Don't worry, I'm not dead.
And if I do die (I think about these things which is weird, I know) I have a contingency plan for letting you all know. I hate to make light of it, but you will simply get an e-vite to come to my life celebration party. If such an email arrives, please don't be sad, just bring a cupcake and have a party and sprinkle me all around the country in my favorite places! I expect my memorial service to be a party with lots and lots of food, a gospel choir, a slide show with pictures (please, only put cute pictures of me in this slide show), cupcakes, and a few people can talk... hopefully they will say that I loved them well with a love that was never my own. It's going to be a really fun party. Everyone gets a bean burrito on the way into the service and a cupcake on the way out. I expect a pot luck dinner afterwords that puts a Baptist church to shame. And then a dance party! I expect a few tears... but mostly smiles and stories. Tell good stories. (Like the time we got stuck in the snow on the top of the mountain and you peed your snow pants because we were laughing so hard. Remember that, Brandi?)
And, most importantly, on the way out, I want to be handed out as a party favor.
I'm being serious.
In cute little purple silk sachets.
And then I want everyone who takes a little piece of me to bring me to one of the most beautiful places they know and let me go there. And don't tell anyone, but someone should definitely sprinkle some of my ashes in my favorite Mexican food restaurant, Ninfas. And my favorite coffee shop. And my favorite cupcake joint. And maybe leave a little bit of me up at my church. And, creepy, but maybe in one of Annie's teddy bears. And give some of me to my mom. She will probably set me in the windowsill or in the prayer garden by her little stone saints. My sister Melissa will probably keep me around somewhere and talk to me. Maybe Sarah will plant me in her garden. My dad? Well, he won't think this is funny or even proper to talk about. But I think he will probably bring me on a hiking trip and leave me there. And Ryan... well, we've had this conversation, to which he replies,
"You do not get to plan your own funeral and we are NOT handing you out as a party favor. You are really, really weird Jen."
He doesn't like to think about the fact that I might die sooner than later.
I don't like thinking about it either. But it's there. It hovers. It's a real possibility. So I want to make it easy on everyone. I want a party. And I want it to be sponsored by Sprinkles Cupcakes and I'd like for there to be really good music for the after party. Toby Mac? What What! Yes! That's perfect! And then I want my sister to teach a yoga class so everyone can calm down and finally learn how to stretch properly... and then everyone can head home.
And now I have to stop and ask myself... what in the world are you talking about Jen???
Here's the deal:
I started this blog by saying I'm not dead. I have been quiet for over a week now and I didn't want you to be worried. So I started with saying I'm not dead. But now that we have cleared that up, I can move on.
I saw a real live water moccasin swim right past my feet yesterday morning and I almost peed my pants.
I'm at church camp.
I am in Leakey, Texas.
What an unfortunate name for a blip on the map.
Makes me think of a moldy roof or those spas in New York that are puttin leaches on people to eat away their nasty dead skin. Or leaky gut syndrome. Look it up. It's real and it's unfortunate as well.
I've been a Texan since the third grade and have never heard of this place. And with good cause. It is both a hidden treasure and a modernists worst nightmare.
No coffee shops. No Internet. And the only cell reception I can get is down by the river... with the water moccasin who almost made me pee my pants.
There are bugs in my camp room. Ryan killed a spider crawling above Annie's bed last night and I have single handedly expelled twenty bugs back into the wilderness. I woke up from a nap the first day covered in mosquito bites; there was one sucking my blood as I came to.
It's been in the high 90's here and we are playing OUTSIDE. Never have I loathed the outdoors the way I have loathed them this week. Who decides that playing outside in the middle of July in Texas is a good idea? It's cruel and unusual punishment. That's the nightmare part.
The hidden treasure part? The kids. They are great kids. The hometown restaurants that have saved us from the camp's cafeteria food. The pecan groves and the beautiful Texas Hill Country houses that back up to the river. The river that's fed by twenty or so natural springs. It's crystal clear and as cold as water flowing right out of the Rockies. It's full of catfish, and I've seen a five deer come to the banks of the river to drink early in the morning.
Poor deer. I hear the echo of rifle shots booming in the thicket and I want to hide them. Dress them up like horses or ponies. I want to tell them to go home a different way. Like the wise men tell Mary to bring Jesus home a different way. I want to warn them. But they scamper off to their deaths and this ruins the beautiful moment I am sharing with them.
Listen, while we are talking about the woes of camp, could we make a universal decision that all the Baptist camps out there that end with "baptist ENCAMPMENT" be changed to something that sounds a little less prison-like? What about just 'Baptist Camp' or 'Baptist Church Camp' or "Really Bad food and Mosquito's- Turn Here?" Every time I pull into an encampment, I think I might as well turn over my wallet and get ready for my strip search. And don't even think about leaving at night time, cause they got the old man volunteer shutting the gate by 9:00 pm.
I am not at church camp anymore. I am home. And thank God because on the final night of camp Ryan Gregg pulled down his covers to get into bed and a great big ole' huge cockroach came scampering out of the sheets.
If I had known this, I would've faked an illness, and driven home.
I failed to mention that the first night we arrived to camp, I had a break down. I begged Ryan to let us go find a bed and breakfast.
We slinked out of camp without even telling the guys.
Let me back track.
The week before we had six flights. That's a lot with a 15 month old.
At one point we flew into Minneapolis, played in Wilmer, Minnesota, and then drove to South Dakota. Drove. Nine hours. With a 15 month old who has just flown twice and spent the day outside with babysitters she had never seen before.
We are driving and somewhere, in the midst of cornfields, the road in front of us disappears into dirt and tractors. The guys turned around and went back to the nearest city... but not my dear, sweet, adventurous husband. He took this as a sign that we should drive through the gravel roads that go through the cornfields. And for a little over an hour, we drove through bumpy, gravel roads weaving in and out of cornfields pretending to chase tornado's. Men.
We played at Hills Alive festival in South Dakota (the perfect family vacation for next summer if I do say so myself) and flew home Sunday night. Landed at 8 pm. Home by 9 pm. And had to leave Monday morning at 9 am.
This gave me about twelve hours to bath the smelly child, do four loads of laundry, repack our suitcases, and shift gears from playing for festivals in civilization to going to camp in a city with a population of 300. That's right. The number gets smaller each time. There is no way there are more than 300 people in that place.
But I'm home? Did I say that? Did I tell you we finished camp yesterday morning and drove six hours to get back home and that I didn't change Annie's diaper the entire time?
Did I mention that I fed her a dinner of champions... guilty that all week long I stuffed her face with crackers and bread and macaroni and very little fruit; I fed her every fruit in the fruit family for dinner last night. And some cheese. And bread with olive oil. And a vanilla wafer. And two whole sippy cups full of apple juice. And I am telling you each food because when someone pukes and the chunks are in your hair and dripping down your arms you very quickly remember each and every food in slow motion. You smell, in a rancid torrent of nastiness, each distinct fruit, and you wonder, why Lord? Why did I give her dinner in the first place? Why?
Annie threw up all night last night. We changed her sheets three times. There are huge strawberry-blueberry fruit stains in her carpet now. I bathed her in the dark at 2:30 am and 3:30 am while Ryan disinfected and started laundry and lit candles and picked chunks of food out of the carpet.
I laid her on my chest where she threw up a third time around 4:00 a.m.
And this morning?
Well, she woke up next to me on the couch at 7:00 a.m. Sits straight up. Eyes still closed. Hair splayed all over the place. And with vomit breath she says...
Blueberry? She slid off the couch and walked, eyes half open, straight to the kitchen.
I've given birth to and raised a small food monster.
It's 8:26 am on Saturday morning.
I have the week off.
I need a pedicure and a massage and a babysitter and a date night.
Sorry Dave Ramsey... the budget... the very, very small budget, cannot be maintained this week. I am in recovery mode. Recovery from roaches and cornfields and puke and spiders and water moccasins and cannot afford any guilt over using money from savings or credit cards or wherever it must come from... I can't! So stop staring at me! I feel your eyes!
I am in recovery. Recovering.
Here's to being home and not being dead and not being thrown up on anymore and blowing the little money I have saved...