Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Friendship in the Age of Texting

Dear Rebecca,

Please tell Daniel that I’m glad he was not at all interested in helping me trim my goat's hooves and I do thank him for letting me know that hoof trimmers trim hooves for a herd of animals, not one goat.  I will remember this going forward.  It was for the best though because as it turns out, you can learn anything from YouTube.  Annnnd…you wouldn’t believe it unless you’ve already tried it, but trimming a goat’s hooves is even more fun than cleaning out built up hair from the bottom of a vacuum cleaner.  And if you wonder if cleaning the bottom of a vacuum is really fun, then maybe we just aren’t meant to be friends.  I came away from the whole experience with only a small nick along the side of my thumb which didn't really hurt, but the bleeding was enough to make me put the trimming shears away.  It was for the best because I was starting to get a little carried away as is the case when I start a task such as this (read: Christi's eyebrows).  Plus, the smell-although very very foulsome-reminded me of my childhood and the time my dad threw an old cow horn to me and made me smell the worst thing I’d ever smelled, promising me that I wouldn’t be able to get rid of the smell for three days.  He was right.  

Also, do you have any openings for a haircut in the next couple of weeks?


Your friend Christi
I didn't mention this in my text message, but if you can
 learn anything from YouTube, you can do anything
if you have an Aiden who is the. best. helper. in the
whole world and who received a shearing himself
shortly after this photo was taken.  

Friday, March 17, 2017

Cheer Mom

If only I could go back in time to meet my 18-year old self.  Just for a minute.  I’d love to see my younger me's reaction when I informed her that in 20 years she'd become… a Cheer Mom.  Yes, young Christi, the anti-cheerleader, someday you will be coaching young girls on the proper way to clap.  Then, I’d sit myself down for a quick lecture on sunscreen and a heart to heart about Jesus before heading back to the present. 

It’s true.  Cheer coach.  Me.  Turns out, the absence of any cheerleading or coaching experience, a wardrobe limited to gray and black, and an introverted personality are not disqualifiers when it comes to being an assistant cheer coach.  Imagine my surprise.  Also surprising is my inability to say ‘no thank you’ when asked to volunteer for  anything at all.  Now, before you think ‘poor children’, I’d like you to focus on the word ‘assistant’ and remember that there is someone who actually knows what they are doing that is really in charge.   And she is really good.  I’ve been learning so much about cheerleading...just at a much slower rate than the actual cheerleaders.   Recognizing this, Real coach printed this visual aid to help my brain remember where the girls are supposed to stand on the court.  I love her.  She's the ultimate cheerleader and says things like, 'Wow-you look SO young for your age!'   So cute.

‘Coaching’-if that’s what you’d call the frazzled lady hovering behind the squad with a baby on her chest-has proven to be a difficult challenge-although not how I initially expected.  There is, of course, the familiar struggle of stepping out of my comfort zone.  Add to this the task of managing to grab a two-year old by her leggings just before she escapes onto a basketball court week after week.  However, the unexpected challenge I'm finding is with navigating the delicate balances of parenting: providing opportunities for learning but not overscheduling; raising independent thinkers while fostering obedience; discerning a behavior problem from a bad day.  A challenge I'm up-close and personal with as I coach my eight-year old daughter in a brand new experience for her.

After I had written these words, I reflected for a few days (weeks), neither knowing how to grasp this balance nor write about it.  Then came an unexpected gift in my mailbox from a friend.  A book (I love books!) with answers to my unspoken parenting questions complete with diagrams that despite hours of effort will not appear straight on this page.  Please be understanding and tilt your head.
If only all prayers could be answered so literally. It was the guidance that I needed to help me in my parenting intentions.  Balance is essential and stumbling is to be expected.  And how this balance plays out in our day to day families is fluid with ebbs and flows.  Here I go sounding all coach-y, I know.  But, I was reassured.  Reassured that while I may have missed out on the experience as a teenager, there may be no better season in my life to be a cheerleader than during motherhood.  Although I'm quite lacking in the actual athletic part of cheerleading, one can't be too critical with oneself.   Not only am I enthusiastic as a result of coffee running through my bloodstream, but I'm an encourager-, just as is every other mom who manages to coax sleepy children from warm beds to the school bus each morning with minimal dramatic outburst.  More importantly, I am a teacher and a student-and coaching has been a humbling opportunity to practice both.  

But, in all honesty, next basketball season I will stick with milking my goat.  

Monday, January 9, 2017


Anyone who has ever owned a dog and lost it knows the feeling.  I can search for the words to describe it or I could just write--the feeling of losing a pet after 15 and a half years together--and those who have been there will feel the little twinge in their heart and understand.
After 15 and a half years one would think I'd be prepared for the inevitable, but a little part of me thought Spencer might have figured out how to be the exception to this silly little rule of life.  I know that he will never ever be replaced, but I've learned it's best to keep my eyes forward.  So, I went out and got a new dog...Hazel.  She's no Spencer, but anyone who helps cut down on our grocery bill is welcomed in our home.  

It seems all that they say about goats is true.  She's cute, friendly, and noisy.  And in less than two weeks, through no fault of her own, dear Hazel has wrought havoc in my family.  Let's pray this does not escalate, but so far we're off to a rocky start in the goat farming business.  For one, I suspect my in-laws now find me to be ridiculous as they are real farmers and I have one goat.  They haven't said so.  They don't need to, I am fully aware that dairy farmers carry the street credit in these parts and I am filled with shame for my yuppy farming ways.  

Additionally, I've discovered that my husband will not lower himself to milking an animal by hand.  I did not know this about him until now and sort of wish it had come up in conversation during our courtship.  There is no need for a milk machine for one goat.  Milking takes all of three minutes. Granted, we are only getting about a half cup of milk, but we get it in no time at all.  I give this half cup of milk to Ella, who last year was diagnosed with a cow milk allergy.  I am hoping that in a few years when Ella becomes a teenager and hates everything in the world she will remember the time her mom went out and bought. a. goat. for her to have milk each morning and feel loved.  Ella finds goat milk to be delicious whereas everyone else in the family finds it to be somewhere along the spectrum of kind of palatable.  She proudly carries her little thermos of goat milk to school each day.  Today she came home from school and reported that the milk was a little warm at snack time when she drank it and by evening she was curled around a toilet vomiting up goat milk smelling yuckiness.  So there's that.

There is a learning curve to farming that I am slow to climb.  Chad has brought up the word impulsive a time or two since Hazel showed up at our door.  And with all respect to my husband, he is wrong.  There was much thought given to all things goat for months before Hazel was purchased.  I believe the word he is looking for is unprepared.  Because I am that.  I will remind him it is part of my charm.  I have made it through most of my life so far by winging it and each day find things like the weather to be such a surprise.  I'm in no way saying this is a good thing, and as I speed read through goat books I realize that a little preparation may have helped here.  At least with regards to preventing the possible listeria my daughter may have picked up (ugh!) which she may very justly hold against me during her teenage years.  I suppose I have plenty of time to get prepared for that.

Friday, January 6, 2017

The Christmas That Poppy Caught On Fire

A few months or so ago there was a guest caller on Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me.  She was a mom.  I know this because when asked what she did for a living she listed her job as a mom first, then mentioned her other full-time job which I don’t remember because she listed it second.  I liked the way it sounded and made note to do the same going forward, although I have yet to practice this as I rarely engage in conversations with new people...or any adults for that matter.  But, it’s definitely on the conversational itinerary for future interactions.   What I also remember about this mom caller is that she got an answer to one of the game show’s questions wrong.  I don’t recall the actual question, but I remember her perfectly timed response when she found out that her answer was incorrect: ‘Well, that’s not my fault’.  I chuckled, but  Peter Sagal only paused, then moved on to the next question-for despite his wit, mom humor appears to be lost on him.  I don’t know why I’m being such a copycat of this random NPR guest, but I’ve since taken to using the 'not my fault' mantra right along with my 8-year olds. And I don't mean it with a deeper context of carrying burdens beyond the cross kind of not my fault.   I've just found it's much more entertaining (to myself) to parent with sarcasm.   Burn dinner: It’s not my fault.  Late for everything: It’s not my fault.  Children grow up to be entitled with no awareness of accountability: I may have to own a little bit of that one.  So, I guess I’ll have to stop and go back to plain old mom’ing-which is fine…I’m not that funny anyways.   

Before I completely abandon the blame casting, I will quickly mention that it’s not my fault that Poppy caught on fire this Christmas.  She's totally fine. It's just unfortunate that we have to remember this season by such an event.   If she hadn’t caught on fire, I might otherwise have remembered this Christmas as the one where Harlyn was born and my heart was more filled with joy than I ever imagined possible.  And if not that, then I might have marked it as the Christmas that I started wearing the same shade of pink lipstick that my Grandma George had always worn.   Milestones.  Instead, we have to remember it as the Christmas that Poppy caught on fire, which as I mentioned wasn’t my fault.   I do accept partial responsibility which Chad is more than willing to share; reminding me as we walked out of the warm church into the night’s icy parking lot that ‘We really need to be more careful with her’.  To which I reminded him that I am careful with her and would never give a two-year old fire thankyouverymuch.   But, I was happy to take some of the fault as Chad felt very horrible about the whole thing and also had noticed my new lipstick earlier, placing him in my good graces.  I should have intervened.   Watching an adult hand over a burning candle to a two-year old…any other mother would have stepped in.  But, I felt there was a real spiritual moment going on between a father and daughter: the congregation singing Silent Night, lighting their candles one by one, the overhead lights flickering off and being replaced with the soft glow of candlelight, their eyes fixed on each other.  The traditions of my Christmases being etched into their memories.  So, I refrained.

Perhaps what I interpreted as a spiritual moment was really just Chad’s love of fire as I am apt to read a little too deeply into things.  Either way, Poppy held out her trusting little hand and accepted the candle from her dad only to immediately snatch it back in a reflexive action.   Very unfortunately though, the candle was still in her hand and before I could react, her golden hair caught on fire in a quick burst of flame, which Chad denies ever happened and I would believe him if it weren’t for the unforgettable smell of burning hair that accompanied the spark.  I grabbed Poppy, rocking her tightly in my arms as her howls echoed through the church, drowning out the chorus of Silent Night.  Thankfully, her crying appeared to be mostly out of fear as there was just a small wax burn near the corner of her left eye which I kissed, leaving a bright pink lipstick mark on her face, just like Grandma’s.  Except that Grandma never actually had to kiss a burn on my face because my parents never gave me candles to play with.  Not that I’m blaming anyone.