Thursday, August 30, 2012

Blessing #134 - Brandon turns 6

Dear Mr. Brandon,

Yesterday, you turned 6! Sorry your birthday letter is a little late, but better late than never. 

This year has brought so many changes for you. It seems like you grew up so much this year. I now see you as a little boy, and not a toddler. I know. I'm a little slow to catch on, but I see you through my mommy colored glasses.

I've debated about what to write in this birthday letter. I thought about telling you about the day you were born or all the things that happened this year, but I've decided to take this chance and tell you what I admire in you. Yes, I know you are just six, but you have so many traits that I love and admire in you. Sometimes, I'm afraid all you hear is the bad traits. "Brandon can't pay attention! Brandon can't sit still! Brandon, is crazy! Brandon is mischievous! Brandon is a walking tornado of destruction!" Because of this, I wanted to take a few minutes and let you know what I admire in you.


1. You're tender heart.  I know on the outside you look wild and crazy, but you have one of the most tender hearts I know.  You are truly concerned with other people.  If I fall (which happens a lot), you are right there asking, "Are you okay Mommy?" When someone is hurt, you remember to pray for them and ask them how they are doing the next time you see them. 

2. You love tradition. I would like to think you got this one from me, but you absolutely love tradition. You've been announcing for weeks, "On my birthday, we are going to the Choo Choo Barn!" When we told you that you had school on that day, you just looked at us. It didn't matter that you had school. To you it was a simple fact. Brandon goes to the Choo Choo Barn on August 29!

3. You show love so easily.  You have never had any trouble showing love to people.  It just seems to come natural to you.  Yesterday, you asked me, "Mom, I need to give Mrs. Hueytt (your teacher) a card. I want it to say, 'Mrs. Hueytt, you are the best teacher ever. Thank you for letting me come to school'." You do more than just saying, "I love you," you show it too.

4.  You welcome change with arms wide open. Monday, I couldn't help but admire how you handled your very first day of school.  You welcomed the newness and uncertainty with open arms. I am certain that did not come from me.  Most of the time, I have to be dragged into change.  You walked right into that school with so much confidence I couldn't help but be proud that you were my son. 

Six years ago, when I first laid my eyes on you, I coudn't have imagined the little boy you would become. I couldn't be happier to call you mine. Thanks for making my life much more exciting. I love you and admire so much about you. I can't wait to see how God is going to use these traits in your life.  

Monday, August 27, 2012

Curse #45 - "It's just kindergarten" and other lies

This morning, I will be taking my Brandon to his first day of kindergarten.....his first day of school.  I'm sorry I just had to let that sink into my mind.  I can't believe this day has finally come. 

Oh! There have been some days when I wished this day would come.  The day when he broke almost a dozen eggs in the living room.  The day when he decided to stop taking a nap.  The day when he got into all my makeup and smeared it on the wall.  Yes, all those days, I wished for the day when he would be in school. 

Does that make me a bad mom? Yes, there is part of me that is excited about this day.  Part of me is already planning a giant to do list of all the projects I'm going to do now with all my free time. 

Over the past few weeks, I haven't really thought about how big this day is.  I've told myself, "It's not a big deal.  It's just kindergarten."  However, last night, as I was getting the boys ready for bed this song came on Pandora.  By the time the song was over, you could stick a fork in me because I was done.  I was just a big weepy mess. That song has always been my song for my boys.

Suddenly, I realized, IT'S NOT JUST KINDERGARTEN.  It's just another step of letting go. 

Motherhood is a cruel joke.  God gives us these amazing gifts, but from the very second we get them, we are supposed to be preparing them to leave us.  They are simply on loan.

B and I are entering a new chapter, uncharted territory, so today I just have to take some time to cry for the chapter that we are closing.  The chapter of just he and I together, barely keeping our sanity.

As for Brandon, he is just fine.  He can't wait for school. Last night, he told me, "Mom, if somebody tries to bully me, I'm going to say, 'Hey go pick on someone else.' Mom, I'm more excited than a tick on a june bug." (Sometimes he gets his southern sayings confused.)

This morning, as I drop him off, I will be all smiles, but when I get in the car I'll have a little moment of crying.  No, it's much more than just kindergarten, it's a great reminder of the gift I have in that sweet (often times naughty) little boy. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Blessing #133 - The All Vegetable Meal

As a kid, I was a very picky eater, and every summer I dreaded one meal...the all vegetable meal. 

The people of Ridgeway Baptist Church really believed in taking care of their pastor's family, and in the summer taking care of the pastor's family meant sharing from their gardens.....much to my dismay. 

When I saw Elmer O'Kelley riding his bike down our driveway with a bag of squash hanging of his bicycle, I knew the all vegetable meal was coming. (Elmer didn't have a car or electricity.  He was off the grid before it was cool.)  Often we would find a bag of green beans from Jimmy Cheek's garden on our front porch, my parents would smile and say things like, "We're gonna be eating good tonight."  I had to hold back my gag reflex as I felt the all vegetable meal approaching. 

Soon after, my mom would take all the vegetables, make some cornbread, and call it a feast. As the picky eater, I lived off of cantelope at that meal.  As they savored every bite, my parents would reminisce about all the vegetables in my grandpa's garden, all the green beans my great-grandma used to can, and all the corn my mom would eat as a kid.

I thought they were crazy, what was the big deal.  Didn't the grocery store sell squash and cucumbers for just a few dollars?

Now, as an adult, I'm not nearly as picky, and I finally get it.  Fresh garden vegetables do taste different.  Maybe it's the freshness or all the time and attention they get, but something about a fresh squash, tomato, or cucumber just tastes like summer.  Now that I have a garden, I know how much care and time goes into planting and growing a garden.  Now, I know how valuable those gifts were on our front porch from the givers.   Now, I say things like, "We're gonna be eating good tonight," as I make my all vegetable meal....except for the cornbread I still don't like cornbread.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Blessing #132 - Stew Kharma

Saturday, I got an odd text from my dad....

"I am not responsible for what text you may get from your family."

At first, I had no idea what he meant, but then I started to connect the dots.  My brother visited my parents in Georgia this weekend, and it was lunchtime.  I knew exactly what was about to come my way, the Zeb's text. 

Zeb's is my absolute favorite restaurant.  I've blogged about it before.  Every time, I visit Zeb's I send my brother a text or picture just letting him know where I am.  When you are eating something so good, you can't help but share with someone else.  For crying out loud, I am his little sister, part of the reason God put me on this earth was to pester him. 

However, I do not appreciate the tables being turned on me.  I quickly texted my dad back.....

"Noooooo! Zeb's pictures! I just had Taco Bell for lunch.  That would be so depressing."

After several minutes, I still had not received a text from my brother so I thought I was fine.  I thought I had dodged a bullet.   Maybe he had a heart after all, but then I got this picture.....

He said he didn't want to be mean so he would just send me the picture of his empty plate. He then went on to say...

"I am also taking 2 pints of stew home, but I will spare you that pic."

Do you see the abuse I take? Taco Bell! Taco Stinkin' Bell is what I had for lunch, and he had to rub it in that he had Zeb's, but that is not where our story ends.  True, that is where my brother's texts ended, but I found out from an unnamed source that the story did not end there. 

Remember those precious 2 pints of stew that my brother took home? Well, one of his kids stepped on the fragile styrofoam container and smashed it as they were getting out of the car.  Oh! But it gets better! Then the other precious pint of stew got dropped on the ground. 

For some reason, my brother did not send me pictures of the smashed stew. He didn't even let me know that it had happened.  It could be that he was too upset.  I know the old adage says not to cry over spilled milk, but trust me you cry over spilled stew.  Maybe he knew that I would have way too much fun coming up with funny texts about it.  For whatever reason, he didn't tell me about his mishap. 

Fortunately, thanks to my unnamed source I know the rest of the story, and I just couldn't resist blogging about it.  Sorry brother, just doin' my job. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Curse #44 - The Pinecones

Sometime in April, I decided to help Shad by mowing the yard.  Much to my surprise, I loved it! Now, I don't have the greatest history with lawn mowers.  I ran into my parents house once, when I was trying to "help" mow the yard.  When I was twelve, I ran my friends mower off into her grandfather's garden.  Eighteen years later, and I still haven't lived that one down.  However, Shad doesn't mind so much how the yard looks as long as it gets done. 

Each week, I love the two and a half hours I get all to myself while I mow the yard, and Shad thinks I'm awesome for doing it.  Everyone wins!

 For the past several weeks though, I have made an enemy while I cut the grass, the pine cone.

Every week, I make the turn around a particular tree only to be whacked smack dab in the forehead by these pine cones.  I know that doesn't sound too painful, but these pine cones are filled with lead.  Seriously! My forehead still hurts where I got whacked last time I cut the grass. 

I realize the simplest solution would be just to pull the pine cones down, but I have never been one for the simple solutions.  Every week I have the same inner dialogue....

ow! Dumb pine cones hit me again!

I'm going to pull them off of the tree.  Problem solved.

Wait! I should see if I remember these pine cones are here next week.  I'll remember and I won't get hit. 

Yes, it's a weird twisted game that I play against myself.  Will I remember the lead filled pine cones?  So far the score is......

Pine cones - 7
Stephanie - 0

Every stinkin' single week, I forget, and every week I come around that corner and whack my forehead.  Maybe since, I am writing this post I will remember next week. 

I don't know why I am doing this strange competition with myself?  Maybe it's because I have become so forgetful since I have had kids and I want to prove I still have a brain.  Maybe it's just that I am super competitive.  All I know is that next week, I will win, but if you see me with a bruise in the middle of my forehead....don't ask. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Curse #43 - The DMS Shirt

Generally, Shad is a good dresser.  He can put an outfit together, and bring in unexpected elements.  Sometimes he evens breaks out his blue suede shoes. 

Notice though, I said he "generally" is a good dresser.  There is one item he wears that I cannot stand.  In fact, I cringe every time he wears his DMS shirt.

Over 15 years ago, Shad got the t-shirt when he worked for DMS moving company.  Early on, the DMS shirt lost its sleeves.  It's slightly faded, but the shirt has held up unbelievably well for how much it has been worn.  (just my luck)

On his day off, somehow Shad will find his way to the DMS shirt.  On one day, he wore the cut off DMS shirt and cut off shorts.  Now, I'm not a fashion expert, but I think only one item in an ensemble should be classified as "cut off."

Most Saturdays, he wears the shirt with jeans that have the knees blown out. he is convinced that the rugged outfit gets him better deals at yard sales.  I say, "Yes, he get's better deals, but that's because people think he's homeless!"

Shad packed a suitcase full of clothes for our vacation, but somehow he ended up wearing the DMS shirt almost every day.  On the trip, I would do laundry at night, and magically that dumb shirt would end up in every load of laundry even though I didn't put it there!

The DMS shirt, for whatever reason, is his security item.  Linus has his blanket, Brandon has his monkey, Collin has his alligator, and Shad has his DMS shirt.   I don't know at what point he got attached to the shirt, but I have a feeling it was the first time I said, "I really don't like that shirt."

Often, I imagine the DMS shirt suffering a terrible washing machine accident, or I have considered hiding the the trash can.  However, no matter how strongly I dislike the shirt, it stays because Shad loves it so much. 

Besides, Shad is really good at Clue. He would figure it out.  "It was Stephanie, in the washing machine, with the bleach!"

Friday, August 3, 2012

Blessing #131 - Like Father Like Son

I've heard Shad tell the famous rose story many times.....

At a mere five years old, Shad "fell in love" with a much older, more mature teenage girl. 

To show his true feelings, Shad decided the only gift for such a sophisticated teenage woman could be a single red rose.  He waited for just the right moment, and sweetly held up the rose to the girl and said, "Teenage girl, would you accept this rose?"

Just kidding, just kidding. I was just seeing if you were paying attention, and also I'm going through Bachelorette withdrawals. 

Back to the story.  As she took the rose, the flattered girl gave Shad a kiss on the forehead, and 30 years later Shad still tells the famous rose story. 

Often I will tell Brandon, "You are just like your father."  Sometime I say it with a laugh. "You are just like your father (ha ha ha)."  While other times, I say it through gritted teeth.  "You are just like your father!"  It all depends on the day or the situation. 

This week Brandon went to a Vacation Bible School, and saw a much older, more mature girl of twelve that he hadn't seen in a while.  After the first night, he came home excited proclaiming, "Mom, I didn't know I missed her so much.  I'm going to write her a card and sing her a song in front of everyone."

Right before bedtime, he came downstairs holding one of my necklaces.  When I asked what he was doing, he said, "Oh! I'm going to give her this necklace."  Wanting to keep my jewelry, I suggested, "Why don't you just pick her some flowers?"

The next morning, he went outside to find the right flowers, and he came back in smiling with an armful of black eyes susies.  He asked me for a vase so I gave him a mason jar.

As he left for VBS brimming with excitement holding his mason jar full of back yard black eyed susies, I found myself breathing a prayer I had never prayed. "Lord, please help this girl not to hurt his little heart." I have a feeling that won't be the last time I pray that prayer.

When Shad dropped him off, Shad stayed long enough to see how it went.  B walked up to the check in desk and asked where he could find the object of his affection.  B ran off to the classroom where she was.  Shad didn't see the exchange but B came back smiling and said, "She took them! Now on to the slop bucket!"  The slop bucket was a bucket of nastiness they poured over the pastor's head on the last night of VBS.  As you can tell, B not only inherited his father's romance skills, but also his attention span.

When the whole episode began, I almost told B not to do it.  Part of me wanted to say, "You are too little.  Stop being silly."  Then I remembered Shad's famous rose story and thought better.  Obviously that moment was pivotal for Shad.  Maybe it's a rite of passage for the Lankford men.  If anything, it was a great lesson on taking chances and putting yourself out there. 

Who knows? Someday this may be Brandon's famous black eyed susies story. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Blessing #130 - The Lawn Mower

Sixteen years ago, an accident took the life of a boy my family knew.  It just didn't seem real or right that someone my age could be gone so suddenly. 

Sensing my hurt and questions, my dad told me, "You need to go ride the lawn mower."  I looked back at him puzzled, "But Dad, last time I cut the grass I ran into the side of the house?"  He explained that when he was trying to work through things he would ride on the lawn mower.  He also explained that I didn't have to have the blades down, I just needed to drive around and think. 

For about an hour, I aimlessly drove around our yard.  Much to my surprise, my dad was right.  For me, the lawn mower was a good place to sort through my feelings. 

Tuesday, one of my childhood friends was killed in a car accident.  Her family is an integral part of Ridgeway (the church that my dad pastors).

My heart is broken for her family, husband, and two small children.  I have no Christian cliches to say right now just prayers and a hurting heart. 

Today, I'm taking the lawn mower for a ride.  If you drive by, don't be alarmed if you see me crying, I'm just asking God the tough questions in my heart. 

Please keep the family in your prayers.