Monday, January 26, 2009

IT'S Coming...

And we're getting ready. Yep, that's right V-Day!!! For those who don't know me or are new to this blog, I LOVE Valentine's day. Like besides Christmas it is my favorite holiday kind of love it. I am not going to go into raptures about it today (I'll save that for later :)), but I did want to show you that the preparations have begun. You see our shirts...courtesy of Mimi (my Dad's mom) via Old Navy. Mine is an XL from the kids department, and oh so worth it.

Besides our cheesy coordination, we have also started what I hope is going to be a new tradition--decorating a Valentine's tree. I read about it in Victoria (my favorite magazine BTW), and thought it would be something fun to try with the girls. Natalie came over to play and help us get started cutting and decorating our heart ornaments. We picked a branch from the yard. I spray painted a pot. Hopefully, I'll have the results to show you in a couple of days. Unfortunately we are in a glue/paint drying stage right now.

We wrapped up the afternoon with a little park time with the Prince. It is GORGEOUS here today...Finally. Pace did some tree climbing.

Dapples did some goofing around.

All around it has been a wonderful day with the V-Day goblins, and not one bed has been made. Definite evidence of a good time

Thursday, January 22, 2009

How to Pick Who You are Going to Marry

Lunchtime talk with Pace...

Pace: Mommy, I want Noah (For those who don't know, he is the little boy who lives across the street and is one of Pace's best friends. aka Prince Charming) to sleep with me in my bed tonight.

Me: We're just not going to do that tonight, ok.

Pace: But why not.

Me: Because girls have other little girls to spend the night. Little girls don't sleep with boys.

Pace: But you sleep with Daddy! (Stupid me! I should have worded that better.)

Me: You're right, but I am married to Daddy. Girls only sleep with boys they are married to. (Please no more questions along this line. I see her mind working...What's about to come out? I should have just invited Noah to spend the night.)

Pace: Then, I am going to marry Noah one day, ok?

Me: Ok.

Simple as that. :)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Don't you like the lingo of my title :) Just So You Know, I've been putting my money where my mouth was this morning and I wanted to offer a little idea. Tent time...A couple of old sheets draped over our dining room chairs, a big old blanket on the floor, a couple of pillows and Voila...Pace and Dapples are camping out in the playroom with their babies. Besides folding a few sheets back up, this won't be too much trouble either. Thought you might want to try :) I was glad I woke up with this blog to remind me to actually do something about what I was worrying over last night. I really had to bite my tongue hard when Pace started rattling off all the different things she wanted to do today.

**JSYAK (Just So You Also Know), the entertainment offered by the tent only lasted about 30 minutes :) Oh the attention span of a three year old!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I Need Some More Grandmother in my Mothering

When you read the word "child," what picture comes into your mind? For me, it's a little girl with her hair falling out of the ponytail its been pulled into, a tinge of dirt on her face, and a mischievous grin. My mind usually does an automatic insertion of the word "rambunctious" when I think of "child." My fondest memories of childhood are when I was allowed to be just that--a rambunctious child. But did you ever get to be that child when you were at your own house? At least, could you be that way without getting into trouble? I know I couldn't, but at my grandmothers' houses, life was different.

I am blessed with two very different but equally wonderful grandmothers. One is something akin to the Virgin Mary herself--always doing for others and never thinking an ill thought. The other grandmother has never been the granny type--always up on the latest gossip in town and full of hilarious stories. While they are very different, there are two main themes that hold true for both. One is that they are both excellent cooks; there never has been and never will be anything like Sunday lunch at your grandmother's. The other is that they both gave all their grandchildren permission to live life with dirt on their face--all 24! of them (13 on one side and 11 on the other).

Draping sheets all over the place to create haunted houses. Making forts in the woods with elaborate sets of booby traps. Walking to the store with a whole dollar and the freedom to buy WHATEVER we wanted. Playing veterinarian with a live dog and an open wound. Teaching us to play poker with a huge jar of pennies. Letting us stick our finger in the batter for a taste as many times as we wanted to. Crossing logs over dangerously deep ditches. Playing "garbage man" (a cruel game my older boy cousins invented) until it sounded like the house was going to fall in and we were all going to break each other's legs. Making bottle rocket guns and actually shooting them AT each other. Sleeping in pallets on the floor. Playing wiffle ball in the back yard. Never making us bathe. Falling asleep watching television. Allowing us to experiment--truly on our own--with cooking, and then assuring us that they really "liked it better with that burn taste." Putting on as much make-up as we wanted. Having a never-ending supply of glass-bottle cokes in the outside fridge. Never telling us to stop whispering and go to sleep. Giving us spoons and a bucket of water and telling us to go ahead and make mud pies. Eating strawberries with much more powdered sugar than berry...The memories are endless.

I'll spare you more details, but you can see it was the freedom to make a mess, to do the thing that wasn't allowed, and never even made to clean up our messes. At home, your parents are always busy teaching you how to be a grown-up, but grandparents, they were just busy letting you be the child bursting inside.

I know that we only went to our grandparents' houses for short stays, and they weren't responsible for seeing that we didn't turn out to be spoiled rotten delinquents. I know that children need rules and boundaries, and I know for sure that I don't have the energy or patience to be cleaning up big messes like that all the time. However, lately Pace has become very conscientious. Always saying things like, "Sorry I spilled that Mommy." or "Mommy, why are you so aggravated?" or "Was that bad that I did that?" or "I can't have that right now because we're busy, right?" She's become scared of making mistakes. She is trying hard to please and not step on my toes. And why? Because I am constantly trying to make a responsible adult out of her instead of letting her be that little child she so desperately wants to let out. I can't be my grandmothers, but I could sure use some more grandmother in my mothering.

If You Can't Beat 'Em, Join 'Em

I walked outside on this bitterly cold afternoon and began defeatedly picking this sticker off the back of my car. Can you see that I tried every corner? It just refused to come off. While this is sad to me,...knowing George W. is gone for good, I do have the excitement of change stirring in my heart. Do I agree with all of Obama's politics? Most certainly not. However, I do believe that he is a leader devoted to doing what he believes is best for our country. I believe that he will work hard and try new things...things that might work. I've had some trouble watching people like Oprah or Matt Lauer, eager with excitement that this man is about to save our country. I've had an eery premonition that we may be watching clips of their excitement a few years from now when things aren't as glorious as anticipated. I hope I'm wrong. I really do.

My favorite line from his inaugural address was this:

"What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility, a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize grandly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task. This is the price and promise of citizenship."

If this is the heart behind his new plan, then I have hope that we'll be Ok. I believe what is fundamentally wrong with our country today is that we've grown lazy and arrogant. I hope this economic crisis teaches our generation to work harder, not take for granted that we will be cared for tomorrow, and revitalizes the ambition and integrity that our country was founded upon. Sometimes it takes a kick in the pants to do that, and I would much rather be kicked in my wallet than my face. Today, we are safe; we have watched the successful, peaceful transfer of power that sets our country apart from so many others; we have made a black man President of the United States of America and for all these things I am proud.

So for now, I'll be here gearing up to be a smiling supporter of our new president, and trying to finish picking this sticker off my car.

Friday, January 16, 2009

In Case You Were Jealous...He's NOT Perfect

Well that first 24 hours with Locks was pretty glorious. However, over the subsequent days, we have observed a few flaws :) Jeremiah's mom came in town on Tues. night and wanted to take us to dinner. Since it was going to be a late one at a nice restaurant, I got a babysitter. It was very last minute and all of my normal sitters were busy, so I called up a new one and trapped her into coming. She shows up and tells me that she is allergic to dogs...ughh...what do you do? I try to put Locks in our bedroom, and we learn that he has some separation anxiety. He starts screaming--not barking mind you--SCREAMING. It was a very bizarre sound, somewhat akin to a howl, but more high-pitched. The babysitter feels bad and says that she'll be fine as long as she doesn't touch him. Ok, we let him out.

Then, I am trying to turn on a movie for the girls in the den, while Babysitter sits on the couch and holds them. Suddenly I hear, "That is a gag, isn't it?" I turn around to see not one but two big fat poopie logs on TOP of the coffee table. What in the world?!!!! I am so embarrassed and trying to figure out the best method of cleaning when Pace says, "That's not REAL," and proceeds to stick her finger into the poop. Then, sweet Pace, who likes to keep things clean and orderly, has a melt-down because there is dog poop on her fingers.

Dad (who is a vet for those who don't know) assures me it is normal (the pooping, not the fact that he did it on the coffee table :))...that Locks is trying to figure out where our doors are, his new schedule, etc. I can understand this and am not mad that he has yet to take a single poop OUTSIDE, but I am hoping the little guy is going to get the hang of it soon :) On the bright side, he has at least learned to stay off the coffee table when he relieves himself.

These things are laughable. I can deal with poo, but we did have one completely unacceptable incident on day 2. The girls are all over him. I am trying to teach them how to be gentle and give him his space, but it's going to take some time. Locks is pretty patient--much more patient than I would be considering--but he apparently reached his patience limit and decided to give the Instigator (Dapples) a little warning. I was sitting on the floor with them and Jeremiah was beside us, talking to me, at the desk. Suddenly we hear--grrrrowl, SNAP-- I saw it, he didn't bite her hand, but it was a definite statement of, "Back away, I've had enough of you!" Oooohhh did he get in trouble. Jeremiah gave him quite a spanking and I got on to him too. Now, he tends to run in the other direction at the site of Dapples (Look at that mischievious grin...Can you blame him?). He is very eager to please and learn, so I am hoping we won't have any more issues with THAT. (But don't worry, I never leave them alone and am keeping close tabs)

To end on a positive, he still follows me around the house like a joyful shadow and seems very happy in his new home. Together, the girls and I brush him every day and he is a great cuddle bug. I invested in a good, cordless vacuum, and have been zipping over the floors every day with it. So far, the dog hair hasn't been an issue. He is so beautiful and sweet...We still love you Locks, even though you're not perfect :)

(Mrs. Linda got the adorable outfits in these pictures from Bellamia. Are they looking sassy or what?! There are also some dresses that coordinate, that she got us for the Spring. Thank you Thank you Moogie! We love our new clothes.)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Mom in the News

I wanted to post an article that was in the Tuscaloosa newspaper on January 2nd. Some of you blog friends are Mom's friends too, and some of you probably feel like her friend because you've read so much about her on here. Either way, this story touched me deep...I think she's so special, but to hear somebody else--a sort of unbiased opinion--feel as beguiled by her as we all were, means a whole heck of a lot. There is something too about hearing new stories about her--something that I couldn't have known unless she (or the other party involved) shared it, that makes her feel alive, just for a second. I don't know this writer--Mark Hughes Cobb--but I would like to send him a huge hug for writing this and touching me so:

Some friends gathered around at a pub the other night. I started the ball rolling: Tell one good thing that happened to you in 2008, the implication being give us your best thing.

One claimed her marriage. One loved the 12-0 season and 36-0 victory over Auburn. One guy landed a new job. Another was proud the show she'd directed was a huge hit.

I said nothing. Even though it was my idea. One of the good bits that flashed through my mind would have embarrassed somebody else at the table, and the rest seemed like reruns of previous years: The Rude Mechanicals had another good season, the Holiday Singalong likewise.

My job took me to interesting places, such as the inside of Leonardo da Vinci's codex.Aside from that, thoughts turned, not altogether surprisingly for these dark days of the year, to death. Each year at this time we run packages, as ads bulk us up and staffers go on vacation, of year-end wrapups about music, movies, politics, sports ... and death. I know the Grim Reaper is sharpening his scythe for us all, but it always surprises me to reflect on how much we've lost in a mere 12 months.

This past year was particularly tough, partly because long-time idols of mine such as Paul Newman, George Carlin, Will Elder (one of the founding genius-idiots behind Mad magazine), Bo Diddley, Danny Federici (keyboardist for the E Street Band), Isaac Hayes, Levi Stubbs, Arthur C. Clarke and yes, even old Charlton Heston (I did, after all, name a band the Damn Dirty Apes, after one of Chuck's most-quoted movie lines), shuffled off this mortal coil.I also felt twinges for Bettie Page, Odetta, Forrest J. Ackerman (his Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine racked up equal hidden-from-Mom-time with Mad), Heath Ledger, Jerry Wexler, Eddy Arnold (my dad's favorite country crooner), Sydney Pollack, Harvey Korman, Cyd Charisse, Larry Harmon (Bozo the clown), Bernie Mac, Jerry Reed, Bill Melendez (producer and animator of the Charlie Brown TV specials), David Foster Wallace, Clive Barnes and raunchy Rudy Ray Moore.

But what was really in my head that night was a silly little love story.

Flashback time: First day of first grade, Heard Elementary School, Dothan. We had experimental mixed classrooms — first-graders side by side with second-graders, for example. Not sure why, but it's a good thing we did. See, I took one look at Becky Sollie, with her wide blue eyes and devilish dimples, and painstakingly scribbled my first 'I love you, do you love me? Circle yes or no' note. She looked at me, smiled beatifically, then handed it to her second-grade friend to translate. (My big brother had given me a couple of years' head start on reading and writing, and it didn't occur to me she hadn't had the same benefit; I was educated, but not very smart).We wound up being boyfriend and girlfriend for three years, through hand-holding and fights in line (with covetous boys), through playground games (I taught her kickball, or tried to, and she taught me basic gymnastics on the monkey bars, or tried to) and bad haircuts.

We endured everything but a change of schools (mine), and every time I ran into her over the years — the last time, I was 16 and back in town for a wedding; she had beguiling waist-length hair and even more dazzle — my heart practiced some of those gym flips she'd taught me. I last talked to her when I was a few years into this job, passing through the old hometown, catching up with folks on the phone. I told her I was a writer, and she laughed, sweetly. 'Of course you are,' she said. 'All those notes!'

Yeah, even after I won her heart, first day of first grade, I kept up the correspondence. Wish I'd been as good at staying in touch in the years after third grade. Never even kissed her.Just a few weeks back, I heard that Becky Sollie Clark, mother of four girls, wife of Dothan veterinarian Ken Clark, had lost a long battle with cancer in 2007.So the best thing that happened to me in 2008 was the memory of a smile, with its adjoined reminder that it's never too soon to say what you mean, to stay in touch, to write 'I love you.'Happy New Year, y'all.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

New Addition!

Meet Locks (short for Sherlock and a play on his beautimus locks of hair)!! I know you were all scared I was pregnant again weren't you :) Locks is our new adopted baby, and we are EXCITED to say the least. Mrs. Linda (Jeremiah's mom) has become something of a dog superhero--her heart bursting at the seams for any dog that is hurt or neglected. So much so that she has become a caretaker/temporary home/mother for around twenty dogs. This puppy is one of her recent rescues.
Our dog Buckley disappeared a little over a year ago. Jeremiah has been itching for a new pup ever since, but I was not so sure. I felt like I had all I could handle with the two girls, and there's something about dog hair in the house that makes my skin crawl. So I've been refusing. THEN, the fact that both of my girls' first words were "dog" and the fact that they could barely contain their excitement every time they saw a little guy, started to scratch at my heart. THEN, Mrs. Linda rescued Locks from being killed, and she started slowly but surely "selling" him to us. It's not a hard sell considering he is so cute that you can't help but laugh every time you look at him. He has this crazy long, beautiful hair and little freckled nose. Dr. Maddox says he looks like a Disney cartoon character--just hard to believe he's even real. He's only 1 and a half, but he lets the girls waller all over him without making a peep of protest, and all around I couldn't help but love him (even though, if I'm honest, I tried not to). We've had Springer Spaniels in the past (Locks is a Cocker), but I was always feeling guilty about our tiny backyard and all the energy I felt like they needed to run off. We're hoping that with this slightly smaller version, running with us will be exercise enough.

So, there was Jeremiah and the girls and Mrs. Linda and the cuteness of this puppy putting the pressure on, but none of that put me over the edge. None of that made me willing to re-devote my life to cleaning up dog hair. I don't know if any of you have experienced this, but about the time my babies start walking, and life gets somewhat manageable, something inside me starts ticking for another helpless creature to "mother." Last time, I ended up with Mapple Dapple. This time (I wised up :) ) I decided to scratch the itch with a puppy instead. I have felt like a little kid about bringing this dog home. I could hardly fall asleep for two nights in a row with all the anticipation. It's been less than 24 hours, but so far he's the most eager to please, follow me around the house and plop down at my feet, makes my girls and my husband bubble with joy dog I could have imagined. Locks, we LOVE you!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

My Washer Rant

I'm sorry y'all, but I've taken issue with these:High efficiency, front-end loading washing machines. If you've just spent two hours convincing your husband to drop an extra $200 (or more) on one, then you may want to stop reading. If you haven't fallen in to the craze yet, then I ask you to reason with me. What in the world about this machine will make your life happier?! Will your children spend several minutes watching it cycle for the first 5 loads of laundry...yes. After that, I think the benefits are highly debatable.

What about front-end loading is good? You go from letting gravity help you drop in the arm- load of clothes and tiny loose-cannon baby socks, to crouching down on the floor while you shovel your load in--against gravity--and drop all those little socks. Then, you (and your children) watch with amazement as water comes into the machine. But there's a problem with the design, and I bet if you have one you've called the maintenance man at least once to come service it. The problem is that small items, water, and soap (that are lightweight and therefore hurled most dramatically outward by the great centrifugal force) get caught in the little window apparatus. This can lead (nominally) to dragging clean clothes back through soap on the way to the dryer or (much worse) to stinky mildew in the window. "Oh but Abby," you say. "I am using less water and saving the environment and my wallet." And I am sure that you are, but why not just turn that little tub on its side and let it use gravity, along with its centrifugal force. You may have to use a little more water, but I bet you could use less force (thereby using less energy).

And do you really want to wash your clothes by the same method that our grandparents used to wash the dishes--making the bath of soapy water, throwing in all the dirty dishes, then pulling them out and calling them clean after we rinse them with a little water. Does it LOOK like that food infested, soapy water should be qualified to clean your dishes? That is precisely what that little bit 'o water is doing to your clothes.

I know that there are hundreds of engineers a lot smarter than me that designed these washers. I feel sure that I am wrong, and with a television from 1984, a microwave that used to adorn someone's dorm-room (and I AM still listing MICROWAVES as gadgets), and a brain that has only recently discovered that it IS indeed possible to control the volume on an i-Pod, I am not the one to talk to about all the latest gadgets. But if you ask me, these washers are a waste of money. We can use less detergent in our normal, top-loading washers, without having to crouch on the floor to do laundry. Did your old washer take 45 minutes to run??? Does that SOUND like you're saving electricity? They say you can do larger loads, but that is a pile of CRAP. Maybe my washer is some kind of super-sized dinosaur, but I can sure fit a heck of a lot more in my washer than those new things.

So, if you've already got one, then at least you're looking fancy and all your neighbors are jealous and you can pat yourself on the back because there have been "studies" done that say you're saving the planet with those little amounts of water you're using. If they go out of production in a year or so (as I am predicting they will), then hold onto it because they are sure to bring you a bunch of vintage value money on eBay in about 30 years. Happy Washing :)!

(Because I am betting a lot of you have one, and I don't want you to be too unhappy with money you've already spent, go here and be reminded why it is you fell in love in the first place.)

I'm Back

So I've been gone a long time...a really long time, and I don't have a whole lot of an excuse. I came back to blogging with a bang a few days ago, but my husband and my Dad both thought it was too much of a bang, so I listened to the male majority and took it down. If you read my post (in the whole hour it was up) about the person who hurt my feelings, I would like to give you an update. I am scared to speak too soon...but I think I may finally FEEL forgiveness in my heart. Sound the Hallelujah Chorus!!! It did not come from writing that scathing blog, instead it came from talking to my Dad (after he told me to stop airing my dirty laundry on the world wide web:)) and realizing the SOURCE of all that anger. It wasn't the woman as much as it was what she called me--a fake person.

Now I get to this blog and my point. I think that the reason I've had trouble forgiving the woman, and the reason I have compulsive honesty vomitorium on this blog, is the same. There are some issues from my past (that Dad helped me identify) that have led me to DESPISE dishonesty in others and myself. The woman called me fake--dishonest--which has long been THE VICE I've tried to run from. That's why she hurt me so bad. Then, in fear lest any of you think my life too rose-colored or, even worse, fake and dishonest, I tell things on this blog that I don't even want to share. It's a compulsion. A need to tell it all, just in case you might think I'm a faker.

There's something about finding the root of a problem, even if it doesn't fix it, that is like a breath of fresh air. Knowing that I have a choice right now, to not list the details from my past that made me hate dishonesty, instead of HAVING to write them, feels like a weight off my shoulders. Will I start lying to you on here and painting everything in sepia tones...NO!!! I just hope I'll feel the right to choose what I do and do not say. Whew! I don't know if that made any sense, but I sure feel better.

As for our lives, Jeremiah is hopping all over the country interviewing for spine fellowships. I packed our little selves up and headed to Dothan where there are bunches of people just itching to share the load of these munchkins :) My sweet friend Darby had us over to do the above craft with her girls. She fed us lunch, the girls played and shared like champions, and we even got some good conversation in in the mix. Thank you! Thank you Darby, Morgan, Paige and John Martin!

Hopefully it won't be another month before we talk again. I've missed you :)