This Where the Nonsense Turns to Makesense

..A large family working to perfect our sweet skills: Loving others, making an impact, parenting on purpose, living simply, and embracing sarcasm.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

As We Approach This Close

With 2013 eeking to a finish, and 2014 peeking its Killroy eyes up over the fence, here is what I'm finding:

I enjoy puzzles. They have an attractiveness about them that lures unexpected conversation from whoever is sitting with you. I am a quality time girl. To me, this year's 1,000 pieces meant giggles with my girls, rubbing hands with my honey, playing footsies with Sam under the table, catching up with my brothers, getting to know my teens. Who knew all that came in a cardboard box?

I don't want presents like I used to. This year I got a scrapbook kit. I spent the better part of the last two days scrapping every picture that dared to be loose in my house. Sixty-five pages in about eight hours. My fingers, back, and buns are killing me. I won't sit properly for the new year, but this present is going to fill me up even more when I watch my family thumb through those pages. They'll laugh, chortle, giggle, and even guffaw. My husband will well-up because he is a great father and hates that moment when he realizes he didn't see our babies changing. They won't even realize they are giving me the second (and best) part of this gift. Just some paper and ink? Maybe. 

Our family rocks at tradition. We have celebrated Thanksgiving with a talent show every year for the last five years. They make us laugh. Cry. Keel over in side splitting I-can't-laugh-any-harders. But mostly they make us realize we have some amazing gifts in our clan. Musicians, dancers, singers, artists, comedians, politicians, feaux gangsters… the list is endless. And this is our second year foregoing presents for presence at Christmas and New Years. We used to get away, my family and my brothers' families. Now we knock a few things off our bucket list. Last year we drank yellow snow (aka made pineapple snow cones using real snow), tried an Olympic sport (ice skating at North Star), trekked through the wilderness looking for The Polar Express (snow shoeing and hot chocolate), and even found a lost city! (Swimming at the Atlantis hotel). Three days of serious fun. 19 people from 6-60. Just the best. This year we are doing it again. We saved our present buying money and we are headed over the river and through the woods to someplace warm. No, not Aspen. SACRAMENTO. We are going to surf (indoors of course), eat, safari for some wild animals, eat, scale the highest roller coaster heights, eat, swim, eat, and eat. My love bucket is going to be overflowing after this week. There ain't nothin better than family time. 

I'm also finding that I hate it when my husband is gone, and I love it when my husband is gone. Let me explain. I miss him every minute when he is away. I sleep awfully, I have sole driving responsibilities with the children, I am responsible for everything, and there isn't anyone with a mustache to smooch me to sleep. On the brighter side, since he HAS to be gone, I enjoy the down time. I'm a pretty busy girl. I need down time. He has way more energy than me. He doesn't love it like I do. So I save my down time, and crafting, and chick flicks, and meatless meals for his work days. We are both happier about it. 

Finally, and speaking of down time, I'm finding I enjoy the timing of the midweek Christmas. At first I was bummed because it was throwing off my schedule, but my early week was full of cleaning and crazy and wrapping and planning. Then it was Christmas Eve. Christmas. But then. Then. It was just Thursday. With nothing on the agenda. Just Thursday. And do you know what followed that? FRIDAY. Nary a pant to be worn in this house. No thank you. We sat. And laughed. And puzzled (see above). And watched. And scrapped. And colored. And ate. And drew. And that was all. Thank you Wednesday Christmas. We owe this one to you. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Words Can Be Sticky

Ever come across a quote and know it's going to change something about you? Maybe change everything about you?

Ever read something and wish you hadn't because once you read it, it's part of you now? You can't unhear words. Sometimes you can choose to phase it out or focus so hard on something else you aren't as affected by it, but sort of you still are. The second you start to wonder, "Am I strong enough to hear this again without freaking out?" You can't possibly know until you repeat the words or you listen to them again. But then it's too late. It's a terrible cycle. Unless of course God keeps bringing this word around and around to get it through your my thick head.

Today (and last May) I read a quote by A.W. Tozer. He says, "What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about is."

He wrote those words in 1978. I was two, but I am pretty sure he wrote them so that one day I would hear them, and they would stick. These words have implications. These words get a little heavier when they are in the same chapter as this quote:

"To risk is to willingly place your life in the hand of an unseen God and an unknown future, then to watch him come through. He starts to get real when you live like that."

Because we don't know God simply because we grew up learning about him or because we go to church. We don't know him because we were baptized or refrain from cussing. Really knowing God doesn't happen because we volunteer to bring food to needing people or help with the annual food drive.

Willingly place your life in the hand of an unseen God...


He's real and he wants to show us in the small things and the big picture, but it's going to take a moment of risk on our part. Then the most important thing about us will in fact be what comes to our minds when we think about God and it will be words like


Know what I mean?

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Just A Little Pick Me Up

So. This picture is funnier if you know me. While there IS a chance I woke up this morning and decided to fill my mug with vodka, there is also the chance that I haven't had a drink in nearly 15 years. One day I prayed about alcohol. God said it's not for me. I'm the designated driver, the videographer when your night's gone awry, the one who whispers "take it easy" so they'll let you back in this establishment. Oh. No. It's ok that we started the night as strangers. I'm a community helper and a lifetime mocker. It's what I do. I make mock. So, by all means. You do what you gotta do. But let me get my camera first. 

I have a dream that one day I'll post a video that will go viral. You might just be the key to that dream come true. 

Before we get too far, I made this mug with a sharpie, a mug, and my oven. I washed it once and it's nearly all disappeared. I have a dream that I won't be mocked by Pinterest and their crafts. 

I have a dream that I will stop answering the phone in my half-asleep. It's as if I don't know I can let the machine get it. Er. You know what I mean. One time, yesterday, I picked up the phone at 8:30 in the morning. It was a complaint. It was painful and irritating to sit through, and I'll be honest, it took me too long to stop attempting reason between her barrage of eff words. I should have refilled my mug and sat that one out. Instead I tried to help. Idiot. Another time I answered the phone at what can only be described as where Jesus' praying hour and satan's play date meet. 6am. It was my sister. I was pregnant and on bed rest so she deserved what came next. I answered the phone and spoke "you have reached Mike and Shontell. We can't come to the phone right now. Please leave a message after the beep." Then I pushed the number seven for a while. 

I have a dream that airline tickets and house prices will drop considerably for the 15 minutes I mean to purchase both. Is it too much to ask? One house, 6 bedrooms, a basement, an acre or eleven, and two dishwashers. Plane ride to Missouri. Juneish. Because someone is marrying her lobster. Click. 

And finally, I have a dream that Christmas will be about something that matters. I don't even care what that means for each person. Christ, family, forgiveness, reunion, laughter? As long as it isn't about Walmart and their commercial campaign this year. Kids screaming and jumping up and down because they can finally feel happy now that they have this toy! I cringe when I see this commercial. I want to hug those kids and punch their kittens and say something profound to all of Walmart. I feel like this last one will have to remain a dream, except for in myself. I have a dream that I will be Michael Jackson and start with the man in the mirror. 

Wanna stand next to me? What's your dream? Everyone who comes to Hollywood has a dream…

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Just Don't Look Too Closely

To look at me you might choose from a few phrases to describe me:

Wow, killer boots, man!
Your hair is so (fill in the blank-large, puffy, rad, engulfing)
You're nuts. That's a lot of kids!
You're awesome; look at you go... (maybe no one says this last one)

But sometimes I feel like I am on the spot because of the sheer size of my family. I warn you though. Just don't look too closely.

My smile is often sarcastic. My hair is from the day before...or the day before that. My dinner is left over. My pants have been worn at least twice. My socks don't always match each other. My children have their jammies on under their clothes for faster transitions. And, while I am actually looking busy, this face only means I forgot why I walked into this room in the first place.

This day has been one of those where I fight the devil and use my old lady swears (inside my mind) because he is coming at me at forty different angles. I didn't even realize I had that many angles approaching me. Let's not discuss it.

I woke up late.
I spilled tortilla chip crumbs all over my car floor.
I tried to start my car. It didn't work. Twice. My hunky fire fighter husband saved the day. As usual. He's kind of a big deal around this city.
I lost my keys. I mean I lost my keys, and then I lost my replacement keys. That's cool.
I found set number two. Still waiting to hear from set number one. Ring a Ling Mr. Keychain!
I forgot I had to work until five. I thought I was leaving at 4. Just kidding apparently.
I got home to finish school with the kids. Our school website is down. Ok maybe this one is a blessing in disguise. We are snuggled up to a Christmas movie now instead.

I'm fighting back with my glass half full. This is where my kids would say "up your butt with a rubber nut". We are making the most of this crazy day.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Dear 2013, You've Been Good to Me

My husband and I accidentally started a fun tradition some years ago close to New Year's Day. We were laying in bed trying to get in as much conversation before we fell asleep. You know how that happens? When the kids are around you get in three words of a sentence, and don't even realize you haven't passed on the important parts until someone doesn't show up to pick up the kids. No? Just us? Oh good.

Well, we were trying to catch up on everything. Funny stuff Sam said, what expenses we have upcoming, funny stuff Layla Grace said even though she wasn't trying to be funny. And, then he said, "Can you believe all the things that are going to happen this new year?" So, we started naming them. We took turns. Back and forth. Nearing sleep a little more with every bit of anticipation. We laughed. Got near tears. And overall, we realized how amazing our story is.

This year I decided it is a good idea to take a look back as well.

In 2013:

I took a leap of faith and quit my full time job.
Took a job that allowed me to set my schedule, which means my family gets me first.
We switched churches back to our friends to see what God has for us.
My kids turned 16, 15, 12, 11, 9, and 7.
We became parents again by temporarily adopting a Chinese teenager for the school year.
My kids attempted some new sports (ballet, track, volleyball, basketball, snowboarding)
So, I drove a lot.
We tried snow shoeing (most of us loved it).
I was published as an internet writer.
My husband turned 37.
I turned...a year older.
I made my little house a little happier by painting some of her bare walls.
We all got a little better on the guitar.
Some even got better on the piano.
Izzy switched into a very challenging school experience and got her IB wings. She's working it out.
I became a professor, and then quit to keep my husband feeling loved.
The adults in this house got some new tattoos.
My nephew graduated and left for college, which I realize hasn't obviously to do with my immediate family, except that when his school was hosting Fall Preview a month ago, MY oldest asked to attend, and then decided God may be asking her to attend there as well. DID YOU HEAR ME PEOPLE? I took my DAUGHTER to tour a college! It's too soon. My heart. doh.
We went back to the life of homeschooling. Ah. Breathing room.