No Time for Martyrs

 

Grace

Here’s why the Martyr Mom thing doesn’t work.

You know what I’m talking about right? It’s the mom on the receiving end of back talk and side eye whose only response is to wonder where her baby went? The kids have moved beyond Share, Take Turns and Be Nice, but the parenting hasn’t.

All bad. And I’m not talking about the kids. We need a moment to grieve the loss of our sweet cheeked littles who used to be easily subdued with time outs and that’s what Moms Nights Out are for.

In the face of a surly 10 year old, we cannot fold.

Like a pack of velociraptors, our preteens are testing the fences. They will remember where the weak spots are. It’s futile to wish, whine or even pray it away. God can only do so much. The rest is up to us.

Here are the two most important things I learned in the trenches while teaching other people’s children.

  1. Words are not your friend: Negotiation Moms and Talk It Out moms, I see you planting the seeds for the long game and I like it, mostly. But when you find yourself having the same conversation for the third day, hour or minute in a row, it’s time to admit that your kids have Einstein’d you. They know they just have to look like they are listening patiently, nod in the right places, apologize and maybe give a parting hug—then they can continue to do whatever they want. It doesn’t cost them a thing. Not. One. Thing. They just have to wait you out.
  1. Anger is not a consequence: It’s an emotion, not a punishment. Maybe it used to work, but pretty soon they’ll figure out that anger is a lot like words—it’s easy to harden their hearts and wait it out. To drive this point home, consider—I once listened to a 16 year old girl tell her friends that she decided to sneak out of the house to meet her boyfriend after her parents told her no because “all they’re going to do is yell at me anyway. It’s not like they’ll take prom away.” When I told her that if I ever caught my daughter sneaking out, I’d take her phone, computer AND prom, she said “I feel sorry for your kids. You’re mean.”

DAMN SKIPPY. If one of my girls ever hooks a leg over the window sill at midnight, I want her to know exactly what it will cost her.

Teach them to call your bluff at their peril. Be the mom who says “I do this because I love you” while removing the hinges from their bedroom door, flinging their cell phones out the window of a moving car, and breaking their fishing poles over a knee in front of their friends.

I did that to one of my kids earlier this summer as a result of backtalk. Said child almost broke a smile when I did it. Not because it was funny, but in recognition that my mama game is strong.

Martyr Moms, now is the time to get down from the cross where you hung yourself, and decide you are not going to spend the next ten years—or more for those who super screw it up—battling your baby.

Lest We Ourselves Be Judged

I took the girls out to dinner a few weeks ago to our favorite taco place.  After we got our food and sat down outside, we prayed over our dinner.  As we ate, the girls noticed that bull riding was on the TV.  They had never seen it before, so we talked about why people do it (um, I had no answer), how you win, and why the bull goes buck wild.

After they finished, they asked if they could chase birds and play.  I said of course.  We were seated on the outdoor patio and I could see them in my periphery.  At the table next to us sat 3 women.  They were actually there before we were, but they were chatting, laughing, and seemed pretty jovial.  As I sat there by myself, I heard a comment that the one in the jeans and sweater made in my direction… “…get off the phone… pay attention to her kids.”

I looked up and the one in the black pants and tank top made eye contact with me, then rolled her eyes as she looked away.

I’ll tell you what.  That lady sure did catch me on my phone, but there are a few things that she didn’t know at that moment:

She didn’t know that I had sent a picture to Tory, who wasn’t going to be home before the girls went to bed, and they asked to send him a picture to say I love you.

She didn’t know that after I sent that picture, I went to the teaching job website Edjoin.org because I needed to find a full time job.

She didn’t know that I needed to find a full time job because the girls’ father was refusing to pay any of their tuition next year.  That’s over $800 a month that I will shoulder, because I believe it’s important. So I NEEDED to find a job.

She didn’t know that I only ordered one taco instead of my usual four because, well, money’s tight.

She didn’t know that for literally the last 10 days we had been doing SOMEthing… swimming at various friends’ houses, going to the beach, BBQing with my mom, visiting with friends, going on walks.

She didn’t know that Violet got up at 6am and wanted to snuggle with me, so I held her in my arms and we’ve spent every minute together since then.

She didn’t know that just an hour before dinner we all piled on the couch and watched a movie.

She didn’t know that on the way to visit my niece that morning, they wanted to listen to the “Zootopia song” literally 7 times in a row and I allowed it, partially because I do love me some Shakira, partially because it’s catchy, and partly because I tear up when she sings “I won’t give up, no I won’t give in till I reach the end, then I’ll start again,” because it has become my mantra.  I.  Won’t.  Give.  Up.

So when she said that, I could have gotten up and said something back.  I could have gone large, but then, I know I would have just looked defensive.  So I let it roll off my back. But what really bothers me about it is that this is something we as society “do” now.  We want our freedom, we don’t want anyone daring to tell us what to do, how to parent, that we can’t carry our precious guns, but we sure will troll people on the internet and judge them. We’ll find strength in numbers and bully those we just know are wrong.  We point fingers (and pitchforks) at anyone who doesn’t think the same as we do.  We sit in judgement, constantly looking over our shoulders because if we are sitting here judging, we’re probably being judged ourselves.  And we want to be the first one to strike, to build ourselves up before being torn down.

I could have said something, but instead, I just blogged about her while my children were taking a bath. #lastlaugh

Moms and phones and little kids are a hot button right now.  I wonder if I would have gotten that same comment if I had been reading a novel.  But nope, I’m just another disconnected mom who cares more about selfies and Facebook than watching every minute of my precious children’s glorious childhood.  (And side note, so what if I was spending 5 fricking minutes on Facebook while my children are fed and playing and safe?  Who.  Cares???)  I’m not asking for reassurances here that I’m a good mom and that I’m raising great kids.  What I’m asking for is that we give each other a little bit of grace in our daily lives, as we would like to be given.

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Cooking With Grandma

Last Thursday Shea had his knee surgery so my mom has been here helping out.

She always comes with a trick up her grandma sleeve and this week, she made her famous taco salad.

A warning for my Mexican friends: Gringa. And very loose use of the word “taco”. Proceed with caution.

She cooks up a pound of ground beef and heats a mixture of refried beans and pinto beans. Then she layers Fritos—FRITOS—beans, meat, lettuce with chunky fresh tomatoes and cheese.

Top that all off with…Catalina dressing. TRUST ME. It’s delicious.

Her last morning, I made a breakfast my grandmother used to make when we were little (but not, my mom pointed out, for her and my uncle when they were little, but there’s the power of grandkids).

Hawaiian Bread French Toast.

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It’s an easy substitution—sweet and fluffy Hawaiian bread for regular. Cinnamon, vanilla, butter and syrup, with a dusting of powdered sugar over the top.

There’s not really a recipe. I just whisk eggs, milk, cinnamon and vanilla in a bowl. Then I dip the bread on both sides and cook it up on my pancake griddle until a crispy golden brown.

And—this is God’s truth—I have never looked at the nutritional information on a loaf of King’s Hawaiian Bread so I have no idea what the calorie damage is on this meal. But there’s a part of me that truly believes that if I don’t look, they aren’t real anyway.

Happy Friday!

Lose on Purpose

 

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You know this whole American culture of win at all costs?

It’s got to go.

Our fellow humans are not our opponents and at some point we have to realize that sports is not a great analogy for life.

I’m not directing this at any one person.

Although Donald Trump is kind of the poster child of this whole King of the World movement. And doesn’t he constantly look like a five-year old with a bad case of pouty face? I would have sent him to his room in January and he’d still be there by our house rules, which are “Don’t come out until you can be nice.”

(#lifesentence)

The other day I was trying to think of any great historical leaders who made their people or places better by maintaining their own personal superiority to everyone.

I came up blank.

I can think of lots of great historical leaders who made their people and places better by putting their people and places first. Or even better, their God first.

There may be a lesson for Americans in there somewhere. I don’t know. I’m not responsible for all of us. Only my people and places.

So for us, this has been the summer of Lose on Purpose.

Which does not apply when wearing a uniform (so my brother and Dana don’t have coronaries and die when they read this.)

What I mean is that my kids are going through that phase where they need to be right. Even when they’re wrong, which means it’s really about winning. After a Spring of listening to ridiculous “No, it’s not—Yes, it is” one day I lost my mind and yelled “DEAR GOD IN HEAVEN, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU???”

It was a rhetorical question. But God answered me:

They take after you.

And so they do.

I started thinking, What’s the hardest thing for me to do in a situation where I feel challenged?

The answer is—to let it go.

To choose not to take it personally, or to make it my mission to correct others. To let them be wrong. To let myself be wrong. To admit that I am not in charge of everyone.

And—because people who want to be right and win more than anything else really struggle with this—to always be truth-full.

Which is why Hillary would also still be in her room by our house rules.

I figured we could go cold turkey on this whole idea, hence the summer motto. It actually has two parts: Lose on Purpose. Lift others up instead of squashing them down.

Like every other piece of parenting, it’s a marathon slog, not a sprint. There have been moments of understanding, like when Gabe rode his sister’s pink bike so his friend wouldn’t have to.

And there have been afternoons where they’ve been banished to the basement to preserve their own lives and my sanity.

But I knew we were on the right track when, after watching Trump in a news conference the other day, Kate said “He needs to learn to lose on purpose.”

And then some.

 

 

Rolling on the River.

On Saturday we rafted a meek portion of the Rogue river, with some local friends. Marcy grew up rafting the Rogue and her girls are pretty experienced on the water. They’re a water family, since her husband Kevin is an ocean fisherman by trade.

I also have experience rafting and love it–although I have always done it with a guide. Kate and I rafted the whitewater on the Rogue just a few weeks ago. My motto while rafting is “No Swimmers”. Once on the American river, when we went high on a rock, I reached back and kept the guide in the boat while letting one of my friends go in. I have never fallen out.

We set off in two boats—Marcy and me in one with the little girls and Shea and Gabe with Kevin and their older daughter Sophie.

This part of the Rogue is class 1 to 1 ½. Whenever Marcy talks about rafting the river, she always says some form of “You have to be careful”. You’d never know that from the rafting companies that shuttle anyone 10 miles up, give them a boat, a life jacket and some oars and tell them “Be back at the landing by 5 or there’s a late fee”.

I wasn’t worried at all because Marcy is exactly like a rafting guide, and gives directions in a voice I am pre-programmed to obey. The girls were having a blast with the water guns, the river was packed and the sun was warm.

And then.

I don’t know how it happened. We were trying to go right and Marcy told me to dig in. It was shallow and my oar got stuck but I didn’t feel strain, leverage, anything.

I was just in the water.

Facing the wrong way. Mashed against a boulder by the boat. And the water was COLD.

Later Marcy told me we were in the Rock Garden, a section of the river where there’s a wide, rocky and shallow sand bar that falls off into deep, fast moving and boulder-y water.

“It’s the very place I didn’t want to dump anyone.”

I had a hold of the side rope, so when the raft pushed me off the boulder, I was able to turn and get my feet out in front of me. This is super important–to go feet first and flat down the rapids, like a paper boat.

Marcy made the right choice to let me ride so she could get us through the next fast part and keep me out of the blackberry bushes along the bank. A guy died in the blackberry bushes last summer, although he didn’t have a life jacket on, and I sure did.

Once we hit calmer water, I had to get back in the boat, with only 50 yards to go before the next shallow part. I still couldn’t touch the bottom, so Marcy and I were going to have to haul my butt in together.

There was praying. And cursing. Actually, it was all mixed in together, but God knows how Marcy and I roll and He loves us still. She pulled and I pulled and my body was not working right from the cold but I hooked a leg and then between the two of us, our guardian angels and three years of yoga, I got back in the boat.

Marcy and I laughed hysterically for a good two minutes. Then we decided we are Amazon sisters for life.

I tend to see the beauty of the river, its calm implacability, the way it can adjust to and overcome obstacles. I identify with the strength of the river, mighty and eternal.

But underneath, the waters are roiling and dangerous. If we had ignored the danger, been drinking or not wearing life jackets—like so many boaters we saw on the river—things could have gone very differently.

I know that somewhere in this story, there’s a lesson to learn. I’m not ready to think about it yet. For now I’m content to count my blessings—I was never really in any big danger—and ice my knee.

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All. Things. Peaches.

Moving to the country, gonna eat a lot of peaches!

Last Friday I bought a 25 lb box of New Haven peaches for $20 at our local Beebe Farms. That’s $.80/lb for a pesticide-free, locally grown and perfectly ripe box of opportunity.

Said box looked smaller at the farm than it did on my kitchen counter. I didn’t keep a specific count, but I used at least 60 peaches in the recipes I made, not counting the ones we ate all week-long as snacks.

It was a lot of peaches.

A week later, I have conquered the peaches. Every. Single. One. Yes, I know Dana and I often make silly things into a game where there are winners and losers. Everyone has a different approach to giant boxes of fruit in their lives. This is mine.

And trust me when I tell you, I SCHOOLED those peaches.

First I made a massive cobbler from Suellen Anderson at food.com for an awesome river party. There were 12 of us. We ate it all.

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Then I made 10 half pints of jam. I do not skin my peaches or use pectin. I just boil and boil until the jam doesn’t run off the back of a cold spoon.

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Then I found this recipe for Peaches N Cream bars from Sally’s Baking Addiction. I made a double batch (of course) and the middle didn’t set, so I would recommend sticking to the recipe.

Then I made popsicles for the kids. I threw six cut up peaches, vanilla greek yogurt, a tablespoon of lemon, a cup of almond milk and a teaspoon of vanilla into the blender.

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With the last six peaches, I made some peach/vodka and peach/rum ice cubes, also in the blender. I used two cups blended peaches and 1 cup booze. After they freeze, I’ll pop them out into ziploc bags clearly labeled BOOZE and use them in iced tea.

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Yum. But–I am DONE with peaches for the year.

 

 

 

 

The last month I have been knee-deep in cherry plums, peaches and sugar and snap peas, which all came ripe. Once they’ve been picked, they have to be handled directly. It’s overwhelming–and I only have a little ol’ garden. 

How on earth did those pioneer women handle all the bounty from their farms in the three months of harvest? And the stress of knowing that if they missed it, come late winter, they’d be out of food. Gives a whole new meaning to “women’s work”.

 

 

It’s What We Need

I don’t know what to say and I am not alone. There are only so many ways to write “Love each other” before we all start sounding like a Beatles songs, after they started doing the hallucinogenics.

So instead, I want to show you something.

In the Catholic church, we use a lectionary for the readings at church. The lectionary is a book that has all the Bible scripture readings laid out for both the weekday masses and Sunday masses. The Sunday masses work on a 3 year cycle, called A, B and C. In year A, our gospel comes mostly from Matthew. Year B we read mostly from Mark and chapter 6 of John. In year C, we read mostly from Luke.

This was all set down long time ago. Like, long, long time ago. In some Christian churches ministers choose their readings based on current events. Not us. Catholics have this thing with tradition.

Maybe you’ve noticed.

Anyway, 2016 is a year C. We’re reading a lot of Luke in Ordinary time, which what we call all the time that is not Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter.

Remember, these readings are pre-ordained. Back and back.

These have been the Gospel readings the last three weeks.

Luke 10:1-9Luke 10:25-37Luke 10:38-42.

The first one, two days before the deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, is when Jesus sends His disciples out in twos and tells them to be bringers of peace wherever they enter.

The second one—last weekend, after the killing of the police officers in Dallas—was the parable of the Good Samaritan.

This week, after Nice and the killing of the police officers in Baton Rouge, was the story of Martha and Mary.

And next week, the reading is Luke 10:1-13, when Jesus gives his disciples the Lord’s Prayer in response to one of them asking “Lord, teach us how to pray”.

Bring peace. Help, regardless of race or creed. Listen. Pray.

Some will call this coincidence. It’s not, though.

It’s what we need, when we need it, if we have the courage to listen and believe.

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