The Dear Abby syndrome

Man being eaten by snake

You know that friend that says something extremely logical when you tell them about your woes, usually it is something you already thought of yourself and would fix immediately if you had the time, money, tools, or ability. That might be one of the most annoying things people do. Someone once told me that the problem with relationships is that women want to tell their partners about their problems, have a glass of wine, some ice cream, and commiserate. Meanwhile a man is listening to the problem, and sometimes before you can even finish telling him about it he is telling you how to fix it. This is a bit sexist. It was be either partner that just wants to commiserate/just wants to immediately fix it. The problem with the immediately spewed solution is that it is rarely what someone is looking for when they tell you a problem. Over the years, after being talked at with many solutions, I have tried to curb my natural tendency to tell friends or partners what the solution to their problem is and instead have tried to be a better listener. Often that is what we need.

This has been that kind of a week for me. This week the lawnmower broke. The lawnmower is a “papa special” which is what everyone in my family kindly refers to anything that has been gifted or loaned to us from my grandfather. Often these things break, or need immediate attention by a mechanic which I am not. Anyway, the lawnmower is broken. It is of course broken when the grass desperately needs to be mowed and we are trying to put away money for an upcoming vacation. I’ve been tossing around the idea of finally buying a new one, I’ve never had much luck with used lawnmowers, but I haven’t yet bitten the bullet and actually purchased a new one.  I may also sell a kidney. Then I can quickly pay for all kinds of needed upgrades….(only kidding a little).

In between yesterday when we attempted to mow the lawn and today I noticed a tree had fallen in the back yard. Not like a little limb, about thirty foot of wooden leafy mass is in the back yard. We are lucky it didn’t hit the garage. I gather it must have happened during the storms of the other day, but good grief must everything always break at once.

Speaking of breaking my dryer, while still gleefully tumbling, stopped heating on Monday. Can I just say that I need or Faith needs to start dating a mechanic again.

Advertisements

Breadmageddon and other tales of Summer

Each Summer, for the past five years I have run some sort of summer Children’s Ministry event, always a VBS, and the last four years another summer program as well. Summer programs within the church are great. They give you an opportunity to see the kids for a much longer period of time than you might normally, and even if you only ever see that kid twice the rest of the year you’ve had an opportunity to be a positive spiritual influence. This year, like most before it, I spent untold hours scrambling behind the scenes, trying to get everything ready, have all the crafts cut out, have all the meals and snacks planned, have all the lessons written, and have some sort of cute decorations. It takes more time to pull off these sorts of things than anyone could ever calculate. In the fall and spring I tally my hours to make sure I am working all that I should be, in the summer I don’t bother to keep up with it because their simply isn’t time. Even on the last day  of our Monday program yesterday I was working three hours after I left work…which I had arrived to an hour before anyone else. Such is the nature of summer programming.

All of that is chaotic, and wonderful, and crazy but none of that is as crazy as our last day of Bible school this summer. Anyone that lives or works downtown has probably encountered a few of our transient population, in particular Larry. Larry is a friendly, interesting sort of human. He is homeless, but he has his own niche downtown. He helps out at the local coffee shop, he will be the first to tell you if anything was amiss the night before at your business or at the church. He is just a part of downtown and has been as long as I can remember. Larry has a brother we are going to call Fred. Now we all have that one sibling or friend that we love but that we sometimes end up cleaning up after. For Larry, I really feel that is Fred. Fred has been hanging around downtown pretty consistently for several months now. I’ve seen him/met him before over the years when he would visit but wasn’t all that well acquainted with him until recently. Fred is a bit more gruff than Larry, and a bit harder for me to understand. While I wasn’t really all that fond of Fred I hadn’t had too many reasons to dislike him either so I went about my business and he went about his and all has been mostly fine……until breadmageddon.

img_20170715_072124933.jpg

There are things that happen in life that are just so bizarre that you feel like it can’t be happening, what your eyes are showing you must not be real. That’s how I felt as I pulled into work at 7am on a Saturday morning. When I went to pull through the parking lot I had to stop abruptly to keep from hitting a prone Fred who had fallen asleep in the middle of drive. This is actually not that unusual an occurrence downtown for someone to be blocking an entrance so I stopped, and went around the other way, The firsts thing I noticed when I pulled into the parking lot was that someone had covered the entrance sign with a box. I thought that was a bit weird but as I pulled further into the parking lot I noticed there was some bread in the lot. When I pulled around I noticed that there was bread everywhere. There was bread in the breezeway, bread in the parking lot, bread stuck on top of and into the fence in the park, bread was quite literally everywhere you looked. I’m not talking about pieces of bread, I’m talking about entire loaves of subway bread. There was also the occasional beer can and other random debris as well as tshirts tied to posts and door handles.

Honestly, as weird as it was, it was also a bit funny. The bread did get cleaned up, the person responsible (Fred) even helped clean it up and at the time I was pretty irritated but also amused. I think that there is so much pressure on us sometimes to feel like we are doing something spectacular that perhaps the occasional breadmageddon is meant to remind us that nothing is perfect, everything can be a  little messy, and its ok and even necessary  to laugh about it. 43aaf15a7196dc40988f24b8c4bf1968--star-wars-puns-funny-star-wars

Gregor the Overlander – Go Forth and Read

Gregor the Overlander is the dashing young (11-12yrs old) hero in a series of books written by Suzanne Collins who also brought us the Hunger Games. I must say for as long as the prospect of giant bugs put me off of reading these books she really did an excellent job. Gregor is a preteen young man living in the city that never sleeps, New York City, New York. He lives with his mother, sisters and grandmother is typical New York fashion for the working class. His father seems to have disappeared into nothingness a couple of years ago and Gregor is helping his mom keep everything together while they eek by on her salary. Gregor is a little mature for his age which makes sense as he is the oldest and he helps to keep his siblings fed.

All that changed the minute he fell through a dryer vent with his sister Boots. Gregor discovered a whole new world far below New York City. This world is completely different from the one he is used to and incredibly dangerous. Over the course of five books Collins introduced a number of different creatures and Gregor has to make a lot of tough decisions. I’m a huge fan of Rick Riordan and this series is at least as good as the Percy Jackson books. When they make the movies I’ll surely be just as disappointed. What I love about this series is that Collins doesn’t treat Gregor with kid gloves. He is the warrior, In tough situations he has to make tough decisions, all the while dealing with the fact that to his parents he is still a child and will eventually have to go back to life in the Overland. They are quick reads, and well worth acquainting yourself with.

In the last book Gregor comes to realize that while he has been named the warrior by a strange series of prophecies he does not have to let that influence the rest of his life or even his decisions in the moment. What a novel concept, just because someone old says something does not make it so, does not make it prophecy, does not make it inevitable. May we all come to realize we are the harbingers of our own happy or sad endings.

I’ve enjoyed a lot of youth fiction this summer, perhaps it is because I have been immersed in children’s programming or perhaps it is because there is something lovely about a plot that doesn’t involve silly sexual tension or needless death/rape/death scenes (I’m looking at you George RR Martin). I enjoy adult content and complicated plot lines as much as the next person but there is something clean and fresh in seeing the world from the perspective of a child too young to know yet what the real monsters are.

I’ve linked the books below.

Gregor the Overlander

Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane

Gregor the and the Curse of the Warmbloods

Gregor and the Marks of Secret

Gregor and the Code of the Claw

Over and Over again

Me in 2016:

Why do I put a clean onesie one my little one first thing in the morning? I know there is an 80% chance he will have a blow out within an hour of getting his first fresh diaper and change of clothes and yet I always out him in a clean onesie after he eats breakfast. I know why. I want him to be clean. I am a little unhealthily obsessed with making sure he is clean and looks like someone loves him.

Isn’t that what we all want? To look like someone loves us. To feel like someone loves us. So I do a little in hopes that one day he will know that indeed someone loves him enough to wash the same poopy onesie a hundred times.

Me two weeks ago:

I wrote those first two paragraphs years ago. I can firmly say that not much has changed. He is potty training now and while he can pee in the toilet like a champion, doing number 2 seems to be harder. Maybe it will finally happen with consistency soon, but until then I washing a lot of poopy underwear/throwing away a lot of poopy underwear. Oh motherhood.  The things we do that we never thought we would be doing, like judging how much poop is too much to clean out of a pair of undies.

Me now:

You know what, my little champion has been pooping in the potty all on his own for about three days. He hasn’t had an accident in a few days now. I updated this just to say, take heart all of you moms and dads in the trenches of trying to teach a tiny human not to poop behind his bedroom door on the ugly shag carpet(yes this happened last week) Your child probably wont start kindergarten without being able to take care of bathroom stuff on their own.

As far as methodology goes, I started having him pee in the potty on and off at 18 months. I should have followed through as soon as he caught on with it and tried something like the three day method which is what we did at 26 months. The three day method is about 40 page worth of ebook that tells you to throw away the diapers and do nothing but help your kid learn to use the potty while you in turn learn the signs of when they need to go. Its pretty intuitive. In addition to that I also gave him a prize for every successful go which eventually has turned into only a prize for going number 2, which is almost weaned off of entirely. He does know what a prize is now so there is that but I will take spending 20 bucks on a tub full of kid goodies in exchange for not having to change a diaper. Carl did not learn to use the toilet in three days, It was probably another two weeks before we went all day with no peeing accidents and another month before we successfully made it all day with no poop clean up. Honestly though I expected that. It takes 21 days to form a habit. Toilet training is simply a habit.

If I could share one bit of advice with myself a year ago it would be to savor those moments before he can say damn it and just clean up the poop explosion.

If I could tell my month ago self anything it would be to buy one more packet of underwear, and relax.