Monday, November 30, 2015

Thanksgiving, Etc.

So, the Thanksgiving holidays went something like this....
 
On Thanksgiving, we didn't have anywhere to be until supper time.  So, we basically sat around and did nothing most of the day.  It was like a normal day......like a September 14 or a February 6.  Around noon, while everyone was enjoying Thanksgiving lunch with their families, Davis went to the grocery store for me while I did laundry and Carson washed the cars.  Blair had gone to eat lunch with her boyfriend's family.  I'm sure the passing neighbors were thinking how sad it was that we had Carson out detailing the cars during Thanksgiving lunch.  Around 4, I was still in my pajamas and thought I was beginning to smell myself so I decided it would be prudent to get a shower before we left for my side's family gathering.

My family's Thanksgiving involved about 42-ish people.....17 of which were children.  Cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, brothers, sister-in-laws.  People everywhere.  So good to be with my big family and eat and eat and eat....and the next day do it all again with Davis' smaller, more low key family. 
 This gives you an idea of what 42 people at Thanksgiving dinner looks like.
 
I'm pretty sure my blood is about the consistency of Jell-O right now.  If I'm really quiet, I think I can actually hear it moving through my veins like sludge through pipes.  And I'd been doing so good with cutting down on my sugar intake since my triglyceride problem surfaced, but my mother made 2 of her caramel cakes, you see.  When her caramel cake is around, you lose all sense of judgment.  It will literally make you weep.  I even brought a couple of pieces home and hid them......bringing them out when I found myself alone.

It would be ok if that was all I did, but some of the sweet people I help with their Christmas decorations have been giving me goodies, too.  One gave me a big box of caramels which were handmade by nuns.  The Trappistine Nuns of Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey to be exact.  Says so on the box.  How could those be wrong?  Surely, these confections were ordained by God and not wanting to throw cold water on their ministry, I ate a few of those.  The next day, I was waiting at Papa John's for a pizza for Carson and the Baskin Robbins next door started calling me..........and I answered.  "Single scoop of chocolate almond in a sugar cone, please."  And today, I was given a box full of freshly baked tea cakes.....my very favorite.  I saw this as a sign.  I thought about that verse....."Taste and see that the Lord is good".  Yes, He is.  I was just going to have one......but five cookies and a pint of milk later, I was sure that the Lord was good. 

I've got to get control of myself and fast.     

So, Sunday, I went and picked out a Christmas tree.  I'm a real tree kind of girl.  We had a fake tree for a couple of years and I just wasn't feeling its synthetic needles and metal branches.  Something about a tree that you drag down from the attic just isn't the same as the smell of fresh fir.  So, I'm at the tree lot and you know how it is there.  They all look so small......I mean sitting out in the open and all.  I decided to skip over the $60 section and go straight for the $80 grouping.  Yes, I paid $80 for a tree that only has 3 weeks to live.  And did I mention that when I woke up this morning, I discovered that it's not drinking?  At all.  So, by Christmas, we'll have a 9 foot tumbleweed in our living room hooked up to electricity.  That's just the kind of risk takers we are. 

Anyway, we got it home and the thing is huge.  Way bigger than it was there.....you know, outside.  You know like how Clark Griswold misjudged that time.  "It's not going in our yard, Russ.  It's going in our living room."  The tree's awe-inspiring size is not so much in its height but its girth would be to an appropriate scale for, say, the lobby of The Plaza.  Anyway, we wedged it in our usual tree spot and let's just say......it fills it up.....to overflowing.  If you're sitting on the very end of the couch, you have to kind of lean your head to the far left to watch the television.  But, with a few minor concessions like that, I think it will work.  It speaks to me.  It says things like, "I belong in the White House."  But, it's here and I love it.   

One of the biggest blessings of my Thanksgiving week was having the chance to visit with friends who were in town for the holiday and others who just had a little more time on their hands than usual.  It's so good to sit across the table from friends and catch up and laugh until you lose all track of time.  Most of all, I was able to love on my beautiful friend, Amanda.  I told you about her several months ago and she's now cancer free after what's been a long year for her.  Thanks for praying for her.   

It's hard to beat a week full of family, friends, and food.  

I told you that my posts may be spotty during this season and this week is one of the very busiest for me.  I probably won't be back this week but hoping that next week will lend itself to more writing.

Y'all have a good one!  I'll see you in a few days!                 



   


            

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Good and Perfect Gifts

Blessings. 

We become more mindful of them during this time of year.    

Some blessing are big and obvious and almost impossible to overlook.  They are the ones in the forefront of our minds and likely the first to fall from our lips when we're asked what makes us most thankful.  These are seen in the faces of our parents and they flicker in the eyes of our children.  They're heard in the voice of a spouse or in a young child's song.  These kinds of blessings are in a friend's laugh and the warmth of their embrace.  They're felt at the sight of our flag or in the presence of a scarred soldier.  They're there in a church pew, on the pages of God's promises, and in the comfort of a prayer.  These blessings are the ones which cannot be ignored.  Their very presence shape and define our lives and affect us so profoundly that we can't even comprehend their impact.  They come through the people we love, the freedoms we enjoy, and the salvation we've been given.  They're the foundation on which God has built us.  They steady us, support us, help us bear the weight of this life, and give us hope for the next one to come.         

Other blessings are more subtly woven into our everyday living and are sometimes overlooked.  They're often seen as a given.  Commonplace.  Basic necessities.  Sometimes, we fail to really give them much thought until we see someone who's living without their comforts.  These blessings are felt in the warmth of our homes on a cold, rainy night.  They're tasted in the bounty of foods on our table and in the purity of our water.  They're heard in the hum of our air conditioning or the engine of our car.  They're lined up in our closets....shoes, coats, and jackets.  They are felt in the safety and security we feel in the places we live.  Sometimes, we may be tempted to write these blessings off as just our standard of living.  Maybe we feel entitled to them, somehow.  Maybe they're such a part of our way of life that we feel they're some kind of basic package that we all have coming to us.  But, they are so much more than that.  I see them as God's way of zipping our jackets and kissing our foreheads each morning.  And in the evening, through His mercy, He tucks us in and pulls the covers up under our chins.  He is caring for us like a Father. 

Still, there are other blessings which are almost like garnish.  They're the little things that make life incredibly rich and unnecessarily sweet.  They're the extra trimmings on this already beautiful journey.  These are seen in the colors of a sunset splashed across the sky and reflected in the mirror of a lake. These are heard in the morning birds' song or in the crash of the waves.  They can surface in a happy memory of a time long passed.  They're felt on the fur of our pets and in the warmth of a cozy fire.  These blessings envelope us in the cool breezes of autumn and in the flurry of a gentle snowfall.  These kinds of blessings can be heard in the harmony of beautiful music or seen in the smile of a baby.  They are felt in the quake of a belly laugh.  These are the blessings with which God has iced our cake..... just because He wanted to.  Our days are sprinkled with these kinds of blessings.  Sometimes, we're just too busy to notice all the embellishments that God has heaped upon our lives.  They're the little extras He does for us each day.  His finishing touches.                      
       
I think we all realize that, whether we have an impressive investment portfolio or just enough to get by, we, most likely, have over and above what many in our world could ever even dream of.  While many are in a struggle to find clean water and basic shelter, we're grappling with big problems like dark granite or light granite......cable, satellite, or Apple TV.......SUV or crossover......iPhone or Samsung Galaxy......tablet or laptop. 

A visual came to my mind.  Have you ever watched a spoiled child open presents?  One who has everything?  There's not much joy in that.  Rip the paper, throw it aside. Grab another.  Rip the paper, throw it aside.  There's little time spent on appreciating the gift or expressing gratitude to the giver.  I think we become like that, sometimes.  We have everything we really need and when we get more, sometimes, I think it doesn't even phase us that much.  "Yeah, thanks....just put it over in the pile with the others." 

God help us when we do find ourselves becoming desensitized to the abundance of our blessings that we not stay in that place for long.  God has most generously poured out His provisions over us......and then some.  In turn, He wants us to acknowledge Him, live in a spirit of thankfulness, and share what we have with someone who needs it whenever we can.    

I want to remain constantly aware that, without Him, I would have nothing.   

"Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father"  James 1:17



I hope you have a great Thanksgiving with your family and friends! 
 
I'm so thankful for all of you who come here to visit me!  You'll never know how much.          

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Who's Coming to Thanksgiving Dinner?

Well, it's Thanksgiving week and you know what that means.  Family gatherings.  All over the country, families will be coming together around tables of delicious food and lively conversation.  No matter where you live or how you celebrate Thanksgiving, I'm guessing that we all have some of the same guests at our tables.  There is a broad swath of categories into which, I'm sure, most of us could divide up many of the family members who'll be with us this Thanksgiving.  I thought we'd look at some of those today.     

The worrier. Every family has a worrier or two. They're the ones who fret that the kids will break the glass table and sever all their main arteries or that someone will get choked on a bone that was left in the dressing.  They're the ones who have visions of the turkey being undercooked and the entire family tree being hospitalized on Black Friday with salmonella poisoning.  The worrier can't help that he/she has the gift of a dark imagination.  After all, in the mind of the worrier, when 45 people are in one house, the odds of all of them leaving alive and well are slim to none.    
     
The organizer.  The organizers are always in charge.  The organizer is often a first born child which makes them natural born bosses.  They do all the calling..... compiling a list of conflicts....and ultimately deciding on the day and time at which the meal will served.  They make the assignments as to who will bring what ensuring that there will be plenty to eat.  They shop well in advance for ingredients so that the family will not be among those caught without French's Fried Onions atop their green beans when the grocery stores run out.  They have their system and it's best not to try to alter it.  Their way has worked for all these years and there's no need to change it now.  Until the organizers have been laid to rest, the family will follow his/her lead. 

The free spirit.  The free spirit can be found at Thanksgiving dinner in unconventional dress like board shorts, Black Sabbath tees, and sandals.  Facial hair and hairstyles may vary from year to year. Because of the free spirit's laid back personality, he is rarely in any hurry or distress and, as a result, will likely be around for more Thanksgivings than any of his contemporaries in the family.     
    
The politico.  The political one is always up to date on the latest politics and is ready to discuss them at a moment's notice.  "Did I hear someone mention the Republican debate?"  We have several of these in our midst.  They enjoy political banter and discussing what needs to be changed in the world.  It is best not to seat this guest next to anyone's new liberal girlfriend who is currently involved with the Bernie Sanders campaign and sporting a Planned Parenthood bumper sticker on her car. 
  
The child magnet.  There's always that one relative who attracts all of the children.  They hang off of the child magnet like monkey bars.  The child magnet is usually a fun uncle who's never had kids and doesn't realize the dangers of flinging children into the blades of a ceiling fan or grasp the concept of shaken baby syndrome.  This total disregard for safety is the very thing which draws the children to him.  It is best not to seat the worrier anywhere near the child magnet when arranging the place cards.

The picky eater.  The picky eater looks at the long table of holiday food which stretches as far as the eye can see and can find nothing that is fit to eat.  The picky eater will ask if there are any Kraft singles in the house or simply settle for a roll and dessert.  The organizer is sure to make a notation of this and accommodations will be made for the picky eater at next year's gathering.
   
The Black Friday shopper.  The Black Friday shopper stretches miles of sales papers out across the floor and table.....making notes and lists and checking them twice.  They are comparing prices online, checking sale times, and charting their shopping attack.  The shopper may excuse herself a little early in order to get in line with the other 500 people in competition with her for the five iPads in stock at Best Buy.       

The observer.  The observer is seen but rarely heard.  He/she is content to sit along the edges of the room as a spectator of all of the family mayhem.  It's not that they aren't enjoying themselves or wish to be somewhere else, it's just not their style to get up in the middle of the action.  The observers and the free spirits blend nicely together in the seating chart. 

The entertainer.  If there is a piano, they will play it.  If there is a karaoke machine, they will sing into it.  If there is a hearth, it will be their stage.  The entertainer sees the family Thanksgiving as a holiday with a captive audience and will never let a good opportunity get by them.  The entertainers were born for times such as this.        

The hugger.  The huggers.....well, they hug.  A. Lot.  If you see them coming toward you, you should assume the hugging position because it's coming.  It is not unusual to be hugged by the huggers multiple times in one visit.  Once when you arrive.  Once when you leave.  And as many times as you pass by them in between.  The huggers are full of love for their family and want to express it.  Failing to do so could result in something bursting internally and that would be unhealthy.....and would require the care of one of the medics.   

The techie.  The techie is always on his/her gadgets.  They're texting, posting, checking social media.  They're Snapchatting, Candy Crush-ing, tagging, and scrolling.  If there are any news or weather developments during the gathering, locally or abroad, the techie will keep the family informed.  Oddly, the family could recognize the top of the techie's head from a mile away.  The Black Friday shoppers can benefit from having the techies' place cards close by. 
   
The fan. The fan is always rehashing the game, play by play, or looking for a television to catch the last quarter or the highlights.  They flip channels between ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN Alternate, and the SEC Network.  They always come dressed in their team's colors and seek out the fans of their rival team to torment.  The fan and the politico generally have nothing to talk about and should be seated apart. 
   
The sleeper.  Once the sleeper eats, it's game over.  You'll find them in the closest recliner to the table all stretched out and unconscious. The sleeper opens himself up to a number of embarrassing possibilities when he dozes off in a room full of people, all armed with phones.  This is a risk he is always willing to take.  The sleeper often wakes up confused as to what time it is and how long he's been out.....not realizing he's gotten over 100 likes on his drooling portrait which the techie has posted. 

The photographer.  The photographer wants to capture all family memories for future generations. It is their mission to photograph everyone in attendance at least six times.  The photographer will often wrangle different groups together to be photographed such as children, brothers and sisters, etc.  The crowd usually becomes disgruntled with the photographer.  The outdoorsman and the observers are especially intolerant of the photographer's quest to document their existence.  It is a thankless job that few appreciate......except for the entertainer and the fashionista, of course.         

The servant.  The servant wants to help everyone in attendance at family affairs.  They will hold your baby while you eat, refill your tea glass, wipe your toddler's nose, wash your fork if you drop it, fetch you another piece of pie, make your coffee, and take your plate to the kitchen when you're done.  The servant insists that she's not hungry and will eat right after she's cut all 18 children's turkey into little pieces. The servant is often left with the dark meat and sweet potatoes with no topping.   

The outdoorsman.  The outdoorsmen may arrive a little late to the gathering.  He is usually dressed in camo and could possibly smell of deer urine.  It would not be uncommon for the outdoorsman to have a deceased animal in the back of his truck while joy and merriment take place inside.  The children may find the discovery of Prancer's carcass especially disturbing this close to Christmas, so caution should be taken.  The Black Friday shopper and the outdoorsman may pass each other in the driveway.....leaving early and arriving late.

The medic. The medics are the doctors, pharmacists, x-ray techs, nurses, and physical therapists in the family.  Basically, any family member working in the medical field is fair game for free advice at any and all family gatherings.  Children who hit their heads or wheeze are rushed over to the closest medic. Questions regarding sciatica, rotator cuff pain, drug side effects, migraines, the shingles vaccine, and diarrhea with or without vomiting should all be directed toward a family medic.......but out of earshot of the worrier.        

The fashionista.  Everyone anxiously awaits the arrival of the fashionistas to see what the new trends are.....the hottest colors.....the latest styles.  The fashionistas always come in dressed to the nines.  Throughout the gathering, they can be heard answering questions concerning eyeliner application and hair product preferences.  The fashionista next to the outdoorsman doused with doe urine may not be the most ideal seating arrangement.   
     
The destructive one.  It's best to keep your eye on this one.  If you don't know where the destructive one is, you better be finding out.  Candles, fireplace matches, key rings with mace, fire pokers, scissors, electric knives, and fingernail polish should be kept on lockdown when the destructor is in the house.  The destructive one should be carefully watched, but never put in the care of the child magnet. 

The vulture.  The vultures come ready to do some damage to the holiday spread.  The organizer will need to know if the vulture will be present or not because his/her attendance can be a game changer in the grocery shopping.  The number of turkeys needed could even vary based on their attendance.  When everyone else has moved on to the dessert table, the vulture is just getting started with his third helping of dressing, turkey, sweet potatoes, and fifth roll.  The vultures are blessed with the gift of consumption and they have no preferences as to who they are seated near as long as there is food. 

Who's coming to your Thanksgiving dinner? 


I hope y'all have a great start to this holiday week!




Monday, November 16, 2015

Look Away

I was so productive today.  I got Carson out the door this morning and slipped back in the bed for a couple of more hours of much needed sleep.  I stayed in my PJs and cleaned house until 1:00, at which point, I finally showered, got dressed, and headed out with my most impressive grocery list.  We were out of everything.  Not just food, but things like shaving cream, detergent, shampoo, toothpaste.  Putting off the trip to the store was not an option.  It was no longer just a matter of our nutritional needs being met, but our hygiene was on the line as well and we couldn't have that. 

I ran a couple of errands first and decided to run through the Chick-fil-a drive through to get a sandwich and some tea before I went to shop.  One needs to be well nourished and hydrated when entering a store with a list so wordy that it could be mistaken for the Magna Carta.  I placed my order and everything was going fine.  I pulled around the building to pay and that's when it happened. 

As I waited for my turn to pull up to the window, my eyes wandered around the parking lot in front of me and I happened to catch a glimpse of a woman running over to some nearby bushes and vomiting into them.  I know.  Vomit is a terrible word.  And the thing is......there's no really nice way to say vomit.  Throw up.  Puke. Upchuck.  No, here at Motherhood and Muffin Tops, we'll stick with the more medical seeming terminology, vomit. 

I know you're familiar with the car wreck phenomenon.  You want to stop looking so you won't see anything you don't want to see but you can't.  I tried to look away, but I suppose, in a sick and twisted way, I was curious to see if she was done and just had to get a second look.  Just in time to catch a second explosive wave spew into the poor holly bushes. 

Oh, man.  There I was waiting on my grilled chicken sandwich with melted Colby jack cheese on a whole wheat bun and I'd gone and done this to myself. 

Poor lady.  She was probably out shopping when the stomach bug hit her and she had nowhere to go but the bushes......and right at the exact time my car was pointing in her direction.  Why did I look?  Why? Why? Why? Why?  

My stomach started to feel a little rumbly as I pulled up to claim my sandwich and tea.  The lady handed me my food and told me it was her pleasure and all that polite stuff they say at Chick-fil-a.  How could something sound so good on one side of the building and so repulsive on the other?  I pulled off determined to eat my lunch.  I thought, "I'll just think about something else.....like butterflies, rainbows, and ponies."  I bit into it and started to chew.  "Rainbow, butterflies, ponies, rainbows, butterflies, ponies, rainbows, butterflies, ponies.......oh, no......and a woman vomiting in the bushes."  I tried to swallow the bite of sandwich without gagging.  Drank some tea.  Got it down. 

I'd just paid good money for this sandwich and hadn't had any lunch, so I was determined to eat it.  I changed my strategy.  I'll turn up the music and focus on that.  Yeah, good idea.  Luckily, one of my new favorite songs was playing......"Hello, can you hear me?  I'm in California dreaming about who we used to be."  Yes, the music was helping.  I was singing along and went in for another bite as Adele continued with her heart wrenching phone call......  "When we were younger and free. I've forgotten how it felt before...oh, no....the woman vomited in the bushes."

I managed to eat half of my sandwich with the air conditioner blowing cold air in my face, but my stomach churned all the way through the grocery store and all the way to the checkout where the lady said, "Your total is $247.79, ma'am."  Oh, my stomach.   

So, the moral of the story is this......curiosity kills the appetite.  When in doubt, don't look.  If you do, there's nothing that even Adele can do to help you "unsee" what you saw. 


Hope y'all have a great day, people!

                

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Not Really a Post

Well, I'm back.  I was gone a little longer than I expected as I was sick this week in the midst of trying to get the second store decorated for the holidays.  Both open houses are over now (Hallelujah and Amen!) and I'm feeling much better, so things are looking up for me...... but not for Davis and Carson who've started showing signs of falling to whatever it was that I had.

I would've gone to the State game Saturday, but I had some last minute work to do and, not to mention, I just didn't think I had the energy.  I would've considered it if I'd been able to get someone to meet me at the car, throw me over their shoulder, tote me across the campus, find my seat, plop me down into it, and ring my cowbell upon command.........and then, 4 quarters later, repeat the process in reverse.  But, since there was no one who seemed interested in that, I sent the boys and watched the slaughter while stretched out on the couch......much like Dak was stretched out on the turf for much of the game.  Bless his little heart.         

Anyway, it's been two weeks since I've exercised, cooked, been to the grocery store, or sat at my own table to eat.  It's been one week since I blogged, cleaned my house, or eaten a vegetable.  And I've missed all of that......except maybe the cleaning house part.

And as much as I'd love to write a post tonight, my brain's low battery light is flashing.  Worse than that.....it's starting to make that chirping noise the smoke alarm makes when it's time for a new 9 volt.  So, I'm going to recharge my battery and should be back up and running in a day or two.

I just wanted to say, "Hey"!
           

     

Sunday, November 8, 2015

A Retired Ob/Gyn and an Oblivious Thug

Well, I have Christmas open house #1 under my belt.  It's been a long week and a long day!  We had a great turnout and the weather FINALLY turned cool so we'll list this day over in the success column. 

So, when I got home tonight,  my feet were killing me.  I had this achy, cold feeling all over.  And I was starving!  I'd been in my church clothes and heels all day, so I changed into something more comfortable, took a couple of Advil, and told Davis that I thought it would be a good idea if he took me out to dinner.  I'd been gone almost every night last week and I just wanted to unwind and spend a little time with my two boys.   

Davis, Carson, and I walked into the restaurant and were seated by the hostess.  I scanned over the menu, looked up, and spotted my old Ob/Gyn sitting across the room.  He'd delivered both of my children, took care of me after a miscarriage, tied my tubes, and served as my overall female reproductive health coordinator until he retired many years ago.  If ever a man deserved a nice, quiet retirement, it would be him. 

I suppose most women have a fondness for the doctors who delivered their babies and cared for them during the various hormonal stages of their womanhood.

We just do.

Well, I don't know what Emily Post's recommended protocol is for speaking to your former gynecologist in the middle of a restaurant so I just winged it using the utmost sophistication and class that could be mustered for such a time as this.  I could've let the poor man go about his merry way but I thought......"well, contractors like to visit jobs they've completed...teachers take great pleasure in seeing their success stories....architects like to see buildings they designed..... preachers like to run into couples they've married.... artists long to see how their artwork is displayed in buyers' homes.  Surely, the OB/GYN takes some delight in seeing the children that he's dragged out of their tired, bloated mother's gaping womb, while kicking and screaming their heads off.  And as an added bonus....the chance to see that their mother didn't actually end up in a padded cell rocking back and forth like he might have suspected she would." 

Stands to reason that he'd like to see the fruits of his labor just like any other professional.

So, after our meal and on our way out the door, we stopped by his table and spoke.  I mean, what kind of people would we be if we denied him the thrill of seeing us in the middle of a meal he was enjoying with his wife?   Exactly.  Terrible, that's what kind.    

He had an instant look of "I know you" in his eyes.  He was kind and engaging and seemed to be tickled to see one of his many achievements.  Of course, he could've been thinking that he'd seen enough of me in his lifetime and had made great strides in putting those memories behind him and I could've mistaken that for him being engaging and kind and tickled and stuff......but still.  He said Carson looked a lot different than the last time he saw him......probably meaning less blood in his hair, more clothing, and not nearly as cranky.

     
As the night went on, the worse I began to feel but we needed to stop by the grocery store on our way home.  I told the guys that I'd stay in the car.  Davis and Carson got out, locked me in, and took off to grab the few things that we needed to start the week. 

In a couple of minutes, I started hearing a man's voice.  I looked around the car to see where it was coming from and noticed a man in the car next to me talking on his cell phone with his window cracked open a little.  He obviously thought that everyone had vacated our vehicle and had gone into the store as I started hearing him say things like, "I mean if you break into someone's house, you don't........indiscernible gibberish.........expletive, expletive."  Then, he continued, "I break into places that I know I won't".........indiscernible gibberish......and more expletives containing the word, mother."  I slinked down in my seat hoping that I wasn't accidentally hearing something that I'd need to be killed for later.  It was raining and so the darkness and the raindrops on the car window helped hide me from the oblivious, talkative criminal.  After another round of expletives, I heard several statements about not being caught by the police and that's when I sank farther down into my seat.

I'd been out there a while and started thinking, "Where could the boys be?"  Well, Davis knows his way around a grocery store about as well as I know the layout of the Auto Zone.  Suffice it to say......not very well.  About that time, I got a text from him.  "Where are the Hot Pockets?"  Oh, lordy........I'm out here in the parking lot trying not to be detected by one of America's Most Wanted and have my cold, dead body stuffed into his trunk and my only hope of being saved is dependent on Davis finding the pepperoni microwavable sandwiches with a flaky crust in the sea of freezer cases in a timely manner. 

I was doomed.

Suddenly, the man grew quiet.  Maybe this was it for me.  Maybe he spotted the glow of my phone.  Maybe he finally noticed my sunken silhouette.  Whatever happened, he cranked his car and eased out of the parking space.  I was relieved to see him leaving.....and without discharging any weapons into my vehicle.

So, that is my report for today.  Such as it was.   

It was a long day.  I am tired.  And I feel bad.  Did I mention that already?



Hope to check back in a couple of times this week! 

Y'all have a great Monday.     

      

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

This Heat and Its Accompanying Struggles

So, this coming Sunday is Christmas open house at one of the gift shops and next Sunday is open house at the other one.  With the first one being only a few days away, you would be right in assuming that we're working late hours and getting all things Christmas put out and displayed. 

I know.  I know.  It's only early November.  But, we've not neglected Thanksgiving and have a whole table devoted solely to it right at our front door, so don't you fret about that. 

It's been so warm down here for the last couple of weeks.  Summer just will not die and, here on November 4, I'm ready to take an ax to it.....or hack it to death with a machete.  Heat apparently brings out thoughts of gory violence in the usual peace-loving me.  Y'all know warmth is not my friend and its attempt to seep over into months in which it doesn't belong is just making me cranky.  I mean, warm weather gets more than its fair share of time down here and it's cutting into my time now.    

So, this week, we've had to crank the air way down and turn on the Christmas music to try and capture the least bit of Yuletide spirit in this ridiculously humid heat wave.  I mean, it's just hard to get in the mood to put out snowmen and the Baby Jesus when you're perspiring and swatting mosquitos.  But, we do what we have to do down here in the South.  They're forecasting highs in the 60's by the weekend, so we'll all feel like Elsa has paid us a visit.     

Before I go to bed tonight, I'm setting my alarm for 4:45 a.m., y'all. 

Yes.  Me.  4:45. 

That's like 30 minutes before the Proverbs 31 wife gets up. 

My mother, aunt, two cousins, and I are going on a little girls' shopping trip tomorrow........one of those Christmas markets......with early admission tickets.  And for the safety of everyone, I am not driving.

This time of year, the lingering heat also presents wardrobe issues for us, southern girls.  I mean, if you're going Christmas shopping, you don't want to look like you could be going to a Memorial Day BBQ or a luau, but you don't want to sweat through your scarf, sweater, and boots either.  The struggle to look seasonally appropriate without suffering from heat exhaustion is real down here.  It just is.

So, I better turn in soon.  I'm one of those people who can't fall asleep if they know they have to get up early the next morning.  I lie there and think about how I'm not sleepy yet and then look over at the clock and start worrying about how much sleep I'm not going to get.  "If I fall asleep right now, I'll get 5 hours."  And then I start thinking about how terrible I'll feel the next day if I only get 5 hours of sleep and I think about it until it's down to 4 hours.  And so on and so forth.  The struggle of the nighttime peg trying to fit in the morning hole is also real.            

My posts may be a little spotty this week and next week but, hopefully, once that is all behind me, I'll have a little reprieve from all the busyness.

Wish me luck with this predawn thing.

Night!          

Sunday, November 1, 2015

I Wouldn't Change a Thing

A happy childhood can't be cured.  Mine'll hang around my neck like a rainbow....
Hortense Calisher

I remember my childhood with such fondness.  I had the best parents.  Lived on an awesome street with a cul-de-sac, which was rich with playmates.  Such good memories of my sweet church and the activities and friends I had there. Attended a small, Christian school and it was such a warm and close knit place, too.  I can't think of anything that I'd change about any of it, really.  We didn't live in a big house or drive the fanciest cars.  We didn't have the latest and greatest.   Didn't have many alligators or polo horses on our shirts.  But, when I look back, all I remember is how warm, loved, and secure I felt.  I just remember being happy and carefree. 

Let me tell you some things about my growing up years...... 

My Daddy made a living for us as a structural detailer.  He stooped over a drawing board and drew the steel specifications for the construction of bridges, buildings, and I don't even know what all.  I'd look at his blueprints and none of it made any sense to me.  Beams and bolts and measurements and equations.  All I knew was that he had really fun stuff to play with out in that office like mechanical pencils, an electric eraser, a lot of calculators, a wide assortment of templates, and a stereo......which was always playing classical music, Simon and Garfunkel, Johnny Mathis, and .....well, you know, stuff like that.   

He was self-employed for most of my childhood and had built himself a small office in our backyard.  So, he was around our house most of the time.  That could be a good and a bad thing.  "Wait until your daddy gets home" didn't exist at our house.  No, we were just sent straight out to that office for our swift and certain punishment. 

He'd come in and eat lunch and then take an hour for napping from 12:00-1:00.  Every day.  Without fail.  We had an intercom system that he'd use to tell us he'd like some coffee or tea or that he needed my mother to deliver a set of plans somewhere for him. 

In his line of work, there was always a deadline.  They always needed his drawings yesterday and so he was under a lot of time pressures and sometimes had to work on the weekends and into the night.  He was busy but he was always around if we needed him or just wanted to go out to his office and visit.  I liked that. 

All three of us, kids, attended private school through the sixth grade.  We all had everything we needed......maybe not wanted, but certainly needed.  We took piano lessons, art lessons, and played ball.  Had cars and trucks.....but not from the showroom floor, of course.  And we all graduated from college not owing one cent to anyone.  All because my Daddy worked so very hard in that little office in our backyard. 

I could never say enough good things about him.....not just as a provider but as a loving Daddy and spiritual example to us.  Daddies are such an important part of the family.  The way that they love us or don't love us, in some cases, can affect us for our whole lives.  Not to diminish their role but today's post is mostly about mothers.  I just couldn't pass up a chance to talk about him for a minute.

My mother. Well, she was/is the heart of our family.  She never worked outside our home.  Well, I take that back.  She worked for a handful of years when my older brother and I were in college at the same time. It was all hands on deck then.  Other than that, she was our stay at home mom.  Let me tell you the things I remember about her from my childhood...... 

I remember how she kept a cake under the cake dome most of the time......buttermilk pound cake usually or marble cake.  She baked the best crisscross peanut butter cookies from the red checked Betty Crocker cookbook and we'd eat until we thought we'd be sick.  We had a homecooked meal every single night of the week.  Eating out was a very rare thing.     

She took us to our lessons and our ball practice.  We each had one thing that we did outside of school and church.  She also drove her turn in the neighborhood carpool rotation to our little private school. 

She liked to do art projects with us using just construction paper, glue, pinking shears, and maybe some glitter.  Nothing fancy, but always fun.

She'd set up a "grocery store" in the backyard using two saw horses, a piece of plywood, some brown lunch bags, a few canned goods, and a calculator.  My friends and I would play checkout ladies and she'd be our tireless customer.

I remember her sitting in the recliner with me all night long when I had stomach viruses......doling out Sprite one tablespoon at a time.  I remember her getting up in the middle of the night and changing my bed during those awful bedwetting years.   

She sewed our Christmas tree ornaments and stuffed them with batting.  She laid our Santa gifts out just so and made the anticipation so exciting. 

I remember her reading stories to us or just telling us stories off the top of her head.  She was a good storyteller and would have us captivated.  She taught us all of our nursery rhymes, too.  She'd say the first few words and let us finish them.   

I remember how she'd never buy anything new for herself.  She had three kids and a husband who she always put before herself. 

I remember how she came into my room each night and would call the boys in there and then read the Bible to us and have a little devotion and prayer time. 

She was the best at helping us study for tests.  She had a way of helping us remember the answers we were having trouble with.  We'd sit down to our tests with all sorts of acronyms and rhymes that helped us recall the correct answer. 

I remember how she taught me to play fun, little duets with her on the piano.  Sometimes, she'd play the top part and sometimes I would. 

She taught us to sing song after song after song......"Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree", "On top of spaghetti all covered with cheese", and "Way down yonder and a great way off, a jaybird died with the whooping cough".

I don't remember her sending us out to play on the swing set.  I remember her swinging with us on the swing set or singing to us while she'd push us.  

I remember bringing friends home after church for the afternoon and how she'd always have something for us to do.....even if it was to just play in the lawn sprinkler and make homemade ice cream.

Our house was clean and Pine-sol was always in the air.  She was a big believer in sunshine and fresh air so our windows were flung open every day the weather allowed it.

On our birthdays, she made our favorite meal with our favorite dessert.  We didn't have a birthday party every year, but some years we did.  They weren't anything fancy.  Sometimes, just a cake and Kool-Aid in the backyard with some neighborhood kids sitting in folding lawn chairs.

I remember her playing our Christmas albums on the stereo during our Christmas break and how she'd set the table with red candles and red napkins. 

When I look back 40 or so years, everything I remember most didn't cost a lot of money or come from a nice store or cause her to be busy doing other things.  Everything I remember most was simply rooted in love and time. 

I don't remember what the invitations to any of my parties looked like or if my mother made themed treat bags for the kids who came.....or even if there ever was a theme.  I don't remember any of the gifts I was given for my birthday as being extraordinary or very expensive.  The snacks she sent for my Christmas class party don't really stand out in my mind as having been super creative or memorable in any way.  I can't remember her hiring a photographer for any of our milestones......one trip to Olan Mills a year had to suffice.  I don't recall having elaborate Halloween costumes unless you define elaborate as a plastic mask with a rubber band or a homemade black cat costume that my brother and I both wore.  I certainly don't remember there being piles and piles of gifts at Christmas....just a few things that we really wanted or had circled in the Sears catalog.  I don't recall my parents giving us gifts and rewards for every little thing we did.....just a pat on the back and maybe a trip to get ice cream.   

I've been thinking.  When did what our mothers did for us become not enough?

Seems like I look around now at mothers my age and younger and I see a lot of tired, stressed, overstretched women. 

At some point, we decided that so much more was necessary to make a good life for our kids.  We decided that, even though we had awesome childhoods, it just wasn't good enough for our kids.  

Maybe it's because we've got phones in hand at all times checking the status of other families and what they're doing instead of just enjoying our own.  Maybe comparison really is the thief of joy, Teddy Roosevelt.  Maybe we're so busy trying to check all of the boxes, cross all of the Ts and make sure that our kids aren't the only ones who don't have a   fill in the blank_ that we've forgotten how to just enjoy what's in front of our faces.  Maybe we've forgotten how to just keep our eyes on our own paper and be thankful for what we see there.     

It's ok if their birthday party is just a cake and ice cream with no event coordinator, $25 treat bags, calligraphy invitations, and live circus animals.  It's all right if you can't make all of their 25 teachers a crafty, breathtaking Christmas gift with an inspirational handmade tag, which is all so clever and thoughtful that it touches the deepest part of their souls resulting in endless tears of joy and gratitude. 

Mothers are running themselves ragged taking kids to extra curricular activities all week.....certain that it will make them more well-rounded, increase their scholarship chances, broaden their social circles, and possibly cultivate the next child prodigy.  Would they rather be at home on their bike or in the backyard?  Would they rather eat dinner at the kitchen table than in the backseat? 

Who are we doing it all for anyway?  The kids? 

We're worn out.  We're stressed out.  And all the kids will remember is the time and love we gave them.  Not how crafty we were or how many pictures we posted or how many pins we pinned or how many compliments we received on our unmatched ability to perfectly form each and every Frozen character from fondant.  Did we have time to rock, play, laugh, teach them songs, and play in the leaves?   

I wonder if we're losing something in this churning sea of comparison and rising standards.  Are we really giving our kids something better than what we had?  Or are they having to give up some really, really wonderful and important things in exchange for our "higher bar"?

I wish we could dial it back to the days of running through lawn sprinklers, Old Maid cards in bike spokes, Tupperware popsicles, being whistled to dinner at dusk, and cut off jean shorts and dirty, bare feet.  

What was wrong with that? 

When did we decide that there was something wrong with that?

It was good enough for us.

I don't know about you but I look back and I can't think of one thing I'd change.

I wonder if our kids will say that. 



Y'all have a great day, ya hear?