Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Twisting Away

Sorry I've been a no-show this week!  As the clock struck midnight, it officially became our 25th wedding anniversary (yes, the big, silver one) and we're going on a little trip so I've been busy getting ready for that.  You know how you have to work your tail slam off just to get ready to go somewhere?  Well, that's been me, the last couple of days.  I'll talk more about the anniversary in a little bit.

We've also made so much progress on the wedding this week!  Not that you want an update but I'm a list person and it will make me feel so accomplished to list it all out for you, so humor me. 

String quartet✅
Music selection✅
Hair/makeup people✅
Bridesmaid dresses✅
Wedding dress✅
Second Line Brass✅
Jazz Band✅
Guest list✅
Bridesmaid gifts✅
Engagement picture appointment✅
Bridal portrait appointment✅
Mother of the bride dress

Oh, wait.  We seem to be missing a check mark.

So, my friend, Michelle, who is a two-time groom's mother, is going shopping with my friend, Valerie, and me on March 20.  Valerie, a soon-to-be groom's mother, and I are going to glean from Michelle's experience in this area of maternal dress as Valerie and I are just rookies. Michelle was my matron of honor 25 years ago today.  Bless her heart.....she didn't know that was an appointment that carries over to the weddings of future generations.   
So, since I have about a month to prepare my muffin top for this experience, I decided I have to get myself in shape.  There are some things you may not know about me......I have trouble with this thing called discipline.  And my favorite food group is carbohydrates.  The chance of me turning down something floury or potato-y that's in front of me, well, it's almost non-existent.  I try to do the right things.  I see my friends with these huge containers of water that they're always sipping on, but I have to be really thirsty to drink water.  Like if I was in the middle of the Sahara Desert, I'm sure I'd enjoy water a whole lot there.  Any other time, water just tastes like it's missing something to me.  Like tea bags.  And a cup of sugar. 

So, to compensate, I've been hard at work on my Simply Fit Board.  I know you've seen them on TV.  They were on Shark Tank and I thought they looked as if they were minimally miserable.  I like any form of exercise that can be done in front of the television in the air conditioning.  Look how much fun she's having.  You just twist, twist, twist away the pounds.  Well, so far, I've gained a pound, but I'm sure it's because muscle weighs more than fat.  I'm sure that's it.

I was determined to write something, tonight, even if it has turned out to be like buckshot.....going off in all different directions and hitting a lot of stuff.  But, I sat down to write and my head was pounding so I got in the shower to let the hot water run over my head.  I got out feeling better and then the Mississippi State and Ole Miss basketball game came on.  Which went into overtime.  At which point, I decided that 90% of basketball is shooting free throws but I couldn't stop watching it even though I'm only mildly interested in the sport.  So, I got a late start writing and from the looks of this post, I should have just written the week off as a loss and let you go on with your lives but, no, here I am babbling.

So, I'm really looking forward to our trip.  I still have a lot to do before we go!  I've been married to Davis more than half my life and I want to write about that when I have the time and mental energy to do it justice.  But, for now, I'll just say there are a lot of things we wish we could go back to in this picture sitting in the back of a limousine with birdseed in our hair.  Like our trim figures.  Our smooth, young skin.  Our whole lives in front of us.  And even more significant at this point......the day when catering was $10 a head. 


Happy Anniversary to my sweet Davis!

We'll see y'all next week! 


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Most Beautiful Gift

This afternoon, I worked at one of the stores to help with the anticipated Valentine rush.  Every Valentine's Day, there's always that one customer that sticks out in my memory and to celebrate this holiday of love, I'll tell you about this year's winner.

Much of the day, we'd helped men select gifts for their sweethearts.  Most of the guys weren't in the store very long as men usually make up their minds about this type thing very quickly.  Let's just say that there wasn't a whole lot of thought put into most of the selections.   

Well, right about the time school was getting out, a young boy came in the store all by himself.  That's a sight we don't usually see at the pharmacy gift shop.  I guess that he was about 10 or 11.  He came in with his hands in his pockets and looked a little intimidated about walking in alone.  I mean, 10 or 11......that is the time of life when our confidence isn't exactly what you'd call soaring. 

Well, Bonnie and I, being the southern women that we are, spoke warmly and tried to make him feel comfortable.  I mean, if you work at a store, it becomes like your house.  Like your home, you don't ever want anyone to walk in your store and feel ill at ease.  We asked if we could help him with anything.  "Oh, I'm just looking for a Valentine present for my Mom," he said shyly. 

Well, I'll just stop right here because I'm a big ol' sucker for a boy who loves him mama.  A real big sucker.  He reminded me of my Carson and so he plucked at my heartstrings kind of like Jimmy Hendrix.     

So, Bonnie and I pointed out some lower priced items in the store that we thought a mother would like.  We didn't know what his budget was but assumed that a 10 year old boy wouldn't have a lot to work with on Valentine's Day.  After showing him a few options, we backed off and let him look.  He went back and forth across the store studying all the choices.  I got busy with another customer and when I got done with her, I walked over to the counter where Bonnie was ringing up his selections and I asked if I could wrap the gifts for him. "How much does wrapping cost?" he asked.  I assured him it was a complimentary service and he was very happy to hear that.  He had two small candles for his mom and another item for his dad and Bonnie announced his total of $23 and some cents.  He nervously shifted and rifled through his money and admitted that he only had $20 and that he'd put one of the candles back.  I winked at Bonnie and told her I thought $20 was enough and, after a little polite protest from the boy, he finally conceded and I took the gifts away to the wrap room.

I picked out the fanciest wrapping paper and scattered handfuls of "complimentary" chocolates around the candles before closing the box. I would've given him the whole store if I thought I could've gotten it all in there.  I finished the wrapping and passed the gifts off to Bonnie to give to him.  I looked out from the back room because the boy had stolen my heart at that point.  He kept looking down at the two gifts but especially the one for his mom.....the box wrapped in silver leopard print paper with a hot pink bow.  You could tell that he was just beside himself with excitement.   His face was beaming like he was holding the most valuable treasure in his hands and my heart melted right out onto the floor and there I stood in a puddle of heart juices. 

They say love doesn't come from a store but, today, it did. 

The boy didn't spend as much as most of the men who shopped with us today. The gift wasn't nearly as large or impressive as some of the others we sold.  But, a son's sweet, innocent love for his mama embellished with silver leopard print paper and tied with a pink bow......well, it was the most beautiful gift we've wrapped in a long, long time.       

Hope you witnessed a lot of love today, too.     

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Happy Birthday, Dear Motherhood and Muffin Tops

Motherhood and Muffin Tops has turned 3!  Three years ago, I nervously typed out my first little blog post.  I'd never been so apprehensive about anything as I was the first few times I clicked "Publish".  I have to say, though, that the last three years have been a joy.  Sure, there are days when I have ample time to write and days when my wagon is just downright overloaded. Sometimes, I have a mind full of topic ideas and, sometimes, I feel like I've already written about every subject under the sun and anything from this point on will just be redundant.  Sometimes, I get so frustrated....like I'm in a rut.  Other times, I'm energized and feel like I have a purpose.  It's one of the most challenging and rewarding things I've ever done.               

I thought, on this birthday, I'd give you some useless and unimportant facts about the blog. Yes, everything you never wanted to know about Motherhood and Muffin Tops and more. 

1)  The most read posts to date are:
          1) There's this Lady I Know
          2) Dear Family Feud Contestant
          3) A Time to Mourn
          4) Somewhere Along the Way
          5) Recollections of Letting Go
          6) Call Your Mother, Kids
It was interesting to me that half of the all time top six posts were about death.  Maybe that's just because it's something we all experience.  We've all had people we loved to leave us.  I'm not sure you ever get over missing them.  Maybe we just need to know that there are other people who have the same feelings that we have.  Maybe we just need to hear that it's ok to be sad.      

2)  The top 6 countries from which the blog is read are:
           1)  United States
           2)  Russia
           3) Canada
           4) UK
           5) Ukraine
           6) France
I don't even know what to say about that except "Hello" to our friends across the pond.  All I can imagine is that I must have relatives in those places and my mother called them and told them about the blog.    

3)  To date, Motherhood and Muffin Tops has published 311 posts.  A few worth reading and the rest......just a whole lot of nonsense. 

4) This is the view from where I write.....unless it's Christmas time and the tree goes where my chair sits and so the change of location and scenery really throws me off during the holidays.  I write from my chair with my feet propped up on my ottoman and usually don't start until, at least, 10:00 pm.  I stay up until 12:30 or 1:00 or even 1:30 as I am a creature of the night with only the sound of a couple of ticking clocks and a snoring dog as my background noise.  I can't write with the TV on or music.....unless it's instrumental.  I've tried writing during the day but it's just not my productive time.  There's just something about the dark for us, nocturnals. 
5)  I find it easier to write about serious topics.  I guess because it just takes more effort to write something humorous but it is my favorite.  I've enjoyed making attempts at funny writing since my friends and I made high school note passing a lettered sport.  I also really enjoy telling a story......like the time when the cat got in my car.  Stories are the easiest to write.       

6)  I love feedback from readers whether it's by comments, or text messages, or in person.  I feel like I've made friends here.  Some of you comment regularly and I feel like I know you.  It's so encouraging to me to know that I'm not talking to myself because, well, that would be kind of embarrassing.  It humbles me when someone tells me they read the blog.  That is such a gift to me....that you would give me a sliver of your day. And, on the flip side, I'd be lying if I told you it didn't hurt my feelings when some unknown person in internet land unfollows me....usually after a patriotic or "overly" Christian post.  

7) My biggest fear about blogging is that I'll run out of things to write about.  After three times around the ol' calendar, I've found myself saying, "Oh, I've written about that a few times already."  It's challenging to think of some different things to explore.  I've really been struggling with that but hope to jump the hurdle soon.

8)  The top 4 ways the blog is read are.....
      1) Windows
      2) iPad
      3) iPhone
      4) Macintosh 
I know this one was super interesting but I'm trying to get to 10, people.

9)  You may not know but I am easily distracted and the least little thing can get me off track.  I'll shut the laptop and call it a night if a good episode of Everybody Loves Raymond or Frasier comes on or I'd even say if a moth is flying around a lamp.  Oh, look......   

10)  My goals for the blog from this day forward:
         -  Provide a place of lighthearted and uplifting posts in this world full of bad news which seems to weigh so heavy on us.
         -  Provide a place where we can laugh without using profanity or vulgarity.  Just good clean humor.  It is possible.  My mother has corrected me for using the term, birth canal, on the internet but that's about as raunchy as we're going to get here on Motherhood and Muffin Tops, my friends. 
         -   Write about subjects that we all struggle with and, sometimes, just need to know we're not the only one. 
         -   Honor God and give glory to Jesus, my Savior, and point others to Him with my words. 

In Him, there is purpose, worth, and pure joy. 

And who doesn't need more of that? 

Thank y'all for three years! 


Wednesday, February 8, 2017

R is for Random and Rambling

So, my friend, Michelle, who I talked about in my last post, was in town on Tuesday.  I enjoyed lunch with her, her son, and "her Carolyn".  We were seated at our table and she told me she had something for me as she reached down in her purse and came out with this.  So precious!  She said I could share with you all.....
Over the last few days, I've run into quite a few people around town who've wanted to talk about their Type 1 or Type 2 mothers......or how they hover or don't......or their preference or disdain for the automatic toilet.  I've even had a few to tell me that they have thought about me while using a public restroom, this week.  How touching that was.....to know I was thought of in there.  The bathroom post seemed to strike a chord.  Apparently, it was way past time we spoke publicly about these things and came together as one around the issue of the public throne.  

There were terrible storms all over the South on Tuesday, too.  Sugar, our phobic dog, spent most of the early morning sitting on my head and hyperventilating.  It seems she's under the impression that in order to achieve maximum closeness to someone, she must situate herself atop their skull.  Sometimes, when that's not quite close enough, she will attempt to "dig" into your head with her front claws so that she can get even closer as in.....to your brain, your inner most being.  I'm sure some of you can relate to a dog with storm issues. 
When I found out that there had been tornados in New Orleans, my first thought was, of course, if my son-in-law-to-be was ok.  He was fine and then when I learned there were no fatalities, my mind went to the 300 year old trees under which the wedding will take place but when the plantation posted that they'd been unaffected by the storms, I was relieved.  The mighty oaks have stood proud for over three centuries and we just need them to, at least, hang on for a few months more.    
Blair and I ran in Dillard's, last night, because there was this dress she wanted to buy.  When we got done in there, we walked down to Bath & Body Works.  I don't know if you've tried their aromatherapy shampoo but I absolutely love it!  The orange ginger and the eucalyptus spearmint are the best.  Anyway, while we were in there, two men stumbled in and then they kind of backed out like they weren't sure that was where they needed to be.  But, it was too late.  They were immediately greeted at the door by one of the zealous saleswomen.  "Y'all come on back in here!  I know two strapping men like you are sure to need something for Valentine's Day!"  They kind of turned the color of a valentine and then laughed about being called strapping as it certainly wasn't an adjective you'd use to describe these two. I have to insert here that I am fascinated with watching men shop for their significant other.  I suppose it comes from years of working in retail and the floral business but it is a hobby of mine.  Some people study the migratory patterns of the ruby-throated hummingbird while I prefer to observe the special occasion shopping patterns of the man. 

Well, before you knew it, one sales lady had one of the poor men in the corner by the foaming soaps and the other guy was with another associate and she was spraying body sprays into the air for him to smell.  They bounced around the store with the men and, every now and then, I would hear one of the women say something like, "Oh, if you get her this, you'll be THE MAN!  She will LOVE you!" or "I don't know ANY woman who doesn't love a candle!"  At one point, I heard one of the gentlemen ask in his southern drawl, "Is she supposed to bathe in this or what?"  He was in the aromatherapy section and so Blair and I gave an unsolicited testimonial for the shampoo. 

Well, I made my little purchase and, as I was leaving, I looked over and the men had their bags full and were being talked into some impulse items near the register.  I thought, "Now, won't their ladies be surprised when they come home on Valentine's Day with enough soap to bathe the inhabitants of the seven continents?"  

So, listen, there will be a couple of Mississippi ladies out there whose men will present them with a Valentine gift of an unusually large quantity of random fragrant items.  Just know that if it happens to be you, next Tuesday, that he was just walking by when a saleswoman told him he was strapping and that, my dear, is how you're going to end up with whatever it is and for how ever long it takes to use it all.  I saw the whole thing with my own eyes. 

I guess we never really know what our guys are told when they're out shopping for us.  Just know that whatever he gets you, he probably just wanted to be THE MAN. 

Your man. 

And isn't that sweet?     

Y'all have a great weekend!     



Monday, February 6, 2017

Thanks for Having Me

Well, we just got home from watching the Super Bowl with a group of friends from church.  I didn't really care who won this year.  Or any other year for that matter.  I just go to these things for the food and social interaction.  Now, I love some college football but don't care for professional football......that is, until our little Dak got the nod as starting quarterback for the Cowboys and then I became disturbingly interested in it.  But, when they were knocked out of the playoffs, I went back to not caring as did probably most of the Mississippi State fans.  I have to admit that this year's game was a real nail biter, though, and that's always good.  And then there was Lady Gaga dangling from those cables.......but let's not get into that tonight. 

We had a good weekend.  It was D-Now for Carson which, for those of you who don't know, stands for Disciple Now but for parents it stands for D-Children Are Away Now.  Blair was out of town visiting John Samuel and Carson wasn't here and so that left Davis and me with a weekend to ourselves.  Well, Friday night, Davis needed to do some work from home.  We decided we'd go on a date Saturday night, so I took the opportunity to get together with my good friend, Q, on Friday.  Q isn't her actual name but it's what nearly everyone calls her.  We needed to catch up in the worst way.  We went to dinner, did a little shopping, and I'd been telling her I wanted to go to her parents' house for an overdue visit.  It had been a long while since I'd seen her Mama so we headed there next.  I mean, from time to time, we need to see for ourselves how your Mama 'n' 'em are doing.      

You know how you had those houses where you spent a lot of time when you were a child or a teenager?  We all had our homes away from home and Mrs. Jean's was one of mine.  We walked in the house and, even though a few things had changed, it was still the same welcoming place.  I've only been back there a handful of times since we've gotten all grown up with families of our own.  Her parents were there to greet us into the home where I'd spent so many nights watching VHS movies, eating dinner, and, as I recall, acting all sorts of goofy.  Her mama, Mrs. Jean to me, always fried donuts or baked chocolate chip cookies for us.  Her hot donuts were made from canned biscuits with homemade glaze and served with cold milk.  There's simply no telling how many of those things I consumed in that house.  And when I'd spend the night, Mrs. Jean would serve us breakfast in bed.  I have a picture of us eating breakfast in bed at about the age of 18 and if it weren't so unsightly of me, I'd share it but some things are just better left to the imagination. 

There's something awfully special about old friends who you share a long history with, but the gift of their mothers.....the gift of having acting mamas who loved you while you were visiting your friends' homes was something we often took for granted.  When we were young, we bounced around from one house to another.  I remember spending the night with my dear friend, Michelle, and sometimes she'd ask her mama, Mrs. Carolyn, if I could stay another night and then when it came time for me to leave after the second night, we'd devise a plan where I'd call my Mama to see if Michelle could come home with me.  Finally, after 4 or 5 nights of being together, our mothers would tell us it was time for a break.  My Mama's name is Carolyn, too, and we referred to them as "your Carolyn" and "my Carolyn".  "You get your Carolyn to call my Carolyn and talk her into letting us..... (fill in the blank)."  We were so astute in our plotting and planning.    

I love how here in the South, we address our friends' mothers by adding a Mrs. in front of their first name.  I am currently Mrs. Joni to my kids' friends. While you were at another mother's home, it was kind of like you belonged to them.  They cared for you like you were their own.  (You also knew those mamas had your mama's permission to "tear you up" if you misbehaved.....but, of course, they never did.)  I know my Mama took the mothering role seriously when my friends were over.  She wanted everything to be welcoming, fun, and just so while they were there.       

Some of the other places I frequented....

At Mrs. Bobbie's house, I learned to put butter on hot Pop-Tarts.....a secret that has served me well through the years.  I don't know how I remember this but I loved her mashed potatoes.  She let Sheila and I ride our bikes to the store to get candy and a drink.  That was a huge deal.  And Sheila had a tremendous collection of board games which her Mama kept out in her laundry room.  She'd have to reach the ones on the highest shelf.  I, being a board game fanatic, was just in heaven over there.  They had hardwood floors and there was one that creaked in the hallway so you had to step gingerly to avoid waking her parents when you were up way too late.  And Sheila and I may or may not have pulled the "I'm going to ask if you can come home with me" a time or two at the end of a spend the night adventure.
Michelle's Mrs. Carolyn always had soft drinks and a Pizza Hut box in the frig which was a treat for me because we rarely ate out at my house.  She had the Charles Chips can always stocked and snacks galore.  It was a dream come true, really, for this girl who once could eat whatever she wanted and only grew skinnier.  (I miss her.)  Mrs. Carolyn's house was always a hub of activity. They had a trampoline, a neighborhood pool, and all manner of entertainment.  She was one of those laid back moms who didn't notice an extra kid or four in her house.      
Mrs. June always had the table set just so for a big Sunday lunch.  My friend, Julie, would tug at her Mama's arm during church and whisper, "Can Joni come home with us after church?"  Our big brothers were friends, too, and so Julie and I would usually go to one house and the boys would go to the other. Of course, when the two of us would run to ask my Mama if I could go, she gave the standard mother answer, "Well, if her Mama said it was ok."  Sunday afternoon visits were a big thing back then.  Go home with your friend after morning church and they'd bring you back to night church.  A week or two later, you'd return the gesture.  But, if you sprung it on a mama suddenly at church, the answer was always dependent on what she had (or hadn't) planned for lunch.  If the roast was big enough, it was usually yes.  If she only had leftovers from Saturday night, it was usually "we'll have her over next Sunday" and then you'd get a talking to in the car about not asking her in front of the would-be guest. 
I could list mothers all day but you don't have time for that and I know I'd leave some out.  But, I wouldn't dare mention the one who had to change the sheets after I wet her child's bed and then tried to conceal the deed.  Blessed is she.            

There were houses that were louder than mine. Quieter than mine.  Stricter than mine.  More lenient. There were houses that operated on a fend for yourself system and those which were pretty much full service.  Lights went out earlier at some and later at others.  Some would get up and tell us to be quiet in the middle of the night.  Others didn't seem to notice all the giggling.  Some places, I was more talkative.  Some, I was kind of shy.  But, I always knew I was loved there at those homes. Just like my friends were always loved at my house. 

Even today, when I see those sweet women, I still feel loved.  It warms the younger parts of my heart.  They mothered me and hosted me and cooked for me and I'm sure cleaned up after me. They all knew what my picky self would eat and what I didn't like.  They even reminded their daughter that I was the company when they needed to.  Just like my mother reminded me who the company was when they were at my house.  And the one thing they all had in common, they taught us, girls, to say, "I enjoyed it....Thanks for having me" at the end of our stays.

I wouldn't trade anything for the time spent at those places.  Those mamas all sit in a very dear section of my heart.  For all the times they welcomed me to their homes and for loving me while I was there.

Just like my Mama taught me...."I enjoyed it.  Thanks for having me."