The Cheerleader

Siss Boom Bah, Rah Rah Rah!!!!

Cheerleaders. The mere mention of them often elicits a strong reaction in people. For some of us it conjures thoughts of crisp fall nights spent in the stands of the local football stadium as we watched our home team trample the visiting team. For others it brings back memories of the hierarchical agony that often comes with middle and high school. Still others think about the athleticism that is required of modern cheerleaders. It’s really a mixed bag of reactions. No matter how you may personally feel about cheerleaders, the truth is we all need at least one in our Tribe.

The job of a cheerleader is multi-faceted. They are expected to provide support to their home team and players. They rally the spectators in support of their team. They are called upon to provide encouragement to their team and the fans during tense moments of the game. And in the event of a loss, their job is to ensure the team and fans don’t lose heart or become too discouraged. They often start the process of cheering for the next game on the sidelines immediately following a loss. It’s a lot of work. Even without all the grooming, tanning, schoolwork, etc.

Just like a sports team benefits from having cheerleaders on the sidelines during games, we benefit from having a cheerleader on the sideline of our life. That way we know we always have someone in our corner, supporting and encouraging us. Even in our darkest hour, we’re just one small cheer away from turning the tide in our favor.

I am fortunate to have several cheerleaders in my Tribe. In truth, every member of my Tribe has functioned in this role at some point in our relationship. But for today, I’d like to focus on a recent episode in which I relied upon my Cheerleaders.

All my life I have wanted to write. I’m fairly certain my family got tired of my empty-threatened declaration of, “One day I’m going to put that in my book,” long ago. I have dabbled in the field of writing in the past, even spending a few years writing materials for the children’s ministries at a couple of the churches I have attended.

While I enjoyed that, I knew that I needed to find a different outlet for my desire. To do something more personal that would reach beyond just a few kids on a Sunday morning; something for a more mature audience. But for years, I allowed my fear of failure to keep me from even trying. After all, you can’t fail if you don’t try.

With much encouragement from my biggest cheerleader (my husband) in particular, I finally took my first step towards pursuing my dream when I started this blog a few months ago. I know there are thousands of these things on the internet, but it was still a huge step for me. One that I would never have taken were it not for the cheerleading efforts of Mr. Brown.

Since beginning this new journey, I have come to value the Cheerleaders in my Tribe more than ever. I use a couple of them as editors. A few of them are kind enough to share and retweet my posts. One even gives me a shout out or two from the pulpit every now and again. And still another has cheered me into accepting a new challenge. All with her by my side reminding me that I can do this – that I won’t completely suck at it. Possibly even more importantly, providing me with an opportunity to expand my horizons and tackle another fear.

The amazing thing about the Cheerleaders in my Tribe is that when the game is over, win or lose, they’re right there to celebrate with me, or to cheer me up and remind me that tomorrow is another day and that there’s always another game on the horizon. Always providing encouragement that I may very well be victorious the next time.

So here’s to the Cheerleaders out there:

Hippity Hop, Hippity Hop

Cheerleaders Rock

Hippity Hop, Hippity Hop

Let me see that bootie drop

Hippity Hop, Hippity Hop

Cheerleaders Rock

Thin Walls & Phone Chargers

I will forever be grateful for thin hotel walls. Well, at least grateful for one experience with them. I sometimes still have flashbacks to the thin walled roadside motel we stayed at on Long Island with a toddler when we were considering a move for my husband’s job. I’m pretty sure the lady next door was named Roxanne and her Red Light was definitely on…

Many years after that fateful trip to Long Island our family went on a trip to the Pacific Northwest. While in Seattle we stayed at the Waterfront Marriott. It’s a lovely place and has a great view of Elliott Bay, but the walls are a little thin. As such, it was fairly common to hear our neighbors.

Before we get to those walls, let me give you a little background. My kids are two years apart and for the most part have gotten along fairly well, but they were never particularly close. We had the usual sibling squabbles over toys, books, who’s turn it was to clean the shower in the bathroom they share, etc. There were very few knock down, drag out affairs in our home. And if one started, I tried my best to let them negotiate things themselves – only stepping in if there was the threat of imminent injury or death. Although, there was one incident when they were very small where our intervention was necessary. It is the only time that we had to use corporal punishment, but it was more than warranted seeing as it involved attempted murder in a shared bathtub. But that’s a story for another day.

Anyway, the end result was I had two kids that got along fairly well, but didn’t spend much time together or in shared activity. They were mostly polite and kind to one another but led very different and separate lives, rarely doing anything together beyond the mandatory family activities.

I was fairly content with that state of relationship between my kids. I will admit that there were times I would see sibling pairs who loved to spend time together and wish mine were more like those. But overall I was grateful that my kids shared a much more positive dynamic than I had in my formative years with my own brother. To say that my sibling relationship was tumultuous is to seriously understate the dismal state of our familial bonds. Thankfully, that has changed in adulthood. I have grown to really enjoy spending time with my little brother and consider him one of my good friends. I continued to hope that my kids would eventually, as my brother and I have, become close, but resolved myself to enjoy the mostly harmonious divide between them.

Turns out, I didn’t have to wait until they were adults for their relationship to take a turn for the better. All I had to do was check into a hotel next door to a family whose kids had a fight that we could hear through those thin Marriott walls. Not long after we got to our room it became apparent that we may hear a little more of our neighbors than we were used to. The afternoon following our arrival is when the real fireworks took place. We had just come back from enjoying the bounty of the Concierge Lounge when the brother and sister staying in the room next to ours started to argue. We could tell the animosity was growing by the increasing volume of their exchange, but at first it was difficult to understand what they were fighting about. It all became clear when the brother yelled, “Give me the effing (edited) charger Bitch! Mom gave it to me!”

It became so quiet in our room I swear you could have heard a pin drop. We all looked at each other as we listened to the fight escalate. They continued to yell increasing numbers of obscenities at each other until finally we heard a door slam putting an end to the drama.

We all sat for a moment in stunned silence. Then one of us started to giggle, followed by another, then another. The giggles turned into guffaws and eventually there was a cacophony of laughter and nary a dry eye in the room. Once we had recovered our senses we had a quick discussion about how we were doing better than the family next door because we’d never had a verbal brawl that intense, let alone within earshot of others.

That could have been the end of it. Instead, that one overheard argument has had a lasting impact on the life of our family. We’ve had several discussions about how ridiculous it is to argue so vehemently over trivial things, like a phone charger. The kids realized how fortunate they were to have never had a fight like that. It also provided the kids with a tool to help deescalate arguments. When they start to argue, all it takes is someone mentioning a phone charger. That small reminder is like a breath of fresh air blowing through the situation that breaks the tension, and often even leads to a laugh or two.

Probably the most important impact it had was the appreciation of each other it provided my kids. They realized that they really did get along fairly well. They admitted that they kind of liked each other. It decreased the number of arguments and squabbling over minor transgressions. And now a few years later, I love that they spend time together when my eldest comes home from college (even if it means skipping church to hang out). I didn’t have to wait for them to be fully formed adults to witness their friendship grow.

My family owes a great deal to that brother and sister. If that happens to be one of my readers then I’d like to give you a heartfelt shout out. Thanks for fighting over the effing charger. It changed lives.

Boomhauer, Snoop & The Devil’s Lettuce

Today is a very important day in our household. It’s the 20th of April. 4/20. Also known as Boomhauer’s birthday. What, you thought I meant something else?

Anyhoo, it was four years ago that this little white fluff ball graced the world with his presence. Originally named Bolt, Boomhauer joined our clan a couple of months after he was born and has been bringing the joy ever since.

Today being his birthday, I though it only fitting that I paid homage to the apple of my girl’s eye. The day we picked him up there were nearly a dozen pups to chose from. As they crawled around the front lawn, my girl hobbled over to the grass and sat down. (She had knee surgery a mere two days before that day and was still on a fair amount of pain meds.) While all the puppies were friendly, this one called Bolt kept coming back to her. And that’s all it took. She was in love and we had a new member of the family.

I have been asked many times about his name, Boomhauer. Admittedly, it’s an odd name for anyone, let alone a dog. He is named after a character on the classic animated show set in Arlen, TX, King of the Hill. Boomhauer is one of Hank’s beer drinking, alley lurking buddies. There were discussion of other names, even others related to the show, but Boomhauer is the one that stuck. It turned out to be the perfect choice.

The character of Boomhauer on the show is blond and has a knack for rambling on incoherently. Our Boomie is bleached blond in color and likes to talk in nonsensical noises. He’s even quite sassy at times – much like his namesake. In addition to sharing characteristics with the animated Boomhauer, he is definitely an original. He is incredibly stubborn & strong willed. He is fairly particular about who he likes, but if he loves you, he loves you fiercely. He likes to be loud at times, especially when we all howl together, but he is happy to just lay on the couch and chill if that’s what we’re all doing. In other words, he was a perfect fit for the Brown Pack.

Boomhauer has even turned out to be a pretty good big brother to our newest addition, Stella. He puts up with her constant pestering to play, is teaching her to bark at unknown people that come to our door and isn’t afraid to put her in her place when she needs it. And he’s taught her to howl. What more could we ask of him?

So here’s to you Boomhauer. We raise a glass (or if you’re Snoop Dogg on this auspicious day raise a bowl full of the Devil’s Lettuce) to you. Happy Birthday Buddy!!!!

Beware the Stick Shift

“Never have sex in a car. Especially not a stick shift,” I blurted out while watching the movie 27 Dresses with my ailing girl child several years ago. I don’t think I need to spoiler alert this since the movie is nearly a decade old, but just in case. **Spoiler Alert** The two main characters attempt to hookup in a VW bug. Thus my outburst.

While it was funny at the time, I got to thinking later about how it contained a kernel of wisdom. During our late teens and early twenties, sexual desire seems to be a constant companion. Problem is, we usually share space with so many other people, from parents to siblings and roommates, there’s no private place in which to get busy. Therefore, many a teen has lost his or her virginity in the backseat of a car.

If the only place you can find to have sex due to limited private space is a car, perhaps you’re not really prepared to have sex. (Rest assured I’m not talking about married/more mature couples, because there’s no denying the allure of enjoying the usually taboo vehicle assisted hanky panky. Particularly when there are toddlers and a baby sitter at home.) After all, barring some truly rare medical situation, there’s no 100% effective method of birth control other than abstinence. Every encounter could lead to a baby; just ask the couple in the VW commercial I’ve attached to this post. And I don’t know many roommates that are really down for you ruining your singles pad vibe by introducing your unplanned progeny to the mix.

Another aspect of the no car sex advice that is important to note is the commitment of the individuals involved. If you are in a committed relationship and have mutually decided the time is right to add the sexual component to your relationship, then you ought to be able to find somewhere else to play hide the salami. The no car rule can help you keep from making a rash decision that you will regret later. If you can’t wait long enough to find another place, then you may need to take a breather. It’s easy to be swept away by a passionate moment with no thought to the long-term implications of your dalliance.

Finally, the stick shift. I mean come on, who wants one of those poking them in a sensitive place? Seriously, unless it’s a high dollar sports car, it’s not worth the risk of becoming the case of the week on an episode of “Sex Sent Me to the ER.”

 

Confessions of a Bad Mom

It seems like every time I log onto social media, I find at least one post/blog about parenthood. Many of them paint a picture of perfection that can be attained by following their handy dandy click-bait slides. Others are a dissertation on the author’s own winning parenting style. While there are a few that encourage the reader to refrain from judging their own parenting by the yardsticks of others, they are fairly small in number.

It’s so easy to walk away from a social media session feeling hypercritical of oneself. Parenting is hard, but everyone on the interwebz seems to know what they’re doing.

Instead of feeding into the current “picture perfect” social media worthy parenting post, I’m going to make an admission. I’ve made some questionable moves in my years of parenting. Many of them are fairly cringe worthy, but others are just funny. So here it goes, my confession: I’m a Bad Mom.

  • I told my kids the ice cream truck only plays music when it’s out of ice cream.
  • If the kid that lovingly places a tooth under her pillow has to come down the stairs the next morning and ask you for her dollar, you might be the Worst Tooth Fairy Ever.
  • My kids only made it to about the age of 4 believing in Santa Claus. They asked me if the hubby and I were in fact the bringer of Christmas presents, and I answered yes. (Which was great because I only have like 2 pictures of them with the big guy in the red suit. #LackOfPhotosJustified)
  • My oldest child has a partially filled out baby book. The youngest, well…Guess it’s a good thing we only have two kids.
  • I don’t have school pictures from every year of my kids’ existence. (For this I must apologize to the grandparents. I promise I haven’t been hoarding them. I just don’t have them.)
  • When they were young, I would kick them outside when they annoyed me, not even bothering to use the need for fresh air as an excuse. They were annoying and I often told them as much.
  • I didn’t do their “Star of the Week” posters. I barely supervised so theirs were always the ugliest.
  • I forgot to order their yearbooks one year. Oops.
  • I didn’t let them do more than one activity at a time so as to maximize their athletic/artistic/etc. availability. I was too lazy to schlep them all over tarnation every day.
  • I let them decide how to fix their hair. Even when the boy wanted to grow his hair really long, making him easily confused with a girl. I rolled with it.
  • I know they live in messy rooms, but I’m too lazy to walk up the stairs to make them keep them clean.
  • I refused to act as referee. “Don’t bother me unless there’s imminent blood/ threat of serious bodily injury.”
  • I often don’t know where they are. In the play outside years it was be home for supper & now it’s be home by curfew.
  • I sometimes use colorful language. Admittedly, this started when they were older, but my 6th grader did get in trouble for using the phrase “half-assed” in an essay. Sadly, he didn’t learn that one on the playground, he learned it while doing chores.
  • I tell them to go away and leave me alone.
  • I have ruined big Christmas presents by accidentally blurting them out. No one was surprised the year Santa (you know, me) put a Wii for the family under the tree.
  • I missed lots of performances and games. Sometimes because it was impossible to be there, other times because I just didn’t want to go.
  • Both of my kids have done multiple school projects on the efficacy of medicinal marijuana.
  • I actually said everything in the Power Point. (If you’re a frequent reader, you’ve read a few of them. If you’re new to my dysfunctional rodeo, you can check out my archives.)
  • I’m looking forward to being an empty nester. Less laundry, less cooking, less hassle, more time to read.

I could go on and on, but I’ll stop there for now. I hear the Wine Walk calling. And kids, if you’re reading this, please remember – all therapy bills go to your grandparents.

The Best Laid Plans

It’s Monday. And I usually have something new to post on Mondays. Here it is 7:30 pm and I’ve got nothing. NOTHING.

Today has been one of those best laid plans kind of days. You know, the one where you have all these grandiose plans, then reality strikes and things go to HE-Double-Hockey-Sticks. Maybe you can relate?

Anyway, I decided that I would share something that makes these kinds of days bearable. It’s a recipe for cookies that marries two of my very favorite things (No, there’s no beer in the recipe. I don’t think even I could be convinced to put beer in cookies.), coffee and chocolate.

I kind of wish I had the energy to make some now, but I hear my bed calling instead. Hopefully, you enjoy them. And feel free to bring me some if you make them. J

Java Chip Cookies

2 Sticks Unsalted Butter, Softened

1 cup Dark Brown Sugar

½ cup White Sugar

2 Eggs

2 tsp. Vanilla

2 ¼ cups Flour

1 t. Baking Soda

1 t. Salt

2 T. Espresso Ground Coffee (I use Café Bustelo)

1 Pkg. Chocolate Chunks

Combine flour, soda, salt & coffee in a small bowl. Mix together with a fork. Set aside.

Cream butter. Then add sugars and beat until light & fluffy.

Add one egg and beat thoroughly. Add second egg & vanilla and beat until fluffy.

Stir in flour mixture just until combined. Then stir in chocolate chunks.

Bake at 375° for 8 -10 minutes or just until set & edges are starting to crisp.

 

 

An Elephant Never Forgets – A Short Story

The sunlight streaming through the windows created shafts of light across the room. Adelaide’s favorite chair was positioned in one of the beams, keeping her warm as she sat reading a novel.

Adelaide quickly became immersed in a far away land and lost all track of time. How lovely it was to explore a world beyond her own four walls. A world filled with adventure, travel and even a little romance. Just as she was about to discover what was on the other side of a mysterious door, a woman tapped her on the shoulder.

“Hello Adelaide. I’m sorry I didn’t mean to startle you.”

“That’s alright my dear,” Adelaide replied. “I’ve probably been sitting here too long anyway.”

“How are you doing today?”

“Oh, fine, fine. It’s so nice to see your friendly face though.”

The woman smiled as she sat in an adjoining chair.

“It’s funny you came by today. This book I’m reading reminded me of my daughter and I’d love to tell you about her.”

The woman smiled and leaned into Adelaide as she began to reminisce.

“When my daughter, Cheyenne, was in college I used to love to go visit her. She didn’t go to school very far away so it was easy to make a spur of the moment trip. I’d pack an overnight bag and hit the road.

On one of my visits we decided to go on an adventure. We climbed into her car, cranked up the stereo and took off for parts unknown. There’s nothing better than driving down country roads, singing at the top of your lungs.

Before we knew it, those back roads had taken us into Austin. We explored the city, ending our evening down on 6th Street. We could hear the music wafting through the streets from the bars that line the streets of downtown. We danced and laughed our way down the streets, reveling in the warm spring evening and in each other’s company.

Neither of us was in any hurry to get back to real life, but alas, the call of classes and adulting eventually became too loud to ignore.

Just as we were about to turn the corner and head back to our car, Cheyenne put her hand on my arm. ‘Mom, look over there. I think I know how we should end this adventure!’ I was a little taken aback by what she was suggesting, but my rational side was quickly silenced by my desire to remember this time with Cheyenne forever.

Screwing up all my courage I followed my daughter into the establishment and after an hour we emerged with matching bandages on our ankles. That’s right, we got tattoos!”

Lost in her memory, Adelaide didn’t notice the lone tear that escaped her companion’s eye. The woman quickly wiped it away so as not to upset Adelaide.

Just as Adelaide was ready to continue her story, the two women were approached by a young man.

“Excuse me ladies, but lunch is ready. I’ll walk you to the dining room. Miss Adelaide, would your friend like to join us?”

“I really can’t stay, I’ve got to take care of some things. Raincheck?”

Surprising herself with the tinge of sadness she felt at the prospect of her companion leaving, Adelaide responded, “Of course, honey. You come back to see me anytime you’d like to.”

“I’ll be back soon. I promise.” The woman gave Adelaide a quick hug and hastily turned toward the door just as hot tears formed in her eyes., threatening to spill down her cheeks.

As she began to walk away, Adelaide noticed the elephant peeking out of the woman’s pant leg.

With that brief glimpse of black ink, Adelaide was overwhelmed with love and excitement and cherished memories. “Cheyenne!”

Cheyenne stopped and turned back towards her mother. With tears streaming down both of their faces the two women embraced.

“Oh Cheyenne, I’m so sorry I didn’t recognize you sooner. Please stay for lunch.”

Cheyenne did as her mother asked and the two women spent the afternoon together reliving their greatest adventures. As the light began to fade, Cheyenne could push her departure no longer. She bent down to hug her mother and kiss her goodbye, knowing that their time had been precious. Even more so because Alzheimer’s continued to slowly chip away at Adelaide’s memory with each passing day.

As Cheyenne was about to push the door open on the cool evening, Adelaide called out to her daughter one last time.

“Remember Cheyenne, an elephant never forgets.”

The Snuggie

I love cold weather. Like REALLY love it. But I hate to be cold. It’s incredibly oxymoronic, I know, but it’s built into the fabric of who I am. Sweaters, coats, and warm pajamas all help me deal with my dueling desires. Honestly, I don’t know what I would do without a warm blanket to snuggle into on a cold day.

The world is often cold, harsh and lonely. In certain seasons of life it’s easy to feel as if you’re walking through a winter storm with no end in sight. Whether that feeling lasts for a few moments, or a few years, we all experience it. During my coldest days, I find that I am exceptionally grateful for a particular member of My Tribe – The Snuggie.

When I feel frost bite looming, I need do nothing more than grab my mobile and phone my Snuggie. Armed with her calming presence and willingness to come whenever called, she’s a necessity. Never underestimate the power of good company and hot tea combined with unfettered couch time. It brings warmth to even the coldest of days.

One of the beautiful things about having a Snuggie is that they usually know you well enough that they can cater to whatever need you have. If it’s a shoulder to cry on, they arrive tissue in hand. Mad as hell? She provides some righteous indignation, followed by the rationale to talk you down from even the craziest of plans for vengeance. In need of some words of wisdom? This friend is ready and wiling to lay them on you. Just need someone to sit quietly with? She revels in the sounds of silence and the act of just being. And best of all the Snuggie makes house calls.

It’s easy to overlook the importance of the Snuggie role in a Tribe, but it’s an essential one. Thankfully, I have a few in mine and under their tutelage, I am learning to be one myself.

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