Friday, October 29, 2010

Why Do I Bother?

Before I begin today's post, I'd like to take a moment to point out a couple things.  
First, I realize that pink and yellow plaid shorts with a Trick or Treat shirt are not the height of fashion.  Yes, Lily does own matching clothes but she wasn't wearing them at this photo shoot. 

Secondly, please do not be alarmed by the unnatural shade of Lily's hair in some of these photos.  We have not begun dying her hair - yet.  There is a reflection making her hair appear that lovely shade of red-orange.

OK, now that those little housekeeping details are taken care of, let's get down to business.

When Lily came home from school today, we put on shoes and headed to the backyard.  Putting shoes on is quite hard work and requires the use of your tongue. 

I purchased this new sand/water table for Lily earlier in the week and was waiting to kick off the weekend with it.  I felt certain much fun was on the way.

And I was right - fun was definitely being had.  No surprise but Lily's favorite part was the water.

But then Lily takes one more mouthful and begins thinking.

"Oh yeah, here's how I played with water outside before Mom got me this sand/water table that she thinks is so amazingly cool."

"I mean, why did she think I needed a sand/water table when I have a SINK???"

"Now this toy, Mom - this toy is a total thumbs up."

You'd think I'd learn!  

It Takes a Village

I just finished baking 8 mini loaves of apple spice cake and 8 mini loaves of gluten-free, casein-free chocolate chip pumpkin bread.

16 mini loaves of homemade goodness.

All from scratch.

All for Lily's therapists at her school who work tirelessly with my daughter five days a week.

Doing things like potty training.  Teaching sign language.  Putting together puzzles and shape sorters.  Trying to get Lily to match pictures and sort objects.  Wash her hands.  Pump her legs on a swing.  Brush a baby doll's hair.  Use a fork and spoon.

Not to mention, little extra things like foot rubs, hugs, kisses, squeezes, cheers and positive encouragement.

With the occasional Backyardigans video thrown in to help her sit on the potty just a little bit longer!

These are good people.  People I consider heroes.

It takes a special person to work with these kiddos.  Parents of special needs children have a fierce, protective love for their babies.  We know how special these kids are - what a blessing it is to have them around.

And to have therapists who feel that same way about my baby girl?

Well, that's just the icing on the cake.

And so I felt like spoiling them - with cake.

Just one small way to let them know how lucky I am to have them on Team Lily.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Candy Man Can

Halloween is fast approaching.  And once again, I forgot to make this "holiday" a line item in our family budget.

You see, Ryan and I have a little difference of opinion regarding the giving out of candy to all those adorable but greedy little trick-or-treaters.

Knowing that the collection of goodies has the potential to reach astronomical proportions, I feel perfectly justified in handing out fun size candy bars.

Ryan however, strongly believes there is not one thing "fun" about a fun size candy bar.  He wants to give out FULL SIZE candy bars.  And do you think he wants to do this out of the goodness of his heart?

Absolutely not.

He wants to be the most popular guy in the neighborhood.  He wants to shock and awe all those adorable but greedy little trick-or-treaters.  He wants them to go home and say - "you're not gonna believe what the Rushes gave us!"

I however, do not feel the need to submit to this secret popularity contest.

At supper last night, I suggested handing out pretzels this year.  To which my family blankly stared at me like I was speaking in tongues and there was no interpreter around.

Reagan recovered first and firmly stated that NO ONE wants pretzels in their little plastic pumpkin buckets.  Ryley thought it might be a good idea - if I wanted to incite a riot among the children and have them thrown back in my face.  And Ryan just said "NO".

Fine then.

I'll go to Costco and buy full size candy bars.  Even if it means we have to eat beans and rice for a week. Even if it means no vacation this summer.  Even it it means I'm single-handedly sending all my neighbor's children's dentists on their summer vacations.  Even if it means I'm caving under the pressure from all those adorable but greedy little trick or treaters.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Just This Morning

Just this morning, I woke up with a little something extra under my covers.

A little Lily Bird was in the bed with me.

Lily woke up in her bed around 12:30 AM and was not happy.  She made it abundantly clear that she did not want me in any way, shape, or form.

So Ryan had a go at it.  Lily made it abundantly clear that she did want her dad in any way, shape or form.

So I smiled sweetly at my husband, said "looks like you're the winner tonight", rolled over and started drooling into my pillow.

But Lily took it easy on her old dad and quickly fell asleep with us in our bed.

Ryan had to leave the house at some ridiculously early hour of the morning so like the good wife I am, I rose with him, got fully dressed in my pumps, hose, pearls, and shirtdress, made him a full breakfast of eggs, bacon, and toast, packed him a nutritious lunch, and lovingly waved good-bye to him from the front door of our lovely home.


To be honest, I never even heard him leave.

I mean, I did have a baby in the bed with me that needed my tender loving care.  I was working, man!

Fast forward to a much more respectable hour of the morning.

I got up and made breakfast for the girls and packed all three lunches for the day.  I packed Lily's bag for school and finished up my grocery list.   See, I do work!

Then I went into my bedroom to wake a still snoozing Lily Bird.  She was out.  I'm talking laying on the back, both arms flung up over the head, not moving a muscle.  I think I could have vacuumed while singing opera and she wouldn't have heard a thing.

I started talking softly to her and rubbing her hair.

Insert side note here - I hesitate to touch my children when they are asleep because I still have scars from childhood when my mom would ask me to wake my little brother up.  No matter what I did, he would come up swinging, so I quickly learned to duck.  That's where I honed my mad ninja skills.  Of course, I didn't wake him up like my mom did - rubbing his back, starting his shower so the bathroom would be nice and warm for him.  Spoiled rotten kid...  I woke up to an alarm clock like a "big girl".  Mom and Dad always did like him best.  And the really unfortunate thing?  Reagan tends to be just like him when she wakes up in the morning.

Back to the post now -

Unlike my mean brother, Lily started to squirm and stretch.  Then she slowly opened her eyes and smiled when she saw me.  This time, she made it abundantly clear that she wanted me in any way, shape, or form.

By now, we're running a little behind and the odds are good we'll be late for school.  Back when the big girls were little, I would've started hustling them along, telling them to put shoes on in the car, and generally making everyone stressed out.

But this morning, Lily wants to wake up slow.  While I'm getting her clothes on her, she bends down to make eye contact with me, then just kind of melts into me, laying her head on my shoulder.  And rather than hurrying her along, I just wrap my arms around her and let it be.  We sit like that for a couple minutes.

And guess what?  We were a couple minutes late for school.

Guess what else?  I don't care one bit!

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Rhino Song

Ever since Lily discovered television, she has been the Backyardigans #1 fan.  And I'm not talking about a fair weather fan.  I'm talking a true-blue loyal fan to her very core.  To her way of thinking, it was all that needed to be on TV.

The Backyardigans Channel.  All Backyardigans.  All the Time.

We own every DVD as well as books, stickers, toys, and the little stuffed characters.

But I'm afraid that Lily's loyalty is being tested.  She has recently discovered a new love.

You can click on the link to see for yourself what has so captured her imagination.  But I must warn you of two things first.

1.     Don't click the link with any children in the room or else you may be forced to watch it multiple times in a row the way we have been doing lately.  There have been about 5 million views of this little video and I really believe that Lily holds about 1,565,392 views herself.


2.     It is quite catchy and you may find yourself humming it at odd times during the day.

So click at your own risk.  And stay tuned for more on the Backyardigans/Rhino/Lily love triangle.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Look What I Found!

So I was shopping at Hill Country Galleria last week with my big girls.  They were both in dressing rooms and I was standing outside the doors, waiting to give the "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" review of the clothes they were trying on.

Outside the dressing room doors, there was this large display of necklaces.  One in particular caught my eye.  I thought my eyes might be deceiving me at first as this is something that commonly happens once you pass the age of 40.

But no, there it was.  A super cute long silver necklace with a birdcage hanging from it.  And inside the birdcage?  A sweet little bird sitting on a swinging perch.  The perfect accessory to remind me of my Lily Bird!

I knew I had to have it.  I held my breath and looked closely at the price tag.  

$14.95, ladies!  A bargain for what I'm sure will become a sentimental piece of jewelry for me.  A necklace to be passed down through many generations.  A family heirloom.  OK - maybe for that price it'll only last for my generation but what a fun purchase! 

My oldest daughter, Ryley took some pics so I could share my cute find with all of you.

I just love unexpected happy surprises!

Friday, October 22, 2010

To: Lana From: God

I was doing my daily 3.3 mile walk/run on Town Lake this morning when God spoke to me.

OK - that's not actually true.

I don't walk/run 3.3 miles at Town Lake every single day.  I mean, I am a pastor's wife so I can't walk/run on Sunday mornings because I'm at church.

Well, that's not exactly true either.

I try to walk/run 3.3 miles at Town Lake three times a week and am ecstatic and consider myself to be an incredible athlete if I make it twice a week.

I don't think any marathons are in my future.

But I digress....

The point is God spoke to me this morning.

I was walking by myself so I was wearing my I-pod on which there is quite a wide variety of music.  Hootie and the Blowfish, Brad Paisley, the Go-Gos, dc Talk, Billy Joel....  The shuffle feature is quite exciting because you never know what you're gonna get.

So I'm just walking/running along, minding my own business when a song I haven't heard in quite some time begins to play - Climb On (A Back That's Strong) by Caedmon's Call.

And God gets my attention.

While the lyrics are good, there is a particular line in the song that I think is in there just for me.  It says:

"Then you could be the woman you need
If you just let me be the man that I am"

This is God's message straight to me.  I can just hear Him saying so patiently:

"Lana, Lana, Lana - all this stuff you're doing may be good but remember, all you really need is Me.  I am going to give you more than you can handle because I don't want you to handle it!  If you will just give it all to Me,  relax and let me be God, you'll become the woman you need to be."

Ahhh... so simple but so difficult sometimes.

Take a deep breath.  Give it up.  Let it go.  Leave it alone.

And walk/run those 3.3 miles with a much lighter step.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Ellie Update #3

Hey Everyone!

I've got some new news to share regarding Ellie - plus pictures!  :)

Ellie's doctor would like for her to weigh 16 lbs. before she has surgery.  Her current weight is 15 lbs. so she is very close to that goal weight!

Unless an emergency comes up, her next medical appointment will be sometime in the first week of December.  The doctor will then set a date for surgery.  It seems like such a looooong time off but I guess when you have a baby who had such a rocky start in life, it's best to wait for her to get stronger.  And while I was greatly concerned with the delay, she does seem to be gaining weight and you won't believe how much better she looks when you see the photos!  She is still small when you consider that she's two years old but wow - what a difference from the frail, sickly girl I met in August!

My oldest daughter Ryley will be going on her third Guatemala trip November 7 - 12 so she will be able to get her hands on that sweet girl and take some really good pictures for us.  Her Spanish is quite good so I'm planning to send her with some questions and see if she has more success getting answers when she's standing right there in the Rescue Center!

I'll continue to keep you posted on her progress as I receive news myself.

Enjoy the new pictures and keep praying!


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

This Is Your Life

Have you ever stopped to think about your life?  Is this how you thought things would be when you were 5 years old?  10 years old?  16?  18?

About the only thing I felt confident of at all those ages was that I wanted to be a teacher.

But by the time I left for college, my life plan was firmly cemented in my mind.

I was going to meet the man of my dreams while in college and get married.  We would walk to classes holding hands, meet each other for lunch, buy groceries together, live in a cute little apartment, and be so happy we were so much more mature than all the other poor single suckers around us.

We would graduate from college and both start work.  I hadn't really selected my pretend husband's career but we would have enough money to live in a nice home, take a vacation once a year, and send our children to private school.  

And of course, there would be enough money for me to stop working once we had those four perfect, beautiful children (2 boys and 2 girls because 2 of each would be perfect, right?).  I would have all 4 kids before the age of 30 because I was going to be the young and fun mom while they were little and then still be young enough to travel the world once they moved out.

This is not exactly how things turned out.

I didn't meet my husband until the summer after my college graduation.  So I spent my four years at TCU as one of those poor single suckers.

We did get married quickly - the December following my college graduation.  But he was still a college student with two years left to go so I was bringing home the bacon - only there wasn't much of it.

I had become a teacher just like I always wanted (score one life point plan for me!) but it wasn't exactly the kind of setting I imagined.  I was teaching third graders math and science (my two least favorite subjects) and most of the students were not at all interested in learning how to borrow in subtraction or knowing the difference between physical and chemical changes.  And they weren't afraid to let me know they weren't interested.

I seriously began considering a career change to the fast food industry.

Instead, I finished up that year and started teaching kindergarten at a small Christian school.

Then Ryan and I started talking about having kids, just like the total idiots we were at that time.  We found out very quickly that the good ol' bird and bees talk your parents give you - that stuff works!

I was pregnant at his college graduation.  I finished out my school year and passed the bread-winning baton to Ryan.

We had our first daughter and much to my dismay, I realized that this was a whole lot harder than my Baby Alive doll.  I was 24 years old and decided I needed to make some adjustments to my life plan.  Maybe we would have one more child but definitely not four!

We had another daughter and it stayed that way for ten years.  I decided my baby days were over, gave away everything, and embraced spontaneity - go out to dinner, go to a movie, throw the kids in the car and go get some ice cream.  Woohoo - the freedom!

Then, along came The Bird - baby #3.  Born when I was 36 years old!   It was quite the surprise.  And continues to be a surprise almost daily.  But a good one!

So I guess you could say that the life plan I formulated at the age of 18 didn't pan out.  But that's OK with me.  I'm 100% confident that God's doing His thing and all I have to do is follow along.

Which is good because my life is so crazy now, I'm glad I'm not the one in charge!

Lead on, Lord.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Seven Things I've Learned About... Food

If Lily could talk, I think this is what she would say about food.

1.     Just because I like something today does not mean I'll like it tomorrow.

2.     Twisty pretzels taste much better than stick pretzels.

3.     You can tell if a food is good simply by taking a quick glance at it on the plate.

4.     Food dropped on the floor is just one way of ensuring you have an available snack later.

5.     Yogurt is appropriate anytime of the day.

6.     You can live on carbs alone - especially pasta.

7.     Rice Chex is a "two-fer" - a great snack as well as a fun activity.  What you don't eat can be crushed into a fine powder and sprinkled on the rug under the table where it is then tracked all over the tile kitchen floor.  Then... wait for it....  Mom starts yelling things like, "Am I the only one in this house who can feel this gritty floor??? and, "I can't even walk barefoot in my own house!"  Then she runs to get the vacuum.

Ahhhhh... it's good to be queen.  Now someone fetch me a snack!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Artificial Colors, Flavors, & Sweeteners.... Oh My!

Blue No. 1... Blue No. 2... Green No 3... Red No. 40... Yellow No. 5... Monosodium glutamate... disodium inosinate... butylated hydroxyanisole... casein... gluten... sucralose.... aspartame... and on the list goes.

This is just a sampling of some new vocabulary I have picked up since Lily was diagnosed with autism.

Part of having a child with autism usually means quite a bit of dietary intervention.  Researching foods.  Reading ingredient labels.  Going to more than one grocery store and spending quite a bit of time (and buckets of money) there!   Carefully preparing special foods in the hopes that your child will at least try a bite.  Then, checklist in hand, watching your child like a hawk for any kind of reaction.

It can be an exhausting and overwhelming exercise, this constant thinking about food.

The other day, I told a neighbor I was cleaning out my pantry of any foods containing artificial colors, artificial flavors, preservatives, and artificial sweeteners.  I was also going to really limit refined sugars and fats.

She told me she would be sure to buy extra goodies for her pantry so that when my big girls came begging for real snacks, she would be able to feed them.

Thanks for sabotaging my efforts, Gretchen!

By the way, did you buy enough for me, too???


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Who Loves Lily?

For those of you who don't know, Ryan is in the process of writing a book called "Walls".  It's in the very final stages of editing and is scheduled for release in February.  It's pretty exciting around our house as the final countdown begins!

You know how you pick up a book and flip over to the back cover to read what all those famous people think about the book?

Well, Ryan just finished collecting those endorsements for his book.  And while all of them have been wonderful, one of them stood out head and shoulders above the rest.  It will go down as my all-time favorite book endorsement ever!

Ryan met Richard Ross a couple years ago at the first D6 Conference.  He was very impressed by him and they have kept in touch.

For those of you not familiar with Dr. Ross, he is the man who founded the entire True Love Waits movement.  Pretty impressive resume, huh?!?  He is also the professor of student ministry at Southwestern Seminary.

I thought I would share his incredible endorsement with you and I think you'll see why I am now his biggest fan!

When Ryan Rush’s daughter Lily is a little older, I want to meet her. I want to look her in the eyes and say, “Your life is full of meaning and purpose for a thousand reasons. But among those reasons is this—your early years enriched and refined the mind of your daddy. You helped him learn how to tell all of us how to bring down the walls of our lives through faith grounded in God’s promises. Every time a wall comes down somewhere, you were part of that. I am so glad you are on earth.” Each person who reads Walls will understand those words, and will probably stand in line with me to speak to Lily.

Richard Ross, PhD, professor of student ministry at Southwestern Seminary,


OK - anybody that says those kinds of things about my sweet Lily Bird is a pretty special person to me!  And giving props to Ryan doesn't hurt, either.

These words make a momma proud!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Just Wondering....

Why is it that...

when my parents come to visit we spend the first day together planning all our meals for their entire trip?

the best barbecue places don't even give you plates?

we roll down our windows to take a deep breath every time we drive by the Salt Lick?

people in Austin love food from a trailer?

my husband has a very specific system for eating his brisket when he's really not that particular in any other area of his life?

the best tasting food is always the worst for you?

Ryan's schedule suddenly becomes wide open when my parents come in town and want to eat barbecue and Mexican food?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

No Ordinary Things

This morning I feel the need to do a little preaching.

This is one of the dangers of being married to a pastor.  After almost 20 years together, it rubs off on you just a little.

So if you would please open your copy of "What to Expect the Toddler Years" and turn to any developmental checklist that interests you.

The list I have chosen is for two year olds and these are skills they should accomplish by the age of three.  There are a total of 71 items so we'll just look at a few of them.

  • refers to self by name
  • points to common object on command
  • acts out a simple story
  • draws a face
  • engages in simple pretend play
  • describes what happened in 2-3 words
  • uses short sentences to convey simple ideas
  • names common objects in pictures
  • follows simple directions
As a BL parent, "Before Lily", I would read over checklists like this with a pencil in my hand, checking off the skills that Ryley and Reagan had mastered.  And let me tell you, nothing made me happier than to look ahead and see that they demonstrated many skills of older children.  I mean, my kids ain't average, right???

As an AL parent, "After Lily", I have thrown all those books in the trash, barely resisting the urge to start a backyard bonfire.

As a BL parent, I believed that I had quite a bit to do with my children achieving those skills.  And I took for granted the fact that they would.  

But I missed out on the miracle.

You see, each milestone that a child reaches is no ordinary thing.  Think about it!  A helpless newborn starts to recognize faces, learns to smile, grabs his feet and sucks his toes.  Holds his head up.  Reaches for toys.  Crawls.  Walks.  Talks.  And on and on it goes.

Each skill a child learns is a thing of wonder, a blessing straight from Heaven.

Am I asking you to feel sorry for me because my child hasn't reached those milestones listed above?


But what I am asking you to do is this - Pay attention!  Don't miss it!  

Your kids are miracles from the Lord.  Treat each milestone with the wonder it deserves.  Celebrate and have fun.  Hug those babies tight and listen to them talk to you, even when they're driving you crazy.  Have a tea party and marvel at the fact that they can pretend play.  Throw the football and be amazed that they can run and catch.

Be an AL parent.  Put that checklist and pencil down.  Play with your kids and let God take care of the milestones.  He will, you know.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Family Chores = A Fun Visit!

My parents are coming tomorrow for a visit.

When they come to Texas, we do lots of exciting family activities like these:

  • design, build, and paint a one-of-a-kind bed for Lily
  • pull weeds, clean flower beds, plant 75 new plants, and mulch it all 
  • de-clutter and stage our house to make it "market-ready"
  • pack up and move out of said house 
  • unpack and move into new house
Fun times.

It's really not all that surprising that they haven't been to see us since July!  They are very afraid and have been having nightmares about the "to-do list" for this fun family trip.  

Thank goodness we have three of their grandkids in our possession.

And a mom who's not afraid to use them.   

Now if I can just convince them that Lily has been asking for sod in the backyard.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Seven Things I've Learned About... Vomit

Lily was a little sick last night so she and I stayed home from church.  This allowed me ample time this morning to ponder a few things I've learned about... vomit.

1.     Even when it's your kids, it's still pretty gross.

2.     It always starts between 2 & 4 AM during one of the best sleeps of your life.

3.     They never make it all the way to the bathroom.

4.     No matter how you attempt to protect the sheets, you will be stripping the bed in the middle of the night.

5.     When all else fails, you will use your pajama top to "collect the deposit".

6.     At some point in your parenting, it will slide down the inside of your shirt.

7.     Your child will feel better afterwards and you will feel like the inside of a dumpster on a 100 degree day.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

What Is This Funny Feeling?

Ryan and I had a meeting today.
A meeting with all of Lily's therapists.
A meeting where words like "discreet trial", "discriminative stimulus", "primary, secondary, continuous, and variable ratio reinforcements" are thrown about as easily as "milk, eggs, bread, and juice".

A meeting where abbreviations like Sd, R, Sr+, SR+, Sn, Sp, BCBA, ABA, ST, OT, PT are tossed together like so much alphabet soup.

Typically, Ryan and I look forward to these meetings the same way we look forward to a trip to the dentist or the DMV.

We tend to hear things like, "Lily's doing really well with climbing the steps to the slide BUT...."  Or, "Do you have a plan at all for potty training???".  Or the one I personally love the most, "Here is a list of 100 little things you can do at home in your spare time.  If you could do each of them at least twice a day, it would be great!"  Usually delivered with a big smile by some 22 year old therapist with no husband or kids at home.

I want to help my daughter more than anyone else in this world but let's be honest here.  There is a limit to what I can do!  And honestly, there are lots of people who can provide my daughter with therapy but only one person who can be her mom.

So we put on our game faces and went to the meeting, fully expecting to to be served a plateful of guilt, depression, and ignorance along with a nice side of unrealistic expectations.

But it was not to be.

First of all, the vocabulary was patiently explained to us.  All abbreviations were fully explained.  Examples given.  Applications to our children made.  Realistic goals discussed.  And nice turkey sandwiches, chips and tea served up!

Positive praise was heaped on Lily.  And us as parents.  Suggestions were made for improvement but most of these were exercises that would take place at school.  They just wanted to make sure we were fully aware of what expectations were in place for Lily and the methods used for achievement.

But most of all, it was constantly shared how very much Lily is loved by all at her school.  Words that every parent loves to hear.

Ryan and I climbed back in the car after the meeting was over and simply sat in the quiet for a minute.  Then we actually smiled.  We talked about how we felt leaving that meeting - happy, positive, hopeful.  A funny feeling.

Lily is in a great place.  And so are we.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

It Starts - Take Two

We have started our second attempt at potty training Lily.

Lord help us.

Friday, October 1, 2010

A Funny Thing

I'm about to go mow the grass.

And the strangest thing about that statement?

I actually LIKE mowing the grass.

Growing up, I never liked to do yard work.  There are several possible reasons for this.

It was always blazing hot.  And I didn't like to sweat.

Saturdays were the only day I could sleep late since my life as a carefree student was so very difficult.  I mean, odds were really good that I had gone to eat pizza and see a late movie with friends the night before and I was tired!

Neither of these excuses got me any sympathy at all from my parents who firmly believed in the enforcement of child labor.

But I think the real reason for my strong dislike of yard work was due to the chore I was consistently assigned.

You see, my little brother and I could never really operate any type of machinery in the organized fashion my dad preferred.  Mowers, blowers, trimmers, edgers, sprinklers... you name it, we didn't do it "right".  My dad wanted his lawn mowed with precision and two grumpy, sweaty, snot-nosed kids could not handle the heavy equipment.

But since yardwork was a family chore, we all had to be out there and we all had to be doing work!

So, the job my brother and I were assigned?

The dreaded "Pick Up Sticks".

I sense your smirk and it isn't funny - not at all.  You're thinking, "how hard can picking up a few sticks be?"

Well, I'll tell you.

We were not just picking up large branches that had fallen from trees.  No sir, we were picking up twigs of all sizes:  large, medium, small, and those that needed to be seen with a magnifying glass.  We also picked up pine cones and those round, sticky gumball things you find all over southeast Texas.

You see, the man with the mower was coming behind us and his path had to be clear!

We once cleared 8 acres of every stick, branch, limb, twig, pine cone, dead logs and trees all by ourselves.  OK -  not really.  My parents did help that time.  But 8 acres people!  There was nothing made of wood left on that piece of property when we got done.

My dad was an unashamed stick hater and he took it out on his children.  Maybe now you understand the trauma I suffered.

I'm doing better now, though.  I like to do yardwork.  Actually, I just like to mow the grass.

Now, I'm the one who gets to operate the heavy equipment.

And it's mindless work so I can just let my brain relax - no thinking at all.  And while I'm not a stick hater, (I think maybe that gene skips a generation) I prefer to just mow on over any sticks in my path.  I'm simply too lazy to bend over.

But the best thing about mowing?

You do it on Friday morning and you don't have to think about it again until next Friday morning.  Mowing is unlike any other chore I have in life - laundry, cooking, shopping, errands, cleaning.  All these tasks must be done almost every single day.  But not mowing.  I can finish the yard, put that mower back in the corner of the garage, give it a little pat and say, "see you next week!"

My washer laughs at me when I try that.

Me.  Liking to mow the grass.  Who would'a thunk?

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