Cowboy

Sharing this because he said I could, and because I know these weird, funny things won’t be coming home much longer. 



So that’s the big orange-framed mirror I have in my bedroom, and Jack Henry as a cowboy. Eating a hot dog. (Seriously? In my room? What the heck?)

Obviously, I don’t get it. The only info I got from him was that he doesn’t like to ride horses (not sure he’s ever ridden one but whatever). So this is logically what you do instead then, right?

I love first graders. 

Brutal Honesty.

AKA he might need to work on this before he has a girlfriend.

After school, I ran to the mailbox to grab the mail – and I do mean I ran, as the high is approximately 15 degrees today, and we all know how I feel about winter.

There was an Athleta catalog in the pile of today’s mail. I don’t even know why I get this catalog at all, since I own zero Athleta clothing items, but whatever. I do love to take a quick look at their clothes.

The first few pages were yoga clothes with super-flexible models in crazy yoga poses.

Me, to Jack Henry, who was looking over my shoulder: I know I used to be able to do some of those.

JH: Really? Are you sure?

Me (still in workout clothes from earlier workout): Yes. Remember? I used to be a dancer? I can’t do most of these anymore, but let me try this one pose… (sidenote: I did not take ballet for very many years because it was not my favorite…way too many rules and discipline involved there. Also, going 18 years without doing much in the way of working out will severely limit your former flexibility.)

He ran into the office with me, laughing that I was about to attempt this. Admittedly, a couple of them were so crazy-hard that they made me laugh and fall over when I tried them, but I was fairly close to still being able to hold this pose that as a kid/teenager, I could totally do:

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If I can straighten my stabilizing leg, I’ll have it. And I love a good challenge, so it’s on, Athleta catalog girl with mile-long legs. New life goal.

Poses I will not be trying, because, to quote my friend’s 8-year-old, what in the actual what?

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Jack Henry and I did a couple of easy poses that he knows from PE (Warrior II, Tree), and as he left the room, he said something like, “Well, you definitely aren’t a dancer anymore.”

So that about sums it up. Thanks for keepin’ it real, JH.

Let’s All Be Brave.

Friday night, I had some good-for-the-soul time with two of my best girlfriends. Over dinner and a couple of drinks at one of our favorite spots, we talked and laughed for a few hours that served to recharge our batteries.

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here we are, reunited on sunday morning.

 

Also: it’s not a night out with me until someone has told me I’m too loud. And that happened a couple of times, which is another mark of a successful evening. What can I say…I am a tiny bit loud.

These girls, Kelli and Robin, are not just friends that I have a good time with. These are girls who know me. They know about these big, scary dreams I have for myself, and they’re supportive. Not just cheerleaders for my cause, but people who ask hard questions, pray for me and my family, and hold me accountable for the things I say I’m going to do. And I do the same for them.

They’re the girls I referred to at the end of my Maybe It’s Time post, who are also dreaming big this year. And they’re well on their way to pursuing their goals, and we are only seven weeks into the new year.  I’m kinda proud of my people.

And? I’m beyond blessed to have more than just these two in my corner. There are a select few others, too, pulling me out of my comfort zone and into this next whatever-it-is stage I’m entering.

>>>>>

On Friday morning, I saw a review for a book called “Let’s All Be Brave” by Annie Downs. I read a little more about it, and I decided it was something I needed to read. I ordered it from Amazon, and thanks to prime shipping, it was in my hands by 9:45 on Saturday morning.

The boys asked if they could watch a movie, and I readily agreed, and ran upstairs and jumped into bed to read my new book. In just a few pages, I was in tears (in addition to being kinda loud sometimes, I’m a bit of a crier, even more so recently). It’s not a sad book; it’s just that I’m feeling like I’m at this transition that’s requiring some courage, and a few of her comments read like a friend writing encouragement right to me.

Like this.

I think it’s really nice when other people remind you that you are loved.

It makes you brave.

When you know who loves you, you know your safe places. You know where you can rest. You know where you can go when you fail. (I’m sorry if I’m the first to tell you this, but brave or not, you are going to fail.) Knowing who loves you also lets you know who you can trust with you brave ideas and who will hold you accountable to being brave but not being foolish (if you let them).

Right?

I hope you have brave ideas. And that there are people right there with you.

You Never Know…

I wrote earlier this week about having breakfast by myself at the end of my retreat overnight (already a distant memory. Sigh). The restaurant was, of course, really busy late Sunday morning. I brought a book along to read in case I ended up sitting at a table by myself, but I was seated at the bar, which was totally fine with me.

At the same time I sat down, another lady who was also by herself, was seated next to me. As it turned out, she lived close by and was a regular. We started chatting immediately (I know, y’all are shocked that I needed to talk). She shared pictures of her grandsons, told me about her four grown daughters, and we talked about my little retreat and my family, too.

Near the end of breakfast, I asked if all of her daughters lived here in St. Louis. Three did, she said; the fourth lived in their hometown 80 miles east of St. Louis. Since I’m from 120 miles east of here, I was immediately interested in details!

It’s a good time to interject that I LOVE small world stories. So much.

She was from Centralia, a town 60 miles south of Effingham, and I was really only familiar with it because in the mid-1980’s, neighbors moved in backyard kitty-corner to us. The girl who moved in was 6 years older than me, and she became my surrogate big sister. This family that became our neighbors was from Centralia.

Given that it’s a fairly small town, I asked, “By ANY chance, do you know the C family? They moved from Centralia to Effingham in the mid-80’s?”

Aaannddd of course, she not only knew them, but the C family had many years before their move to Effingham bought her parents’ home. And, my breakfast friend ALSO lived on the same street, so her kids played with the C kids when they were young.

Can you believe it? How fun is that?

I was suddenly so glad that I hadn’t been seated at a table by myself, but instead at the bar, where I got to have a nice conversation and make one of those small-world connections that can only happen when you take the time to chat with a stranger. :)

Retreat.

Last weekend, my husband gave me the best gift.

I know that when I told him a few months ago that it was something I wanted, he thought I was a little crazy for making this request. However, over the last several months, I’ve sort of made a habit of telling him things that make him think I’m losing it, so what was one more?

{I am a joy to be married to. Bless.}

Anyway, my request was a one-night retreat, in a hotel right here in town, all alone. Just a little time to exhale, and sleep in a big bed all by myself. I emailed him 10 days ago with a link to a great hotels.com deal on a nice hotel in Clayton, along with last Saturday night’s date, explaining that our calendar was clear.

And he told me to book it. I think this is an acceptable trade for the 4 days he spent in Colorado last month skiing with guys from work, no?

I think moms too often feel like they can’t or don’t deserve time to themselves of some sort, but I wholeheartedly disagree. Obviously, I got to do this in a big way, but breaks of any kind are important. My friend Karen sent me this post last week, and I couldn’t agree more. Find a way to get yourself a break.

So late on Saturday afternoon, after my friend Kelli and I spent some time together, I checked into the hotel. It was perfect…if I ever get to do this again, I’d go back.

So what did I do? Walked to Pastaria a block away and sat at the bar and had a drink while they made my dinner, which I brought back to my room and destroyed.

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first of all, they sent me with a million containers. but, i feel like you need to know that i can EAT. and since i’d skipped lunch, i did.

 

I did a little reading and writing, and crashed into that big bed with ALL FOUR PILLOWS TO MYSELF :) with the laptop and one of my favorite old movies I hadn’t seen for a while, When Harry Met Sally. I’d say I slept like a baby, but we all know babies don’t sleep well, soooo…just know, I slept so, so well. I love hotels*.

this was pretty much my setup. complete with u of i sweatshirt from 1995 that i will literally never, ever for my whole life get rid of.  i'm leaving it in my will to someone.

this was pretty much my setup. complete with u of i sweatshirt from 1995 that i will literally never, ever for my whole life get rid of. i’m leaving it in my will to someone.

Sunday morning was more of the same, except that I went out for breakfast at Half & Half. So yes, more food pictures.

you guys. these pancakes are tied with wildberry's in chicago for the best ever. go eat these.

you guys. these pancakes are tied with wildberry’s in chicago for the best ever. go eat these.

Not so long ago, going out to eat by myself would have been something that felt awkward, but not anymore. I sort of loved it. And I have a fun story from breakfast that I’ll save for another post.

I finished up my alone time by running by the mall to find a pair of black dress pants. I left with some dark magenta skinny jeans, so that went exactly as planned.

I met up with the fam at Bennett’s basketball game, totally refreshed and ready to dive into this week, which has already included pulling a tooth, hosting small group, and getting everyone out the door this morning with no yelling.

Boom.

*Let’s be clear: all 5 of us smashed into a regular-sized hotel room is not what I’m talking about here. For the record.

Santa! I Know Him!

In my lack of writing last fall/early winter, I neglected to record some important family updates along the way. A conversation with Jack Henry yesterday reminded me that I should write about this!

So after school one day in very early December, Jack Henry, Bennett and I were in the middle school parking lot, waiting for Luke. I don’t remember how the conversation started, but Jack Henry (age 7, first grade) asked, point-blank, if Santa was real. I took a deep breath as I hesitated for a moment, thinking, “Ok. This is how this is going to go down. Remember this,” and turned towards him in the back seat.

“What do you think?” I asked tentatively.

“That he’s not real,” came the reply.

I told him he was right, and he burst into tears. My giant 7-year-old boy climbed up into the front seat of the car and snuggled in on my lap (this makes me think of Will Ferrell sitting on Bob Newhart’s lap in Elf).

Elf
(photo cred)

I explained that while Santa wasn’t real, and that Dad and I were the ones who bought the gifts, it didn’t really matter because that’s not what Christmas is all about anyway. He nodded, and then said, sweetly, “Wait. So you and Dad bought us the iPad last year?” So cute.

{BTW, Christmas with no Santa-believers was still beautiful and wonderful and magical. I know some of you out there are panicking at the thought of kids not believing anymore, but I can assure you that Christmas is not ruined. In fact, I absolutely love how it’s opened up the opportunity, as a whole family, to fully understand the impact we can have on others…none of the boys can fall back on that “Santa will just bring them what they need” mentality.}

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So I didn’t go into specifics with JH when talking about Santa that the Tooth Fairy also isn’t real. I just assumed he’d put two and two together.

Uh, he didn’t right away.

He lost his top tooth in early December, after the big Santa revelation, and he still wrote the tooth fairy a note and left his tooth under his pillow. Matt and I just laughed, left the dollar under his pillow, and left well enough alone….he’d eventually figure it out.

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yesterday, just waiting to pick up one of the boys…he and i have lots of moments like these.

Yesterday at snack time after school, he said, “I have a question that isn’t about what we’re talking about right now. Is the Tooth Fairy real?”

I giggled, asked what he thought, and he said, “No. It has to be you. I thought so after I lost my last tooth, but I just didn’t say anything.”

So that’s settled. He has 2 teeth about to fall out (great…you know how much I love pulling teeth, and catching my kids as they faint), and I’m wondering if he’ll just present them to me for payment or stick them under his pillow for fun.

What’s Next.

Almost every Saturday morning of my childhood was spent in a dance studio. For the past several years, many, many Saturdays are consumed by the boys’ practices or games. For me, Saturday usually equals busyness and fun. Not quiet and time to reflect.

So it was really weird last Saturday to find our calendar empty (which ended up being a great thing, because Matt’s parents were able to come over for a quick visit later in the day!). Matt decided earlier in the week that he’d like to do something fun with the boys: take each of them out for a meal by themselves at a place of the boys’ choosing. Just some one-on-one time with each boy to hang out.

And in the semi-quiet of our house, something that I’ve been thinking about abstractly for the past several months came into better focus. I’ll try to put it into words as succinctly as possible.

We’re at a transitional stage of parenting where Matt needs to play a bigger role. I think this is particularly true because we’re raising all boys (not that girls don’t need their dads, clearly). Clarifications:
1) This is not because he’s been checked out to this point…on the contrary, he’s a great dad and has always been involved.
1b) This does not mean that I am checking out. I know I’m still very much needed. For at the very least rides, food, and help with homework ;)
2) THIS IS NOT A COMPLAINT FROM ME. The early years of parenting are hard, particularly on the primary caregiver. Which obviously was me, especially the last 8 years since I’ve been home. And we’re through those years, mostly unscathed, praise God.

ahem. yes. we so totally were.

However, can you see where this is going? It’s not even sadness, really, that I’m feeling. It’s simply that so much of me and my purpose (and the reason I quit my job) were enveloped in a stage that’s over. And I didn’t think much past this stage (because let’s face it; when you’re in the thick of those years, the light at the end of the tunnel seems very, very dim). PLUS, even though those infant/toddler/preschooler years are ridiculous and difficult and challenging and often gross, they’re my favorite. Parenting littles was so totally in my wheelhouse.

i had no idea what i was in for, even this many years into parenting.

2 Augusts ago, when Jack Henry went to full-day school, I felt none of this. There was just happiness over my newfound freedom. But starting last fall, I’ve been feeling like I’m ready for a new something. So I’ve spent a lot of time thinking. And the truth is, I’m still not at all clear what the next stage looks like for me and my family. I have lots of ideas…I am a fantastic daydreamer. Also, I am an excellent song-lyrics-memorizer, so if you can think of a way to parlay that skill into a perfect part-time job for me, feel free to let me know.

Truly, while I’m a terribly impatient person and the idea of waiting for the timing to be right for whatever is next does not thrill me, I’m excited. I’m excited to think about doing something I’m passionate about, and being challenged beyond what I’m doing right now.

And this is the second kinda vulnerable post I’ve written in the new year. I need to go back to easy fluff writing.