Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Parker Year in Facebook Posts

To begin, a classic Parker moment:

January 15: 4:40 a.m.--Mrs. Parker sits straight up in bed, awakened by the sense that somewhere in the house, there is poo. 4:43 a.m.--Mr. Parker constructs makeshift poo runway from old beach towels. 4:44 a.m.--Two boxers make use of said runway to escape pooey crate. 4:45 a.m.--Mr. Parker: "Do you hear that sound under the laundry room?"

 Mrs. Parker: "It sounds like Hildy (cat) is under the house and mad about it."

 Mr. Parker: (shakes head) "No, not Hildy. A kitten. A young one...What do you want me to do?"

 Mrs. Parker: "I guess we could go back to bed...sniff...and pretend we never heard the pitiful cries of a tiny kitten that is looking for its mother...sniff...where is its mother? It's freezing outside!"

 Mr. Parker: (sighs, shoots knowing expression)

 Mrs. Parker: "Do you think it's orange?"

 Mr. Parker: (dons old sweatshirt, grabs flashlight, heads for crawlspace access)

Next, change is in the air:

February 17: Exciting, bittersweet times at the Parker house. Matt will be moving to Arkadelphia, Arkansas in a few weeks to serve as the student minister at Second Baptist Church! The kids and I will join him at the conclusion of the school year. We are so proud of Daddy and excited about what the future holds, but we have shed many tears for you, our BBC, Sam Houston, and Corsicana family. Please pray that God will provide a job for me and the right house for us, as we will be praying that he brings the right people to serve, teach, and love the precious ones we are leaving behind.

March 22: We are overwhelmed and humbled by the sweet sendoff we received from our beloved Believers Bible Church family this evening. It is the perfect reflection of what I believe BBC does best--loving people for who they are, drawing them close to Jesus, being completely real, and laughing a lot. BBC, we will always love you!

On God’s provision:

April 16: A few weeks ago, I posted a request for prayer as I was walking into a job interview. Thanks so much for praying, friends. I just received word that I have now officially been assigned the music teacher position at Perritt Primary next year. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Concerning the repeated road trips to Arkadelphia:

May 10: After dragging all four wee Parkers to the bathroom of the Whataburger in Sulphur Springs, I was standing at the counter when I heard a spilling sound and discovered that LUV's "leakproof guarantee" is a scam. I managed to pay and seat the older three at a table with strict instructions to yell, "This is not my mom" if anyone tried to take them and scurried to the car to change Meg. She flopped around in the front seat like a caught fish, screaming loudly enough to draw the stares of onlookers in the parking lot. It then took me five more minutes to locate my keys ("Did you EAT them?!" I shouted to the baby.") Meanwhile, the older three had already chugged one serving of Mountain Dew and were going back for seconds by the time I returned.

I'm not sure if our loved ones in heaven are really taking the time to watch us here on earth. But if my Aunt Jo was tuning in just now, I am positive she was laughing her giant derrière off.

On closure:

May 31: I made it through final contests and final concerts without turning on the waterworks. I was not prepared for the flood of emotion running down my face as I take down my artfully arranged spheres (which the students dubbed "art planets"). My time as Sam Houston's Mrs. Parker has been filled with beautiful things. It is hard to believe that by this time next week this period of our lives will be in the rear view mirror.

On adjusting to Arkadelphia life:

June 27: The girls' bedroom rug is soaking wet, Miles has cried his eyes out, and it's all my fault. Because I was raised in the suburbs. Also, I have poor impulse control. As Mariah was preparing to take a bath in the master bathroom, I glanced out the window. "Holy cow! It's a DEER! In the FRONT YARD!" This amazing news was so important, Mariah dashed upstairs to tell the others, which would have been great if they weren't already taking showers. Merrilee evidently rinsed her hair, threw open the curtain, searched for 2 whole seconds for a towel, and then decided that could wait. Just as I discovered the footprint/puddles on the floor, Miles stumbled into the room, eyes closed, hair full of suds, sans towel and wailing, "Aaaaaagh! My eyes! My eyes!" He had run straight from the shower without stopping to rinse. We peered out the window (well, those of us who weren't squinting in anguish) only to discover that, of course, Bambi's mother was gone.

Or maybe she was hiding in the bushes and laughing at the soggy, naked little people in the window.

Concerning time with Matt’s parents:

July 5: I'd really prefer that none of you hear this story of my mom fail, but since Matt has had to wipe Dr. Pepper spittle off the dash of the Sequoia, and since he claims it's my fault he spit-taked (spit-took?), he insists that I tell you.

Mommy: "Let's take a few minutes to discuss the behaviors and attitudes we expect you to demonstrate with your grandparents while we are in Paraguay. I think we can skip the part about consequences, since you are, by now, well-acquainted with those."

Merrilee: "You can say that again. Hey, did you know that sometimes when you're about to yell at us for lying or something, you sound like an engine on one of those big trucks?"

Mommy (not in a yelling voice, I swear): "You don't say...well, did you know that sometimes when you lie to me you sound like a criminal?"

Cue spit take. Moms of facebook, I'm sure you feel like all-stars now.

July 25: Had a fun time celebrating my in-laws' 45th wedding anniversary at our house with a large group of Matt's family tonight. 45 years, people!

Concerning two important developments:

August 18: After a year or so of searching and asking hard questions, Merrilee trusted Jesus for salvation a few weeks ago. Today her daddy had the privilege of baptizing her. It was a special morning.

August 20: In other news, Parker Cottage is officially under new ownership as of 8 a.m. today. We hope the new owners will make as many happy memories there as we did.

On becoming Mrs. Parker again at a new school:

September 9: Sometimes when it's Monday, you might feel a little sleepy on the way to school. And then maybe one of your little friends might disagree with you concerning a certain classroom expectation. And he might even stage a protest in the form of, you know, biting you on the arm. You might do your best to maintain your positive outlook while choking down your kale salad and unidentifiable puree of other vegetables, even when you are tempted to sneak a bite of your colleague's lunch while she's distracted by some kid howling about her dropped jello.  You might drop your megaphone on your foot during afternoon dismissal duty. Once you finally get home, your husband might discover that there is no vegetable broth to complete the sweet potato/roasted red pepper bisque from the meal plan.

 Then, if you're lucky, he might look deep into your weary eyes and say something beautiful.

 "It’s a sign. God wants us to eat at the Cracker Barrel instead. I'll load up the kids."

Remembering the puke-ocalypse of 2013:

October 22: At 4:30 a.m., Merrilee appeared beside our bed to inform us that the vomit contagion had once again reached our house. I camped out on the couch so I could be ready to help. At 5:30, I heard some noise upstairs and went to investigate. Behold, it was Miles Parker sprawled on his rug in footie pajamas, not vomiting but instead reading Captain Underpants.

 Miles: "Oh, hi, Mom. I'm almost to my favorite part."

 Mom: "That's good, but what are you doing up so early?"

 Miles: "Well, I heard someone flushing the toilet many times, and that made me think of underpants...you know, like Captain Underpants? So I just had to read this book." (laughs heartily at his own joke)

Concerning college town life:

November 12: For my friends who don't know, Arkadelphia is a two college town. The campuses are across the street from each other. This weekend those two colleges will meet on the gridiron for the annual Battle of the Ravine, preceded by the annual week of pranks and/or vandalism. Our house is situated right between the two stadiums.

Instead of turning on the nightlight at bedtime, I opened the blinds.

Mariah: "Wow! It's so bright in here. Are those stars?"

Mommy: "Why, no. Those are the blazing stadium lights of two universities who are each attempting to avoid filing an insurance claim. Sleep tight."

File under: the more things change, the more they stay the same.

December 22: For several years now, the Parkers have gone caroling to friends and neighbors during the Christmas season. The wee Parkers are quite comfortable singing in front of folks. This year, they began jockeying for creative control of our set list and voicing. The following conversation took place as we were attempting to rehearse during the drive to house #1:

 Merrilee: "Mom, why don't you sing the harmony, and we will all sing the melody."

 Mom: "That sounds reasonable."

 Miles: "Why can't I sing the harmony? I am good at making harmony."

 Mom: "It's true that you invent some intriguing "harmonies". They're so interesting that I think you're ahead of your time. Let's maybe save those for next Christmas."

 Mariah: "How come we never sing The Twelve Days of Christmas? Let's do that one."

 Daddy: "Because we don't want people to catch cold from standing on their porch forever. And we want to be invited back next year."

 Merrilee: "Okay, everyone! A one, and a two, and a..."

 Mom: "Hang on, sis. Getting us started is still my job."

 Merrilee: "Why can't I do it?"

 Dad: "Because there can only be one director, and your mom is most qualified at this point. Also, you were counting us off in the wrong meter."

 Miles Parker wins the award for most memorable caroler tonight. We were enjoying the hospitality of our minister of worship/administration and his wife, the jr. high principal.

 Principal (who is not terribly old and seems to be in perfect health): "Maybe I'll still be at Goza by the time you get there, and we'll see each other all the time."

 Miles, pensively: "I don't know...will you be alive then?"
There you have it, folks. Merry Christmas to you and yours! Thank you for your continued interest in our lives. We pray God's richest blessings for you in 2014.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Reasons to Love Matt Parker--11th Anniversary Edition

1. A few weeks ago I overheard a conversation between Matt and some other guys about how 35 is considered the prime age for male distance runners. Matt ran cross country in college but has since developed different habits like sleeping and snacking on squirt cheese. I wondered aloud (innocently, I promise) what he would be like as a runner in his prime. The next day he ran five miles. It’s only been a few weeks, and he’s already a running machine. I find that both devastatingly attractive and depressing. As he grows leaner, I shall only get rounder, at least for the next five months or so. Alas.

2. Speaking of my growing belly, Matt Parker is delighted at the prospect of fathering four—and even (Lord willing) five—children once the baby comes and we are able to move ahead with our plan to foster-to-adopt a sibling that more closely resembles Mariah. I’ve met more than one man who seems to view children as little burdens to be endured. Within five minutes of our return from a recent anniversary trip, Matt was on the floor teaching the girls to play marbles. I love that.

3. Our dog trainer recently informed me that if Matt Parker ever chose to switch professions, he could put her out of business. We were at an herb garden in Fredericksburg this week where a cat suddenly appeared and followed Matt around for half an hour, meowing and purring as if he’d been reunited with a long-lost friend. Perhaps I should acquire one of those garden statues of St. Francis of Assisi surrounding by adoring animals and paste Matt’s face on it.

4. Matt Parker can do hair. He manages a decent part and pigtails on Merrilee, is much faster at both beading Mariah’s braids and taking the braids out than I am, and uses the dog clippers to do a darn fine Schnauzer cut on Leonard and to cut Miles’s hair, too.

5. Matt Parker always believes that things will turn out GREAT, even at times when circumstances suggest the opposite outcome. This can be frustrating, but I wouldn’t change it. I’m the one who identifies all the possible problems, which brings some balance. Matt is much nicer to be around.

6. Matt Parker loves his mother. And my mother. And mothers everywhere. He’s just one of those sweet, respectful boys that mom really hopes you’ll marry.

7. Matt Parker enjoys visiting new places and trying new foods. When he opens a menu at a new restaurant, his goal is often to try something he’s never heard of. I am just the opposite when it comes to food. If I ever do venture out and order something different, he responds by ordering something he knows I like, just in case things don’t work out and we need to swap. Who wouldn’t love a guy like that?

8. Matt Parker’s Christian faith is both introspective and publicly practiced. He keeps a journal. He reads all the time. He is the most humble man I know.

9. Matt Parker accepts people the way they are and wherever they are in their journey of faith. He doesn’t run from unpleasant situations, even when they involve crying women (I’m told men really dislike that), angry teenagers, convicted felons with long histories of violence and substance abuse, awkward moments with Mariah’s birth family, or all of the above. In spending one day with my extended family, we could potentially encounter all of this—and more!

10. Matt Parker geeks out over Lord of the Rings and Star Wars. Even though I act irritated, I find this adorable.

11. After eleven years, I truly feel that Matt Parker loves me more today than he ever has. He has this amazing ability to cast a certain glance or pay just the right compliment that makes me feel that I am, to him, the only woman in the world and dazzling beautiful. I can only hope and pray that our little girls will be loved so selflessly and completely someday.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Confessions of a Closet Twihard

It was a beautiful, chilly July afternoon in South Dakota when my two year old staged the temper tantrum of the century. Our youth group was posing for a group picture in front of Mt. Rushmore and Miles, furious at attempts to prevent him from climbing the wall and hurling himself to his death in the amphitheatre below, protested so shrilly that he managed to clear all tourists from the viewing porch. He “expressed his disappointment” continuously as my husband dragged him all the way back to the parking garage, with my daughters and I following at a distance of about fifty feet.

“Someone should teach that kid a lesson,” a fellow tourist said to me, disgusted. “Yeah, someone should. I wonder where the mother is.” I replied.

Go ahead and judge me. It’s okay. Really.

I adore my son. Privately, I find many of his faults endearing. But sometimes I’m embarrassed to be associated with him in public.

That’s kind of the way I feel about Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga.
I only picked up a copy of Twilight because the girls in our youth group could speak of nothing else for weeks, and I wanted to know firsthand what had inspired this frenzy. I finished the book in two days. I ordered the rest of the books in the series from Amazon the next day. I told no one.

The Twilight Saga is not great literature. I cringed reading these books. I rolled my eyes. I laughed out loud at parts that weren’t supposed to be funny. And then I turned the page and kept reading.

Twilight bashing is a favored pastime of men, critics, the literary set, and particularly of male literary critics. How dare Stephenie Meyer girl-ify the sacred (er, profane) genre of vampire and werewolf lore? Vegetarian Vampires?! Sunshine Sparkly Vampires?! FOUL! Werewolves that transform at will?! FOUL! (Nerd alert: Actually, in book 4 we discover that the Quileutes are really shape shifters, not werewolves, so that makes it feasible)

Note to these guys: the whole vampire/ werewolf dynamic is just a plot device, the means through which Meyer builds characters with superhuman abilities, places Bella Swan in constant danger, and juxtaposes desire and restraint. This is not a vampire story. It’s a love story, a fantasy that appeals to a fanbase of teenage girls and former teenage girls. And since, to my knowledge, vampires don’t exist anyway…who cares?

For better or worse, these books make me feel half my age. And it’s not about the gorgeous guy characters or the fact that Bella is the center of the universe, the target of every villain, constantly being rescued by above mentioned gorgeous guys (pssst…this is like crack to a teenage girl). It’s because my teenage experience was so Bella-esque (except for the part where all the guys wanted to date me…yeah, that never happened). I wasn’t comfortable at dances. I was clumsy. The more hedonistic teenagerish pursuits held no appeal for me. I read Shakespeare and Austen because I wanted to. And I was thoroughly convinced of my own ordinariness. That’s the feeling Stephenie Meyer exploited to make me love her characters. Bella is the one person in the world whose thoughts Edward Cullen cannot hear. She is the lone mysterious female on the planet, so she captivates him. She doesn’t change a thing about herself, yet he loves her sacrificially. Why? Because he discovers what she does not see—that she is, in fact, extraordinary. She is pure, selfless, noble, and lovely. She is nothing like the rest.


Fellas, this is what most of us ladies long for. To be chosen above all others by a worthy man, just for who we are.

For this, I willingly overlook all the melodrama, the co-dependence, the poorly written prose, and Bella’s total lack of upper level thinking skills. I.e., Jake, the Quileute werewolf: “Remember that story I told you about “the cold ones” and the wolves? Well, I can’t tell you why I’ve transformed into a giant, half-naked, super-heated man-boy because it’s against the rules. Think, Bella…you know this…”

Spare me. Please.

I will also concede the fact that Meyer’s heroes, with their male model looks, superhuman strength, and complete devotion to Bella’s happiness, set a standard with which no man, and certainly no hormonal seventeen year old boy, could compete. In a sense, this is porn for girls, particularly in the case of Edward Cullen, who has frittered away the past century by racking up multiple graduate degrees, memorizing the complete works of Shakespeare, becoming fluent in several languages, and formulating the perfect product to maintain his signature hairdo. Oh, and he’s also a master composer and pianist, though when the lullaby he composed for Bella is brought to the screen in Twilight, it sounds exactly like an excerpt from a John Tesh CD. FOUL! But I’m getting ahead of myself…

Here’s the straight dope: My husband is a youth guy. I hang with teenage girls. And I have watched helplessly as young ladies I love have cheapened themselves, have given themselves away and been used and tossed aside…for NOTHING. They don’t know what chivalry looks like. They don’t believe they’ll be receiving any better offers. I want the bar set higher.

And now, a few thoughts about the Twilight movie franchise:

I think any time a book is adapted to the screen there are both gains and losses. I appreciate many of the changes that made Twilight and New Moon watchable (btw, I think New Moon far exceeds Twilight in terms of watchability). I flipped past whole chapters of New Moon, for example, because…yes, Bella, we get it. You’re miserable without Edward. You can’t breathe. There’s a hole in your chest…blah blah blah. Thank you, makers of New Moon, for sparing us some of this angst. The action and fight scenes were exciting under Chris Weitz’s direction. Sceenwriter Melissa Rosenberg made a good call by adding some violence to the Volterra sequences.

Some reviewers have suggested that this entire generation of fans will watch these movies again as adults and realize just how terrible they are. Of course they will. And they’ll keep watching them.

Consider Saved By the Bell. This show was horribly acted. They aired the episodes out of order. One week Zack loves Kelly Kapowski. The next week, it’s Stacy Carosi or that girl wrestler or (fill in the blank). They’re awful. But do I own every single episode, including the feature length specials? Yes, I do. Do I sniffle a little when Zack and Kelly exchange vows in Las Vegas? Yes, I do. My grandmother has a similar relationship with The Rockford Files. It’s pop culture, folks. Nobody ever said it would be anthologized and handed down to future generations.

The CGI wolves of New Moon were hilariously un-scary, which is just the way Matt (the youth guy husband) and I like it. The special effects in Twilight were equally bad. The scene where Edward runs up the hill to the meadow with Bella on his back is just plain silly. But then, the whole premise behind this saga is just plain silly. Once you make peace with that, the hokey moments (i.e. Jacob Black removing his shirt for the first time to reveal his anabolic steroid use) become your favorites.

On the other hand, the Edward and Bella of cinema are not the lovers who live in the pages of the books. These two are described in the book as old souls, and you can see why they would end up together. Bella does all the grocery shopping and cooking. She reads Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, and Shakespeare for fun. She cleans the house. She’s separate from the other kids because she’s just not into teenagerish activities. Kristen Stewart’s Bella, on the other hand, is a sulky, dreary, tomboy with some kind of nervous tic who is too cool for everything. For his part, Rob Pattinson captures the tortured aspect of Edward Cullen’s existence, and that’s about it. Meyer’s Edward is charming and eloquent and witty. He speaks (and thinks) like a man from another time. And he smiles from time to time, too.

Because I write for a publicity firm, I feel like I can spot focused, intentional messaging when I see it. Frankly, Meyer’s Bella is a politically incorrect model for teenage girls—too needy, too dependent, and too traditional in her domesticity. The Bella we encounter on screen presents the other extreme. She’s almost emotionless. She’s too cool to be vulnerable. She’s a vegetarian (not that I’m hating on vegetarians) who delivers lines like, “Take control…you’re a strong, independent woman.” This line was inserted for a reason, and I understand why. But in making Edward the undead James Dean and Bella the empowered, stoic feminist, the filmmakers have made the silly premise of this saga even less plausible.

In short, the movies are too cool to really tell the story. The real Edward and Bella are a couple of squares who get to know each other the old-fashioned way. We don’t witness this courtship in the film. Consequently, there is little magic between these two. When compared to the much more convincing onscreen chemistry between Bella and Jake (who also bests Edward’s physique and is not shown getting his butt kicked in Italy), viewers unfamiliar with the books wonder why this is even a competition.

All that being said, I will be pre-ordering the DVD of New Moon on Amazon. I can’t help myself.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Nine Reasons to Love Matt

In honor of our ninth anniversary today, here are nine wonderful things about my husband, in no particular order.

1. Matt cried at the end of Porgy and Bess last year. I mean, he was seriously choking back a sob or two at the sight of Porgy using his crutch to push himself on his little cart, intent on redeeming Bess. Somehow this made me feel cherished.

2. Miles vomited on Matt for three days in a row on our recent trip to South Dakota, and he never complained.

3. Matt does a ridiculous "running man/ jump rope man" dance in public, particularly when he wants to entertain kids or teenagers. He looks like a total idiot, and somehow that's a good thing.

4. Matt makes balloon animals, and he can juggle.

5. Matt fixes broken things, installs new things, and makes plants grow.

6. Matt is obsessed with the weather and will spend hours tracking a storm on live doppler radar. "Okay, I think it should be here in about five minutes..."

7. Matt is a servant who is content to let others shine or take the credit.

8. Matt is still one handsome guy, and he makes me feel beautiful every day.

9. Matt does the right thing, and it is my pleasure to follow his example.

There you go. I never dreamed marriage could be so fulfilling. What a lucky gal I am!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Peek at Miles's To-Do List

May 27, 2009

1. Fill diaper.

2. Create Poo Masterpiece on crib and walls. Working title: "Sanctifying My Mother". Don't forget to sign it.

3. Leisurely bath. Practice shouting the ABCs. Put finishing touches on Shamu impression, displacing as much water as possible. Way to multitask, bro.

4. Break personal record for longest period of uninterrupted nudity.

5. Fetch watering can full of last night's recycled bathtub water. Use every last drop on the bathroom rug.

6. Time out.

7. PB&J.

8. Negotiate the loan of Mariah's lovey for naptime, since all four of mine are covered in poo. What a sucker.

9. Raid mom's night stand. Remove tub of vaseline. Apply liberally to face, hair, and furniture. I am a stud.

10. Time out.

11. Reject healthy dinner. Demand a cracker.

12. Time out.

13. Bath # 2. Bonus points for extra nudity.

14. Challenge sisters to a game of baby tag. Fall down. Scream loud enough to alert the neighbors.

15. Don batman pajamas. Scale sisters' bunkbeds.
*note to self: Utility belt is for decorative purposes only. Grappling hook not included.

16. Lights out. Begin plotting tomorrow's attack on Mom's sanity. Life is good.