Friday, June 17, 2016

Oh Dad, Never Change

Many of you have met my Dad.

Don't have a picture of him alone.  So here we are.

And if you have known him for any amount of time you know that he is God-seeking, loving, honest, loyal, humble, generous, disciplined, basketball playing, hardworking, outgoing, and funny.

And when I say outgoing, I mean he has most likely made friends with every person he has ever stood in line next to: airport, post office, grocery store.  He might even find a way to chat up a person in the line for the toll both.

And the funny...well, that's what this post is mostly about.  The man can TELL A STORY.  I mean, really tell a story.  I've been hearing the same stories for years and they just keep getting better.  He has been keeping me in stitches since '86. (As far back as I know)

For years I've been wanting to write down his "sayings". And that's where my Uncle John enters the picture. "Uncle" John has been my dad's best friend since childhood.  Way too many of said stories above involve Uncle John.  These two have created more hijincks together than their moms and wives would care to remember.

(Those four women just nodded and rolled their eyes)

But through the years they have come up with/come across all sorts of sayings.  And the thing is, I'm not sure that anyone knows were Dad ends and Uncle John begins.  And I have to give credit where credit is due.  So, Uncle John, half of this post is dedicated to you.  I love you.

What follows is a list of the things (and some explanations of) I have heard them say over and over again. They make me smile every time.

1. That guy could talk a dog off a meat truck!  (he's convincing)

2. I was sweating like a cat burglar at a highway patrolmen's convention.

3. He's cooler than the other side of the pillow.  (My first memory of this statement was the night Uncle John met future husband Joe)

4. I was busier than a centipede doing a tap dance!!

5. That steak is as tender as my heart.

closely related to-

6. This steak is so tender I don't know how that cow stood up.  (They like steak)

7. We should have a good old fashioned windmill greasin'. (Similar to a barn raising or quilting bee)

8. I was so sore I needed 3 mirrors to see the muscles that hurt. (This was a new one last month after Dad attended an exercise class with me).

9.  That thing is like Six Flags in a box. (Referencing a piece of Ikea-like furniture that needs to be assembled)

10. I'm hungrier than a woodpecker in a steel mill!

11. I'm so tired I could sleep on top of a picket fence.

(#10 and #11 were used most frequently growing up)

12. They folded up like a cheap lawn chair.  (Something that doesn't work; someone that is pretending)

13. He was as erratic as a caffeinated squirrel.

14. That could've been curtains, maybe even DRAPES! (When something almost went horribly wrong)

And really, there are so many more that I can't put my finger on right this second.

But aren't they clever?

Dad and Uncle John in the upper right corner.

Dad, thanks for keeping me laughing all these years.  Laughing is my favorite! I love you so, so, so much.  Happy Father's Day!

xoxo, Ashleigh

p.s. This is also your card.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Me Too

Have you ever taken a leap and shared with someone, a friend or acquaintance, something that you're going through?  You were a little worried about opening yourself up, but took the risk. And the response from the other person?

Me Too.

I think those are some of the best words in the English language.

It could be as simple as, "I can't get my kid to poop on the potty!" to the tricky, "My husband and I are having problems."

Nothing could be more comforting than Me Too.  Someone understands.  You have a comrade in arms.  They may not have any more wisdom than you, any more of an idea of how to climb out of the trench, but what a blessing to find someone that is climbing with you.

It works for all ages:

"That kid at recess is bullying me." Me Too.
"I'm having a hard time with Calculus." Me Too.
"I really want to meet THE ONE." Me Too.
"I'm lonely in this new city." Me Too.
"I don't feel like being a mom today." Me Too.
"I'm so out of shape!". Me Too.
"I have a special needs child." Me Too
"I'm starting to need glasses to read." Me Too.
"My hip hurts." Me too.
"I'm really missing my spouse that has passed." Me Too.

I'm not talking about bringing up a reason to gossip or slander.  But a chance to share, to encourage.  It might be just grieving with one another about a stage of life, or laughing about the same.  Maybe someone has an idea or two about how to help (this is not the time to get all bossy/know-it-all).  A sincere Me Too has been a balm to my soul more times than I can count.  And for me, it usually comes with a big sigh of relief.  A giant exhale.

Although not everyone you come across is going to be a "Me Too." Some people are going to be an "I've Truly Been There."

And here's where I segue into talking about cross-generational friendships. I recently read a fabulous book about the blessing of friendships across all ages and seasons of life by one of my favorite writers/bloggers, Sophie Hudson.

It's called Giddy Up, Eunice.
Here shown with my beloved Ira Glass mug and dying cilantro.

First of all, isn't that just the best title for a book?  That alone made me want to read it.

Through hilarious stories and a few relationships found in the bible, Sophie reminds us that we women need each other.  She shows us why and the how-to.  (It's not that hard or fancy)

A couple of quotes that stuck with me:

"At every age and stage of life, women need other women who will listen, confirm, teach, bless, and pray."

"What we have in common far exceeds any perceived generational differences."

"You can't underestimate the impact of women working together for the good of the generation behind them."

So yes, in-the-same-season-of-life friendships are very important.  But there can be such a richness in having relationships with women that are ahead of us in life, and behind us.

There have been many women in my life that have reached back and unofficially mentored me, been my friend, and truthfully, put up with me during hard times.  I want to give a quick shoutout to those current women in my life, to recognize you and say thank you.  Whether you are 5 years older or 20, you are so precious to me.  Some of you have been at it with me for years and years, some of you for just months.  My mom and Joe's mom, Donnette, are top of the list.  They don't have to be; I can't imagine everyone's mothers are.  But I am so lucky for the way they pour into me.   Abi Byrd and Carole Hernandez for picking me out of the crowd at church and seeing and loving me so well. And last but not least, Mary Bilbo.  Yes you: such an encourager and example. Honorable mention goes to Gail Price and Jane Sumner.  Because I know from our brief times together that if we lived closer this would be our relationship.

I encourage all of you to seek out these types of friendships; there is so much to gain from women who have gone before us: wisdom, encouragement, laughter.  Don't miss out.

And then, as Sophie says in her book, let's not forget the girls behind us either.  Because they need us too.

If you are interested in Giddy Up, you can find it here. You will be so glad you read it.

*Side note: There are many, many wonderful friendships that do no include "Me Too"s.  Obviously.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Three On the Run

When I was a kid, my mom would tape* random Walt Disney movies for us to watch and re-watch later. While on a walk this week with my 3, I thought of that title and that it probably applied here.  I can't remember who the 3 were, and what or whom they were running from, but the title "Three on the Run*" will always be stuck in my head along with "Runaway Elephant", The Shaggy Dog Adventures, and "The Moonspinners".

It was the first time I've taken all 3 kids on a walk by myself.  Oh man, that sounds yuck.  Or at least it feels yuck to me.  I've basically been waiting for Baby A (hereafter known as "Scout", Joe's nickname for her), to be old enough to follow along with the crowd with minimal help from me.  Because my other friend, Joshua, age 5, still needs a lot of attention in this department.  He's going to zig, zag, sit down in the middle of plants, run, jump and maybe get out into the street.

But now Scout rides a balance bike.  Like a boss, I might add. And can follow G on his scooter.  So that frees me up to walk holding Joshua's hand.  We stayed in our little neighborhood and didn't go far, but it was a good first outing.

And even though it was a successful walk, it still made me sad. Joshua was happy to be the only one holding my hand and walking with me, but I could tell a part of him wanted to be riding something too.  It's not for lack of trying: we've bought him his own scooter and tried him on the balance bike, but he just can't focus long enough OR doesn't have the skills to ride anything yet.  Not sure which.

It's kind of like when all the kids (including the Stephensons) are playing chase or wrestling and he stands on the outside giggling and looking with longing.  He desperately wants to be included but just doesn't have the skills to jump in and play with them.  And when I say "skills" I'm not talking about running or jumping; I mean the social skills to join in. He can do it if we facilitate, which we usually do, and then he blends right in and has a blast.

And so on walks like this, I start getting down that all of my children can't just jump on their scooters and sail off together.  That Scout isn't trying to keep up with 2 brothers instead of just the 1.  That G doesn't have a sibling peer. That there are many activities that I sub-consciously keep in an absolute no-go category.

Wallow, wallow, wallow.

Always back here.  It's a constant battle to instead remember all the reasons I'm grateful for our family just the way it is, and Joshua just the way he is.  Because I truly am. Our family is the perfect one that God has given us and I trust His plan for us WAY more than I trust mine.

But speaking of running, did you ever have a time when one of your children escaped out into the neighborhood buck naked?  Without you knowing?  I'm guessing I'm not the only one here...please?? I was upstairs getting dressed the other morning when a neighbor of mine hollered from downstairs, "Ashleigh, Joshua's at the playground!"  Bless her heart, she didn't mention the naked part.  He's never been one to leave the house.  Or I should say, my house.  He left Mary's recently and her adrenaline still hasn't recovered from it.

Anyhow, I ran out there and he had already made it to the top of the playground equipment (it's across the parking lot and down a sidewalk).  And clearly thought the whole situation was hilarious.  He slid down the slide, I caught him and marched him back home.  And made a resolution that we were done with nakedness; even in the house.  (We got into this habit while potty training)

What struck me was that I wasn't so upset that I had "lost" him, this happens with some regularity as he is quiet and quick,  but I was embarrassed that he was naked in front of the whole neighborhood.  MOTHER OF THE YEAR, people.

So happy weekend, we're locked up tight around here.  NO ESCAPEES!

Scout on her bike.

Joshua CLOTHED at the playground.

*side note 1: Does anyone else my age or older still use the word "tape" when referring to recording something?

*side note 2: My curiosity got the best of me and I looked it up: something to do with dog sledding.