pregnant-with-twins lady of the house–who is already having trouble sleeping–and who, upon being woken from the first thirty minutes of decent sleep she’s gotten all week, can also hear your drunk girlfriends’ cackling from (again) HALF OF AN ENTIRE MILE AWAY, please, please EXPECT to have someone (4 separate homeowners in the immediate area, including the pregnant lady, her neighbor with four kids in bed asleep, the folks that live up on the hill on the next MILE block over, and the old farmer down the opposite end of the road) to call the cops. Don’t act shocked. Don’t get mad. Next time throw your drinking party and make out in the muddy cornfield quietly, geez. Or maybe just go sober mini-golfing and call it a Saturday night well spent.

Lesson #2:

If you’re at a party such as the one mentioned above, leave early before all of the neighbors call the cops, because they will, because obviously.

Lesson #3:

If you do vape, maybe vape in the privacy of your own home or car, not in a wide open doorway to, say, any random building on school property, where literally any fool driving by can actually see you and the vape in your face. I can’t with you. I love you, but I can’t. This is just not smart. In my day, folks expertly sneaked around in the shadows with their grody real cigarettes and still weren’t surprised if they got busted, because someone always finds out.

Lesson #4:

Someone always finds out.

Dang it, they always do. It’ll make its way through the grapevine, or someone will see you and go directly to the highest authority, or someone lame (IT ME) will risk social suicide and write vaguely about it and get all the other parents up in arms. And oh, hey, guys? The teachers know. I am friends with 17 teachers at last count and, my goodness, so many of them are already onto you it’s not even funny. You’re not hiding it well. Know who else will be able to tell? The doctor, when your folks take you in for a checkup because you’re sick for the thousandth time, or because your jaw exploded. One of the two.

Lesson #5:

I’ve said this before: vaping is just not cool. It’s not rock’n’roll; it smacks of douchebaggery of the highest accord. You might as well frost your tips, throw on a Tap-out shirt, and jump into your used faded-burgundy PT Cruiser with bull testicles hanging off the bumper blasting mediocre pop hits from 2013. If you would like to read up on things that are cooler than vaping, I’ve compiled a short list, feel free to add to it:

  • Head lice
  • Any sport
  • Any scholarship from any sport
  • Any of your friends
  • YOUR MOM
  • Sequined ball caps
  • Guinea pigs
  • Headgear
  • Chevron-patterned anything
  • The word “Litty”
  • Pitbull’s cover of “Africa”
  • Throwing loud parties in the country by a creek
  • The loogies (aka nicotine babies) people hock up from wet lungs
  • 90210 reboots
  • Butterfly tramp stamps
  • Brown lip liner
  • Pinworms
    Hobbs and Shaw
    Mom jeans, Fanny packs, and crocs (apparently these things are actually cool.)

I could go on but I’ve made my point.

We all have better things to be doing than vaping or confessing that head lice is cooler than anything. For instance I could be writing about poopy diapers but no, instead here I am with a horrible case of diarrhea of the mouth (or the fingers? No idea) and I can’t even wrap up sweetly with “Shine with the light of Christ” because somebody’s gonna accidentally catch their face on fire with a vape pen, and I’m gonna feel bad.

*****************************************

If you need help quitting, call me or text me or message me or send me a handwritten letter in an envelope with a stamp. 99% of the adults you know care about you more than you realize. I will text you hilarious quitting memes. I will cook you food and we can paint a picture and go for a country road run, and watch The Office while I get you hooked on coffee.


it be crazy

School started this past week. Arbor’s in Pre-k, which means a huge change in household dynamics Monday through Friday from 8 to 3.

Lucy is running the joint–I want to say she’s power-tripping a little bit, but surely two-year-olds can’t be intentionally bossy.

I thought she’d miss her big sister more, but she is taking every opportunity to play with every toy and sit on every chair with every blanket and watch every movie while eating all the snacks. She’s reveling in her rightful place as queen of the living room; in five days she has become more assertive, more rambunctious, more talkative, and more cuddly. She is now the star of the show, and I am loving the sheer cuteness of it all.

Duncan and Indie are crawling and teething and not really sleeping.

They do love their walkers and I am thankful for the ten minutes I can put them down in them so I can eat or go to the bathroom. Duncan is tipping the scales at 23 pounds, while Indie remains a “petite” 19. Their nine-month-old mark is fast approaching; they remind me of this with their perfect execution of the alligator-death-roll, among other evasive maneuvers, whenever I try to hold them for any reason.

(My back is breaking, send help.)

Arbor loves school. She has 115 best friends at last count, according to her. She can spell R-E-D, and she is utterly fascinated by her teacher’s whistle. Struggles are few, but her biggest complaints are napping with her shoes on, and sweating on the playground. No word yet on whether or not she has attempted to employ world-domination tactics on her fellow classmates.

Merrick is in 6th grade this year which means he should technically be in the throws of middle school awkwardness.

He is not.

And Mia, finally back from her travels, has officially started her sophomore year of high school (only to once again miss another day due to sickness, and yet another two days still due to the softball coach’s fondness for signing up for tournaments during school hours.)

It’s whatever.

That’s the social media spin on the last two weeks. Truthfully it’s been a very, very rough go here at the house. The teething and sickness have taken a toll on all of us, for sure, but just the general ages and phases of the little children have me (and Merrick, my ride-or-die sidekick, bless his heart) a bit (a lot) well…shell-shocked.

For instance, I never imagined how many times I would see this meme played out in real life:

Indie loves to hurt Duncan, I think. It’s like her sole purpose in life.

Kids.

I’m not really joking here: the constant, and I mean constant, crying/screaming/screeching/shrieking/shouting/tantrum-throwing/running/tumbling/banging/you-name-a-sound-they-make-it, can be stressful, but the catastrophic events of life with preschoolers, toddlers and twin babies are downright crushing and debilitating, and these kids will break a man.

Example: Last week I was getting ready to run dinner to a friend. I put Indie on the ground alone, in the safety of her room on her carpet, while I dashed Duncan over to the stroller to get him into his car seat. Two seconds into the three-second buckling process, I heard a long, shrill and throaty scream coming from Indie. I ran into her room to discover Arbor (formerly busy in the living room) standing over a bloody Indie, who was face-down on the concrete.

Yes. I died.

Turns out, she had barely picked Indie up off the ground when Indie wriggled like an alligator, and was dropped 8 inches right onto her face. She had bloodied her poor little nose. I resisted the urge to bear-scream at my 4-year-old, who was hysterical by that point, and cleaned Indie up; changed her clothes and mine, and went on delivering meals, only to get home and put all the crying children and babies to bed. Then, and only then, did poor Merrick and I give ourselves permission to bawl our eyes out as we tightly hugged each other.

Three days ago, while I cooked dinner and Merrick emptied the dishwasher, Lucy tried to hang onto the front of Duncan’s high chair with him in it, sending them both crashing to the ground, skyrocketing household decibels to dangerously high levels, giving me and Merrick legit matching heart attacks–but thankfully, bloodying no one.

And.

I’m just…we’re just battle-worn, guys. Just plain out battle-worn. Merrick cannot handle one more accident I don’t think; and my face has never twitched so much.

Going anywhere…it’s not happening. (Like, ever.) Commitments–I can’t keep them. (Therefore not making any new ones.) Important papers, not signing them. (No hands-free seconds.) Phone calls, ignoring them. (Can’t hear you. Seriously cannot actually hear you.)

Caleb reminds me that this is our season; that camping-out-on-the-living-room-floor, sippy-cups-and-pull-ups, two-pots-of-coffee temporary season; and that skipping or cancelling things to take some quiet family time is okay, but the mom guilt is so real and strong. I have so very little mental or physical energy left to give to my older kids that I feel like they’re being epically failed and deprived. I can’t make it 15 minutes into movie night, I don’t have time to play legos, I don’t come to the games, I can’t wash the uniform without six days’ advance notice; I pack their lunches and send them out the door in the morning–“Good bye and good luck!”–and that is that.

Real talk: Sometimes I can’t even remember where they are or what they’re doing. And I apologize to every mom I ever privately criticized for being out of the public picture.

Stuff I never thought I’d let slip has slipped–oh how it has slipped.

And I find myself bonding with my older two over how exhausted we all are from the crisis-management that is 4 kids under 4. I’m worried they’ll never want to have their own babies after living in the midst of this madness.

I love them all, and I’d be lying if I said that even in all the crazy there weren’t golden moments, though.

Each little soul growing up in my house, in my care–I hope and I pray I am doing right by them, as right as I can.


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