The 12 Year Honeymoon

Daily Prompt: First Sight

Whether a person, a pet, an object, or a place, write about something or someone you connected with from the very first second.

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I had never been one for long term relationships. I would make excuses for myself and place the blame solely on whatever guy unwittingly had one foot out the door at the time (even though at times it genuinely was a wise decision to move on), but in retrospect I can chalk it up to mostly my own selfishness. I had developed a “grass is greener” mentality, and when the butterflies in the stomach were gone, the guy that wrought them was soon to follow.

I went through a plethora of “relationships” in my younger years, with my 2 longest being 3 years and 5 years respectively, and even those were on and off at times.

I would dump a guy for the most absurd things, too. This one because he had too much nose hair, that one because I didn’t like the way he laughed, another one because he’d hold his fork like a 2 year old at the dinner table.

Yep, just give me a willing heart, and I could break it into a million pieces in the most creative ways.

I had developed an unhealthy relationship pattern, and I honestly didn’t even recognize that I had a problem at the time. I mean, society had made this type of behavior perfectly acceptable, how could I possibly see that it wasn’t right?

So on I went, hacking away with my relationship machete, oblivious to the  wake of destruction I left behind…

Until HIM.

It started innocently enough, with a “Happy Birthday” from a distance of 1200 miles via the online game we both played. If I think about it now, I was probably hooked from just those 2 words.

Over the next few weeks, more words were to follow in the form of lengthy conversations long into the night. We discussed hopes and dreams, wishes and desires. We got to know each other on an emotional level, without that pesky physical attraction business getting in the way.

We exchanged pictures after a time of course, and neither of us were disappointed. Exchanging pictures led to phone numbers, and after several lengthy phone calls (accompanied by astronomical phone bills), we were making plans to meet in person. He bought a plane ticket to Michigan to come see me, and I counted the days until I would see him with bated breath and nervous anticipation.

When he walked down the gangway and into my waiting embrace, the sparks were instant. I mean sure, we had connected on an emotional level already, but this…this was chemistry.

He told me later that his very first thought when he saw me was, “I’m going to marry that girl”, and I can’t say that I wasn’t thinking much the same. Love at first sight was always a trite and ridiculous concept to me, but there I was, with stars in my eyes, feeling like my heart would explode out of my chest.

As he walked me to my car, he held me close, placing a string of soft little kisses along my fingertips and up my arm to the tune of me giggling like a schoolgirl. This guy…oh…this guy.

Our first weekend together was magical, and our first kiss was off the charts. He had spent the day teasing me…getting close enough to move in for a kiss, making me think it would finally happen, and then he would quickly back away, leaving me breathless, confused, and still longing for our lips to finally meet.

He waited until a time when I was least expecting it. I had just stepped out the door when he turned me to face him, and the passionate connection that ensued left me with wobbly knees and rendered me speechless for some time to follow. I couldn’t even rate that kiss. On a scale of 1 to 10, that kiss was somewhere in the 50’s.

He was no sooner on his flight home than I was planning a trip down to Florida to see him the following month. Another amazing weekend was spent together, and that was all we needed to be sure. Truth be told, we were both sure even before that second visit.

I flew back home, found the perfect wedding dress, and 4 months after the words ‘happy birthday’ flowed in bright green letters across my computer screen, my hair was tressed up in flowers and curls, and I was shivering in chiffon while making a promise to love that man for life on a Florida beach in the nippy January air.

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Our ‘love at first sight’ is now going on year 12.

I still look at him sometimes and wonder how I got lucky enough to win over this beautiful man. We drive our kids crazy with our frequent smooches and love affirmations. “Get a room”, my son will say. I’ll retort with, “Got one already.” Then they’ll roll their eyes and groan. My husband and I will just look at each other and smile.

Sure we’ve had our ups and downs. We’ve wanted to kill each other at times, and we’ve wanted to kill for each other at times.

We are each other’s world, though, and we wouldn’t trade that…

For the world.

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The Journey of You

1001659_589403451081918_1815348475_nSlow down, my dear,

don’t be in such a rush.

Stay a little longer as a child.

Just yesterday I held you,

now your hand is on the door.

Tomorrow you will be off running wild.

 

 

To my daughter:

May you always know I’ll be here when you need me, and may God bless you more than you could ever dream.

The Journey of You

A blink ago my star was born.

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At one you held my heart.

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At two you were my little light.

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At three a work of art.

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I took a breath and you were four.

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Exhaled and you were five.

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At six I couldn’t love you more.

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Then seven had arrived.

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I turned around and you were eight.

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Turned back and you were nine.

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At ten you were my silly girl.

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Eleven you did fine.

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Age twelve had come and gone again.

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And So did age thirteen.

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At fourteen you were tomboy.

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At Fifteen a beauty queen.

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Sixteen is almost over now.

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And seventeen is here.

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When I blink again you might be gone.

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And that’s my greatest fear.

I Have Let You Go

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To the man that I know loves me:

I have let you go.

I know that it may seem silly to say this to you right now. You’re probably puzzling over what this could possibly mean. Why would I choose this moment in time to say this to you? You’re perfectly healthy. We’re the strongest in our relationship that we’ve ever been. There have been no threats of separation. No diagnosis of disease. Yet here I am letting you know that I have let go of you nonetheless, because I need to.

You know that I’m a worrier. There isn’t a moment when you’re not with me that I’m not worrying about what’s happening to you. Are you sick and we don’t know it? Are you safe? Are you paying attention when you’re driving? Are others watching out for you? Has someone pulled a knife on you? A gun? Threatened you? Hit you? Hurt you?

When I know that you’re on your way home and I hear sirens in the distance, the fear takes my breath away. I pray that it isn’t you that they’re coming for.

I have lived with this overwhelming fear for 11 years. I have lived in fear…for you.

So many times I have thought about what would happen if I lost you. I can never imagine this world without you. I can picture myself curling up and dying right along with you were you not to make it home to me someday. I always think that if I did not die, too, I would just shut down. Never get up again. Stop functioning at a normal human level. Cease to think, reason, or even move.

I admit that I’m co-dependent. I rely on you. You cook because you know I hate cooking. You always put gas in my car because you know I hate doing that, too. You pay the bills. You drive the kids around. You spoil me as much as our finances will allow. I often start to wonder if I might be taking you for granted. Then I think, “No. I always appreciate all that you do, I just don’t tell you enough how much it means to me.”

I could likely never put into words how much I do appreciate you. More than mere appreciation, though, what I feel for you is adoration.

Even after all this time, I am still completely head-over-heels, droolingly, babblingly smitten with you.

After 11 years together, I continue to look at you with stars in my eyes and butterflies in my stomach. I will watch you singing on stage, or working, or teaching, and think, “Wow. That’s my man.” Then this feeling of overwhelming need will wash over me. I don’t know what it is about those times that I can’t have you that make me desire you even more, but for some reason, it happens.

Yet I’ve been taught the evils of lust. So I have wondered, “Is it okay to lust after your own husband?” Surely that’s an exception, right?

Then I realized that my desire is not always purely physical. I sometimes feel a need just to be near you. Simply touch you. Just hear your voice. Know that your heart still beats. Feel your aliveness.

My love for you had crossed the line into unhealthy obsession. I knew it, and God knew it. As I looked at you on stage again today, and thought, “Look at that guy. He’s amazing, and he’s all mine!” I heard that still small voice tell me, “He is not yours to keep.”

You would think that those words would have crushed me, and maybe, had I had any farther to fall for you, I would have been hurt when I landed on the solid ground that I had just been knocked down upon. I could not have crawled any deeper down into my pit of selfishness, though, so those words had an effect on me that I would not have otherwise imagined that they could have.

You see, it all came to an end for me today. The fear of losing you. The fear of what the future holds. The fear that you will be gone from this world someday, it’s just a matter of when and where.

Understanding that you don’t really belong to me took a burden off my shoulders and freed me in a way that I had never thought possible.

I know that we aren’t promised tomorrow, but if something were to happen to you before the next sunrise, I now believe that I could make it through. Yes I would still mourn. I would hurt. The pain would likely stay with me for longer than I care to even think about.

But I would be okay. I would survive it. I would press on; because you don’t belong to me. Your life isn’t mine to hold on to. You are simply a loan that will need to be repaid someday, and when collection day comes, I will still be able to stand because you were never truly mine to begin with.

You will still hold my heart in the palm of your hand while you’re here, and I will likely hold yours as well, but I understand now.

It’s just for safe keeping until we move on from this world, and someday, we must.

I still love you just the same, and always will, but I’m letting you know that I’m okay with letting you go…

Because now I can.

Collaborating With My Kid

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On a recent trip to Michigan to visit my parents that included my husband, daughter, son, and one of my step-daughters, we found ourselves attending my cousin’s college graduation party. It was just a simple outdoor gathering with a barbecue style buffet spread.

While there, there was an item made available to the gathered guests and children that caught my ever-artistic daughter’s eye:

Sidewalk chalk.

She proceeded to grab the bucket of chalk and set to work doodling on the cement driveway.

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This eventually led to her working on a detailed picture of one of her favorite things to draw:

Her “Mushies”.

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Being the huge Alice in Wonderland fanatic that she is, she loves mushrooms, and she loves to draw colorful and creative pictures of whatever toadstools her imagination can work up; among other things, of course. She has a very vivid imagination.

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So there she was down on her knees, diligently working on her chalky cement creation while other party-goers were slowly packing up and heading out one by one. The party was coming to an end, and my husband and parents were trying to hurry my daughter along so that we could leave soon ourselves.

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My child, however, takes after her mother in that she’s not only an artist, but a perfectionist as well, and walking away from an unfinished work of art just isn’t an option for her. I understand this incessant need to finish a masterpiece while others may not.

In a crunch for time, however, I bent down and asked, “Would you like me to help?”

She responded with a relieved “yes,” and we proceeded to finish the creation together that she had started herself.

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Now, in the artistic world, one does not simply allow other people to dip their hands into one’s creative cookie jar. This is especially true with me and my daughter, considering how seriously we take each project that we set our minds to. There has to be complete trust in another person’s artistic abilities to even consider allowing them to touch your own masterpiece.

My daughter and I share a bond that goes deeper than just mother and child, though. We share an artistic bond, in that we have almost the exact same sense of artistic style, imagination, and ability. We have complete trust in one another artistically, and often times, we’ll find ourselves working together or running ideas by each other on any given project.

We collaborate well, and we complement each other quite nicely. It means a lot to me that I’m the only one on this earth that she trusts enough to touch her work. This goes both ways.

We recently worked together on a project to rework a beat up old gun rack that had been kicking around the thrift store for almost a year into a sword rack for my step-son. My husband screwed a wooden plaque on the front for us, and I painted the whole thing black. I had intended to paint some sort of Asian dragon design on it, but I asked my daughter if she would be willing to do it instead, because I knew it would turn out just as well if she did it.

And it did.

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I look forward to collaborating on many more future projects with my kiddo. As a matter of fact, we’re wracking our brains even now trying to come up with something amazing that we can work on together. I have a few ideas. You’ll have to stick around if you want to see what we come up with.

I told her yesterday that I was throwing her out of my art class. Not because I don’t love her, of course, but because she’s just way too advanced. Then I decided to let her stay, but only as my assistant. I think that would be a much better arrangement, don’t you?

Wheye

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This is my 16 year old daughter’s latest creation that I thought I’d share. It amazes me what she can do already at 16, and I can only imagine what jaw dropping stuff she’ll bust out with another 5 years down the road.

She named her creation “Wheye”, because as she so aptly put it, “I have a lot of questions for this crazy world and it inspired me.”

Good job, Amber. Eye love it!

I’m very proud of you.

To the Single Girl From Mrs. ‘Been There, Done That’

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I have been a happily married woman for close to 11 years now. Okay, well, maybe not always happily. Sometimes I wish the man came with a remote control that I could use on him to oh…I don’t know…mute his snoring, make him stop using the top of the laundry hamper as a table, or get him to pay attention to me when I’m talking to him.

At any rate, I love the big lug, and had to endure the same process of luring him in, trapping him, and caging him that every other red blooded woman that doesn’t live in a country with arranged marriages has to go through. Sometimes I think arranged marriages might even be easier than this whole “looking for love” ordeal. At least then you know you’ll have a mate regardless, right?

I personally had to venture out into the big, wild world and repeat stage one of this process several times until I finally caught my keeper, though.

While those tales of high school sweethearts that have known no other and are now celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary are wonderful stories, they’re few and far between. For those women that aren’t living the ultimate fairy tale, well, there’s a process to go through to get from “How do you do,” to “I do”. A process that might make competing in a triathlon pale by comparison. A process that some have even given up on after several failed attempts. A process that strikes fear into the hearts of women and men alike all over the world.

The dating process.

Now, I have single friends. Several of them. Friends that I love dearly and wish nothing but the best for. I sit back and listen to their tales of dating woes time and time again, and, well, I admittedly grow weary of hearing them. Not because I already have my special someone, so I’ve now become selfish and incapable of being sympathetic to the lonely plight of the single girl, but because every fiber in my body wants to tell them exactly what they’re doing wrong.  That would make me a bad friend and a bad listener, though. Wouldn’t it?

Then I got to thinking. Maybe, just maybe, I’d be a better friend if I were to finally (wo)man up and lay it all out straight for them. I’d hate to lose anyone as a friend, but I can’t sit by and watch some of them ruin their chances at happiness time and time again anymore without saying something, even at the risk of angering them.

So, I’ve decided it’s time for an intervention. Not only for my dear single friends that I feel need a little schooling from someone who’s been there, done that, and emerged victorious, but for single girls everywhere.

Consider class to be in session. Feel free to take notes as we go.

Lesson #1: Keep Your Goodies to Yourself.

Being A Christian woman, I could go on and on about the biblical ramifications of sex before marriage, but you’ve likely heard it all before at some point in your life, so I won’t.

From the point of view of your average, reasoning being, here’s what’s wrong with jumping into bed with a guy on the first, second, or even fifth date.

Every relationship in the world is built on trust; man and woman, landlord and tenant, employer and employee, and so on.

When you almost immediately give up the one thing that seals the deal and finalizes an intimate relationship with a man, you’ve completely blown it in the trust department, and here’s why:

“Well if it was this easy to get her into bed, who else is she out there sleeping with? I don’t want a girl that gets around.”

Yep, your credibility as a trustworthy woman just went right out the window for 3 minutes of fun. You’ve now been demoted from filet mignon to about the level of a hot dog.

Now, while a lot of men may see nothing wrong with throwing themselves at anything that bats an eyelash or flirts a little, this isn’t generally a quality that they’re looking for in a woman. Seems like a double standard, I know, but it’s simply human nature. I can guarantee that “a girl that sleeps with me on the first date” isn’t anywhere on a guy’s list of what he wants in a wife

So, turning your first date into a booty call isn’t winning him over. While it may have “been awhile” for you, and those hormones and pheromones and any other sort of ‘mones’ may be so thick in the room that you can cut them with a knife, you need to keep your self-control in check if you genuinely want things to work out.

You’re an adult, you can do this. I can guarantee he’ll still respect you in the morning, and if he does walk away when you don’t give it up on the first date, well, it’s pretty obvious that he wasn’t serious about a relationship with you to begin with.

Then you can simply chalk it up to a ‘bullet dodged’ and move on.

Lesson #2: Find a New Body Wash.

Look, ladies, if I can smell it on you, I can pretty much guarantee that he can, too.

Desperation.

While most men suffer from selective hearing and vision problems, they have a sense of smell keener than a bloodhound on a raccoon trail when it comes to unwanted emotional female baggage. They can smell the stench of desperation from a hundred miles away, and this will almost always send them running in the opposite direction, because with desperation, comes clinginess.

Just ask any man if they’re looking to give up any and all sense of freedom that they currently enjoy to a clingy woman. I don’t think it takes a rocket scientist to figure out what his answer will be.

Here’s a great way to gauge your level of desperation:

How often does he text you first? Are you almost always the one sending the first text and then just sitting there, phone in hand, checking your screen every 10 seconds until you receive a text back?  Then, when he doesn’t send a text back after about 10 minutes, are you texting him again just to be sure he actually saw the first one?

If this sounds like you, girl, you need a hobby.

While he may be the hottest thing since fire and you genuinely hope a relationship with this guy is in your future, blocking out all other thoughts but him from your mind is not only unhealthy for so many reasons, it going to cause you to blow it in the end. You need to redirect your focus into other things and let nature take its course if you want this relationship to work.

Lesson #3: Slow Your Roll.

This still falls under that whole desperation category. If you’re mentally hearing wedding bells after the first phone conversation, you need to take a deep breath and go watch a movie on Lifetime or something. You’re getting attached too quickly, which will make for a huge let down and mental anguish on your part should things not work out the way you had anticipated. Don’t let your mind get ahead of the game. You haven’t even passed go and collected your first 200 yet, but you’ve already sent yourself to mental jail. Here’s your get out free card:

Knock it off.

Though waiting is one of those things that sucks to a generation that wants instant gratification, you don’t have much of a choice if you truly want things to work out. Patience is a virtue, and there’s no better time than when you’re dating someone new to be virtuous.

Also, it’s great that you had a wonderful first date and plan to see him again, but your second date or second lengthy phone conversation is a bad time to throw out the fact that you’ve had 30 failed attempts at relationships already and you’re just looking for lifelong commitment. There are challenges on Fear Factor that are likely less off-putting to a guy than this bit of information. Even if he asked you what you are looking for in a relationship, it’s still a bad idea. Why? Because he’s likely just gauging your answer to see what kind of mess he’d be stepping into should he choose to get involved with you.

This would be a good time to play it cool. “Well, I just figured I’d go with the flow and see what happens.” Is always an acceptable answer when faced with what your future relationship plans are. Stifle your need to divulge too much information too quickly.

Save your expressions of undying love for this guy and your constant text affirmations that he’s always on your mind for a couple of months down the road, too. Hook him with your personality first, before you start throwing the cutesy shmootsy hearts and flowers junk at him.

Just have fun for now. Enjoy the companionship. That’s what phase one in a relationship is all about.

Lesson #4: Don’t Be THAT Girl.

After a person has heard, “I think I’ve found the one” for the 12th time in a 3 month span, it tends to grow tiring. Then, like ‘the boy who cried wolf’, no one’s going to want to listen when you genuinely have found a lasting relationship.

I was happy for you the first time. And the second. I was even happy for you with the third guy that you fell head over heels in love with after two dates and a romp in the bedroom. We’re coming up on oh…I lost count how many now…occasions of this very same pattern repeating itself and I am becoming emotionally numb here.

I get it; I do, because I adore my man. You want to shout your joy from the rooftops and tell everyone how amazing this new guy is. Do yourself a favor, though, and keep it on the down low for a month or two until things actually do start to get more serious. Then, once there’s some indication that he’ll be sticking around for a while, by all means, share your good news with the rest of the world. I’d love to hear about how into him you are when you get to that point.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t mind hearing about how a date went. If you want to talk about how he’s a nice guy, and that you went out and shared a few laughs over some slices of pepperoni, by all means, tell me all about it and share some information about him. I don’t mind at all. It’s watching you go completely off the rails for each new guy that comes along that I’m having a hard time with. Hopefully you can understand.

For those of you that I know personally, and those that I’ve never met, I mean no offense. I’m just calling it as I see it. Don’t think I haven’t been right where you are now. I have. It just so happens that along the way, I learned some valuable lessons in playing my cards right. That’s why I can say with pride that I’ve enjoyed nearly 11 years of marital bliss now with a wonderful man.

It all boils down to one thing; limits. They’re put in place in many situations to keep us safe. Speed limits, drinking limits, dosage limits…dating limits.

Ladies; if you’re looking for a meaningful relationship, yet you find yourself changing love interests more often than you’re changing underwear, it may be that you need to set some tighter limits in this game called love.

If you’re only betting on the queen of hearts, don’t bet everything you’ve got. Wait until you have a full house to go all in.

That’s just my 2 cent anti.

Oxymorons and Such

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I have admittedly been suffering from writers block for the last two weeks. Well that’s not entirely true, because the words still seem to flow when I’m given a topic assignment that interests me, so maybe writers block isn’t exactly what I’d call it. It’s more or less been a lack of imagination. Creative Constipation. I’ve simply had an inability lately to think up good writing topics on my own.

So, I’ll go to the Daily Prompt each day and look it over. Lately they haven’t appealed to me much, but occasionally I’ll say, “Ooo, that’s a good one.” Then I’ll get sucked into some TV series on Netflix, and writing goes out the window for the day. Sad, I know, but it happens.

I used to try and write something daily, but I’ve been pretty unmotivated for whatever reason these past couple of weeks, so it’s been more like twice a week. I suppose I can blame my allergies. I’ve had an almost continuous sinus headache that has kept me feeling pretty crappy and has sapped my focus.

When I have written lately, it’s usually turned out to be something sad and depressing. When I wrote the previous post, my husband came home that evening and said, “Would you warn me before you’re gonna post stuff that makes me cry? I can’t be bawling like a baby at work.”

He’s right. I have been getting further and further away from the lighthearted humor that I used to try to fit into all of my posts. I’d rather be funny than depressing. I was just trying to keep it real. Didn’t mean to make anyone shed tears on my account. Don’t cry my adoring fans, don’t cry. There, there.

I mean sure, it’s all true stuff about my life and the emotions that past events have brought about, but all one and a half of you don’t want that sappy junk. You want the good stuff. You’re humor junkies, shaking in the ultraviolet glow of your electronic devices until you get your next fix. “Show me the funny,” I can hear you say. I’m telepathic like that. I’m watching you with my mind’s eye right now. You’re looking good. Have you lost a few pounds? I have to be honest, though, pink isn’t your color, and it’s about time you had a haircut.

Anyway, in the interest of lightening the mood for a change, I thought I’d grace you with a few of the crazy things that my kids have done or said that have made me chuckle over the years. Having offspring, while a full time, exhausting job most days, isn’t without its entertainment value, after all.

A couple of years ago, my daughter and I were discussing the fact that my son will walk around with sticky, gooey hands and a dirty face, and it doesn’t bother him in the least. So, in an effort to sound all motherly and intelligent, she turned to him and said, “You’d better wash your hands more often, or you’ll get Glaucoma.” I about died laughing. She of course knows what that is now, and I, being the compassionate, loving mom that I am, bring it up from time and time just to agitate her. It always works. She’s easy to rile up, though. It usually takes little to no effort to push her buttons. I think it’s a redhead thing. Or maybe a teenager thing. Probably both.

Then a few months back, my husband, who refused to cut his hair for whatever reason, decided to slick back his unruly mane with hair gel one day. I looked at him on the ride home and said, “Nice hair.” He said, “You think? I was going for a Bella Lugosi look.” I responded with, “Well, I think you more or less have Fonzie pegged.” My son vehemently disagreed from the back seat. I said, “Son, do you even know who  Fonzie is?” “Yeah. He’s that guy from the Muppets,” he replied.  My husband and I both laughed out loud.

This is also the same boy that was bored one day while we were running the thrift store, so he decided to go out and dance in the rain with a stuffed buffalo. I peeked around the corner out of the big roll up door at him spinning around with his buffalo, and said, “Son, should you have that buffalo out in the rain?” His response to me was, “Yeah, it’s fine. He’s a water buffalo.” I love my son.

Many years ago, when my oldest step daughter was about 11, her younger brother decided to shut the door in her face while we they were getting out of the minivan. A small argument ensued between the 2 once she made it out of the vehicle, which resulted in her eventually calling him a ‘stupid genius.’ I looked at her and said, “He can’t be stupid and a genius. That’s an oxymoron.” She put her little hand on her hip, gave me a cocky glare, and said, “I am NOT a moron.” I laughed until my sides ached.

Several years later, we all went to Krystal after church to get burgers; all 7 of us. On our way out, that same child thought that one of the large, sectioned windows next to the door actually was the door, and walked right smack into it. She stood there for a second and then said, “Oh. This one must be locked.” The whole family witnessed this display, and we all burst out laughing. This resulted in my quick witted self turning the situation into a joke. “How do you confuse a blond?” I asked. “You put a window where a door should be!” Everyone laughed, but I got a slug in the arm for that one from the blond in question. That whole scene still haunts her from time to time to this very day. Only because I bring it up, of course.

My kids.

They’re crazy, but I love them, all five of them; two that I gave birth to and three that I married into. When we’re all out and about people will say, “Are all of those your kids?!” I just smile and say, “Yep, never a dull moment in my house.”

And I mean it.