Sunday, May 30, 2010

Happy (Burp) Holiday

I am stuffed. I have eaten non-stop since Friday morning on the last day of school. We celebrated the end of the school year.

Then Saturday we kicked off celebrating the holiday weekend with a cookout. We had burgers and all the sides you could imagine. I know I munched enough chips to sink a ship.

Today we continued the celebration with BBQ sandwiches and every starchy side imaginable at a family get-together.

Tomorrow we'll round out the weekend with more hamburgers and too much party food.

It's like Thanksgiving for four days straight. It's the American way.

But, why?

Why do family & friend get-togethers require a gross display of way too much food? Even if we go out to eat, the appetizers, main course and desserts are big enough to make you have to unbutton your pants.

I guess it doesn't sound very much fun to invite friends over for a fasting holiday. But is it necessary to have enough food to support an entire village in Haiti for a year at one family gathering?

I know traditionally Americans have used big feasts to celebrate holidays and special occasions. But that was in a time when we ate 85% less in general. A big feast was in order.

Today, our culture has made every meal have special foods available for our consumption. You can buy a wedding cake on a Thursday just because you want some. In times past, cakes of any kind were something eaten only several times a year. Tomorrow you could go to a restaurant and have any kind of cultural cuisine used previously on special high festival occasions. Originally, these delicacies were reserved only for for the occasion.

Nothing today is "special." We are continuously looking to "treat" ourselves. We've been told over and over again we "deserve" it. We are "entitled" to it.

I propose we start a new trend: 4th of July is the next big holiday. Why don't we all vow to serve less, eat less & visit with each other more. We don't need five kinds of chips. What's up with potato salad, pasta salad, green salad, green beans and deviled eggs? How about just two sides? If there are only going to be ten people, we probably don't need to cook 35 hotdogs. And after eating all that food, maybe popsicles would suffice, instead of pie, cake, cupcakes and ice cream.

Let's make desserts be occasional and small. Let's have simpler, smaller meals as a rule, and have feasts be special. Let's make our feasts be reasonable, and not so indulgent and over-the-top.

We are Americans: Home of the Free. But freedom doesn't mean gluttony. Freedom comes with the responsibility to be good stewards of our goods so that we can continue on. And it means helping others by sharing our resources.

This weekend, even as we have our cook outs, let's be especially appreciative of our food. And of our service men and women who fight for us to be free.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

There is a Traitor in Our Midst

When I was in my twenties, I couldn't understand why people would spend so much money and time using all sorts of funky products trying to look young. My mother has beautiful salt and pepper colored hair, which is now more salt than pepper. My grandmothers both aged gracefully. I believed I would embrace my aging process as a beautiful part of my life.

When I was in my thirties, my pepper colored hair began to sprout some salt. My gray hair was not only an unattractive yellow-gray, but it was course and curly- in complete opposition to my otherwise dark straight hair. All my friends who had any gray readily jumped into a Miss Clairol box and made it go away. I finally conceded to peer pressure and darkened my gray hair.

Now, in my forties, my body has completely revolted. I am seriously considering putting it on trial for high treason. My hair has "salted" up considerably. Gravity has done a pretty serious number on everything. My muscle tone has turned to something resembling old mashed potatoes. My forehead has really deep lines running east to west across it. And crow's feet have sprouted at the corners of my eyes.

Those people whose judgement I questioned in my twenties are now on my speed dial for consultation on how to rid my body of these evil encroachments on my youth. A friend was telling me about her botox injections. My interest piqued. How bad was it? How much did it cost? Most importantly: did it work? (She looked a tiny bit offended that I asked that, since technically, I suppose I should have been able to tell. But cosmetic changes are delicate, much like weight. If you tell someone they've lost a ton of weight, or look so much better, it's sort of backhanded compliment. You've told them they look so great now, because they looked so bad before...)

Now, would I actually go through anything more drastic than hair coloring? Twenty years ago I would have said "NO WAY." Today, I say, "probably not." But I'm not ruling it out. By the time I hit my fifties, I may be looking for part time jobs to fund my cosmetic procedures. I would hope I would welcome some of my aging, as I had originally planned. But there's no denying that watching your body change and age in front of your eyes is at the very least terribly unsettling.

As I watched my next door neighbor's sixteen year old daughter walk around the pool in her cute little bikini this evening, I mourned the metabolism of my youth. I wished desperately for my flat belly and my curves that were where they were supposed to be, instead of sliding down my body. And I yearned for my young skin that smoothed across my face, instead of scrunching and wrinkling.

But I looked at her mother, who is about my age and faces some of the challenges everyone my age faces. It occurred to me that my three children also had been a product of my aging. And, I may not embrace my body's aging, but I do embrace my age. I am happy where I am and with who I am, even if I'm not happy with my treasonous body.

So, bring on the hair dye, and whatever else help with the body's appearance. But keep the memories, the experiences and the love!

Punch Buggy

The kids introduced the family to a game when we were in the car. Whoever spotted a yellow car would try to shout out, "yellow car" first. It became quite the challenge for me to beat the kids at finding the yellow cars.

Keith recently changed up the game. Now whenever someone sees a Ford, BMW, VolksWagon or Lexus, they are supposed to call it out and punch the person closest in the arm. He has upped the stakes quite a bit.

This morning on the way to school, we saw many cars- especially Fords. Keith sat in the front seat next to me and tried his best to catch me off guard. I tried to explain to him that this was not one of his better ideas, as I was driving. So if he was punching me, it made it difficult for me to steer and work the gas/brake pedals properly.

He laughed and punched me again, shouting gleefully, "Ford!"

I have a bit of a competitive streak, and I hate for my parenting to be questioned when I am certain I am right. So, his reaction did not set well with me. I bit my lip and grimaced. Then I saw another Ford.

I knew I was the adult. I knew I should be setting an example. But sometimes, especially with thirteen year old boys who think they are too old to listen to their mommas, the best lesson is to show instead of tell.

I pulled my arm back and punched, screaming, "Ford!"

As he rubbed his arm and looked at me like I had just shot his dog, I said, "Hurts, doesn't it?"

"I can't believe you did that!" he yelped.

"I can't believe you won't listen to me," I retorted. "Look, Keith, you are way too big to be hitting me. And I most certainly don't want to see you punching your sisters."

"You hit me!" he stated the obvious, disbelief all over his face.

I clenched my teeth together. "I think this is a bad game. And I think we are done playing it now. What do you think?"

"Fine," he muttered. "I still can't believe you hit me so hard."

"Me? What about you? I'm going to have bruises up and down this arm from where you've hit me like six times."

"I can't help it that I see the cars before you do."

"Keith," I said, feeling my tone creep up to death-con four warning level, "We are done with this conversation."

Later that night we were in the car with hubby. Keith, being a thirteen year old boy, couldn't resist picking up the morning's game. 

"Ford!" he sang out as he whopped Emma's arm.

Emma is a wispy little thing and shot across the car, wailing and holding her arm.

Hubby was not pleased. "Keith?" he bellowed. "What are you doing?"

"Playing a game," Keith replied gleefully and without any idea how thin the ice was on which he was treading. "Whenever you see a Ford, BMW, VW or Lexus, you call it and you get to hit the person next to you."

"Son," hubby said in his best redneck authority voice. "I am only going to say this once: Don't."

"But-" Keith tried.



"Keith, I said no," hubby said sternly.

"Geez. Okay. Fine," Keith grumbled.

I, being mature and his mother, turned around and looked Keith in the eye while raising my eyebrows at him. When hubby stopped the car, got out and was no longer looking, I continued with my mature, maternal behavior- well, almost.

I put my arm around Keith and taunted into his ear, "Ha, ha. You were busted."

He turned and looked at me with really wide eyes. "What?"

I feigned innocence. Then I got back by his ear. "You got in trouble by Daddy," I sang in a teasing voice.

"Mom!" Keith fumed, shrugging off my arm around his shoulder.

"Keith, be respectful of your mother!" hubby demanded.

"Honey, it's okay," I soothed. I felt a little bad getting Keith in trouble again. But just a little.

So, maybe hubby spared my arm a few bruises by calling an official truce. But in reality, he probably just delayed the inevitable.

Teenage boys are looking for ways to be affectionate without looking weak. While Keith is very good about sharing hugs and holding my hand in the car, when there are no eyes to witness, in public, he is still groping with how to express "cool affection".

I imagine for the next couple of years, at least, I'll be wrestling, punching, getting noogies, and being body checked. All in the name of love.

Friday, May 28, 2010

"Hee Haw" Happens

My children have never experienced "Hee Haw," which aired on television when I was younger. We watched it as a family and laughed. However, it was that country bumpkin stereotype that also pushed me out of the entire southern part of the United States when I was old enough to go.

I eventually returned, and was very glad to be here. I have even developed a bit of a fondness for the "Hee Haw" stereotype. Of course, it's easy to love now that there is no "Hee Haw" to perpetuate it.

One of the skits Glen Campbell and the gang would do regularly was a song that went "Doom, Despair and Agony on Me." Yesterday I could relate all too well.

I had a lot going on at work. Too much really. But it's the end of the month and a holiday weekend, so a couple of things turned into a lot of things fast!

We have also had my van in Murfreesboro (about 45 minutes away) for the last several days getting a tune up. A friend of hubby's brother works at Nissan and was able to get our car back to better-than-new. But it meant hubby and I had to share a car for the week.

After I got my work under some kind of control I went to go pick up my kids from school in hubby's car. As I sat in the Middle School/High School pick up line, my car stalled and wouldn't start back up.

I had to get out of the car and wave people around me while my kids slunk down far into their seats certain they would die of embarrassment. I tried calling hubby at work to get his take on what was going on with the car. I knew he couldn't really help or come get me; I had his car.

But I couldn't find hubby anywhere. Finally, I switched tactics and called my mom. She came out to rescue me. By this time there was no one left at school besides me and the kids.

Hubby had finally called back and suggested that my battery was dead. So Mom and I were going to jump start it from her battery. Only neither of us had ever actually done that.

My kids were beyond bored and hot by this time. And their whining earned them a snappy warning from me. I hate having to correct my kids in front of my parents. I know they understand more than anyone. But I still always feel like I'm not as good of a parent as they are, and surely they know some strategy or technique that can get the kids to do exactly as they want them to, and make it sound fun in the process.

Anyway, Mom and I gingerly put red on each positive sign on the batteries and black on each negative and started the car. A few moments later we had my car going. Whew! Now we just had to get it to Wal-Mart without it dying again. So I drove with no air, no radio, no anything that would pull from that battery.

The auto mechanic at Wal-Mart said my battery was completely past being able to be recharged. And he said they could change it. Of course, it was going to be another $100. Which we really didn't have. Since we were servicing our other car. And it's the end of the school year with teacher gifts. And we have eight birthday gifts to get. And I had to put a deposit down for the kids' camps for this summer.

But, we bit the bullet. And finally we had the car back.

Finally, I began to breathe.

I know there are much worse/more serious/more dangerous situations that people have every single minute of every single day. But all my little situations seemed to pile up all at once in the afternoon heat in the car rider line at school.

I wanted nothing more than to throw a great big temper tantrum followed immediately by a Texas-sized glass of red wine and then a pitcher of margaritas. Instead, I took deep breaths and tried to imagine myself on a beautiful, deserted beach with nothing but the sound of the ocean and the late afternoon sun.

As the day began to resolve itself, I found myself humming, "Doom, Despair and Agony on Me... If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all..."

"Hee Haw" might be gone, but it is not forgotten. It helped lighten my mood and even smile a little. I tried explaining it to the kids. But I guess it's really something that just has to be experienced.

But to all of you who remember, I send a warm "Hee Haw" sa-lute! And I wish ya'll a jim-dandy day! Now come on back, you hear?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

This and That

The family & I drove out to Murfreesboro tonight to get my car repaired. The deal is that I needed it serviced: breaks, oil, belts, etc. This is a big 'ole expense. BUT, hubby's brother knows a guy who can do all that for a fraction of the cost. Woo Hoo! The catch was, we had to take it to him in Murfreesboro.

While we were out there, we visited with hubby's sister-in-law, and his sister and brother-in-law.  Then, we found a Bojangle's Chicken & Biscuits. Okay, I need to say that their sausage biscuits are something I would fight my momma for! So I was in southern culinary heaven. The kids agreed with my assessment, and we all petitioned the manager to build one in Hendersonville.

On the way home, the girls sang Michael Buble', Shania Twain, Owl City and Justin Beiber. Keith slumped in the back seat with his head phones on, trying very hard to ignore his sisters and their complete un-coolness. Of course, hubby and I had to pick at him a little bit, and encourage the girls just to make Keith crazy.

When we got home, we watched the American Idol we had recorded, and hubby and I gave our own critiques of the singers and the judges. The kiddos wanted to watch Glee, but we were completely done for the night, and made them take showers and go to bed.

All-in-all, a great night. We'll be shuffling around for the next several days with only one car. I missed book club tonight, which made me quite sad. And we have to go back out to Murfreesboro to retrieve our car when it is ready.

But it is all worth the blessing of being able to save some money. And the even bigger blessing of some quality family togetherness.  

That makes my mommy heart very, very happy! :)

Monday, May 24, 2010

It's Magic

Tonight my children and I watched "Bewitched" together- the old black & white version. We had fun watching the plot, and I enjoyed telling them about "the old days." Rotary phones, kitten heels and proper English were all things my children were intrigued by.

It took me to another time when I was growing up. When I thought the magic of "Bewitched"was something cutting edge and wonderful. I was reminded of other shows from that time in my life: "I Dream of Jeanie," "Gilligan's Island," even "Love Boat," and "Fantasy Island" came to mind.

Trying to tell my kids about these shows made me get all misty-eyed. However, my kids were only impressed until Endora, Samantha's mother, vanished and took their attention with them.

It was easy enough for me to stay back in that time for just a little while longer. I was taken back to the end of disco, back to phones that didn't work if they weren't attached to a wall, back to eight track tapes, back to Julie McCoy helping people find their soul mates on the "Love Boat," and Gilligan being clutzy and stupid while the Professor made major scientific breakthroughs on "Gilligan's Island."

Then the kids broke the spell.

"You're touching me!" Amy hollered.

"You took my seat," Keith retorted.

"Let me have the remote, Keith," Emma scowled.

I sighed and rolled my eyes. I was jolted back to the present time. "Bewitched," credits were rolling. My cellphone chirped.  I propped my Crocs up on the table. I realized I was nowhere near Tattoo and "la plane, la plane," on "Fantasy Island." But I was okay with that.

I'm happy where I am. But it's still fun to watch the old shows with the kids. ;-)

Junk Busters

Yesterday the kids and hubby and I cleaned the downstairs. And I don't just mean a little bit. I mean the deep down kind of clean that gets the dirt out of the corners of the corners.

We've lived in our house for eight years this October. We have accumulated more "stuff" than I ever could have imagined. Some of it was sentimental (Awww... Keith wore that the first time he threw up on my mom...). Some of it was something one of the kids just couldn't part with (because, of course we'll use the barbie doll with her hair burned off, one arm and a blue face from the sharpie marker). And some of it was stuff we had meant to throw away, but it got shoved behind other stuff and we forgot about it (Why did we keep this glass duck ashtray again?)

Yesterday, it went away to the trash. And then we cleaned the space it had been in. And then we organized what was left.

Ahhhh... It felt so good to go to bed last night knowing our downstairs was clean and orderly.

The upstairs will be tackled at a later date. So for now, just close your eyes and only reopen them when you come back downstairs.

Hubby commented that the trash collectors are going to wonder what in the world happened in our home this weekend. Our trash cans were full to over-flowing, and we had multiple other garbage bags and boxes stacked beside them. I'm sure we do look a little like we're moving or on a home make-over show (like "Hoarders").

The kids complained at first, as I expected they would. But after they began seeing the results, they were happy (well, that may be too strong of a word) to help.

Next weekend, my little army of dusters, wipers and organizers will join me upstairs as we tackle the bonus room (with VHS tapes of Barney on my list of "out of here's") and the bedrooms (ACK!). Then, at some point, (like when I've had a lot of wine) we'll tackle out the two storage spaces (the "ultimate" storage of junk!).

But for today, I take great satisfaction in looking at my clean kitchen and family room. The floors are shiny, the counter tops are cleaned off and the pantry is completely reorganized. What a great way to start the week!  :-)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Suiting Up

Yesterday I apparently felt the need to really hate myself. Because I decided I needed to go ahead and get my bathing suit for the season.

I went into Khol's overly optimistic on the selection, discovering, unfortunately, that nothing had changed since last season. There are three kinds of bathing suits: the bikini, the slightly-bigger-than-a-bikini and the "big momma" mumu.

The bikini is an article of clothing (if it can qualify as a whole article of clothing) that covers the very bare minimum of flesh. It is designed for little, bitty girls who are very confident. It is NOT for girls who have a little (or a lot) extra junk in their trunk.

The slightly-bigger-than-a-bikini suit still shows a lot of flesh. Sometimes they are even one piece suits. But they still require a lot of extra confidence, and not a lot of extra "you."

From there, we jump straight to the dress with briefs and bra cups built in. The fabric is awful. The colors and/or patterns are cheap-looking. And there is little to no shape to them. These scream, "I am too fat to care how I look anymore." Or, "I'm old enough that I really need the bra cups to roll my boobs up and stuff them in."

Why is there nothing in between? Cute, sporty, young. But able to cover enough of your body to make you feel un-naked. Why does it either have to be Playboy Bunny or Golden Girls/Free Willy?

I finally selected a few that were the least offensive and went into the dressing room.

Dressing rooms in general are unfriendly to the ego. They have harsh, bright light and big, unforgiving mirrors. My fresh-from-winter vampire white skin was translucent, and not in the pretty way. And what had looked like soft curves in jeans, suddenly looked like flabby cellulite in the bathing suits.

It took every ounce of will power in my being not to either 1) scream bloody murder at my reflection, 2) cry uncontrollably, or 3) both. But I managed to force my way through the suits. Finally, I selected the least of the evils (which isn't saying much), and planned to use fake tanning lotion and wear make up and a cover up to try to offset the suit.

My mood for the day was shot.

I craved what had gotten me into this flabby, floppy body mess in the first place: chocolate, and lots of it. I searched back to the memory of me in the suit, which was now seared into my brain, and was able to leave the chocolate alone.

However, hubby offered me a glass of wine, which I happily took. Finally, I began to feel the irritation of my shopping/torture excursion uncoil.

After my second glass of wine, I came to the conclusion that the next time I go shopping for bathing suits, I'll have the wine first. I'll use the fake tanning lotion beforehand, and I'll have a make over to boost my self esteem before I start.

And, it might not hurt to try on the suits in the dark either... I'm just saying...

Friday, May 21, 2010

Tell Me About It!

Since there has been written word, there has been respect for it. Not too long ago in our history it was uncommon for women or children to know how to read, much less write. As we became more enlightened as a civilization, books were held in highest esteem, and grammar, spelling and punctuation were taught to every child as a prerequisite of moving up.

Business, finance, law and education split hairs to get the exact meaning of a phrase or idea to the point that the definition is twelve times longer than the word. Communication is vital, and having precision is crucial.

Enter the present. The formal need for structure and precision is still very much needed. However, socially, we have new mediums in which we communicate. We now have the internet, emails and texts. Our world will never be the same.

When the world first got email, I spent time writing out a letter like I would if I were writing a letter to mail. Soon, it was common knowledge that email was in place to make communication faster. That meant that some of our social courtesies were not necessary, and, in fact, not wanted. The idea was to get to the point, say what you had to say, and move on.

I had barely caught on to this concept when we began using text messages on pagers and then cell phones. Talk about condensing an idea! Whew! My kids can have an entire conversation in about three texts. And they only use about six letters, numbers or symbols per text!

At that point I realized, I was officially "old" in my children's eyes. It was kind of like when I was in college and asked my dad about a floppy disk and he got that "deer in headlights" look on his face. Mentally I thought, "Old." I see that look on Keith, Emma and Amy's faces, and I know what it means.

Of course, I did it to myself. If I had been smart, I would have just googled "LOL", "ROFL", "G2G" and other such phrases designed to make us move at an even more break-neck speed than email ever thought of. But, instead, I asked the kids. At first, they laughed, assuming I was being funny. Then realization sunk in that I was clueless. Then I got that look: "old."

Today, I'm happy to say I can usually figure out most text acronyms, even if I don't readily recognize them. I have also been trained in the ways of making faces out of symbols, so that if I'm being funny about something, I can include a smiley face :-) to underscore the fact. Or if I'm mad I can make a frowny face :-( to really bring home the fact that I'm very displeased.

It makes me wonder what our forefathers who labored for literally months over our Constitution would have written if they were to write it today? Would it simply say:

"Yo, Peeps! Listen up! B :-) . Don't stress. K? Peace out."

Wonder if poor Thomas Jefferson is rolling over in his grave?

Hopefully, there will always be a place for formal writing that requires following time-honored spelling, punctuation and grammar rules. In my heart of hearts, I believe there will be.

Guess time will tell...

MommyBarbie :-)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Summer Begins

Keith's tonsillectomy was such a huge success that he was up and at 'em in no time. As a point of fact, he has gotten back into his social butterfly mode, scheduling every single free moment.

Next week is the last week of school before summer. Already the planning has amped up. And where Keith leads, Emma and Amy follow.

Slumber parties, movies, dinners, shopping and video games are on the agenda.  Along with painting nails, make overs and hair styling for the girls.

I'm tired just thinking about it all. Oh, and they so don't get the idea of "work" and a "job"-- which I have, of course.

But, they keep me young. They keep me on my toes. And I love every minute of it!

Now if I just could get the dog and cat to behave...