Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Easy Birthday Gifts: what to get for a 7 year old when you don't know what to get for a 7 year old

Today we're talking about the #1 question that shows up in my inbox {aside from "How did you land that job as Scarlett Johansson's body double?"}:

'What's inside all those presents?'

I've divulged my favorite thing to give decorator friends and $3 budget gifts and a mermaid themed baby shower present before. Other than that though, it's true - what's inside isn't mentioned.

Mostly because it's boring.

Partly because it's where YOU should get to be creative.

And an itty bitty leftover amount because there is a very real possibility that the disappointment will crush you. Packaging is a secret weapon. It works it's magic by creating a distracting force field that blinds family and friends from the lack of fundage when it comes to the gift itself.

However, from this moment on I will make a valiant effort to show whats under all those layers of wrapping.

Va va va voom.

Inside this fun stack is the most generic {read: UNIVERSAL} gift for a young girl. Fancy? No. But if you don't have a specific direction for what the recipient likes, as was the case here, then play it safe and get something that any young girl would like.

Flavored lip balm.
Some sort of sugar.
Put 'em all together and you've got a fail-proof combo that will work for ages 5-12ish.

If you physically cannot pass up a $2 cardboard lunchbox-y thing because who can, now is the time to use it. The chapstick and candy go inside,

and then it gets stacked onto the wrapped markers.

Do you see how that rounded edge of the case makes those stripes scrunched and go a bit wonky? To avoid this you could put it in a box first and wrap that to get some crisp clean lines.

Or you can leave it as is because NOBODY WILL NOTICE BUT YOU.

{Have any go-to gift for girls? I'd love to hear it!}

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

tender mercies

"There's water on the floor, Mom." Hayden's voice was apprehensive, barely audible through our bedroom door he had cracked open.

"Then go clean it up," I sighed, rolling over irritated. It was early 6ish something on a Friday morning. Still dark. No amount of the usual made-a-mess-but-refuse-to-take-responsibility routine was going to drag me out of bed.

"I don't think I can..."

And by his tone I knew something was wrong.

Perhaps you've heard of all this rain Texas has been getting? It was only the night before that my out-of-state sister had called to make sure we were okay. She was assured that yes, our lakes that have been low for years were now filled, and yes, other places were having flash floods, but we were just fine.

That night SIX more inches of rain fell. The drains in the backyard couldn't keep the water made it's way inside. Through the back room, into the living room, our bedroom, garage...

When you stepped on the carpet, your feet sunk down and were immediately covered with water. The kids thought that was awesome. "Insurance will clean it all up and we can get new floors!" Except insurance will not be cleaning it up and paying for new floors. Unless you have an additional flood policy - which we don't because we don't live in a flood plain - damage from "rising waters" is not covered.

I came home from work that afternoon knowing three things for certain:

1. we don't have money for new floors

2. there was no way that this ten (fifteen?) year old carpet could be saved

3. Home Depot should have someone in the hardware section to tell me that carpet knives are by the carpet, not the knives

My work clothes got swapped out for an old t-shirt and a pair of basketball shorts. The furniture was scooted into the dining room. The older children were slathered with as much guilt as I could manage for refusing to help their mother.

The first slice was sure and deep. As I turned the blade on the corner, my thumb caught the back end of the blade and blood dripped everywhere. Because why would I wear the gloves that I had gotten out and then left by my feet? 


It was at this moment that the sweat and tears melded together.

The most lovely, rustic, imperfect floors that could ever be imagined RIGHT UNDER THAT PEE STAINED RANCID CARPET.

{When you're shaking from physical exhaustion, your photos are bound to be blurry. Roger has said that I have gotten lazy sitting behind a desk at work, but as all of this was done by the time he got home from work, he needs to shushy.}

Once Hayden felt the excitement, he transformed into the best little helper you ever did see.

There is still the dining room to rip out, and our bedroom will be like this...uh...indefinitely.

Still. God is good.

Monday, May 4, 2015

May the 4th Be With You (Star Wars Gift Wrap)

We've talked Star Wars wrapping before, but does it ever go outta style?

Not for any little boy (or full grown man) I've ever met.

"There is good in him. I've felt it."

If you have black paper, you're practically there.

Wrap your box. Put two dabs of hot glue onto opposite edges of another full sheet of construction paper and tack down to create "shoulders" of the cape.

Type in "Darth Vader printable" and you'll find ridiculous amounts of outlines to choose from. I say outlines because who has copious amounts of black ink? Not me. Print out a guide onto some cardstock (the heavier weight will keep it from wrinkling) and let a kiddo paint in the rest. Name was traced onto some yellow construction paper and popped on with a glue stick.

Only 7 more months until the release of Episode 7, but who's counting?

Friday, May 1, 2015

Trigger Words

They're an ongoing joke at our house.

So imagine the effort it took to conceal my smile when this was among the "homework" pile that somebody brought home from the hospital.

(He was just discharged and we are SO HAPPY. And tentative and apprehensive and cautious. But mostly HAPPY.)

{those lighter circles are photoshopped out signatures he was practicing}

He had to identify his triggers - or things that cause him to rage - on a scale of 1 to 10.

1. Being weird ("when other people are you, Mom. You're usually weird.")

2. A friend being sick

3. Being left out

4. People annoying me --> crossed out and changed to --> Having a stuffy nose (understandably more irritating)

5. Getting bad grades

6. Someone dieing

7. Not being cool (worse than someone dying)

8. Not being able to watch YouTube (a consequence of bad behavior)

9. Jealousy

10. Mouth noises (or any other number of Brendan's stim behaviors)

He said that the counselor left more room between 9 and 10 as there was likely a couple of things that were that severe.

"It still wasn't enough room for all the things I could think of that were almost the I made tally marks instead."


What are your triggers?

{mine are science fair, laundry, whats-for-dinner, summer, cat litter, making appointments...}

P.S I can never thank you enough for all of the love and support that came through in your comments on the last post. I know we aren't alone in this struggle. I know we can get through this. I also know that to pretend you're strong when you don't feel strong at all is against my DNA. Every single prayer was felt, my friends. There is no other explanation for the peace that has enveloped our family.

Friday, April 24, 2015

still breathing

Life has an interesting way of plunging you down to the deepest of places, devoid of light and air and anything else you need to survive, and then finishing you off with a swift scissor kick to the face.

You want to get up.

You try to get up.

But after the umpteenth time of being shoved to the ground, you just get a freakin' pillow because it's obvious that you're gonna be there for awhile so you might as well get comfy. Should anyone dare to ask how you're doing? You literally freak them out with a full on melt down because faking bliss never was your gift.

This constant state of instability, as it turns out, is something I cannot do gracefully. I can talk the talk when it comes to being patient in trials, counting blessings, and choosing joy, but it the end I switched to waterproof mascara because it's just easier that way.

The thing that sucks about mothering struggles is that they don't just involve one person. It's dang near impossible to walk the line between being authentic without crossing into the no-fly zone of oversharing. I couldn't stand it when my mother used to blab on about the latest trouble I was getting into growing up, and no doubt it would've been infinitely worse had there actually been a WORLD WIDE web. So let's just say that we're finishing up counseling with one, beginning the long journey of diagnosis/therapy with another, bullies have been stopped, husbands gone for 5 weeks of training out of state have returned, and The Great Purge of 2015 continues. When things spiral out of control, nothing feels quite so good as throwing crap out and organizing the rest.

Those of you who have sent your happy thoughts, or cookies from Austrailia (Sam!) or books that are now on my nightstand (Kristi!),

or emails of encouragement or any other little ray of sunshine that make life just a bit more bearable to know that I THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart.

Blogging is the first thing that goes by the wayside when things get critical around here. Somehow it seems that everything "extra" gets cast aside all in the name of saving energy. Until I look around and begin to wonder if that maybe some of those routines were the things that created the energy in the first place?

And so here we are.

I can't promise daily posts....great photography...even coherent sentences may be too much to ask. But I'll be here. Sharing trivial fluff to build up my strength to make it through the heavier things that really matter.

                                                          *      *      *      *      *

{epilogue: one of my children - who shall remain nameless - was admitted to a psychiatric hospital this morning. We're not quite sure when he gets to come home. As my beloved friend and I followed the ambulance, I was laughing through the tears at the irony of just drafting this post the night before. All of my talk about remembering to still do things that lighten your heart no matter what? HA! It was as the universe had played some kind of cruel practical joke. Or perhaps, as she so lovingly pointed out, "an opportunity to put your money where your mouth is." And so I share this ever so small glimpse into my reality to inspire those of you wrestling with devastation tonight to remember what lightens your heart. Do not let go of it when the wind begins to howl.}