Monday, July 30, 2012

The Certain Gift of a Pink House

This life of mine has doled out its fair share of heart-scratchers lately. It wears me down with scary regularity.

I keep crying Uncle, you know? And sometimes, when I cry it loud enough, I'm given a reprieve.

Last weekend was Reprieve. Capital R. So indulge me, and I'll tell you all about it.

First, Friday. Back at Christmas we were given a gift certificate to a fancy-pants tapas-style restaurant. If it tells you anything, the gift certificate was in the amount of one hundred dollars. I know, right? (Cory hates it when people say that. Hi, Honey!)

So I curled my hair and spackled my lips and off we went, though not after making stops at both Ace Hardware and Lowes, because we still have a house to build, people.

Here's what we ordered:
Pomegranate Martini (moi)
House cocktail (rum and fresh lime) (cory)
Heirloom tomato bruschetta
Guacamole with fried wonton chips
Corn and clam chowder (for Cory)
Pan-fried, pepper-crusted sirloin with shitaake mushroom sauce
Fancy French fries in a fancy paper cone with fancy paprika dipping sauce
Sauteed local sweet corn
Three berry Napoleon with lemon curd

Our bill came to $92 buckaroos. Can you even imagine? But holy cow, the food. It made my chicken taco look like it straight-up rolled out of the corner Speedway.

I spent most of the meal yammering about all kinds of ridiculosity and people-watching, though I had to squint a little because it was so fancy-dim. I wondered, who takes kids to a place like that on a random Friday? What is it like to live that life? 

I'm not gonna lie, I felt kind of blingy and luxurious. It was fun to be extravagant (on someone else's dime.)

But you know what was even more fun? Coming home, tucking kids into bed, yanking off any/all constricting garments, donning my ugliest socks, and hunkering down for some Netflix with my feet pressed up against Cory.

That right there is the best of everything. It's my go-to, slow-down, find-some-center routine and it's more delicious than local corn or shitaake anything.

Saturday we drove up to South Haven and spent the night in a rental house with Cory's brother and his wife. I knew it was a good sign when we drove up and the house was pink.

So, we did what you do. We hit the beach, slow-poked around, stayed up way too late watching TV on the screened-in porch with salsa bowls in our laps. We puttered and ate greasy burgers and ice cream cones. We shopped just a little. Talked an awful lot. Grilled steaks. Read our books.

It was perfection. All of it.

Over and over I thought, this weekend was just what I needed.

We drove home last night all sandy and pink, exhaustion wrapped around us like a hug.

Five minutes after walking through the door, Silas chucked all over the carpet. And then again in the bathroom sink. (You read that right. shudder) We got him tucked in just in time for the waterworks to begin across the hall, in suite 2. Both Biggers were in hysterics over topics ranging from, "But I miiiiiisssss the big waaaaaaaaves!" to "What will happen to me if both of you die?"

Silas ended up in bed with us and kicked me in the ribs all the live-long night.

Then we woke up today only to discover that every last one of us was grumpy and gripey, so we called some friends and met up at the walking path to blow off some steam.

Sitting there in the gazebo with my friend, things felt better again. Life is about every single moment, all of them, twisted together in a knot. You can't decide that you're only taking the fair or gilded strands. The thought was so tangible, there in the shade. This is real life, and all of it's beautiful. Every part gives meaning and perspective to the next. Just when I was ready to jump up and pluck that invisible string, really make it sing, we heard some distant screaming.

It sounded so wild and uncivilized that I chalked it up to one of those uninhibited, joyful kid screams. Only it kept getting louder and it got even crazier and then we realized that the kids weren't running toward us in crazy-summer-fun mode, they were all-out nutso-terrified-tormented screaming.

We ran to them and all the while I'm scanning every visible inch of all five little bodies, looking for a missing hand or excessive blood - any blood - because that's just how hysterical they were, and by "they", I mostly mean my kids and by "my kids", I mostly mean Ruby. I've never seen anything like it. It was traumatic.

Turns out they had been attacked by a swarm of angry bees. Like that scene in Tom and Jerry. The bees were still chasing them hundreds of yards from where they first met. Calvin was stung once on the ear but was screaming exponentially louder than his buddy, who had been stung about fifteen times, or Silas, who had a rogue bee still trapped inside his shirt.

It was revealed hours later that even poor Charles had suffered multiple stings.

We got them all de-stingered, Benadryled and showered. I thanked Jesus over and over that none of the kids are allergic. I put all of my people in jammies and made them Pizzadillas for lunch. Sarah dropped by with surprise dessert in the middle of a Monday.

This. Real life. Good. Bad. Beautiful.

The afternoon was slow and steady, all of us reveling in the quiet truth that we had good reason to mope around a little. I made Zucchini cupcakes and Spanish rice for Bible Study.

Of course, the Spanish rice was still a crunchy, soupy mess when it was time to go, so I showed up with just dessert and now I have ten servings of Spanish rice to plow through over the next several days. Of course.

All of this is the gift I've been given. And the orange-glazed cake could never be bad, but it sure as heck wouldn't have been as good had it not come on the heels of a hundred ticked-off bees.


  1. Oh my word! What an adventure..from fancy dining to de-swarming the are a super hero! No doubt about it! Thanks for.keeping it real... :)

  2. Oh, South Haven! Glad you had a happy time. Scary bees. You saved the day.

  3. 1. I want your South Haven experience so darn bad you just have no idea.

    2. You can keep the bees.

    3. Call me, maybe?

  4. Poor babies! I'm glad there wasn't any blood, but can vouch for the multiple sting attacks being scream worthy, only with hornets. $100 gift certificate to a swanky restaurant? What a blessing for you two. And sorry about the barfing in the sink. It sounds about as bad as the tub...

  5. Fantastic. Entertaining. Inspiring. I loved reading this, Shannan! :o)

  6. if anyone can eat that much rice, it is surely YOU.

    you totes deserved a reprieve. hallelujah!

  7. Oh dear! What a day (or rather days!). Sometimes, the day requires a little less umph and a little more of nothin'....we've had a few days like that around here. Cheers to better days!

  8. Thank you for sharing this! I needed a reminder that it's not only the good things that make life beautiful but all of it, the good and the bad. I am sorry about everything going on with you guys though. You always seem so happy and positive about things, but I can only imagine that it's hard and that your heart silently breaks frequently. Hope the goodness of your realization stays with you :)

  9. Not Charles too??? Pappaw said he is sure he has told them never to run from the bees. Another life lesson learned. I am so glad you had a great get away. Just in time for the big moving day coming up.

  10. This made me cry. I'm having SuCh a hard time accepting ALL the strings lately. Meh

  11. Good gravy. I'm crying uncle FOR you. A fresh new day is in order for you.

  12. So beautifully, powerfully written. Life is wild and haphazard and you illustrated that PERFECTLY. (In fact, why don't you send it off to Brain Child?)

  13. Thanks for the reminder that each string of life is woven of different threads, good and bad. After the last 2 weeks I have had, it bears remembering.

  14. So now I'm picturing a "monkey fist" knot - all tied up with different colored embroidery floss...

    Side note. When I tend to sing John Mellencamp far too often... driving through small towns.

  15. Sorry that life has been even rougher then usual but so glad that God has given your perspective and good friends and family.

    Our week has been an emotional one and my best friend showed up with cheesecake and doughnuts yesterday! It wasn't even the food although that helped but really but rather the thought that someone knew me and loved me enough to bring my favorites - and tell all of our kiddos that they were 'grown up' food!

  16. Shannan! Please tell me the "pink house" was a victorian on Superior Street in South Haven. If it was my mother grew up in that house.

    1. Right town, right color, wrong street.

      Incidentally, every town should have at least two pink houses. It should be a law.

  17. "Life is about every single moment, all of them, twisted together in a knot. You can't decide that you're only taking the fair or gilded strands."
    Oh, man. I'm thankful to read this today, when it seems a lifetime since I've had a fair strand. Way to point to the bigger picture.

  18. This, my dear, is pure poetry: "Life is about every single moment, all of them, twisted together in a knot. You can't decide that you're only taking the fair or gilded strands. The thought was so tangible, there in the shade. This is real life, and all of it's beautiful. Every part gives meaning and perspective to the next."

    As corny as it sounds, I love coming to your space to read something that feels so home-y to me. It makes sense, it touches my heart and it's just amazing. Thank you.

  19. We are there, too. Mono, head lice. Missed vacations. Birthdays. Difficult people. Friends who care and pray and love. All the good and all the rough, all wrapped up in this beautiful life.

  20. My sister shared this with me and I'm so glad. It was lovely.

  21. Just another day in paradise! I love your story-telling Shanny! ~SallyWally

  22. love every line of this...thank you

  23. I've come to think that when something good and relaxing happens that God is buttering me up for what comes next. Then I tend not to want to do anything good or relaxing because I'm just plain worn out and don't think I can take a heap of anything else. Next thing I know I'm up to my ears in something fun and letting my hair down. And then I find myself in the ER with a kid two or three days later. BUT. The cake that follows is much sweeter. True, true Shannaloo.


  24. Lord have mercy on my soul - I don't even know where to begin. I feel oddly responsible for Siley's propensity to vomit - ever since I gave him a ride on that fool stuffed animal - was it a bee? Which brings me to the bees. Did you REALLY have to de-stinger them? If not - it was wasps that attacked Rubies - not bees. I'm so hoping it wasn't bees - cause as a beekeeper, I like to live in a world where the bees just make honey - and don't sting people. If it was bees - law - they must have been right up in hive by a tree or something and the bees felt threatened. I have no idea why I need to apologize for the bees. OK - moving on. Your meal did sound dreamy - and you know me - I would feel so guilty saying "we've could have eaten for a WEEK on this!" ha - good thing it was a gift certifcate..enjoy....and lastly - ain't it the Good Lord's own truth that home is best - saints be praised for Netflix. You have a swoony life Shabs. You might just not see it from your perspective there in the trenches, with vomit and all. xoxoxo

  25. Thank you for this hilarious reality of life! "Life is about every single moment, all of them, twisted together in a knot. You can't decide that you're only taking the fair or gilded strands."...I need to put this on a post-it note beside my bed! Every day lately seems to run the same crazy, good, horrific,bad & beautiful theme you just painted in this post! I needed this reminder that it's all a gift, and we wouldn't appreciate the simple "good" things if it weren't for the bad that comes with it!

  26. So much to say...first, I used to live in a pink house. Yes sirree, bob. Second, my husband was attacked by yellow jackets three times about a week ago. This story involves him putting on snowpants, a winter coat, and a scarf. Oh, if only I had a camera. Third, I like you. Each time I visit, I am reminded of that. Yep, I am.

  27. What an absolutely beautiful message you have here. It's all worth having, even the bumpy, ugly bits.

  28. yay for free food!!! i'm so sorry you've been crying uncle lately. life sucks sometimes. it just does. big big hugs from va! miss you!!!

  29. why don't we live closer?!

    i want to hang out with you! because you pretty much rock!

  30. I just thank the Lord for the highs in this life, because the lows sure have me glad I'm only visiting this planet.

    I had to laugh at Jayme up there apologizing for the bees! And I must apologize for hoping there won't be bees in heaven. Surely the land of milk and honey has sweet, stingerless, heavenly bees. And their honey slapped on big buttermilk biscuits with butter. And pink houses. Amen.

  31. Sounds like a good weekend :-) well aside from the bees. Oh and also, the child elbowing the ribs - been there (currently actually) :-)

  32. you have never written a post I didn't love. Always so happy when I find my way back here -- missed ya friend

  33. Pizzadillas to the rescue!

  34. I think there may be something wrong with me. There is so much in that post to ponder and to learn from, and all I can do is laugh and laugh at the bees-chasing-hysterical-kids scene.
    I really did watch too much Tom and Jerry as a child. Note to self: IT IS NOT FUNNY IN REAL LIFE.

    I feel rebuked ;)

  35. You know that emoticon on the iPhone where the guy just stares with really big eyes? Unmoving. No blinking. Seeming not to comprehend only because he is still processing the crazy you have just laid bare? That's me right now. Some people need their own show and none of them live in Jersey.

  36. Love this!!! You sure have one heck of an interesting life! So glad I'm a part of it. I have to tell you that I'm a bit in love with Siley these days, I want to permanently scoop him onto my lap and rub his soft skin.

  37. Yep. It's all good. All of it. Speaking of it the way you did, it's beautiful worship. Remarkable, actually. That grace is truly amazing.

  38. I just tweet the lines, "Life is about every single moment, all of them, twisted together in a knot. You can't decide that you're only taking the fair or gilded strands." LOVE that, Ess.

    SO sorry the kids got all stung up! Kev's been stung twice this year, so I'm obsessed with looking at the ground whenever I walk around outside now! :-O

  39. Thanks. I always enjoy reading your posts - they are always humorous and intelligent. You can learn more: China tour packages | China travel packages | China Travel Agency

  40. AllMandarin is the only company that can give you an excellent alternative to learn Mandarin Chinese that is not only better, but also more efficient in terms of cost, flexibility and learning methods.I am a Chinese teacher,you can learn more about Free Chinese language info: Learn mandarin online | Learn mandarin Chinese | Mandarin Teacher