Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Sitter

I just got home from a little trip to see Blair and I thought I'd share something that made me chuckle.  A new role in which I found myself. 

So, Blair needed a dress that was in her closet here at home for her Halloween sorority swap and I had something else to do up there today, as well, so I just spent the night.  Yeah, hanging with the college girls.  Life in the fast lane.  Feeling like a co-ed again.  Just Blair, her three sweet roomies, and myself.  Oh, and the two black lab mix puppies that they agreed to foster.  Did I forget to mention them? 

Well, when you're in your final year of college and have boyfriends and jobs and tests and sorority events and applications and internships and social service and projects, of course, it is obvious that what you need in your life are foster puppies who need to be formula fed, eating every 3-4 hours, and requiring burping.  Duh.   

Well, the girls had gone to the animal shelter a few weeks ago and told them they'd be willing to foster a dog if there was ever a need.....because, well, they're all sweet, animal-loving girls with great big hearts and they were all missing their dogs back home.   

Well, the need arose when someone left 10 puppies on the side of the road at 3 weeks of age and the animal shelter needed help getting them to the age that they could be adopted.

That brings us to our story. 
This is Scout.
This is Lucy.
So, last night, the girls got dressed up and they were all headed to the party except for one of them and she and I were on puppy duty.  The girls were ready in their costumes and before they walked out the door, they showed me where the formula was and the puppy pads and all manner of newborn canine necessities.  The kitchen was awash with bottles and syringes and puppy medicine.  The girls were like 3 nervous, new mothers hesitant to leave their newborns with a babysitter for the first time.  I was just waiting for them to write down the numbers of their doctor and poison control and an emergency plan for any scenario which might arise.  "Bye, babies......your mommies love you," they all said in an almost tentative unison chorus.  And with that, Audrey Hepburn, black cat, and hippie girl headed for the door.  We assured them that the dogs would be fine and promised to text pictures if they did anything extraordinarily cute. 
Scout and Lucy with their foster parents. 

The puppies had been sleeping soundly since I'd arrived, so I thought, "this will be a breeze."  We had the debate on the TV and I was working on the laptop, while Victoria carved a pumpkin and "dogsat" like a champ.  But, eventually she had to turn in for an early morning meeting. 

That's when things got interesting.

Naturally, the puppies starting stirring, made their way out of the pet taxi, walked right across the puppy pads, and took off in two directions......both squatting with various solids and liquids coming forth from them.  I grabbed one in one hand and ran over and grabbed the other in the other hand and ran to put them on the puppy pads, dripping the various substances all along the way.  I'd get one going on the pads and the other would run off to another spot on which she preferred to do her dealings.  I ran over and grabbed her, "No, no, no....not there.....over here!"  It was almost like they didn't understand what I was saying.    

"Ok, I think we're good now......everyone has relieved themselves and eaten and they will be out like a light in no time," I thought as I tucked them back into bed.  But, about the time I sat down, they stumbled back out, scattered in opposite directions, and started squatting again.  They were leaking like a couple of faucets.  Then, they'd walk through it and there were little urine-y footprints all over the laminate wood flooring.

(FYI: At this point, my Mama has fainted reading this. Out cold. On the floor.)

(Blair, expect a call from your grandmother today.)

Anyway, I threatened to tell their mothers, "Your mothers will not be happy if I have to call them and they have to leave their party and come home."  They seemed unfazed by my threats. 

Such little puppies.  Such big puddles. 

This was turning out to be a breeze, all right. 

A Fe-breeze.

After a couple of other incidences, I cleaned and "Chloroxed" and sanitized and, one whole roll of paper towels later, I thought....."Well, so this is where I am in life......the old, dog-sitting grandmother cleaning up puppy poop and soaking up dog urine while their mother is out soaking up the night life." 


This is what it's come to. 

I really did enjoy my stay and have to admire them for taking on such a sleep disrupting, gag inducing, patience testing job. 

Nothing like some good puppy loving though.

But, they sure are a lot of work!

Hope y'all have a good weekend! 

Sneak something good out of the children's Halloween pumpkins.    



Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Thing about Parents

"See how very much our Father loves us, for He calls us his children, and that is what we are!"  1 John 3:1

You ever notice people when they talk about their children?  Now, I'm not talking about the people who can't talk about anything else......the ones who cause everyone to scatter when they're seen coming because everyone knows they'll be forced to listen to a litany of new offspring stories, which go on until you just want to take a long, sharp object and pierce your eardrums.  No, I'm not talking about them.  But, have you ever really watched people when they're telling you something about their kids or when you talk about their kids?   I don't know any parent who doesn't like the subject.  We like it when we're asked about them.  We like to accept compliments on their behalf.  We like to watch them interact with people.  As a parent, that never gets old.              

We see it all the time.  That twinkle moms get when their kids are being discussed.  I know you've seen it in your friends' eyes and they've seen it in yours. You've probably even seen it in your parents.....the way they beam with their wallet full of pictures.  It's just a brightness that comes over our faces that we don't even realize is there.  Maybe it's because we stand back in awe of their potential and the gifts they've been given.  Maybe it's because we've been there every step of the way from what they once were to what they're now becoming.  Maybe it's because, if we look closely, we can see some of ourselves in these miracles we've been given.       

The other day, a mother came in one of the stores with her teenage daughter.  We were all talking to the teenager and I saw her mom standing back and looking at her while we chatted with the child.  I noticed the mom's face as we talked to her daughter.  It was beaming....shining like a million stars.  She didn't say a word and she didn't even know I was watching her, but her face spoke volumes and volumes and volumes about the love and pride she was feeling.  She was like an artist stepping back to admire a beautiful piece of artwork.  Her eyes were intent.  Her face was brilliant with delight.  She had a smile that went from one side to the other.  And her thoughts were almost audible, "Isn't she something?  She's really, really something and she's mine."

I thought about how many times I'd had those same feelings.....that same sense of wonderment about my own children.  The times when I was so proud that I thought I would surely explode.  Too many times to count, probably.  I'm sure it's the same for you, too. 

No one loves us quite like our parents.  No one sees us quite like they do.  They just see in a different light....from a different angle than anyone else.     

Funny thing about that is that those same parents who love us so much are also the ones who've seen the very worst in us.  They've seen us act in ways that we'd never act in public.  They've heard us talk back to them and fight with our siblings.  They've listened to our rants and watched our fits.  They've watched us be hard headed and defiant.  They know everything there is to know about us....the quirks, the hang-ups, the flaws, the weaknesses.....not just the pretty parts we parade around.......and yet they still take great joy in us. 

When I saw that mother's face, the other day, it got me thinking that God must look like that when He watches us.  He knows we're not perfect.  Have mercy, He knows that all too well.  He's seen us at our worst.  He's seen us act up.  He's watched us stomp our feet and cross our arms.  He's seen us push and shove and He's heard us talk back.  He even knows the horrible things that go through our minds, sometimes.  And yet He stands back and looks over at us and thinks, "Isn't she something?  She's really, really something and she's mine". 

After all, we are His creation.  He sees our beautiful potential and the gifts we've been given.  He's been there every step of the way from what we once were to what we're now becoming.  And, hopefully, if He looks closely, He can see some of Himself in us.

"And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me," says the Lord Almighty."    2 Corinthians 6:18
"He will take joyful delight in you.  In His love, He will renew you with His love; He will celebrate with singing because of you."  Zephaniah 3:17

Y'all have a good one!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Like Day and Night

It was 5:45 a.m. on a Saturday morning and I heard Davis' alarm going off in the darkness.  He turned it off and shot up out of the bed....all alert and ready to start a new day.  He headed straight for the shower without a moment's hesitation.  I don't ever remember him using his snooze button.  Ever.  No, it's as new and as shiny as the day he bought it, while mine is worn down to a "ZE" button now.  Snooze buttons are, obviously, for people who aren't nearly as excited about starting their day as he always is. 

As I readjusted myself for another 3 or 4 hours of sleep, I turned over, stretched out onto his side of the bed, reached for his pillow, and wondered what would possess a person to get up so early on their day off.   But, I couldn't worry about that right then.  I had more sleeping to do. 

He always dresses, fixes his coffee, eats his breakfast, feeds the dog, reads his Bible, and finds something that he can start working on.  It doesn't have to be anything pressing or major.....just something to do.  Washing cars, vacuuming cars, cleaning the garage, raking, changing oil, finishing reports for work. 

By 7:30, I'm sure he's thinking to himself, "Is she going to sleep the day away? She's missing everything......the sunrise, the birds singing, the morning fog, the glistening dew, the peace and quiet.  How can anyone sleep through this most wonderful time of the day?"  At 9:00, after he's been up almost 4 hours, I'm sure he starts to contemplate if he should go check me for a pulse.

He's learned, though, to leave me alone and let my sleep cycle run its foreign as it seems to him.  He knows to "Let her sleep for when she wakes she will move mountains".  Well, ok...maybe not move mountains, but I'll get some stuff done. 

Davis is that guy who likes to go into work early so he can get off early.  He's the one who asks the receptionist for the first appointment of the morning.  He's the one who wishes sunrise services weren't just for Easter.  He finds out what time businesses open, so he can be there first thing.  He's the morning exerciser.  He's the parent who gets the children anywhere they need to be before 8:00 a.m.  He's in charge of letting in the dishwasher repairman, who can only come at 7:00.  He's got early morning dog duty and will cut off my alarm if he sees the school has a snow day. He was always good with the 5 or 6:00 a.m. baby bottles.   

He feels alive in the morning.            

I've always been enamored with that about him.....even intrigued.           

I finally emerged from the bedroom around 9:30 and stumbled past his office and into the kitchen.  He greeted me with a cheerful, "good morning".  "Uuuuuuuhhhh", I replied....wondering how people can be so happy in the morning.  My eyes were out of focus and my head was feeling achy...throbbing even....from the coma from which I'd just awakened.  I got something to drink and sat down in my chair.  I have to sit for 30 minutes in complete silence, staring off into the distance, responding to questioning with nonsensical grunts while I await the blood flow to return to my brain.  After the 30 minute waiting period was over, I mustered up enough equilibrium to stand although still wobbly and felt like I was in a thick fog......except for the fact that the morning fog had burned off, at least, a couple of hours earlier.  

I'm the one who wonders why school and church have to start so early......I mean, we've got all day.  I'm the one who requests the late morning or early afternoon appointments.  I only ask what time businesses close, because I certainly won't be there when they open.  I've only seen a handful of sunrises.....well, maybe not even that many, but I'm fine with that.  I'd rather go in a later and work a little later.  I prefer to exercise at night.  I was always good with the nighttime feedings.  I'm that person who sleeps as late as possible....not allowing for one extra minute in the morning.  But, if there are kids to wait up for, I'm on duty.  If there are severe weather alerts to listen for at night, I'm on it.  If someone is sick in the wee hours, I've got that.  The dog needs to go out in the night, not a problem.      

Later that day....

Davis started yawning and talking about how late it was getting around 9:00 p.m..  I thought, "Yeah, in Rio de Janeiro, maybe".  At 9:30, he began his nightly rituals with the goal being to be in bed by 10..... occasionally even disappearing in the middle of watching a ballgame or family gatherings that are running long.  But, it's just as well as about that time... he starts to contribute less and less to conversations and begins to stare off into space.  He gets anxious if he's not going to be home at a decent hour just thinking about how terrible he'll feel the next day.  He knows that, even if he turns in late, his internal alarm will sound just as loudly at the same time the next morning.

He turned in but I was just starting to feel the best I'd felt all day.  I wondered how anyone could go to sleep so early.....something I haven't done since 6th grade.   Ok.....maybe if I had a really bad case of the flu, I could sleep at that hour.  I think, "I hate he's missing the best time of day.....the moon rising, the frogs and crickets, the late night TV, the stars shining, the peace and quiet."  There were 2 or 3 more hours still on the table as far as I was concerned and, oh, the possibilities.  I could write, do laundry, listen to music, watch Netflix, read my Bible, plan tomorrow's dinner, iron, bake.  So much productivity to be had at the end of the day. 

I just feel alive at night.       

He's always been enamored with that about me.....even intrigued.

Sometimes, days and nights get mixed up. 

Good Morning America meets The Tonight Show and they fall in love.     

Yes, sometimes, a morning bird marries a opossum.

And it works quite nicely, I must say. 

Night, night, y'all. 



Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Peanuts Revised

We watched It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown last weekend.  Yeah, I realize I don't have any small children at my house anymore, but you're never too old for a Peanuts holiday special.  Am I right? 

I don't know what it is about those short TV specials with the simple graphics from back in the 60's.....two years before I was even born.  They're timeless.  Never lose their appeal.  They bring out the nostalgia in everyone.  No matter how old you are, they remind us of being a kid.....whether we watched it on a black and white Zenith while sitting on gold shag carpet or waited for Mom to rewind it in the VCR while we read a Barney book or if it's watched in the backseat of the family SUV like they do now.

Things were a lot different back in 1966 when the Peanuts kids did Halloween.  The 2015 version would have to have some revisions, I'm afraid.  It would be knee deep on the cutting room floor after it was trimmed and tailored to suit today's standards. 

2015.....Charlie Brown receives an invitation to Violet's Halloween party all right.....except the invitation isn't the fill in the blank kind. I mean, what kind of mother would send those?  No, each invitation is fashioned from a sturdy, orange corrugated craft paper from Michael's, adorned with a friendly faced skeleton which was carefully handcut from a heavyweight ecru cardstock using an X-Acto knife, outlined and accented with a black fine point marker, complete with hinged, moveable joints using small brass brads painted ecru, all covered with a swath of stretchable faux spider webbing and carefully stuffed in a coordinating envelope adorned with special order Halloween ink stamps and packed with ghoulishly themed confetti....all sure to wow each recipient upon opening and taking Violet's mother only 3 short days to complete each one. 
Charlie Brown, Sally, and Pig Pen aren't allowed to wear sheets with cut out eye holes for costumes.....well, for obvious reasons.  Everyone knows that sheets are not flame retardant and, most likely, not organic and could very well be a tripping hazard and not to mention the field of vision is certainly not in the safe range.  Lucy is prohibited from wearing that stringed mask now because, without a breakaway Velcro closure, it could become a strangulation hazard or pop back and hit her in the eye causing permanent, irreparable damage.  Let's not even talk about Sally and the pointed end scissors without adult supervision or safety goggles.   

No, now the Peanuts gang would be in costumes made from the safest, most natural, biodegradable materials and worthy of a Broadway stage after their Moms get on Pinterest and create the masterpieces by hand.  These mothers have their crafty reputations to keep up, you know. Peppermint Patty's mother transforms her into a bubble gum machine made from a clear cellophane bodice filled with 752 slightly inflated multi-colored balloons and completed with red leggings and a glittery "25 Cents" sign affixed upon her head. Lucy's mother fashions a jaw dropping mermaid costume with a long, flowing red wig carefully woven from red organic cotton yarn and a felt tail completely covered with beautiful, iridescent sequin scales, each attached with a tiny dot of homemade, all natural, non-toxic adhesive.  Charlie Brown's mother is the talk of the street when she uses a clear umbrella, 5 rolls of curly gift ribbon, crimped crepe paper, 3 strings of LED lights, and a roll of Velcro to make Charlie Brown into a glowing jellyfish.   And Pig Pen's mother is not a believer in limiting children's choices to only those which fit within traditional gender stereotypes and orders him the princess costume of his choice from Zulily.   
The parents are, of course, in tow in the 2015 version standing right behind the children, telling them to turn around and pose for a picture at each and every doorstep so that they can fill Facebook and Instagram with the same amount of coverage one would expect to come from a United States Presidential Inauguration.  Postings are done each half hour as Mr. and Mrs. Brown are sure that there are people out there who are waiting anxiously to be updated on the status of their family's trick or treat.  Parental supervision is also needed to ensure that no candy is eaten after 8 pm as sugar always makes the children so hyper.         
The candy that flies in the trick or treat bags is adjusted to suit today's standards, too.  Before purchasing Halloween candy, labels are carefully scanned for ingredients which are known to be common allergens like peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, and soy so to avoid the possibility of a lawsuit.  Organic lollipops are a good option as they are sweetened only with natural fruit juices and, of course, bags of organic pretzels made with gluten free whole wheat flour because what child doesn't love those?  Those distributing candy containing red dye 40, suspected to be a carcinogen and contributor to ADHD, or high fructose corn syrup, blamed for our growing obesity epidemic, are frowned upon by the hovering, hand-wringing parents and will likely never be elected for office in the neighborhood homeowner's association because of their obvious lack of judgment.     
Linus is given a cut of everyone's Halloween candy as it's seen as unfair that he has no candy even though he had the same opportunity that everyone else had to go trick or treating.  It is only fair that those who did go trick or treating give some of their hard earned candy to those who slept in the pumpkin patch all night.
At the Halloween party, there are games, but there will be no winners or losers as that only serves to make the other children feel inferior, incapable, and oppressed.  Labels are avoided and each child is made to feel like they are all equal in every single way.  Bobbing for apples presents a drowning hazard, so less dangerous games are found on designed to develop camaraderie not trust games and team building exercises.  The new game,"Let's work together to remove the apples from the water with this net while wearing our life preservers" is always a crowd favorite.  The costume contest is cancelled this year, well, for obvious reasons. Everyone is a winner and receives a golden, plastic trophy to celebrate their own, unique, one of a kind, very special costume.  A picture of everyone holding their "winner" trophies is immediately posted to social media with all of the parents tagged. 
The children boo hiss when Schroeder begins to play the piano at the party and demand that they whip and nae nae instead.
The playing in the leaves scene is cut as that is seen as wasted time in which the leaves could have been decomposing in the compost bin which is located between the solar panels and the rain basin in Charlie Brown's backyard. 

Derogatory names such as "block head" and "stupid"and threatening language like "I oughta pound you" are not to be tolerated and are promptly removed so to not promote or sensationalize bullying behaviors in any way.  As an alternative, phrases like "Linus, you are special and I appreciate your uniqueness" are used by Lucy instead.  The football kicking scene is deleted as it could send the wrong message that it's ok to harm our friends.  The last thing we'd want is a copycat incident on our conscience. 

Other deleted scenes include but are not limited to those too frightening for the young.  Bats and ghosts are replaced with non-threatening happy owls and friendly scarecrows so to not scar the children's delicate sense of security and later manifest itself with significant, debilitating phobias which could require lifelong, extensive psychological therapies.

And it goes without saying that all pumpkin carving scenes are simply too graphic.  The showing of a weapon of any kind in any context to young children would certainly send them on a straight path toward violence, assault, and the total disregard for human life.  A downward spiral with no end in other words.  Scenes like this are most likely where the seeds of today's growing violence were sown.  As a precaution, a zero tolerance policy is implemented on the carving of pumpkins this year.        

The flying ace is grounded because his journey back in time to WW1 is too distressing for children with its uses of words like "war", "under fire", "enemy lines", and "shot down".  Historical events deemed too painful or egregious should never be spoken of especially around children.  No, instead, Snoopy flies for UPS now carrying happy packages to happy people all over the world.  

So, once all the scenes deemed too violent, dangerous, offensive, disturbing, threatening, outdated, unhealthy, destructive, simple, frightening, politically incorrect, exclusionary, degrading, or harmful to the environment are deleted, we're left with this, the 2015 Peanuts Halloween Special....... 


Night, y'all!


Monday, October 19, 2015

65 Days 'til Christmas

I don't mean to brag.......oh, how I don't mean to brag, but, as of this past weekend, I am totally done with my Christmas shopping. 

Yeah, you heard me. 

Bought.  Wrapped.  Tagged.  Hidden. 


Even have a couple of those extra gifts that we all keep in case someone unexpectedly shows up at the door with a gift for us. 

Listen.  November and December are just plain busy for me, y'all, so I try to always get it done early, but I have to say that this is early even for me. 

We've all got our own lists to deal with each Christmas.  The complicated names.  The easy breezy names.  The one who's fun to shop for.  Even the names we draw, which cause us to clutch our chests, tear at our clothes, and cry out, "Why me, Lord?" 

So, to commemorate the upcoming gift buying season, today, we'll discuss the 7 types of people that we all have on our lists.   

1)  The "I have one of everything" person......We all have one of these on our list.  They have everything.  They have 20 designer purses, 15 bottles of perfume, a closet full of clothes (many with tags still attached), the latest accessories, drawers and drawers of jewelry, an immaculate home with no empty spots, 32 sets of dishes, every book ever written, all the latest technological gadgets, complete sets of everything that can possibly be collected, and a partridge in a pear tree.  Shopping for this person requires a lot of imagination and usually calls for some type of special order, customized deal.  This person should be taken care of early on to allow extra time for production. We feel extremely accomplished when we can check theses names off of our list. 

2)  The "I don't need anything" person.  This person is content with what they have.  They have very basic needs, very few wants, and are usually big fans of the practical gift......I mean, if you insist on buying them something.  They get pleasure out of receiving gifts, which they would have to buy for themselves socks, undergarments, irons, or vacuum cleaners.  While not the most exciting people on our lists, we can all appreciate the ease with which these gifts are purchased. 

3)  The "I check labels" personThis person is usually a brand snob.  No St. John's Bay for them.  Pardon the pun, but "No siree Bob's" either....they only wear Tom's.  They want the cashmere.  The designer names.  The highest end of any line.  No knockoff or spinoff or any other kind of off will do for this one.  It is also best to never reveal to this person when you've purchased their hoity toity brands at an outlet or discount store either.  This only serves to cheapen the label in their mind and unnecessarily so.
4)  The "You better keep the receipt" person.  We all have those for whom we are careful to hang onto the gift receipts, because 9 times out of 10 there will be something not quite right with it.  Not my color.  Too small.  Too big.  Too thick. Too thin. Too long. Too short.  Too scratchy.  Too busy.  Too plain.  You all know who this person is on your list and it is wise to stash the proof of purchase away in a drawer until you're given clearance to dispose of it.       

5) The "I can't think of anything you enjoy doing" person.  This person has no interests, hobbies and/or pastimes from which you might glean any gift ideas.  No, they don't fish, hunt, cook, watch sports, read, exercise, play games, golf, watch birds, listen to music, sew, or collect anything.  Nope.  Nothing.  As a matter of fact, now that you think about it, you're not real sure what they do all day besides exchange oxygen.  Perhaps, a bottle of that would be in order.  Good luck finding something that this one is going to enjoy. 

6) The "Get a pencil and I will tell you exactly what I want" person. This person is very, very specific with their gift "suggestions".  They will tell you the item#, the color code, the size, its location in the store and/or the web address.  While there is little surprise involved with this type of gift exchange, the ease and convenience of it cannot be overemphasized.    

7) The "Don't spend your money on me" person.  This person is so very considerate of others and the thought of anyone spending their hard earned money on them is almost more than they can bear.  To combat this, they think of ridiculously cheap items to throw out there when asked for gift suggestions.  This person always claims to really be wanting some room spray, car wax, a flashlight key ring, or other forms of cheap ridiculousness. 

And for every person being shopped for this holiday season, there will be, well, a shopper.  I think that we, shoppers, too, fall into 7 different categories...... 

1) The "I don't think they'll recognize this" shopper aka the regifter.  This shopper believes in passing along gifts that didn't suit them.  "Shopping" in the comfort of their own home and wrapping items around the house really cut down on cost, hassle, and time.  We've all received that armchair remote organizer with questionable packaging.  "As long as it's never been used or lightly used, what's the harm?"  That's what this "shopper" wants to know.    
2) The "I hate crowds and am getting grumpy" shopper.  This person is usually not a very well-seasoned shopper.  This group is largely made of up males who aren't savvy in navigating the retail scene as they spend very little time in that environment.  They walk through the mall and have no idea where they're going or what they're doing.  All they know for sure is that they feel overwhelmed in the sea of people and, as a result, begin to become irritated with a Grinch-like heart--two sizes too small.  
3) The "I just get everybody the same thing" shopper. "This year, hams and turkeys for everyone on my list!"  This shopper likes to keep his shopping simple.  They don't like to complicate things.  Instead, they just find a good, across the board gift and go with it.  This makes shopping simple and less time consuming.  Added bonus.....only one size bag or box is needed for wrapping and no tags required.   
4)  The "I get it all done on Black Friday" shopper.  Oh, the bravery it takes to belong in this category.  They can be seen at the Thanksgiving table after the dishes are cleared with sale papers all spread out.  Charting their course.  Planning their strategy.  Circling their priorities.  They may excuse themselves early from Thanksgiving festivities to get out and get their shopping done at any cost.  Life and limb will be risked and, while some question the sanity of this type shopper, their courage cannot be overlooked.   

5) The "Y'all get what you want" shopper.  This shopper believes that there is nothing they could give that would make anyone happier than cash or gift cards.  This shopper is done with one quick trip through the bank drive-thru window, a few activation swipes, and a box of envelopes.  Lick, lick, lick. Done.    

6) The "Let me look around some more, sleep on this, mull it over, and pray about it" shopper.  This shopper is quite thoughtful about his or her gifts.  She considers her gifts to be a reflection of herself and wants every single one to be a touching, memorable, and even tear jerking token..... a warm and love-filled experience for the receiver.  Something that will be cherished for a lifetime.....possibly even buried with the recipient because of its deep, soul touching significance.  While this shopper is endearing to those on her list, there is much accompanying pressure upon her shoulders to perform.  She may silently experience the most stress that the holidays can offer. 

7)  The "I got free shipping" shopper.  This shopper's tackles her Christmas shopping by simply clicking "Add to Cart".  She can run a load of laundry, watch the news, pet the dog, and shop for Grandma all at the same time.  A hefty Visa bill and first name basis with the UPS driver signal that this shopper is well on her way to the finish line. 
So, here's to a smooth and painless shopping season for matter who you're buying for or what plan of attack you prefer this Christmas season.

And, while we're all out shopping and buying things for each other that we don't really need, I'd like for you to consider one of my favorite Christian Christmas charities, Operation Christmas Child.  Our family looks forward to packing shoe boxes each Christmas for a child overseas who will only receive whatever we put inside those little boxes......and nothing else.  We can't even grasp that kind of need in all of our layers of where we're mostly buying things just to be buying them.  It's a good feeling to know your boxes will be received with so much genuine excitement and simple joy.
You can find out more about how you can participate in spreading the message of Jesus' love and making a child's Christmas better by clicking here.   
Only 65 shopping days 'til Christmas.  Be careful out there, people. 
Have a good one today! 


Thursday, October 15, 2015

Moving On

I've had a lot of reasons to think about the gift of neighbors over the last couple of weeks.

Davis and I married in 1992 and moved into our very first home.  It was a small house situated on a large lot.  Convenient location.  Newly remodeled.  Perfect home to start our little family.  We brought both of our babies home to that little house.  As perfect as it was for us at that time in our lives, the amenity that we treasured most about it were our neighbors.  We had Mrs. Sessions across the street and the Wrights next door.  Oh, how they took care of us.  They checked on us and knocked on our door with food in hand when we were sick or had a new baby.  And they always had little gifts for the kids at Christmas and Halloween.  They watched out for us and we watched out for them.
We've been gone from that house for almost 14 years now and we still keep up and consider them to be ours.  They're still part of our lives.  Mrs.Wright will be 91 in January and we'd heard she'd recently had surgery, so Blair and I arranged to have lunch with her while she was out of school for fall break.  Let me tell you will put you in your place real quick when you try to make plans with a 91 year old and her social calendar is the biggest roadblock you have to work around.  We finally found a time when she was free and enjoyed her company as always.  She's a jewel.  She's our sweet friend.            
The next day, this was the view from my front porch.
Yeah, the cool neighbors have officially moved.  The truck was here for several days packing up all of their preppy things to take them to Georgia.  All of their trendy clothes, their latest gadgets, their space ship golf cart, their Air Jordans, their little cardigans, their golf clubs.....yes, even the fedoras.

We walked over the night before they left, took them a little remembrance of our sweet Mississippi, and got a few pictures.    
Davis and I worry about them moving off like this.  I mean, at some point later on, they'll need to transition into middle to older adult fashions and will be needing our guidance.  They can't be an old couple walking around in Buckle jeans and slouchy beanies.  How many little, old men do you see with Air Jordans and a man bag?  We were here for them.....ready to school them on the foundations of the middle age wardrobe when the time was right.....when they were old enough, of course.  We were here to guide them on how to rock the taller socks.  The free blood donor t-shirts.  The receding hairline.  The muffin top.  The higher waisted jeans.  The comfortable shoes.  These are areas in which we excel.        

We knew this day was coming and dreaded seeing them go.  We knew we'd miss the two miniature goal posts in their front yard and the little boys running between them in their football jerseys and helmets.  We'd miss the metal ping of golf balls being hit around their front lawn, which we affectionately named the country club.  The little girl who loved to play with Blair's old dollhouses and draw us pictures....oh, we'd miss her for sure.  And just the movement and noise of a young family.  They reminded us of us.....a couple of houses back. 

Neighbors.  They're as close as you can get with people without actually living in the same house.  They can be a wonderful thing.....and I suppose they can be a not so wonderful thing in some cases.  They can be invaluable when you need a couple of eggs or a stick of butter at 9:00 at night.  They know your comings and goings well enough to detect when something looks out of place.  They don't complain when your dog leaves her contributions on their putting green.  They hear your teenagers' thumping music when they drive up late at night and don't complain when you put on your biannual fireworks display and the burning debris falls onto the edge of their roof and then you have to run and get an extension pole to knock it down before it catches their house on fire ......(we may or may not have forgotten to tell them about that).  They grab your mail when you're out of town and wait patiently for you to get around to cutting your grass.  Neighbors are, indeed, a patient and helpful people.    

At nighttime, I check the front door before I go to bed and the cool neighbors' house sits dark and motionless over there.  I think to myself......isn't that the way life is.  People come and go.  Here for a season and then moving on to another chapter of life.  The house served its purpose.....a bridge to the next stop on their journey.  One day, another family will move in there and I'm sure we'll learn to love them.  But, some people will stick around in your heart no matter where they live. 

I suppose, in some places, neighbors are just strangers who happen to sleep in the house next to yours.  I realize that a lot of people nowadays just come home tired and go inside and give little thought to who lives around them.  I think in the South, that's less true for us.  Neighbors are important here.  We depend on each other.  We enjoy each other.  We help each other.  We're friends to each other.    

And when one of us leaves, we feel it. 

Deep down. 

Hope y'all have a great weekend!     

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Class of 86

Well, tonight, I got word that my 30th high school reunion is in its planning stages. 

That hurt my feelings. 

Thirty?  Really?

So, tonight's post will be Jeff Foxworthy style.

It might be time for your 30th high school reunion if.......

-Every time you turn around, it's Monday again......and again.....and again.

-You finally realize that Eleanor Roosevelt was right...."You wouldn't worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do".
-The "Home" section at TJ Maxx just starts looking like more stuff you'd have to dust.
-You start to think about things you never thought much about the benefits of CoQ10 and what you'd want sung at your funeral.

-You hear a bunch of popping and cracking when you get up in the morning and it ain't coming from the fireplace.

-Your kids get random gifts in April when you find Christmas presents hidden in your closet.

-You see a young mother with a screaming baby and say a quiet prayer of thanksgiving that yours no longer need the snot sucked out of their noses with a bulb syringe. 

-Thirty-five year olds call you ma'am and you wonder if you should change wrinkle creams.

-Since you're being called ma'am anyway, you want to go ahead and claim your senior discount at Popeye's. 

-You see some of the heels these young chicks have on and immediately think of the word, traction. 

-You like to think of yourself as a mid-lifer, but you'd have to live to 96 for that to still be accurate.

-You use your daughter's facial expressions instead of a mirror, because it's way more revealing. 

-You may get uneasy around the TiVo but, oh, how you could work a VCR.   

-You frequently have to resort to little pet names for people when you can't think of their real names..."Hey, pretty girl!  How have you been, my friend?"  You pray for name tags at the reunion or everyone there will be "pretty girl". 

-You find yourself saying things to the kids things like, "What is this awful crap you're listening to?  This is not music.....let me play you some music so you can hear the difference."

-You worry that when your Mom reads that you wrote "crap" on the internet, you'll be getting a call.

-You don't recognize any of the names in People

-You have to buy one of those pill organizers so you can remember if you took your medicine.  You know, like your grandmother did.

-You say things like, "Kids have it so easy these days".......not like us who had to get up to change the channel, answer the phone without knowing who it was, and drive all the way to our friend's house just to show her our prom pictures.

-Your kids promptly tell you to stop when you make even the slightest movement to the beat of music.

-The doctor wants to see you again before next year.

-You use inappropriate emojis and appear to be insensitive because you can never tell if the darn things are in tears of laughter or tears of sorrow?

-You speak and hear your mother...........except when you say, "crap".  You don't hear her then.

-You have to screen shot pictures on Instagram, so you can zoom in and actually see them. 

-You try to use some of the latest jargon to impress the kids, but find out that you know just enough to sound like Mister Rogers presenting the Grammy for Best Rap Album.

Thirty years.  Sigh. 

Night, y'all! 







Sunday, October 11, 2015

Mulling it Over

The spotlight has dimmed, somewhat, on the recent shootings in Oregon.  Funerals have taken place.  News trucks have started to leave.  Families are trying to make sense of it all and get a handle on their shock and grief.  I'm sure the community is stunned by the reality that something like that could have happened any community would.  I feel certain that there are students and teachers who will struggle to feel even the slightest bit secure whenever they return to school. 

The evil inside of one person can affect a lot of lives.  Physically, emotionally....changed forever.  It's a tragedy for sure.  One that's starting to become too familiar. 

I've been thinking about the reports that the victims' religious beliefs may have played a role in whether they were shot fatally or just wounded.  Whether that was the sole motive or not, we can't deny that our world is becoming increasingly hostile toward Christianity and it seems like we, Christians, may need to stop and examine the depth of our commitments.  We've always felt pretty secure in our country as followers of Jesus.  Like we were, by far, part of the popular majority here.  Persecution was something that happened in places that were far away and to people who spoke different languages and lived in much less civilized societies.  As long as there was an ocean or two separating us from all of that or, even better, a few centuries between us and the word, persecution, we felt pretty safe.   

Current events may have us now mulling over a question that we've not had to think much about in our lifetime......what am I willing to die for?

Naturally, most mothers would say their children would be the very first thing to pop into their minds.  There is no doubt that if someone were threatening one of our children or grandchildren or if they stood in the path of grave danger, our self preservation instinct would fly out the window and we'd jump in front of a car, a bullet, or whatever assaulting object necessary to spare their lives.  We wouldn't even have to think about it. 

A soldier is committed to offering up his life for his country if necessary.  When he signs the dotted line, he's not sure if he'll be sent to war at some point and never return.  He fully understands that it could come to that and he signs off on it.

When a policeman puts on his uniform, he is essentially agreeing to lay himself down for the people he serves to protect.  He knows there will be dangerous situations and people may wish to do him harm and when he reports to work, he's agreeing to take that risk.    

Since the Oregon incident, I've been thinking about people who've died for their faith......for their love for Jesus throughout the centuries.  All but one of the disciples (not counting Judas) are thought to have met ends that weren't pleasant in the name of their faith......stoning, spearing, beheading, beating, crucifixion.  Missionaries have been killed through the ages at the hands of those they wanted to save.....or died from the harsh conditions of the areas where they served.  Christians all across the Middle East are currently being tortured and slaughtered.  Who would have guessed that regular students attending a writing class at a college in our cocoon of religious freedom could join the age old list?

Whether from the first century or the first of this October, the people who have chosen death over renouncing their faith....those who have chosen the great commission over comfort and security.....they've each surely had the same convictions living inside of them. 

-A firm belief that this life is nothing to cling to....that things of this world should be handled with loose fingers and as good as it seems, sometimes, it's all transient and not worth placing all your chips down on.  And that the temporary should never be traded for the eternal.  "What do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?  Is anything worth more than your soul?"   Matthew 16:26 

-And when Jesus said, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." Matthew 16:24... that no one knows exactly what that will mean for them, personally, but that the reward of being with Him will be greater than any cost that is required.  Some crosses will be heavier than others, but like Jesus told Peter when asked about John's fate.....we shouldn't worry about that.  Our job is to carry our cross to the finish just like He did.  

-And that no matter what life brings, He has promised to be with us and give us what we need to get through it.  "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."  Romans 8:38-39       

No one would be jumping up and down and raising their hands to be first in any martyr line.  We may be willing to lay our lives down, but I doubt there would be much pushing or shoving or cutting in line.  Even Peter, one of the most bold witnesses for Jesus, got cold feet the night before Christ was crucified.  My very loose translation of his response to being asked if he was a friend of Jesus.....I don't know him....never seen him....don't know what you crazy people are talking've all lost your minds.  I think we can assume that Peter wasn't eager to die that night.  He was just plain scared. 

Of course, we know after the resurrection, Peter was on Jesus' list of people He wanted to see......not to scold him or shame him or express his disappointment, but to encourage him and prop him back up.  He gave him a job to do.  A big job.  He pepped him up, turned him around, and sent him back out onto the a coach does with his quarterback after a devastating fumble.  We know that his life ultimately ended in martyrdom.....asking to be crucified upside down as he felt unworthy to die in the same manner as his Savior, but, oh, what he accomplished before his death.   

I guess we've all felt like Peter at times.  We love God.......oh, how we love Him.  But we watch the news and see the articles with the horrific images of what's going down across the world right now and we feel scared.  And that's ok.  I think it's normal to feel that way.     

Most of us will not die for our faith....maybe not even one of us.  But, maybe it does cause us to consider....what am I willing to die for? 

And while we're at it...

Maybe we should think about.....What am I willing to live for?

Hope y'all have an unusually good Monday!








Wednesday, October 7, 2015

10 Things You Notice from the Middle

1)  When traveling with family members from different generations, it is often left up to the one who represents the middle generation to become the translator for the ones on the outer generational edges.  For example, when the youngest generation speaks of something in the technological or social media world and the oldest generation can only relate to collect calls and stamps and envelopes, it is left to the one in the middle, who has some experience in both, to explain things in such a way that all generations involved can understand each other.  It is a job which carries much responsibility and is without end.

2)  The generation with the highest triglyceride level is always responsible for taking pictures at the ice cream shop.  This makes them feel important, less conspicuous, and gives them something to do with their hands while they suck their mint.
3)  Coolness runs in certain families.  That is just fact.  No matter how hard family members may try to avoid putting on airs of being cool, sometimes, the genetic predisposition toward coolness is simply too strong to mask.  Also......obviously, our sunglasses get smaller as we age.     
4)  When three generations go shopping, the one who wears a red polka dot dress will always garner way more compliments than, say, the ones dressed in gray or brown.  Fact.

5)  While the younger generations depend on technology for much of their communication, the oldest generation walks onto a beach full of people and thinks, "I see people I haven't met and I need to remedy that and be hospitable" the younger generations observe in awe and amazement.  No profile picture, no username, no email address, no group text.....just, "Where are y'all from?"

6)  The younger generations have their fancy gyms and regimented exercise routines charted with their Fitbits and their apps........but the older generation, well, they have something they call step aerobics.....which the youngest generation enjoys documenting while watching movies together.

7)  When bra shopping together, three generations will scatter to different corners of the store like roaches when a light is turned on......each retreating to the corner designated to their own stage of the gravitational pull.

8)   Selfie sticks are generally seen as tools of self-absorption, but when spending time with one's mother and daughter, one wants to make photo documentation without relying on the kindness of strangers.  They say the selfie stick kills more people each year than shark attacks....mostly when operating them near traffic, steep ledges, or while driving heavy machinery.  Sometimes, the middle generation likes to think they are well versed in newfangled contraptions, but the youngest generation should always be put in charge of their operation as the goal is to not actually photograph the contraption, itself, as shown here.

9)  When three generations are traveling by car, it is highly recommended that the middle generation operate the vehicle at all times.  This is because she is past the "I will never die" stage of driving, but has not yet entered the "Will we get there before we die?" stage either.  This makes her the obvious choice for the driver's seat.      

10)  When three generations go on a little trip together, it is the one in the middle who is the most blessed.  She can see a little bit of herself either way she turns.  She can look over at her past and then over at her future and feel like she's woven right into the middle of a beautiful tapestry called her family.  She sees where's she's going and sees where she's come from.  She sees who she once was and who she, one day, may be.  She knows too well that generations come and go, but for now......she's nestled in between a whole lot of love and with every little trip, every little outing, and every little lunch date, she's collecting memories and filing them back in the corners of her mind.  Memories that will warm her when she's old and no longer in the middle.  Memories that will make her laugh out loud at the oddest times.  Bring a smile to her face when she's having a hard day.  Make her thankful she took the time to enjoy her spot.  She is blessed that it is her turn to be loved from both sides.  It's a warm, cozy place to be.   

Thank you, Lord. 

It's so good to be back with y'all!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Just Checking In

Just checking in for a minute to alleviate any concern that I've been abducted by aliens or entered into the witness protection program, relocated to the Falkland Islands, and now answering to the name, Judy Fitzgerald.  No, last week was a crazy, busy week at work and at home and I just didn't have time to write.  And now, I'm on a little, tiny, short beach trip with my Mama and daughter.  It's my mother's birthday and Blair is out of school for her fall break, so a couple of nights at the beach seemed to be in order.

I can't wait to get back to writing and I'm shooting for Tuesday night or Wednesday.  Y'all just bear with me.  Juggling two stores through the fall and Christmas seasons may cause me to be more sporadic with my posts, but I'm going try my very best to stay consistent!

I'll be back in a couple of days!

Hope your weekend was fun!