Difficult Holidays: Peace in the Midst of Our Own Expectations

christmas-garbageThanksgiving was fun. We spent a week at The Farm in Jasper, Alabama with Zeb’s family. I love them and I have the best in-laws in the world. I don’t even have to try to like them, because I just do. They are awesome. And I say that because I don’t want anyone, anywhere to confuse what I’m about to say– but sometimes the holidays just suck.

Yeah, I said it.

The holidays suck. Maybe not for everyone, but I know I’m not alone in this.

I mean, I guess EVERYTHING about the holidays doesn’t suck, but for me, anyway, they are almost always emotional.

You know that hollow, day after Christmas kind of feeling?? That. I hate that.

I guess it boils down to expectations. No matter what, we always have them. Other people have different ones, and then we are all in the same place trying to celebrate and be happy, but there are kids everywhere and tons of people to be fed. And I crave the quiet corner in my bedroom but I’d be sad if I was there because I want to see everybody and do everything but that’s hard too.

My parents divorced when I was sixteen.  It affected every member of my family differently but deeply. Sometimes it still surprises me that my parents aren’t together anymore. Like it just happened yesterday.

Then, in 2006, someone broke into my childhood home and burned it to the ground. (BTW, great job on never doing anything about that, ever, Jasper Police Department.) Thankfully my mother wasn’t in the house when it happened but she lost everything. And for me, the last bit of “home” was gone. Even after my parent’s divorce, home was still home. But then it was just gone and part of my childhood went with it. I miss that house, and the life I thought I was supposed to have pre-divorce. I struggle to this day with my expectations being so very different from my reality.

The day before Thanksgiving, I cooked dinner at The Farm for my wonderful family. The in-law family that has accepted me as their own for the last sixteen years. My dad came by for a quick visit before dinner and I was so happy to be there with everyone.  We ate dinner, my nieces washed dishes and cleaned the kitchen, and I went upstairs to the room Zeb and I share at The Farm, and cried for two hours.

It wasn’t about anybody or anything, it’s just that sometimes, when you are broken– the things that are supposed to feel good, don’t. I’m not sure if I should attribute this to being from a “broken home,” having chronic depression, being human, or all of the above.

I texted with my friend Heather, (because she’s the kind of friend you can text the day before Thanksgiving, when you are crying in the bed), and just talking with her made me feel so normal that I cried harder. Mostly because I knew I needed to write about this moment, because I don’t want you to think you are alone if having to force yourselves to keep moving forward through the holidays when you don’t always feel like it.

I took for granted when I was growing up in my parent’s huge house that one day it would be full of their grandchildren. It never crossed my mind that not only would I not be spending the holidays with my parents, but they wouldn’t be spending it with each other. And every year, I find myself holding my breath around the holidays. Not figuratively. My chest aches and I realize I’m not breathing and it hurts. It hurts to breathe, but it hurts not to. So I take a deep breath and pack up my family and we come to the Farm, where my husband and kids feel like they’ve always belonged but where I still feel slightly conspicuous. I love it there but it’s not my home– it’s not where I was raised. It’s not mine.

Sometimes it just hits me so hard that I need to be saved from myself. From my expectations of other people, from my expectations of me.

The weight of these expectations is what keeps me from breathing. 

But I keep it breezy on Facebook and say things like,  “Have a great turkey day! May all your food dreams come true! Happy Holidays! Fa la la la laaaa!!!”

Because it’s easier than saying, “Hey, I realize today may be really hard for you because it’s not what you thought it was going to be 5 years ago, or 3 months ago or 2 minutes ago. But I hope it’s bearable. I hope it’s good. I hope you make it through this day with a smile. I hope you are kind to yourself today. I hope you breathe and notice something beautiful. Maybe it’s not what you thought it was going to be. But maybe you’ve been adopted into something that is lovely and beautiful and full of light.”

But maybe that’s what I should say instead. Because maybe then you’d feel less alone, and so would I.

Because if you’ve lost someone, if you are struggling with depression, if you feel out of place or out of step or out of sync… I simply hope your holidays are bearable. I hope you breathe through them. I hope you embrace what is beautiful and let go of everything that isn’t and I pray for peace for all us in the midst of our own expectations.

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Chuck Briese, Oak Ridge Now

[avatar user="cbriese" size="thumbnail" align="left"] Chuck Briese has been a resident of South Montgomery County since 1988. He and his lovely and patient wife, Leslie, have six sons, with only one left to finish high school. Chuck has been a Cub Scout leader, a Little League baseball coach, a church youth leader, and a general troublemaker over the course of the past 25 years. He is obsessed with his lawn, and likes restaurants that serve food that fills up the plate. He has a tendency to tilt at windmills, which may explain why he started Oak Ridge Now.

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The Elf On the Shelf Is In Need of a Vacation

Photo courtesy of Michael / Flickr

Photo courtesy of Michael / Flickr

I’m not sure if you’ve heard about this new thing that Santa has been up to for the last few years. Apparently, he needed a little help keeping tabs on who was naughty and nice and started sending elves to kids’ houses to monitor their behavior 24/7. You may think the elves look like small stuffed dolls but you would be wrong, my friend.

No as legend tells it, these elves have magical powers. Every night while the children sleep, the little elves fly back to the North Pole to tattle to the Big Man about the kids to which they are assigned. But you know elves— so full of life, so full of mischief.

Those little elves are so busy that my Facebook feed is full of other people’s elves: taking a marshmallow bubble bath in the sink with Barbie, hanging the family’s underpants by the chimney instead of stockings, hanging upside day from the family Christmas tree.

Apparently, those little elves are SO busy that their behaviour is quite the hot topic around the lunch table at my girls’ school. Sadie, Aubrey & Emma come home everyday recounting the new adventures of their friends’ elves.

Ketchup-vegetableWhich may explain why my kids are a bit disgruntled with Santa this year. While he did send an elf to keep an eye on them, poor Chippy seems to be struggling with Seasonal Affective Disorder. He’s listless throughout the day and while their friends’ elves get into all sorts of hijinks at night, Chippy tends to spend entirely too much time on Netflix bingeing on his favorite shows. He lays around the house, sipping on a glass of Chardonnay, eating homemade Chex Mix and wearing yesterday’s yoga pants. Occasionally, Chippy makes a half-hearted attempt to climb the Christmas tree, but it’s just so much work.

Chippy recognizes the total insanity of making a mess in someone else’s house and is smart enough to know, if I was left to clean up after a night of elfish escapes, he could expect to be our dog’s new chew toy before I poured my first cup of coffee. I’m pretty sure what Chippy needs is a little vitamin D. A long vacation somewhere where the sands are white, the water is cool, the sun still knows how to shine and the drinks are served in coconuts— and if he wanted to take me with him, well, that’d be okay, too.

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Chuck Briese, Oak Ridge Now

[avatar user="cbriese" size="thumbnail" align="left"] Chuck Briese has been a resident of South Montgomery County since 1988. He and his lovely and patient wife, Leslie, have six sons, with only one left to finish high school. Chuck has been a Cub Scout leader, a Little League baseball coach, a church youth leader, and a general troublemaker over the course of the past 25 years. He is obsessed with his lawn, and likes restaurants that serve food that fills up the plate. He has a tendency to tilt at windmills, which may explain why he started Oak Ridge Now.

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Days Later, It’s Still “Weagle, Weagle, War Damn Eagle”

Photo courtesy of zrawden / Flickr

Photo courtesy of zrawden / Flickr

I had so many great ideas for this week’s column. I was going to write about the epic Thanksgiving we had on The Farm at my in-laws in Alabama. I was going to tell y’all about how Sadie was my bed buddy every night and how I stared at her for an hour after she fell asleep amazed that she is mine.

I was going to tell you about my kids chasing chickens and riding horses and the hilarious squabbles the girls had with their cousins. Sadie cried real tears when her cousin Mary-Ann, who is exactly her same age, told her she had to go take a nap.

I was going to tell you about all the dance moves Emma made up on during the hayride at The Farm, square dancing and buck dancing like she was born and bred with clogs on her feet.

I had so many things to write about… then I watched the Iron Bowl. And if you don’t know this, but my blood is orange and blue. My daddy is an Auburn grad and some of my earliest memories are of falling asleep in my own bed then waking up at our tailgating spot by the School of Pharmacy wearing my Auburn cheerleading outfit.

I was raised on the east side upper deck of Jordan-Hare stadium. I have rolled Toomer’s corner and loved everything about Auburn my entire life. So when, Chris Davis returned a missed field goal for a 109 yard touchdown— you just need to know that I lost my mind. And if I’m going to be real honest (and you know I am) I haven’t thought about anything else since then.

Ketchup-vegetableI’ve been wearing the same Auburn t-shirt for four days straight. I thought about washing it today but I’m just not ready yet, y’all. I’ve watched the last few minutes of the game no less than 109 times. As a matter of fact, it’s playing in the background as I write.

I was proud to be an Auburn Tiger when it looked like we were going to lose. I was a little sad but I was proud of how hard my team had played and that hadn’t made it easy for Bama. But then that last second, y’all.

One second.

It changed everything, and also wiped all my happy Thanksgiving memories straight from my little head and now all I can think about is that one second. 109 yards. From inzone to inzone.

I might wash my shirt tonight, but only so I can put it back on tomorrow. I gotta go watch another clip. War Eagle.

 

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Chuck Briese, Oak Ridge Now

[avatar user="cbriese" size="thumbnail" align="left"] Chuck Briese has been a resident of South Montgomery County since 1988. He and his lovely and patient wife, Leslie, have six sons, with only one left to finish high school. Chuck has been a Cub Scout leader, a Little League baseball coach, a church youth leader, and a general troublemaker over the course of the past 25 years. He is obsessed with his lawn, and likes restaurants that serve food that fills up the plate. He has a tendency to tilt at windmills, which may explain why he started Oak Ridge Now.

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Top 10 Things I’m Thankful For This Holiday Season

Photo courtesy of iStock

Photo courtesy of iStock

I’ve watched on Facebook as my friends have done 30 Days of Thankfulness and while I haven’t participated I have definitely been thinking about what I’m thankful for. Here’s my top ten list of things I’m thankful for this holiday season:

1. I no longer spend all my time and money in the baby aisle at Target.

2. I can’t remember the last time we took a family road trip where I actually contemplated walking the last 100 miles home because it would have been more pleasant than being in the car.

3. Everyone in my house is potty trained.

4. I won a bet with my husband about football and I plan on holding it over his head as long as we both shall live. (It’s the little things.)

5. I really truly like all of my family members, not just the ones that live in my house but the ones I grew up with and the ones Zeb grew up with as well. As I get older, I’ve realized that not everyone has this experience.

6. My church family is the real deal. They continually show up and love people like Jesus would. They laugh with me, cry with me, pray for me, and when the occasion arises— drink with me just a little.

Ketchup-vegetable7. Everything I have. I don’t mean to sound trite but I remember living in a one bedroom apartment, hauling laundry to the laundrymat every Saturday & wondering if I was going to have enough quarters to wash all of our clothes, like it was yesterday. Sometimes when I walk through my house I cry, because I can’t believe how far we’ve come.

8. That my in-laws (The Farm People) added on to their house and there is now so much room for my kids to run and play with their cousins that they don’t climb all over me and I almost don’t even need to pack my anxiety pills. (Almost.)

9. That my husband is a morning person. I love so much about Zebulicious but this is one of my favorites, he lets me sleep late all the time and I almost love sleep as much as I love my family members.

10. You. Yep, that’s right. I am so thankful for you. Thank you for reading and laughing with me. Thanks for emailing me and stopping me in the grocery store to tell me that you enjoy what I do. I hope all of your food dreams come true this week.

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Chuck Briese, Oak Ridge Now

[avatar user="cbriese" size="thumbnail" align="left"] Chuck Briese has been a resident of South Montgomery County since 1988. He and his lovely and patient wife, Leslie, have six sons, with only one left to finish high school. Chuck has been a Cub Scout leader, a Little League baseball coach, a church youth leader, and a general troublemaker over the course of the past 25 years. He is obsessed with his lawn, and likes restaurants that serve food that fills up the plate. He has a tendency to tilt at windmills, which may explain why he started Oak Ridge Now.

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Robin’s Chicks: Don’t Come In Here! Momma’s Naked!

Photo courtesy of Diana Drubig / fotolia

Photo courtesy of Diana Drubig / fotolia

This past week Emma, my seven-year-old, middle child had to have a little outpatient surgery in Jackson, Mississippi. Because we live about two hours away and we needed to be at the hospital at 6am, Zeb and I decided to take her to Jackson the night before to spend the night. The child loves to eat and I knew she wouldn’t make it two hours without food— even if the sun wasn’t up yet.

We took the opportunity to spoil her a little bit, as the middle child, she often gets lost in the chaos of family life. The squeakiest wheel gets the oil, and Emma usually doesn’t make a peep.

Emma doesn’t only love to eat food but she is fairly obsessed with the preparation of it and talking about it. Her favorite television show is “Chopped” on the Food Network, and she spends every second she can, standing beside me in the kitchen when I’m cooking. If we were going “out to eat” with all of our kids Zeb and I wouldn’t waste the money on a decent restaurant, but becuase it was just us and our little foodie, we decided to go have a nice dinner.

Emma scoffed at the children’s menu and crayons placed before her and asked our server for a “real menu.” We ordered and ate, discussing everyone’s dish and passing forks around the table. For dessert, Emma experienced her first creme brulee and actually blocked Zeb out like she was playing defense to get the last few bites for herself.

We headed to our hotel after we ate and got settled in our room. I went to the bathroom to take a quick shower before bed and Emma came in to brush her teeth as I turned on the water and started to undress. As I was about to step into the shower, Zeb opened the bathroom door and Emma flipped out. She jumped in front of him, threw her hands in front of his face and yelled, “HEY!! DON’T COME IN HERE! Momma’s NAKED!”

Ketchup-vegetableZeb and I made eye contact in the bathroom mirror and laughed. I stepped into the shower and said, “Emma, you know he’s seen me naked before right?”

We have two bathrooms in our house but the whole family tends to congregate in mine and Zeb’s bathroom. It’s not uncommon for someone to be using the restroom while someone else is in the shower, yet another someone is blow drying their hair and two other somebodies are brushing their teeth. I’ve lost count at how many somebodies that actually is but the point remains— Emma and Zeb have been in the same room with me MULTIPLE times while I’ve changed clothes or gotten into or out of the shower and this shouldn’t be such shocking information to her, yet there she stood— stunned.

Zeb backed out of the room and Emma spun on her heels to face me.

“Really???” She asked through a mouthful of toothpaste.

“Honey, of course he has. We share a room, we sleep in the same bed— we’re married.” I explained.

She shook her head, her white blonde eyebrows scrunched together in consternation, “That is so weird.”

I let it go for a bit. After my shower, we all three snuggled in the bed and watched part of a movie. Then as Zeb rolled over to go to sleep Emma whispered, “I wish we had a snack… maybe something chocolate…”

We made eye contact and when I smiled she said, “You thinking what I’m thinking??”

I pulled on a sweatshirt and wrapped Emma’s hot pink robe around her and we headed out into the hotel lobby in our jammies in search of chocolate. “I can’t believe we are doing this!” She said repeatedly.

We scored some Reese Cups to share and once back in our hotel room, with the traditional mother/daughter sacrament of chocolate and peanut butter between us, I brought up her earlier comments.

“Emma, do you remember when we talked about where babies come from?” I asked casually.

“NO!” She said, feigning ignorance. That particular conversation ended when she said, “This is sort of disgusting. Can we talk about something else?”

I cocked my head and raised my eyebrows, “Really?”

She heaved a sigh. “Yes. I do.”

“Well you know me and Daddy have done that, right? I mean, earlier, you kind of flipped out and I just want you to understand…”

“I know. I know… you had to do it three times but it was worth it ‘cause you got us.” She interrupted.

I could barely contain my snickers as I nodded solemnly and we headed to bed, with Emma sleeping right down the middle— our very own DMZ.

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Chuck Briese, Oak Ridge Now

[avatar user="cbriese" size="thumbnail" align="left"] Chuck Briese has been a resident of South Montgomery County since 1988. He and his lovely and patient wife, Leslie, have six sons, with only one left to finish high school. Chuck has been a Cub Scout leader, a Little League baseball coach, a church youth leader, and a general troublemaker over the course of the past 25 years. He is obsessed with his lawn, and likes restaurants that serve food that fills up the plate. He has a tendency to tilt at windmills, which may explain why he started Oak Ridge Now.

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Patient Zero Goes to the Pediatrician’s Office

Photo courtesy of Brian Elizardi

Photo courtesy of Brian Elizardi

Every time I get a little cocky about how easy parenting is these days, the universe takes the opportunity to slap me around a little and show me that I’ll never get the hang of this thing. I don’t know how I forget every single summer, what the fall and winter months feel like with small kids but somehow I do. The summer months, with nowhere to be and nothing to do, trick me into thinking that not only am I an amazing mother, but my kids are practically perfect. Most kids are pretty sweet when they can stay up a little later, sleep until they are ready to wake up and only have to wear a bathing suit.

I’d like to say that we started the school year strong but I’m not sure we made it an entire week before homework folders were forgotten at home, lunch boxes left in the car and flip-flops were worn to school on PE day.

Things have snowballed from there. I felt a familiar panic settle in when I dropped Aubrey and Emma off at school and came home with a feverish Sadie, or Patient Zero, a few weeks ago. I had a foreboding sense of doom, that this was only the beginning and I was right. One snotty nose begat another snotty nose, begat a fever virus, begat a stomach bug— it’s been like the CDC’s version of musical chairs around here.

Sadie was still recovering from being sick when I had to drive two hours to Jackson, Mississippi to take Emma to a doctor’s appointment. They fought the entire way there. My right eye was twitching a little by the time we stopped to eat lunch and by the time we got to the doctor’s office I was out of patience. Sadie couldn’t be still or quiet while I filled out paper work and apparently Emma’s gaze upon her face was like the heat of a thousand burning suns.

Ketchup-vegetable“QUIT LOOKING AT MEEEEEE!” She wailed in the waiting room.

My blood pressure roared in my ears and I could feel my neck turning red. “Get up, we’re going to the bathroom.” I ordered, dropping the clipboard on the loveseat.

“I don’t NEED to go potty, Momma,” she whined.

“I don’t care. You get up because I said to. Do you understand? Get. UP. One… two…” I grabbed both girls by the hands and pulled them toward the restroom. As we went through the door Sadie yelled, “MOMMA! Why don’t you say three anymore???”

We had some strong words in the bathroom and both girls promised to be on their best behavior for the rest of the visit. And they tried, they really did. It was a total accident when Emma dumped two cups of water over at the water cooler in the hall and she cleaned it up without me having to say a word. And the painting that Sadie knocked off the wall as we were trying to leave was hanging a little low to the ground. Maybe she shouldn’t have been walking backwards down the hall but at least she wasn’t screaming.

I was talking to one of the office staff when the painting crashed to the floor. Everyone in the office jumped to their feet and leaned to look out the reception windows.

I paused for a second then whispered, “I’m going to pretend like that didn’t happen and we’re just going to leave.”

Wide-eyed, she nodded at me in agreement and we were out the door before anyone could count to three.

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Chuck Briese, Oak Ridge Now

[avatar user="cbriese" size="thumbnail" align="left"] Chuck Briese has been a resident of South Montgomery County since 1988. He and his lovely and patient wife, Leslie, have six sons, with only one left to finish high school. Chuck has been a Cub Scout leader, a Little League baseball coach, a church youth leader, and a general troublemaker over the course of the past 25 years. He is obsessed with his lawn, and likes restaurants that serve food that fills up the plate. He has a tendency to tilt at windmills, which may explain why he started Oak Ridge Now.

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Robin’s Chicks: I Want a Violin AND a Ukelele

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto

Emma, my six-year-old, feels destined for stardom. The child has been obsessed with music since before she could talk. She could operate my iPod before she was eating solid food and had very specific tastes. For Christmas last year she told me all she wanted was a guitar and “sheep” music. She got a guitar and in an effort to keep her musical tastes family friendly I downloaded several Kidz Bop albums to our families music library. If she was going to be memorizing the words to every song she liked, I preferred that they be words she could repeat in Sunday school without me having to explain myself.

While I often find my eight-year-old, Aubrey, curled up in a corner of the house with a book, Emma is usually standing in front of a mirror, music blasting, working on her dance moves and singing at the top of her lungs.

She tries to play her guitar but she’s small for her age and her tiny little hands just are big enough yet. So this year she started taking piano lessons. She rolls her eyes and gets huffy on occasion when I tell her it’s time to practice but usually all I have to say is, “Do you want to be a rock star or not?” to get her off the couch and in front of the keyboard.

This past weekend we went to see The Farm People (my in-laws) in Alabama for Thanksgiving. The Farm People have hayrides of epic proportions: hamburgers and hotdogs on the grill, crockpots full of chili simmering nearby, a table full of desserts and Pop Pete’s famous hot chocolate bubbling in the biggest pot they own. Pop Pete hitches his mules to the wagon for moonlit rides through the hayfield.

There is always a bonfire, square dancing and music. This year there was karaoke. I was surprised when Emma came to me begging to sing. Her first dance recital was a complete bust. She was absolutely horrified at the thought of being on stage in front of all those people but this weekend she could not be dissuaded. She wanted to sing and she wanted to sing Taylor Swift.

I went with her to help her find a song she knew. Emma got a little sheepish once she was on the stage and asked me to get her cousin Faith to sing with her. Faith came, bringing a gaggle of girls with her and surrounded by a protective wall of tweens, Emma sang her heart out. She sang three Taylor Swift songs in a row and when the DJ handed a microphone to another little girl Emma waved me over. I leaned down so she could whisper in my ear.

“I want everybody off the stage but Faith!” She hissed.

I told my little diva that this wasn’t a private concert and she was going to have to share the spotlight. After a few more songs I dragged her off the stage to let other people sing.

Later I overheard someone ask Emma what she wants for Christmas this year and she didn’t hesitate.

“I want a violin AND a ukelele.”

Now if we could just figure out how she could play all these instruments at the same time her Daddy and I can retire.

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Chuck Briese, Oak Ridge Now

[avatar user="cbriese" size="thumbnail" align="left"] Chuck Briese has been a resident of South Montgomery County since 1988. He and his lovely and patient wife, Leslie, have six sons, with only one left to finish high school. Chuck has been a Cub Scout leader, a Little League baseball coach, a church youth leader, and a general troublemaker over the course of the past 25 years. He is obsessed with his lawn, and likes restaurants that serve food that fills up the plate. He has a tendency to tilt at windmills, which may explain why he started Oak Ridge Now.

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Robin’s Chicks: Putting Baby Jesus in Timeout

Photo courtesy of Squiggle

A few weeks ago I wrote about all the things I’ve heard myself say to my kids that I never anticipated coming out of my mouth. I joked about telling my kids not to jump on the trampoline topless, then while drinking my coffee one morning before school I saw something out of the corner of my eye. It was Sadie, my three-year-old, jumping on the trampoline in nothing but her brand new purple tennis shoes as half of Greenwood drove by on their way to take their kids to school.

Things haven’t improved in that arena— the crazy things I say to my kids that is— the nekkid trampoline jumping was thankfully curbed by a recent drop in temperatures.

I picked my kids up from school a few weeks ago and drove by the drug store to pick up a prescription. As we waited in line the girls unbuckled their seat belts and wiggled around in the car. It was fine, until their giggling turned to shrieking and I found myself screaming, “IF EVERYONE COULD JUST SIT ON THEIR OWN BUTT ON THEIR OWN SEAT!!” right as the window slid open and the pharmacy tech asked if she could help me. The look in her eyes said she knew the answer to that question— I was beyond all help but she was wrong, I was picking up my anti-anxiety meds so she may have saved three little lives.

This week, in lieu of nekkid trampoline jumping, Sadie spent a lot of time playing with her “Little People.” I had a Little People dollhouse as a child and Sadie loves to get her own dollhouse and all of her little figurines and pretend. Her productions can be quite horrifying or hilarious, depending on how you look at things. She had found some figurines from her Little People Nativity Set, so as she played Joseph and Mary interacted with a generic Dad figurine with a cellphone literally glued to his hand and the Baby Jesus had a play date with the Little People baby.

I was cooking dinner and listening as Sadie played at the kitchen table. Apparently the grownup Little People were eating dinner— Mom, Dad, Mary, Joseph and one stray Wise Man and the babies were left to play together. I don’t know what happened but a fight broke out between the babies and things got heated.

Baby: You are a baby!

Baby Jesus: Uh-uh! You are! You are the baby!

Baby: No I’m not! You are the baby— you STUPID!

Baby Jesus: You poo-poo head!

Me: HEY!

I rapped my wooden spoon on the kitchen counter, “We don’t talk like that.”

Sadie shrugged and held up her babies, “Dey said it Momma. Not me.”

“I’m pretty sure Baby Jesus never called anyone a poo-poo head.”

She raised her eyebrows, “Want me to put him in timeout?”

Sadie put Baby Jesus in timeout for saying poo-poo head, as I finished dinner and wondered if I should send her out to the trampoline.

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Chuck Briese, Oak Ridge Now

[avatar user="cbriese" size="thumbnail" align="left"] Chuck Briese has been a resident of South Montgomery County since 1988. He and his lovely and patient wife, Leslie, have six sons, with only one left to finish high school. Chuck has been a Cub Scout leader, a Little League baseball coach, a church youth leader, and a general troublemaker over the course of the past 25 years. He is obsessed with his lawn, and likes restaurants that serve food that fills up the plate. He has a tendency to tilt at windmills, which may explain why he started Oak Ridge Now.

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Robin’s Chicks: Where’s My Remote Control For Life?

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto

Sunday morning I woke up when I heard my bedroom door creak open. My husband wasn’t in the bed, which was no surprise. He’s a morning person, and I’m a night owl, which worked out for everyone when our kids were babies and not sleeping through the night. I would take the night shift but when 4 am rolled around, Zeb was on duty. We’ve fallen into the same routine as our children have gotten a little older, which means that on the weekend, my husband lets me sleep late and he feeds the kids breakfast.

I wasn’t surprised to see my door swinging open on what seemed like it’s own accord. Whoever opened the door was so short her head wasn’t even above the edge of my bed.

“Who is it?” I called.

“MOMMY!” My two-year-old, Sadie, came bounding into my bedroom, her bare feet slapping against the hardwood floor.

I leaned over the side of my bed and scooped her squirmy, squishy body into my arms and pulled her close.

“Hi Mommy! What you doing in here?” She asked.

I answered her by pulling her shirt up and blowing on her belly until she squealed with laughter. We talked and sang a few songs. She pretended to sleep on my pillow and shushed me when I continued to talk to her.

“Quiet Mommy! I sweepin’!” She scolded.

My husband stuck his head in the doorway and after seeing that I was awake, took a running leap onto the bed. Sadie and I both squealed. The bed skidded a few inches across the floor as he landed. As our numbers grew, we became louder and after a few minutes of rough-housing with her Daddy, Sadie’s squeals summoned her sisters from the other side of the house.

Aubrey and Emma stood beside the bed and watched as Sadie flew, airplane-style, on my feet. I gave Sadie a crash landing on her daddy’s stomach then turned to pull the big girls on to the bed. We squished together like sardines and talked about the day ahead of us– a covered dish luncheon at church with a birthday party in the afternoon complete with a little pre-Easter egg hunt.

I was struck with the thought, while lying on my bed with the most precious people in my life within arms reach, that it would not always be this way. At some point, my attempts at snuggling and playful tickling will be met with tossed hair and rolling eyes. Eventually, my children will leave home. No one will open my bedroom door while I’m sleeping just to see what I’m doing. No one will beg me to make a tent in the bed with my sheets. Eventually, Zeb might even stop flying across the room like Superman, but I hope not.

Why is it that some parts of our lives seem to speed by and some parts drag on and on and on? I would like a remote control for life. There are parts I’d like to see again, and parts I’d like to fast-forward through. When I was a teenager I used to wish I could press pause on life so I could crawl back into bed every morning for a few more hours of sleep.

Now I would like to fast-forward through doing the laundry, packing my family to go anywhere and waiting in doctor’s offices. I would like to skip over stomach viruses and hissy fits at check out lines. And I would like to replay scenes like last Sunday morning over and over again. I would like to put this time of my life in slow motion, to make sure I don’t miss a single giggle, snuggle or anyone flying through the air with a single bound.

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Chuck Briese, Oak Ridge Now

[avatar user="cbriese" size="thumbnail" align="left"] Chuck Briese has been a resident of South Montgomery County since 1988. He and his lovely and patient wife, Leslie, have six sons, with only one left to finish high school. Chuck has been a Cub Scout leader, a Little League baseball coach, a church youth leader, and a general troublemaker over the course of the past 25 years. He is obsessed with his lawn, and likes restaurants that serve food that fills up the plate. He has a tendency to tilt at windmills, which may explain why he started Oak Ridge Now.

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Robin’s Chicks: Because I Said So

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto

I can remember crying in the back of my mom’s maroon and cream Dodge Ram van, “When I have kids I’m NEVER going to say, ‘Because I said so!'” Oh the injustices I suffered in that van. Being forced to sit in the back seat, being forced to sit beside my brother, being forced to get out of the car at school. When I was a kid I knew there were a few phrases I swore I would never say to my kids:

“Finish that. There are starving children in Africa.”

“I don’t care who made that mess I”m telling YOU to clean it up.”

“If I have to pull this car over!!”

Oh I had a plan. I would reason with my children. I would explain to them that they needed to eat their dinner to be healthy and strong. They were part of a family and must contribute to housework because we were all members of the same team and I would never ever have to threaten them. No, we would be so close. I would be so understanding.

In one of those curveballs that life likes to throw, I’ve heard some of the things that have come out of my mouth lately and I’ve realized I’m saying things I never expected to have to say to my children. Here are a few of my favorites:

“If you hadn’t licked my armpit you wouldn’t have deodorant in your mouth.”

“No panties, no dinner.”

“No hissing at the table.”

“Don’t lick the TV screen.”

“Why are there 12 toothbrushes in y’all’s bathroom? There are only three of you.”

“I wonder how much I could get for you on Craigslist.”

“I don’t care if your sister begged you to draw a butterfly on her face. You know better.”

“You can’t jump on the trampoline topless, just go ahead and write that down somewhere, it’s going to apply for the rest of your life.”

“Just because it says the marker is ‘Washable’ does NOT mean you were supposed to color the entire bottom of the tub blue.”

“Because I said so.”

And my parents score another point.

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Chuck Briese, Oak Ridge Now

[avatar user="cbriese" size="thumbnail" align="left"] Chuck Briese has been a resident of South Montgomery County since 1988. He and his lovely and patient wife, Leslie, have six sons, with only one left to finish high school. Chuck has been a Cub Scout leader, a Little League baseball coach, a church youth leader, and a general troublemaker over the course of the past 25 years. He is obsessed with his lawn, and likes restaurants that serve food that fills up the plate. He has a tendency to tilt at windmills, which may explain why he started Oak Ridge Now.

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