Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Happy Birthday to My Magic Man

Earlier this summer, women were flocking to theaters to see a little film called Magic Mike. I don't know much about the story line, but then I'm pretty sure few of the women dragging themselves out of the theater did, either. Something about strippers and oil and that odd fashion choice of opting for a tie and vest while eschwing the shirt. (That's ESchewing ladies, not chewing...)

Anyway, not me. I didn't see it. Didn't have to, because I have my very own Magic Mike at home. I, affectionately call him "Mikey," as do his older brothers and now--somewhat to his chagrin--so does a whole family of facebook strangers. And, today is his birthday.

Such a goofball, but I love him!
I call him "Magic," because he is. Anybody who could live with me for 22 years and not be under felony indictment has got to have a spirit of supernatural patience. Today he spent his birthday getting my van tire fixed (again) after I drove clear across town on a nearly flat tire (again). He's spending his evening at church orchestra practice. He is a strong man of God who loves his family, serves his Savior, and makes me laugh every single day.

Mikey's a big guy with a bigger IQ and a photographic memory. He loves Vampire novels and kittens equally. Some men spend their time on questionable websites, my Mikey rarely navigates away from anything Disney related. He knows just enough about absolutely everything to make him the perfect guest at any party. He never makes me watch football, yet he indulges my Investigative Discovery addiction. (though he refuses to spend even five minutes with the Real Housewives of...anywhere.)

Quite simply, I love him, and I don't know anybody who doesn't. In fact, I kind of think that not to love Mikey is a sure sign of psychopathy.

My mother always said that few people are able to love each other equally, and I think that's true. I don't think Mikey loves me any more than I love him, but he's better at it. Less selfish, less demanding, less...crazy. I thank God every day for bringing us together.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Back to $chool

Notebooks, pens, Fiskars scissors--ahhhh...the great big bins of back-to-school. It is the only form of shopping that I actually enjoy. In our household, it is a celebration of near holiday proportions. Or, was. With two boys going into their Senior year, and my taller-than-me "baby" in eighth grade, our supply lists have diminished to little more than a few composition books and fancy gel pens. I'll never forget the first year I didn't have to buy Crayola crayons. I nearly cried.

I can understand, though, how it's not everybody's favorite thing, and after overhearing a conversation between a befuddled father and his eager secondish-grader son, I thought I'd share a few tips that made this a painless experience for our family.

1. Look at your kid's supply list, and estimate a total for everything. I usually went for something between $30-$40 dollars. Even the most egregious list should fall in that range. Then, get the cash, and hand it over to your child. From here on out, he is the consumer. Whatever he doesn't spend, he keeps.

2. First shop-stop? Home. Seriously, several items on the list are lurking under your roof. Maybe your daughter brought home her Fiskar scissors at the end of last year. They're still good. You probably have a red pen and a yellow hi-lighter. Sure, brand-new stuff is fun, but so is saving money. Designate a box or basket for a gathering place for things you find at home.

3. Watch the ads and hit the stores. Once. Designate a day (better still if you can go in the morning when stores are less crowded) and make it an event. Include lunch or a movie if possible, but make it a point to get (almost) everything on the list. I usually tried to get it all done at one store. The little bit you'll save probably won't make up for the gas you'll use. And, major stores like Target and Walmart honor their competitor's ads. Take them with you.

4. Remember, the kid is the consumer. This spiral is .25; the one with the cute puppy on the cover is 2.50. Let her decide. Do a math lesson and see if it's in her budget. It might mean not buying a new pencil box. She might have to make do with last year's lunch box. It's a great opportunity to teach real-life budgeting.

5. About that (almost) everything...Your supply list will include things like tissue boxes, zipper bags and Clorox wipes. That's great, but if your family is anything like mine, this is a crazy-tight money time. Yes, you need to bring 2 boxes of tissue. No, you do not need to bring them on Day 1. Let other parents who haven't read this do that. The teacher will be just as grateful to get those things from you later in September or October when they can be worked into your regular shopping list.

What are some other ways to make this a painless experience?

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Sick Day Saturday with Stella

My Stella-bella had a bad day yesterday. Her nose was warm and dry, her belly swollen, her walk--when she walked--a bit unstable. All of those would have been symptoms enough to let us know that she was sick, but I didn't feel really worried until one other symptom popped up.
She wouldn't leave my side. Or my feet. Or the room.
Stella, you see, is not a clingy dog. She likes to be tucked into a dark corner, or stretched out on an empty bed. After all these years, she still endures a scratch on the head with all the enthusiasm as a kiss from your weird great-aunt at Christmas. But yesterday, she wove in and out of my feet as I walked from room to room, and she sat on my feet when I sat. She propped herself up against my while I was blow-drying my hair.
Mikey diagnosed it as tummy troubles (maybe she got a bit more macaroni-and-cheese than she should have), and that eased my mind. In fact, though I hated the fact that she was sick, I rather enjoyed her nearness. For those few hours, she was a bit of the dog I wished she could always be--calm, affectionate, dependent.
But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge. (Psalm 73:27)
I love to find refuge in the Lord, to curl up in His love and promises when I am hurting--and He is always there--but I need to remember, too, to seek Him when everything seems to be just fine.
Speaking of "just fine," by the afternoon, Stella was. Turns out it was just a little gas, and after a smelly confirmation of the diagnosis, she was off--curled up under the computer desk. Out of reach. I loved the fact that she felt better, but I missed her.