12 April 2016

Class, open your books to page....

I’m sure that most mamas could agree, but during the school week, I feel like I’m running some kind of marathon. By the time I get to bedtime on Friday night, there’s nothing left but smoke and vapors.

When Katie’s incredibly sweet pre-K teacher sent home notices about the study buddy bags that would soon find their way home each day, I couldn’t process how and when we would squeeze this in; I mean, what’s more important…eating, bathing, or homework?

Thankfully, she included a message to make sure we knew this was not intended to be a stressful development. If there was ever a night when we felt like we couldn’t get to it, we shouldn’t sweat it. That’s just the hall pass I needed. On dance nights, we were skipping. We’re already behind schedule on those nights, so carving out time to do homework was definitely pushing the envelope. On nights when Brady has been at the station and I can’t convey to Beau that knocking Katie in the head with his left foot isn’t conducive to learning to read, we’d just skip it.

During supper yesterday, I ended up asking Katie if her teacher ever asks them in class if they did their homework the night before. I wanted to know if the teacher or aide just checked the homework status quietly on their own, or if they made a class production out of it. Why it never occurred to me to ask this before is beyond me. I can only assume this was God saying: “Hey…let’s finish out the year strong, how ‘bout.”

Katie ended up telling me yes, the teacher did actually ask them every morning when they got to class if they did their homework. Katie answers either yes, ma’am or no, ma’am. If she answers no, ma’am, then the teacher simply says something along the lines of “let’s get to it tomorrow, then.” Gentle reprimand...I feel it more than she does.

My husband and I have markedly different reactions to this. His reaction is more: This is pre-K, not middle school Math. Let’s get some perspective and go play outside. They do enough during the day in school. My reaction is generally more: Oh sweet Lucy on a bicycle! Our dear one is behind before we’ve even begun! The teacher may have raved during the last parent/teacher conference, but she was obviously too kind to point out we’re the only people not persevering and doing the homework every night.

Slight difference in intensity, to say the least. I told Katie that I was glad to know about it all, and that we would make an effort to not miss a night. She seemed completely…unaffected.

I also told her that I was sorry for all the questioning, to which she sagely replied:

“Oh, it’s okay. I don’t mind all the questions. I know you’re just trying to find out what the dill pickle is.”

Stick a fork in me. I’m done. No baby could possibly be sweeter and smarter. Thank you, Jesus, for Katie Jane.

Normally, after a long weekend like the one we just had, we’d skip the assignment on Sunday night. Our priority would be getting into bed and falling asleep, so that Monday morning could get a leg up…which I still think is the priority right now, but I don’t want my girl to feel like she’s behind, ever, so if I can help in this small way, I guess it’s worth it.

To be honest, it was exceptionally hard for me to sit there and listen to her slowly pick her way through “Bananas Sometimes” while the clock ticked closer and closer to her not wanting to wake up at all tomorrow morning. I started to twitch.

Brady doesn’t call me the sleep police for nothin’.

But we did it. We finished it, even with Beau coming in and out of the room and squeezing between us and asking us for “num-nums,” his bottle, and his “aye.”

[“Aye” is how he refers to his pacifier. I have no idea why or how this started. Maybe because of the “aye” sound in pacifier?]

Daddy eventually made it in the house after putting up our weekend of tools and locking up the chickens and corralled him in the dining room, where they camped out at the window to watch the world go by, ticking clock minute by ticking clock minute.

I think perhaps, more than anything, I’m not ready to let go of her babyhood. It was hard enough when she went from days at home with grandma and daddy to days at school, but I consoled myself with coming straight home and falling out of the suburban to play and read until supper. Now, however, Homework has swooped in and started to wiggle its way in to the routine.

And I know, from personal experience, that it won’t heft its giant tushie out of our lives until that last walk across the stage. By then, I’ll be nothing but fingernail beds and Tylenol dust.

08 April 2016

Spring Fever

These are my absolute favorite days right now. Springtime days. Days when we can go outside and play without catching colds or without falling down faint from the heat. Which is good news, since all Beau wants to do is “Go! Go! Go!” I cannot dress him, feed him, or change him fast enough to “Go! Go! Go!”

Here we have Katie Jane Becker, springtime 2012, four years ago. She was almost two; the same age Beau is now. Loving the outside and the sprinkler and Rosie the Cat, although not as vehemently as Biggety B does.

And don’t we love the expression on Rosie’s face? If he thought life with a toddler named Katie was tough, what must he be thinking about Brady Beau? He’s looking for a typewriter to send in his resignation letter, is what.

Katie in the side yard with her great grandma Lauter’s crepe myrtles. Thank you, Grandma Lauter, for all the crepe myrtles. They have given us beauty and flowers and a look of intention around our place as we pour all our efforts, time, and money into just getting it functional for ourselves. Brady fertilized the ones in the circle drive last year, and they are so full and just THRIVING this year.

It’s sweet to think of how she planted these flowers, and now her grandbabies are living here with them, and we’re all soaking them in. When Katie was a baby and I had to go into her room into the middle of the night to help put her back to sleep, we always left the curtain on her double window cracked to let a little light in from the outside light under the eaves on that corner of the house. It was a great nightlight.

And I'd stand there on the cowhide rug and rock and sway and silently pray and stare out that crack in the curtains at this crepe myrtle outside, lit up from the halogen bulb. And quite honestly wish I was sitting on the couch eating ice cream and watching TV. It was so beautiful in that light when it was blooming.

Baby belly! And look at that sweet hair and bow and all that pink and Daddy’s giant hands holding her up! Her hair is down to her waist now….

Speaking of sweet babies, here she is mesmerized by Mickey Mouse’s Clubhouse on the little DVD player at the dining room table. I’d occasionally let her watch a little while feeding her. She rarely watched TV, but when she did, it was Mickey Mouse’s Clubhouse. Such a kind cartoon; no worries about words or actions that might hurt a little soul.

I often think I should get Beau started on them, but we don’t have cable anymore, and he seems content watching truck cartoons on Netflix on repeat. We indulge in more cartoons these days than ever before. I guess two will do that to you, when you need a little calm and quiet to recoup for a minute or get supper on the table.

It doesn’t bother me like it used to, though…I think because they are together on that couch. They sit side by side. Sometimes he’ll lean on her or lay smooth in her lap. Or they’ll hold hands. It’s got sweetness and bonding to it now. So sappy Mama has let go of just a little of that guilt.

Just a little.

,p>So, lest I get lost to tears, let’s end on a little comic relief: Lambchop drowning in the potty seat. Bless his wee heart. To be fair, this has never been used as a potty, only a stool, but still. He must be nervous as all get out behind that stitched on smile….

31 December 2015

BEAU, the Bomb-Diggity

Beau is now the same age as Katie in the pictures that I’ll have sprinkled throughout this post. I love little toddlers; the way they walk around and move and giggle and listen and amaze you with what they can understand, before they can even fully talk back to you.

Beau can’t say Katie’s name yet, so he calls her “Ie! Ie!” That’s just the last two letters of her name; the long “e” sound. It’s so cute. Definitely one of the joys of having a second child is watching them interact with the first. It’s precious. Except when it’s not, because this little boy is all about just running up to her and ripping something out of her hands.

But we're working on it.

He ran into her room at bedtime last night, hollering, “Ie! Ie! Ie!” all the way. When he hit her bed, he waved big as Dallas right in her face and then started hollering, “Bye! Bye!” Close enough to good night, right? And then he took off to the blue table in the kitchen, sat down, and started playing with the Christmas toys again.

You can tell him anything or ask him anything, and he’ll nod or go do what you need. He’s smart! Says the biased mother in love with her baby boy.

I told Brady the other night: He is the best decision we’ve ever made.

And before anyone thinks: What about Katie? Well, she is the best first baby a mama and daddy could ever ask for, but she wasn’t a decision; she was a surprise party, if you know what I mean.

When he plays with his trucks and tractors and train, he makes the most awesome little motor noises. And then I’ll say: Someone’s motor is runnin! Whose motor is that?” And he’ll pat his belly or his chest and puff it out and grin really big at you, like: That’s my motor, Mama!”

Needless to say, I love baby boys. I love THIS baby boy so much I can’t breathe. He moves, moves, moves, climbs, and then moves some more. And the whole time I’m chasing after him and trying to get him to go my way and picking up after him, I’m grinning. I might be sighing, too, because I’m kicking Legos across the kitchen with every step I take and impaling myself on the grocery cart, but I’m also grinning.

The only time he really stops moving is to listen to his sister or drink his bottle. Yes, bottle. He can have it ‘til he’s 2, and then Daddy can wean him. Yay, daddies! I’ll be in the tub crying and eating cheese puffs.

20 July 2015

Pink

Yesterday was Father’s Day. (That’s a lie. It has taken me so long to write this; it is now July.) What better time to write a little story about my own daddy, who rarely gets called Daddy by me anymore - only Grandpa!

The very first car my daddy ever drove was a Ford Fairlane 500. The temperature gauge was broken, the radiator hose busted, and then the engine seized going over Holland Creek on Highway 90. Obviously, this is not how you want your drive to go. It had to be towed to the Ford dealership in Navasota. The professionals deemed it too far gone, so it was time to find alternate transportation. So where did he land? In the driver’s seat of a 1967 pink, two-doored Ford Mustang with black interior.

Please don’t let the word PINK get lost in the middle of that last paragraph. If everything else is forgotten, just remember the pink.

Think that was a character-building time in his life? I’m guessing yes.

*****

These days, we spend too much time in our vehicle talking on cell phones and listening to text messages ding. No phones in the car back then. I often wish that we didn’t have this option now; save me from myself, and all that jazz.

When Katie was smaller, one of her favorite things to do as we sat waiting in the truck or eating at Sonic was to stand or sit in her daddy’s lap and pretend to drive with the steering wheel.

There were no babies steering the wheel in that pink car, and I bet Daddy had no idea that he’d have two one day. Two girls, I might add.

*****

One of my favorite things in the world – but don’t tell Brady – is to watch him bring home all manner of animal for Katie to see…ponies, horses, kittens, puppies, dogs, and even pigs. I’m sure I’ve left something out.

Katie has always gotten so excited over riding everything and petting everything and especially getting to feed the animals. I can’t wait to see how Beau responds when he’s old enough to really understand what’s going on with the animals.

I huff and puff and get completely exasperated; it’s just part of the game now.

*****

Okay, end of the Katie Commercial Break. Back to Daddy and that car. I hear my mama often say that she wishes he’d have kept it. My sister and I have also lamented from time to time that he didn’t keep it, because how cute would we be driving around in a pink Mustang?

When you’re living your life from day to day, it’s hard to know what you’ll regret later. Selling something, skipping a vacation, turning down an invitation, taking the safer route….

I’m sure when he got rid of it, it was the thing to do. As my brother-in-law says, you can only do the best you can with the information you have in that moment. I hope Grandpa doesn’t regret selling it. After all, car or no car, it’s one of our favorite stories to hear and tell.

I don’t feel I’ve really done this story justice, but I wanted to get it down for keeps. I’ll sign off now with a mental image of my daddy driving a light pink Mustang through Anderson with really long, light red sideburns and a big smile.

23 April 2015

Her Move

Exactly five years ago yesterday, April 16th, Brady and I saw Katie move for the first time. Not in the hospital, but in my belly.

I’m not really sure why I ever wrote it down in my calendar, but I did, and now I transfer it over every year. It’s something I just can’t let go. I was lying on the couch – if you can really call it a couch – in the pied-a-terre. I was watching T.V. after work (Man, what was THAT like?!), and something caught my eye.

It was my own five-month-belly.

Moving.

I called for Brady to come and look, and after a little gentle prodding, the baby started moving again. Back then, we had no idea if we were dealing with a boy or a girl.

Here she is in her second year:

sporting her new Aggie cap from a Sunday afternoon shopping trip,

riding Carlotta with Daddy,

being thoroughly impressed with the big rig that moved Uncle Willy and Aunt Lesley’s house all the way to Old Washington,

and using her foot as a phone.

I wonder who she was talking to in the back seat of the dodge there….

I remember that trip very vividly. The three of us were going to pick up a horse somewhere on the other side of Plantersville, but there was some big bike race going on at the time, so we got held up in standstill traffic for around two hours.

She did great, though. We talked and laughed and talked into our feet, apparently, and we made up a song about the barn cat, Charlie, that had a mustache, just like Daddy’s.

Katie has continued this streak of being a good traveler. This afternoon, she’s riding with Brady as he hauls feed, prepares for a big hay delivery, and shuttles two giant loads of cows from the sale barn to the pens. She’ll have her pink camo backpack with her, filled with fruit snacks, raisins, water bottles, sunglasses, and things to “do.”

She’ll come home happy and dirty and full of stories and happy. And that will make her mama happy.

30 March 2015

Sugar

I guess let’s just go ahead and get this over with. This is going to sting a little for me, but I suppose it’s best to write about it now, before I completely forget all the details. Although maybe that’s not really possible.

Pets. Whoever invented this whole concept should be made to wash tile floors by hand with a toothbrush after a herd of 1st graders come in from playing in the mud next to a litter of mangy puppies. Every day. For 100 years.

*****

Growing up, we had a couple of cats. One named Kit, the other named Kat. Then, one perished. That’s country life. It’s survival of the least fat out here. When the one perished, we renamed the other Kit-Kat. We had Kit-Kat for a very long time, and I remember always wanting to bring him inside, but the parents said no. He was an outside cat, erego, OUTSIDE.

We’d come home to find mice left on our doorstep from his hunts, and once, we even came home to find him batting a mouse head around. Boy was he smug.

Take that, Humans.

And since we just finished discussing a severed rat head and all the filth that implies, now would be a good time to mention the time that I snuck Kit-Kat in the house, in my arms. I’m not really sure where Mama was. The bathroom? The tub? (Now that I have kids, I can safely say maybe she was comatose in her walk-in closet.) I carried Kit-Kat in my arms all the way into my parents’ dressing room. I distinctly remember thinking that was the farthest I could walk with him in the house – except for maybe all the way into that walk-in closet. I stood there looking in the big wall mirror – the kind people put frames around now, because they are so severely outdated – with him in my arms. It was the weirdest feeling, standing there on carpet with a cat in the house. I felt like I was shaking hands with danger.

And then, goody-goody that I was, I quickly got him back outside.

Eventually, he got sick. Daddy took him to the vet. It was a Saturday morning. I was still in bed, sleeping like a lazy teenager. Then, Daddy came back home.

Without the cat.

I remember the drop in my stomach. Someone sitting on the edge of my bed, telling me Kit-Kat didn’t come back home. Tears because I didn’t get to say good-bye. Being mad at my daddy. The sunlight coming in the double window with the sheer green curtains hanging right under the sill.

He is the best Daddy. But The Pool of Emotions is not one he swims in.

*****

I was pretty much done with felines at that point, but then my ex-boyfriend (Sorry to scald the page with that, Brady Love.) brought me a cat as a gift. A fully-white cat named Angel. Angel started out in the house as a kitten but was eventually moved outside, because CLAWS. And my parents are full-blooded country stock, and the only animals that belong inside of the house where you live are the ones that are actually out in the barn and not in the house at all.

Angel was so easy to spot outside. Initially, I assumed he was a girl, hence the very feminine “Angel,” but time proved me wrong, and how did I get an A in Biology? Anyway…he shone like a sun burst or a bomb going off outside in the sun. You had to avert your eyes from all the scorching white shine.

How apropos. Me – with skin whiter than the belly of a hard-boiled egg – hooked up with an albino cat. Huh.

Eventually, Angel either ran away or was abducted by Hollywood. We never found out. I even put signs up, just like in a T.V. sitcom. Nothing ever came of it, and then it was time to move out, college-bound.

*****

Fast forward to shortly after graduation, 2001. I was dating the cowboy fireman (#studmuffin), and we were out in Piedmont for the day, helping his great uncle, Dwight. As we repaired some fence in the half rain behind the dairy barn, we heard whimpering and mewing. And then we found the most pitiful pile of kittens, half-drowned in the tall grass, without their mama. We put them in a brown paper grocery bag and took them home to my apartment. We spent several days nursing them back to health the best we could, but only one survived. Another mostly white cat.

Sugar.

He was small and tiny and puny, but it didn’t take him long to rebound and become the biggest feline I’d ever been around.

We bought a litter box and a food and water dish for him, and that was it: I had my first indoor cat. I was excited at the novelty of it. I hadn’t yet been baptized into litter and scooping and hair balls and spraying and neutering and de-clawing and oh my word the maintenance and the new budget line item called: LINT ROLLERS.

I had lint rollers in my bathroom, in my dresser, in my closet, by the front door, in my car console, and in my desk drawer. And still. Still, I looked like I’d dressed in pelts before breakfast.

But I loved that cat. I loved watching him chase goldfish in the bathtub that Brady bought strictly for his entertainment – please don’t call CPS. Or Pita. PETA? PetSmart? The animal-lovers.

He played on the circular staircase in that apartment and became best friends with the second kitten Brady brought me, Penelope Sue, which his baby brother trapped in a toolbox at their house. He lay on my head on the pillow with me all night. He lay on the bathroom counter while I took baths and showers. He lounged all over my lap and always tried to lick my armpits. (Don’t ask.)

He purred incessantly. He came like a puppy when you called him. He ate three times his weight every day. He yowled constantly if he felt he wasn’t getting enough attention. Or food.

Then, he moved to the house in Navasota with me and made himself at home in the new leather couch. He covered every pillow and sham and blanket in layers of cat hair, and I decided I’d never have carpet in a house, just so that his cat hair would be easier to clean up.

Now I wish I had carpet in my bedrooms.

Then, he moved with us into the pied-a-terre in Piedmont. We made concessions and more concessions to make sure he and Penelope were comfortable in the space. We always made the moves as easy for them as possible.

I loved him.

Then, he moved out to our current place with us. The house where we’ll be forever. The house that our babies will come back to and know as HOME.

The evening we were due to leave for the hospital to be induced with Katie, Sugar decided to make a trip through her nursery. While in there, he peed all in her crib and all over the wall behind it.

To be fair, we’d only been in the house for two days at that point, and he wasn’t adjusted, and all of her stuff was brand new. He’d never been around any of it before. He was exploring and protecting and marking territory.

Still.

I was two weeks past due and 25 minutes from leaving for the hospital to have my first child, and I wasn’t done putting my make-up on, and now I had to clean and sanitize her room and crib and linens. I think I just sat there crying while Brady did all of the cleaning up.

Needless to say, Sugar and Penelope were relegated to the back screened porch that night forevermore.

*****

As I crawled out of my post baby blues, I learned that he was becoming increasingly hard to keep on the back porch. He kept sneaking out into the backyard to sun in the grass. He was going back to his dairy barn roots, I guess.

So we stopped fighting him and let him out.

*****

As Katie grew and spent more time outside, she loved following Sugar around and spotting him around the house and in the yard and in the barns and down the driveway. It was a game for us as we meandered and let her practice walking. Then, one day: “Brady, have you seen Sugar today?”

“No, I haven’t.”

Days passed. Brady searched the barns and the pastures and the creeks and the woods.

Nothing.

I didn’t put up any posters this time. I just sat on the back concrete steps and cried after bedtime in the dark. Beating myself up for not taking better care of him when the baby came. For not keeping better tabs on him every day. For us not getting into the house sooner, so that he could adapt better.

He had the softest fur. Everyone commented on it. He felt like a lucky rabbit’s foot. He liked to touch noses with you.

At first, Katie would ask in her baby voice: “Where is Suga?”

“He’s in Heaven, baby.”

So I sat on the back steps and cried and cried and felt so very, very bad. And then I got up and went inside to make sure I was around to hear if the baby cried.

And I still love him.

28 March 2015

You're Never Going to Believe It

There’s nothing quite like a happy, excited, sweaty short person. I stopped by my in-laws’ house the other evening to drop off a book. When I pulled into the driveway, I saw Brady and Katie loading up a round bale. They pulled around and met me, and Katie practically flew out of the backseat and nearly crawled my legs. Which is a feat, because her four–year-old self is long and lean and right over half my height! She was so excited to see me and to ride home with me. We walked in the house to drop off the book, and her excitement peaked again at the thought of telling her grandmother all about what she’d done with Daddy that very afternoon.

“Grandmother, do I have a surprise for you! You’re never going to believe it!”

Of course, this is where she got slowed down by her boots; the boots that refused to come off her feet. All by herself, she was at the door deciding to take them off before coming further in the house, because, as she told her grandmother: I’ve been doing cow work!

How precious is that?

She finally freed her feet and told her grandmother all about how she got to DRIVE THE GATOR when feeding with Daddy. She couldn’t lean forward any farther while talking, and her face was close to bursting open. She explained how the gator got stuck in the mud, so Daddy had to push it, so guess who got to DRIVE?!

This. This is why the fire academy. This is why a firefighter. This time with them. This is how and when they will learn the important stuff.

*****

How many days did she spend emptying every drawer and cabinet in the kitchen to set up everything her imagination could come up with?

How fast did she manage to empty the entire box of Q-tips on the bathroom floor, just so she could build pens with them?

How sweet was it seeing her in the party veil I wore at my bachelorette party, against my will?

How fast was I with the dish cloth as she crunched those Gerber snacks all over the rug?

How loud did I laugh when she insisted on wearing these all through supper?

*****

The other night, she said that I was her favorite person in the whole world.

The feeling is mutual.

01 March 2015

Getting Knocked Down & Back Up Again

Some of the best advice I ever got: There’s no such thing as a good day or a bad day. There are only good moments and bad moments.

It’s taken me two kids to really fully digest that, and I think it’s so true. It also saves my hide on the regular. Just think: you’re having a great day with your short people, and then something happens. Either one gets in trouble or someone falls and starts crying or Mama loses her patience or temper and doesn’t respond properly, and BOOM. Bad DAY. But if you look at it all as MOMENTS, then that was just one little bad moment, and you can go on to reap a million more good moments before the next bad moment.

Because the next bad moment will come. You may as well go ahead and count on that.

One minute, I’m winning as a house frau. I’ve put in a full day at work, quickly done the grocery shopping, put a supper on the table cluttered with Crayons and Strawberry Shortcake dollars that everyone is excited about, done a little kitchen dancing and singing, bathed everyone – with bubbles! – and then the baby wants me to stand and rock him to sleep instead of in the recliner, and it’s suddenly all crashing down faster than this toilet paper tower.

Why? Well, because I wanted things one way, and he wanted things another, and just maybe my hormones have kidnapped the rational side of my brain, and so here we’re having a bad moment. A dumb one, even.

But we come back stronger. Do we have a choice?

We had so many good moments yesterday. Like listening to Katie ask me to read National Geographic to her before work, so we could holler “Cuscus!” together and laugh real hard. And Beau waking up happy and sweaty. And both kids wallerin’ in the bed with their daddy while I finished packing my bags for work…where Katie would yell out: “Hey, Mom!” every time I passed the doorway.

Last night, we actually found it within ourselves to laugh at the way that Beau grabs the cup from his sister in the bathtub, fills it with water, and then dumps it over the side of the tub. All faster than you can grab his dimpled little hands.

I mean our bathroom floor will have to be pulled up and left to rot until he moves out and we can safely re-tile, but it’s just money and looks, right?

Who ever knew that a giant package of toilet paper could be so entertaining? She hauled these rolls around from room to room for a few hours the day I took these pictures. She used them to build fences for her animals and herself and stacked them just to watch them fall.

It’s still a grand occasion when Mama comes home with TP to unpack. When I got home from the grocery store last night, she unpacked all the bags, as usual. Only this time, she wanted to play “store.” So she lined everything up in the middle of the kitchen floor and categorized everything by whether or not it came from a farm. And if you think I was able to navigate our tiny kitchen, which was supporting a giant baby Jumperoo and Katie’s farm fare last night, without sending jars of baby food and a package of elbow noodles skidding under the fridge, then we’ve never met.

I have trouble navigating a room without tripping on a good day with no breakable or squishable obstacles. (I’m looking at you, loaf of bread.)

By sit-down-at-the-table time, we’d discerned that the peas in bubba’s baby food came from a farm, the Skinner noodles came from a shaft of wheat, the cheese cubes came from a dairy farm, and Mama is headed directly to the funny farm.

See you there.

26 February 2015

Skittering - No Joking Matter

Occasionally, Brady will come home with an interesting, scary, or funny story from a day at the station or a day on the ambulance. I know he keeps a lot of it to himself, because keeping THAT life and OUR life separate is very important to his mental well being.

And that’s fine with me, most of the time.

I do missing knowing more about his days at work. I miss being able to picture where he is and what he’s doing. It does feel way more detached than any other job he’s ever worked. In prior jobs, I went to visit him constantly and often helped.

Yes, I was the fool girlfriend helping him muck stalls at the Brazos Valley Equine Hospital early on Saturday mornings. Obviously, it was all about those Wranglers, because McDonald’s bacon, egg, and cheese biscuits don’t taste better than sleep.

Many times, I’ve wanted to share the stories he brings home here, but I’m afraid I’ll do them an injustice or not remember enough. But what I can do is give the basics, and then, when Katie or Beau is reading this one day in junior high (assuming they care about what their mother writes, which of course they will, because otherwise: WHO WILL MAKE THE MEATLOAF), they can ask him:

“Hey, what’s this about cockroaches opening the front door of this apartment?”

And he can be confused over his cinnamon rolls and then remember the horror in vivid detail…and then put down the cinnamon roll out of disgust, so I can eat it.

Or at the rate his daughter is going now, so she can eat it and seven more.

But I digress.

One fine day, they were fighting a house fire. As firemen do. It was his job to be on top of the house with a chainsaw, so that he could cut a hole in the roof. So far, this is all fine and good. He knows all about chainsaws, and at least he was out in the air and not in the house with the smoke.

But then his leg fell through the roof.

And then the chainsaw THAT WAS ON AND RUNNING skittered and fell – as a result of him losing his leg to the roof – down towards the earth. Skittered makes it sound all cute and jumpy, but someone could have lost everything. Don’t they make horror movies about the damage that a chainsaw can do? (By the way…I don’t need real answers or details here…I’d like to be able to sleep again sometime before my kids hit high school.)

This little one has no true idea what her daddy really does when he goes to the station, while she eats waffles and diapers her Lambchop.

She knows how to ask him the night before: What are you on tomorrow, Daddy?

She knows to tell people “He’s at the station,” when they ask where Daddy is.

(The “dishwasher safe” claim here would be way more exciting if we had a dishwasher.)

(Use crayons to draw trails on your highchair trays. Kids love it! Sponges hate it!)

But she doesn’t yet fully grasp what he’s doing, even as we pray at night for God to bring Daddy home safely and for him to have a slow night of good sleep.

(Yes, I took a picture of her very first skinned knee. What?)

There’s nothing quite like hearing: “I hope Daddy doesn’t have a lot of runs,” said in a tiny voice. Right now, it’s just Katie wanting to know when Daddy is coming home and can she sleep in my bed tonight and has Daddy left already? And looking forward to the notes he leaves under her door.

One day, they will fully know what being a firefighter is all about; until then, we will pray for sturdy roofs and chainsaws that miraculously run out of gas every five seconds.

19 February 2015

Misty, Muddy-Colored Memories

I think I have discovered why it’s so hard for people to organize and track their pictures and to keep up-to-date with scrapbooking: it’s heart-wrenching. It’s too painful. Just shove it in the closet, live in the now, and maybe your brain won’t think about what was.

Besides…the now is pretty sweet.

But the memory-keeping…it’s important. I think. I guess. I fluctuate so much. It used to be important to me to print out photo books with accurate and funny captions, but as things have become more digitized, I’ve changed my mind about that. I feel that, as long as they’re available online somewhere, then there’s really no need to print out photo books that will just sit on the shelf.

This could mostly be because I CANNOT KEEP UP. With the invention of the camera phone, I am overrun with pictures. There isn’t enough money in the world for me to put all of my pictures in albums, and how would I cull out and decide between pictures of the most beautiful babies in the world?

Canvases or framed pictures or fridge magnets? Absolutely. Those are on display. I feel that’s necessary.

But printing out those photo books is just one more piece of storage for your pictures that takes up so much room. Wasn’t the whole point of being able to save pictures online to keep you from having to print the pictures and save them all over your house?

A month or so ago, we rearranged some things in our closet, and I discovered about a dozen old photo albums from high school/college days. I strongly feel the need to scan all of those pictures, so that they can be properly saved and filed.

But then what do I want to do with the albums? We don’t have a place to store this stuff, and we don’t have a place to display it. Not without being overrun with clutter. I really want to shred them.

All the blood just rushed from my mother’s face.

The memory-stories I find myself telling Katie every time she asks for a story “out of real life” aren’t the ones I have pictures of, usually.

Like how on some Saturday mornings when I was little, all four of us would cram into Daddy’s old brown truck and ride to the sale barn together or to the feed store. No car seats, no booster seats…just four people wedged tight, trying to avoid the stick shift.

Those trips were still during the Jack & Jill days. Please note Katie wearing one of our old Jack & Jill t-shirts. It’s amazing how stories wrap back around and find themselves. When I was there, I’m sure no one thought about me coming back around and finding the owners’ own and marrying him and then having babies to wear my old t-shirts.

On Sunday, we all loaded up the ark and rode with Brady while he went on his usual round of cattle checking and feeding. When Beau was still just a few months old, this worked quite well: we all got out of the house and into the sun, we got time together, Beau slept in his seat, Katie was stimulated, and Mama didn’t have to lose her mind that day.

However.

Times are a-changing. He’s 9-months-old now, and guess what? Sleeping in that seat? Not interested. Not when we can barrel roll around onto our bellies the second the straps are unclipped. Not when we can push up on our toes and hang over onto Daddy’s console in the front seat. Where we throw/drop/heave toys, bottles, pacis, and socks.

One might wonder why we’re unclipping the straps at all, but when we park for the cattle feeding and checking, everybody gets a free pass from the loony bin. Seatbelts are unbuckled, and short people are allowed to roam about the Dodge. Chaos ensues.

At one point yesterday, Brady was back and forth into his seat, trying to hook up to a trailer. Beau was listening to himself talk, I was sweating and trying to hold him, and Katie was talking into a Sonic Wacky Pack toy microphone she’d found on the floor of the truck: “Daddy! Your door needs WD40!”

Are your ears bleeding? Mine were.

Oh, and the A/C broke right when we were getting in the truck to go. A smarter woman would have backed away slowly and crawled back into her house. At least with the baby.

But I’d already PACKED. We were dressed. Clean. In.

I told myself: “Self, it’ll be fine.”

It was hot, is what it was.

The baby didn’t nap, Katie started to get car sick, and Brady probably could have done without all the requests for bathroom breaks. But we did survive, and now I REALLY know that next time, the baby and I will be better off at home. At least for this season.

Wonder if I’ll listen to experience next time or just follow The Cowboy Fireman wherever he leads…even if it’s straight into disarray. Any bet-takers out there?