Archives for June 2011

The Text Monster

 

Text Log of My Kid at 11:00 a.m.

Nate-“Want to come over ?”

Kyle-“Sorry dude! I can’t come over until I finish the laundry.”

Nate-“Just put some music on and bust it out!”

Kyle- “I can’t. My mom won’t let me listen to music.”

Nate- “Wow! Really?”

Kyle- “Yeah, and she said I have to stay here until 3:00p.m.”

Nate-“Bummer”

Kyle’s mom sounds like a real B…. (Oh wait, that’s me!)  To my almost thirteen-year-old there’s nothing more embarrassing than a parent, even when the parent is ridiculously cool like me. (ok, maybe not so much)

I know my son adores me, but in his defense, I’m also the biggest obstacle in his pursuit for independence. One day he needs me (usually for food or money) and the next day he pushes me away. Bagging on his mom in a text is a great example.

It gives me such an indescribable thrill when my son rips on me with the same phone I pay for every month. This would be on his new latest and greatest phone he was so excited about last month when we bought it for him. Oh wait, I remember, that’s the day when he said I was the best mom ever. 

Sometimes it feels like my kid is one of those passive aggressive dogs that licks you in the face and simultaneously pee on your foot.

So how come Kyle conveniently forgot to mention the details in his text dialogue?  Like the reason he’s doing laundry is because he acted like a jackwaggon on the last day of school.

Kyle came down to breakfast with his pants sagging halfway down his posterior and his yellow boxer shorts predominately displayed. My husband Tim caught a glimpse and sent him back upstairs to change.

When Kyle came back downstairs, Tim asked him, “Did you change?”

Kyl e replied, “Yep!”

In the car on the way to school, Kyle started wiggling and squirming in his seat.  I asked him what was wrong.

Kyle gave me a defiant look, “Mom, why does it matter what I wear? Now, I’m totally uncomfortable.”

“Why are you uncomfortable?” I asked.

Kyle lifted his shirt to reveal his boxer shorts still on, with the addition of a pair of boxer briefs over the top. Of course it was uncomfortable!  It looked like he was wearing a leotard over his shorts and underneath his jeans.

I shook my head in disbelief. Really? It must be mentally draining to come up with moves this smooth.

Dishonesty, in our house means extra chores-thus Kyle got to do the laundry. I guess he forgot to tell his buddy that part.

Then there’s the music reference.  Yes…we do allow our kid to listen to music, even good music.  But we don’t allow him to blow out the speakers on booty smacking, boots with fur, getting slizzard like a G6 gangsta rap.

When I read Kyle’s text message log back to him he chuckled and admitted he had indeed been rather harsh with his mom. Honestly, I don’t even think he realized his disrespect until I pointed it out.

I’m convinced puberty causes brain damage and the only cure is growing up, moving out, and paying for your own stinking phone.

Grounded

Why do we say our teens are grounded?  Who came up with this expressive idiom? The true definition has little to do with how American parents apply the word. 

Was it a sixties hipster who got mad at his kids and used some sort of druggie lingo? “Dude, don’t get high like me. You need to be near the ground.” Inhale. Hold. Exhale.

Or maybe it was even earlier, way back when planes first took to the sky and mischievous pilots like Maverick and Goose from Top Gun were grounded from adventure?

Since, I’m pontificating here and have done zero research, besides Googling the word, I think this makes the most sense. 

My little Maverick (Kyle) and his pal, we’ll call him Goose, are the cutest teens on the block, but every now and then, they too need a reality check. 

Now Kyle, if you recall, was restricted from attending the teen dances he deeply treasures (which I’m guessing some hot girls attend) until his Social Studies and Global grades perked back into the A range.

On Friday, he came home and declared, “I aced my finals and I want to go to the dance tonight.”

I looked at him in surprise. “Slow down there tiger. Final grades don’t come out until next week.”

“Mom, it’s in the bag. I’m going to the dance.”

“We’ll see what dad says,” I responded.

Well, dad said “no” to the request and Kyle fell into a melancholy gloom. His usual smile disappeared and for a full twenty-four hours he looked on the verge of tears. 

He claimed we were the strictest and meanest of parents.  In fact, all his friends think we are the worst and no one wants to come over because we don’t have Call of Duty in our home, which is a fate worse than death to a Jr. High Boy.

My parental self-esteem was plummeting, that is, until Monday night when we drove his buddy home and his mom came out of the house with guns blazing. Apparently, Goose had a little explaining to do as well, regarding a certain grade issue. Mmmhhh! 

Maybe, I’m not the meanest and strictest parent alive? Maybe other parents ground their kids too? Gasp! Shock! Horror!

Kyle sat in the car and somberly watched his buddy get zinged while a big smile crossed my husband’s face.  He drove off and heard his friend’s mom say, “You’re grounded,” as he pulled the car out.

I love it when this stuff happens! And, I really loved Kyle’s sincere apology.  So at least for today, I’m not the worst mom ever, now his friend’s mom is!

Big Judgement and Short Sticks

I opened up my tattered Oswald Chambers’ devotion early this morning for a little Holy Spirit self-examination. There is something about this old guy, some super-duper Jesus power he has to make me feel both wretched and sorely convicted every morning.

It’s my favorite masochistic book; I feel terrible and yet continue to come back for more.  Today’s lesson did not disappoint. It was on judgment, something I barely struggle with (yes that was sarcasm).

“Judge not, that ye not be judged.” (Matt. 7:1)

Whoa, now, slow down there Mr. Chambers, are you telling me God says the stick I measure others with will be used to measure my faults? Because I have a pretty short stick for those I deem to be idiots.

Now in my defense, my measuring stick has certainly grown over the years for family members and friends.  I am far more patient and loving then I used to be, but I must confess passing criticism on my enemies far too often then I would like.

“Sam, what sort of enemies do you have?” you ask. Generally, sweet pastor’s wives aren’t out marauding or pirating and making enemies.

And while this is true, I certainly don’t go looking for trouble, I do have opposition.  Every writer pisses someone off eventually. 

In my case, I have the atheists who hound me with nasty comments, the puritanical swim trouser folks who find me indecent, and a few random blokes who spam me incessantly. (Ok, maybe they aren’t true enemies, but I don’t like their evil antics.)

Then there are the worst offenders, those few who simply don’t like me for no reason that I know of. This is where my judgment button kicks in to high gear.  I don’t really care if they don’t approve of me, because in recourse, I simply write them off as having ridiculously poor taste. 

Bang-judgment!

I’ve read the biggest reason people don’t like other people are because they sense the other person doesn’t like or appreciate them.  Yep, that rings a bell.

Oswald reminds me, “There is always one fact more in every man’s case in which we know nothing.”Basically, he’s saying to give them the benefit of doubt. This is so hard!

I can choose to give the atheists grace, because though their words are poison, it’s obvious I have been given grace far beyond measure. And the bikini bashers, I will choose to love them but not agree with them. (By the way, I’m not referring to the modesty crowd here, I’m talking about the over the top ones who steal my articles and insult me.)

But to give the haters mercy, well…this one is more tricky. I have to acknowledge most importantly, what an idiot I was until God picked me up out of the miry pit, delicately brushed me of, and set my feet back on solid ground.

I’m glad Judgement Day won’t be here until October now, because Oswald and me have got some more work to do.

Faith and Kolby getting ready for bedtime

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This is Faith getting ready for bedtime.  Clean, beautiful and now obsessed with my new iPhone 4. She has already absconded it and downloaded Cupcake Maker.  Right now she is virtually cooking on the cloud.  I wish I could do dinner and dishes that way.

This is Kolby after her bath and ready for nighty-night. She peed on the floor right before she jumped in to the water. Pee happens sometimes when you get that excited.

Tonight we are on chapter 5 of Heaven Is For Real, then prayers, kisses and sweet dreams.

It’s my favorite time of the day.

How to get old gracefully

 

“Did you see that woman over there?” my husband asked.

I turned my head and tried to subtly glance over to the woman he was referring to.  Her back was against me, but from behind she looked amazing.  Slim, toned and curvy in all the right places.  Then she turned her head and I gasped.

Her face looked like the crypt-keeper.  Pale and taught ghostly white skin was interrupted by strangely exaggerated eyes turned up at the corners.  Her lips were huge and plumped full and it was obvious she had undergone multiple cosmetic procedures to the point of resembling a freakish Michael Jackson wannabe.

I shuddered. Tim smiled at me, “I’m glad you aren’t’ afraid of aging and you would never do anything drastic like that.”

“Hey now,” I said.  “She looks pretty good for a hundred.”

Tim laughed and walked off to lift weights.  But the scary lady didn’t leave my mind.

I secretly stole a few more glances and then thought about my own insecurities regarding getting old. Certainly it’s inevitable and a natural part of life, so why the resistance, the flat-out denial by some folks to step up to the plate and surrender to gravity?

There are certain parts of getting older which I adore. My emotions no longer rule my heart, wisdom has snuck up on me after a multitude of hard knock lessons, and I have an appreciation for relationships and life, like never before.  I have more confidence in my identity, my voice and don’t really care if people like me or even agree with me anymore.

But the parts I don’t like are the parts which resonate with the plastic gym lady. I want to be pretty and in a world and culture that reveres youth, looking old and haggard is less desirable.  I don’t like the weird little age spots appearing on my body, the aches and pains that seem to appear out of the blue after thirty-five, and my metabolism, which is getting slower by the day. These things make me long for my eternal body.

One component of aging that sometimes makes it easier or harder depending on the season, is the personal expectations or goals I place on myself for age thresholds. 

 Twenty-five-married and college degree-√

 Thirty five-have kids-√

Forty-be a successful writer (working on that one)

Fifty-five-grandma-TBD

As I hit the birthdays with my goals checked off, I feel better about myself.  But the year I hit thirty-three and found myself a divorced, single mom, getting older didn’t feel so good.  In fact, the ache was deep and I felt somehow inadequate.  Happy Birthday didn’t feel so happy that year.

I hear the pain in my friends voices when another year passes by without a husband or a child. It’s the same hurt-another year slipping by and another reminder of unfulfilled dreams.

Isaiah once said, “The flowers fade and the grass withers, but the word of our God will stand forever.”

I know in life there will be good years and not so good years, but the years will come, no matter how I try to halt the ravages of too much sun and the gravitational pull on my behind.

But when I keep an eternal perspective and focus my eyes on the road before me, ageing isn’t such a scary place.  If anything, it’s just one step closer to Jesus.

Image: Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Poor Barbie get’s dissed

I have a confession. I played with Barbie and Ken dolls well into 8th grade, until the very threshold of high school.  Pathetic, I know, but I liked my fantasy world of happy endings, perfect blonde hair, and makeshift clothes I sewed by hand.  I had no idea my secret little doll addiction was so detrimental. Apparently, Barbie is guilty for not only warping my body image standards, but now the big B’s been tearing down the rainforests as well. 

Greenpeace activists are repelling off the Mattel building in downtown LA dressed as Ken dolls to protest Indonesian rainforest destruction.  Greenpeace asserts the pretty boxed packaging used to highlight Skipper and her modern Barbie babes are responsible for the continued devastation of the world’s delicate ecosystems.  They dropped a huge banner off the side of the Mattel building condemning this devious consumerist mentality.

I am all for green initiatives, but I have to wonder if this might be a tad extreme?  Might it just be a fun excuse to dress up and get an adrenaline hit scaling buildings like Spidey? It reminds me of Legally Blonde 2, when the sorority gals storm the capital to make a statement against animal testing. “Bruiser, Bruiser, Bruiser…”

 I guess now they are shouting “death to Barbie, Barbie, Barbie.”

Certainly, it has raised public awareness, but at what cost? I still like Barbie and will continue to purchase the dolls for my tots. And honestly, I would buy them in a 100% recycled box for a few more bucks, or even a fabric reusable bag (all the better to cut up for some more groovy outfits).

Mattel currently uses 95% recycled materials and has plans to be 100% by 2015, not too shabby as far I am concerned.  And while I empathize with Greenpeace, I also tend to agree with John, who commented below on the fiasco.

“When these groups do things like this, the focus instantly turns away from their cause, and it becomes about THEM.  Their work ends up being all in vain.  Their cause gets overshadowed by their antics, and the spectacle they create.”

In my opinion, isn’t the bigger issue to create a world where each person takes personal responsibility as a steward of the planet?  Simply because, as humanity, we are all intertwined and deeply connected in a world with limited resources.

Maybe they should make a PC Green Barbie and she can be an activist who get’s arrested to save the planet. A little toy bulldozer in the box would be cute!

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-greenpeace-mattel-20110608,0,2905499.story

No Pain, No Gain

It’s official! I am obedient. The receipt below show’s my sincere desire to listen to God after six months of blowing him off. I know none of you would ever cover your ears and sing “La La La La, I can’t hear you, I can’t hear you…” and then do exactly what you know in your heart is defiant, but then again, I probably am the only big sinner around these parts.

So, of course it’s over something silly, my stubborn as Balaam’s Ass streak, but it has been a real stumbling block in my faith. Over Christmas, our family splurged and bought memberships to 24 Hour Fitness.

Our goal was to get healthy together and do some mom/dad/kid bonding with dumbbells. But, part of negotiating this deal with my husband included me canceling my membership to LA Fitness, which is close to my office, but nowhere near our home.

I promised hubby I would do it, but then I didn’t. I procrastinated, I put it off, I secretly liked my cushier gym and hoped Tim might forget his request.

But he didn’t forget and constantly questioned me over, and over, and over. And in response, I would quietly change the subject, defer gracefully and try to look sheepishly cute. We both knew I was being a mule and while Tim was kind enough to not force the issue, God on the other hand was not.

Now I have been a gym-rat for the last twenty-five years. Working out is my thing, my big stress reliever and what I consider to be a healthy coping mechanism (alongside copious amounts of prayer, girlfriends and an occasional margarita).

But ironically, since Christmas I have been thwarted in a million ways to find the time or energy to drag my sorry butt through the gymnasium doors. Kolby has been sick, then not sleeping, and church busyness has been overwhelming.

Lunchtime at my office was always my escape. I could sneak away and catch a run or lift weights and come back to the office sweaty, smelly and happy (possibly TMI).
But all of sudden, as lunch approached, a crippling fatigue would permeate my body and I would find writing to be a much easier endeavor. I actually started to run, for about a week, and then I broke my foot.
It was one thing after the next and I was getting sorely peeved by the non-stop obstacles in my path. It would have been easy to write off my lack of motivation to go to the gym as normal laziness, but this time it seemed like God was trying to get my attention.

On Easter Sunday, during cleanup of the worship service, I accidently kicked a large (lifesize) wooden cross while carrying the baby and a chair. I didn’t see it and wham-delerious pain.

A week later, I was chasing the baby in the church sanctuary when the lights were dim and hit the offering box hard, with the same foot. This time, my whole foot swelled up and turned black.

When I went for x-rays, they confirmed my foot was indeed broken, but it was the cross that had been the culprit, the offering box merely did it in.

Clearly, God was speaking. Maybe the donkey didn’t talk, but the pain in my foot communicated a message. I just didn’t know what it was.

One morning, I decided to test my wobbly foot with a stroll and confessed my frustration to the Lord. And the response I got was humbling, to say the least.

Me praying, “Lord, I’m so bummed…(wah, wah, wah).”

God to me, “Sam, have you ever considered that when you defy your husband you defy me?”

And this was the moment of epiphany. Truth illuminated the boulder of pride lodged in my selfish heart and tears streamed down my face as I lifted up my hands and sincerely repented. (Now don’t forget I am out walking in Ladera Ranch with a stroller)

It was one of those shameless moments in life where I simply wanted my heart to be right with God, and could have cared less if people passing by thought I was a nut.

When I arrived home, I immediately got on the horn and called LA Fitness. Ultimately, I had to go to the gym and cancel in person because, as easy as it is to sign up, they make you go through a thousand hoops to cancel.

When I shared the story with hubby he got very excited and laughed in delight. “Doesn’t if feel good to obey your husband?” he asked.

“Sort of,” I replied. ” But, I don’t really think this was between us.”

I thought to myself how hard submission is, even to a wonderful man. It doesn’t come naturally. But the reward is the sweet serenity of walking in obedience to God.

Receipt for Membership Cancellation

Today’s Date: 6/2/2011
Customer #: 1xxx04
Membership Barcode #: xxxxxxx
Member Name: Samantha Adams
Dues: Too much!
Final Billing Date: 5/15/2011

This confirms cancellation of your membership. This membership will expire on 7/14/2011 and includes application of your pre-paid dues at the time of enrollment. The member is entitled to use of the club through that expiration date. If you have a balance due, it will automatically be charged to your account on file with us, on or after your next regular scheduled billing date, pursuant to the authorization you previously provided.

If you have any questions regarding this notice, please call your local club during normal business hours.

Thank you for choosing LA Fitness.

Teen Snatching

We almost had to file a police report. Our jovial and loving pre-teen son seemed to have disappeared.  And to make matters worse, the perpetrator replaced my darling child with a defiant, sullen, and entitled kid with a decided mean streak. So, we called for backup and fell to our knees begging God for the return of our son.

I also pulled out Boundaries with Teens, by John Townsend and cracked the cover.  I bought it a while back, anticipating such a time as this and knowing I would need all the help I could get(I know, I know, there are moments where I seem a little less blonde).

As far as rules go, we try to keep it simple in our home.  There are three biggies we enforce religiously that best define our family’s values.  This is not in some pastor’s manual, it’s simply the Keller’s trying to figure out how to be parents and not screw up our kids.

The Rules are: respect, honesty and obedience.

If the kid is disrespectful, they lose a dollar out of their allowance.  If they are disobedient they get fifteen minutes of extra chores and if they lie, we take away dessert for two weeks or skinny jeans depending on the child.  So far, the baby has only had a time-out but we expect great things from her spunky and independent little spirit (translation: strong-willed child).

But Kyle was blowing through all the biggies in minutes. Something had to be done. So, for the first time we implemented the full grounding of said child.  No friends, no social engagements, no phone, no texting, no Mac, and no fun for a solid week with an option for two.  We also took away the teen dances he loves to attend, indefinitely, until his two B’s find their way back into the A range.  This is not because we are Tiger mom and dad, but because we know he is capable.

And something amazing happened…our son has returned home.  It took a few days, but he seems to have come around (at least for now), and I am happy to report the book works!  I am hoping(and praying) as Kyle re-enters society he will not turn into Mr. Nasty again, but I am more than willing to put him back on restriction again(less driving him around, more help around the house…the benefits could go on and on). I’m sure this is just the first of many battles and it scares the spit out of me if I dwell on it too long.

I think the biggest lesson from the book is that freedom is earned and respect is a non-negotiable.  To give our son boundaries is truly a gift for the both of us.  He enjoys newfound responsibility and we have an amiable son navigating the path to adulthood.

Tone matters. Demeanor matters. When I watch kids treat their parents like morons my heart aches.  I don’t believe it has to be this way. 

Most of all, seeing his smile again matters to me.  And at least for this week, I’ve got my boy back again.

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