Short Stories From A Busy Week.

On Saturday, we went on the newish-annual Road Rally.

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This isn’t new for my family, as my Dad has driven in epic road rallies (like, China-to-Paris epic) and has created many slightly-less-epic road rallies for different groups pretty much our entire life. But last year was the first year he revived the practice to share it with our Sunday School classes.

It’s the most fun you can have on a Saturday morning.

When in creative mode, he and my Mom spend countless hours concocting a course on sometimes harrowing back roads (there was one road…that was decisively one-lane…but was meant for both directions of traffic…and containing many hairpin turns. And of course I had to meet a car coming the other way on that hairpin turn. Newsflash: I still have last-year’s-wreck PTSD.)

The way my Dad’s Road Rallies work is…

– You don’t know where you’re going,

– You don’t know how long it will take to get there,

– But you get penalized for being more than three minutes early or five minutes late.

He hands out directions and an overall average speed that you should shoot for, and from that, you must derive your arrival time. Oh – and all while answering sometimes very tricky scavenger hunt clues along the way (which is the fun part.)

This year, Chris had already signed up for a half marathon, so Not-Crazy-Renee was going to go with me (which would have, I’m certain, created a new Not-Crazy-Renee story), but her kids just had to get sick. So instead, we had an in-family insanely complex distribution of children, drivers, and navigators, as follows:

– I drove. My sister-in-law was my navigator. One of her children went with my Dad as a rally organizer helper, one of her children went with my Mom as a rally co-organizer helper, and one of her children rode with us. I had my two kids. And we had a two-year-old I’d never laid eyes on in my entire life – let’s call him Johnny. Mostly because his name was Johnny.

– My brother drove. My brother’s navigator was his friend, coincidentally the father to Johnny. They took my brother’s two-seater convertible, cruising along the back roads with the wind gently massaging their scalps. While we had four kids, one of whom said, less than a mile into the rally, “Hey how much longer is this gonna take because I’m getting bored.”.

– It is also worth noting that the reason my brother’s friend came along is so he could give his wife the day off. I would like to make sure that it is noted, dear Johnny’s mom, to not give Johnny’s dad complete credit for your day off. Although Johnny was a complete gem and adorable rallying companion, I had Johnny for 3 hours and 20 minutes of your day off while Johnny’s father was riding around in a topless car getting his hair tickled by the wind.

Now that we got that out of the way, spoiler: WE BEAT THE CONVERTIBLE DADS.

And yes, we got extra points for our tiny baggage (1 extra point per kid under 7 and 1 penalty for each kid over 7, giving a total of 2 extra points), but WE EVEN BEAT CONVERTIBLE DADS WITHOUT OUR EXTRA POINTS.

Because we’re spectacular.

(For the record, we came in second place.)

(But all that mattered was beating the convertible dads.)

By the way, if I can find the time, I’m considering creating a road rally that maybe would take the course of some of my favorite Instagram spots. Who local would be interested in participating?

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Thanks to my little tumble last week, I currently look like the cover of a Trail Running Magazine. Or at least what the cover of a Trail Running magazine SHOULD look like, if they were honest.

Trail Runner Magazine“You too can look like me – with a little trail running experience. And by little I mean VERY LITTLE.”

All of the bruising, which I am indeed proud of, is actually from internal injuries – that part of my arm did not hit the ground.

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Which makes me all the prouder.

…Because if I’m going to be injured, I might as well find something to get excited about.

(My elbow is feeling much better, although my physical therapist says my professional baseball career is over. My shoulder is slowly getting better. There are two directions that it gets VERY ANGRY about bending. One of them being the angle one must assume to take a shirt off. So that’s convenient.)

As far as my finger, the only thing I actually broke, it’s fiiiiiine. Other than being faced with the perplexing dilemma of what one does if they accidentally dip the tip of their finger splint in the toilet while they still have 8 days left of wearing said splint.

(A hefty scrubbing of antibacterial soap is what one does, in case you wondered.)

(Feel free to decline any dinner invitations to my house until I get my splint off next week.)

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I republished one of the only posts I ever deleted. It was a jewel – I just published it “too soon” originally, and deleted it two hours later out of fear/guilt. If you missed it originally (or if you just wanted to re-read it), you can give it a go here.

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Ali was disturbed when she realized her little brother had more wealth than her.

She wants to make money. This is very crucial to her long range plan of being very very rich.

So she asked me if I could please think of jobs she could do to make money.

I mean, I can give her all the normal kid jobs of unloading the dishwasher and sweeping, but more importantly, I’m thinking…

– Bring me breakfast in bed for the summer, .50 tip per day (.75 if you deliver it with a small piece of chocolate.)

– Learn how to perform a proper back massage and foot massage via YouTube, practice daily on your mother – .25 per massage.

– Read some parenting books and figure out how to get your little brother out of his narcissistic phase – $25, plus the added bonus of having a more personable little brother.

– Research recipes on Pinterest, create grocery lists, and teach yourself how to cook – $7 per meal.

– Write quality and original blog posts – $5 per post.

She’s already working on a prototype spreadsheet to track her receivables – clearly we still have some fee negotiations to handle.

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But regardless, my summer is going to be AMAZING.

The Awesomenesses of Life.

I saw this car at the playground the other day and couldn’t help reading it as one long sentence. AS IT WAS MEANT TO BE READ.

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I love Zombies. Save the tiny red dog ta-tas, Mom.

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I get weird trends. I used to be a teen, a youngster, hip and all that. You do weird things to be different, to show your independence as a generation.

Yup. I get it.

I do not, however, get the trend of armpit hair. Especially the dyed variety. And the fact that it’s something someone might pin on a Pinterest board? Yeah. I’ll turn in my youth card over that one.

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It’s like candy corn made out of hairy body odor!

But the other day, I was enjoying Spotify as it was playing random songs, and one struck me that I really liked. I turned on my iPhone screen to get more info only to see…

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There have been some awkwardly trendy album covers…especially in the musically ick decade of the 80s…and I’m sure that many singers regret their album art choices…but there’s no way that Ms. Eli isn’t horrified by her nasty pits already.

Right?? Right.

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Ali has a recurring issue of Raw Toe from dancing around the pool. In an attempt to try and help her protect her toes for the summer, I made this rather embarrassing purchase.

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WHY couldn’t “place on child’s big toe for pool play” be an other recommended use?!

Of course Ali has refused to try my brilliant solution, so they’re just hanging out in my pool bag, waiting for the perfect moment, when I’m talking to someone I haven’t seen in a few years, to fall out and force me to cancel our pool membership and move to Vanuatu immediately.

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While Ali had horseback riding camp a couple of weeks ago, Noah and I explored the vast rural outskirts of our state. While doing so, we made a couple of gas station stops for Starburst and Powerade, as one does. We discovered that rural Alabama casual Fridays are a special day indeed, as modeled by this convenience store clerk:

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I pulled up behind this guy the other day and was immediately frightened. As assumed he dated the lady above.

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And then there’s this guy, who spent a whole lot of words and stickers making me play “what doesn’t fit?”

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Nevermind. It all fits.

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You know you’re into CrossFit a little too much if you have this set of pillowcases…

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I bought these pens for their features. Any pen that can protect me from the dangers of water fading fraud is the pen for me.

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I grabbed a couple new cookbooks the other day in hopes of being inspired to reign in one of the many out-of-control areas of my life. That area being that we eat out way too much and I cook way too sparsely, even though I enjoy it. But alas. Recipes just make me bang my head against their spine.

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THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS MEATLESS MEATBALLS. Just call them stuff balls. Or balls. I don’t care. But don’t say meatless meatballs!!!

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Nobody wants to eat anything that has to be put in parentheses. Especially “cream.” Why not go ahead and call it moist “cream” and really do us all in. If it’s mushed vegetables instead of a cream sauce then please just call it Vegetable of Mushroom Soup.

(In case you didn’t figure it out yet, I haven’t made any progress in my lack of cooking.)

But I do know one thing: some things should never be attempted at home. I mean. Why? Why?? WHYYYYY.

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It’s bad enough to get the “enjoy every minute – they grow up so fast!” pile of feces from a real person. But the other day, I got it from a Facebook ad.

It started out like this…

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Yeah. They do. And you know what that means? Less diapers. More fun stuff.

And then it went here.

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Umm really because I hope that my kids are still left when they’re older. And when they get a lot older, maybe even there’ll be grandkids left. Pretty sure I’m expecting more than memories to hang around. But thanks.

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Speaking of marketing, who decided women are just dying to put this on their face??

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My dad and I have the same sick sense of humor, so I sent him this questionable Bar-B-Que restaurant location that I found the other day.

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After commenting that he assumed they served some fantastic ribs, he sent me this back – because you need an extravaganza to put the fun in funeral.

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A couple of days later when I was at the Hot Air Balloon festival, I spotted this for him – and quickly decided I wouldn’t ride in that basket. I didn’t want to find out how desperate they were to secure me as a potential client.

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….But what if I agree to dispose of them there, but in an inappropriate manner? WHO WILL KNOW?

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Free the laying monks!! And also who knew monks laid eggs? Not me.

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Because I’m me, my first thoughts were “Who puts Bernie on a cracker? And isn’t that name racist?”

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Speaking of Bernie, he has a fan in the Target Merch Placement department…

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Dear Lunchables:

I, for one, definitely did not ask.

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This was at the bottom of an article on our local news site. May I suggest a laxative. Or perhaps the Lunchables Walking Taco.

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Nature’s blend of … salted caramel liquid? That seems like it might help a failed backend fetch, too.

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Speaking of people who have failed backends, Thank you, Mental Floss, for this lovely piece of trivia. I know some people who might convert to Catholicism just to have Fiacre on their team.

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WHO is this hard core fan of tampons??? Because when I find myself sitting around doodling, it has less than nothing to do with tampons. Am I missing out??

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Is your ex seeming a little too happy on Facebook?? Well. We have the product for you.

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And finally.

For those of you who were looking for the perfect conversation starting swimsuit for your kids this summer,

I am here to help.

Both for your daughter,

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And your sons.

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Because nothing says happy summer like a bad case of Tiger Crotch.

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It’s Not Summer Until Somebody Cries at Swim Lessons.

I have a stubborn, finicky five-year-old. Who tries to convince me and everyone else otherwise with his charming blue eyes.

Noah

No really. He’s stubborn and finicky.

It is for this reason that, when he began swimming on his own two weeks before his first round of swimming lessons, I texted his father and said “Swim lessons should be a breeze. Unless of course he decides to make me go insane.”

I am fully aware of his abilities to make up his mind not to do wonderful, delightful things and nothing will change his mind.

Such as the time we blessed the children with a trip to our local minor league baseball stadium that houses half a dozen brilliantly unique inflatables, which he normally adores. But for completely mystifying reasons, he refused to get on any of them. Then, when we went to our seats, he begged us to take him back to the inflatables. When we decided to go back to the inflatables much later, he refused to play on them again.

So yeah.

He can be like that.

But. I blame the failure of his swim lessons completely elsewhere.

You may remember, three years ago, that his older sister got fired from swim lessons halfway through her first week for refusing to put her face in the water. But, despite being totally cool with his face submerged, Noah didn’t make it nearly that far.

The wonderful teacher that we used with Ali hasn’t taught the last couple years, so we decided to try a different method of lessons for Noah – lessons provided through the pool of which we are members.

It was inexpensive, close by, and seemed like a great solution. Ali could swim while he lessoned, and we could even use our enrollment fee to pay all but $10 of the lesson fees!

WHAT could go wrong?

I wasn’t super thrilled that it was four days a week for two weeks – I prefer more of a spontaneous lifestyle, and eight appointments in ten days was definitely a cramp to my style. But kids need swimming lessons. Parents must make sacrifices.

We showed up on the first day and swam for a bit, then headed to the indoor pool for lesson time. The teacher was finishing up with the class before.

We sat for a bit and watched – surely this would be good for the kid to get to see the easy easy things he would have to do – all of which were way below his self-taught abilities.

Then it was his turn. He was in a class with five other kids, all of whom looked younger than him. Six 3-5 year olds sat on the side of the pool, squished together as only 3-5 year olds will do. I sat off to the side, watching. Another mother came and sat next to me, waving her hand in front of her face as if she had the vapors* and and saying “I am SO nervous!”

WHAT could there possibly be to create nervousness??

* I know “the vapors” is a thing of the past, since now vapers are people who smoke fake cigarettes. But hopefully we’re all old enough to remember what the vapors meant five years ago. However, this post will be a fascinating relic in five more years.

The teacher stood in front of the gaggle of tiny humans, saying something quietly to each one of them. They silently sat, staring at her.

After going down the whole row, she looked incredulously at me and Nervous-Mom. She threw her hands up and with wide, shocked eyes, yelled across the pool, “They won’t even tell me their names!!”

Um. Yeah. They’re 3-5 year olds. They don’t talk to strangers until they warm up to them.

Duh.

I started to join Nervous-Mom in her nervousness, but for different reasons.

An assistant teacher walked up and hopped in the pool next to shocked and dismayed teacher-who-has-never-met-a-small-child.

She looked at the new arrival and threw her hands up again. “They won’t even TELL ME THEIR NAMES!! WHAT am I supposed to even DO?!”

Assistant teacher said quiet and calming words. They seemed to work, because Teacher-From-Mars took a breath, got her paddle board and convinced Nervous-Mom’s daughter to grab ahold of it and kick her feet. Then the second kid. And then it was Noah’s turn. She motioned to him and pointed to the board. Then motioned again, impatience pouring out of her eyeballs.

I saw Noah begin to get up from his middle position in the squished gaggle of kids. This couldn’t be good. I figured I’d walk over and try to help.

I got within talking distance and told Noah calmly that he needed to obey his teacher, all while she nodded vehemently and looked at me with an incredulous and hateful gaze for creating such a disobedient human.

Noah ran over to me, threw his arms around me, and started crying.

They weren’t shy tears or belligerent tears this time.

These were real tears of “someone is not being nice to me and I can sense it.”

I removed him from the swim lesson area and found a quiet corner.

I tried reasoning.

I tried bargaining.

I tried bribing.

We tried FaceTiming his father and letting him reason and bargain and bribe.

Noah couldn’t quit crying and made it clear that he could not participate in swim lessons.

Every now and then I glanced behind me to keep an eye on Ali, who was swimming laps, and also caught glimpses of Teacher-The-Child-Hater.

One time there was exaggerated eye rolling.

Another, arms thrown up.

Incredulous eyes and looking at a tiny humans like they were the stupidest.

Looks of shock and mistreatment like these little beings came just to torment her otherwise perfect existence.

Looking around at all the parents, trying to find sympathy for her martydom.

Nope.

Nope.

Nope.

I’m one of those moms that think their kid needs to do what they are told to do, but there was NO WAY that I wanted to put up with this teacher for eight days, let alone subject my tiny progeny to her.

I went and found the paperwork girl that had come around to get our information earlier. I informed her nicely, “This isn’t going to work for us. He’s not going to be able to do it. He could hear and sense her stress and it totally freaked him out. We’re not going to come back.”

She didn’t flinch. “I understand totally. I’ll get you a refund processed.”

“Thank you.”

We went back out to the outside pool. Noah sat in a chair for a bit to gather himself, then jumped in and swam better than he’d ever swum.

After a while, a changing of the Lifeguard occurred, and I realized that the one standing right next to me had been this morning’s assistant. She realized it too, and soon we were talking.

She pointed out, “He’s swimming way too well for that class anyway.”

I asked, “Why was she so stressed? Or was it just me getting that vibe?”

“It wasn’t just you. She’s normally a swim team coach. She doesn’t know how to deal with kids who don’t swim.”

“And, apparently, little kids in general.”

“Yeah, that too.”

So the moral of this story is: stick with swim teachers that come with high recommendations, because some teachers may despise the “swim lessons” part of swim lessons. And if your kid teaches themselves to swim, that might just be good enough. At least for one summer.