March 31st

It’s the last day of March, and like most nights this month, I’m sitting down to write my final slice for the 2021 March Slice of Life Story Challenge with less than an hour left to write. I never could get myself caught up enough to write at night and then post it the next morning like I have in past years. But after 30 days of last minute writing, it wouldn’t be right to change it up on the last day.

Normally on the last day of March, I reflect on this month’s writing challenge or set goals for my writing post-March. But this year I’m not going to do any of that. One thing I’ve learned over the past year is to be grateful for what has been accomplished and to be flexible with what’s to come. So I’m signing off this month feeling content having written every day. Good night!

Without Fail

“I’m going to the pharmacy, be back in a few minutes,” I told my husband.

I checked on the kids before leaving and they were enthusiastically playing in my son’s room. “I’ll be back in a few minutes,” I told them. I know they were having fun because usually they ask to come along, but this time they didn’t.

When I returned, I opened the front door and the first thing I noticed was how quiet it was. No more laughter from playing children. Instead, my girls flanked my husband on the couch and he was reading them a book. I could hear my son rustling through the Lego bins in the basement. Uh-oh, I thought.

One of my girls looked at me with big sad eyes. “We didn’t have fun playing at the end,” she sniffled.

My husband looked at me and sighed. “Yeah, bad timing. As soon as you left things fell apart.”

I wanted to roll my eyes because EVERY time I leave is bad timing. One minute everyone is happy, I leave or step away for a few minutes, and suddenly everything falls apart. WHY?

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

When I pulled open the freezer, I noticed that I still had a bag of frozen grated zucchini in there from the end of last summer. So I pulled it out to thaw with a certain chocolate cake in mind. I got the recipe from my best friend, who got it from her mom. It’s called “Chocolate Zucchini Cake,” and I guess because it has zucchini in it, I feel like it’s better for you than just a regular old chocolate cake. Sometimes I take the deception even farther, leaving it unfrosted and calling it “Chocolate Zucchini Bread.” Kind of like those chocolate “muffins” from Costco. Let’s be honest, they are really giant chocolate cupcakes, but since they come in a packages next to blueberry muffins we call them muffins and think it’s okay to serve them at breakfast.

Tonight we ate our chocolate zucchini cake my favorite way, without frosting and topped with vanilla ice cream.

“What’s the cake for?” my husband asked as I was mixing it up.

“It just sounded good,” I replied.

It was better than good. It was delicious!

Dear Couch

Dear Couch,

I know you’ve seen better days, but I’m not ready to give up on you yet! You’re not even that old – what, about seven and a half years old? We bought you brand new when we moved into our house, and you’ve been here with us through good times and bad.

You’ve comfortably hosted countless family and friends who came to visit or over for dinner.

You graciously transformed into a bed for my mom to sleep on when she came to help us when the twins were born.

Your arm was what tripped my jumping 3-year-old, sending him crashing to the floor head-first and rendering him unconscious with a concussion.

You served as a perfect perch for baby twins to gaze out the picture window – “Baby TV” we called it.

You make a cozy dog bed for a puppy we weren’t going to let get on the furniture.

Unfortunately, all that love has left your cushions all out of shape. The backing is stretched and some stitching is coming undone. But like I said, I’m not ready to give up on you yet. So I spent today stitching you up in hopes of keeping you with us for a few more years, until the kids and the puppy get a little older. Please hang in there!

Gratefully,

Your Family

Tired

We’re all tired tonight. Not because we didn’t sleep well last night, but because we actually went somewhere, did something, saw someone today. I’m finding that after a year of staying mostly at home and going places with just us, being social takes a lot of energy.

We left the house a little before 11:00 this morning and didn’t get back until after 5:00 this evening. After a slow pile out from the car, everyone retreated to their resting spot of choice:

Hubby with his bicycles in the garage

Kids nestled into bean bags

Dog sprawled out in the sunny window

Me with my legs up on the couch

In a little while, the house will come to life again as energy returns to each of us. But for a little while, all is quiet and calm.

To All the Bored People

Wait a minute, what did you say? You’re bored? I don’t even know what that means. I’ve heard others say the same thing over the past year. I read an article the other day talking about how people’s brains aren’t as sharp right now because of the extended period boredom. But I can’t imagine what they are talking about.

All those bored people must not have children at home to play with. They must not have a puppy who needs to be walked and trained. They must not have baskets of laundry that manage to get washed but not folded. They must eat off paper plates every meal so that they don’t have a mountain of dishes overflowing from the sink onto the counters. They must not have their own children’s schooling to manage on top of the lessons they plan an teach for the children in their classes.

I bet it’s the bored people who have read all the books that were in their stack of books to read.

I bet it’s the bored people who have done all those house projects they always meant to do.

I be it’s the bored people who have tackled all those “someday” projects like organizing photos and files.

I’m not one of those bored people. I can’t imagine being one of those bored people. I’m trying to empathize, but really, being bored sounds really amazing!

Thoughts on Twins

Many years ago, before I had kids of my own, a co-worker with young twins told me, “I wouldn’t wish twins on my worst enemy.”

When I found out that I was having twins, alone at the ultrasound because my husband was at home with our two-year-old, I panicked. Everyone I told was “so excited!” But I remembered what my coworker had said. I was not excited.

I honestly don’t remember a lot of details about the first few years after my twins were born. My amazing mom moved close by and was my saving grace. Without my parents and my in-laws, we never would have survived those first years. I wasn’t unhappy, but I was constantly exhausted, worn out by the amount of work it took to juggle being a working mom with three kids under five.

When I told my co-worker with the twins that I was joining the club, he told me, “Mine just turned four and it’s finally getting easier.” And, he was right! Slowly, since they were about four, things have gotten easier. Whereas my husband or I were always my older son’s playmate, my twins have each other and play together nonstop. Thanks to quarantine living during the pandemic, they have become a close triad with their older brother, all three of them playing Legos or in the backyard for hours together and leaving me able to get things done.

Last year, when my cousin found out that she was (surprise!) having twins on top of having a one-year-old and a two-year-old, I cried for her. The uncertainty in her voice brought back a rush of emotions that I, too, had felt when the ultrasound technician had asked, “Do twins run in your family?” I felt flooded by the memory of total exhaustion and feeling completely drained when my twins were babies.

But tonight on our walk, I turned around and saw my twins walking hand-in-hand, whispering and giggling to each other, and my heart swelled. There aren’t many members in the mothers-of-twins club. I’m blessed to be one.

Sleeping

Now that my in-laws are fully vaccinated, they want to have my kids (their grandkids) spend the night for Easter. My 6-year-old twins totally want to spend the night, but are also nervous because they still wake up EVERY SINGLE NIGHT in the middle of the night and come get me to help them fall back asleep. But they really want to stay over with Grandma and Grandpa, so last night they were willing to try to fall asleep without me lying down next to them.

It took a while. A long while. About two hours to be exact. But last night they fell asleep

in the middle of the night

in their own beds

without me lying next to them.

And then they slept the rest of the night without waking up again!

Needless to say, they were a little tired today. But they are excited to practice again tonight. So am I. Maybe this is the push they need to finally become independent sleepers. Do I dare to hope…?!?!

Depending on When You Met Me

I’m joining the Slicer Party hosted by Leigh Ann. To join the party, you have to bring ID modeled after the mentor text below. I came to this party by way of Donnetta‘s post, so maybe you could say I’m her date. Although we’ve never actually met, so it’s more like a blind date. Anyways, here’s my ID to join the party.

“Depending On When You Met Me” by Devon Gundry, Soul Pancake

Depending on when you met me, I might have been: a checker’s champion, the kid who squirted Super Glue in his eye, a competitive Ping-Pong player, Tweedle Dum, a high school valedictorian, a fake blond, 1/12 of an all-male a capella group, a graduate of the Vanderbilt School of Engineering, a nomad, a street musician, or a pigeon assassin.

“Depending On When You Met Me” by Shawnda

Depending on when you met me, I might have been: a newborn at the Chickasaw Indian Hospital, a beach babe in Southern California, a 4-Her raising livestock in the Rocky Mountains, a horseback rider, a high-school drama nerd, a Spanish & Sociology major at the University of Denver, a newlywed first year teacher, an ELL specialist, an avid traveler through Latin America, an overwhelmed mom to newborn twins and a toddler, a literacy coach, an optimist.

The Oregon Trail

“What else does C have to do for school today?” I asked my husband this afternoon. When the birth of our twins left us outnumbered 3-to-2, our survival parenting strategy became divide and conquer. That strategy has endured during remote learning, with my husband taking the lead on our 4th grade son’s schooling while I manage our daughter’s kindergarten lessons.

“After he finishes his writing he has to play The Oregon Trail,” my hubby responded.

“Like, the real Oregon Trail?” I asked. “The one we played as kids?”

“I don’t know, probably not. It has a website he has to go to to play.”

But to my absolute delight, it WAS The Oregon Trail that I played and loved in the early 1990’s. I remember going to a special group when I was in 3rd and 4th grade with a tall, lanky teacher. I can’t remember his name or why we went there (maybe it was to challenge us since it was all the kids I remember being with me in the “high” reading group), but I do remember that when we finished our work, we got to play The Oregon Trail on the black and green-screened computers. And I remember thinking that it was the best game ever!

Tonight during dinner our family took a journey in a covered wagon. C chose to be a carpenter and used the $800 to buy supplies in Independence, Missouri before we set off on the trail. At the first river crossing, I unwisely suggested that we try to ford it since it was only 3.9 feet deep. Apparently that is too deep to ford: we lost almost all of our food and Twin B drowned. Shortly after that I got a snakebite, followed by typhoid, and then I died. My son drowned at the next river crossing-apparently 3.1 feet is also too deep to ford. Twin A suffered from measles, a broken arm, a snakebite, and measles again before finally succumbing to typhoid. Only my hubby, all alone, made it to Oregon, thanks to some excellent hunting skills and the fact that there was enough money left to pay for the ferry across the Green River and to take the safer, faster “toll road” at the end of the trip.

The game was the same as what I remember (other than it was in color, not green and black). Push the spacebar to continue. Enter the number of the one you want to do. Push the arrow to point and the spacebar to shoot. Most of the game is simply watching the little oxen feet “walk” and reading the pop-up messages letting you know the next tragedy to strike. Nothing like the fast-paced video games of today. And yet, my kids were just as captivated and my husband and I had been when we were kids playing it 30 years ago. In my mind, it’s a classic!

https://archive.org/details/msdos_Oregon_Trail_The_1990