Parrots and Parenting

We recently became zoo members. In watching our kids’ enjoyment on our last few visits, I wish we had become members years ago! It’s not uncommon for us to leave church on Sunday, grab a quick lunch and head to the zoo for an afternoon stroll.  We’ve done this a handful of times in recent months and try to enjoy different parts of the zoo each visit.

It’s a rather perfect environment for our wild and crazy family because the kids can run relatively free and we don’t have to worry about them running away, being abducted or fret over potential mass casualties from their routine destruction. It’s educational, keeps their interest and sometimes keeps them occupied enough to allow me to have a conversation with my husband.

The zoo can be a magical place.

This Sunday was a zoo day. We chose to have lunch at Qdoba which is one of our favorite places to eat with the kiddos. The restaurant is busy enough with conversation that we don’t worry about the volume of the kids. Which is always LOUD. The owners and staff are friendly and treat us with incredible kindness, which is no small feat given the fact that they contend with the aftermath of our dining experience.

Think ‘two to three pounds of food dropped under each chair’ kind of aftermath.

Today was no exception. The kids were unruly and spent much of the lunch telling me they did want sour cream, didn’t want sour cream, did like beans, hated beans, needed more water, were sorry they spilled their water and didn’t really want to eat anything besides tortilla chips.

Thad has also picked up a really cool habit where he gags himself with his fingers during mealtime. I’m awaiting a Porky’s experience (click here to read about that joyful night ) of my own really soon.

The kids asked us no less than 300 times if we were going to the zoo.  They asked so many times that I finally broke down and growled, “This IS the zoo. WE ARE THE ZOO!”

Somehow I don’t think they appreciated my cryptic humor.

Alas, we made it through the lunch and headed towards the zoo. When we arrived at 1:39 pm we were greeted with a sign that informed us that doors had closed at 1 pm. Apparently I failed to remember this time of year brings Boo at the Zoo and set up time is required for this event.

As we pulled away I was met with 300 more complaints all centering around the basic question of “why don’t we get to go to the zoo?” More focused questions sounded like, “How come those people are still in the zoo?” More whiny questions came out as, “It’s not FAAAIIIIIRRRRR. How come we can’t go to the Boo at the Zoo?”

And suddenly I remembered this sweet bird I photographed on our last zoo visit. Actually, there were two birds……but I experienced a soul-level bond with one in particular.  I haven’t confirmed their history with zoo officials….but I am confident it goes something like this:

This is Polly the Parrot.  She is in her late 20’s.  She enjoys sleeping in, working out and watching whatever she wants on the old zoo boob tube. She has no desire to settle down and prefers the low key life of a single bird. She is glorious in appearance, grooming herself out of habit more than necessity. She is a splendid bird.

 

This is Red Bird. She is 38, married and has four kids.  She used to be a nice, normal parrot until her kids kept asking her questions. Repeatedly. And then some more.

At one point in her life she had time to concern herself over her appearance but finally gave up when she realized gray hairs were overwhelming her  blonde hairs red feathers. Now she spends her days pulling out a feather for each repeated question from her offspring. 

The zoo has signs posted in no less than fifty spots NOT to feed the animals. But I’m thinking that on my next visit Ol’ Red Bird deserves some Godiva.

And a Girls’ Weekend.

As a sidenote, our kids informed us at dinner tonight that they’d like another pet. 

A parrot to be exact.

I can picture the bird now…..

 

 

Signing off from the zoo,

Emily

Good Old Days

I have a confession that will not come as a shock to some of you. I  view the past with what some would call unhealthy sentimentality. Don’t fault me….I come by it honestly. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and in this instance the mighty tree is my father. As children, we drove him crazy. Like ‘forehead veins bulging’ crazy. As an only child my father was less than prepared for the volume and high speed playing, battling, arguing that existed in a house with three offspring. Don’t misunderstand. He was/is an amazing dad. He’s loving, kind, an incredible instructor with focus on what is worthwhile and noble.

But I remember several times in my childhood when I was certain his head was going to explode off his shoulders from frustration over something one of us had done.

Flash forward thirty years and my father will see kids acting out in restaurant, turn to my mother and say, “I don’t EVER remember our kids acting like that. Ahh, those were great times. Our kids were so good….” My dear mother typically rolls her eyes and mutters something about his ability to rewrite history. If she’s really feeling spunky she’ll tell the barbecue story.


Sometime in the late 1980s my parents were apparently feeling especially brave. They ventured out with all three kids to a tiny restaurant near our home called Porky’s, a family owned barbecue joint. I estimate there were roughly 30 or 40 seats in the one room restaurant so the feel was a bit tight. Restaurants would use the word ‘intimate’ but it actually bordered on claustrophobic. On the evening we visited all was going well until my baby sister managed to get her hands on a potato chip.

Which she gagged on.

Which led to vomiting.

Which caused my mother to panic and start patting my sister on the back to clear her mouth and throat.

Which caused my younger brother to gag and continue to dry heave at the table.

Which caused me, in my 10ish year old coolness, to be totally mortified and start blathering on and on about how someone needed to get this circus back in order!

Which went on and on until my dad freaked out, waved his hands in the air and yelled, in a volume much too loud for an ‘intimate’ restaurant, “I NEED SOME SPAAAAAAAAAACE!”

It was embarrassing. For everyone. However, when retold years later we all laugh, especially my dad. Through the view of a 30 year old lens things seem easier, less stressful, the edges softened with the passing of time. The embarrassment has faded into the longing for those same moments as we are all now grown and the little potato chip choker is living hours and hours away.

And I’m getting weepy thinking of that little baby girl and if I’m not careful I’ll miss making my point altogether! You may be saying, “Point, Emily? Your ramblings have a point?”

Why, Yes. They. Do!

So before I go further….let me state in black and white that I think it’s fine to look fondly on the past and good to reminisce about days gone by. But if you’re anything like me, there might be a tad too much time spent misty eyed over old photos when I should be realizing THESE are the good old days!

The minutes you and I are living now are the very moments that will catch our breath on some Flashback Friday in five years.

Years ago my father advised me ‘not to wish my life away.’ When I would whine about how I couldn’t wait to grow up, drive a car, start dating, move out, get a job, he would gently say, “Don’t wish your life away.” Sage advice and words I needed to hear. However, I seem to cling to certain pieces of advice in an unhealthy manner. Some recommendations, such as suggested hours of exercise, adequate number of fruits and vegetables to ingest, go overlooked. But there are a few key bits of wisdom that I’ve hung onto, wringing out their usefulness until they’ve become useless and I’m left exhausted. “Don’t wish your life away” is one of those bits of advice I’d like to set out with tomorrow’s trash.

Because I’m no longer a child and I’m sure not wishing my life away.

The bummer is that regardless of my position on the pace at which I want life to move, it keeps going……fast. And too many times I’ve clung to a moment that was fleeting or tried to recreate something that has had its time. Time to move on, sister!

While I have sincerely worked on this weakness of mine, I find myself typing now because I was once again lured into the ‘look at the past…..oh how good does the past look?….. wish I could go back…..’

Stupid auto generated Flashback Friday from Facebook dredged up a picture of my oldest son from seven years ago that took my breath away. I quickly resorted to my sentimental self and wanted to sob in my tea at 6 am. “Where has my baby gone? Where is my precious little guy?” But you know what? He was upstairs. All fresh eight years of him. Snug in bed and sleeping soundly dreaming of the football game to come later that morning. His three younger siblings were also asleep, including one precious little blonde boy who looks remarkably like the baby in that flashback photo.

And I am reminded that today is a good old day.

 

So, rather than belabor my irritation over the shrieking pterodactyl noise that our 15 month old now uses in public, causing the couple sitting next to us at the restaurant to get up and move, I’m trying to remember that we somehow endured it before. With three other tiny pterodactyls.

Good old days.

Or the mortifying trip to SAM’s Club early last year when two of our three kids fell off a bench and landed on their head. At one point all three kids were crying and I caught the horrified look of another shopper when I turned and she caught sight of my belly, gigantic with a growing Thaddeus inside.

Good old day.

Or the stop at Wendy’s drive through this summer in Cookeville, Tennessee with all the windows rolled down when my seven year old son began yelling, “Real. New. Settlers!! Real new settlers. REAL NEW SETTLERS!!!” I wasn’t totally embarrassed until I turned around to see that he was pointing at an Amish family who he believed to be pioneer settlers in the flesh. At Wendy’s. Then I was TOTALLY embarrassed. (Although it provided for a great conversation as we continued down the road about the blessing of the variety of people we will encounter in life.)

Good old day.

Or the other stop at Wendy’s while traveling last summer (hey, don’t judge…we like Wendy’s!) when our then two year old began calling out to an older, less than conversational woman who was finishing her meal alone behind us. She let out in a horrifyingly creepy, sing-songy voice, ending in crescendo, “Don’t leave………DON’T LEAVE………….DON’T LEAVE………….DON’T LEEEEEEEEEEAVE!!!” #awkard

Good old day.

Each of these scenarios left me frazzled and a bit white-knuckled ( I know, I know….you’re not surprised….) but in retrospect they’re more than just a little amusing to me. They serve as a reminder that tomorrow’s stressful, uncomfortable, awkward situation likely isn’t nearly as bad as I’m making it.

Heck, it’ll likely make an appearance in the next installment of The Ticking Time Mom.

Good Old Days.

**Please share your Good Old Days memories! The more mortifying the better. Because let’s be honest…misery loves company, folks.**

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday Mom Prayer

Dear Lord,

Thank you for the unknown mom who loves the slow moving child who stalled the bus just enough to show up a few minutes late at our stop to allow my slow moving child to catch her ride to school. Barely.

Thank you for my slow moving girl and her confidence in wearing pumpkin orange polka dotted knee socks with pink shorts. And for her desire to talk to me, at length, about how much she loves these socks, which further slowed down the slow moving girl. Thank you for shutting my mouth and letting her wear the socks.

Thank you for my ill fitting work pants that fit just well enough to make it through another work day.

Thank you for the people I work with and encounter in my day who provide laughter and hugs and stories that make my job even better. Thank you for their patience in dealing with me. On a Monday.

Thank you for my children who do not often hear my words on the first try. Or the second, third, fourth or fifth.

Thank you for their pediatrician who told me long ago that hearing tests were not necessary despite my conviction that they had hearing loss. Every. Last. Child. Apparently ‘listening loss’ isn’t yet a clinical diagnosis.

Thank you for my dog who, despite the mind-boggling, crazy ridiculous amounts of hair he leaves on my floors every solitary day, greets us with licks and wagging tail. Which of course produces a floating trail of additional dog hair.

Thank you for the reminder that the world wide web, in all its glorious wideness, would have no less than fifty ways for me to make due with the uncooked rice, can of black beans and tomatoes. Basically the only reasonable, unspoiled, unfrozen ingredients I had on hand for dinner.

Thank you for the edible meal that resulted and the surprising ‘This is really good!’ comments from the small people. Thank you for arming me with the “We are so unbelievably blessed to have this meal and people here, near and far would be happy to enjoy this…” speech just in case. I also appreciate the “beans and rice are a complete protein” back-up speech.

Thank you for the extra dose of patience after I managed to remove the rice bag, apparently previously opened, from the shelf. Open side down.

Thank you for the new vacuum which has become my best friend (see earlier dog hair point).


Thank you for an extra bulb of garlic after I burned the first batch and melted the spatula into it. Thank you for the reminder that carcinogen is not what I wish to feed my kids and the extra nudge to scrub the pan twice before reusing.

Thank you for the fussy baby because his clinging reminds me that I’m needed to fill a vital role in someone’s life even on a day when I feel barely capable of find matching socks.

Thank you for also reminding me (through his whining) that we have been afforded the opportunity to visit a doctor and receive immunizations. (There is no political pro or anti vaccine statement being made here. Just simple gratitude that I can visit my doctor and receive the treatment I choose for myself and my family. I’m fairly confident we all know I can barely find aforementioned matching socks much less make a political statement.)

Thank you, Lord, for the ability to find a medicine dropper to administer the infant ibuprofen. Only you know how difficult it is for me to find these things in the cabinet when needed. Ironically, there are likely four under my front car seat.

Thank you for increasing homework because it is a reminder of our good school systems and the hard work our teachers put forth. Thank you for allowing me to still know how to do second grade math. Next year is a bit concerning.

Thank you for the cafeteria workers who prepare and serve my children because most days I can’t get it together to make the lunch box thing happen.

Thank you for messy faces and sweaty necks and stinky socks and piles of laundry. Because this reminds me of food eaten, full bellies, bodies healthy enough to play, the blessing of owning more than one outfit, as well as a washer and dryer.

Thank you, Lord, for the children’s bedtime. Enough said.

Thank you for the joy of awakening to enjoy another day.

Thank you for changing my perspective when I really just wanted to hide in my closet with my bar of chocolate.

Amen.

 

 

 

Smoking in the bathroom

I’ve been meaning to write for weeks. I have needed to write for weeks. Yet the weeks have been dragging on with no tangible documentation of our current events. The truth is that life has happened.

You know, the ‘life’ part of life that leaves you feeling like you’re in a time warp. The series of weeks where you lift up your head and realize a month has passed and you’ve just been plowing through your days trying to keep your head above water. The Groundhog Day season of life where you hear the alarm and can’t remember what day it is because you’ve executed the same pattern for days on end. Shower, get kids ready, pack lunches, get to the bus, work, work, work, make dinner, head to practice, feed everyone again, showers, stories, check backpacks, goodnight kisses, get waters, listen to the final fifteen pleas to use the bathroom yet again, wash face, brush teeth, crash into bed. Rinse and repeat. Rinse and repeat. Rinse and repeat.

The irony is that often during these frenzied times I’m armed with the best material to document. Consequently, it’s often vital for me to practice some of my writing therapy during this insanity. Unfortunately, it’s a catch 22 as there is usually very limited time to hang out with my keyboard due to this ‘life’ kind of life that has occurred.

I should clarify that this crazy town is where I choose to live and I wouldn’t change it for the world. But I’d sure take a round trip ticket to Emily of Indiana University days every now and then. Although those years also had their stress and challenges……

-Deciding which of the main courses (prepared by someone else and laid out for me at 5:30 pm every night) I would enjoy for dinner.

-Trying to make the unbelievably difficult decision of what to wear on Thursday night. Would it be the tank top and black pants or the other tank top and black pants? Times got extra tough when faced with the option of borrowing someone else’s tank top and black pants. Apparently designers were on strike in the late ’90s.

-Wondering whether to get my workout in before or after classes.

Ok, let’s be real, I didn’t work out. As much as my 38 year old heart wishes I had….. I did, however, have the option to do so whenever I darn well pleased.

While I often daydream about those carefree IU days, I love the blessings this stage of life brings. It’s just that I find today’s challenges to be a bit more…..er, challenging. These days it’s more like:

-Should I wear the business suit that doesn’t really fit or the skirt with mystery baby food stain that needs to have the hem repaired?

-Should I go to the store and get ‘real’ food or can I make ‘breakfast for dinner’ tonight? Yet again.

-Might I possibly be able to get out of the house for a walk or will chasing a one year old away from the dog bowl constitute as cardio?

I loved my college days and still have such fond memories of Indiana University. My degree equipped me with lots of skills but they forgot a few things in the ole Business School. I think it would behoove them to require students to take a course on executing their degree while dealing with added responsibility. So, be it taking care of pets, kids, parents or loved ones, you are not unprepared! An Adult Survival 101, per se! Because, in all honesty, there are days I want to crawl into my closet with a bar of milk chocolate and hide. Ok, ok, there are days I HAVE hidden in my closet with a bar of chocolate. As the now popular meme suggests, I simply don’t want to ‘adult’ at times.

 I was recently standing in my kitchen, surrounded by people asking for, pleading for, screeching for demanding things. I’ve discussed the snowball effect that often occurs in our village but let me explain for anyone who missed out. When one child needs something the other three IMMEDIATELY need something. It is an emergency. The milk request needs to be fulfilled NOW. The pencil sharpening and graham cracker getting are so urgent. As are the diaper changing and hair brushing and meal prepping and sock finding and paper signing and “look at me, look at me, look at me!”

THEY. MUST. HAPPEN. NOW.

The frenzy is contagious and I frequently view my little ones as rebel fighters in these situations. It is also in these moments I often dredge up a memory from 1990.

I was 13 when I finally convinced my parents to let us get a family pet. I thought their previous denial to do so was cruel and unusual punishment. I will take care of the dog, I said. I will feed the dog, I said. I will walk the dog, I said. Dear Mom and Dad, super sorry for the failure to keep my word on any of that….but I digress…….

A few months after we decided to get a dog, a Dalmatian to be exact, we made a visit to see the newly arrived litter of puppies.  There were eight little cuties and they were so spanking fresh that their spots hadn’t even shown up. The family raising them was keeping them in a bathroom. They were like little, wild bandits yelping and nipping and every last one of them was demanding to nurse. I will never forget the look on the mother’s face.

Total hopelessness. Utter defeat.

I couldn’t figure out why she wasn’t tending to the needs of her vulnerable little puppies. What a mean mom, I thought. It is only in hindsight that I can totally relate to her plight. Years later I also realize I watched as she pulled off the most fabulous, evasive mothering maneuver I’ve ever witnessed. As eight tiny puppies climbed and crawled on her, demanding her immediate attention, she slowly climbed onto the toilet lid and slunk into the nearby sink bowl. This full grown dog curled up for what I assume is the canine version of a spa day. Brilliant!

The problem is that I don’t fit in my bathroom sink.

Believe me, I’ve tried.

While I only have half the mouths to feed, I’m confident my litter is much louder, much more demanding and MUCH mouthier. That’s on a good day. Suffice it to say, the last few days have NOT been good days. In the last week we have enjoyed the benefits of strep throat, a horrendous stomach bug and some fun respiratory issues. I’ve washed more sheets and cleaned more carpet than I ever care to remember. To use one of my positive pessimisms, everyone was sick but at least they threw up a lot.

My latest post was also delayed because our youngest daughter started smoking. I know, I know…you might be thinking three years of age is too young for tobacco use and I heartily agree. However, our wispy girl somehow confused the term vomiting for smoking. So when she became ill upon entering her daycare classroom, she looked at my husband and sobbed, “I’m sooooo sorry.  I did not meeeeeeeaaaaaaan to smoke in the classroom. I ‘meaned’ to smoke in the baaaaaaaathroooooom!” It’s tough not to laugh at a toe-headed, three year old girl confessing that she is now smoking. (Although I did have to do some fancy footwork when we ended up at the doctor and she confessed her new past time to him, as well.) Our only consolation is that she might always associate smoking with such horror that she’ll never for one second consider picking up the habit.

Those of you who’ve read my previous posts know that August isn’t my favorite month and fall is my least favorite season. We are trying to get into our rhythm with school and football and daycare and work, work, work. Now we’ll have to add a smoking cessation class for preschoolers to the list. It just never ends!

So, as we purge the germs from our hot zone, I will forge ahead. My desire is to have a chance to write more often. This, of course, hinges on two things:

Getting the computer power cord to reach me in the bathroom sink and keeping tiny smokers clear of my new work space!

I would love, love, love to hear how each of you deal with the pressures that come with ‘adulting!’ Please share your tips so we can all forge ahead together!

 

**Click ‘FOLLOW’ and enter your info. You’ll get emails delivered directly from my sink. You’ll also be among the first to know if my daughter kicks her habit.**

Surrendering August

I am certain my angst with August seemed silly to many of you. After all, every year we send kiddos to school. And every year winter arrives and is eventually followed by spring. So, why on earth would a grown woman complain about an entire stupid month.

Well……

I’ve written and rewritten this post. I’ve trashed completed drafts in my attempt to share my thoughts. I just can’t seem to get it right.

You see, my intention is to share a bit about my lifelong friend. Known to me first as Krista Anne Lutterman.

It’s a gift to have a buddy, a kindred spirit, someone to share life with. It’s an entirely different thing altogether, a priceless treasure, to have someone you can share nearly every aspect of your life with for 35 years.

I had that.

Thank you, God.

But I, and SO many others, spent August of 2012 facing down the reality that our earthly relationship with someone we cherished was about to end.

How on earth do you put into words something like that?

My first draft was so sad I couldn’t stop crying to finish. Every time I opened it I cried. Even Matt didn’t know what to do with me. I worked on it for days and finally just gave up knowing Krista would tell me to knock it off and suck it up.

Other drafts fell short of explaining who Krista was. And who she is to me.

So, in the end, I’ve decided to give you a short (depending on your idea of short) overview of some of my favorite Krista characteristics and quirks. In my attempt to loosen the grip I’ve allowed August to have on me, I’m focusing on only good memories. The further her death gets from me, the more I’m able to remember the span of our friendship versus the agony of her last days and eventual absence. So, here are a few of the many memories/things I love about Krista that I’ve collected over the span of 35 years.

Before we begin, there are a few things you should know.

-Krista and I had known each other since we were tiny squirts. In our youth, we shared a daytime babysitter. In later years we not only attended the same school but had the same teachers.

-We grew up across the street from one another, our mothers taught at the same school and our little sisters were best friends. We were connected on no less than 2,000 levels.

-We loved playing Little House on the Prairie and recording our own radio shows in her closet. Ummm…..apparently, we were also both comfortable being dorks.

-Krista was like a sister to me. A much taller, more responsible sister.

Ok, let’s begin.

Krista was such a friend to me. There is a line in a country song that talks about being “a friend a friend would like to have.” Perfect summation of the type of friend she was to me.  

-She let me tag along. From trips to her grandparents when we were little to getting me a job at the family orchard when we were in high school, she was content to let me hang with her. In college, when I was in the gifted and talented  program at being single, she let me be a fifth wheel on Saturday night dates. And not in a ‘Oh, dear Lord, let her get someone…ANYONE…to take her out this weekend’  kind of agreement. She always made me feel like she didn’t care that I was totally infringing on her evening. In fact, I spent every New Year’s for YEARS with her and her boyfriend/later fiance/later husband. Ironically, we always ended up at the same guy’s house or apartment. He was weird but he was friends with all my friends and we always had fun together.

I am now married to that weird guy. I credit Krista with the decade long lead-up that it took for Matt to learn to tolerate me.

She may have bribed him. Or coerced him. (See next point.)

-She was a leader. I don’t remember her being overly bossy with me but rather confidently assertive in what she thought we should be doing. And when and where we should be doing it. I always thought her ideas were better anyway so it worked out for both of us. Krista and I baked our first cake together. Apparently substituting baking soda and baking powder isn’t a great idea. The cake ended up with the density of concrete and shaped like a honeycomb.  We promptly threw it in the woods behind her house where the deer likely choked on it.

Aside from our culinary skills, we recorded the aforementioned radio shows in her bedroom closet. Or videotaped our own weather segments. We spent hours….HOURS…playing Little House on the Prairie.

We were super nerds.

We’d grab Kristi Butler as we headed up the street towards Gina Steinsberger’s house. We’d spend the afternoon inventing or creating or just doing whatever 8 year old girls did in the 80’s. Fancying ourselves as archaeologists, we dug up the land behind our houses and found old silverware and antique bottles. I never remember a dull moment with Krista. I loved hanging out with her. Like I said, she had great ideas.

Alas, not all time could be spent playing because there were other responsibilities in life…even for a 10 year old. Which brings me to my next point.

-She was neat. Orderly. Perhaps a bit anal retentive. My mom was always after me to clean up my room. As a mother now, let me just say, “I GET IT, MOM!!” I was a slob where Krista was like a well oiled, cleaning and organizing machine. I don’t ever remember her room being untidy. EVER. However, she’d come to my house and say, “If your mom wants you to clean your room, just clean your room.” Little did she know that there is some gene missing from my makeup that prevents just that from happening.

I wonder if she somehow got my gene and hers. That’s the only logical explanation for her tidiness and my slovenliness.  Right?

Right?

The great part about Krista was that she’d hang out with me while I cleaned. Or practiced the piano. Because piano lessons were another point of drudgery in my life. I loathed, loathed, loathed, practicing. But Krista would come over and sit in my living room while I played, making the time pass much faster. She always requested a song called Polar Bears, which I loved playing for her because I got to use way too much pedal. Which is apparently a thrill when you’re ten and hate practicing the piano. And she thought it was great which made me feel great.

Like I said, a friend a friend would like to have….

And because she was so stinking organized and orderly, she never had to clean up her room and had time to sit with me instead.

-She was patriotic. She loved studying government and economics. She loved the U. S. of A. We went to hear Ronald Reagan together when he visited Evansville in 1986. I remember being so confused as to what our President had to do with the Star Wars movie. Looking back, I have no doubt Krista could’ve explained the arms race even as a 5th grader.

I recently heard a story from Cheryl, Krista’s dear friend and college roommate, who has since become a treasured friend to me. She told me that the ONLY argument they’d ever had was when Krista proclaimed Reagan as the greatest American President and Cheryl vehemently disagreed. The story goes that Krista began chasing Cheryl around the sorority house, like some crazed person, spouting off all the wonders of his term. Cheryl said she knew better than to EVER broach the subject again.

Krista loved the Olympics. As an athlete in an athletic family, her love of sports came naturally. However, her patriotism was rare for a kid her age. She seemed to live for the summer Olympics. I still remember how excited she was when the family got to attend part of the Atlanta Games in 1996. I could’ve cared less.

And without going too far down a less than pleasant memory lane, I dread next year’s games a bit. Because three years ago we sat in her family room and watched the Olympics together. The stakes were much higher than any silly sand volleyball game and we both knew it.

I never wanted those games to end.

I know that next year I will watch and cheer for the volleyball team. Wishing I had a patriotic Krissy cheering next to me.

But I promised happy memories, so let me continue….

-She was funny. Sometimes ‘ha-ha’ funny and sometimes she did things that were inadvertently hilarious. For instance, one night we had a group date at a nice, a la carte restaurant where the prices were listed next to each item but did not denote the decimal point. When our order was taken, she requested the 1995 salmon. We were a bit confused but she was adamant she specifically wanted the 1995 salmon. I was trying to figure out why anyone would want 15 year old salmon….and finally we realized she was listing the price.

Ok, this might not seem funny to anyone outside of that table but we laughed and laughed about the 1995 salmon. The best part was that Krista laughed. She had a great ability to laugh at the silly things she did. Her lightheartedness I miss so very much. Along with a million other little things.

-She was a friend. A friend a friend like I would like to have. She was thoughtful and tender and gave the. best. hugs.  Her laugh was genuine and contagious and I’m so utterly grateful that as I type this I can hear it. She remembered big things and little things. She sent me a Happy First Mother’s Day card. No joke. It has a treasured spot in my china cabinet drawer. She was amazing at sending cards for all large and small occasions.  And she actually remembered to use the little gold stickers they throw in the bag. In retrospect, she might have had an unhealthy relationship with Hallmark but who am I to judge since I was often on the receiving end of her precious cards.

-She was all the things I’ve shared up until the day she left us. Even as August pressed on and Krista had surmounting challenges, she decided she wanted a party. Get my friends together, she said. Raise money for the National Brain Tumor Society, she said. So, we did. As I’ve stated, she had great ideas, she was persuasive and she knew who to ask. She shared this idea with us on August 11, 2012. Her cousin Ande, a small group of devoted, amazing friends and I gathered to try to pull off her request in less than one week. Apparently everyone in the tri-state area loved her as much as we did because Krista’s great idea raised somewhere around $70,000 for her cause. Typical Krista, sharing ideas and orchestrating fun stuff right up until the end.

I find that I’ve written too much for a traditional blog post and not nearly enough to convey the awesomeness of Krista. There will be more. But even then it won’t convey the awesomeness of Krista.


As I climb up on my soapbox, let me end by challenging you to do something this week. Do you have a friend a friend would like to have? Call him/her. Drop a line, a text, an old fashioned letter. Do not let time pass or grass grow on your friendship. Meet for coffee, Skype, chat message.  (Is that still a thing?) My point is that I need you to understand I’m an expert at very few things but realizing the importance of soaking up true friendship is now one of them. I still stink at making time for my best girls at times but I am getting better thanks to Krista. So love on your friends. And work to be a friend a friend would like to have.

And maybe swing by a Hallmark store and grab a few cards. No doubt their sales could use a boost.

**If you have a sweet, funny or special memory of Krista, please share. Her mom continues to collect the stories in a book for Krista’s kids. Mykristastory@yahoo.com

Don’t tell me August isn’t a four letter word.

I dread August.

What started as a journal process for my kids has turned into a bit of therapy for me, as well. Killing two birds with one stone is always welcomed in my world. In looking further into the ‘therapeutic side’ of my writing, I’m hoping my kids might one day understand me a bit better. Heck, maybe I will understand ‘me’ a bit better which will eventually help them understand me better. A storytelling snowball of sorts. And so it goes….

I will say it again. I dread August.

I despise August.

I hesitate to use the word hate since I typically reserve it for serious, severe issues. Things like heartbreak or death deserve that word. However, August now carries with it each of those for me. So perhaps I do have permission to say that I hate August.

What began decades ago as mild irritation with the month that marks the end of summer has now evolved to include the start of school, beginning of my husband’s busy season and the approach/inevitable arrival of winter. I think winter weather is stupid and should be reserved for polar bears. Those of you cold weather lovers can keep your ski gear where the sun don’t shine. Which happens to be southern Indiana anytime from November through March. (You knew what I meant…… right?!)

Unfortunately, those initial irritants are superseded and August has taken on a life of its own. It is a month that is marred with gripping nostalgia and grief. Regardless of the peaks of summer, I can feel the impending storm of August rumbling in the distance as late July ends. No matter how smooth the previous weeks have gone, the approach of August brings with it sadness.  Sweet memories that sometimes seem bitter viewed through the filter of this eight month.

If you enjoyed my previous writings because you found them to be mildly amusing, let me apologize in advance for the next few posts. I make no promises that upcoming stories won’t be sad, sappy or written in a bit of anger. Don’t say I didn’t warn you about the Debbie Downer potential. However, I’m guessing it’s impossible they can be completely morose because they will highlight the lives of some truly remarkable people. It is my hope, my desire, my literal prayer that by sharing the joy I’ve experienced through these friends, I will be able to tie some genuine happiness back into a month that I dread.

Writing can be cathartic and it’s cheaper than therapy. So, I will write. And probably cry.

Definitely cry.

And hopefully laugh and remember and laugh some more.

So, here’s to hating August for the last time.

E


* I was approximately nine hours into August, trying to build my determination to have a good attitude, when this happened.  In case you don’t recognize it, this is the new Dodge Charger used by our state law enforcement. I was two miles from exiting off the highway on a trip to reminisce with old friends when the old ‘blueberries and cherries’ caught up with me.

I abhor you, August.

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