Tuesday, June 24, 2014

No Parent Left Behind

We had an old school 2nd generation iPod sitting around the house that no one was using, so I decided it might be something my mother would enjoy.  I loaded it with a lot of music that I knew she loved....50's, Johnny Mathis, Roger Williams, Josh Groban, hymn arrangements, Elvis, a little piano, ......you know...the kind of music that Mamas listen to.  I got it all filled up and bought her some swanky, new headphones as I didn't really see her as the earbud type.  Anyway, Blair and I took it over to her a week or two ago and proceeded to give her a lesson on how to use it.  I knew that schooling her on a new electronic device wouldn't be an easy task, knowing her struggles with computers and cellphones and such, but we gave it a whirl.

"Ok, Mama.......now you just press the center of this dial to turn it on and then press the bottom of the dial to play it and then press it again if you want to pause it.  Now if you want to skip to the next song, you just........."

"Wait a minute, wait a minute, hold on", she interrupted, "I can't see what you're doing", she says as she gets up to open her desk drawer.  After plundering around a minute, she pulls out, quite possibly, the biggest magnifying glass I'd ever seen and sits back down next to me.

I continue with my lesson...."so like I was saying, if you want to turn it off, you just hold the bottom of the dial down until it goes black", I explained as she's leaned over the display with her big ol' Inspector Gadget magnifier.  "Ok", she says, "now go back and say that again so I can write it down". 

After a lengthy Q&A session, we finished our instructional time together, but she still seemed unsure. "I'll be getting a lot of calls from her about this", I thought to myself as I left her house that afternoon. 

A day or two later, I asked if she was enjoying the music that I'd compiled for her.  I waited anxiously for all the accolades and emotional testimony on how it had brightened her days and brought joy to her soul, when she says, "Well now, I tried playing it, but nothing happens when I press it like you said to do.  It lights up, but no sound comes out".   We quickly got that problem figured out when I realized she'd somehow flipped the "Hold" switch.  With all the kinks worked out, or so I thought, I called her back this afternoon, curious to see how the whole iPod experience was going.  "Well, I turned it on yesterday and almost blew my ears out!" she complained. "Well, Mama, I showed you how to turn it down, remember?" I reminded her   

I was afraid this might be a challenge, but I guess I never thought it would be this difficult. I don't know why I'm surprised though.  Because both of my sisters-in-law work in computer related vocations, it has fallen their lot through the years to field her computer questions concerning blinking lights, security alerts, and emails that won't open.  This is a part-time job in itself.....one that I'm sure the good Lord has taken note of and recorded in the column under their names.      

Each generation eventually gets left behind by the world of technology.  I am reminded frequently of how my technological boat is starting to take on water.  I accompanied Blair to the Apple store to purchase an iPad a year or so ago.  As the young woman, who looked to be 12, explained the specs of the gadget to us, she seemed to be speaking in a foreign tongue.  I could hear her talking, but it was incomprehensible to me....kind of like Charlie Brown's teacher with just a few familiar words popping up every now and then......"Wa wa wa was wa......wa wa wa wa wa wa wa wa 32 gigabyte wa wa wa wa memory wa wa wa wa wa wa wa wa Wi-Fi wa wa wa wa wa wa."  She explained how we could create a hot spot and I, wanting to appear minimally intelligent, shook my head affirmatively and murmured a "mmm hmmm".....indicating that I knew exactly how that was done and that there was no need for further explanation.  I wasn't exactly sure what a hot spot was, but it didn't sound like something you'd be interested in your daughter having.

Everyone in the Apple store was so young and cool. You know....boys with shoulder length hair tucked behind their ears and girls with small butterfly tattoos on the inside of their wrists.  Their badges read names like Ridge and Chaney....very, very cool.  I'm sure they wanted to ask Blair, "So....like why did you bring your grandma?"  I must have appeared as obsolete as a floppy disk to them or either they were tired of hearing me say "mmmm hmmm" to everything, because I was soon cut out from the discussion completely and they all continued their conversation in the foreign tongue.  I think had I passed out, fallen to the floor with my skirt over my head and my hair on fire, no one there would have noticed.

I get those same feelings when I go into the cellular service store and they start talking about iClouds and software updates.  I recently received an email warning me that my cloud was almost full.  How can something that you don't know how to use be almost full?  I mean I can work all of my devices, but not near to their maximum potential.....it's more an advanced beginner level at which I operate.  And I could almost feel the condescension from "Brandon with the goatee" that time the kids were both gone and I had to go in to ask why I'd stopped getting text alerts on my new phone.  Brandon with his savvy airs just swiped, swiped, swiped with his eyes rolled back in his head, disengaging my "Do Not Disturb" setting.  I don't think the door shut behind me good before the break room was filled with laughter.                       

I remember when I would come home from college in the late 80's and have to set the VCR for my parents....the one that was always flashing 12:00.  And I remember how long it took us to convince my mother that she didn't have to turn her cell phone off after each use to avoid running the battery down.      

Now it's my turn to start feeling overwhelmed.  My kids are beginning to get that same sympathetic look towards Davis and me when the darn iPhone changes the whole meaning of our texts with its autocorrect and when I overuse emojis and when I send them a text that was meant for someone else and when ....well, you get the idea.                 

One generation helps the one before it and the one behind it comes along to help them.  The smartphone generation helps the cordless phone generation, who helps the rotary dial generation, who once helped the hand crank phone generation.

If we all stick together, we will make it.

No parent left behind.

She ain't heavy, she's my mother.


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Birthday Boys....A Piece of Cake

We've had a busy week.  For one thing, it was Carson's birthday week (yes, we do birthweeks, not birthdays around here), so that started several days ago with just a few boys at Buffalo Wild Wings and a big cookie cake.  There's no more appropriate way to welcome a boy into early manhood than with a party involving teeth ripping meat from the bone and fifteen big screen TVs all playing a different ballgame.     

Davis, Blair, and I sat in the bar area, pretending not to know who they were as we felt this was the best way to chaperone a 14 year old party.  Not that we were over there boozing it up or anything...it was just that the bar was as far as we could get from them and still remain on the premises.  This may come as a bit of a shock to you, but we don't do much bar sitting, however, we found it to be lovely enough and tried to bring a bit of decorum and class to the area.  In that, I feel we were successful.   

There's just really not that much you have to do when chaperoning a boy party except keep the food coming and pay the bill, of course.  Boys are just so easy.  In fact, here's a picture of Davis getting some work done while simultaneously hosting the party.  It's  obviously been a long time since Davis sidled up to a bar, because I'm pretty sure he was the only one there with a laptop, a briefcase, and a large stack of papers. 
Girl parties are like, "Take my picture with her and oh, take a group picture and I need a picture with her....oh my gosh, you've got to take that again.... I look awful!"  Boys, on the other hand, scatter like roaches when you bring out a camera, so there's not much documentation of this birthday event.  I did send Blair in there with the camera once, thinking that they wouldn't mind being photographed by his college age sister, but in the picture, they all look like they'd prefer to be having their bone marrow harvested.  I did get a picture of the cake....which I found out later Carson had been in there selling to strangers who asked to buy a piece and adding a little height to his already impressive stack of birthday money.  Meanwhile, we were "those parents"......the oblivious kind over in the bar swigging their pilsners of sweet tea and water with lemon.       
After that, we went back to our house where the boys immediately went outside and we never saw them again, which was a good thing because I could NOT wait another second to floss my teeth.  I'm pretty sure I had chicken between each and every one.  Anyway, every now and then, we could see flashlights whizzing by the windows or hear a basketball pounding on the driveway, which let us know that all was well.  After everyone left, I noticed Carson had a big gash on the side of his nose  near his eye.  He'd ran into a wire in the darkness as they cut through the neighbor's yard.  No big deal.  Not even worth mentioning.  Boys are just so "whatever".
It hasn't been too long ago, we were hosting his sister's girl parties.  The memories........and my wounds are still fresh.  Girl parties are complex events with undercurrents of hidden emotions, deep relational conflicts, and fragile moods that can turn on a dime.  The inner workings of hormones, insecurities, competition, chemistry, and moon phases can tip your girl party one way or the other.  All combined, they can prove to be very laborious and stressful for the hosting mother.    

Girl Party Summary.......What starts out as an outdoor event quickly moves inside because "Oh my goodness, it's soooo hot out there!"  Josie mysteriously disappears and the hosting mother learns that she's in the bathroom crying as her boyfriend has just broken up with her via text.  The planned activities that were counted on to fill, at least, an hour are over in 6 minutes, quickly leading to a chorus of "We're bored......What can we do now?"  Mary becomes mad at Suzy because she looked at her wrong, so she and Cindy start to whisper about Suzy's outfit, causing three of the partygoers to side with Mary and Cindy and two to side with Suzy, which then leads to more whispering.  Lisa asks if she can call her Mom, because she is homesick and wants to go home, while Janet is most upset because she has spilled punch on her new top and is convinced that it is ruined.  Meanwhile, Betsy wants Julie to come home with her after the party, which upsets Darla because she wasn't invited.  Michelle is teary because she didn't get the purple party favor, but got the green instead.  Lisa's mom comes to pick up the homesick guest and apologizes while whispering "it must be that time of the month", while you scramble to find someone who will trade their purple party favor for a green one.  Betsy's mom comes to pick up Betsy and her overnight guest, Julie, which sends Darla back inside crying, so you extend a spend the night invitation to Darla in order to pacify her.  Josie comes out of the restroom finally as she's found out that Mary was messaging her boyfriend before the breakup, but thankfully, Mary's mother rings the doorbell before that flame gets out of hand.  You try to find the spot remover for Janet, who won't stop talking about her new top, while some of the girls ask you to retake their picture for Instagram.  Minutes pass like hours and hours like days.  The house feels like it's 130 degrees, your face is flushed, your head is pounding, and your heart is racing.  You, my friend, have just hosted a girl party.                 

Boy Party Summary......."Boys, here's a football and a pizza.  I'll be inside if bleeding cannot be controlled or bones protrude through the skin."  Parents return 3 hours later and the doorbell startles you from your nap on the couch. You've just hosted a boy party. 

I have to say that I am enjoying the simplicity of a teenage son.   I wouldn't trade my years as a teenage girl mom for anything, but the shift to a lower, more relaxed gear is admittedly nice.  

After a few more days of gifts, food, family, and a batch of Blair's cupcakes, Carson's birthday week is officially over.
 We're so glad he was born!  



Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Countin' 'Em Down

So sad to hear about the passing of Casey Kasem.  He was the stuff Sunday afternoons were made of.  I had just enough time to get home from church and eat lunch before he started playing the good songs.  I mean, really, nobody liked the #40- #30 songs anyway.  They were always Dionne Warwick or Ronnie Millsap tunes.....maybe a Kenny Rogers duet.
About the time lunch was over, Casey was making his way down into the 20's.....where the more serious musical contenders were.  You'd get poised and ready to record your favorites using your state of the art recording apparatus, the boom box.  I had this top of the line beauty here....a Panasonic similar to the one pictured.  Its tape recordings were crystal clear....almost like the Tears for Fears boys were right there in your bedroom singing for you.  Brilliant piece of electronic equipment. 

Getting a good, clean recording took great skill and prime conditions.  It was imperative to press play and record at the very same time and please, oh please, don't let the tape run out before the song is over.  That was the worst.  Or.....if your mother opened the door to your bedroom right in the middle of Billy Ocean's "you wake up and suddenly, you're in"......."JONI, COME HELP ME WITH THESE DISHES!!"  Oh, for goodness sake, Mama!!! 

If you did get a good copy of your favorite song, you were all set with your own permanent duplicate.....able to listen to the love ballads whenever the mood struck......or whenever you needed to musically rehabilitate your broken heart.  And by permanent, I mean until it got hung up in the eject process and became one big, tangled mess.  If you were lucky, you could reel it back in with your finger or for more serious unravelings......with a pencil.  Either way, it never played quite the same again as when it hit that one spot, it would always sound all garbled from that day forward.  Heaven forbid this should ever happen to your DeBarge tape!!   

Let's look back to some of "the hits from coast to coast".

"Alone Again" was #1 for 6 weeks in 1972.  Love that sweater with your initial, Gilbert. Naturally, this could be why you were alone....again. 
"Physical", the "most popular song in the land" for 10 weeks in 1981. Oh, Olivia, with your scandalous video and clever play on words.  Take that sweatband off....who do you take us for?   
Debby.....So many nights, she'd sit by her window, waiting for someone to sing her this song....this song, which became the #1 song of the whole 70's decade!  Wow, Deb.....there's something to light up your life and give you hope to carry on.  Like they say, "it can't be wrong when it feels so right".....   
    "Saturday Night Fever" became the first soundtrack to score four #1's.  With pants like these, you couldn't help but have fever, boys.  I was curious and had to Google how many offspring these men in the tourniquet pants produced.  Surprisingly, they had 11 children between them. Miraculous.

Oh, Chic!  Your "Le Freak" stayed at #1 for seven weeks and you were my favorite song at the skating rink. I could skate in circles for hours to Freak Out!
What girl wouldn't have killed for her hair to do this in the 80's?  Rod had four #1 hits and, apparently, a large supply of Salon Selectives styling gel and Aqua Net. 
I would be remiss not to mention the long distance dedications.  Be still my heart. Nothing would touch a girl's soul like Casey reading a long, sappy letter from a listener in Kansas, recounting his passionate trip to Maine with Donna....a weekend that changed him forever and made him believe in love again.......that is, until Donna took a sales job in Turkey.  "Casey, would you, please, play "Weekend in New England" by Barry Manilow for Donna and let her know that I will never forget the time we spent together or the love we shared?"   The long distance dedication.....always a touching moment. 

"Now on with the countdown."

Oh, Madonna, with your twelve #1's.....my mother never liked you.....and with good reason.  Nice girls never wear metal, pointy bras.  Never.  The Southern Baptists frown upon this.   
 And frankly, my mother never cared much for you either, Boy George, but your "Karma Chameleon" was the biggest selling single of 1983. 
"Purple Rain" spent weeks at #1 and oh, how I loved the long, grinding guitar solo at the end.  That was the best part of the whole song. "If you know what I'm singing about up here, c'mon raise your hand."  Well, I had no earthly idea what he was singing about, but still..... I raised my hand. Oh, and Prince, I don't want to leave you out......my mother, not a fan.   
I always thought them to be an odd pair, but the Eurythmics had a #1 hit with "Sweet Dreams".  He was what you might call the maestro of the synthesizer.  Oh, the 80's synthesizer.  "Hold your head up, keep your head up, movin' on, hold your head up, movin' on, keep your head up, movin' on, hold your head up"......well, you get the picture.  Sheer masterpiece.      

"And there you have 'em, the 40 biggest hits on the pop chart.  My name's Casey Kasem reminding you to keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars." 

Thanks, Casey, for the memories.  The sound of your voice will always transport us to another time. 

A good, good time. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Godly Fathers

My Daddy

He gave me brown eyes, thick hair, love for music, and a bit of a stubborn streak. Even though Father's Day gifts have been replaced with cemetery flowers and even though I can only see him in my dreams, I can still hear him, sometimes, in the things I say and can feel him in the way I think and what I believe and, from time to time, I can even catch a glimpse of him looking back at me in my mirror. 

Death can't diminish love or take away the difference a life made.....and it can never shake the foundation a little girl has for the rest of her life when she knows, without a doubt, that her Daddy loves her.

Five years ago, we were given a gift that many are denied......the chance to say goodbye.  After suffering with a painful cancer for over a year, we were told that his end was near.  My brothers and I stood by his hospital bed and there, in a sort of surreal moment, we were able to verbalize feelings that are too often reserved only for Father's Day card inscriptions.  Inhibitions fly out the window when you can hear death's footsteps coming for someone you love.  The sense of finality urges you to speak with your heart. 

We said say goodbye to the person who, for our whole lives, had symbolized strength, protection, wisdom, security, provision, and love........the man who worked 10-12 hours a day, 6 days a week, stooped over a drawing board so that we could be educated and have the things we needed.....the man who taught us about Jesus with his words and his life.

He was a gift. 

I can't wait until the day I can throw my arms around him again.

 My Children's Daddy


Davis.....I don't guess I've ever known anyone who works harder than him.  His work ethic....well, I'd put it up against anybody's .  He's quite possibly the most disciplined person I know.  He's a quiet, humble man....never calling attention to himself.  There are a lot of things that I'm unsure about in this life, but his integrity is not one of them.  He always does the right thing.  He is selfless and industrious and as dependable as the sunrise.  
For our children's whole lives, he's been a constant model of honesty, hard work, responsibility, commitment, faith, reason, and patience.  He always puts himself behind everyone else.  He's busy taking care of us in those quiet, unnoticed places.  He's happy to do his work behind the scenes..... where few are content these days.  He never needs anything.  Never wants anything.  Never worries about getting credit.  Just steady, faithful, consistent.
Sometimes, I wonder if we, subconsciously, choose a mate who embodies the qualities we feel we are lacking.  I can't help but think that we must look for someone who is strong where we feel we're weakest.  He's a better person than me in so many ways.
My children are blessed....just like I was. 
Their Daddy is a good man.

I hope you've had a nice day with the fathers in your life....or a pleasant day of memories!  

(Click here to see Our Superman!)




Friday, June 13, 2014

Mutual of Omaha Presents......

Two or three weeks ago, Davis went to change the light bulb in our garage door and when he got up on the ladder, he saw that a wren had built a nest there and it was full of eggs.  He postponed the light bulb business so to not disturb them and we've been watching the progression of the beautiful, natural process. 

Finally, one day, we could hear the chirping of little baby birdies and we were so excited.  We'd see the Mama bird fly out and come back with food for the babies.  So sweet.  We'd even leave our garage door open while we were gone during the day, so she could go back and forth as needed.  Yesterday, we noticed the babies attempting to fly out of the nest, but would, then, get stranded on the garage floor because of their poorly developed aviation skills.  A time or two, we've gingerly placed them back in their nest.  So enjoyable to watch the unfolding wonders of nature. 

Enjoyable, that is, until we witnessed nature's more sinister side.  With baby birds falling out of their nest, our dog, Sugar, (not sure the name fits now) decided that a garage floor full of baby birds spelled "BUFFET".  Blair and I weren't home, Carson was at a friend's house, and Davis was inside working.....and Sugar, well, she was outside eating baby birds.  Carson came home to the ghastly scene and found her in the garage, next to Mount St. Shoes, satisfying her barbaric appetite.  She growled at him as he got closer, for fear that he, too, had a craving for baby birds and was out to take hers. 

We were all devastated.  It kind of felt like when you were six and watching Mutual of Omaha's Animal Kingdom and Marlin Perkins would show the alligator take down the cute wildebeest weakling as her family crossed the river.  You'd wince and scream, "No, No NO....you, bad alligator meany!"  That's how it was when we saw Sugar with the young, fuzzy feathers stuck to her snout.  We're usually not offended by the slaughtering of her favorite prey, the lizards, but baby birds, Sugar??   

I tried to remind everyone that Sugar was just doing what dogs do and that we shouldn't be mad with her.  It was hard though as she laid around with her belly bulging looking drowsy from her big meal.  I don't think the birds sat well on her stomach, because she appeared to be feeling sick.  Maybe it was from the guilt.  Maybe it was from the kids' remarks of disappointment sent in her direction.   Every time they passed her dog bed, they'd sneer, "Sugar, I can't believe you did that"!  She appeared unmoved and would just moan and roll over onto her protruding belly. 

It may just be my imagination, but the birds seem to be chirping louder than usual today.  No matter what room I'm in, there are birds outside the window really belting out the tweets. It sounds very Alfred Hitchcock-y out there.  I think they have the house surrounded.....just waiting on Sugar to come out so they can exact their revenge.

We're terribly sorry about the incident, birds.         


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

There's a Quiz for That

I keep seeing all of these quizzes on Facebook challenging me to find out what kind of bird I am, which month I am.....what holiday I am.  What does that mean...."What month are you?"  I was on a quest to find out. Apparently, just by answering a few questions, these quizzes can tell all kinds of things about you.  As a service to the public, I have been in the trenches, testing the validity and accuracy of these quizzes.  I took every quiz I could find and am happy to share the results with you even though some are less than flattering. 

My result..... 
(click on the title if your memory needs to be refreshed) 
According to my results, "when I come around, people get up and dance", thus my theme song should be the Macarena.  I would have to say that I find these results to be inaccurate as the only times I have ever noticed people jumping up and moving when I come around was the time I threw up in class in the second grade.....oh, and I guess Davis did jump and do a sort of dance when my water broke in the bed that time, but still....
My result.....
A Mutt

    Ok, so let me see if I understand......there are over 300 breeds of dogs and, apparently, I could not be aligned with a single one of them.  No, Joni Miller is a mutt.  They tried to put a more flattering spin on it in the explanation.....something about "because of my real life experiences, I make a good dinner guest" and that I'm "cute in my own way".  Yeah, my days in the pound make for good conversation at parties, I guess....blah blah blah.  Although, not the most complimentary results, I guess I cannot argue with being labeled a mutt.   
My result......
Spongebob Squarepants  
As if this mutt weren't having a bad enough day, I am named a square, porous, absorbent membrane.  Let's think of all the respectable tv characters, shall we?.......Livvy Walton, Mary Tyler Moore, Louise Jefferson, Julia Sugarbaker, Carolyn Ingalls, Aunt Bea, Sabrina Duncan, Clair Huxtable, Carol Brady.  I would've been happy to have been labeled any one of those, but no......I'm likened to a sponge.  The description was just like salt to a wound......"he has friends, but he is blissfully unaware that several people find him annoying".  Oh, ok then.  Moving on. 
My result......
President Reagan      
So, here I start to feel a little better about myself.....not sure how President Reagan would feel about it though....probably like he was being compared to SpongeBob.  Anyway, its reasoning behind my result was that I "have been a natural leader from a young age and people gravitate toward me".  Yeah, I have to agree with them there......Once a month, in elementary school, it came around to being my turn to be the line leader and I led those kids to the playground like a boss and I do recall them gravitating toward me when I had a new pack of gum, so, yeah, I guess I just never put the pieces together before....I am just like Ronald Reagan.

5) The "WHICH FOOD ARE YOU?" Quiz:
My result......

Well, the air went out of my sails with this one.  From the leadership of Reagan down to the stench of cheese.  By answering a few questions, the quiz surmised that I am much like a food that is made through a process involving coagulation, bacteria, curdling, mold, aging, and fermentation.  All my favorites.  I'm flattered.  It said that I "can be highbrow or lowbrow" ...I guess that means I can either go individually wrapped processed cheese food product or Gorau Glas......and also that I "go well with almost everything".  Well played, food quiz.  Well played. 

     6) The "WHAT ANIMAL ARE YOU?" Quiz:
My result.....
A Meerkat 
While not the prettiest animal, I have to agree with the reasoning behind the result.  I am "a people person and enjoy working in a group" and I'm also "responsible and loyal".  The paranoid side of me can't help but wonder if it has more to do with our shared whisker problem, but I digress.  Ok, so I will validate the accuracy of this test.  I am a meerkat....inside and out.  Just look at me there. 
(Let me just stop and mention here that I hope that you appreciate all of the time that I spent researching the quiz circuit for you, people.)
My result....
If results were based on who, in this second week of June, just found two strands of Easter grass in their carpet and a collection of chocolate egg foil under their kids' tv room sofa, then this quiz is spot on.  It says that I am "hopeful, sensitive, and love anything cuddly".....I also enjoy stealing the resurrection confections from the young'uns baskets when they're at school, so I deem this one accurate.
8)  The "HOW NICE ARE YOU?" Quiz:
My result...
Super Duper Nice 
Ok, so this makes up for the whole Spongebob, mutt, cheese deal.  I mean, what honor could top being tapped as "Super Duper Nice" by Mr. Rogers with his navy Keds and zip up sweaters?  Such good memories I have of that nice man......and Mr. McFeely and Lady Elaine Fairchild from the Neighborhood of Make-Believe.  I don't think Mr. Rogers ever had a bad thought, so he should know super duper nice when he sees it.  Don't tell him that I may or may not have fudged on a couple of the answers.  My niceness would be downgraded.   
My result....
The Little Mermaid 
Well, duh.  The accuracy of this quiz speaks for itself.  It's just like looking in a mirror.
My result.....
And here I am.....46 years old and have had the wrong name all this time.  Thanks a lot, Mom. 
Conclusion:  If you want to learn more about yourself or if you just enjoy being totally insulted, then you should take more online quizzes.  
It's been brought to my attention that some of you who follow me by email are no longer receiving your email notifications about posts.  I don't really know what's going on with that, but other bloggers are also complaining of this.  Until the problem is resolved, you can follow Motherhood and Muffin Tops on Facebook.  Thanks for reading :) 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Weekend Shenanigans

Fathers will do anything for their little girls. Blair was sad to leave her state of the art fitness center at college and come home to......well, our gym equipment which consists of my mini trampoline and our walking track, also known as the street in front of our house.  Davis saw how she was missing her old friend, the elliptical, so he got on Craig's List and, in a matter of days, had purchased one for $100 out of someone's backyard shed.  He makes purchases like that all time and I've warned him that one day he's going to end up in a shallow grave under one of those backyard sheds, but he seems unconcerned with the possibility.  Anyway, he dusted that sucker off, put it out in the garage, mounted a $15 fan on the BBQ grill and wah-lah.  I think its placement beside the hanging mop gives it all a classy flair.  It's hard to hide class.  We're just fancy and there's no getting around it.
Over the weekend, I decided some things can't be ignored any longer. This is the scene at the door that leads into the house from our garage.....or our fitness center, I should say.  You have to be blood kin to come in through this door.  I ought to be ashamed to post this, but there is no shame here at Motherhood and Muffin Tops.  Approaching this door, one might assume that the Duggars live here or that we are running a shelter for wayward boys. No, we just have one son....who keeps piling shoes onto outgrown shoes.  It's like an archeological site.....historical layers of laced artifacts.  Someone should do something about this.  It's cramping our classy.
So, Blair is taking Chemistry 2 online this summer and this weekend, the UPS man brings this $240 chemistry set to our door.  I have a suspicion our phones are now being tapped and I think I've seen a dark, unmarked car sitting across the street ever since the delivery of this large chemical shipment.  I don't know why, but an at-home chemistry lab doesn't have a very safe ring to it.  I will keep you posted....Lord willing.      
Carson has taken over the chore of mowing the grass and he's doing a mighty fine job, I might add.  Davis has waited his whole life for this moment.  When the doctor announced, "It's a boy", Davis began to dream of the day when that wet, screaming baby would do his bidding.  I know how he feels.  It's kind of like the year I discovered Blair could reach the top shelf of the dishwasher.  Children are nature's way of giving us servants.   
One of Blair's goals this summer was to learn to decorate cakes and after just one lesson with a professional, she came home and made batch after batch of icing and has practiced piping and piping and piping some more.  My whole kitchen is covered with a thin film of Crisco and if you're not careful, your plate will just slide right off the table, but still.....I'm duly impressed.  Here's her first solo attempt perched upon a vintage cake stand that we found at the antique store this weekend.  I think it's pretty good, but I'm the mother, which legally binds me to think everything they do is good. 
The blueberries are just now starting to ripen, so the boys went to pick enough for a cobbler.  Davis' crop of peas, corn, and watermelons will be in before we know it and I will, once again, be thrust into the role of farmer's wife for a few weeks.  Shelling, shucking, blanching, bagging.  We're Mississippians and that's how we do summertime......even if we are all sorts of fancy.         
I think we'll record this weekend in the productive column. 

Night, y'all. 




Friday, June 6, 2014

Side Effects May Include Awkwardness

There you are.....enjoying a little television with your son.  Just you and him.  So nice to stretch out on the sofa.  Chatting.  Cookies in the oven. You're thinking how delightful it is to find a show that you can enjoy with him....or that you can pretend to enjoy, at least.  There's no one else home.  Just the two of you watching a little major league baseball or a fishing show.  Laughing.  Catching up.  Bonding.  It's almost like a Norman Rockwell painting.  Life is good.     

That's when it happens.

Without a warning.

Out of nowhere.

Like a thunderbolt.


Oh, they start off innocent enough. The mid-life couple laughing and holding hands, riding in a convertible, swinging on the porch.  "Oh, no".....you think to yourself.  You don't see the remote.  You panic.  You know it's coming, so you try to talk a little louder to muffle the.....BAM!!.....that word!  No, please!!  Not that word!  Any word but that word! 

Commercials already seem about 100 decibels louder than regular programming, but that word, when pronounced on television in the presence of your children....well, it sounds like a sonic boom.   

Without warning, you're suddenly in the middle of a televised medical dissertation explaining the functions of the male anatomy and how you should start thinking about going to the hospital after 4 hours.  I'm no doctor, but I, personally, think you should head that way long before that, but I digress.       
I'm so weary of hearing about private medical conditions on television.  I don't want to hear about men's blood flow or women's itches or anything like that.  I mean.....if you've got a problem then you and your doctor should discuss it....quietly......alone..... in the confines of his office....with the door closed.  On second thought, even there, maybe you should just write it down on a sheet of paper and slide it across his desk.  That might be even more appropriate.    

You'd have to be pretty motivated to take the stuff anyway when they say......"Side effects may include but are not limited to nausea, vomiting, loss of hearing, an unsafe drop in blood pressure, dizziness upon standing, trouble concentrating, insomnia, loss of appetite, headaches, fever, dry mouth, constipation, muscle pain, swelling of the lips and throat, trouble breathing, chest pains, hives, itching, nervousness, weight gain, and anemia.....some fatal events have been reported while taking this medicine.  Ask your doctor if it's right for you". 

They might as well just say, "Men, taking this medicine may be the last thing you ever do, so tell your doctor if you're cool with that".  

It's one of those times when you're kind of thrust into an awkward situation through no fault of your own.  It reminds me of when Blair was about six.  We had a pet rabbit named FooFoo.  He lived in our fenced backyard....no cage or anything....he just roamed free back there.  One day, Blair came running into the kitchen, where I was completely minding my own business.  She was so excited.  "Mama, Mama, come see what Foo Foo can do!!  He learned a trick!  He can play ball!"  I go outside with her to see what all the excitement was about and sure enough, there was Foo Foo.......humping Blair's brightly colored $1.99 playground ball across the yard. "Oh, yeah....look at him go", I said....."he's pretty good at that.....by the way, never touch that ball again".  Filthy rabbit.

On behalf of mothers everywhere, who have choked on their popcorn while scrambling for the mute button and the fathers, who have been asked what words mean way before it's time, we'd like to thank you, pharmaceutical companies....oh, and the pet rabbits........for all of the awkward moments.





Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Liebster Award

I was recently nominated for the Liebster Blog Award by another blogger, Marie, of Normal Everyday Life.  I hope you'll go check out her blog.  You won't be sorry!  Marie has been very encouraging to me and I appreciate her so much.  Starting a new blog is kind of an intimidating venture and Marie and other bloggers like her have been very faithful to spur me onward!  I really appreciate that more than they realize.    

Receiving the award requires me to tell you more about myself by answering a list of questions from Marie and then listing 11 random facts about myself, so here goes....       

* Why did you start blogging?
I've always loved to write.  I was shy as a little kid, so I quickly realized that writing was the most comfortable way for me to express myself.  Cards, letters, newsletters, notes......through the years, I've found many different ways....and excuses to do what I love.  I wrote notes with Boo Mama and many other friends in high school.  We wrote long, descriptive, humorous masterpieces to each other on a daily basis.  If I'd spent as much time on my school work as I did on composing those notes, I would've most likely been valedictorian, but as it was, I was just a couple of.......hundred spots down from that.  Most recently, before I started "Motherhood and Muffin Tops", my friends would comment on my Facebook statuses and encourage me to blog.  Now that I think about it, perhaps it was all a ploy to get me off of their newsfeeds.  Hmmmm.   

*Are you an early bird or a night owl?
This is the easiest question ever.  Resoundingly, I am a night owl.  I feel and look like someone has beaten me with a baseball bat until around 11:00 am.  After lunch, the blood finally reaches my head and I start to feel human.  If I go by my body's natural clock, I go to bed around 12:45 am and get up around 9:45 am.  I hear that sunrises are so beautiful, but I'll just have to take your word for that.  The pictures are really lovely though.     

*What is your guilty pleasure?
That would have to be donuts.  I've heard that they are quite possibly the most unhealthy food in existence, but you put some out in front of me with some ice cold milk from the frig and I lose all sense of restraint and decorum.  If they're warm, don't get between them and me.  I may also need to add the second most unhealthy food in existence....the hot dog.   Yes, I, Joni Miller, love the pink paste made from all manner of animal parts which is injected into natural casings.  A hot dog from the ballpark or a grilled hot dog....mmmm.  Don't judge.   

*What is your all time favorite tv show?
That's hard to say, but when I was young it was definitely "The Carol Burnett Show". Through the years, I've also enjoyed the wit of "Designing Women", "Murphy Brown", and "Frasier"....I guess all of those shows appeal to my sense of humor.

*Name three things on your bucket list.
1)To go to the Holy Land. 
2)To travel across the country, from coast to coast.  Like Louis and Clark only, you know.......with a car and hotels.
3)To have a vacation home sitting either right on the beach or on the side of a mountain.   

*What is your favorite way to relax? 
Sitting on a beach at dusk with my iPod shuffling 70's and 80's.

*Do you collect anything?
I don't know if you'd call it collecting, but I have acquired a lot of things that I treasure from people that are no longer here.  My grandparents' Bibles, my grandmother's wedding band and purse, handwritten recipes, letters, tablecloths, the drawing tools my Daddy used in his work.  I'm the polar opposite of a hoarder, but when it comes to sentimental things, I've always had a weakness for those.  

*What is your favorite blog post and why?
I enjoyed writing "The Mammogram".  It's just pure silliness and I have the best time writing pure silliness.

*Do you enjoy appetizers or dessert more?
Appetizers....hands down.  Even as a child, I would pick salty snacks over sweet.  You can eat ice cream and chocolate in front of me all day long and I won't tempted, but bring out some chips and dips and we've got a problem.  Definitely an appetizer girl......with a donut weakness.

*What is your favorite season?
Fall.  The oppressive, humid Mississippi summers are so brutal that after you've had 5+ months of that nonsense, the first sign of fall is the most welcomed thing you've ever seen or felt.  Add in SEC football and the wardrobe change and what's not to love?

Eleven random facts about myself.....

1)  Saturday is my least favorite day of the week.  Don't ask me why.  Even as a kid, I never liked Saturday. 

2)  People think that I'm really laid back and relaxed.  I'm always getting comments like, "I wish I could be as calm as you....Do you ever get stressed about anything?"  Funny, I don't always feel that way.

3)  I love to sleep.  My mother even went to the doctor when she was carrying me, because I never moved and she was worried.  I'm pretty sure I was just napping.   

4) I hate salad.....green salad, taco salad, chicken salad, potato salad, pasta salad.  To me, salty foods should not be eaten cold.  Ever.   

5)  I often become a blubbering idiot when I try to express myself verbally.  Many times, I leave a conversation with a nagging, "I hope they didn't think I meant....." or " I shouldn't have said...." or "I forgot to tell them....".  I'd do better to walk around with a pad and pen to communicate.  I love the second chances of the eraser and backspace and delete keys.       

6) I love classical music.  My favorite part of a wedding is all of the music before it even starts.  I could sit there and listen for hours.  I also have an unusual affection for the pipe organ and harbor a secret desire to learn to play one.  I'm pretty sure the large swath of pedals and buttons and I would not do well together.  Surely, God will let me be the "first chair" organist in heaven though.  Listen for me.  

7)  I was an English Education major until I changed to Horticulture with an emphasis in Florist Management.  For 17 years, I worked as a freelance floral designer and was able to stay home with my kids during the week and do weddings on the weekend.  I'm still not exactly sure what I want to be when I grow up though. 

8)  My biggest fears are public speaking....and flying....oh, and enclosed spaces and snakes.  Heavy medication required for any of that.  I guess heavy medication really wouldn't make for very good public speaking, but would, however, numb the anxiety if ever plummeting to the ground from 30,000 feet while trapped in the airplane lavatory with a water moccasin and no circulating, cold air.  I'm breaking a sweat just thinking about that.  Ok....moving on.  
9)  I don't have any idea what I'm doing with this blog thing.  It's not like I had a long history of following blogs and dreamed, for years, of the day when I'd have my own.  No, my eyes cross when I see the seemingly foreign words....blog feeds, referring URLs, and pageviews, but I'm having the best time.  Ignorance is bliss, I suppose.    

10)  I could watch "House Hunters" and "Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives" all day long.  I don't know why, but I receive enjoyment from watching other people buy houses and food.  

11)  Last, but not least.....I'm a Christian and my faith is very important to me.  I believe that this life is not all there is and no matter what I face in it, my Savior will never leave me.  My favorite Bible verse is....
"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God."  Isaiah 43:2 

My Nominee is....Crib Notes Mommy Blog

I just found this blog yesterday, but have really enjoyed reading through their posts.  It's a mixture of hilarious, practical, and touching entries about parenting and is especially helpful for mothers of babies and younger children. 
The Rules:
1) Link back to the blog that nominated you.
2) Post 11 random facts about yourselves and answer the questions listed in my post.
3) Nominate up to 11 blogs, link your nominees to your post, and let them know.

This was fun!  Thanks for the nominating me, Marie!  




Monday, June 2, 2014

A Hairy Situation

This morning, I was in the shower all lathered up when I realized that I didn't have a razor in there with me.  Ugh!!!  I darted out, dripped my way over to the closet and felt around for a new package of razors.  I'd just gotten a new brand to try the last time I was in the store and as I stood in the middle of the bathroom floor with a sudsy puddle forming around me, I finally found them and got the package open.  I jumped back in and as I do with any new razor, I was gliding it across my leg ever so gingerly.

It wasn't too long into my shaving that I started to contemplate the many reasons why the Quattro razor might be named such.  Perhaps it's the number of stitches that I'd be needing when I got out of the shower.  Or perhaps that's how many units of blood the blood bank was going to have to locate for me in O positive. Whichever it was, I had those little nicks all over my legs.....you know those just above the ankle bone and then the ones on the back of your leg just above the heel....oh, and those on the back of the knee?  Those kinds of nicks bleed for "Quattro" days and "Quattro" nights before they finally clot.  I got out of the shower, hemoglobin streaming down both legs, tearing little bits of toilet paper to fit the wounds, when the thought occurred to me about how much time and energy we, women, spend beating back unwanted hair.       

It's not something we talk about a lot, but it's an unrelenting issue.  And something happens when you hit forty, ladies.  I'm not really sure what....I guess your estrogen just gives up and says, "You know what?  I'm done here. Today's my last day. I'm going to the house. Don't worry...You'll look great with a goatee".  And after that....it's like growing kudzu in a container garden. 

You, twenty somethings, with your smooth, baby butt chins.....just wait.  Your day's coming.  I, too, remember when the 25 year old me would see little, old ladies in the grocery store with their Fred Sanford beards and think......"haha...what the heck?"  Now, I just say, "Oh, that reminds me..I need to pick up some wax". 
My mother-in-law has this old school magnifying mirror sitting on her bathroom window sill.  I don't know what it is about her particular mirror.....the quality, the placement, or the lighting, but it has the magnification of the Hubble telescope.  You can see hairs coming three years before they arrive, so you really have to prepare yourself before you look into it.  It's not something you should enter into lightly, because it shocks any woman's system to look into a mirror and see her father looking back at her.  You get back there with that reflective instrument and a pair of tweezers on a sunny day and you're likely to be gone for a while.     

Anyway, I caught a glimpse of myself as I walked by it the last time I was there and decided to do a good once over.  You know how it is when you do that......you find the usual suspects and take care of those, but then you see that one hair that would make Si Robertson jealous and you're like, "holy cow....by the looks of that thing, it had to have been there since Clinton was in office."  Then you're thinking back to all the people you've sat close to at church, weddings, and funerals over the last few weeks....oh, and then the good friends who didn't tell you.  Wait 'til you see them!  

And waxing.  What man came up with that?  Any time a women's beauty kit comes with a tube of anesthetizing cream for when you're done, it had to have been a man's idea.  Some women have that beauty procedure done at the salon, but I'm of the DIY crowd.  I just zap that stuff in the microwave.  Slather it on while leaning over the bathroom sink.  Wait 30 seconds and wham....... pull thousands of hairs out by their roots at one time.  What's so hard about that?  Aaaaahhhh!!!!!  Forget the tube of topical cream.  It should come with general anesthesia.        

Ladies, we are worn down, but remain diligent in our fight to beat back the weeds.  We can only hope that one day, long, straggly chin hair and unibrows will become a fad for us, women, too. Wouldn't it be freeing if, like men, a few days of stubble on us was considered "sexy"?  "Oh Joni, you're looking good with those scruffy legs!  Go ahead, girl!"........"Sue, your chin is really filling out nicely!  I love that shade of lipstick with it!"........"Mary, your unibrow is gorgeous!  You've got to tell me how you got it to grow so fast!" 

Until then, ladies, we tweeze.