Death of a Champion Part 1

It is such a good thing that I hedged my bets and stayed home today.  As you know, I took our Suburban in Monday for an oil change.  I go to the dealership because they also go over the whole car, hoping to find other things wrong and therefore get to keep it for a week, do a million dollars of repairs, and then pat me on the head and send me home penniless.

So I told Anthony right up front:  “Take a good look at this car.  We got it brand new 12 years ago exactly.  We have 5 kids.  They are monsters.  There is nothing breakable on this car that is not broken.  There is nothing moveable that we have not moved.  Permanently.  I have a bag full of parts in the backseat that I do not intend to stick back on.  Take the car and change the oil.  Make THE LIST, and I will go home and look it over (translation: “I will laugh and file it in the round file”) and get back to you.”

So maybe I was just curious about what they would find.

“Oh yeah, and don’t set the parking brake, because the release broke awhile back and I have to thread a shoelace up through it if it gets accidentally set.  And sorry about that door.  You just put your finger into the jagged hole – gently! – and pull the door shut when you’re ready to drive.” Armrests are for wimps.

I tried to keep the car decent.  Sure, road trips and beach sand and meals on wheels occur, but that’s washable.  It was when my adorable last born child keyed my car (it’s the happy face on the driver’s side) that I realized this was the family vehicle; I should just breathe and let it go.  After all, priorities, right?

So Anthony changed the oil, made the list, didn’t even try the lecture, and handed my keys over.  “One thing,” he says, as I’m trying to slink out the side door, “Both brake shoes on the back are cracked.  If you want to fix just one thing, you may want to do the brakes.”  Good idea.

I already know about the brakes.  My oldest daughter drove all the way to work and back about three months ago, with the parking brake set.  How was she supposed to know it was set?  It’s broken, right?  No one was supposed to set it.  So the weird smell and the odd behavior of the car seemed…odd.  Sigh.  So for three months I stall because we just DID brakes, it seems like, and as long the car will stop, we’ll get around to it.  Grr.

Tuesday, two blocks from home, the brakes give way.  I have had this happen before if we must be honest, and I swore never to repeat the experience.  You are coming up to the intersection, brake slowly, then a car jumps in front of you (or a wildebeest, if you must make the story more dramatic to stave off a furious husband) and you hit the brake hard, and suddenly you hear a *pop* and feel a —-sliiiide—- and the car is simply not going to stop, so you pump the brake while looking frantically side to side for a soft tree to land in, and the car grinds slowly to a stop right where you desperately need it  to.

You can’t use the emergency brake in an emergency, remember?  You don’t have your lace-up shoes on.

Victoria’s Victorian Secret

I blame Victorian Magazine for starting me down the path of misguided inspiration.

Back in our Diaper Days, I bought one just to admire a living room that wasn’t covered in toys and spit up.  It called to me like a siren to a drifting sailor. Not a single thing in that period of my life was “done” or “clean” or “beautiful” for more than two seconds together.

The glossy layout room, however, had clean and coordinating furniture complimented with glossy tables, bouquets in crystal vases, meaningful family photos tastefully framed and artfully placed.  The floors had pretty rugs, the walls had faux paint, the lampshades had tiny crystal beads.

Sign. Me. Up.

Where to begin?

Hm.  The only space I could find that the kids couldn’t reach was the ceiling.

Except the part over the bunk beds.   That had footprints on it.

No problem.  Start small, right?

So I took the broom and carefully went around the perimeter of the living room ceiling, getting down a few years worth of cobwebs.  Instant improvement. Only a little of the popcorn came down.  The kids had a snow day.  It took the rest of the morning to clean the mess. It took months of staring at that magazine while nursing before I mustered my next ambitious plan.

There came a day we decided “That’s it!  We are sick of sagging ugly second-hand furniture!”  We need something rugged yet regal.  Sturdy yet sleek.  Cleanable yet classy.  We brought home the most beautiful set of leather couches you have ever seen.  They were the real deal.  They were placed lovingly in the room and the plastic packaging removed.  They smelled delightful.

They were a presence.

And then the unthinkable happened.  A small child without warning, enjoying everyone’s happy awe, pranced in and sat on a couch.  The poor thing could not have known that this was art, not furniture.  That it represented a sizable chunk of our family change.  That if so much as a crumb or scratch appeared to mar the view, all would be lost, she would never have attempted it.

Accompanied by a fatherly shriek that closely resembled a little girls’, the couch was rescued from this threat on its life.  The couches were carefully re-bagged and returned to their rightful owners the very same day.

Gone now are thoughts of wallpaper or using any color of paint on the walls but white.  Deep colors chipped if so much as a nerf dart hit them.  Doorjambs collected daily handprint donations of catsup and mud pie. Nope.  White washable paint, by the five gallon drum, for every room of the house and applied frequently is how we roll.

On the upside, it’s a very fast clean for a room.  On the downside, it takes the average kid less time to muck it up than it took you to prep the job.

If only I had looked carefully at the photographs, I would have discovered Victoria’s little secret to a sparkly perfect house sooner.  There were no people in it.  I suppose Social Services would have something to say about locking the kids outside. More on that in a later blog.

As I could not have a lovely house and my lovely kids in the same place at the same time, my Victorian Magazine era wound slowly to a natural end.  It isn’t about the house after all, of course. It’s about the family that lives and loves and prays and plays in it.

First Things First

My daughters went onto Facebook and played “Which Disney Princess Are You?”

I can tell you which one I am immediately: Dory.

Yes, the natural blue who didn’t recognize the sharks for what they were but had enough empathy, trust, and enthusiasm for the whole ocean.  You will notice how many times she should have died in the movie…..just saying.

Good morning and hello! Welcome to my brand new blog.

I intend to play a little here with bits of writing and hopefully entertain you in the process.

With five kids between 13 and 23 years old, a lovely variety of in-laws and outlaws on the family tree, and a 25 year marriage to my high school sweetheart, there should be plenty of grist for the mill. I may even poke about in your affairs once in a while.

A lot of laughing and loving influences show up in my spinning world on a regular basis and keep me just this side of sane. I would like to pass them on.

I feel a little lost most days. I try not to let it worry me. I just keep swimming.

Thanks for keeping me company!