Monday, July 20, 2015

This Heat Though

So, I don't know about where you live, but it is HOT down here in Mississippi.  It's not the pretty kind of hot anymore either.  You know how, in all movies that are set in the South, we're sitting around, glistening in our perspiration all day, but, if you'll notice, we always manage to look sexy. 

Well, we're past that now.  June may have found us looking sultry with our tiny beads of sweat, but's "done got ugly" down here.  It's so hot, we don't even care anymore.  You open the door and about three seconds after that 96 degrees with 88% humidity hits your face, you're going to look about as fresh as an old, sticky string mop and that's just all there is to it. 

The heat just brings out the ugly in me.  Ugly lookin'.  Ugly actin'.  Ugly thinkin'.  It must also bring out the southern inclination to drop my g's.    

Y'all know how I feel about summer.  Its only redeeming quality is the absence of an alarm clock.  In my estimation, it is the least among God's glorious creations.  Every now and then, I just have to state my disdain publicly in case anyone has any question about my feelings on the matter.    

My family just got home from New Orleans, speaking of steamy southern spots.  It was a multipurpose trip.  Carson had a very fruitful doctor's appointment at Ochsner for his aggravating eczema and Blair had an appointment at Tulane about a nutrition internship, which she may be interested in next year.  I missed the trip because of obligations here, but they kept me in the loop with their braggadocios texts.
When in New Orleans, eat as the New Orleanians do. 
Can you see how lost they look without me?  Kind of a hollow look in their eyes. 
Miserable, I tell you. 

I've decided to take the next two weeks off to spend with my kids before they go back to school.    Blair will start her senior year in college and we'll be moving her into a new apartment soon.  Carson is finally home from all of his trips and starts school on August 5, so we'll all need a little together time before we start to break off and get busy again. 

So, that's what I'm going to do.  I'm going to shut 'er down for a couple of weeks and love on my babies for a while.   

I'll see you on August 2! 



Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A Public Service Announcement

So, I got home from the Atlanta market last night.  Blair and I had a very successful buying trip and ordered some awesome things for the two stores.  I take her along as the representative voice of the younger consumer.  She either gives me the nod or wrinkles her nose when I ask her opinion about something that is beneath my years.  We make a good pair.  We also logged over 16,000 steps on her Fitbit everyday, so I felt very accomplished on so many levels.        

I came home to a mammogram appointment this morning.  I believe we broached this subject last year, but it's one that bears repeating.  I'm sure my mother's face is starting to feel flush as she senses that I'm about to use the word, "breast" online......and men, if any of you choose to leave before we get started today, we won't judge.    

Yeah, it was time.  Time to go have the ol' bosoms rolled out like a pie crust.  I think the mammogram is the only medical test that requires you to completely flatten out the body part in question, so that they can get a good look at it.  This would never fly with any of the man parts.  I feel sure that someone would come up with a better way real quick like.

In my mind, the mammogram can be likened to many things..... 

-Like lifting the hood of your car, placing your bosoms above its grill, and, at your command, having your husband slam the hood shut and then pull the hood release 30 seconds later. 

-Like going out onto a highway, where there is road construction, lying down on your side across the fresh asphalt and having the steamroller back over your breast.  Turn and repeat. 

-Like inserting your bosoms into the paper feed of the copy machine at work and clicking "Print". 

-Like pressing wildflowers in a stack of World Book Encyclopedias only with much less appealing results that you wouldn't want to frame and hang in your bathroom. 

-Like extruding your breasts through a Play-Doh Fun Factory as someone has done here.... 

You get the idea.    

How ever you prefer to think of it, it is one of those slightly uncomfortable, yet necessary, tests that we, women, must endure to insure that we stay healthy for our families and continue to help them find things they've lost.

Today, there were about four of us, ladies, sitting and waiting in the back together.  All in our robes open to the front, of course.  There we were.  All ages and sizes.  There were some younger bosoms, which were still proud and perky.  Middle-aged breasts that had started their flight south.  And large, grandmotherly bosoms, which had probably served as a head rest for many-a-sleeping baby......all there waiting to be smooshed and squooshed.  We chatted and got to know each other.  Some names were even exchanged.  You know, there is a sisterhood among women, who meet in such places.  We can sympathize with each other's preventative and diagnostic plight.  We all have those same nooks and crannies which must be checked once a year.

So, don't forget to schedule your mammogram and "that other yearly visit".  They're among the most important things you can do for yourself and your family. 

Without you, they would starve.
You wouldn't want that.

Y'all have a good Thursday! 




Thursday, July 9, 2015

The Least of These

I'm sure where we live is a lot like most places.  There are certain areas of our town where you're almost guaranteed to see homeless people or people asking for money- a lot of cardboard signs with sad stories scribbled across them. 

It's my usual custom to pass right by them, while trying not to make any eye contact.  Without fail, Carson would ask why we couldn't help them and I'd give him different variations of the same explanation....."If they're really hungry, there's a soup kitchen that serves 2 free meals a day and it's just a mile from here and, besides, most of these people are con artists and go straight to the liquor store with any money they get".  I mean, apparently, his young, na├»ve heart needed to be schooled in the ways of the world, right? 

Every time we were out and about together, I'd find myself giving him the same excuses.  "We help people in other ways," I'd explain to make myself feel better.  I'd rattle off the things we do with our money to help others as we drove right past the homeless, the dirty, and the disheveled.  I noticed he was never satisfied with my answers though.  He'd stare out his car window at them and I could tell he was grappling with the whole thing.

One day, I started feeling dissatisfied with my own answers.  Surely, I was being convicted about it.  I thought about Carson and how Davis and I have always known that God has, undoubtedly, given him the gifts of compassion, giving, and serving others.......and there I was throwing cold water on a fire that was put inside of him by the Good Lord himself.  That's certainly not something you want to be caught doing as a parent. 

I saw an idea online of packing one gallon storage bags with everything from a washcloth, soap, tooth brush and toothpaste, nail clippers, Slim Jims, peanut butter crackers, wipes, Pop-Tarts, applesauce, etc. and keeping them in your car for times when you encounter someone asking for help.  We went shopping for items like that and made a stack of care packages.  Carson thought it would be a good idea to include a Bible verse and he had a couple that he thought were appropriate.......

"Don't be afraid, for I am with you.  Don't be discouraged, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you.  I will hold you up with my right hand."
Isaiah 41:10
"For God so loved the world; He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life." 
John 3:16
We printed them out and put the box full of bags into our car. 

This week, we've handed out three so far.  In all three cases, I could see that it gave him so much joy to do something......anything for them. 

I've been thinking about all of that a good we allow life to harden us as we get older.  We've been around the block a time or two and we've seen some things.  We've heard the news and the stories of fraud.  We've had friends who've been burned before.  We've watched the government pour our money into welfare programs and we've seen the abuse of that in our checkout lines.  We wonder how anyone, this day and time, could possibly be in need with all the safety nets we have in place.  And, if we're not careful, we can become cynical, suspicious, cold, and unmoved. 

As Carson has passed those bags through our car window this week, I've had the chance to look into the eyes of the recipients.....the grateful recipients, I might add.  I don't know the story behind their eyes.  I don't know if they're legit or if they're taking us all for a ride.  I just know that they're God's children, too, and my son's heart wanted to do something for them and who was I to tell him he shouldn't.  I don't ever want to be a roadblock on a path that God has called my children to travel and I feel like that's exactly what I was being. 

I guess it would do us good to try and see the world more like our children do........before the callouses of time and experience started to grow.  Before our hard opinions formed and life started to create a tough shell around us.  Sometimes, it takes young eyes to point out things that ours can no longer see. 

This is not a post about what a great kid we have or what good parents we must be or how nice we are to help and I don't want any comments left to that effect.  No, this is just about how I had become blinded by my own cynical ideas of who was worthy of our help and who wasn't, but my son's fresh eyes have given me a new perspective.

He has reminded me of something that I once knew.....something that I'd just forgotten.

Give the cup of cold water and God will do the judging. 
"Then He will answer them,
'I assure you:
           Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did
         not do for Me either.' "
Matthew 25:45
(Going to market for a few days, so I'll see you next week when I get back!)

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Everything's A-OK

It's been a day.  We moved all of Blair's stuff home from college in two packed out vehicles.  I rode home surrounded by a large and varied assortment of potential deadly projectiles.  There was an ironing board behind my head, who dared me to slam on my brakes. 
She has a 3 week layover between one apartment and the next, which means all of her things are now at our house.......our recently purged house, I might add.  All of my glorious, cleared out space is occupied...once again.  While I'm glad to have her home, this hospitable feeling does not extend to all of her college things.  I'm coping by rocking back and forth in a fetal position and trying to think about a happy let's talk about Sesame Street.   
I know you've heard by now.  Maria is leaving Sesame Street after 44 years.  She came on the scene about the time I started watching the show. 

Wait, WHAT?!??! 

It's got me wondering how you write someone's exit in a kids' show after so many years.  It's not like they can take her out like Dr. McDreamy.....all bloody and run over by a car and it would be unseemly to have her leave Luis and run off with Bob to Vegas, but I digress.   
Classic Sesame Street was a huge part of my childhood.  Every day at 4:00, you'd find me mesmerized with my mouth hanging open, sitting in front of the old Zenith TV.......but not too close, because that would cause blindness according the mothers of the 70's.
In honor of Maria's retirement from the Fix-It Shop on Sesame Street, I thought I'd post my Top 10 Sesame Street memories.  Here they are, in no particular order, because, well, it's impossible to rank such works of genius.   

1)  Who didn't like the ball roller coaster?  I always wished I could get my hands on one of these.  Sometimes, the ball ended up on the top of ice cream and what have you, but this was my favorite...   

2)  I don't know why, but this is burned into my gray matter forever.  One day, when I'm sitting in a nursing home with no idea of who or where I am, I can almost guarantee that I'll still be able to sing this one.  Good luck getting this out of your head today.  You'll be hating me by afternoon.  
3)  I was a big fan of Guy Smiley and his game show, Beat the Clock.  I guess he was the muppet version of Bob Barker.  I loved how he always had trouble coming out from behind the curtain.  And I was a HUGE, hardcore Count fan, so when he was the contestant, it was my favorite. 

4)  The aliens trying to figure out the telephone....the radio.....and the clock.  LOVE!  Yep, yep, yep, yep, yep. 

5)  Grover was a close second to the Count as far as my favorite Sesame characters go.  Grover, the waiter........oh, my word.....the best.      
6)  You couldn't help but love Ernie and Bert.  Bert reminds me of Davis when it's past his bedtime.         

7)  There were lots of kids on Sesame Street during the years that I watched, but John John is the only one I still remember.  Wonder where he is now?  Hope he faired better than the average child star.   

8)  Watching this one takes me right back to 1973 in my saddle oxfords.  I attribute my ability to count to 12 without bobbling to this...... 

9)  "They're the people that you meet when you're walking down the street.  They're the people that you meet each daaaaaaaaaaay."   Again, when you find yourself humming this at your desk......You're welcome.   

10)  Ok, I loved "One of these things is not like the others".  You'd be screaming at the TV, "that one on the bottom" until they finally lit up the correct answer at the end of the song.  This exercise is probably responsible for my relentless attention to details and slight bent toward OCD.   
11)  Ok, I can't stop myself!  "Hi-Ho, Kermit the Frog here".....Back when news journalists were trustworthy and reported all the facts and nothing but the facts.  Note Kermit did not claim to put Humpty back together again, Brian. 
12)  Last one.  I promise.  He's just my fave!  It's a wonder I didn't grow to be a mathematician or accountant or something.  Twelve......twelve Sesame Street clips.....ah, ah, ah, ah! (cue the thunder and lightning)  
Clearly, I have some issues with the whole growing up thing. 
Good stuff.  Good times. 
Thanks for the memories, Maria. 
Night, y'all.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Love Thy Neighbor

Well, a few weeks ago, we received some sad news.

The cool neighbors are moving. 

We were so distraught with the thought of no longer seeing their precious children playing golf out on the front lawn.  No one wearing fedoras.  No matching sweater vests.  No slouchy beanies.  No space ship golf cart cruising the street.  No driving moccasins without socks.  No cardigans and skinny jeans.  No hair gel in gently tousled hair.   

And no one to get dressed up for when we go to the mailbox. 

No, the cool neighbors are moving to Atlanta for a promotion with his company......or, at least, that's what they're telling us.  Could have more to do with the unsightly views of their style-less neighbors, Fred and Ethel, across the street.  Maybe they couldn't stand to see Davis in one more blood donor tee from the 90's while he worked in the yard in his white socks.  Maybe it was the way I'd water my ferns without a bra first thing in the mornings.  Maybe it was the toilet paper from our trees that invariably blew over to their house every homecoming week.  Maybe it was the ill-timed sofa incident that occurred while they were teeing off.  Maybe it was when I purged the house that time and a dog got into our overflowing garbage can and littered wrappers of all descriptions across their yard.  Maybe it was our garage sale during their birthday party that was the straw that broke the camel's back.  I guess we'll never really know.

Regardless, Davis and I will be left with no fashion guidance.  No more runway show viewings from our front porch.  No Baby Gap models running through the grass.  No looking across the street to browse the "New Arrivals" at Banana Republic.  No one to model the fashions that we'll catch up to in about 6 years. 

I'm worried that without that accountability, Davis will be in Sansabelt slacks and suede Hush Puppies before you know it and watering the ferns braless may just turn into more of an all day thing for me.   

Yes, it's a sad day. 

I've just been peering out the windows as the real estate agent brings prospective buyers by to look.  Bless the new neighbors' hearts......whoever they may be.  We'll always compare them to the cool neighbors.  "The cool neighbors would've never worn that together"......"The cool neighbors would not like what they've done to their putting green"....."The cool neighbors' kids were always color coordinated when they played outside".     

I'm sure, whoever they are, they won't be near as suave or as cutting edge......unless, of course, Brad and Angelina buy the house.

I think we've loved them so much because they remind us of our younger family....I mean, minus the hair gel and slouchy beanies.  They're at a stage that we have passed.  A stage that we miss.  Yeah, we see them struggling with the car seats, settling toddler disputes, making diaper runs to the store, and calling Blair when they need a babysitter.  But, somehow, we may be a little envious.  We're on the other side of all of that.....the side where we're not needed as much.  We've seen how quickly it's all over and we want them to enjoy it while they can.  This move will help them do that and, for that, we are so happy for them.   

We're blessed with a lot of good neighbors.  It's a real treasure to live near people who are neighbors in the truest sense.  Many a delicious treat and kind gesture have come from their home to ours.  They are a precious, thoughtful, young family and we'll miss their sweet faces and friendly presence in our neighborhood. 

They are the Carmichaels.   They are good people.  They are great parents.  They are smart and talented and they are going places.

They are the cool neighbors.

And they will be missed.

With much love,

Ethel and Fred