I Missed My Kid’s Graduation

Jun 11 2015

I missed my kid’s graduation today.

His 8th grade graduation.

His 8th grade graduation that he worked toward for 3 years.

His 8th grade graduation that he worked toward for 3 years while also negotiating expressive and receptive language disorders, crippling anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder and various other delays.

HE MADE IT THROUGH MIDDLE SCHOOL, friends, and his mama just totally blew it on the celebration end.

Blew it, blew it. Like Chernobyl.

I missed my kid’s graduation today, and I don’t even have a good excuse. I just didn’t read the emails from the school as thoroughly as I should have. It was there. In all the newsletters. I know it was, because I raced back to them today after my Facebook feed filled up with all my friends’ pictures of 8th grade graduation, hoping to find out they’d never told me so I could shift the blame. Alas, no such luck. I just… missed it.

I’ve gotta say, I feel like poo.

A giant, steaming pile o’ poo.

Mama poo.

Pffttt.

So I did what any wise, experienced, knowledgeable mama would do in my shoes.

I freaked out.

Flipped.

All woe is me and I suck ALL THE BALLS. 

And I sent my husband a delightful string of instant messages that said things like, “HOW DID WE MISS THIS?!” and “NOW WE HAVE TO BUY HIM CHINESE FOOD FOR DINNER. UGH!” and “FUCK! FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK!”

I said that last one because I am mature in the Lord.

Also, Jesus still loves me, this I know, because Jesus, historically speaking, has very low standards, and he seems to be partial to people who are a raging mess.

And then, after I was done freaking out… and after I finished apologizing to Greg for all the fucks… I calmed down and formulated a plan.

A strong plan.

A good plan.

A plan that involved Three Important Parenting Pillars, as follows:

  1. Modeling How to Apologize and Ask for Forgiveness
  2. Bribery
  3. Using This Teachable Moment to Help My Kid Learn Essential Life Skills

After I was done Implementing the Plan, I asked Ian if he’d help me make a video so we might use this situation to help educate other parents should they ever do something so awful to their kid. He agreed, and so I leave you with this:

Teaching Life Skills
by Beth and Ian Woolsey

Yours Truly,

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5 Things It Turns Out I’ll Never Be Done Learning

Jun 8 2015

I spilled chocolate protein drink on myself this morning.

I spilled chocolate protein drink on my white work blouse and down my face and in my hair; waaaay too late, of course, to go home and change.

I gave my nephew a ride to school this morning, too, because I AM AN AWESOME HUMAN BEING, and I help my family.

Also, I screamed at the spider who malevolently descended from my sun visor while I was giving the nephew a ride, scaring said nephew because he’s “not sure that’s very safe driving, Beth, to scream and close your eyes and wave your arms like that.” I was braking and pulling over because SPIDER, but did my nephew see that part? Noooooo. He just criticized the blindness and the flailing. What does he know?

I went to the drive-through ATM a few minutes later, and I nicked the concrete pole that protects the machine from People Like Me, knocking my driver’s side mirror from the car entirely, which was a little bit my fault, because, yes, I technically hit something with a part of my car, but also was definitely not at all my fault because Someone Else of the teenaged variety had already wrecked that side mirror, like, 3 years ago, and it’s been hanging on by a thread (literal thread) and super glue, so it was pre-broken, and I just finished the job like the person who opens the pickle jar after someone else tried and tried and tried and loosened it so that the buff guy gets all the undeserved credit for actually popping that sucker open. I am undeservingly credited, is what I’m saying, for knocking the side mirror off my car, and I’m happy to share the credit with others because that’s the kind of sharing, generous person I am.

All of that, plus remembering my kids get out of school for the summer on Thursday and I have no summer childcare arranged, happened before 9:00am this morning, which, let’s be honest, makes it pretty much like every other morning, full of mishaps and danger and ME, screwing stuff up, and it occurred to me this morning that I’m not very good at adulting. That, in fact, if given periodic Adulting Exams, I’d most likely fail and have my Adulting License revoked.

“Adulting” has become a verb lately, and I approve. Yes, it’s kitchsy. Yes, it’s trendy. Yes, it’s a grotesque twisting of conventional, acceptable grammar rules, using a noun as a verb. But it’s so helpful, isn’t it?

Now that I’m 40, though, I’ve figured out nearly all of us adults are merely impersonating grown-ups. I mean, I won’t say all of us; theoretically, there’s someone out there who’s a grown-up and feels like it, too. But most of us? Yep; totally faking this adult thing and a little bit amazed we don’t get caught more often with our pants down or watching our side mirrors fly away at the drive-up bank.

It’s nice being 40, man, because the pressure’s kind of off now. If I’m not a grown-up yet, I’m unlikely to become one, and realizing that is freedom. There are things in life I’ll just never be good at — things in life I’ll always be learning and will never have “learned” — and I’m grateful to know it.

And, because I love you, fellow grown-up impersonators, and I don’t want you to ever feel alone, I present to you a short list of…

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5 Things I’ve Learned I’ll Never Be Done Learning:

  1. How to Clean: I recognize that part of my problem here is an absence of motivation, and I know there are myriad how-to-clean resources available on the World Wide Webs, but I feel very confident saying I’m not ever going to fully learn how to clean things. It’s fair to say at this point in my life that washing my sheets once a week is never, ever, ever going to happen. Nope; I’ll wash my sheets once a month, maybe, if I combine just the right amount of optimism and lying to believe that’s true. And window sills? Dear Lord. Do people actually clean those? Because mine are a dead fly museum with some pretty wicked black mold in the corners to keep those fly carcasses company. Millennia from now, when future archaeologists dig up my house, they’ll create all kinds of brilliant theories on why I collected fly carcasses and what that says about our family unit. I wish I could see those reports, because, frankly, I could use an explanation.
  2. How to Have a Body: I’ve had a body for a while now. Like, as long as I’ve been alive, and a little bit before that, too, and I’ve gotta say, having a body is complicated. This thing has nooks and crannies and scratches and scars and needs. It needs stuff all the time, and I only know what those things are some of the time. This body has weight, for example, and it’s very, very good as preparing itself for a future apocalyptic starvation scenario where it needs to have the reserves to live off of body fat for months and months, but apparently no one has given it the memo that we’re not facing a Worst Case Famine Scenario here in 21st century suburban Oregon, so it’s a little behind the times. This is the body I have to navigate, and I used to think I’d figure it out eventually. HA! Now I know this body’s a life-long science experiment. Which is ultimately doomed.
  3. How to Work a Brain: I’ll be honest, my brain’s not all I was led to believe it might be when I was little. Not to belittle my mom or her parenting style, but she’s a lying liar who lies, you know? Unlimited potential, Mom? Yeah, right. Turns out, I’m not going to be a princess or the president, and, worst of all, I couldn’t actually have grown up to be a unicorn no matter how good my brain was. My brain, in fact, is a little faulty, prone to depression, and has very, very questionable judgement. Not to complain, but they should probably offer better customer service and free repairs on these things.
  4. How to Be Good at Family: Family is the best except when family is the worst, and I’m afraid I contribute to both ends of the spectrum. I’m a wonderful mom — funny, charming, engaging, involved — until I’m ragey and dysfunctional and tired and, well, not at all wonderful. And I’m a wonderful daughter, a wonderful sister, a wonderful friend and a wonderful wife in exactly the same ways because it’s important to be consistent. Yep. Sure enough. I’m wonderful. And woeful. Wonderful and weird. Wonderful and wild. And fantastic and feral and free. And triumphant and trapped. Both/And, friends. Very Both/And.
  5. How to Have Faith: Oh, Faith. Oh, Faith, you tricky bastard. Oh, Faith, who I once thought was the opposite of doubt and who I’ve since learned shelters the Doubters under her wings, and the Questioners, too, and gives Love and Light freely to all comers. Oh, Faith, who is at once both freefall and foundation, and grime and grace, and more complex and simple than I ever imagined. Oh, Faith, who I will never fully figure out or understand but whom I pursue anyway because you are as strange as you are compelling and beautiful, and, when I listen to you and not necessarily to what others say about you, I find myself drawn into the lap of God to be simply loved for all my fabulous follies and flaws.

My list, of course, could go on and on and on; thousands of thousands of things I’ll never be done learning. But this is enough for now, because I can write the list forever or go forth and live the imperfect life. I pick going forth into imperfection. And I’m inviting you to come, too.

In conclusion, I spilled chocolate protein drink on myself this morning, and I flailed blindly at a spider, and I ripped a side mirror off my car by accident and because I’m me. I will always be a mess, and there will be some things I will never figure out, and it turns out that’s OK. Which is, of course, another thing I’ll never be done learning; that I’m OK, anyway, not just despite the mess, but also because of it, for it’s inside the mess and the chaos and the madness and the mire that we find the mystery and the magic and the laughter and the grace to keep learning and keep becoming. In the end, we are all becoming; becoming, meaning in process, and becoming, meaning already beautiful. We are becoming, friends. That’s as true a truth as I know.

With love,

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P.S. If you have something to add to the list — something you’ve learned you’ll never be done learning — I’d love to hear it.

Today in Evil: I Convinced My Husband We Bought A Horse

Jun 1 2015

I don’t know what made me do it, but I’m a Christian, so I’m going to go with the Devil.

The Devil made me do it; that’s always a good excuse.

It’s just THE TEMPTATION, you guys. THE TEMPTATION OVERWHELMED ME.

I’ve heard it said God never gives us more than we can handle, but a) that’s a crap theological statement any way you slice it, and, b) more importantly, I’ll bet God wouldn’t say stuff like that if God’s husband went away for a week, took most of the children, and left her with way, WAY too much time on her hands. Time to think about buying a miniature horse, for example. And, yes, obviously time to reject buying a miniature horse because DUH. But also time to think about convincing her husband she’d bought a miniature horse anyway, because bwahahahaha; SATAN.

Idle hands are the devil’s tools. <– In the Bible, man. TRUE TRUTH.

MORE TEMPTATION THAN I COULD HANDLE, I tell you. More temptation than any woman should try to endure.

It all started innocently enough.

I just mentioned, via text, to my husband who was far, far away, that we might be able to finagle a way to buy Aden, our middle kid who adores equines, a miniature horse.

 

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Now, I didn’t mean it. I didn’t mean I really wanted to buy a horse, but Greg ignored me, which left me no choice at all but to keep texting him.

 

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Still NOTHING from Greg, so I started pinging him with the “AREN’T YOU LISTENING?” texts and the “HELLO! HellLLLOOOOOO!” texts, and then he was a poophead…

 

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…which made me realize I had to up my game.

I set to work.

I did my research.

I tattled on Greg to our teenager, Abby, who was home with me, and I led her astray.

“Abby,” I said, “Dad’s ignoring me. It’s like he really, truly believes I wouldn’t buy a horse without consulting him.”

“That’s probably because you wouldn’t buy a horse without consulting him,” she said, because she’s a jerk like her father.

“THAT IS NO EXCUSE,” I said. “It is now our job to convince him that I WOULD, TOO, impulsively buy a horse.”

“I don’t think that’s the best idea you’ve ever had,” said Abby.

And I said, “Is, too.”

And she said, “Is not.”

And I said, “THE BIBLE SAYS TO HONOR YOUR MOTHER, SO YOU HAVE TO DO WHAT I SAY OR JESUS WON’T LOVE YOU ANYMORE.”

And she said, “I’m pretty sure the Bible doesn’t say that.”

And I said, “Oh yeah? Prove it.”

And she said, “It’ll take less time if I just do what you want, won’t it?”

And I said, “Yep.”

And she said, “Fine,” which is the same as Honoring Your Mother, I think, because HOORAY! I WIN!

Thus began Abby’s text campaign to her father, which went like this:

 

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You know, there are times while you’re raising kids and you wonder if they’ll ever accept your way of life and your values and then they do stuff like this and you realize it’s all going to be OK. It’s all going to work out. Raise them up in the way they should go, and when they are old they will not depart from it.

Abby’s part concluded, I continued my quest.

 

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As you can see, Greg remained unconvinced after this barrage of texts.

Which is why it’s a good thing I have friends in my corner.

Friends who have friends.

Friends who have friends who have miniature horses.

Friends who have friends who have miniature horses they will bring to my home and pretend to sell to me.

So let it be written, so let it be done.

And it was.

Oregon Dream Ponies, whom I love and with whom I’m well pleased, showed up at our house and pretended to sell me a horse. In front of Greg. As a special “surprise” to him.

 

In conclusion, being married to me is THE BEST.

With love,

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RubySurpriseP.S. Greg didn’t get to keep the pony, but he did get a rad Oregon Dream Ponies t-shirt.

P.P.S. No children or ponies were harmed in the making of this practical joke. The kids were all in on in and thought it was HILARIOUS. Actually, I’m not sure the pony was in on the joke, so her feelings were probably hurt when she didn’t get to stay with us. AMENDMENT: No children or ponies were physically harmed in the making of this practical joke. Also, new motto for this site = Raising children and ponies to be self-sufficient enough to someday pay for their own counseling.

P.P.P.S. This post isn’t sponsored by Oregon Dream Ponies, and blah blah blah. I don’t do sponsored posts here. Kim at ODP is just really cool people willing to haul a tiny pony to a crazy woman’s house to help her torture her husband. Now, if that’s not True Community, I don’t know what is.

P.P.P.P.S. I’m thinking “In conclusion, being married to me is THE BEST” should be a new, regular series around here. The other time that was my conclusion was the day I pooped my closet. That Greg’s a lucky guy.

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Video credit Nate Macy: I think we can all agree he has the very best taste in background music.

If You Give a Kid a Sharpie

May 25 2015

Let me paint a picture for you.

Imagine this:

Let’s say the heating element in your dishwasher bends.

Bends over.

Over and down.

Like Downward Facing Dog if your dishwasher’s heating element knows yoga, which mine, apparently, does.

No one knows how that happened.

You know no one knows because you asked.

A kid shoving a dog in the dishwasher?

Siblings giving each other rides on the bottom rack?

Small beasts packing the dishwasher with their mother’s cast iron skillets and decorative lawn rocks to “see how much that box can hold?”

Who knows for sure?

It’s impossible to say.

There’s enough denial to circle the Earth at least 5 times.

Nevertheless, let’s say the heating element in your dishwasher bends.

Know what happens next?

I didn’t, either.

But I do now.

If the heating element in your dishwasher bends, it melts a hole in the plastic dishwasher tub.

That’s what happens next.

And, FYI, if a hole melts in the plastic dishwasher tub, the water doesn’t stay inside your dishwasher.

It sure doesn’t.

Nope.

If a hole melts in the plastic dishwasher tub, the water runs out of your dishwasher through the hole.

It does.

It runs right out of that hole.

But do you know the water is running out of your dishwasher?

No. No, of course you don’t.

Because no one mentioned shoving the dog in the dishwasher “because he likes to lick stuff in there.”

And no one mentioned the joy rides on the bottom rack.

And no one mentioned seeing how much stuff — like iron and rocks — could fit into that box.

So you didn’t know the heating element had bent.

And you didn’t know about the melted hole.

And you didn’t know about the gallons of dirty dish water flooding day after day and week after week under your floor and into the subfloor until you noticed the laminate, bubbling from underneath.

Eventually, though — eventually — you think to yourself that something might be amiss, what with the squishy floor and the bubbles and the new hills and valleys which are perfect for your boys to have matchbox car races and for you to trip next to the stove while hot things like off-brand mac and cheese are cooking away.

Yes, you realize something might be amiss, and you think you Ought to Do Something About That Squishy Floor, but Oh My Gosh, you guys. Oh my gosh. Because even when things Ought to Be Done, there’s still laundry and work and homework and feeding children and forgetting to make them bathe and a thousand Other Things to do, instead.

You have a thousand thousand Other Things to do, so, by the time you consider replacing the laminate on your own, and your neighbors remind you you have home-owner’s insurance, and you’re all, “oh yeahthat’s what insurance is for,” and you call your insurance company, and they call the water mitigation service, and the water mitigation service arrives and starts using words like “saturated” and “destroyed” and “total loss,” you realize you’re going to have replace everything. The entire floor.

IMG_3719You live the next two months with your floor in tatters and enormous fans blowing and making calls to and from (and from and to) the various companies trying to fix the things you’ve wrecked, until you get The Call. The CALL. The Call You’ve Been Waiting For! The call that says, “We’ll be there tomorrow to replace the floors.”

You are grateful.

You are delirious!

You can prove you’re delirious, in fact, because you hand your children Sharpies — permanent markers, in other words — and you tell them to Have At It. “GO FOR IT,” you say. “Draw on the floor! HAVE A BLAST. Those floors are getting ripped up tomorrow, kids.”

And so they do.

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They draw away.

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They have a blast.

They draw some things you expect, like monsters.

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And some things you don’t expect, like Odes to Bob.

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Final Resting Place
R.I.P.

Rest In Peace
This is were Bob
lies ded. he was a 
good person. Bob lived
a long good life.
he had some odd
feachers.
HE’S DED.
This is wat’s
left of his
peenes.

They make social commentaries, like this, which they wrote in front of our TV:

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This is were we whatch things.
This is were our brains rot.

And show an affinity for human anatomy, which we’ve already discussed.

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Of course, as soon as your children finish their works of art, you’ll get another call. One that says, “Actually, we can’t replace the floors ’til next week,” which means you’ll have your old floors while you throw a party or two, and your mom-in-law will come over, and she’ll see your floor decorations, and you’ll shrug your shoulders at her, and you’ll thank God she knows how to giggle.

Yes, this is what happens if the heating element in your dishwasher bends and if you give your kids a Sharpie.

And in the end, you’ll decide it was all worth it.

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My Husband Keeps Trying to Have Sex With Me

May 19 2015

My husband keeps trying to have sex with me.

For example, he cleaned off six shelves in our living room last night. Like, sorting stuff and organizing it and getting rid of crap we don’t need.

I know, you guys. I know.

That’s pretty extreme all by itself, but desperate people sometimes take desperate measures.

But wait! There’s MORE.

Our 2nd grader, Cael, keeps having anxiety attacks about his bear. Although Cael didn’t want to be separated from Beary, he also didn’t want to take Beary to school in his backpack because the school might burn down and he might not be able to get Beary out in time. I’d be concerned about his level of anxiety, irrational worry and general paranoia, except I don’t let my kids put their beds in front of the windows because, if I do, then I’ll be responsible when they to bleed to death after either a) the Big Quake hits or b) the burglar breaks in, shattering the window in a gazillion pieces, one of which will inevitably hit an artery. Protecting Beary from the inevitable school fire? That just makes sense. So, instead of taking Beary to school or leaving Beary home to get mauled by our dogs, my kid entrusted Beary to his dad.

Now, Greg could’ve done any number of things with Beary.

Shoved him in a briefcase.

Threw him in the trunk.

Forgotten him at home.

But no.

My husband is a wise, wise man after 20 years of marriage, so he took that bear to work with him and started sending me pictures.

Pictures ostensibly for our son.

Pictures like this:

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And this:

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And this:

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Which are ADORABLE. And heartwarming. And endearing. And, well, are more likely to result in what we shall call Positive Reinforcement than, say, pinching my butt on the way up the stairs or groping my boob.

In conclusion, Well played, Greg. Well played.

P.S.

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Keeping It Real

May 11 2015

Keeping It Real

“Keeping It Real.”

That is, perhaps, the stupidest name ever for one of my blog posts. EVER ever. Because when do I not keep it real around here? I mean, really.

It’s just, even though I don’t have time to write you All the Details right now, and even though I plan to write you All the Details soon, I need you to know we moved our couch yesterday.

We moved our couch yesterday, which is Always A Mistake.

We moved our couch yesterday after 18 months of Not Moving Our Couch.

We moved our couch yesterday, even though we Know Better.

We moved our couch yesterday, and this is what we found.

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And this:

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And this:

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I just thought you should know.

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P.S. I also think you should know this:

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You know, in case you run across one of those things. Then you’ll know what it is.

P.P.S. That drawing is on my living room floor.

 

On Being Smudgy

May 6 2015

I wrote you a real letter today. On paper and everything. And it’s dated two days ago because that’s how long it took me to finish it. That’s OK, though. I think you’ll understand.

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