Thursday, March 13, 2014

Four Plus Zero Equals Four

I had my last child when I was 36. The rude hospital staff wrote 'Advanced Maternal Age' on my paperwork. If they hadn't had all the mothers leave in wheel chairs I would have been really offended.

Last October my little guy turned 4 and I turned 40.

Over the past few months I cannot help but notice that the two of us have much more in common besides the number four.  Things like irrationality, mood swings, and tearful fits come to the front of my mind.

For instance, when people do not immediately comply with his wishes he throws back his head and howls like an animal.

I get that. I really, really get that.

I howl, too. Say we've invited someone to come for dinner, so I ask my children to clear the table of school debris and set the plates and silverware out. I see that the table is set, and feel happy and proud.  I pull out a chair for the guest to sit in only to see that it is occupied by all of the school stuff.  That  is enough to send me howling like a wolf.  A rabid, half-starved wolf.

Sometimes, when he just can't take it anymore, my little man sits down in the floor and cries til he cannot cry anymore.

I do that. I really, really do that.

Not all the time, mind you. This age I'm at though, it makes me examine my feelings.  Maybe it's my hormones, I don't know. Sometimes, like once a month or so, it just really gets to me that the walls aren't painted the color I would like, or that someone forgot to run the dishwasher before bed, or that I can't figure out how to set the clock on the stove, or that someone found my chocolate stash. The big stuff, you know? All I know is that sometimes life feels completely overwhelming and I have got to cry about it.  Or punch someone in the face. Crying seems like the healthier choice.

My four year old wants to wear pajamas all day long. If I tell him he cannot go outside unless he is wearing clothes, he smartly puts them on over his pajamas.

I also want to wear pajamas all day,  every day. I smartly call mine 'yoga pants' and no one seems to know any different.  Put on husband's t-shirt, take of bra, you've got pajamas. Put bra on, cute work out shirt, people think you've worked out. Put a cardigan on over the whole ensemble and you've got 'chic mama' written all over your flour-covered butt.

My guy has some serious mood swings. One morning he told me I was the 'worst mother in town' (ha, I thought, you don't even know!). I took it like a champ while implementing the latest trend in discipline in our home - taking away beloved Legos.  Later that afternoon, after making a stellar peanut butter and jelly sandwich, cut into triangles, served with a side of baby carrots and a cold cup of milk, I was bestowed the honor of "The Most Beautiful Mother in the World". The kid said it with his chocolate brown eyeballs peering up at me beneath dark lashes, and I could have wept.

"I'm not the worst mother in town?"  I asked, reminding him of his earlier appraisal.

"No!" he exclaimed in a shocked voice, "That was not me this day that said that."

Sadly, that also sounds familiar.

There have been moments much like that in my recent  life, when my cool seems to have left the building.

I am reminded of a recent morning, when I was due to be somewhere, and could not find a bra.  A bra for goodness sake!  I ranted. I raved. I climbed into the dryer. I tore through the pile of clean laundry atop the laundry table ('It's not a laundry table!' I shouted, 'It's a folding table! For folding laundry!')  I lined the four children and one husband up in the hallway and interrogated them individually. They each claimed innocence. Someone offered to make me a new bra. Someone else offered to go ask a neighbor for one. Can you feel their desperation?

Suddenly, I recalled reading an article about the evils of underwire. It scared me, so I threw out all of my bras.  It was 10 p.m., and I didn't need a bra then.  Foresight is not my specialty.

One brave soul had been digging in my underwear drawer and found a bra reserved for special occasions because of it's pink color and distinct discomfort inducing encasement (everyone knows that uncomfortable lingerie is reserved for special occasions). That was the winner - we just cut the underwire out and hoped for the best.

Before I left the house I kissed and hugged everyone and told them how much I loved them.  My four year old asked, "You're not mad anymore?"  I shook my head no.

"You're not moving to Siberia?"

"That wasn't me who said that this day,"  I told him.  He shook his head solemnly.

My four year old totally gets me.





Friday, December 27, 2013

Simple Things


But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.  1 Corinthians 1:27


Every house we've lived in, my brother asks me where it is. Erik knows it goes on my dresser, its designated place of honor. If it's not there, it's not our home yet.



Back when we were in school, Santa's Workshop was a little store filled with dinky gifts children could buy for family members. It was a big deal when you got to go through, the anticipation building for weeks as you waited your turn to take a look on the school stage where tables had been set up. Sometimes a teacher even dressed up as Santa.

My senior year of high school Erik picked this little gem out for me. I was 18, and he was 11, and our brother Todd was 14. I opened it up, and I wondered if his proud smile would split his face in two.

One of my favorite things about my brother is that he does not see himself as abnormal even though he is developmentally disabled. Rather, he thinks the rest of the world is a little off kilter. The more years that go by, the more I start to see things his way.

So, I unwrapped his present, which involved far more tape than paper. I pulled it out of its flimsy box and unfolded the glass encased in cheap plastic. Reading the little sentiment, "Chance made us sisters, Hearts made us friends.", I had all the thoughts of a smug young adult. I thought it was cute, I loved the effort my special brother had put into his gift, and I thought it was just one more thing he had gotten wrong. I giggled a little, and held it up for my family to see, so that they could join in my private joke.

Erik was serious, though, his blue eyes clear and sincere. He took the plaque from me,  and said in his halting, slurred speech, "They got the words wrong. It's supposed to say 'Chance made you my sister, hearts made us friends.'"

We were all silent. There was nothing to say.  I had started to make a joke of a special gift, discounting it because it wasn't just right.  I had been properly put in my place by love, turned right side up by being turned upside down. My brother, who came home to us when he was 18 months from a foster home, stunted from lack of love and food, understood the unspoken far more than I ever would know.  How could something so gentle hurt so deeply?



All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost
J.R.R. Tolkien


I have toted that little glass plaque for twenty years, through countless moves. It is precious to me in intangible ways. It roots me, I think, when I am feeling like I don't belong. It does not serve to remind me of my thoughtless self, but instead helps me remember that  it is the simple things of this world that teach us the deepest truths. 


I am so thankful for simple things.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Treasure Hunting

I do not love shopping. I do not like the time it takes, I do not like that I fall prey to every sales tactic in the book, and I do not like having to talk to sales clerks.  When I do go shopping, I typically have a list, a very specific list. I get in and get out. While I enjoy picking out gifts for people, I just don't care to dilly dally in a store.

My mother, on the other hand, is dilly dallier of professional quality.  Mom must touch everything, smell some things, make new friends, and force others to try on clothes.  There is no list when she goes shopping, there is only going. Mom doesn't really even care where she shops, she takes her task just as seriously no matter if she is at Macy's or Family Dollar.

I am my mother's only daughter, so guess who always won the honor of Christmas shopping with her?

I remember nestling myself among coats and trying to nap while she got her shop on. I would try to convince her that someone on her list needed bedding just so I could find a soft spot to set my tush. I was so disappointed that the bedding under the pretty comforters was not actually soft. Thankfully mother does not believe in shopping without sustenance, so I was promised a coke and a soft pretzel from the food court at some point during our trek.

Oh, my how I groaned, complained, rolled my eyes, and dragged my feet. I must have driven her crazy on those trips.

At some point, though, I started paying attention. I saw how her eyes lingered on a necklace, or how she ran a hand over a book cover. I also saw how she never bought herself anything. For mom, shopping at Christmas was truly about finding something special for the family and friends she loved. Mom never bought a gift just to have something to give, she always put a lot of thought into it.

I'm not sure how old I was when Dad asked if I had any ideas for Mom's Christmas present, but I know my answer was, "We were at this store, and she loved this one thing."

That's how my Dad and I started the tradition of going shopping for mom on Christmas Eve. I would drag my father around to half the stores in Lexington to show him every bauble, sweater, and throw pillow that I had seen Mom admire. As I got older, I got much better at deciphering true longing from mere admiration from my mother. In the beginning I took every 'oooh' and 'aaah' as the gospel, so Mom probably ended up with some real doozies for gifts.

The value in those shopping excursions with my Dad was not in learning how to pick out gifts, it was in getting to see how much my dad loved his bride. I quickly learned that my father would, quite literally, buy anything I suggested mom had admired. He wanted his gifts to be special, and finding something that Mom would not ever buy for herself was the treasure hunt. Dad also wanted the gift to have meaning, it was not just so that Mom had something to unwrap on Christmas morning. My dad is a man of few facial expressions, but watching him watch Mom open was (almost) my favorite part of Christmas morning.  The smile on his face and the twinkle in his eye was, and is, childlike. Oh, and Mom as she opened the gift whispering, "Oh, you naughty man, what have you done?" but grinning like the cheshire cat -  the best ever. I love those glimpses of my parents.  They truly did teach me how to love.

The funny thing is that I do not remember many of the gifts that we picked out. The time with Dad was special, and I could tell that Mom was just thrilled at how much thought he had put into her gifts. I loved going from store to store, and ending our day with lunch  or dinner out.  We'd come home and mom would say, "What have you two been doing?" and we would make a production of acting as if we had no luck. Even though I am married and have children we still keep up with our Christmas Eve shopping trips as much as possible. I suspect that my teenage daughters will soon join in, maybe with their dad.

As I look back on the extravagance my father enjoyed lavishing on his bride, I am reminded that Christmas is a time we reflect on the extravagance of our heavenly father. He sent his son to us as the greatest gift of love, lavishing humanity with redemption. God did not have to fight his way through lines for our gift, but through history. He had the perfect gift chosen before creation, but was patient as he waited to bestow the world with the perfect package, wrapped humbly in humanness. I can only imagine the delight God takes when one of his children discovers the Light of the World, how he must smile, how his eyes must twinkle.



I know that life does not stop simply because it is December 25th, I know it can be heavy. Illnesses do not take a break, bill collectors do not give miracles, and sometimes visiting family feels more like trying to make it safely through a minefield. We can take a breath, though, and remember the gift. We can let the light of Christ fill us, even if only for a few short minutes, and know:


Every good and perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of heavenly lights,
Who does not change like shifting shadows. (James:1:17)






Take time to remember the decadence from our Creator, the gift of our humble servant, Jesus, and may the light of the Holy Spirit be with you, always.





Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Preparing for the Worst

I truly believe the #1 rule of parenthood should be that mothers are not allowed to get sick. Ever.

I will say that I don't get sick often, but when I do it's bad. Like, DEFCON 1.

A few weeks ago my husband was quite ill and we had to go to the doctor's office 5 or 6 times in a week. A doctor's office is a great place to pick up a plethora of ailments, I must say.  We finally had him on the road to recovery (albeit a long road, but a road nonetheless) and I had started to relax. I took the kids to a park, and then out to dinner. At the park, I thought I felt funny. Once at the restaurant I knew I was in for it. My stomach was making strange sounds and I couldn't swallow one bite of my favorite cheeseburger.

"Finish your food ASAP,"  I said, "We've got to go. Now."

These kids know when I'm serious. They flagged our server down and let her know we needed boxes, and we were out the door in 5 minutes flat.

My four children each take a different tactic when I'm ill, depending on the illness. The oldest feels sorry for me, but from afar. The second born is mainly concerned about contracting whatever illness I have so she also mostly stays away. My third is a boy at the age where he still adores me, so he'll do kind things for me. If it's a cold, I get tea and crackers and broth after begging for a fairly short amount of time. If I'm actually running a fever he will throw a towel, only slightly damp, over me and leave the Advil just out of my reach. Our fourth is only four, but he will bring me his Pooh bear, a pillow, and a cup of milk. The problem is they don't want to catch what I've had, or they've each had it and gotten over it and quickly forget how absolutely horrible they felt.

 However, if I've got the pukes no one will come within 30 feet of me. Well, once when Liam was three he hung out with me for all 3 main events, clapping and shouting, "Great job, Mommy!" Not so much now that he is four.

Now, my husband was so sick that he could barely move. He had a serious infection and was on 3 types of antibiotics, as well as pain pills. Once we got home I started scrubbing toilets (you need a clean canvas for Pete's sake) and tidying the kitchen.

"What are you doing?"  my husband called.

"Preparing for the worst,"  I answered. "I'm getting ready to launch like NASA, which means I'll be down for at least 24 hours, which means if I get it clean maybe they can keep it clean."

By 'they' I meant our four children, ages 15 to 4. Surely to goodness they could pull of 24 hours of being parented remotely.

The night was still young. Children paraded in and out of the guest room, where I had set up headquarters,  as if I were the Queen and they were coming to court. My boy wanted to stay the night at a friend's house, so he and his friends came in and out, passing me handwritten notes begging for an overnight. There were tears as I remained firm in my decision - we were going to need all hands on deck the next day and I didn't need a sleep deprived ten year old to deal with. The older girls know when to take advantage of a situation and began reminding me of money I supposedly owed them. I think I finally shouted, "Go. Leave a woman in peace before all the food I've eaten in the last twelve hours makes a re-appearance."

The kids went on to bed and I watched a movie while I waited for the final countdown.  My darling husband dragged himself from his sickbed to hold a wet washcloth to the back of my neck. That is love, people.

When I finally came to the next morning, around 10, the kids had already eaten breakfast (sugar cookies and pizza) and had a second breakfast (bowls of cereal and hot tea). Apparently they wanted me to know what they had eaten because the dishes were laying everywhere. I asked them to put their dishes into the dishwasher but received no acknowledgement.  So, I made gagging noises and boy did those kids move!  Nothing like the fear of your mother puking on you as motivation.

They cleaned up, I talked them through making chicken soup (open can, pour can in pan, heat) and then slept some more.

A couple of hours later they poked me with the end of a broom as the little guy poured tea over my head.

"What the heck?"  I asked.

"Are you awake?" the older ones asked.

"I made you tea, mommy," the youngest one said. Apparently he wasn't trying to waterboard me, but was attempting to give me sustenance. Tricky to tell sometimes.

"Mom, we have a problem,"  my oldest child said. I was worried. I had survived a stomach bug, and in the middle of it all my poor husband had driven himself to the emergency room after a serious case of hives (he looked like a klingon after battle), so I could only imagine the worst.

 "We're out of dishes."

"I'm sorry,"  I said, worried I had thrown up my brain and was not comprehending what was being said.

"No, it's true, Mom,"  my older daughter said somberly, "All the dishes are dirty. The pans, everything."

I rolled off the couch and crawled into the kitchen.

Well, those kids weren't kidding. There was a mountain of stainless steel, plastic containers, mugs, plates, and bowls. Sticking out sporadically was silverware, like decorations for the mountain. I think they must have gone to the neighbor's and used their pans, too. I must say, I was stunned.  These kids have daily chores that include loading and unloading the dishwasher.

Then it hit me. They were trying to cure me by scaring the virus out of me! Everyone knows that when a mother feels needed she is miraculously healed, right?

I attempted to get off the floor but my stomach let me quickly know that wasn't a great idea. I had the smallest kid bring me the pillow and beach towel from the living room so I could give directions from the kitchen floor. An hour later they were done, and used my towel to wipe up the floor.

Then I made my husband sign a contract agreeing that we would never, ever be sick at the same time again.

Later, when we were all saying goodnight, Spencer said, "Isn't it nice to be needed, Mom?"

Yes, yes it is.



Thursday, December 12, 2013

Love Where You Live




It's funny how sometimes you say something out loud, like, "I will never live in a small town." thinking that will never happen to you.  I said that about a year ago, and 7 months later found myself living in a small town. That God. Isn't he a funny guy?

You know what, though?  I kind of love it here, in my small town. All the things I thought I would dislike about it, I actually love. I love the close knit feeling of the community, and how everybody REALLY does know everybody, and how two weeks before we moved here most of the people knew a lot about us. I love that the first week we lived here we went to the 4-H fair and watched pig wrestling. I love that I can walk or ride my bike almost anywhere that I really want to go. I love that people will say to me, "Hey, you're the new pastor's wife, right?". I just feel like we belong here.

What's funny is, I've felt like that every place that we've lived. 

I never thought I would move away from my hometown in Kentucky - we lived in an apartment around the corner from my parents for the first year Lee and I were married. My parents still live in the house we moved into when I was 5, and I assumed that it would be that way for us. Not so much. While we have not moved nearly as much as some families I know, we've  moved more than we ever thought we would.

Moving is difficult, don't let me sugar coat it for you. Moving is especially difficult when you have teenagers. You don't realize how much your identity is wrapped up where you live, but it is. Almost two years ago we moved (three days after Christmas and two days after my father had a major surgery ending his cancer treatment), and while it was an extremely stressful time, we moved to a house and neighborhood that we loved, and we had churches who loved us and it was perfect. Eighteen months later we were packing again. In fact, there were still a couple of boxes we had never unpacked still in the garage!

Our city hall park where the boys love to run.


I have learned to focus on the positive during the transition periods, rather than the stress that can be overwhelming. For instance,the house we have moved into looks a lot like the house I grew up in, and we can walk to Main Street in two minutes. Neighbors stopped in to say 'hi' as we were unpacking, and our church family couldn't have been warmer. While saying goodbye to our friends we had made in our previous city was hard, our new friends made the transition easier.



My guys and the lion.

 I have learned, during these changes,  that people are mostly the same everywhere you go. There are good people, cranky people, funny people, and quirky people and they live in every town and city. Like every place, our town has it's share of problems, but like every town it also has truly wonderful qualities.


 I take walks around our town when I'm feeling homesick for other places, when I can't shake the thought that I am an alien in a strange land. As I walk I thank God for little things I see, and remember that we are all, essentially, longing for home. One day I'll get there, to my real home, but for now I love where I'm at.


Main Street, U.S.A.


Doesn't he look like an elf?
My little buddy!

What do you love about where you live?

























Sunday, December 8, 2013

How a Church Becomes Family - part 1


I was raised in the church, in a good church, but there came a time when I struck out on my own. Strayed from the flock. Went my own way. Wandered down the path of destruction.

Well, maybe it wasn't that bad.

I got married in the church I grew up in, and Lee and I played church every now and then. We were definitely Christians, and that felt good enough. I all the time said, "If going to a garage made me a mechanic, then going to church would make me a Christian."  I had read that somewhere, and sounded like I believed it when I said it.  I didn't really believe it, though.  I remembered my church, mission trips, and amazing friends and their families, and I knew that I was missing out. It just sounded so good,  you know?

Then we had our first child.

Game changer.

Then we moved away from our families, to another state.

Game ender.

We were on our own, with two little daughters.  I remember as we turned onto the main road in our new neighborhood, my mom saying, "You should try that church,"  as we passed by.

A  couple weeks later we decided to try it. I went alone, though, because we didn't want to feel pressured to come back. We had seen others families swooped in on by parishioners, hugging them and being all nice.

We certainly didn't want any of that business.

I mean, we were FINE.

You know, the 'fine' you say through gritted teeth.

I sat in a back pew, in the aisle seat so I could make a quick escape if necessary. A man sat next to me and started talking to me like he knew me. I turned my head to look at him, and he was so shocked, "I am so sorry. I thought you were my wife. You're sitting in her spot."  We laughed so hard about that. I moved up one pew, still sticking to the aisle.

The church was nice. The liturgy was familiar. The pastor was kind and accessible, it seemed. Then he said we should each hug someone near us.

Aw, man. There it was. The hugging.

I made it through and told Lee I enjoyed the church service. We went as a family a week or two later, endured the swooping and more hugging. Soon we had friends that we looked forward to seeing each week, and a couple that we saw outside of church, too. We started going to Sunday school, and women's circle meetings (well, just me, Lee wasn't allowed), Wednesday night suppers. Somehow I joined the choir, and then we were teaching Sunday school.

We were in love with our church, and our church was in love with Jesus, and that love for Jesus just kept trickling down to us til we caught on.

I remember teaching a children's Sunday school class and not being able to wait until it was over to talk to Lee because dots had been connected and it was AMAZING!

"Jesus was celebrating Passover with the disciples. The Passover is a celebration of the angel of death passing over the Israelites and setting them free from captivity!" I excitedly told Lee once we were at home, "The blood of the lamb protected them, and Jesus is the lamb whose blood sets us free!"

Revelation, baby.

Oh, that I could bottle up the joy of that time, of discovering God's way, his Truth, and the life in him. It was a miraculous time.

It was a tumultuous time for us as well, though. We were struggling financially, and by struggling I mean barely eeking by. We had credit card debt that I thought would kill us. We had phone calls from debt collectors that either ended with me screaming or crying, or both. I felt so called to be a stay at home mom we were determined to make it work, but it was hard because Lee wasn't feeling fulfilled in his job. (Actually, he kept telling me that he thought was calling him into ministry, but I told him God clearly had the wrong number.) Plus, we had done the numbers; any job I got would barely cover child care.

That's where I discovered the importance of church becoming family. There were women I could confide my fears in, and these women would assure me they had been where I was and made it. They encouraged me to stay the course. They simply encouraged me. These women taught me to delve into my bible for answers, for consolation, for courage. There were women who I could talk to for hours on end (who remembers sitting in their car with me after a Ruth circle meeting and suddenly realizing it was two in the morning?), and there were couples who took us under their wings, feeding us physically and spiritually. Age didn't matter, I learned to be friends with women three times my age just as easily women the same age as I.

Having a church family who leaned on us provided comfort as well. We were able to grow a lot in learning to listen, and to pray for friends at church. We were humbled by others who had faith in our ability to pray for them, who shared stories of heartache unimaginable. We were encouraged by the fact that these people got up and kept going. Knowing that we all struggle with something helped us to feel less alone in our struggle, helped us to keep on chugging.

We made friends for life, there at that church. We played cards and board games and had Christmas feasts together.  All those memories sparkle for me.

I know it sounds too good to be true, but this is how God's family works, my friends.

I especially remember a Christmas in our home church when I was pregnant with our third child, who would be born January 6. Sitting in the sanctuary, hearing my church family singing all around me, watching my sweet daughters prance around in their Christmas clothes, I felt like I had a glimpse of heaven.  A friend gave me a gift after Christmas Eve service, a baking stone - she remembered me saying a couple of weeks earlier that I had always wanted one. It felt so extravagant, so special, and I remember that feeling still every time I use it all these years later.



Then it was over. God had another plan for us besides the one I had charted out.  We moved again, to another state, and my husband had another ministry position in another church. I thought my heart would break for missing our church family, our family who had surely helped birth us into a new life, raising us up from infancy to maturity in our Christian faith.

My heart didn't break though, and slowly over time, I came to have friends at our new church.

One day I realized that I had not lost our church family. (I promise I am not saying this because I've been overdosing on Hallmark channel Christmas movies.)  Our church family was with me in my courage to keep my heart open to new friends, when I unpacked Christmas decorations and got out a handcrafted wooden nativity, when I held a hand carved wooden cross, when I singing a hymn that I had learned to love. I believe that God puts people in our lives, for a time, for a reason. I am so grateful for our home church, for the gift of love that they gave our family, and for every memory we have: talent shows, Wednesday night suppers (F.C. made THE best chicken fried steak, hands down), choir rehearsals, prayer concerns where the children took over,VBS decorating, and so many more that would fill a book.

I don't feel corny talking about my church family anymore. I just thank God that I have one.








Friday, December 6, 2013

Dear Family

Dear Family of Mine,

This is an open letter from your wife and mother, respectively. I'm not writing to accuse or judge, berate or belittle. I just want to give you each permission to you fully participate in our home life.

I'm writing because I've done this in person a million times (no exaggerating here) and ya'll just don't seem to hear me. If you do hear me you choose to ignore me, and I simply cannot believe that could be true.

Could it?

You see, I have noticed, dear family, that you leave empty containers in their places.

Perhaps this is to keep our trashcan from filling too quickly?

To conserve water lest you have to hand wash a reusable container?

I appreciate your conservation efforts, dear ones, but I want to set you free from unrealistic expectations.

You can throw that stuff out, darlings. If it is empty, it has no place in our pantry. Cereal boxes can be recycled, no need to set them back on top of the refrigerator.  I give you permission, sweet children and husband of my heart, to walk the extra two feet to the trashcan and dispose of the trash. 

Maybe I haven't been clear about this in the past. Maybe my accusatory, "Who ate the last one?" has caused you each to want to hide the evidence in plain site. I promise I do not really have a finger printing kit, and I regret telling you that I did. I also regret taking your fingerprints, as that may have been going too far. I'm sorry.

I am just trying to understand.

Sometimes I wonder if one of you, or all of you, want to go into spelunking and are trying it out in our fridge. I mean, empty tubs of yogurt and cottage cheese stacked on empty egg cartons block the light bulb - trying to find the dijon mustard truly is like belly crawling through a deep, dark cave. The result is similar as well, as I always return covered in stickiness and smelling funny.

Half eaten pizza hanging out on the shelf.

Cardboard does NOT need refrigeration.


I have also pondered why, oh, why, my loves, you feel it is useful in any way to prop the new toilet paper on top the empty tube still on the thingy.  Oh, my, there comes the berating. Allow me to step away for a moment.
Why?


Alright, I snapped out of it, thanks to some dark chocolate.
 
What I am trying to say, please help a mother out and dispose of disposables. 

Please.

Before I lose what is left of my ever-loving mind.

In love and appreciation,

Me