mandyholbert

A glimpse into our family – the good, the bad, and, of course, the funny

It’s All About Perspective May 28, 2014

It was a heck of a day.

I left the house early with the kids this morning because a violent thunderstorm thwarted my plans of grocery shopping yesterday evening, so it had to be done before school since I had nothing to feed them for breakfast or lunch.  And since Max had to bum a grilled cheese off his teacher for lunch yesterday, I felt it was pretty important to send him to school with an adequate meal today.

While I shopped, the kids ate donuts (breakfast – check!).  Then, when we left the store, I packed their lunch boxes while hunched over trunk of the car (lunch – check!).  The school secretary stopped by while I was frantically tearing open boxes and flinging food into their lunchboxes.  “One of those mornings, huh?” she said.  I smiled, wondered why she was at the grocery store at this hour, and wished to myself that I would have brushed my hair instead of leaving it the remnants of yesterday’s braid.

I loaded the kids up and pulled out of the parking lot only to remember that my car was completely out of gas.  I may have squealed the tires as I u-turned into the gas station cursing myself for once again pushing the limit of an empty tank.

Fast forward through dropping the kids at school, going home to unload the groceries, getting ready for work, going to work, going to Tractor Supply on my lunch break to buy dog and goat food, leaving work early to arrive late to Max’s baseball game, the game going into an extra inning, going to eat at 8:00 on a school night, coming home, changing Max’s sheets, putting the kids to bed, doing a load of laundry, cleaning up some random clutter, sitting on the couch crying because I was a nervous wreck all day and took it out on the kids…It was just a long, hard day.

But, a bad day is all about perspective.  I saw that on a Hallmark card this morning at Ingles.  Don’t ask me why I was in the greeting card aisle when I was in such a rush – I guess I’m just a sucker for cards.  Anyway, back to the point – a bad day is all about perspective.

We are healthy and happy.  We have a home full of love.  I have the most wonderful kids and husband.  We are truly blessed.

I actually love my life.  Days like this are not ideal, and I don’t like feeling run ragged and still having three loads of clean laundry piled on the loveseat waiting to be folded.  But, I love my life.

My prayer is that God will help me find joy in my everyday tasks.  I’m not going to become less busy.  The list of things that need to be done is really never going to get shorter.  I need to be able to find joy in these things.  If we grocery shop at 7:00 before school starts, I can make it an adventure for the kids.  If we are driving home at 9:00 on a school night instead of tucking the kids in their beds, I can choose to notice the lightening bugs twinkling in the trees instead of stressing about the late hour.

I can sing with my kids.  We can do chores together.  We can turn mundane tasks into games.  I can be joyful.

I can turn a heck of a day into a heck of a day!  See what I did there?  You know – a heck of a day (bad), into a heck of day (good!).

Dear Lord,

I don’t pray enough.  I take You for granted.  You continually bless me, and I go through life stressed and overwhelmed and wrapped up in the things that I need to get done.  Please forgive me.  Please help me find joy.  Please help me focus on your blessings, your love, and the beauty surrounding me.  Please help me to stop trying to do everything myself.  That only leads to frustration and guilt.  Help me to depend on You – to cast my cares on You – to focus my thoughts and my heart on You.  Please help me to be who You want me to be.  I love You.  Thank you for loving me.

Amen

 

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My Worst Nightmare May 17, 2014

There are things that happen to people.  Bad things.  Things that test the limits of their sanity.  Things that can break them.  That can push them over the edge and change them.  Things that cause people to lose themselves.

One of these things happened to me.  And I knew that if I didn’t conquer it, I would never be the same.  And while it may not be easy for others to understand, for me it was real.  Very real.  I knew it was a battle that I had to win or it would defeat me.  It would define me for the rest of my life.  It would rule me.  If I didn’t finish that bologna sandwich…if I didn’t force myself to eat the entire thing…if I didn’t consciously choose to chew it up and force myself to swallow it…I’m quite certain there would have been permanent damage in my mind.  I was on the verge of being broken.  Yes, my battle was a bologna sandwich.  I’m not proud of it, but we can’t control these things, can we?  Stay with me.  I’ll explain.

To set the stage, I need to share just one tidbit of background information:  I’m terrified of frogs.  Boy, it feels good to have that off my chest.  Yes, I’m scared of frogs.  I’m scared of frogs!  I know that by disclosing this, you may never look at me the same.  You may think of me as the weird woman who is scared of frogs instead of as me, an otherwise normal individual who functions just fine in society.  But I had to share.  You had to know this in order to understand the sandwich.

So, it all started, well, let’s be realistic, this story started somewhere back in my childhood.  But we don’t have time for that.  We’ll skip over the traumatic frog experiences of my life (did you know they scream when on fire?  did you know they pop when run over?) and get right to the events leading up to the bologna sandwich.

It was a dark and stormy night (seriously), and we were camping.  I thought I would take the dog for a little walk even though it was wet outside.  After all, we were camping anyway.  So, I leashed the dog, and we took off.  A girl and her dog.  Off for a little walk in the rain.  In the dark.  I know, I know – what was I thinking?  I was practically begging for a frog encounter.  But, honestly, I thought I had my fear under control.  I thought I could handle walking in the general vicinity of croaking amphibians without losing it.  And I probably could have.

Until it happened.

My worst nightmare.

I’m not exaggerating.

This is something I have obsessed about ever since I was a little girl.  Something that has been in the forefront of my mind every single time I walk outside at night.  Something I have lain in bed at night an contemplated, only to give myself the shivers and force the thoughts from my mind.  Literally, my worst nightmare.

I stepped on a bullfrog.

Remember, it’s pitch black dark!  It’s raining.  I can’t see a thing.  But I felt that bulbous mass under my left arch and I knew right away what it was.  It was a hideous feeling – worse than I imagined.  But, I had a lightening fast reaction, and I rolled my foot to the left to get my precious foot off the beast.  And something worse than I ever could have imagined happened.  The frog jumped up the leg of my pants.

I immediately flailed and kicked until I caught a glimpse of the reflection of the moon off his grotesque white belly as he flew spread-eagle through the air.  And then I was frozen.  I couldn’t move.  I mean, how could I?  I couldn’t see anything, so I didn’t know where that villainous creature was or if he had an army of cohorts nearby ready to attack.  But I knew the longer I waited, the greater the chance that I was being surrounded, so I began a panic-stricken shuffle back to our campsite.  I couldn’t breathe.  I was doing some sort of high-pitched moan that didn’t quite sound human – certainly not something that’s ever come out of me before.  I couldn’t think.  It was the longest 100 feet of my life – just trying to reach safety.

I’ll spare you the details of the rest of my panic attack.  Let’s just say it was ugly and leave it at that.  It took hours to stop crying, to calm my racing heart, to stop shaking.  Hours of laughing and crying and laughing while crying.  I was not in control of my emotions, to say the least.

And when I finally calmed down, I was hungry.

Enter the bologna sandwich.

I sank my teeth into that sandwich, and all I could think about was the striking resemblance between the cold, clammy, moist skin that was pressed up against my left leg and the remarkably similar texture of that cursed bologna.  Every time I chewed, I felt that frog on my leg.  I felt it like it was really there.  And then I tasted it.  I felt that amphibian skin in my mouth.  I looked at that slice of bologna between two slices of bread, and I saw that frog looking back at me with his ugly little froggy eyes and his arms and legs overhanging the crust of my bread.

I had to finish that sandwich.  Don’t you see what was happening!?  If I didn’t finish that sandwich, the frog would have won.  My mind would have never been the same.  I would have been broken.  I had to force myself to overcome those temporary pangs of insanity.  I had to eat a bologna sandwich made out of a frog.

And I did it!  I gagged my way through it.  I concentrated.  I dug deep and fought to keep myself.  I chewed that sandwich.  I ate that sandwich.  I finished that disgusting, froggish, nightmarish sandwich, and I was victorious!!  I WON!  I will not be controlled by my fear.  I will live a normal life!  The frogs will not rule me!  I will not make accommodations for amphibians.  I will live my life to the fullest!  I finished the sandwich!!!

But I will never wear boot-cut jeans again.  I mean, skinny jeans don’t look good on me, but let’s be realistic – they are much safer.

And I will always carry a flashlight.

Oh, and I’ll never eat bologna again.

 

 

Boy Meets Girl October 10, 2012

How did Ronnie and I meet, you ask?  Well, it’s a long story.  Actually, you didn’t ask, and it’s a pretty short story, but I’m going to tell it anyway.

I was employed at a home improvement super store which was not Lowe’s while I was a college student.  Here’s some advice for all you eighteen-year-old girls out there: this is a great job if you don’t mind being propositioned, objectified, hit on, flirted with, asked out, and stared at by customers and employees, most of whom are at least twice your age, on a very regular basis. Anyway, I worked there, and I hated it.  I was offered money to give a father and son who came through my check-out line a private dance.  An employee asked me to stay with him while his wife and kids went out west to visit family.  And those were just the stand-outs.  I was literally asked out so often that I quit even looking at the person I was turning down.  You’d think a woman had never stepped foot in that store before.

So, one day I was working the register in the lumber end of the store.  I didn’t have men on my mind at all, but then a really attractive man came through my line with a cart full of materials to build a privacy fence.  I rang him up slowly and tried to catch his eye the whole time. He wouldn’t look at me.  I checked his finger for a ring.  Nothing.  He was driving me crazy by not looking up.  All those men who asked me out constantly, and the ONE TIME I wanted to be noticed, this guy wouldn’t give me the time of day!  Arg!

Finally, he had to look up as I gave him his total – somewhere around $300.  I smiled as I took his debit card from him, and he smiled back a little.  I was thinking he might actually talk to me, and then the dreaded thing happened – the end of any conversation we may have had – his debit card was declined.

Darn it.  Darn it.  Darn it.

I bashfully told him the news, and he fumbled around with his wallet and mumbled something about a paycheck not going in and running home to get the cash and being right back.  I knew it would be a miracle if Mr. Hottie ever came back.  I just knew he didn’t have the cash at home.  I pulled his cart over to the side, fully expecting to have to return all the lumber to its rightful place before my shift was over.

He came back.

I rang him up again, and we didn’t talk the whole time.  I had given up on even trying to be cute with him.  I gave him his total and he paid with cash.  He thanked me and started rolling that cart right out the door.

I sighed and watched him leave.  He sure was a good-looking one.  Strong.  Polite.  Ooo, and he builds fences, so he’s handy.  And those eyes!  Those big blue eyes…Oh, well.

The automatic doors opened as his cart passed through.  Instead of walking, though, he turned around and blurted out, “Do you want to go out sometime?”

I think it surprised both of us.

He recovered a little and walked back to my register, leaving his purchase in limbo.

“Umm…what’s your name?” I asked.  I couldn’t remember it off the debit card.  After all, it didn’t actually work.

“Ronnie.”

And then, from some deep-rooted, recently burned-by-an-idiot-who-said-he-loved-me place inside me, all these questions came pouring out like the rat-a-tat-tat of machine gun fire:

“Do you smoke?  Do you drink?  Do you party?  Do you go to church?  Do you still have your tonsils?  Do you or have you ever supported Ross Perot?  Coke or Pepsi?  Butter side up or butter side down?  Do you have any children?  Do you enjoy bonsai?  Do you speak Spanish?  Do you wish you spoke Spanish?  Are you divorced?  Do you use drugs?  Are you gay?  Do you have any skeletons in the old proverbial closet?  Do you brush your teeth with hot water?  Do you snore?  Are you a vegetarian?  Do you have a criminal record?”*

Whew!  I took a deep breath.  Ronnie was still alternating between nodding and shaking his head with a very confused look on his face.  When we both recovered, we stood there looking at each other for several moments.

I shrugged.  “Well, I don’t go out with people I don’t know, but here’s my number.”  I handed him a scrap of a yellow sales flyer with my name and number written on it.  He took it and put it in his pocket.  He walked back to his cart and pushed it on out the door.

I never thought he would call me.  Especially after the irrational interrogation I had just subjected him to.

But, he did.

We talked for an hour that first time.  We went out the next night.  And we’ve been together ever since.

Don’t ask me why he would have called me even after I went all crazy-girl on him.  But I’m sure glad he did.  We are perfect for each other.

Maybe he knew that.

* This was twelve, almost thirteen, years ago.  I can’t remember exactly what I asked him, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this were pretty accurate.

 

Not a Wonderful Morning October 5, 2012

My sister is an amazing teacher.  She has an intuitive gift of reaching each student in the unique way that suits him.  She doesn’t just teach academics; she teaches life skills.  She teaches kids how to believe in themselves.  She is truly passionate about what she does, and I’m so proud of her.  She wrote this yesterday, and I asked her if I could share it.  You’ll see why I wanted everyone to read it.

Here is a post called “Not a Wonderful Morning” by guest blogger, my sister, Miss M:

Most of the time I write about all the wonderful parts of my job, but every day isn’t wonderful. This morning was a not wonderful morning. One of my students was having a bad, bad day. He was beyond disrespectful to all his teachers including me (usually he spares me from his disrespectful attitude). He refused to do any work at all and insisted on distracting everyone else. I could see that he was spiraling out of control. I can normally get him back on track pretty quickly but today nothing worked.

He ended up getting so mad that he walked out of my classroom (not ok!) and sat down in the hallway (at least he didn’t go far). I stood in the doorway and continued teaching my other kids while keeping an eye on my wanderer until someone was available to watch my classroom.

After several minutes (I had plenty of time to think!), help arrived. I handed over my class and went to talk to my wanderer in the hallway. He wouldn’t look at me, much less talk to me. He didn’t get up when I asked him to. He just sat there defiantly looking away.

It had been a long morning and I really just wanted to yell at him…and I don’t want to yell often. Instead, I sat down next to him. I wanted to lecture him about his horrible, disrespectful attitude. Instead, this is what I said:

I know you don’t want to talk to me right now. I know you are angry and you probably think I’m going to yell at you. Well, I’m not. I’m just going to tell you some things that I know about you. First, I know that you are smart. I know that you are kind and helpful. I know that you can be the hardest working student in my class when you want to be. I know that you can do anything in the world that you decide to do. I know that people love you. I know that the other students look up to you. I know that you are funny. I also know that I like you a lot. I know that I want you in my classroom. I know that even when we have horrible mornings, I like you anyway. I know that when you are disrespectful I am disappointed, but I understand that you are working on self-control. I know that you can be better than you have been today. And, I know that there is nothing that you can do that will make me not like you.

We sat quietly for a minute. Then, I asked him if he was ready to go back to class and do his work. He nodded yes, stood up and returned to class. His first assignment was writing in his journal. Each day he has to write at least three complete sentences. I give a writing prompt for most of the kids, but they know that can always write about whatever they want if they don’t like the prompt.

When I read this student’s journal this afternoon, the very first sentence was: “Ms. M, you make my day every day.”

It never ceases to amaze me that when I take the time to give a kid exactly what he needs to get through a situation I always end up getting exactly what I need too.

beautiful inside and out

 

Hugs make the world go ’round October 3, 2012

Filed under: children,family,humor,Kendra,Max,parenting — mandyholbert @ 8:01 pm
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Well, maybe not this kind of hug.  I think more sincere hugs actually make the world go ’round.

The kids were arguing so badly in my back seat.  I yelled, threatened, swerved, and otherwise acted like a complete fool to try to get them to stop.  I find bickering children very distracting.

Then I had a moment of genius.  I remembered one of the most dreaded punishments inflicted on me as a child.  The old sit-on-the-couch-and-hug-each-other, used by my parents when Nickie and I annoyed them too badly by arguing.

I remember sitting on the couch with my arms wrapped around her and I was completely miserable.  There was probably no one on Earth I would have wanted to hug less than her.  Sitting there embracing my twerp of a sister who whined so much that it got us in trouble just like she always did made me want to do anything in the world to be able to get up and play – including getting along with her if necessary.

So, I made the kids hug each other.

I snapped a picture.

 

Look how unhappy they were.  It was perfect.

I made them stay like that long enough for them to get the point.

They got along very well for the rest of the evening.

Maybe we should implement this practice in the real world.  Especially during election season.  It might be really helpful for President Obama and Mitt Romney to sit on the couch and hug for a spell…

…at least it would make for much more uplifting commercials.

 

Why I am Late for Work – Excuse # 76 September 30, 2012

It was already “one of those” mornings.  I was running behind schedule and nothing seemed to be going right.  I still needed to pack lunches, feed the kids breakfast, get them both ready, and I hoped to have time to fix my hair and put make-up on for the day…

Kendra ran into my room with a terrible look on her face.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“I don’t want to tell you because I’m afraid you’ll be mad,” she answered with a trembling bottom lip.

“No, I won’t,” I said, even though I knew there was a distinct possibility that whatever she was going to say could very easily make me mad.  I started running through possible scenarios in my head.

“My hamster DIED!” she wailed and immediately started bawling.  “I.  went.  in.  to.  feed.  her.  and,” she explained in between dramatic sobs, “she was DEAD!”

RIP little guy

“Oh, honey, I’m so sorry.”  I pulled her into my arms and tried to comfort her as she cried.

Then, Max walked in.  He looked at his crying sister then at me then back at her.  He shrugged his shoulders and said, “You should have been more responsible.”  I glared at him as fresh howls came out of Kendra.

“Maxwell Trenton!  Get out of here!” I yelled.

“It’s all my fault,” Kendra kept crying.

Arg.

I tried to comfort her and still get things done since we did have school and work to try to get to on time.  I sent her to brush her teeth.

I rushed around the house like a wild woman, throwing lunches together and banging things around.  I could hear Max singing in the back of the house, but it didn’t register exactly what song he had chosen for the morning.

Then, when I heard Kendra start yelling, I realized what that little rascal was singing at the top of his lungs.  That’s right.  None other than “Another One Bites the Dust.”

How fitting.

If that’s not a reason to be late for work, I don’t know what is.

it was fun for a while…

 

Our Own Terabithia September 25, 2012

The king made the decision – they would seek refuge for the night high in the trees.  And so the royal family made preparations to camp perched in the branches of a towering poplar.

They climbed into her branches and peered through the leaves into the enchanted forest.  The queen and her two small children settled in for the long, cold night while the king scavenged for firewood with their trusty Boxador.

He returned with a cart full of freshly chopped wood and built a fire high above the forest floor.  The family huddled around the small fire and roasted their dinner, keeping the aroma of sweet meat in the leafy canopy in the growing darkness.

When the stars began peeking through the leaves to get a glimpse of the royal family, the queen prepared pallets upon which they would slumber.  The king stoked the fire and the queen tucked the small boy and girl into their downy blankets.

The poplar embraced the family with her giant limbs while they gave way to sleep.  The ever-attentive dog kept watch for the wild things of the night…

We had a true Terabithian adventure last weekend – we spent the night in the tree house directly under the stars.  It was all Ronnie’s idea, and the kids were understandably thrilled about the plan.

I, on the other hand, wasn’t really what you would call a happy camper.  It was cold and windy and I was miserable.  We only own two sleeping bags, so the kids naturally got those, so Ronnie and I covered up with rather inadequate (for the circumstances) blankets and froze our butts off.  The cool breeze chilled me from every angle – it had the unique advantage of even being able to get us from underneath since we positioned ourselves in a tree.

Ronnie tried so hard to make me comfortable.  He was really sweet.  He moved my cot closer to the fire and told me he’d be fine if I went to the house.  I couldn’t sleep at all.  I swear every time I closed my eyes, the fire went out.  We spent all night trying to keep it going.  All I could think about were Copperheads.  And when I did manage to doze, I dreamed of fighting off the bears that were trying to eat us.

Sometime in the middle of the night, Ronnie and I were lying there, freezing and resigned to the fact that we weren’t going to sleep, and he said to me, “At least you’re being a good sport.”

“I am?” I asked, a little surprised, but proud of myself.

“Not really,” he answered, “but at least you’re doing it.”

And that kind of summed up the night for us.  I wanted morning to come so badly.

Then, to our surprise, we heard Kendra’s sweet little voice.  “The stars in the trees look amazing.  This is so cool.”  I looked over to see her sleepily enthralled by the view above her.

That changed everything.  Even when she needed to walk all the way back to the house to use the bathroom and get more socks, it didn’t bother me.  I didn’t even notice the cold while we walked.  Well, while I walked and she skipped and chattered about how cool it was to walk in the dark and how amazing nature is.

When we got back to the tree house, I zipped her back into her sleeping bag and she went right back to sleep.  I checked on Max.  He was snoozing happily even though he was completely uncovered.  I felt him and he was  somehow warm as can be.  I zipped him back up, too.

I climbed back in my cot.  Even though we had hours left until dawn, we were out of firewood, and it was getting colder and colder, it was somehow not quite as terrible knowing how much fun the kids were having.

I think they’ll remember it forever.  And we will, too.  And I think we all might remember it as the royal family on an enchanted adventure…