Thursday, September 3, 2015

saying goodbye

We had one car as newlyweds, surviving on a surprisingly simple system of drop-offs, pick-ups, and a bike when necessary. About a year later when we were expecting, Roger started talking about buying a house. And I said no. After all, if we bought a house, we'd never have money for another car.

If we buy another car, he argued, we'd never have money for a house. Wouldn't I rather do the one car thing for awhile longer rather than simplifying schedules but at the end of the day be returning to a small apartment?

Three weeks before Sierra was born, we moved into our first home.

 (1998: Our first family room, complete with beadboard, DIY mirror, and a picture ledge, although back then there wasn't a word for those yet. Yes- I realize it was hung high. There were two little monkeys back then, and they LOVED TO TOUCH. More pictures of that house here.)

It wasn't until 2001 - six years of married life- that we got a second vehicle. For any of you doing the math, that puts us getting ready to become a family of six. With a car that fit five. When my great aunt casually mentioned that she was selling her newish, rarely used minivan, it was a no-brainer.

"It doesn't look that bad from the side, Mom. Plus you can't hear it in the picture." -Hayden, age 11

Oh how posh it was. I felt sorry for our 9 year old Saturn which looked old and worn by comparison. A few years later when we had our last baby, the transition to five carseats was seamless. I cannot think of raising children without this van standing proudly in the background. The trips across town and across country. Camping. Craigslisting. Moving. Moving. Moving again.

It has slowly deteriorated over the past 14 years, but it wasn't until recently that my dear husband declared It Was Time. I suppose nearly catching fire and killing your wife late at night calls for boundary lines to be drawn? My tears could not sway his cold, bitter heart into saving my Barney. I had hoped he would make it to 20 years old. 'Twas not to be.

It seemed only fitting that such a majestic, stoic companion be given a tribute.

"Look at this guy.

Durable, rugged, handsome.

Maybe it's just because he's been a part of our family for the last 14 years, or perhaps it's because only one window rolls down(ish) and the AC doesn't work, but either way: this van is hot.

He's got a cracked windshield, but the wipers work mighty fine.

He squeals when you turn him on. No, really. Like the belt makes a squealing noise that you can hear a few streets over. Seems to get worse in the rain or whenever the radio is turned down. Around these parts we call that Curfew Protection. No teen can sneak in unnoticed.

The paint is worn and boasts an elegant patina that pays tribute to years of faithful, dedicated service.

Brakes need replacing, but *dayum* those tires are nice.

The gauges are known to shut off without warning. Not knowing how fast you're going or how much gas you (don't) have leaves a little mystery to the relationship, which experts say is healthy. I used to think they'd eventually go out all together, but just like a faithful pup or creepy ex-lover, they always come back around. As of this moment they are working.

Captain chair middle row seats for easy maneuverability. You know that fabric that's on the top roof on the inside? There must be a name for it. In any case, it's saggy. As one gets with age. You can cry for times where things were more taught and firm, or simply delight in the opportunity to trick your friends. At the right angle with the fabric resting on your head just so, it almost looks like you're wearing a gray sombrero. Very appropriate given all the Taco Bell drive thrus this guy has seen."

{Epilogue: a myriad of more problems happened with the van after posting the ad. Let's just say that he went off in a puff of smoke, just like I always knew he would. His purpose had been fulfilled, and he gave up the ghost. He was taken to vehicle heaven where he was recycled. For a girl who has repurposing pumping through her veins, it seems very fitting. Barney will indeed live on forever.}

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

passing time

I know, I know...some days I plead for it to go faster. "Please Lord, let this be over soon. Nice and quick like a bandaid."

But then I see these itty bitty babies turning into real, actual people and I wonder
"When? WHEN did this happen?".

(2008 - Our first year here in Texas)

You mamas out there with cute little fellas who adore smiling for the camera?

Cherish it, for IT WILL NOT LAST.

One blink of an eye later and this will be the best you can get. Can't you just smell the teenage hormones?

{tip: threaten to take away video games until some smiles appear and then magic happens.}

Speaking of Magic, on Sunday we celebrated our 20th Anniversary. Not celebrate like "normal" people who can go somewhere alone because they have family to watch kids, and vacation days and disposable income, but in our own special tacquitos and honey BBQ anytizers way. Which is better (I think?). We've lasted longer than many people we know, so extravagant whatnots must not be the key to happiness. Thank goodness.

(Also to everyone that said a two-weeks-of-dating-before-we-got engaged relationship would never last long term? You can suck it.)


He still has the Elmo tie I bought him. Blush.

You wanna know what does help keep the love alive? Little gestures.

Picking up milk on the way home.

Folding up laundry without complaining (!).

Or even just the simple act of positioning a life size cutout of Ron Swanson outside your bathroom window and pulling the blinds up so that when your husband gets home from work at midnight and goes potty, he can be reminded of how much he ADORES his wife. So, so much.

What are your secrets for a lasting relationship?

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

late summer reflections

This summer has been oddly familiar.

Remember those teenage years when the full range of human emotions could be felt within a span of 8 hours?

You'd wake up before your alarm went off, and unlike the other 98% of mornings, you actually felt refreshed and inspired. Your hair fell into place without a fight, there were a less-than-usual amount of zits that needed camouflaging, and your clothes fit just like they were supposed to. There was a lightness in your step as you floated to the bus stop. You were Invincible. And then you'd get to school where *something* would happen during math that seemed like The Worst Thing In The Whole World (it could be any number of silly things, but it was ALWAYS during math). That afternoon you'd return home in a pool of nothingness. Defeated. Something about being 15 makes every experience come at you loud and hard, either resulting in a pure, blissful euphoria or uncontrollable sobbing under the covers of your bed, which you vowed to never to leave again. Often only moments apart.

That's this summer.

Looking back at posts from Ghosts of Summers Past unearthed this silly thing from five years ago. Is it possible to feel the mourning of your own life that has somehow slipped away without your permission?

The days of those little boys is a hazy memory.

There was an incident awhile back involving police being called out to our house while I was at work. Although the end result was them saying that my son needed "serious mental help" (ya think?), suffice it to say that the whole thing pushed me over the edge emotionally. The next night we went swimming, where I was able to brain dump on two of my closest friends. All the thoughts and swirls of emotion and lack of direction came purging out despite my best efforts to maintain composure. "The police were in my house. Where there are still cement floors everywhere. Like we're freaking hobos. And in my bedroom...where there are baskets of laundry everywhere...and candles...and who knows what left on the floor. Why can't I get my stupid act together and pick up my crap instead of leaving it on the floor all the time? And - OH LORD - they saw the sign. They had to have seen the sign."

Eventually your heart starts to ask the "WHOSE LIFE IS THIS?" question that your brain won't stop shouting. It can't be mine. It's like my whole reality isn't reality at's just some movie. A crappy movie, at that. Everything that has happened these past 8 months? How can so many devastating events come in such a tight formation?

Life cannot keep being this dramatic.


We didn't get back home from swimming until almost midnight. As we unloaded the car, Roger brought me an envelope that had come in the mail while we were gone that afternoon. It was obviously a card of some sort, but I didn't recognize the return address.

You guys.


A blog reader out there in the interwebs went so far above and beyond that to this day I cannot even process it. Not only the kindest, most lovely note of encouragement...but also this.

A gift card telling me to pick up my weary load, hold my head high, and for heaven's sake - go get an area rug for your bedroom already.

For all of you out there carrying more than seems manageable: do not give up. The Lord has not forgotten you. Your circumstances may try to take you down. Do not let them. Angels will appear and those unfathomable Tender Mercies?

They are coming.

{Speaking of Tender Mercies, school starts next week. I'll see you then.}

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.