The wait

My list of virtues excludes patience.
Hurry up and wait kills me.
Yet I sense wonderful things there
in a distant, hard-won future
of a quiet and clean home
visited often by family and friends
But mine. All mine. Sacredly mine.
Until then, I've given up resentment
that absolutely nothing is mine alone.

:::: In the meantime ::::

I have these awesome people to ensure every nook and cranny of this house we call home is filled to bursting.

I may have no patience, but I have love in spades!!!

***This post is part of !!!/!!!, Feel Good Fridays, and Six Word Fridays.***

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The Girl Behind the Blog

When Christine asks you to do something, you do it. (Well, if you're an adult. I imagine she would say the children in her life don't follow that rule.) And so, here is a list of Q&As about me that you might not know simply by reading what I choose to post. Enjoy!

What experience has most shaped you, and why? I think watching my mother raise my sisters and I by herself truly defined me. The series of events that led to that, and all that happened as a result, led me to where I am today (for better or worse). There are many components of this: absentee father, drug and alcohol addiction, a chronically sick younger sister and mentally sick older sister, being the one in the middle who's expected to make due and rock no boats and who slips silently through many cracks.

Without all of that riding around in my suitcase, I have no idea who I'd be. But I wouldn't change any of it because I can finally say -- and it took years to get here -- that I like who I am.

If you had a whole day with no commitments, what would you do? I think I've mentioned before that I'm lazy, right? So, with no commitments, I'd likely sleep and eat and laugh and lounge ... but I wouldn't really do anything. I probably wouldn't even get out of my pajamas. (Not that I get out of them much anyway.) Now, a day with no budget? Totally different story.

What food or drink could you never give up? Hot sauce. Without it, food just doesn't taste right. I'm eating Chili Lime hot sauce on my popcorn right this second. Earlier I had Texas Pete on chicken and George's Hot Barbecue Sauce on my rice. At lunch it was Texas Pete in my Tomato Basil soup. I can't stand the thought of eating an egg without a good dousing of the sauce. If there's no hot sauce, I make it work with chopped jalapenos or spicy salsa, but I need my hot sauce!

If you could travel anywhere, where would that be and why? I would travel to San Francisco to see my grandmother who I haven't seen since I was 12. And I'd have to bring my children, especially Javi who writes to "Big Grandma" every few days and treasures the letters she sends back. At 89, she's a firecracker who I'd love to meet again as an adult.

What did you think you were going to be when you grew up? For a while I thought I'd be a pediatrician or a teacher because my mom said I was great with children. However, sometime in junior high I realized that I wanted to be a writer. I thought I'd be the Next Great American Multicultural Poet, but I've become content with short stories and blogging and the words I'm paid to write. It feels like I've accomplished my goals in theory, though not much in spirit.

What character trait inspires you the most? I am most inspired by kindness. It's so rare that I meet someone who is genuinely kind without hoping for something in return or simply being nice. When I meet one of the down-deep kind people in this world, something my soul stirs. I want to be like them, to have my heart transcend my mind the way theirs does.

Which book or books have inspired or touched you the most? The Four Agreements changed my life. Before reading it, my entire being was wrapped up in external forces and I was depressingly unhappy. As I read the book and reflected and meditated on the Agreements, I felt myself slough off my emotional baggage (that suitcase referenced earlier) and begin down the path to being the person I am meant to be.

How/where did you meet your spouse/significant other? My husband is from a mountain. Which means you won't be surprised when I tell you that I met him when I was 14 years old and dating his cousin/best friend, who was my next-door neighbor and whose brother eventually fathered my son (with my sister). It's a tangled web, but it's ours.

What is the ideal wake-up time? I am a night owl. Left to my own devices, I'd be up half the night and sleep half the morning. I'm actually glad that I don't have that freedom because, once I'm up, I enjoy getting things done and then having the day ahead of me.

Name a cd that would have to be, hands down, your desert island cd. (Let’s ignore the lack of electricity on desert islands.) I'd probably want to take the Singles soundtrack. None of those bands are my absolute favorite, but listening to that CD reminds me of a great decade in my youth. I'd love to pass my time on the island reminiscing about the glory days! (Oh, wait. Maybe I should take "Born in the USA" instead? And I'd really just want to take my iPod.)

What are three things you hope to accomplish within the next decade? At the end of a decade, I'll be 43. By that age, I'd like to have completed a book of short stories, attended a Broadway play, and worn a pair of size 8 pants. (You didn't think I'd get too deep, did you?)

If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be? I would ditch the procrastination gene. This minute I am procrastinating real work to complete this meme. Instead of doing my real work now, I'll do it tomorrow night after everyone's gone to bed. I'll work into the wee hours of the morning and then wake up exhausted and cranky. I could avoid this by doing the work now, but that's not how the procrastination gene works. If only I could do things in enough time to not be stressed ... dude, my life would be so different!

This meme requires that I add a question and ask a few other bloggers to play along. My question is: How has blogging changed who you are or how you see yourself?

I'd truly love to read all of your answers to these questions, so please feel free to play along. But for the sake of keeping it going I tag:
Anyone is welcome to play along though!

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It's football

Mom is anxious and stressed and worried. Child is excited and proud and buzzing with energy. So much energy that he can't sleep. Because it's football.

And therefore, I just laugh at things like this:

Mountain man: Why are you walking like that?
Javi: It's hard to walk with my cup!
MM: Dude. I've told you 18 times you don't need to wear your cup yet. Go take it off.
Javi: I can't take it off. I need it for my diamonds!
Me: Your diamonds?
Javi: Yeah. Dad calls them my bait and tackle, but I call them my diamonds. Because they're precious.

And this:

Me: So how was practice?
Javi: It was great. But all the other guys were wearing checker boxers and I'm wearing Batman boxer briefs.
Me: Did that bother you?
Javi: Yes! We'd better get some checker ones for me to wear. I think they're part of my uniform.

From what they tell me, it's football.

***This post is part of Wordful Wednesdays.***

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Tales from the (start of) 4th Grade

After 70 days of being in my back pocket, this kid starts 4th grade on Wednesday:

I have some reservations about how the new year will go:

#1. His teacher seems young and not very perceptive. After observing Bella running in circles and throwing a temper tantrum over a pen, the teacher asked us, "So, is she one of our new kindergartners?" Uh, yeah.

If the teacher can't surmise that the tantrumy and defiant tiny one with her shoes on the wrong feet is a toddler, how likely is it that she'll correctly analyze and react to Javi's brand of classroom issues. Like how he can't not talk if someone talks to him, feels compelled to tell others what they should or shouldn't be doing, and forgets what he's supposed to be doing because he's so wrapped up in what someone else isn't supposed to be doing.

Looks like I should go ahead and schedule that parent-teacher conference to spell out exactly why and how to handle my son.

#2. Part of Javi's manifestation of ADHD is he thrives on high-intensity sports that allow him to jump and run. Previously we've been loyal to basketball, but this year Javi is playing football. Tackle football to be exact. I had just gotten comfortable with the idea of it when the coach informed us he'll practice Monday through Thursday nights from 6 to 8pm.

Did you catch that? Four days a week until 8 pm at night. His extended summer bedtime is 8:30 pm. How is a child -- especially one that needs every minute of sleep and lots of unstructured downtime to function properly in a classroom -- supposed to succeed in school when they spend that much time running back and forth to catch a ball?

The mountain man shrugs and says simply, It's football as if I'm missing the point. It's football for 9 year olds. And our 9 year old has a disorder that causes impulsivity, fidgeting, and poor focus. I'm not sure how long football will last in this home.

#3. My baby boy is already so distracted. He has chickens to tend to in the mornings and football in the evenings. He has friends who call and friends who message and friends who knock on the door ... all day long. He is 9 years old and his social life is headed steadily and rapidly up the entrance ramp to full-blown 21st century adult.

Focus and impulse control and forgetfulness aside, I'm not ready.

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In Mourning

Today is a sad day for my little half-mountain family. Sometime between 7 am and 9 am, our sweet girl Stella passed on to Big Chicken Heaven in the Sky.

Her death wasn't peaceful or blameless or quick. And when we found her, we cried and screamed and raged at the dogs who'd dug their way into our yard and then into the coop to get to her.

After a mournful call to the mountain man at work, we got the dogs caged up for Animal Control and we held a small burial for sweet, sweet Stella. We shared our thankfulness that Maisy, Lulu, and Fancy escaped a similar death (though poor Lulu lost all her tail feathers). We cried some more and said mean things about the dogs' owner.

And then we began a long morning of remembering:

Stella as a baby chick with her downy black fuzz. How we would find her perched on top of her watering and feed jugs, how she'd sit right on top of the other chicks, and how she had to be chased down if you wanted to hold her but then she'd nuzzle right against your neck.

Stella as the leader of the pack, always a few paces ahead of Maisy and Lulu, always first to enter any situation -- whether it was heading into the garden for foraging or greeting anyone who came for a visit.

Stella as the dominant girl whose chest puffed up to twice its size when we put Fancy in the coop for the first time, who grew bigger and faster than her sisters, and who always ate first.

Our grand plans for our Stella were always tempered by the nagging feeling that all was not as it seemed. And so the nickname "Stella the Fella" was born. Our Stella who was likely not one of the girls at all.

We loved her and feel a deep sadness that we failed to protect her from the clumsy predators who worked so diligently to get into her safe haven. We've learned a lesson here and will ensure our other babies remain as safe as we can keep them.

Death leaves a heartache no one can heal,
love leaves a memory no one can steal.

May you rest peacefully our Stella the Fella. You will be missed.

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A few moments out of a lifetime of moments

Just when I thought the summer was a wash of meetings and deadlines and children screaming at each other because "you're looking at me!" but "no, you're looking at me!" .... we've had a few surprises.

Like this from Here's-your-one-chance-Fancy-don't-let-me-down. (And, yes, we did sing The Circle of Life as the Mountain Man ate his first egg from our backyard):

And finding Bella with blue, purple, and peach tiger stripes (somebody found her mother's rarely used makeup):

And this moment of pure summer lovin' for my Javinator:

Summer is just a few months in a year, a few hot and sticky and busy months that require more juggling and patience from me. And that's okay.

***This post is part of !!!/!!! and Feel Good Friday.***

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Stating the obvious

I took my baby girl to the park last week while her brother was playing at a friend's house. This wouldn't be a momentous event except that I've been overwhelmed lately and park-going has suffered. As in, we haven't been back since. But, obviously, park-going belongs on the agenda.



Bella loves the hell out of it (especially that she gets to ride her bike there and back). We shall do it more often (even if it kills me).

***This post is part of the 30-minute blog challenge, Wordful Wednesday, and Wayback When-esday.***

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Winner, winner chicken din--- what?!

Just when you thought we couldn't get anymore ridiculous ... my mountain man brought home an adult Rhode Island Red today. And then he built a coop for our broilers under the deck. Classy!

Meet Fancy. Her full name is Here's-your-last-chance-Fancy-don't-let-me-down
Chickalicious Miller. Bella (of a fish named Barbie-in-the-Nutcracker fame) came
up with the first name and Javi supplied the middle. Obviously.
Please, please, please don't let it smell forever.
In less mountain-y news, we have a winner!

Congratulations, Shannon! Send me your contact information (kelly at themillermix dot com) and I'll forward it on to Mindy at Cuddles from Home. She ships fast, so you'll have your pillow and blanket set in no time.

But there's a little something for everyone ... drumroll ... Mindy has offered to give all giveaway entrants 10 percent off their entire order just for being so sweet about her beautiful products! To take advantage of the discount, use the link I'm sending to each of your email inboxes. (If you don't hear from me, that means I don't have your email address and you need to contact me at the address above.)

Thanks again for entering! And if you see the MM any time soon, please remind him we don't live on a farm!

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!!!: This much I know

Most days I forget about grace,
take stock of others' mistakes, and
judge their challenges as character flaws.
Those days are hard battles lost
in a furious swirl of disappointment.
But this much I do know:

I have given my daughter freedom
to dream and create and be
herself -- without any worry of judgment.

I have given my son space
and time to figure himself out
and learn that he is an artist
and an athlete and a friend --
to his sister, to his peers --
even when people say hurtful things.

I judge and condemn and condescend.
But there is hope for me.
It shines and shimmers each day:
watching my children's strong, soaring hearts,
seeing my children navigate rough waters --
all without losing a shred of grace.
Hope. For me. And for you.

***This post is part of !!!, Feel Good Friday, and Six Word Fridays.***

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Cluck of the Week

Something happens to you when you get chickens. You construct elaborate coops that you decorate with flowers and watering cans and signs as though what's living inside that structure is your sweet little granny and not a dirty creature that eats its own poop (and would pick through yours if you'd let it).

You bond with your little creatures. You give them names (like Maisy, Lulu, and Stella) and hunt down worms and grasshoppers to hand feed them because you love how they follow you around and flap up to meet you when your hand comes near. If you let them, your children will develop such a close bond with your chickens that you often find them doing crazy things you never thought you'd see (such as sitting half naked beside a chicken feeding it flowers).

And the worst thing you do? Is get more chickens. Because three isn't enough. So you agree to raise five more. In our case, the five new biddies are short-term visitors (that we can't name) who we'll show at the fair and then promptly give back for "harvesting." You can guess what that means.

But you take them because for those short 6 or 7 weeks, you can give them a little taste of freedom and health they'd never experience at the factory.

And, yes, you can expect lots more photos of children being weirdly comfortable with animals not meant to be pets. What else would you expect? Especially since, weeks and weeks ago, we brought home these little friends who've changed our entire perspective on ... pretty much everything.

(Yes, that is the same chicken as she's feeding in the first picture. Stella, our black star. Can you believe how fast she's grown?)

***This post is part of Wordful Wednesday and Wayback When-esday.***

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Bella in love (Giveaway!)

Neither of my children have ever gotten attached to a lovey, despite my best efforts. Javi never even took a pacifier and Bella latches on to some objects but the love for them dies quickly.

Until now. My friend Mindy, who makes the softest and cuddliest loveys ever, found out Bella is starting pre-school this fall and sent her a handmade toddler blanket and pillow set to help make this year special. My plan was to put the set up so it'd be in perfect condition for school. Bella had other plans. She saw the gorgeous, funky pattern and had to have both the pillow and the blanket in her possession.

So began a furious hour of testing out her new must-have item. She rolled herself up in it on the floor and then she wrapped herself up to go cuddle with the Mountain Man. He suggested that we fold it up and put it up in her room and she promptly left him behind to lay by herself with her "ewaphans." And anytime any of us tried to pry her away from it, she cut us the "I will shank you" look. (Can you guess how much I got accomplished that day?!)

A week or so has passed and Bella is still attached at the hip (and shoulders and belly) with her blanket. She spreads it out for tea parties, throws the pillow down anywhere she's decided to lay her head (which includes the bathroom floor, the front porch, and the back of MM's truck), has me clamp it around her neck for a cape, and drags it behind her on her way to the car so she can cover up when she's cold (note: we live in the south, it is never cold). And, of course, there's sleeping -- and she can't do it without her ewephans.

What's really awesome is neither the pillow or the blanket looks worse for wear. In fact, you can't tell we've used them at all.... as evidenced by this little show she put on this afternoon. In an attempt to get out of naptime, she made an elaborate show of making a pallet on the floor for her and one of her monkeys. After 10 minutes of arranging the blanket just right, she snuggled up for all of 15 seconds and then insisted we start over. And you know, perhaps take some time to make a fort or maybe a dress out of her ewephans. (And, no, she did not win this battle. A nap was had.)

All of this to say, I'm really surprised and impressed by how much Bella adores her pillow and blanket. Finally, after all these years, we seem to have a lovey -- and this one she can take with her when she enters the world of pre-school. I get a little weepy knowing it'll smell like home and remind her of laid back summer days at home with her mom and brother.

I'm also really excited because Mindy has agreed to give a pillow and blanket set to one of you guys. How cool is that? I can vouch for the absolutely amazing quality of the construction and softness of the fabric with these sets. They also come in some great fabric choices and shipping is quick. I always order Mindy's loveys for my baby showers or new baby gifts, so I should've known all of this but seeing is believing. I really can't think of anything critical to say about anything she makes!

Anyway, to win a blanket and pillow set, just check out her website -- Cuddles from Home -- and check out the pillow and blanket sets. Come back here and leave a comment saying which fabric you'd like if you won (ours is purple elephants). That's it! For extra entries, you can post about the giveaway on Facebook, Twitter, or your blog (one entry each).

Thanks again to Mindy for such a generous offer. You won't be disappointed with her craftwomanship and excellent service!

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So !!! it makes my eyes water -- or maybe that's chlorine

I've been swamped with work and meetings this week. I even mean that literally considering I left my windows down in the car (you know, that one time all summer I actually used the windows) and a crazy storm rolled through. So the doors have been open for hours now and the car is still swampy. Enter my most private and enduring motto:

A snickers would make everything better.

But guess what? My baby girl learned to canon ball! And we only had heat in the double digits this week! And Javi's medication has been working super well so it's like living with a 9 year old and a 3 year old rather than two 3 year olds! And we're going to see a musical production of The Jungle Book tonight!

There's just so much !!! that my eyes water when I think about it. (Or maybe that's fatigue.) Just look at these pictures. Can you feel it?

I am immersed in it. Floating. Zero gravity. Bring on the weekend!

***This post is part of !!!/!!!, Six Word Fridays, and Feel Good Fridays.***

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