Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Time to Mourn

Yesterday, I had the rare opportunity to spend a good part of the day with Carson.  It was a mother/son kind of day.  I'm more often paired off with Blair, while the boys go and do whatever it is that boys go and do, but was just him and me.  It was nice.  By his choice, we grabbed pizza for lunch and saw a sports movie (bonus that we stood behind Mississippi State's QB in the ticket line).  And apparently when getting out of a movie two hours after lunch, boys are ready to eat again, so we drove through McDonald's to get him a couple of cheeseburgers and a shake.  Don't judge me based on the nutritional content of this paragraph.     

After we got home, I started making dinner.  Nothing special.  Just an ordinary Tuesday night.  I thought I'd do something with chicken.

It was then, on that just ordinary, nothing special, chicken casserole kind of Tuesday night, that we received the news that one of Carson’s classmates/teammates/friends had just been killed in an ATV accident. 

Wow.  It stopped us all in our tracks.  A 13 year old dying while enjoying his first day of summer?  There had to be some mistake.  That doesn't happen.

Sam was the most likeable kid.  Always smiling.  Always polite.  Great sense of humor.  Kind.  Very athletic.  Well loved by everyone.  A huge heart.  Larger than life personality.  

I don't think there's a mother in this town, who didn't lose her breath when she heard the news.  It didn't matter if you recognized the name or not.  It didn't matter how many differences there are among us, mothers.....religion, race, age, address.....when we hear of a child dying, we all become the same.  We put ourselves in that mother's place.  I think it's because we all carry the same deepest fear.....the fear of losing a baby and when we hear that one of us has had her fear realized......our hearts bleed for her.  We ache for her.  We cry for her.  We plead to God for her. 

Here, I'd just enjoyed an afternoon with my son and, at about the same time, another mother, who sits just down the bleachers from me in the basketball gym and the baseball field, was processing the worst news of her life. 

That will shut up your complaining.  That will reorder your priorities.  That will make you stop and grab your children. 

Motherhood and Muffin Tops may sit quietly for the next few days.  The 8th graders will be taking up money to send flowers to the funeral home from the class of 2018.  We'll be talking a good bit more about death, heaven, and hope around here.  And like so many others, we'll be driving our dressed up son to the funeral home to do something he's never had to do before....say goodbye to someone his own age.  Things that 13 year olds shouldn't have to do.  But this life is full of things like that. 

In the sadness and emptiness, we do have hope though.  Jesus offered Sam the gift of salvation and we know for sure that Sam had accepted that gift.
Jesus said,“I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies."
John 11:25    

It's been a dark, gloomy day here.  The clouds, the darkness, the water dripping off the house.....they all seem to be fitting today. 

A mother has lost her child. 

Let's all pray for Sam's mom.

“Someday you will read or hear that I am dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.” -Billy Graham



Monday, May 26, 2014

The Ultimate Price

We've enjoyed a nice, relaxing Memorial Day weekend with family and friends and while we went about our activities, ate good food, and enjoyed an extra day off, I tried to mix in some gentle reminders about what the weekend is really about.  I can barely grasp the enormity of the suffering and sacrifice of soldiers throughout our nation's history, so I can imagine how difficult it is for my kids to be able to comprehend the amount of blood that has been shed to bring us to where we are today. 

I showed the kids the pictures of their great-grandfather during his military service.  I read the written account of his whereabouts and his experiences in war.  My Granddaddy was 27 years old when he was called to serve in World War 2.  He and my grandmother had just had their first child, my mother, and she was only 2 months old when he left.  He served in the Army in France, Germany, and Austria and worked in the area of communication/telephones.
MSG Carrol Campbell
During his time served, he saw many things.  His 36th infantry division liberated a concentration camp.  He also saw a train load of Holocaust victims' bodies stacked like wood.....those who weren't so lucky.  My grandfather didn't die in the line of duty.  Even though he missed the first four years of his daughter's life, he did return.....unlike the soldier he came up on one day, who'd tied a tourniquet around his leg in vain, as he bled out holding a picture of his wife and child. 

We spent a good part of today with my in-laws.  My father-in-law and my niece's husband are both Air Force men.  We all sat on the back porch enjoying homemade ice cream and I asked the two soldiers among us, one retired and one active, to tell us about any soldiers, who they knew that didn't come home.

My niece's husband, Vaughn, served in Bahrain in Operation Enduring Freedom and in Basra in Operation Iraqi Freedom.  He was deployed for the second time as a newlywed and told us of instances of soldiers being killed while out on patrol and from accidents. 

  MAJ Vaughn Threatt and CMSgt Loyd Miller, Retired
My father-in-law, served in Saudi Arabia during the Korean War and also in the Vietnam War.  He recounted rockets as a daily occurrence and death being all around.  One story that stood out in particular was about a young soldier mortally injured while processing out.  He was just hours before boarding a plane to return to his family when a rocket hit the area and he was hit by shrapnel.  As the dying soldier was being tended to, he was heard crying out that he didn't want to die.....he wanted to go home.

On the way home today, we stopped by a cemetery nearby.  The cemetery houses a large amount of Confederate graves and was also sprinkled with flags that waved by the graves of veterans of other wars.  The individual Confederate graves were each marked "Unknown" with a large stone bearing the names of all the soldiers buried there.  There were records to show who was there, but no way to identify one from the other. 
Across the years, our bravest have answered their country's call to serve.  Some voluntarily.  Some drafted.  Some still teenagers.  Some considered to be old in their day.  Some returned unscathed.  Some bore scars of their service.  Some scars could be seen.  Some scars could not.  Some returned in coffins.  Some...we just don't know.       

For the soldier who died in the rice paddy of Vietnam, the beet field of France, the beaches of Normandy, the hills of Gettysburg, the waters of the Coral Sea, the desert sands of Iraq, the foxholes of Germany, and all of the other countless, lonely places far, far from home....we remember what you did. 

For the families who received the news.  For those who never got closure.  For families who loved those who were never found.  For the children without a father.  For the widow all alone.  For the parents who grieved themselves to death.  We acknowledge what you sacrificed. 

In our modern lives filled with comforts, conveniences, and ease that most of these soldiers could never have even dreamed of, may we not forget to teach our children that the lives they now enjoy did not come without great cost.  For some....they paid all they had for those who would come along behind them.  May we never stop teaching our children what a blessing it is to be an American.  Let us pass along the respect that our flag deserves.  Let us teach them to show honor to our vets.  Let us demonstrate reverence at the sound of our anthem.  Let us teach them all we can about where they came from.  Let us teach them the responsibilities of a good citizen.  May we never become a nation who is unmoved by our past.  May we never get too comfortable to remember who got us here.  

I never want my children to lose the chill when seeing their flag unfurl.  It represents the patriotism of the soldier, who died in Germany while holding a picture of the ones he longed to see.  It represents the bravery of the soldier, who survived years of war in Vietnam only to die a few hours before coming home to those he loved. 

It represents who we are.  It represents where we came from.  It represents the gifts we've been given.  It represents the great responsibility that comes with those gifts. 

May we never forget those who did their part.  May we never fail to do ours. 

Thank you, God, for blessing our nation. 






Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Various Points of Uninterest

Just a few things going on over the last couple of days.  None of them could stand alone in terms of fascination, but, perhaps, together they will, at least, be tolerable. 

Yesterday, I took Carson in for his orthopedic appointment and to the delight of us both, the nurse entered the room with the small, circular saw....a strong indicator that, indeed, the putrid, blue cast would finally be removed.  She asked if we'd like to save it since it had all the Mississippi State baseball players' signatures on it, but I just couldn't imagine taking it back home with us. 
Hot days, sweaty, adolescent boys, and limbs that can't be washed don't make for a very pleasant combination.  I looked over at him as we drove to church last week and, to my horror, saw that the hand peeking out of his cast had taken on the look of a molting a snake shedding its skin.  Give a boy an excuse to not wash something and he will take full advantage of it.  The cast is now in a big, red bag along with other bio hazards....hopefully headed to an incinerator somewhere, which should take care of any bacterial threat to the public.  On the way out of the office, Carson extended his arm out to me and in true adolescent boy form, asked if I'd like to smell it.  Though the temptation was great, I resisted with a "No, thank you, son."

When we got done with that, I got him back home and still had a few minutes before I had to be at my next destination.  I passed a donut shop and the "Open" sign was pleaded with me to come to its neon-ness.  It was an out of body type of experience ....."Go to the light....Go to the light", it urged me.  Donuts are the weakest of my weaknesses, so, even though I knew it was wrong, I wheeled in.  Oh, it smelled so good in there!  I got my order and headed to my next appointment.  In the 1/4 mile from there to where I was going, I put away two glazed and a pint of cold,whole milk!  Glory!

I have to say that this box has tempted me all day today.  Very effective marketing plan that those donut people have.  Every time I walk through the kitchen, I catch a glimpse of "You Deserve a Donut" and I think......"You know, I do......I do deserve a donut".  I've deserved a donut about 5 times today, so it's beginning to be a problem. 
What hasn't been a problem, however, would be Davis' "no added sugar" banana/applesauce/raisin/oatmeal cookies.  He's still on his "no sugar" kick and so he whipped up a batch of these last night.  Mmmmm.  I believe it's the first time ever that the announcement "cookies are ready" didn't bring one, single person to the kitchen.   Everyone sat motionless.  If you'd like the recipe though....I mean if this looks like your thing, just let me know and I'll get that for you.  I deserve a donut, but I don't feel like I deserve one of these. 
Another thing....I'm so proud of myself.  I've been walking with some degree of regularity.....I mean, for me.  This is usually my view of Blair and Davis' backsides as I lag behind them doing their "real exercise". 
I hang back with the waddlers.  We enjoy the same pace. 
A snowball afterwards is enough to keep me going though.  "Frog in a Blender" and "Tiger's Blood".....our snowball flavors of choice seem to suggest that we condone animal mistreatment, but nothing could be further than the truth.  We're really very nice people. 
Well, I'm going to put this post out of its misery.  I'm just a tad distracted as my Bulldogs are playing in the SEC tournament right at this very moment.  So far, so good for my alma mater!
Night, y'all!


Monday, May 19, 2014

Moms' Night Out

Ok, so I saw Moms' Night Out yesterday.  Oh, my word.  I think I was laughing above everyone else in the theatre.  This movie was hysterical.  It was just a good, clean comedy and I recommend it for, well, your moms' night out. 

I think all moms can agree that we need periodic time outs, away from everyone we're in charge of, to get refreshed, refocused, and ready to go back in.  The first image that comes to mind when I think about this is a boxer retreating to his corner.  Moms are kind of like boxers.  After getting knocked around and on the verge of exhaustion from going 'round and 'round in circles, we need to go to our corners, every now and then, to sit down a minute, cool off, have our bleeding controlled, and get a little pep talk.....oh yeah, and have cold water squirted in our mouths.
We all know that deep longing for a break.  Like when you hear about a friend on bed rest and you think....."oh, how lucky is she?  I wish someone would put me to bed".  I could relate to the starry eyed women in the movie as they walked down the sidewalk all dressed up with no one hanging onto their legs or asking them for money....feeling like a bird out of a cage.  Don't act all high and mighty like your wings have never fluttered when you see the cage door has been left open.  Do. Not. Lie. To. Me.   

I remember when Blair was three months old and I went to dinner with some girlfriends for the first time since she'd arrived.  I loved her with all of my heart.  I couldn't imagine loving her more.  I couldn't imagine our life without her, but if we're being honest here......when I drove out of my driveway that night, I felt as if the governor had just issued my pardon.  I cranked the radio up as loud it would go and took the longest possible way home.  It was sooooo good to get out and just be me for a little while....the me without spit up on her shoulder.  By the time I got home, I couldn't wait to see my baby.  Being away for just a couple of hours was like a dose of good medicine.   
And did I mention that for the first 4 months of Carson's life, he screamed.  I don't mean every now and then.  I mean, he screamed.  All. Day. Long.  He hardly ever slept at night and you could forget napping.  No, he just screamed.  All. Night. Long.  I don't know how he had the energy to scream like he did going on no sleep and all.  He was like one of those dolls that they issue to high school kids in Sex Ed class....those that cry intermittently to discourage teen pregnancy.....only we got the one that was stuck on the cry setting.   We could've held those prevention classes at our house for those 4 months and boasted a 100% class success rate.  Nobody would've wanted any sex after that. 

With each night of no sleep, my coping skills waned more and more and as Davis would leave to go to work in the morning, I longed to grab his ankles and scream......"please, don't leave me here with them".  About the time he turned to go, Blair would bolt out of bed after a long, peaceful night's sleep and was ready to be entertained.  By the time he came home in the afternoon, I would hand the screaming boy off to him and just go sit outside by myself where it was quiet.  It was so nice out there....just me and the mosquitos.  The mosquitos and I got very close that summer.  I would've called my girlfriends to go out, but I didn't have the energy to shower or put on clothes.  It had been 4 months since I'd slept and my eyes were bloodshot and I jumped even at the sound of the toilet flushing.  In my sweet Carson's defense, we FINALLY found the right formula for him and he has been ever so pleasant since then. 

When they got a little older, we had that period when Blair enjoyed standing in the toilet.  I have pictures of this, but since she preferred climbing in unclothed, I deemed them inappropriate.  Carson enjoyed dunking Blair's pom poms in the toilet, swishing them around and around, and then lifting them above his head and shaking all the water out.  These two activities required a lot of bathing and a lot of disinfecting.  Come to think of it, my children seemed to have a natural affinity for playing in the toilet.....something that must come from their father's side.  I'm happy to report that they have since grown out of these practices.   

A few years later, I got to know the good people down at Poison Control, thanks to Carson.  Let's just say he liked to try new things.  Mushrooms in the yard, pothos leaves, holly berries.  I believe that two of the three samplings happened while under Davis' care, so don't judge me. There were and still are picky eater issues and sibling spats.  There was the 12 step program to get Carson off the pacifier.  There were sippie cups with curdled milk, our DIY psychotherapy we used to combat Blair's irrational dog phobia, and that period when we were certain that our children would be the very first to ever go to college in Pull-ups.  There was that time we forgot to pick up Carson from the church nursery.  There was Blair's obsession with play makeup that colored our carpet like a Jackson Pollock painting and her very sensitive gag reflex when taking Amoxicillin would add a thick, pink coating to anything within a 5 foot radius.  There was the time that Carson reared back and sent his sippie cup sailing through the air as hard as he could.....hitting me square between the eyes.  I had to count to 10 very slowly that day.   

I cannot fail to mention the songs that you heard over and over and over and over and after day after day.  Barney, the dinosaur from Satan's loins.  Make him stop!!!  Blair sang Ariel's "Part of Your World" with bravado at least 29 times a day and to make it even more enjoyable for everyone, she always used her battery powered microphone on the #10 setting, just in case the neighbors couldn't hear.  I can still recite every single word of Disney's Robin Hood to this very day. Sometimes, I can hear Cowboy Pete from Carson's potty training video in my head....."It was a long hot day and after having some soup, I headed into town to pee and to poop".   I've often wondered if, on my death bed,  I'll start reciting random things like these that are burned into my psyche.  I can hear it now....."Shhhh.....She's trying to say something!  What's she saying?  It sounds like she's asking for Cowboy Pete?  Does anyone know a Cowboy Pete?"

Then there was the brief period when Blair hit 13 when I was sure that one of us would have to die.  I didn't know which one, but one of us had to go.  Much like when Carson was in his screaming phase, my blood pressure was sky high by the time Davis made it home.  She was 13, after all, and her need for parental advice or supervision was a thing of the past.  And in Blair's defense, her little, adolescent, smart mouth lasted only about 8 months and she's been so pleasant ever since.     

Mama-ing is a 24/7 job.  We buy gifts.  RSVP.  Take cupcakes to school.  Disinfect when the stomach virus hits.  Wipe the noses.  Fill out the school forms.  Cook supper.  Make the doctor appointments.  Know the shoe sizes.  Know who likes what.  Pack the lunches.  Mail the invitations.  Order the cakes.  Attend large numbers of birthday parties.  Have the permission slips notarized.  Chaperone the field trips.  Buy the groceries.  Drive people places.  Dole out the medicine.  Call out vocabulary words.  Set up reading fair projects.  Clean tubs.  Sit through Spiderman 1, 2 and 3.  Send in school picture money.  Make a cake for the bake sale.  Wait up for the after prom party to end.  Coordinate Easter outfits.  Document events with the camera.  Work a shift at the dunking booth.  Sign the report cards.  Go prom dress shopping.  Sit up until curfew.  Sell wrapping paper and cookie dough at work.  Pretreat the stains. Use the bulb syringe.  Wipe behinds.  Work in the concession stand.  I'll just stop there because.....well, this list has no end really.              
It's no wonder that, sometimes, moms just want to go and talk about what they want to talk about and eat at places where they don't have trays and no one asks you if you'd like fries with that.  Sometimes, we just want to go through a whole meal without cutting up someone else's meat or taking anyone to the bathroom.  Of course, with the emergence of cell phones, girls' night out is not near the treat it once was back when they had no choice but to wait for Mommy to get home to ask her a question.  Now, they're all like....."Let's call Mommy and ask her this and text Mommy and ask her that."  But's nice.      

The movie made the point that God made us, moms.  We are His masterpieces and we are enough.  Sometimes, WE don't think we're enough or that we're succeeding at this mothering thing, but He'll give us all we need to get through this parenting process and, hopefully, we'll turn out some really good people on the other side of it. 

He has entrusted souls to us.  They need love.  They need stability.  They need care.  They need examples.  They need direction.  They need Him. 

We are their first love.  Their first sense of security.  The one who meets their first needs.  The example they will likely follow.  The direction they will likely travel.  The one who introduces them to Him. 

It's an exhausting job, maybe more arduous than any other job in the human experience.  The effects of our job have the potential to go on for generations.  But.....this job has incredible benefits....unparalleled benefits. 

What we do is infinitely and eternally important. 

So, take a break from time to time.

It's ok.  Really.  It is. 

Saturday, May 17, 2014


It's official.  I'm now on Twitter.  I have no idea what to do with it, but I've got an account.  I find that any time I join a new type of social media, I have to sit back and observe quietly for a while until I get the feel for it......kind of like when you were in the 4th grade and you'd let the jump rope go around 5 or 6 times before you ran in.  You had to assess the tempo, the tone....the other kids before you felt like you were ready to play.  I'm currently in that assessment process with Twitter.   

I'm not convinced Twitter is the one for me, though, with its character limits and all.  I'm just not feeling it yet.  I tried to write my bio in 160 letters or less last night and froze under the pressure of the little character counter that was ticking down with each letter I typed.  I couldn't describe my supper in 160 characters, much less my life.  My bio is blank until I can learn the art of being concise.   

So anyway, if you'd like to follow me on Twitter, I'm @mothermuffintop.  You'll want to catch the wave like all of my other 4 followers have done.  These numbers seem to indicate a national trend, so don't get left behind.

Motherhood and Muffin Tops also has a Facebook page now.  Facebook.....that, I can handle.  If you'd like to keep up with the blog that way, I would love for you to "Like" my page.

There's not been a whole lot going on here today, but let me recap some of the highlights......and by highlights, I mean the least boring of all of the boring activities that I've engaged in today.

This morning, while the boys went to a work day at the pool we belong to, Blair went for her morning power walk, because, apparently, the walk we're all going on this afternoon when the boys get home is "not real exercise".   Don't you just love the patronizing tone of a fitness buff?  Anyway, I stayed back to try and tackle some chores that were long overdue.   I decided it was time to clean out the freezers and the refrigerator as whenever you open the doors, you have to firmly plant your feet and brace yourself to catch falling, frozen objects....kind of like a corndog avalanche, if you will.  It's one of those jobs that you tell yourself you need to do every time a rump roast lands on your toe, but you never really stop and do it. 

So anyway, I got in the big freezer first and what a frozen, archaeological dig that was.  There was the big Tyson resealable bag housing two ice encrusted chicken nuggets that no one ever finished off probably back in the late 90's, which had gradually made its way into the bowels of the freezer. Then we had a commercial sized box of pancakes from Sam's that Carson had assured me that he would love for breakfast and he did eat them with great enthusiasm......for the first 3 days.  Forty-eight packs of maple infused pancakes minus 3 packs of maple infused pancakes equals.......a lot of packs of maple infused pancakes.  After those first three mornings, the oversized box has served only as a handy and sturdy platform for packs of ground chuck, pork chops, and boneless chicken breasts.  I didn't throw them away, but, instead, plan to enforce a one pack minimum on everyone until they are all consumed. There were also some mystery bags of fish in there that Davis and Carson had caught back in the late 1800's, I think.  I'm sure that about 7 years ago, they would've been delicious, but now they were unrecognizable under the thick glacier of ice.  And finally, it was with great sadness that I threw away the Ziploc bag full of January snow that Carson had squirreled away.....pine straw and all.  Here in Mississippi, we tend to hold onto souvenirs of the all too uncommon form of frozen precipitation.        

I got in the refrigerator and threw away a couple of bottles of mustard.  For a family who only has one mustard eater, we sure did have an abundant supply of it.  There was a block of extra sharp cheddar, which had a thick layer of penicillin growing on it.  I should have kept in for the next time one of the kids gets strep throat or something, but I tossed it.  The A-1 with the 2012 expiration had to leave us along with some Italian dressing that didn't move when you shook it.  I didn't even look at that date.....some things you're better off not knowing.  All in all, I removed a whole garbage bag full of freezer burned, outdated, dried up food.     

About the time I finished that project, Blair returned from her power walk and was occupying the family room floor doing her butt lifts, sit ups, and planks.  I decided that, when given the choice, I'd rather clean out the "Tupperware" drawer than try to hold my rear end in the air for 60 second intervals, so that I did.  We have this big drawer that is bulging at the seams with all manner of plastic lids and bowls and storage containers.  I'm sure we're not alone in this.  The drawer won't ever close because of all the plastic chaos, so I decided, since Blair was blocking my path to the sofa anyway, I might as well clean the drawer out and alleviate the lopsided lid to bowl ratio.

I did all this while simmering a pot of spaghetti sauce for our "after church" lunch tomorrow, so I'm feeling quite productive on this Saturday.

The boys are home now and we're about to head out to find something a bit more fun to do.  It won't be difficult.  When you start out in the Tupperware drawer, you can only go up from there.      

Hope your day has been fun.....or at least productive.



Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The More Things Change, the More They Stay "About the Same"

Davis has never been one to be very observant of the decorative details in our home or anywhere else for that matter.  Don't ask Davis for a description of a wedding that he's been to unless you feel "There were flowers, music, and a cake" is an adequate visual account of an event.  Don't ask him to tell you about someone's new house if you won't be satisfied with "it was just a house".  I suppose we are observant in the areas that interest us and oblivious to the things that don't.   It might be along the same lines as my being blind to the expired inspection sticker on my car for some time now, which is unfathomable to him. 

I can hang a new picture on the wall.....undetected.  I can add new throw pillows to a chair.....undetected.  He won't notice something new hanging in our family room, but will go straight to it like a shark to blood on the bank statement.....nothing goes undetected there.  This inattention to subtle changes in his surroundings has served to my advantage when wanting to bring new purchases into our home unnoticed.  New lamps, new pictures, new rug, new problem, but if you're depending on him to describe something for you or recount an event......that's a problem. 

While I was out of town yesterday, our new sectional sofa was delivered.  We bought it last Friday and the earliest that they could deliver it was on the day that I wouldn't be here.  Davis came home from work to meet the delivery men and I left explicit instructions with him as to where the sofa was to be placed and which way the "L" should face. 

So, on up in the day, he texted me just to let me know that the sofa had been delivered.  In all of my excitement and curiosity, I texted back, "So how does it look?!?"  I waited with bated breath for his response.  Davis, never being one for flowery speech or detailed descriptions, dug deep down from within to give me his best eye witness account.  It was the kind of  intensely vivid description that you'd expect to find in a John Steinbeck novel.... 

"About the same." 
"Oh, ok", I thought.  So, we moved a traditional sofa out along with a recliner and replaced them with a sectional sofa of a different color, style, and fabric and according to looked "about the same."  How could that look the same?  I needed commentary on how it looked in terms of the scale, how the end tables were going to fit, and how the color worked with our other furniture pieces.  All I had to work with until I returned home was "about the same" and my imagination.

When I finally walked in the door a few hours later, I loved it!!  It far exceeded the lofty expectations that Davis had set for me.  Of course, there's not much that wouldn't have.  It fit perfectly in the room.  I loved the shape and height.  I loved the color.  I loved everything about it.....except the fact that it had been set up opposite of the instructions that I'd left.  I suppose Davis and the delivery men, with their eyes for furniture placement, decided that they knew best, but after getting it moved where I wanted it, I stood back and admired our new that was sure to be with us for the next several years.

It was then that I expressed my complete satisfaction, "Oh, Davis.....I just love it, don't you?!?"

"It's fine." 
Ok, so at this point I'm thinking Davis is seriously getting a thesaurus for Father's Day to help expand his adjective word bank.  It's fine?  Is that the best he could come up with......fine?  "Fine" is when you order a Coke and they only have Pepsi.  That's fine.  "Fine" is when your friend texts you that she will be late meeting you for lunch. That's fine. " Fine" is when your size is not in stock and they will have to ship it to your home.  That's fine.  Fine is not, however, what you're shooting for when furniture shopping.  It's not that I think Davis doesn't like it, it's just that it doesn't matter enough to him one way or the other to exhume another word from his vocabulary other than his old standby, fine.

So, here I sit on my new furniture and I'm here to tell is more than "fine"......and there is nothing "about the same" about it.  I will post a picture when I find the right throw pillows and let you decide. 

Hope your Thursday is better than fine.....         


Monday, May 12, 2014

So Much to Celebrate......So Little Time

Well, what a busy, busy weekend it was!  I wanted to post last night, but my head was throbbing with the worst kind of headache and that is all that I could think of when I sat down to write, so I spared you a post about headaches and their frequent companion, nausea.   

With my birthday being on Saturday and Mother's Day on Sunday, the weekend was brimming with doting that was aimed in my direction.  I enjoy doting.....especially when I am on the receiving end.  This back to back timing of all of my special days allows my family to pay me a little attention for one weekend and then be back on their merry way for the rest of the year.   I try to stretch it as long as I can and squeeze every drop of good out of it as possible as Monday would bring toilets to clean and chicken breasts to get creative with.   

We began celebrating Friday night by enjoying a wonderful dinner at a nice restaurant.  They send out $12 birthday coupons, so Davis, the saver of money, is all about that.  Every year, he is careful to stick the restaurant's money saving document in his wallet in an effort to knock my filet mignon back down into the chicken price range.  I get my beef and Davis gets his poultry prices.  It's a win win for everyone.  Blair enjoys any occasion that calls for dressing up and eating food that doesn't normally make our grocery list.  She's fancy like that.  Carson, however, would have preferred ripping meat from the bone with his teeth at the paper napkin establishment, Buffalo Wild Wings, while wearing shorts and a t-shirt, but it wasn't his birthday.  We'll do that in June. 
After cake and ice cream, I wanted to run into TJ Maxx for a minute while we were out and about.  My attention was quickly drawn to a man on his cell phone, who was standing in the middle of the ladies' section.  His volume made him hard to ignore and it quickly became apparent that he was talking Mother's Day business.  The one side of the conversation that all of the store's customers were hearing was.....
"Hey Daddy, does Mama wear a medium or a large?  Oh, sure?  Ok....all right.  Bye."
Hanging up the phone, he yells over five or six racks to his shopping companion, "Daddy said Mama wears a large!!"  I thought, "Poor Mama is probably home doing dishes, oblivious to the fact that her sizes are being broadcasted up in the TJ Maxx."  From the looks of him, his head was most likely the size of a basketball when he was born, so whatever Mama wears.....he is probably mostly to blame.  I'm sure, though, that the blouse he selected as her gift, more than makes up for her widened hips that will never go back like they were and the closet full of "Smalls" that she hasn't been able to wear since 1972 due to the passage of his big head through her loins.  Usually, when basketballs go through small structures, the structure is forever altered.     
Saturday morning found me sleeping in as that is my favorite thing to do and I feel that, on your birthday, you should be able to do your favorite thing.  I woke up at 9:40 to a warm, delicious cream cheesy Danishy type dish and a coconut cream pie brought to me by a friend, who is known for her aptitude in the kitchen, so her goodies are always a treat.
Along with other sweet gifts I received, we purchased a new sofa, which will be delivered tomorrow and then we went sunglasses shopping.  I've been wanting new sunglasses, but wasn't sure what kind.  I settled on the Ray Ban Wayfarers and I must say that I am now cool well beneath my years.  I am happy to report that not one of my gifts came from the Cracker Barrel this year.  This gives me hope that, perhaps, we have turned a corner on this.  I'm sure, though, that Davis' absence has been felt there this month and will be reflected in the May sales report.  I got my chips and salsa fix at lunch and then we headed to the lake to meet up with my family to celebrate my angel of a mother. 
 After church yesterday, we went to spend time with my sweet mother-in-law and in all the hustle, I forgot my camera, so there is no documentation of that.   With Davis' gift giving challenges, I'd been out earlier in the week to try and find the perfect gift for his that would say, "Mom, I cared enough to send my wife out to buy you something nice and I'll be just as surprised as you are when you open it, but notice that I did sign my own name to the card that she picked out and laid out on the table in front of me along with a pen."  Nothing warms a mother's heart like a gift like that. 
 Trying to relieve my headache last night, I stretched out on my bed with a cold compress, but couldn't help but hear the kids in the kitchen digging in the remnants of my cake.....sounded like a couple of big rats in a cardboard box.  Carson came into my bedroom, where I was lying in my sick bed, holding the cake box with colorful icing hanging from his braces, "Mom, do you want your last piece of cake?"  "No", I groaned as I fought back the nausea and my weary pancreas worked to break down the Baskin Robbins, cookie cake, cream cheese Danish, coconut pie, homemade ice cream, and sugar cookies that I'd eaten in the last 48 hours.  It was special days were over and I had, what you might call, a celebratory hangover.   
Birthdays are fun, but motherhood is not for the faint of heart.  The moment you become one, you multiply your joys, but at the same time, increase your prospects for heartache.  Never am I as happy as when Blair is excited about good news and never am I as low as when Carson's heartbroken or disappointed.  To become a mother means that you've opened yourself up to new possibilities......some indescribably good and some unimaginably bad.  It means being uneasy until she calls and says she made it safely.  It means being nervous when he's trying something new and unsettling for him.  It, sometimes, means having butterflies, insomnia, and second guesses.  Their tears will always prompt your tears and their happiness will always contribute to your happiness as long as God gives you breath.     
No matter if you have biological children, adopted children, foster children, nieces and nephews, godchildren, four legged children, children in your classroom, children who you mentor, children who you teach at church, or good friends' children who adore you.......most all of us, women, are mother figures to somebody.  I hope those somebodies showed you how much you're loved this weekend! 


Thursday, May 8, 2014

She's Back

Ok, so this will be brief as I don't want to belabor the topic of Blair moving home, but I feel that to let this go undocumented would be a disservice to the public.  There needs to be more awareness of the plight of the organized mother of unorganized children.  My daughter has many, many wonderful gifts, but, as you can see, organized car packing does not make the list.        

Davis went to retrieve a load of furniture and large items yesterday and today, she arrived home with the FOURTH and final load.  The back end.....
The passenger back door.....
The driver's side back door.......
In the backseat, the clothing rod had given way under the immense load that it was asked to bear.......
And finally, the passenger door.........bear in mind that 5 or 6 items hit the pavement each time a door was opened. 
After 6 loads of laundry, several trips to the attic, 3 big bags of trash taken to the curb, and poking and stuffing things here and there, I believe that we have successfully merged her things back into our bloated home.  Her closet rods are packed so tight that there will be not any sifting through the racks to decide what to wear this will be more of a whatever you can dislodge is what you're wearing type deal.  I have concluded that much more clothing came home than left here......hmmmm.
It's a good feeling to know that she had a wonderfully successful year at school, but it does a Mama's heart good to know that we'll all be sleeping under the same roof for the next 2 1/2 months.  Ahhhhhhhh.  Welcome home, baby.           

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

God Bless the Teachers and Nurses

I've been reminded that this is Nurse Appreciation and Teacher Appreciation Week.  Everyone crosses paths with teachers and nurses at some point in their lives, so their work can be appreciated by all of us.  I feel that it would be appropriate to pay tribute to these professionals today.....probably because if I had to list all of the professions in order according to my own aptitude, these two would be at the very bottom of my list.      

Let's talk about TEACHERS, first.  Can you think of a more haunting nightmare than 28 mothers dropping their children off at your door at 7:30 am and telling you that they'll be back at 3:00?  I get sweaty just thinking about that.  Let's not even talk academics yet.....let's just talk about the differing needs of 28 children.....and you're the grown up, who has to keep up with it all.  Johnny is scared of bad weather.  Suzy still wets her pants.  Mark is a bully.  Kate cries a lot.  Janet has a smart mouth.  Mike has asthma.  Becky has peanut allergies.  Ben has trouble at home.  Jimmy throws up when he gets nervous.  Lisa needs help wiping her nose.  Joan can't tie her shoes.  Lee can never get his pants unzipped in the bathroom.         

You've got a few kids who can count, a few who can't, a few who don't even know what you're talking about when you say "count", a few who can already convert decimals to fractions, and an engineer's kid who claims that his dad're doing it all wrong.  How are you supposed to get all of that on the same page?    

You've got parents, who complain about everything.  Parents who never send what they're supposed to.  You've got parents with too many questions.  Parents who know it all.   Parents of children who do no wrong.  You've got the Pinterest parents, who bring cookies decorated like the planets during the unit on space.  There are parents, who don't have a clue which planet they're on and parents, who you wish would relocate to one of the other of those that can't sustain life.

Lesson plans.  Reports.  Complaints.  Testing.  Evaluations.  Conferences.  Dress codes.  Discipline.  Fire drills.  Substitutes.  Notes.  Fundraisers.  Flu season.  Paint.  Glue.  Progress Reports.  Plays.  Programs.  Awards.  Certificates.  Snacks.  Birthdays.  Regulations.  Prizes.  Buses.  Continuing education.  Field trips.  Permission slips.  Paperwork.  Grading.  Bulletin boards.  School pictures.         

I don't care how many months you get off in the's not enough.

I have friends and family who are teachers.  I see the hours and hours that they spend at school......hours that go long past 3:00 and summers that end well before the children's break is over.  I've seen the stacks of papers waiting to be graded. I know all the money that they spend out of their own pockets.  I've heard them talk about their students like their own children.  I've heard them talk about kids who get more love at school than at home.  I see how they get attached.  I see how much they're loved.  I see how they make a difference.

I remember my own first grade teacher being so warm and making me feel welcomed and secure at my new school.  I remember that when my third grade teacher hugged me, it made me feel like I was her favorite student that she'd ever had.  I remember my fourth grade teacher was very complimentary of my work and made me think that I could succeed at anything.  An eighth grade teacher challenged me and gave me confidence to try something new......and on and on and on through college.  Even though I'm almost 46 years old, I still remember the faces of my teachers and the words they spoke to me when I was 6, 10, 13, 17, 21.

A teacher's influence goes on for years and is never forgotten.  It's no small thing.       

NURSES.  Let's talk about them. 

Can you imagine a more haunting nightmare than having a herd of sick people with a bunch of different illnesses dumped off in your care for 3 or 4 days?  I get nauseous just thinking about it.  All these people have different needs and you're the one who has to keep up with them all for the next 12 hours.  Room 312 is dehydrated.  313 won't eat.  314 is alone and dying.  315 is constipated.  You wish 316 was constipated.  317 needs a sponge bath.  318 would like nothing more than for you to give him a sponge bath.  319 is contagious.  320 needs a bed pan.  It's too late for a bed pan in 321.  How are you supposed to keep all of those balls in the air?

Urine samples.  Pap smears.  Shots.  Instructions.  Paperwork.  Enemas.  Medication.  Blood pressure. Phone calls.  Paper gowns.  Hazardous waste.  Lab results.  Band-Aids.  Catheters.  Rubbing alcohol.  Disinfectant.  Immunizations.  Release forms.  HIPPA.  Wheelchairs.  Bodily fluids.  Alarms.  Blood.  Latex gloves.  Specimens.  Intercoms.  Codes.  Insurance.  Reports.  Prescriptions.             
I don't care how much money you's not enough. 
I have friends and family who are nurses.  I see how long and tiring their days are.  I've seen the full waiting rooms at closing time.  I see them being patient and loving to the elderly.  I've seen them cry when the outcome isn't good.  I've heard them talk about their patients like they're family.  I see them treating people like they'd want to be treated. I see how they get attached.  I see how much they're loved.  I see how they make a difference. 
I can still picture the nurses that worked for my pediatrician when I was little.....with their white hose, white hats, and squeaky shoes.  I still recognize them when I see them around town and am flooded with memories.  They saw my backside on countless occasions.  I remember the name of the nurse who confirmed that I was having my first baby.  I can still hear the voice of the one that held me and cheered me on as I birthed that baby.  I remember nurses who took care of me when I had surgery.  I remember the nurses, who treated my Daddy with love and respect in his final days.  Even though those are events of the past, I still remember the comfort of their compassion and the feeling that they had a gift for what they were doing.
When someone cares for you when you're sick, you never forget it.  It's no small thing.     
Teachers and Nurses, you're a lot alike.       
Thank you for what you do.                



Sunday, May 4, 2014

Moving, Mulling, and Red Gingham Wrapping Paper

Well, this is the week that Blair is moving home for the summer.  This weekend, I've been back in her room, organizing, consolidating, cleaning out, and adjusting......preparing for her arrival.  We've gotten a couple of small loads already, but now we're just waiting for the other shoe to drop, so to speak.  What's the big deal, you ask?  Well, when Blair moves into your house, it's the equivalent of Dillard's calling and informing you of the relocation of their junior department, Estee Lauder counter, and ladies' shoe section to one of your spare bedrooms.  It's an event that takes both space and planning.  Blair requires a lot of things and wherever Blair is, there her things are, also.  I finished arranging the closet and then started on drawers....trying to fold things in the most efficient way possible to free up some space.  In the process, I discovered that she has 26 t-shirts here....that's before she's moved home.  I feel this is excessive for someone who only wears them to workout.  Anyway, her room is now ready to receive her and all that comes along with her and we're just a tad bit excited! 

While I was sitting among the rolling hills of her clothing, I tried to remember what it was like to have so many clothing choices.  I remembered when I, too, would purchase a pair of shoes to wear with just one outfit.  I could recollect a time when the question was "Which one am I going to wear?" as opposed to "What in the world am I going to wear?"  This transition, I believe, happens to mothers of girls, sometime around the daughter's 13th birthday.  At about that time, you can expect to see your closet become as stagnant as a mosquito infested mud puddle on a hot, Mississippi day.            

Davis, Carson, and I all went to a local walking trail that circles a beautiful lake yesterday.  It was a glorious May day to get some exercise......I mean.....if you must exercise.  Davis had already been for a jog when I suggested we go there, so he ran a few miles and then walked a couple of miles with me.....and then he did a few pull-ups on the exercise equipment on the way back to the car just for good measure.   The question is no longer if he's going to outlive me, but by how long.  I will be careful to leave clear, step by step instructions for him in regards to my final wishes.   He has trouble enough with grocery lists and following written instructions when I go out of town and have my cell phone with me.  I can imagine that the "can't be reached by phone" scenario will not work out well for me.  Hopefully, someone will step in and be my spokesperson should he try to cut too many corners with a pine box, an old dress, fake flowers, and taped organ music. 
Next weekend is my birthday.  I've been kind of quiet about what I'd like for my gift, that is, until Davis piped up this week and says, "I've been looking around for your birthday present since you haven't told me anything you want."  Nothing will get me to spouting off suggestions like Davis saying that he's been out shopping on his own.  Let's just suffice it to say that Davis does a lot of his gift shopping at the Cracker Barrel...and outdoor stores.  I know.  Don't ask me why.  I'm certainly not what you'd call an outdoor enthusiast....and the Cracker Barrel....maybe it's the close proximity to his work or perhaps it's the kill two birds with one stone approach to know lunching and gifting all at one stop.  Whatever his reasoning, on the average day, I can't think of anything that I yearn for from the Cracker Barrel.....except, of course, some pancakes.  Davis has many, many wonderful points, but creative gift giving is not one of them.  This is not coming as a surprise to him....he's self proclaimed.  Anyway, when he said he'd been looking around, I piped up with several suggestions, none of which can be found in a restaurant, so we'll see where he takes it from there. 

Blair's coming home should work to my advantage in the area of gift giving as she can usually help me out in this.  Last Valentine's Day went something like this:
Davis texts Blair: Blair, what’s something I can get your mother for Valentine’s Day?  
Blair to Davis: Hold on. Let me think a minute. 
Blair to Me: Mom, what do you want for Valentine’s?  Dad is asking.  
Me to Blair: Oooo, I want some new perfume.  
Blair to Me: What kind? Dad’s at the mall. 
Me to Blair: Euphoria by Calvin Klein  
Blair to Davis: I think I’ve heard Mom say she wants some Euphoria perfume by Calvin Klein.

I'll let you know how it all pans out for me this year. 

Happy Monday to y'all! 




Thursday, May 1, 2014

My Old Friend ,May's May!  May always makes me feel a little a school kid again.  A May day has a different look about it....they're just a little brighter and clearer than other days of the year.  The birds sing just a little louder.  It's a month that brings back happy memories for me.       

Back in the day, when the calendar was turned from April to May, I'd get that excited feeling in my stomach as all of us, kids, knew that the end of school was getting so, so close.  Invariably, sometime in the month of May, our class would enjoy some kind of special day whether it was a May Day at the school, a field trip out of town, or a day at a local attraction.  Regardless, it meant that there was no classwork that day. 

I remember one year, my Mama bought me a pink and brown striped shirt with matching pink jeans at the local Sears Roebuck for my May field trip.  I believe it was Garanimals and who didn't feel extra chic in those?  I got on the bus that year feeling extra cocky. I also remember that, for some reason, she always washed my tennis shoes the night before a field trip.  I suppose it was from the same school of thought as having clean underwear in case of an accident.  On the morning of the big day, if the shoes weren't quite dry, the hair dryer would take turns in each shoe to dry up the last bit of moisture.    

Field trip day meant that I didn't carry my usual Muppet Show metal lunchbox and thermos.  No, field trips were brown bag occasions.  Since there was no thermos involved, my mother would wrap the Chek cola flavor of my choice in a few layers of aluminum foil as this was the cutting edge of drink insulation in the 70's.  Throw in a Little Debbie, some Golden Flake chips in a fold over sandwich bag with a PBJ and you were ready to get on the bus.
May also brought the dreaded piano recital.  It was always something you hated, but you knew in order to get to those 3 golden, lesson-less summer months that you had to do it and get it over with.  I loathed piano lessons when I was little.  I didn't mind them so much when I got to be a teenager, but when I was younger......yeah, loathe would be the appropriate word.  I was always woefully unprepared for my lesson each week and by the time I left the teacher's house at 4:30 on Thursday afternoon, it felt like the world had been lifted from my 9 year old shoulders.  Every, single day, while the sun was shining, the birds were singing and the yard was filled with the sound of children playing, I would be sitting on the piano stool putting in my 45 minutes....pecking out beautifully moving pieces like "The Swan Song" and "Evening Prelude".  Forty-five minutes seemed like at least 13 months to a young girl, who just wanted to ride her banana seat bike with the long, flowing streamers.

Anyway, the recital always fell on a Thursday or Friday evening and it usually took place at a church and involved wearing a dress and playing your piece from memory.  Playing from memory either went really good.....or really bad....depending on how nervous you were.  Afterwards, you were awarded a plastic bust of one of the great composers.  That's what every 8 year old wants.....a plastic head of a dead man.  That seemed to make all 85 hours that you'd spent on the piano stool that year, while your friends played outside....oh, so worth it.  I still have my collection of plastic busts somewhere in my attic.  I always though that Tchaikovsky looked suspiciously similar to Ulysses S. Grant, but I had plenty of time to think about things like that during the pieces that followed mine in the recital.       
I remember at one recital, I was sporting my YoYo shoes and looking too good.  I was to perform a Bach piece with which you're never supposed to use the pedal.  I always questioned Bach's judgment with the whole pedal thing as I felt the songs were a bit flat without it.  The night of the recital, I decided that I would overrule Bach and my piano teacher and insert some pedal....I mean, what could she do......stop the recital?  I took my chances and pressed my YoYo down on that damper pedal.  Oh, you've never heard Bach sound so good!  Afterwards, I'll never forget my piano teacher pulling me aside and assuring me that Bach had, indeed, rolled over in his grave on that evening.  I didn't care if Bach was facing up or down.....he was still dead and me and my plastic Mozart were outa there for three, glorious months.

May always brought around the standardized tests, which was another one of my favorites.  Back then, they seemed pretty easy and there wasn't any preparation for just bubbled in the correct circle with the golden #2s that your mama had been instructed to send in the same note that asked that she get us to bed early.  For the rest of the school day, we were able to do fun things like an extra long games of kickball or Mother, May I?.  Whatever happened to those fun playground games we used to play?  Red Rover, Doggie Doggie Who's Got the Bone?, Red Light Green Light. 
"Red Rover, Red Rover, send Joni right over". 
You'd back up a few steps, look for the weakest link between the 2 skinniest girls and try to ram yourself right through there.  Maybe someone broke an arm and the game was deemed unsafe, and maybe Doggie Doggie is now thought to promote larceny, but we sure enjoyed it. There was never any homework or tests during that testing week, which meant you could play outside longer when you got home.  This was another week of May that you could cross through with little problem.
My birthday falls in May, which is another reason for its warm recollections.  Birthdays weren't HUGE like they are now, but just big enough to make you feel awesome for the day.  I remember having a couple of parties at the skating rink, but mostly my parties consisted of a cake in the backyard with the neighborhood kids.  We'd get one or two modest gifts from the parents and a few little things from friends....add a cake of some description and getting to choose what was for supper and you had yourself a special day.
May was also full of end of the year programs, school plays, certificates, and receptions with punch.  You seemed to eat a lot of sheet cake that month with generous sprinklings of those little, pastel mints.  The May of my fifth grade year found me listed in the school program as part of a trio to perform "A Bicycle Built for Two", which was choreographed with some alternating side to side kicks.....not unlike the Rockettes, only not near as impressive.  It was a moving number, nonetheless.  My parents had to have been proud.   
Then, there was the last day of school.  Ahhhh, you'd made it!  There was nothing like that feeling when you placed your textbooks on the towering stack and returned to your seat to gather all of your remaining supplies out of your desk.  Usually, the crayons were about an inch long at this point with no wrapper left.  You'd turned in all of your library books, thrown away the dried jar of white paste, gathered up what was left of your construction paper and were headed to the door that led to freedom.  Free to stay up late enough to watch all of Hawaii Five-0 and have friends over to spend the night.  From this point until fall, shoes became optional and Kool-Aid was always in the refrigerator.  The last day of school opened up a whole new world of possibilities.

I don't know how, but every year when May rolls in, I still get those same feelings.  A month full of special days and treats....doing things out of the normal routine....having feelings of accomplishment......anticipation of fun days ahead......finally crossing the finish line. 

It's been a long time since I turned in a textbook, performed in a recital, or played Red Rover, but I still feel like I did back May.