Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Let's Make it 10

I don't have anything in particular to write about today and, sadly, I have just enough OCD to want to end the month with 10 posts and not 9.  Consequently, I'm forced to share with you some family highlights from the last week or two that are sure to bore you out of your skull.....or make you want to bore through your skull, whichever you prefer.  For the next few minutes, I will be like that grandmother with the purse full of pictures, which you care nothing about.  So, with that said, enjoy!

1)  Carson has turned 15!  He's ready to get his driver's permit if he can stay home long enough to study for the test.  His father will be in charge of all driving instruction as I don't have the nerves to teach children how to operate heavy machinery.  I don't do the passenger seat thing very well to start with....and especially not in a learning environment.  Anyway, we had a great time celebrating him for FOUR days in a row.  We have a lot to celebrate......he's a wonderful son!     


2)  We had our garage sale on Saturday and I know you won't be able to rest until I tell you about that.  I purged the house, priced the items, and organized it and the deal was that Davis and the kids would work the sale since I'd done all that other.....and since I don't really do early morning.  Well, about 7:00 am, Blair flung my bedroom door open, "There's a man out here who wants to know what's the lowest price you'll take for all of your pottery".  So much for that plan.  Anyway, we grossed $360 and the remaining items were promptly loaded up and donated to charity. 

Note that the cool neighbors were hosting a bouncy house birthday party across the street at the country club at the same time.  Leave it to them to tacky up our garage sale.  We just tried not to make eye contact.          

Carson couldn't put down his new paintball gun that he'd gotten for his birthday, so we just called him "Security" and John Samuel acquired some boyfriend points by getting up at dawn to help. 

Things that did not sell included, but were not limited to our mini trampoline and its resulting pair of crutches.....even though we offered to throw in the crutches with any mini trampoline purchase....still, no takers.  And if you ever need to borrow the sheet music to The Young and the Restless, I decided to keep this and not donate it.  You just never know when Victor, Ashley, or Nikki might drop by the house from Genoa City and there I'd be kicking myself that I couldn't play it for them. 

    
3)  Blair is taking a summer class and, every evening around 6, I get a text of what she's whipped up for dinner.  I'm so proud of her cooking and baking skills that I don't know what to do!  I might also add that she has a B in Organic Chemistry.  It's hard to hide good parenting.    
  
4)  Carson is in the middle of his three church trips.  He got home from Nashville on his birthday.  He's in New Orleans this week on a mission trip and he'll leave in a couple of weeks for D.C..   There's been a lot of bus loading and clothes washing.  God has a special place in His kingdom for chaperones.  For they shall inherit the earth. 

 
 
Ok, I have ten June posts now, so there is no need to keep you here any longer. 

You're dismissed.

Have a great Wednesday, y'all! 


Sunday, June 28, 2015

Let's Start with Me

Wow. 

I don't think I've ever seen or felt this much division and hostility in our country.......at least, in my adult life.  You don't have to be on social media long for your shoulders to tighten and your head to start pounding from all the tension. Confederate flags and rainbows and politicians and issues and problems plaguing our society.  People on every side of every topic imaginable are screaming and arguing and trying to be heard.  Everyone wants to have their say.  Everyone wants to make their point.  Everyone has the answer.   

I don't want to jump into that swirl of noise.  Some of it is good noise, but I don't want to add to all the confusion.  At this point, all the words are competing and colliding and cancelling each other out.  It's hard to hear what anyone is saying anymore.  I can't imagine that I'd have anything profoundly unique to say about anything anyway, so this post isn't about this side or that position.   

When all the news started to break this week.......the controversy surrounding the Supreme Court's rulings, the recent terrorist acts, the growing threats of terrorism, dishonest politicians, brutal crimes against humanity, the overreach of government, the constant fighting in Washington, and on and on and on.....I allowed myself to become saturated with the 24 hour information cycle and I reached my limit.    

I sat on my bed and, as I listened to the noise, discord, debates, and anger, an overwhelming feeling came over me.  Not a desire to yell or give my opinion or cry or protest or write a letter or throw my hands up. 

No, none of that.   

I felt the need to repent.

That's it. 

Period.  

I just felt the need to.......repent. 

I guess no matter what side of the issues or aisle you stand on, it always feels like it's us against "them".  Whoever your "they" is........"they're" the problem....."they're" not enlightened...."they're" our downfall....."they're" the cause of this or that.  But, as I sat there and watched the chaos of multiple news stories, I was reminded that we don't have a "they" problem.  It's a compilation of our "me" problems that has put us in such a state of turmoil and decline.

I have contributed.....not just them and those or her or him or that side over there.  I've had my hand in the way things are going.  I prayed that I would be forgiven for all the ways I've failed.  For the times I've been complacent.  For the days when I didn't make the effort.  For the times I should have done something and I just stood there.  When I was too lazy or caught up in myself to make a commitment.  When I failed to model integrity for people who were watching.  When I showed my kids it was all right to compromise your values in certain situations.  When I've been selfish with my time and my resources.  When I've been unloving or judgmental or self-righteous.  The times I've let opportunities slip by....opportunities that won't come again.  When I've kept quiet and didn't say anything.  When I thought about myself more than others.  When I was ungrateful and I felt entitled.  For the times I've been stubborn and proud and placed more value on the last word than I did on showing God's love.  When I've not taken time to pray or give thanks or ask for guidance.  When I felt I couldn't make a difference and I've looked the other way. The times I thought I'd let someone else worry about that.  When I've been too busy to do the right thing. 

For all the times I didn't represent my Jesus well. 
             
I turned off the news and I asked for forgiveness for those things......for the part that I've played in our world becoming increasingly self-centered and less and less Christ-centered.  For the hand I've had in the apathy, the selfishness, the lack of commitment, the indifference toward one another, and the decline in moral standards.

Sometimes, you just have to start somewhere.

"Me" is as good a place as any. 


Hope your week gets off to a great start!! 





 



      

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Long, Looooong Days of Summer

I was in Wal-Mart yesterday and I saw this mother and her three kids shopping together.  Her cart was spilling over with all things summer......Kraft Singles, Froot Loops, Cheetos, Hawaiian Punch, and the obligatory net bag full of popsicles.  One kid was sitting in the shopping cart and the other two were probably 8 or 9 or 10.  The young child was crying......no, I'd call it more of a wailing and the other two were fighting with each other.  The mother stopped the cart and put her finger up in the air and had a slight emotional breakdown right there between the fresh flowers and russet potatoes.  God bless her.  She'd had enough.  "Say one more word to me or to each other and I will tear you up right here in this store!"  (For all of you, who are not from the South, "tear you up" is what southern moms say when they're about to administer corporal punishment.  Now....."Knock you into next week" is what we say when the offense is too serious for the more lenient "tear you up".  Just in case there is a regional translation problem, that should clear it right up.)  Anyway, one of the little boys started to say something and the weary mother held up her finger again.  "Umm....what did I JUST say?  Do not test me!"        

I made my way to the self-checkout and, as I was scanning my items, I heard a lot of commotion at the checkout station next to me.  There was another woman with 3 or 4 small children with her and I looked over just in time to see her speaking to them through her clinched teeth, "No, you can't have that....you have one at home!  Go put it back right now!"  Her face had turned red......not like fire truck red, but maybe the color of those watermelons you buy in May when you know it's too early, but you just have to try one.  A pale, weak red.....but still....it was red.  I'm pretty sure I saw veins bulging out on either side of her neck as kids ran around her and tugged at her shirt and asked for things.  Our eyes met, I smiled sympathetically, and then she started the "smooth over" that we, parents, do when we've been caught loosing our cool in public.  You know......just in case I was a children's services worker making a grocery run on my lunch break.  "Baby, we're not going to buy something we already have," she said in a much more calm and controlled tone and with a gentle smile that time.   

The first thing I thought about as I left the store was how grateful I was that my kids are older.  Then, I thought how it's getting to that time of the summer when mothers, everywhere, are kind of over it.

Oh, you know how excited you are when summer first starts.  You go out and buy new outdoor toys and craft supplies, map out your day trips, and stock the place with popsicles and juice pouches.
To maintain order, you hang the new "summer rules" on the frig.....about leaving shoes at the door, reading 30 minutes a day, and having an hour of quiet time after lunch, which, by the way, shall consist of a mandatory piece of fruit.  Everyone will pick up their things and have little chores to do.  You're so excited about not having to pack lunches or wake up early or worry about homework.  You have visions of the children playing Ring Around the Rosie under the old, oak tree, coloring quietly while you read, and entertaining themselves outside for hours with the new croquet set you bought.  You've got grand plans about how it will all go down. 

In reality, summer never goes like that. 

By day two, they've never been more bored than they are at that moment.  You forgot that school hours were when you could do your grocery shopping......alone......without the flying monkeys hanging off your cart and dropping sugary contraband in there.  The craft activity you planned to keep them busy, while you watched House Hunters, didn't get you through the front door of house #1.  They each drink 55 cumulative quarts a day, changing cups every 12oz.  The book they'd picked out for their first week of the summer reading, well, you find the bookmark in the second chapter on the last day of July.  "There's nothing to eat" and "What do we have to eat?" reverberate in your head at night.  They all wear 4 pairs of shorts and 5 shirts a day.  The doorbell rings and rings and rings......"Oh, look...other people's children.....goody."  You grapple with volunteering for Bible school, but......I mean, that's 3 hours of alone time at stake.  The Disney Channel is constant background noise and you can't get those songs out of your head.  Wet swimsuits soak down into the carpet padding and dripping beach towels are crammed down into the laundry hamper, where they're found growing mildew 3 days later.  The washing machine hasn't cut off since late May and no one thinks naps are fun like you do.....insane, little people.  "Go play outside" will guarantee you a good 8 minutes alone to get some things done until, "It's way too hot outside".  It's hard to discern the children from the throw pillows as they all sit there motionless on the couch.  Oh, but, at least, family vacation is coming up.......the most unrelaxing week of the year in which you pack your home into the SUV and do laundry for 8 straight days after returning.                

So, yeah, I remember those days.  

Never fear, Moms.  I've seen you out and about with your kids.  I've detected the weariness in your eyes.  You're walking that fine line between sanity and a padded room.   

I just wanted to encourage you and say that July 5 is within our grasp......the day the store shelves will be lined with those glorious school supplies.  The Staples commercial will air, the shoe stores will run their sales, the LL Bean catalog will come in the mail.  Yeah, loose leaf paper, sandwich bags, and DTP boosters....they're coming.      

So, soldier on, Moms. 

Soldier on.     






Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Play Ball

A few weeks ago, we bought a whiffle bat and ball set and some other outdoor toys and, several nights after supper, we've headed out to the backyard with our Bluetooth speaker and bug spray to enjoy some family games until dark.  Yes, my kids are almost 21 and recently turned 15, but not too old to play with plastic toys labeled, "Ages 3 and up".  We like to push the limits of the word, up, around here.   

I've learned a lot from playing whiffle ball in my backyard as a 47 year old. 
1)  I've always wondered what those sports announcers meant when they mentioned someone having a pulled groin muscle.  I know now. 

2)  Just because you were really good at ball when you were 15 doesn't necessarily mean you'll be good at it when you're 47.  It is not a skill with a long shelf life.  There is a season for everything.  Turn. Turn. Turn. 

3)  When your daughter's boyfriend is a college baseball player....... always, always, always get on his team.  And if you can't get on his team, make up a rule that he has to bat left-handed.....and run the bases backwards. 

4)  Picking teams isn't nearly as fun when you're 47.  Just because you were always one of the first girls to be picked on the playground......if you fast forward 40 years, you will find out how that last standing, pigeon-toed, clumsy girl with the thick glasses always felt. 

5)  Nothing will take you back in time like standing in the grass slapping at the mosquitos biting your ankles.....sweat pouring down the back of your neck, playing ball until the frogs and katydids start to sing.  You will find yourself expecting to hear your Daddy whistle for you to come home for supper. 

6)  The morning after playing whiffle ball at age 47, you will experience soreness in muscles you haven't used since you had to choreograph and perform an aerobic routine to "No Parking on the Dance Floor" in 10th grade gym class.   

7)  Running is not what it used to be.  It is way more jarring at 47.  And things jiggle more.  And pop more.  It's just a whole lot noisier than it once was.     

8)  Making up the rules as you go to benefit your team is still a thing and pegging someone in the back of the head with the ball is still just as fun when you're 47.  That no hitting above the shoulders rule is only for wimps and those with clotting disorders.     

9)  Something about playing ball in the backyard makes you thirsty for black cherry Kool-Aid in a Tupperware cup.

10)  Playing whiffle ball at dusk, where a rattlesnake was recently found, only adds a sense of adventure to the game.   

11)  To avoid unwanted cardiac events cutting the game short, a timeout can and should be called to catch one's breath if the aforementioned 47 year old hits a double and has to run all the way to second without stopping. 

12)  You can make a lot of good memories playing with a plastic ball and bat with your almost grown children and husband when you're 47.  $7.99 plus tax can buy some good times.....good times.  I would highly recommend it.

Game Highlights   
 
Davis was caught "doping" on ibuprofen after the game.  Blair has many, many skills and talents, but when she bats, everyone moves in an insulting distance. 


John Samuel looking scared that he will be struck out by his girlfriend's mother and, consequently, lose his baseball scholarship.  Carson, in negotiations with the other team, trying to trade his mother.......his own mother.


Have a great Wednesday!

We're working our way closer to the weekend, y'all!

  

      

Sunday, June 21, 2015

A Spirit of Forgiveness

I sat down late Wednesday night to watch a little TV and saw the terrible breaking news about the church shooting in Charleston.  I couldn't believe it.  People shot in church.  I'd just come from church, myself.  I shook my head and murmured an all too familiar prayer that I've found myself praying more and more lately when something repulsive like this happens, "God, help us". 

While the political leaders and candidates tripped over each other trying to get to a microphone with their sympathies and solutions, the rest of the country was witnessing that something amazing was starting to happen. 

The victims' family members spoke to the killer in court.  One after another, they stood up, looked at his face on the screen, offered their forgiveness to him, and prayed that he would find salvation and hope in Jesus.   

Wow.

I started thinking about the most terrible thing that a person could do to me.  It wouldn't be to harm me physically or to steal everything that I own or to hold me against my will or to slander my name.  No, it would be to inflict harm on someone in my family.  That's probably true for most of us.    

It's easy for us to sit in church and talk about love and mercy and forgiveness and read all the verses about our enemies and discuss what's expected of us when we're wronged......but it's in the hard places of life where the real test of our faith comes.......where we see how deep down Jesus goes in a person....if He's just on the surface or if He permeates throughout their heart. 

Few of us have or ever will experience a test of our faith like the Charleston church has. Those tight spots where we're asked to go against everything our human nature is screaming inside of us.  Against everything that our world expects from us.  Against everything that seems logical and justifiable in our minds.  To swim against the stream of our raw emotions.   

It's in those times that we're asked take the narrow, difficult road.  The road less traveled.  The road that Jesus took.  The road that Jesus takes with each of us every day.

It is going the extra mile.  It's turning the other cheek.  It's loving those who hate us.  It's forgiving seventy times seven.   It's doing good to those who hurt us.  It's not just giving our shirt, but our coat, too.  It's not rejoicing when our enemies fall.  It's praying for those who persecute us.  It's giving our enemy bread when he's hungry.  It's not repaying evil with evil. 

It's not the world's way.  It's definitely not the easy way.

It's Christ's way.   

I thought that, even as a Christian myself, how difficult that would be to offer forgiveness, especially this soon, and yet these families did it with such grace and compassion.  To forgive him and to pray that he finds salvation and mercy from God.....yes, the man who entered their church and, in hate, killed their defenseless mothers, sons, and sisters, and husbands. 

The same spirit of forgiveness that Jesus had toward His assailants even as they killed Him.  The same mercy and forgiveness that He offers to each of us.   

We can continue to pray for this church and, in our own little corners of the world, we, of all races, can make an effort to show love and build bridges over swamps of hate.  Charleston has come together united.....black and white.....not like in other places where we've seen the flames of hate fanned, stoked, and celebrated. 

It's like night and day.     

Every person will be judged by the merits of his or her own heart and these people, clearly, have the heart of Jesus inside of them. 

What a difference it makes.     

May God bless and comfort them as they continue to be living witnesses for Him.



       
            
 



Wednesday, June 17, 2015

More Cleaning.....and Snakes and Beer Trucks

Well, I've almost finished the entire house.  Only two rooms to go and trash day cannot come soon enough.  I've decluttered, organized, and cleaned in the most impressive way!  I've also texted the children and warned them that, when they come home, they will be asked to sit on the couch and touch nothing.  "And don't get any big ideas that you're going to be allowed in your rooms either.  If you need something, I will bring it to you on the couch....where you'll be found sitting quietly with your hands folded and feet on the floor". 

Maybe I'll just suggest that they stay with friends for a few months.    

I mean, you can't spend an entire week cleaning and then have the kids come in and act like they live here or something.  I'm finding myself becoming increasingly protective of my newfound immaculacy.  As Davis started for the kitchen to get his late night bowl of cereal, I was like, "Hey, what do you think you're doing?"  Stop.  No, we're not getting anything out.....and, please, put the box back in its alphabetized spot". 

What was he thinking?     

He interrupted my cleaning last evening when he screamed into the back door......"Joni, come see what I just killed".  Usually, when men say that, it's something very bad.  I mean, they don't generally say, "Hey, come see the soft kitty I killed" or "You've got to see this little bunny I bludgeoned to death"

No, I had my suspicions of what it might be and sure enough.......a rattlesnake.  Only a few yards from our back door.  He wasn't that big, but I'm quite concerned about where his mother, father, brothers, and sisters might be.  Hopefully, his mangled body will serve as a warning to them.   

Here's the obligatory picture.  In the South, it doesn't do just to tell about the snake you killed.  You have to show a picture for it to be officially recognized. 
See, this is just another reason to hate summer.....all the serpents.  And you know what the Bible says about them and us, women.  It will never be good between us.  That's why Davis was able to beat the snake with a stick, stomp his head, flip him over, carefully examine his markings, count his rattles, take pictures of him, and fling him out into the woods.......all while I screamed like a three year old girl.

And can we talk about this heat?!?  It's going to be close to 100 by the weekend here and with the humidity at 500%, I'm so over summer.  I just don't get you, people, who like this.  It's like saying, "I enjoy visiting Hell" or "My favorite spot is under my oven's broil setting".  It just makes no sense.

I have a countdown to fall going on my phone and, if you need me before the 97 days are up, I'll be inside somewhere.
Before I go, my new speed conscious mindset really paid off today.  I did have to leave my closets for a quick errand and, when I topped a hill, there sat a highway patrolman.  I didn't have to slam on brakes or anything!.  I was well within the legal boundaries of travel.  I must say, though, I'm not making many new friends with the people who get caught behind me.

Today, the Coors Light truck got behind me on a two lane highway.  He obviously wanted to go faster than the new me was comfortable with, so I had to tap my brakes to get him off my tail......you know, to show him I don't play that and that I would not be intimidated by his vehicle.....as large and alcoholic as it was.  A few words preached into my rearview mirror to the beer truck driver man about safety and having a little respect for the law and he backed right off. 

Some people.   

Well, I know this has been ramble-y and of little substance, but there's just not much to report from the bottom of closets and inside cabinets.  There is little inspiration to be found in those places.  I should be done with the process tomorrow and will reenter society.  Maybe, then, we can talk about other things.

Night, y'all. 

  
 

        

Monday, June 15, 2015

One Thing Leads to Another

Carson got a new bed a few weeks ago and, since it was a new size, none of the pictures were hanging in the appropriate places for the new furniture placement.  Davis patched the old nail holes and I shopped for new bedding for the larger sized bed......and then I decided all that just seemed like the perfect excuse for a room makeover for him.  In the spirit of Mississippi State fandom, I thought he'd like a gray room with a maroon accent wall.  He has so much MSU paraphernalia that we all thought it would be a great teenage boy room idea.   In our changing things up, we had all this stuff that we weren't going to use in his new space, so a pile started to form in the garage.     

We had a party for my niece and her new husband yesterday and so in the process of gathering things to decorate for that, I'd made many-a-trip into the attic.  It was just a nightmare up there.  A wasteland of those material things that float around in the abyss between being wanted and useful and the trashcan.  All the junk you don't want it in the house, but you're not ready to say goodbye to it either, so it's sent to the land of pink insulation and three digit temperatures, while you work through letting it go.  Yeah, sure there are the seasonal things that stay up there until they come down and make their annual appearance, but then there's all that other stuff that's just there for no good reason.

I decided we needed to do something about the clutter up there, so I went up and tried to bring some semblance of organization to the space.  I straightened and categorized and shuffled stuff around and then passed some things over to Davis and sentenced them to either the trash can or the growing pile of "let me think about it" in the garage.  He'd climb down with it and place it in the appropriate place, while I was up there sweating like a pig at a bacon factory.           

I've kept a lot of the kids' old toys up there.  Barbie dreamhouse, Sweet Streets town, Legos, Star Wars ships, Erector sets, Electric football, tea sets, puppets, doll strollers, wooden blocks, dress up clothes, Hot Wheels, books, and board games.  My plan is to become that grandmother, who the grandchildren just love to come and see, so the toys stay.

There are other things that are just hard to know what to do with.  Like, we have a box of trophies and plaques that is the size of a small island.  It's spilling over with medals and every form of recognition symbol known to man.  Plastic, gilded figures on wooden bases with engraved plates commemorating some achievement that no one even remembers.  It's like an open grave of golden, plastic ball players, dancers, soccer balls, books, and any other field in which one can be recognized with statuettes fashioned from faux precious metals. 

What's a mother to do with those?   What kind of mother would carry them out to the street with the trash?  But, nobody really wants them either.  So, I suppose they will continue to take up space in the same place where mine, yours, and everyone else's old trophies still remain today........in their mothers' attics.  I propose that children, from now on, be issued certificates to redeem for a free Blizzard or McNuggets or something in lieu of trophies and then we, mothers, wouldn't have this dilemma 15 years after their achievement has passed.    

I knew, this week, the kids would both be gone and I'd been planning to ride this wave of purging on into the rest of the house.  Like I always say, "nothing uplifts the soul like a good house purging".   So, Carson left this morning for church camp and Blair went back to college and I got to work. 
 
In the laundry room, I went through that basket of loner socks that we all have.  We wait and wait with such hope for those socks to show back up.  Some of the lonely socks have been in there for years and, today, I finally had to break it to them, "Your mate has been gone for 2 years now and I don't think she's coming back".  That's always a hard thing to have to tell a sock. 

Then, I organized the cabinets in the laundry room.  I keep all kinds of things in there.  There's this one cabinet, in particular, that is always in such a state of disarray that you have to open it with extreme caution, while shielding your face, as things consistently shoot out, bounce off your head, and crash to the floor.  Closing the door is tricky, too.  The goal is always to just get it to close and you can deal with it later......like in 6 years.     

Then, on to the kitchen.  We all have that Tupperware drawer.  I got rid of the bowls that haven't had lids since the early 90's.  I organized that one big utensil drawer that we all have and, after some deliberation, decided to keep the biscuit cutter and melon baller in case we fall on hard times and I ever have to cut my own biscuits and ball my own melons......but let's don't even talk that way.   And it may interest you to know that, after gathering them from all drawers and corners and nooks and expired bags of snacks in the kitchen, we have a grand total of 26 chip clips in this house.  26.  An embarrassment of riches.   

I moved over to the lunchbox cabinet.  I don't look in that one much.  Carson packs his lunch and I didn't really know what all was in there.  Well, I'll tell you what's in there.......all the rejects from every variety pack that I've bought in the last two years, that's what.  That one flavor that nobody eats.  The salt and vinegar chips.  The Nilla Wafer cookies.  The chocolate Rice Krispie Treats.   The banana muffins.  The butterscotch Jell-O pudding.  All abandoned by their friends, the Oreos, the barbecue chips, and the snickerdoodle muffins.  It was kind of sad.....like the Island of Misfit Snacks.

From there, I went to the spice rack or, in my case, the spice wreck.  It's funny how I am OCD about many things, but it never seems to surface in my spice organization.  There's no rhyme or reason to it.  It's just a hot, spicy mess in there.  I would like to note that I did throw away some cream of tartar that I believe I brought with us from our last house almost 11 years ago.  It is, apparently, not one of my "go to" spices.       

Then, we all have the glasses/cups cabinet.  There's the good glass stuff and then there's this regurgitation of plastic cups from every restaurant, ballgame, waterpark, event, and theme park we've visited in the last five years.  I did a major downsizing of this collection of plastic drinking vessels.  Please tell me you have this, too.  I suppose this is our modern day version of the jelly glasses our Mamas used to collect.....adorned with the Flintstones, Peanuts, or geese with bows around their necks.         

So, I got done with the laundry room and then the kitchen and that's as far as I made it today.  My goal is to work my way through the entire house by Friday.  Today alone, I threw away 3 big garbage bags full of junk.  They were 40 gallon bags, so technically you could say that I threw out 120 gallons of junk and that doesn't count what went into the increasingly impressive pile of "I'm not sure" that is mounting in the garage.

I've decided to have yard sale with the big pile that is now starting to become a fire code violation and is impeding our ability to reach our cars.  I told the kids they could split the profits if they'd take it over from here.  So, if you enjoy waking up in the dark to drive around to strangers' homes and plunder through their worthless junk, you won't want to miss this event coming up in a couple of weeks. 

I'll be in the bed.  My work will be done. 

Tomorrow.....Davis' home office, and the kids' rooms. 

Onward.          
   



      

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

That's Just the Way It Is Around Here

I had lunch with a true southern lady on Friday. I've known her for years and she embodies all the warmth and charm that the South is known for.  We made the short drive to a nearby small town to eat at a little cafĂ© and it did not disappoint.  We walked in and, like a couple of pinballs, we pinged from table to table as we recognized one face after another.  We weaved our way through all the checkered tablecloths back to our seats, speaking and hugging and catching up with people along our way.  Mothers of school friends, a math teacher from my high school, friends of my mother, old garden club pals, and ladies from the church.  I guess it's why they say lunch is an event here in the South.    

The night before that, I was invited to a friend's house for dinner.  Just a handful of girlfriends having a little girl time.  "No big deal.....just come casual," she said.  Yeah, no big deal if you don't like to eat like a queen.  Slow cooked marinara baked into lasagna, homemade dressing for a salad that could've been featured in a magazine, grilled bread, and made from scratch chocolate sauce poured from a Mason jar and drizzled over brownies and ice cream.  It was enough to make you want to slap your Mama as we like to say.  In the South, it's never, "Would you like dessert?", but, "How big of a piece do you want?"  There was a centerpiece of perennials arranged beautifully in a basket of moss on a perfectly set table.  There was also a whole lot of "Mmmmmmm" and a heaping pile of laughter and a big ol' bunch of just sitting and enjoying each other's company.  That's how you do a "no big deal" in the South. 

On Sunday, I went to a tea shower for my niece given by the ladies at the church where I grew up.  They'd fixed a delicious lunch for the family before the shower was to begin.  It was the typical, mouthwatering, Southern fare......a platter of honey baked ham, squash dressing, green beans, hot tomato grits, corn casserole, bread, pound cake, fresh fruit, and a blueberry trifle.  There again......where's your Mama, so we can slap her!  There was a lot preparation that went into all of that.  Women, who got up earlier than usual, and baked and cooked and scurried around before church to make the day nice for someone else.  Sweet, southern ladies, who know their way around a kitchen and how to do things up right.  That's just the way it's done down here in the South.

I guess the succession of all of those events in one weekend reminded me of how warm and connected we are here.  A place where everybody knows everybody or either, "that name sounds familiar".  I've never lived anywhere else, so I don't have anything to compare it to, but I think it's a pretty great place to be.            

It's hard to go anywhere without recognizing faces....or finding someone to commiserate with about the heat and humidity....or being asked about how your garden is going this year...or someone wanting one of your recipes. 

In the South, saying grace comes as natural as breathing.   Waitresses carry the sweet tea pitcher around and have to go to the back to get the unsweet.  Your English teacher remembers your name 29 years and 3,000 students later.  There's always someone dropping by to share a "Wal-Mart sack" full of fresh vegetables....they just had more than they could eat.  Meringue stands 4 inches above the pie filling.  Someone's always asking how your Mama's doing.   

Here, you might be referred to as" John Borden's boy" or "Helen Carpenter's granddaughter" as much as you're called by your own name. You're likely to have the door held for you and be asked, "How you doin', ma'am?"   You'll see red geraniums, American flags, rocking chairs, and porch swings.....and a lot of visiting going on.  Sometimes, around here you just don't have any particular place to be and that's ok.  Men like to talk about the latest rain.  Women like to talk about how the humidity messes with their hair.           
         
It's seeing your high school friends' mothers and asking how they're doing...."tell them to give me a call when they're home again".  It's a fish fry with the bream the boys caught and your grandmother's buttermilk hushpuppy recipe.  When the biscuits are ready, it's getting out the jar of fig preserves with "2012" scribbled across the Mason lid.  It's looking for names on the bottom of Corningware and Pyrex dishes to return them after you've been flat on your back.  It's being missed when you're not at church.        

Traffic's not really a problem in most places.  You may have to drive a while to get to a big city.  You'll likely hear a prayer come over the loud speaker at a Friday night game.  You'll get a thank you note for every little kindness.  We'll still wish you a "Merry Christmas" as offensive as it is.  We can tell you how to treat wasp stings, red bug bites, poison ivy, and a slew of other afflictions with the secrets our grandmas taught us.  We might even give you a cutting from our butterfly bush.  And if you ever fall on hard times, we'll always, always, always, "bless your heart".          

I guess, sometimes, we just need to stop and appreciate the good things that surround us.....no matter where we live.  Those wonderful things that we walk by each day or glance over with little notice.  In this crazy, crazy world that's getting crazier by the minute, it does the heart good to hone in on the love and graciousness and kindness of our surroundings.

There's a whole lot of good to see out there.

                               

              












Monday, June 8, 2015

Case #324421559

So, after having a clean traffic record for almost a decade, it looks like I've slipped into a pattern of lawlessness.  Yesterday, I was running late for my niece's wedding shower and, as luck would have it, when I rounded a curve along the way, there sat a police car. 

I slammed on brakes to slow down and then looked back in the rearview mirror to check for any lights or movement, all while pleading audibly into the mirror, "Please no, please no, please no!"   The officer pulled out onto the roadway behind me.  I was praying that they'd coincidentally received a call at the very same moment at which I came speeding by......like maybe a cat stuck in a tree or some other non-life threatening situation that required their attention.  I waited and hoped that they would zoom past.  "Go around....please, go around!"   But, then it happened.  The lights came on and all hope was lost.  I pulled over with all the words that my mother taught me to never say bouncing around inside my head.  It sounded like an episode of Maury in there.....and for that, I am sorry.                   

Let's pause a minute to recap.  As y'all remember, it hasn't been too long since I was in trouble with the law over that incomplete stop thing.  Yeah, I may look like a middle aged, Baptist church choir member, library cardholder, organ donor, carpooling mother of two on the outside, but, clearly, there's a whole lot of lawlessness that bubbles just below the surface. 

A rebel, I tell you. 

At this rate, they're going to need to put my records in that cabinet closest to the door down at the station along with the other frequently pulled files......the repeat offenders.  I'll be hanging in the post office by week's end if this keeps up.      

Mugshot Booth App- even adds black eyes and bloody noses at no charge.   

Anyway, I sat there and planned my strategy as the officer came toward my car.  I went the "act like you don't know what you did wrong" route during the last traffic stop and, well, we saw how that turned out.....$159 later.  This time, I decided to play the humble, apologetic card and with an emphasis on my niece's shower.  Everyone has family.....and we're all about family here in the South and, as an added bonus, I was in a dress, clearly having been to the Lord's house that morning and surely that would count for something here in the buckle of the Bible belt.  I mean, after all, I got off with a warning one time when I told the officer I was on my way to a church Christmas program. 

I had the plan all set when the officer started towards my car.  It was a woman.  I'd never dealt with a woman officer before, but I could see how it could have its advantages.  I tried to stay calm and act naturally.  Why is it when you're pulled over by the cops, you feel so nervous and self conscious and guilty....almost like there's 25 pounds of heroin, 19 automatic assault rifles, $50,000 in twenties, 3 wanted prison escapees, and an old lady bound with duck tape in your backseat. 

She came up to the window, "Ma'am, you were clocked going 46 in a 30," she said.  "Ok, think humble and apologetic," I reminded myself, as it was not the time to point out the ridiculously obvious speed trap of the 30mph speed limit on the four lane road.  "Yes, ma'am, I know.  I'm running late for my niece's shower, ma'am, and just wasn't paying attention," I lamented in a most kind and regretful tone.

She took my license and insurance card, like so many before her, and went back to her car.  At this point, your only hope is that she'll come back and tell you that you that you need to slow down and that she's going to let you off this time.  She got back out of the car with my license and I didn't see a blue slip of paper.  "Oh, yippee.....here comes the warning," I thought.  "Ma'am, I'm going to have to issue you a citation for your speeding today," she said as she handed me my license with the blue paper folded up behind it.  So much for humility.      

To make matters worse, Blair just got a speeding ticket on her way back to college last week.  I mean I'd just had the talk with her about needing to slow herself down and how that ticket was just like throwing money out the window....blah, blah, blah.  Oh, I went on and on and on.  I used all the right key words and phrases.....safety.....accidents.....insurance....reimbursement....needless
expense...costly....responsibility.  Don't you hate when you go and say stuff like that 3 days before you get a ticket yourself?  Sometimes, parenting can come back and just pop you right in the mouth. 

So, you can all imagine how excited "Dave-is Ramsey" is about all of this.  He's just beside himself thinking about it.   

All this to say.......if you get behind a slow moving string of cars that's making you late for work and you're thinking, "Who is that idiot up there holding up traffic?!?  Go, you moron!!!"  Chances are, it is me....with my cruise control set at 30...trying to avoid my license being suspended or imprisonment or lethal injection or whatever else they do to you when you live in such total disregard for the law. 

Well, drive safely, y'all.        

And if you'd like to donate to our family's ticket fund, well, who am I to stop you?



     




         

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Apple and the Tree

I've been seeing all these people posting their results from the app, Like Parent, and so, of course, I had to try it out.  It's this silly app where you load a picture of each parent and of the child and it tells you who the child looks like using percentages.  I've seen parents doing this all day and I know children everywhere are cringing. 

Here are our results.....
Oh, Blair.  Aren't you the lucky one?  94 is a big number.  Let's look into the crystal ball. 
 
So, if we assume this is accurate, let me give it to you straight.  There's a 94% chance that your bikini days will come to an abrupt halt after your first child.  You'll likely be on some type of statin drug by your mid-40's.  You'll get this mysterious bulge around your middle at 38 and if your jeans ever slide down below it, they're gone....there's nothing stoppin' them then.  You may notice a trend of making hasty decisions that you later regret.  Prepare yourself for some laugh lines and a predisposition to bags under your eyes that could be mistaken for Samsonite.  You'll keep that thick hair, but with it will come the need to invest in some good quality tweezers and a high magnification mirror.  There's a 94% chance you'll need them.  You'll likely always have good teeth, but may eventually develop trouble eating greasy foods at night.           
Carson, according to this app, looks like there's a 96% chance that you'll want to go ahead and start massaging your scalp to maximize the blood flow to those hair follicles. Your cholesterol will probably always be so low that the doctor will eventually quit checking it, but your wife might frequently complain of your snoring.  This could cause you to be sent to the couch on occasion.  You likely won't ever shop from the Big & Tall catalog, but that's so overrated.  A nose trimmer could be in your future, so go ahead and spend the extra money to get a good one.  Your blue eyes will always knock the ladies out, but they could possibly require glasses one day.  And there's a 96% chance that you'll be the saver, not the spender, in your marriage.  You'll likely always have the patience of Job, but, eventually, you may develop a sensitivity to strong smells and poor sleep quality.          
Looks like the app thinks I lean more toward looking like my Mama.  I remember when I was a teenager living at home. When I'd need to ask her a question, I'd go into my parents' room where she was getting dressed and I remember thinking........"Well, bless her heart".  I mean, after all, she had a little extra baggage around her middle, not a tan line in sight, and, well, her skin just wasn't taut like mine in some places.......kind of like what Blair must be thinking when she comes into my room now.    

Anyway, when you're 16....or 21, you're like....."Good grief, what is that?"  I remember thinking, "well, I obviously don't take after her", as I'd looked down pridefully at my stomach, which was flat enough to play Jenga on.  I could count my ribs as I stood there, my hip bones protruded out far enough to put a short person's eye out, and, if I looked hard enough, I could even see a faint outline of each of my internal organs, so I breathed a sigh of relief that I'd obviously dodged some genetic bullets.  All that relief would make me hungry, so I'd go eat a bag of chips and a dozen peanut butter cookies for a bedtime snack to keep my weight from dropping below 100.  I hate the 16 year old me.

With time, life has a way of coming back and smacking your inner 16 year old in the face, though.
   
I'm sure my brothers had similar thoughts as they were probably certain that nothing would ever grow out of their ears, their hair would remain as dark as chocolate, and their midsections would always stay behind their belts where they belonged.

It's awesome when you're 45 and someone tells you that you look like your mother, but when you're 17 or 21 and they say that......well, that's a different story.  I can imagine Blair's inner voice now....."Oh my word!  You mean the lady with the pants that have that elastic band that comes up over her navel and the little hair that grows out of the mole on her chin and the sunspots on her arms that make them look like a Jackson Pollock painting and the veins that stick way up on the back of her hands and those shoes she wears with the word, "comfort" on the box?  I look like her?" 

Yeah.....sorry, Blair. 

94% sorry.      

Now that I'm all grown up and people tell me that I look like my Mama, I'm flattered.  She's beautiful.  She has pretty eyes, a sweet smile and a cute, little figure and she's even more breathtaking on the inside.  She's a precious lady......in every way. 

If I'm just 1% like her, the 47 year old me is doing pretty well.
 

Y'all have a good day!