Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The making of me...part 1 of who knows how many.

So, the other day I was pondering some of the comments made to me both in person and via social media regarding some of the things I do for and with my family.  Things like cooking, crafting, moving to the country, chilling and keeping the calendar open all seem to draw mixed reviews from folks.  Some people totally get it, enjoy the same things, and are like "right on sista".  I love you people.  Never, ever go away.

Then, there are some who like to pretend like the things I do are unattainable, and for me to be able to do these things, I must a.) be neglecting more important things, b.) possess superpowers, c.) be striving for perfection, or d.) have unlimited time to do whatever I fancy because I'm a homemaker.  I love you people, too.  But, I wish you wouldn't think those things because they're soooo not true.

It's easy for me to feel the need to defend myself from some of the crappy comments that are thrown my way.  I bristle pretty easily.  But, in my young 30 years of life, I've seen how abrasive and unapproachable a defensive spirit towards others is.  Very rarely is a person's opinion changed by one's attempts to defend herself.

No, I know from experience this is not the way to go when trying to share my guts...my soul.  But do you know what is?

Transparency.  Transparency is the way to go when you really want folks to know you.  The why's?  The how's? They're all revealed through an open, transparent spirit...not a defensive one.

So, instead of leading off by going down a list of topics I feel the need to justify, to defend, I'll share my life story with you.  All of it...or at least as much of it as I can recall.  I have one of the worst memories known to man...ask my husband.  I feel there's a need for us to really know each other.  It offers sooooo much perspective as to why we are the way we are and why we do what we do.  It removes judgement and makes room for understanding.  For solidarity in our stories.

I have no idea how long it will take me to relate my story to you.  This is something some of you won't care about at all.  That's fine.  There are some of you who will be able to say "hey, she's more like me than I thought."  That's great.  That's the goal.  Stories and lives shared creates community.  Community fosters love and caring for and about others' needs, hurts, and victories.  It spurs on empathy.  It compels us to act.  All.  Good.  Stuff.

So, here goes nothin'.

In February of 1984 I was born to two young parents who weren't a full year out of high school.  My mom stayed home with me in a small apartment which was comprised mostly of low to mid/low income people in Pearl, MS.  My dad worked hard, manual jobs that first kept him outside in the heat and dirt all day, and later on kept him 100+ degree attics all day.  It would be years later before I found out both of my parents turned down scholarships and opportunities so they could get married and take care of me.  I don't remember much, if anything, about those years.  I know when I look back at the pictures, my dad looks tired, my mom looks sleep deprived, and I look happy.  I was never dressed in the latest fashions in those photos.  There were lots of brightly colored socks and jelly shoe combinations.  It would appear that I liked to dress myself , much like a head-strong little girl I know today.  I had fire engine red hair, and my mom said I was the worst sleeper.  Ever.  Oh, I also know at one point I had a pet rabbit in that apartment which liked to try and drink out of the toilet.  Apparently, it didn't go very well for that rabbit.

When I was 18'ish months (I'm doing the best I can with dates and ages here, people), I had a major infection in my left ear.  After many appointments and antibiotics, it was decided I needed surgery.  The surgery left me with an indention behind my left ear that always makes fitting new glasses tricky, and it left my already broke parents with major medical debt.  I can remember being close to my teens before that bill was paid in full.

According to the photos, it looks like I was pretty much spoiled rotten.  My dad's mom, my granny, lived close-by during this time of my life, and she let me play in make-up, clothes, and curlers to my little heart's content.

Like I said, dates are fuzzy, but somewhere around the age of three or four, we moved out to the country (Pelahatchie) into an old mobile home.  And I do mean old.  All of the walls were thin, knotty pine look-a-like paneling, and the floors were a mis-mash of linoleum tiles.  I had inch long grass green shag carpet in my closet.  I also recall there being a small hole in one of my bedroom windows where one of my uncles shot a bb through it when they lived in the trailer as kids.  I slept in a bed my mom had used growing up.  It even had the same comforter on it.

The trailer was parked on land owned by my dad's side of the family and right down the hill from my Granny Bo Bo.   For a couple of years I went to daycare  25 minutes away in Pearl with my sister, who is four years younger than me.  Again, I'm mostly relying on photos here, but I was apparently a pretty good big sister.  There are pics of me taking my infant sister on picnics in the yard, which clearly I orchestrated all by myself.  Go me.

My mom worked at Wal-Mart in the ladies' wear department.  I can remember when the daycare would call her because I was sick, I'd get to go hang out at the store in the fitting room area and hide in the clothing racks.  This was before I knew anything about a "mall", so in my book, my mom pretty much had the most glamorous job ever.  Heck, I even got to be in "fashion shows" at the store when they used to do things like that.  Yeah, I was pretty much the stuff.  I stayed at that daycare through kindergarten because public kindergarten was just being put into place during that time.  My teacher there was a super sweet Hispanic lady who taught us to count to twenty in Spanish.  Pretty much the only other thing I remember from kindergarten was her telling us one day her house was struck by lightning.  That didn't go over so well for a young girl living in a small, metal trailer.  I do recall playing the roll of a teacher in a Christmas play.  My hair had been curled by my granny, I wore an emerald green dress, and I straight up tripped and fell over some kids sitting on the floor...during the middle of the play.  How embarrassing.  Oh, and I had a major crush on a boy I seem to recall kissing on the playground.  Sorry K...guess it wasn't very memorable.

Once I started first grade, I started riding the bus and staying with my Granny Bo Bo after school.  She lived in a what I then considered a big, blue house.  Honestly, this was pretty much my first experience with spending much time outside of an apartment or trailer at this point in my life, so a 3/1 house was awesome to me.  It had a concrete porch that spanned the whole front, with a swing and two rocking chairs.  There was no central air or heat.  A single window unit in the dining room and an attic fan in the hallway were the only sources of cool "ish" air in the hot Mississippi summers.  At this point, my Granny Bo Bo (I'm gonna call her GBB from here on out...ok?) was in her 60's, and the woman just about didn't stop.  She was always cooking, canning, sewing, gardening...something.  When I got off the bus, I'd usually get a no-frills snack, and I was expected to head on outside, where she was most of the time anyway.  Some of the time, she'd have something in particular for me to do like taking the dry laundry off the line or helping in the garden.  On the days she was indoors sewing herself a new dress or working on a quilt, I'd get to use her scraps and buttons to make my own little creations.

The first things I ever sewed were Barbie clothes.  They started out super basic, but over time evolved into things I actually used the machine for and not just a needle and thread.  I believe at one point I had 30 or more Barbies, many of them clad (some scantily clad) in my latest couture.  My sister was still too young to do anything other than mess up my Barbies at this point, so I remember spending many hours in my room planning and executing elaborate Barbie weddings and parties.

I enjoyed creating and working solo both in and out of school.  Many of my summers were spent on the swing of that big porch or under her quilt frame reading R.L. Stine books.  I could easily read a book per day if it was raining and I didn't have tasks to tend to outside.  I'd often turn on the clamp light on my headboard and read well into the night, way past my bedtime.  At school, I'd usually opt to work on an activity by myself, or I'd get so frustrated by the others in my group, I'd just end up doing it all myself and letting them pass it off as a group effort.  I started out doing this very young, and not much changed through the high school years.

In school, I always seemed to get the "hard" teachers.  Seriously.  Every.  Single.  Grade.  I also never seemed to be in the same class as my two friends, A and K.  In first and second grade, my teachers were sisters with reputations for being mean.  Annnd they went to my church.  They both used their eyes to get their points across.  There was the bug-eyed "OMG I'm going to strangle you with my bare hands if you don't stop doing whatever you're doing" glare, and there was the slit-eyed "I dare you to do that again" stare.  According to my kids, I'm fluent in eye communication, just like these teachers were.  I also recall my pop, my dad's father, telling me one time I could kill with my eyes.  During the younger years, I usually reserved those eyes for people I didn't really know or didn't really trust.  That would explain why he experienced them.  He was just never around.

For most of my life, the only adults who were regularly in the picture were my parents, my GBB, and my mom's dad and step-mom who lived in Vicksburg.  We would go to their home several times a year, and they would come to visit us every now and then.  I loved their house there.  It was a large house he'd built himself.  The majority of the interior was paneled and floored in wood he'd cut in his saw mill up the driveway.  When it was cold, there was a black wood stove on the lower level, under the stairs, that heated the entire house.  There were acres and acres to explore, and there was always, always good food, and plenty of it.  My paw paw hunted a lot, so there were heads mounted on the wall, and deer or elk meat was included in the menu at every gathering.  Since there were ten kids between the two of them, the house was always full on holidays.  I often heard that they had plenty of money, but could never tell.  Their house was large, but it was in no way elaborate.  Their vehicles were always used, and my paw paw still wears the same threadbare snap up shirts and faded jeans he's worn since I can remember.  I have always trusted the words that come out of that man's mouth as much or more than those from either of my parents or anyone else I hold in high regard.  He's a smart man, but his words are so simple and down to earth.  I remember loving his hugs so much as a child because I could tell from how hard he hugged me and how he always rubbed his stubbly face on mine to annoy me that he really valued me.

Luckily, I had a very important man in my every-day life who valued me, too.  My dad always let his girls know we were loved and provided for.  I thank God for this because it didn't take long for me to see how the girls at school who were missing this in the life were grasping for it wherever they could find it.  He took our family to church on Sundays and we were there most Wednesdays, too.  Even though he worked like a dog as an AC man most of our lives, he'd still coach our softball teams and be there for all of our school activities.  Since I was the first-born, a lot was expected of me.  I was already a pretty independent thinker and motivated learner, so school was fairly easy for me.  This was a good thing because my dad expected only the best grades out of me.  I don't recall which grade I had my first C on a progress report, but I do recall it wasn't pretty.  My dad's presence and concern kept me out of a heck of a lot of trouble I started seeing my friends in, even at the ages of 10 or so.  That's what, fourth grade?  I never considered myself attractive growing up, but I did develop very early.  Seriously, in kindergarten I wore a training bra.  In pretty much every grade until fifth, I was a full head taller than all the boys.  Talk about a swift kick to my confidence.  For years I had permed hair that froed out like crazy because my hair was naturally curly. Yeah, I'm still trying to figure out why my mom paid money to curl my curly hair.

.......

Not a great place to stop, I know, but that's all I've got for tonight.  This momma's 12 weeks pregnant tomorrow, and I've got to get a snack and get in the bed.  Hopefully I'll get around to writing the next installment before I have this baby ; )






Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Free indeed

Last week, we went to the beach.  I'll save some of the other photos and stories for another post I'll probably never get around to creating.  Tonight, as I was looking through these photos, I felt the need to share yet another lesson I learned from my kids.

As we walked towards the water, we saw the beach was totally deserted other than one lone soul who was walking her dog in the distance...clad in jeans and a windbreaker.  I realized then it may be a little chilly for the kids to be in so few clothes, but Eve insisted she was fine.  

Since the water was so choppy, I knew neither of the kids would attempt to get in the water without me by their side, so I pulled out my camera and enjoyed snapping some non-phone photos.  


It doesn't take much to entertain these kids.  It doesn't have to be something fancy or loud to catch their eye.  I don't have to lead them in a game or micro-manage their play.  They enjoy conjuring up imaginary worlds and assigning made up names and identities to one another.


They see the wonder in the crazy beautiful world around them.  Just the surface of the gulf overwhelmed them.  When they learned of its depths and what lay in them, their eyes grew large and the questions started flowing.   


Over the last couple of years, I've really felt compelled to simplify everything.  My thoughts, calendar, wardrobe, relationships...everything.  I realized how much stuff I was missing because of all the other stuff I was stuffing into my day and mind.  That's a lot of stuff. 


Just recently have I felt that I'm really seeing the people and things around me and enjoying them for who and what they are.  Flawed.  Beautiful.  Complex.  Valuable.  


It hurts when I allow myself to think about how I have and still do allow the world to obscure my view of what's really around me.  I've heard these hurts from the lips of others around me, as well.  The opinions and images we're inundated with from this world can be stifling.

You have too many kids.
You should really have another kid or two.
You should really get your kids involved in activities.
You're probably screwing your kids up by homeschooling them.
Your kids play too much.
Your kids should wear shoes more often.
You need to learn more scripture.
You need to stop being such a holy roller.
You are too creative.
Your wardrobe is archaic.
You cook too much.
You should read more.
You should be on the computer less.
You're an awful person for not monitoring your kids' every movement.
You need to lay off your kids.
Your family eats too much junk.
Your kids eat too much fruit.
You spend too much money on groceries.
You should coupon.
You should be more involved at church.
You should limit your kids' screen time.
You should let your kids watch more tv.
You shouldn't live so far out...


Enough.  Enough, I declare for us all.


 I'm ready to enjoy life like this gal.  The water may be freezing, and I'm at the beach in my ballerina getup for no reason other than it makes me happy, but I'm gonna jump in those waves. 


I'm going to create beautiful things for enjoyment.  I'm gonna cook good food and savor it around the table with people I love and sometimes share it with people I've never met before. 


I want to have an unobscured view of the insanely beautiful and complex world surrounding me.  Sometimes this will mean seeing pain and suffering, and I pray an open, flexible schedule allows me to soothe and shoulder it when I encounter it.  Other times it will mean grabbing my kids to come closer, to dig in with me and see something so beautiful and amazing, I can't help but stop and share it with them.  


I pray for the courage to stand alone when I need to.


 I want to savor.  To feel joy and wonder.  To smile.  


Instead of jumping through hoops, I'm jumping in with her because she knows the truth.  We are not meant to be slaves to this world.  The world and all it holds is temporary.  People matter.  When we grasp the truth that we aren't created to follow the masses, expend all our energy/time/money on stuff,  and model our life to fit the mold shaped by the annoyingly loud, exhausting world around us, we can be free. 


Free indeed.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Trekster is 2!

Yes, my littlest turned two this month.  My sweet, headstrong, cuddly momma's boy is getting big, and it's kinda sorta doing a number on me.  This has been the longest period of time in our marriage that I have not been pregnant, and we aren't planning on having any more.  Although I'm totally ok with that, it still feels weird knowing I'm entering into a whole new stage in life.  It wasn't my 30th birthday that opened my eyes to this new stage of life...it was this 2nd birthday that made it hit home.

Now, we love to celebrate, but we definitely do not "go big" in the Slay house.  Our parties usually consist of a few friends and our families.  On Trek's actual birth day, we had our neighbor's over for pancakes and bacon.  I mean, that's pretty much the epitome of party food in our house.  Throw some whipped cream in there, and we're in heaven. Their sweet little one is only a few days younger than Trek, so they both blew out candles.








Aren't they the absostinkinlutely cutest things ever?  Trek gets all confused over this whole "blowing" thing.  When he's told to blow into a tissue, he blows through his lips.  When he's told to blow his food or candles, it often comes out the nose.  We're confident he'll get the hang of things one day.  Until then, we'll just eat around the boogers.  Just kidding!

A few days later, we had all our family over to celebrate.  I went all out with $5 in decorations from Wal-mart.  Watch out Pinterest!  Ha.

As usual, there were tons of gifts, and Trek was in total shock.  He went all "Ricky Bobby" and had no clue what to do with his hands.  


Luckily, he had his sister to assist him with the opening of his presents.  









The boy loves his underwear.  He'll change them several times a day even if they're not wet, just so he can run around with a different car or train adorning his hiney.  


Ummmm...or his head.



And, of course, there was cake.  






This was our first time to host anything this large at our new home.  It was so nice to have such great indoor and outdoor space for everyone to hang out and celebrate this sweet boy.  I'm always reminded at our family celebrations just how blessed we are to be surrounded by so many people who love us and our crazy kids.  As we gathered for prayer before supper, I took a mental picture of a truly special image.  Divorce, different last names, differences of opinions...the things that divide so many families were all scattered amongst one another in my kitchen, standing hand in hand, thanking Jesus for this sweet boy who has so sweetly imprinted himself on each one of our hearts.

Friday, April 18, 2014

He has risen...now ain't that sweet?

Today, just before lunch, I decided I would suck it up and brave making an Easter garden with my kids.  I'd been planning to do it all week.  I had lofty ideas of getting a really large, shallow planter and planting herbs in it so we could have it all spring and summer.  I was going to buy moss, find the perfect round stone to use in front of the tomb, and it was going to be a planned, meaningful project.  The garden would grace my front porch for months, and it would be a reminder to me and others of the pain and beauty of Easter.  I was going to photograph my children making it, and the end result was going to be beautiful like the ones I've seen on Pinterest.

I think you can see how this is going to go down...

So, at a quarter till noon on Good Friday, I decided to make this Easter garden.  I dumped the shoes out of the bucket on the back steps, tossed out the dead pitcher plant which was in the only small pot we had, and gathered shovels and twine.  Each kid started out at the dirt pile with a shovel in hand.  One immediately ditched his to play in the rocks, and another stepped in an ant bed and ran off in tears.  Sigh.  So, Eve and I filled the container with dirt, put the small pot for the tomb in, and started scouting the yard for moss, grass, and flowers to add to it.  By this time, Cade's ant emergency was over, and he re-joined us and offered to make the crosses.

I bit my tongue constantly to keep from blurting out "No!  That's not where the rocks go!  Those sticks are too big/small/skinny/curvy for the crosses!  Don't stuff root-less flowers down into the dirt!"  I've learned to stop expecting perfection when creating with my kids, but that doesn't seem to stop the thoughts from rolling through my head.

Finally, it was done.




Oh, no.  The handle is in a wonky position.  The brick beside the tomb is way too bulky, and you can totally see the inside of the bright yellow flower pot.  All of the flowers are weeds dug up/snatched up from the yard, and all of this is probably doing to die before Sunday.  This was not at all what I'd envisioned.  

Shhhhhh.....I told my brain.  I ran to grab my camera, and when I came back, that's when this little thrown together garden flipped my day upside down.  

My kids were picking leaves off bushes, adding sticks, picking more flowers and adding them to the garden.



I asked Eve what she was doing, and she said she was making it pretty for Jesus.  I closed my mouth and watched...and listened.  


She and Cade rolled the stone back and forth.  They continued to forage for things to add, and they cut out paper people to put at the feet of the cross and in the tomb.  They talked.  They recounted the entire week leading up to the crucifixion.  Eve talked about the nails going into his hands, and even found the significance of the railroad spike we found in the dirt we used for our garden (I mean, how awesome is that?).  I stopped shooting for a moment, and sat on the porch swing, still listening to their conversation.  Then, just as Eve "perfected" the garden, she clasped her hands, and proclaimed to the "ladies" at the foot of the cross "Jesus is dying now, but don't worry because HE HAS RISEN...now ain't that sweet?"  

Ya'll, I just about jumped off the swing and shouted "Amen!"

It was then that I was reminded that something doesn't have to be pretty to preach.  

Broken lives. Open ears.  Time.  Willing hands.  Sharing loads.  Tears.  The unadulterated Word. 

They preach.

The cross was raw.  Pretty much as raw as it gets.  The gut-wrenching pain, blood, cries...it wasn't pretty.  It wasn't comfortable, and it sure as heck wasn't Pinterest-worthy.

Then I heard Cade say something that brought on the tears.  "Eve, if you keep trying to make it pretty, you're just going to cover up the cross and the tomb where we can't see it."  


                                                       

Gulp.  This one made my stomach clench.

I can't even count the number of times I've tried to dress up the cross.  Make Jesus more attractive.  I've often gotten wrapped up in the lie that I need to portray an exciting and obliging Jesus.  To reach them, Jesus needs to be cool and relevant.  

Y'all, Jesus...the raw Jesus from the bible... is irresistible.  

Love.  Sacrifice.  Servanthood.  Honesty.  Simplicity.  Humility.  Passion.  I don't know a single person who doesn't desire and isn't drawn in by these traits.

So, this Easter, I want to encourage you to focus on raw Jesus.  Not the dressed up Jesus that has turned so many away from Christianity.  Look past the faces that have nudged you further away from Him throughout the years, and look to the face that's battered and bloody.  It's not pretty or fancy.  It isn't cluttered.  Those rivulets of blood trailing down that dirty, battered skin speak a clear, pure message that is irresistible.  

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The top 5 things I should never be without...

I have dozens of photos to share and a couple of other posts in my brain, but I thought this one was urgent.  In the last 24 hours, I've come to realize there are a few essential items I (and likely you) should never be without.


  1. Parchment Paper.  I'd rather just go without the brownies or roasted broccoli if I don't have it.  It's a beautiful, over-priced, but oh-so-worth it roll of magical paper.  Shell out the three and a half bucks, bake some brownies, and cry with sheer joy when you can lift them out as an in-tact square to slice while they're still warm and gooey.  Then, stare in awe at your spotless brownie pan.  You're welcome.
  2. A full change of clothes for each of my children in my van at all times.  Whether it's impromptu stays at the grandparents, an unplanned stop at a splash pad, or an epic car sickness episode, I should be prepared AT ALL TIMES.  I'm typing this as I'm trying desperately to rid my nostrils of the smell of vomit.  Trust me.  Pack the dang clothes.  If you don't, your child will puke as you are paying for food in the drive-thru.  Then, he will have a heart wrenching melt-down about the fact that he's in a t-shirt and underwear with no clean shorts and he will have to forego the planned picnic with dad on his dinner break at work.  Consequently, you will  make your puke-covered child hide in the floorboard and swear not to move an inch as you grab the other two kids and hustle into absurdly over-priced children's boutique at the mall where daddy works.  Then, you will spend a nauseating sum on BOXERS for the near naked child who is huddled in the van floorboard because there are no shorts in the store cheaper than the meal you just purchased to feed your family of five.  It will all be kinda ok in the end, though, because the vomit victim will enjoy a lovely supper outdoors with his dad.  
  3. An arsenal of baby wipes, paper towels, cleaner, garbage bags and Febreze....in my van at all times.  I think the above scenario explains why this is necessary, but I will add that these items are even more necessary when the child, who is now sporting the designer boutique boxers, pukes up his entire lovely dinner just five minutes from the house.  Two...count them...two car sickness episodes between 6:06 p.m. and 8:03 p.m.  Blech.
  4. A device that reads my 2-year-old's mind.  Now, I realize this thing probably isn't even in existence, but I'm gonna pretend it is.  If I could just have a little insight as to why my child would rather squat and urinate in a ceramic egg in the middle of the living room floor rather than a toilet, I would be golden.  It also would've been nice to know where he'd placed my embroidery presser foot before I had to find it 24 hours later (tonight) after I contorted myself to rescue the box of garbage bags he'd wedged behind my sewing cabinet.  When I text my husband and let him know I'd found the presser foot while gathering supplies to clean up the frat house party off the back seat of my van, he called it a blessing in disguise.  I don't find anything bless'ed about puke.  Next time, I'd rather my blessing be disguised in a brownie.
  5. Coffee.  Especially since I now live in a land dry of good drive through coffee.  No Seattle Drip.  No Cups.  Heck, some days I'd even brave the equivalent of the Maywood Mart parking lot and walk into (gasp) a Starbucks if only there was one here in Canton.  Nope.  If I run out of coffee, I must go to the Dollar General Market, which carries Dunkin' Donuts coffee, or Wal-Mart which has DD and Starbuck's, purchase a bag of coffee, then return home and brew it myself.  Tragic, I know.  But, for a girl who regularly filled a Seattle Drip punch card, this has been an adjustment.  Now, I buy coffee every time I'm at the store...whether I have a full bag at home or not.  I.  Will.  Be.  Prepared.  
I'm quite aware of the "first worldness" of this post.  I smell like puke, and I'm a really tired, semi-delirious momma who needed to laugh at herself tonight.  I know some other momma out there gets it and got a good laugh, too.  

Solidarity, gals.  Solidarity.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Poop happens...again annnnd again....

Y'all, I seriously don't even know where to start.  From the lack of posts, you can guess how my days have looked lately.  My tired brain lacks focus due to exhaustion and the fact that I'm trying to type while listening to what sounds like my dishwasher dying a slow, miserable death.  Seriously.  It's to the point where I have to flip a breaker off and on to trick the electric panel on it just to get it to cut on.  I'm scared.  Handwashin' with a family of 5 is no joke.  If you're looking for somewhere to place your extra cash for a 2015 tax write-off, just send it on over to the Slay's dishwasher fund.  I mean, that's gotta be a legit charity.

So, where to start in this epic catchup session?  Chicks?  Rabbits?  Opening a nudist colony?  Painting with poop?

Decisions, decisions.

Welllll, since it's fresh on my mind and still triggering my gag reflex, I'll start with my latest poop debacle.  Suddenly, Trek has decided he hates diapers.  Like, with a passion I've never seen out of a 23 month old.  If his diaper has fewer than three strips of masking tape on it, it spends fewer than 30 seconds on his body.  I'm baffled.  He also wants to sit on the toilet approximately 50% of the day, so I decided maybe it was time to get some awesome undies and get this potty training show on the road.  Some days have been better than others, but for the most part he gets it.

Until this morning.

I'd just made a rare, solo trip to the restroom and poured myself a large, hot cup of coffee  afterwards.  Just as I settled onto the couch in the living room, I heard a weird thump from the wall behind me, which is where the virtually unused 3rd bathroom is located.  The tub drain needs work, the toilet is fun-sized, and the uncovered window faces out into the back yard.  The kids occasionally use it, and it did make a great one night home for our new bunnies, but it's the kind of room we pretend doesn't exist for now.  Ok, so with coffee in hand, I opened the door to that bathroom and I almost lost my breakfast.  Poop errwhere.  IN the cabinet, all over the toilet, on the edge of and in the tub...you get the picture.  The kid had just relieved himself big time 30 minutes prior.

I.  Just.  Do.  Not.  Understand.

As I was swallowing my stomach, I set my coffee down on the vanity and attempted to concoct a game plan.  #1, get the kid clean and out of the crime scene.  I bent forward to retrieve him from the cabinet, and my rear just barely bumped my 16 oz. mug, which in turn tipped and bathed the backs of my legs with fresh, hot coffee.  I peeled my socks off, which was totally futile because I still tracked coffee all the way across the house to the kid's bathroom.  I scrubbed him, diapered him...yet another futile move, and grabbed cleaning supplies to tackle the oh-so disgusting poop-smeared, coffee splattered closet of a bathroom.  A bleach headache and 63 paper towels later, I had the bathroom cleaner than before.  I grabbed the mop to clean up my coffee trail to the other bathroom, and as I was progressing down the hall, a very nude toddler darted out of the bathroom.  He yelled "Pee!Pee!" so I ditched the mop and tried to intercept him before yet another incident.

Too.  Late.

I walked in to find a swirling pool of urine and Suave 2-in-1 kid's shampoo in the middle of the floor. I yelled.  I put on his diaper.  I cried.  I mopped, and mopped....and mopped some more because it's really hard to mop up a shampoo/conditioner combo.  I hope you don't have to do it any time soon.  I also hope you don't have to clean up a poop/coffee combo any time soon.  It comes right up with bleach, but it is so incredibly gross.

You may have already guessed, but this is also the reason we've apparently started a nudist colony in the back yard.  It all started with Trek shucking his underwear, then Cade decided a t-shirt and undies were acceptable daytime attire, and we're smack dab in the middle of learning about Adam and Eve, so Eve is trying to live up to her name by being nude and shameless.  Needless to say, I won't have many photos of my kids to share for a while because they're always running around with all their business out for the world to see.  Luckily, the world is shielded from this display by our large lot and privacy fence.  This is quite fortunate for me, because any nosy neighbors probably would've reported me to DHS two nights ago for bathing my kids and dog (in that order) in a cold kiddie pool full of sand and dead grass.

Country life sure has its perks.

Over the last month, I allowed, invited even, an occurrence I swore would never happen to me.  Our animal to human ration exploded, and we are now outnumbered 16:5.  Never say never, folks.

Meet the chicks...







We've been planning our chicken coop and flock since we went under contract on this house.  We are some kind of excited about fresh eggs and bug control in our yard.  Our original plan was to let them free range in the un-fenced yard and woods around the house, but I think a few of the dogs and who knows what other kind of critters living around here would likely feast on our feathered friends.  So, for now, they're confined to their coop and fenced in run.  Soon, we will let them roam the fenced yard.  The photos above are actually about a month old.  We started out with them in a large cardboard box, brooder lights, and their feeders.  Once the temps rose a bit, they graduated to a kiddie pool.  Now, they're in their coop-in-progress, which is a storage closet in the carport we decided we could live without.  The back wall of the closet faced the back yard, so we just cut an opening to the yard and fenced in a small run for them.  It saved us major $ since we went from plans to build an entire external structure to using an existing space with shelving and electricity already in place.  

These are some of the more recent ones.  Cade is definitely our chicken whisperer.  I've found him out in the coop, lounging on the hay with a chicken or two lying on him a couple of times this week.  




We have 4 Rhode Island Reds, 5 Golden Wyandottes, 2 Barred Rocks, and 2 Buffs.  They all lay large-extra large brown eggs, and will hopefully start producing sometime this summer.  

These are the other new additions.  Meet...

Dottie


and Furball.


They are sisters from a litter of lion head bunnies my mom has.  The goal is to allow them to roam the yard throughout the day and just put them in their cage at night or when we're not here.  Pepper (our Schnauzer) is very, ummmmm, curious about the whole situation.  He likes to chase them and play with them.  Furball has learned to be still for a bit so he'll lost interest in her.  Dottie, on the other hand, is a little bit of a firecracker, and she will straight up do an about face and attack Pepper when she's had enough.  They're both sweet and cuddly, but Furball, who was the runt of the litter, is more laid back and affectionate.  

We up cycled the dog house that was already here when we bought the house.  It was massive, and we knew Pepper would never use it.  Originally, we'd planned to use it for the chickens...when we planned to only have a half a dozen or so hens, but we kinda sorta doubled that number, which left the doghouse up for grabs.  We started deconstructing it soon after we moved in, so I don't have any good "before" pics, but here's what it looks like now.  


We could fit a few dozen bunnies in this mammoth cage, but luckily we won't have to.  I got two gals for a reason.  I'm NOT interested in the bunny makin' business.

So, that kinda sorta catches everyone up on the sort of shenanigans we've been up to.  Here are a few extra gems I thought I'd squeeze into this already long, jacked up, all over the place post : )

 I finally put on my big girl panties and used my machine to appliqué using a file.  Eve was begging for an Elsa shirt, and I wasn't about to attempt to free hand that!


The older two took off to my mom's for Spring Break, so Trek was my helper while constructing the bunny cage and chicken run.


The first time we let the bunnies out, I spent a total of 45 minutes chasing, waiting, darting, and nearly falling trying to catch them.  We finally resorted to the good ol' laundry basket trapping method.


At least once a day I find him in the bunny cage.  This is a conservative outfit for him these days...he's mostly covered.


 Guess who turns 2 next week?  Sniff, sniff.


A little silliness on mommy and daddy's bed one lazy morning.





During this post, I had to walk away to clean up more poopage, put Trek back in the bed no less than 20 times (he woke up two hours early this morning and cut his nap short by over an hour...it ain't pretty), and I had to remove stickers from Eve's hair since she decided it was wise to sneak a sticker book into her bed tonight.  I wish I had some profound revelation from all the craziness I've mentioned in this post, but it pretty much just boils down to these few things for me...

Parenting is hard, hard, tear jerking, sleep stealing, back-breaking, mind-blowing work.

Keeping my commitment level low keeps me from losing my evah-lovin' mind during this incredibly needy stage in my kid's lives...so, sorry if you feel like you're getting the shaft. 

The knowledge that poop is anywhere other than in a toilet or diaper triggers my gag reflex and makes my skin crawl like pretty much nothing else.

During this stage of my life, I should never, ever be without a single morsel of chocolate or at least a few ounces of wine in the house.  It's inhumane, and I don't know what on earth I was thinking when I neglected to re-stock.







 
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