Tender-hearted Tough Guys

My boy gives me flowers. When I get “angry” the first thing he does is kiss whatever part of me he can reach (normally my elbow or arm) or attempts to rub my back. When I was sick last Sunday, he made a card for me on which he’d drawn a bottle of Diet Coke and inside a HUGE, red heart (that he colored, and he HATES to color) that said, “Get Well. Love Coke and Thad.” He hugs me for no reason. And tonight when he smelled some new chapstick I had bought for him, he said, “It smells like cookies with a hint of ginger.”

He also forgets to change his underwear. His armpits already smell like those of a 13 year old basketball player. He was so excited to camp out in the back of the truck with his Daddy in the FREEZING COLD RAIN in February because “We’re not sissies.” He has conversations with Junebugs. He can wax poetic about Legos and Bionicle Legos and Hotwheels and Transformers. He loves to play with water balloons and dig in the dirt and ride his bike.

About 8:00 o’clock, in the midst of cleaning his bedroom that was IMPASSABLE. . .he decided he needed to be close to me. Then he began to cry. “I miss Pop,” he said–tears streaming from his big, tired eyes. Then he wept. . .really, really wept. This happens every couple of months. He misses Pop. Or he misses the little friend who had the birth defect from his 4 year-old class. Or he misses his old friends from Lamkin. Or he misses Pop some more.

I held him (and his dirty underwear) while he cried and cried over the grandfather that he didn’t know long enough. I told him it was okay to miss Pop and that it was okay to cry, but that Pop was great right where he was, and he wouldn’t want us to cry. He would want us to laugh and have a good time. But it was still okay to cry too.

Then I fixed him milk and cookies, and the only person in the world who can TRULY make him feel better took over. That would be his sister. That girl has been able to make him smile like no other person on the planet since he was born. . .he has watched her and followed her and put up with her. . .and we DEPEND on her to pick up where mere parents leave off.

Thank you, God for Pops and for sisters and for milk and cookies–for laps and hugs and chapstick–for flowers picked by dirty hands, for tears to wash away sadness, for tender-hearted little boys, and for hearts to remember it all.

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Random Dozen

Linda over at Second Cup of Coffee does this random dozen meme each week. Seriously. . .don’t know WHERE she pulls the questions. . .she does them herself. Amazing. Anyway–last week’s were good, and I’m stealin’ this week’s to answer, so here goes.

The Random Dozen prompt for this week:

1. Have you ever been so lost that you were really afraid?
Yes. The first time I was able to drive after having Victoria. (I think it was two weeks after we brought her home.) I took her to the doctor for her check-up. I managed to get her in the car, get her to the pediatrician, then I drove home–the same way I’d been driving for the past two years–but I suddenly realized that I recognized NOTHING. Not a house. Not a tree. Not a landmark of any sort. I had NO idea where I was, and I was tired, and the baby needed to nurse. Can we say sleep-deprived? I kept going until I saw a road that looked familiar, then turned there. We made it home.”

2. Have you ever been to an island?
I live 60 miles from one, so yes. Galveston. ‘Taint much, but it’s what we’ve got. . .

3. Are you more of a thinker or feeler?
I think about my feelings. . . Little humor there. . .
I would say that I am equal parts of both. I strongly believe in intuition, but as a preacher we knew once said, “Walk by faith, but don’t be stupid.” Same things goes for feeling too much and thinking too little.

4. Do you tend to see issues or situations in life as black and white or shades of gray?
Some things are very black and white, but I believe there to be a lot more GUH-RAY. . .lots and lots of shades, from charcoal to dingy white. . .

5. If you were stuck on an island, what book would you hope to have with you (Let’s pretend the Bible is already there, so you can’t say that.)
The Anne books by L.M. Montgomery or To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

6. What are you most afraid of?
Diet Coke being discontinued. . .no, seriously, something happening to my husband or children.

7. Would you rather lose all of your old memories or never be able to make new ones?
That’s a hard one. I cherish my old memories. . .they are the stuff of which I’m made. . .but then I would essentially carry all of that with me whether I knew it or not. Life is about moving forward, so I would say I’d lose all of my old memories to be able to focus on what I have now.

8. Pretend I’m looking at a scrapbook page about you. There are three spaces for you to drop in individual pictures. What are those pictures of, and why did you select them?
One is a photo of me with my brother and sister sitting with my Granny and Papaw in the livingroom of their home. It’s childhood–stability–the way I grew up.
One is a photo of the collage painting Stephanie did of Tony, the kids and me in front of our old house.
One is a photo Tony took of me about four years ago. He managed to capture who I am on the inside.

9. If you were re-doing your wedding, what would you do differently? (If you’re single, tell me one thing you would do if you were planning a wedding OR huge party.)
I would CHILL. I would do my own flowers or have MUCH LESS expensive ones. I would order bride’s maid dresses off the rack. I would go to bed at a somewhat decent time the night before. I would NOT ask my mother to make her wonderful punch. It is STILL my favorite punch, but not something she should have been worrying about the day I got married.

10. Tell me one thing you know/believe about forgiveness.
Freely you have received. Freely give. And forgiving doesn’t always mean forgetting. And remembering isn’t always bad.

11. You’re waiting in a doctor’s office. What is your favorite way to pass that time? Reading a magazine I don’t get. Writing a letter.

12. If there were a clone of you in a parallel universe what is one way you hope she/he would be the same as you and one way you hope she/he would be better?
I would hope she would still be a people person–approachable, open, sincere. Other than hoping she’d weigh 70 pounds less (workin’ on that), I would hope she would procrastinate less, and cut herself some slack.

Just Words

I have been letting my pictures do the talking for me for quite awhile now. It is because I’ve been out of words. . .not ALL words–just words that were able to be viewed by the general public without thinking I’d gone a little off my nut–or without judging too harshly. My words have been quiet and angry and tearful and tired and selfish and pensive and rambling and all written down on notebook paper with a blue Bic pen (clear) and sent to northwestern Arkansas. It’s pretty there–hilly–green.

Anyway–I am wading back into the word pool, and I’m starting tonight with this:

I am in the study–the lights are not on, but it’s only a little before 6:00 pm. The windows are open to let the breeze blow away as many of my awful, terrible cold germs as possible (this thing has been a DOOZY, and both of my lungs are still only at about 80%). Although, the windows on the back porch are closed. That is where the kitties are located, and though I think the screens would filter out any dander, we aren’t taking chances.

The breeze that blows in is cool enough–with a touch of warmth. I can’t smell it right now–nose out of commission as well–but I smelled it the other day, and it was laden with the scent of wildflowers and newly mown grass and cows–which I find not unpleasant as they bring back things from childhood. It smelled of dry cows. . .muddy cows are a totally DIFFERENT smell that I find INCREDIBLY unpleasant.

Thad is in the kitchen unloading the dishwasher and, quite literally, whistling while he works. Tony and Victoria are at church–VBS planning meeting for the youth tonight. I will be camping this summer, but not VBS-ing.

Tomorrow is the day before our big state test–TAKS–and we are having a pep-rally of sorts to inspire the 6th graders to greatness. I am neither full of pep, nor ready to rally ’round anything but some clean sheets on my bed, HOWEVER, as I have used all of my days AND THEN SOME, I will be there with my classes as we rah-rah-rah our way through 47 minutes in the library. There are many motivational Youtube videos on deck, so hopefully the cheering will be kept to a minimum. I offered exactly 0% help with this task, but I DID show up on Friday (with my terrible hacky lungs and my box of Kleenex) to move tables and chairs out of the library before I came home and turned to goo.

It is nearly the end of April, and for the first time since the spring of 2002, I do not have a mother daughter luncheon planned. This is not surprising–although it is ironic as I managed to pull them together after the death of my Daddy and after moving into this house last year. . .but this year has left me devoid of motivation. We will still have one of sorts–smallish–in the house–no decor of which to speak. Next spring we will pull out all the stops, but this year I feel a little quiet and a lot tired.

Birds are chirping in the front “yard”–the clutch of trees in front of the house that has filled in with green leaves and yaupon bushes over past few weeks. The western sun is at just the right angle to hit them unleashing a sparkle that only April can own. Soon enough those leaves will be dulled by heat and dust and not so new and shiny anymore. But tonight, they are like jewels.

I have gone 14 days–14 whole, entire days without any processed sugar passing my lips in the form of candy, cookies, cake, etc. I’ve had some milk (which has sugar in it), and a couple of slices of bread, but neither an M nor an & nor an M has made its way down my gullet in 14 days. This is a record for me. In celebration, I have baked a batch of my favorite high fiber muffins so they will be ready for breakfasts for the next couple of weeks. I think the insane amount of fiber and good ingredients outweighs the 1/2 C. of brown sugar and the 1 C. of raisins (very FULL of sugar)–plus they are just so good.

I have also been very regular and diligent in my yoga practice until last Thursday conspired against me, and last Friday I was on the verge of death. (Just a TOUCH of melodrama there.) Don’t know if my lungs can take it tomorrow night or not, but I will probably try to do what I can.

And this weekend, I have two friends coming to see me–I am SO excited. And I’ll create a cheer once I can breathe again. It is the first time that the three of us have been together for a girls’ weekend since before Stephanie got married. And that was a LONG, LONG, LONG time ago. I am, in fact, a bit ashamed that we’ve not done it before now. But. . .that will all be wiped away once I pick them up at the airport next Friday night for a weekend full of frivolity, chick flicks, salty chips, and lots of laughter.

Happy Sunday night to you all. . .

Kittens, Kids, and Kalisthenics

Okay. . .I KNOW that calisthenics begins with a “c”–just give me a break here. I am sick. . .I was dive bombed by some kamikaze cold on Thursday afternoon. I left school feeling fine, if somewhat tired, was foiled in my attempts to get to yoga by many things, and ended up at home sneezing my head off (at the campsite with Tony–not near the kittens) by 6:00 p.m. I fell asleep on the couch last night at 7:00, climbed into bed at 9:00, and my feet didn’t hit the floor again until 11:00 a.m. this morning.

Anyway. . .this evening I convalesced in the back yard in a rocking chair, while Tony did some excercise stuff with the kids (for Thad’s scout badges. . .Victoria joined in for fun) and the kittens watched.

And now, I’m off to hold the couch down again. . .ugh. . .

Smitten with the Kittens

I know. I know. I’m not even a cat person, but these little girls are so incredibly sweet. And funny. And frisky. And full of spit and vinegar. And meowy and purry. And they stick their little bottoms up in the air when they sleep JUST LIKE BABIES. Precious. I will try to refrain from too much kitten syrupy writing. . .but we are all, quite simply, smitten with the kittens.

Penny: see her copper colored patch?

Penny again. . .she's the trouble maker.

Buttercup considering her options.

Poppy takin' a look see.

Two sweet girls.

Proud Papa. Bless his heart, he is having to get used to some new smells, and they are activating his gag reflex. But he keeps on helping anyway.

Buttercup is very interested in that bowl and its contents.

A lap full 'o kittehs.

Taking my lungs in my own hands. . .so worth it.

Poppy, Buttercup, Penny in Charlie's Angels: Feline edition. I wonder which one is Farrah. . .