Sunday, August 12, 2018

You're Speaking My Language

Note: The blog is undergoing some minor remodeling. It's ongoing and we're playing with some things, so it may change a few times before it's all done. If you're reading from your phone, you won't notice a difference at all. So, just pardon our progress.

Also, if you haven't already, there's a place under my mugshot to add your email address to my list and you can follow the blog that way. After you submit your email address, you will receive an email and you MUST verify by following the directions in that email or it won't add you. Also, if you'd like to follow me on Instagram, I'm mothermuffintop. I'm going to get that up and going soon. I'm not really an Instagram-er, but I'm going to try to get into it. So, there's that.      

So, tonight, I wanted to talk about love and the ways we express it. We've all heard about the five love languages. We each express and respond differently to the many ways that love can be communicated. There are love languages, which speak to us more deeply than the others and there are those, which we speak to others more frequently because we feel they're our highest offering of love. The book lists the love languages as words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. Well, as many books as Mr. Chapman has sold on the topic, as a southern woman, I see one glaring omission on this list and that is the love language of food. You might argue that food would fall under acts of service as it requires cooking or even under gifts, but I'd have to insist that it is deserving of its own completely separate category, here in the South.

We went to see Davis' Daddy, tonight. Since his Mama died, we've tried to take a big meal and eat with his Dad, once a week. Davis's Mama would always make so much food when we'd come visit them. So many choices. She'd make one thing because it was Blair's favorite and she'd make another thing because Carson liked it and something else because I once mentioned I liked it and on and on until the kitchen was just full of choices.

And, at the end of a visit, at the first indication that you were about to leave, she'd get up and start unloading the refrigerator. She didn't want anyone leaving her house without making a plate to take and enjoy, the next day. And if she came to our house to visit, well, she'd bring half of the big pot of soup she'd just made or a pie because the recipe made two or a couple of packs of the corn that she'd just put up. She never came to visit without bearing food.

 
My brother, Lee, was here, last week. He was dropping off his son, Lelan, to spend a week with my mother. They were going to enjoy a week of grandmother/grandson bonding before school started. My niece wasn't quite ready for a week away from home, but her brother sure was. He told her she didn't know what she was missing because Grandma was the best cook of all time. You know you're good when small children even recognize it.  
Of course, as soon as the father/son duo drove in, my mother had a meal, hot and ready. Chicken pie, vegetables....I forgot what else. There's no telling, really. I was talking on the phone with my brother, later, and he was telling me how everything she cooks is just ridiculously good. We were so spoiled growing up with her, the home economics major, cooking for us 3 times a day. We discussed how nobody can cook like her, which led him into a whole new conversation about how her over easy eggs are sheer perfection and he's never had one anywhere that even comes close to hers. He told me how their supper, that night, was almost to the point that, when they'd take a bite of food, she was loading their plates back up again. And I can tell you if you're eating at her house and your tea is not level with the top of your glass, at all times, she shoots up like a rocket to remedy that tragic situation. He said they finally had to tell her that they just couldn't hold anymore food and to, please, sit down and eat. 

While my nephew was here, Carson and my other nephew, Casey, took turns staying the night at their Grandma's house, so Lelan would have a chance to hang out with the older cousins he idolizes so much. Carson said, late one night, he made the mistake of going to the refrigerator. He's recently just taken up residence at the refrigerator door here at home, but, there, it was his Grandma's cue that he was on the brink of starvation and immediate action should be taken. She springs up from her seat and reports for duty....listing off all the things she could whip up in a hurry. Grilled cheese, homemade French fries(which are the BEST), pancakes from scratch, bacon, and eggs were just a few of the options given. She's not one to take no for an answer when she's trying to feed you, so Carson finally conceded and chose pancakes and bacon. So, at 11:00 p.m., she gets busy at the stove cooking for her growing grandson. Just about the time she got that order going, Lelan chimed in that he wanted a grilled cheese and French fries. No Hungry Jack pancake mix, Kraft singles, or Ore-Ida bags on the premises, I can promise you that.

I can't tell you how many times I've had conversations with her similar to the following:
"Joni, are you hungry?"
"No, I'm good, Mama."
"Now, I know you could eat a little something."
"No, really, I'm fine, Mama."
(Opening the refrigerator) "Look, I've got some of this roast left that I cooked last night and some butter beans and, look, here's a piece of pie.....and I could have some mashed potatoes ready in no time to go with that good roast gravy....or would you rather have rice?" (filling up a pot with water and grabbing her paring knife)
"Mama, I appreciate it, but....."
"Joni, just hush. Now, this won't take long. You just go sit down and read the paper or something."

At this point, you can either comply or subject yourself to sitting and listening to an infinite list of things she could make for you....only ceasing when you agree to one of them. This is the only way to end this type of food love language standoff.  You must eat something.

My grandmothers were that way, too. I don't have many vivid memories of my Mimi's cooking days, because her health kept her out of the kitchen for most of my memory of her, but I've heard she was a really good cook, who loved feeding the people she loved. She had four boys, so I know she loved a lot through her kitchen. My Grandmother, well, I do remember her cooking days. Mercy. She'd greet us at the kitchen screen door in her apron, reciting the menu of yumminess that was about to be presented to us in buffet form. If there was a large group coming, the food preferences of the person visiting from the farthest would usually be most heavily considered. We'd sit down to all the deliciousness and, before we could get our legs out from under the table, she was giving an account of the menu plans for the next meal. She wanted everyone to be happy and well fed when they were under her roof.

Some favorite sayings of southern mothers/grandmothers and their translation for non-southerners:

"Y'all go back." (You all go help yourself to second helpings.)

"Don't y'all want some more? We've got plenty." (I told y'all to go back. Don't be shy. We don't want this to go to waste and there's more here than your Daddy and I can eat.)

"This pie won't be fit to eat tomorrow, so eat up." (This meringue will just get runny, the longer it sits, so you all need to finish it up before night falls.)

"If y'all want to take some of this home, here are some Cool-Whip bowls." (If you all would enjoy taking leftovers with you when you leave here, today, here are some recycled containers with which you could transport them to your home.)

"Here, just eat these last couple of spoonfuls. It's not even enough to bother putting up." (Please, stuff these large tablespoons of cornbread dressing into your already gorged belly, because I don't have a margarine bowl small enough to house this last little bit.)

"You can worry about your diet tomorrow." (I have been in this hot kitchen, all day, cooking this good food for you and I don't want to hear about your keto whatever. You can keto when you're at your own house. Now, here, have a biscuit.)  

Yeah, I don't think that any of the original love languages adequately covers the demonstration of the kind of love expressed when a southern woman cooks for the people she loves. It's a deep down kind of desire to give the pleasurable experience that only good home cooking can give. It's loving someone so much that you want to give them what you know and do best. It's that perfect consistency, a flawless rise, that silky smooth texture, the learned patience, and the experienced hand that has perfected just the ideal amount of seasoning. It's a craft used to bring families together, comfort the sick, support the mourning, sustain life, help a neighbor, celebrate special occasions, and, most of all, express some of the deepest, most genuine feelings of love that a southern woman can have for someone.

So, here's to a place where food is love and to our mamas and grandmamas, who dish it out.

Hope y'all have a great day!


See you soon!
 

Monday, August 6, 2018

Thanks for Everything

Carson completed the final thank you note of his graduation season, last night, and I dropped it in the mailbox, today. You may not think that's noteworthy, but, trust me, it is. With a daughter, you just say, "here are the cards and here's the list." With a son, well, it might best be described with a picture.....
Thank you notes are just one of those things that southern mamas are insistent upon with their children. I'm sure it's that way, everywhere, but I can only speak for my little corner of the world. It's a valued tradition passed down for generations and, as Scarlett would say, as God is my witness, we're not about to let this age of email and texts take this one last piece of personal, handwritten communication away from us.

Blair and John Samuel got a wedding gift, a couple of weeks ago, and I even texted her, today, to make sure she remembered to respond...even though she is a grown woman, who has a career and manages a household. I suppose if we were honest about it, a big reason for our careful oversight would be that we consider the absence of a thank you note to reflect poorly on us, the mamas. I mean, we may try to bury that real truth under all the other reasons like we want to teach them to be grateful, to be thoughtful, and to be able express their feeling to others. Yeah, yeah, all that, but we really just don't want it ever to be said of one of our kids, in a church fellowship hall or around a bridge table, somewhere, that they never acknowledged a gift. That is the ultimate black eye on a southern mother. She is to see to it that this important undertaking is carried out to its completion. It's written somewhere in the southern mama's by-laws. Article 6, I believe, but don't quote me on that.   

To avoid anyone being overlooked, we've kept meticulous records in our family and I've used a two-step verification process throughout our recent milestone moments for which gifts or kind deeds have been received. Each name gets a black line through it when the note is written and is then highlighted in yellow when the card has been addressed, stamped, and mailed. This two check system will help minimize your chances of being discussed at the next dinner on the ground or, heaven forbid, garden club meeting. Southern women do keep careful mental records of these things.    

That's why when Blair graduated from high school and an unsigned card came in the mail containing cash and no return address, well, I was horrified. Just horrified. Of course, you can't go around asking people if they happened to send your kid a graduation card because, well, if they didn't, that would be terribly awkward. Knowing the odds were slim, we posted a picture of the card on Facebook as I was desperate to find out who the sender was. That way we weren't asking anyone directly, but the attempt was fruitless, anyway.

For all these years, I've saved that envelope. I don't know why, really. I guess as a reminder that Blair still had one more note to write if we could just figure out where to send it. The handwriting on the envelope was engraved into my mind like a southern monogram. I'd even conducted my own handwriting analysis on it and considered DNA testing on the saliva with which it was sealed.

In the dark of night, I'd imagine some little, old lady going to the dollar store and selecting the perfect card and filling it with cash, which she probably really needed for her blood thinners and insulin, and then driving herself to the post office and going in with her cane and oxygen tank to purchase the stamp and drop it in the box...…only for it to be completely ignored by one of those ungrateful Miller kids. As the years passed, I'd even imagine that maybe she'd died and gone to see Jesus before Blair could thank her. I could feel the heat rising up my neck and my blood vessels constricting just thinking about it. This is the stuff that keeps mamas up at night. I finally had to let it go, because there just wasn't anything else I could do about the troubling situation.

Well, I was thumbing through our mail, the other day, and there it was! The handwriting that had been burned into my cerebrum since 2012. Carson had received a graduation card and the address was inscribed in the very same handwriting as the mystery card. There was no return address and, even though he wasn't home, I had to know. I ripped that thing open, because the suspense had been killing me for 6 years. I hoped to goodness they'd remembered to sign this one. Yep, there it was.....the name of an extended family member.

Well, the first thing I did was text Blair that the mystery was solved. I felt like Robert Stack in his trench coat out in the dark fog. Thankfully, it was family, which made the grievance somewhat less horrifying. I mean, family has to love you no matter what. So, as an almost 24 year old, Blair has one more high school graduation thank you note to write and I believe, then, I can sleep well at night.

I think Jesus thought thankfulness was pretty important, too. When He healed the 10 lepers and only one came back to thank him, He wondered where the other nine were. They'd all received the same healing. He was disappointed that they'd not thought to acknowledge the gift He'd given them, but He took notice of the one man's heart, which led Him back to the Giver. Jesus didn't need their thanks, but He thought it was important enough that He mentioned the absence of it.

Thankfulness is a condition of the heart. No matter if it's a card full of money, a place setting of china, or the gift of life we receive, everyday, whether we choose to acknowledge it or ignore it tells a lot about our heart and where its focus is. We're either looking in at the receiving or looking out at the giving. And, sometimes, the things that don't come wrapped up with a bow are the ones, which deserve the most thanks. From others, we receive loyalty, thoughtfulness, friendship, time, encouragement. From God, we receive provision, sustenance, joy, forgiveness, salvation.

I want to live in acknowledgement and gratefulness for the givers in my life and always keep my eyes open to the quiet, beautiful acts of giving that might slip past me.  

"In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."
1Thessalonians 5:18          


Have a great day, everybody!




Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Funk, Facelift, and Nighttime Irritability

So, I was busy at work, last week, and didn't make it by here. I rearranged 2 stores from top to bottom, so you can imagine how that might have kept me occupied. Even though I haven't been posting, I have been doing some behind the scenes kind of stuff concerning the blog. I'm in the process of having a little work done. Well, I'm not. The blog. You know, like a blog facelift. It won't be completely unrecognizable, but just a little nip and tuck to give it some new pep for a new season. I know you'll be overwrought with debilitating suspense until its completion.

I'll admit, too, that I've been a little down in the dumps, lately. I don't know....maybe you'd even call it a funk. I guess turning 50 and going through all the changes of my kids growing up, mixed with this oppressive summer heat that I hate, a little sleep deprivation, and a dash of hormonal variability, I've just been feeling blah. You ever just feel blah?  Well, I have....but, now, I'm feeling like the wind is coming back in my sails and I decided I was in the mood to shake things up a bit.

I went to see my dear photography friends, Mark and Carol, for new headshots for the blog and social media page. The old one was cropped out of a family picture, which was taken about 6 years ago and, goodness knows, it was past time to put that one to rest. I got to the studio and told Mark I didn't need anything fancy....just a couple of muffin top mugshots. I sat down where he instructed me to and he put the reflective thingy below me and the big light in front of me as I told him there was nothing I hated more than having my picture made. Lights, reflective surfaces, and cameras pointed toward me are not things that exist within my realm of comfort, which is most likely why he had to chime in with reminders to look "a little happier" between a few shots.

Anyway, I got those done and went back to look at the proofs. Mark always does a wonderful job of making you look way better than you really do. I picked the ones I liked best and then they did the touchups that smooth away the lines and blend the blemishes and erase the errant strands of hair, so they're like me only much, much better. I'm thinking these ought to carry me for another good 4 to 5 years.
      
In this mood for a little blog revitalization, I also got up with my old friend, Sophie, last week. As the blogging expert that she is, we met for lunch, so I could ask her for some advice on tech support and other subjects.....which I did, but we ended up spending most of our time just laughing and talking about hometown stuff and our happy high school days. Soph is always an inspiration...even when we're just discussing our Mamas and the difference in mama-ing styles back then and mama-in' now. There's nothing like a good belly laugh with an old friend over a chimichanga and a glass of tea.  

So, all that to say that, even though I've been busy with my job and wandering around in kind of a foggy funk, I've also been working on recapturing my mojo and letting the winds of change blow me forward with a renewed energy.          

I think I mentioned sleep deprivation earlier, so I guess we might as well discuss that since this is kind of a conglomerate post lacking any real central theme. Davis and I have been having co-sleeping problems for the last two weeks or so. We go through brief periods of this from time to time. I have to start off sleeping on my left side because of acid reflux and, because I must stick my legs out of the covers, that requires that I sleep on the right side of the bed.....unless I'm having trouble sleeping and need to turn over, therefore making it impossible to stick my feet out of the covers, which is a problem.

Davis is a back sleeper.....which to us, side sleepers, is just plain creepy. I've always said that if we had a register book, a CD of favorite organ hymns, and a line of people trailing from our bedroom, we could have ourselves a visitation every night of the week as he lies there in repose with his hands folded gently across his stomach.

So, his back sleeping causes him to breathe loudly and, well, since I'm an admitted sleep diva, I can't have any kind of noise distracting me when I'm falling asleep....except the white noise coming from our sleep machine, of course. I'm just high maintenance that way when it comes to getting to sleep and I can't handle anything "extra" going on....unlike Davis, who can sleep sitting up on a couch in a brightly lit room full of people laughing and talking with a ballgame blaring on the TV. I guess being a woman of 50 has made it harder for me to fall asleep, lately, but, once I get asleep, my sleep endurance is still most impressive. Most impressive, indeed.

Anyway, when sleep is the goal, I get uncharacteristically impatient with any obstacle that stands in between it and me.....i.e. Davis' loud breathing. So, while I'd never dream of hitting him in the daylight, waking hours, I have no qualms about reaching over and giving him a wop and a stern command to turn over. Now, I'm not saying I'm proud of the way I behave in the night, but I'm just being real and, usually, when someone says they're being real, they're not sharing the very best part of themselves.

Well, Davis, who, in his awakened state is a most kind and gentle soul, after a couple of blows, the semi-conscious, grumpy version of Davis grabs his pillow and heads off into the night, mumbling unkind and smarty things as he walks through the darkness, across the family room and down the hall to the guest room. I start to feel kind of guilty for a few seconds until I realize that I can stretch out on my right side and stick my feet out of the covers on his side of the bed and stretch my arms over there, too. My guilt is usually quickly overshadowed by my desire for sleep. Really, though.....we're both very nice people, otherwise, and we're happy to report that we've been doing better, this week, so that's a relief.

So, I guess that's all I know at the moment. I'll be back, next week, and we'll talk about even more riveting subjects, I'm sure.

Have a good one!



Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The Fruits of My Roots

I'm back from my trip to market. It's always fun to go and see what's new and coming in the retail world, but it's also nice to get back home to the quieter roads of Mississippi after a few days in Atlanta traffic. It's good to be back home, where the peas and butter beans have come in, the watermelons are ripe, and the corn is ready to pull.

I've put up 29 bags of peas in the last couple of days. I was in the kitchen, late last night, blanching and bagging and feeling as close to a Proverbs 31 wife as I'll probably ever feel. I don't select much wool or flax, make coverings for my bed, and certainly never get up while it's still night, but, for a moment, I felt like I may have slightly grazed verse 14...."She is like the merchant ships bringing her food from afar." I guess that would make me the Proverbs 31:14-ish wife.

Putting up peas reminds me of my Grandmother's house. She and Granddaddy always had a big garden and whenever we visited them in the summer, it was all hands on deck. Granddaddy would spread out the peas he'd picked on a bedsheet inside, where they'd stay cool until they were shelled. After lunch, we'd all head out to the front porch to swing and rock....everyone coming with some sort of vessel full of peas to shell. A roasting pan, dish pan, large mixing bowls, or an empty ice cream bucket. Whatever Grandmother could come up with to get everybody in the game. We'd rock and swing and talk and shell. Waving at the cars as they passed by and discussing the possibility of rain. Sipping on a jelly glass full of Grandmother's sweet tea. Listening to the hum of the window air conditioner running inside and the occasional bobwhite in the distance. If you were lucky, there was a pot of peanuts boiling on the stove to snack on between pans of peas. I know it sounds like a hokey, stereotypical scene from a movie set in the South....you know the ones where people sit around sweating through their clothes and rocking all day...….but it's really how it was. Well, maybe minus the heavy sweating part. We'd just shell and shell until our thumbnails were sore and looked to be irreversibly stained green.

I'll never forget the sight of my Grandmother standing at her porcelain sink in her floral print duster cutting corn off the cob. Her hair would be wet with sweat as she'd stand there working for hours....ear after ear after ear. I don't know much about putting up creamed corn, but I do know you have to work an awfully long time to fill just one quart bag. Whenever she served that creamed corn, I thought about her at the sink and was always sure never to leave even one uneaten morsel. That was just pure love on that plate and I seemed to realize that even at an early age.

They grew potatoes, tomatoes, peas, corn, muscadines, squash, pears, watermelon, pecans, and I'm sure there's a lot that I'm forgetting. They raised cows and always had eggs from their chickens in the frig. Granddaddy had bee hives and dozens of honey jars to compliment Grandmother's biscuits. He stayed many-a-long hour out in the hot sun, working the garden, picking the harvest in the Mississippi humidity, and then passing it off to Grandmother for her leg of the process, which wasn't a bit easier. The result was that their house was a place, where your mouth would start to water as soon as you pulled up in their driveway. It was like it knew it was about to get something extra good. And I don't think our family ever left there without our car loaded with the fruits of their labor. They always wanted to share what they'd worked so hard for because that was who they were.

Davis planted a garden, this year, but the deer kept getting into his fence and eventually made it the all-you-can-eat veggie buffet. After work, he just didn't have enough time to tend to the deer problem. So, I bought shelled peas from the fruit stand yesterday....but I'm hoping it'll still qualify as "bringing her food from afar." There was no harvesting in the sun or shelling for hours or sweating at the sink. No, just a minimal amount of time spent blanching and bagging in the AC while watching TV. I guess you could say that Davis and I are no Grandmother and Granddaddy.

But, it did make me think about my Grandmother a lot. And what I wouldn't do to spend another day like those summer ones at her house. To put my feet under her table just one more time and eat some of those vegetables with a pone of her cornbread.

As far as the Proverbs 31 wife goes, well, she was the real thing.

She was all the verses.

And I miss her every day.
Sweet memories of time spent at their house.
 
                  Y'all have a good one!

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Home Sweet Home

Carson got in from his trip, last Saturday around 5:00. I didn't really have much to do that day, so I spent most of it getting ready for his arrival. I found myself cleaning, doing laundry, putting clean sheets on his bed, and doing some meal prep for his homecoming dinner.....none of which he'd notice or care about except the food part. He'd been eating out for eight days and I knew he'd be ready for some home cooking. He's a pork chop kind of guy, so I had bought some of those, gotten some fresh squash from the farmer's market, (because he likes fried squash) and thought I'd make some homemade mashed potatoes and a couple of other fresh veggies. We'd top the meal off with one of his favorites, apple turnovers and ice cream, and I had all of that ready to cook at the appropriate time. When I knew they were getting close, I turned on his fan and bedside lamp just like he likes it and placed all of his accumulated mail on his bed.  

I've always done that. Whenever one of the kids was coming home from a trip or college or wherever, I'd always want everything to be so nice when they got here. When I know that Blair and John Samuel are coming for the weekend, I always ask, early in the week, what they'd like to eat while they're here. I try to have the house all clean and the lamps on in their bedroom as I just think lamplight makes a room feel more inviting. I turn on the fragrance warmers and have a dessert in the oven that makes the house smell good and put out fresh towels on their side of the bathroom with fragrant soaps. I turn the tv to one of the music channels for a soothing background for our much anticipated conversations. Since they usually travel after they get off of work, they don't get here until close to 8:00, so I try to time the food so that it's coming out of the oven as they drive up, because I know they'll be really hungry.

On Saturday, when I was mopping and dusting and waiting on Carson to text me to come and pick him up, I thought about why I was doing all of that. Why do I always want the house to be clean and smelling good with their favorite foods in the oven and their sheets fresh and crisp? I thought about it and I guess it's because, well, I love them and when they come home from being away from me and I know they're weary and drained, I want their souls to step over our threshold and exhale....feeling as if they've arrived at a warm, most comfortable place to rest and be loved. Whether they've had tough exams, a hard week at work, or are weary from travel, I want them to find an oasis of their favorite things and the comfort of the familiar here. In this world that's so unpredictable, I want this to be a place they can always count on to give them encouragement, joy, laughter, and the warmth of their parents' love.

One of our neighbors passed away yesterday. He was a father and husband- just a couple of years older than Davis. He'd been fighting cancer. I didn't know him very well, but I did know that he was a Christian. A couple of his kids are our kids' ages and the news of his death had me thinking about those preparations I make for our children's homecomings. I thought how it must be kind of like God preparing Heaven for us. He said He's gone to prepare a place for us. He's making arrangements for our arrival. Like a parent welcoming a child home, who's been away. He's gathering all the things we'll love....unspeakable wonders, unimaginable sights, incomprehensible beauty, the souls we've loved and lost, and His glorious presence ...and He's getting everything ready for our homecoming. With love in every little detail.

I think about all the love that goes into the prep for the modest welcomes we have here in our home. How I want everything to be a perfect blend for their senses when they open the door. I can't imagine how much more God wants for us as His children knowing how battered and bruised a trip around this sinful world can leave us when we arrive at His doorstep. I don't claim to understand everything there is to know about Heaven, but I do know enough to believe that our tired and weary souls will take a deep breath when we get there. At Heaven's threshold, we'll find that place where we are, at last, completely at rest. And we can finally exhale in the presence of our Savior.

Until then, we share that hope.   

"Don't let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father's home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know the way to where I am going."

"No, we don't know, Lord," Thomas said. "We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?"

Jesus told him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me."  John 14:1-6





 

Thursday, June 28, 2018

The Thing About Chaperones

Carson is somewhere around Cleveland making his way home from Niagara Falls with a couple of dozen or so other teenagers and five adult chaperones. Yes, it's that time of year when church trips, sporting events, scout activities, and all manner of camps require volunteer chaperones everywhere to leave the comfort of their own homes to sleep in bunk beds, dormitories, tents, hotels, motels, cabins, or whatever else the case may be.

This is Carson's fourth trip, this summer, which have all been supervised by different groups of willing adults. Currently, he's with our church youth choir and they've been singing in retirement communities and nursing homes as they've worked their way through various landmarks of Kentucky, Pennsylvania, New York, and now back down to Ohio. Of course, since the beginning of the early Christian church, there's been the obligatory bus/van/camel breakdown, which has also proved to be the case for our group, this week. 

Our minister of music is the trip coordinator/bus driver of this 8 day expedition and, just in case you're wondering, from good ol' Mississippi, this trip to Niagara Falls equals driving 25 children, who don't belong to you, approximately 1,061.4 miles. I don't really want to drive my own children 1,061.4 miles much less a bus full of other people's children. And the thing about being the driver is that when you drive a bus load of other people's offspring 1,000+ miles away from their homes, then you're kind of obligated to also drive them back. Otherwise, I think it's called kidnapping, so we're really talking about 2,122.8 miles...that is if you can resist your impulse to leave them on the side of the road somewhere.  
I don't know how many years David has been taking the youth choir all over the nation, but I do know that he's driven both of my children, for 10 consecutive years, to places like Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Pittsburgh, San Antonio, Boston, Myrtle Beach, and Toronto. I even know, one summer, he retraced 30 miles or so to go back and retrieve some shopping bags Blair had left in her hotel room drawers. I'm sure that God noted this in His books and will dole out the appropriate rewards to David in the hereafter. 

I remember when I was a kid and we'd go on church trips. The list of chaperones was always about the same from trip to trip. I suppose there just wasn't an abundance of people falling all over each other to volunteer. I remember one trip, in particular, on which one of the boys on our van mooned a passing vehicle. There's nothing like a church van traveling down a long stretch of interstate with its name, denomination, and address plastered on both sides with a derrière pressed up against the glass. Nothing reinforces the catchy van message, "Follow me to Church" quite like that does. In this particular case, the adults used the ultimate chaperone weapon...the threat to purchase the offender a Greyhound bus ticket home....and I'm sure caused the church to consider unmarked transportation going forward. You know, not unlike a prison bus. And, as I recall, through the years, a few first time chaperones hung up their gloves after pulling back into our church parking lot. Never to chaperone again. It's just a tough business.    
So, as a parent, I'd like to recognize all of those, who are hitting the road, this summer. Not for a glamorous trip with those closest to them, but those people who take a week of vacation to have other people's children annoy them in enclosed spaces for extended periods of time. Those who walk around with the medical release forms and a purse full of over the counter meds. For the ones who have to get out of bed, walk down the hall in their PJs, and give a room full of teenagers a final warning about the noise with a firm, "Am I going to have to call some Mamas?...because I will!" For those responsible for counting heads every time the bus is reloaded. For those posting pics on Facebook to entertain childless parents back home as they're eating bonbons and getting pedicures. For those, who keep the children from playing in the interstate, while a tire is being changed. Those who've comforted homesickness and cleaned up car sickness. For those, who load the luggage and unload the luggage and load the luggage and unload the luggage. For the ones, who have to find an exit to accommodate every whim of 30+ bladders. And for those who endure the smells that waft up from the back of the bus and are bombarded with snippets of a thousand conversations, while traversing unfamiliar roads....I want to thank you.

While it doesn't seem like one of those big, huge tasks, which garners a lot of attention or makes a big difference, it does. I still remember all of the adults, who invested time in my life and I know my kids will, too. Thanks to all the chaperones, who'll lay their head down on a lumpy pillow tonight and get up and load luggage and count heads again tomorrow.....all for the enrichment of other people's kids.

Here's to chaperones everywhere. Past and present.

God bless.     


Y'all have a great weekend!
      




















Wednesday, June 20, 2018

That Awkward Moment When You Can't Think of Anything to Talk About Because You Haven't Done Anything

Well, it's been a while since I checked in and the only excuse I have is the lack of subject matter. My downtime at work is from around Memorial Day to when I go to market in mid-July. There's just nothing going on and I hardly work at all, so I've really slipped into a virtual summer coma.

Last week, Carson was out of town and I took the opportunity to do my summer cleansing of the house. Every summer, I go through the house, room by room, closet by closet, drawer by drawer, and purge, straighten, and clean. So, really, there was nothing blog-worthy about that.

The last few days, I've been glued to the tv watching the Bulldogs in the College World Series. Generally, baseball isn't my sport of choice. It's just not a good fit for my attention capacity. Games are so long and slow and there are soooo many of them. No, I'm cut out for college football fandom, where the action is fast paced and you only play each team once. But, when my beloved alma mater makes it to Omaha, well, I do perk up and get interested in America's pastime. Consequently, a week of excessive tv watching hasn't provided much wisdom or inspiration that I've felt the need to pen....except eat a banana and wish us luck on Friday. Tune in and learn about the rally banana phenomenon if you're not from these parts.
I won't lie. There's also been a lot of sleeping. Sleeping in and a little nap after lunch.....but that doesn't make for very good blog posts either. Don't get me wrong, it makes for a good time, but not so much for exciting reading.

I did have an appointment, this week, for some new headshots for the blog, but I had to reschedule that. I'm sure there would've been some material there, but we'll have to wait another week for that fun.
 
And, in case you were wondering, my feelings about summer haven't changed. If anything, they have deteriorated. Aside from the opportunities for more rest, summer has got nothing that I need. Mosquitos, snakes, scalding car seats, flies, wasps, humidity, sunburn, gnats, and heat that will singe your little nostril hairs. Nope, nothing about any of that appeals to me and so, until there is a hint of autumn air, you shall find me and my diminished motivation inside somewhere enjoying the marvels of climate control, waiting for the heat and all its evil minions to retreat. For now, I can look to Hobby Lobby to give me hope that better days are ahead.
Today was Carson's 18th birthday. He has a summer job and so this was his first birthday to experience the work day birthday. We've all got to experience it sooner or later. That year when your birthday becomes just another day at the office. Well, we celebrated big, this past weekend, when Blair and John Samuel were home and he had spurts of celebration again today, so his birth has been properly observed, I'd say. I just can't believe how fast 18 years go by. Why, it seems like just yesterday, they were pulling him from my womb, kicking and screaming. Good times.       

Well, I guess I'll go now. It's one thing to not have anything to say and another thing to go on about how you have nothing to say. Carson will be on another trip, next week, headed to Niagara Falls with our church youth group, so who knows what kind of project I'll start then. Maybe it'll be something worth sharing.

Y'all have a good week......and Hail State!