Wednesday, July 27, 2011


One upon a time, when I was a little girl - probably around Aria's age if I had to guess - I got angry with my mom. 

I can't remember why.  Maybe I was forced to finish my corn pudding (Ya'll, please.  I don't care how southern you are, corn pudding is just not right).  Or maybe I peeled the gold flocked wallpaper off the walls and got sent to my room during the once-a-year broadcast of "The Wizard of Oz" (Yes, yes.  I am that old.  Old enough to remember gold flocked wallpaper.  And when you only had ONE television, and it weighed 200 pounds, and had only three channels, and no remote control or MTV and movies that you didn't demand, but actually had to wait for, to watch). 

But come on, Mom, gold flocked wallpaper?  I was totally doing you a favor. 

Or I could have been upset about* a minor physical assault of my brother resulting in exaggerated melodrama which led to the most horrible of horrible punishments for me -- no dessert
(*most likely scenario)

Whatever.  Point is, I was mad.

And I wanted to mouth off to her.  Not a big surprise to those of you who know me; I've been known to mouth off before (side eye, Chris). 

The other day, Aria and I were watching the movie "Ramona and Beezus" - you know, since it's ten million degress outside and we're spending so much time in Pool that my hair is turning green.  There's a scene in the movie where Ramona gets so overcome with anger and emotion that she wants to yell out a bad word.  She notifies her family that a profanity is on its way, and then she squeezes her eyes shut, balls up her fists, and hollers out... "GUTS!".  Guts.  Her bad word was guts. 

Can I just say?  We should be so lucky that a kid today would consider "guts" a bad word.  Amen?  This of course, coming from the mother whose daughter informed me the other day she had named her stuffed rabbit Crappy, but that, my friends, is a blog post for another day.  Or never.

Anyway, guts.  So Ramona's family acts all shocked and such, but exchange secret smiles above her head at how cute little Ramona is with her bad word, guts.  Then mixed messages are sent, calamity ensues, blah-blah-blah, Ramona saves the day, and everybody hugs it out in the end.

Okay, can I be honest?  I'm projecting.  I didn't actually watch the whole movie.  I usually try to preview what the kids watch, but when I realized the most profane word in it was guts, I kind of  tuned out...

But this feeling that Ramona had, where you want to ball up your fists and shout out something bad, this was how I was feeling when I was little and I was mad at my mom (dessert).  Except this was back in the day of flocked wallpaper and big TVs and three channels and no MTV.  So four-year-old-me didn't know swear words - I don't even think I knew the word guts - so I said the most terrible thing I could think of:





Now those words coming from a four-year-old mouth wouldn't be very funny were it not for the fact that my mother - the very woman to whom these words were directed - is in fact a very nice lady.  That's the irony.  She's the nicest of nice.  You couldn't ask for anyone nicer.  I consider her to be the very best and very nicest mother in the world. 

But four-year-old-me?  She was ticked.  And ready to strike back. 

My mom?  Not unlike Ramona's family in the movie, she took my tirade in stride, nodding and smiling at my dad over my head at how cute little four-year-old-me was.  And thus, we Woods have had many a good chuckle about this over the years.  And my mom's received more than a few Mother's Day cards suggesting she try and be more "nice". 

Well, here it is, thirty-sumfin' years later and my four-year-old is wanting to mouth off to me at times.  Not unlike my own childhood, her fits are usually preceded by a mild assault of her sister, theatrical histrionics, and the subsequent denial of something precious (dessert).   As of this post, she hasn't quite articulated her dissatisfaction yet, but I can tell it won't be long.  She balls up her fists, squeezes her eyes closed, and makes a frustrated groan/yelp/screech gesticulation, which I know soon enough will evolve into words.  Probably words I won't want to hear. 

And this is when I just want to take four-year-old-me by the shoulders and say, "Now looky here.  You be nice to your mother.  She's doing the best she can for you.  Because she loves you".  And then I want to take thirty-sumfin'-year-old-me by the shoulders and say, "Now looky here.  You be patient with your daughter if she says something she doesn't really mean because she's angry and frustrated.  Because she's four.  And she doesn't know how to express herself yet.  And maybe this is just the best way she knows how right now." 

Here's hoping the worst things she learns to say is guts.  And that she won't remember what made her mad (dessert), she will just remember that thirty-sumfin'-me was patient with her.  And loving.

And nice.

Isaiah 30:21  "When you go to the left or the right, your ears will hear a voice saying, 'This is the way', walk in it".


Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Tap, tap, tap... Hello?  Anyone out there?

If you can't tell, I've taken a little break from blogging this summer.  I didn't even do a Father's Day tribute to my awesome husband to tell him how much I love him, and what a wonderful husband and father he is, and to assure him that no, I don't just use this blog to publicly mock him on the internet. 

Sidebar:  How can you not laugh at a guy who doesn't notice THIS going on beside him at his desk:

Yes.  That is exactly what you think it is.

Anyway, my blogging break's been due to multiple really boring factors you don't care about like:  going out of town, organizing our closets, cleaning the carpets (reference above photo), doing some continuing education, reading this awesome book by Ann Patchett, blah, blah, blah.  Really exciting stuff.  But pretty much the main reason is that my four-going-on-sixteen-year-old has decided she's too old for naps, thereby limiting my computer time to late at night, which is the time I've unspokenly devoted to Chris - i.e., watching reality TV, online shopping, and swilling Sauvignon Blanc as we recover from our day. 

Ergo, my creative juices have dried up just a bit.

Be honest, though, what wouldn't dry up in this heat?  I mean!  I just want to pass out when I step outside my door in the morning, and I have to remind myself it's only July and I still have another two months of this suffering to go.  (Liechtenstein, anyone?)

In a valiant effort to distract myself and my children from the raging inferno that is our backyard right now, we (me) have been trying to entertain (exhaust) ourselves (them) with various activities, which usually goes something like this:

Me:  Let's jump on the trampoline.
Aria:  No, Mommy, it's too hot!
CC:  Hot feet, Mama, hottttt  feetttttttt!

Me:  Okay, let's go on a walk.
Aria:  No, Mommy, it's too hot!
CC:  Hot hair, Mama, hottttt hairrrrrr!

Me:  Alrighty, how about a bike ride?
Aria:  Mommy, I'm done with my bike.  It's too hot.  I'm soaking sweaty!
CC:  Hot ride, Mama, hottttt riiiiiiiiiiide!

Me:  Well, let's try the park.
Aria:  Mommy, it's so hot I can't breathe!  Can you turn off the sun?
CC:  Hot slide, Mama, hottttt sliiiiiiiiiiide!

Now, here is the point in the story where several of you crafty, creative, earth-mom types may feel the need to critique me for trying to wear the tar out of my children so they'll take a nap.  You're probably the same people who make your own baby food and don't like strollers because you don't want your child to feel it's being "pushed away".  You might even be the same people who frown on apple juice.  Or disposable diapers.  You probably think pacifiers were invented by Satan. 

And you know what?  It's all good.  I have nothing against you and I hope you have nothing against me.  Because if there's one thing I've learned in this whole motherhood journey, it's that... please, for the love of all things holy, JUST DO WHAT WORKS for your kid.  Don't preach it to other moms.  Just do it.  So say, for instance, if your year-and-a-half-year-old weighs twenty pounds and refuses to eat anything but Cap'n Crunch or - gasp - Kraft Mac-n-Cheese - well, just DO WHAT WORKS and give her the blooming processed cheese and quit stressing yourself out about it (unless your husband surreptitiously consumes all the breakfast cereal in your pantry one day because he "was thirsty" - then that's another story).

So, my message about the mom-judging here is this:  Yes, I read my kids books.  Lots of books.  I read them books to the point my jaw hurts.  Yes, we do crafts.  We make pictures and puppets and clay animals and Play-Doh people.  Yes, we bake.  We make brownies and cookies and pumpkin bread.

But sometimes Mommy needs a break.  I just need to get out of the house.  My kids - and I - just need some good old-fashioned exercise.

So invariably, we come back to the one thing that makes everyone happy...

The POOL. 

All winter, I glared at that pool like it was my mortal enemy, waiting for the first opportunity to swallow my children whole and suck them down into its cold clammy depths.  I badmouthed the pool.  I gossipped about the pool.  I slandered the pool.  I told Chris that we will never live in or near a house with a pool again.  I laid awake at night and perseverated about how much I hated the pool. 

The Pool has every reason to never speak to me again. 

But then.

Summer came along, the Texas mercury crept into triple digits and got stuck there, and Pool started giving me her come-hither looks, beckoning to us with her sparkly coolness.  And I did something that has become quite commonplace in my world lately:  ate my words.  All those bad things I said about Pool?  I take it all back.  Yep, here it is, my Pool mea culpa.  My spa-pology if you will. 

I've been doing little other these days than raising my hands to the heavens, praising God and Jesus for blessing man with the foresight to dig a big ol' cement hole in my backyard and fill it with sparkling, cool, refreshing water, in which to dip the bodies of my sweaty, sweltering children when they are unwilling to be exhausted entertained by little else that involves exposing onesself to the conflagration that is the other side of the door.

Dearest Pool, accept my sincere apologies.  My kids can play with you to the point of exhaustion.  My year-and-a-half-year-old runs for her floaty suit at the mere mention of your name.  My four-year-old-going-on-sixteen-year-old takes two hour naps after spending time in your blue waters.  I'm sorry I ever doubted you, Pool.  Forgive me.

Stay cool out there, ya'll!