Monday, September 29, 2008

'Cause I Got NOTHIN', People.

I do not have a dern thing to write about today, y'all. The weekend went by in a complete blur of Al and me tryin' to find a minute to sit down together and, you know, make eye contact or somethin', while our children systematically beat us down into a finely ground paste of one part exhaustion and three parts snatch-yourself-bald frustration.

And yet, as I tucked both of them in last night, Mr. No-Nap, No-How Peabody staring wide-eyed at me wearin' his Ha ha haaaaaaa! Surely you cannot think it is going to be THIS simple to pack me off to sleep tonight, lady look (and it wasn't, by jingo!) and Madame Destructo Herself surrounded by little torn shreds of paper she'd somehow BITTEN off a book she'd taken to bed with her (I have a MAJOR peeve about books being harmed in this household - books are our FRIENDS, people!), I stopped and looked at them objectively, and I realized that even though they're determined to drive their poor beleaguered parents completely insane, they're still both ridiculously cute.

And well, I kissed 'em.

I sorta didn't want to, 'cause I was all mad and stuff, but I couldn't help myself.




Aw. Now I wanna kiss 'em again!

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Best of FriedOkra: September Sun

Originally published September 2007.

Grandaddy FriedOkra puttered outdoors professionally and recreationally, and he grew and meticulously tended grapevines in his beautiful sloping backyard. I so clearly remember those gentle early days of Southern autumn, right about now, the week of my birthday, when we'd all be at Grandaddy and Grandmama's house for the weekend, my big sister and me, my parents, my Aunt and Uncle and two cousins. The late afternoons would find us four girls on that slope that led down to the water's edge, under the deep shade of Grandaddy's scuppernong vines, picking the grapes and eating them, or pinch-shooting the fruit out the peels at one another, our squeals and laughter gathered up and lifted away on a gentle, cooling breeze.

A Scuppernong is a soft, golden-ripe grape with a dusky-honey flavor and a sweet floral aroma completely incomparable to any other. We'd stand beneath the cover of those fruit-laden vines, dodging humming yellow-jackets who shared the harvest every year. In the distance we could make out the roar of the crowd at the Clemson game, and the muffled THWOMP! of the cannon each time the Tigers scored.

Recalling the smell and taste of those grapes is almost too sweetly nostalgic for me to bear, yet what a perfect memory for this week. This week I turn forty. FORTY. I am a mother and a wife, a full-fledged adult now, there is simply no denying it, try as I may. But inside, I'm still that innocent, tiny, tow-headed girl under the grapevines with her three best friends and favorite playmates in the whole world.

Inside I'm still just me, barefoot and sticky to my elbows with scuppernong juice, enjoying today and anticipating tomorrow in the burnished light of the late September sun.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

She Also Does a Really Convincing Frog Face.

Sorry I've been a little scarce around here the past few days, y'all, but Mr. Peabody's in the throes of his six-week growth spurt. If you've ever tried to nurse an angry 30 gallon shop vac until it was full, you know what my life's been like this week! On a positive note, I've eaten everything in the house including all the Belgian chocolates Al gave me for my birthday and drank a half-gallon of Gatorade a day and still managed to lose 3 pounds.

I've mentioned before that my sister has five children to my two, haven't I? And until just recently she had five kids to my one, which qualified her as An Expert in my opinion. Since she had my niece, Olivia, almost thirteen years ago (And how on earth was that thirteen years ago? I just want you to explain THAT to me!), I've been watchin' Jackie with her kids. Partially because as I said before, she's An Expert in my mind, and partially because she's My Sister and we have all this sister-history and it's fascinating to see My Sister, with whom I played Candyland and made sock puppets and roller skated and snuck home after school, pulled down the shades in the den and watched Dark Shadows while we licked Hawaiian Punch drink powder off our fingers like Lick-A-Maid and downed way too many of those Little Debbie Star Crunch Snacks despite our mother's express disapproval of such activities (Sorry Mom. Yes, it DID give me nightmares, you were right!), being a Mom to her own kids, and lastly because most of her kids came along during the time that I was single and terrified I'd never be UN-SINGLE again and thus would never have any chiddren of my own so I was all about lovin' on my nieces and nephews and mothering them vicariously through Jackie.

Always out of range of any wayward icky baby goop that might be ejected from them, of course.

But I was watchin'.

And lately I keep comin' back to this one thing I noticed my sister doin' with each of her tiny babies. A thing that I always observed with confusion and maybe even with judgment although now that I'm a Mom, I totally GET what she was doing. In fact this one small moment I've witnessed between Jackie and her babies captures the essence of the relationship between a mother and her ittybitty offspring so well and so universally that I'm willing to bet every human mother of every kind every where in the world does it without thinking. It's a beautiful, telling exchange I know you're going to recognize.

No, y'all, I am not talkin' about you lickin' your finger and usin' it to wipe grape jelly off Junior's cheek.

Stay with me here, people.

Here's what I'd marvel at as I sat and watched Jackie with each of those tiny (weeks old, I mean) little people in her arms:

She'd take the baby in her hands - one to support his body in the sitting position a little way out on her lap, and one to support his wee little head, which she gently turned to face her - and she'd just STARE at that baby. With a look not of maternal love, though I am certain she loved and still loves each of those babies with a fierceness, but with ... slightly baffled scrutiny and puzzlement. Like she was just takin' a long minute to take a step back, look at that child and FIGURE HIM THE HECK OUT.

And as young non-mother, to me that was bewildering. Where was that Madonna-(I'm talking about the original Madonna here, not the Material Girl)esque look of pure bliss and joy? What was this gaze that looked like examination instead of adoration? Was my sister's eternally pragmatic approach to life hindering her natural motherly feelings? Why wasn't she melting into a puddle of butter as one would expect her to?

One (me) who had no concept of what newborns DO to their caretakers, mind you.

But now, you see, I get it.

Babies ARE inscrutable. They ARE puzzling. Perplexing. Enigmatic. Both of my newborns have been complete mysteries to me, to Al, and even to Jackie, whom I actually observed affixing The Gaze on Mr. Peabody while she visited us a few weeks ago.

Some days my babies've been mysterious like oddly wrapped gifts under the Christmas tree, other days, frankly, more like tiny little ticking time bombs. They've tied my eyebrows and neck muscles in absolute knots with their periodic inconsolability, their refusals to even tolerate the same thing today that they couldn't live without yesterday, and their flickering whimpers or searing wails in those long, aching moments after I've done everything I could possibly do to meet their needs to no avail.

But they've also tied my heart up in ribbons of rainbow-hope and soul-rocking love those times the torrents of tears have parted to reveal utterly perfect gummy smiles. Babies are like a box of chocolates, to paraphrase Forrest Gump, you never know what you're gonna get.

So a Mama stares into those fresh, new eyes, and hopefully beyond them and into that inscrutable little mind, that mysterious soul, and silently asks the questions Who are you, really? What'll make you happy? What'll bring you peace? Oh, and while I'm at it, are you ever going to let me sleep longer than 36 minutes at a time? And why are you so afraid of bath water? Does pooping feel as weird as it sounds? Were you hurt by that duct tape post I wrote on my blog? Sorry baby.

The Gaze can only get you so far though. The rest of the mysteries have to reveal (or not reveal) themselves over the course of precious time, with plenty of trial and error. And that's the very nature of mothering, isn't it?

Back to my shop vac!

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Monday, September 22, 2008

And I Also Don't Have a Little Dribble of Tobacco Spit Runnin' Down My Chin - To Look at Us, You'd Never Even Know We Were Related!

I'm over here today. As my Grandaddy FriedOkra used to say as he was climbin' into his pick-'em-up truck out in our driveway, headed back to Clemson where he lived, "Y'all come with me."

(I don't think he really meant it, though. Grandaddy FriedOkra was a bit of a loner.)

(But I'm not a loner, and I really do want y'all to come with me!)

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Best of FriedOkra: How 'Bout THEM Apples!

Originally published September 2007.

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Have y'all ever heard of and/or had a Honeycrisp apple?

Now, comin' from the Golden Corner of South Carolina, where apple orchards abounded, I thought I'd probably seen the best fresh, handpicked apples of my lifetime back in college when each year we'd pick an October Saturday and drive across the state line just into North Carolina and the beautiful Smokey Mountains, and wind along the climbing highway, gazing out at valleys full of fiery red, orange and yellow foliage then stop on the roadside to purchase some freshly pressed cider and a little basket of firm, tart apples to savor in the cooling Autumn air.

But I'm here to tell you I was wrong.

When our first October on the prairie dawned extra brisk and even snowy last year, I listened hard and learned, as the corn talk died down and apple talk took its place. My sweet neighbor Katie (who remains stalwart in her cheerfulness and patience with my Southern cluelessness about all things Midwestern) took me aside and explained to me about apples. Her lesson basically concluded with this refrain: It isn't an apple unless it's a Honeycrisp.

I was skeptical. I'd been raised on Galas and Jonagolds and they were both perfect to me in their balance of tart and sweetness. One crunchy bite of a good specimen of either could make me well up with nostalgia for my Southland, no matter where I was. And they made great baking apples, too. Nope, I didn't need to try anything else, I knew where I'd come from and nobody could tell ME anything new about apples. My hackles were up for a good while.

Sadly, I am a woman with a tragically unteachable spirit, y'all.

But one day at my local grocery store I ran across a display of Honeycrisps. They were so shiny and pretty! A little golden, a little green and a little red, all brought together in a marblized effect on one solid, big, firm, lovely piece of fruit. Bean squealed with delight Appoooos Mama! Appooos! and, feeling magnanimous toward Bean and intrigued by Katie's unwavering Honeycrisp loyalty (much as I hated to admit it to myself, being unteachable and all), I picked up a couple of them and put them in our cart. We brought them home and Bean and I cut one up to have with our lunch that day.

Heavens to Betsy!

One bite revealed a crispness I'd normally ascribe to an underripe and therefore extra tart specimen of my beloved Galas. This was the kind of crispness that usually accompanies a dryness that almost seems to suck back at your mouth in bitter search of moisture to quench itself. But the Honeycrisp's crispness isn't dry like that. The peel of this apple is like the taught rubber of an inflated water balloon, and when a Honeycrisp balloon breaks, you do indeed get splashed. With apple juice! The juice experience is actually not applelike at all. It's peachlike. Like it runs down your chin and maybe onto your arms and down to your elbows. Seriously. How many times have you needed more than one napkin when eating even a really GREAT apple?

And the flavor? So very sweet. But balanced with a gentle tartness. The Perfect Marriage of Flavors. Yes, like honey, in that it's a floral sweet, but then ... citrusy, somehow. Yes, a citrusy, honey peach of an apple.

Bean and I each gobbled up our halves that day and wanted more. The next day, I went back to that same store and bought a huge bag, then several more bags before the short season ended. I never convinced Al to try one last season - he's an apple pie man, but not a plain old raw apple eater. But last week I saw the first of the Honeycrisps at the store and seized a huge bagful to bring home. Al grabbed one out of desperation on his way out the door to catch a flight and called me later from his hotel when he got in. The first thing out of his mouth was, "Where did you get those APPLES in the fruitbowl? That was the BEST APPLE I've EVER had in my whole life!" And he continues to rave over them. Now that three of us love to munch away at then any time of the day, I'm finding it hard to keep us stocked up.

So I guess what I'm saying is, if you haven't had a Honeycrisp, see if you can find some. My very limited research online reveals that they are, in fact, now grown in the Golden Corner (although I think the season is all but over down there now). But don't allow yourself to get hooked unless you know you'll have a steady supply, because once you've tried one, you're gonna want to have plenty on hand.

(And yes, they are excellent baking apples, too. It's just that they're never around long enough for that, at my house.)

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Top Ten Uses for Duct Tape in a Household with a Newborn

PhotobucketYa'll know I would NEVER, but still, it's fun to daydream on occasion.

1 - Tape Mama's eyelids open.

2 - Tape Baby's eyelids shut.

3 - Tape pacifier in Baby's mouth. If Baby must have pacifier to sleep, why won't Baby stop shootin' it outta mouth like a cheap plastic "cork" out of a bottle of cold duck?

4 - Tape blanket onto Baby, who requires no less than straight-jacket-tight swaddle for sleepage but can wrestle arms loose in 2.9 seconds flat and immediately go into hysterics because "MAMAAAAAAAAAAAA! HEWP! MY ARMS! DEY ARE MOVING AND I CANNOT MAKE DEM STOP!"

5 - Tape other household child(ren)'s mouth(s) shut when Baby finally falls into twitchy, nervous-looking sleep that probably won't last longer than it takes Mama to get down to the kitchen and hastily grab a spoon and a tub of Nutella.

6 - Tape other household child(ren) to wall to guarantee child(ren)'s continued quietude and safety as Baby miraculously sleeps through Mama's frenzied Nutellafest and Mama sets sights on first shower in three days.

7- Tape over doorbell. Stupid doorbell! No shower for Mama this time. Splattered Nutella stuck in Mama's hair will have to wait until the weekend.

8 - Tape waist and legholes of Baby's diaper. Mama's desperate, but even in desperation doesn't want THAT kind of shower.

9 - Tape over & Lights part of Sound & Lights baby monitors. & Lights often confused for Hellish Angry Red Lightening in parents' sleep-dazed heads at 2:30 AM. Scary nightmares!

10 - Tape mailbox shut. Hospital bills from Baby's birth making Mama and Daddy cry harder and sleep less than Baby.

(But he is, THEY are, worth every cent.)


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Monday, September 15, 2008

I Can Already Tell Y'all, This One is Goin' Nowhere Fast

As I write this on Sunday afternoon, the boys are a-snooze in front of the Patriots/Jets game and the girl's a-snooze in her room. I just finished up my first post back at 5 Minutes for Parenting, which airs this morning, by the way, while simultaneously doin' the weekly laundry, including all of my maternity clothes, which I'm washing so I can put them away, plus a bunch of new 0-3 month sleepers and outfits for my Beanstalk (as in Jack & The Beanstalk) of a boy.

Seems like by the time I locate, purchase, wash, fold and put away a wardrobe of the appropriate size for this boy he's already outgrown 'em. And Bean's apparently caught the growin' bug, too, because the child's going through shoe sizes faster than I can get 'em buckled on her feet, people.

At this rate I'll be flat broke by next Wednesday and guess what? I need a new pair of jeans AGAIN because the ones I finally bought last year won't stay up.

Or mebbe I should just take that as an excuse to eat more?

Honey, it's either a gallon of Rocky Road or a pair of Sevens - take your pick.

(I hope he chooses the Rocky Road.) (Yum.)

We had a lot of rain this weekend thanks to Hurricane Ike (I hope y'all in Texas and along the Gulf fared okay - I've had you in my prayers!), so we've been cooped up at home for 48 hours straight except that we DID finally get to go to our diner around the corner again for our customary Saturday breakfast, which we haven't done since the Saturday before Peanut was born. Oh, people, it felt so good to be back among the other reg'lars, drinkin' diner cawffee and eatin' fried eggs and corn beef hash and Bean's favorite pam-pakes. The gang was warm and welcoming and SO glad to finally see Peanut in the flesh. We all got hugs and kisses and slaps on the back and Peanut slept like the proverbial baby the whole visit, thank goodness, as Al and I ate through gritted teeth, wincing and grimacing at the din of diner-typical chatter, clatter, clinks and clangs.

When Peanut ain't happy, ain't nobody happy, folks.

And then I had quite the scare Saturday night. After I'd fed Peanut at 1:00 AM I stopped by my computer to check e-mail. (I know. Nuts.) In my in-box I found an email from a neighbor with an article attached about a couple of unsavory characters who'd been casing a nearby neighborhood by posing as sales reps from a company that sold educational tools. They'd been going door to door under the guise of "surveying" mothers, but were actually attempting to determine who was home when, thus providing the would-be burglars prime opportunity to come back and steal all their valuables.

Yeah. Nice, huh? I keep sayin' we need to get a No Soliciting sign for the entry to our subdivision, but then again if you're already a criminal I guess a No Soliciting wouldn't slow you down much, huh?

Well, anyway, the article provided a physical description of these characters and my neighbor declared they'd been at HER door a few days earlier and we should all be very careful about opening the door to strangers and answering any personal questions they might ask.

My blood ran cold when I realized that I'd been visited by one of these creeps last week as well. And BEAN had answered the door. I was about two steps behind her, but she'd gotten to the door first and had stood there alone a second or two before I arrived. I'd told the young woman I was extremely busy at the time and when she tried to pin me down on a time when she could come back, I am proud to say I failed to throttle that nasty sarcasm I've been tryin' to keep in check and I said, "Oh, I'm pretty much ALWAYS here."

Ha ha! Foiled your evil plan there, didn't I, bad guys?

But no kiddin', I did get pretty worked up thinking about what COULD have happened, because I really have not been the sharpest knife in the drawer lately, and so of course I woke up poor Al from a deep sleep to whimper to him all about what I'd read and my encounter with this woman and he listened and asked a few questions and snarled out an "Oh I'd like to see 'em TRY to rob MY house!" or two, and then today he and Bean went out and bought enough bolts and locks and chains to secure Fort Knox and Al's been affixin' those to all our doors this afternoon. And that is in addition to our door and window alarms and motion sensor and the rabid pit bull chained to my chrysanthemum pot out on the front porch.

(Broadus, as he is called, is not in the front porch picture above because he feels strongly that he needs cosmetic dental work and thus is embarrassed and refuses to be photographed.)

What I'm saying is that Ms. Ain't Life Grand and Idyllic Out Here On the Prairie Where Everybody Knows Everybody Else and Nothin' Bad Ever Happens got her rose-colored glasses smacked off her nose in one fell swoop. And I don't like it. I was enjoying my innocence, darn it, and now I just feel icky and weird in my own home.

The angry prairie dog was one thing, you know, but this really scares me.

None of this is leading to a point, by the way. I hope y'all've figured that out by now. I'm just tellin' you what's been goin' on around here, the good, the bad, and the dentally-challenged ugly. 'Cause that's about all my poor little weary brain can muster lately.

What'd y'all do this weekend?

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Friday, September 12, 2008

Where the Heck is the Off Switch on These People?

I've got two posts started and one in my head but no time to finish and post 'em. It's 100% true what they say about two kids bein' triple or quadruple the work of one. That's some kinda funky math they got goin' there, these kids of mine.

But today is FRIDAY which means tomorrow the adults present multiply by two and who knows, maybe we'll give 'em some decent competition over the weekend and have 'em worn out by Monday?

Yeah, I'm kiddin' myself.

I'm back at Chic Critique today talkin' about a nifty product I've been trying out on my new short hairstyle. Y'all click on over. I'll try to get back here later today, chillun permittin'.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Our Big Ol' Preschooler

Photobucket Image Hosting

Her Posse

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Yes, that's right. My little Beany Bee Bop loaded up her backpack with a change of clothes and her two best furry pals and became a REAL Big Girl today. Daddy, Mr. Peabody and I escorted her into the building, gave her kisses and hugs, and walked away as she happily put her things in her cubby, hung up her coat, and scurried off to play with a VERY (intentionally, I'm sure) non-chalant, "Bye Mom, Bye Dad, Bye Peanut."

I didn't cry. Are y'all proud? Actually, I wasn't even sad. Because even though I still plan to homeschool my little Okrabuds starting in a year or two, this foray into preschool feels right for Bean at this stage in our lives, and I know she's truly going to love it. She needs some time and experiences all her own right now. The only things I felt walking away this morning were giddy excitement for her and a huge sense of pride at how she's grown up and become (acceptably) independent and ready for this, and I've been right there with her throughout the process. And dang y'all, that just feels GOOD.

I can't wait to pick her up and hear all about it. I can't wait to tell her how proud I am of her and HOW STINKIN' MUCH I LOVE HER.

Oops. Did I say I didn't cry?

Guess I called that one a little early.


In other, smaller milestone news, guess who wore his first little pair of BLUEJEANS yesterday?

Mr. Peabody! And he wore a pair of jeans that didn't fit Bean until she was three months old. My boy? He's GARGANTUAN, people. How did Al and I even MAKE this big, strapping lad?

Anyway all day long I was thinking, "I really should take a picture of the boy in his jeans for the blog!" but DUDE! I was too busy gettin' my bee-hind and a slimy little wax paper bag full of my innards handed to me on a silver platter by my chillun to go get the camera. Seriously! If I'd known yesterday was coming I'd have REVELED in last Thursday, because last Thursday was a lighthearted romp on the spring training practice field compared to the grid-iron callibre beatin' I took yesterday. I had my hand on the phone to call Al and BEG him to come home early and save me startin' at about 3:00 PM.

But then I imagined how ludicrous that might sound to a man who works a 65 hour work week wearin' a silly little scrap of fabric tied so tight around his neck he can't swallow right, and I sucked it up.

I may be gettin' kicked upside the head lately, but I do it in the comfort of my favorite jeans and a v-neck sweater, and I can swallow anytime and anyway I want to.


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Monday, September 8, 2008

Bad Metaphors, Off-Color Imagery, and Pictures to Make It Up to You.


The four days alone with the kiddos last week? 'Bout 50-50. Which, hey! That's not too bad, all things considered, wouldn't you say?

Thursday nearly killed me. Yeah, at one point Thursday I (quite accurately) sensed it'd come down to THEM or ME, and I looked up from the huddle to call in reinforcements from the bench on the ME side and found said bench empty. Frantically scanned the sidelines further to spy my entire team curled up in the fetal position under the Gatorade table, shivering and crying and hiccuping out, No, Coach, pleeease! Please do not send us back in! We're getting clobbered out there! They're ANIMALS!

Sadly the initial seconds of the first quarter had barely ticked by at the time, and I played the whole rest of the game alone with my jersey pulled up over my head as my only form of protective gear.

Oh, Thursday was one for the history books, indeed.

I can laugh now, but I think that is in large part thanks to the many, many shuddering blows to the head I sustained throughout the course of that particular bummy whuppin'.

The good news is, Thursday also marked the end of Mr. Peabody's fourth week on the outside, so I documented a peaceful moment or two of the day in pictures.


Aunt Jackie says he's looking much more alert this week. He is definitely awake more than he has been. Yeeeeesh! But he is THO CUTE! OHMYDOODNESS!


Bean loves her baby brother so much. I am absolutely amazed at her complete acceptance of him. He gives her so much joy already. I KNOW she will be the recipient of his first big gummy smile.

And I wouldn't have it any other way.


My heart melted into a puddle of butter when I saw this shot.

Today marked the first occasion upon which it fell solely upon my shoulders to get both chillun and myself to a scheduled activity. I've been training for it for a week, shaving minutes off the previous day's time by tweaking this or that in the routine. Today, I am proud to report, we were all up, clean, dressed, shod (except Mr. Peabody) and out the door at 8:45 AM. We walked around the block and came back inside because we didn't actually have to BE anywhere until 10:45. But you see,that left me with two hours worth of margin to make room for the unexpecteds that I fully expected.

Of course you KNOW that the first day I'm called upon to take both small people out and about, juggling the loose three-year-old, diaper bag, carseat, stroller, Peabody, purse and Snugli (because Mr. Peabody doesn't leave home without it, ever, such is his need to be affixed to my front side with his head near the food source at all times), would be the day that, after what has been reported as the worst late-summer dryspell on this part of the prairie in 75 years, the sky would open up and rain like a cow peein' on a flat rock (My Dad taught me that sayin' - is that not some imagery? Whew!) so that my particular three ring circus of getting us all out of the car and later back into the car would take place oh, pretty much completely under water?


Still, we made it on time and soggy or not, everyone behaved beautifully and now we're home and have all had lunch and miracle of miracles both kids are napping and I'm fixin' to to sip a cup of hot tea and have a big ol' happy gloat while I can.

I firmly suspect the opposing team will have studied the film from today's game and'll be prepared to whup me up one side and down the other again tomorrow.

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Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Missing Ring - Part II

Originally published July 2007.

We had a rather large (for us) argument about the ring this morning, which I knew was coming, because that's the inevitable product of boundless emoting and almost zero communicating. Lots of assumptions made in the void, lots of conversations that happen inside one head or another, words put into minds and mouths that never thought them, much less spoke them.

But the air clears, as it will, on a breezy bright day. Our many many years of caring for one another have etched a groove, through which a clear river of laughter and love always flows, to wash away muddy pride, anger. Self. Bless that groove and that river. I pray they continue to grow deeper and clearer and more lively over time.

The ring?


The hand?

Right where it belongs - in mine.

Thank you Lord for my husband. Thank you for his love and for my love for him. Without You, we'd just be two people. With You, we're one. Thank you for the bond of our marriage through You. Thank you for teaching us how to love one another selflessly when it matters the most. You know where that ring is, and You know why it's there. So it's not really lost at all, is it?

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Friday, September 5, 2008

I Do B'lieve She Got the Wanderlust Gene

Yesterday's weather of drizzle and cooler temperatures translated to a pajama day at FriedOkra Manor. Y'all have pajama days? Bean loved it for half the day but long about mid-afternoon, as I'd predicted in my head, the Mama, where are we gonna GO todays started up.

Nowhere, I'd respond.

But I wanna GO somewhere!

We stayed in anyway, snuggled up, the three of us, in the big old leather chair in our family room, my babies and me, under blankets, the smell of them and the feel of their soft, warm skin reminding me to just stop. Stop and pay attention and drink in such a day and these children of mine.

To me, it seems a strange lesson to have to be taught. You'd think a simple thing like soaking up the joy, wonder and peace of a quiet afternoon at home with her two little ones'd be as natural to a mother as breathing, but for me, it never has been. I'm guilty of wasting such moments thinking of things that need to be done, or want to be done.

And I think about my life before I became a Mama (though I spent those years yearning for the family I now have). I remember the independence and its accompanying invitation to be spontaneous, the complete focus on ME, the relative glamor, and mostly, oh yes, most of all - the travel.

I miss the excitement of experiencing new places, my battered old rolling suitcase kachunk-kachunk-kachunking along behind me, my eyes and the lens of my camera full of surprising and breathtaking sights, my mind inspired and exhilarated, curiously writing a story about what my life would be like if I lived there. The ordinary in a place I've never been becomes extraordinary in the simple freedom to imagine, not know. I picture myself riding unfamiliar subways among dark-haired strangers with mysterious eyes, or drinking strong, dark espresso from tiny cups at a big-city outdoor cafe, listening in on lively conversations tossed about in a language I can't understand, or even hanging up a colorful load of the day's wash on a rustic clothes line in the first rays of a crystalline foreign sun as it breaks over the rooftops of a village seemingly carved out of ages-old rugged stone.

This morning we awoke to more grey, chilly weather. Bean trooped into my room at dawn, climbed into my bed and curled up under the covers to drink her hot cocoa and watch PBSKids as I nursed Mr. Peabody beside her. An ad came on TV about a carnival of sorts at a grocery store downtown, and Bean quickly began asking to go play there today.

I don't know, that store's pretty far away, babe.

REALLY? Then I guess we will have to fly on an AIRPLANE to get there! Can we, Mama? Please? Let's go somewhere far away!

I hope we do get to go to faraway places together someday, Bean. You seem more pragmatic than I am, so maybe you'll spend fewer hours of your travel-time ensconced in fantasy than your mother does. Maybe you'll go places with higher purposes than just fueling your imagination and meeting your need to escape your own (hopefully rich and wonderful, like mine) life for a few days. For whatever reason you go, I hope I get to go with you on occasion. I know seeing the world's going to be amazingly rewarding for you and make you incredibly happy.

And I want to witness that, my sweet girl. I want to see your face aglow with the unmistakable joy of discovering what else is out there, in this big old fascinating world.

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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Bean Also Asked Me Today When We're Goin' Downtown to See The Serious Tower. I Do Love Me a Good Kid-ism..

Shhhhh! I have both kids down for naps AT THE SAME TIME. (Clicks heels.) I don't know how I did it. I will surely never do it again. But for the moment, I am CELEBRATIN'!



We have an ornery prairie dog with a vendetta living in one of our window wells. The day my sister and nephew arrived, they were out on the patio and happened to peer over the edge and down, and there, hangin' by his ittybitty little sharp claws from the screen, which he'd managed to rip/chew a hole in, was Mr. P.O.'d Prairie Dog. Or as Bean calls him, Mr. Prayer Dog. ('Cause when Daddy sees what that varmint has done to the screen, he ain't got a prayer. Or he better say his prayers. Y'all take your pick.)

I was upstairs feedin' the boy at the time, so I missed the initial excitement, but came downstairs to stoney silence and wondered aloud to Mr. Peabody, "Where'd everbody go?" (Mr. Peabody just stared at me with those big ol' stupified newborn eyes and issued forth a loud, rumbling burp. Apparently he dinna know where ever'body went, but they were not lodged anywhere along his digestive track, in case I was wondering.)

Moments later, I heard three sets of feet trippy trapping up the basement stairs, and the whole motley crew appeared, wearing eyes as wide as Mr. Peabody's along with mischievous, curious smiles. My sister was not aware of my history with prairie dogs, you see, so she had no idea the panic she was about to stir up in my soul.

"What were y'all doin' down there?" I queried.

"Lookin' at the prairie dog who is wreaking chewed-up havoc in your basement."


"Oh, he's not IN your basement, he's in the window well, and he's chewed up the screen, and now he's just hanging there, looking in. We saw his WHOLE BODY from down there."

Just hanging there, lookin' in. Waitin'.

See, he's furious at me. This is the same prairie dog that spent the summer last year sittin' out in the back yard glarin' in the windows at me with beady little hate-filled eyes and shouting, "Eeeeee chicka chicka chicka!!!" which I believe means "Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die," in prairie dog-ese, on accounta I'd hired some guys that spring to pour a patio that just happened to cover up not one but BOTH holes into his family's deluxe apartment under the back stoop.

Never mind that I took my then two-and-a-half year old kid out on that same patio every afternoon for three months with a bowl full of her own special homemade trail mix (aka Purina Prairie Dog Chow) which consisted of White Cheddar Cheez-Its, raisins, and roasted whole cashews. Which she often entirely fore-went eatin' and instead would scatter, plant, bury and/or hide in small, prairie-dog single-serving-sized piles all over the back yard. That prairie dog ate high on the hog last summer, folks. He may have been grievin' the loss of his family, but he had the prairie dog equivalent of several hams, ginormous tubs of homemade potato and macaroni salad, a fresh coconut cake, a pan of blondies, a blueberry Jello mold and a couple gallons of sweet tea to comfort him as he mourned.

A spread like that shoulda inclined him a little more toward forgiveness, dontcha think? But no. He bore that grudge and expressed it adamantly all summer long, with his evil stares and his chicka chicka chickas. The subsequent long winter months of hibernation only served to deepen his loathing and hatred because here he is again, this time closer to my house and now actually makin' as if to find a way INSIDE.

And I am more than a tad bit frightened by his freakish prairie dog tenacity, I am not afraid to admit to y'all.

A prairie dog with a 15-month grudge, I imagine, is a force with which to be reckoned. I can only hope Al gets him before HE gets me.

Chicka chicka chicka!

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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Maybe Al Should Have a Blog. He's Clearly a Very Talented Writer.

Howdy! Hope y'all all had a lovely Labor Day weekend!

Frankly, it's a little tough to distinguish a holiday day from just a reg'lar ol' day when there's a newborn in household, but we managed to pile into the family truckster yesterday for our first official outting as a family of four. To ... Da Duh Duh DAAAAAAAH: The Tar-jay.

Yeah, well, we were runnin' low on Huggies, orange juice, milk and pickle relish (and you can't appropriately celebrate Labor Day without plenty of relish, people). We also stopped by the Payless to measure Bean's feet.

The child has outgrown her first official pair of back-to-school shoes, y'all. And school doesn't start for another week-and-a-half! Sigh. So I wanted to run in Payless and make free use of their nifty foot measuring device so I could then hie me hither back to my laptop and order up some shoes from a completely different merchant. Only DAWG, I cannot find a pair of plain old white, matches-everything-and-doesn't-have-pink-rhinestones-or-little-Doras-or-lights-or-a-dang-you-know-what-PRINCESS on 'em athletic shoes to save my ever-lovin' life. Well, for under $50 I mean. Which, ARE YOU KIDDING ME, YOU WANT $71 DOLLARS FOR A PAIR OF SHOES SMALLER THAN MY HAND, THAT'LL BE WORN FOR ABOUT A MONTH AND A HALF AND DON'T BEAR THE NAME "JIMMY" OR "MANOLO?" or a red leather sole?

Yeah, um: No.

I just want some shoes that cover the whole foot and have Velcro closures or sump'm Bean can do up herself instead of laces I've got to tie, because let's face it, shoes with laces may well push the needle on my Things-I-gotta-do-for-itty-bitty-people-in-order-for-us-all-to-get-out-the-door-ometer way up into the WHOOPS-DARN-IT-WOMAN-YOU'VE-DILLY-DALLIED-AROUND-TOO-LONG-AND-NOW-IT'S-BEDTIME-AGAIN Zone. Not even Keds has what I want, and they're usually my go-to for Bean's sneaks, but this time? Nothin'.

Geez. Where was I?

Oh yeah, so anyway we had our first family outting and it went pretty well once we got out of the subdivision and Mr. Peabody stopped screaming so hard all four of our brains were nearly 'bout exploding, and fallen into his post-traumatic stress syndrome coma-sleep. Ridin' in a carseat is apparently the worst possible thing that can ever happen to a three-week-old. Did you know this? It was news to me, but then again it's been awhile since I was three weeks old, so it stands to reason I'd need re-edjumacatin' about such horrors.

(It wasn't all that pleasant for the three-year-old nor the forty-plus set, either, come to think of it.)

But thanks to all that awfulness, once he passed out, the little dude stayed asleep long enough for us to get our errands run AND for me to finally write his birth story. Now, look, people, it's a Birth Story. It has all kinds of birth-related details and pictures of a semi-graphic nature, so here's what I did for my two male readers: After I got done writing my womanly, every-moment-fully-documented-in-living-color-leavin'-little-room-for-imagination novel, I asked Al to write his own version of Matthew's arrival, just for y'all boys, to spare you a huge dose of Oh-help-me-please-I've-somehow-died-and-come-back-as-the-sole-guy-at-a-Sundy-afternoon-baby-shower-settin'-on-the-flowerdy-divan-drinkin'-lime-sherbert-punch-with-a-gaggle-of-broody-dames Agony:

Matthew's Birth Story
by Al

My wife was pregnant for what seemed like an eternity. Then I drove her to the hospital and she gave birth to a bouncing baby tax-write-off. The End.

The rest of y'all can go read the full and painfully-long story rightcheer.


And speaking of bein' born and stuff, there's a bit of a re-birth goin' on over at Blissfully Domestic today. All new site, fresh, hip design, great new contributors (I'm still there but I don't have a post up right now because hey, I'm up to my eyeballs in fresh new Huggies at the moment). Y'all go check it out, okay? I think you'll be impressed, I surely do.


And hey, I'm on my own for the next four days with these two little folks, so I may be somewhat scarce around here. But if I am, y'all don't give up on me, please? I'm living on your comments and emails and lovely words of laughter and support and advice right now. They keep me tethered to reality and sanity, and I know you know what I mean.

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