Saturday, September 15, 2012

Soul Supplies

Did you know that you can't find ANY school supplies at 12:30am the night before school is due to start? can't.  I know because I tried. And believe me when I say there was nothing.......And I mean Nothin'.  Not even 1 pencil.  Just rows and rows of depressed looking ransacked isles. Empty and sad.

So I sent my kids to school on the first day with a random notebook each, and nothing to write with.  "Borrow from your neighbor." I told them.  "It's a great way to make new friends....." 
And then I kissed them goodbye and sent them on their way.  
And I didn't even really feel bad about it. 
You know why?  Because we'd just had the best last-weekend-of-summer a kid could ask for.  We'd made a last minute run for the river....  and it was so worth it. 

Earlier in the year I'd gotten my hands on a family cabin at Camp Ocoee -- right on the lake at the end of the river -- and Mike and I were tyring to figure out when we were going to use this thing.  As we scoured the calendar to find a "logical" weekend option, the ones that made the most sense to take were farther and farther away from summer. And that meant farther and farther away from warm weather, longer days and good water releases. 
So we decided to seize the day.  Or, more accurately, the upcoming weekend.  The weekend before the first day of school - a literal "last hurrah" for the boys. 

We loaded the kids up into the car at 7:00pm and drove the 5 and a half hours it took us to get to Ducktown Tennessee - which, in case you're wondering, is as small as the name suggests.  We rolled in at midnight, found a place to pitch our tent, and persuaded 2 sleepy boys out of the car and into their sleeping bags.  And when dawn pushed itself up and over the horizon in the morning, both boys were up, racing around and raring to go.  "Let's go RAFTING!!  Let's go RAFTING!!  Are you ready?! Can we go RAFTING?!"  In fact, they were SO excited, we even beat the water to the put-in.

And that day -- in truth, the entire weekend - was filled with so much excitement, and joy, and frenzied screaming that pencils and erasers and notebook paper seemed unimportant.  And when their cousins and aunt and uncle joined us, the excitement and joy and frenzied screaming was only amplified as we piled more kids into the raft and took off for run after run..... smashing through waves and bouncing over ledges amid shrieks of laughter.

We took side-hikes up Goforth Creek, and the kids busied themselves studying the currents and constructing make-shift rafts out of sticks -- using thin green twigs to tie them all together.  They scrounged the hulls of buckeyes out of the dirt to make little kayaks that they'd send down the small stream, predicting what route each one would take, and what would happen as it hit each miniaturized "river feature". They'd cheer and clap when they were right, scoop their boats up out of the water at the end of the run, and race back up the rocks to do it again.  Gibson engineered his own "undercut" rock feature in the middle of the stream, and then showed us what happens when a boat accidentally runs into one. 
"Mom!" he said, "I know why they can be dangerous....  Here... Watch this..." 
They were all perfect  examples of science experiments, right there in nature's classroom.  No pencils, or notebooks or erasers necessary.

And at then end of each day, back at the cabin (though solidly worn out from the river miles) there was this:

And this....

Which was not to shabby a way to spend the evening. 

On Sunday -- the final day of the best-last-weekend-of-summer -- Jen and the kids and I spent a lazy morning reading books, swimming in the lake, and launching ourselves off the rope swing, while Mike and Chris got a run in by themselves.  Sunday was ticking away and I still had to go to the store -- had to get some school supplies for the boys.  But...well......  it was the best-last-day-of-summer.  So.....  You know.....  (shrug). 

At 1:00, we packed up the cabin, loaded up the cars, and went to the put-in for one more run.  Putting on at 2:00 meant we probably wouldn't be off the river until 5:00.  And then we had a 5 and a half hour drive back to Charlotte. 
"What do you think?" Mike wanted to know... 
You know what I thought?  I thought that the final day of the best-last-weekend-of-summer was not a day to be stressed.  And that we should soak up every last minute of it. 

And so we did. 

And when your 5 year old nephew is bouncing on the thwart in front of you screaming "AWESOME!!AWESOME!!AWESOME!!AWESOME!!" when you plow through the first big hit on the river, and every kid in the raft is yelling "SURF IT! SURF IT! SURF IT!" when you paddle up to the reliable surfing hole, and when your 8 year old is screaming "THIS IS THE BEST MOST AWESOME DAY OF MY LIFE!!!" when you drop them into the final rapid of the day, with all of them crammed into the front compartment so that they can be absolutely and thoroughly drenched with the wave coming over the bow of the boat.........well.... being irresponsible is sometimes the responsible thing to do.  Especially when they look like this:

And this....

And this....

I mean look at those faces......

That weekend was good for my soul.  It was good for Mike's soul.  It was good for their souls.  And at the end of our last-minute-irresponsible-last-weekend-of-the-summer-getaway, they were so full to the top with fun and laughter and happiness and achievement, that even though they didn't technically have what they "needed"... there's not a doubt in my mind that, really?  They had exactly what they needed. 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Into the Pride

Here's a good one for you..... 

We went to a party last night.  It was thrown by a friend who has a teenage daughter, and both adults and kids were welcome.  So when we rolled up to the party, we were met by a large pack of teenage girls standing on the front lawn.  We parked, and before we got out of the car, I answered a text I'd gotten from another friend who was on her way.  As we were sitting there, Gibson leaned up and said "Uh..  Mom?  They're all staring at us...."

"I know."  I said. 

"WHY are they all just staring at us?" he asked.

"Because they're teenage girls" I replied. "And that's what teenage girls do."

Gibson contemplated this for a minute and then he looked at me and said "Mom...?  Do they also hunt in prides?"

And after I collected myself from my hysterical fit of laughter I said "Yes they do, honey.  Yes they do..."

Friday, April 13, 2012

Tastes Like Nuthin'

A few weeks ago I ran into someone I hadn't seen in a long time, and she told me that she missed my blog.  And I thought, you know what?  I miss my blog too.  There's something cathartic - and fun, too - about sitting down and documenting the antics of our household.  It's lack of time - not lack of material - that keeps me from posting.  So I got back on here, and HOLY COW, people!  It's been a year.  A full YEAR - almost to the day - since I wrote anything in this space.  And that blows my mind because...honestly? WHERE has that time gone?  Sheesh....

So....let's get up to speed here. 

I guess I'll start with Sam, our family dog of 12 years that we had to put down in January.  He was a big old dopey hundred-and-seven pound lovable yellow lab who was riddled with arthritis and fatty tumors.  He shed all over the house, had horrible gas (like the "this might suffocate you in your sleep" kind), bulldozed down any unsuspecting person who had the unfortunate luck to ring our doorbell, ate your food when  you weren't looking, and was generally a giant pain in the ass.  And I loved him. And I suppose because we loved him so much, it seemed the kindest thing to do for him when he couldn't really walk, get up or down, was in obvious pain, and was losing control of his bowels.  But that didn't make it any easier.

We held a "service" for him the in backyard that included a small bonfire, each of us taking turns reading our own individual "letters to Sam" and a song that Gibson spent days composing all by himself.  His solo was tender and heartfelt and atrociously off-key.  It was hard to keep a straight face and be really serious as he poured out his feelings through his *melody*.  We manged though, because it truly was touching and sweet, even if it did hurt your ears. 

And you know what's crazy?  Even though it's been 4 months, I still pull into the driveway every day and get out of the car thinking I better hurry up and let the dog out before he shits on the floor.  It's like my tires hit the driveway and that motion somehow automatically triggers the thought that slides unconsciously across the front of my brain so that I have to consciously remind myself that "No....I don't."  I guess 12 years of habits are hard to break.


Well...... that was uplifting, no?  I had a few more "life events" that I was going to fill you in, but you know what? As I was writing them out I realized that they aren't altogether very happy ones. So perhaps I'll wait for another time.  Break them up a bit.  Give them to you in smaller doses.  And that way when you're done reading you won't be so overwhelmed with all things sad that you feel inclined to wash down a few Valium with a bottle of wine and go lay down on the couch.  Deal? 

Ok then.

Instead, I'll tell you the story that I told Sarah Beth who, in turn, reminded me that I needed to get my butt back to this blog. 

A few weekends ago, when it was warm and sunny and wonderfully beautiful outside, the boys spent an entire day digging a hole in the back yard.  While I think it's general purpose was pure entertainment, and later determined to be a trap for the random bunny traversing our property, what they've actually constructed is the perfect Parent trap.  I like to refer to it as "The Ankle Breaker."   It's about two and half feet deep, nice and narrow, and in just the right spot (read: completely random) for an unsuspecting 40 year old to fall right into it while preoccupied with something else.  Because who in their right mind - besides any male child between the ages of 6 and 11 - would expect that HOLE to be RIGHT THERE?!    (In case you think - with good reason - that a broken bone is the direction I'm headed with this story, rest assured that this has not yet taken place. But it no doubt will, because we haven't actually gotten around to filling that "rabbit trap" in. And the longer it lays in wait out there, the more likely we are to forget about it, know.... stay tuned.)

No, instead I'm going to tell you about what happened as the hole digging was in progress.  Because hole digging requires overturning dirt, and you know what you can find in dirt, don't you? 

WORMS!  And when you come across approximately four big old juicy earthworms, and you're out in the backyard with your little brother, the next logical thing to do is to dare him to eat them.  All four.  And tell him that you'll pay him $2.00.  Fifty cents a worm!  What a deal! 

Now according to Gibson, this was all Landis's idea.  That he got an eye-full of these worms and was all "Hey Gibson!  Dare me to eat these?"  And Gibson was all "HECK YES I DO!  AND I'll even give you $2.00 so you don't have to do it for nuthin'!"  Or something of the sort....  I don't really know how it went down, or whose brain the idea originated in first.  All I know is that Gibson came into the house and announced that Landis was about to eat worms.  And I said OK and went back to what I was doing in the first place -- which I think was laundry, because I can NEVER climb out from under THAT mountain.  Anway...  I've been momming-it to little boys for almost a decade now, so I was generally unruffled by the worm eating proposal.  I mean, look y'all....  I eat sushi, which let's be honest, probably isn't really any better.  And these worms?  They were obviously organic.  Free-range.  No hormones or antibiotics, right?  I'd even wager that they're lean protein.  Doesn't that make them some kind of certified health food?  Anyway, like I said.......Unruffled.  (Though mildly grossed out when I found out that part of the deal was that he could dip them in ketchup.  I don't know why that makes it worse, but somehow it does.) 

So the worm eating event went down without fanfare, Landis earned his $2.00, and they eventually got back to the business of digging.  And for the record (because I know you're wondering) worms apparently taste mostly like "nothing". And I should also note here that I suspect Gibson may have also nibbled a few just, you know, to see..... 

But my favorite part of the story comes in here:   At the diner table after Mike got home for the evening.
Gibson was practically bursting at the seams to tell his father that LANDIS ATE WORMS that day!  And Mike, who has a weaker stomach than I do, but realizing that we were way past the point in which he could do anything about it just sighed and said "Well Landis...?  Did you at least wash them off before you ate them?"
In response, Landis curled his lip, furrowed his brow, and peered at Mike out of the top of his eyeballs like Mike just asked him the MOST ASININE question he has ever been asked in his short life and  -- I'm telling you the straight up truth here -- said this:  "Of COURSE I did!  I wouldn't eat dirt!  That's GROSS!"