10.29.16 Effervescence and Men’s Deodorant

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So recently, I started to wear men’s deodorant.  Classy, I know.  But you know what!?!  It works!  I’ve tried around five different brands of women’s in the past, and felt like I needed to “reapply” like four times a day.  Mens?  Just once thank you very much!  It really struck me though, and kind of disturbed me, to tell  you the truth, that I … a five foot three inch woman who isn’t typically a “sweater” would need it.  I couldn’t understand, that is, until I did a little anthropological experiment of my typical day. 

On Wednesday, of this past week, I took a small slip of paper and kept a tally of all the times someone asked me a question.  As a teacher, and mother, and wife … you might imagine it was quite a few.  But would you believe that between 6:30 in the morning, and 5:30 at night, I was asked one hundred and thirty-two different questions!?!  No joke!  It is no wonder I’m often so fragmented.  I realized that questions often come in the form of interruptions … and therefore, I usually have an air of distracted, disjointed, and well … just plain lostness about me.  

My favorite thing, is when people tell you to relax.  “Just breathe and take it slow,” they suggest.  I suggest a reality check … because how can a person form a logical thought in their head with one hundred and thirty-two interferences?  Sometimes I wish that I could begin my day like Ronald Regan began one of his presidential speeches, “Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement.”  Genius!  Only life doesn’t work like that does it?  We are often going to need to answer the questions of children or adults who act like children (depending on where you work). It is just a part of the human experience I’m afraid. 

One thing I have learned in all of this, is that people really do respond to the way that questions are answered.  I’m certainly not perfect at this.  Sometimes an answer from me is “Mad as a hatter” off topic.  Sometimes it’s wise with split infinitives like Yoda.  Sometimes … as much as I hate to admit it … it’s a sarcastic eye-roll.  A lot of cliche lovers like to say, “There’s no such thing as a dumb question.”  I say, why lie to kids?  Some questions are dumb!  Regardless of the intelligence of the question (or the person asking it for that matter) I do believe in giving people the honor of time.  I’m really convinced that there are times, after all, that someone is only asking a question to build a bit of conversation, or to gain a moment of attention. 

Yesterday I introduced my husband to a new acquaintance of mine who said to him, “Wow.  This one’s got a ton of energy.  How do you keep up?”  My husband laughed and said he tries his best.  The gentleman went on to say, “She and I had a great conversation, and we’re all talked out.” To which my husband replied, 

“Yeah, but then she comes home and keeps on talking!  She’s never all talked-out.”  

He was appropriately glared at, but then I realized that my bubbly, enthusiastic nature and “talk-all-day” personality  (which rightly so annoys some people) is something that makes me useful.  God gives us what we can handle, and apparently, he intends that I handle those one hundred and thirty two questions a day.  I may come back kind or cranky, sweet, or snarky … but with me, I suppose at least you’re always guaranteed an answer.  I’ll keep praying for patience, but until then, I guess I’ll just keep being me – filled with effervescence, and of course … men’s deodorant. 

Talk on, 

Elle

10.6.16 Even Trapped Farts in Tiny Cars

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Having taught for over ten years now, I’ve come to find that anything, and I mean anything can become a teachable moment.  I’m constantly finding connections to things and ways to integrate them into both my curriculum and my parenting, but I’ve found that God is no different, and he uses moments, unexpected and unconventional as they may be, to do the same for us.  There are hardly any “unusable” situations or scenarios that cannot bring us back to a sense of understanding the deeper connection to our lives as a whole.  Even, I would argue … trapped farts in tiny cars. 

This morning, as you might well imagine from my apt description … this was my scenario.  My children and I were on our way to school, as usual, and as usual we were stuck between unpredictable, chaotic traffic patterns that had us spending way too much close-time to one another in my Mini Cooper. As if there wasn’t already an edge in the air, as the minutes unforgivingly ticked by, categorizing our arrival time into “by-some-miracle-only,” standing, my son decides that he can no longer possibly hold in his gas, and passes it – loudly.  His sister, less than a foot away from him in the backseat, immediately shields herself from the inevitable, pungent onslaught about to overwhelm the five feet of squared space we share.  

“You did that on purpose!” she accused, shirt pulled up over her mouth in a makeshift gas mask. 

“I did not, I swear, I couldn’t hold it!” he defended, giggling like … well – a boy. 

“Yes you did,” she insisted, “and now you owe us a quarter.  It’s a family rule!” 

Really laughing now, he replied, “I didn’t mean to trap us in my fart, and now you’re making me laugh and I’m gonna have to fart again!” 

“Fifty cents!” she cried indignantly as another wave let loose.

Stuck with nothing but open windows of a slow-crawling car, and a full-blast vent that seemed to circulate more that eradicate, the day started with difficulty, to say the least.  In that moment there was really nothing to do but sit in it, and slowly wait for the air to clear, and the opportunity to keep inching forward. 

Though I didn’t realize it at the time, (possibly from oxygen deprivation) I really think that experience metaphorically paralleled the rest of my day.  There were unforeseen technology glitches,  attitude adjustments, and calendar conflicts to deal with.  Nothing was easy or error-free … and more than once I wondered if my brain was stuck on some pre-set slow motion setting.  There were tons of questions, emails, meetings, and expectations that, well – stunk to say the least!  I was stretched a little thinner on time and energy than I had.  But in it all, I caught myself laughing, realizing that just like in the car, there was nothing to do but sit in it, slowly wait for the air to clear, and find every opportunity to keep inching forward.  

So thank you God for autocorrect, for five more minutes, and drive through Starbucks.  Thank you for dishwashers that work, puppy kisses when I don’t deserve them, and scrambled egg dinners.  Thank you for functioning dysfunctional families and students who think I’m hilarious (whether I’m trying to be or not).  Thank you for phone calls from mothers, texts from brothers, and giving me a husband as exhausted as I am to live in this whirlwind with me. Thank you God, for little boys in tiny cars, fifty cents, in mason jars, and all the perspective they bring. 

Praying for your tomorrow, and frankly mine as well. Find a way to laugh through it. 

Much love, 

Elle

7.13.16 You … Yes You!

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Today is my friend’s birthday, she is turning 34 and we have been “best” friends since we were in 6th grade and she hated me.  I think it as a good a way as any to begin a friendship.  She thought I was a matchy-matchy, goodie-two-shoes … she was right.  I thought she was exciting and a little bit scary.  I was right.  And somewhere in the middle, we decided to give one another a try, and then I was hooked.  Like Jane Austen once said, “There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends.  I have no notion of loving people by halves.  It is not in my nature.”  And for the past twenty-three years, I have loved every “whole” crazy minute of our friendship.

In honor of her, and just how much she means to me, I am therefore willing to embarrass myself (and by extension her) just to prove the everlastingness of our bond through a top ten memories list.  So … to Rebecca …

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10. First sleepover.  When we were eleven, and taking turns having crushes on the five suitable guys in our class, you came over and made me laugh SO HARD I peed my pants!  I couldn’t even blame it on the fact that I had children … or some weakened bladder disorder!  You were just THAT funny!

9. Tripping practice.  We thought if we could just practice enough, it’d all be alright if we fell in public because we would have learned to fall gracefully.  How did it end?  With you “practice” tripping me on the playground as I ran away from you, thus making me rock with momentum when you did, in fact, trip me and I went face first into the concrete!  (Emotional and physical scars still healing from that one!)

8. Softball game.  I had to pee, you had to pee, so we decided to climb the fence in our softball uniforms, but mine was too big and I got caught on the fence at the top!  What did my best-ie do?  Help me down?  NO!  Laugh her butt off as I stayed stuck for a good three minutes, trying my best not to cry, have an accident, or fall off the stinking fence!

7. Cutting hair.  Never a good idea, this one.  And though I have you to thank for growing out my ridiculous bangs (that took three consecutive sleepovers to do) I don’t think either of us was particularly adept with the scissors.  I just remember, “Wholly crap that’s a lot shorter than I was planning,” followed by a, “Yeah, but it’s still not straight … just a few snips more and it’ll be good.”  It wasn’t!

6. Cooking.  We decided to make breakfast for my family.  It was our first time making eggs, and they really turned out into little pellets of the hard, yellow, rubber variety.  I’ll never forget you looking at me and saying, “It is how they’re supposed to be right?”  and me saying, “Maybe we should just stir them a bit longer.”

5. Twins.  Convincing some guy at a party that you, dark-haired, golden-eyed you, were related to blond-haired, blue-eyed me … it took all of your inner strength not to laugh in his face, but you succeeded.  “And the funny thing is,” you told him, “she was the dark-haired baby and I was the blonde!”  I was in awe of you and your gumption that night.  You were always the brand of bravery that I craved!

4. Dating.  You were there for the thick of it all.  It began with sneaking-peeks at my sister and her boyfriend, though she always knew we were coming.  How?  We were so stealthy with your guffaw of a laugh!  After that, we progressed to our own relationships.  From you, patching up my confidence after being dumped in sixth-grade, to standing beside me at my wedding, there is not one significant relationship I was able to get out of or stay in without you!   Best relationship counselor ever.

3. Driving.  From tickets and getting lost to hydroplaning in a storm and using your dad’s van, you’ve always been the #1 most supportive co-pilot of my life.   Why?  Because where others might offer sage counsel or even some backseat driving advice … you proceeded to just laugh at whatever current predicament we found ourselves in, whether it was funny or not!  (Usually it wasn’t, by the way, but you got me giggling along like an idiot anyhow!)

2. Children.  I’ve always loved kids.  I went from babysitter, to nanny, to teacher.   You’ve always been slightly less tolerant of them, having taken care of younger siblings your whole life.  So isn’t it just fate that you’d have twice the amount of kids that I do!?!  God must be laughing at that little twist of our fates!  I can’t tell you how much I love that you think I know what I’m doing and call me with, “What do I do with her now?” questions when I barely have a clue for my own!  Still, I love the confidence you have in me, and I love the Godson you blessed me with!

1. Opposites.  Our entire lives we have always been 100% opposite.  You are bold and brave and hilarious.  I am a rule-follower, a goody-goody, and a dreamer.  You are decorative, fashionable and sassy.  I am a writer, a nerd and quirky.  We look at things from different sides, we see opposite angles, and you’ve always inspired me with your self-assurance as I still look to be that sure.  You’re one of my favorite things about myself.

I am proud of you … proud to claim you as mine.  And I love that out of all the middle school weirdos … you … yes you, picked me.

Happy birthday my crazy-amazing friend.  I love you forever.

Elle