Thanks be

(here’s the giveaway I know you’re looking for)

So there have been lots of thankful countdowns and such on Facebook.

Generally I don’t shy away from things like that.

AND WHO AM I KIDDING, NOW IS NO DIFFERENT.

I’m thankful.

I’m thankful for:

My health, however I may sometimes hate the way I look and think.
My heart, and the ability I have to love and care. Really. Some people can’t do that.
My desire to be more of a person.
School.
Wine.
The way Josh loves to cook.
Pumpkin muffins.
Friendship – over the past year I’ve done some regrettable things. I’ve lost people who meant a great deal to me. But I still have some people who love me, flaws and all. And that is a blessing beyond words.

And now for the hardcore love:

I’m thankful for Dan. He is exactly the father Max and Ava need, and we are all lucky to have him.
I’m thankful for my Mom. She is everything I have ever wanted to be.
I’m thankful for my Dad. He is, now and always, the measure of the type of man I need.
I’m thankful for my sister. She has been my partner in crime for my entire life, and one of the best friends I could have. Even if she left me out of her Facebook thankful countdown.
I’m thankful for my grandmothers. For how loving and sweet they both have always been, and the memories they’ve given me.
I’m thankful for Josh’s family. They have loved me and accepted me, they are my family.
I’m thankful for my son. Max has, in the past decade, taught me more about myself than I ever expected. His heart and sweet soul are something we should all strive to match.
I’m thankful for my Ava Thomas. For the fire and joy she carries with her. For the independence I envy, and for the beauty she carries, inside and out.
I’m thankful for Lucy Grace. She has given me new life, laughter, and a joy I didn’t know I had room in my heart for.
I’m thankful for Josh. I could gush and spew about every reason, but I can sum it in this: he has taught me what love truly is. I would have gone through my life an incomplete person if I did not have him.

Happy Thanksgiving.

I have the pottymouth kid. Fine by me.

(Just so you know, the pictures don’t have anything to do with my content today. Our town held its yearly Grand Illumination this weekend, so I took some pictures. It was fun times.)

I don’t know about you, but when I was little, cussing was this huge taboo thing. I remember, even watching sitcoms with mom, every time someone said dammit I’d whip my head around to see how offended she was. I did it so much that eventually she told me that people were going to talk like that so I just needed to quit looking at her.

Well, my kids don’t have those issues.

From the time Max was three and got a note sent home from preschool for talking about his nuts, I have done my best to be honest with my kids about the language that exists. No one in my house has a pristine vocabulary, so it’s kind of inevitable that the kids repeat what they hear.

We told them years ago that words were just that – words. That they only hold the power we give them. That some words were best kept at home, where we all understand each other….or, well, where we all know cusswords.

I grew up with a big fear of swear words. Probably from the Baptists. Somewhere around seventh grade, though, I found the delicious thrill of four-letter-words. My language was pretty bad when I let it be, but only away from home.

As I grew older and became a parent, I realized that I wanted my kids to feel exactly the opposite. I wanted their family to be a safe haven, somewhere they can express themselves freely. If they’re angry, I want them to feel they can say so. Colorfully, if they need to. Also, I secretly think that if they’re free to talk the way they want at home, they won’t be tripping over themselves to overuse every swear word in existence when they’re away from me.

Language is an art, you know. That includes the cusses.

Ferocious Flag Footballs Furiously Fly

So I’ve mentioned before that Max is doing the flag football thing this year. Well, he was. Last night was the final game.

And what. A. Game.

Not so much the actual back and forth, but…well, everything else.

The team they were playing was one they hadn’t yet faced, and as we walked up to the scattered throngs, Josh took note of the fact that the head coach was missing.

The game started, and let me tell you – the opposite shirted team? They were there for blood. They tackled. They pushed. They tripped and I’m pretty sure I saw some biting.

A couple of minutes into the game, someone’s grandpa behind us started yelling about too many players on the field. He was right – the other team was playing with at least 14 players, though maybe it was 50. It sure looked like it. Grandpa ended up standing out in the middle of the field for the rest of the game.

A couple of MORE minutes into the game, the lady in charge of the cheerleaders for our team suddenly ran out onto the field and came back carrying a squirmy, wailing flag footballer. Apparently the NFL players on the other team had downed him pretty harshly. He was saying his back hurt, and so after she frantically arranged for someone else to lead the peewee cheers, she stretched him out on the sideline and straight up LAID DOWN ON TOP OF HIM. I’m not sure what all of that was about, but the kid stayed sprawled out on the grass for a few minutes, drew a crowd (one large woman stood in front of me with a shirt that proudly proclaimed something about her “big girl panties”), and then happily hopped up and ran into the game.

Max’s team ended their undefeated streak on the last game of the season. 13 to 14.

It was tragic.

Now, though, thankfully, it’s over. Until next year, when Josh says he wants to be the coach.

That’ll be interesting.

Picture Heavy Hallow’s Eve

I’m not big on Halloween.
It’s not that I don’t like it, I do. I like the mischief and the scaryish moments. It’s that the planning drives me bonkers. And then there’s always this big letdown – months of planning and costumes and tweaking…..and then it’s over. Bags of candy and streaky makeup.

My kids were all about it, though. Understandable.

The other thing is that we’ve actually never lived in a neighborhood, so we don’t have the picturesque doortodoor smiley waving neighbor situation, and so trick or treating entails getting in and out of the car multiple times and rearranging costumes and making sure no friends or relatives miss out on cute costumed kids.

It’s a lot of damn work, and the only candy I get out of it is candy I steal from my kids.

SO NOT WORTH IT.

So we decided to take matters and deal with them creatively.

It was decided that we would buy our own inappropriate amounts of candy, build a bonfire, roast hotdogs, make s’mores, and generally party it up in our own backyard instead of bothering other people for candy we might not even like (there’s always those people who hand out those black and orange wax wrapped…things).

Ava even decided she still wanted to dress up. She was Katy Perry.

At the outset I was a little worried – worried I was stealing memories or some such. I mean, I know I cherish my fall festival memories of sitting on a table at church, manning a game.

But it was awesome. Seriously. Max and Josh were very manly and coordinated the bonfire, and Ava, Lucy and I supervised.

We did some pumpkin bashin’.

Lucy ran and ran and ran.

And as much as I was afraid of warping their childhood memories, I think these are going to be good ones.

This may become a yearly occurrence.

I also ate four s’mores.

Weekend Recap News

Ok so the book chapter didn’t go over as well as I had hoped.

Anyway.

Dan left this weekend for China. Three weeks in China because he’s important and robotly or something like that. I like to think that he got off the plane in Shanghai and all the short people stopped and stared, like “HOLY SHIT, WHO IS THIS RED GIANT?”

I’m sure it happened just like that.

We spoke with him last night via FaceTime, and the lobby of his hotel looked like every Chinese restaurant I’ve ever eaten in.

As for us, we’ve been branching out. Dan left us his truck and dude, we like it. I’m resetting the miles before he gets back so he doesn’t know how much we’ve driven it.

Friday night we waited until Dan left, and we took the sniffly and sad big kids up to Tennessee to eat some gas station pizza. It tasted a lot better than it sounds, and on this trip it came to my attention that my son squats on the toilet to poo.

Seriously. He puts his feet on the seat and squats down like he’s in some far country without indoor plumbing. Who taught him that?

Why?

The next day we went to Alabama to both escape the branching wake of Sarah Palin (she was speaking about 45 minutes away and I could feel the ridickery all the way at home) and to eat at Five Guys.

And because we believe in keeping ourselves healthy, we had frozen yogurt. With candy bar pieces.

It’s the most time I’ve spent out and about with my oldest kids in a long, long time. Which is sad for a lot of reasons. I suppose it took the “nice” parent leaving the country to make me realize that I can have fun with them, too.

An open letter to my two oldest children

Oh, you two.

Really, what is there to say?

I realized this weekend how quickly you’re growing and somehow I feel like I’ve missed out on a huge chunk of everything.

I haven’t, though. I know that.

But it feels that way.

You’re both so amazing. The things you say and do. You’re so much more than just kids, and honestly I have a hard time believing I had anything to do with bringing the two of you into the world.

I feel like I haven’t been a great mom. We don’t have round the table family dinners and you don’t come home to milk and cookies. I don’t spend time in your classrooms and I have a hard time keeping track of your teachers’ names sometimes.

But I guarantee there isn’t a kid alive who is more loved than you are.

I wish so much for you both. I know it seems like so much is expected of you both…

It is.

I’ve always said I don’t understand when parents live vicariously through their children, but now I kind of do. Not in the way you’d think, though. I don’t want you to write novels and act in plays or be the brilliant I couldn’t be.

I want you to love, fully and completely, and be loved back just as much.
I want you to laugh, every day, for the rest of your life.
I want you to be who you are and know from the very start that there will always be people who don’t understand you or just plain don’t like you. And I want you to be you anyway.
I want you to learn that saying you’re sorry is one of the most important things in the world. People who don’t accept it have their own problems.
I want you to never be afraid of taking a risk to achieve a dream.
I want you to never have to look back and wonder.

So when it seems like we are tough on you or we expect too much, know that if we do it’s only because we want you to get everything you can out of your life.

I love you. I love you both. You are everything in this world that makes me happy. I am so lucky that I can’t say it enough. I love you I love you I love you.

Love, Mom

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Love.

I’ve been complaining a lot. And that’s unfair to my lot in life because really, I have it pretty great.

At times like these I like to make lists.

One would think that I would be organized with the way I feel about lists. One would be wrong.

So without further ado, these things I love. They warm my heart.

  • I love when the sky looks like this.
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  • I love that all the shows are back on. Is that sad and pathetic? I don’t care. I love it.
  • I love classes. I bitch and moan about my work and tests and stuff, but truth be told – it gives me a little thrill to be able to go through the motions of questions and learning and working towards a goal.
  • I love moving my foot over to Josh’s side in the night. My toes get cold.
  • I love Lucy’s breath in the mornings.
  • I love that Ava’s new favorite thing is riding her bike. She’s gotten really great at it.
  • I love that Max delights in my pumpkin muffins.
  • I love my Clapotis. It’s finished and I may never go anywhere without it again. Pictures soon.
  • I love that’s it’s fall. I could not possibly love any time of year more.
  • Foots and Balls

    Max is playing flag football this year.

    It’s a big deal.

    The last time he was involved in any sort of organized sport, it was soccer. He kind of spent the games wandering around on the field seeing how deeply he could dig into the grass with his cleats.

    Since then, we’ve kind of steered clear of athletics. But lately Josh and Max have been spending lots of time outside tossing the football, running and passing and all sorts of technical things I only understand superficially (except for when it comes to fantasy football, cause we all know I’ve got that in the bag).

    The form for flag football came home a few weeks ago, and we jumped on it. The practices began on a day Max had a field trip, so he only caught half of the first one.

    Then the next week, the coach had said in a text that they had practice “after school til 4:45″ which for some reason I interpreted as “bring the kid for practice at 4:45.”

    So Max arrived right on time to miss the entire practice.

    The next two practices? Rained out.

    So that meant that my son stepped out onto the field for his first game last night with roundabout half an hour of practice under his belt.

    So yeah, I’m not exactly living up to the fantastic supportive football mom.

    I will go ahead and admit that I was a bit wary for Max’s team last night. We arrived and his team conglomerated on a slope and ran a series of plays. The lineup did not look airtight.

    The other team, to begin the game, gathered on the opposite end of the field and burst through a paper banner like they were damned Notre Dame and ripped down the grass.

    I was very close to turning tail and getting the hell out of there, my kid had no place with these steroidal fourth graders.

    But I was strong.

    We stayed.

    And Max’s team won. 12 – 0.

    The kids played well, everyone was a good sport except one of the coaches, and even the kids knew to just roll their eyes and ignore him.

    So my attitude towards tiny sports has softened. I will go next week prepared to be intimidating. We even talked to Max about his game face.

    And Max will go to practice, too.

    My guns aren’t his guns or hers

    I’ve made reference before to issues I’ve had with a local organization and how they don’t like the Steens.

    Basically, in a nutshell, for those of you just tuning in: our community theatre, for one reason or another, has effectively banned Josh and I from ever taking part again. Unless we grovel and beg or something.

    And that ain’t happenin’.

    Dan, though, is still pretty involved with that organization, they like him and stuff.
    Which is great, I mean, good for him. And them. And whoever.

    My misgivings have resurfaced lately with my kids’ desire to be involved.

    It’s a mishmash of strange feelings I’m not really accustomed to…

    When I was little, I very much wanted to be involved with the theatre. I even auditioned once, but I wasn’t cast. Consequently it took me years to muster up the courage to integrate myself. I don’t want that for my kids.

    Now that they’re old enough to actually want to do things and be involved, I don’t really want to stand in the way.

    But how to explain that? “Kids, the people there don’t like me or Josh so have fun, I’ll watch the DVD of the show.”

    No. Think what you want, but I wouldn’t do that.

    Which I guess means that I will go. Of course I’ll go. I’ll watch the show and Lucy will yell with glee (oooh, speaking of Glee, I am SO glad it’s back on. Seriously, enchanted.) and we will stride in and out amidst a huge cloud of weird.

    But it’s worth it, right? I mean, no matter how many puckered glares I withstand, I’m totally not going to break. And if I’m honest…if I cared what anyone thought about me I probably wouldn’t say all this shit anyway.

    And who am I kidding? These kids are awesome – I’d let anyone look sour at me if it made them happy. Because they won’t remember me going to a den of tightly drawn assholes who don’t like us…they’ll remember I saw their show. And that’s fine by me.