Thursday, June 30, 2011

What I Did For My Summer Vacation

These people only have two kids. Enough said.
 So, I have shingles. Again. On my face. Fun times. It just proves that although I appear to be handling my stress level well, obviously, I'm NOT. Incidentally, ten people have asked me today why I haven't had the vaccination shot. One, I already HAVE the shingles; I don't think I need to be vaccinated for something I actually have. Two, I'm not over 60, so they won't give it to me. There’s something funny in there, but I’m not sure that I’m in on the joke. (Usually that means that you ARE the joke.)

Spiritual Truth Number 76: Working at an 8-5 job in an office somewhere is less stressful than being home full time. I don’t want to hear you complain one second about your commute or your boss or your co-workers. Shut it. You’re basically whining that you have two hours in the car to listen to whatever you want by yourself, you have someone above you who takes all of the heat even if you screw up, and there’s no way that you can prove your co-workers are worse than being trapped in the house with kids. I’ve never once had a co-worker run naked covered in wet grass and mud from playing in the sprinkler through my newly mopped office, throw up on me, or put his/her hand in my glass during a business luncheon to fish out ice cubes or a lemon. We don’t feel sorry for you. We think you’re a light weight. From now on, if I ask a woman if she "works outside of the home" I'm going to add "or do you slave inside of it"?

On the Subject of Food: The dishes. My God, my God, wherefore art there so many dishes??? And why are they in my sink with the food still on them instead of being scraped into the garbage first? What is wrong with you people? There is nothing grodier than a sink full of soggy Fruit Loops, unless maybe Raisin Bran. (I think it's that dadgum elf since I never see anyone actually putting anything in the sink.) I know that it’s like not “green” and stuff, but I’m seriously thinking about going all paper products in this house. Think of the water we’ll save. That’s being green, right?

I've also decided that my children aren't human. They are garbage disposals from another planet. Today I've cooked four times. FOUR TIMES! Like with the stove on. (This from the woman who doesn't particularly like cooking.) It's so bad that I'm actually debating if it’s a DHR moment should I decide to serve Pop Tarts for dinner tomorrow. (And if I get one email about my kids’ diets, you are too stupid to live and breed. I just said that I cooked four times today. I’m not actually going to serve Pop Tarts for dinner [at least I don’t think I am]. Go get some kids, and then I’ll listen to you. Maybe. [Okay, so probably not even then.])

And for the love of all that is good, no more caffeine, chocolate, sugar, red food dye, Kool-aid, ice cream, sugar cereal, doughnuts, cookies, or soft drinks for The Little Flower after like one o'clock in the p.m. Seriously. I'll kill you.

This isn't actually my house. Thank God.
Housekeeping, or lack Thereof: My poor, poor living room. It's a fort. It's a dining room. It's a video arcade. It's a bounce house. It’s an art coffee house. It's a water park (don't ask). It's an official bio hazard. It's cheer practice central. It's gymnastics class. It's a construction zone. It's a concert hall. It's a piano rehearsal studio. It's a disco. It's a movie theater. It's a day care center. It's a dog run. It's base in an elaborate game of hide and seek. It's an extra bedroom. It's a science lab. It's Thunderdome (two men enter/one man leaves). The only thing it's not is a living room.

Running To and Fro: I'm taking all of the credit for the gas prices falling. You're all welcome. I've been on the road so much that the oil futures have once again become secure. We run from one thing to the next, and we are barely on time for anything. I used to be on time everywhere, like as in early-is-really-on-time. Now I'm still wandering around my house aimlessly looking for a hair bow or flip flop or blanket or keys when it's time to be there (wherever THERE is on any given day). During the school year this place is operated like boot camp. Like for Marines. It must be the chlorine or sunblock or sleeping in an extra hour. Someone should do a study. 
George and Flat Stanley

Me No Speaka You Slang and a Random Panic Attack: When did the word "beast" replace "awesome"? And what exactly does it mean? Someone told me I'm 'beast' and one of my kids stopped me before I put a shoe upside his head. Holy Smokes, Batman!!!! I almost forgot all about Flat Stanley! I have to mail him off to some people today…who can I rook into that deal? Who loves me enough to return some photos? And who has kids who have to do this same sort of stupid, er, I mean, Socially Important, ahem, Project. And I think I’m also supposed to be selling some mess for volleyball gear like cookies or pizza or something. Ugh. Fund raisers stink. Cause you know who’s keeping up with all of the money and paperwork and actually selling the stuff, right? (And I’ll give you a hint, it’s not the Wonder Twins.) Double Ugh.

Spiritual Truth Number 131: You can't actually sleep if you have more than four people and a dog in the bed with you. It's more like a wrestling match. And I don't care if it is a king size bed.

Music, Music Everywhere and No Talent Anywhere in Sight: Why is the piano amplifier set on 11 all of the time? Do my kids need to have their hearing checked? And who decided that the keys should make a farting noise as a musical choice on the keyboard in the first place? Is someone actually trying to play Beethoven in the key of Gaseous Emissions? The dude who programmed that deal needs to be fired. 
Wiz Khalifa, for those not in the know.

I know all of the words (well, to the edited radio version) to Roll Up by Wiz Kalifa. This alone is reason to question all of my life choices leading up to this point. Worst. Song. Ever. It doesn’t even have a melody or any singing. It’s more like grunting. It's like the "Oh, Sheila" or the "Blame It on the Rain" of this generation. (I know the words to those songs too. What does that say about me as a person?)

Conclusion: How long have we been out for summer break again? Like four months? WHAT? You lie, Sir! Only four weeks? That can't be right. I'm having like a Groundhog Day do-over loop. Lord, help, no one should even have to ask me why I have the shingles. I’ve got your shingles right here.

Monday, June 27, 2011

I Just Want to be a Blessing

Ever have one of those moments where you look up and think for a split second, my God, my God, I am so very blessed?  I have them quite often. Now, I'm going to leave people off of this list, because no one actually reads a ten-page-long blog post, but here are a few examples...
Martha & Heedy
Like when I walked into my kitchen after an exhausting day of Shortie Stuff only to find that a deacon at our church (Hi, Mr. Heedy!) brought baskets and baskets of fresh veggies to my house. Okra, squash, tomatoes, peas...see, I'd driven past a veggie stand on the way home and thought about stopping but had absolutely no money on me. Not a dime. And then I came home to everything I desired at that veggie place. I made this huge dinner: chicken casserole, rice, sliced red tomatoes, fried squash and okra, purple hull peas, sliced onion and fresh peppers, biscuits, and blackberry cobbler for dessert. And our Bonus Child had her prayer answered too--she'd been thinking about that chicken casserole all week and that's what I made! God is so good!

Bridgett, Noah, & Roddy

Or like when Mother's car caught fire at church last week (specifically her brakes), well another deacon (Hi, Mr. Roddy!) rushed right out with a fire extinguisher and put that thing out in just a second. We could have been tooling up the road and caught on fire or somewhere between here and Town all by ourselves (and one car catching fire in my lifetime is one too many, so I think God knew that I couldn't take it again). So, instead of a major disaster it was just sort of irritating. When the fire was out, we walked in and had church services, then walked to the house which is only 100 yards away. God is so good!

Swimming at Tack & JuJu's
Or like today when I pulled up my calendar and my biggest decision of the day is whether to take the kids to The Art Shop (Hi, Mrs. Melissa!) for the 10:00 class or the 2:00 class, because we want to swim before it rains. We go swimming and fishing at another deacon family where they let us use their backyard pool any ole time we want. (Hi, Tack and JuJu!) God is so good! 
Gretchen & David with their beautiful girls!

Or when I looked out my window to see men from church mowing the grass and weed eating like crazy and I think to myself, THANK GOD for these men (Hi, Mr. David and Mr. Waldrop!), because if the yard care were left up to me and The Husband it wouldn't be Casa Johnson, it would be Jungle Johnson. God is SO good!

Mrs. Mary Jane & Kory
Or like when these wonderful woman from church (Hi, Mrs. Mary Jane, Mrs. Kattie, Mrs. Betty Jo, Mrs. Betty Mae, Mrs. Katherine, Mrs. Annie, and everyone else!) just randomly pulls up with desserts, stuffed peppers, soup, salsa, etc., and we are so blessed because I don't do any of that (good enough to actually eat, that is). God is so good!

Or when it was time to start thinking about teaching the GA (girl's missions) class again for next year at church, and I'm thinking I'm a little burned out and need some fresh ideas, this lady steps right up to me before church and says, "Hey, I'd like to help you with the GAs this next year," like she's the perfect answer to prayer at the exact right moment (Hi, Mrs. Sherry!) God is so good!

Lilly in the NICU at St. Vincent's. Two months after birth

Or when my phone rang a few days ago...a stressed out pregnant mom (Hi, Mrs. Bragan!) with a baby about to be born premature (Hi, Baby Barrett!) and needing help, advice, information, mostly just someone who knew that feeling and prayer, and guess what? I knew EXACTLY what to say and what to pray because God gifted me with a micro-preemie and a  4 1/2 months NICU stay, giving me the exact words and thoughts and information necessary to minister to someone else in that same need at the perfect time. I'm so thankful for Lillian's early birth and our experience in the NICU, because we've been able to minister to so many other people. And that baby was born perfect and whole. God is so good!

Or when The Number One Son (who still doesn't spend the night off from home because it stresses him out) wanted to go away to summer camp for the first time, but refused to go without his father, this wonderful youth from our church (Hi, Christopher!) said that he'd go and stay with my son so that The Husband didn't have to leave us for a week (which was an amazing answer to Steve's prayer since going to camp is like announcing a death march or something). God answered Carter's prayer, Steve's prayer, and my prayer all at the same time through that youth and his willingness to sacrifice. God is so good!

 Are you catching my theme? It's not God I actually see's God through these people and their actions. So, to quote the sermon from The Husband, how are you being a blessing to others? How is God working through you? How is God working through me? Am I open to let God use me as a blessing?

I Kings 3:1-15 Solomon has a dream and God tells him to ask for anything he wants. Solomon chose wisdom, to be able to discern right from wrong in order to help and judge his people. He wanted to be a blessing, rather than to get a blessing. And later, God gave him everything his heart desired, beyond anything he actually asked for.

So, what about you? Are you being a blessing? I know that we are abundantly blessed by God's people every single day!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Next Time I'm Turning Her Loose. Seriously. I Mean It.

Is it only deaths that come in three's?

I'm beginning to think that Sister Sunshine moments do too, because I've been full up on crazy this week.

We have a climate-controlled storage unit at a local business.  I've had this unit for three years. We rented it in June of 2008 to store my mother's stuff when we sold her house. (God had other plans for her cancer and healed her completely.) I've never been a day late on the $115.00 rent; it has come right out of my checking account every month on the first without fail for three years.

We've also had many other business dealings with these people who own the mini storage. We've purchased a car from them (from one of their side businesses), and we've ordered signs for our church VBS several years (another side business). (And incidentally, now you know who they are.) Over the years, I've had several bizarre encounters with That Woman who manages the mini storage.

To put it concisely, she is a jackwagon.

She's short spoken, ill tempered, smart mouthed, slow to listen, and just rude in general. And today, she finally crossed The Line and spoke to me that way in front of youth from my church (who will swear without any coercion that I behaved myself from start to finish).

I went to empty my storage unit (that same one that I've been paying for the past three years in a timely manner), and my lock wouldn't open. Upon closer examination, something was jammed inside of the lock. It looked like a key was broken off in the locking mechanism. Since I haven't even been over there since October of last year, this was a little distressing.

I walked to the office and explained that there was something jammed in the lock, and I wasn't sure what to do next. I was told (sharply, with an exasperated sigh as though I had caused the problem) that there would be a fee of fifty dollars to core out the lock, and they would have to charge me for a new lock from the office.

She then indicated that we could review the tape to see "what was put in there" (said with a clever little one eyebrow lift implying not so subtlety that I'd broken my own key in the lock). I showed her the key on my ring to the storage lock and she said, "That's not the key." I insisted that it was because it's the only key I've ever had to any lock anywhere in the whole world, but I can't prove it because I can't put it in the lock because something is stuck.

She said, "Well, it came with two keys, where is the other one?" I told her the other key was at home on a nail by the back door, forty minutes away. She insinuated that IF I had that key and that IF it wasn't broken, they'd see what was in the lock when they cored it out and determine what to do next (basically calling me a liar).

I said, oh, that's okay, it's no problem, we don't need to core the lock, I'll be back with bolt cutters in a little while (thinking that I'm sort of being helpful here). Then I was informed, hands on hips and head bobbing (her, not me), that it is against the property rules and THE LAW to cut the lock off, that the owner would have to do it. Okay, I say that I understand completely, and I asked for his card.

She gave me that look you give boys who come to pick up your daughters for car dates, you know the look, squinty-eyed intense scrutiny.


(Um, I don't know, so that I can call him?) "So that I can contact Mr. XYZ to resolve this." (And mostly because I don't appreciate your people skills.)

She asked again, "Why?" this time slitting her eyes so hard she looked foreign for a second. (Keep in mind that I have two youth boys from my church in the office with me who are listening to this entire exchange.)

I explained in a calm, quiet voice (the boys said later that the calmer and quieter I got, the madder and louder she got) that I didn't think I should be responsible for the lock being jammed and that I could cut it off for free instead of having to pay for it to be removed, especially since I'm holding a key to the unit in my hand right there on the spot and have a photo ID that shows it's my locker.

I then politely asked if she'd come look at it to see if I was missing anything. She said, "In a minute."

I backed away from the counter and waited. She looked up after ten seconds and snapped, "What do you want?"

(I paused, wondering if this was a trick question.) "Um, I'm waiting for you."

She huffed and rolled her eyes, practically barking at me, "Ma'am, I'm going to be a-while."

I explained that I have people here right now (gesturing to the boys) to move the stuff out of the unit and that I live forty minutes away, so I really needed to wait for her to come. She indicated in short order that she wasn't going anywhere with me and that she'd have to contact the owner to come core the lock tonight and that it was out of her hands. I asked what would happen to my stuff if he just took the lock off at some random time during the night and was told that they'd put an office lock on it and charge me $20.00 for the lock.  Ahem.

(Mentally, I'm thinking to myself, okay, then, why didn't you just tell me to leave instead of telling me that you'd come out in a minute?) I picked up a card off of the counter and left without another word. (Now, I'll confess that I stomped from the door of the office to the door of the Yukon while muttering vile Scripture curses on her head, but I'm only human.)

After getting that out of my system, we left. I drove home, borrowed some tools, and drove the forty minutes one-way back to the unit. I used a magnet and screwdriver to get the shard of key out of the lock, then I drove to Wal-Mart to get WD40 to loosen up the rusted/damaged lock.

While I was in Wal-Mart buying the oil, That Woman called my house and spoke to my mother. This is what she said, "Ma'am? There is nothing in that lock." My mother, having absolutely no clue that any of this is happening, said, "What?" And Tha Woman (thinking she was talking to me) yelled, "I SAID, there is NOTHING in that LOCK!" Then she hung up on my Momma. She didn't even ask to speak to me and had no idea who even answered the phone. (I was blissfully ignorant of this exchange.)

While I was waiting in the storage hallway for a few minutes to let the oil do its thing, That Woman came out and told me that if I broke the lock off she would call the police. I just nodded and kept on working without saying anything (not knowing at that moment that she'd been rude to my Momma, otherwise I'd have gone Old Testament right there in that storage locker hallway). Then I put MY key, into MY lock, and opened the unit, where I removed everything I could carry. I went back into the office and showed the woman the lock and the keys (both unbroken) and said that I'd be back before Monday to collect the things that I couldn't carry by myself. She never even looked up.

I walked out to the porch and stopped for a long moment. I thought about the two units in that building that were full and the roughly 18 that were empty in the hallway. I thought about the building next door to the one I rented from which was entirely empty. I took in a deep breath, then turned around and went back in, and this is a fairly close approximation to the speech I gave her.

"Um, ma'am?" (no verbal response, no facial expression, she just looked up)

"Okay, well, see, what I want to tell you is that I worked in customer service for a very long time, and I hated it by the way, because the one thing that I know for certain is that you shouldn't fire the customer, and I constantly wanted to fire the customers for irritating me, which is why I left that sort of work. I was just irritated in general every single day.

I'm telling you this, because when I leave here, I'm going to tell everyone at my church and everyone on my Facebook and everyone that I see tonight at VBS in my community about this experience in this business. So are the boys who were here with me and saw your behavior today. I just thought that you should know for future reference, that the reason for all my discontent boils down to one thing: your attitude and your overall unconcern for me and my problem.

If at any point during this process you had been mildly sympathetic or understanding or kind spoken, this encounter would have gone much differently. I didn't come in here angry. I just had a problem and I needed your help. I haven't raised my voice or cursed or demanded anything or even been irritated with you. I would have appreciated the same courtesy.

Oh, and I want to give you a head's up that once I calm down, I'm calling The Man (as in the owner since I sort of know him), and probably following up with a blog and a letter. I think you should seriously consider finding a different job that doesn't require working with the public.

Please be sure that my account isn't charged for the unit in July. Thank you."

And then I left, the little doorbell ringy dinging my exit music. Sometimes it just doesn't pay to be nice. (And I'm eternally grateful that she didn't shoot me in the back through that big picture window.) I wonder what kind of service I'd have gotten if I let Sister out of the bag and went all Karate Kid Crane Pose on her. It's an interesting question. Next time, if the sales person is rude to me first, I think I'll find out.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

You, Sir, Are a Moron.

So, I almost gave myself a stroke tonight on Facebook.

See, when someone of a different political persuasion than you posts something--an article or opinion piece or whatever--and then you post an opinion that runs contrary of the friends of said person, it can get ugly. On both sides.

I don't know why I get into these things. I always tell myself, just keep on scrolling, don't stop and read, just let it go. I'm just innocently scrolling though and read something on a post that is just so stupid that I can't help  myself and jump right in with both feet. I get that it's all my fault.

Tonight I was called out for not being compassionate to this MORON (my word choice) who robbed a bank so that he could go to jail and get free healthcare. Are you kidding me? He is the very definition of a moron. He's the reason that the word is still in usage in the English language. Not only does he have the T-Shirt, but he ought to have to carry a sign around warning other people that he's in their general vicinity.

Okay, some of you need to buckle in. I really hate to break this to all of you, especially my liberal friends because it's such a shock to them, but WE ALREADY HAVE FREE HEALTHCARE IN THIS NATION.

I feel better getting that out there. There, I said it. And it's the truth.

1) You can walk into any emergency room in the United States of America and get medical care--emergency or not.

2) You can walk into the health department in your county of residence and have your daily  medical needs met by professionals, including shots, prescriptions, and mental heath needs for you and your children.

3) You can receive indigent care in any Baptist hospital in the state of Alabama--you just meet the criteria, fill out the paperwork--they even assign you a social worker to make sure that you fill the paperwork out correctly, and they file it for you.

All you need to do is walk into the hospital. They will connect you with the next step. So, no one, NO ONE needs to rob a dadgum bank for healthcare. And if you do, I'll call you a moron right to your face, because if it quacks like a duck and walks like a duck...

This is what got me accused of "hating" this man. (I don't even know him, how can I possibly hate him?)   But here's the deal...the basic gist of the arguments against me (and they were plentiful) is that we owe this man healthcare and we should be compassionate and moved by his plight. (What about that bank teller who had to be hospitalized due to the trauma of being robbed? Where's the compassion for her? Who's picking up her co-pay and Prozac prescription? HUH?) 

At what point did healthcare become a right?  

Now, let me say that as Christians we are called to love our neighbor as ourselves. That right there is the clincher and the best argument against me (that no one online actually used). As a follower of Christ I DO owe this man help. I owe him access to help. AND HE HAS IT!!!!!!!!

In case you missed the first part of this post, THAT MAN HAS ACCESS TO FREE HEALTHCARE!

So, how is that not being compassionate? How is that not loving my neighbor? How is that hating him? He has access to health care, and I have provided that access through my tax dollars and the inflated price I pay for my own health insurance. Hello? I can't figure out how in the universe that makes me lack compassion and hate him.

Oh, yeah...I'm not dealing with rational human beings, I'm dealing with emotional human beings. This is the basic problem with Facebook postings just as a general rule. You put something down on paper that you believe to be truth and everyone is supposed to nod and smile and agree and hug a tree and sing Kumbaya, pass the granola, but you all need to be forewarned...if you post something/anything, I just might put Sister Sunshine Charlotte right up in the middle of your deal with both feet. And sorry, Sugar, but you actually INVITED her to the party when you hit "enter".

And you might get your own T-Shirt...

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Second Generation of Daddy Bears

Because sometimes a photo tells it better than you can say it.
Whole crew at a church event

Daddy and Naynuh

Putt Putt golf in Gatlinburg on vacation

Germantown in Tennessee on a trip

Christmas Fantasy Land, Lilly and Daddy

Getting a lift at the park

Playing monster with the Shorties

Fourth of July Fireworks

Elise, Daddy, Lilly

Taking Naynuh to the Trick or Treat
Watching Elise play at the rest stop while on the way to Mississippi to see relatives

The very first "finger game" with Carter
Like son

Whole crew at the beach

he's under there somewhere...

Daddy and Lilly

Daddy and Lilly (still in the hosptial)

Daddy and Carter

Daddy and the Wonder Twins (Elise/Elaina)
Happy Father's Day 2011!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Lessons from My Daddy Bear

Daddy had never, ever held a baby before he held me.
My daddy and I have this very odd relationship. I almost worshiped the man when I was young. He was my hero, and in many ways, he still is. He was a difficult man (and in many ways he still is). He was demanding. He was harsh. He was exacting. He had high expectations. He was a strong force. He was funny and physical. He had a great sense of humor. He was powerful. But I never, ever wanted for hugs and kisses and bedtime tuck ins. He loved me and my brother fiercely. It was, and is, an overwhelming relationship. I'm thankful for my father.

  I'm thankful that he tried. I'm thankful that he didn't quit. I'm thankful that he didn't say "I told you so" as often as he could have. I'm thankful that he forgave me. I'm thankful that he told me "no" more than "yes". I'm thankful that he loved my mother. I'm thankful that he still provides for her because he loves me (and her). I'm thankful that he was and is such a strong force, because I was made stronger for standing in his presence and leaning into that wind.

And with that, I want to share some of the most important life lessons I learned from my Daddy Bear:
It's okay to be goofy. In fact, goofy is more enjoyable than serious. You also better stay on your toes, or I'm going to make you look goofy on purpose, and I fully expect you to laugh with me when I'm laughing at you. So, go ahead and laugh at yourself first. (I hope I have given this same gift to my children. Smart people have quick wit. And empathetic people find themselves to be the biggest laugh of all.)

Playing on the "Rock Chiff"
 I remember curling up in the green chair with him, secure in the knowledge that nothing could ever get past my Daddy. (I never, ever turn my children away for a snuggle. One day they won't want to sleep with me or sit with me, and that day is rapidly approaching. And I will protect them and their interests with every breath I take. Nothing will get past this Mother Bear. Nothing.)

I have seen every Western ever made, because that's what we did on Friday nights--we had significant amounts of family time, and he never watched anything we couldn't see also until we were asleep. (To this day, our house revolves around a never-ending family time that we are quick to schedule and guard zealously.)

I read because my father insisted. He handed me the first book I ever loved: Gone With The Wind. He is the very reason that I am passionate about literature. (It's important to teach your children to love reading and to participate in the things that make your life richer.)

Same game "Rock Chiff" with Conrad, my brother.
He taught me to memorize poetry just because you ought to. I still memorize something every single month. (Some things you should do not because they gain you wealth or education or position--you should just do them to improve yourself as a human being. They make your life richer just for doing them.)

I see him bringing me Godiva--For Special. (You should show the people you love with physical gifts.)

I hear him saying the Tucked Up Their Paws, rhyme, his voice hiding laughter right before tickling me silly. My children think that everyone knows Tucked Up Their Paws and Special Kisses. (What? You don't?) (You need to develop your own private language in your family unit. Your own traditions. Your personal folklore bonds you together deeper than any trip or thing you own.)
Raccoon, me, Daddy

In that same voice, I hear him cursing and yelling, but still turning the car around, after only thirty minutes into the 15-hour drive, to go back for Raccoon, my very special bear. (Always go back, go extra for your children, even if it costs you something and you get absolutely no personal gain.)

I smell freshly cut wood and see us stacking it behind the car we washed earlier in the day. (My father taught me that hard work is good for you, and I hope that my babies are learning the same.)

I taste Eggs Benedict on Saturday mornings (and it's still my favorite dish), because after washing the car and cutting and stacking the wood, it was time to get cleaned up and go to brunch.  Just him and me. (Because the most valuable thing you have to spend on your kids is time and shared experiences.)

I know Bear folklore, because I am one by blood and by birthright. (And I'd tell you what that means, but then I'd have to kill you, because some things in a family are private and should be kept that way.)

And I love my Daddy Bear, because he first loved me. Which is the most powerful lesson there is.

Smart and Talented do NOT Equal Gifted

I hate it when people think their children are "gifted". It's probably the most overused word of this decade. Everyone can't be special.  Having an aptitude for something doesn't even come close to being "gifted". Now, I'm not saying that we shouldn't encourage excellence at everything we try, but seriously? Gifted? (Snort.) So, with that said, we may actually have a quasi-talented Shortie or two lying around the casa Johnson.

The Fashionista (one half of the dynamic duo) has developed quite an interest, and a tiny bit of an aptitude, for the piano. She's been playing for a couple of months and is already performing at church. Her teacher only took on a handful of summer students, and E made the short list. It's so bad (er, I mean good) that a friend loaned us one of these spiffy keyboards with the 88 fully weighted keys, so that it feels like you're playing a real piano. Now, it's got all of these crazy synthesizer noises to choose from. Before we think Mozart has entered the building, first thing the Shorties learned to do was make farting noises with the keyboard. Naturally.

The Little Flower is an art making maniac. She draws all of the time. She is obsessed with dry erase boards and markers. She can't wait for a blank piece of paper. She paints, sculpts, draws (sometimes even on paper instead of the furniture). She's on fire about it too. When I announced that she was taking summer art classes, she put it on the calendar and made a countdown day thing like an Advent Calendar counting down to Christmas. I kid you not. We bought these really cool personalized autograph books for Disney World. She used hers as a sketch pad, announcing that she didn't want autographs, she wanted drawings. She went on to explain that she would be willing to give out HER autograph, however. Okay then, so she might show a little bit of aptitude in art.

The Number One Son has taken apart every single thing with a motor or mechanism in this house apart and has re-fitted it for some new and interesting purpose. Such as the portable CD players are now fans, and my night light is now some sort of complicated spy equipment. Here is an example of one such contraption. It's a simple circuit. He saw the high schoolers building circuit boards and came home to figure it out for himself. It's bizarre especially in light of the fact that I won't let his father use a hammer inside of the house. His genetic line includes a man who is almost a handyman handicapped person. I'm not exaggerating. So, the Number One Son is pretty good with his hands and building things.

And Naynuh? Well, she's decided that in light of playing on the volleyball team, endless trips to the swimming pool, shopping, movies, and spa visits, she's going to spend the rest of the summer of lying still and being calm. I knew that one of them in the pack had to take after me. Now that's what I call aptitude. She might be the only gifted one in the bunch!