Smokey Bones Not Included

Photo by Avodah Images

He came home and called my name.

“I’m back here,” I yelled from our bedroom and he rushed back, his eyes lit. He had a plastic bag in his hands and a huge smile on his face. “I got you something,” he said with a lopsided smirk. I know that smile – it’s pride and mischief all rolled into one goofy grin.

“Okaaaaayyyy,” I replied slowly and I held out my hand. Our seventh anniversary was just days away. Earlier he had asked me what I wanted to do for our special day and I told him I didn’t care as long as he planned it. I hoped this little package had something to do with the big day.

The bag said GOODWILL across the front. This didn’t bode well for him or for me. I reached inside the bag and pulled out…light blue leather pants in a snakeskin pattern.

“Uuummm…” I said, because I didn’t know what else to say. Was he serious? WAS. HE. SERIOUS?! So I just stood there awkwardly and he burst into laughter.

“I’m just kidding,” he said, holding his sides. “I saw those today and thought they were hilarious and thought I’d give to you as a joke.”

My face probably looked something like this. Ha ha huh? Photo by Avodah Images.

“Oh,” I said, stuffing the world’s ugliest pants back into the bag. “Um…ha. ha. ha?”

He stood up and wrapped me in a hug and kissed me, still laughing at all his funny. “Seriously, though,” he said, grinning. “I thought of the perfect place to go for our anniversary this weekend.”

I smiled back and leaned into him. “Really?” I asked. Planning has never been his forte’ so the fact that he’d put thought into this was thrilling. “Where are we going to go?”

“There’s this awesome new restaurant that opened up in the Valley a few weeks ago. The food is amazing – I love eating there.”

“Cool!” I said. “What’s it called?”

Smokey. Bones,” he replied, his eyes wide with excitement. “They have the BEST barbeque.”

*crickets*

I was waiting for him to say he was just kidding again.

He didn’t say it.

“Oh…” I let my voice trail off because seriously? He wanted to go to a barbeque joint called Smokey Bones? For our anniversary?!

He picked up on my disdain and quickly assured me we didn’t have to eat at Smokey Bones. “Where do you want to go?” he asked.

That’s when I tried to smother him with the leather pants.

The next day we went to our small group Bible Study. I was still a little angry at the Great Smokey Bones Debacle and may have been a bit cold on the ride over. We walked inside our friend’s home and as per usual, we all stood around chatting and visiting.

“Hey Lee,” our friend Brad said, walking up to us. “I’ve got some clients coming to town this week and I’d like to treat them to a nice dinner. Do you have any places you’d recommend?”

“Oh sure,” Lee said and proceeded to rattle off five or six really nice, fancy restaurants around town. And then my jaw fell to the floor.

“SERIOUSLY?!” I interrupted and the room grew quiet. “And Smokey Bones was the best you could come up with for our anniversary?” Lee stammered and shrugged as our friends all burst into laughter, gripping their sides.

I can assure you all that we did NOT, in fact, end up eating at Smokey Bones for our anniversary dinner. In fact, I don’t think I have ever eaten at a Smokey Bones. Truly…truly…I am okay with that.

Photo by Avodah Images

My sweet husband has improved in the romancing and dating department in recent years. He learned a valuable lesson from the Smokey Bones incident and that lesson is that my idea of a romantic evening out doesn’t include plastic table cloths or food delivered in a basket. This is something that every man should be aware of, really. I’m doing all of you a favor by letting you in on this little secret.

Are you taking notes, gentlemen?

My birthday is Monday, so my husband is whisking me away for the weekend to a fancy place (which has been preapproved) where I plan to sleep, read, soak up Florida sun and eat good food at fancy restaurants, none of which will require a bib or wet wipes to complete the meal.

In other words, no Smokey Bones.

Amen.

Do you have any funny dating stories? Do share. We can laugh our way through the weekend…

Photos used by permission by Avodah Images.

Morphing into summer

All three children are playing quietly in their rooms. Go ahead, you can be impressed if you want. I won’t tell you that they’re in there because they had a massive fight, went all WWF and I walked in to find them screaming and crying and swinging bags of chips at one another, crumbs flying all over my freshly vaccumed carpet.

I’ll just let you go on thinking I’m raising angels.

So hey – got this summer time thing going on. With the pressure of school off my shoulders I have found myself inhaling for the first time in…nine months. NINE MONTHS. And it’s glorious, food fights and all. But there’s got to be some structure or me?

Ima hafta lose my mind.

Our home school schedule consisted of lessons beginning around 9:00 and finishing around 2:00 every day. Just because we are officially on summer break doesn’t mean that all learning stops, though. Every summer, even when Sloan went to public school, I instituted a one hour long “learning time” each morning. I like to do this just to watch them whine and complain.

It’s super fun.

So learning time is back. From 9:00-10:00 each morning the kids are working on reading, math, spelling or Russian. By the time we finish up those lessons, clean up around the house and have a minimum of two fights, it’s already lunch time!

BAM! No lazy summer days here. No siree.

The pool is providing great afternoon entertainment as are neighborhood friends and a bit of TV, because what’s summer without a teeny bit of laziness, yes?

I’ve ordered a ton of books and we will be heading to the library periodically as well. We have offered the two older kids a bribe an incentive to get them reading over the summer. For every book they finish, we will pay them a dollar. Sloan gets two dollars if he reads longer chapter books (at least fourth grade reading level or higher) and I’ve have offered him 5 dollars if he will read an entire book in Russian from front to back.

I did not think about the work all this would be for me as I now have to translate said Russian book to help him with comprehension and I have to read the more advanced books to make sure he is comprehending those as well. That kinda blows because while I want them active and busy, I myself had envisioned a nice, relaxing summer with my feet kicked up beside the pool and a cold iced tea in my hand.

*snort*

Clearly I am delusional.

So what about you? How do you keep your kids from driving you crazy active during these summer months?

untitled

I’m not sure if you heard or not, but I went to Africa a couple of weeks ago. I may have mentioned it a time or 500. Honestly, I’m a little embarrassed to bring it up again but just know that everything swirling inside of me has been filtered through that one experience.

See the thing is, I feel like I have a million things to write, but I can’t seem to get them out because I’m a bit scared. Petrified, really. Because who am I that anyone should care what I say? I like to hide behind the light, humorous posts in some regard because they’re safe. I spent a lot of time as a youth taking myself too seriously and I don’t want to do that anymore. I’m a blogger who actually doesn’t really like to talk about herself.

Shocking.

But there are other things than just the humorous that I want to share and I’m just so…scared. I’m scared because I don’t want it to all be about me. The fact of the matter is I don’t believe myself to be a great writer of spiritual things. I’m not a super critical thinker, I don’t have the beauty and eloquence of words that so many others hold when unpacking the mysteries of faith. I’m a good writer, yes – but writing about the God of the Universe scares the crap out of me.

See what I mean? I just used the words God and crap in the same sentence…twice. How eloquent am I?!

I mentioned these fears of mine to Shaun one evening in Tanzania and he encouraged me to read 1 Corinthians. I’ve pretty much camped out there since we returned, particularly in Chapter 2.

“And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come to you with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 (emphasis mine)

Friends, this is how I feel. I fear writing too in depth about my faith not because I worry about offending (though I certainly do desire this to be a place of comfort for everyone from all faiths and backgrounds and walks of life), but more because I so badly do not want to misrepresent the God I love. Does anyone else feel this way? How do you overcome it?  

There are so many words to say - so many songs to sing - so much praise to give. The Earth itself cries out to Him – why wouldn’t I?! Of course, the humorous posts are where I’ll spend more of my time because I strongly believe that one of the greatest gifts He gave us was laughter and my goodness isn’t there so much joy to be had on this Earth?

For example, Lee and I sat in bed the other night and laughed until we cried at this old gem of an Al Denson video that we found after both sporadically belting out a rousing rendition of “Be the One,” which only solidifies how terrifically dorky we are, but I fell asleep with a smile on my face and a prayer in my heart.

Lord, thank you for laughter. And thank you for cheesy ’90′s Christian music videos.

I love laughing with you guys. I love it so, so much. But I don’t want to hide behind the laughter because I’m scared. Just know that when I speak of my God, I do so with much trembling and not with persuasive words of wisdom. We will still laugh…a lot. But there are also words stirring that I will need to write at some point – all to His glory.

I just need some time to let them develop and the courage to hit publish.

PS - I don’t say any of this as a means of fishing for compliments. In fact, I feel kind of weird and I will probably sit on this post for a bit before hitting publish because I do NOT want to look like I’m asking for people to say nice things about me.

PPS – Thanks for taking the time to read this and for being a community that loves to learn and grow and laugh. I don’t really think of myself as having anything to say worth reading, but my goodness I’m glad to have you guys around. Makes this life journey a little less intimidating and a lot more fun!

PPPS – I don’t like to use emoticons in posts, but I feel like this one is begging for a smiley face – :) .

In Gratitude

“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13 NASB

 

A One-Year-Old Sloan sporting his Red, White and Blue. Lawdy those rolls...

Today we remember. It’s not just another day – at least it shouldn’t be. Today is the day we stop and pause. For so, so many today is not a day to celebrate. The remembering is real and it comes with heartache and pain that cuts deep and burns to the core.

Today we remember freedom and the sacrifice that comes with it. We honor the men and women who have gone before and stood between us and those who would like to bring harm. There is no greater love, no greater sacrifice, than that of one willing to die so that others might live.

Thank you.

We recognize you all today. To those currently serving both here in the States and in far away lands – Thank you.

To those who have served in the past and now hold the honored status of veteran – Thank you.

To those family members whose loved ones laid down their lives and did not return, we thank you in their honor. Thank you for loving them and supporting them and know that we don’t take the loss lightly. To you, sacrifice is real and it is for a lifetime.

We honor you – all of you.

Today is not just another day to eat and watch football…or baseball…or basketball…or whatever is playing on that squawking box in the middle of the room. (My husband will probably make fun of me for that last sentence – is football even in season right now?! It’s not, is it…)

Today is not just a day off. It is a day to pause, to think, to revel in the joyfulness of family and friends, but mostly it’s a day to remember. We remember that freedom is, indeed, not free. It comes with a price that too many people know too well. Freedom is marked with the pain of sacrifice.

Did you know that the word remember means “to recall to the mind by an act or effort of memory?” You knows what this means, right?

It means that sometimes remembering takes work.

It means that sometimes we have to stop and actually try to recall to the mind. Every generation is affected by the loss – some generations more than others and some losses more fresh on the mind. But none of us are exempt from the work of remembrance. We can all remember and maybe – maybe we could take a bolder step?

Find someone to thank personally today. A friend who served or currently serves. A family member who is a veteran. A neighbor who’s son is walking the dusty streets of danger for your freedom. Who can you thank?

Join me today as we remember. If you would like to leave the name of someone you want to honor in the comments, you are welcome to do so. We will remember them and honor them on this day together.

Happy Memorial Day.

The Novel

I’m not going to finish my novel by June 1st. This writing a book thing is hard. Really, really hard. Like child birth kinda hard, complete with back pain from all the hunching over the keyboard.

Today I laid down to take a nap and I was flooded with ideas. My characters began swimming and talking and I decided to listen. I fed my family, packed up my computer and headed out where I promptly grew totally overwhelmed because my fingers cannot type fast enough.

I know where the characters are going, but getting them there takes time and I’m impatient and frustrated and wish I could just get it all out at once. Instead, I type a few pages, my heart starts beating really fast, my pulse quickens and I literally feel like I’m falling – like I’m leaning into the finish line and my feet can’t keep up.

So I have to step away, take a break, then dive back in. Do you know how slow this is going?

I’m almost to 200 pages and their stories are just ramping up. This is the longest labor ever in the history of all time.

Would you like to read one more sneak peek? Okay, good. Because this girl’s story is my favorite and it is the story I simply can’t get out fast enough. So here you have it – this is a bit more of Luda’s story. I first introduced you to Luda in Sneak peek #1. Her story is complex and full of beauty and pain and grief and joy. Isn’t that how life goes?

Beauty and ashes all mixed together.

(Disclaimer – This is the unedited, first rough draft. It’s not perfect, but it is coming out and that is a step in the right direction.)

Leaning back, I turn my face up to the ceiling and take in a long, deep breath. The pieces all began to fall into place. “So my mother was not a whore,” I say, less to him and more to myself. Every single image of my mother that I’d conjured up as a youth came flooding back. Her laugh that sounded like a thousand bells. The sound of her voice singing softly over me. The way her hair swung loosely over her shoulders. Could these be real memories? Could it be that the very few moments I had with my mother had been stored inside of me all along?

“I’m sorry, Luda,” Alexei says quietly, breaking the silence. “I’m so sorry I wasn’t there. I’m sorry that I failed you…and your mother.”

I nod, then ask one last question that has been pressing against my heart like a vice. “What is my mother’s name?”

Alexei’s eyes widen. “He never even spoke her name?” he whispers.

I shake my head no. “He only spoke of her when he was drunk and he always referred to her as ‘My darling,’ in those rare moments. I have never heard my mother’s name.”

“Marianna,” Alexei said and a gentle smile spread across his face. “Your mother’s name is Marianna.”

I nod and my eyes fill with tears. “Thank you,” I whisper. “Thank you for giving my mother back to me.”

Alexei reaches across the table and grasps my hand. “You are just like her, Luda. You are going to be an excellent mother just like she was.”

I nod slowly and allow a smile to form. The first genuine smile I’ve given in months. I look at my stomach and breathe in deep.

Like your mother.

For the first time in all my life, I feel peace.

©Kelli Stuart, May 2012

My new goal is to hit 200 pages by June 27 when I head to California for a writer’s retreat. I’m going to finish this thing, you guys. It’s actually going to happen!!!!

If it kills me…

And it just might…

But let’s hope not because I really need to finish this before I die…

The End.

I went there

“Mom, when will I get a cell phone? When I turn nine?”

I fought the urge to laugh and covered my hysteria with a short cough. “Um…no,” I replied as I steered my (smokin’ hot) minivan onto the highway.

“Oh. Well, when I’m ten? Eleven? Twelve? THIRTEEN?”

With each age his eyes grew wider and more horrified. It was like he saw a future of torture before him. And me? I grew more amused. Why the obsession with a cell phone? The child has no one to call…

Honey, I don’t really know when we will get you your first cell phone, but it won’t be for a long time. Maybe when you turn sixteen and start driving, but before then you just don’t need one.”

“What?! No! But, Mom, all my friends have cell phones and it’s embarassing that I don’t. It’s cool to have a cell phone.”

*sigh* I had no idea that this argument would crop up so early. I thought I had a few more years before I had to answer the all-my-friends-have-something-so-why-can’t-I battle. So I took a deep breath and glanced in the rear view mirror at the child who is just being a child. A normal child who sees and wants and desires and has to reconcile those desires with a wisdom that hasn’t yet developed.

“Well, babe, a cell phone just isn’t necessary at your age. If you need to call anyone, you can use my phone.”

“But what about an iPhone?” he asked. “Can I get one of those?”

“Honey, I don’t even have an iPhone,” I replied with a laugh.

“Well…” the wheels turn, “how about I get an iPod touch? That way I can play games but it’s not really a phone, but I could pretend it was a phone when I’m around my friends.”

Ah, consumerism. You are a wily beast.

“Well, that’s probably not going to happen for awhile, either, babe. I’m sorry.”

His face fell and he looked down at his hands resting in his lap. “Why?” he asked. “I just don’t understand why?”

So I went there. I went back to Africa, to the sights and the sounds and the smells and I decided to take all three kids with me.

“Do you know that most of the children I met in Africa don’t have a television? They don’t have iPads, or iPods, or cell phones or Nintendo Ds’s or even computers. They don’t have LEGO’S or a room full of toys to play with or shelves full of books to read.”

Sloan looked up at me with curious eyes. He has always been so sensitive to the plight of the those who are less fortunate. Currently, he has a piggy bank full of money that he hasn’t yet spent because he wants to give it to the poor. Like all of us who are conscious and aware, he wars with the longing to have more stuff, yet simultaneously knows there are people who don’t have enough.

He’s trying to reconcile at eight what most of us never come to grips with as adults.

“The money that we would spend on a cell phone could be used to feed an entire family in Africa for a long time,” I said and he nodded his head.

“Yeah,” he said with a resigned sigh.

I smiled and looked at him again. “I understand how you feel, buddy. There are things I want that I won’t get for a long time either.”

He grinned back at me. “It’s okay,” he said. “I would rather help poor people anyway.”

And that was the end of the cell phone conversation. For now, anyway. I expect it will crop up again sometime and there will be other wants that pop in here and there, but my prayer for him (for all three kids) and for myself is that we’ll always remember.

I don’t want my children to live under a banner of guilt every time they get a new toy or gadget. I myself don’t want to live under that banner. Coming home, I wondered if I’d be frustrated or annoyed with all the “stuff” around me, but really? I’m not. We live differently here. We live in houses and we drive cars and we watch TV and we eat out.

There’s nothing bad about those things. In fact, they are quite good and enjoyable.

But I don’t want to be consumed by them and by God if I’m not going to work hard to make sure my kids aren’t consumed by them either. Rejoice in privileges, don’t take advantage of them. And yeah…it’s okay to remember from time to time the lessons learned in Africa

How do you protect your children from the monster that is consumerism?

The things I do to avoid cleaning the house…

My house exploded over the weekend. It is in serious need of some TLC so, naturally, my first inclination was to make an iMovie preview.

Because I firmly believe in the motivational power of procrastination.

So what about you? How do YOU like to avoid cleaning?

On schooling

“So, Kelli, how’s that home schooling thing going for you?”

Oh, how sweet of you to ask!

This is our last official week of home schooling (homeschooling? is it one word or two because I’ve seen it both ways and I can’t figure it out…). Honestly?

This has been the hardest year of my life.

Selling a house, saying goodbye to friends who were more like family, paying for our own move cross country, starting a new job, buying a new house, home schooling, visiting countless churches over the course of ten months, struggling to find our place, living under strain and stress…

This year has exhausted me.

I noticed something interesting in Africa. The women there are tough. Despite life’s adversities, they know how to dig in their heels and keep the home at any cost. Remember how the Maasai women actually build their family homes? It’s interesting, isn’t it? God has equipped us as women to know when it’s time to dig in, clench our teeth and do what needs to be done to keep life moving forward. He has created us with an inate ability to survive, not for ourselves, but for everyone around us.

In some regard, this past year has been something like that for me. I’ve been in survival mode, heels dug in, holding up the walls of the home. Because life was bumpy there for awhile. I just needed my family to be okay - I needed us to be safe and together and whole.

Home schooling provided that safety in a way. I’m so glad I had the kids home with me because I needed them near me and I think they needed each other. But as the dust settles and the light at the end of the tunnel widens just slightly, we’re evaluating and praying and trying to decide what’s best for next year.

Tools of survival...

I will be totally honest and tell you I’m really proud of what I accomplished with my kids this year. I didn’t really know if I could do this home schooling thing. In fact, I never ever wanted to do it. Ever. Ever, ever. Like most people I assumed that I wasn’t cut out to teach my kids at home.

But it’s not true. We are all fully equipped to do whatever needs to be done when it comes to our children. So if you’re thinking about home schooling, or wondering about it and you fear you can’t do it, just know that you can. I’m not saying you should. But I am saying you shouldn’t sell yourself short.

We women are tougher than we think.

Now that we are on the other side of the year, we are looking at different options. Home schooling isn’t out of the mix by any means, but neither is public school. Those are pretty much the two options we have at this point and it’s kind of scary, this decision to be made.

Part of me is hopping from foot to foot, Rocky style, trying to pep talk my way back in to the arena. I saw the benefits of what the kids and I accomplished this past year. I completely back the educational positives of home schooling. There is, by far, nothing like it. There are so many things I’ve loved about having the kids home with me.

However…

I also see the benefits of a school setting and there are things I haven’t enjoyed about having them home. There are pros and cons to both choices and it all comes down to what we think works best for the kids AND for me. So we pray and wait and prepare for whatever comes next, because after this year I’ve kind of decided there isn’t anything I can’t do.

Except maybe build a mud hut out of cow dung. I’m not sure I could handle that.

So what are you doing for school next year? How did you come to your decision?

If the neighbors didn’t think we were crazy before…

Do you know what responsible adults do? They stay home, skip the beach on a gorgeous Sunday, and do respectable things like mow the lawn and trim the hedges.

That’s what responsible adults do and that’s what we did today. Despite a ridiculously amazing day and more than one invitation to head to the beach, we waved our hands proudly and said “No thanks. We are going home to do responsible stuff.”

So it was that after church we made our way home where we were greeted by a ready meal in the Crock Pot (responsible). Apparently it’s Star Wars week ’round these parts so a marathon was playing on TV. I set up a picnic for the kids in front of the TV because not only am I responsible, but I’m also fun.

Oh yes I am.

After a bit of relaxing, we put on our super responsible hard work caps and set to cleaning up the yard. A few days ago we discovered that our leaf blower and electric hedge trimmer had been stolen out of our garage (awesometown) so I grabbed a pair of manual hedge trimmers and spent the next two hours painstakingly clipping away at the bushes.

I’m typing this post with my chin because I can’t feel or move my forearms.

As I worked at taming the hedges that were slowly choking the life out of our house, Lee hopped on the mower and cut back our jungle of a yard. My, what a respectable pair we made, cleaning up the outside of our home, making it a haven for all who come to visit.

(Please come visit us.)

(Seriously. Florida is awesome.)

(And our hedges are trimmed.)

On one side of our house, not only had the hedges grown to embarrassing impressive heights, but so had the weeds. I think at one point I may have cut down Jack’s Beanstalk.

As I leaned in to pull out a rather pesky weed I felt something prick hard into my skin. I thought it was a branch so I moved to the side, but the stinging grew more intense and then I realized that I wasn’t near any branches and I looked on my shoulder and saw a wasp the size of my head staring at me.

He was all, “Wad up, yo? I’m stingin’ yo a…”

I didn’t hear the rest of his sentence because I started to scream and swat and run high legged through the yard and the wasp was screaming too, probably because I was screaming, but maybe also because I was hitting him. After he flew away I ran a few more circles around the yard for good measure and to send a message to all the other wasps that I was not to be messed with.

It’s at this point that I began to wonder what the neighbors must have been thinking.

Oh, and for the record, wasp stings hurt. A lot. If you tell your kids they don’t hurt, you’re lying.

Anyway, back to the hedges. I picked the trimmer back up and snapped away at the bushes with a vengence. Anger motivated me to push past the pain and trim the heck out of those branches. Then the kids came screeching around the corner.

“SNAKE!”

I had just been stung by a wasp so I had no interest in dealing with another of God’s creatures.

“IN THE GARAGE!”

“Tell your Dad,” I said through clenched teeth.

A few minutes later, the mower stops. We all remember what happens when Lee feels the need to defend the homestead from predators, right? If you haven’t read the story I will give you a short, two-word synopsis:

Possom. Crowbar.

So I wasn’t surprised when Sloan came running around the corner with wide eyes. “Dad needs you,” he said.

My husband wanted me to help him catch a four foot snake. I felt it would be more helpful if I just took pictures of him capturing it. Then the kids and I screamed endlessly as he chased it down and hacked at it with the passion of a man defending his family against the greatest of beasts.

That’s when our brand new neighbor came running across the street. And when I say brand new, I mean they moved in yesterday. Apparently screaming women and crying children is classified as “comotion” these days. He found me snapping pictures of my husband hacking the head off of a snake (and yelping) with our three children crying in horror around us.

Responsible.

Respectable.

We firmly believe in making a good first impression… 

Yes, that's the snake's head...

In my house...

Rise of the Planet of the Blue Monkeys

“Excuse me?”

I peeked up out of one eye to see her exaggerated gesture. She had a smile of complete apology on her face, and I gave her a quick nod and held up one finger politely before bowing my head to finish the prayer.

We held our packed lunches on our laps as we prayed, thanking God for a blessed week and seeking travelling mercies as we prepared to head back home. We finished the prayer and I opened the top of my lunch.

“Excuse me?” she said again and the entire group looked her way. This time her gestures were a little more wild and…insistent. She really wanted our attention.

“You should watch out for…monkeys.”

She pointed and we all turned and that’s when I saw him swinging toward us in the tree. Shaun sat on the end, next to the tree, Keely next to him and I was next to her. My first thought as he swung near was, “Oh how fun. A monkey. Yay!”

Then he screeched BONZAAAAAIIIIIII (a Tanzanian monkey issuing a Japanese battle cry? It could totally happen…) and leapt from the tree, landing on the ledge just next to Shaun and my second thought was, “OMG – HE’S GOING TO EAT MY FACE OFF! RUN!”

In my imagination, he looked just like this as he came swinging toward our table:

Image Still from Rise of the Planet of the Apes

And yeah…our monkey had his cronies in the background, too…

I’m not entirely sure how I made it out of that covered pavilion so fast. It’s all kind of a blur. There’s a chance I may have pushed someone out of my way as I fled. I also made sure I left my wide open lunch box behind for the attackers. It was my method of self-preservation.

So it was that in less time than it takes to say “Woman loses face in rare Blue Monkey attack” I was outside, jumping and shaking and laughing that trembly, “Haha, wasn’t that funny how we almost died” sort of laugh that you do when you’re trying to act cool, but you know you really look like an idiot.

Then everyone wanted to know how I got away so quick. The answer?

I flew, people. I sprouted wings and flew.

In the end, the monkeys made off with quite a spread. Banana chips, apples, chicken legs and some bread. In fact, they actually took several things directly out of people’s hands. They were brazen, these monkeys. Brazen.

They didn't even try to hide their thievery...

Sure he LOOKS cute and fluffly. But don't be fooled...

Who me?

There are a couple of lessons we can all learn from the Great Monkey Caper of 2012 and those lessons are as follows:

- First, when someone is desperately trying to get your attention, it may be to your benefit to stop praying and listen. Especially when you are in the middle of Africa with a wide open lunch box. You’d think that would be common sense, but…well, it’s not. Learn from us.

- Second, if you’re sitting next to me during a monkey attack, know that my first reaction is clearly Flight, NOT Fight, because while I would LIKE to be able to say “I got your back” if ever we’re under monkey attack, the truth is if Blue Monkeys are swinging our way shouting Japanese warrior cries I know with certainty that all I need to do is run faster than you.

Amen?

And we all say…Amen.