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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

WFMW - Take It from A Kanga Who's Been There


Laugh if you want, but one of the best lessons I learned early on in motherhood came not from my own mother nor any other wisened family member or friend but from the pages of A. A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh. See, the prominent school of thought that surrounded me as a brand new Mommy related that babies should begin learning independence immediately after birth, and that to delay such instruction would lead to spoiled children and loads of problems later in life. All of this fine advice resulted in my being a sad, confused, stressed and self-doubting mother with a baby who cried SO VERY MUCH and never quite got enough of the things she really needed.

As we sat together one day in our pink chair in the nursery, Bean nursing frantically while I read to her clumsily from the Pooh book, I happened across a picture of that beloved mother/child pair, Kanga and Roo. And something about the loving pose Kanga held as she cradled Roo in her pouch... the serene look on her face... the cozy connectedness of Mama and baby... aroused in me longing in me I had to pause and contemplate. And it occured to me that all mothers share a common purpose - to protect and nuture the offspring we've produced. And that just as Kanga's Roo would have been born and then quickly snuggled into her pouch to remain nearly as attached to her as he was in her womb, my Bean (and I) craved a similarly gentle transition from being completely attached to being completely separate.

The moment with Kanga and Roo brought about a monumental change in the relationship I was developing with my own precious daughter - a blessed change that supported my innate desire and instincts to keep her safe and close to me, allow her to nurse comfortably whenever she was hungry, and to be flexible and put her needs first as she adjusted to life outside of my body. I could hold and wear and cuddle and snuggle my sweet little baby all I wanted, for God had created in me the natural disposition to do just that, and He'd created in Bean a sweet baby to need it. What a miraculous lesson delivered just in time, and in just the right way.

My advice? Put your tiny newborn in your own "pouch" and soak one another up while she's tiny and fragile and needs you so. Forget everything else and be completely with and for your teeny tiny baby. Take it from the Mama of an almost three-year-old... independence comes quickly and with very little encouragement, so there's no need to rush toward it until both of you feel ready.




For more great parenting lessons, check out the weekly WFMW ideas at Rocks in My Dryer.

Monday, July 30, 2007

A Quiet Table for Twenty, If You Please


For my birthday in September 2004, Al treated me to a full day of elegant pampering at my favorite spa. The gift truly delighted me, and I luxuriated in every single second of luxury.
Later, Al returned to gather me up and take me home, where I relaxed and savored the day until the time arrived for me to dress for a special birthday dinner at our favorite restaurant.
I carefully selected a pair black flowing pants, a violet silk sleeveless top, and my sexiest strappy black sandals, all the better to display my freshly pedicured toesies. Al was particularly insistent on our being prompt for our reservation at the restaurant, one known for its sumptuous atmosphere, food and wine list. At a quiet corner table there, we'd had some of our deepest and most honest conversations about our feelings for one another, so it held (and still holds) a very special and romantic place in our hearts.
Thanks to a bit of extra primping on my part, we arrived about ten minutes late for our reservations, and Al seemed markedly anxious to get inside and be seated. The host greeted us by name and asked us to follow him to our table. I floated along behind him feeling just right... relaxed, special, loved, sexy, on-top-of-the-world. Everything was perfect and I just knew I would forever remember this magical night.

The scene I beheld as we approached our special table still brings happy tears to my eyes just from the memory of it. A large table replaced our tiny one and around it sat a group of my dearest friends who immediately jumped to their feet to shout, "Surprise!"

So this was why Al had been acting so mysterious (and nervous)! A surprise birthday party for little old me! The table was already heaped with delicious appetizers of crisp fried calamari with bright fresh lemon juice, crusty fresh pizzas piled high with prociutto and melty mozzarella, salads of pungent marinated olives and smokey grilled vegetables slathered in fragrant olive oil and garlic, fresh baked focaccia with crisp baked tomatoes and parmesan, and bottles and bottles of our favorite merlot and cabernet. As I took a seat near the center of the table, I marveled at the fact that each menu bore the message Happy Birthday Megan in a banner across its top. My wonderful friends chatted and ate and drank and laughed as Al and I made our way around to visit with them individually. Delighted in my role as belle of the ball, I could hardly catch my breath for the excitement I felt over such an amazing evening planned by such a charming man.

As the appetizers quickly disappeared and our servers took entree orders, my sweet prince again seemed momentarily anxious and restless. Then, clearing his throat, he stood boldly and raised his glass in a toast. Placing a hand on my shoulder, he wished me Happy Birthday and thanked our friends for joining us on such a special night. He went on to share that we viewed the people around the table as part of our family and so much a part of our lives that it was natural to have them with us on such an important night. At this point, my sweet Al reached into his pocket and knelt on the floor beside my chair.
He opened a box that revealed the most beautiful ring I have ever seen, and he asked me to marry him and spend my life with him.

Needless to say, Al's proposal rendered me speechless with emotion. Crying happy tears, I grabbed that sweet, beautiful face, looked into his smiling brown eyes and whispered Yes! The briefly silent table erupted in an outpouring of toasts and crying and hugs and kisses, and this intimate moment most couples share alone became even more beautifully meaningful and memorable to me for having so many of the people we love most in the world right there with us as the rest of our lives unfolded before us.
As the celebration reached its crescendo, the servers delivered to our table the most rich, gooey, decadent chocolate birthday cake I'd ever seen, with Will You Marry Me? ringing the plate in chocolate sauce. Velvety champagne filled sparkling flutes and I floated away on a cloud of love and joy and hope for a future with my beautiful, amazing best friend.

The sheer magic of that night still takes my breath away. My heart knew in that moment, for sure, with no doubt, that this man was the one. This was the night that I fully understood how well Al understood me. I finally realized that he wasn't just kidding around when he told me he loved me. He'd created a night that was perfect in every way for me, down to the tiniest detail.
A night I will remember forever.







Rescued from the Island of the Misfits

Do y'all play Bunco?

My family moved here a year ago last May, and by mid-June I'd figured out via observation that on my block, the word Bunco is neighbor-lady code for "that once monthly evening which serves as the a) foundational undergarment of sagging maternal oomph (aka GETTING THE HECK AWAY FROM THESE CHILDREN), b) the bedrock of a bustling ... okay, active ... okay, mediocre ... okay, stunted social life, c) a rationalization for purchasing (and perhaps even wearing) garments that aren't held up with drawstrings or comprised entirely of fleece and dried milk crust, and d) the sole motivation to scrape/pick/cut the purple Play-Doh™ out of the carpet and polish up the good Chinette® for the neighbor ladies on an annual basis."

See, for us, Bunco's not just a dice-based game of chance. It's a purpose... a goal... the ultimate reward for another month survived. At least around here it is.

So as you can surely imagine it was only a matter of time before one of us desperate Bunco Ladies would devise a way to replicate the joy and libation oops! liberation that is Bunco Night and then cleverly disguise it in a cloak of good old-fashioned productivity, thereby all-but-alleviating the associated guilt of leaving our early-dinner-smeared kids still sitting at the table and stomping cute-little-sandal marks across our husbands' torsos as we trample over them on our way out the door four times a month vs. the current one. And thus was born "Mel's Sanity Night."

"Mel" as she calls herself, lives a few houses down from me and I am blessed to call her not only a neighbor but a friend, too. Melanie sent out an email a few weeks ago with a PDF attached. You know it's serious if there's a PDF involved. The body of Melanie's email explained her idea for "Sanity Night" eloquently, but her point can be summarized without losing much of its nuance in one sentence: Until further notice, in order to keep my head from exploding, I am locking myself in the basement on Thursday nights and you are welcome to join me but if you do please bring your own booze and chocolate. Thank you.

Wait, isn't that Bunco? I thought.

Upon opening the PDF, I discovered the true genius of Mel's little scheme and that which differentiated it from Bunco Night. On a scanned version of her personal calendar, she'd scrawled Scrapbooking in the block for each of the nights in question. Clever Melanie had devised a LEGITIMATE PURPOSE for quadrupling our monthly nights of girlie fun and (relative) abandon. Because in its ability to mystify and terrify a man into unquestioning silence, there's only one word that rivals this word "scrapbooking," -- and that's PMS (or, in the South, FTS: Fixing Ta Start). OH THE BRILLIANCE!

There's only leeeetle problem with this whole ruse, though.

I don't scrapbook.

Now before you go all "Herbie-doesn't-like-to-make-toys!" on me, allow me to explain. I don't scrapbook for many reasons, not the least of which is that I am old and senile and therefore all of my (air quote)Memories are (air quote)Creative and I don't require funky scissors or sticky gold-foil letters to make them so. But come back, because, please... I am neither an animal nor a sociopath! I DO capture my family's stories and photos in a clever, pithy, and artistic fashion! it's just that because apparently I'm unable to detach both hands from the keyboard of my laptop at the same time, I've been pressed to find a way to do so online, and I have. I maintain a little family diary electronically, thereby affording me a quick and easy way to share the fruits of my considerable labor with distant family and friends while concurrently feeding my naughty, webby little habit. I started the diary when I was 17 weeks into my pregnancy with Bean, and posted the most recent entry as late as last Friday. So please, do not judge my scraplessness. I am preserving for posterity in my own pathetically addiction-driven manner. One must learn to accept and embrace one's own limitations.

But how to make myself a part of (air quote)Scrap Night sans Scrappiness?

Well, we had the first of "Mel's Sanity Nights" last week and I'd say it was a rousing success. Cloistered in Melanie's basement, several ladies bellied up around Melanie's huge table -- piled high with more scrapbook-related gadgetry and detritus (I mean that in a nice way!) than I've ever seen in my life. Along with the chocolate and the booze. And Melanie reserved me a spot by an outlet to plug in my trusty laptop so I could blog along merrily beside them. And we all got along really well and were able to share ideas with one another relating to our chosen means of documenting family history.

"Mel's Sanity Night" works, even if you're not scrappy.

Only thing is... does anybody know how to remove acid-free photo corners and ladybug stickers from a computer screen?

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Menu Plan Monday - Look Ma, No Meat!



While we are on the subject of food, allow me to invite your lovely self to join me for my first-ever writing carnival, in which we will write about one of my favorite topics... yes, food! Click on the Meals Make Memories button up there to read the details and then throw together (it's the last minute now so you'll have to make do with what you've got in the pantry!) a post about a special edible memory.


Last week had its moments. The Lemon Chicken Schnitzel and Roasted Potatoes turned out quite tastily, but my deepest fears about the Fantastic Fish Pie were confirmed. Actually pretty much everything about the dish WAS fantastic, excepting the fish, which I would describe as having the texture of the dryer lint produced by laundering an entire load of wool socks, with the flavor being like unto that of those same wool socks prior to the laundering process, but subsequent to having been worn by the local highschool football team for practice the entire month of July. It's a good recipe - sorta like if shepherd's pie, clam chowder and festering sock fuzz had a baby. If I ever decide to try it again, I'll leave out the globs of woolen lint and put in some shrimp and scallops.

If you don't count shrimp as meat, we are going 100% meat-free this week! Check out the Mama cookin' up the veggies at FriedOkra Manor!



Monday
Lentil Stew
Potato Pancakes
Fried Cabbage


Tuesday
Farmers’ Market Surprise

Wednesday
Blackeyed Peas & Rice

(Down South we call this combination Hoppin' John. You put the peas on top of the rice and then smother the pile with chopped onions and hot tomato salsa. It's slap-yo'-Mama good.)

Collard Greens
Corn Bread
(which we will discuss at a later date)

Thursday
Grilled Shrimp

Salad



Friday
Pizza Margarita
S'mores by the fire


And that takes us up to Saturday, the day upon which we shall receive our two lovely "Big Kids," Bean's Sissy and Buddy, my step-children. And then all Menu Heck breaks loose.

Menu Plan Mondays are hosted by Laura at I'm an Organizing Junkie!

HUH?

Unloading the groceries this weekend:

Megan: Hmp. Funny thing here, I put two packages of cookies in the shopping cart, but there are three packages here in the bag.

Al: Oh yeah! I forgot to tell you! There was this Buy-Two-Get-a-Third-for-the-Exact-Same-Price Sale on those cookies. I could NOT resist!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

... Just Don't Forget to Call Me for Supper!



And don't forget to write up your post for the Meals Make Memories carnival I'll be hosting this coming Tuesday, July 31st.

I've got mine almost finished and as a SPECIAL BONUS for all four seven of my lovely readers, my MMM story marks the first in a trilogy or quadrology (made that one up, you likey?) of posts chronicling the genesis of the Alandmegan partnership. (Yes, I am serious. Stop looking at me like that.) (STOP IT.)

I'm going the George Lucas route and putting the finale to this riveting tale at the beginning. Because if I didn't give away the ending at the beginning and put you out of your suspense-ridden misery, all seven of you would surely remain glued to your computer screens for the full three-to-four days, forgoing food, drink, sleep and personal hygiene just to be sure you're there to click the refresh button the very second I post each additional episode, rendering you criminally useless and well, quite frankly, offensive to your families and I simply cannot take on that kind of liability. So you will (or will not, as the case may certainly be) read the conclusion first and be left to plod sleepily through the circumstances that lead up to the ultimate meal related memory of my lifetime... indeed even without the food it would have found itself among the tippy top moments in Meganistory.

The kitchen timer is counting down the minutes quickly, so get busy writing your story now. You don't want to have to serve it up under-done, do ya? And be sure to spread the word, too, after all what good's a potluck without a table jam-packed with friendly faces and enough delectable food to feed an army?

Kitchen Counter Clutter

From the Things that Made Me Go Hmmmm Files this week:

If you want to smile, smile, smile today, stop by and just take a nice long gander upon Owlhaven's newly updated look created by my personal designer (you know I had to slip that in) Jules from Everyday Mommy. In a few short weeks, Mary will bring her two real daughters home from Ethiopia to join the rest of her sweet family. But even in cartoon form, I swear they look even happier as a family of twelve than they did at ten. Sniffle! I'm so excited to read about the girls' homecoming in only a few short weeks now.

Summer at home with all the kids have you convinced that you are the WORST MOTHER ON THE PLANET? Carrien at She Laughs at the Days admits to her own tired-and-frustrated mother woes in a very candid, thoughtful post about healthy and constructive ways to face and deal with the anger that sometimes accompanies long days at home with small people. Here's a shortish excerpt that hit home with for me:

Listen to their hearts and try to realize how incredible it is that this tiny person thinks the sun rises and sets on you alone and that your attitude will affect theirs, for better or for worse. The pamphlet for toddler care that I would write would read, "When your children are squirmy and unbelievably naughty and you are frustrated and they are driving you nuts, put everything else that you are trying to do in a safe place. Turn off the stove, and the computer, and the phone, and sit with them on the living room floor. Build pillow forts, give hugs and kisses, tickle, and take deep slow breaths. Find the joy of being a mother again on the rug as you are fully present with your children. You'll feel better, even if the rest of your work is not yet done."


Lastly but not leastly, the refreshing T of T with Honey (that must be one of the cutest names in all of blogdom, by the way!) shares her story about the worry and pain she dealt with when her maternity leave ended and she needed to find the PERFECT day-care situation for her baby Princess. By trusting God to guide her search efforts, T found exactly what she and her daughter needed. Amen!

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Alas.

I have a major character flaw. I leave people hanging. I'm a failure of a follower-upper. Don't enjoy the debrief. Take a pass on the post-mort. I usually completed my corporately-mandated quarterly and annual self-assessments (before I "retired" to become a Mama) approximately .467 seconds before the next one was due, and that was with no small amount of hounding from my employer. When I'm done with something, I'm done.

Which brings me to my point. Did you think I was ever gonna get there? I didn't either.

I believe we have a few loose ends to tie up.

1 - A HUGE thank you to all of the lovely ladies who bid on the Blanket Auction to benefit Teagan. I will soon be sending her parents a check for $150 and cranking up the Kenmore to churn out three lovely lovies for my FIRLS (Friends in Real Life) Christy, Julie and Carole, none of which are bloggers, but all of which are still darn fine people, let me assure you. And so cute, too! I'm excited we all got to work together to raise funds to help a family in need, and I plan to do something similar again very soon, maybe this time in the form of a raffle. Oh, and I'll post pictures of the three blankets I've created for the auction winners, too.

2 - On a sadder note, we never did find the lost ring. I figure it's sittin' on a local commuter train somewhere between here and Chicago, just ridin' along, twiddlin' its little ring thumbs, thinkin', Man, I don't know where we're going but sure seems like we'd a' been there by now. So we have duly replaced it with a similar band. It took three trips back to Seattle via FedEx® for them to get the new ring tight enough to satisfy me. Puppy ain't goin' NOWHERE this time!

And that is all. We're headed out the door to our diner home-away-from-home for Bean's favorite pam-pakes and shausage!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Don't Hate Me Because I'm About to Be Beautiful

OHMYGOSH OHMYGOSH OHMYGOSH!!! I found out this morning that I won a blog design by none other than the Stacy and Clinton ... or Candice Olson... of cyber-makeovers herself, Jules of Everyday Mommy and Everyday Design fame. Me, little old me, who never wins ANYTHING! Miss Standard Template 2007!

Since I recognize what a HUGENORMOUSTROPHIC honor has been bestowed upon me (quite randomly, I might add), and sense a bit unveiled envy amongst my four readers, (it is a shame to have so few - albeit well-loved - readers when I'm on the brink of having the prettiest blog on the block), allow me to assure you that I am not taking my supreme good fortune for granted. I have already tripped all over myself - and several other people - thanking Jules for her generosity in the form of an email written by the guy who cuts my grass. (Because when I found out she'd be creating a new blog design for me, I ran jubilantly out into the front yard squealing in my striped nightgown and promptly fainted dead away. My friendly lawn service representative found me there, thankfully only 25 minutes later, and came inside the house to see if anyone was on hand to take me to the ER, whereupon he saw my laptop open and running on the kitchen counter, read Jules's original email, recognized instantly that an immediate - and gushing - response was absolutely required and sat down to compose such at once. I would still be lying unconscious out in the wet grass were it not for the fact that the lawn people felt it would be best to remove my person to the front porch prior to commencing with the actual mowing.)

I have also, I'm not kidding, thanked God. See, I was just talking to Him about some of my frustrations and fears about this blog last night and the last thing I said to Him before I hung up was, "God, it's all Yours. I said so in that poem I wrote for my first post, and here's my chance to prove it. You just go ahead and do Your thing."

And I'd say He did.

Because to me, winning a design by Jules equals the thumbs-up from God on these, my feeble early blogging efforts. Means He's all good with me keeping it up for now. And that's all I really needed.

So thanks, Jules, for being my bloggity angel. (And that sentiment came directly from me. The man who cuts my grass would never have written something so sappy. Or heartfelt.)

WRITE ABOUT FOOD!




Writing about food actually BURNS calories, y'all.

Next Tuesday, July 31st, I'm hosting a blog carnival. It's my first ever! Come join the fun and write about special memories you've made over meals. (Bean and I made a new one and reflected on another yesterday!)

For more information about the carnival and some additional blather, click the button above. And if you'd like a button so you can tell your readers about the carnival, leave me your email in a comment. Or you can do a screen grab. Whatever! Just spread the word so we can have PURLENTY of good food stories upon which to gorge ourselves come Tuesday.

Y'all come on and write with me. And stay for dinner!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Here Comes the Sun, Doot'n Doo Doo

So. I've been awake since four thirty this morning thanks to Mr. Brown who was Boom-Boom- Boom! making thunder before dawn. The Bean woke up crying her little blue-green eyes out and my night's slumber was, as they say, toast. By just before lunchtime, I'd run through my normal litany of rainy day fun, which included but was not limited to repetetively squirting a quarter-sized blob of Play-Doh™, and a few strands of my own hair that at one point were still attached to my scalp, through a green and purple molded plastic combine for 25 minutes with a sleepy, grumpy two-and-a-half year old screeching, Want MY TRY!!! AAAAAAAWWWWW I can't do iiiiiit!!!! YOU do iiiiiiiit!!! Now it's my turn!!! No I can't do it!!! Mamaaaaa! SHARE with meeeee! and so on. By ten, I'd had enough of these walls and after not-inconsquential amounts of whining, dawdling, lollygagging and wandering around in circles (oh, and Bean was no picnic, either), we were both dressed and on our way out the door to brave torrential downpours for a trip to the library and the ittybitty grocery store on the corner that perpetually smells like a ham-gone-two-months-too-far-past-its- sell-by-date. Those errands completed, we returned to FriedOkra manor in time for me to make lunch and Bean to scatter library books, DVDs, rainboots, raincoats and various articles of damp clothing to the four corners of our home. My heart sunk as we finished up lunch and I glanced at the clock to stare another 45 minutes looming before naptime. Sigh. What to DO? After pondering my options and noting two dangerously ripe bananas in the fruit bowl, I decided we'd perpetrate a simple (irony!) cooking project together.

So we made my Grandmama's Fruit Freeze. Grandmama used to make this wholesome, delicious, refreshingly citrus-y little frozen dessert snack for my sister and me and our two cousins when we'd all descend upon her of a summer weekend. It was truly sunshine in a bowl! I'd never made it myself before today because we've not been able to locate a recipe for it that sounded exactly the way I recalled it, (honestly I think Grandmama must have made it up based on what she had in the pantry. She was wont to do that from time to time and believe you me, not every time resulted in sunshine in a bowl) but today I just decided I'd improvise from memory and see how it turned out. And it turned out EXACTLY as I remembered it! And it's easy and fast.

Here's how we did it.




Grandmama C's Fruit Freeze

1 12 oz. can frozen orange juice concentrate (make sure it's 100% juice, no added sugar), allowed to thaw and soften slightly
2 20 oz. cans pineapple chunks, drained
2 large ripe bananas
Juice and zest of one lime (or a lemon if you prefer that flavor)

Place all ingredients in large food processor and process on high until smooth. Spoon or pour mixture into plastic dessert cups (I am happy to report that I have the actual same Tupperware™ fluted plastic cups Grandmama used to make our Fruit Freeze twenty-odd years ago) or frozen pop molds (insert sticks according to directions). Freeze overnight. Place dessert cup portions (slightly thawed for removal) in pretty bowls. Just before serving, pour 1/2 cup cold gingerale over Fruit Freeze. If you make the pops, you can skip the gingerale part as that would be sorta tricky! It makes just under 10 4 oz. servings of fruity frozen goodness.

We had a fun time making it and I'm pleased to say that after a cursory search I have seen no puree'd sunshine on the ceiling. I let Bean dump all the ingredients into the processor and then I actually controlled the pureeing process. She helped me spoon the puree into the cups (and she did a pretty good job! I made more of a mess than she did) and put on the lids. I let her taste some of her creation but hmm... I'm not sure if she liked it or not. What do y'all think?




Yeah, maybe a little.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Highschool Meme Time





I've run across this meme here and there in my bloggity meanderings. I laughed outloud several times remembering and trying to capture my memories of those days... You have to laugh at yourself, otherwise you'd cry.

1. Who was your best friend?

I had a little group of 5 or 6 that were my closest allies, and we were all pretty much inseparable, but Marie and Angie were the two best of the best. Marie, though, is my oldest and dearest of all friends. She even reads my blog.

2. Did you play any sports?

Oh yes, all of them. I was a star athlete. What? Marie? Is that you laughing?
Okay, okay. No. No sports. Not even that folded paper football thingy everyone did on their desktops in study hall.

3. What kind of car did you drive?

Are ya ready for this? A 1970-something Plymouth Valiant (see above for a surprisingly accurate likeness). Mine also had a fetching white vinyl top. After having driven this car, which operated with the same precision and stateliness of my Mom's antique Singer (none), to highschool for 2 years, there was and still is very little that can embarrass me. I was dealt my share and of humility early in life. I have no regrets. If I began to list for you the subsequent bloopers, bleeps and blunders of my life, you'd understand that being embarrassed to the point of no return in my teens served as a very very vital innoculation for the deadly humiliation to come. No, seriously. I just live life with a perpetually red face - it saves me the trouble of having to work up a good blush the requisite-for-me several times daily.


4. It’s Friday night. Where were you?

At a Greenwave football game, silly! Home or away, it didn't matter, my posse and I were there in our kelly green sweatshirts, sucking on Chupa Chup suckers, angsting about boys, going to the bathroom to check our hair and make-up every 13 seconds, watching The Popular Girls flirt with boys, and occasionally glancing at the field, where they were apparently playing some sort of sport or something.

5. Were you a party animal?

If all-chick slumber parties where the giddy, pajama-clad attendees frantically memorized the entire zombie dance from the Thriller video while eating Planter's Cheeseballs and drinking Cheerwine until it came out of their noses counts as partyin' then HHHHHOD AWMIGHTY YES, I absolutely the epitomized the wild craziness.

6. Were you considered a flirt?

I was unable to both look at and speak to a boy at the same time. Actually scratch the "at the same time" part. Boys sent me directly into anaphalactic shock until my third decade. I'm gonna go with no on this one.

7. Were you in the band, orchestra or choir?

Worse. I WAS IN THE DRAMA CLUB! Wait, where are you going? Get back here, you haven't even gotten to the good part, yet!

8. Were you a nerd?

If you ask me, nerds make the world go 'round. Nerds are the lynchpins of our society. Does that answer your question?

9. Were you ever suspended or expelled?

Nah, but once I hid in a locker for an hour while cutting a class to avoid being caught by Ms. Bowick, who was a Member of Our Church. Need I say more? I should have just stayed in class though. That locker stunk to high heavens.

10. Can you sing the fight song?

I don't think we even had one. (See my comments section. If we did have one, Marie will have typed it in there word for word. She's gonna be real useful to me when I'm 60 and can't remember my own name.) How rousing could a song about a Greenwave be, anyway? There was this mentally challenged "booster," though, a MAN named Doris (?) (Yes a MAN. Named Doris. I don't know!) who would throw his considerable weight into ringing this huge green bell everytime our team scored. He composed a thoughtful and motivating responsive cheer we could really rally around that went like this:

Him: He Eh ey!
Us: He Eh Ey!
Him: Goober Goober GooBER!
Us: Goober Goober GooBER!
Him: He Eh ey!
Us: He Eh Ey!
Him: Goober Goober GooBER!
Repeat ad nauseum.
Yep. Fight song. Notsomuch.

11. Who was your favorite teacher?

Mr. Chris, who taught history and was the drama coach. He called my friend Angie and me "The Golddust Twins" because we had matching blonde hair. You know what? I wasn't the only one who liked him because he's now the MAYOR... The Po.Ten.Tate... of my small town. And I know him. If you are ever there and you need some municipal assistance, you let me know. I got the Mayor in my pocket, see. Or something like that.

12. What was your school mascot?

The ever-so-threatening Greenwave

13. Did you go to the Prom?

I went to my Senior prom. My junior prom date, George, on whom I'd had a heart-stopping, vomit-inducing, head-between-my-knees crush on since the beginning of ... time, and who I think may have actually been kidding when he agreed to go with me because he was in COLLEGE at the time (true to my word in #6, I invited him in a LETTER), had his MOM call my Mom and cancel the date on the afternoon before because apparently he had to have his jaw broken and wired shut to correct a mammoth overbite that very day and would therefore be unable to escort me on what was to have been the Night of My Life, when the shackles of my nerdliness and boyphobia would forever be broken and I'd emerge a beautiful, incredibly clever and socially effervescent butterfly and everyone's heads would turn in complete disbelief... lips would murmur of my magnificence and a million doves would fly out of my little pink clutch and the disco ball would grow to three times its normal size and the band would play Crazy for You by Madonna and George would sweep me into his arms and know he could nevereverever be apart from me again because I was The Woman of His Dreams (all 97 lbs. of me!) and the crowd would part and we'd dance as if on an enchanted island, then he'd take my hand and we'd depart in his mother's white Corvette Stingray as the crowd followed along behind us, dazzled to their cores. (I think it is worth pointing out that every word in this paragraph up until that last period was all in ONE SENTENCE. You can inhale now. I'll wait. Okay, ready?) Instead I spied him from the ketchup, straw and napkin island in my local Burger King on Prom Night and judging from the cavernous, gaping, check-out-these-tonsils bite he took of his Whopper, turns out the only surgery that boy'd had that day was a um... cahoona-ectomy. The Coward! But the story doesn't end there. Ten years later he found me on a popular highschool reunion information gathering website (you know which one I mean?), somehow got my phone number and called me and we actually DID go out on a date (I know, what are the odds?) and you know what? It was a big disappointment. He just wasn't all that. At all. He was in his thirties at the time and attempted to kiss me while chewing Juicy Fruit gum. Not the suave and debonair prince I'd imagined him to be. Not by a longshot.

14. If you could go back, would you?

Not on your life. Not for all the tea in China. Not for a million dollars. Okay for a million dollars but only if I get to go back to then knowing what I know now. And only if I can NOT drive that stupid VALIANT.

15. What do you remember most about graduation?

My friend Lyn quoting the words to Carol King's (James Taylor's) You Got a Friend in her commencement address. I'd still be mopping up tears over that speech if I hadn't discovered blush wine my freshman year in college.

16. Where were you on Senior Skip Day?
Must've been a really good time because I have no recollection of it at all.

17. Did you have a job your senior year?

Nothing that I got paid for. I emptied the dishwasher and took out the trash. Stuff like that.

18. Where did you go most often for lunch?

The CANTEEN. Where you could get a fried chicken patty on a bun for 65 cents, a Coke for 35 cents and an oatmeal cream pie for a quarter. The Lunch of Champions. (Why did I only weigh 97 lbs??)

19. Have you gained weight since then?

Oh heavens to Betsy yes. Gained it and lost it about 14 times now!

20. What did you do after graduation?

Sold lingerie to old ladies at our local department store, then fled for college all of 15 miles away from home.

21. What year did you graduate?

What? What's that you say? Did I just flatulate? Heh? Speak up little missy! Oh Graduate? Lemme see that musta been back in Nineteen Hunderd and Eighty Six...
22. Who was your Senior Prom Date?

A fellow geek. I don't even want to discuss it. I SAID NO!

24. Who was your homeroom teacher?

Um... some guy who was in the process of building a log cabin from scratch and told us all about the prior evening's progress every morning, with diagrams and stuff on the overhead projector. I would find that fascinating NOW, but when I was 17? Gimme a break.

25. Who will repost this after you?

I think I may actually BE the last person in bloggity land to actually get around to doing this meme. But if you haven't, and you want to, I think it should be YOU.
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And don't forget now, I'm hosting a writing carnival here next Tuesday. You get to write about FOOOOOOD and those special times you've had around the table (or on the picnic blanket, or crawling around under the highchair, etc.). Clicky the buttony abovey. (And spread the word on your blog - email me for a button.)

Weekends

Originally posted in my old blog February 2006. For nearly six months, Al worked in Chicago, coming home only on the weekends, while Bean and I stayed home in Atlanta.

After his week of plane rides, long days, lonely nights and job stress, he comes home and makes us his girls again. Friday night, upon his arrival, there are long hugs, long kisses, and the two of us spoon opposite sides of a mammoth bowl of hot, buttered popcorn, snuggle under a blanket on the floor and watch the highly-anticipated weekly episode of What NOT to Wear. (Highly anticipated by me, anyway. I can never be sure if his enthusiasm's for Stacy and Clinton and their weekly victim, or for the spooning and popcorn.) And then we go to bed and make like married people. I get a massage and drift to sleep in a cradle built of brown arms and gentle, frothy peacefulness.

Saturday morning Alex awakes and chatters in her room about balls, birds and babies and then practices fake sneezes for 15 minutes, before floating a tiny, delectable "Mama?" across the hall, around the corner, and up the left side of the bed where it nestles sweetly into my waiting ear. Beside me, he stirs, turns and asks the question with only his eyebrows. My eyebrows answer. He's to her door cooing in a few stumbling steps. I hear them dawn on one another again. "Dadda!" He murmurs softly to her and from my warm bed I feel their two hearts unfolding right in the center of my own. He carries his daughter, her back straight and her head held high, to our bed, a matching light glows on the faces I love more than any others. She finds Mama's mouth for a kiss...nook? she queries. I slip to the kitchen as they snuggle with books, and return with her milk. She props herself against pillows and holds the cup with one hand, the other touching his face, his arm, his fingers, until it finally finds her favorite lovey, his earlobe. I watch, not breathing, not blinking, willing my perfect silence to hold the moment still as my eyes reach out and pull it into myself forever. Milk and books and Daddy and daughter jumble together beside me for moments before some or all of them find their way downstairs, and the cheese grits ritual begins. I lie and listen. Clinking, laughing, grits in a bowl. Water in pipes. He asks and answers. She proclaims and announces. Spoons scrape bowls. I shower. Coffee drifts upstairs to flirt with me, and I shrug off mascara for my sunny kitchen.

The next hour finds the three of us at Waffle House. The sun filters through the black-screened windows and Alex's smile and giggling outshines every warm ray. She's on a Daddy high. Everyone around us gets a curly little nod of her head, a scrunchy-faced grin, a backward Queen-wave. We have the usual and she eats another breakfast with us as if the grits were yesterday. We laugh. We make plans for the day. With him across from me I am engulfed in anticipation of every next second. I am again the me only he makes me. The lines above his eyes smooth, his smile eases down from tense and pleasing to real and ... real. He is happy to be home. We run errands. She walks in the middle, a hand streeeeeeeetched up to Mama, a hand streeeeetched up to Daddy. Toes on the ground. Bouncy, happy toes.

She drifts off in the backseat as we unfold our week gone by and pull out moments and people and plans and sort through, laughing, deciding, laughing again. At home, he unbuckles and peels her out of her seat. She smooths back down against him and we stand and discuss in gestures of our eyes what to do with our sleeping Bean.

She naps. We curl together in bed with a tiny DVD player and watch episodes of West Wing. Two hours later, we awake to her chatter a second time. She announces Poo Poo as we enter her room. He is in charge! Later, clean and expectant, she rides his hip with a shoulder for reins - down the stairs, bip bop boop. Shoes on six feet, coats and the stroller, and we breathe sunlight and chilly wind into our lungs as the street becomes the playground. With Daddy's protective arms a breath away, she alights - her red shoes thump stomp slap with the sound of complete fearlessness. An hour passes as I push a hair from my eyes. The sun fades, the wind sharpens. Home glows warm. Spaghetti begets a bath which begets soft pajamas and books. She sighs as we turn off her light and now we are two again.

Sunday opens as preciously as Saturday, but with a new, melancholy melody played in the same time. But the rhythm slows as the day glides by - he is sad with a Sunday sadness - the knowing of the end that precedes his leaving by half a day. Monday wakes early and gray - he has my heart in the bag over his shoulder, and I ask God to hold him as tightly as I want to for the next week. He leaves me in the darkness. She will awake and ask for him by name, and I will muster a way to make the sun rise for her in my own sad eyes. She and I will be the only us we know until Friday brings him home again.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Raisin' a Kid is Back Bwokin' Work

Hiya! I'm hosting a little writing carnival next week. Go read about Meals Make Memories and join me in writing about your most cherished food-related memories on Tuesday July 31st.


Overheard at my house between lunchtime and naptime:

Mama: C'mon Bean let's go upstairs and read a book and take a nap.

Bean: But I gotta take my baby! I gotta git my baby!

Mama: Okay, get her and come with me. It's naptime.

Bean: Okay, Mama. (I love those words. They 're soooo rare.) (Goes to get her doll. And returns carrying her. We start up the stairs.)


(And we make it to the second stair before...)


Bean: UNH! My back is getting weady to BWOKE fum carrying dis BABY! She's tooooo heavy fer me.

Mama: Wow, that heavy, huh?

Bean: YOU carry her Mama. She wone hurt YOUR back. Here y'go baby. You go wiss my Mama. (Hands me the baby doll.)


I knew I'd end up raising that baby myself. Sigh.

My Other Bloggin' Gigs



Photobucket


Meals Make Memories - Writing Idea

Blog About Your Memorable Meals
Tuesday, July 31

I love food. Rrrrally I do. I'd probably eat all day long every day if I could get away with it! I would! If I'm not actually noshing some tasty morsel, ask me what I'm thinking about? Yeah, probably more than 50% of the time, I'm taste-testing a new recipe in my head, planning out a weekly menu, or contemplating my next snicky snack. In my free daylight hours, I rarely leave my kitchen - it's the hub of activity for me and for my little family. I cook here, I blog here, I do laundry, pay bills, talk on the phone, check and return emails, read and ponder the mysteries of life right here, at my kitchen counter. We chose this floorplan for our new home for that reason alone: We needed a house with the kitchen at its heart, as the epicenter, because the FriedOkra family is all about 'dem vittles.

Thing is, there's more to eating than just Food Guide Pyramids, tastebuds and waistlines. Most of my most cherished memories feature a meal of some sort. I remember homecooked, Southern-fried summer suppers cooked by my Mom as I was growing up in Carolina, table-busting holiday feasts with both sets of grandparents and all the aunts, uncles and all four of the girl-cousins giggling at the kids' table, the macaroni and cheese casseroles Mom would make and cart over to college for me to share with my friends during exams, all the experimental (Ahem!) dishes I prepared in my early twenties as I learned how to cook in my own first little 6'x3' kitchen, so many beautiful, elegant meals out when Al and I were dating, the bountiful and sumptuous spread of food we provided for our wedding guests, the mouth-wateringly delectable plastic-wrapped graham crackers I devoured and could have sung for joy over just moments after I delivered Bean, and the fire-roasted hot dogs and gooey s'mores we've shared with our neighbors up here over bright bonfires in the cool evenings of summer. For me, food's about tradition, comfort, connectedness and joy, and I bet I'm not alone in those feelings.

I think it'd be fun to read everyone else's food stories. The memorable Christmas dinner, the Mother's Day breakfast in bed, the picnic by a hidden waterfall, the baby smearing creamed spinach in his hair... how love was given and received at the table... how magic memories were made over the mashed potatoes. How he proposed at your favorite restaurant, dazzling you with a champagne flute full of the bubbly, your diamond engagement ring sparkling at the bottom. You're thinking of one right now. Write about it! You can even include old family recipes (if they aren't Top Secret!) or special menu ideas so we can all try to replicate your culinary experiences...

And then link your Meals Make Memories post (not your homepage) to my site (I'll do a Mr. Linky if I can figger out how) next Tuesday, July 31st, so we can all share our most Memorable Meals. If you don't have a blog, leave your memories in my comments sometime over the next week and I'll post your story for you.

I'd love to have loads of stories for us all to read so please mention this idea in your own blog if you'd like. I'll even give you a Meals Make Memories button like the one right up there to post... just email me at alandmeganATsbcglobalDOTnet.

Oh, and consider this little-known factoid: Writing about food for about an hour will actually BURN 102 calories. So go ahead and indulge!

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Scarlet Limerick

There once was this chick named Hester,
The minister tried to molest 'er.
They rolled in the hay,
Now she wears an A,
And all of the citizens detest 'er.

Lickety Split Link Love

OH MY GRANNY!

If you are a fan of TLC's What Not to Wear AND The Food Network, you must hasten... yes HASTEN, or maybe even HIE THEE HITHER to read this post by JulieMom. I HOWLED over it. HOWLED, I TELL YOU. Too bad Molto Mario didn't make the cut, though. Stacy and Clinton could do a complete show just cuttin' on him in the 360 degree mirror.

Heck, the orange clogs alone would keep 'em busy for half an hour!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Menu Plan Monday

Participate TODAY in The Baby Blanket Auction I'm hosting to help Baby Teagan and her family. Help a child and get a really neat homemade (by lil ol' me) baby blanket in the process!

Menu Plan Mondays are hosted weekly by Laura at I'm an Organizing Junkie!

Okay, so... Turns out, meat just ain't all that.


Last week's menu plan featured only one night of meat. Well, poultry. And would you belive there was zero belly-aching to be heard? Zero. Color me surprised and delighted.

These Spinach and Cream cheese Enchiladas were phee.no.me.nal. YUMMO! I mean it! And the Potato Pancakes with Vegetarian Stew also got good reviews. Bean gobbled her pancake up (withOUT ketchup I might add) with wild abandon.

But last week was last week and it's up to me to trump myself this week with more tasty meat-freeness. With a successful week and a modest amount of confidence under my belt (which I have cinched up a notch, 'cause I LOST WEIGHT going meatless), I'm excited to hit the kitchen and crank out more vegetable-y goodness. Let's take a little look-see, shall we?

Monday
Fantastic Fish Pie
Sugar Snap Peas

Tuesday
Farmers’ Market Surprise


Wednesday

Lemon Chicken Schnitzel with Roasted Potatoes
Green Beans

Thursday
Leftovers

Friday
Antipasto Pasta Salad




I'm nervous about the fish pie... I hope it really IS fantastic. Wish me luck!

Baby Blanket Auction for Teagan, Monday July 23

Auction Opens:
Monday, July 23rd at 8:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time
Auction Closes:
Tuesday, July 23rd at 8:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time
To Bid:
1) Review current bids below in the comments field.
2) In a new Comment, leave the following information:
Your bid (in US Dollars). No smaller than 50 cent increments please. For example if the previous bid is $15.00, the next bid must be $15.50 or higher.
Along with your bid, Please leave me a quick and easy way to contact you online... Either your email address or a functional link back to your own blog.
3) Check back often to keep your own bid on top!
Thank you again for helping Teagan and her family.
I'm gonna make you the sweetest little blankies you ever did see!

Link Love

Yes, I am crankin' out the posts like a big dog with a URL this morning. I awoke at 4 AM in a sweaty fit of inspiration, what can I say?

Here are some Things that Made Me Go Hmmm this weekend. Check them out and leave 'em love in the comments, okay?

JulieMom writes songs, y'all! Purty, moving, heartfelt songs. Having only known JulieMom for a few days, this was news to me! She posted lyrics to one that I really enjoyed right here.

I was really humbled by Megan's (SortaCrunchy) clear and insightful introspection here. I don't think I could ever stare my own self QUITE so boldly in the eyes and publish an inventory of my findings, but she inspired me to consider trying. Someday. Maybe. Or I could just go by her list. I mean, we DO have the same name afterall...

Know what I love about DCRMom (Musings of a Housewife)? That you can go read her, fun post after fun post after fun post, and she's all we're havin' fun... tra la la.. havin' fun... havin' fun... and then WHAMMO! She goes all serious and reflective on you! And she does thoughtful just as well as or perhaps even a sliver better than she does lighthearted and entertaining. She wrote Time Marches On late last week. You will identify fully with her thoughts, trust me.

Enjoy!

Beedifuw Words


Bean: Wook, I foun' my beedifuw Bibew, Mama!

Mama: I see it! Where did you find it?

Bean: I'wwus in my woom, inna pink box.

Mama: Ah.




Bean: Iss beedifuw Mama. It has beedifuw wouds in it.

Mama: Yes. God's words.

Bean: Yes....

Bean: Mama? I love my beedifuw Bibew.

Zoo in a Baby Pool

She splashes and shrieks -
A monkey in bright sunlight.
Her mother wallows -
A motionless hippo in the shade.

Ruminatin'

Sleepy hot cow chews and blinks,
Flicks a fly-swatter tail...
Silently wishes for autumn.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Gimmeme Five!

Who can pass up a meme on a pleasant Saturday afternoon at naptime? Not I! From DCRMom (Musings of a Housewife).

What were you doing 10 years ago?

Heavens, I can't remember what I was doing 10 minutes ago, but I'll give it a stab. (Bear in mind I'm 40, so anything I contend to recollect merely proximates the truth.) Hmmm...That would be Nineteen Hundred and Ninety Seven. Now let... me... see... Oh, oh yes, here's a moment that encapsulates the desperation of the entire summer of '97.

Actually, this month marks the 10th anniversary of a strangely monumental day in my life. That day, I stared newfound independence (and the limitations of my bladder, but we'll get to that part in a bit) dead in the face with a mixture of hope and terror.

Up until that summer, I'd always dwelled among family, college roommates, or with my husband. But that year my young marriage was withering, I was separated from my husband and staring down the barrel of a divorce, living hours from my parents and sister. Apart from a few casual friends from work, I was on completely my own in metropolitan Atlanta. Returning to my hot apartment late in the day July 3rd, I changed from my work suit into shorts and a tanktop, and flopped down in front of the TV to polish off my newly adopted single-woman's dinner of a quarter of an ice cold watermelon. On the evening news, local reporters hawked a plethora of pre-holiday concerts, parades and festivities all over the city. I'd no plans to attend these or any other such celebrations... I really couldn't contemplate the idea of seeking any sort of new companionship now, after so many years of having a guaranteed "date" everywhere I went. And I wouldn't be spending time with my family since I only had the holiday off and was due back at work bright and early on the 5th.

After getting my fill of news, I went through my usual docket of evening duties: scooping the cat litter, checking the mail, and heading out onto the balcony to water a dejected pot of flowers that was quickly giving up the ghost in the summer heat. Now, though I lived inside the city limits of Atlanta and spitting distance from downtown, my balcony, three stories up, protruded over a deep and densely wooded ravine. I had always loved that I could drive (or ride the train) a few minutes out of Midtown's booming business district - busy streets lined with skyscapers, museums, bars and restaurants - and be at home in what seemed like the wilderness. On that balcony I could neither see nor hear (beyond the distant rumbling of the 16-lane highway that bisects the city) anything that belied my proximity to a major urban hub. I'd sat for hours on that balcony, contemplating my marriage, my life experiences, my dreams, my heartache... everything... and I'd always done so uninterrupted by any other human soul. I was alone in an isolated treehouse in the sky, and until today, the aloneness had served me well.

Stepping out onto the wooden floor of the balcony, I quickly turned to close the door to prevent the cat, a proven escape artist and daredevil, from exiting behind me and shimmy-ing up or down from our forest perch, onto the roof or into the ravine. I'd no desire to spend the waning hours of daylight and dusk plodding around outside trying to locate an illusive and very very adventurous kitty. Sure enough, he'd seen the door open and bolted at top speed toward me, his eye on freedom. I quickly (all too quickly) grabbed the handle and slammed the door shut with such force it jarred loose the safety bar on the inside of the door. I observed the bar falling across the track of the door in scary slow motion, rendering me a virtual prisoner on my own treetop perch, three stories up, looking back at the cat, who, unharmed, meowed at me with unshrouded indignance and ire in his green eyes. After apologizing to the cat, I began to contemplate my own precarious situation. I was high above solid ground on a wooden balcony overlooking a ravine full of spindly pines, scrubby thornbushes, and a conservatively estimated four hundred and eleventy million thirsty mosquitoes. (You'll harken back to it being July. In Atlanta.) At my disposal on the balcony were two pots of wilted red impatiens, two black wrought iron chairs and a rusted bistro table, one bladder already beginning to whimper about the half-gallon of watermelon juice flooding the plumbing, one tank top and one pair of shorts and about 3 cubic miles of exposed skin. I was barefoot and already beginning to sweat, and as I gazed about and took stock, I realized in an instant, this here was a predicament of prodigious proportions.

Thanks to my newly found independence, I pondered, there was NO ONE ON THIS WHOLE PLANET, (much less within shrieking distance) who would notice at all if I remained stuck on that balcony until the day after tomorrow. My soon to be ex would assume, even if he called (which he wouldn't) the apartment and didn't get an answer, that I was out having fun somewhere. Same with anyone in my family. None of my co-workers would call. I couldn't call anyone... the phone was inside and although I'd made several serious attempts using peanut butter and masking tape, I hadn't been able to train the cat to dial it. So, basically, I could quite possibly be discovered oh, maybe 48 hours from now, the hovering mosquitoes having long ago syphoned off the last few drops of my blood. I'd have spent my final living and functional moments peeing out 2 liters of watermelon juice and scrawling out a meaningful elegy on the glass door using only my feeble fingertip and a paste of dehydrated impatiens petals. The other side of the door would be smeared and dotted with cat snot and pawprints from the nose and feet of the cat who would still be glowering at me over foiling his plans for escape. If he had made it outside, I considered ironically, as I stood there still alive, I could have written a note pleading for help for his mistress (who could be found hopping up and down, crosslegged and scratching herself like she had a catastrophic flea infestation, right around here behind this building... yes yes, up there, on that third floor balcony, behind those dead flowers!) and tucked it into his collar, and perhaps have been rescued without having to do what I DID eventually decide rather piteously that I had to do, which was to begin to WAIL (because to simply shout would not have conveyed the urgency I felt about this whole situation), HEEEEEEEEEEEEELP MEEEEEEEEE! PLEEEEEEEEEEEEEASE!!! HEEEELP OH HEEEEEEEELP! I knew that as the evening wore on, fewer and fewer of the single, hip youngsters inhabiting the complex with me would all be gone soon, partying it up at any or all of the events I'd heard hyped just moments ago while I was eagerly horking down the watermelon whose juice was now backed up past my eyeballs. To commence the caterwalling expeditiously was crucial to my survival. As I keened pathetically into a dusky hollow of boughs, branches and thicket, I felt the aching aloneness of my present life and wondered fleetingly if the future would be worth survival, anyway.

Moments later, I believe no more than 7 moments, I heard footsteps through the scrub below. From around the corner crept a youngish guy, my age or a little younger, looking up. I peered over the railing, sheeplishly. And thus began my physical rescue - moments later I was back in my home in a hot bath, having hastily liberated the watermelon juice inundating my lower regions, the whole ordeal having lasted just over an hour. Emotional rescue was longer in the making - my heart foundered in the wilderness of confusion and disillusion for half a decade. Ask me where I was 5 years ago and hear a considerably more providencial tale, full of redemption and miracles. Another day, another post.

Five snacks you enjoy:

1) Pretzel/cheese Combos
2) Watermelon (IRONY!)
3) Sourdough bread and warm, soft butter
4) Fried Okra (yes, even served lukewarm as a snack, it is pure heaven.)
5) Smoked almonds

Five songs to which you know all the lyrics:

1) Sweet Baby James - James Taylor
2) The Power of Two - Indigo Girls
3) Overjoyed - Stevie Wonder
4) Some Children See Him - Alfred Burt
5) You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile - from Broadway's Annie

Five things you would do if you were a millionaire:

1) Encourage hubby take a year or two off from working to finish the degree he's working on.
2) Travel with hubby, Bean, family and friends.
3) Hire Stacy and Clinton of TVs What Not to Wear (and you too, Nick and Carmindy) to coax out the middle-aged fashionista in me.
4) Finish the basement and put in hardwoods on the main level of my house.
5) Invest for Bean's future.

I ran out of money after number 3, but this is all theoretical and one must consider my phat negotiating skillz and the impact they might have on the bottom line.

Five bad habits:

1) Biting my cuticles. GROSS!
2) Eating when I'm not hungry.
3) Fidgeting.
4) Blogging too long and having to rush around to accomplish my "real" resposibilities.
5) Not returning phonecalls.

Five things you like to do:

1) Fritter away hours doing nothing of import with hubby and Bean.
2) Cook.
3) Eat.
4) Talk and think about cooking and eating.
5) Travel. Luxuriously.

Five things you would never hope to never wear again:

1) Those hideous chunky shoes. With the squared toes!
2) Pants that come up past my belly button - unattractive and NOW! Extra-confining!
3) Clip on earrings. One word: Permaheadache.
4) Sweaters with ribbed bottoms. (I call them "blob sweaters.")
5) An immobilizing neck brace or cervical collar. Torture!

Five favorite toys:

1) My laptop.
2) My camera.
3) My microplane (kitchen gadget).
4) My husband's new wireless speakers.
5) My All-Clad skillet and chef's knife.

Friday, July 20, 2007

My Childhood Home

Please check out my earlier post to read about a Random Act of Kindness you can get involved in, and even have a chance to get a really neat homemade (by lil ol' me) baby blanket in the process!

The brilliant idea for the following topic wasn't mine, it was the brainchild of Mary over at Owlhaven. It's not too late for YOU to share your memories of your childhood home... Get to writin'! Yes, this means YOU.




I was 10 going on eleven when my parents had suffered enough in the big city of Atlanta and decided to cash in their chips and move "back home" to the Real South, aka rural South Carolina. Never having lived anywhere else I could remember in my born days except suburban Atlanta (which is about as Southern as New Hampshire, truth be told), and, as stubborn and impervious-to-anyone-else's-good-ideas as any almost eleven-year-old was then, is now, and forever will be, I faced my parents' decision with the commensurate amount (a great big hairy huge ton) of pre-pubescent (Hi Mr. Internet Weirdo!) angst and trepidation. Oh, and fury. Let us not forget the fury.

The first days in our new town served to validate my fears and parent-centered resentment, as rural SC is a far cry from the big city in ever-so-many ways, not the least of which was that I couldn't understand much of what was said by th'natives. They wus all, "Who y'lak? Tahgers er Gamecocks?" (Being a dyed-in-the-wool Tahger fan from the git-go, Ah don't thank Ah'd e'em heard of a Gamecock yet. The Tiger and the Gamecock are the mascots of the two major football teams, er, colleges, in the state, by the way.) An' "Ya'll been ta Quaincy's fer supper yet? Hooooooooooo doggies 'ems good eatin'!" So, in addition to having left my BFFs Mary and Lynne, who shared my love for Lick 'Em Ades, Sean Cassidy and wearing tennis socks with the lil fluffy balls that matched our tops, I was also livin' in a FER'N Country where I din't speak tha language. I was skeert.

However. There WAS my new house. And despite the freakish glowing orange carpet in the family room and the broken air conditioning in July, in South Carolina, (which reminds me of the fact that, not satisfied with dragging me from the cultured and refined city out to cow-patty-n'-ho-cake-ville, my mother had immediately set about the task of bringing me down from my citified high horse by dragging me to our new town's library each afternoon, whereupon she climbed up the wooden stairs to the loft, plopped and stretched herself bottom-out over the huge library clock - tick tock tick tock - on the cushioned bench along the railing that overlooked the entire first floor, and proceeded to TAKE A NICE LONG SNOOZE. Oh Heavens Above... the Humiliation!) the new house had a feature or two that took some of the sting out of becoming a hick. For example there were

My Bathroom - I shared it with my sister but it was ATTACHED to MY BEDROOM. And... it had TWO, people... TWO SINKS. And those sinks... were TURQUOISE. As was the tub. In there was also this COOL metal shelf that revolved and that you could actually turn so that it was COMPLETELY hidden inside the WALL. Oh the treasures I could hide in that thing!! This is the bathroom, coincidentally, that my NEW BFF Marie and I would hide away in, fill the sinks with water with a squirt of nail polish remover on top and LIGHT THE WHOLE THING ON FIRE. And the turquoise bathtub, which is still there, and still turquoise (she said proudly) is the same one in which my friend Angie and I played dentist with the olive green Waterpik, using a stainless steel mixing bowl on a footstool as the spit sink. Oh that bathroom saw some of my most creative moments.

My Bedroom - Which housed my wildly-coveted-and-anticipated CANOPY BED, a set of faux satin sheets so slippery I had to hold onto the headboard when I rolled over so I didn't fall out, and a closet big enough to hold all of my clothes, shoes, junk AND a secret hidden make-up vanity where I spent countless hours making myself beautiful in case Sean Cassidy or Michael Jackson should stumble upon me and fall in love.

My Dad's Desk - Which was built RIGHT INTO THE WALL, creating a little cubby where the chair went, under which was conveniently placed a heat/AC vent that was SHARED with the living room, affording me the ability to sit very discreetly and listen in on my sister's private moments with the gentlemen callers she entertained on the blue velvet sofa on the other side of the wall but only inches from me. Oh Yes I Did!

The Huge Rocks in the Side-Yard - Which sadly eventually became the headstones of several beloved pets over the years, but started out as a perfect place for pre-teen brooding, daydreaming, sulking and secret-telling.

I brooded and sulked at my parents' complete lack of concern for my misery over being transplanted for a couple of months, until I looked up and realized that I was more at home in that house and in that town than I'd ever been in Atlanta. I'd made the best friends I'd ever had, and most of them are STILL my best friends, over 25 years later. I slept better in my new room, where the thick canopy of elderly oaks that nearly touched the roof above me blocked out every splinter of light in the night sky, creating the perfect foil for a thousand fireflies and the flashlights of neighborhood kids playing kick-the-can. I walked a mere block to my new school - one with teachers who made me feel welcome and important, and friends who didn't know much about Sean Cassidy but loved the Tahgers and even wore brilliant orange overhauls on Friday to attest to it! I celebrated my birthday late that summer with my new crew of girls - we danced on the wacky orange carpet to the music of Star Wars, using bananas for light sabers and giggling like we'd known one another forever. I realized now that I had a home filled with new memories, and the promise of a million more.

And now, when I go back to visit my parents in that same house, and I tuck Bean into my cozy old bed (the canopy's gone, but it's the same bed) after a hot bath in the turquoise tub, I am thankful for the move they made (and the moves they HAVEN'T made since then), and for the little town and the friends I made that continue to remind me who I really am, where I REALLY came from. In the quiet stillness of a hot summer afternoon, I can easily remember the feeling I had of safety, peace and belonging, lying on my canopy bed in my shady, cool bedroom, reading and thinking and planning. I can still smell Mom's steak and gravy cooking in the kitchen and hear the whistle of the afternoon train as it rolls through the heart of town. Those memories define me. My childhood. Home.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Skin

From time to time, our close friends and family ask about public reactions Al and I get to our interracial relationship. Is being a mixed couple ever awkward or even scary? How do we handle confrontations? To be honest, I never gave the possibility a second thought while we were dating and considering marriage. You know, I thought about really CRITICAL stuff like, say, would our kid(s) look like Quincy Jones's kids with Peggy Lipton? Would I need to learn how to cornrow? I actually did lay awake nights wondering about our kids' hair before Al had even proposed... and spent hours online trying to find pictures and diagrams and use-and-care instructions. (By the way, if you are looking for a quick cool million, Plaiting for Dummies has not yet been penned.)

Al and I don't often even register consciously our blackandwhiteitude, although I do notice that we're more memorable to other people than I think I've ever been with other companions. Maybe it's the interracial thing or maybe it's just because Al's completely intoxicating to everybody, not just me. For example, if we visit a restaurant more than once, the second time we visit, everyone's all Hi! How are you? Where have you been? We missed you! And then the third time, the chef comes out and hugs us and asks us if we'd like to try the braised artichoke and fennel streudel with a reduction of 150 year old port and the servers want pictures of us to take back to their warm, sweet Greek grandmas in the old country and we all quaff flute after flute of champagne and chocolate cake with ganache and marzipan for dessert. On the house. It's weird. And it's been this way since we've been together and gotten even more pronounced now that Alex is in the... ahem... mix - pardon the pun. Ironically, everyone loves her wildly curly blonde hair! (Think Justin Guarini only REALLY SUPER blonde.)

There have been moments we've been the subject of scrutiny because we are different. Take one Sunday, at church, in the "Meet the New Members" line.

(Dialogue)
Odd Young White Girl, at a bellow, directly up Al's nose (closetalker, she was!): YOURBABYISSOCUTE I SAW HER GET BAPTIZED LAST WEEK. IS SHE (whispers)bi-racial?

Al: Well, yes, she is.

OYG: WELL I'M DATING A (sotto voce) black guy. DOES THAT MEAN MY BABY WOULD BE bi-racial TOO?

Al: Mmmmm... yes, if you had a baby with the (sotto voce) black guy I guess so. (We've come up with a few much more clever and entertaining answers to this question since Sunday, as you can imagine.)

OYG: IS YOUR WIFE WHITE?!

Al: Yes, she's right over there, see her? (Points.)

OYG: BUT I MEAN IS SHE WHITE WHITE, OR HISPANIC OR SOMETHIN'? (expiditiously storming towards me with distinct purpose and curiousity, as your geeky highschool science teacher Mr. Chambers would approach a six-headed insect on order to get a much much much closer look)

Al: Er... no, she's apparently just plain old caucasian.

OYG: (shouting directly into my left cheekbone as a small crowd forms around us) I'M CURIOUS BECAUSE I'M DATING A (sotto voce again) black guy. MY PARENTS DON'T KNOW BECAUSE THEY ARE RACIST RACIST RACIST. THEY DON'T THINK (whispering) blacks AND WHITES SHOULD BE TOGETHER BECAUSE THE RACES SHOULD STAY SEPARATE. ACTUALLY I'M ENGAGED TO THE (mouths)black guy (flashes little purple ring) AND HE IS MAD AT ME BECAUSE I WON'T TELL MY PARENTS. THEY WOULD KILLLLLL ME IF THEY KNEW. IN FACT SOMEONE FROM HERE (points to the floor - meaning "here" as in the church) TOLD THEM BUT I JUST SAID, "NO." I'M NOT RACIST OR ANYTHING AND I HATE HATE HATE RACISM IT'S WRONG WRONG WRONG BUT MY PARENTS WOULD JUST DIE IF I EVER TOLD THEM I'M WITH him, the black guy. YOU KNOW, MARIAH CAREY IS (silently) bi-racial, TOO!!!

Megan (friendly tone, no sudden movements): Do you mind if I ask how old you are?

OYG: I'M TWENTY TWO. I KNOW THAT SOUNDS YOUNG BUT I'M MATURER THAN OTHER PEOPLE MY AGE.

Megan/Al, simultaneously: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH... (exchange WHA??? glances as OYG continues her monologue)

Al continues to listen, stunned to muteness, as I put Alex down and give her a gentle shove, which thankfully sets her into motion away away away to find more pens and pencils from the pew-back racks and I take my leave to go chase her down and prevent her from ingesting them. (I am bad... so bad, but really, what good is a toddler if she can't be dispatched hastily to rescue you from the most bizarre conversation you have had while not under the influence of some (legal of course) mind altering substance?) The OYG continues to flatly denounce racism (to my lovely black husband, at decibals appropriate for the inside of a tin barn in a hail storm) for another several paragraphs, but without the bi-racial specimen off-spring and her white white mother pinned to the flannel board for close (close close close!) scrutiny, she eventually evaporates into the crowd, buffeting by us one final time to mouth, while pointing furiously to the woman in front of her That's my mother!!! Al and I were tempted to fall into a vigorous, groping, soap-opera style kiss right then and there, just for, you know, a laugh, but we didn't, as Alex was halfway up to the pulpit, apparently seeking a second baptism just to be 100% sure she's covered.

We gathered her up and all three walked hand in hand to the car, giggling and deciding what we'd have for lunch.

Comfortable in our skin.



WFMW - No More Bedhead!





Due to the fact that I'll be turning 40 in a few short months, I'm fighting tooth and nail to hold on to my youth somehow. So, I've grown my hair down past my shoulders and I wear it all smoothed out and straight like I think I'm some chic young hipster Jennifer Anniston wanna-be. Only problem is I really don't possess anywhere near the colossal chunk of daylight it takes to wash, goop up, dry, straighten and otherwise preen such labor-intensive locks (and frankly, my arms get tuckered out from being stuck up in the air so long), so I'm always looking for a way to cut down on the drudgery of maintaining my age-inappropriate do. The Ultimate Destroyer of The Do is SLEEP (which happens to be a vital ingredient in my survival and that of my family). After a night's shuteye, I generally awake with my hair alternatingly plastered down to my head and lumped up like a haystack. And the haystacks are never where they'd look like funky features of a really hip style - they're thrown in at random and make me look as if I have some little rodents nesting up there. The contrasting smooshed-down parts are just as attractive. Since I will never be caught dead in a HAIRNET (but I'll still love you if you would like to wear one!) I've found a simple way to avoid all this chaos and preserve smoothness and a little body overnight... I just pull all of my hair, except my new bangs, up to nearly the top of my head, and I secure it up there in a ponytail using one of my 1990's-style soft fabric scrunchies. Up to prevent flattening, secure to prevent bumps, and in a loose, hair-friendly hair doo-dad so I don't have breakage, ripples, snarls or a massive headache when I wake up. In the morning, I can usually just pull out the scrunchy, brush and go. Keeps me from having to wash my hair every day, which my hairdresser (and my hair!) loves. Also, according to my husband, makes me look like a cute little co-ed just in time for bedtime. Everyone's happy... Works for me! And if you have hair that's long enough to stick up on the top of your head, it'll work for you, too.


For more great tips, check out the weekly WFMW ideas at Rocks in My Dryer.

Please check out my earlier post to read about a Random Act of Kindness you can get involved in, and even have a chance to get a really neat homemade (by lil ol' me) baby blanket in the process!







Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Real Reason She Never Landed Jethro







Have I mentioned that my husband makes me laugh?

As we loaded up the lunch dishes this afternoon...

Al: This is the Jane Hathaway of dishwashers.

Megan: The Jane Hathaway of dishwashers?

Al: Yeah. It's hardworking and efficient, but its rack leaves a little to be desired.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Random Act of Kindness: Baby Blanket Auction

*** Bidding for the three customized baby blankets starts this morning (Monday) at 8 AM EASTERN TIME.

I'll take your bids for 24 hours and close bidding tomorrow (Tuesday) at 8:00 AM EDT.

To bid, go HERE and read the instructions then place your bid in the Comments section. (Of course you will need to view previous comments to see the current bid so you can outbid that.)

The caveat here is that I haven't ever been an auctioneer or even played one on TV, so I'm flying by the seat of my skirt here and we may run into ISSUES that cause me to rejigger the bidding process mid-auction. I'll let you know if I do. This is all for a very worthy cause (read below) and I thank you in advance for your interest and generosity. Happy Bidding! I can't wait to drag out the ol' sewing machine and make three adorable love-filled blankies for you. Well, one for you. And one for you. And one for you. Three altogether.***

I love it when things just fall together. I really really do. Total God thing! See, I think I've come up with a way to help out neighbor, but it'll take some (lots of) friends, new and old, to really make it soar. And lo and behold, Jenmomof4 (whom I found via RibbonRockStar) is hosting a Random Acts of Kindness contest today so I'm putting this little idea out there and hoping it gets seen and sparks interest.

Friday night as I relaxed under the stars, marinating in the peaceful togetherness of our family's usual celebrate-the-advent-of-another-weekend bonfire, snuggling my Bean on my lap, surrounded by my neighbors and their own precious kids, I was touched with a desire to do something special to help make sure Teagan and her parents will be able share a thousand such simple but memorable moments together for years to come. Teagan's a little girl who lives a few blocks from us FriedOkras, (although we don't know her family personally). She's 22 months old and has recently undergone brain surgery to remove a cancerous tumor. Since the surgery, tiny Teagan's experienced some complications, although she continues to improve overall. As you can imagine, the surgery, recovery and planned chemotherapy treatments for Teagan will be enormously costly. In response, our community (along with friends and neighbors all over the country) has showered this family with financial assistance and support of all kinds.

Any story of an ill or suffering child hits extra-close to home, now that I'm a Mama, but this one, the story of a little girl we've likely smiled and waved at in the grocery store or played near at the park... a little girl so close in age to my own daughter, strikes such a chord inside me that I think of her and her parents (especially her mother) nearly every time I hold Bean close or laugh at one of her sillyisms.

So, what can I do? For starters, I can pray. Maybe though, with my brand new blog and a few readers (and their readers) I can do more. Maybe I'll be able inspire a few other Mamas (and Daddys) to join me in getting behind the family of this child, with prayer and support.


Here's my idea: I'll auction off three custom-made baby blankets here and donate the proceeds to Teagan's parents to help with the cost of her continuing treatment.

Now I'm an amateur seamstress. One who approaches the sewing machine with no small amount of trepidation and generally walks away from it with brows knit into tight hairball of vexation. But the ONE item that I love to sew, the one little project I can usually bring to completion without erupting into a full-blown hissy fit, is a simple custom-made, personalized baby blanket. Square. With nice straight seams and not a button-hole or zipper in sight.

These're humble little blankets. I pair up two large squares of cuddly soft contrasting fabrics, which I hand select to match a new baby's nursery or a toddler's current obsession. I whip them together on my machine, then have the blanket embroidered with the child's name and birthday, and voila! I've created a unique keepsake for parents to treasure and child to snuggle happily for years. (Because they may not look altogether perfect, but they are built to last!) Here's one example of a blanket I sewed for my friend Sandra's baby, Annabelle, whose nursery theme was ladybugs. The white side of the blanket was made of white cotton chenille, and the contrasting fabric featured little red ladybugs on a blue background. The embroidery has Annabelle's name and birthdate with a cute little ladybug on top.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

I want to give this post a chance to get plenty of traffic before I open the bidding, so I plan to take bids all day next Monday, July 23rd. I will accept the top THREE bids, and at the close of the auction I'll announce the top three bidders (or keep your identity anonymous if you'd prefer) and set about gathering information to make the most extra special blankets I am able to muster from myself and my little old Singer (which is actually a Kenmore). I promise to sew heaps of love and gratitude in with every single stitch.


I'll outline the particulars of How and When to Bid in a hopefully Clear and Concise post (Not my strongsuit! Have you picked up on that yet?) on this Thursday, July 19, so come back then to join in the fun and win a little lovey for your lovey or a really unique and heartfelt gift for the newest newborn in your life.

If you are reading this post and would like to help spread the word (I hope you do!), feel free to link this post and Teagan's site in your blog.

Direct donations to Teagan's family are being accepted through a local bank. You can find that information here. And of course the family welcomes the gift of prayer above all others.

I can't wait to see how this humble idea is blessed. Thanks for reading!