Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Phrase Daze

It’s no secret that kids and parents have trouble communicating. That cell phone commercial where the mom tries to speak “text shorthand” back to her daughter and gets all tongue tied is a perfect example. In an effort to bridge the communication gap, I thought I would share with the young folks a few popular parenting phrases and their translations.

“In a Minute”-From the Latin word “minutia”, meaning unimportant to me right now. This phrase is used by parents as a stalling technique because we have neither the time nor the desire to stop what we’re doing right now to accommodate your wishes. The use of this phrase means you will not likely get what you want in a minute. In fact, there’s a really good change you won’t get it at all…especially if you keep asking.

“I Need a Minute Alone”-Originated thousands of years ago. In fact, Jesus used it on the disciples. It means you are driving me crazy at the moment. I have no more patience, and you will be wearing your butt for a hat if you don’t back away…s-l-o-w-l-y…NOW.

“Didn’t I Just Give You Money for That Last Week?”- Derivation of the slang term “Crap”. This generally means that it’s two days before payday, and I don’t have two nickels to rub together. It’s at this point I usually ask if the school cafeteria takes credit cards. (My daughter once asked me for lunch money on a particularly stressful morning when I didn’t have a dime. Rather huffily, I said the lunch lady would just have to wait ‘til payday. The lunch lady told me later that when my little second grader rolled through the lunch line and was asked if she had brought any money to add to her account, she told them rather righteously, that her momma said they’d just have to wait ‘til payday. I was rolling in humility that day.)

And my all time favorite, “Because I Said So”-Many cultures claim to have originated this phrase. It has been seen on cave walls and documented in ancient Egyptian history. Loosely translated, this phrase means “no”. I don’t have or need a good reason to turn you down, I’m just saying no. It trumps all arguments from children. It’s often used in conjunction with “Because I’m the Parent”.

And just to show I’m willing to learn about the language of our youth, I am practicing the use of some of their terms. Just yesterday, my daughter asked me to stop dancing around the house. I responded with a roll of the eyes and a drawn out “whaaaatevvvver”. I think we’re getting somewhere.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Pass (on) the Bread

Some people dream of exotic vacations or winning the lottery. I dream of reaching into the cabinet at our house and pulling out two fresh pieces of bread. No dents, no dings, no mold. Just two similar sized pieces of the same brand that don’t need scraping, pulling or stretching in order to accommodate a piece of bologna and a squirt of mustard. Wonder Bread at our house means the loaf made it from the Piggly Wiggly to our driveway without getting squashed or abandoned along the way. They say it takes a village to raise a child. Well, it takes a police escort to get bread to our house intact. I’m not kidding. Despite our best intentions, we always end up with a sorry excuse for the makings of a sandwich.

Our grocery journey starts off safely enough. With the skill of a surgeon, I slide the loaf off the shelf and into our cart. It goes in the child seat, next to my purse. For the next thirty minutes, I wail, “Don’t hit the bread!” every time Hubby or Teen Angel tosses something into the cart. I can’t tell you the number of times we’ve had to put it back and exchange it for a new loaf because we’ve mashed it with a stray can of tuna or package of frozen peas. Is it wrong to put it back? It is isn’t it? The bread is the last item to leave the cart and roll down the checkout counter. The clerk gingerly places it in a sack all by itself and hands it to us like it’s a gallon of nitro glycerin. She’s in on our game. (Remember, it takes a village.) Months ago we divulged our problem to her because we need all the help we can get. She even asks us how we did the previous week, shaking her head at our incompetence. This is a critical stage in our journey because we have been known to get sidetracked with conversation or Woman’s World magazine cartoons and actually leave the bread on the checkout carousel. Milk, too, but that’s another column. I cradle the loaf like a newborn baby and walk it to the van, placing it away from all of the other groceries for fear of something rolling over it on our way to the house. We all bow our heads and say a prayer that a dog doesn’t run in front of us, requiring us to slam on the brakes. (And forgive us Lord for putting the squashed loaf back on the shelf. Amen.) Arriving at home is another critical juncture. Sometimes we forget and leave the bread in its special place in the van where it withers into a dried up mass that usually turns up on Sunday morning on the way to church.

Even if the bread actually makes it into the house, there is no guarantee you’ll get two decent slices out of it. The first six pieces will dry out because Teen Angel loses the twist tie every week. The middle gets mashed by the phone book which sits nearby. That leaves the heels and a few suspect slices that slid out onto the floor the day before when you picked the bag up without the twist tie. That means you have to dig around in the 35 calorie per slice loaf left over from Hubby’s diet or my whole wheat loaf from the week I needed more fiber in order to find the required two slices for a sandwich. It’s a lot of effort for a stinkin’ sandwich. That’s why we eat a lot of bologna and crackers.

Monday, May 28, 2007

The Neighborhood Line

I think it was Erma Bombeck who wrote about clothes lines and how, years ago, the stuff hanging on them used to tell the world what was going on in your household. Illness, a new baby and other special events were all telegraphed by diapers and other items strung along those lines. Hardly anyone has a clothes line anymore, except me. My husband hates it. He thinks it makes us look like the Beverly Hillbillies. Sorry, hon. You can take the girl out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the girl. It's great for drying swimsuits and pool towels and filling my sheets with sweet smelling pollen.

As I was running through our neighborhood this morning, I realized that even without the clothes lines, we all leave little signals as to what's going on in our homes. The Millers have been gone for three days. That usually means they're in Louisville visiting the new grandbaby. The Scott's have four cars in their driveway. That extra Chrysler means their daughter is still on the outs with her husband. Mr. Darnall isn't sitting in his lawn swing. He's usually out there by 10am. Hmm. I make a mental note to check on him if he doesn't emerge by lunchtime. He's 83 now and getting feeble. From the looks of the debris scattered in the Thompson's yard, their sons are home from college now, and they're still drinking like fish. I wish they'd pick up their beer cans. Oh, look. Mr. Ballard is cleaning up his carport. I'll be they bought that boat they've been talking about. Hey, Mr. Brooks is mowing his yard. I guess he's recovering okay from that light stroke he had last month. Yep. A jog around the subdivision keeps my thighs from turning to Jello, but it also tells me what's going on with my neighbors without ever speaking to them.

Hmm. I wonder what my house and yard says to them. I can hear them now. Look at all that cheap underwear on the clothes line. She must have found another sale at Walmart. I wish she'd wear more of it when she walks the dog at 5:30 in the morning. Can you believe they still use a clothes line? What hillbillies.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

The N Word

Mama J. mentioned the N word this week-nursing home. Gulp. While we don't deny that could very well be in her and Papa T.'s future, we don't think we're there yet. In fact, we're working really hard to keep a move to the nursing home or assisted living facility at bay. One day at a time, that's our motto. Some days are easier than others, and their house isn't really built for disabled senior citizens, but we're doing all we can to keep them in their home for a little longer. So far, it's working. We know how difficult leaving their home of 40 years would be, so we don't like to talk about it. That's why it was so surprising that she said it. Nursing home. It's a heavy word. It just sits in the mouth like a piece of cardboard to be chewed and chewed and choked down whole with a nauseating aftertaste. Assisted living. Hmm. That's a little easier to swallow.

They're not really ready to go either, and some probing conversation revealed that she brought it up only because she was feeling especially low about her health and guilty about the time we spend taking care of them. An improvement in her latest kidney issue and some reassurances from us have put her fears on hold...for now. But perhaps we should start researching facilities now so we can be prepared if and when the time comes. That's because we have some firm requirements in a facility that takes care of them.

Oh, we'll want to make sure they get the best medical care possible, but we have other concerns, too. Is ice cream available at 9 o'clock each night? Preferably, butter pecan. Turner Dairy brand. Not the cheap stuff. How about crackers crumbled up in a glass of milk to help with tummy troubles? A wash and set on Saturday mornings is nonnegotiable, and a satin pillow to maintain that hairdo throughout the week is important. Is the phone available at all times to catch up on what's going on with the kids, grandkids, neighbors, old friends, acquaintances and others? How about a weekly outing to Cracker Barrell? Are Moon Pies available 24/7? Will you tolerate loud profanities and jumping up and down by Papa T. when U.K. is on the losing end of a ballgame? Can diamonds be worn to dinner? Do you serve margaritas at least once a month? No salt, to keep the leg swelling down, but premium tequila, please. Is Arbonne lipstick sold in the gift shop?

That's just the beginning. I should start making a list now. It could take a while to find a place that serves top shelf margaritas.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Family Functions

A coworker asked at lunch this week if she was the only one with a dysfunctional family. "Are you kidding?", I snorted. "We all have dysfunctional families". I looked around though, and everyone else had this blank look on their face, pretending not to know what I was talking about. Come on! I know they have their fair share of goobers and crazies in their families. After all, this is the South. We celebrate that kind of thing. They're just unwilling to admit it. I don't know why. We're all in the same boat. My family is full of dysfunction, and it doesn't bother me at all.

Let's see, there's the relative who fell off of a motorcycle years ago and hasn't been quite right since. You never know where conversation is going to go with him. I have a great aunt who is the "whailer" and "fainter" at every funeral regardless of how well she knew the person. She also has a perverse habit of snapping photos of the diseased. You have to be careful when you're sifting through her vacation photos because the cadaver pics are scattered among them. Right there between Savannah and Tampa is Uncle Roy in his black suit. We have a lot of undiagnosed depression on my mom's side of the family that causes some interesting twists in relationships. I can't even begin to blog about that without the risk of alienating myself from the family. I will just say, "There is no hidden money Aunt B.!". And don't forget my cousin in federal prison. He's doing life for drug and attempted murder. He's really not a bad guy. He was just too lazy to work. I can accept the drug charges, but I really can't buy the attempted murder conviction. He wouldn't hurt a fly. We all sign a "thinking of you" card for him at the family reunion each year. We're thoughtful that way.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. I could go on and on. I have a lot of family. A LOT. We have plenty of quirks and personality conflicts. We rumble a little and roll with the ups and downs. But no matter what happens, we always support each other when times gets tough. We may roll our eyes and clench our teeth, but we will pick great Auntie M. off the funeral home floor, help her to the casket, nod when she says "doesn't he look nice" and look the other way while she has her Kodak moment. We love each other. We need each other, cause it's a crazy world out there.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Write or Wrong?

If you call my house and expect someone to take a message, don't. It's just not going to happen. We'd like to, we really would, but we can't. Why not? Because we can't hang onto a notepad and a functioning writing utensil for more than 2 hours. Oh, I bring the stuff home. I've bought more pens than Hershey's has kisses, but they disappear the minute they hit our house. I hate hearing the words"let me give you that address" on the other end of the phone line because that prompts a furious search for something to write WITH and something to write ON, and I know I won't have both. Paper comes first. Let's see, how about the back of the water bill, an old church bullentin, the tab on that snapshot of our trip to Gatlinburg or that book I need to return to the library? I usually settle for a paper towel. Next comes the writing utensil. I can pick from an orange crayon, a dull eyeliner pencil, a big fat permanant marker (where was that when I needed it last week?) and a stubby pencil with broken lead. Hmm. I could always sprinkle a little flour of the counter and write with my finger. No, I'll take the pencil, sharpen it with a kitchen knife and scratch out the number on the paper towel. All of this requires a little tap dance of conversation to cover up the fact that I am sharpening the pencil, slicing my finger, washing out the cut and putting on a band aid.

If I'm not at home, I usually just pull out a deposit slip and lipstick. Since I make far fewer deposits than withdrawals, I always have plenty of deposit slips sitting in my wallet. Of course, all of this leads to yet another embarrassing moment when I eventually need the information on these homemade notes and start pulling paper towels and lipstick smeared deposit slips out of my purse.

The positive side to all of this is that these frantic little searches turn up other things I've been missing. I may not having anything to write with, but I now know the whereabouts of an unopened package of party invitations, my daughter's birth certificate, ticket stubs from our honeymoon, the dog's rabies tag and a two year old pack of Skittles.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Doggone Crazy

We are crazy dog people. I never thought it would get this bad, but it has. Let me introduce you to the object of our affection.

He doesn’t know he’s a dog, and we do nothing to dispel that notion. He likes his bananas slightly firm but not too green and prefers cherry popsicles over grape, although, he’ll eat both. His dental care cost more than mine last year, and he wouldn’t know how to sleep on anything other than a king sized bed. He expects a liver treat on Mondays, a fake bone on Tuesdays and Thursdays and snarls his nose at but does not refuse the “low fat, good for your heart and coat” chew on Wednesdays. Like all miniature schnauzers he will eat anything that’s put in front of him. They are walking garbage disposals. It’s starting to show, too. The last time we were at the vet, they discreetly slid us a pamphlet for Weight Woofers.

I’m not sure how we got to this point. It started out simple enough. He lived indoors but wasn’t allowed on furniture. A few months later, he was sitting on the couch, sleeping on our bed and had a collar for every season. I knew we were in trouble the morning I awoke and found him laying next to me with his head on MY pillow, snoring like my grandma. He barely opened one brown eye, gave me a “what are you doing on my side of the bed” look and went back to sleep.

He’s one of several good dogs that have graced my life. There was my childhood pal, Puff, the collie-shepherd mix who came between mom and some punk low life who nosed around the yard one day while my dad was away. She was also the dog who prevented my toddler brother from working his way down the driveway and into the road. She was a good dog. We all cried when she died of old age, even dad. Our other childhood dog, Shannon, was a beautiful Irish Shepherd who didn’t have much sense, but gave us lots of entertainment. She was kind of the Jessica Simpson of the dog world, built well, nice to look at but not too bright. She eventually became arthritic and died in a dramatic Old Yeller-esque scene. Dad accidentally ran over her and had to shoot her because she faced a painfully slow and inevitable death in our driveway.

How can you not love a dog? Their unconditional love, companionship and playfulness make life’s ups and downs a little easier to take. They never let you down. They’re always glad to see you walk in the door, and they forgive your little indiscretions. They don’t care what you look like, they’ll keep you warm on a cold night and they ask for little in return. Everything you’d want in a family member. That’s why I won’t kick Jack out of our bed. In fact, that’s why he gets to share my pillow

What Did You Say?

The National Academy on Aging says there has been a sharp increase in the number of younger Americans losing their hearing in the last three decades. I believe that because my family doesn’t seem to hear a thing I say. Did you feed the dog? Huh? Did you feed the dog? What? DID YOU FEED THE DOG?! Hey, you don’t have to shout. I can hear you. Then why didn’t you answer me the first two times? What two times? I asked you twice to feed the dog and you didn’t respond. That’s because I was concentrating on “Guitar Hero”. Well, concentrate on the dog bowl and feed the dog before he gets too old to chew. OR….. Don’t forget we have that wedding to go to this weekend. What wedding? You know D’s wedding. You didn’t tell me we have a wedding to go to this weekend. Oh, yes I did. When? Last week, while we were sitting in the recliners, right next to each other, watching “Desperate Housewives”. I don’t guess I heard you. Obviously not. Sorry, you know I can’t talk and watch Eva Longoria at the same time.

The scientific name for Teen Angel and Hubby’s hearing condition is “selective ignorus”. That means they hear only what they want to hear and ignore the rest. For example, my husband cannot hear my request to take out the trash when I’m standing right next to him, and yet, he’ll knock me down getting to the tv because he heard a Shawnia Twain video while standing in the back bathroom near running water. I can have my hands in a bowl of meat loaf mix and have to answer the phone with sticky fingers because our daughter can’t hear it ringing unless it’s for her.

There is technology to help other hearing conditions. Papa T. can’t hear himself fart but he got some snazzy hearing aids this week that made a world of difference for him. He’s hearing stuff he hasn’t heard in months. I hope researchers come up with a solution for “selective ignorus” soon, because I think it may be contagious. Mom, can I have $20? Huh? You’ll have to speak a little louder. I didn’t hear you.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Meet The Neighbors

We live next door to my in-laws. That’s right. Mama J. and Papa T. live right next door. In fact, we’ve lived side by side for twelve years. When I tell people that, they usually look at me like I’m crazy. Then they casually ask whether or not I like it. I like it just fine. The Pink Floyd song “Comfortably Numb” comes to mind. Just kidding! Oh, we’ve had our ups and downs over the years, and initially, it was kind of tough, but I am at peace with the set-up now. We had one knock down-drag out fight on their front porch that was a little ugly (okay, REALLY ugly), but it blew over pretty quick. I don’t even remember what started it. And our proximity has provided a few surprises along the way. Before Mama J.’s knees got so bad that she couldn’t navigate our back step, it was not uncommon to step out of the shower and find her sitting on the living room couch. I learned to put an ear to the door before parading down the hallway naked belting out “Hey, hey we’re the Monkeys”. More than once we’ve crept up on an intruder only to discover that it was Papa T. admiring our garden.

We bought our house because we liked the neighborhood and it fit our price range. I don’t think we put a lot of thought into the “living next door to your folks” aspect of the purchase, but I do think the Good Lord had a purpose in putting us there. Mama J babysat our daughter when Teen Angel was young, so it was handy to take her there in her jammies before work each morning. Wonderful arrangement. Later she got on and off the school bus at their house. She’s developed a really close relationship with her grandparents because they’re next door. She’s been a bright spot in their lives and a diversion from the grief they’ve suffered from burying a son and a grandson. On a lighter note, over the years, we’ve averted many a toilet paper crisis by running next door to swipe a roll. Throughout his career Papa T. got paid once a month, and Mama J. is still in the habit of buying a month’s worth of groceries and household supplies at a time. Her garage looks like Sam’s Club. We’ve borrowed laundry soap, garbage bags and a variety of other items I’m too embarrassed to admit that I don’t always have on hand.

As their health has declined the advantages of being next door have taken a more serious turn. We can react quickly when one of them falls and can’t get up. We know how they’re doing all day, every day, making it easier to catch changes in their condition. Hubby can better take care of their house and yard, and we know each morning if they’re up and about. We’ve become nosey neighbors, and they’re okay with that. We’ve kind of outgrown our house and have talked about moving, but we won’t. I think we’ll stay put for now. We like our neighbors.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Mommy Style

The whole dress shopping incident (see yesterday’s post) made me think a lot about how our appearance is affected by motherhood. Pregnancy changes your body in ways that can never be fully reversed, but the day to day stuff that comes with motherhood changes it, too. You just don’t have time to doll yourself up like you used to. Rushing to get everyone dressed and out the door reasonably on time means sacrificing a check in the mirror to make sure everything is okay and in place. This has resulted in fashion disasters over the years. For the first two years of my daughter’s life, my work suits all had a big spit ring on the left shoulder from cuddling a slobbering baby before work. My solution? Slapping a big dressy pin over the stain as I zipped into my cubicle. I’ve arrived at work wearing two different shoes. I showed up one time with a big hole in the calf of my black pantyhose. Very noticeable to everyone but me for oh, about four hours. One time my skirt was inside out, seams and tag visible to even the severely nearsighted. Recently, on two different occasions I’ve gone to the potty and discovered that I put my underwear on wrong side out that particular morning. That’s one you just live with until you get home. My most embarrassing moment happened right after I returned to work from maternity leave. I was still breast feeding, and I worked in a busy TV newsroom. During a particularly hectic afternoon I looked down and saw that in all my running around, I had jostled a breast pad out of my bra and into the floor, smack dab in the middle of the room for everyone to see. Breaking news! Nasty breast pad in the floor! I wanted to crawl under my desk. Hoping that no one was looking, I kicked it under a credenza that hadn’t been moved in 20 years, hoping it wouldn’t be moved for another 20. Ten years later I held my breath when we remodeled the newsroom, hoping it wouldn’t turn up. It didn’t. Thank God.

My mother’s most embarrassing “mommy fashion flub” still makes me laugh. It happened when I was about eleven. She left me and my two brothers in the car while she went into the grocery store. This was back when you could leave children in a hot car and be comfortable that they wouldn’t be kidnapped by some freak. We might have killed each other, but we were safe from marauding kidnappers in our small town. Besides, she just couldn’t shop with three rowdy kids. After she had paraded up and down just about every aisle in the busy store, a woman approached and said, “Honey, you have kids don’t you”. “Well, yes. Why do you ask?” “Because you have a sucker stuck to your butt”. There it was, dangling from her backside like a badge, screaming “mother of three” (soon to be two when she found out who it was). One of us had laid a barely eaten sucker on the seat of the car just before mom sat in the driver’s seat. She was steamed when she got back to the car, especially since none of us owned up to it. Sucker? What sucker? I didn’t have a sucker? Did you? Nope. No sucker here. Through gritted teeth, she issued one of those mommy voodoo curses, “Just wait ‘til you have kids some day”. It worked.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Dress Distress

I tried on 28 dresses Saturday in a two and a half hour span. 28! I brought home 1. I’ve always enjoyed clothes shopping, until now. I don’t go that often, and thank goodness because the last two trips have been, pardon the phrase, a freakin’ nightmare. When you become a woman of a certain age, there are few stores that carry the right stuff for you. I am somewhere between Hot Topic and Sass shoes. I don’t want to look like my daughter, and I don’t want to look like my mother. I’m not ready for knit pants with elastic waistbands, but I don’t want to look like I’m trying to hard to appear young. My goal Saturday was to find two or three summer dresses that I could wear to work and church. My requirements were simple. I wanted something stylish, modest enough for those environments, not too expensive and comfortable enough to stand up to our stifling humidity. Apparently, that’s too much to ask for.

The first store turned up several beautiful dresses, but they were all $90 plus. I refuse to give that for a knit dress that cost about $8 to make. Do you know how many starving people in Africa could be fed for $90? I found a dress in the next store that fit perfectly and looked great. About three times in your life you find a dress that hugs your body just right and makes you feel special. This was one of those dresses. I was smokin’ in that dress. That NEVER happens, so I was quite smitten with that little rag. However, it was sex on a hanger, and I have absolutely no place to wear it. It would have been a total waste of money, so I stifled a tear and hung it back on the rack. Sorry, little black dress. I’ll miss you.

I trudged from store to store, trying on different styles and sizes. Nothing seemed quite right. One was so complicated I couldn’t even get it on. I got it wrapped around my neck and left arm and for about 5 seconds thought I was actually going to have to call the sales clerk for help in getting it off. Desperate, I even veered into the juniors section once and ended up in a baby doll style that looked like something you’d wear to a porn shoot. The problem was compounded by the fact that sizes vary from manufacturer, so I’m three different sizes depending on which store I’m in. I never know which one to grab off the rack. I know they’re trying to make me feel good by cutting sizes bigger than they used to, and that little size * incident in New York & Company did make me positively giddy for a few seconds. However, I know it’s all a big fat lie, and I would just love some consistency.

Oh, please Mister Dress Manufacturer, help me out. I know I’m not the only woman with this problem. I’m not interested in showing ¾ of my boobs and the bottom third of my butt cheeks. It’s just not appropriate at work. But I don’t want to be dowdy, matronly or plain. I want some style, a little bit of sass, something that says “over 40, but confident, fun and lively”. I do NOT want to scream “hoochie mama” or “grandma at Easter”. And while you’re at it, how about some shoes that don’t have a 4 inch heel? It’s really depressing to shop in the “Comfortable Missy” shoe section.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Welcome to the World, Baby Girl!

A letter to my daughter:

Dear Daughter,
On this day of your 8th grade graduation, I am filled with a variety of emotions. Mostly pride, for the accomplishments you’ve already achieved, and joy for the fulfillment you bring to my life. I can’t believe you’re going to high school this fall. My baby is growing up so fast. Time moves so rapidly for me now. Sometimes I can hardly keep up. The next four years will fly. They will be exciting but difficult. They are terrifying for me and your dad because we know the choices you will face. Many of those choices will be easy. Others will be hard. Some of them will be dangerous. We hope you will look to us for help when those choices come around. Every generation thinks things are different for them than it was for their parents. Not really. It may take you years to realize this truth, but mom and dad really do know what they’re talking about so I hope you follow my advice.

Study hard. It will pay off. You are who you hang around with. If you hang with trash, you become trash. Don’t ever get in a car with a drunk driver. Call me instead. You may still get in trouble for being at a party, but at least you’ll come home alive. Boys will warm and break your heart. The love you feel for them isn’t the deep lasting love you will share with the special person you likely won’t meet for years to come. Protect your virtue. It’s a beautiful gift that shouldn’t be squandered on the flavor of the week, month or year. Preserve your friendships. Those bonds will remain special to you for the rest of your life because of the things you will face together now. Laugh often. It’s good for the soul.

I wish for you wisdom, safety, courage and success. Be bold in your choices. Chase your dreams. Follow your heart, but use your head. I am proud of the person you have already become. You are smart, funny and beautiful on the outside AND inside. I love that you care about your family and friends and that you take such good care of your aging grandparents. I love that you are aware of your community and that you have opinions about issues like immigration and war. I love that you have a soft spot in your heart for the poor, the sick and the disadvantaged. Most of all, I love you for making my life complete. As you step into a more mature world, know that your dad and I are right behind you, cheering you on and propping you up. Welcome to the world, baby girl!


Thursday, May 17, 2007

I'm Bringing Sexy Back

Well…not really, but it makes for a good headline doesn’t it? Sorry. That was bad. Besides, I need better underwear to bring sexy back at my house. You know, some drawers that aren’t as old as my refrigerator. Perhaps, if they put an expiration date on underwear, I might actually throw it away instead of hanging on to them until the people in the gym locker room start staring and frowning. Of course, if I didn’t buy all my underwear on the clearance rack at Walmart, I might care about those items more. But hey, I scored a $14 sports bra for $2 there last night. Sweet!

I cannot stay focused this week. About the time I get knee deep in a task, I lapse into the “Oooh, something shiny” syndrome and veer off into another direction. I am full of random thoughts such as:

Am I the only person who is enjoying the fact that Paris Hilton has to spend a little time in jail? Boo hoo. She drove drunk, got caught, caught a break, didn’t follow the rules, and now she has to be punished. Sorry, honey. Daddy can’t buy you out of this one. It’s the spanking you should have gotten twenty years ago. Shut up, do your measly time and then go do some good in the world with all that money instead of partying and wagging your hoo hoo at people.

Is there a 12 step program for a “Dancing With the Stars” addiction? It’s the crystal meth of reality tv. You know you shouldn’t go near it, but you do. One hit and you’re hooked. You find yourself doing the cha-cha when you think no one is looking. On Wednesday morning, you swear you won’t watch it again. By Sunday you’re thinking that maybe you’ll watch just the Monday night episode but certainly not Tuesday. There you are Tuesday night, eyes all glazed over, waiting for your next Apollo Ono fix and trying to convince your husband you should both try dancing lessons. Isn’t it just like an addict to try to suck others in, too? Just one rhumba honey. I swear, you’ll like it.

Ever see someone’s baby for the first time, and it’s an ugly baby? What’s a girl to do? Every parent thinks her kid is beautiful, and I don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings, but some babies are downright ugly. Oh, they always grow into a more pleasing form after a while, but how do you cover your initial shock? I usually gush something like, “Isn’t he cute”. But I’m afraid they know. Did they catch that brief flicker of “Whoa, Nellie” in my eyes? I need a better response. Fortunately, this doesn't happen very often.

We need a new rule in my house. If you don’t want me to eat it then put a sign on it or don’t bring it home. Hubby took his parents to Cracker Barrel and brought me home dinner. I looked in the bag and found a salad and a small container of chicken/dressing. Yum. Thank you Lord. I figured the dressing was something one of them didn’t eat, didn’t want to waste and brought home for me. An hour after I polished it off, my mother-in-law called, looking for the dressing she was saving for the next day. Um. That was yours? Sorry. I ate it. Yes, all of it. Oh, you ordered it special because you were craving dressing? Hmm. Belch. Good choice. It was mighty tasty. Sorry. Really, I am.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Thumbs Up

My mother-in-law cracks me up sometimes. She’s 80, so she’s entered the “I can say what I want and nobody will call me on it” stage of life. Throughout the years she’s been known to cuss out a bad driver or two, and she did raise five children, so she’s no stranger to profanities. I’ve even heard her drop the f-bomb a couple of times which is a little rare for that generation. However, a few months ago we discovered a gap in her repertoire of obscenities. My lovely daughter was on hand to witness the results.

The two of them were trucking down the highway, and I’m sure mom was diddling around at her usual 25 mph, when the guy behind her got fed up, whipped around her and honked. It really ticked her off, so she called him a bad name. I don’t know which name because Teen Angel had to bleep it out when she told me the story later. Then mom gives the guy a vigorous “thumbs up” sign, turns to Teen Angel and asks with great satisfaction, “Did you see what I did”? The rest of the conversation goes like this:

“Grandma, WHAT are you doing”?
“What do you mean”?
“What’s with the thumb thing”?
“Ha. I’m giving him the finger”.
“The finger?! Grandma, that’s not the right finger. That’s a thumbs up. You know, like George Bush does. It means okay, good job, something like that.”
“Oh. Hm. Well, what is the right finger”?
“It’s your MIDDLE finger.”
“What? Really? Show me.”
“Well, okay, but I’m not supposed to be doing this. See? I can’t believe I’m showing this to my grandma. Geez.”

Since then, mom has all but quit driving, so we’re not sure if she’s tried out her new technique on anyone. I have to wonder, if she thought for several years that George Bush was giving us the finger all those times he bounced off of Air Force One, winked and gave us the “thumbs up”. No wonder she wouldn’t vote for him.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Anyone Want to Join my New Club?

As I perused the “what’s happening this week” section of our local newspaper I noticed that most of the activities were related to an illness, addiction or social issue. This week’s events included meetings for: singles, interracial women, interracial men, fathers asking to have equal rights, women for sobriety, arthritis sufferers, gastric bypass patients, alzheimers victims, drug addicts, cancer survivors, overeaters, suicide survivors, those suffering mental illness, alcoholics, cardiac patients, amputees, widows, disabled veterans, those with emotional problems, ostomy patients, people with family violence, people suffering from grief, babies who need hearts, and an animal rescue group. Whew! That’s a long list. I’m sure all of those groups are necessary and serve a worthwhile purpose. It just seems like we’re suffering an awful lot. Keep in mind I live in a community of about 30,000 people. That list had me scratching my head a little bit. What happened to bowling leagues and card clubs? Is it okay to get together for a little fun or do we need a serious reason to gather together? I’m really grateful I don’t need a support group in my life right now, and I will be really grateful that it’s there if I need it in the future. In the meantime, I’m thinking of starting a new club: PWJWTHAGT, People Who Just Want To Have A Good Time. Think anyone will join?

Getting to Know Me

At janjanmom's suggestion I have created a quiz about me. Even if you don't know me, give it a try. It's a way to learn about me that doesn't require me creating one of those "100 things about me" lists.

PS. Okay, janjanmom is not a failure. I have discovered a boo boo in my quiz, and I can't figure out how to fix it. Everybody gets a freebie on the question about the tattoo. I do NOT have a tattoo. You'll have to pick the parrott answer though in order to get credit for a correct answer. Sorry janjanmom!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Lessons from Momma

I had an absolutely wonderful Mother’s Day yesterday. My brothers and I cooked for my mom, and we spent the day swinging on my parents’ front porch and reminiscing. It brought back so many wonderful memories of growing up in the arms of two outstanding people. Some of the things I’ve learned from my mom:

-Spraying each other with the hose on a hot day is ALWAYS better than staying inside and cleaning a dirty house. The dirt isn’t going anywhere. The sunshine might leave tomorrow. Of course, I absolutely suck at house cleaning, and this could be why, but I don’t care.
-Bursting into song and dance at inappropriate moments never killed anyone. In fact, it’s a great way to alleviate stress. However, it can cause some stares in the grocery store.
-You can drown in half a cup of water. You can get head lice from trying on Halloween masks in stores, and jumping off the back porch with your tongue hanging out of your mouth can cut off your tongue. My mother worked as an ER nurse and every time me or my brothers started to do something even the slightest bit risky, she would say, “You shouldn’t do that. You know when I worked in the ER, they brought in a kid one time that had (insert dangerous activity here) and he (insert mangling of body part here).” I was always being told not to climb on our big propane tank, and the time I fell off the darn thing, I sat on the ground forever, too scared to touch my eye because I was sure I had knocked it out just like that little girl in the ER.
-You can feed a family of five with a freezer and a garden. The summer my dad walked a picket line was pretty lean. We ate a LOT of vegetables, and while I knew we didn’t have two nickels to rub together that summer, I didn’t feel it much.
-It’s always a good idea to have a secret candy stash. Mom would buy candy and divvy it up. She saved her portion and hid it in odd places so we wouldn’t eat hers too. It was not uncommon to reach for the fabric softener in the laundry room and have a York Peppermint Patty tumble out onto your head.
-You should bail a relative out of jail for DUI only twice. When you pick them up the second time, you tell them they are not the only person to ever go through a divorce, that it’s time to quit drinking, get up off their *** and get over it. Be firm in stating that the next time they get arrested, you WILL let them sit in jail. (Let me clarify, I was not the one arrested.)

Did my mother yell at me? Yes, only when she had tried every other way of getting my attention and failed. Did she spank me? Yes, usually with whatever she had in her hand like a fly swatter or a wooden spoon. I always deserved it. I was HARD HEADED. It did not damage me for life, and I am not abusive to my child. Did I get everything I wanted when I was growing up? No. I didn’t get lots of Christmas gifts each year, designer jeans or my own car because we couldn’t afford it. What I did get was an appreciation for how much these things cost, how they had to be earned and how they should be taken care of when you finally got them. I learned an appreciation for wildlife and learned that family is family. You love them and help them even if they sell some pot and get arrested or they do other stupid stuff that makes you mad. Was my mother my friend when I was growing up? No. She was my MOTHER. There is a difference, and she knew it. I am thrilled that she is now one of my best friends and such a wonderful teacher. I find myself acting more and more like her each day (see bursting into song and dance in public above), and I’m proud to say, that’s okay. Love you momma.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

That 70's Thing

We were watching "That 70's Show" last night and I got a good chuckle out of hubby because for a few minutes he thought it was actually an old show taped in the 70's. If it's not "Cops" or "America's Most Wanted" he doesn't really pay attention to the television, and he usually falls asleep within minutes of sitting in front of it, so I'm not surprised that he was slow to catch on. "That 70's Show" cracks me up. I think it's because I love looking at all of the old clothes and home decor. It brings back fond memories because I am a child of the 70's. Some of my favorite things about the 70's:
-puka shell necklaces. I still like them.
-mood rings. Mine always stayed green. I'm not sure what that meant. Probably that it was a cheap ring.
-Partridge Family reruns after school. Keith and I would have been "so happy together" if only he had known I existed. sigh.
-scraps of material sewn onto the bottom of my bell bottoms. I thought the whole patchwork thing was really cool and made me look like those hippies I saw on tv. My mom loved the fad because she got 6 months extra wear out of those pants once the original hem was too short. I grew fast during that time.
-Bonanza reruns after school. All of my friends thought Little Joe was the cute one. I liked Adam. He was older and more mysterious. My attraction to older men continues to this day, and I can pinpoint its source.
-vacation bible school. Kum Ba Yah! My favorite craft was gluing macaroni shells to the border of a Chinette paper platter, spray painting it gold and sticking a bunch of plastic grapes in the center. My mother had a lot of VBS home decor.
-Doctor Hook. I was too young to realize how drug laced their music was. I just loved "Sylvia's Mother". I was pretty ticked when my mom wouldn't take me to their concert.
-AM transistor radios. I had a plain black one, but my cool friend, Kandi, had the round white one on a chain. My Coppertone summer of 77' found me in the backyard on a towel for hours every day listening to the radio and roasting my fair cheeks.
-the library. We went once a week, and I checked out every Nancy Drew, Hardy Boy and Bobbsy Twin book they had. For about a year, I really thought I was "Harriet the Spy". When I was about 12 I found my mother's paperback stash and secretly introduced myself to "Mandingo", "Peyton Place" and other juicy reads. My vocabulary and knowlege of all things lusty grew tremendously that summer.
-bicycle riding. I grew up in the country with no neighbors my age, so I spent hours burning up the gravel roads on my bike, exploring old barns and trying to outrun our neighbor's vagabond bulls.
-platform shoes. My first pair was in 7th grade, and I thought I was Fergalicious. Too bad I couldn't walk in them.
-the Ben Franklin store. It had that old squeaky wooden floor and hundreds of bins filled with wonderous things. I could spend hours in that store. My favorite part was the ice cream stand near the cash register. It was a rare treat to get ice cream in there, so we lapped it up when the dairy gods shined upon us and showered us with butter pecan riches.
-the birth of my youngest brother. My mother went into labor so fast that my dad panicked, dumped us in my grandma's driveway without any shoes and raced to the hospital barely in time for the doctor to catch baby bro. It was a good thing grandma was home because dad had forgotten to call her before he dropped us off.

Ah, good times. Somebody turn up the Bay City Rollers. S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y NIGHT.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Circle yes or no

My little drama queen had her heart broken yesterday. The boy she has been “going with” (not that they go anywhere) for the last two months broke up with her. What a turd-sicle! (That’s middle school lingo for jerk.) I knew it was bound to happen. He’s such a playa’. He’s hot and he knows it. You remember the kind. They start breaking hearts around age 12 and never stop. I could see it coming but couldn’t stop it. I hate that I can’t protect her from that kind of pain. The irony in all of this is that hubby couldn’t stand this boy from the beginning because, well, he’s a boy who wants to get close to our daughter therefore, he is evil. Now hubby is offended that this boy broke up with her. How can our daughter not be good enough for this kid? Fortunately, she has reached the anger stage of her grief over this relationship and has begun calling said evil boy names and refuses to talk to him. High drama. She could score an Oscar nomination for this one.

All of this reminds me of the soap opera woven into my days at F. Elementary. I attended a K-8 school, so I went to school with the same 25 kids for nine years. There were only so many boys, and I was pretty picky so my potential love interests were somewhat limited. I pined for K.O. (our resident gigolo), but he passed me by for girls with boobs. I called G.R. my boyfriend, but it didn’t last long once we realized we were just dodge ball buddies. I did break at least one heart, and in light of drama queen’s experience yesterday, I’m now feeling bad about that. Every morning for the first six months of sixth grade, a note from D.B. awaited me in my desk with the heartfelt request of “Will you go with me? Circle Yes or No”. Now, I just wasn’t attracted to this boy, so every day I heartlessly circled no and pushed it back in his direction. As the days wore on, his notes became more flowery. He drew hearts. He improved his penmanship. He added a piece of candy, and yet…I always said no. In typical female fashion, I brushed off the nice guy and chased after the playa’. I really hate that I was so thoughtless. I’m sorry D.B.. I want you to know that I’m older now. I appreciate the nice guys, and the swashbuckling heartbreakers don’t turn my head (well, maybe just a little if they’re hot). If I were single today, and you were to ask me, I’d probably circle yes.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Can I Give You My Card?

Taking care of elderly parents is so hard that sometimes you just have to laugh at all the silly things that happen. If you didn’t, you’d spend way too much time crying. My father-in-law recently had eye surgery, so his vision is terrible right now. His hearing aids quit working last week, too, so he is really handicapped. The whole vision/hearing loss issue is a recurrent one for him. We’re somewhat used to his disabilities but others aren’t, so we often laugh and shrug off things that others find embarrassing or odd. Yesterday, at the doctor’s office, dad sat beside a mentally disabled woman who talked to herself. Apparently, he thought she was talking to him and he tried shaking hands and introducing himself. It seems this lady doesn’t like talking to strangers, but dad couldn’t see or hear well enough to figure that out, so he kept talking, and she kept getting agitated. Mom kept telling him to be quiet, but he couldn’t hear her either, so he just kept talking and talking and talking. The poor lady was a little freaked out by the whole thing, and her family was pretty frustrated with dad. Apparently, their threshold for FITAD (funny incidents that accompany disabilities) is much lower than ours because we got a little chuckle out of it. We really did try to be sensitive to her and her family, but it was a tiny bit amusing.

I once read where a lady printed up business cards that explained that her father had Alzheimer’s, and she handed them to restaurant servers and others when she took her dad on outings, in the hopes that people would have more patience with him and she wouldn't have to explain it in front on him. I think that’s a wonderful idea. I’m wondering if I should print up cards that say, “Be patient with us. We’re not laughing because we’re immature. This is hard on the heart, and we’re laughing to keep from crying”.

My Favorite Turtle

If you need a great dessert to make for mom this weekend, here you go. This one is awesome. It’s a plain looking cake, but sinful when you bite into it. I can eat just the caramel mixture with a spoon right out of the pan. But as my friend Yvonne would say, “Ya might as well rub it on your butt, cause that’s where it’s going”. Enjoy!

Turtle Cake
1 German chocolate cake mix 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 ½ cups water ½ cup oil
1 can sweetened condensed milk 1 pound bag caramels, unwrapped
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

Mix cake mix, butter, water, oil and half of the can of condensed milk until smooth.
Pour half of the batter into a greased and floured 9X13 inch baking pan. Bake in a
350 degree preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes.

In a saucepan, over low heat, combine caramels and the remaining condensed
milk. Stir until caramels are melted and mixture is smooth. Be careful not to let
it scorch. Carefully spread over the baked cake layer. Sprinkle with pecans and
then chocolate chips. Cover with remaining cake batter and bake for 30 more minutes.

I like to serve it with ice cream or sweetened whipped cream and drizzle it with purchased caramel sauce and a couple of pecan halves for garnish.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Too Pooped For More Kids

I am at an age where people consider this to be my last shot at childbearing if I’m so inclined. With no morning sickness, two and a half hours of labor and no pain medication, I really was made for childbearing, so I probably should have had more than one baby. For a variety of reasons my husband and I chose not to. Many women my age get all misty-eyed and pine for the days when their children were tiny. They yearn for one more little bundle of joy to coddle and sooth, one more sweet little face to feed and read to. I have never thought of myself as one of those women. I have believed for quite some time that I don’t want any more children. I love the one I have more than life itself. I love being a mother. I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything. It’s the most important job I have. However, just the thought of trying to stay up all night with a newborn wears me out. Fumbling around my knees to find a boob and breastfeed a baby…not pretty. I don’t want anything living in my house that isn’t big enough to clean up its own vomit. I still have flashbacks about the roto-virus that keep me awake at night. And I refuse to go back to Chuck E. Cheese unless they start serving margaritas.

I hear, “Are you SURE you don’t want one more?” a lot. “Nooooo”, I answer with confidence, but I usually do a little reality check in my head, just to be sure. This past weekend I had a moment of clarity that sealed the deal and erased even the tiniest of doubts. I helped in the nursery at church. The cutest little two-year-old crawled into my lap with a book and asked me to read to him. His skin was so soft. His hair smelled of that Baby Magic elixir, and those big brown eyes were intoxicating. I was sucked into his lair of sweetness, feeling a little bad about my “No Child for my Behind” policy, when he turned those calf eyes toward me and uttered two sobering words, “I pooped”. (GROSS ALERT!!) Just to check his accuracy, I stood him on the floor and pulled back the very top edge of his pants. OH MY GOD! This was no ordinary BM. This was one of those virus induced, stink to high heaven, crawl up the back poops. If you have had children, you know what I’m talking about. It’s the kind that makes you want to heave, even if you’re accustomed to smelly diaper changes. I swear, the dead possum I passed on my way to church did not smell as bad as this kid’s britches. And…hang on to your gag reflex….it had crept so high that I ran my fingers into it when I checked his pants. OH MY GOD! I could not handle it. The other nursery worker changed the child’s pants and scrubbed his backside, while I washed my hands. Remember the movie “Silkwood” and how they scrubbed Meryl Streep’s character after uranium exposure? I wanted that kind of exfoliation. As I stood at that nursery sink, surrounded by tiny toilets and the patter of little feet, I knew with all my being that I just couldn’t handle another child. I-AM-DONE. FINISHED. NO MORE FOR ME. I am too pooped to handle the poop.

Monday, May 7, 2007

The Biggest Loser

My Sunday school class wrapped up a “Biggest Loser” competition yesterday. Twelve members participated and lost a total of 237 pounds in four months! Isn’t that amazing? I’m so excited for them. A couple have each lost nearly 50 pounds. Two others have each lost 30 pounds. Several are now exercising regularly, and the eating habits of all have improved. The fellow who won the competition lost 20.27% of his body weight, or 48 pounds. He originates from Honduras, and when I asked him what the secret to his weight loss was, he replied that he was eating the type of foods he ate in Honduras and the portion sizes they eat in that country. What does that say about Americans as a whole? We are some super-sized, buffet loving, meat seeking, all-you-can-eat folks. I am just as guilty as the next guy. How did we get to this point? I’m trying really hard now to pay attention to portion sizes and amounts when I eat out, but it’s hard when they shove two loaves of bread and a bucket of salad at you before you even get the entrée. I have this love/hate relationship with the special at AppleBee’s that allows you to order an appetizer, entrée and dessert as a package deal. That blonde brownie caramel concoction is the devil on a plate. The blessing for my meals should probably start out with “Lord forgive me for what I am about to do….”

Wednesday, May 2, 2007


Proms are in full swing in this corner of the world right now. I noticed that many of the dresses have the full, southern belle skirt this year. That was the style during my senior prom in 1982. You know you’re not so young anymore when you see a clothing style for the second time. It’s been 25 years since my senior prom. I remember:
-A hoop skirt that was so big my date and I barely fit into the front seat of his parents’ Buick. He borrowed the Buick instead of driving his old blue Hornet. Scarlett O’Hara had nothing on me y’all. I heard a noticeable “pop” when I finally wrestled that big ole’ hoop out of the car. (I still have the dress and hoop, by the way.)
-60 hoop skirts bouncing around on the dance floor at the same time and LOTS of blue tuxedos—very funny. One thing about those hoops, you couldn’t get close enough for any dirty dancing.
-We double dated with another couple for our meal prior to the dance. We picked them up at the guy’s house, and his parents were hippies who never got over the 60’s. They lived in this big old gothic house. They were listening to the soundtrack from Rocky Horror, and I noticed a roach clip in the ashtray on the coffee table. This naïve country girl was terrified of being arrested before we could get out of there and yet oddly fascinated by those city folk. They WERE arrested a few months later for growing large amounts of marijuana in their home, which was no doubt germinating in an adjacent room that prom night. Apparently, my fears were justified.
-We went to a great seafood restaurant for dinner but weren’t worldly enough to eat anything other than fried shrimp.
-Our theme was “An Evening in Paris” because it matched the backdrop our prom committee could afford. Our pictures were taken in front of a fake Eiffel Tower.
-My date and I were both so skinny we looked like we had rickets. However, he thought I looked like Audrey Hepburn, and I thought he had great hair (it was feathered).
-We must have danced to Eric Clapton’s song “Cocaine” 16 times. And we parents complain about the content of today’s music.
-For some reason, about three hours into the evening I thought wearing my garter around my upswept hair (glorified bun) was cute.
-Most of all it was the first of a month-long round of activities that launched us into the world with excitement and big dreams. May 1982 was a great time!

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Adventures in Babysitting

My 14 year old drama queen is so funny. She babysat a 4 year old and 7 year old brother and sister this weekend. She did a four hour shift early in the day and another four hour shift that evening. They are good kids but naturally had their sibling squabbles. They kept her busy. My favorite five quotes from her:

5. “Can you imagine, throwing a fit whenever you don’t get your way?”-This from an only child who used to embarrass me plenty in the checkout lane of Walmart.

4. “Two kids are a LOT of work”-Tee hee

3. “Can you believe he acted like it was my fault that he fell off the swing?”-Why yes dear, I’m familiar with the “you’re ruining my life” theory.

2. “I finally told him to go to his room if he was going to throw a fit. I didn’t want to see it.”-Where did she learn that? Must have been her dad. It certainly wasn’t me.

And finally…1. “Can I get my tubes tied?” Ding, ding, ding. We have a winner. When she said that I laughed and told her to remember our conversation if at any time in the next four years she even contemplates having sex. I also reminded her for the 10,000th time that birth control is never 100% reliable. Can I say that enough? I don’t think so. In fact, I’m going to text her right now.