Monday, March 31, 2014

Comfort Zones

It was almost April and my mother hadn’t seen Blair’s dorm room, sorority house, or any other points of interest at her new home away from home and since those are things that grandmothers ought to see, she and I headed out for a visit on Saturday. 
Anticipating our coming, Blair sent an extensive list of items that she needed us to bring.  Before we left, I ran to the mall to get a couple of things for her and, while I was there, I remembered that I had one of those “Free Panty” cards from Victoria Secret in my purse.  If they’re respectable enough, I redeem those for Blair because, well, they all look like one big, incessant wedgie to me.  Anytime I use my coupon for the free body spray or panty, I always feel so conspicuous walking around the mall with my pink, striped bag.  You know what though……when you’re 45.999 years old and carrying a little Victoria Secret bag through crowds of young shoppers at the mall, you should walk with your head held high and carry it like you mean it.  Like a boss.  Don’t you worry about what those youngsters are whispering or that they are feeling sick to their flat stomachs, imagining your muffin top hanging over whatever is under that pink tissue.  Don’t be intimidated by their wincing.  You know you could pull it off if you wanted to…’s just that now you prefer undergarments that could double as Ma Ingalls’ nightcap…and you’re ok with that.         
My pink bag and I, then, scooted over to Dillard’s to see what I could find in there.  I bought four items for myself… was black, one was green, and the other two were cream.   Blair gives me a hard time about my clothing color preferences and, as I stood in line at the register, I could hear her voice in my head, “Mom, there are so many beautiful colors and this is what you chose?” While she enjoys turning heads with eye catching yellows, pinks, and purples, I feel most comfortable in the colors that occur naturally… swamps and creek beds.  I am most at ease in black, brown, green, navy, and burnt shades of red.   While some prefer to stand out like traffic cones and fire hydrants, others of us want to look like we’re part of the landscape….you know… like mulch.  We don't want to be totally invisible, but we don't want to sound any alarms either.             
Of course, while visiting with Blair, we, inevitably, shopped.  When she and I shop together, she tries to suggest fuchsia and yellow and aqua for me and I just can’t go there.  I try them on and I feel like a plastic Easter egg….or a Skittle.  Saturday was no exception.  Blair was drawn to the brightest dresses in the stores… steel to a magnet as she’d squeal, “Oh, Mom….this would be so beautiful on you!”  When I grimaced and wrinkled my nose, she'd assure me, sarcastically, that she was sure they could special order it in black or brown. Meanwhile, she was trying on hot pink, floppy hats and admiring patterned dresses that were so bright, they could be sent up in lieu of emergency flares. 
I feel sure when I pass on and Blair finally has complete control over my wardrobe, she’s going to have a blast.  If you come through my visitation line, look to find me laid out looking like a Las Vegas showgirl.   Blair may even bring rolling racks of clothes in and close the line down every half hour for wardrobe changes……wrestling me into one bright, garish getup after another, so come prepared to wait.  She’ll only have a small window of time when she can select my outfits without any objection and I suspect that she’ll make the most of it.  Expect to see brightly colored hats with feathers, red lipstick, and dresses encrusted with jewels and accessorized with big, honking earrings.  I will spend eternity looking like Liberace and Gsa Gsa Gabor all rolled up into one.  I’ll wear a name tag so you can recognize me on the other side.
Anyway, we had a nice time Saturday.  We ate.  We shopped.  We toured. We ate.  We were introduced.  We ate.  Three generations of women….some dressed more brightly than others…. all enjoying the day together.  It was nice.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Skin Care

About this time each year, I start going for all of my yearly checkups.  Ladies, you know you're getting on up in age when you have more doctors than eggs.  I usually start off with the skin, the eyes, and the teeth and then just work my way on down from there.  You know the drill.....the farther down you go, the worse it gets.  It's such a relief when, at last, you reach the bottom and can relax for another year.   

I went for my dermatology appointment today.  Once a year, I have to go get my moles checked and all the other spots that I incurred on beaches and pool sides, while slathered in baby oil as a teenager. You can't tell it now, but I once loved to sunbathe and watch my skin progress through all of the lovely shades of bronze. George Hamilton had nothing on me. 

Today, when I close my eyes in a beach chair, all I see are Web MD images of dark moles with irregular edges.  My tanning goals have completely changed through the years.   My aim today is to slather on just enough orange tanning stuff to beat back the white a little, so to not blend in with the lilies by Easter.  My main objective is to not put any eyes out.      

Anyway, I've been dreading this appointment at the dermatologist's office, because....well, maybe because of the bad experience I had there last year.  I was taken back to a room, where I answered all of the nurse's questions before she left me with instructions to disrobe and to cover myself with the provided paper "sheet".  She left assuring me the doctor would be right in, so I got undressed and picked up the paper towel-like shield and shook it, hoping to reveal many hidden, folded layers...but that was all there was to it.  What you saw was what you got.  That's one thing about small have to make some tough decisions pretty quickly about where it would serve you best.  That can be a tough call. 

There I sat, unclothed on the exam table covered with my "Bounty Quicker Picker Upper", for what seemed like forever.  I think time passes most slowly when you're exercising and when you're partially clothed under fluorescent lights, waiting on a doctor.  I had plenty of time to ponder possibilities like, "surely the UPS man has, inadvertently, delivered Taco Bell's napkin shipment here to the dermatology clinic and, meanwhile, across town, there are some drippy burrito customers, who are mighty grateful for Taco Bell's new five foot white napkins".  You know...I thought about things like that. 

Anyway, finally the door swung open and in walked the nurse and doctor……..and wait a minute….wait a minute..... all these other people filing in behind them.  They were like clowns piling out of a car.  Finally, everyone was inside and the door was shut, as they all shifted around trying to make room for each other.   Their eyes zeroed in on me and I felt like they were waiting for me to speak or something.  "Awkward", as my son would say.  I wondered if, maybe, I should say something like, “Thank you all for coming. I’m glad you could join us today."  After scanning the crowd that was separated from me only by my napkin, I wanted to point out that there might be a receptionist and a couple of men out in the waiting room that they forgot to invite.  Apparently, I was lucky enough to come on some kind of instructional day.  The doctor zapped something off of my shoulder.  I'm not sure it really needed to come off.....probably just showing the kids how his little thingy worked.  

Today, thankfully, there were no extra spectators.....just me and the nurse and the it should be.  He snipped off a mole that he didn't like the looks of.....probably from the time we all drenched ourselves with cooking oil and stretched out on my friend's rooftop to maximize the sun's effect on our epidermis.  That was a great idea.  Besides that, I found the paper sheets to be a more appropriate size this year and the whole experience to be much less uncomfortable without all of the gawkers.   

So there you have it......Part One of our riveting, new series entitled, "Joni's 2014 Medical Checkups".  Join us next week as she heads to the dentist.          

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A Little Outpatient Procedure

Well, we've had a long day at the hospital.  Davis had a little outpatient surgery today.  I've noticed how when somebody stops right there at the "little outpatient surgery" part and doesn't go on to tell you what the surgery is on, then we assume that it's something personal and embarrassing.  And if they don't give us enough information the first time around, then we'll throw in a concerned, "Well, I hope it's nothing serious", which is their cue to fill us in on what the problem is.  To avoid all of those steps, I'll just tell you that Davis had some work done on his nose.  Oh wait a minute, now that sounds like he had cosmetic surgery.  Davis would never have cosmetic surgery.  No, his nose has been all messed up for years from an old break and he could barely breathe out of the thing.  The doctor said he sees a nose as bad as his about once a year.  This caused his breathing to be so loud that sleeping with him could be likened to sharing a bed with Darth Vader.  Darth Vader and Sleep Diva don't make a good combination. 
When you're having any type of medical procedure, I love how they tell you to get to the hospital three hours before the doctor even wakes up.  There were some "no shows" today, so Davis got bumped up, but it's usually like, "We're going to need you to get here at 5:30 sharp, so that we can get started promptly at 11:30 just before you expire from hunger and thirst".  I could never work at a hospital.  They get started way too early around there and I can tell you that you wouldn't want me to do any kind of work on you at 6:00 am.  I was starting to wish that I was having something done, so at least, I could go back to sleep like Davis was getting to do.   

While he was gone, I was on Pinterest and Facebook trying to pass the time, but it didn't take long for my phone battery to wane.  I had my charger, but you know you can't just go unplugging things in a hospital room.  There I was, inspecting the assortment of plugs...."Let's see now... this gray one looks like it may be only marginally important....Ooops....sorry." 

While my phone charged, I began to entertain myself with other things in the room.  The view of the city was nice for about 2 minutes.  An episode of "Frasier" zapped another half hour.  Then I found this chart and tried to rate the pain I was in from getting up so early.  I was ready with my answer had the nurse asked me.....I was going to go with 8.  The "8" face seemed to best describe the way I was feeling.

And let's talk about hospital gowns for a moment.  Why even bother?  They provide no sense of privacy.  When you check in, they might as well just say...."Just take off your clothes and get over it", because a hospital gown has never helped anyone's feelings of modesty.  And nobody looks good in them.....except on "The Young and the Restless".  Ever notice how soap opera characters are always in the hospital?  And even when they're in a coma, they look stunning and somehow when they come out of surgery at the Genoa City General Hospital, they don't look like a crack addict with Cyndi Lauper hair like the rest of us. 

I was glad when they finally brought him back to the room.  That was entertainment in itself.  I thoroughly enjoyed the post anesthesia Davis.  I don't think he's talked that much in our whole married life.  Let's see.....he talked about retirement, turkey hunting, the benefits of synthetic oil, and coffee.  Then he talked about retirement, turkey hunting, the benefits of synthetic oil, and coffee.  Then he talked about retirement, turkey hunting, the benefits of synthetic oil, and coffee.  I was so ready for the amnesia property of the anesthesia to wear off. 

I don't really claim to be a great nurse, but every now and then, I think it's good for couples to have to care for one another in their compromised states...helping put on shoes, feeding them chicken, holding IV bags, and putting the straw to their mouth.  It's good practice, I think, for the coming golden years.  Let's face day, one of us will end up being the straw holder and the other the straw sucker.  That's just the way life usually ends up in marriages.  With Davis' commitment to good health, I expect that I'll be the straw sucker.  Either way, you do what you gotta do. 

Anyway, we're home, settled in, and doped up, so we're all good.....unless this recovery drags out too long, at which point, I may have to dip into some of these pill bottles.  Hopefully, this surgery will provide some relief for me......I mean Davis.... yeah, hopefully this surgery will provide some relief for Davis.

In all seriousness, I'm glad that's over for him and that he's doing well.  It's my privilege to take care of someone who always takes such good care of me.    

Monday, March 24, 2014

Daddy's Girl


I want to pay tribute to my Daddy, who died five years ago tomorrow after a painful battle with multiple myeloma.  Most of you didn't know him, but I hope you won't mind if I honor him today on my new blog. 

Daddy was one of the smartest men that I've ever known.  He was one of those people who could do just about anything and he did them all very well.  He had the most jovial sense of humor and his laugh sounded like a thunderstorm rolling in!  His voice was as big as his 6'3" imposing frame.  Everybody loved him.  He was widely respected in his field.  He was a godly man who didn't waver in his convictions.  He did nothing for show. 

I feel him in the way I think.  I feel him in what I believe. I feel him in the music I prefer.  I feel him in my sense of humor.  I feel him in my practicality.  He is so much of who I am.

He taught us a lot of things, but the truth that I most remember him sharing and emphasizing and teaching us over and over and over again was that this life isn't about us or what we want or what we can get.  It's so much more than that.  He saw this life for the temporary experience that it is and invested himself in more lasting pursuits.   

For five years, I've carried around an overwhelming, sometimes gnawing longing to just hug him. I've never wanted much of anything as much as I long for that.  I guess there's a innate longing for the little girl in us to want to be held by her Daddy....even when we're not so little anymore.  Sometimes just imagining what it would be like to hug him with my head on his chest again is enough to bring tears down my face. 

I'm not sad for him, because I know that he is free of pain, sorrow, worry, and all of the other ills that plague and burden man.  His faith in Jesus has become sight and he is living far beyond the hands of time, the limitations of a physical body, the restrictions of a mortal mind, and out of the reach of everything that is dreadful.  Who wouldn't want that for someone they love who's suffering? 

I'm sad for us though....the people who called him Daddy and Grandpa.  We missed him at his granddaughters's who's now a nurse and the other who's studying to be a dietician.  His big girls would love to crawl up in his lap again.  We missed him when my parents' 50th wedding anniversary came around and he wasn't here.  My mother feels his absence each day in the quiet house that they shared.  We've missed him as his grandsons have grown from boys to fine young men.  They'd love to go fishing with him for an afternoon.  We've missed him as his youngest grandson has grown from the tiny three month old, who he held before he died, into a rambunctious five year old who keeps us so entertained now.  We feel sure he'd call him a "dirt road sport".  We miss him when we think about how much he'd love his youngest granddaughter, who will only know her Grandpa through pictures.  He had a weakness for little brown eyes and little ponytails of thick brown hair....probably because both traits can be traced back to him.  He would've so enjoyed rocking her and kissing the top of her head.  We miss him every Christmas as his oldest son now sits in his chair at the head of the table.  We miss his beautiful prayers spoken in his deep, booming voice.  We miss him being the life of our parties. We miss his stories and his good advice.  We miss all of his sayings and expressions.  We miss his laugh.  We miss his love. 

It was a cold, dark day when he died and the skies were pouring rain.  It was almost like God was putting our grief into tangible form for us as tears seemed to be running down the hospital windows, windshields, and rooftops...bathing everything in our sadness.  It was dark and gloomy here when he left, but a beautiful, unclouded day when he got to where he was going. 

Enjoy, Daddy.....and rest easy.    



Saturday, March 22, 2014

Sleep Tight

Sleep is such a precious thing and I take it, oh, so seriously!  You can mess with a lot of things, but don't mess with my sleep.  Whenever possible, I prefer to stay up late and then sleep in the next morning and maybe even catch a little nap in betwixt deboning chickens, cleaning toilet rims, and all the other forms of glamour and fancy that fill my day.  Don't tell this, but when Carson leaves for school, I have even been known to crawl back in bed for a couple of hours.....something that the Proverbs 31 woman would never do.  I've got those verses about her lights burning late into the night, but struggle with the up before dawn parts. 

For our whole 22 years of marriage, I've had trouble adjusting to sharing a bed with another person.  Not that I don't love Davis, mind you, but I love him so much more during waking hours.  I admit it....I'm sort of a sleep diva.  I pretty much require near perfect conditions to fall asleep....can't be too hot, too much light, or any noise like the television...oh yeah, and I can't go to bed too early or I have problems falling asleep, but if I stay up past 1:30 a.m., I have trouble then too.  Most of all, I'm addicted to our white noise fan and if the power goes off in the middle of the night and it shuts off, I will shoot up like a bottle rocket on the 4th of July.  It's not a good addiction, because I absolutely cannot sleep without my white noise fix.  All that to say, I cannot tolerate much of anything when I'm trying to drift off to dreamland. 

I recently saw an online sleep quiz for couples and decided to take it just for fun, especially knowing that how Davis and I sleep is something you've all been dying to hear about...perhaps it's been even keeping you up at night.  The quiz asked that you choose the picture that best illustrates how you sleep as a couple and then rated your relationship happiness accordingly.

1) The quiz showed that couples who sleep spooning are the happiest.  Oh, they do look happy, but I'm at a loss to understand how you're suppose to get any sleep in the Heimlich maneuver position with someone snoring all up in your ear and drooling down your face.  If Davis and I were stranded in subfreezing temperatures while mountain climbing, I might be all over this spooning thing, but since that would require hiking and I don't do that, I see this as a very, very hot sleeping arrangement under normal conditions.  No, this would never work for me.

2) Couples who sleep facing each other or touching are listed as a close second in relationship satisfaction.  This looks so sweet...mingling feet or holding hands in their sleep.  I know it's probably just me, but I cannot sleep if anyone is touching me.  I'm from the school of thought that believes sleep is something you must do alone.  It is an individual sport.  We can touch tomorrow.
3) Couples who sleep facing the opposite direction or, in our case, one on his back and the other one facing the wall, clinging to the side of the bed and backslapping anything that touches her....those couples are the lowest scorers on the test.  Davis sleeps like a corpse....on his back with his hands slightly folded at his waist.  It's kind of creepy looking.  Sometimes, when I go into the bedroom and the dim light illuminates his sleeping silhouette, it looks like Parlor B at the Heavenly Rest Funeral Home.  I'm a side sleeper, facing out with my feet hanging out of the covers and my arms stretched out.  Anyway, our sleep set up would look something like this.....minus the coffin, that is. 
So, there you have it.....based on our sleeping arrangement, Davis and I rank low in relationship satisfaction and we didn't even know it.  We better get some counseling.  :)      

If you'd like to find out what your personal sleeping position says about your personality, look at this fun quiz.  Some of the results are eerily accurate in our case.....especially for Davis.  He's even responsible and reasonable when he sleeps, for crying out loud.

My Result

You are a naturally open person, and yet because of this you also come armed with a large portion of suspicion and a cynical point of view. At times, you can be the most pleasant person out there, but other times, you seem be to lost in your own little world, brooding. You take a long time to make a decision, but once one is made, you stick to it.

Davis's Result

You are a quiet person who doesn't like to make a big deal about things, and are always the one who sees the big picture. You are reasonable, but have a bad habit of setting your standards much to high for yourself, and even higher for other people. Sometimes, it seems you're trying way too hard to please everyone, so why not relax a little when you can?

Hope y'all sleep tight tonight! 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Slow News Day

It was a slow news day around here, so I thought you'd be more interested in some "off the beaten path" pop culture nuggets than how long it took my chicken to defrost for supper or how many times I had to run Carson's baseball pants through the washer to get out all the red dirt.

1) Kate Middleton slightly disappointed the fashion crowd when she arrived at the St. Patrick's Day parade wearing basically the same outfit for the third year in a row.  Gasp.  This year, however, her hemline was observed to be a bit longer, as the Queen had recently requested that Kate keep her knees covered in public.  The next time you think you have in-law problems, please know that, at least, Buckingham palace is not calling you out for showing too much knee cap.  Bless her heart.  Also, in the royal news, Prince William has knighted the doctor, who delivered Prince George, with the ceremonial sword. The same doctor has also served as the Queen's gynecologist since 1990.  These royal gynecological factoids are things you just don't hear on the Headline News cycle.
2) Justin Bieber was arrested, most recently, for DUI and resisting arrest, while joy riding in a rented Lamborghini after a day of smoking pot, drinking beer, and taking Xanax.  Children growing up in show business is something that often turns out so very well.  These Mugshot Mugs are for sale online for $10.99 each and are available in all of your favorite child stars.  Collect them all! 

3) For all of you, 80's music fans, this story should be of disappointing interest to you.  A bench warrant has been issued for our beloved Anita Baker for her failure to show up in court yesterday.  Anita is being accused by a painting and decorating company of not paying the $15,000 owed to them for services they rendered in decorating her large Detroit home.  Anita hears them "calling out her name", but "I feel no shame", she seems to be saying.  Sweet Love, your bills, girl. 
4) has discovered that George Clooney and Abraham Lincoln are first-half cousins five times removed as Clooney's line can be traced back to Lincoln's maternal grandmother, Lucy Hanes.  I will let you draw your own conclusions on who got what in the whole beauty/brains thing. 

5) Well, they've created a "Barbie type" doll using more realistic proportions, so that little girls won't have unattainable beauty expectations.  I'm not sure this one is accurate either.  When Barbie gets some mounded plastic hanging over those bathing suit bottoms, little hairs on her chin, and bosoms that point more towards the south, then we'll deem her realistic enough for the children.    

I hope your Friday is fabulous!!




Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Keep the Old

A couple of nights ago, I enjoyed dinner out with a group of friends from high school.  One of our group, who lives away, came home for a week and we all got together to visit.  It was like a breath of fresh air to be able to enjoy a few hours of girl time.  Besides Davis texting me about 9 times from the grocery store to inquire on what aisle various items could be found, it was nice to be "off duty" for a little while. 

There I sat with the co-valedictorians and other dignitaries from the class of 1986.  I don't really know how I fell in with this group unless I was unknowingly part of some advanced placement class research of lower IQ specimens.  I mean, we certainly didn't have any classes together back then.  Their kind was kept in a separate building away from those of us who were there, primarily, to have fun.  I've always found, however, if you keep company with the smart ones, people will assume that you are smart too, so that's the angle I came at hanging out with them.  While they were busy jockeying for position on the graduation podium back then, I was thoroughly enjoying not applying myself, content to be seated with the "N's" among the herd of alphabetically ordered mediocre students, who did not have to prepare a speech or wear those annoying embellishments around their necks. 

There's nothing like getting together with friends from your teenage years...friends who knew you when you wore jelly shoes and a Swatch watch....and when your hair flew back in wings.  It's strange, but I feel like I haven't been out of school all that long and that I'm still that same young girl that I was back then.

The same young girl, that is, with about 25 lbs. added to her girth.  Here's where some of that "mom math" can be applied.  Twenty-five pounds is equivalent to a bag of sugar strapped onto each limb and one around the waist.  I suppose that's what happens when a couple of human beings take up residence inside your body and then exit between your hip bones 9 months later.  I think that's your metabolism that the nurse sucks out of the baby's nose with that bulb syringe in the delivery room. 

Anyway, we talked about all sorts of things at our three hour dinner like how we don't entertain like we once did, how ridiculously crazy and busy life is, our frustrations with the "new" math,  how much it costs to feed insatiable children these days, and the pros and cons of a variety of weight loss programs.  Something seemed to be different this time maybe we were rounding a corner as we broached new, previously untouched subjects.  There was talk about blood pressure problems and cholesterol for the first time ever.  I thought, "this can't be happening....this is what my mother and her friends talk about."  I don't recall the salt shaker being passed and there was more grilled chicken, steamed broccoli, and low fat salad dressing on the table than at our last gathering.

We tried to find solace in one another's inability to recall pin numbers, birth dates, and passwords....things we should know like the back of our hand.  One of us shared that she'd forgotten how old she was when asked and I remembered that a couple of years ago, for several months, I thought I was a year older than I actually was.  It was like Christmas in March that year when I realized I was younger than I thought.  It helps one's feelings to hear that others also find refrigerated items that they've put up in the cabinet and had we gotten together tonight, I could have shared that, this morning, I discovered I only shaved under one arm yesterday, but I suppose that story will have to wait until next time. 

It was a real ego booster to see that, even though we can't always remember how old we are or what we were about to say, we can still turn a few heads.   The heads looked to be about 68 years old as they gazed admiringly in our direction..... probably a couple of widowers looking for someone to cook their low sodium dinners and drive them to the doctor, but let it be noted that heads were turned, nonetheless. 

I don't know where the 28 years have gone.  I just know, in that time, Molly Ringwald disappeared from the silver screen, VH-1 quit playing music videos, skinny jeans went away and came back, Doogie Howser grew up to be a handsome man, and a group of teenage girls became middle aged, responsible, working, nurturing mothers and wives. 

One thing that hadn't changed was our ability to make each other laugh, feel loved.......and young again.                          

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Wonderfully Made

My daughter, Blair, went back to college today.  After having her home for a week, I'm really going to feel her absence!  I stayed home from church with Carson, who is sick with fever, and cooked her a big send off lunch and finished up her laundry.  She brought home all of her wintry apparel and traded them out for shorts and sandals, so our afternoon has been busy!              

After spending the week with Blair, I was reminded of one of the things that I so admire about her.......she's never been afraid to be her own person, even if it means standing out like a flamingo in a flock of geese!  If her favorite song was playing this week while we were out shopping, she'd just start belting it out, right there, for everyone in the store.  I suppose why I appreciate that in her so much is because, when I was young, my middle name was "Obscurity" and blending in was my favorite hobby.      
Just to give you a little description of say that Blair is a girly girl, doesn't really do her justice.  No, Blair has achieved femininity in its highest form.  If femininity had levels, she'd be what you'd call a Gold Cardholder, Summa Cum Laude, Five Star General, Black Belt, Her Excellency, Platinum Member, Commander in Chief, Valedictorian, Your Honor, Hall of Famer... if you will.  She loves all manner of embellishments and all that is prissy in nature and all that sparkles and catches the light and every little thing that is frilly and pink and poufy and fanciful.

As a little girl, Blair seemed indifferent to what everyone else was doing and went about her own way.  If all the girls on the playground were under the slide talking, you'd find Blair on the swings, because, well, she so loved to swing!  When all of her 11 year old friends were rolling their eyes at dolls and trading them in for more mature pastimes, Blair was unmoved by their pressure and continued her close relationship with Malibu Barbie and Movie Star Barbie for another couple of years until SHE was ready for the transition.  She's never felt the need to be somewhere she didn't want to be or to change her preferred course just to fit in with the herd. 

As a teenager, she's always taken some good natured ribbing for her consistent desire to err on the side of dressy.  Everyone in the room can be in gym shorts and sneakers and Blair will come in confidently in her cute, little dress and heels with hair and makeup done just because that's how she feels happiest.  No matter what those around her are donning, she wears what makes her......Blair. 

This week, we decided to eat at one of the local Mexican restaurants before heading across the street to get a little exercise on some walking trails.  A woman stopped her as we came into the restaurant and commented, "Your hair is fixed so beautifully!  Are you going to be in a pageant today?"  "No, ma'am", Blair chuckled...."I'm just going to exercise."  It doesn't matter where she's going, she's going to get all dolled up to go there!   

We found that when she got into high school and became more independent, the same headstrong, confident, autonomous spirit that kept her on the swings instead of among the masses as a little girl, may have proved to be the same quality that kept her from some of the temptations that beckon teens.  
We should encourage the uniqueness that God has placed in our children.  The characteristics that we find so unique in them may be the very ones that He will use, later in their lives, to help them live out their purpose and keep their heart close to Him.  He knows what each of His children will face in life and has equipped them to face it.  He knows what He wants each of His children to accomplish for Him and He's given them the tools to accomplish it.  As a parent, I don't ever want to try to take things out of the bag that God has packed specifically for my kid's journey of life because of ideas I may have about what they should be like.  God knows more about where Blair and Carson are going and what they'll need when they get there.             

I know that He must have something special for Blair to do that will require her to turn her God-given blind eye to what everyone else is doing.  I have no doubt that He custom made her with an important purpose in mind. 
"Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
    you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
    Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
    I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
    you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
    how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
    all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
    before I’d even lived one day.”  Psalm 139: 13-16, Message


Friday, March 14, 2014

Moving On

Yesterday was kind of a sad day.  Nothing serious or earth shattering....just that quiet kind of sad that moms experience sometimes.

My son, who is 13, has been asking me to take his toys out of his closet as he was wanting his room to take on more of a teenager feel.  We'd been keeping the Hot Wheels, Star Wars figures, Tinker Toys, Bionicles, and such in his closet to aid in entertaining his little cousins when they'd come to visit, but, yesterday, we put a few of them under his bed for that purpose (out of sight of visiting friends) and packed up the rest of his old favorites for his children one day.

I kind of have a Toy Story view about toys.  I was always very sentimental about mine and didn't want my mother to throw away any of them!  I still have my Baby Beans doll (she was my absolute favorite doll), my Tender Love doll, my Merlin, and my Raggedy Ann AM radio, just to name a few!   Who didn't like to go outside and get down with their Raggedy Ann AM radio with its convenient, vinyl, carrying strap?

Since we were in the closet cleaning mode yesterday and since I so enjoyed remembering toys of our day with you, I decided to get my old playthings down and snap a few pictures.  When I opened that box, I could still smell the scents of my childhood in the aged plastic and faded fabrics and the comfort of seeing the old familiar friends was unexplainably warm.     

I lovingly drew a Band-Aid on the leg of my Tender Love doll and, as you'll notice below, it's still there covering whatever injury she suffered back in 1972.  Tender Love has one of those dangerous strings on the back of her head and when you pull it, she has a repertoire of phrases that she recites.  Yesterday, I pulled her string and the first thing she said to me was, "Mommy so pretty". Awww, isn't she the sweetest?   There's nothing like your 45 year old looks being validated by your vinyl childhood friend.  It was a touching moment.
Coincidentally, I found my pick up sticks!  Would you look at the ends on those things?  I've seen duller ice picks. 
Among other treasures I found were my Sony Walkman, old diary, and Mattel Electronic Football game.  That Walkman has played many a Kool & The Gang and REO Speedwagon masterpiece in its day.  That diary contains the juiciest secrets that Christian school 5th grade had to offer.  If I ever decide to run for president, it will have to be destroyed.  I played that football game for hours!  Back in the day, it was the very latest in electronic gaming with its bright dots indicating your team and the more faint dots being the opposition.  It was so realistic...just like being there, playing in the actual Super Bowl.  I need to pop a 9 volt battery in it and listen to that six note tune it played when you scored a touchdown! 
My very favorite toy of all time was my Little People Village!  I can't tell you how many years I played with this thing!  As some of you pointed out, the Little People figures were much smaller then than the fist sized ones of today.  They can hardly be called "Little" People anymore.  Even though some of their faces are faded and scratched off in places, they're familiar faces and still smiling back at me.

One day, when my kids have a mortgage, deadlines, and children to raise, I want them to also be able to open a box or two of their old toys and feel the warm memories of a simpler time.  Blair's favorite tea set, dolls, stuffed animals, Sweet Streets, and Barbies are all safely stored away and yesterday, Carson's Legos, super heroes, Star Wars ships, Nerf guns, and Pokémon cards joined them in their retirement.   

I'd adjusted to Blair being all grown up, because I still had Carson to fill the little kid shoes around here.  It's kind of a sad realization when it hits you that you no longer have anyone in your house who is little and plays with toys.  Carson's closet is now stocked with more mature contents like baseball bats, caps, a guitar, boots, and tackle boxes. 

Sometime, when we didn't even know it, we made our last trip to Toys R Us, so he could just look around and dream of what he wanted for his next birthday.  One day, somewhere along the way, I waited patiently, while he looked intently over every single Beyblade in the store and as I waited, I had no idea he'd never care about looking at them again.  One day that I can't even recall, he asked me to get his pirate set down from the top of his closet, and I didn't realize, at the time, that it would be the last time he'd ask. 

Somehow, sometime, while I was cooking supper, running carpool, folding clothes, and going to PTA meetings, they grew up on me.  Time marches on....   



Wednesday, March 12, 2014

That Could be Dangerous!

Ok, I don't know where I've been, but I'm just now hearing about the USPS destroying millions of dollars in newly printed stamps, because they might encourage children to engage in unsafe physical activities.  The "Just Move" stamp series has been destroyed, because three of the designs in the series depicted activities that could be dangerous for children.  Oh. My. Word.  The stamps in question illustrate a child riding a skateboard without knee pads or elbow pads, a child doing a cannonball at the pool, and a child doing a headstand without a helmet.  Heaven forbid...please, no one try these at home.

Maybe only children who grew up in or before the 70's can understand the absurdity of this.  We're the kids, who were kept from flying out the windshield by our mother's arm.  We're the kids, who crammed the metal seatbelts down into the seats because they were so hot, they'd permanently brand GM on your leg if you sat on them.  If you'd worn a bicycle helmet on my street in the 70's, the other kids would've labeled you a freak and said hurtful things like, "your mama, your daddy, your greasy, greasy granny" as their playing cards flapped in their spokes.  We were the kids for whom tetanus shots were essential to surviving, because everything we played with was made of rusty metal....sand pails, swing sets, wagons, lunchboxes, and even car seats.  Everything.  No, there were no warnings about small parts or choking hazards and yet, somehow, we all managed to figure it out and survive.
I loved pick-up sticks.  Had I had the brains to go with my steady pick-up stick hands, I'd be a world renowned surgeon right now. You don't see these much anymore and when you do, they're those sissy ones with the rounded edges.  We had those sure enough "dangerous" sticks with the pin-like head that could be used to either play the game, get splinters out of your hand, pop balloons, or double as shot needles when playing doctor.  Even though there was no warning label on the box, I don't have one, single friend, who lost their eyesight while picking up sticks.   
My neighbor had a Stretch Armstrong.  Oh, he was such a blast!  Stretch was all fun and games until he sprang a leak one day and mysterious gel started to drip everywhere. It must've been time for his checkup and we probably gave him an injection with one of our pick-up sticks. Anyway, whatever the cause, when mysterious fluid starts dripping out of a toy, you've gotta taste it and that we did.  I don't remember it being that good.  With our luck, he was probably filled with asbestos or lead or something, but he sure was fun while he lasted.

All of the good toys had looooong strings on them.  The manufacturers wanted to make sure you had enough slack to choke yourself,  a friend, and the dog at the same time.  That extra length did come in handy, though, when you wanted to tie them to the back of your Big Wheel and pull them down the street.  Today, the strings on toys are so short that a child would have to get down on his hands and knees to pull it.  Poor kids.
I know, firsthand, about the dangers of this toy.  Nowadays, the corn popper has a wide plastic handle that is one with its base, but back in my day, that blue, wooden stick would come out with just a little effort and became a weapon.  I found this out the hard way as I lay pinned to the ground by my big brother, while my little brother bludgeoned me in the face with the dislodged corn popper stick.  This toy could never get safety approval today. 
With two brothers, we had this jewel at my house....very same color and everything.  Those cute, little, brightly colored discs.....don't let them fool you.  They came out like hollow point bullets and would blind you faster than you could say, "Maaamaaaaa!"
Who didn't love See 'N' Say?  Here again, somebody decided, along the way, that children could get their head caught up in the string as the cow mooooooed.  Of all of my friends, who owned the various themed See 'N' Says, not one of them ever managed to become entangled in the demonized string with the plastic yellow ring at the end, but the safer bet, lever, has now replaced the retracting cord. 
Everyone had one of these emergency room launchers in their backyard.  Ours was green and white.  The slide could only be used comfortably in the fall and spring months as it became a griddle in the summer and a glacier in the winter.  Our slide had a big rusty rip at the top where it started to slope down, so this was one of the places where that tetanus shot was the difference between life and death.  I remember my fingers being pinched, almost to the point of amputation, several times on those two seater rides and my trapeze finally rusted right off, but, thankfully, not before I had done my impressive dismount.

Nothing screams, "I love you, children" like sending them off to play in this web of neck fracturing scaffolding.  How did we not stay in the hospital all the time?  "Kids, run along and play on that pile of rusty rebar", our mothers might as well have said.  And when your Keds would slip and you'd land hard while straddling a monkey times, indeed. 
Forget the wussy Velcro darts or magnetic darts of today.  If you want to raise hardy, sturdy children, send a group of them out in the yard with these, while you watch the Guiding Light.  That is where the wheat is separated from the chaff. 
These were awesome!  I don't know their proper name, but it should've been called the Centrifuge of Death.  We had one at our local park and one at our church playground.  You don't see these around today.  Talk about keeping kids on their didn't want to be slung under this, while 14 of your classmates were spinning it at 58 mph.  This piece of equipment taught us to be focused and developed strong stomachs and extraordinary hand strength.  
My little brother had a high chair like this....same pattern and all.  Those little flimsy straps in the back soon came off, but after a time or two of slipping down under the tray and getting hung up and strangled, kids start to learn.  He could rock it back and forth too, not like the high chairs now with their six foot leg spans.  This chair taught kids about consequences .
Don't get me wrong, I believe that regulations and safety precautions are good things and that there was definitely room for improvement, but perhaps we could find a happy medium between the children who played on rebar playgrounds and children who can't even look at a postage stamp of a kid doing a cannonball.  I don't know about you, but I think it may be time to dial it back a notch or two. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Are You Ready to Order?

It's a slow news week around here as our spring break is pretty lackluster compared to my Facebook newsfeed brimming with friends in ski suits, hugging Mickey Mouse, and sailing past Lady Liberty.  We, Millers, are over here like, "Hey, y'all......well, today we got up late, shagged some balls, watched a little television, and walked the dog."  Sure, it doesn't make for impressive pictures or lend itself to the making of a social media album entitled "Spring Break '14", but we're pretty content. 

Tonight, we all went out to eat.  My sweet friend had given us a gift card to a nice restaurant, here in town, so we all got shined up and off we went.  It's always nice to enjoy a quiet, civilized dinner out at a place where meals aren't ordered by a number and the fish isn't square.  We enjoyed each other's company and laughed a whole lot.  It also occurred to me tonight as we scoured the menu that each of us has our own approach to food selection. 

Blair, our nutrition major.....well, you don't want to go eat anywhere with her.  She's all about the calories and how long she'll have to work out when she gets home.  It's as much fun as going to eat with your cardiologist or Jenny Craig counselor might be.  She was typing in entrees on her Calorie King app to check their fat content and raising her brow when you mentioned the alfredo had made your short list.  I felt like I was watching a rerun of the "Scary Restaurant Secrets Revealed" episode of the Dr. Oz Show.  When her entrée came, she immediately sectioned off the portion that she would allow herself to enjoy tonight, leaving the rest to add to tomorrow's caloric intake.  Let's just say that when she finished her allotted portion, it looked like a sick bird had pecked on it a couple of times just before it died.   

Carson, he's our picky eater.  He has about five things that he'll eat, so he comes into a restaurant looking for your basics.....burgers, pizza, chicken strips.  "Can we just go by Chick-fil-a on our way home?" he whined as he looked over the mouthwatering menu.  He doesn't yet appreciate dining in establishments where the eating utensils don't come in a cellophane package with your salt, pepper, and napkin.  There's no way to really elaborate on that any further.

I, myself, select my food based on how good it tastes going down.  Self-deprivation is not really one of my gifts when it comes to food.  I'm drawn to the juicy cuts of beef, pastas with cream sauces, and anything with cheese....lots of cheese.  Sure, I hear the little voice in my head cautioning me of our family's history of high cholesterol and yes, I see Blair's critical gaze from over the top of her menu, but I am weak.  The waiter, who's seen a lot of plates in his time, was quite impressed with my prowess at the table and the valiant effort I gave toward finishing my generously portioned dish.  He looked at my plate and then at Blair's practically undisturbed plate and said, ", young people, don't know how to eat.  Your mother's generation knows how to eat."  I'm sure he meant that in the most complimentary way. 

Davis, he's more of a numbers man.  Give him a menu and he's looking at the figures.  When he spots the lowest price on the entire menu, he's found what he's craving.  "Yes, I'll have the $18.95 with a side of whatever is complimentary and water....the free kind from the sink and keep the bread coming."  I know him like the back of my hand.  If he's craving steak, he'll get the steak sandwich for, as you'll notice, when something is placed between a bun, it is much cheaper.  After everyone is finished eating, his eyes circle the plates on the table like a buzzard, seeing if he can possibly piece together a meal for the next day.   

That was our activity for the night and those were my observations.  It's what spring break dreams are made of, really, but understand that my intent is never to flaunt our lavish's just who we are.  Stay tuned.  Spring break is just getting started.   

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Spring Happenings and Such

We've been busy around here with all the bustle that comes with springtime!  Today was Carson's junior high baseball season opener and he got himself an RBI!  Davis and I were doing our stint in the concession stand, so this is the only picture I have to document the day, but what a good lookin' centerfielder!

Spring break started yesterday at 3:05 p.m. and after four days of studying for his nine weeks tests and then an extra credit science project, we ALL need a break from the educational process.  I believe that God allows us to be tested in many different ways and sometimes that testing might come in the form of school projects involving magnesium and sodium atom models being fashioned from pipe cleaners, pom poms, and a very, very hot glue gun.  After seven burned fingertips, four poster boards, and three trips to JoAnn's to purchase more "electrons", I have to say, I came out on the other side with impressive control of my tongue.

And on the subject of nine weeks tests, can I just add that there's nothing like an 8th grade study guide to make you aware of just how little algebra you retained after your last exam was run through the Scantron in 1987.  I don't, often, have to solve for X, but when I do, I use Mom algebra and it doesn't really call for exact answers or require that you show your work:

1) Mom is shopping for clothes.  She has 6 items for herself.  Her son and daughter each find 6 items for themselves.  If Mom puts back 1 of her items for every 2 items she buys for her children, how many items does Mom get for herself?
Answer: X=none.  Mom gets none for herself.

2)  Carson has 3 friends over for the day.  Mom is going to make pizzas for their lunch.  There are 8 slices in each pizza and half of the boys say they will eat 6 slices and half of the boys say they will eat 5 slices.  How many pizzas will Mom need to make? 
Answer: X= Mom's going back to the store.

3)  Mom is doing laundry.  Each load of laundry takes 15 minutes to wash and 30 minutes to dry. How long will it take for her to do 5 loads of laundry?
Answer: X= forever.  It will take Mom forever.

4)  A couple has 2 children.  One will graduate from college in 2016 and the other in 2022.  At the current rate of inflation, how long will Mom and Dad have to work? 
Answer: X= until they die.  Mom and Dad will have to work until they die. 

5)  Blair wants her future wedding to look like her Pinterest wedding board. If the average cost of each of her 893 pins is $950, how much would Blair's Pinterest wedding cost?
Answer: X= too much.  Blair's Pinterest wedding would cost too much.

It's now 11:42 p.m., which means it's really 12:42 a.m. after we move our clocks ahead tonight, so I guess I need to bring this to an awkward and abrupt end.  May you all spring forward without incident.

Night, y'all,


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Spring has Sprung

While our friends in the North are still shoveling snow, we, Southerners, have declared it to be spring.  In the South, whenever the February page is turned over in the State Farm calendar behind the pantry door, it is spring, regardless of what Punxsutawny Phil or Jim Cantore say.  With spring break being next week, we've started getting serious about the transition.  Dead serious.  Today, on my way to work, I passed a couple of kiddie pools set up in front yards.  I'm telling you.....we don't play.  We get the young'uns swimmin' right out of the chute around here.  Builds character....and immune systems.

We started changing out our closets on March 1....packing away the sweaters and pulling out the flip flops.  Yeah, we know we can't wear white yet and cause our southern grandmothers to turn over in their graves, and sure, we know we have cold weather still left to tackle, but we'll face it bravely and head on in our Chacos and khaki shorts.

Ferns will hang from our porches just as soon as the first shipment arrives even if we have to throw a sheet over them a night or two.  Trampolines have become sun tanning platforms and fishing lines are finally getting wet.  Children change into shorts as soon as they hit the door from school and head outside until they're called for dinner.  Neighbors are coming out of hibernation and wave and reacquaint across the way.  Flapping snowflake flags have been changed over to colorful tapestries of flowers, birds, and sunshine and the daffodils have told the pansies that they've had their turn. 

Footballs and basketballs have fallen to the bottom of garage bins and the clank of aluminum bats ring out through the neighborhood.  The sound of an occasional lawn mower can be heard beating back the clover.  Frogs and birds are stating their opinions again and the smell of charcoal fills the air of Saturday afternoon.  Eyes are peeled for Easter dress contenders.  Baseball games crowd the calendar.  Popsicles make their way back on the grocery list.  Plans for garden planting have been tossed around and the air conditioner and heater take turns doing their thing.  The crape myrtle tips have been pruned and the monkey grass is cut back and we wait. Wait for the seasons with which we, Southerners, feel most comfortable.

We don't know much about shoveling snow or, heaven forbid, driving in it.  We're not too familiar with oil, furnaces, or layering either, but we come from long lines of people, who taught us what to do when the weather is warm.  The people, who worked and sweated in the hot sun, setting trotlines, robbing bee hives, growing watermelons, and gathering eggs.  They tilled and planted and harvested and shelled and shucked and blanched and canned and fished and sewed and cooked and shared....and then they swung and rocked and ate and visited and, through all the generations, some of their teaching made it down to us.    

The door is cracked to the seasons in which we're most productive, most familiar, most at ease, and most at home.  It's time to get back to work doing what we know.

It's springtime in Mississippi, y'all.              

Monday, March 3, 2014

And the Oscar Goes to. . .

Well, I watched the Oscars last night.  I'm not what you'd call a movie buff, so it's hard for me to get much out of a show that doles out awards for a bunch of movies and documentaries I've never seen.  I know this is sad, but I believe the only movies I saw in 2013 were "Monster's University" and "Madea's Christmas" and, to the surprise of everyone, neither was nominated for any awards.

I have just a few, random thoughts about the night.

1)  A mammogram is less revealing than some of those necklines.  It's hard for me to wrap my brain around the confidence that one would have to possess to wear a dress that plunges right down to your ovaries on national television.  I guess it's just difficult for me to relate to people donning Armani and Versace.  I don't get exposed to that much at TJ Maxx.

2)  I found it amusing that JC Penney was such a big sponsor of the Oscars.  I suppose they just wanted to show their appreciation for a room full of people, who have never stepped foot in their store.  I didn't see any Worthington or St. John's Bay on the red carpet.

3)  Was it just my imagination or is there a trend in tuxedos to get the jacket just a touch too tight and the pants just a hair too short?

4)  It seems that John Travolta's eyes get smaller and smaller as he gets older.  Sally Fields looks exactly the same as she did in the cemetery that day when she just wanted to hit somebody until they felt as bad as she did.  Goldie looked like she'd had some work done......maybe even went a little "Overboard".  And can you imagine finding out Meryl Streep is in your category?  That'd be like Bill Nye's kid being in your child's science fair or running against Dave Ramsey for PTA treasurer.......pack it up and go home.

5)  I feel that everyone, who made it up those stairs in those long, flowing gowns without breaking any of their vertebrae, should have been awarded two of those golden statues.  I wouldn't want to win just because of the steps......"Please, don't call me.  Please, don't call me."

6) I guess ordinary moms just don't really relate to people, who arrive places in stretch limos, laden with thousands of dollars in jewelry, and step out into an explosion of camera flashes.  The last time I rode in a limo was to Cici's Pizza with Carson's kindergarten class, who'd met their goal in the cookie dough fundraiser and the only flashes I saw as we got out were those associated with my migraine headache.

7)  I think they should have an Oscar night for regular moms.  We could all get dressed up in our Dress Barn finery and drive our Toyotas right up to the door.  There'd be categories like....Best Performing Actress when Opening Lotion from the Dollar Tree on Mother's Day......Best Supporting Actress in a Husband's Attempt to Fix the Plumbing Himself......Best Costume Design for Jane Jetson in the 2nd Grade School Play......Best Filming of a 4 and under Soccer Game......and Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role of Cleaning up after Everyone.  Now those are some awards for which I could be nominated. 

8)  The presenters for the Best Visual Effects stated that the contenders in this category are the unsung heroes of film, but I'd have to disagree.....that would be the mothers who pay $9.50 a head to get a herd of children into a movie and then $45 for a bucket of popcorn, a box of Ju Ju fruits, and a Coke, manage to stay awake all the way through Spiderman and who's feet stick to the floor each of the eight times they have to get up and take someone to the bathroom.  Those, my friends, are the unsung heroes. 

9)  Periodic glimpses of Matthew McConaughey were enough to keep me tuned in all night.  Oh mercy, God does some beautiful work.  And when he humbly acknowledged that his accomplishments were not of his hands, but God's, it was like the glaze on a hot donut. 

10)  May we all recognize the things of this world that are not of our hands and give thanks to the Hands from which they are given to us....... and always work to give Him our best performance.


Saturday, March 1, 2014

Second Time Around

I've been working on getting Carson's scrapbooks up to date today.  I've always enjoyed scrapbooking and, long ago, I set a goal to document the high spots of my children's lives from baby showers and leaving the hospital through driver's license and high school graduation.  I've finished Blair's books....a total of four.  Anything that happens to her from this point on will be up to her to remember the best way she can.  I'm working on Carson's third book.  I'm not telling you this because I need to be publicly recognized for the hours and hours and hours of tedious work and the hundreds of dollars spent and the sheer dedication that it has taken to fulfill this commitment to giving my children a historical record of their lives, but just sayin' so the worldwide web will know.

When I found out I was pregnant with our son, I told myself, right then and there, that I would not let my second child become one of those forgotten, little souls who has an empty baby book with only a couple of blurry pictures hanging onto its pages by yellowed tape.  You know the child who's taken to Olan Mills when he's one and doesn't return until his senior portraits.  You know, on Halloween, the child who is whatever her big brother was the year before only with the sleeves rolled up and a safety pin to tighten it up in the back.  The poor, undocumented souls can be found in their raggedy, stained car seats, wearing faded Keds with the scuffed up toes, sporting their brother's old jacket that had his name crossed out with black magic marker and theirs written neatly underneath it. 

I, being a loosely documented second child, knew something about these pains and the reality of rarely being photographed.   Don't get me wrong.....I had the most wonderful parents and I know that they were busy, back then, making a living and cooking and all the other things they did so perfectly well, but, on the rare occasion that they did snap a picture, my brother's big head was always in the middle of it like a big, pesky housefly stealing my moment.  I mean....really, could I not have a few pictures by myself?   It's like it was a waste of a flash cube if he wasn't in there too.  Let me pause here and give you some examples. 
 Ok, this one is cute and, granted, you do need to get an occasional sibling picture.   
Looks like they attempted one of me by myself here, but you know how those first children are.  He just couldn't let it go.   
 Well, here you do have to give him points for stealthiness. 
This would've been a cute picture of Joni on her rocking horse...but Tonto saw the camera and had to flaunt his archery skills.  
Oh look, it's Joni's 4th birthday. "Let's get a picture of her with her Cinderella cake........and her shirtless brother."
My older brother has a baby book that is bulging with information and keepsakes.  It's not that my baby book was just left blank, I didn't even have one.  I can assume that my younger brother didn't either.  I guess they were over the whole chronicle thing by the time we came along.  I suppose, as most weary parents feel, if you've recorded one child's first steps, the others can just gauge theirs from that.  "You probably walked close to the age your brother did."  I'll never know what my first word was either, although I can imagine it was a long and impressive one.
I can say that, as a second child with sparse records, I have filled out every single line in Carson's baby book with even some extra information written outside the margins and inside the back cover just for good measure.  He will never have a question about his development that cannot be answered in these annals of his personal history.  Even though his ultrasound picture predates the emergence of those detailed sonogram portraits they have today and makes him out to look like Fred Sanford with a nasty case of mumps, it's in there....glued down just a few pages over from the hospital bracelet and lock of hair.  I have succeeded in documenting my children's lives equally. 
I may be the topic of conversation between one of them and a psychiatrist one day as they're stretched out on a couch trying to determine where Davis and I went wrong, but won't be for this, at least.