Lying and the ugly truth

I hate lying and crying. And dying. Dying doesn’t really have anything to do with the other two, except for the fact that sometimes I want to inflict it.

Here’s the thing about parenting. I would love to be one of those parents who just…doesn’t care. You want to lie to me? Go ahead, I don’t care. If it doesn’t hurt me why should I try to fix it?

Yesterday I picked Harry up from Middle School and we did our usual breakdown. How was your day, how was your lunch, did you make any friends, do you like any girls, and DO YOU HAVE ANY HOMEWORK?

“Yeah, a little, I have to practice my trumpet…” and then we talked band until pulling into the driveway. Harry gets home an hour and a half before the other kids so he has plenty of quiet time to be productive.

He was productive for about 20 minutes–10 of which were spent oiling his horn.

“So, can I watch TV?” he says coming out of his room.

“No, it’s a school night.”

“Can Jackson come over?”

“No, it’s a school night. Hey, are you done with everything, did you finish your math?”

Note that this was a double question. “Yeah, so can I have some free time?”

Free time/non-screen/non-friend time was invoked.

Then at 9:30 last night he comes into my bedroom and I catch him trying to sneak off with my laptop. “Where are you going with that? You’re not allowed to use my new laptop, you can use the regular computer. Besides, it’s bedtime–”

“I have three pages from computers to finish! I have to use it!”

What? “What?” I said. He sheepishly informed me that he still had half an hour’s work of computer homework to complete.

“Then you can get up half an hour early tomorrow and finish it,” and that’s exactly what he did.

But on our way to school I brought up the subject of his deceitfulness and told him that I don’t want him to lie about this homework, he doesn’t have to. I’ll help him–

“I didn’t lie to you!!” he yelled.

“Excuse me? What do you think that was yesterday, you led me to believe…” and then we had a four-minute fight (yeah, go me, I know) on what constitutes a lie and what weekend restriction is going to look like before he got out of the Excursion, slammed the door shut and yelled that he hated me.

See what I mean? I could have totally let the lie go. He got his homework done, lost half an hour of morning sleep as his consequence, what was the big deal? The big deal wasn’t the homework, it was his refusal to acknowledge his own darn lie.

So today after school I explained it to him. I have a responsibility–a sacred responsibility–to hold him accountable for his actions. If I don’t teach him that God sees everything then who will? More than that, I will have to stand before my Heavenly Father someday and I can tell you right now, nothing worries me more than hearing something like, “Remember that day you found those really cute boots on Zulilly and got so wrapped up in your shipping information that you totally ignored your kid while he was lying to you? That was one of the moments that could have kept him from becoming a lie head. Too bad you totally missed it and he spent 25 years in jail.”

I go after it because I care about their salvation. I care about their citizenship. I care about their own sense of self-worth because I know that nothing makes a person feel more worthless than habitual sin. I was a kid, I remember my lying phase.

I’ll never forget the night my mom sent me to bed without dinner during daylight hours because I got caught in a lie. I was probably about nine or ten, old enough to know better plus a few years. She came upstairs after I’d spent two hours staring at (peeling) my wallpaper, and she sat on the edge of the bed really quietly. It was just us and the muted glow from my little lamp, I can see it so clearly still.

She proceeded to tell me the story of a woman she knew who was in prison, and how all of that lady’s problems began with little piles of lies. Lies that she got comfortable telling when she was a kid. Little, harmless lies that led to more lies and more lies. And all those lies? They eventually caught up to her and she lost her family, her home, her job and her life.

I’ve never felt so repentant in my entire life. It nipped a very damaging habit in the bud at a critical time in my youth.

Parenting these days in my world is a different kind of hard than it was four years ago. Back then it was all potty talk and nap times and constant messes (okay that hasn’t changed) and feeling overrun. Now I mostly want them know where to turn when they’re having a problem, be it lost homework or a lying habit.

Okay, I also want them to change their underwear and rinse out their dishes already. But you get my drift.

The birth of a Repurmentalist

Remember that episode from Arrested Development?

Tobias: Okay, Lindsay, are you forgetting that I was a professional twice over— an analyst and a therapist. The world’s first analrapist. (uh-NAHL-ruh-pist)

Lindsay: Yes, and you were almost arrested for those business cards.

Tobias: Yes. No, it did not look good on paper but I didn’t stop because of the police inquiries, I stopped to raise our little daughter.

Seeing that I’m from Washington state and descend from a long line of past and present loggers–Valentine Logging etc.–I am by no means an environmentalist. I love trees and I love them even more when they’ve been made into something delightful like a super lovely armoire (arm-WAHR according to the internet).

However, after spending a few years in a place where new furniture is expensive and old European pieces are frequently cheaper and cooler, I’ve mostly stopped buying things new.

I’m also impressively cheap.

But this morning I realized that the reason I chase all over town sifting through Goodwills for all my bedskirt/lamp/organizational needs isn’t really because I’m cheap. It’s something much deeper, a depth that I didn’t actually know I possessed. I have dug into a personal level of earthy appreciation that has bloomed into a desire to save the planet one repurposed lunch box at a time. 

I’m a repurpose environmentalist–a repurmentalist. I can’t stand to buy new stuff anymore.

Maybe I’m just preparing myself for the Zombie takeover when Walmart will be nothing but a pillaged husk and locked filing cabinets will be used to hoard chocolate chips, not insurance statements. Whatever the reason it is working well for me.

In the past two weeks I have purchased:

6 beautiful mustard panels of Pottery Barn curtains in perfect condition…$4.99 a panel plus 25% off for Military Monday.

6 yards of fabric for the girl’s curtains…$3.99 for the whole ream, enough for 2 long curtains and part of a quilt top for Georgia.

Curtains for Rex’s room, bedskirts in perfect shape $2 a piece, a shower curtain that has never been used $1.99 (kid’s bath, don’t freak out) plus drawer and cupboard organizers for 99 cents a piece, etc.

And the best part? I actually feel like a good citizen, a good repurmentalist. Today I picked up an old dresser for Harry’s room for $50 and I plan to Chalk Paint it (homemade chalk paint, under $15) and end up with a super chic dresser for under $100.

To all my fellow repurmentalists out there, you’re not just cheap. You’re saving the planet and our land fills one gently used piece of previously loved junk at a time. Good on ya.

 

Life is like a football game…hard when you’re only 11

So many, many good things to report.

My niece Kelly is coming this weekend to help me unpack my boxes–the ones that aren’t here yet. I can’t tell you how sad I’ve been about missing out on her mad organizational skills. The kids and I started praying last week that our things would get here by Friday so her trip wouldn’t be wasted by the pool (not that a pool trip is ever a waste). Unfortunately our cargo has been held up for the past few weeks in customs with no ETA in sight.

Yesterday morning as I was talking to my mom a call came through from the midwest. Sure enough, Danny and Ruthann were calling to tell me that my things have arrived in Las Vegas, and could they deliver them on Friday?

Then Jason called this afternoon. It looks like I’m catching an early flight to LAX tomorrow so I can rescue Big Green from the clutches of the ever incompetent IAL, the government’s new auto shipping company. My poor baby, I can’t wait to give him a little diesel and bring him on home. Everything is coming up roses and I feel so very blessed.

Miracles, people. They’re everywhere.

But of course, every silver lining has it’s rain cloud.

Tonight I picked Harrison up from football practice and watched as he slumped into the front seat next to me, slamming the door.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“I hate football. I’m horrible at this! I can’t catch the ball, I can’t throw the ball, everyone laughs at me…”

And then he started to cry. My wonderful, sweet not-so-little-anymore 11-year-old who’s dad is far away and can’t help him with football this year, started to cry. And it wasn’t little kid fit crying, it was…real crying.

His words and his tears landed on my heart like a pile of bricks. I didn’t even know what to say. Part of me wanted to put my arms around him and tell him he never has to go back, that he doesn’t have to do this hard thing and that football is stupid.

The other part of me wanted to give him the old pep talk about not being a quitter. I’m a mother, I know that if I let him quit just because it’s hard then he’ll never experience the feeling of accomplishment you get when you do something right during a game. It’s such a well-earned adrenaline rush for a kid.

The third part of me wanted to stop and buy him chicken nuggets because he didn’t eat his dinner and being hungry makes everything worse.

I cooed a little at him and fed him some food, then took him home. On a whim I texted my sister Jenny who has a bunch of football crazed boys. I needed some advice, I can’t be the first mother to experience this, right?

She did one better. She had Liam, her big strong 15-year-old football star call Harrison.

When the call came through Harry was so embarrassed that his cousin had found out he was bombing at football that he ran and sat in the closet. I took him the call and put it on speaker phone then left to give them a little privacy.

Only a little privacy, I didn’t want to miss any of Liam’s sage advice.

I listened as Liam told Harrison how it had taken him three years to learn football. In fact, he made Harry promise to stick with it for three years until it got fun. They talked about keeping your chin up when you drop a pass, and Harrison’s current position as rusher on defense.

Then Liam, bless his heart, went one step further.

“Now Harry,” he said, “Do you pay your tithing?”

“Uh, yeah…” Harry said.

“Good. How about fasting? Do you fast on fast Sunday? Are you praying about this every day? ‘Cause you should probably start praying about this tonight, it will really help you.”

I can tell my kid all these same things until I’m blue in the face, but they wouldn’t have 1/10 the impact they had coming from his amazing cousin.

My Harry. He’s got good people looking out for him.

 

Something is happening…almost

Why is it I am always so surprised when life is hard? What, like I don’t expect it to challenge me or something? I’ve got to stop playing all these Disney movies for my kids, they need to watch Where the Red Fern Grows a few more times (worst movie ever).

This has been my least favorite week of the summer and very possibly one of my least favorite weeks of my life. I have felt so unfortunately helpless, everything is out of my control. We are still living out of suitcases so the only thing we have is laundry and of course, my dryer has remained broken (a gas leak?!) for two weeks straight. They finally sent two different repairmen out yesterday.

It was a five minute fix.

The good news is that as of yesterday things are finally starting to unkink. First the dryer, then the ice machine got fixed. And miracle of miracles it looks like my car made it to Seattle this week and they are shipping it to LA. I’ll have to fly in, taxi to the shipping yard and Excursion my way home as fast as I can to try and do it in one day. Six weeks late is better than never.

Lucky for me we seem to be in a phenomenal ward. Honestly, what a huge blessing. I love these people, to all my girlfriends who insisted that Vegas has the best Mormons I have to say hat’s off, you are right. So many friendly calls and offers to help with kids.

We are already running all over town with fall activities. Harry started his first season of flag football and it is giving me hives. I can’t stand to watch the practices because we all know that I’m a closet side liner who secretly wants to coach–in heels. But he’s kind of struggling. He’s in a 6-7th grade league and he’s not only the youngest on his team but the only kid who hasn’t played before. These guys take their football seriously too.

I have to give the kid credit. He invented a “routine” that he wants to do to get in shape for football. He takes the dog for a 20 minute jog every morning and then does 10 push ups, 10 sit ups,  10 seconds of wall sits and 10 burpees. We have also started going to the park and running drills while the little kids play in the splash pad. I feel like Mick trying to get Rocky to run suicides. Thank you, Newell boys, for making sure I could throw a football and understand the game. I had no idea that I would actually need this knowledge. I think it’s going to save my boy this season, with his Dad gone I’m The One.

Last night I finally made myself talk to the coach after practice to see how he was doing. It gave me so much mommy anxiety. This is Jason’s area and I don’t like to talk to coaches, period. It was okay, his coach is apparently the top coach in the entire league, I’ve heard that a lot of parents have tried to get their kids on his team because this guy is so good. I can see it in practice, there is absolutely nothing juvenile about this league.

I appreciate that he didn’t mince words. He said Harry is getting there but he needs to take practice more seriously.  He will learn a big lesson this year working with this team. It’s just about time for him to realize that if you want to be good at something you have to work at it outside of practice, and practice isn’t social hour.

Ah, raising kids is so exhausting.

 

Looks like I’m Not Alone

Good news. I’m pretty sure that Jesus still loves me.

After yesterday’s tantrum I was feeling really low. It’s hard to pray when you feel like a brat. It’s hard to have faith when your mood is as blue as the midnight sky and things feel lonesome and hopeless and stupid. And sometimes, even though you know things are going to turn a corner, it’s still really hard to get from blue…to better.

Hallelujah for good Christian people. It’s amazing what Heavenly Father can do with a little neighborhood help.

As of 10 am this morning we had received not one, not two, but three Family Home Evening invitations from families in our new ward here in Henderson. And we received an email today that our car is finally making it’s way to Seattle (it will then have to go to LA so I can retrieve it but at least it’s moving out of Texas).

And then a sister in the ward took my girls for a playdate today which was awesome, especially when she told me that the gym 45 seconds down the road is super cheap, has daily yoga classes and childcare for up to 3 kids, and it’s only $31 a month.

Kuh-razy. And necessary. With Jason gone I need yoga, live and in person and uninterrupted by little girls who want to share my mat.

Tonight I put the girls to bed and they wanted a song so I gave them the old standard “Angel Lullaby” from My Turn on Earth. Then on a whim (yes, it’s true) I found myself drifting into that old syrupy feel good number from Michael McLean, “You’re Not Alone.” And yes, I linked it. Don’t even try to pretend you’re not going to listen to it either.

I probably shouldn’t admit that I might have choked a little on that one, I’m sure it was due to dry vocal chords and all that. But my answer was clear tonight and I feel…loved. And remembered.

My cup is filling fast.

Still no nothing.

Sometimes I feel bad that men have to be men and they can’t tap into our minds to see what we really mean when we say things like, “I hate it here I hate it here I hate it here I hate it here!”

What I really mean is, “I hate it here WITHOUT YOU.”

My poor husband. Today he drove the last leg of his cross country trip and kept calling at the absolute worst moments: First call, playing Monopoly with Harry (is it legal to spend Monopoly money on the Sabbath?) he called right when the girls and the dog ran under the card table and upset the game.

Second call, just as I was gently depositing June in her room for trying to break off the fridge door (remember all those doors she destroyed in my German house?) my phone rang and Georgia picked up, giving him a front row ear.

Third call came right in the middle of my Mommy Time-Out when I was mentally  monologuing, which then became a verbal monologue. I know he meant well when he kept interrupting to point out how blessed we are to have Air Conditioning and four healthy kids and a dog who loves me, but what I really needed were cooing noises. Just hmm and ooh at me a little. Maybe throw in a “baby, you’re so skinny” now and then.

I finally told him that we were having a One conversation and he quickly changed tactics. It really helped. By the time I was done I felt so much better. Who needs furniture to sit on? Pictures to collect dust? Hangers? Dressers? A Repentance Bench?

He’s right. I do have four kids (and a dog) that really love me and since he’s gone I’m allowed to blast the AC to my little heart’s content.

I’ve really got to stop writing until my stuff comes.

Ship Log: T Minus 2

Two days before Jason leaves.

6:30 am: slept through DMV Drive Test alarm due to unexpected migraine and had to rush morning routine. Attempted to let my hair “air dry” while doing Driver’s License makeup. Really bad idea.

Arrived at DMV 45 minutes before official opening and received Standby number 7. Stood in the hot sun until 8:00 waiting for the doors to open.  Cursed hair.

Once inside I ate a pop tart to calm my stomach so I could take some ibuprofen for my headache. It tasted mostly disgusting but also a little bit yummy and sinful in a Car Trip Food kind of way.

Waited. Five. Hours.

By 10:30 they had called standby’s 1-5 so I was hopeful. Then two of the examiner’s got snack poisoning and went home with tummy aches. Then I waited. And waited and waited. By one o’clock it was clear: The standby line was officially going to standby and watch everyone else take drive tests for the rest of the day.

I stopped at Fill’s and purchased a 44 oz Diet Coke for lunch then sent Jason back to work for the last half of the day. 44 ounces later I was infused with a desire to mop my house. Card tables and chairs were stacked and the kids were relegated to the pool.

When all was shiny and clean I leaned back against the stove and heaved a sigh of relief.

Then the backdoor opened and all four kids pounded through my kitchen dripping water and Las Vegas dust clear up to the Bonus room.

And right when I didn’t think my day could get any worse, I sneezed and peed my pants.

Some days are just like that.

Dates with Dad and finding piano

Since Jason is getting ready to leave he’s decided to take each of the kids out on a Daddy Date Night. This is part of our new family movement (inspired in a moment of sheer desperation) to make sure everyone has enough love to give everyone else. We call it the Love Canteen. I’m pretty sure I’ve stolen this idea from some therapist or well-known self-help person so feel free to google it and give them credit.

In our family this means that when Harrison asks for permission to “punch June in the face” I intervene and ask him to take a breath and evaluate his love canteen. He usually needs a hug and some sister space and super soothing, non-patrionizing words. I’d say so far we’ve had at least a 12% success rate with this method.

It has taken me 11 years of parenting to figure out that if I want to get a particular result, I should probably try giving it first. I’m trying to practice less screaming and more hugging. That should be in vinyl on my kitchen wall somewhere.

On Friday Jason took June out on her Daddy date. June is in need of some super special attention right now. She’s kicking at the pricks this summer and doing the old love-me-when-I’m-naughty song and dance I’ve so enjoyed over the past six years.

This girl loves her daddy. She got totally dolled up for her date with clip on earrings and Allison’s red lipstick and enjoyed an evening of dress shopping at The Gap followed by dinner at her favorite chickaurant, Zupas.

This is also her father’s favorite chickaurant.

I took the kids to the dollar movie and by the time we got home June had Jason totally entrenched in watching “A Christmas Kiss” on Netflix. This might be the worst Hallmark movie ever made. She was in Heaven, he was in…her clutches. I should probably add that she had commandeered my bathrobe to wear over her jammies. This was mostly hilarious and slightly alarming.

Tonight he’s taking Rex out and then Harrison and then, much to her total dismay, Georgia. Georgia has already asked if she can please do a Mommy Date instead–no offense intended. I think the move has made her the most insecure of all my kids. She’s panicky when she isn’t with me. We’re working on it.

I have three goals when Jason is gone and the first is to throw myself totally and completely into the throes of my children. Not only do I have everyone ready to get busy with after school clubs but I’ve decided to once again tackle the piano at home. Finding a teacher is such a pain, especially for Rex.

I googled teaching kids piano and found the most amazing dude ever, *Joseph Hoffman. He’s got online video lessons that are totally free with a super cheap download packet that accompanies them. I watched through a few of his tutorials and I think my kids are going to love him, especially Rexy.

And then I thought, man that name sounds so familiar. I wonder if he’s the dude who arranges my dad’s choral music? So I called the folks and…

He totally is. Small world. He’s now the guy helping both my Rex’s with their music.

So we’re finding our way. I’ve got football covered, dance lessons ready to start on Wednesday, two Karate places to check out and an online piano genius that’s going to save me some serious cash. In a nutshell, today is a better day. Today I can live in Las Vegas.

 

*Joseph Hoffman has absolutely no idea I am posting this about him, no one is paying me for anything.

because moving stinks

I’m such a big liar. This whole moving to Vegas business isn’t what I am telling myself it is.

I am a seriously flawed glass half-fuller. So far this week I’ve convinced myself that I love my tiny house and having a swimming pool is the greatest thing ever. But on day five my kids are literally trying to kill each other out there during forced family swim time because we’re all so darn sick of looking at the same five faces. Apparently the pool has already lost its glow and instead of everyone jumping up to do chores so they can get in the pool, I’m now threatening them with an extra hour of swimming if they don’t get with the program (not that there’s a program).

And if I hear that door open one more time with “Mom!!!” followed by mindless tattling I think I’ll go drown someone.

Yesterday I got all the kids registered in their respective schools and it was a major weight off my shoulders. Unfortunately I quickly realized just how much I’ve been allowing the weight of my real life’s procrastinated responsibilities to keep me blissfully fogged to our current reality.

Here’s the low down. At the moment we are camping in an empty house with one lonely couch, two card tables and 8 chairs. We have three air mattresses and a TV. We don’t have our furniture, our photos, our beds or our toys. There is no dusting to do, no piano for the kids to pound on, and if I need tape I have to run to the corner and buy some.

Home sweet home. It’s hard to feel connected when there’s nothing to sit on.

I’m trying not to think about Jason leaving us next week. I have so many dear friends who have done far longer deployments and mandatory separations, three and a half months is nothing. I just…really like him. I like having him around and even though I’m quite capable of running this team solo I have to say it’s all so much better with him here.

To all my friends moving this summer (and I know there are a lot of you) please know that you’re not alone in this wilderness of no friends and missing cars. It’s a hard process and I’m with you. Finding a good grocery store, a dry cleaner, a karate place and a dance studio. Convincing your kid to play sports in a strange city where he doesn’t know anyone is hard but in the long run it’s going to pay off.

Right?

Today I will do laundry in this house that is my home. I will mop my kitchen floor (or have a kid do it), hang up the extra clothes from my suitcase, and try not to yell about the broken appliances.

Six months and I should start feeling better.

 

 

home and plugged back in

I’m writing in the dark. I just opened the box to Mac my new best friend and possibly Jason’s biggest rival so I won’t be so lonely and wouldn’t you know I can’t see a single word I’m typing unless I highlight it after the fact. It’s kind of thrilling, who knows what I might say?

Well, we got a house with our pool. Seriously I don’t know what I was so worried about living here. We’re going on day four and my little fish have spent most of their waking hours learning how to drown each other. Who knew water wings were so resilient? Pool rules here are simple: no dunking, eating, or drowning. So far so good.

I looked into swimming lessons down the road at some serious looking swim school and was pleased to see that they do indeed take their swimming seriously. It would cost me over $500 per kid for a 3 week swim session. Seriously. I quickly decided that while their safety is important to me perhaps I should play Frau Von Schwimminbad and teach the kids myself. My niece Allison is here soaking up sun and being entirely delightful and between the two of us we’ve managed to teach everyone the basics–as long as they have goggles on.

Rex is a fish in the water and doesn’t know it. He swims back and forth under water for long lengths and holds his breath forever but the second he finds out he can’t touch the bottom he literally sinks and begins to drown as fast as he possibly can.

Georgia is loving the pool but seems to think this life jacket business isn’t stylish and it bothers her. She wants to see her cute swimsuit so she can lounge around on the steps and be glamorous–red lipstick and all. Allison is keeping her well stocked. It’s like living with Ester Williams minus the propensity to actually swim.

Harry learned to dive on day one and June is the absolute best (oh don’t look so shocked). She never wants to get out and is quite content to practice what she’s learned. Of course the moment her feet hit dry land she begins to cry about life in general–daddy leaving, daddy staying, no friends, it’s hot, green hair, etc. That girl is so ready for school.

But the best part is that I feel content. I feel like we are where we’re supposed to be and I think when our stuff arrives at the end of the month and I get Jesus back up on the wall and the kids in school I’m going to be quite happy here.

Now if only the car would come.