Time Travel

haHA

Located in the small North East Texas town of Bogota (pronounced Buh-Go-Tuh) – we’re country people, every vowel is soft – my inner child had to preserve this moment via blog.

Spending every weekend with all the people I deeply love has opened my soul in new ways. Growth doesn’t just happen individually. Though it’s incredibly sad we have been unable, for a million different reasons, to bring everyone together when it does happen it is unbelievably satisfying.

These are my people, my family, my ancestors, my history. They shaped me; I model my own aspects of motherhood around the things they taught me. Aren’t we always watching?

After a powerful and heartfelt dialogue, the truth came crashing down on me. For all the years I’d been so focused on justice, the fact of how much my father truly loved my siblings and I was overlooked. It had gotten jumbled up with the negative emotions, with the heaviness of grief. Who knows? Maybe this is the next step toward forgiveness. While my second cousin (a necessary detail because of age differences) sometimes seemed to be sucked into his own grief and recollection of dealing with the literal aftermath of his youngest cousin’s suicide, a valuable lesson of stepping up and doing the right thing was not lost on me. Although the details were painful to hear, even after all these years, the weight of tragedy that has befallen our family is such to renew a commitment in always making sure my family, and others, feel they are not alone.

My uncle looked up to my father; he was devastated by his death; his own kind and patient demeanor just couldn’t get past my dad being gone. He felt somehow responsible, from my understanding, that he wasn’t there for my dad, but I know even if my uncle had voiced these feelings to others he wouldn’t have easily believed he was in no way tied to his older brother’s decisions. But that’s how guilt works, isn’t it? It isn’t always the black and white of actual guilt, it’s the perception of what we believe. That psychology degree is coming in strong today. All this being said, the past cannot be changed but I can clearly see some valuable lessons for the future.

As stories were told regarding the sacrifices my father made for us children and his “perfectionism” – their words, not mine! – I understand even more why I am the way I am. I will say I have admitted to having such lofty expectations of others based on my own value of being a perfectionist it makes life difficult at times. But I’m really trying to curtail the urges. Sometimes the proverbial skeletons in the closet make way for more coats, umbrellas, and miscellaneous crap relegated to a dark space. Every family has them. But the willingness of those who choose to face the uncertainty, tell about it, and answer questions can not be minimized. I’m so blessed to have this time with my brave aunts, cousins, and great aunt. Their stories are memorialized in my writing albeit gray and very parallel to all the other lines of randomness. It’s a blog, not a dissertation.

Admittedly, during the hardest moments of conversation, I found myself re-centering my thoughts on what I could touch and feel in a very literal sense. My fear was that by becoming invested in another’s memories I would take on those feelings as I so often do. The reminder I am not a rescuer circled in my mind; I think I did well because I was able to stay removed even when sobs threatened to explode from my cousin’s chest. Later that night there was a self-congratulatory moment for being brave and refraining from the immediate desire to run away. It’s funny (only to me, I’m sure) how I’ve been desperate to hear these recounts yet also a little panicky I won’t be able to appreciate them. How can that be? I’m the most accepting person I know! The small nods to my father’s cooking skills, his desire to encourage our schoolwork despite his own childhood struggles with dyslexia, and his exceptional housekeeping goals are a testament to things I deem important still. Please don’t take this to mean if you can’t cook well, hate education, and suck at cleaning I dislike you or we can’t be friends. I just may not visit often. Kidding! And as I write, errr type, these lines, I realize so clearly I’m the apple who didn’t fall very far from the tree. In closing, this lengthy post has gone many directions. Perhaps you have chosen to locate any italicized sentences and only read those for a daily dose of humor then move on with your business. Fair enough. However, for any who have stuck with me until the bitter end, thank you.

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I ask you –

Do you have a family storyteller or history re-liver?

Hope you all have the most joyful Thanksgiving! This year may be quite different than all the years previously, but there’s thankfulness to be found in every single day. Wishing you and yours the best!

What Healthy Looks Like

You know what? I like being able to be counted on. In a world of empty promises, I’m dependable and have a “psychotic drive”, to name a backhanded compliment once received. I’m not mad. So if the best and brightest minds need some help, why be so quick to dismiss it when they, too, ask for a little help?

Credit: Nuraar, located via Instagram

Society has really wrecked the openness necessary to cope with hard things while simultaneously making it easier. Don’t ask me how this is such a conundrum. Everything is available at our fingertips yet mental health is still taboo. I have my suspicions; perhaps it can be traced back to times of witches and evil spirits.

Upon learning a close family member suffers from severe depression and anxiety, diagnosed much later in life, it inspired me to impulsively share with her (and many others in the room) my own struggles. I, too, take medication to combat the effects. Whoohoo. What a relief to be so open. Considering my childhood trauma, it should come as no surprise but I’ve kept it under wraps for so long for a variety of reasons.

I never wanted help. This type A personality loathed even the consideration of asking for help. I thought what I felt was normal. Too bad it took so long to realize this didn’t have to be. Even more than what I felt inside, I was afraid to ask for help for fear of this information falling into the wrong hands. I was afraid others might think I was an unfit parent and take my daughter away. I was afraid of very real scenarios and many only created in my paralyzed mind. It’s a very sad existence to live in a world where others have power over you, real or otherwise.

possibly one of my favorite photos ever

For the record, I take medication to combat debilitating anxiety. Sometimes I struggle with depression. But, more importantly than any part of this, I’m a good mom because I realized how these difficulties were affecting my relationship with a sweet, brave girl who deserves a fully engaged role model.

And I’ll be damned if I’m ashamed of that.

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I ask you –

Any dark secrets you want to share on this most public forum?

Do you or others struggle with anxiety?

This is why…shameless.

Generational Lines

Would it surprise you if I said I have tons of photos of my beautiful great aunt and adorable mini both in the kitchen and at the piano?

This past year has me spending more time with these incredible women than ever before. I couldn’t be happier. Not only are they strong, but also insanely funny! This time I’m the apple. In several weeks, hopefully, I’ll have an opportunity to update these photos with another brave woman.

The holidays are tough for me so I make no excuse for shying away from people during this time. However, as the years progress, it becomes more clear I must take steps to preserve our family history. Relying on others to participate and/or step up hasn’t done me any favors. If you want something done right, do it yourself.

In the meantime, I continue to listen to stories of days gone by, smiling at the far off look she gets when the memory comes back to her. Thus far, we’ve read handwritten letters my grandfather wrote to her before he deployed from Camp Lejeune on his way to a Purple Heart, as well as had long discussions about the state of her fattened squirrel population. Nothing is off the table, literally and figuratively.

Advice given to me: share every opportunity you can with those who came before you. The stories will live on in your voice.

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I ask you –

Do you have a relative you are closest to?

How often do you receive cards or letters from loved ones?

Preserve your memories!

Day in Photos, pt 903

Whammo Blammo!

a collage

An outdated magazine, some safety scissors, and a glue stick bought me almost 1 whole hour of quiet time.

practice and perfect and all that

In hopes she’ll be sleeping in her own bed before she starts college, the transition to a sleeping bag might very well be the ticket! All jokes aside, it doesn’t bother me. She can sleep beside me forever. Hello, small heater!

my kind of night

When I asked mini what girls do on a girl’s night, she stated “watch movies and eat!” Her very own words. So popcorn for her – the salty – and brownie for me – the sweet. We each ate the whole bowl, respectively. Girl code.

best pals

If you ever expect to hear a full story without mention of an animal, you’re asking too much. She has a deep love for all four-legged creatures. And the ones that don’t. I respect her disregard for people’s behavior, but her innate ability to ask why creatures do what they do. Sadly, I rarely have answers.

Story of my life.

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I ask you –

Really. What’s the difference between scissors and safety scissors?

Did you sleep with your parent(s) until you were older? No, my sister and brother and I slept in the same room (until age 7ish) but each had our own beds.

Tell me your favorite animal!

Mother Nature, you ok?

At the time of this writing, there’s a good chance of snow. In October. In Texas. Because why not, right? Amongst the millions of other things I don’t understand about this year, now the weather has decided to participate, too. Lovely.

Don’t get me wrong…I love snow! It’s beautiful and serene and innocent. My question is this: if it snows in October, what does that mean for the winter months? Is this our one and done? Does it revert back to summer in February? Apparently I have more than 1 question. And let’s not forget my newfound fear of motor vehicles + snow. “Yes, boss, I’ll be sitting this day/week/month out. You can find me on my couch. Ta-ta.”

Patient for 0.37 seconds

In related news, for informational purposes only, we shared the possibility of snow with my mini. Cue the excitement. However, she got her days mixed up and awoke before 6am to partake in the flurry activities. Unfortunately for her, she was about a week too early and was mucho disappointed when no snow adorned the sidewalk. It was 65° outside that particular morning. Ah the life.

looks slippery

Sometimes I attempt to keep up with worldly news sources and find myself on a strange path into the weird underworld. And then sometimes I find gems, like the one that mentioned how virtual learning would result in zero snow days and the art of the snow day would eventually disappear. I’m truly devastated. Though my child is still a wee bit too young to go to school, I want her to experience snow days! But as a parent I also can see why parents may cringe when faced with children staying home mid-week. Either way, snow days are a staple and I may have to champion a cause to “bring back the snow day” even for those utilizing virtual school. In fact, adults should have mandatory snow days, too. We could all use some childlike joy.

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I ask you –

Does the weather do crazy things where you live?

How often does snow come super early?

I’m accepting bets on what time mini will wake up the next time snow is mentioned.

#girlmom

One day I will regret sharing so much on a public platform. But it won’t be today! First and foremost, I just warn you about the following. Some may find it entirely too revealing, others may gasp in shock. Still you may even laugh uncontrollably. Just remember, you’ve been warned.

I say again…

As most of you know by now, I have a toddler daughter. She’s incredible in every way, bright, ambitious, caring, and, notably, funnier than I am (which is saying something). Affectionately referred to here as Mini Me, or Mini, the stories she tells will soon be infamous. But, for now, allow me to share a few she doesn’t usually remember and a few she may never want to see in print. Most revolve around feminine-specific issues; again, I warned you.

Before having children, one never considers the amount or type of questions they may be asked as said children blossom into adulthood. Being female and having a female child, I was confident I’d know what to say. Although I was a little taken aback at having to explain to males, in great detail, how to care for a young lady’s needs. Extending grace and all that, I took it in stride. Until the day my twonager yanked on my tampon string. To be frankly clear, it was inside my body! The yell of shock emitted from my lips served to reinforce how hilarious the situation was as Mini began to laugh hysterically and chase me around the bathroom. Assumedly to repeat the action. Because when there’s a string, what’s the harm in pulling it, right?!

Fast forward to age three. Pretty sure her third year of life was the most eventful. Digging in a cabinet, I find what I’m looking for and move onward with the day. As I approach the kitchen, the tiny light of my life asks “Mommy, what you doin’ with those? Those your running sticks?” Before I go any further, can we all appreciate how creative this is?! I run, therefore tampons must be considered running sticks. From now on, I will refer to them as such. Glass half full, you know.

– when in Rome –

Biological differences notwithstanding, I wasn’t quite sure what to say, or how much to explain, when implored to show her how to pee whilst standing up. This was definitely not in the brochure. Believing I had done the best I could with an explanation of ‘we’re not designed that way’ and that was the end of it, time went on without mention. Then life came back to haunt me. Apparently she didn’t believe it couldn’t be done because she had clearly seen the male figures around her be successful at exactly what she wanted to do. I applaud her dedication to cause. Upon returning home from work one day, the following story was shared with me –

paraphrasing : she entered the kitchen sans undergarments and shorts; when asked where her clothes had gone, she explained they had gotten wet when she went to potty. Probably seeing the look of confusion, she further explained she had also used a towel to clean the bathroom floor. More questions later, she proceeded to demonstrate how she forward-faced the toilet and attempted to pee standing up “like you do, Papa”. Perhaps I suck at truly sharing why we can do some things but not others.

For sake of space and what little sanity is remaining, I shall allow you to draw your own conclusions. Why do we not share stories like these with other generations? Do we deem them embarrassing or otherwise? Why? Hello, natural parts of life.

Personally I think we aren’t doing ourselves any favors by not being forthcoming with others. At least in all those books they give us at the hospital. You know, when it’s too damn late anyway.

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I ask you –

Did I scare you off with the many warning signs?

I’m curious how males raise their sons – did you give lessons on potty training or just let them go for it?

Story time! Dare to share?

Snippets of Comedy

Whilst typing a work email, I wrote “1 bird, 2 stones” and if that doesn’t epitomize my whole year, nothing will. Then I laughed very loudly out loud which warranted a puzzled look from my boss. You remember him? The one who didn’t fire me? Always pressing my luck.

On the (short) drive home, I passed a home with a tall ladder leaning up against an even taller tree. First thought: this f*ckery isn’t going to end well. Spent the next few days watching the news for his (because it must be the male species) coverage. I guess everything turned out well. Maybe he was a professional.

Everyone is safer when I’m teleworking

Discovered the bliss that is non-padded bras and if you see me fondling myself, then just ignore it. Ladies, you get me. I birthed a human and breastfed that human for over a year…pretty damn proud of this body’s accomplishments. My boobs may not be worthy of pornhub, but they’ve done everything I asked of them.

I almost forgot! Another work-related fail. A few days after the email snafu, as I was driving into work, my ID abandon ship’d it out the window. Granted I was already at the gate, window rolled down, preparing to gain access, but nonetheless it flew from my fingertips and landed behind the very kind Airman (who was very much not amused) while I laughed. Because what else was I supposed to do? I apologized profusely, but his expression was one of ‘why me?’ I still don’t understand why he didn’t think it was even a little bit funny. Oh well.

1 hr of free play

And, finally, the moment you’ve all been waiting for = Ta-Da!! I successfully received my daily Gummy reward for 365 consecutive days! Gummy addiction anonymous hired me. I’d like to thank my patient friends and family who….nevermind. No one cares, but me. And I’m happier for it!

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I ask you –

Do you regularly scale ladders in an attempt to do should-only-be-done-by-professionals work?

Have you ever thrown your ID out the window? I recall a story of a concert ticket seemingly disappearing out a car window…

Go ahead; tell me. Do I have a gaming problem? It doesn’t interfere with my life so I’m saying no.

Remember the Apple and Tree?

It’s been awhile since I regaled you with tales of the 4-year-old princess who rules my home. Home?! Haha you mean your whole life, Kel. Below are just a few more examples of the hilarity that ensues when I’m on a 50/50 work from home schedule. Please take a seat. Grab some tissues, too.

A true princess

So she overheard a television program use the phrase “salty as hell” and I can only wish she’ll wait a few weeks to share this gem. Namely when she’s with her dad. Because I know she will use it properly, I almost can’t wait.

Her nose was running and a green, yellow-ish mucous was emerging from her left nostril. After many tissues and a dose of Zyrtec, a miniature piece of popcorn (kernel and all) was extracted. I was secretly appalled yet impressed.

Her love for fishing and ability to be completely impatient are equally charming. 5 mins – no fish – I’m out.

For about her whole life, she won’t eat the breakfast I make. It could be her favorite things; she will only pick at it and tell me she’s full. Finally the truth was revealed when she said these exact words: “Mommy puts stuff in (whatever we’re having)”. When her Papa asked what kind of stuff, he received this answer: “Yucky stuff, like peppers and spinach”. Then they both had a good laugh. Truth of the matter is I do put those things in eggs (come on, I know you’ve read my blog); however, I don’t put them in hers! Never have! Yet somehow this is the reasoning behind her not eating what I cook. At least I have a reason now. My feelings weren’t even hurt. From now on, cereal is a safe bet. Clearly I’m the baker. And that’s the extent of my cooking skills, where she’s concerned anyway.

At least we agree on ice cream

AND THEN!!!! I was offered a sugar-covered butter cookie (which I don’t love, but I try them every single time). Since I didn’t eat the whole thing, I graciously gave the remaining portion to the very fruit of my body who then crinkled her nose and said “No, I want a whole cookie because I don’t want slobber in my mouth.” Freaking unbelievable!

Where has the love gone and when will it return? Her sense of humor, eye for design, and personal space issues are just a small reminder I’m paying for everything I’ve ever done. Ever done. Seriously. Ever. Most days I believe the look she gives me is this: You’re supposed to know these things, lady. Geez.

I give up.

***Hope you all have a safe and enjoyable Labor Day!***

___________________________

I ask you –

What are my chances she will use the “salty as hell” phrase with her dad? Batting 70/30 here.

Do you think she’ll get funnier as time goes by or will she become obnoxious and angry?

Your best children’s story of WTF. Go!

All the Randomness

Anyone else have a deep love for burnt foods? I can already tell this is an unpopular opinion. Burnt tortillas, popcorn, bread. Maybe it’s just a carb preference? Burnt meat is no bueno though.

Cheese quesadilla

I like to play this little game where I stress out about future events. For example, I realized I will one day be responsible for teaching my child how to drive. I’m a great driver so that isn’t the problem. Don’t hold the totaled car against me; there were a lot of factors and not all of them were under my control. The concern is my need for perfectionism. And control. Let’s focus, shall we? To think I will have to calmly sit in the passenger seat while she drives is unnerving. Literally, I feel my heartbeat speeding up as I consider it. I’m sure it will be fine. Side note: Dear Mini’s Father, this is not an invitation for you to take the reigns. I’m perfectly capable to ensure my sweet love will be a conscientious, safe driver. Under no circumstances are you entitled to take this life lesson upon yourself. Don’t get it confused. I know where you live.

Lastly, unless allergic to the key ingredients, I can think of no reason why someone would not love banana pudding. It’s iconic! My Southern roots (Pause. Roots autocorrected to toots and if that doesn’t tell you who I spend most of my time thinking about, then I don’t know what will. Unpause.) demand I make this tasty dish at least twice a year. But why stop there?!

It’s work to make sure I keep the random posts to a minimum because I can’t count the number of times in a single day I consider sharing what pops up in my head. Trust me, I’m doing you a favor.

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I ask you –

What’s your take on burnt foods?

Bets on how many nights’ sleep I will lose and gray hairs I will earn when my mini is of age to start driving? The gray has already started and I don’t sleep the best anyway so please be lenient.

Name your favorite classic dessert! And share the recipe, too!

Keys to Success – the Parent Edition

As luck would have it, I’m an early riser. Have been since I was a little girl. Despite the luckiness, some would say a curse, my body has a difficult time sleeping in, or whatever you mortals call it. So during times of inherent sleeping late events – say, Mother’s Day or after a very late night – I magically awake during the wee hours with no further recourse. A drag, I know.

The true magical fruit

Some might ask what exactly the problem is here? Answer: I have created a miniature version of myself who does not understand the respectfulness that is allowing her parent figure to have these early morning hours to herself.

I enjoy solitary time with my cup o’ caffeine and a rousing game of Gummies. Occasionally I check email but that tends to look like work and I will have none of it. But when the smaller person awakes it suddenly becomes a very tiring endeavor to do anything alone.

She hoards my coffee cup of magical beverage, she invades my personal space, and she politely demands to watch her favorite cartoons. There goes quiet time.

Our love of classic cartoons runs deep

But being the resourceful mother I am, I have devised a few ways to circumvent the invasion. 1) Hide. This rarely works because my child has some sort of built in mommy-locator radar. Reminder: look up patents. 2) Give in. You sit beside me, I’ll sit here, you do your thing and I’ll do mine. Ridiculous. This never works. 3) Compromise. Get back into bed, prop up with pillows, and ensure my body is sufficiently touching hers enough to give the illusion I am still sleeping beside her so she won’t wake up to search for me. Eureka! I’ve found the keys to the castle!

At the time of this writing, I have been laying here for approximately 1 hour, have just finished my coffee, AND have entertained myself. The day can now begin. I’m ready for anything.

Except mindless cartoons. I’ll never be ready. Snuggles, however, are much different.

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I ask you –

Wise parents, what have you done to balance your needs with your child’s?

Early riser or all nighter? What’s it like sleeping in? Tell me!

Are children naturally prone to get up early? Nature vs. nurture? I’m like my dad. My mother and sister could sleep all day if allowable.