My Tank is on Low

Some days you are Spiritual and Aware, and marching along, knocking problems off your path right and left as you confidently push forward. And then other days, you are huddled in a corner in your room, yelling at kids to go away and just give you TEN MINUTES FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE!!

 

In the past 60 seconds I have told the five year old to stop talking about “butt cheeks”, told the three year old to get his biscuit out of my bedroom and take it to the table, and told another child that it’s not appropriate to kick people. 

 

I’ve just told a little girl that No, she can’t store her artwork in my window sill. And if you leave it on the floor of my bedroom, I WILL throw it away. Please stop winding up my music box. Stop wrestling on my bed. Have you finished your chores?? Did you do your homework? Why are you eating a biscuit on my bed? Go finish your chores!!!

 

It’s that crazy time of day when I’m supposed to be making supper, the kids are supposed to be doing their chores and their homework while I cook, and my husband is supposed to arrive home sometime in the middle of all this. Hopefully after the house has been tidied up. And of course, this is the time of day when everyone needs my input on something. 

 

And I have been running full-steam since 6 am this morning and my nerves are feeling rattled. I have a pot of soup cooking and so I had hoped to sneak away for TEN MINUTES and maybe write a bit while everyone busily did their business. Right. 

 

Today I have dealt with sick kids staying home, a child at school getting hives, talked to therapists and social workers and doctors, chauffeured my daughter to work, cooked a lot of food from scratch because I need to go grocery shopping, and I’m out of all the quick easy stuff. I’ve arranged complicated plans for tomorrow, paid a giant pile of bills (Yay!), took care of banking business with a new teller at the bank who happens to take three times as long as normal, and looked up recipes for soup and how to treat hives. 

 

Right now I am feeling frazzled and tired and wondering how I can shed off some of my responsibilities to lighten the load, and at the same time, trying to not get discouraged. 

 

So, what’s the difference between today and say, two days ago? 

 

I think I need recharging. 

 

Time changes, major crisis, sickness, kids crawling in my bed at night cause they’re scared…it’s all been draining my resources. I need to refill the tank. 

Hmmm. I’m thinking I need a date night Thursday night. That sounds like a plan. A light shining at the end of the tunnel. Something fun and NON-kid to look forward to. So, my dear husband, who is reading this blog right now…I am going to set up the babysitting, you’re in charge of planning the evening. 🙂 

There. I’m feeling better. 

 

Oh wait..Thursday won’t work…Friday? Saturday?

 

Have Yourself a Very Hygge Christmas

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The other day “hygge” was my Word of the Day and I loved it. I thought, This is My word. A word I can get behind.  Then the next day, I saw this picture with the definition again. And suddenly it seems that I’m seeing it everywhere.  And I love it. It fits into the lifestyle that I try to have, noticing the small things and realizing that the small things are actually the big things.

 

Right now, as I sit in my chair I can look out a window and see the early sun slanting in on my neighbor’s house, and just seeing that sliver of sunlight makes me happy. It gives me a feeling of hygge. 

 

Sitting at the breakfast table this past Sunday morning with twelve children all gathered together, everyone chatting happily to each other. Hygge. 

 

Walking through the house last night, right before bed, turning off lights, checking locks on doors…I stopped and noticed all of our stockings hung on the mantle, waiting for Christmas morning. Hygge. 

 

Today I will spend the day baking a humongous pan of cinnamon rolls and a quadruple recipe of pumpkin bread. I’ll get various children to help me and the house will soon smell like a bakery, the smell of cinnamon and warm bread filling the air. Hygge. 

 

Tonight my husband and I will stay up till the wee hours wrapping presents and putting them under the tree. When we are finally done, we will sit on the couch in the dark, maybe with a hot cup of tea, and admire the twinkling lights of the tree and all the surprises waiting underneath. We’ll grin as we imagine the excitement of the kids in the morning when they see all these presents waiting. Hygge.

 

Tonight also, per tradition, all the kids will gather in one bedroom, snuggle in their blankets, and one of the older children will read aloud the book, “The Greatest Christmas Pageant Ever”. The younger children will fall asleep halfway through the book, the older ones will squirm around, wishing that morning would hurry up and come. The anticipation will be thick in the air as one by one they drop off to sleep. Hygge. 

 

Life is so rich if you can just stop and take notice. May your Christmas be one that is full of hygge as you pause and enjoy the small moments that are all around you. 

 

Merry Christmas!

 

I hate you…Merry Christmas!

So, I’ve decided every holiday season needs at least one blog to point out the underbelly of Season’s Greetings. Today is the day of the Heneise Family Christmas Party. If you didn’t get an invitation, consider yourself invited and come on over. I love this tradition. One of my girls asked me, rather annoyed because she is having to do a lot of cleaning today…Why do we always have a Christmas Party??? I said it’s because Christmas is about family, and since we don’t have a lot of family living close by, our friends are our family. And this is an opportunity to get together with them at least once during the Christmas Season. 

 

She harrumphed. 

 

If you can’t tell, attitudes haven’t been the best today. My kids love having a party, but they hate getting ready for a party. It involves cleaning, and deep cleaning, and decluttering, and picking up things that we usually ignore. Wiping down surfaces we usually leave for later. Then there is also the maintenance of the Said Cleaning. I JUST VACUUMED THAT COUCH!! GET OFF IT!!! 

 

The kids, already feeling put upon for having to clean, are taking it out on each other. I hate you! You’re stupid! I wish you weren’t here! And other horrible things that I don’t allow my children to say to each other, have been said today. I have had some rather uncomplimentary thoughts about some of my children as well, though at least I managed to keep it to myself. 

 

My husband told me yesterday that he was going to devote the whole day today to helping me get ready. I envisioned him washing some dishes and running a vacuum. This morning he announced he was going to clean the basement (???) and fix the two holes in my floors that have needed repairing for months. 

 

Ok.

 

Not exactly what I had in mind. 

 

But, the holes did need fixing, and apparently cleaning the basement was tied into fixing holes in the floor.

 

Ok. Give me a minute to readjust my expectations. 

 

Now, in a couple hours, people will start showing up and we’ll forget about cleaning the house and we’ll settle in to just having fun with friends. MERRY CHRISTMAS! PEACE ON EARTH! 

 

So, are we all raging hypocrites? Hateful one minute, sweet and nice the next? Or maybe being hypocritical is just part of human nature.  A human nature that we all need to be saved from. A human nature that was completely lost in it’s sinfulness and yet Jesus decided to give us value to the point that he was willing to come to earth and make the ultimate sacrifice so that we could be saved from this sinful human nature. 

Christmas…Emmanuel…God with us. 

 

I have believed in Jesus, decided to follow him. My sins are forgiven. But I still have this sinful human nature. I will spend my whole life learning how to be more like Jesus. Sometimes I’ll do really well. Like today! The meanest thing I said was, YOU GUYS STINK AT CLEANING! Which is mild compared to some of the verbiage that was being slung around. But then, there are days where I completely step out of grace and wallow in my sinful nature. 

 

So, really, I hate you…Merry Christmas… is completely appropriate for this time of year.  I hate you: I’m not the best person. I say and do bad things. Merry Christmas: that’s why Jesus came! We can devote an entire month to celebrate that we have a Savior now who wants to rescue us from ourselves. 

 

Let’s have a Chat!

Hey Everybody. It’s Tuesday and it is apparently time for me to write my blog. And I’m not feeling it. Sometimes this blog feels narcissistic. It’s time to write about ME again. Uggh. 

 

So, let’s make this about someone else tonight. How are you all doing? How is life out in internet world? Are you crashing at the end of the day and seeking some mindless relaxation on Facebook? Right now I am sitting in my little boys’ room, waiting for them to go to sleep. It’s Andy’s night off and I am solo parenting. 

 

How are you coping with the holidays? Are they a fun-filled nostalgic time for you or are they a non-stop hectic, stressful race to the end? I seem to seesaw back and forth on that one. I am trying to have a slow, peaceful holiday month, but life keeps interrupting. 

 

How are you feeling with the shorter days and winter weather? (If that applies to you, maybe it’s summer in your part of the world.) For me, I love winter, but the cold weather gets to me. Maybe because my kids don’t want to be out in the cold, so then they’re running around the house, shooting nerf bullets at each other, or literally, climbing the walls, trying to see if they can make it up to the ceiling. 

 

How’s your peace doing? Is all right with the world or does everything feel out of whack? Me? Well, I’m in that interesting place where everything is out of whack, but despite that, I’m at peace and can feel God’s presence in all the craziness. So, I guess it’s good. I’ll tell you what, Jesus is the only one that can do that for me! I hope that you can find peace in your craziness too. Cause, if I’m being realistic, there probably isn’t anyone of you out there that doesn’t have some level of craziness going on. 

 

How are your dreams coming along? It’s taken me years to even give myself permission to have dreams. For a while there, just taking care of little kids was so overwhelming, I did not have any time for dreams. It’s not a great place to be. Feels a bit dead. I’ve been trying to let myself dream again. One dream is to be a full-time piano teacher. I had four piano students this school semester and it was really fun. We had a little recital of sorts last night and it felt good to see how well they did. It’s a small dream, but I’m taking steps towards it and that is nourishing to the soul. I hope you can find a way to, first of all, have a dream, and second of all, pursue it in small ways tucked here and there in your busy life. 

 

Let’s see, we’ll just skip politics. And sports. Read any good books lately? I found a new author I like, recommended by a friend, Amy Harmon. Fluffy, funny, PG, but also some stuff to think about. Just what I’m looking for right now. I’ve also been reading 1,2, and 3rd John, in the Bible. I found 1 John to be very comforting for my perfectionist self. I am never sure if I’m doing enough, being enough, striving enough etc. And the main point I took away from the book was, Obey Jesus’ commands. This is his command. Love God, Love People. The End. And that doesn’t seem too burdensome. It seems like a joyful task, not a hard chore. And it also feels like a load of expectations dissolves off my shoulders every time I read it. Good stuff. 

 

Well, if you were sitting right in front of me, this is about the time I would start digging for the nitty gritty stuff, how are the relationships in your life? How are you feeling about yourself? How’s your spiritual life? What’s making you happy these days? What’s dragging you down? 

 

So, you should come on by when you can, sit at my kitchen table, where the kids will run around us, kind of like a rock sticking out of the current in a river. We’ll drink some hot tea, I’ll dig up some cookies, or carrot sticks, depending on where you are at with your diet, and we can chat (with plenty of interruptions, but it won’t matter!). 

 

Good night friends, let’s talk again soon!

 

NOT a Bad Day

I needed to write. So you all get a bonus Blog today. 

 

My lifetime enemy, depression, has been rearing its ugly head lately. I’ve been in denial. I’m fine. I’ve got this. I’m ok. Then today, when I found myself glued to my chair, not wanting to move, except to climb into bed and sleep, I realized, oh, yes, I recognize this pattern. 

 

I’ve decided to fight back a bit. The worst thing about depression is that it whispers, “Failure!” in my ear, constantly. So, I have decided to compile a list of ways that I did not fail today. Speak a bit of truth. 

 

First, my two and five year old boys, who were in my charge all day, are alive and well. They ate, got cleaned, played, watched tv, went outside. As far as they are concerned, it was a great day.

I got all my school age kids to and from school without a hitch, and they are all in a good mood, playing with friends.

Supper is cooking. The dishes are caught up. The laundry is doing ok. The downstairs of the house is clean. Sure, I paid the kids to clean it because I wasn’t able to force myself to do it. But, the kids got some pocket money, they’re happy, it was cheaper than hiring a maid, and I can say that I used my delegating skills.

I also signed our family up for health insurance for the next year on Healthcare.gov, which is a soul-sucking experience in itself. It actually took me two days to finish the whole application. But, it’s done! 

 

I kept the fire going in the woodstove. 

 

I’m getting along with my husband. 

 

My pets are happy. 

 

It wasn’t a failure day.

 

So, for all my friends out there fighting depression and anxiety, this is actually a pretty good tool. Write down everything that was right in the day, even if you have to grasp at straws, like, The sun came up today and set as normal. No tornadoes blew my house down. My car didn’t explode. I didn’t catch the plague… See! It works! I’m feeling better already. 🙂 

 

Thanks for listening. 

 

 

The Circus!

The Shriner’s Circus is in town. I was at the grocery store a couple weeks ago with my ten year old. An elderly man approached us and asked my son if he liked the circus. My son said yes and so the man handed us ten tickets to go to see the Shriner’s Circus. I hadn’t planned to attend, but after that I decided, Why not? 

 

We took our six youngest. It was held at the Thompson-Boling Arena, the same public venue where I watched my husband graduate from UT, watched our oldest two children graduate high school, and the place that our family went for years to see the annual performance of the Living Christmas Tree. I have enough good memories there that it always feels good to walk inside. 

 

We found some nosebleed seats which were actually very nice because we were right by the exit and close to the bathrooms and water fountains. As the lights went down for the show to begin I had a flashback of all the circuses I went to as a child. I remember the first circus I ever saw was in Haiti when I was five or six. After that, in Morehead, Kentucky, I remember the circus setting up in big fields right outside town. I remember the carefully organized parking lots they would create out in the cow fields, carefully stepping over large clumps of grass as we made our way to the tents. 

 

I think my parents must have been pretty on top of their game when it came to circus attendance. I’m pretty sure we went whenever the circus was in town. As a child my absolute favorite part was the ladies in their bombastic spandex outfits as they climbed up ropes and did daring feats as they danced far above our heads. They always looked so graceful. Princesses. Afterwards I would go home and climb up the rope to our swing and practice diligently, sure that I looked just as graceful as they did. 

 

Now, with my own children in attendance, I took just as much pleasure from just watching my children’s faces as they looked on in awe and amazement. Then, about ten minutes into the show, the two year old freaked out. Way too much stimulation going on here. My husband, who was sitting with him down on the other end of the line of kids, awkwardly managed to pass him to me. The poor toddler clung to me, tears coming down his face. I held him tight, murmuring into his ear so he could hear me. He calmed down and then settled into my lap, leaning back against me so he could watch from a safer position. 

 

The six year old’s eyes were shining as she gasped, sure that the acrobat was going to fall. The twelve year old jerked back in his seat when the trapeze artist fell from the sky. We had all been so focused on their antics that we hadn’t even noticed the safety net strung below them. We all breathed a sigh of relief as we saw that she was ok. When the resident daredevil did his tricks on top of a large white contraption that spun around in a big circle with a spinning wheel, I had the presence of mind to pray for his safety. I really didn’t want my children to witness him splatting on the concrete floor. I don’t know if we ever would have recovered from that. 

 

As I watched I thought about the week to come. As a child, for me and my friends, the best part of going to a circus was playing circus afterwards. We would spend hours practicing our routines, trying to figure out how we could make our own trapezes, balancing ropes, and could we get our pets to do some amazing tricks? We would practice and practice, and try to come up with some fancy costumes, usually involving our swimsuits, the only spandex we owned. Then finally, we would try to rope in some of the parents to come and watch us: charging admission, handing out paper home-made tickets. I have some vague memories of getting caught up in a rope and ending up dangling from a tree by one foot. I also seem to remember that one trick ended up with my cousin getting a near-concussion. Yep. I’m pretty sure that after the circus comes to town, the ER visits increase for a while. 

 

Now I kind of feel the need to give my kids a couple more instructions than normal. 1. Our pets don’t know how to do these tricks. Please do not try to launch one of our animals from a high place just because you saw the dog do it at the circus. 2. Even though the lady and her partner put ropes around their necks and spun from the ceiling in a fast circle, WE are not going to try to do that. 3. The motorcycle tricks were awesome, but I don’t think that a regular bike will be able to accomplish the same feats if you attempt to jump your bike off a home-made ramp. Just saying. 

 

All in all, I’m glad we went. Yes, there were some moments in the middle where the two and four year old were driving me crazy as they were unable to sit still in a seat. Not having a small fortune to spend on light-up toys and elephant rides was a bit of a downer for the kids. But, everyone got to try some cotton candy, the opinion split down the middle over whether this was AMAZING or YUCKY. (I vote Yucky). We shared some popcorn and managed to get large quantities all over the floor. We spent an afternoon together making memories. It was good. Hurray for the circus! 

 

The Committee Meeting

As I was mopping my floors for the first time in a long time today, I had a funny thought. What if God had done interviews of my family and friends when I was somewhere around 19 years old. And he said, Hey, I’m looking for someone to have 10 children and run a household and keep everything in order. What do you think about Esther? I’m pretty sure that none of my family members or friends or roommates would have nominated me for the job. Esther? She’s rather messy. Housework and Esther? Nah. She’s kind of absent-minded too, not real detail oriented. Honestly, I don’t think Esther is much of  kid person, I don’t think she’s even babysat much, and she never tries to hold other people’s babies at church or anything like that. She’s not exactly the crafty, fun, play with kids type. She’s rather sarcastic, that surely can’t be good for raising children. All Esther wants to do is play her piano and read books. I can’t see her taking the time away from that to raise a family. 

 

Ok. So probably my friends and family would be too diplomatic to voice their true feelings, but I’m sure they would have thought at least some of that. 

 

I am visiting, once again, the amazing discovery that God doesn’t always match our callings up with our gifts. Or, to put it another way, we don’t need to work on the areas we are strong in, we need to work on the areas we are weak in. 

 

I can just see it: A committee meeting. God proposes to a couple angels, I’ve got a position open for Stay at Home Mom of Ten, I’m thinking that I’m going to put Esther in this position. The angels raise their eyebrows (I’m going to presume they have eyebrows) and look cautiously at each other. Umm. God, we know that you know everything, so you must be right, but we really don’t see how this is a good fit. Can you explain? 

 

Then God would say, Look, you see how she has been lazy and selfish about helping her mother out with washing dishes for her entire life? Every time she has to wash dishes she has a temper tantrum. See, I’m going to put her in a position where she has to wash up the dishes after 12 people, 3 times a day. She’s going to learn how to change her attitude, stop treating it like a death sentence, and in fact, one day I will teach how to make that time of serving her family, a time when she can put on worship music and worship me. 

 

The angels nod in amazement. Wow, Esther washing dishes and worshiping? Is that possible? 

 

Then God would continue. You see how she’s really messy and doesn’t take care of her belongings? I’m going to surround her with a houseful of people who are equally messy and who also don’t take care of their belongings. She’s going to learn how annoying that is and start taking steps to change it. She’ll also have the ironic position of trying to teach her children how to take care of their belongings. Esther’s mother will find the whole situation very amusing. 

 

The angels grin, yes, I’m sure that will be good payback for her poor mother who’s had to deal with her mess for years. 

 

God will smile, and continue. Yes, and you see how absent-minded she is? I’m going to make her have so many details to keep track of that the only way she’ll be able to do it is by clinging to me and my strength and power every day. She’s going to become a lot more reliant on me. 

 

And you see how she doesn’t even notice the existence of children? I’m going to change her heart and make it so child-focused that she won’t be able to enter a public place without seeing all the kids. And she’ll have a heart for them. And she’ll start praying for them and being kind to them. Only I can change a person’s heart like that. And I’m going to use her own children to make this change. 

 

You see how proud she is? She thinks she’s really smart. I’m going to let her be a mom to ten children and she’s going to learn very quickly that she really doesn’t know much at all. And instead of trying to do everything out of her own ability, she’s going to learn, slowly, how to rely on me for wisdom and direction instead of her own intelligence. 

 

I’m going to take this girl and make her a woman with a heart for me. 

 

The angels get all excited…How long is this going to take God? 

 

God smiles, Her whole life. But what a journey it’s going to be!

 

 

 

Emptying the Nest

It is the end of an era. My oldest son is leaving home tomorrow. He’s off to Montana for a year-long bible school. He worked really hard to get to this point. He managed to graduate a year early from high school so that he could have a year in between college to do something different, take some time to figure out his direction. I am overwhelmingly proud of him. He worked two jobs this summer, stayed connected to the church, started dating a very sweet girl. What more can you ask of your child? And now he’s leaving. And I am now swamped with a whole bucket-load of differing emotions. 

If you think about it, this whole motherhood thing kind of sucks. You take these newborn babies and pour your life into them. Every decision you make for the next 18 years takes them into consideration. Will this be good for my kids? And then they start growing up and developing independence and you run the tightrope walk of trying to make sure they are safe and also giving them the space they need to learn how to take care of themselves. And then they grow up, they learn everything you expected them to learn in their time at home…and then they leave. And it kind of feels like your heart is walking out the door…Except, this was the whole point. From day one you have been working to get them to Here. Where they can now step out, fully equipped, and start living their own lives. 

And there are tears because you can’t believe you made it to this point. There were definitely some moments along the way where I was positive my child would never make it to adulthood. And you are kind of in awe at God’s mercy and grace that got you and your child to this point. And so there are tears. 

And then there is relief. After all, part of leaving the nest is outgrowing the nest. There’s not enough room here for my mostly-adult child to become a full adult. He needs some space. It’s hard to stretch your wings and learn to fly when you keep bumping into your parents. And it’s hard to get on with parenting your other kids when there’s an overgrown chick bumping into you all the time. And so I am relieved that he has found a good place to spend this next year. And I’m excited for him, excited for all the adventures he’s going to have and all the things he’s going to learn. 

And he’ll be back. Christmas, summers, transition times when he just needs a safe place to land while he shifts gears.

My oldest daughter is also taking off in a couple weeks for a year in Alaska. 

Needless to say, my heart is doing that crazy thing where it is swelling up with pride and joy and at the same time, breaking in half. 

Man. Being a parent is painful. 

 

 

Just a Thought

My eight year old daughter was sitting next to me on the couch today. I noticed that she was wearing an old watch on her arm. It was silver and obviously too big for her. 

 

Me: Where did you get that? 

Nomi: What? 

Me: The watch, where did you get that watch? 

Nomi: (continues to play with a toy, doesn’t look up) Miss Linda.

Me: Miss Linda? 

Nomi: Yeah.

Me: (wracking my mind, trying to place this name…a teacher at school? Someone at church? A neighbor?) Who’s Miss Linda? 

Nomi: Miss Linda! 

Me: Who’s Miss Linda! 

Nomi: IT’S MISS LINDA!!!

 

You would think that at this point in time I would realize that this method of interrogation was not working and I should try a different approach. But, no.

 

Me: WHO’S MISS LINDA?!?!?!?!?!

Nomi: Mom, it’s Miss Linda. 

 

I stared at her in frustration. Then it clicked. My husband had taken two of his little daughters with him when he did a quick Saturday side job to put up a ceiling fan for Miss Linda, a retired woman he has done work for in the past. It was a chance for him to have some daddy-daughter time and a chance for Miss Linda to spoil some little girls. 

 

Ok. Mystery solved. 

 

Then one of my sons walked in the room, spotted the watch with his laser eyes, and quickly went into attack mode..

 

Judah: Where did you get that???

Nomi: Miss Linda.

Judah: Who’s Miss Linda? 

Nomi: It’s Miss Linda! 

 

I inwardly groaned as I knew I was now going to hear this whole conversation again. But as I watched my daughter I noticed a certain spark in her eye, a smug set to her mouth. She was having fun with this. 

 

What is it about kids loving to create conflict? 

 

MOM! SHE TOUCHED ME!

DID NOT!

DID TOO!

DID NOT!

DID TOO!

 

And on and on and on. 

 

I remember being exactly the same. It wasn’t until I was an older teenager that I started realizing that I didn’t have to react every time my brother pushed my buttons. And I didn’t have to push his buttons every time the opportunity presented itself. I presumed that it’s just part of growing up; learning how to live at peace with people, no longer delighting in sparking conflict. 

 

Enter FaceBook Stage Right. 

 

Don’t get me wrong. I love getting on FaceBook. I love seeing who just got engaged. Adorable baby photos. Who just got a new job. I love reading interesting articles that people post. Beautiful photos of far-off places. FaceBook can be a lot of fun. 

 

Then you have those posts that say, “If you don’t agree with my position, then you are STUPID!” And then someone comments: OH YEAH! WELL, YOU’RE STUPID!

AM NOT!
ARE TOO!
AM NOT!
ARE TOO!

 

Apparently the need to stir up arguments and be difficult Doesn’t go away when you grow up. 

 

I am not saying there isn’t a place for expressing ideas that differ from others. And I think there is definitely a time to say, I disagree with you, and this is why…I guess what always baffles me is why we can’t have differing opinions or even heated discussions without remaining respectful of each other. It is possible to believe strongly in something, have a desire to share that belief with others, and still not be rude or disrespectful to the people who believe differently than you. In fact, if you remain respectful, you will probably have a much better chance at sharing your beliefs with others. 

 

Just a thought. 

 

Parenthood Requires a Sense of Humour

I saw a little clip of the British comedian Michael McIntyre where he talks about leaving the house with kids Michael McIntyre. (Might be some swearing.) It was hilarious.

I was thinking about his comedic routine this past weekend while we were at our family reunion. The reunion was great. My brother and his wife and three of his kids were there. We had six of our kids and my parents were there as well. My sister-in-law found an amazing airbnb down near Tellico Plains in Tennessee. It was like having our own little patch of the Smokey Mountain Park to ourselves. There was a good stretch of river where the kids could tube and swim, trails to walk on, a pretty little meadow. It was great. 

Our first morning there I said that I would like to go for a walk after breakfast and see all the trails and the river. Pretty soon almost every one had decided they wanted to go too. Great! We cleaned up from breakfast and then I told the kids to go get their shoes on.  A couple kids walked past me still in their pajamas. 

 

Hey! You need to get dressed first! 

Ok Mom!

 

Kids go running off, all trying to get to the upstairs bathroom first to change, since we have one family per bedroom and very little privacy. There is a tussle upstairs, some loud thumps..someone yells. 

 

TAKE TURNS IN THE BATHROOM!! I yell up the staircase, too lazy to actually run up the steps and see what exactly happened. 

 

Meanwhile, my mom, who has no little children, sits in the living room. 

Just let me know when you’re ready.  

Ok Mom. 

 

Some barefoot children run past me. SHOES!! You need your shoes!! The ten year old then launches into a complaint about how his water shoes are no good and he has no shoes to wear and of course it’s all my fault because I didn’t buy him the new pair of water shoes that he was wanting. (Because he had a perfectly good pair already.) I tell him to just wear the cheapy tennis shoes that he brought, it won’t matter if they get wet and they will definitely keep out rocks. 

 

No way. Those are tennis shoes. You aren’t supposed to wear tennis shoes in the water.

I don’t care which shoes you wear, just PUT on shoes NOW, or you can just sit on the couch all day.

 

He goes to find his water shoes and then starts yelling because his older brother is apparently wearing HIS water shoes. Older brother protests. (Unfortunately, at the time of purchase, there was no variety available, I ended up getting the same shoe in two different sizes. Bad idea.) We finally make older brother take off the water shoes so we can verify the size of the shoe. Yes, these water shoes belong to the ten year old. Sorry older brother. 

 

Older brother then collapses onto the couch in a full-on pout. 

 

What’s wrong?? Go get your shoes on!!

I can’t find my shoes. 

Have you looked in the car? In the living room? Outside? In the bedroom?

I haven’t looked in the bedroom.

THEN GO LOOK IN THE BEDROOM!!!

 

My mom sits peacefully, turns a page of her book as I stomp on by.

 

Then I notice the two year old. He is walking around in his diaper. Good grief. I run up the stairs into the bedroom, grab clothes, diapers, wipes, socks and shoes. (It’s summer, but this poor baby has fat feet that get blisters in every single shoe unless he is wearing socks.) I run downstairs, corner the baby, and start speed-dressing him. Children who are dressed and shoed are now running around outside. I jump up, stick my head out the door..

 

DON’T LEAVE UNTIL I COME OUT THERE! 

Ok Mom.

AND WHILE YOUR’E AT IT, GO INSIDE AND USE THE BATHROOM AND GET A DRINK!

 

Children start pouring back into the house to fight for the bathroom.

 

Older brother is once again sitting on the couch, moping. 

 

WHY DON”T YOU HAVE YOUR SHOES ON???????

My shoes are in the bedroom and the bedroom door is locked and I can’t get in. 

 

What? I was just up there. That’s impossible. Go try the door again. 

 

I stand at the bottom of the steps and watch while he runs up. I hear him struggling with the door. The door is not opening. 

 

ANDY!!! It’s now time to bring in the reinforcements.

 

My husband comes, inspects the door. He needs a paper clip. We are in someone else’s house. It’s very unlikely there are any paper clips around. We search all the drawers. I find toothpicks. Will that work? 

 

Nope. 

 

Finally, with a credit card and who knows what other magic, my husband unlocks the bedroom door. (I would very much like to know how it got locked in the first place.). Older brother retrieves his shoes. I announce loudly, to the house at large, that I am now leaving on a walk. 

 

My mom has finished her book by now. She gets up and joins us. (I’d like to add that my brother and his wife are going through the same saga getting their kids out the door.)

 

We start walking down the path and I suddenly remember that little comedy clip I had seen about parents trying to leave the house. I start laughing. Parenthood definitely requires a sense of humour.