Thursday, October 30, 2014

Trick or Treat, Smell My Feet

I've always loved Halloween.  Even now, I love it.  What's not to love about the one night of the entire year when knocking on your neighbors' doors and begging for stuff is socially acceptable?  Any other day, your mama would've snatched you bald-headed if you asked people for candy, so you had to make the most of this night.  Excitement would build for a couple of weeks.....from the moment my mother taped these Halloween cutouts on our sliding glass door.  The anticipation was almost more than I could stand.   
 
It seemed like an eternity from the time you got home from school on Halloween until the sun set.  To maximize your confectionary gain, you'd need to get started promptly at dusk.  You'd usually have a Halloween party at school that day, which always involved a cupcake and a treat bag with wax lips and maybe some spider rings and a pencil.  By the time you got home, ate the Tootsie Rolls out of there and scraped the red lip wax off the back of your front teeth, you were ready to go!!

Back in the day, the word, costume, was used very loosely. You might even wear the same one a couple of years....and that was after your big brother had worn it a time or two.  Such was the case with our black cat outfit.  My mother made it using a McCall pattern.  She called it a "panther" when he wore it, so to appeal to his manliness.  Have you ever seen a panther with pink ears?  It was a "black kitty" when I wore it.  By the time it was passed down to me, I remember some repair work had to be done to the tail.  I guess my brother stepped on his own tail one too many times.  Clumsy panther.
 
I was a witch for a year or two and, besides that, we usually just had one of those plasitc masks from TG&Y and whatever clothes we already had that would compliment the character.  There were a lot of hobos and scarecrows back then.  You could pull those off with some old Toughskin jeans and your Mom's lipstick rubbed into your cheeks. 
                       
Everybody knew where the good houses were that passed out the awesome candy...... the Bottle Caps, peanut butter logs, Sugar Daddies, and tiny Lifesaver rolls.  Then there were those houses that you'd come to expect nothing more than an apple or some old peppermint out of the coffee table candy dish or even worse.....homemade popcorn balls.  You could get homemade junk any ol' time.....this was a night for store bought delights with legit wrappers and artificial colors.  Halloween was for stained teeth and red tongues. 
          
When we got home, we'd dump all the candy out on the floor, organize it into categories, and our mother would go through it carefully.  Back in the 70's, parents didn't care if you wore a seat belt, rode your bike without a helmet or if you smoked candy cigarettes, but they would snatch loosely wrapped candy out of your little fingers so fast it would make your head spin.  As far as my Mama was concerned, all apples had razor blades or needles in them and loosely wrapped candy had been dipped in lethal poison that would cause you to die a slow and painful death.  These were confiscated right off the bat. 
After she'd finished her inspection, the sibling bargaining would begin.  This was a serious time.  It was imperative that you kept your poker face in order to walk away with the best deals.  Never.... I repeat....never let your brothers see the desperation for their Space Dust and Charms suckers in your eyes.  The first thing I did was to gather up all of my orange and black peanut butter kisses to start off the trading.  Those were nasty.  And licorice.  What kind of sadistic person gives children licorice?  "I'll give you all of these for 3 pieces of your bubble gum and 2 of your Brach's Milk Maid Royals."  The cinnamon discs and Fireballs were also something I never acquired a taste for and my big brother's love for hot things always made them a good bargaining tool to score myself some Bit o' Honey and SweetTarts....maybe some chocolate.  Everybody usually left the negotiations happy. 
 
I enjoyed Halloween so much as a child that I really had fun when my children came along.  I loved getting my their costumes together.  Of course, their trick or treat time was before the days of Pinterest, so you had to come up with your own ideas.  Over the years, we've had a pumpkin, Superman, a cowboy, a puppy, a princess, a queen, a storm trooper, Miss America, a football player, Bob the Builder, a pirate, the creature from the Black Lagoon, Baby Bop, Jasmine, macaroni and cheese, Spiderman, a bride, a red M&M, a fireman, Darth Vader, and Mulan.  My goodness, when you write it out like that, it seems like we must have trick or treated for 25 years.
                         
Now that my kids are older, I enjoy passing out candy to the kids who ring our doorbell.  You never get to do that when they're little because you're always out with them.  You've got those kids who continue to stand there with their bag open even after you've dropped candy in there.  I suppose the bag of fun size Skittles, that Laffy Taffy, and the little box of Nerds weren't enough.  "Listen, kid, I spent $50 on this Halloween candy and that's all of it that you're getting."  I love the ones who look in their bag after you've deposited the sugary treats and let out an, "Awesome"!  Then you have your obligatory trick or treater who you know must be old enough to vote as upon closer inspection of his pirate beard, you realize it is not painted on. Then there are the car loads of goblins.  The car door opens and it looks like clowns jumping out of a circus car.  They just keep coming and coming and it causes you to panic about your candy inventory and start digging in the drawers for Breathsavers and unsharpened pencils.....maybe even some saltines in a sandwich bag would work.

And Halloween has never been complete until we've watched It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.  How can a cartoon released in 1966 never lose its appeal?  25 minutes of pure film genius, I tell you.  To this day, it still gets me when Sally has realized that she's missed her trick or treats by sitting out in that field with Linus.  Every year, I just wanted to yell at the TV....."no, Sally....don't go"!  For 48 years now, it's never turned out well for her. 
I hope y'all have a good time with your little ones or if you're past that like me.....just enjoy being at home and doling out candy with some jambalaya on the stove.

Happy Friday! 

     












 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

My Kids Will Never......

Davis and I went to a retirement party this past weekend.  It was for a dear, family friend....the mother of one of my good buddies since childhood.  Her mom was retiring from her post as the church's financial secretary where she's been for 40 years.  When I came through the line, we talked about how she'd been at that job since back in the day when I was spending the night over at their house as a child.  I could even still rattle off their phone number, which I have permanently branded into my memory from the thousands of times I called it back in my younger days.   

I'm a 46 year old woman and can still tell you all of the home phone numbers of my childhood/teenage friends.  I can't tell you where I put my glasses or what I was about to say, but I can remember phone numbers that I called repeatedly back in 1980.  I suppose my children won't ever have anyone's number indelibly tattooed in their brains like that.  That's just not necessary anymore.

That got me thinking about other things that my children won't ever do because of their cell phones....

1)  My children will never know the horror of.........having all their calls go through their parents first.  Parents are loose cannons, you know.  You never knew what they were going to say when they answered the phone, so the possibilities kept you on pins and needles.  And when someone called and you weren't home, you always wanted to know exactly what your parents said to them.....word for word.....you know, in case you needed to change your identity or something.  I think it should still be a requirement that phone calls go through the parents first.  It is quite the character builder.  

2)  My children will never know..........the inconvenience of the old system of letting your parents know that you'd arrived safely at your destination.  Once I got to my friend's house or wherever I was going, I had to ask to use their phone so I could call home immediately and report in.......then again just before I left their house to head home, I'd call back to let them know I was on my way.  If I didn't arrive within 15 or 20 minutes or if I forgot to call, the National Guard was deployed.  Without cell phones, your mother could only assume the worst if you didn't show up in exactly 15 minutes.  You were either on the side of the road with a flat tire and your car was surrounded by a lawless motorcycle gang or you'd run away with a long haired boy to go on the road and work the fair circuit.

3)  My children will never know the anxiety of..........answering the phone without having a clue who is on the other end.  It could've been your grandmother, the boy you've dream about, or your teacher needing to address your parents with a problem.  You had no idea which and there was only one way to find out.  But sadly, never will they call and ask anyone if their refrigerator is running.  Caller identification has ruined that for all of us.   

4)  My children will never know the horror of........having a note taken up by their teacher since they just text now.  You know the note that you wrote to your best friend in which you finally confessed your secret, obsessive feelings for this boy.  The same note that ended with a poem that you wrote as a tribute to that same teacher holding your note, which included stanzas about her polyester pantsuits, tragic at-home hair color, and Elton John glasses.  You were so proud of that poem 10 minutes earlier.  Now.....not so much.       

5) My kids will never know......what it's like for there to be engagements, new babies, surgeries, break ups, trips, anniversaries or new cars that they don't know about until a week or two after the fact.  They will never be in the dark about what their friend is having for dinner, what their foot looked like before and after it was sewn up, or even how many centimeters someone is dilated.  These are things about which no one should have to wonder.              

6)  My children will never know the horror of........needing to tell your best friend something really HUGE and when you call her house, she's not there!!  You'll just have to wait until she gets back home and who knows when that could be.  They'll never know the awkwardness of wondering if her Mom remembered to give her the message when she hasn't called you back in a couple of hours.  Should you call back or not?!?       

7)  My kids will never know what it's like to.......only hear your favorite song when it comes on the radio....unless you were lucky enough to get a clean recording of it on your boom box during the countdown.  Nor will they ever know the joy of getting 12 cassettes for one cent if you just agreed to buy 6 more at $29.00 each over the next 2 years.   

8)  My kids will never know what it's like to........drop film off at the drugstore, only to get them back a week later and realize that 18 of the 24 pictures were blurry or had a finger in front of the lens and there you were with doubles of all of them. 

9)  My children will never know.......what it's like to only enjoy the amount of phone call privacy that a coiled cord stretched down the hall and into your room provided.....oh, and a brother who picked up the other phone, periodically, to hurry you up.  Of course, over time, the door pinched a short in the cord and then you really had problems.....having to hold it just right to get rid of the static. 

10)  My children will never know what it was like........when the only way to show someone your prom pictures or your beach photos was to get them developed, put them in an album, and drive them to your friend's house......because "that's not how it works.....that's now how any of this works" anymore.

They've got their apps and their Google and their calendar notifications.  They have more information at their fingertips than we could've ever tracked down in the card catalog.  They will never get lost or have to wait until the 6:00 news to hear what's going on or what the weekend weather will be like.  They can have conversations with 10 different people at one time.  They can listen to their music anywhere they go, take pictures and send them across the country, and make announcements to thousands of people with just one click.  They can get scores, play games, post videos, and order whatever they need.....all while sitting in a crowd of people.     

We all want our kids to have it better than we did. 

I wonder if they really do. 










       

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Art of Compromise

Blair and I went to a wedding last night.  Evening was falling, the church lights were dim, and candles flickered all around.  The music was so beautiful.  Gorgeous flowers.  The pretty bridesmaids, the handsome groomsmen.  And the bride.....well, when she walked down the aisle, Blair grabbed her chest as if she'd suffered a heart attack, so that should tell you how she looked.  She was one of the most beautiful brides I'd ever seen.  Simply radiant.  Her dress and long veil were just stunning.  It was a picture perfect wedding setting.

I've spent a lot of time on the wedding scene during my lifetime.  For 17 years, I did freelance wedding floral work.  I met with brides and mothers of all kinds with different tastes, personalities, ideas, and budgets.  I've worked with every color scheme under the sun and coordinated flowers to match bridesmaid dress swatches that were no bigger than postage stamps.  I've worked for 72 hours straight with cumulative sleep hours that could be shown on two hands.  I've been sprawled out in the emergency room, waiting on the doctor to stitch up my hand, while worrying if I could get back with enough time to get it all done.  I've made enough boutonnieres, pew markers, and bridesmaid bouquets to sink a ship.  I've slept on church pews, stood on shaky ladders, broken a $600 piece of glass, got a nasty, nasty case of poison ivy, herniated a cervical disc, and been awakened by sweat inducing nightmares of the 1,000,000 things that could go wrong.  I've listened to, at least, 1,000 musicians warm up their voices and tune their instruments.  I've heard countless sound checks and wrestled with many a church vacuum.  I've eaten every form of groom's cake known to man and thrown enough birdseed to feed the entire cast of Hitchcock's The Birds for a year or two.  Point is.......I've been around a few weddings in my time.  Weddings......for which other people have paid, that is.   

Something has recently changed in the way I see weddings though.  Weddings used to be something that I did for a living......something that I helped friends with.....answered questions and offered advice.  Maybe the shift in my perspective came when my daughter slowly moved from dressing up like a bride in little plastic shoes and a dollar store crown and crossed over into her 20's.....that first decade when a wedding could actually happen.  She's not dating anyone seriously, but just the thought of it all gives me hives.  Weddings once looked like this.....
 Now, they look more like this.... 
 
Davis, who we affectionately call "Dave-is Ramsey" for his frugalness, likes to tease Blair about how he's got the perfect plan for her wedding.  He insists that we can save so much money simply by capitalizing on the strengths of each person in our family. 

He's, of course, got me down for flowers.  I mean......I may not make it back in time for pictures, but who says the mother of the bride has to be in the pictures.  And I could use the dead time after I'm seated on the mother's pew to pick the thorns out of my hands and maybe use an offering envelope to dig the chlorophyll out from under my fingernails.  And if I doze off during the prayer, I trust the usher will give me a nudge when he comes back to retrieve me after the wedding.

Of course, he says her dress is already bought and paid for and is stored in that professionally sealed, acid free chamber under our bed, where it's been since we married in 1992......so there's an expense he's told her to cross off the list. 

He's got Blair slated to do the cake.  A nervous, emotional bride making her own five tier cake on the morning of her wedding.  What could possibly go wrong there? 

And Davis......well, he's so generously offered to do the food.  He'll start the charcoal, walk her down the aisle, and then slip out the side door to start grilling the hot dogs.  Burgers are his real specialty, but hot dogs are cheaper, you understand. 

Carson....well, Davis hasn't figured out how his knack for fielding a baseball or shooting a paintball gun could be all that helpful, so he's been assigned to sing.  He's not really known for his singing, but he is free and free is good.  He also has a harmonica if she desires a wind instrument piece.     

We'll just need a dunking booth and someone to guess people's weights and we'll have ourselves quite the high brow affair.

As you might imagine, Blair's visions are a bit different than her Dad's.  On her Pinterest wedding board, there are 1,308 pins.  This number is fluid and climbing.  Suffice it to say that she has a lot of ideas and not one of them includes frankfurters.  She was nice enough to let me share a few of her pins.  Here's just a sampling.  See if you can find the discrepancies...
 

 
                                 
 
We could have a problem.

Meanwhile, she will continue to pin and we will continue to work and, one day, when that special someone comes along, we will master the art of compromise.  Somewhere in the middle, we will meet......where there are no hot dogs.....or pyrotechnics.

Have a happy start to your week, y'all!!     

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Home

I realized today that this week marks 10 years since we moved into our house.  Wow!  Time is a sneaky character.  When we moved in, we had a 10 year old and a 4 year old.  Davis had more hair.  I had more estrogen. Blair played with Barbies.  Carson slept with a blanket.   

A lot of things happen in a house over 10 years.  Some absolutely glorious.  Some pretty mundane.  Some totally devastating.  There were those moments that took our breath away.  Those that melted our hearts.....those that broke them.  Those that made us wish that time would stand still. 

This place has hosted countless sleepovers, birthday parties, Bible studies, and family gatherings.  It's where I talked Blair through those awkward teenage moments.  It's where we've recovered from surgery and broken bones and the flu.  It's the place where we've read the Bible to our kids at bedtime and tried to teach them right from wrong.  It's been the field for many a backyard ballgame.  It's where we brought our Sugar home as a puppy......where I've stayed up late waiting for lights to come up the driveway......where our parents come for Christmas breakfast.  It's where we've watched three presidential election returns and where carpools have dropped off and picked up.  It's been filled with the smell of a dozen sweaty boys and Big and Sexy Hairspray.  It's been thrown up on, backed into, filled with smoke, sprayed for ants, and rolled a few times. 

There have been sleepless nights and arguments and bad dreams and sassy mouths and sweet kisses.  It's where the first boy picked up our daughter and where she's posed with her dates for prom pictures. It's where Carson prayed the sinner's prayer.  It's the place where I got the call that my Daddy had passed away.....I remember the exact spot where I was standing.  It's where we learned that my mother-in-law has Alzheimer's disease and where we'd sit up at night giving breathing treatments to Carson and counting his breaths.  This is the place where we've had "the talk" with our kids and where Carson learned that there's no Santa.  It's the shelter where we hunkered down during Hurricane Katrina.  It's been visited by the Tooth Fairy and monsters under the beds.  It's where Carson nervously climbed in the car for his first day of kindergarten and where Blair put on her cap and gown and then drove away for college.     

This is where we come to when we're tired at the end of the day.  It's where we want to be when we don't feel good.  It's the bed we wish we could sleep in when we're away.   It's where we long to spend more time when we're overbooked.  It's where the kids know they can find a good meal.....where they know someone will always be happy to see them coming.  It's where we can have a good cry, let off some steam, speak our mind, and be forgiven when we're done.  This is where we know we can be ourselves.   

After 10 years, our house has started to need fresh paint.  There are updates we want to do.  There are some scuffs on the walls and a couple of nail holes that need patching.  The bushes have been pruned and pruned and the trees finally offer some shade.  The garage door has been fixed a few times.  The appliances have been worked on and parts have been replaced.  The shutters' color has changed more than once.  Furniture has been rearranged.  Dinosaurs have been taken off the wall.  Dolls have been packed away.  Christmas tree stands have leaked on the floor.  Door casings have been nicked.  Closets have been stuffed.  Drains have clogged.        
 
For everything that has gone on under this roof, we know that God is the giver of all that is good here.....and He has sustained us through the bad.  This is our home.....everything in it was given to us by Him. 

It likely will never be on a magazine cover or HGTV , but it is where we come to feel comforted and loved.  On days when we can't find that anywhere else in this world, we know we can always find it here.



   

       



   

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

That Gray Area

I've noticed that I've been called "ma'am" a lot lately....in stores, at work, at church.  We even have a new, younger girl at work and she consistently answers me with a "yes, ma'am".  It's funny how I kind of see her as being sort of my age, but she must kind of see me as........well, sort of not her age.  I must be entering that gray area where the younger set doesn't know exactly where I fall.  Maybe, on one hand, they see a youthful spark in me, but, on the other hand, something about me reminds them of their mother.   

If that wasn't depressing enough, I got a robo call today.....and with all of the care and concern that a female, automated voice can exude, she says, "Hello.  This is Suzanne.  I am calling with exciting news for women suffering from menopause....."

Listen, Suzanne....I don't know where you get your information, but why don't you mind your own business? 
  
We've also got these sweet, young, fashion forward neighbors across the street, who are a constant reminder that we may have crossed over to the other side.  They're ultra cool and very cutting edge.  Even when they play out in the yard with their children, they all look like a Gap commercial in their little sweater vests, hats, and all manner of fashionable layers.  On any given Saturday, you may find them outside looking like this...
All while Davis is out in his high-waisted shorts and free blood donor tees and me in my perpetual yoga pants/oversized, stained t-shirt combinations. 
 
Never underestimate the challenges of living across from younger, cool people.  Every time he goes out to the car, he's dressed in a fedora and sweater or something of equal trendiness.  And even when she's playing with the kids, it looks like one of those shots you see in People magazine of celebrity moms on family outings. 

That's a lot of pressure for us over here on this side of the road.  You kind of feel like you might need to freshen up to go down to the mailbox......you know, just in case they're outside.

They'll drive off all decked out.....probably going out dancing or something like that and we're just over here like....."Hey, well.... tonight is the night we give the dog her heartworm pill and then flush yeast down the toilet to maintain a healthy ratio of good bacteria/bad bacteria in our septic system."  So..... never let it be said that we don't still know how to have a good time. 
            
I have to really watch Davis because I don't think he even realizes that they are way cooler than us.  It's like he's oblivious to things like that.   I'll even look out the window and he'll be mowing the grass in his tennis shoes and dark socks.  "No, Davis.....not in front of the cool neighbors!!!"  Ugh.  Sometimes, I have the urge to say things like........"You're not going to wash the car looking like that, are you??" 

We're not yet to that age when the neighborhood kids think you smell like a delicate mixture of mothballs and Mentholatum......and maybe we're not to the point when they start expecting you to drop a couple of boxes of raisins and an old butterscotch from your purse into their Halloween bucket.......and we don't yet turn out all the lights right after Wheel of Fortune
     
We're not quite there yet, but we've definitely been promoted from the young couple category on up to the middle-aged sector for quite a while.  We're ma'ams and sirs now.  We're over here on this side of the street.  We're in that gray area.  And we're on Suzanne's call list.

Y'all have a Happy Wednesday! 

 

       



 















      

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Weekend....It's a Wrap

Well, we had a wonderful weekend! 

Blair came home and she'd sent her menu requests to me earlier in the week, so I had everything all planned.  Carson sounds much like the prodigal son's brother when we're preparing for Blair's visits....all the complaining about why we have to eat this and why we have to have that.          

While she was home, one of the things she wanted to do was to practice making a fall tree cake, which she hopes to make for our big Thanksgiving family gathering.  It was absolutely delicious as well as adorable!  She piped out all the leaves, peeled them off when they hardened, and placed each one on the tree.  I don't have the patience for all of that, but she, apparently, takes after her father.  She made note of a few things that she needs to tweak before Thanksgiving, but I was impressed!     
      
 
While that was going on inside, Carson and Davis were outside changing her oil and conducting some other routine car maintenance.   You know how men are.....always looking for a reason to jack something up and unscrew some bolts.  Davis is a firm believer in not paying people to do anything for which there is a YouTube instructional video.   
My cognitive function may have reached a new low this weekend.  Let's just put it like this.....if I were a car, a red, triangle, warning light would have started flashing on my dashboard......the kind with the exclamation point in the center, which indicates a serious problem that may warrant a trip to a professional.

It started when my brother and nephew called Friday afternoon and invited Carson on an impromptu fishing trip to the coast.  Carson and I were sitting on the front porch swing, waiting on them to pick him up when a golf cart drove down our street.  Our dog, Sugar, took off after it.  She loves a good chase and golf carts and the UPS truck top her favorites list.  Anyway, fearing for her safety, I yelled out to her as she raced toward the street....."No, Carson......No!  No! CARSON!!  Get back here!" 

Carson got way too much enjoyment from that for my liking.  My family......well, they know I'm crazy....and I think even Sugar turned around and looked at me funny.......but the neighbors out in their yards must have thought that it was time.  Time to make that anonymous phone call to DHS on behalf of my children.

I'm going to try not to worry......at least, until I start waking the dog up for school or packing Beggin' Strips in Carson's lunch.       

I'm feeling quite accomplished though, as I changed out all of the closets this weekend between all of the football watching we did.  Room by room and piece by piece, I put up the swim suits and tank tops and pulled out the sweaters and jackets.  When you can look at the 10 day forecast and not see any 80's, it's time.  I don't know about you, but, for me, the changing of the closets is an all day event.  And when Blair's room is involved, it could even be likened to the changing of seasons at Dillard's.  She has an impressive inventory.

Between all of our closets, I weeded out a stack of clothes that an Olympic pole vaulter couldn't have cleared.  You know how you hold onto clothes longer than you should?  I always think, "Yeah, I may wear that with a top under it and some boots".  When it's five autumns later and you still haven't worn it with anything........as Elsa would say......"Let it go".      

It was absolutely beautiful weather this weekend.  Blair and I went walking and I mentioned to her that I'd lost 5 pounds in my recent attempts to lower my triglycerides.  I asked if she could tell and her response....."Well, you've got on a loose shirt, so I can't really tell, but you don't look like you've gotten any bigger".  Children are, indeed, a gift from God.

Yeah, I weighed Friday morning and when my weight flashed on the digital screen, I picked up the scale, opened the battery compartment, and started to jiggle them around.  You know you've been at the same weight for a while when you suspect battery failure before weight loss.  Anyway, I'm proud of myself, I suppose.

I've limited desserts and a few sips of Coke to only the weekends.  It gives me something to live for.  Last weekend, I made an upside down German chocolate cake when we had company and my eyes rolled so far back into my head that I actually saw my brain stem.  And when I take my five or six sips of weekend Coke, you can hear the moaning from down the street.  It's really pathetic. 

I'm going to be so mad when they come out and say that high triglycerides aren't really a big deal like they once thought.  You know it's coming.....and someone will pay for my suffering.

Hope everybody has a happy Monday!! 



      



           

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Learning the Rules of the Road

Well, Davis has started working with Carson on his driving.  Yeah, he's got several months before he can get his driver's permit and be legal on the roadways, but we don't let that stop us here in Mississippi.  What we do is.....we take them to their grandparents' pasture land and start their lessons out in the middle of nowhere.....where they can't mame anyone.  Sure, it poses a threat to the wildlife and the fence rows, but trust me.....it is in the best interest of mankind to do it this way.

I, myself, have washed my hands of giving kids driving lessons.  Blair almost did me in.  My knuckles stayed white as they clutched the door handle.....my legs held out straight and rigid.....my heart pounding......screaming at the top of my lungs, "For goodness' sake, Blair, slow down!"......."Mom, I'm going 25!"  It's amazing how fast 25 seems from the passenger seat next to a new teen driver, who doesn't have the foggiest idea what she's doing.  It feels like supersonic speed.   

I decided I just don't have what it takes to teach the children to drive.  Maybe it's my need to be in control.  Maybe it's my lack of patience.  Maybe it's my desire to live.  I don't know but I've never really enjoyed careening off the road or traveling in the wrong lane.  I'm just silly that way.

None of that seems to bother Davis, so I just make sure the insurance premiums are paid and send them on their way.  I mean....I birthed the children.  He can teach them how to drive.  Both situations are frightful and laborious and can benefit from the use of heavy medication.     

I remember when my Daddy taught me to drive.  He made all of us, kids, learn to drive on a stick shift, so that we'd always have that ability.  We always started off in the church parking lot.  I don't know why.  I don't know if he felt that being near the Lord's house would offer us an extra measure of protection or if he just thought it would look upstanding if his obituary read that he'd died at church.  Either way, when you mastered the church parking lot, then you graduated to some quiet, desolate roads.  It was a while before we got into any traffic.  He'd make me stop on a hill and take off again.  After rolling halfway back down, I'd either finally get it going in the right direction or it would go dead and he'd grab the emergency brake.     

Yeah, when Carson went driving the other day, I thought........well, here we go.  Driving is that one colossal step that they take away from you.  It's the step that makes them more independent.  When they start to drive, they don't need you quite as much.  It's the end of an era. 

We've ridden together for so long.....since he was in the middle of the back seat in his rear facing baby seat.  He'd scream when his pacifier fell out and I'd try to do what I could from the front......dislocating my shoulder or whatever it took to get it back into his mouth.  Then he got big enough to turn around and I could see his little face in the rearview mirror.....asking me to play the Barney song one more time.  Next came the booster seat....all those years of finding Goldfish and Cheerios between the seats and, oh, the sippy cups with curdled milk that would surface after a month or two.  For years, he patiently sat in the back waiting until he would finally weigh enough to sit up front with me, where he could, at last, reach the radio knobs. 

I've taken him to preschool, soccer practice, orthodontist appointments, baseball games, church activities, and birthday parties.  I've picked him up from school when he was sick or had hurt feelings.  I've sat and listened to him talk non-stop for our entire ride home....spitting out all the details from camp.  I've smelled the sweaty, little boy smell that would fill up the car after ball practice.  I've driven him to the doctor, while he filled up a barf bag that I was so glad I brought.  I've run myself ragged going from one thing to the next.  Somehow, oddly enough, I'm not ready to give that up.  I know things won't ever be quite the same.

I remember when Blair drove off all alone for the first time.  She drove herself to church on the day that she got her license.  There's nothing like that feeling.  There your baby goes...off to maneuver the highways, four way stops, the turn lanes and railroad tracks. 

What if she doesn't stop?  What if she forgets to merge?  What if she causes road rage?  What if? What if?  What if?  A mother's mind can be her worst enemy.  When they leave the house in a car.....no matter how much you trust them......there will always be visions of daughters like this......

 
 
and sons like this.......
Yeah....this is not the most relaxing time of parenthood. 
 
So, the way I look at it.......I have a little time before I will have to release my last baby out into the streets.  To find his own way.  To make more of his own decisions.  To need me less.   

There will be fewer moments with the captive audience that my moving vehicle provides.   

It's coming. 

Too soon.    

           

Monday, October 13, 2014

What Were You Made to Do?

This past Saturday night, our house was full of family.  SEC football was on the television and food was in the oven.  There was a fire going outside and people were in and out.  We'd gathered to celebrate my mother's birthday and there was a lot going on with the children playing and adults visiting and cheering at the TV.  

You know what it's like when you're in a house full of your family.....all these people who you're linked with genetically.  Kids were running through the kitchen with their family signature brown eyes and thick heads of hair.....only a couple of pairs of blue eyes in the whole crowd.  I was sitting there noticing all the little things.  My nephew, Lelan....his ears look just like my brother's ears.  The veins on the back of my hands stick out just like my mother's.  I think my niece, Lily, looks a lot like my paternal grandmother.  My big brother, Zane, got our Daddy's broad shoulders and his pent up energy that causes him to bounce his leg up and down when he's sitting.  My brother, Lee, and Blair both have large mouths.....literally.....their smiles stretch all the way across their faces and even seem to touch their ears.  My niece, Erin, and I have my maternal grandfather's small feet.  Carson got the worst of the family allergies, but his Grandpa's sense of humor, too.  My nephew, Casey, talks just like my brother and got his love for the outdoors.       

We have some receding hairlines and some full heads of hair.  We have loud and bubbly personalities and some that are more reserved.  We have some quick wits and some are a little more serious.  We have some cholesterol problems, some fast heart rates, hay fever, a lot of allergies, and some serious stubborn streaks.  We've got a few short fuses and some really long ones.  We've got some worriers and some who don't even know what the word means.  We've got readers and TV watchers and sports fans.  We've got savers and spenders.  Some who are tall and some who wish they were.   

Genes are so fascniating to me.  They may be the explanation for your aversion to cilantro, the inability to curl your tongue, and your obsession with being on time.  Could be why you've never liked your nose or how your hair frizzes in the humidity.  Maybe they're why everyone tells you that you have a funny laugh and probably how you got the nickname, Red or Stretch.  Could be the reason you're never asked to sing a solo in church, but always get called to teach the children.  They're probably the reason your pantry is perfectly organized into categories.....or either in such disarray that the door won't close.  Could explain why you go to bed early and tend to be a little introverted.  They could be why you had to start getting mammograms early or the reason why you're taking insulin.  Probably responsible for your adventurous spirit or your even-temperedness.......why you're the life of the party, afraid of heights, or don't sleep well.  They're what make you a good tennis player and a whiz in math and most likely why we can't read your handwriting.

There are an infintite number of combinations that are pulled together to make us who we are.  Even on Saturday night, in my house full of related people with so many similarities, we were all so different.  Even those with the same parents can be like day and night. 

My older brother is so rugged....a real outdoorsman.  If you could see his truck, you'd know that organization and cleanliness are not a priority for him.  If you find dirt on your floor, it most likely came in on his boots.  Weekends find him in the woods or on the water.  He could survive if you dropped him off in the middle of nowhere with no problem.  He's very affectionate, loves babies, and has a big heart.  He's got a lot of drive and is always in a hurry.  Every single, free moment is spent hunting, camping, or fishing and he does them with unbelievable passion.   

My younger brother is more of an athlete.  He's the rock climber and bicyclist and has even been revisiting his old paintball days lately.  He enters these bike races that are designed to make you contemplate if maybe you'd rather die than finish.  He likes a challenge and doesn't always follow the conventional path.  He's a kid at heart.  He's the one in shorts and sandals at Christmas.  He's witty, very generous, laid back, and will likely never suffer from high blood pressure.  He's very loveable but not as apt to show his feelings.  He's always good for a laugh.
            
Me?  Well, while one's out biking up steep mountain paths in races that last for days while munching on protein bars......and the other is off fishing for 24 hours straight and then sleeping on a rock, I'm just over here like......hey, I think I'll watch some TV today...maybe blog....take a nap.  I may be more organized and....um....cleaner than my older brother but, if you left me in the middle of nowhere, I'd be dead by sunset.  And while I may be more appropriately dressed at Christmas than my little brother, I wish I had his appetite for a challenge.  I like to stick to the flat, straight roads....thank you.                                 

Every person represents a unique mixture of traits.  Each person with their own strenghts and weaknesses and quirks and hang-ups and gifts and peculiarities.   

Maybe you got your Dad's healthy sense of humor to get you through some rough years when you'd need to find the humor in your situation in order to survive it.  Your Mom's attention to details may help you succeed and advance in your job....helping you provide for your family.  The stubbornness from your grandfather may be needed to fight for something you believe in and can't let go of in good conscience. Your grandmother's tender heart may cause you help people, who would've, otherwise, been overlooked and one of your children may need that patience you get from her, too.  You may have a dose of your aunt's perseverance to help you through a battle with cancer.  Your uncle's outgoing personality may be what will help you witness to your neighbors.  The creativity that popped up in you from a couple of generations back may be just what your church needs.         

God had an idea for you.....He drew your plans, laid your foundation, constructed you, wired you, and put on your finishing touches.  You are custom built. 

There is a special purpose that you were created for and you're gifted specifically for those plans.  He has work that only you can do. 

We're all needed!

Let's not go to waste!


 



    



     



      



    

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Bits and Pieces

This has been a crazy week with Carson's fall break and then his nine week exams along with cleaning and getting ready for company this weekend and planning for my mother's belated birthday dinner and another big ballgame on Saturday.  I've been off of my blogging schedule as I've been just a little distracted.  There are only a few topics on which I can offer a report......

*  School picture day has been deemed a success.  We can all breathe a sigh of relief that Carson will be depicted in a pleasing manner in the coming yearbook.  He did the family proud and has broken the cycle of bad school pictures which was set in motion by his preceding generation.
 
The grandmothers have received their copies and were tickled as grandmothers tend to be about new 5x7s of their little descendants.  I'm sure they have already replaced last year's picture in their frames and their wallets are loaded and ready to assault unsuspecting victims with the fresh material. 

*  Carson had a question about his algebra while he was studying for his exam last night.  Let's be honest for just a minute.  Do you panic when you see that algebra book coming at you with a....."Mom?"  I mean....I consider myself to be somewhat functionally intelligent, but when he comes at me with that algebra manure, my mind goes completely blank.  It is learned material that I have not used since the fall of 1986.  Do you know how many cerebral layers of information I would have to dig through to get back to 1986?   

You hate for your child to see that you, a college graduate, can't do his 9th grade math homework.....so I always do what any dysfunctional mother would do....."Son, I've got to get supper ready....go ask your father."  It was really so convenient when Blair was still at home.  I'd just send him to her.  Algebra is still freshly etched into her mind.....not like mine which has scabbed over...leaving only an ugly scar where Algebra once was.   

*  I don't know about where you live, but the wheels have completely come off of our fall down here.  It was 89 degrees today as it is predicted to be for the rest of the week!  That's the way fall goes in the south.  This is why we don't get too excited too fast.  You get all giddy about a cool weather spell and then, day by day, the temps slowly climb back up into the "I wish I was dead" range.  I see we'll be back down in the 70's next week if we can just hold on tight. 

Anyway, I went out today to buy some mums and pumpkins for my front porch.  Walking around the nursery in the humidity and loading the plants in the hot sun ....by the time I got home, I was burning UP....slap up as we like to say down here.  One ought not burn up when shopping for pumpkins.....something about that is just so wrong.  I got home and stripped my jeans and three quarter length sleeves off as, apparently, I was living in an autumn fantasy world when I got dressed this morning.      

*  And finally, not that you'll care the least little bit, but our Mississippi teams are on the cover of the latest Sports Illustrated and the ESPN College Game Day bus rolled into Starkville, Mississippi today as they will feature MSU(#3) vs. Auburn(#2) on Saturday and our quarterback is now considered a Heisman favorite.  Too much more of this and we'll all need some calming medication.

I plan on watching a lot of football, eating good, and spending time with my sweet family this weekend!  I'll be back in full swing next week! 

Happy, Happy Weekend to everybody!!           



          

  

Monday, October 6, 2014

Victory is Sweet

Oh, we had the most wonderful weekend!  Being there to see Mississippi State beat Texas A&M, spending a little time with Blair and the weather turning cooler, it was just the stuff that fairytales are made of.   Mississippi State and Ole Miss are now tied for #3 in the AP poll, so surely we are living in the last days.  I haven't found it in the Bible, but it has to be a sign.  The last time MSU and UM were both in the top 10 at the same time was back in...... never.   Bless our hearts......there are a lot of wonderful things that our state and universities are well known for, but being in the top 5 in the football rankings is not really one of them.  It kind of feels like your first day of high school.  You know you belong there, but hanging out with the big kids will take a little getting used to.  We're all just a little beside ourselves.  Go, Mississippi!! 

We went to the early 11:00 game and the weather was picture perfect.....not a cloud in the azure blue sky.  The only drawback to the whole cloudless thing was that Carson and I got these horrific sunburns on the right side of our bodies, while Davis, who sat on the opposite side of the stadium with his brother, got burned on his left side.  We look like we all fell asleep on the beach for a couple of hours in some really awkward positions. Of course, I had to be wearing a V-neck shirt with a necklace, so those outlines have been burned into my flesh like a brand.  I will carry that around for a while. 
 
Blair made an appearance on the jumbotron during the game and then in this picture that was in an article.  She's directly in the center of the photo framed by the guy in the white shirt and some guy's armpit.....with her shades on and her mouth wide open.  With media exposure like this, I'm afraid she won't be able to go anywhere without being recognized now.
 
The stadium was packed for one of our biggest games of the season.  I love watching people in a crowd like that.  We were surrounded by the Whitman sampler of fans. No matter what sporting event you go to or where it is, you're going to experience one of each of the different fan flavors. 
 
The guy in front of us was that guy who never sits down.  I mean.....I stand up at pivotal moments like 3rd downs, kickoff, and red zone action, but a fella ought to sit down when the other team has the ball and it's first down and we're winning 34-10.  Let's rest a bit, sir.  On the other side of him was the obligatory negative Nancy.  I don't care how far ahead we were, she had to point out what they could've been doing better.  Then you have the experts, who apparently played football all through college, won the Heisman trophy, and had just retired from a 12 year career with the NFL as they were calling all the plays that needed to be run.  We had a couple of those fans who either had a bladder problem or were renowned doctors who were on call as they were back and forth....back and forth for the entire game.  Then there was the overly thoughtful fan who remembered that Carson was allergic to peanuts as she swapped seats with friends to get her boiled peanuts away from him.  One thing they all had in common was that everyone was courteous and cheering for the same cause.....except for the lone A&M fan seated two rows ahead of us, who mysteriously disappeared around halftime.  Bless his heart.        
We saw Blair long enough to feed her, but we'll take what we can get!  She'll be home in a couple of weeks and we can't wait!
Since we had to get up so early Saturday morning to get to the game, I was a little drowsy by the time we got home from church yesterday.  I told myself that I was going to stretch out for about 30 minutes and then get up and enjoy the beautiful day.  Three and a half hours later, I regained consciousness.  The emotional ballgame must have taken more out of me than I realized.   I was suffering from what might best be described as a football hangover.  Whew! 

Surely by tomorrow, the dust will settle in my mind and I can move past the polls, articles, and replays and think of something else to write about!  But for now........

Go State!!!      


             

Thursday, October 2, 2014

That's Offensive

I was watching the news as I got ready this morning and, during the span of about 30 minutes, there were FOUR stories that talked about people or groups that had recently been offended by one thing or another.  Now I'm not talking about serious things that go against our spiritual beliefs......we won't go there.  I'm just talking about petty issues that keep people's undergarments all up in a wad.

Understand that I'm not advocating being insensitive or cruel with our words.  I'm certainly not on the side of bullying, discrimination, or hate.  I'm just saying that it might be time we quit being so touchy, give each other the benefit of the doubt, and implement what our Mamas taught us....."in one ear and out the other".

Weary of the repeating "offensive" stories, I thought about what a bunch of big babies we've become. You remember that kid, Cindy, in your fourth grade class, who was always sullen and whining that someone hurt her feelings?  Every class had a Cindy.  Each day would find her complaining about what this person did and what that person said.  It was like walking on eggshells when you were around Cindy.  You never knew when you might say something that would offend her even though you didn't mean to.  Cindy was always eager to be offended and even more eager to tell everybody just how offended she was.     

Well, we've become a big bunch of "Cindys".  (In the spirit of being sensitive, I hope I don't offend any of my readers named Cindy.....I just pulled that name out of the air.....I do apologize.....and it could, just as easily, have been "Jim" or "Billy"....so no underlying insinuation intended there.)  

The list of things that we can say is getting shorter and shorter as the tabooed list is growing by the day.  And the things you can say today, you may not be able to say tomorrow..... it's a fluid list.....and so you have to try to keep up.  We've become so self absorbed and thin-skinned that we have no mercy or tolerance for any kind of faux pas or human slip.  It's all about us and we will take you down.....all the way to the very door of destruction....if you misspeak or have a lapse in judgment or even if we just perceive that you've misspoke.  There's no room for error.

Companies pull million dollar ads and release long, groveling, apologetic statements to appease their offended potential buyers....just ask Pepsi, GM, Budweiser, and Coca-Cola to name a few.  GM pulled an ad targeting college students which implied to some that riding a bicycle around campus was uncool.  This caused an uproar from the League of American Bicyclists.  GM caved under the pressure. 

Now listen, my little brother is a BIG cyclist.  He rides in these ridiculously brutal endurance races and, rain or shine, even bikes to work every day......and to the store....and any other time he gets the chance, but not once do I recall him expressing his displeasure with GM or tweeting about how insulted he was or marching while holding up a sign calling for a boycott.  It was almost like his life was totally unaffected by the ad.  He must be out of his mind!  Who misses the perfect opportunity to be offended???         

Politicians are constantly offending some group in their voting public when they speak.  Of all people, you hate to feel sorry for them, but the trap's baited and set for them around elections.  There are about 8 words that are safe to use in a political speech now and those are as follows.....strawberry, Arbor Day, sunshine, antelope, clarinet, waffles, peace, and autoharp.  These words have been approved as having no offensive qualities whatsoever....nor can they be misconstrued in any way.  Try making a speech out of that...... but veer too far from those and your poll numbers will sink like an anchor.  (I apologize if that sounded derogatory toward anchors.)     

Celebrities, athletes, and news anchors are always issuing apologies for tweets or comments that weren't thought out properly or that were taken the wrong way by some circle.  They're another group you hate to feel sorry for, but everything they say is examined closer than your Pap smear.  Agents and PR firms are in constant motion, putting out fires, dialing comments back, and smoothing things over.     

And you can't help but feel sorry for men.  They don't know how to act anymore.  Apparently, opening a door or offering a seat to a woman is offensive to some as if it signals that we are a weak sex.  I don't know about you, but you let a rattlesnake crawl up in my garage or the 10 foot Christmas tree need to come down from the attic and I don't care what it implies......DAVIS!! 

There are no longer such words as a fireman, salesman or chairman, so don't make that mistake.....it's firefighter, salesperson, or chairperson.  Apparently, there were some people who couldn't sleep at night knowing the word, man, was in those titles.  I can see their point though.  It is quite troublesome even when lined up alongside world hunger, persecution, and disease. 

If a man calls a group of women ladies, then I've heard he's being derogatory as the word, lady, originated in a time when women owned nothing and had few rights.  I can see how some would rather be referred to in a more politically correct manner.   "Good evening...how are you, Homo sapiens with two X chromosomes?"  It does have a nice ring to it.  Let's go with that. 

And in case you're not up to date, you can no longer use the term, founding fathers, when talking about our country's beginnings as it projects a tone of sexism.  No matter what the realities of the day were, from this point on, you should only refer to them as the founders.  This will help us all cope better emotionally with any inequalities in our history.

Did you know that those of us with furry creatures are no longer pet owners, but pet guardians?  The reasoning is simple....it is now less acceptable to own animals, so we shouldn't even imply that concept.  This is offensive to some two legged creatures.  I don't think Sugar really cares what I call myself as long as I keep her favorite Caesar dinner flavors in the cabinet under the sink and an ample supply of Beggin' Strips on hand.  If you must use the title, pet owner, please be considerate enough to not do it front of them, at least.          

People who are in our country illegally are now just undocumented.  Illegal is such an ugly word.  We wouldn't want law breakers to get their feeling hurt.  And by all means, please don't use the word, terrorists, when referring to murderers who behead innocent people in the name of their cause.  It is an act of workplace violence.  Worst case....they are violent extremists.  There's a big difference.  How would you like it if someone called you a terrorist?  Sit and think about that for a while. 

Yes, nowadays we can get offended by everything from mascots, Jeopardy categories, breastfeeding, cartoons, job titles, children's toys, and recently even our own flag seems to offend some of us.  We get offended if you're not offended.  We get offended if you are offended.  We get offended if you offended an offender.  We get offended on behalf of the offended.  We get offended just to hear ourselves offended.  We get offended for the sake of being offended.  We just like to be offended....but don't say that out loud because that would be offensive. 

I can't imagine what we could get accomplished if we would use all of the energy that we invest in being offended into changing something that is worth fighting for....if we focused on making a difference in things that really mattered.  I think it's time we evaluate what's important, what's worth our time, and what really isn't.  Maybe we should raise the threshold of our indignation just few notches.

Please don't get offended, but there are more noble and worthy causes than our feelings.

Hope y'all have a great weekend!