Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Heart of the Home

Blair's coming home this weekend for a hair appointment and she's submitted her requests for all the food she'd like me to cook while she's here.  When she comes home from college, it's a prodigal son type affair around here.....the fatted calf, sibling resentment, and all.  I think most of us can relate to the fact that food from home is like an old, fluffy blanket....a familiar, warming solace.

In the spirit of celebrating my culinary heritage, I have a collection of old recipes hanging on my kitchen wall.  When we moved into our new house a few years ago, I thought how special it would be to frame copies of handwritten recipes from our mothers and grandmothers.

I searched through their recipes to find the ones that were written in their hand.....the same hands that kneaded, shelled, chopped, and peeled those listed ingredients into delectable dishes that would make your eyes roll back into your head.  Most were written on writing tablet paper or index cards, and a few were even scribbled down on the back of deposit slips or offering envelopes.  I can only assume those were recipes that were exchanged in the line at the bank or at the church potluck dinner.  Some were torn from years of being folded into a recipe box and some were splattered with grease from being on the front lines of the action.

I wanted to find the recipes that sparked memories like Grandmother's dressing, Mama's marble cake, and my mother-in-law's sweet potato pie.  These recipes brought back memories of days that have passed.  I can still picture every single one of my grandmother's tablecloths.  I remember that when I was asked to fill up her amber colored glasses with ice, my mouth would start to water with anticipation.  I remember how my Mimi made some really good chocolate icing and how her well water made the most delicious sweet tea.  I remember how my mother's Sunday chicken spaghetti and lemon ice box pie were a wonderful prelude to long after church naps.

I chose the recipes that I remembered well, copied them onto cardstock, seared the edges and framed them.  They're a reminder that cooking for others is a love language all in itself.

My grandmother would get up to cook a big breakfast for us when we were visiting her house....rolling out her biscuits and frying up the bacon in her iron skillet.  She'd get out the fig preserves that she'd put up in the summertime and put the roast in the oven for lunch.  Granddaddy's field peas would be simmering on the stove and a couple of hours later, she'd pour off the juice from the meat and make her rich gravy for the potatoes she'd creamed in her Sunbeam mixer.  She'd put a fresh tablecloth on the table and take the cornbread out of the oven and place it next to the warm banana pudding. 

She was always the last one to sit down to enjoy what she'd worked so hard on all day and just as soon as we were moaning and rubbing our satisfied bellies, Grandmother was planning what we'd have for supper.  It was her way of saying to us, "I'm so glad you're here and I want you to know that I love you."

There's nothing I wouldn't do to be able to sit at her table one more breathe in the smell of her enjoy one more plate of her chicken pie and garden vegetables on that red, floral tablecloth.  I'd love to give her a kiss and feel her soft cheek on my lips.....and to have her sit and talk with me for a little while and tell me about heaven.....and what Jesus is like.

The recipes hanging in my kitchen remind me that love was and is always the main ingredient and that, in the south, food really is the way to the heart.  We have awfully strong affections for the people who have cooked for us throughout our lives.  I know I sure do.


Monday, February 24, 2014

We're the Millers

Davis and I took a little overnight trip for our anniversary.  Well, actually, what happened was....our son was going to spend a pre-planned weekend with his sister at college, where she was going to show him around and entertain him in various ways.....ways, which revolved mostly around baseball and food.  Since we had to take him up there and pick him back up, we just decided to "get a room" and save ourselves a trip.  So, when I say we took a little anniversary trip, I don't want you to get too excited or expect pictures of blue water and drinks with umbrellas.  The only blue water anywhere around was the hotel pool, which was full of leaves and closed until spring and the closest thing these Baptists had to a drink umbrella were the paper tops covering our hotel bathroom glasses.

Anyway, when packing the car, Davis spots the gift I'd bought for him.  (I'd just gotten him a couple of books.)  "What's this, Joni? know we don't exchange gifts for our anniversary unless it's a big one," he said with remorse in his voice.  He obviously feels "big ones" are the ones ending in a five or a zero.  Apparently, someone didn't read my blog on the most common mistakes made by men at gift giving time.  No agreement to withhold gifts is ever binding as far as women are concerned, so men should always be prepared.  At least, we'd gotten all that pesky anticipation about what my gift might be out of the way before we even left the garage. 

For those of you who don't know Davis, if you look up the word, practical, in the Webster dictionary, he is pictured there.  With our anniversary so close to Valentine's Day, the practical or Davis thing to do would be to roll the two occasions into one, which he seems to have mastered.  Not the most romantic approach to special occasions, but you have to give him points for efficiency and reasoning and in the spirit of the Olympics, he could even be a medal contender in such an event.   

I'm not picking on sweet Davis.  I've always known that his love language was not gift giving.  He needs Rosetta Stone for that language.  If that were of great importance to me, I wouldn't have married him.  No, his love language is the more steady and consistent, acts of service, and, in it, he's quite fluent.  On a daily basis, he speaks volumes by the little and big things he does for me, which is worth a lot more than anything wrapped in paper. 

The evening of our anniversary, we enjoyed a very nice dinner with predictable entrees ordered by each of us.  Davis, on his march to become a burden to the children as long as possible, got the almond crusted grouper with water as fish is low in fat, the almond crust went toward his daily intake of nuts, and water, of course, contains no sugar.  I, working to bump my heart cath up a year or two closer, enjoyed the filet with cheese grits and sweet tea.  I guess since I had no gift, I subconsciously decided to run the food bill up to the amount that I felt would've been appropriate for him to have spent on it.  I skipped the mignon and went straight for the filet grande, as we'll call it. 

All alone with no children, Davis and I could discuss very serious topics that only couples with 22 years of maturity could enter into like memories of our wedding day, our parents, my new blog, Davis' federal retirement countdown and how it's funny that when women start growing hair on their chins, it starts growing out of men's ears and noses and how that must be God's design, so that no one could make fun of the other one.  And after we'd thoroughly covered that phenomenon, we talked about what any couple would talk about when they're all alone on their anniversary.......the children.  Things the children have said, things the children have done, grades the children have made, the children's schedules, the children's futures, how we're going to pay for the children......things like that.

We met up with the kids for lunch the next day and then we all went to the Sunday baseball game together.  We achieved our usual asymmetrical sunburns on the "south" sides of our faces and necks and we got to catch up with Blair and see a lot of people she's met and friends she's made.  I took her several servings of frozen, homemade food, which she had requested.  Nothing warms a mother's heart like hearing her child say that her cooking is missed.     

So, that was our weekend.  We enjoyed a low key couple of days together, kicking around our alma mater, ballgames, visits with the kids, and eating.....lots of eating.  I don't think a reality show about us would ever get off the ground.  We're not near as glitzy as the Kardashians or Real Housewives, but we'd like to think we're a little more refined than Honey Boo Boo's people.  We're just somewhere in the middle, where things aren't too flashy, but they're not too shabby either.  We're the Millers and there's nothing to see here.  We kinda like it like that.  We kinda like us.




Friday, February 21, 2014

To Have and to Hold

Tomorrow is our 22nd anniversary!  Davis and I were married on February 22, 1992 at 2:00.......notice all the twos.  We had a good time looking back at our wedding pictures and videos this week.  Wow!  If you want to shock your system, get your wedding video out and give it a whirl.  We could see where the 22 years had gone.....a little more weight, a little less hair in some cases, and thankfully, the phasing out of pantyhose.  The only thing that would've rivaled the size of Davis' enormous glasses was my hair, so not all change is bad.
As I looked through the lingerie shower pictures, I was wondering how many pairs of scissors and tubs of Vaseline it would take to squeeze me back into the little unmentionables I was holding up.  The sight of me in those little get-ups now wouldn't be near the treat for Davis that it once was.  I may have weighed 105 lbs when we got married.....with the wedding dress and train on, that is.  I had the metabolism of a hummingbird and the more I ate, the less I weighed.  My stomach was concave and my hip bones protruded out like bridge guard rails.  Oh, what 22 years will do to one's metabolic rate.

We've got a coffin sized box containing my wedding dress under our bed.  You know those acid neutral heirloom preservation chests that cleaners store your dress in for only $150.  Its air tight seal has prevented me from seeing it since 1992.  I guess it's in there, but I have no way of knowing for sure.  We've moved it three times.  Why, I don't know, because our diva daughter's eyes dart nervously and then stare down at the floor when asked about wearing it.  Having it made into a tablecloth for a punch table tucked way back in a dark corner of the reception would be the only way my dress will get anywhere close to Blair's wedding.

We've lost a lot of people that we loved in these 22 years.  My Daddy, our grandparents, a couple of young cousins, uncles, and family friends.  Seeing people on video, who are no longer here, reminds me how quickly life goes by and how much I miss the sound of their voices and their laughs.  Heaven holds large pieces of my heart. 

Davis and I promised to stick it out for better and for worse.  Thankfully, there has been more better than worse.  Our life together has been so blessed and we know that God is the source of those blessings.   

Davis is a strong, spiritual leader for our family and a great Dad.  He works so hard and takes care of us in so many ways.  He's a wonderful illustration for Carson, teaching him, by example, about being a Godly man of integrity and showing Blair the kind of sweet love by which she can measure other men that come into her life.  So really, besides the ridiculous nasal noises he makes in his sleep, that one near hip fracture from his failure to lower the toilet seat, and his inability to stay up past 10:00, I wouldn't change a thing about him or our life together.

I'm taking the weekend off to celebrate!

See you soon! 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

He's my Winner!

First, I have to say how proud I am of my little dude, Carson.  He got second place in his school's reading fair and advanced to the district fair.  He didn't place there, but I think his project on Tim Tebow's autobiography was awesome.  Carson admires Tim and, in my opinion, a young boy couldn't find a better role model for how to be courageous in living out what you believe.

I've observed that the moms of reading fair participants don't play.  The reading fair circuit is a cut throat subculture that is rarely exposed to the light, but let's just call it what it is......the Mothers' Reading Fair.  Kind of a "Toddlers and Tiaras" with an academic twist.

As the science fair is the dad's stage to strut his engineering background around the school library with his 1st grader experimenting, "The Use of Polymer-Based and Polymeric Hybrid Adsorbents: How Effective are they in Removing Water Pollutants", so the reading fair is the mother's opportunity to showcase what she can do with a bottle of rubber cement, a ball of twine, some red felt, and a sheet of alphabet stickers. 

On set up day, you've got moms walking around, checking out the competition, sizing them up and mumbling doubts about how much the other children really did themselves.  Whispers of which projects might give their kid trouble fill the un-airconditioned gym air.  Still other mothers have their glue guns and tool boxes sprawled out in the open, working shamelessly....not even pretending, while the child is obliviously listening to Justin Bieber on her ear buds and kicking a bottle cap across the floor. 

I think it's hard for us, control freak mothers, to completely let go.  I remember my Mama being the captain of the ship that was my 5th grade booklet on China, which contained several pictures from the National Geographic with its lovely red construction paper cover featuring a black cut out of the country.... all held together with brass brads.  It was a beaut with my mother at the helm.       

At first, we, moms, are like...."Ok, I'm going to birth the idea and he can implement it."  Then you're like....."Woah, Woah, Woah, you're putting it on crooked and you've got way too much glue on here......Let's try that again."  And then you're like......."Ok, you know what...just scoot over and let me get it on there."  Don't act high and mighty like you've never told your child to scoot over after they messed up 6 of the 10 sheets of scrapbook paper you bought at $1.29 each.  Finally, you give them some jobs you feel comfortable letting go of....."Ok, put the dot on top of the "i" sticker and write your name, school, and grade on the back and we're done!"

This year, there were some very creative projects, but, hopefully, that was our last reading fair.  There's a 14 hour Saturday and $65 we'll never get back, but anytime your child reads a book, you get to spend the day together and there are only three emotional breakdowns and two hot glue burns bad enough to's a good time.

Hope your day is deserving of a ribbon....or at least an Honorable Mention.


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

We'll Start Tomorrow

Well, I'm going walking with a friend later tonight.  It's been a while.

I've really let the whole exercise thing go this winter.  Not that I was a staunch fitness fiend before winter, but my loose and wavering commitment to it has become even looser and the wavering has turned into more of a flapping.  Perhaps that's another reason why I love winter's just brimming with excuses to skip on the exercise.  It's not that I think exercise isn't a good thing.  It's more of a discipline issue.  In a lot of ways, I'm not, at all, a lazy person, but in other ways, I'm as lazy as the guy who designed the Japanese flag, as they say.  Exercise falls into that latter category.  

That's why I'm amazed at the tenacity, dedication, and excitement with which my husband, Davis, approaches exercise.  Neither rain, nor snow, nor the dark of night shall keep him from his regimen.  I've actually seen him head out to run in freezing precipitation.  Things like that cause me to question his sanity, but it was comforting to know that, at least, if he didn't make it back, the sub-freezing temperatures would preserve his body until we could locate him. 

It's not just exercise.  He's also disciplined in his eating.  Every time he gets wind of some new health tip, he implements it at once.  His newest kick is cutting sugar from his diet.  He started this, like, eighteen hours ago and has lost three pounds.  I hate him.  He informed me of this as I was pouring myself a Coke.  Ever notice how those "healthy" people come across as just a tad condescending?  They wait until you're downing a Coke to tell you they don't eat sugar anymore because it's so bad for you.  (It bears mentioning here that I have cut my daily cola intake down to one of those ridiculously small 8oz cans that looks like it belongs in Barbie and Ken's townhouse accomplishment of which I am quite proud and I want credit for it.)

Davis' honey and cinnamon concoction prevents heart disease and arthritis.  He harvests enough blueberries each summer to mound his breakfast cereal with them every single morning of the year...ever since he heard Dr. Oz say they are good for your heart, brain, and may prevent cancers.  All manner of nuts are a daily staple since the time he read the article claiming that they help in lowering cholesterol and preventing heart disease.  Of course, this is all in addition to his daily snack of carrots as they aid in blood pressure control and prevent strokes.  Each night he has a night cap of fish oil supplements, which fight inflammation and are also good for the heart.  Meanwhile, I'm over here like...."Hey y'all, I took two gummy vitamins and I'm gonna lie down a minute."   

I fully expect Davis to live until the Lord returns.... whenever that may be.  Unless a meteor falls from the sky and knocks him upside the head, I don't know what else he could possibly die from.

I've always said that, one day, when I'm in Glory and he's been put in a semi-private room in a sub-par retirement facility selected by the children, eating a low sodium diet, watching Wheel of Fortune, and playing Bingo in the activity room, he will kick himself and think, "I should have sat around and eaten Oreos with Joni more."

As I was writing, my friend texted to say she had to work late and couldn't walk tonight.  That's a shame.  We'll start tomorrow. 


Sunday, February 16, 2014

All Good Things Must Come to an End

Well, the southern weathermen have certainly had more opportunities than usual this year to throw around some of those words they don't get to use much in these parts.....icy conditions, winter weather advisory, snow, sleet.  I've joined the mob of panicked southerners on three occasions this winter in our hysterical quest to buy milk and bread after the televised use of the words, "frozen precipitation".  That's two more milk and bread trips than our yearly average.  (I think we panic so, down here, because we take our food very seriously and the thought of not being able to get to it....well, that's just more than we can bear.)  All that to say, we've had an unusually cold and wet winter!

Social media has been flooded with countdowns to spring, the romanticizing of summer, and endless lamentations of the misery that Old Man Winter is doling out and I'm just over here like....."Hey y'all, I like winter".  I know I go against popular thinking on this, but I've always been a cold weather girl.  Nothing gets me more excited than a forecast for a cold, cloudy, windy day!  It all begins for me when the cool winds of fall start to blow and crescendos with the dark, blustery days of winter.  It's crazy, I know.

I love crackling fires, blankets, any kind of soup, crunchy leaves, jackets, a good bowl of chili, boots, football, scarves, hot chocolate, and Christmas!  I really can't think of anything about this cold weather that I don't like.  I suppose, of all the seasons, winter plays to my natural propensity to curl up and relax as opposed to the other seasons when curling up can be misinterpreted as laziness. 

When recounting all of the things that draw me to the cold, it would be an oversight to omit one of the most obvious....the beginning of what we, women, know as Winter Shavings Time.  Not to be confused with the more widely publicized, Daylight Savings Time, this unspoken, looser leg grooming regimen for women traditionally begins on the day that Daylight Savings Time ends.  This time period offers flexibility and freedom for women everywhere....a kind of vacation, if you will, giving a whole new meaning to the broader term, winter break.

Sure, it's not something talked about at garden clubs, baby showers, or the women's Thursday morning study of Revelations and it's almost never brought up at bridge tables or junior league salad luncheons where little sprigs of mint garnish your tea, but we all know it exists, ladies.  You can act smug if you want to, but you know, good and well, that week when the church bulletin reminds you to set your clocks back an hour, the mood of the ladies Sunday School department starts to perk up a bit.  Gone is the constant, unrelenting exposure of the capri pants, the little dresses, and shorts.  Hello, concealing screen of leggings, boots, and such.

You know that conversation you have with yourself in the shower between November and February...."These pasty, white legs are going to be under layers of socks, jeans, and boots all day where only the good Lord will see them...I think I can go another couple of days."  By day three, you pray a quick...."Please protect me today from broken legs or any other type of medical emergency that would require that my pants be cut off."  Amen.

With today being very spring-like and the forecast calling for temps in the 70's this week, I'm trying to relish the last couple of breaths of winter and muster up the fortitude to brave another oppressive, southern summer.  Those days when you open the door and the heat hits you in the face like a skillet full of scalding grease and the humidity that weighs so heavy in the air that it tests your very will to live.  Oh, I hope all you, summer people, will be happy then.  Those hot days just go on and on and on some does the shaving.  Sigh. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine Rambling Randomness

1) I'm so glad Pinterest wasn't around when my kids were little.  Apparently, this is what Valentine boxes look like now.......

Looks a lot more stressful than........

And if I had to make a quiver full of for every single kid in the class, I'd be looking for a real arrow to impale myself on.  Looks like I made it out just under the wire.   

2) This past weekend, our family went to see Tim Hawkins.  If you've never heard of him, he's a Christian comedian and he's HILARIOUS!!  For two solid hours, I laughed so hard that my stomach was literally sore the next know, how I guess it would feel if I did crunches, but since I don't, I can only imagine that's how it would be.  Anyway, if Tim ever visits a city near you, I highly recommend his show for a fun night of good, clean comedy.  You won't be sorry!!!

3)  I got roses and a Pandora charm today from Davis, so he did very well with his Valentine shopping, but the sweetest gift I got all day were words from my son.  Boys love their Mamas!  Be still, my heart.... 

4) What is Valentine's Day without pictures of animals getting fresh? 

5)  On a more serious note, I lost my Daddy almost five years ago to multiple myeloma.  I think about him every single day, but as much as my brothers and I miss him, I know our mother feels his absence the most.  For 47 years plus, he was her Valentine.  I can imagine after being a pair for that long, it would be hard to adjust to cooking for one, going to church alone and all those hundreds of things you don't think about until you suddenly have to do them on your own. 
Her two oldest grandsons, Casey and Carson, were her Valentine dates tonight.  Armed with bulging wallets, laden with chocolate and flowers, dressed up a little more than usual and looking like eye candy for the ladies, they escorted their grandmother out to dinner.  Their Grandpa was her one and only love and since he's not here with her, I think he would be proud that his grandsons loved on her for him. 
I hope, on this Valentine's Day, you celebrated all the different people that God uses to love on you!
6)  Remember....nobody loves you more than this...

Happy Weekend to y'all! 


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

An Uplifting Experience

I'd put it off long enough.  I needed new bras.  They were all too itchy, too tight, not supportive enough, had loose straps or straps that hit bone.  You ever notice that?  Bra straps either fall down every three seconds or burrow so deep into your shoulder that you need anti-rejection medication to wear them.

It's one of those things you hate to do, but every so often we, women, have to go and purchase new foundations garments.  I've never liked spending money on things that can't be seen.  Like you'd rather buy hardwood floors than a new water heater.  Bras are no exception and they're no small investment either.  That's why they're always having bra sales.  No one could afford more than one at a time if they didn't run those continuously.

My mother takes the subject of bras very seriously.  She's always wanting to buy them for me or asking about my bra inventory.  She routinely gives me tips that she's learned from bra authorities over the years like...."Joni, the lady at Dillard's told me that you're supposed to fall into your bra.....just lean forward and fall into it."  You like that.

For years, she's alerted me whenever the department stores were having those bra fitting weekends where they bring their specialist in from some out of town headquarters.  Somehow my mother has always had the idea that experts from out of town have a higher degree of expertise than local experts.  "Now Joni, we need to go down there this weekend and let that lady from Atlanta tell us what size and kind of bra will work best for us."  I don't know about you, but I can think of about 4,000 things I'd rather do than be shut up in a dressing room on a Saturday with my Mama and a little gray haired lady with cold hands and a measuring tape. 

Well, a few years back, I let her talk me into it.  I mean, after all, she's not getting any younger and if that would bring joy to her then, "Ok, Mama...I'll go with you to see the bra lady".  I thought it might be a bonding experience for us since it was something that's so dear to her heart and all. 

We got to the bra department and I could spot her a mile away.....the Bra Specialist.  She just looked like she knew her stuff with her big gold name badge and perky bosoms.  Her badge said she was "Certified", which I'm sure excited my mother even more.  Anyway, Mama made a beeline to her like she was some sort of rock star.  I timidly hung back like I was four, while my mommy explained to the lady from Atlanta (that bears repeating) that I needed a good fitting.  After a few questions, she went to grabbing and snatching bras off of the rack and told me to go put them on and she would come and check me.  When I'd gotten one on, my mother heralded the news and here she came.  She mashed and pulled and tugged and squeezed and measured and adjusted and finally told me exactly what I needed to achieve the most pleasant and effective bra experience.  We all slept better that night knowing that I had been seen by a specialist.

So today, I took what I learned long ago from the expert lady from Atlanta and headed out to the President's Day bra sale.  There is no greater way to honor our country's leaders, past and present, than with the purchase of women's undergarments.  Anyway, today was the day that I'd set aside to "git 'er done".  I stood amid the vast acreage of, as my grandmother used to say, far as the eye could see.....nothing but bra-zeers......comfort straps, back smoothing, underwire, sexy support, full support, full coverage, light and luxurious, extra lift, push up, wireless, natural boost, age defying lift, all over smoothing and minimizing.  It can be overwhelming, but trust me.....the last thing you want to do is stand there and look puzzled, because those bra ladies can smell bewilderment and they'll come at you.  You don't want that.

At least, I have that chore done for a while.

I hope your week has been uplifting so far!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Pick of the Litter

Our dog is about to celebrate another birthday!  I realize that canine birthdays are not something that a lot of people keep up with, but somehow I do.  I can't remember why I came in a room, what I was about to say, or that my glasses are on top of my head, but our dog's birthday.....that I can remember.  Go figure.

Nine years ago, our family decided to get what we thought to be a full-blooded Dachshund puppy from an out of town great-aunt.  Her registered Dachshund had a litter of puppies and we thought that was just what the Millers needed......a wienie dog!

When we'd call to check on the puppy that was being held for us, she would tell us that it was doing just fine, but really didn't look much like the rest of the litter.  "Hmm", we thought, but went forward with our adoption plans, because, after all, we were getting her for the family price of free. 

When it was time, we took a road trip to pick up our already named Sugar and when we saw her, she looked "Dachshundy" enough, but something wasn't exactly right.  We just couldn't quite put our finger on it.  We brought her home and quickly became attached!  We were in love with our little Sugar. 

As the weeks went by and she grew, her long, droopy ears, that once flopped down beside her head, began to spring upward toward the heavens.  First, one ear went up.....and then the other joined it about 6 months later.  It was an odd much so that we began to wonder if wrapping her head with aluminum foil would get us some extra channels on the television.

It was something that we hated to say out loud, but I know we were all thinking it....."We've got ourselves one ugly dog here.  Just not very cute...bless her heart".  But, when our children went through that terrible baby "acne" at around six weeks old, (you know that brief period when you pray no one will call to come see the baby) we didn't stop loving them.  Then at about eight years old when kids get those walrus teeth that are bigger than piano keys, we still loved them then, too.  Sugar was no exception to our blind love.

Quickly, we started putting the pieces together when we remembered the Chihuahua that lived next door to my aunt and concluded that we must, indeed, be the proud owners of a "Chi-wienie" or "Wienie-huahua" as they're sometimes affectionately called.  The father wouldn't submit to a paternity test, but the ears gave him away.  Obviously, Sugar's mother did some things she regretted and her daddy was just a scoundrel looking to put another notch in his collar, but none of this was Sugar's fault.

Sugar will never win at Westminster.  She won't be pictured on any dog food bags.  She hates everybody who doesn't live in our house.  She bites the vet.  She growls at anyone who comes near her food bowl.  She snarls if you mess with her while she's trying to sleep.  She doesn't care for small children.  She likes her routine and gets very anxious if it's changed.  She won't eat dog food unless you put table scraps under it to entice her.  She snores louder than a grown man.  And she sends the little girl across the street screaming into her house every time she sees her.  Nonetheless, we love her. 

She's a grumpy, set in her ways half breed, who's not much to look at.....but she is ours.  She greets us with drooling adoration when we get home, wants to be wherever we are, and she'd strip all the skin from your ankles if you tried to mess with us. 

To love each other despite our glaring imperfections....that's what families do.  What others may see as a mutt, we see as a precious part of our family.  I suppose it's the same way God see us, too.  He looks past all of our faults and just sees someone that He loves with all of His heart.  We're not perfect.....but we're His.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Decisions, Decisions

With Christmas just over and Valentine week starting tomorrow, I've had many recent opportunities in my work to observe the shopping techniques of the average man.  It's sort of a hobby of mine.  As the birdwatcher is fascinated with the migratory patterns of the yellow-throated marten, so I am with the retail patterns of the male human.  Now mind you, I realize that there are men, who give great thought and planning to their gifts, but we're not discussing them today.  No, today we're talking about the average man. 

To be an observer of their gift selection process, you must be alert and watch fast as it has been my experience that the longest part of the procedure is the credit card swipe.  It's always captivated me to see the speed at which a man can choose the perfect gift to express love for his wife, companion, cooker of his food, cleaner of his toilets, and vessel through which his large headed children were painfully brought forth. 

Take for example, last week a nice looking gentleman came into the store and I greeted him with a "hello" and "let me know if I can help you with anything".  I feel this greeting is much less annoying to me when I am shopping as opposed to "What can I help you with?" or "Are you looking for something in particular?"  Too many questions.  Anyway, no sooner had I gotten the greeting off of my lips, did he tell me that he was looking for a birthday present for his wife.  Well, before I could make it around the counter to where he was, he met me with his selection and asked if we could wrap it for him.  Impressive time and execution!  It could have been an all-time record at 22.4 seconds from start to finish. 

His time might only be rivaled by a young man, who whirled in last Valentine's Day at about 5:58 pm.  As I recall, he walked in the door, turned to the right, and picked up the first item he saw.  Placing it on the counter, he reached for his wallet and let out a big sigh.  "This oughta do it", he said in a proud and accomplished tone.  I understood the relief in his sigh as shopping can be quite the chore.   

After years of observation, I have concluded that we, women, must be making gift giving way more complicated than it has to be.  Ladies, you can't help but be impressed by the efficiency with which a man can select a token of his appreciation for two episiotomies, a cesarean scar, a belly that will never go back like it was, and infinite creativity with chicken breasts and a pound of ground chuck.

Throughout my years of retail work, I've also observed several mistakes that men seem to make when shopping for Valentine's Day:

1)  "I want this delivered to our house after she gets home from work." - 99% of women would rather get one carnation at work than two dozen roses at home.  We can be shallow like that.

2)  "I can't remember if she wears a medium or a large, so I'll go with the large." - Perilous move.  Always round down, men.  If she wears a large, she'll be thrilled that you see a medium when you look at her.

3)  "We agreed not to buy anything for each other this year." - She has you a gift.  Get her one.  Period. 

4)  "I want to send this teddy bear to my wife." - No 40 year old woman wants to leave work looking like she's been to Chuck E Cheese.  Your money could be better spent.

5)  "She's on a diet and she'll kill me if I buy her chocolate." - No man has ever, ever, ever been killed for buying chocolate.  You understand?

Feel free to print and leave these in a conspicuous place for your special someone.

 Hope your week gets off to a good start!