If you wanna feel better about your family, just read about ours...

Starring: a dad, a mom, a son & daughter-in-law, a daughter & son-in-law, a teen, a tween, 1 grandson, 3 granddaughters, 3 dogs, and a whole lot of love.

Family Story Pic

Family Story Pic


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Anchor's Away

Sometimes I wonder if we're naturally drawn to people like us or if our ridiculous tendencies just rub off on the people around us.  This question arose again last week when we traveled to Tennessee with our friends, Lissa & Andy and Chad & Melanie.

Chad's dad generously allowed us the use of their home as well as his pontoon boat for a long weekend of fun on Dale Hollow.  He had but one request.  "Don't let anything happen to my brand new anchor."

Seems simple enough...unless you've met us before, in which case you know your anchor is pretty much screwed now.

The first day out on the lake, we found a private little cove and we dropped anchor.  We spent the next several hours swimming and floating on rafts.  At one point Lissa said, "Is the boat getting closer to the shore?"  Ron answered, "No, we just swam around a corner", which might have made sense if the cove had a corner, but nevertheless, we swam on without a second thought.

Lissa's concern proved valid when we swam back toward a boat that had clearly run ashore and whose front was currently resting on dry ground.  Andy and Ron got to the boat first and delivered the news.  "The anchor's gone."  Ok, that's bad.  But the rope's gone too, so if the rope floats, that's good.  Turns out, the rope doesn't float.  That's bad.

We aimlessly swam around the vicinity where we thought the anchor was thrown, occasionally diving down in futile attempts to reach the 16 ft bottom.  No anchor.
Then we sat on the boat discussing the stupidity of a rope that doesn't float, which briefly led to the idea of running a series of tests to see what other parts of the boat don't float, then we tossed around suggestions that were not only few, but highly improbable of being effective, one of which was to "call the dam" leading into a conversation about whether or not there was an actual "dam office" which naturally escalated into a series of inappropriate knock knock jokes, serving only to delay the matter at hand and solved nothing while we sat on the beached boat.  But far-fetched as it seemed, a plan was eventually hatched. 
 We went back to the house to get ready for dinner and took the boat back out for the 30 minute ride to a restaurant on the water.  While we were eating, the storm blew in.  I'm talking torrential storm here.  After dinner we sat sheltered under an overhang on the dock periodically commenting that "it looks like it's passing" and "the worst is over."  Lies, all lies.

We finally decided we had no choice but to get back on the boat and brave the trip home in the dark of night, lit only by the frequent strikes of lightening, to the point of secretly questioning if Chad had recently refused to go to Nineveh and briefly contemplated throwing him overboard to see if that calmed the storm. 

The following morning we headed back to the cove.
Operation Get That Anchor Back, was underway.

Unfortunately for us, a family had already anchored into our cove for a day of swimming with their small children.  Unfortunately for them, we were undeterred by common courtesy and proceeded forward with our mission.

So just for fun, let's switch perspectives as I describe what they saw from their boat.

They saw a boat full of people park nearby, completely disregarding proper boat etiquette.  Three women got comfortable sunbathing on the back.  Three men got busy on the front.  One man repeatedly threw an anchor into the water and then pulled it back in.  Another man repeatedly cast out a fishing line with a giant hook on the end and reeled it back in.  The 3rd man was behind the wheel of the boat and slowly drove back and forth and round and round, while 80's music blasted from the boat radio.

 It needs to be said, if I were the family on that boat watching, I'd have been pissed.  To their credit, they stuck around either to stand their ground or to see what this freak show might do next.  And were they in for a treat, because about an hour into this brouhaha, they witnessed the man with the fishing pole scream "I'VE GOT SOMETHING" and then the man with the anchor jumped immediately overboard followed by his screams of "DON'T HOOK ME" and then every person in our boat erupted into cheers and celebration when they pulled an anchor attached to a long rope out of the water as 'Eye Of The Tiger' blared from the radio.  (You can't make this stuff up, people.)
...and then they saw the guy who reeled it in turn around and throw the anchor and rope overboard again as the women screamed, "Noooooooo!!!!"

To which he replied, "We tied it off this time.  We're not idiots."

By the looks on their faces, the family on the other boat strongly disagreed with that statement.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Mama's Boy / Friend

Regardless of how well you know us, it usually doesn't take long to realize that Zac is not only my son, but my boy. 

I think we have a typical mother-son relationship, in the sense that we have always loved hanging out together, talking and laughing about everything.  I look at him and see my 2nd best guy friend...my husband being 1st, of course.

Ron says Zac's a Mama's Boy.  If by Mama's Boy he means that I'd, oh let's say, jump out of an airplane or put my body through a Tough Mudder for him, then yeah, he's a Mama's Boy.  And I'd do the same for any of our daughters, but so far they seem to have a little more sense than that.
Kudos to them.

Ron, Zac and I played together on our church co-ed softball team every summer for several years.  That's Zac and me at Christmas with our matching ball gloves Ron got us because that's what super-cool moms and sons want, okay?

My boy is now a married man with a son of his own on the way and working full time on 2nd shift.  So for now, gone are our days of playing softball together and as our summer church league is drawing to a close, I've been thinking a lot about all the fun we've had in the past.

So if you'd like to stroll with me down memory lane for a quick second, let me recap the domino effect that led to what happened last year.  Ron heard through the grapevine that his company's fall men's league needed another player.  Ron did not volunteer himself.  He volunteered Zac.  When one of the players on that team told Zac they were short-handed on their co-ed team, Zac volunteered himself.  And me.

Basically, Zac and I infiltrated a co-ed softball team, mid-season, full of people we didn't know who worked together at a company we didn't, none of which is surprising to anyone who knows us.  We're not ones to get hung up on minor technicalities. 

We showed up at our first game dressed in the only thing we thought to wear.  Our matching navy blue church jerseys.  He with his baseball pants and head band combo;  me with my yoga pants and pony tail.  Cue the bad-ass-slow-mo walk as we approached the dugout side-by-side wearing our cleats and carrying our matching gloves. 

The fact that the rest of the team wore shorts and orange t-shirts was neither here nor there.

Zac took his position in right field and I took mine as Catcher, squatting behind home plate.  Three innings later someone on my team said, "You know you don't have to squat, right?"
That tidbit of info would have been awesome 3 innings ago. 

But it was the question I was asked during the 6th inning that got my attention when the umpire said, "Is that your husband or boyfriend?"  Thinking Ron had shown up, I looked around and said, "Husband.  Where do you see him?" 

You know that special effect in movies where everything takes on a blurry spin and the voice talking gets really deep and drawn out?  That's what happened when my eyes followed the umpire's pointed finger as he said, "R-i-g-h-t f-i-e-l-d."

Holy crap!

After the inning, I ran back to the dugout, pulled Zac aside and said, "Dude!  That umpire thinks we're a couple!!"  Then our heads turned simultaneously as a player on the bench said, "Oh, you're not?"

With a stone-cold expression, Zac turned to me and said, "One of us is never wearing this jersey again" and then he walked away.  Why was I the only one flattered here.

Gone are the days when mothers can dress like their sons and not be mistaken for their significant others.  Sigh.
We finished out the regular season (me in my jersey, he in a t-shirt) and tournaments were held on a blustery cold Saturday in October.  That morning, he rushed me out the door as I finished putting on my make-up and grabbed my 'I'm too sexy to be 40' mug. 

When I yelled at him for abruptly changing gears and almost making me spill my coffee, he lectured me on the habit of filling my mug too full.

I stepped out of the car in my yoga pants and super-cute-off-the-shoulder sweatshirt and realized I was completely under-dressed for a bitter cold day at the ball fields and when my hair whipped over my face, I remembered the hair band that was still laying on the bathroom counter.

As our team watched, Zac stormed off toward the dugout while I trailed behind with my hair blowing in the wind, arms full of softball equipment, walking as fast as I could without spilling my coffee and yelling, "You look like a really bad boyfriend right now!!"

Surprisingly, they contacted us to play for them again this year.  Zac's work schedule doesn't allow time for it and I regretfully declined as well. 

I mean, it just doesn't feel right to play without my boy...friend...buahahahahaha!!!

Monday, July 14, 2014

A (Mon)Day In The Life

The Monday after returning from Vacation is pretty much destined to fail.  So I was pleasantly surprised last week when mine was going flawlessly.  At least until 1:30.  That's when Caymen, who's going on week 4 of sporting a giant glob of dried bloody suture glue above her left eye from a trampoline accident, popped in to my office and excitedly said, "Notice anything on my face?"  I swiveled my chair to see that she'd applied huge tattoos to her cheeks.  Visions of this face dressed in a beautiful white flower girl dress preceding Aubrey down the isle flashed through my head.

But first there was the matter of her dentist appointment at 3:30pm.  Maybe if I started scrubbing now, the 7 year old's fresh facial tatts would be but a distant memory...unlike the eye wound.  That's when the phone rang and my daughter-in-law, Barbara said "What are you doing right now?"  I looked down at Caymen's gangsta face and went the easy route.  "Nothing."  Zac's car broke down in the parking lot where he works and she was stranded.

We picked Barbara up and headed straight to the dentist to meet up with Ron for our cleanings.  But shortly after Caymen was taken to a room, the dentist came out and said, "We have a little problem."  My immediate thought was, 'So, you've seen her face.'  He went on to explain that one of Caymen's back teeth is cracked and he needed our help to hold her still so he could numb her.  Having just barely survived the ER visit where they tried to numb her forehead for stitches and finally resorted to the now infamous glob of super glue which Ron claims he could've done at home for free, I knew this dental visit had the potential for disaster.  I wasn't disappointed.  Five minutes into the chaotic scene, the doctor inadvertently pushed the needle full of numbing fluid into his own left hand.  The procedure (and possibly the remainder of his afternoon), came to an abrupt end.  She was immediately referred to a "specialist" and I'll be watching the mail for his announcement of early retirement.  Sometimes "We're really really super sorry" just isn't enough.

Next stop, loaning Barbara our 2nd van and then all of us driving over to take a look at Zac's broken down car.  It didn't take long for Ron to realize that the clutch is blown.  Thankfully, his car broke down just one parking lot away from the service center.  It was already closed for the evening, but they had a locked drop box for just such occasions.  Thank goodness we're having so many strokes of luck here, unlike the dentist who's probably home hittin the sauce pretty heavily by now with his one usable hand.

Barbara filled out the service note, sealed the keys in the envelope and dropped them down the slot.
Our VAN keys. In envelope.  Down slot.

Flash to Ron on the phone with Security while he worked a stretched out coat hanger down the slot like a toilet plunger, Caymen laying across the counter with everyone trying to convince her she wouldn't get her arm stuck...she wasn't buyin it...and Barbara digging things into the lock explaining that she's "really good at lock picking."  I don't even wanna know.

Security finally arrived and busted up our little party.  I thought, please don't ask about the child laying across the counter with her arm crammed in the slot, or about her face, or the fact that I just realized she's not wearing shoes. 

Guard #1 dressed in a florescent green vest that screamed rookie, showed up only to announce that he doesn't have a key.  Welllll, thanks so much for stopping by.  Security guard #2, dressed in a legit uniform, saved the day with a key and retrieved ours.  Barbara handed me our van keys, dropped Zac's keys down the slot, Security went on his way and we went on ours.

That's when Ron asked Barbara, "Do you have your apartment key?"

Apartment key.  In envelope. Down slot.

The pregnant Barbara and barefoot gangsta child tore across the parking lot, chasing the security car and wildly waving their arms while I silently prayed that Zac wasn't witnessing any of this from a window. 

The security guard returned, escorted us back to the drop box, allowed Barbara to retrieve her key...again...drop keys down the slot...again...and then he sent this freak show on our way...again.

If I knew where the dentist lived, I would've driven to his house to join him.  But that didn't stop me from having the drink.  An aptly named one, at that.

Screw you, Mondays.
From now on, I'm skippin straight to Tuesday.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Change Of Life

My top 3 fears.
1.  Rabies.
2.  Electricity.
3.  Change.

So far, between Zac's marriage to Barbara and their pregnancy, Aubrey's high school graduation, purchase of a house and upcoming marriage to Nick, and my unfortunate encounter with an ungrounded hot tub, 2014 has bombarded me with 2 of the 3.  (I still have 6 months to avoid rabies.)

When Summer rolled around I assumed things would get easier.  Easier meaning, calmer.  Easier meaning, less chaotic.  Truth be told, easier meaning, easier to accept.  My family is moving out.  My family is shrinking.  Dear God, my family is changing.

For so long we were 'The Courters'.  Said by others with deer-in-the-headlight eyes and slow knowing nods.  That crazy family of 6, some who wear shoes, some who wear pants and one who refuses to remove his ball cap, all of whom operate under zero adult supervision.

We offer no explanation or apology for who we are because throughout the past 20 years, when everything around us changed, we were the only constant.

But these days, much of our time is spent as a family of 4 having only Kearstin and Caymen at home with us now.  We fit in a booth at a restaurant.  We make it through most outings without causing a scene or disturbance and can interact with the public without anyone disgustedly asking, "Are all of these yours?"   Apparently 6 Courters have the ability to create Duggar-size scenes.

I find myself in the midst of this hurricane of change and there's a level of pain in it so you might have to bear with me while I try to adjust.  I remind myself that this is good change.  It's natural change.  This is the way God intends for it to change.  Therefore, I'll fight through my 3rd deepest fear and not only accept the change, but embrace the change.  Because even though it didn't feel like it at the time, easy was when our kids lived at home.  Now we dig deep into the world of intentional.   It's a little harder but we're deliberate in scheduling our family time now and it's worth it. 

In turn, God is navigating me through these scary changes with comforting glimpses of normal...ok, sometimes not so comforting and you might not consider it normal.

For Father's Day, the 8 of us piled into an old school bus with giant tubes before being dropped off and left at the mercy of the river current to make our way back to where we started.  I looked over to discover my future son-in-law on all fours on top of his tube as it slowly spun toward a small waterfall with his flip flops floating behind him while Aubrey stood stuck knee deep in the water screaming and Ron debating jumping ship to look for his sunglasses that he was sure were caught in a tree before Kearstin discovered them dangling off the back of his shirt.  We are the epitome of the Red Neck Yacht Club.  Then afterward, we gorged on giant cheeseburgers before dropping like flies around our living room in water-logged-junk-food induced comas. 
The week before last, a hose on our pool pump burst, flooding our barn and spraying directly at the light switch and yours truly (with cheeseburger in hand) ran in to see what happened, blindly reached in to turn on the light, felt that old familiar feeling before catching another glimpse of the afterlife and losing my cheeseburger.  Lord, if you could just tell me what you'd like me to learn here, that'd be awesome.

Last week on Hilton Head Island, Zac and Barbara decided to use the beach (and fire) to reveal the gender of our grandchild, beach fire being strictly prohibited on the island, but that's neither here nor there.  They carved GIRL and BOY in the sand and lined it with string, having saturated one with fuel so that it would be the gender to ignite.  Then we watched as Z lit the end of the string and it started to spread as families began to gather and watch.  And then we watched the bottle of fuel ignite into flames in Barbara's hand so she threw it down.  And then we watched people scatter and run as far away from us as possible.  (We're used to that.)  So we kicked sand until the flames smothered out and then stood silently looking at each other. Well that was terrifying...and disappointing.  So we regrouped and then the girls and I started digging while the guys ran to Walmart for lighter fluid and we set the beach on fire again.  And when that ended with frantic sand kicking, the spectators became "potential witnesses" so they waited a few days before they set a fire on an abandoned tennis court that took a bottle of water and several minutes of stamping with shoes to put out.  The end result was effective, albeit violent.

So what am I freaking out about here?  'The Courters' aren't shrinking.  We're expanding...and multiplying.  I shouldn't be the one in fear.  The world should.

So watch out everybody.
Here comes #9...

It's a