The Misadventures of Cheri

Mortifying my kids one swimsuit at a time

So Close

If you’re my friend on Facebook, you know that I’m having an existential crisis of sorts.  After decades of not caring about professional sports, I am suddenly excited about the prospect of the Seahawks going to the Super Bowl.  I don’t know what is happening to me or why.  I’m very confused and everything I have known has been shaken, and I’m struggling to make sense out of life again.

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I haven’t gone the way of this soul, but I did get my toenails painted Seahawks blue yesterday.  (Insert 18-year-old son rolling his eyes upon hearing this.)

During my pedicure I was the only client in the shop which left four employees with nothing to do.  I was happily reading my book (Evolving in Monkey Town by Rachel Held Evans - highly recommend to anyone) when the loudest, collective gasp I’ve heard in recent memory disturbed my reading reverie.  I looked down at my pedicurist (is that even a word?) and she’s completely turned around looking at the t.v.  She’s still massaging my calves so I hadn’t noticed.

Then I look at the t.v.

Apparently both participants in the Showcase Showdown on The Price is Right bid higher on their showcase of shiny dreams so there were no winners.  This caused the collective gasp.  As the shock wore off, one of them said in reverent tones, “So close.”

Mind you, that was the only word of English anyone had spoken, save greeting me, the whole time I was there.  So I laughed.  And almost dropped my e-reader in the tub where my feet had been.  Then I was embarrassed.

Of course it was much better than this time so I didn’t commiserate for too long.

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Officer Down

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Yesterday an Oregon City reserve police officer died from injuries caused while in the line of duty the day before.  One commenter on Facebook said, “The killer is getting more press time than Officer Libke.  Wrong.”

I agree completely with her sentiments but I think I know why in these types of situations the offenders get more attention in the media.  I believe that in our western culture, we think that if we can just figure out why someone did something bad, then we can prevent it from happening again and our world will be a safer place.  I think the core issue is that we believe that we’re in control of what happens in our world.  And if we can just find the cause, we are certainly smart enough to prevent it from ever happening again.

We see over and over again the media asking, “How did this happen?”  “Why did this happen?”  “What is the root cause of this evil?”  One of the most disturbing instances of this was in the wake of the bombing at the Boston Marathon.  And if the offender is young, good-looking, smart and has a wide circle of friends (all too happy to speak to the media), it seems as if the coverage never ends.

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Here’s what I want to know.  Why don’t we as a society pursue with the same amount of determination what makes certain people so honorable and self-sacrificing?  What makes a person like Officer Libke volunteer for something as dangerous as law enforcement?  What made him pass out Halloween candy just 4 days before he was shot?

What makes first responders do what they do?  What drives some cops to get up early, on a day off and participate in “Shop with a Cop” without pay and usually without a good night’s sleep.  What makes them get involved with Police Activity League and spend the day fishing with a bunch of kids?

What internal force propels a person to become a firefighter?  To walk headfirst into fires that you’ve been taught all your life to have an escape plan for?

And the military . . . . . in the new age of terrorism it seems like we’re always fighting something.  It would make sense that people wouldn’t enlist anymore and the draft would have to be reinstated.  But that hasn’t happened.

I know we live in a broken world and evil will always be present.  But why do we have to have such an obsession with it?  Why can’t we ask about Officer Libke and all heroes, be they first responders, a helpful neighbor, your child’s teacher who goes above and beyond for their students, your parents who never gave up on you, “How did this happen?”  “Why did this happen?”  “What is the root cause of all this good?”

But for now I will offer my deepest condolences to Officer Libke’s family, law enforcement family and friends.  Go in peace and rest on glory’s side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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wonder

He’ll be 18 in 47 days.  {not that I’m counting}

He drives away from me daily to one of his three joys . . . . church, soccer or engineering classes.

He’s taller than I am by a long shot and has been for years.

He loves The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad.

His wardrobe consists entirely of skinny jeans and band t-shirts.  Bands whose lyrics I can’t understand.

And right now he’s in the backyard looking for bugs to feed the large spider who sits on the large web.

He’s been like this his whole life.  Never have I been able to keep him indoors.  Oh, it’s gotten easier the past couple of years. But he has never given up his wonder of the outdoors and all the creepy-crawly things that inhabit it.

I pray nothing can ever keep him indoors and the wonder of creation will hold his attention.  For his whole, entire life.

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How to clean out your garage

For my birthday this year I asked Tyler to take a week off of work so we could clean out our garage and organize what was left after my ruthless, brutal purging.  He agreed and my inner organizational nerd was on cloud nine.  Since I learned so much about cleaning out said garage, I thought I’d provide you with a quick and easy description of how we did it.

1.  Move into your house and wait nine years to clean out the garage.  Continually pile stuff on top of boxes you never open, rollerblades that haven’t fit the kids in years, dilapidated scarecrows (I’m not kidding) and useless priority boxes from the post office.

2.  Have your husband take a week off work.  But make sure he has the type of job in which he can be called out in the middle of the night for hours even though he’s off and so many people on the team are on vacation that he has to be available (they covered for him when we were out of town).  Make sure this happens twice during the week.  Twice.  Also make sure your husband forgets to take himself off the overtime list so one of his supervisors can sign him up right in the middle of the clean out.

3.  On day one of your organizing adventure, borrow a friend’s pickup truck.  The family we borrowed it from are saints.  I love them; no bad thing can be thought about these people.  It’s not their fault that the air conditioning in the truck is insufficient and the windows aren’t tinted to block the raging sun.  Find the shelves you want to buy and proceed to southeast Portland in the late, hot, traffic-laden afternoon.  Try not to cry.  Go home, shower, collapse on the couch and convince yourself you had a touch of heat exhaustion despite the 5 gallons of water you drank.

4.  Eliminate all distractions.  In order to keep the dogs from whining, howling, baying and barking inside the house and in the back yard (which will distract and annoy the life out of you), put them on leashes and tie them up in the driveway.  That way when you’re putting the trash in a pickup truck, they will be underfoot at all times.  If you want a clear path to the backyard to get items out of the way, it will double as the perfect place for the dogs to rest and relax. You also need to put them on a long enough leash that they have free range of the garage to smell all the new smells you’ve uncovered.  And be under your feet at all times.

5.  Establish a vicious circle.  It works like this:  Your garage needs to be facing due west with no trees providing pesky shade.  Work during August when the weather is almost assured to be hot.  This year the unexpected humidity was a nice little bonus.  Thanks to the west-facing garage, you will be bathed in unrelenting heat for most of the afternoon and evening until the sun ends its reign of terror and starts to set.  This will render you exhausted, sweaty and stinky beyond your wildest dreams.  You will be unable to wake up at a decent time in order to start your garage cleaning in the cool of the early morning.  Vicious circle.

6.  When at the dump with a truck bed full-to-overflowing, dry heave into your shirt.  Force yourself the breathe through your mouth even though the humidity laden air is just thick with grossness.  The smell will follow you home.

7.  Have an out of town cousin call and say he’s unexpectedly in town.  Offer to let him sleep on your couch.  Then get the bright idea to invite your entire family over and cook them all breakfast the next morning.  It was wonderful and I’m so glad he came to visit.  Breakfast was great.  It was all good.

8.  Husband will need to take an extra day off work to make up for the callouts and overtime.  This one is pretty self-explanatory.

9.  Have a bunch of stuff left over that you’ll “just put in the shed.”  This one takes a little bit of time to understand so hold on and concentrate.  When you buy your house there needs to be a shed on the furthest back part of the property.  This part of your property is under power lines.  Your realtor MUST inform you that the shed belongs to the power company.**  Seven years after moving in and ignoring the shed, let your curiosity get the best of you.  Borrow your dad’s bolt cutters and cut off the lock.  Inside you will find a musty cavern full of gardening supplies, sprinkler system elements and two metal signs that say “do not build anything under the power lines.”  In your sad shed’s defense it isn’t really under the power lines.  Thanks to ignoring the shed (you can’t see it since it’s in the wooded part of your property) the roof is rotten and needs to be replaced. So that leads to the next weekend . . . . . .

10.  Leave the stuff you were going to innocently put in the shed in the garage.  The next weekend, cut back trees, clean out the shed, rip the roof off the shed and put in a new floor.  Again, the heat and humidity are nice surprises.  And in the middle of his three day weekend it is imperative that your HUSBAND WORK OVERTIME that he signed up for weeks ago, long before your bright idea to clean out the garage, so now you have a roofless shed with a pretty new floor.

Today marks the two week anniversary of my birthday present.  I see a light at the end of the tunnel.  At this point I’m just praying it’s not the oncoming train.

And my garage?  It’s so beautiful, organized and uncluttered that I’m tempted to sleep out there some nights.  But then I realize the air conditioning is on the inside of the house and I stay put.

**Just last night we realized that our realtor probably couldn’t disclose anything about the shed since it probably shouldn’t be there.  It also explains why the previous owners never left us a key to the lock.  We have called the power company and explained it to them.  They have been out here a few times over the years to trim the branches back from the power lines so they have seen it.  They said as long as it isn’t in the way of the power lines or their maintenance, they don’t care. 

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confessions of a restaurant snob

I freely admit I’m a snob when it comes to where to eat.  The Portland metro restaurant scene is a thing dreams are made of.  To name a few . . . . Andina . . . . Portland City Grill . . . . Bortolomi’s . . . McCormick & Schmick’s . . . . Wild Abandon . . . . Pambiche . . . . La Bottega . . . . and the sushi.  Oh the sushi.  There are no words for the sushi bars here.  This list doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of the dining options, but these are definitely at the top of my list.

Now I’m hungry.  And day dreaming.  And completely unfocused on the task at hand.  Thank goodness there isn’t anything shiny around or this would be the end of this post.

Last night we met friends at Famous Dave’s Barbeque.  Yes, a chain.  We have a few local barbeque places that are awesome – Buster’s BBQ and Goldie’s.  (If you’re local, you now have the “Busters bar-be-quuuuuue” jingle stuck in your head.  I’m not sorry.)  The whole anti-chain thing didn’t cross my mind because a.) I was excited to meet our friends there, and b.) I was so hungry/exhausted from helping Tyler tear the roof off the shed all day.  We could have been going to McDonald’s and I would have been happy.

So here’s my take on this chain:  The smell was intoxicating, the service was amazing and the food.  Oh the food.  I was in foodie heaven.  At a chain.  My brain had trouble wrapping around that fact, but I finally told my brain to shut up and enjoy the succulent Smoked Tri-Tip Platter.  It was all I could do all night long to keep telling Tyler repeatedly how good my food was.  I think I was even tempted to wake him up in the middle of the night and tell him in case the 15 times I told him last night weren’t enough.

Maybe it reminded me of my childhood.  My dad is from the south and we had a LOT of red meat bbq-style food growing up.  My dad is an excellent cook and my mom adapted to his southern ways.

So there’s my confession.  This snob enjoyed a chain.  And I plan on enjoying that particular chain again.  I might have to rethink my whole way of choosing restaurants.

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Unrealized Grace

Boy oh boy did I get smacked upside the head today.  But first the back story.

Just over three years ago, my son got very, very sick.  He ended up with a purple rash on his feet.  After consulting the terror-inducing Google, I panicked and got him into the doctor as soon as I could.  The doctor looked at the rash and said she needed to have other doctors come in and look at it.  That really doesn’t make a mom feel good.

After they looked at the rash with way too concerned looks on their faces, they all left.  I followed them out and cornered the doctor we had come to see.  I told her that my mom had cancer, had just been given 3 – 6 months to live and I was in a very bad place.  I needed to know what was going on with Austin and to please not keep anything from me.

When she returned, she told us that she was ordering several blood tests.  She added that she was unsure what the rash was indicating but it could be anything from mono to cancer.  She said she would put a rush on the tests and we should know by the end of the business day.

This would be where I passed out.

Seriously?  I just told her about my mom and she felt the need to scare the living crap out of us?  I could NOT believe she said that in front of my son before any tests had been run.  In the lab waiting room I assured Austin all would be well.  The lady who took the blood knew something big was being researched and was very kind.  I have never seen such big vials for blood in my life.

I tried to play it cool.  But once we got home I lost it.  Phone calls were made to the husband and the best friend.  They were both very sweet but nothing could make me feel better.

Around 4:30 I could take it no more and called the doctor.  They passed me right through to her (when does that happen?) and as soon as she talked to me I could hear the smile in her voice.  All was well.  She had just talked to the hematologist  and was almost 100% sure that Austin just had a very nasty virus.  He just needed a follow-up, much less scary, blood test at the end of the week (those turned out just fine, too).

I have spent the last 3 years mad at the doctor.  I almost filed a complaint with the clinic.  I felt she didn’t need to guess about everything under the sun in front of us.  I would have preferred her to give me the results of the tests.  So, yeah, I’ve been very mature about it and been pretty much outraged at her.

I’ve noticed something over the past three years.  I’ve had friends and heard of people who have had very scary blood tests taken.  All of them included the possibility of cancer.  It didn’t hit me until today that never ONE TIME have I heard of anyone getting the test results back the same day.  Most have been made to wait a couple of days or longer.

So basically what this woman did was move heaven and earth for me.  She knew I was in a bad place and did everything she could to get the answers ASAP.  She was actually a saint instead of the villain I’ve made her out to be.  I had a heaping helping of grace given to me and I didn’t realize it.  At least now I will make sure I never forget.  {And, wow, am I glad I didn’t file a complaint.}

By the way, my biggest concern about the whole cancer discussion was that she did it in front of Austin.  I didn’t want him worried over nothing.  To this day he says he doesn’t even remember her saying that.  Nor does he remember me telling him in the waiting room of the lab not to worry about cancer.  I thought he’d be traumatized and he wasn’t even aware.

Maybe that’s a lesson I need to remember when I’m tempted to over-mother.

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If I could only say one thing for the rest of my life

This, this is what I would say.  Christ makes a difference.  He’s not a formula to keep us from all pain and discomfort.  He’s not a guarantee that our kids will turn out “right.”  He’s not a Santa in the sky that will make everything the way we want it if we just pray harder.

But HE MAKES A DIFFERENCE.

We have a family very close to us going through a horribly difficult time.  It’s as bad as it gets and I’m not overstating anything.  Their situation has been ongoing for years.  It was out of their control – not a result of bad decisions.  There has been little relief from the pain, and no relief from the effects of trauma for one family member.

In the counselor’s office they are told that rarely if ever a family goes through this and is not ravaged by substance abuse, trouble with the law and every other bad thing you can think of.

Yet in the midst of unspeakable pain and trauma, there is stability.  There is health.  There is a community they have become a part of eagerly waiting to embrace and support them.

There is no substance abuse.

There is no violence.

There is no bad company that corrupts good character.

How does this happen?  How can a world that is waiting to devour an aching, war torn soul with disastrous non-solutions not get a foothold?

I believe it is because of this: when they could have easily blamed God for all their problems, they instead focused on Him as their hope to endure their circumstances.

I don’t have a logical explanation for awful or unfair because I’m not the one writing the story (taken from “One Thousand Gifts,” Ann Voskamp).  But I do know what I’ve seen.  That in the midst of every thing, there is hope.

A long road of healing gaping wounds awaits this family, but it is not without hope.  A non-religious counselor recently told them, “Maybe it’s because of your faith.”  I am convinced it is.

The faith-hope of a relentless mother fighting for her children.

The faith-hope of friends.

The faith-hope of a Comforter.

The faith-hope of focus.

Christ in me, Christ in me, the hope of glory.  Amen and amen.

 

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That one time I almost cried in front of a bunch of 9 & 10 year olds

**Names and initials have been changed to protect the mischievous.**

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away I taught a children’s class at our church.  Since we have church on Saturday nights as well as Sundays, it’s a little hard to call it Sunday school.  But that’s basically what Club 45 is – Sunday school for 4th and 5th graders.  Out of all my years of ministry, the years spent in Club 45 were truly some of my happiest.  Keep that in mind.

Fast forward to yesterday.  My daughter and I were in the car and she pointed to a teenager walking on the sidewalk.  She said, “Oh!  That’s C.”  I asked if they were friends from the bus, school, church, etc.  She said C used to ride her bus, but must have moved because she hadn’t seen C on there in a while.  Then she said, “C is S’s twin.”

Cue the post traumatic stress disorder flashbacks.

In an instant my mind went back to that September.  That September in which they showed up to Club 45 for 3 or 4 weeks.  Remember up above when I said those had been some of the happiest ministry years of my life?  Those weeks were not.  At one point during those weeks I had to turn my back on the class and force myself not to cry.  People, I’m no wimp.  Thanks to at home training from my son, I can handle just about any kid situation thrown my way.

When I turned back around to face the class – mind you it had been less that 5 seconds – one of the twins was dancing in front of me.  Yes, it’s funny now, but at the time I almost passed out.  You see, that night I had exactly 42 kids in my class and no helper.  And they all knew it.  ALL of them, my daughter included.  I spent most of the rest of the night trying not to sound too shrill or panicked.

And somehow I managed not to curl up into the fetal position and suck my thumb until the car ride home.

My daughter remembers none of it.  But she did tell me, “I can see them doing that.  They’re crazy in a good way.  I just love them.”

It’s funny how you can be driving along and one teenager walking on the sidewalk can bring back very distinct feelings in an instant.  I’m years away from those handful of weeks and I can laugh about it now.  And remember it as sweet times.

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Self-discovery on Facebook

If you’re not my friend on Facebook, you should be. I tend to post a lot of extremely embarrassing, soul emptying statuses. However, lots of people find them entertaining. At some point when God was putting all the things together that would make me, me . . . .He kind of forgot the shame gene. I have posted the following:

  • ’90′s Glamour Shots of myself.
  • I admitted that I thought my Tyler’s boss wanted me to come to work with him.
  • One time I thought everyone should know how I jumped the curb and simultaneously honked my horn right in front of the church offices. When the pastor was standing in the lobby.
  • I have posted pictures of myself before I started waxing my eyebrows.

Anyway, today I came face to face with my high school self and along with it came some self-awareness. After I wrote the first comment, something occurred to me. And since I’m a firm believer in, “Have thought, must say it,” here it is.

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I’ll probably spend the rest of the day in bed sucking my thumb because since I came to this realization, God alone knows what’s next.

 

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Putting on my game face

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It’s come to this.  And for all of those thinking, “I knew it!  I knew she was on the verge of a breakdown,” you can be quiet.  This is a very well thought out strategy. 

And the last straw.

Today while having a lovely lunch with my daughter, I noticed the waiter acting kind of strange.  Aloof and almost stuttering.  Yet he was the picture of charm and grace at the other tables.  I’d seen this male behavior before, but it took a while for me to get what was going on.

What was going on was the girl sitting across the table from me.  My daughter is gorgeous.  It is what it is.  And nothing I’ve done recently has stopped the male attention from flowing her way.  Not even politely clearing my throat as the waiter stared at her while she was trying to decide what to get for dessert.  He said, “Oh.  I’m sorry.  I spaced out there for a little while,” tucked tail and ran.  Then when he brought the box for her leftovers, he put them in the box for her and drew a smiley face on the box.

Hello?  Could he not see my death stare?  Could he not feel the heat rising off my body?  It was then that I devised a plan.

From now on, whenever I’m with my daugther in public I will be looking like the above picture.  It’s all I can come up with short of her wearing a burqa.  Any man, be they young or old, will have to think twice if it’s really worth it to stare at my daughter (or heaven forbid, talk to her) with me around.  No one is that desperate.  Or if they are, I can say, “I don’t bother him?  He must be certifiable!” 

Yes, this might have some social implications for me, but I have all the friends I need.  I’m certainly not looking for a man nor am I running for public office.  So really this is the perfect time in my life to settle into the crazy employ this strategy.  I’m liking it more and more.

And Mr. Waiter?  Yes, you were cute, what with your neatly trimmed beard and all.  But my daughter is 14 and if you can grow a beard?  You’re too old for her.

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