Friday, August 27, 2010

Bad to the Bone

Lillian started Big Girl School a mere four weeks ago.

To put this in context, I have to back up a little bit. The very first week of 4K last year we received a note home that said, "Lilly was involved in a brawl today...".

Now, I don't know about you, but the word "brawl" used in context with four-year-olds was a little shocking. Seriously, I'm expecting drunks hurling barstools at one another when I hear that word, not a five-year-old demanding her yellow crayon back from a kid who out weighed her by 30 lbs. But if you know The Little Flower even a wee bit you'll know that "brawl" was probably the perfect word to describe the altercation.

In the span of four short weeks in Kindergarten for Big Girls she flashed the entire lunchroom by lifting her dress up over her head, understands and is intimately familiar with the Time Out process, and ran top speed out of the lunch room and down the hall to hide in the bathroom where the teacher couldn’t find her for some length of time.

I'm not finished yet.

When her name was put on the board for disobedience, she waited for the class to go to snack and then snuck back into the classroom under the pretext of going potty and erased her name from the board.

She stole a toy from the teacher’s stash and then lied completely straight faced about it. And when busted in thievery and lying, she stomped her foot at the teacher, aimed the stink-eye, and screamed at maximum volume, “You are the worst teacher in the whole world!”

One of her classmates made what was sure to be accurate color commentary about her theft, cover up, and consequent lock up in Time Out, which almost resulted in a complete throw down.  (And I have no doubt would have been a major problem for him. Ahem.)

Okay then.

This is also the same kid who when learning about the creation story during Bible time raised her hand and wanted to know why God didn’t just make the world in ONE day. Why did he take seven whole days to get down to business? Duh.

(That’s a pretty good question for a kindergartener.)

She also refuses to put her name on the top of her worksheets and instead writes: “Lilly loves Mommy” (Okay, so that one is hard to fuss about.)

I don’t know how her teacher stands it. I’d have already hung her up by her feet or locked her in a closet somewhere. The funniest part is that every time she acts so crazy (her normal state of existence), the natural response to this nuttiness is to laugh. Loudly.

And share the story with others.

Making it harder to beat her the next time.

(And I’m pretty sure she knows it.)

Hopefully, the Memory Enhancers* she received at the house after each of these incidents will help.

(But I am familiar with her gene pool and really doubt it.)

(Wouldn’t you just kill to be a fly on the wall in that classroom?)

*tail warmings and/or having to write personal apologies to offended people--meaning her penmanship is going to totally rock.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Mid-Life Crisis

I'll blame it on the fact I'm forty. Maybe this is just what my personal mid-life crisis is going to look like. Whatever, I'm going to make some changes in my universe.

I'm like the rest of you. I've done a couple of diets here and there. I've played at working out for several seasons. But I've never really made any permanent changes in my lifestyle. Lately I've been convicted about it from several different sources. Just in case you ever think that no one is listening to you...this one's for you.

Melanie: She wrote a very significant "confession" about her weight. She's a relatively thin woman, but struggles with blaming other sources for her condition. Her thoughts on paper kept coming back to me concerning how I view myself and the excuses I've made in my own life about "upbringing" or "genetics". In our religious belief system, our bodies are supposed to be temples, places where the Holy Spirit actually lives, but I'm treating mine less like a holy place and more like an amusement park.

Julia, not Roberts: She has absolutely no idea that she's inspiring me at all. J and her girls are training together toward a 10K run. She's set a goal to participate in the Vulcan run this year. I think she'll do it too. How does this impact my universe? Having enormous boobs really did make it impossible to run. (You doubt me? Stuff a 7 lb baby in your bra and try to jog somewhere. Not happening.) Once the swelling goes down, I'm not going to have that excuse anymore. I might actually like running somewhere if I tried it. I might get to experience that symphony she described. And I really want to hear it.

Greg: Same day I read Julia's notes on facebook, Greg the Pastor (who doesn't know Julia), posted asking if anyone had ever used the Couch to 5K program. Huh. That's odd. (If you Believe, that's the Holy Spirit. If you don't, it's a coincidence.) Julia was just talking about that very program in her quest for Vulcan. Googled info. I actually read the whole website and secretly, furtively, quietly contemplated these truths in my heart.

Jessica: Clever, funny girl who is built like a gazelle. Her body has been hand crafted by God, made specifically to eat pavement. She loves to run. She is passionate about the act. She is inspired by the movement and feet pounding the ground, and it's abundantly clear in her language. She wrote in her blog about running along Bourbon Street in New Orleans, and I wondered what that would feel like. Smelling the city come to life, feet beating out a tattoo on concrete, arms pumping, air pushing, burning, moving in time to something bigger than yourself. Yeah, I wonder what that would be like.

My Daddy: The Husband and I are going to travel as much as humanly possible in the next several years. We're going to Alaska in September and to St. Martin next spring. My father is taking us on both of these trips as a most generous gift, and I know he's already daydreaming and planning and scheming where he's taking our family in 2012.  I want to zip line and float plane and hike to the falls. I want to run in a forest older than time. I want to ride a bicycle and walk through towns and climb to the highest viewing point on the island. I want to pound down the beach like a living, breathing, sweating cliche.

Sales Clerk at the Dress Barn: I grabbed three formals in what I thought was my size. The sales lady said that she thought I was way overshooting my actual size and then brought me a dress I never in this lifetime would have tried on W.B.C. (With Bob and Chuck). She asked me to humor her and to try it on. She was right. I've gone down two dress sizes in eight weeks, and I rocked an empire waist for the first time in my life. I did a little five-second dance party in the changing room. She doesn't know it, but the sales clerk prompted me to arrive 30 minutes early to aerobics class so that I could do a warm up walk. I walked and sweat and ached and imagined what else I might fit into this time next year. Tomorrow when the alarm goes off and the kids leave for school, I wonder if I'll hit the snooze or if I'll head down to the gym. I hope I'll walk and run a little between the second marks.

Julia Roberts, actress: She may be eating her way across Asia in some sort of self-gratifying journey of inner discovery (loosely called entertainment in the movie industry), but in Randolph I am on a Radical Lifestyle Reevaluation that's going to involve less consumption on every single level. Less food, less fat, less excuse making, less whining, less just for the sake of less.  Perhaps it's time to quit focusing so much on our inner search. It's unhealthy to believe that you are the center of your own universe, endlessly contemplating your own cosmos and the people rotating around you. Then I start thinking that I'm throwing away my opportunities in a similar fashion. What if I passionately applied myself to everything I set my mind to instead of wandering around aimlessly year after year? What if I just decided and made it so? What if I just did it? One step at a time.

Ladies Bible Study and Sonja: Where we are reading and studying the book Sonja reviewed at the WMU conference last month. Life Unhindered by Jennifer Kennedy Dean. The book is based on two key verses, Hebrews 12:1-2. Read it. You'll get it.

The Husband: Who, knowing all of this information far before any of you are privy to it, still offers me a Reece's Cup every single night at bedtime when he has his snack, not because he's trying to sabotage me or to be ugly by temping me, but because he's saying that he loves me exactly the way that I am for my insides, not my outsides. I wish that all of you are loved that same way at least once in life. It somehow matters that he doesn't care if I run or not. It matters a lot. It matters the most.

I'm not exactly ready to commit to a 10K, because that large of a goal seems completely out of my reach, but I have a lot to ponder about the temple of the Holy Ghost and what I'm going to do about preserving it to the best of my ability. God speaks to us through all sorts of mediums, so I guess what I'm really saying is, I hear You, Lord, and I'm finally ready if You are.

Hebrews 12:1-2 The Race of Faith
1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

You Like Me; You Really Like Me

Okay, so 85,000 of you claim to read the blog (give or take a handful), but as I looked in my blog file, I discovered that I've got five whole followers. I've been blogging for three years. This has to be a new low in records. It's just depressing.

You're all causing me to question my entire blogging life. Am I not funny enough? Am I not frequent enough? Am I not interesting enough? Are you not amused enough? What is the problem here? Hello? HELLO?!

*tap tap tap*

Is this thing on??!!

If I were anyone other than The Mother Bear, you'd be killing my self esteem here. Fortunately for me, since I know that none of those silly suppositions are answerable with an affirmative, the next logical question is, what is wrong with you people? I'm not writing all of this for myself, you know. (Well, okay, so maybe I am, since I'd write it whether or not any of you read it, but that's beside the point.)

Having 'followers" is somehow important in the blogosphere on the most base psychological level. It means that you're actually out there in cyberspace following the program that I'm laying out. And having to ask all of you lazy people (aka My Friends) to click the "follow" button is terribly demoralizing too. It's like having to ask someone to throw you a party. Sheesh.

Get with it, People! Hit the dadgum button!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Not Yet Rated

I wish that I could do a blog about all of the things that I want to blog, but self edit. Like a free association blog rant thingy about the inappropriate details of my life. (What? she's not already over sharing the inappropriate details of her life? There's more?) There are just some things you just can't blog about in confidence.

First, The Wonder Twins and The Number One Son would kill me. (The Little Flower isn't self aware enough to stage a freak out concerning invasion of privacy, but she'll get there eventually.)

Second, The Husband would pass out because Church People Might Read It. (As if you aren't already all up in our business or something.*Snort*)

Third, some people would never speak to me again. (You know who you are.)

What sort of things? Well, I really want to scream at the top of my lungs about how fabulous my new, small, perky you-know-who's are, but that's totally out of the question. No one will even break this weird staring eye contact thing when they mention how great I'm looking these days, because it's socially uncomfortable to stare at the Preacher's Wife's Chest just as a general behavioral rule. (In fact, it might actually be in the handbook that I'm not allowed to have a chest, but I'd have to look it up to be sure.)

I want to tell you all about this Very Interesting Woman at the Pig who upon observing my Four Shorties in tow, told me that she also had four kids, only they all had different daddy's. At least she thinks two of them might have the same father, but she's not sure because it could be this one other guy, but she hopes not because he's currently serving time for armed robbery, but she's so glad that her new man didn't care about that and had been fixed after his last marriage. Somehow sharing all of that incredibly funny info just feels inappropriate. I could always share it as a prayer request, but again, icky.

And I want to tell someone, anyone about the many fabulous Carter-Johnson-isms here in Johnsonville, but he's going to be A Man some day and I'm not sure he'd want all of that glamour out on the Internet in perpetuity. It's not easy being a dude in a world full of women.

Sigh.  So, I guess some things will just remain un-postable. But if you ask me about it in person, I'll probably tell it. :-)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Literary Prowess

I’m the kind of girl who chooses to read a book, or not to read a book as the case may be, based on one thing. Not on the blurb or the jacket cover (and certainly not based on the reviews), but more often than not, I choose a novel based on the first line of the book. The very first sentence usually screams out the author’s skill, topic, and tone. Some great ones include the following:

"If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth." J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye. Love it or hate it, you have to admit, great first line.

Or what about, “All children, except one, grow.” Peter Pan J.M. Barrie. You have to admit, that’s a pretty good one too. Intriguing.

"The man in black fled across the desert, and the Gunslinger followed" - Dark Tower I - The Gunslinger (no one touches Stephen King.)

Personal favorite: "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife." Jane Austin, Pride and Prejudice. (How funny is that? Surprise, the rest of her novels are pretty funny too.)

So, today, when in our pew at church I happened to pick up a long-hand cursive story written by my son during worship before he left for children’s church, I couldn’t help but be drawn to the first line, because, as I said before, it sets the skill, topic, and tone and determines whether or not I’m going to continue reading. And I can assure you that I continued reading with a first line so provocative, so profound, so titillating that it was a natural born page turner.

Chapter One:

“Elise is a butt head.”


Ahem. You want to read it too, now don’t you? Because I am an editor, I’ve chosen to correct some misspellings and leave some for reasons that will become obvious.

So, here it is--The Number One Son’s Ode to His Sister, Elise

Chapter One: “Elise is a butt head. She’s mean to me and sometimes she threatens to beat me.”

Chapter Two: “I don’t believe what she does to me. She’s the worst sister you could have.”

Chapter Three: “Sometimes she yells at me when I ask her something. She’s just so mean. What did I do to deserve her for a sister?”

Chapter Four: “She even talks about me behind my back, but she always comes back to the good side.”

Chapter Five: “She always apologizes she can be really nice about some things. Three times are when she bought me candy and two tech decks and an ice cream. I guess those were her being nice.”

Chapter Six: “She can be the best sister you can have and even though she can be mean she can still be nice. And she could kill anyone who was mean to me that wasn’t her because she is my sister and can be mean to me but no one else.”

Chapter Seven: “Elise is very nice if you be nice to her and sometimes she yells at me when I ask her to play a game with me, but she’s still nice. Some times. Mostly.”

Chapter Eight: “Elise can be dum. Like one time she tried to through a cup at me but it hit her own head, so she’d dum too. I guess that is what having a sister is like.”

Done. (like the confidant, "Done" as opposed to the overused "The End".)

And I hope this is the photo he chooses for the back of the jacket:

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Shorties Go To School 2010

The first week of school is here again. The Wonder Twins started 5th grade. The Number One Son started 3rd grade. And The Little Flower has her first day of kindergarten on Monday. (Whoa). Here's your fair warning, I'm going on a full blown picture taking Red Alert on Monday to take a zillion photos of Lilly's first day of Big Girl School for several quality reasons:

1) Everyone says that the first kids in the lineage get the most photos...well, I was determined that wasn't going to happen at MY house (see Perfect Mommy Title Contest), so I've been actively combating that situation since the day Carter was born--he and his baby sister might actually have more film on them than the twins as a result.

2) It's her first day of Big Girl School.

3) And the biggest reason of all...I've been banned from the 5th and 3rd grade classrooms by the other shorties. They think it's humiliating to have their mother chase them around the classroom posing with the teacher, taking photos with their friends, etc. The Fashionista actually said, "It's just too much, Mom. Seriously."

So, I've been coming up with strategic arguments to get into the classroom for the precious photo op. Any combination of techniques might work, but it's the process of choosing the most effective manipulation tools to get my way. (Hey, you're all thinking it, just not admitting it.)

There's the ever popular Show of Force technique, which would include phrases like: "You'll Get Over It" or "Shut Up"  or the ever popular "Because I Said So".

Then there's Guilt (always in the back pocket of effective mothers): "I Earned the Right to Chase You Around with this Camera the Day You Were Born".

Or how about Compromise: "If You Let Me Come to the Classroom, I'll Limit Myself to Four Photos" or "We'll Only Take Them at the House and Not at the School".  you can see, option Compromise was employed this year, but none of that is really working for me, therefore, I have two words for you concerning next year: Telephoto Lens.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Clean House at Casa Johnson

The Johnson Factor Phenomenon No. 72: If The Husband opens any cabinet, door, fridge, etc., something will fall on his head 79% of the time. I'm graphing it to keep the percentages accurate. It's really something. It's lucky he doesn't cuss more.

Let's it was an entire bowl of potato salad (that naturally landed wrong side down and had to be scraped up from the linoleum), three cups from the Twilight movie premiere (Edward is The Man), and various linens as he sought to change the bed sheets. (Let us note that he was making lunch, getting me something to drink, and helping change the sheets. This is why Edward may be The Man, but Steve is The Husband. Hoo-rah!)

So, in an effort to get rid of some of this falling debris on The Husband's head, we are late summer cleaning. Erg. I hate cleaning. I mean, I hate beets and I hate Brussel sprouts, but I HATE cleaning. This is odd, since my house stays relatively put together and presentable, outside of the stacks of stuff just lying around. I've simply got to de-stack the house or we're going to be on a special "People Who Have Stacks of Crap Everywhere" edition of Hoarders. It's losing me points in the Perfect Mommy Title because my house doesn't look like Better Homes and Gardens.  (Those stupid judges...)

As a result, we are playing Clean House (curse that cable TV for convicting me yet again). We're trying to convince Elise to dress up like Niecy Nash and interview everyone about our 'foolishness', but I secretly hope she won't. If she interviews me, I might have to answer questions about my obvious book addiction and magazine stacks next to the bedside and my serious costume jewelry problem. The Shoe Fetish that I have is clearly my biggest contribution to the overall problem, but I'm not admitting to anything on that front, because then someone might want me to CHANGE that behavior and that'd be a big No.