Driving Myself Crazy

I was in my van today from about 2:30pm to 7pm. That could stand alone as a reason for anyone to be driven crazy, but it wasn’t just that I was driving someone somewhere and back all during that time, it was that I travelled the same stretch of road so many times and the rain tonight made everyone drive about 7mph on the highway. Insanity.

Craig is on his way to Florida for another Biblical Imagination conference with Michael Card. He was my first drop off. After that we did have a 45 minute lag, but not enough time to go home before taking the two younger girls to choir. Once I did that I had to go back to the school to pick up my oldest from yearbook class. Together we then went to pick up the youngest from choir. Then the three of us went to where Chloe was participating in a chess match. She wasn’t finished yet, so I dropped Maddie off there so Chloe wouldn’t be alone at the end of the match while I then drove the same stretch of road again back to the choir to pick up Katie. From there it was back to the chess match to retrieve Maddie & Chloe.

It was on this final trip to pick up the older two again that I really did lose it. I passed a major road and couldn’t for the life of me remember which direction I was driving on I64/40 or where I was going or who I was getting.

Fortunately the moment passed quickly and I realized I was headed back toward the city and I didn’t actually forget anyone, though the exceedingly slow traffic did make me later and later with each subsequent pick-up.

Since it was about 6:45 by this point we decided Jimmy John’s was in order and we parked alongside the store front on the street…right behind a man who appeared to have fallen asleep ON HIS MOTORCYCLE. His presence in the road made parallel parking a little more unnerving than it normally is, but I managed to get parked. By the time we got out he “woke up” and gave us a look that made us all feel sufficiently creepy. As we walked toward the restaurant the girls were convinced he was following us so we practically ran into Jimmy John’s, pushing each other inside so we’d be safe from the Crazy Motorcycle Snoozer.

We ate. Then we returned to the van. The man on the motorcycle had moved his bike from immediately in front of our van to immediately behind it. I know I’m delusional tonight, so don’t take me too seriously when I say it looked like he was trying to pry open the back of the van with a crowbar. Because it really did look like he was doing this. I’m not really convinced he was, but maybe he should have. He really missed out. We have a hot pink booster seat back there for the little girl we pick up after school, a green bag full of a random assortment of coloring books and such, and a fair amount of garbage because we still haven’t mastered the fine art of putting miscellaneous papers and straw wrappers in the trash can. We were quite a catch for the Crazy Motorcycle Snoozer.

It was no joke, though, that I didn’t even have to ask the girls to hurry into the van and we got the heck out of there as soon as we could. The whole way home somebody kept turning around to make sure he wasn’t following us.

And now I’m quite of the opinion that I never really want to get in the van again. Seeing as how I’m the only legal age driver in our house until Sunday night, I don’t suppose that’s a reasonable possibility, but it sounds pretty nice. Particularly on a night were I really was driven crazy.

Oh. My. Word.

So my girls asked if they could take some pictures of the cats yesterday before the family came over to get them. "No problem," I said and handed them the camera.

Just now I snapped a photo of a bookshelf I'm about to unload and came over to pop it into iPhoto. My photo is there alright…right behind 167 photos of cats.

1.6.7.

Cats in a chair, cats on the washing machine, cats on a sleeping bag, cats on the stairs, blurry cats, clear cats, striped cats, running cats, sedentary cats, cats, cats, cats.

And a fair amount of pictures of their water and food dishes.

And all I can say right now is I'm glad I know how to use the delete key. If I can ever get them all to upload.

We are no longer cat owners.

Picture 15
We said good-bye to our kitties yesterday. Three of us cried and three of us didn’t. Care to take a guess on which of us fit which category? 🙂

I wrote about the process of handing the cats off to their new family today at WORLDMag.com.

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For a variety of reasons, our family said good-bye yesterday to a trio of 7-year-old cats: Ricky, Lucy, and Ethel. These cats were with our family for two years and were good kitties, but we discovered in the course of those two years that two of us are allergic to cats. We also discovered that they didn’t get along very well with the puppy we acquired last August and, frankly, the puppy won.

Thankfully, we found a family willing to adopt all three cats. As sad as we were to say good-bye, we were glad they could stay together and go to a family who really wanted them. (These people are “cat people” more than we could ever be, and have promised to send us regular photos so we can keep in touch with the furry felines.)

But that grace didn’t make the process of saying good-bye any easier.

The girls were spending their last moments with the cats yesterday when the doorbell rang, and within 20 minutes it was all over. The family was very kind to walk out after we arranged the cats in their various carriers so the girls could say their last tearful good-byes, and I gently encouraged my daughters to carry the cats out to the waiting family rather than have them come back in to get them. I thought it would be better if we physically handed them over to the family instead of having them take the cats from our house. The girls were willing, but they were also wailing.

We came back inside and I gathered my weeping daughters around me. Their sadness made me cry as well as my heart was heavy because of the pain they were feeling. My first impulse was to help them get their mind off of their loss and I came super-close to taking them out for ice cream, because, well, ice cream always helps, right? I thought better of it . . . only to entertain the idea that maybe a video would help. Again, I realized that numbing the pain with something digital might not be the best way to go either.

The girls were still crying when I had an idea: “Everyone get on your shoes and coats,” I said. “We’re going for a walk.”

The girls didn’t question me and prepared to go outside. My husband pulled into the driveway just as we were heading out, noticed all the red eyes, and didn’t even go in the house; he just joined us in our lament. We spent 20 minutes decompressing what we as a family had just experienced, and what began in silence-sisters crying and holding hands to comfort one another-ended with giggles and mini-races back to the house. The immediate pain was soothed without the help of sugar or cartoons. It was good resolution.

On Relaxing

I had a unique opportunity on Saturday. I was alone for the bulk of the day. I had no car, no internet, and no responsibilites. I had a good book and a comfy bed.

Sounds about perfect, right? Problem: I could NOT shut my brain off or concentrate on anything of substance. I was unable to nap, despite being on day 3 of the current head cold I'm weathering. I was unable to read because every time I tried I read the same sentence four times in a row and that's not very productive reading.

So what did I do with this nearly-perfect day? I overdosed on HGTV and iPad Solitaire.

Yep. That's just the kind of substance you've come to expect from me, right? But do consider that we don't have cable TV ourselves, so being in a spot that did was a kind of vacation unto itself.

But I was pretty disappointed with myself for wasting an otherwise perfect day. I do not know how to relax.

What's the secret out there to those of you who CAN shut your brains off and take a nap when you really need to? Inquiring minds want to know. They want to know so badly they can't shut off.

Four Generations of Non-Scoundrels

Picture 10 Craig's grandmother has recently moved back to the area where his parents live. It's going to be much easier to see her for a while, now that she's just 45 minutes from the farm. As it was Presidents Day and there was no school for any of the Dunhams, we paid her a little visit. It's been a long time since we've seen her and the girls loved chatting with her and loved that she insisted they share the box of Thin Mints we had just delivered to her, a gift from Craig's mom.

As we were preparing to leave, she commented on how proud she was of her family and how thankful she was that none of us were scoundrels.

We all giggled a bit and reflected on the fact that (so far) she has experienced four generations of non-scoundrels in her family.

There's something to be said for that and that's for sure! If I make it to 90, I hope I can say the same about the generations that come after me.

Follow Up Note to the Rest of My Kids

Dear Rest of My Kids,

You know how I usually stack your laundry in a pile specific to each of you and then ask each of you to go put your stash away? By "away" I never once meant for you to take the entire pile and toss it in the bottom of your closet(s). I especially never meant for you to do that every time I give you laundry so that the bottom of your closet then appears to have the same look as the area right in front of the washing machine.

Once again, I may not have eyes in the back of my head, but I do notice things every now and then. I just didn't notice this one soon enough. Believe me, I noticed tonight. And I pulled every last piece of it out into a heap in the middle of your room.

I then planned to make you put it all away tonight. I then thought that might be mean and decided you could do it over the weekend. I then softened and put it all away FOR you. All of your laundry is either hung or neatly folded and in the proper drawer. For now. Because I love you.

But also because I love you, I want you to know that I will not be doing this again. Nor will YOU be continuing in your wayward habits after tonight. Nope. There will be a laundry check the next time I ask you to put it away.

Else you might never see your favorite shirt again because I've gathered it up off the bottom of your closet and tossed it in with the giveaway stash.

Because I love you.

Love, Mommy who is thankful every day for all the people in her family to care for and wash clothes for but who still doesn't really enjoy doing laundry that much, particularly twice.

Note to 7yo Who Tried Sneaking Past Me By Walking Sideways Through the Dining Room

Dear 7yo who just tried to sneak past me by walking sideways through the dining room,

I realize you were trying to hide the mud on your pink pants that I specifically asked you to be careful about not getting dirty a few minutes ago. I know you didn't want me to see it and I can respect that. A gal's gotta try to take care of stuff on her own sometimes after all. I get it.

But here's a tip: I might not have noticed had you just walked in here like you normally do. But when you did that walking gallop thing right past me I had to look. I just did.

Here's the thing. I love you. And you didn't need to try to hide it from me. We have a washing machine and we all know how to use it.

But here's the other thing: Thank you for not being SO sneaky that I really wouldn't have ever noticed. I love that you are still 7 and you act like a 7 year old.

And thanks for changing your pants and putting the other ones in the laundry.

Love, Mommy who doesn't have eyes in the back her her head, but who does really notice a lot more than you think she does

 

Missouri Sunset

Missouri Sunset
I spoke with my sister on Friday night and we both mentioned we'd snapped photos of this same Missouri sunset that night while our husbands were driving. I thought that was both awesome and funny. So here's mine. Michelle, this post is for you.

Happy Heart Day

Picture 41
Craig pretty much summed up our Valentine's plans for me this year. Basically, we've once again gotten too busy for our own good, so tomorrow's afternoon schedule looks something like this:

1:45 – Drop K&E off at friend's house. Said friend will take them to piano lessons 1 hour early because I volunteered to help out at C's class Valentines party and they can't come with me.

2:00 – Help out at said party.

3:30 – Leave school with M&C and get them to piano lessons by 4. Pick up K&E.

4:00 – Proceed in opposite direction to take E to a make-up choir sesson since she missed last Thursday due to a tummy ache. Get her there by 4:30.

4:30-5:15 – Twiddle thumbs with K while waiting for E to finish. Meanwhile, Craig, who has an after school meeting with the principal at M&C's school, will make sure he's done in time to pick them up at piano by 5.

5:30 – Converge at the Holy Spirit mall, where we will use the Chick-fil-A gift cards my mom sent us for Valentine's for dinner. Our Chick-fil-A still gives some free chicken out for bringing in church bulletins, so I did go back to the church tonight at 5:30 to grab 6 bulletins out of the recycle bin. Yes I did. I am not ashamed.

6:00ish – Head to Barnes and Noble, where we will each pick out one book using the awesome Groupons we got last week. Craig received birthday money with instructions to use it at Barnes and Noble. That same day Groupon offered $20 Barnes and Nobel certificates for $10. We got one for every email address holding memeber of our family (4) which means we turned $40 of Craig's birthday money into $80 worth of books. (Don't worry, he will still get to spend most of it on books for himself.) It's just getting harder and harder for me to pick out books for the girls they either don't already have or haven't read from the library. This will ensure they choose a book they really want.

After this we will come home and begin the frantic prep for Tuesday. Calgon, take me away!

Hope your heart day is a good one and involves much less driving around than mine does!

Gnomeo and Juliet

Picture 13
We were given passes to go see a pre-screening of Gnomeo and Juliet this past Saturday. It opens in theaters tomorrow (Feb 11) so now you know in case you were wondering. First off, a trailer:

http://www.youtube.com/e/uXyT9tlQ9Pc

Secondly, some thoughts. I’ve been hearing some critiques around the internet on how in the world could they take a classic tragic story and give it a Disney-esque spin? My answer to that is simply to say that you’ll have to trust me when I say they were true to the traditional ending of the story AND the traditional tied-up-with-a-pretty-bow happy ending.

Scratching your head on how? I’d love to spill the beans on that, but I think I’d better wait a bit. I don’t want to spoil it for you if you are planning to go see the movie.

So I have some yays and nays about the movie.

Yays:

It’s cute. The story is interesting in that most of us (older set) are really familiar with Romeo and Juliet already, so to see it get spun this way with garden gnomes was actually fairly clever.

I appreciated the way Gnomeo and Juliet met each other and the confusion they felt when they later discovered who they really were and then had to reconcile if their color really was who they were or not.

Nays:

The filming was too dark. I don’t mean dark in a mysterious kind of way, but a “can you even see that?” on the screen kind of way. At first I thought they were just trying to make us believe it was night time in the backyard, but they never lightened it up for those scenes and it was a pretty big distraction.

There were several moments of inappropriate inclusions that were simply not necessary for the story. We’re not too terribly picky about what gets included in movies for kids usually, but there is a line we have and I think this movie crossed it.

The 3D nature of this movie does nothing for it. If given a choice, don’t bother with the 3D.

 Back to Yays:

They did bring in William Shakespeare in the movie and it didn’t seem forced to me. I was glad he was included and for what he contributed to this version of the story.

So there you have it. Gnomeo and Juliet in a nutshell. If you end up seeing it this weekend or later, please come back and tell me what you thought. I’d love to discuss it with someone else.