Santa is a stalker

It’s that’s time of year again —

Middle School Carpool

#middleschoolcarpool
 

Kid 1: Sometimes when I fart my mom says it sounds wet — but it really ISN’T — it just SOUNDS that way.

Kid 2: That song, “Let It Go” is really about someone who has to go to the bathroom really bad!

(three kids break out in song and laughter)

Kid 1: I think Santa is a stalker.  I mean think about it “he sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake, he knows if you’ve been bad or good….” I mean really … that’s CREEPY!

ROARING laughter over Santa being a stalker. R-O-A-R-I-N-G, I tell you.

But the good news for me is that it was only a 1-window afternoon.  Just a tiny bit of stink.  That’s miracle territory considering it was 97 degrees when I picked them up. Thank you Jesus that we didn’t have to experience a “wet fart.”  God help me.

Disclaimer: Contrary to popular belief, the wet fart kid was not mine.

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what the heck are we doing?

 

I should be more like ____, because she is obviously making a difference in people’s lives.

Ever thought that to yourself?
It’s hard NOT to when we have some impressive Christian women opening our eyes to MAJOR world issues and PS: it’s all over Facebook and Twitter.

Here’s what I know about myself:

  • The ministry role I am in at our church is EXACTLY where I’m supposed to be and I am crazy under-qualified (is that a word?) for this role.
  • I’m spending time with my family and making memories.
  • I’m stretching myself with theology books that are WAY over my head.
  • I have scheduled exercise days so that the week doesn’t fly by without some sweat (I mean on-purpose sweat … not Texas sweat) and often times I am out for a bike ride with my husband, talking while we sweat.
  • My son is DIGGING his role on the kids worship team at church.
  • I’m quilting when I can squeeze it in.

My list sucks compared to _______’s list.
Why do we feel like we need a “next big thing” when clearly God is at work with some pretty big things already.  Why do we compare ourselves to others who are called to DIFFERENT things than we are?  Have I gotten so used to rushing from one thing to the next that I have forgotten how to find joy in all the things I AM ACTUALLY DOING?

God has called me to:

  1. Be a wife … check, doing that and screwing it up sometimes with my mouth… and apparently I have a “face” that I make. Crap, I just made the face while I thought about the face.
  2. Be a mom … check, doing that and watching my kid grow out of one stage and dance his way into another (literally — if I could attach a video from Instagram here, I would)
  3. Be in ministry... check, doing that and I cannot believe He would choose me to serve in this way – WOAH Nelly.
  4. GROW in my faith … check, doing that through a summer class that continues to kick me around while I’m on the ground with my dictionary and a flashlight moaning “I have no idea what that word means!!!!”
  5. Be creative … check, doing that through quilting both alone and with my mom.
  6. Treat my body well … check, doing that except for when my coworkers tell me there is amazing CAKE in the fridge at church.  (You know who you are and I know where you live) 
  7. Laugh/Love… check, doing that so often that I’m aging my face with laugh lines.
  8. Pray… check, can’t STOP doing this!
  9. Worship… check, my favorite place to be.  I would listen to all three services if I had the time and if it wouldn’t make my family make “the face.”
  10. Experience hardship … check, not my favorite thing by far but I am constantly learning from the things in my not-so-distant-past that either I screwed up or were outside my control.

So what the heck am I doing?

  • I’m not on a plane to Africa.
  • I’m not opening my home to people who can’t get their feet under themselves.
  • I’m not handing out my lunch to the homeless each day.
  • I’m not doing all these “amazing” things you hear about on Facebook.

But don’t be mistaken, just because I’m not on a place to Africa it doesn’t mean He hasn’t called me to do things that are BIG, to do things I don’t understand, and ask me to walk in faith to follow Him.  And for the record, I also have a list of things I feel Him calling me to – and I’m trying to find the courage to JUMP into His will through faith in Him alone.  But that’s a whole other blog post.

(PS: I’m secretly terrified that He will call me to Uganda, because holy-hand-sanitizer I have first world OCD issues.)

I am doing the AMAZING and TERRIFYING things He has called me to do. I don’t have to be like _______.  I was never meant to be like her anyway.  I was given my own scavenger hunt, my own terrifying task list that require 100% faith and 100% obedience.

You weren’t meant to be like her either.  You were wonderfully and beautifully made in God’s image.  Noah and Abraham were called to two VERY different things.  Mary and Eve?  Different things.  You and me?  Different things.

Be happy for _______ for following God’s prompting in her life.
And get fired up about the things He has called YOU to do!

THAT…. THAT is what we are doing.
Startiiiiing….. now.

 

 

the cool mom

image (11)
yes – that’s a cat poster in the background of my middle school son’s room — don’t judge, we love cats!

I always wanted to be the cool mom, but let’s face it — it’s HARD WORK to be the cool mom.  You have to endure loud kids, who are almost always smelly.  You have to endure conversations that make you want to scream “NEITHER OF YOU ARE RIGHT, SO QUIT ARGUING!”  You might even have to endure the occassional projectile sneeze… just keeping it real, folks.

When chronic pain decided to set up camp in my body, being the cool mom was the least of my worries.  I could’ve cared less what my kid’s friends thought of me, but I did still secretly want to be the mom that MY kid adored and cherished because I had “cool” qualities.  So this school year I decided to do things a little differently.

I decided to be the carpool mom.
With 4 middle school boys in the car.
Every single school day.
Yes, I have reevaluated this decision multiple times.

Some days I lock out the window buttons so I can control how much longer we keep them all down on the highway.  Some days I hum to myself to block out the high-pitched-not-yet-matured-screeching-voices.  Sometimes I think the Vice Principal thinks I’m high or drunk because I just smile while the 4 boys stand outside of the minivan and fight over who is going to sit where. (Yesterday I lost my cool and SHOUTED at them while I was trying to move up and they were all trying to get in!  One of the teachers laughed hysterically.  It’s ok lady, I know you think I’m one shoelace away from the nuthouse.) 

But guess what else happens sometimes?

Sometimes I have tears in my eyes (not from the smell… well, maybe from that too) because they are hysterical and tell the funniest jokes!  Sometimes I am so incredibly touched by the way they console each other after a bad grade or losing something precious to them at school.  Sometimes I “go there” with them and entertain fart jokes and even fart apps.  On Fridays we have “Fun Drink Friday” and I treat them to a Slurpee or fountain drink at 7-11.

Over time, without even knowing it — I started to become the cool mom in the eyes of my son.  He offers other kids a ride home because he knows there’s some fun to be had in our minivan.  I hear the boys telling their friends “It’s FRIDAY — do you know what that means in OUR carpool?!?!?”  I’ve gotten to hear about the ins and outs of what’s happening in Middle School without having to BE there to endure 700 middle schoolers… just 4.  And for the record, God bless Middle School teachers — can we all take a knee for a moment and lift them in prayer?

My son and I started reading Doctor Proctor’s Fart Powder together and I “get” the majority of the humor after hanging with “my boys” each day for 30+ minutes.  Last night we had dinner with my parents and when I saw the look on my son’s face when he shared (at the dinner table no less) what we have been reading together — it wasn’t a look of “look what I’m getting away with!” — it was a look of “my mom is SO cool because she reads this with me!”  … and I think part of me is still at Scotty P’s in a puddle on the floor because I melted when I saw that look on his face.

  • Be a hero in your kid’s life.
  • “Go there” with their humor sometimes so you can understand where they are in their lives.
  • Set boundaries (we have already had to pull over twice this year in carpool!) because kids then know where the safe zone is and they RELISH it!

And if you sign up to be the carpool mom just have your phone handy to record some amazingly hysterical audio.  One of my favorite conversations revolved around college savings accounts.  Apparently every kid has one, and college is already paid for!  — My husband and I just laughed and rolled our eyes (yes, I have an audio recording of that conversation).  Sorry son, yes – you have a college savings account but dear child, only ONE SEMESTER is paid for!  HAHAHAHA!  What kind of degree do you think he can get after one semester?  Hmmmm, maybe that’s conversation for Fun Drink Friday today!

Go forth and be cool.
If you’re already cool, tell us about it!  What do you do that makes you the cool mom? (or dad)

the roller coaster of chronic pain

 

I live with chronic pain.  While my husband doesn’t physically have chronic pain, he too has to live with it. He lives with mine. Neither of us got manuals on how to live with this incredibly unfortunate disease, and sometimes that shows.  We think we are in a good rhythm and then our roller coaster cars drop from the highest peak and take us screaming through tight turns and unexpected plunges.

We just want off the roller coaster.  Amen?

From my perspective, here’s where my ticket to ride stems from:

  • I think I can handle more, so I take on more.  And then … I can’t handle it.  I panic.  Then I get sad.  Usually my over-commitment comes in the form of wanting to bring in more money so my husband doesn’t pass out from exhaustion.
  • I feel like I have already given up so much of what used to make up my “normal” life, that I cling to the last few things I do/have until my knuckles turn white.
  • My joy can be depleted on day 3 of immense pain – and then I am a grumpasaurus rex to my family, complete with drooling and teeth baring.

And here’s where my husband’s ticket to ride comes into play:

  • He wants to be helpful but he. is. exhausted.  He is working full-time (and then some for extra money), he cooks, he makes lunches, he does laundry, he cleans, he mows, he does repairs on the house, and sometimes he actually gets to go out with a friend for guy time.
  • He never knows what kind of day I’m having, therefore he never knows what he will be walking in the door to find after work, which is totally not fair and makes him put on a defensive suit somewhere between his truck and the door to the house.
  • He sees my tennis match of emotions (back and forth, back and forth) and he so badly wants me to just figure out that I’m different now and I have to act in accordance with my limitations.

Hold the phone.
I have limitations?

For the love of all things chronic – if you’re reading this and you suffer from chronic pain, YOU HAVE LIMITATIONS!  And guess what, if you’re reading this and you don’t suffer from chronic pain, YOU HAVE LIMITATIONS!

Why do I sometimes think I can do it all?  And I mean all.  It is usually about the time I am half-way through my grocery list in the store when the fatigue slams me, my feet start to spasm, and I have this overwhelming feeling to lay down on the packages of toilet paper on the shelf when I realize — “oh crap, I did it again.”

I want off this ride.
I didn’t ask to ride.
I want this ticket revoked!

Tough circus peanuts.  These are the cards I have been dealt.  I, Ann Skaehill, have fibromyalgia and a weak immune system.  I think it’s fair to say, this roller coaster is here to stay and it’s time for me to grow up and accept it.  I need to appreciate and care for my family FIRST before I fill my schedule with things that make me feel good about myself.  I need to be grateful for medications that can help with a few issues and TAKE THEM.  (Lord have mercy, medication is a whole blog post in itself!)

I’m getting there, but I’m not there yet.  I think if I can embrace this new reality more firmly, then the turns and drops on the roller coaster won’t be so alarming or drastic.  For me, or my husband.

Two days ago my 10-year-old son said, “Hey mom?  You know how sometimes you just get so mad at me for things I do or should have done?  … Well, maybe you can start giving me a sign that I should go in another room.  Why don’t you blink four times and I’ll take off running!”

Ouch.

Reality check.  When I open my mouth to speak, my son is flinching and expecting the worst.  That is a huge problem that I have addressed over the past 2 days with him.  Grumpasaurus rex may still appear from time to time, but I’m working towards her extinction.  Ain’t nobody got time for the damage a dinosaur makes in the modern age.

Today is a new day, and the Bible tells us in Psalm 30:5 that joy comes in the morning.  Embrace your clean slate, and make wise choices today.  First on my list? Washing all the sheets in the house and ensuring my family has good food to eat.  What should be first on your list today?

united we argue

 

Last week I got that call that every mother dreads… the school called to tell me that my son was injured and needed to go to the doctor.  Turns out he tried to display some fancy footwork with a soccer ball and it backfired on him resulting in a full blown head bash into a brick wall.  I know, we don’t do anything simple around here – we like to keep my husband on his toes.

I don’t typically panic when my son is hurt or having an asthma attack – I’m very calm and careful to drive the speed limit and so on.  But there was one major problem on this particular day.  I didn’t have a car.  It was in the shop.

No problem, I texted my husband and said, ” I need you, please call me right away… I am ok.” —> I’ve made the mistake of freaking him out before with a vague text so now I know to include “I’m ok” in there so he doesn’t send squads and ambulances to the house!

He called back all frustrated at me and had an … “elevated” tone in his voice, “I’m BUSY — what is it?!?!?”
“William hit his head at school and he needs to get to a doctor.  They think he might have a concussion.”

His next response COULD have sent me into an emotional spiral — but because I know how much he loves us AND how critical is position is at work — I was able to take it in stride.  He said, “You’re going to have to figure it out – I absolutely CANNOT leave at this moment in time. Keep me up to speed via text, I can’t answer my phone again.”

This is where I am reminded that when we got married over 13 years ago, we UNITED together… which means we have each other’s backs.  Even when tension is high, if I am sick, he is busy, or our son is throwing an all out fit… I know deep down he isn’t being mean and hurtful and he knows the same about me.

But that doesn’t mean we don’t need helmets sometimes when we go head to head!  I’m no June Cleaver!

Our amazing neighbor was kind enough to take me to the school, and then drive 20 minutes in the opposite direction to get my car.  I talked to the doctor and it turned out that we had to go to Children’s Hospital.   I kept sending updates to my husband via text and he barely answered at all.  But to my surprise, my husband came around the corner with a smile across his face just as we got out of the car

I knew he would get there as soon as he could and I returned the smile.  All focus was on now on our kiddo, just as it should have been.

But – can you imagine how differently the scenario could have played out had I taken his words personally and carried around my offended carnage that afternoon?  When he showed up at the hospital “united” isn’t exactly how we would be feeling.

In the end, all that mattered was that our son was just fine and after about 4 hours it was as though he just snapped out of it and was back to laughing at his own farts (a sure sign that your son is back to himself).  As my husband and I waited hand-in-hand at the hospital he was able to tell me about his day in a non-defensive manner and I could see EXACTLY why there was absolutely no way he could have left the very moment I called.

That night we went to check on William after he zonked out and he said, “I’m so sorry I couldn’t be there today – it was stressing me out that I couldn’t leave!”

And without any disdain I was able to say, “I knew you would get there as soon as you could!”

Are all of our interactions as grace-filled as this one?
HECK NO!  Oh my gosh —- just… no.  And for crying out loud please don’t put me on a pedestal because with my history I will fall off and break something!

This is as much a reminder to me as it is to you — that when you’re married, it’s your responsibility to be UNITED. Even if it means setting your frustration to the side so you can see the whole picture.

just … stop.

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When I was a kid my mom didn’t use the phrase “time out.”  In fact it was a phrase typically used at basketball practice or when my dad would scream at the TV during a Hawkeyes football game (yes, I’m from Iowa — no, I’m not an Iowa State fan — but for the record, I don’t root for the Hawkeyes either).  Honestly, I don’t even remember my mom shooing us away so she could take a “mommy time out” and search for her sanity.  She was pretty even keeled.

She sighed more than she yelled, but for the record I would have preferred yelling.  Sighing just leaves you hanging … like “what is she thinking?”  My mom rolled with the punches and went to band concerts, volleyball games, softball games, basketball games, plays and girl scout meetings.  I’m one of three girls; we were involved in a lot of stuff!  I also don’t ever remember her complaining that she didn’t have time for herself.

Why am I sharing all of this with you?  Because I can’t help but wonder what has changed.  Now I constantly hear these words coming out of my mouth, “If I just had an hour to myself!!!!!” … interesting that I never finish that thought, I just leave it hanging… kind of like my mom’s sighs.  (my sisters are making our mom’s sigh-sound as they read this — that’s how impactful her sighs were!)

I’m calling a time out on myself.

I refuse to read another book about what I should be doing until I figure out what I’m going to STOP doing.  I think the first thing to go is this belief that I have to have an hour to myself especially when everyone is home from their busy days — says who?  God gave me this great kid and amazing husband and all I do is crave time to myself?!?!?!  Um… that’s a bit twisted.  Afterall, I couldn’t wait to get married, and I prayed and prayed that the infertility treatments would work despite my medical issues so that I could have a child to love and care for — and sorry for my transparency but, I think I’m sort of pissing it all away. (I take that back, I’m not sorry for my transparency)

I love my phone.
You guys know this already. And though I am temped to give you a list of things justifying my idolatry towards this piece of technology, I will just let it be.  Even though it’s killing me a little inside.

But do I LOVE my family?

So what if I don’t get to the next level of Candy Crush (for the record, I have not touched Candy Crush since I gave it up for … well not Lent but for Jen Hatmaker… I mean for ME).  So what if I don’t get a pedicure.  So what if I don’t finish reading all the posts on Facebook.  So what if I don’t gab with my friend for an hour about all the funny things that happened this week.

Moderation is the key… I dislike that word, it reminds me that I have to eat in moderation and that bugs me because I love food.

Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh.

I think it’s incredibly important that we model good friendships to our children and that we go out and enjoy ourselves with friends when the opportunity arises.  I think it’s incredibly important to have time away from our spouses so that we have fresh and fun things to talk about.  I think it’s important to stay connected to long time friends and even current friends — but ya’ll — I’ve been doing it wrong.  It should be God, family, friends (and everything else).  So an hour in the morning reading scripture or my bible study books?  Totally legit.  Or an hour having coffee with a friend while everyone is gone doing his own thing?  No problem.  An hour on the couch scrolling through Twitter while my son is glued to the television…. dude.  Right. Between. The ii’s. (for iPhone and iPad… see what I did there with the…. see the i’s… nevermind)

I know I just blogged about this the other day, but this whole idea of having a list of things I am going to STOP doing seems much more inviting than a list of things I am going to START doing.  It reminds me of New Year’s when everyone has these lists of cool things they are going to conquer, and by February they don’t even know where the list is.  I don’t want to be that person.

So what are you going to stop doing?

I have another game to delete from my phone, I can tell you that right now…
Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh.

i use 2 text & dri…

This is Keian.  He is 15 in this picture.  Handsome, isn’t he?  He is taking the typical teen selfie — ok who am I kidding, even adults do this now!  He is taking the typical selfie pic with his phone in the mirror probably before he heads out the door for school.

photo from kvia.com
photo from kvia.com

Keian’s mom, Marcy was taking her kids to school on October 31st, 2012.  She dropped off her two sweet girls and probably gave them all kinds of tender advice for their day.  Then it was time to take Keian to the High School.

But they never made it to the High School.

A 21-year-old woman was headed the opposite direction as they were, and it appears from the investigations that she was texting and driving.  I do that all the time.

“Yes, on my way.”  or …
“UGH – I know! Boys are so crazy!” or …
“K, will email it to you when I get home.” or …
“On my way to the store, need anything?”

I can type pretty fast with my right thumb.  I was actually disappointed when we upgraded to iPhones because I was a beast with my old phone.  I could feel the buttons with my thumb and could text without even looking… 4 … 555…666…888…33…88  (I love you).  I had the keypad memorized.  Easy-peasy.

I’m careful to only text when I’m not in a huge pack of cars on the highway, or when I’m at a stoplight — ooops, it’s green!, and I only text in neighborhoods after I’ve made sure no kids are around.

Is this transparency making you cringe?  It’s all truth.  And I am embarrassed to admit it all, but hey, I’ve never been in a texting related accident so clearly I know how to do it.

That 21-year-old female in New Mexico driving to work or home or to see her mom or wherever she was heading — I bet she had never been in a texting related accident either.  But that day, her actions ended up killing Marcy and Keian.

Their family never saw them again.

I wish you could see my cursor blinking right now, and hear my heart pounding, and see the tears pooling in my eyes.

I don’t want to be responsible for a Marcy and a Keian not making it to school, or even worse, not making it to the dinner table to laugh and pray with their family.  Their family will never go on another family vacation without feeling the weight of the two people missing from their car.  They will never go to another restaurant and ask for a table for 3 without thinking “it used to be a table for 5.”  I don’t want to sit in a courtroom and hear how thoughtless and selfish my actions were that ripped a loving and tender mother away from her daughters… and took a dad’s only son from his life … forever.

Not to mention how it would impact my own family.  My son would grow up without me and I would be in a cell in some prison looking at his pictures and reading every letter over and over and over again.  I wouldn’t be able to teach him how to drive, or be there for his High School prom, or graduation, or college years.  I might not be there when he gets married, and would be giddy to see the wedding pictures that come in the mail to my cell…. and I don’t mean phone…  wait, would he even want a relationship with me anymore? Would I even get pictures and letters?  My husband would struggle with the choice to stay married to me, a killer.  We wouldn’t snuggle in bed and laugh at stupid commercials together…  I would ruin all of that for my family.

I’ve been texting and driving for at least 7 years if not more.  With my son in the car.  On highways.  In neighborhoods.  In parking lots… all because I thought my messages were incredibly important and couldn’t wait.

But the message of taking someone’s life because I needed you to know I will email you when I get home?  That’s a message I don’t ever want to send….

It can wait.

Click on that link above to take the pledge with me.  Stop texting and driving – TODAY.  Write Marcy and Keian on your steering wheel if you need to. Just stop.  I’m on my 8th day of no texting and driving — and it isn’t easy to break a 7+ year habit, but taking someone else’s life isn’t something I can live with…. waiting to send that text is TOTALLY something I can live with.  Thanks to my friend Beth, who knew Marcy and Keian, my perspective has changed.

Leave a comment if you will take the pledge with me.
No judgement.
Just grace.

Because I’ve taken the pledge before and failed — and I need to know there are others out there who will stand with me and will make the change with me too.