When it rains, it pours….sometimes five gallons worth.

There is a level of chaos that was upped for us after having three children. Going from one to two was nuts because they were born pretty close together. I was chasing after a curious toddler while holding a newborn in a snugglie. But after a few years they began to play together and, even though it was still a bit crazy, they were entertained because they had one another to play with. Then came number three….

She is two and a half years old already and she gets into everything!!! She’s a climber so I often find her on top of the arm of the couch reaching for the top of the bookshelf, preparing to pull down something or other. She always finds my phone and hides under the table to push buttons. So far I’ve called AT&T three times in the last two weeks to cancel applications she somehow purchased. I don’t have an IPhone, let alone data,  and for some reason she is able to push buttons until she downloads something, costing us money every time. Even if I hide my phone she will somehow find it.

Chaos always comes in repetitive segments. Life is calm and there are no worries, just the usual busy-ness. Then chaos comes like a domino effect and it just keeps coming, usually when you’re in a hurry and the place you’re trying to get to is actually important. This morning I had a meeting at 9am. This is the exact time that school starts for my kids and I had forgotten about the meeting starting in twenty minutes so I rushed to get properly dressed and teeth brushed as well as the toddler looking presentable (brushed hair and no more stains on her shirt). Just as I was getting ready she pooped in her portable potty so I had to take care of that. Then, after I got her dressed, she pulled off her shoes, socks and pants so I had to get her dressed again. Then we get to the van and the doors were frozen shut and as I was trying to nudge them open with my toddler in hand, a school bus came blazing down our narrow street so I moved aside and saw the bad mood in the bus driver’s face. Dang! I moved so she could get by!!! What the??? Then I had to scrape the ice off the windshield and off we went.

I dropped the kids off and sped to my meeting. This was our morning. Rushed and filled with chaos that doesn’t normally come unless, of course, we are in a hurry. Maybe it’s just that we notice it more when we’re in a hurry. I don’t know.

Then there was this evening. We finished dinner and Matt was starting to help Olivier to figure out what he would do for his school science fair project. I was cleaning up after dinner and taking thing after thing away from Sylvie as she kept grabbing spoons, cups, pens, carrots….anything she could get her hands on, and running off as I tried to chase her down and get the item back from her. At some point I hear Matt say, “No, Sylvie. That’s going to break if you do that. NO!!!! (loud crash)….Trace!!!!” I go to the living room and see she knocked over our five gallon jug of water for our dispenser. Yes, the lid was on. She dropped it and cracked it open. Water was gushing, like a river, all over our living room. Thankfully we have hardwood floors but it was dribbling down the heater vent, soaking the area rug and sending its river flow over the entire living room.

We grabbed about eight beach towels and kept soaking up water, wringing it outside, soaking it up again and again. It was nuts! Two of our kids helped as much as they could. One of them kept bitching about how his feet were getting wet so he wasn’t helping whatsoever! It was total chaos for about twenty minutes or more. I’m calm now and it’s even sort of funny to think about. It was NOT FUNNY in the moment and I couldn’t quite believe how crazy it was. I seriously don’t know what I would have done if Matt wasn’t here to help me clean up. He often isn’t in the evenings. This is life with three kids. Sometimes the chaos blindsides me and it’s enough to make me want to sit down in a corner and suck my thumb while weeping. I think I’ve done that minus the thumb sucking. But here we are today, with three amazing kids who have brought so much craziness into our lives and I’m thankful. I’m thankful now because I’m not sopping up five gallons of water from our hard wood floor.

Here’s to raising little humans!

It’s story time

I’ve been wanting to tell this story for a while now but with the holidays and all that jazz, it just never made it down. I did scribble it in my personal writing pad, which gets written in daily. But here it is:

 

I have a few friends who recently started producing a show called The Drunken Telegraph. It’s a live storytelling installment and I’d missed the first two or so. Finally I went a few weeks back to sit and listen to some live stories. I even signed up for the story slam at the end. I’m glad that I didn’t know it was a type of contest or I don’t think I would have signed up. I didn’t want the pressure to perform, or maybe outperform, I just wanted to have fun.

 

Well, I had a blast. So much of how I use to teach was through story telling and I honestly think that’s why a lot of my students really enjoyed the weeks that I was with them during my years of itinerant guest speaking. I got my points across by just telling a lot of stories. I was going to tell a story about our team getting robbed and stranded in China but during the break people who I hadn’t seen in months kept commenting on my hair and I had quite a story to tell about being a female with VERY short hair. Through their prodding I decided to tell the hair story. It was something like this:

 

In our culture there is a huge connection with femininity and long hair. I’d had short hair just after I got pregnant with my first-born and during that time I was living in a very populated college town. I noticed the difference in how the young men looked, or rather didn’t look at me, after I cut my hair. I went from being cute with flowing locks, to being someone they would look away from if I was coming down the street. It was almost like they looked away because they were embarrassed for me (insert crowd laughter).

 

Then it grew and was once again, long and lovely. I had two more kids and recently cut it all off again. I was tired of dying out the grey so short hair made so much sense. Plus, I like how cute and sassy it looks. But over the years, as I’m aging…getting more wrinkles and more body fat I notice that there are days where having short hair is a bit inconvenient as I’d like to have something long and feminine to fall back on during the days when I don’t feel so young and cute.

 

A few weeks back I was having an off day and I kept catching glimpses of myself in storefronts while I was on a walk. I thought my eyes looked puffy and tired, my puffy winter coat kept me from having a girly figure and then there was my short hair. I wished I’d had dark lipstick on so I could at least feel like I looked girly, but no such luck. My hair made me feel sort of boyish along with looking old and tired.

 

I didn’t give all of this as much thought as I’m writing. Catching glimpses here and there only took a few seconds of thought but it lingered. At the end of my walk I saw a man around my age riding a bike towards me so I did the friendly thing and I smiled and said hi. He nods, passes me then says, “Excuse me!” I turned around. “You are SO beautiful!!!” I, of course, giggle and downplay it like what he said was cute and that this happens to me all the time. I may have even put my hands in the shape of fake guns and fired them at him, “Oh…you!!! Thanks….haha”. Then he says, “NO! I’m serious! You’re so beautiful!” and rides off.

 

This is how I ended my live story: “No matter that he was a man in his mid-thirties riding a kid’s BMX  bike. No matter that he was missing a few teeth and seemed as though he had a slight drug problem. After his comment I still walked away thinking, ‘Damn! I still got it!!!’ “.

 

That was my story. At the end I even won the slam. I had so much dang fun. I haven’t told a story to an audience in months. I haven’t taught in years. I love the power of story. It has a way of making you laugh or cry or ponder. You make connection points with people into your own life, “Oh! They GET me!” Or we see their own vulnerability in a story. This is a huge part of why I love to read and write. I love a good story and a well told story. Hopefully I captured both that night. In the end, it was just a whole lotta fun. Thanks, Tacoma. Stay classy!

 

 

 

 

I always miss the good stuff!

It seems like I’m always missing the action in our little city and I arrive a day late and a dollar short, to use an overused cliché. Sometimes it’s a good thing like when we were out trick or treating this Halloween with a group of friends and a lot of kids. We came home after gathering inappropriate amounts of candy and put the kids to bed only to read in the news that there were kids stealing candy from other kids that night using a gun. It was on our street. Hurray for an early bedtime!

 

Today I took a bit of a stroll on our small high street and decided to hit the local pawn shop just to see if there was anything interesting. I browsed around. Looked at the dusty power tools and the well-played instruments. I saw some nice jewelry, said hello to the two dudes that work there and then left.

 

I went over to our new coffee shop/bike shop/bar where I saw an old acquaintance that I knew quite well in high school. I looked over at him and pretended like I didn’t recognize him. Yep, I have those days. In all fairness he probably thinks he recognizes me but is not quite sure from where. Then I sat and read my Stephen King book about writing, which is REALLY good. I heard a few sirens after I sat down but, whatever.

 

I was only there about half an hour before I sipped my last bit of hot chocolate, ignored the old high school acquaintance again and headed home. I passed the pawn shop four windows down and saw two cop cars and two ambulances outside and all the crew surrounding a guy lying on the ground. I asked a man what happened and apparently the guy on the ground stole stuff from the shop yesterday and came back again to do likewise. They weren’t having it this time so they scuffled with him and he tried to leave but tripped on his way out and didn’t get up. The poor soul was looking pretty worse for wear, to use another cliché, and sort of gave off that junkie vibe.

 

I probably missed that whole event by about five minutes, maybe ten. It’s funny how time works; the whole butterfly theory. One minute can change an entire encounter which can change someone’s life. If I had been in there during the incident my life wouldn’t have really been changed much except I’d have seen a scrappy lad get a bit roughed up trying to steal loot from a pawn shop. But then again, if I had been just a minute late on my jog last week, I wouldn’t have had a run in with a crazy lady.

 

I don’t want to think about it too hard or my eye will start twitching but I’m amazed at the difference that just a minute or two can make. That minute or two can make a difference of life as we know it or chaos and basket balls being thrown at your face.  Hmm….I sounded a bit like Jack Handy just then.

 

Well, no matter, I still dig my neighborhood. It’s still shocking and friendly all at the same time. At least I was on time enough to walk up my street after the pawn shop event and see a man dumping half of the crap from his home (dirty mattress, popped air mattress, broken TV and scads of straight up trash) just outside Le Donut right next to a charity box that reads, “Clothes, shoes, cell phones”. See what a difference walking by at the right moment can make?