Screaming in the car helps

If you've never been driven to scream, you haven't been a mother long enough  -Christi Campbell

If you’ve never been driven to scream, you haven’t been a mother long enough -Christi Campbell

A friend turned me on to a writer I had not had the pleasure of meeting yet.  I am always ready to hear of a good read, but more over, someone I can relate to.  While I have not lived the life Anne has, my HEAVENS does she “get me” as a mother.

When I really love an author, I insist on buying books in hard copy, not the fancy e-book way, because when I spend time with a good book, it’s like a physical book is having the author right there in the room with me. I dont just read their books, I converse with them. I also have a habit of desecrating books, and the more I love one, the more horribly in shape they become.  Anne’s?  Well, I’ve begun whole conversations next to her underlined phrases and paragraphs that I’ve circled and put a huge exclamation mark next to.  At one point, I circled a quote she added from another author who was profound and impacting, and I wrote under it, “Wow, and sooooo not me!”  I let my eyes move to the next page and what did she write?  “This is SO not me!”

For all that she is, Anne Lamont is not anything but a human woman, BUT she is something so many christian women aren’t.  She’s bold faced honest.

There.  I’ve said it.  Christian women are often not honest.  That seems contradictory, but it’s amazing just how bad about myself I feel after reading a devotional or even attending a bible study where it’s not transparent with women who will show their broken sides.  There are an awful lot of women I know who need to see that being christian doesn’t mean your kids are perfect and your house runs smooth… it also means you can be mucked up and broken, wounded, and not getting much right in life, but still – the fact you woke up and tried one more day to get it more right than wrong is enough to make God proud of you.

I needed to hear the honesty… and in a way that made me listen like I stopped doing a while ago because I was too tired to try and hear through the noise of my pain and my motherhood strife.  Anne dares to pen four letter words as she relates her messed up life and shows how God’s intervening.  It shocked me.  Has she been in my head?

I’m gonna put these two quotes on my fridge… because they’re just that brutally honest…(not even because they tell me what to do, just that they remind me someone else is walking around like me) :

“Everyone has been having a hard time with life this year; not with all of it, just the waking hours.”   &  “I don’t know what the solution is, I know what doesn’t help is the terrible feeling of isolation, the fear that everyone else is doing better than you.”  Anne Lamont

The fact is, my life is not beautiful and perfect.  I can mask up and make it look that way.  I can manage to make it look like I got great kids and a fantastic marriage that takes no effort, and that I’m this cheery sweet girl who is just bubbly and happy go lucky.  I can do it.  And you’d walk away and go, wow.  Huh.  Wonder what I’m doing wrong that I don’t have a life like that.

You’re not doing anything wrong…  Life just sucks sometimes.  It gets mucky.  And every single thing I touch requires so much effort that I feel drained before I have even managed to climb out of bed in the mornings.  I wake up, think about my to do list, and I want to turn over and go back to bed.  IT’S SO DAMNED HARD!!!

This is not how I planned life to go at this point.  I had a whole life planned out.  It was detailed and it was glorious!  We will call that Plan A.  It was set with eyes that were childish.  By childish I mean, eyes that had not yet seen what real life was like… the effort required just to survive day to day, and the moxy you have to possess to actually do anything more than that.

So Plan B – That is where I stand now.  I have an amazing husband who stands by me even though I am a headstrong, stubborn, hot-tempered, often unfiltered woman.  (I really need a filter for my mouth before I speak)  I have three amazing kids…  because when all is said and done, they truly are amazing.  I may pull my hair out daily, and end up bald, but they really are amazing.  I have the things I need, some that I want, and even some I never thought to want.  I’m blessed.

That said… Life is insane.  Life is hard.  Life is driving me nuts.  I screw up daily.  I get some things right.  I’ll never figure out a whole heck of a lot of things I assumed I would have bagged and done by now.  I’ll admit I think a LOT of cuss words in my head and even say some of them out loud.  I am a Jesus loving, God fearing, Bible reading, Christian woman who does NOT have her ducks in a row and can not begin to lie and say she has her act together.  I simply do not.  BUT – I do get up and try, each and every day, to get more things right than I did maybe the day before, and hopefully will learn something that will make tomorrow easier to get through.

Anne confirmed something I have long done, finding it to be one of the only ways to release my built up tension…  Somedays, you can be right or you can be kind.  It’s a grace thing.  Oh, and screaming in the car helps.

I ramble all this for one simple fact…  somebody out there may need to know that they are so not alone.  They may need to hear life sucks for someone else too, and they (me) are having an insane number of days where motherhood is pushing them to the brink of clinical insanity.  No joke.  I cant tell you how many times I have wondered what God saw in me when he delivered the specific children he did to me.  I wonder because I dont feel strong enough nor prepared enough for the years still ahead of me.  The only thing that keeps me going is knowing God DOES know more than I do and I am not the only one navigating these uncharted waters.  (I know people have had kids before, but I haven’t, and no one has ever raised MINE – so thus, the waters are uncharted for both of us.)

Hang in there…  God will take you just as you are… muck and all… and you are not alone.

Quotes are taken from Anne Lamont’s book “Plan B…Further Thoughts on Faith.”


Star Wars and the Learning Curve

In everything, there is always a learning curve.  This I know.  What I did NOT know, pre-motherhood, was just how many DIFFERENT FORMS of learning curves there were.

My son sat at the desk, complaining how “hard” his math homework was.  What you need to hear in that sentence is how BORING math is, because it comes easy to him.  The “hard” part was sitting still long enough to get it done.  I wish math had been this hard for ME in school.

George Lucas - A random picture I pulled from the net (I do not own the rights to this)

George Lucas – A random picture I pulled from the net (I do not own the rights to this)

He finally stopped complaining and began working.   I wonder what kind of student George Lucas was.  I wonder what little Georgie’s mom thought on her pull-your-hair-out-homework-torture session days.  Did he sing little songs like my son?  Songs that sweet Georgie Porgy PUT in my son’s head??

Drake sat at the desk, multiplying numbers in his head, belting out the answer in long streams of Star Wars theme music.  Take the most dramatic score and instead of instrumentals, insert the sounds of a 9 year old belting out “64, sixty fouuuurrr, siiiixxxty FOUR, 6 and 4! Six Six Six, Sixty Four, Sixty Four! 64, 64, sixty foooour, 64 ,sixty fouuuurrrr…..  Okay, you get the picture right?  In other words, the answer was 64 and he drilled it into his head by singing his favorite song, and had zero clue he was helping himself learn his number facts.  He was just surviving his math homework.  It’s genius really.

This is WHY I truly suck at math.  I have absolutely zero desire to belt out numerical facts to ANY song you could come up with.  None.  I cant even think of ANYTHING I would want to know bad enough to sing it over and over like he was doing.  But again, HE had no clue that was what he was doing.  He was just surviving math.  Because he was bored.

There is a reason God chose to have us come into the world as children, and learn nearly everything we are to know by the time we are 10.  Oh we will learn a great many things more after that, but the majority of the things that we need to learn to survive in life are truly learned before age 10, and some argue before age 6.  Why?  Because learning is play, and play is learning, and if it cant be fun, then kids will find a way to MAKE it fun.  They have a learning curve that is unmatched by the adult population.  Adults find it far harder to insert facts and new concepts into their overloaded brain spaces than do kids.  The learning curve is simply skewed in a child’s favor.

I wont get all scientific or explain anything rational.  I will simply say that kids got a good thing goin when it comes to learning new things.  We who are tasked with helping them along that learning path?  Well, I think I know why OUR learning curve is somewhat bent.  It’s all the head banging (and no, not heavy-metal-rock-out-head-banging) while listening to the number 64 being sung over and over and over… soon to be replaced by the next fact on the list, and the next, and the next… till a math sheet of 100 is done.

Somewhere along fact #32 my brain went numb and I began to wonder what I would say if I ever were to meet Mr George Lucas, live in person.  I probably would relate to him a thank you for helping my kid learn his number facts.  I’m sure he’s heard plenty of, “I’ve seen all your movies” in his day… but I bet he’s never heard this one yet.  🙂

Gifted and beautiful

I sat and took in a beautiful sight yesterday, and it honestly has me transfixed.  I can’t stop thinking about it, and while there are many different ways in which my mind is spiderwebbing here and there on the subject, as my daughter got dressed this morning, one little tidbit really drove its way home…

Imagine with me…

A somewhat middle aged woman with a grin that rivals that of a 7 year old who’s just been given a three scooped ice cream cone all to herself.  She wears mismatched socks, her favorite glittery dress shoes, comfortable stretch pants, and a well loved purple top.  When she walks, she holds her head up high, like a child who is stretching tall enough to ride the new coaster that’s in town. She walks up on her tiptoes. She has a laugh that comes out half giggle, to which she puts her hands up to her face because she has amused herself by doing it.

I sit up and take notice of her by the way she loves life.  How do I know she does? Oh, I just do.  It’s written in her eyes.  They are full and sparkling.  When her grin is lit, her eyes light in a way that can only mean she has been gifted with something few of the rest of us ever will have, even if we spend a lifetime searching for it.

Now imagine the scene in my bathroom.  My daughter is in the throes of teen-hood and she is distraught.  There is not a smile to be found on her face today.  Hers is deadly serious.  Her hair is not stick straight, no matter how many times it’s been ironed to be so, and it possibly moves incorrectly when she walks ?  I’m unsure.  Her shirt wont hang just so and her pants are bugging her and while her shoes are new and she loves them, she thinks that maybe they dont go with this shirt?  Or maybe they do but not with these pants?  Oh the hair!  There’s so much of it and it wont listen to what she’s asking it to do!!!  What will people think?  Will someone notice, what if they notice and think something AND then say something too…

Okay, listen, I dont say this to trivialize my daughters delema.  But do you see the difference?  I ask you, how freeing must it be to live so contented?!  How beautiful to not feel some of the frustrations, because they simply dont present themselves.  Don’t misunderstand me.  We all have problems.  I know that this woman has had a lot of trouble in her life, and she knows pain.  She knows hardship, and yet she knows determination.  Life has not been easy for her and it gets complicated by her limitations.  She also knows what she likes, and she’s okay with others not sharing her same taste.  It was beautiful.  She was beautiful.  She made me wonder about myself.  She made me wonder who I would be if I stopped worrying so much and just smiled and let my eyes light up again like they did when I was 7 years old.

This woman, in the world’s eyes, is flawed.  She is to be pitied or to be disgusted by.  She is to be made fun of or to be ignored.  She quite simply makes the world uncomfortable.  Why?  Because she stopped “growing up” about the age we begin to loose our innocence? Maybe.  The way I see it, she was gifted with something most of us will never regain.  I look at her, and her grin, and her amazing eyes, and I feel a sense of loss.  I feel the loss of my innocence and am reminded how hard I must work to try to mimic what she comes by naturally…  I can smile, and I can laugh, but can I do it with her abandon??

Simple contentment.  She was free because she was content.  It was beautiful.  For a moment, I wanted to be her.  She’ not mentally challenged… I am.   Just for a moment I ached to feel what it would be like to be so content, and to smile so freely.

Thanks, God.  Thanks for this reminder that the most basic things are the most precious.  Thank you for unrestrained smiles and eyes that light up the darkness in this world.  Thank you for sending this beautiful girl to make my soul sing and to take stock of where I am.  Write this message in my heart so when my mind forgets, this precious nugget of truth will be there waiting  for me to remember.  –

Forever your girl, Chrissy

Happy Heart Day!

Today was the day I always dreaded when single and loved when with my honey, and treasure now with my kids.

20130214-221531.jpgI began their day as any good mom. I sent them off to school with chocolate chip waffles in their tummies and a soaring good mood and sugar high for their teachers. Grin. Okay so that may not be the exact definition of a good mom, but I dare you to make my kids believe you. I can assure you that today, they bounded out of bed happily for the same reasons as I did, the lure of chocolate. What they dont know is that I’m sneaky and i sometimes use things like chocolate to turn ordinary mornings into treasured family moments. Today as all five of us ate our fill,with zero fights, (you have NO idea how huge this is) and our “happy heart day” chocolate breakfast tradition continues to thrive, it’s my hope that they will tuck away the sweet syrupy smiles and sticky melted chocolate messes that have molded us together in ways that can only happen around a kitchen table, laughing as a family.

Later on, I scooted over to the retirement home where I visit my Grams weekly. I was her Valentine for lunch and I brought her goodies to munch on.

20130214-221444.jpgLindsey apologetically gave a card to us and kept wishing she had money to buy us something “nice and special”. Mom, I understand now. I do. I used to say the same thing to her. But now I get it. You can’t buy the kind of love that’s in a hand made card, made from whatever a girl finds when moms not looking. There isn’t enough gold or treasure to use that could buy. These kind of gifts are far better than anything I could ask for on some wish list.

My only wish list is that someday you get a card made with this kind of love. Because everyone deserves to be so loved like I am. 😉

Love you friends!!

SuperBowl Technology Challenges

Wow – This year, the overwhelming thing everyone will be talking about is going to be the technology failures and challenges that went into getting this game played tonight.  Power outages – that’s what New Orleans is going to be remembered for.

At the Campbell house?  Oh we had technology challenges galore too!  See, we have decided that we wont pay a bazillion bucks to fill pockets of cable companies for TV that we really shouldn’t be spending hours watching.  Plus, the cash flow just aint there.  It began as an adventure of what we could cut and live without when things began getting tight in the budget.  Now?  I honestly have no intention of ever going back to cable even when/if life ever is so comfortable that I can blow money on things I dont need.

The only catch is to have a TV that can capture the digital airwaves that are floating around and play them in some sort of fashion that make sense.  We have a small TV in the bedroom that does this beautifully.  It’s only a handful of years old, so it’s great.  The large screen in the Living Room is a hand me down and it is the big, heavy, huge full tube TV and it’s got the big bunny ears on top to help pull in something sensible to the converter box.  We moved backward in time a bit there.  I remember the times we used to adjust the ears on the TV in my childhood and my dad would say, okay, now dont move!  And my hand would be on the ears and he’d be watching the big game.

Mostly we just rely on streaming internet access through the Wii we have and play Netflix.  But that wont work for the Super Bowl !  So we tried streaming the internet through the Wii, but it crashed over and over.  We tried to play it live over the internet and watch it on the computer in the Living Room.. but we were missing out on Commercials (the only thing the kids care about) and it was fading in and out.  So we finally gave in, we all huddled in our bedroom together on the Queen size bed and we cuddled up for the night.


The parents watching the Super Bowl Action

The parents watching the Super Bowl Action

The Girls watching the big Game

The Girls watching the big Game

And you know what?  It was the best game there was.  The girls were at our feet, curled together with a dog between them.  Drake was between Derek and I and he was holding a pooch too.  There was NO room for us to move, but we had snacks made by Derek – a marvelous Queso cheese dip with salsa and beef, black beans and Tortilla chips all hot at a moments whim in the crock pot.  We were good.  We were together.  We had all we needed.  Who needs a big screen??

Let me tell you, the excitement in the room tonight could not have been made any better by a screen bigger.  Their dad and I, well we’d love a bit more room to stretch and maybe room to breathe next year, as our kids are growing like weeds.  The times where we all fit in this small Queen bed are coming to a close.  But they haven’t yet.  So we treasure our night because for tonight, we DID fit.

And when your kids are 9, 12, and 14…  every single memory is worth remembering.  Especially when they’re this good.  🙂  So who won the game?  Well as of this posting, the game is still playing but let me be clear, the winner is the Campbells.  We won.  Because Family time won big and it will count long after the last fan has left the building and the last paper cup and popcorn kernel has been cleaned away in the days ahead.

Sorry Ravens, Sorry 49ers, you take a back seat tonight to the Campbells.  We win.

Penny in your Cap??

I got a funny text tonight from my husband from work.  He had grabbed his ball cap on the way out the door and thrown it on as he headed out to the car.  For what ever reason, he had an omen of good luck he had to tell me about.  I had to agree.  If finding a penny face up can be seen as a good luck charm… then one stuck in the fraying brim of a cap HAD to be a bit of good peeking out from the corners of what sometimes feels like dark places.

I know it’s just a little thing.  It’s just for fun, but I really must admit to you, it’s the little things in life that tickle me so darned much.  In fact, it’s the little things that make  living the ins and outs of life so worth while.

In our house, we seem to have a thing with pennies. We have squashed ones from the zoo, the museum, the Willis Tower (which I will forever call the Sears Tower, because I’m stubborn like that) and then just the kid banks full of them, the coins from the plethora of purse bottoms I own, and the crazy number I find in the washer from the pockets of my boys.

Somehow one of those coins found its way into the brim of my hubby’s cap.  It really doesn’t make sense to me since that hat was hanging on a hook in the cubby beside the front door last I looked.  It’s just odd.  Not only that, but in all the years and the enormous number of hats we’ve had rotate through this house, not once has this curious thing happened.  It is rare that Derek is without a hat, especially since his job is one where he can wear it at work.  It’s perfect.  (And here’s some trivia for you…  The first time he came to pick me up for a date was when we were Juniors in College.  He had a red cap on, twisted backwards, as was the cool in thing to do then.  I peeped through my door’s hole and spied this cute guy in a red cap and swooned on the other side.  To this day, my favorite hat on him is red in color.  It’s required that he own at least one red one at all times.)

So what’s his amazing good luck turned out to be so far?  Who really knows.  I spose tonights luck REALLY was that there were 4 slices of pepperoni pizza left upon his return home EVEN though there was a girlie sleepover happening in the next room.  It WAS entirely possible he could have come home to a fantastically yummy smelling house and have none of the savory taste to go with it.  But never fear, Dad, your girls were watching out for you  🙂

And yep, your penny was too!