Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Spring Break Re-Do: Day 2

     Yesterday, we spent the afternoon at the driving range in awe of Chaz's golf skills, sucking on Mountain Dew and chewing on Slim Jims to our heart's delight. 
     This morning, my reluctant crew woke up at 7:00 and headed to Phelp's lake to see about some crappie. What we ended up with was some bass.
     Chloe was the first one to pop out of bed and the most positive on the way there. Caleb was making sure he could take a nap when we get back and Chaz wanted a donut. Chris kept checking the time and bemoaning the likelihood of it already being too late to catch anything, while I was just happy to get to wear my new galoshes
     "I mean I have only caught one fish my whole life," Chloe reminded us. This comment became extremely important half an hour later as Chloe's pole was fixed and she went out with her brothers to walk the pond. I waited for Chris to thread a lure for me and my bad eyes when we heard her screaming, "Help! I got a fish! Help! It's a fish!" 
      I ran her way, but Caleb beat me to her and walked her back dragging the fish onto the shore. She was HUGE! Right as I arrived on the scene, the fish flopped about and broke the line.
      And like in the movies, in a split second, remembering Chloe's lamention of the morning, I screamed,"Nooooooooooo!" jumped into the water and tackled the fish,  capturing her between my thighs. I tried to pick her up by the tail which was between my legs, but she tried to fin me. I couldn't reach around to her mouth because I was afraid she'd wiggle loose. Everyone was still trying to figure out what what was going on,  including me, and possibly the fish, when I finally formed words.
     "Chris, I am sitting on a fish."
     "Help me." 
      Still confused,he grabbed the fish by the mouth and I sloshed out of the water to shake off. I realized it was cold and the lower half of my body was soaked, including the inside of my new galoshes. We oohed and aaahed and laughed and retold the story five times before Chris handed me my pole and we commenced to fishing.
      Thirty minutes later I felt my phone in my back pocket, but no longer felt my toes. I trudged back to the car, took off my boots and jeans. I placed my phone in pieces on the dash to dry out. 
      In the car, in my panties, T-shirt, scarf and hat, thawing out in the morning sun, I watched Caleb help Chaz take a fish off his line and add it to the stringer. I leaned back, grabbed a cake donut, sipped some cold coffee,  read a bit of Through Painted Deserts and  un-second guessed my decision to have a Spring Break Re-do.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A Day in My Supposed to be Spring Break Life:

12:10 A.M. 
    I met my cousin and grandma at the emergency room at ten. I have been here for two hours when Chris calls the third time. He already knows she’s fine, just an infection, so I know why he’s calling.
    It’s midnight. He hates going to sleep without me.
    “What’s the scoop?”
    "Well, it takes an hour for this stuff to get into her system.”
    “So ahhh are you coming home? Is Belinda taking her home?”
    “Yes, but . . .”
    He doesn’t know my grandma refused to lay back and sleep. That she turned down the TV and focused on my cousin and I. That at some point I realized, I was the entertainment.
    “ . . .I mean what does this mean for you and me?” he asks. He's smiling on the other end of the phone, I can tell.
    “It means I’ll leave in an hour.”
    "OK,” He pouts. “Tell her I love her.”
    I tell her. She grins. “Tell him I love him, too.”
    I hang up.
    “I wouldn’t want to live with him, but I love him.” 
    She grins harder. I make a mental note to change a scene in a short film I'm writing where I have borrowed heavily from my cousin and grandmother's real life.

     I make it back to Rockwall where we are house sitting and sit in the borrowed mini-van inside the garage and talk to my cousin about some OCD issues my grandmother is having and then turn the mirror on her by reminding her about some issues I had a few years back and know she is having now.
    “Make an appointment,“ I tell her. “I’ll go with you.”
    I go in the house and am greeted by four boys who are not even trying to hide the fact that they’ve eaten an unimaginable amount of frozen food. I never have that much frozen food because my bus fridge is the size of two lockers.
    I feel wide awake, so, I check on Craigslist for some used cars, wash dishes, then go to bed. Mmmmm, warm bodies.

    The boys are loud. I can usually sleep through anything, but maybe I’m hopped up on diet coke and chili cheese Fritos. Who knows?

    I hop up. I have to drive into Garland with Chris so I can get our car. I make coffee. Clean up more dishes from the late, late, late night snack and hop in the mini-van.

    Water cup seeds. Look longingly at the ground where they will be planted, hoping I’ll have time to till today.

    Grocery store run to replace all our friend’s food we’ve eaten this week and to buy breakfast foods.

    Drive back to Rockwall

    Unload groceries.

    I make sausage with scrambled eggs, sausage and gravy, and sausage and biscuits.

10: 25 
    Repeat everything I want Caleb to do when he wakes up three times.

    Chloe and I drive back to Garland.

    Eat cookies, sing songs, change diapers, play with fake food and generally enjoy some cute babies at the church.

2:00 PM
    Wait for boys to come with Josh’s truck so we can get compost from Rachel’s back yard.

    Load dirt into the bed of the truck. Load stones into Kara’s van. Love some more cute babies.

    Refried bean and cheese and grape and cheese and crackers and cheese and wine and cheese break. Sense the theme. (I babysit for Diet Coke and cheese, except for at Mimi’s where I babysit for Texas Pecans:)

    Realize I can’t find my phone. Call Chris on Caleb’s. Our friend is coming home in the wee hours of the night. Must get back there soon to clean.

    Head back to the church, where our bus is parked and ground is waiting for some good dirt. Unload.

    Marvel at how much time we thought we had, but now do not. Place stones in four by four squares.

    Chris shows up from a LONG day cleaning, leans over the fence and flirts.

    We all drive back to Rockwall. Curiel clean up crew to the rescue!

    Wash and clean and spray and fold and sweep the Self household. Our kids rock the clean!

    Fall asleep waiting for sheets to dry.

    Chris wakes me up. We make the bed.

    Drive back to Garland. I make and announce the executive decision to have a do over spring break next week. Cheers abound. Another nod to home schooling aside from  the fact that my eighth grader son went from not wanting to read last year to reading The Lightening Thief seres in August to currently reading The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Pigrim's Progress, Blink, The Prince all of his own accord. I can't keep up and I'm glad.

12:10 AM
    On Jubilee, we snuggle in. We laugh at how much we love sleeping in our own bed. Skin, warmth, sleep, love, home.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Thank You

When the day opens up before you wide 
with memories of last night's 
perfect date night 
and two blonde baby girls are dropped off at the bus door, 
their baby dolls in tow. 
When their mom packed fresh tomatoes 
and cheese and bread for snacking. 
When later there will be seed planting
and dirt tilling 
and friends with Rancheritos and coca' 
and more babies-- boys this time. 
When my kids and I analyze literature
in the middle of planting cilantro
and my husband is wishing he were home. 
When there is the option to go to prayer meeting later 
to praise and petition 
and eat carne de res and lift up our voices 
and linger on the patio and sit by the fire 
and drink dirty marts or  black and velvets 
and listen to the kids get sleepy 
and talk about living in Mexico or
music or films we want to see or make.
When we feel the freedom to stay home, 
with our kids and rest and read, and eat curry chicken salad with apples instead. 
When we know we are being loved 
by God 
by His people-our people- 
it's so easy to be thankful that 
sometimes we forget.
Let's be the ones 
who remember. 
Let us be the ones who say 
thank You.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


     I don’t hate deadlines. I don’t fear them, either. I play games with them. I ignore, taunt, manipulate, until eventually, we see eye-to-eye. Remnants of this old cycle of self sabotage--the cleaning of the closets, organizing junk drawers, cleaning out files, pulling a thousand weeds, volunteering for too many committees or church activities--didn’t seem as appealing as they used to. So for the last two months, with a deadline to finish editing nine children’s books by the middle of February, (I actually asked my friends in Longview to give me a date that was two weeks before they actually needed the first round of edits.)I cooked.
     And not just old favorites: I went to my friend’s houses where they taught me their most famous recipes. And I didn’t just learn how to cook them, I filmed the hoopla. And if that wasn’t enough--it did actually proved to be a bit much-- I took a crack at Imovie so I could create video recipes to share on the blog.
     Not bragging or anything, but that’s some hard-core dedication to procrastination right there.
     I took the Ring’s flakiest apple piecrust recipe and used it to make chicken pot pies. And how about that gravy in those pot pies? I made the gravy, added some sausage and mixed up biscuits or Meli’s potato rolls and started dipping. And Mary's Tres Vite Cinnamon Rolls? Well they’re even better with an orange glaze that was a frosting mistake. And rangoons and pork egg rolls and Chinese noodle salad and turkey chili, etc.
     Every time anxiety kicked in, I prayed, cooked, and comforted myself with how well I had just fed my family. Only then, did I do a bit of editing, if time and energy permitted.
     And no one said, “You’re wasting your time.” Or “Don’t you have some work to do?”  OR “How’re those books coming?” At least while they were eating anyway. 
     All I heard was, “Yum.” and “Thanks.” And "Killer.” And I must admit, the payoff for making good food comes so quickly--smiles, full bellies, happy family--that it makes writing and editing seem like a real downer.
     But then I remembered how many years I languished in procrastination, not listening to God or anyone for that matter, busying myself with so many GOOD distractions, but not being filled and not seeing much fruit.
     And I thought about my sweet friend in Longview, who for some crazy reason believes in me and continues to hire me for assignments and I got back to work, which wasn’t too hard to do with a full tummy and someone else doing the dishes.
     And oh, yeah. Me and my deadline. We finally made nice.